December 31, 2008

Celebrating New Year's Eve With Kids

This is the first year that my 5 year old has started to "attach" traditions to each holiday. I hadn't even really thought about traditions with New Year's, but the fact is we have them! And since Timothy is a bit obsessed (understatement) with the calendar, switching over to 2009 will be important to him. That's why I was so excited when 24/7 MOMS posted this wonderful article entitled 5 New Year's Eve Tips for Families, written by Trish Berg at Tip of the Week.

I love tip #2 which is let your kids stomp and stomp on bubble wrap to ring in the new year. I'm headed to the store tomorrow to buy some! I'm going to do as many of these tips as I can and post what happened (along with pics of course) on Friday, January 2nd. I hope you will join me by picking at least one tip to make your New Year's Eve a memorable event for your kids!

Sea World 2008!

Thanks to the Heroes Salute program, our family gets in free to Sea World one time each calendar year (less the $12 parking). Last year we ended up going on Christmas Day and had a wonderful time! We considered repeating that tradition, but it was raining on Christmas Day this year so went today, just in the nick of time. I promised my husband that to make it as enjoyable as possible, I wouldn't worry about getting to any single show. It's a really good thing we had no schedule because it was crazy packed today, and the 2 shows we tried [casually] to get to closed before their start time. We had such a good time, though, so get ready for the pictures!!!

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December 30, 2008

WW & SEW: Christmas with Special Needs

Note the percussor in Dan's hand. When it comes to therapy, Christmas morning is like every other. Presents can wait...chest PT can't.

For more Special Exposure Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Special Needs, and for more Wordless Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Moms.

December 29, 2008

Airports Interest Me

In my single days, I did quite a bit of airplane traveling. As long as you don't have preschoolers you're trying to keep happy, airports can be very enjoyable! So when I flew to Texas recently without the kids, I couldn't help but make some observations during my layover at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas...

A BEST BUY vending machine!!!! Are you kidding me? I knew it had been a while since I had flown, but how behind the times am I? You can see at the front of the picture is a Nintendo DS, there were a few camera options, and every possible accessory you can imagine. And believe it or not, the prices weren't higher than at a normal Best Buy. I only know that because I just purchased the DS for hubby 2 weeks prior for his birthday (oops-I meant to blog about that!) According to this article, they started in a handful of cities in September, so I guess if they're successful Best Buy will put them everywhere!

Right next to the Best Buy vending machine (that is the funniest thing to say), was the Charge Carte. Brought to you by the same people who take your money for a Smart Carte. For only $3.00, this station can charge your phone to 50% of its power (that's the claim, at least). I thankfully didn't need to use it, but I can definitely see it being a useful service if I was out of battery power. As you can see, every phone/plug possible is included.

Another wonderful thing about airports is that they are usually decorated beautifully for the holidays. Upon my return to San Diego, I was greeted with this Snowman themed tree. Since we can't have them on the ground, I guess someone got creative!

Christmas "Bloopers"

Sarah at Real Life is hosting a Christmas Photo Bloopers Carnival. So here's the thing. We don't send an end of year family photo, and you're about to see why. My children, who are usually pretty happy-go-lucky when it comes to camera time, turn into little monsters when it's a "family photo". These are the 2 family photos I have from the year, and as you can see by Timothy's face (wow, if looks could kill), it's scary more than funny!

But I do have Christmas bloopers ON PHOTO. These gave me a giggle...

Samantha wants to give each nostril equal opportunity. Two nostrils require two fingers. It's not just for this picture. She's doing this ALL the time. It's not so much a nose pick as a nose flick. She pops the fingers up and out very quickly. It always looks painful, and of course there's the fact that SHE'S STICKING HER FINGERS UP HER NOSE!

The next one has to do with a present Samantha received. I thought these Crayola Tub Crayons would be a nice stocking stuffer, and they were. But before they ever got to the tub to be used Samantha decided they would work well on her brand new Doodle Pro and our carpet (first thing you see when you walk in the front door). It came off of the Doodle Pro, and we're still working on the carpet. Yikes!

The biggest blooper of the season isn't pictured. Timothy was in his first Christmas musical, and he basically accomplished every stereotype out there before it was over. Because there are tons of kids in every picture and video, I just couldn't bring myself to post it, but here are a few things he did:
  1. Unchoreographed dancing while someone had a solo

  2. Worked for at least 5 minutes to put a rubber band back on a newspaper prop

  3. Then used the newspaper as a telescope to see everyone in the audience

  4. Started poking the girl next to him just because he could

  5. When she scolded him, he poked her more and giggled incessantly

  6. Violent head shake as a finale

    Yes, he was on the front row and in the middle. And yes every other 5 year old decided to be on their very best behavior for this Christmas musical. But he didn't scream, didn't cry, and didn't hit anyone so we count his first musical a victory!

    We had a ton of closed eyes this Christmas. Guess they knew I would be linking to this carnival!

    Both kids with eyes closed:

    I'll close with even a little cameraman (woman) blunder:

    Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

December 28, 2008

Graduation: Then and Now

I recently wrote about the fact that President George W. Bush was the commencement speaker at my brother's graduation a couple of weeks ago. It's still hard for me to believe he's a college graduate since he was only 9 years old when I graduated. Here's a little walk down memory lane.

Alex on his graduation day...

Alex on my graduation day...

Each of us in our cap and gowns...

Our mother with each of us...

Friends of Alex...

Friends of mine...

I had to post this particular picture because right in front 2 to the left of me is none other than Stephanie long before she was Stephaniesmommybrain. In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago!

So what was your hair style when you graduated from college?

December 25, 2008

Presents Galore: Real & Virtual!

