Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get Your Present On

Rise and Shine:  My wakeup call!
Then the kids wait upstairs until I get in position to take pics.
 Simeltaneous opening: All three boys got sleeping bags.
I love sibling gifts and happy hugging and thank you's all around.
Big hits: Chessboard, DSiXL, suede boots,
You'll shoot your eye out:  Wyatt's first hunting rifle.
Nana and Grandpa gifts
Happy Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

6th Annual Christmas Eve Crazy

In my family growing up on Christmas Eve, we always had a Shepard's Dinner.  We ate the foods we guessed the Shepard's would have loosely eaten; fruit, cheese, bread, grape juice (aka wine) and other foods.  Over the years we became less strict in the food observances.

Well when our family moved back to Pennsylvania, we became the unofficial hosts of Shepard's Dinner.  We may not be good at even remotely trying to observe the food restrictions, but we eat tons, laugh even more, play Charades and this year some leg wrestling took place after a particular niece of mine challenged me many months ago.

Then after we send everyone home, we let the kids open the present in their stockings from us.  This year they got chocolate lollipops and pajamas.  We also let Jay open a couple of gifts before we took him over to his mom's house for Christmas.  They posed for cute pictures and then we hit the sack so Santa could come.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Snow Days and Pre-Christmas Vacation Fun

This December has been amazing.  Little snow falls have been steadily coming blanketing the ground with enough snow to sled.  Our neighborhood has a great hill and so we have sledding parties, hot cocoa, fires and tons of fun.
When vacation finally came...our friends and fellow ward members introduced us to the game Innebandy.  It is a Swedish floor hockey.  Guess where the dad served his mission!  We had tons of fun, lots of goals were scored and minor injuries were received.  A perfect kind of fun.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Great to Be Eight

Before I forget, Issac's birthday has come and gone without mention.  For shame on my part.  It is the one most often missed or procrastinated the most.  But...it was a big one.  In our church at 8, a child has the option to get baptized.  Issac had been waiting anxiously for some time now.  His birthday this year was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and so things were a bit crammed, but we managed to get the highlights...

birthday party with school friends the weekend before his birthday -

birthday in texas with Travis's family -
and baptism and family festivities the weekend after his birthday -
I can't say enough amazing things about this boy, but to sum him up...he is almost always happy which makes for fun parenting.  I love you buddy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Christmas, Christmas, Christmas

Women's Club did their annual cookie sale.  The cookies I made and the women filling the boxes.
 The Manheim Community Library had a Holiday Crossings fundraiser.
 Mrs. Clause read to the children and we had an awesome bake shop and cafĂ©.
 Another board member spoiled Bella by buying for her a scarf Bella had her eye on.
 Christmas shopping with my good friend.  Oh yeah, we bought this!
 Our Relief Society progressive dinner and Christmas song sing along.
 Making gingerbread houses, aka graham cracker houses, for Kody's first grade class.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas

