Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Eve Shennanigans

It's party time at our house on Christmas Eve - 7 years going strong.  It's probably my favorite time.  The cousins play, everyone eats and the night wouldn't be complete without Charades.  And then once all the family and friends have gone home, our kids get one or two gifts:  PJ's and a book.  They immediately change for pics and then tuck into their books and eventually beds.  And soon the magic happens.  But I'm the crazy lady who thinks almost every moment with my family is magic.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Catch Up and other December Events

Well the month of December always starts with a bang, with the first being Issac's birthday and speeds towards its crashing end on the 31st.  It is by far the fastest month of the year.  And January can never come soon enough with snowy, cold days that force me to stay home and take life at just a little slower pace.
Issac turns 9!

He asked for and got lots of Legos.  Little boy heaven!
He had a birthday party.  We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. 
Holiday Craft - Kody makes a present for Dad.

RS Christmas Dinner and Party

Resource Parent Even - kids pose with Santa.

5/6th Grade Christmas Concert (Wyatt Orchestra)

Bella builds a Christmas Train at Youth Group - YW's.

Still needs to talk to Santa!

7th/8th Grade Christmas Concert (Bella Orchestra and Band)
I may feel tired, but I think I look nice - preserve the moment!

White Elephant Christmas Party with friends!

Assembling Christmas Boxed Dinners for Women's Club of Manheim

Gingerbread houses for Pre-Algebra

Last Christmas Party before break - 3rd Grade

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Whitings

Dear Friends and Family,

You're probably visiting due to my blog address being on the back of our Christmas cards this year.  I bet you're thinking, "do people still blog?"  And the answer is not so much.  But I do, because every two years, I print my blog into a hardback bound book and call it a journal.  So if you really want the nitty gritty of our life, read your hearts out.  But for the rest of you who probably want the Cliff's Note version, here it is (let the brag fest begin):

Travis's work schedule has been whack a doodle this year.  Three years ago he started his own company drilling for Uranium.  Well due to a tsunami in Japan and an influx in recycled Uranium, demand was down this year and so Travis did very little with the company.  For the first half of the year we coasted along on savings, waiting for it to pick back up.  When it became clear it wouldn't until 2015 again(fingers crossed - he sort of loves this job), Travis got a job around here working for a Modular Commercial Construction company, NRB.  Basically they build commercial buildings on site and break them down and ship them to places where buildings need to go up fast or are too tight for building equipment (a lot of stuff goes to NYC).  Imagine building a skyscraper four floors at a time, well that's what they do.  In church, Travis serves as Executive Secretary and in life as World's Best Dad and Husband.  He's boss at those roles and we couldn't be more thrilled to claim him in our family.

Mary, okay none of this nonsense of writing about myself in the third person.  I'm staying busy volunteering at the kids' schools, in the community and in my new calling as 14-15 year old Sunday School teacher.  I'm still trying to be Super Mom and carve out time and space for myself to workout, read and sleep.  I've been upping my game in the Member Missionary department and going out with the Sister Missionaries whenever I can.  I sort of love it.  So much missionary potential back here, and if I'm not out with them, they seem to be at my house eating, same with the Elders.  I keep thinking all this good karma will go forward with my kids onto their missions.  Plus it's all good practice for all the missions Travis and I are still planning on going on once he retires, no time soon, but I've always been a planner.

Isabella is 12, in seventh grade and a wonderful juxtaposition of miniature adult and small child.  She loves Young Women's and thinks that hanging out with her friends on the weekends without her parents is the best.  Being the oldest she is uber responsible, mature, reliable and good natured.  All of these things sort of throw my world out of whack when she finally does act her age, which is forgetful, sometimes hormonal and occasionally irresponsible.  But I can't complain, because overall she is still a good apple:  a great student, violinist and trumpeter.  She is a little like me in that she constantly finds something to get involved with: acting in community theater, Farm Show Royalty, extra curricular activities like Cross County and anything else that catches her fancy.  She is naturally good at a lot of stuff and a pretty hard worker so she tends to excel and impress me regularly.

Wyatt is turning into a little man, still 10 until January, and I couldn't be more unsure of what to do with him.  Case in point, for Christmas he would like a tablet and then all of this equipment to turn his room into a home gym (a boxing bag, weights, a jump rope, he already has the pull up bar).  I think he needs to burn some testosterone, because if you knew this child at all you would be just as befuddled as me.  He's mellow and easy going and very sensitive.  He's his dad incarnate.  He's very strong physically, brilliant mentally, and just a touch "attitudy" if you insult him, but otherwise patient and independent in equal parts, not your ideological meathead.  He's a pro at the viola and earned his way to District Orchestra despite being partially tone deaf when it comes to singing.  It's an irony I will not ever understand.  He makes me smile and is super quick to give me hugs, so I'll keep him.