We had quite a fun Christmas this morning. Presents do multiply like rabbits, though, don't they? It seems like we always open up more than we put under the tree. We are spoiled, but thankful.

I'll just touch on the gift highlights...

Dan-8 GB thumb drive from my parents. Very cool! My gifts to him were more follow up to other gifts this month. I bought him (us) a frame for one of our anniversary pics and a carrying case for his DS. Oh, and Timothy gave him a "gently used" Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Timothy-Nintendo Wii & Mario Kart. Need I say more? This boy has been studying Mario Kart characters on the computer for well over a year now. He is in heaven. My step-mom made us matching aprons, which I LOVE and can't wait to cook in the kitchen with my kiddos.

Samantha-My dad & step-mom got her a Little Einstein's toy laptop, which has a really neat spaceship shaped mouse that will be good practice for a real mouse. The huge hit of the day is the Littlest Pet Shop. She played with it for almost 2 hours straight!

Timothy has had a Doodle Pro since before Samantha was born, so we bought one for her this year. As you can see in just 3 years, they've changed the design quite a bit. Samantha's is handy because the shape holder is now magnetic to make it stick better. So as long as she remembers to put the shape back in it's spot, we won't lose them. Timothy's have all disappeared, but as long as the drawer is closed you would never know it! As soon as we lose one of hers, it will be much more obvious. Which design do you prefer?

Me-Dan really over "gave" to me this year, but he reminded me these presents have to stretch out over deployment. So to ease my guilt I'll count these as Christmas, V Day, and B-day presents. I got 2 kitchen gifts from my step-mom, and then these 3 from Dan!

My Christmas was topped off by 2 blogging presents:
  1. Print Shop from my parents-I can't wait to play with that!
  2. My 10,000th Page Load!!! This gift comes from Kristen McLane at This is appropriate since I met Kristen via blogging right before she moved to San Diego! Her blog is full of humor and wonderful anecdotes as they transition to a new city! Ironically, on Tuesday I received this Pillsbury basket I won from Kristen's wonderful giveaways. Hopefully it won't take me another 16 months to get 10,000 hits!

Christmas Eve

What a night! Our plan was to go to the Christmas Eve service at 5, come home and get full tummies, let the kids open one present before sending them off to bed, and then watch The Chronicles of Narnia. All of it happened, but not quite as smoothly as I wanted.

Samantha can stay quiet for spans of time, but when she makes noise it's really loud and typically not happy. After working for 45 minutes to keep her quiet during the service, we slipped out a little early.

On Christmas Eve the kids get to open one present-their annual pajamas. Timothy was more than thrilled to get Mario pjs. There is more Mario to come! Samantha loved her Scottie pjs at first "because they are red," but decided later she didn't want to wear the shirt. I'll make sure she's decent while opening presents.

We made the HUGE mistake of telling Samantha that she could sleep in Timothy's room . They were so excited, but Timothy had forgotten how much he hates it. He actually likes winding down in bed, and he has a hard time doing that when (and I quote), "Sam is jumping on me, and when I tell her to go to sleep she won't do it."

Both kids were totally hyped up. They couldn't calm down to save their lives! Every stereotype I've ever seen about kids staying up late on Christmas Eve "waiting for Santa" was how my kids were! Their bedtime is no later than 7:30, and they finally went to bed at 9:50!

Yes, I totally caved. I made a giant pallet on the floor, and we watched the movie together. Sam wanted to "lay down on the couch". All she could say about the movie over and over was, "Talking Beavers?" (insert giggle). Timothy groaned out, "It's taking so long." Dan and I asked what was, and he said, "Night time is taking SO long, I want it to be sunny."

I hadn't seen the first Narnia movie, and it was a wonderful film to watch on Christmas Eve. Just loved it! Here's a sneak preview of Christmas morning:

After great agony putting these scooters together, I opted for a bicycle that came assembled. All I had to do was add the big bow!

How was your Christmas Eve?

December 24, 2008

Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ!

He is our ...

(Luke 2:8-11)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord..."

HOPE (1 Peter 1:3)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

PEACE (Ephesians 2: 13-16)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

WW & SEW: Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Check out more Wordless Wednesday and Special Exposure Wednesday!

December 23, 2008

December's What's on your Nightstand?

December was quite the month of book reviews for me! Click on the title to any of these to read the review on last month's nightstand choices:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I also reviewed the movie adaptation The Muppet Christmas Carol as a guest post on 5 Minutes for Mom!

Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne
This is my favorite book find of the YEAR!!!

Boomtown by Nowen N. Particular
This was my first book to review for Thomas Nelson Publishing.

New books on the nightstand:

A Newbery Christmas
This is a wonderful compilation of 14 Christmas short stories written by Newbery Award winners. I was at the library getting Christmas books for the kids and stumbled upon it. I love having a fiction book handy. It makes waiting for 45 minutes at the pharmacy much more bearable! I will confess that I have only read one of the stories. I started with "Ramona, the Sheep Suit, and the Three Wise Persons" by Beverly Cleary for a lighthearted read. It was expectedly delightful.

For the Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope
by Max Lucado
This is the second book I'll be reviewing for Thomas Nelson. It is right up my alley, so I'm looking forward to reading it. Here is a description:

When we feel that life is out of control, He is in control.

When tragedy strikes, people desperately search for answers. Believers and unbelievers alike find themselves turning to God. Best-selling author and pastor Max Lucado points to the only real answer to tragedy and crisis: Prayer. In For the Tough Times, Lucado helps us understand how to pray despite our doubt and fear.

by William Shakespeare

I want to read this very badly and have already checked it out of the library, but we'll see if I actually get to it!

Do you notice that all these books have a similar color theme? Weird!

To see what other people have on their nightstands, go to 5 Minutes for Books!