from our family to yours, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas:
Dear Family and Friends,
We hope life is treating you well and you are filled with much happiness at this time of year as well as all year long.  In case you are not a regular stalker of my Facebook page or blog, here is a snapshot of our family and how we are.
Travis is till in the Uranium business.  He loves it and will probably continue to do it for longer than we had originally planned.  It keeps him away from home traveling perhaps more than we would like, but it seems to work for our family.  He has avoided any major church responsibilities by being a dual resident of Pennsylvania and Wyoming.  Likewise his membership on the board of our local library was graciously extended to me so we could act as one voting board member for the times he is out of town.  He is still wonderful, doting, amazing and perfect in every way.
I, Mary, am still ridiculous, goofy, filled with tons of energy and assuming way more responsibility than any one person reasonably should.  But I don't like being bored and when all the kids started school two years ago, I reasoned I would have more free time.  Not so, I'm not sure how, but it just isn't.  But alas don't worry about me, I still find time for tons of reading, girls' nights out and assorted shenanigans.
Isabella, 11, is in middle school.  She is sweet and kind and helpful and so far really pretty amazing considering in less than three months she will be 12.  She is so different than Travis or I, but a wonderful mix of all the best of us.  She's not a fan of sports - despite my gentle persuasion - and instead prefers the Performing Arts.  She is pretty girly and tons of fun to have around.
Jonathin, 9, is our foster child.  Many didn't know but Travis and I became registered resource parents for the county a little over two years ago.  Jonathin has been with us for over a year, lots of you have wondered and even asked about the recurring little boy in our family photos.  We really can't say much about him, but he is pretty amazing too.  It's been so much fun having him with us and everyone will be filled with mixed emotions when it is time for him to go.
Wyatt, 9, is so easy, like since the day he was born never been a difficult child - easy.  He is quiet but happy, rarely causes trouble - but when he does look out.  He is great at school, church and home and makes life easier for me all the time.  When Travis is gone, he takes his "man of the house" responsibilities very seriously and will act as my protector.  It's pretty adorable.
Issac, 8, got baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We are so proud.  He continues to be happy, playful and very energetic.  These bouts of energy come even at night when he can be found randomly walking around the house while sleeping, even occasionally peeing where I'd rather he didn't.  Issac is very tender too and he makes for a super empathetic little boy despite his outward craziness.   
Dakota, 6, is my silly boy.  No longer a baby, but a little spoiled, he tries to milk his youngest status for all it is worth.  He is often found trying to sneak into my bed when Daddy is out of town.  Late at night when he gets the "winkies", he can be the funniest boy ever.  He is typical red head and so runs a little hot and cold.  Generally he likes to be happy though and each time he is, I am grateful because his not happy can really be a parent's nightmare.  See the picture above for proof.
We really have found much happiness this year, even during challenging times.  We can't thank you all enough for all your love, support and help that you have given us throughout the years.  We feel lucky to have such a wonderful network of friends and family.  We think each of you are amazing and feel blessed by the ways you have helped shape who our family has been and who we will become by your positive influence. 
Happy Holidays! 
Mary and family

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Second Home

If you would have asked me 14 years ago, would I ever consider 1** Dodge Road, Texas my second home, I would have laughed in your face.  This Christmas marks 14 years since my first visit to Texas.  Travis and I were dating and after Christmas I went down there to meet his family and of course because the angst of being apart for 2 whole weeks was more than we could bear. 

It was my first visit and I was overwhelmed with arriving in a strange city airport and no one was there to meet me.  My husband used to have a habit of being late.  I've pretty much broken him of it.  Once with him, we headed out to the ranch and I looked around at the dry, dusty tan color of the caliche soil and scrub oak and wondered why anyone would want to willingly live in this state.  Under my first observation I wasn't too impressed.  After hitting the ranch it was cool to ride in an old, open top jeep all around, be able to roam forever and still be on Whiting land, and hunt on your own property but I didn't think I could ever be converted to this Texas superiority complex that every Texas I had ever known possessed. 

Eventually I married my Texan and after many visits, this Thanksgiving I realized that somewhere along that way I became a convert.  Because while driving to TX from PA I sighed in relief once I hit the state border of Texas and not only because we had driven so many hours, but because I was home.  And as I finished the journey driving, as I turned up the driveway to his parent's house - I said, "Kids, we're home!"  Because that's what it really is.  My second home, my peace in life, the backstory to my kids and the way they are, who my husband intrinsically is and a host of many fabulous marital memories.

So of course Thanksgiving was awesome.  And the family spoiled us like crazy with food, fun, massages, hunting and just good old fashioned love and attention.  And Travis's brother and his family came too.  It was so good seeing them.  And so when it was time to leave, I felt a bit emotional, that I had to leave my haven and return to real life.  But I know we'll be back soon enough, because it's home and no one can stay away too long.

Thanksgiving Dinner

the view from the front of the house onto their land

a lot of the hunting channel and great weather

Dickens on Main - tree lighting and Christmas kickoff

it's not Texas w/o my Mexican food

butchering your own meat on the kitchen counter

the kids laying in the hammock

playing in the tree house - ehhh platform???

rope swing
touring the property in the aforementioned jeep
wide open spaces

tire swing and in the background their constant companion - Boomer