Issac, 9, is still my glasses wearing, giggle monkey.  It occurred to Travis and I that he is our only child who hasn't had the "talk" yet.  Yeah that one.  We tried to figure out why and assume it's just because he doesn't care.   This boy lives in his own world of toys, friends and playing.  He can't be bothered by any seriousness.  So this Christmas break, we've decided it's best to have the talk with him whether he cares or not, just so he hears it from us first or comprehends it anyway.  He's a good student, but doesn't really know or care about it.  He's happy to go to school and just as happy to be home.  He's currently obsessed with Legos and he loves Circus Club, yeah a club our school offers that teaches you circus skills.  He is trying to learn to juggle and loves the unicycle.  We got him one and hope that by summer he'll be cruising around on his own without a spotter.  He is also nuts for scouts and waits excitedly each week to attend.

Kody is the glue of our family.  I can't imagine life without this sensitive little creature, reminding us of our roles within the home.  He is just one year apart from Issac in school and has determined that he'd be over the moon if he could get smart enough to skip a grade and be in the same grade as his older brother.  It's not likely, but I love that he's not afraid to think big and aim high.  He's 7 right now and my mind is blown with the idea that next year he'll be baptized, the little caboose of our family - where does the time go.  Kody is smart and funny and cuddly still.  He is the first to crush your esophagus with a hug and strong enough to take down a horse, seriously he can do a 1 armed pull-up and sometimes beat Issac at arm wrestling.  He is my baby, but I try not to juvenilize him too much.  I probably stink at it, but I like how he is turning out.  So that's that.

Our family life is great in my opinion and it brings me more happiness than I ever possibly imagined or even knew existed.  My husband and kids are hands down my best friends and best playmates.  The fact that we can be an eternal family makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  Heavenly Father blesses our family daily and we can't help but see those blessings and try and pour gratitude to Him and pay it forward to others.  We feel lucky to know about Jesus Christ, his mortal ministry, death and resurrection and the amazing part it plays in our lives daily.   We love his gospel and find so much joy in attending his restored church on the Earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We hope that each of you know the joy and peace of His message and remember the special time of year we are celebrating.  If you are forgetting or getting bogged down by the to do list of worldly celebrating take a moment and watch this to help center yourself again in a world of chaos and busyness.  We love you and hope you know of your great worth in the sight of the Lord and us.  Merry Christmas and have a wonderful close to this year and a happy beginning to the next!!!

Our Family

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Everything is Bigger in Texas

They say "everything is bigger in Texas."  Well it just might be true, because even the fun feels more fun when you are there.  And since we spend most every Thanksgiving there, it may be a part of the reason it is my favorite holiday.  So here's a recap of our most recent holiday excursion.
The Ranch
First, let me say I have the best kids ever.  We drive most of the time, so that we can hunt and bring back whatever we have killed.  So this year that means 27 hours to get there and 25 to get back.  We drive straight through with Travis and I alternating who drives and who sleeps.  We leave the moment the kids get out of school on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, get there Wednesday evening and stay until Sunday night so we can get back in time for school again on Tuesday morning.  To prove how amazing it is, as we got off the turnpike and were within minutes of being home after driving 25 hours, we asked the kids if we had an extra week of vacation, would you guys be willing to turn around right now and drive back to Texas.  They all instantaneously and enthusiastically shouted yes.

And to that end I have to give them props.  They are the best kids and travelers ever.  They didn't fight once in the car.  They were so well behaved.  They read, played DS, fiddled on their tablets, watched movies, and played the typical car games and near the end of all that traveling we always end up with the "winkies" where none of us can stop laughing even though nothing is funny.  It's a testament to their personalities that instead of fighting that is what happens, lots of laughter.

Once in Texas it's familypalooza.  We see parents, grandparents, siblings, in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, extended family and close friends, etc...  It takes my kids and their cousins less and less time to fall back into fierce friends routine the older they get, which I love.  This year it took just a couple of hours and they had left all the adults behind to go run wild on the Ranch.  From there we hardly saw them, unless they were hungry or needed something.

Thursday Travis and the kids woke up and went hunting.  It's great that the whole family is so pro hunting because all the adults grab a younger child to hunt with, even if it's not their own and a bit of a damper on their own hunting, to instill this great lifestyle in the next generation of kids.  Nana bakes, cooks, and slaves away cooking.  And she is great at it.  I mean I gained 7 lbs in a week.  And that's not just on Thanksgiving day, but all week.  The food is plentiful, rich and full till southern cooking.  The youngest kids play close to the house while the hunters are gone and I got a 6 mile run in.  I had planned to do 3, but it was so beautiful and fun to run new places, that I just kept going.  After everyone returned from hunting and a quick trip to pick up a football - family Turkey Bowl ensued.  The younger kids played up in the closest yard, but as more people joined in, we moved to the lower part which covers more area.  Pictures are scarce as I played more than I photographed.  After football, the Thanksgiving lunch was amazing and turkey coma continued its yearly return where we all laid around watching football and eating off and on throughout the rest of the day. 

the huddle
running is awesome here in the open

Thanksgiving Dinner
Each day brought more hunting, everyday at sunrise and sunset, until you get something.  Issac usually lasts a day or two and then he is bored waiting and watching and gives up.  Bella, two years straight, has been able to blast early.  Wyatt two years straight has shot without success and he's a great shot, so I think it must be a case of nerves or buck fever that at showtime messes with his skills.

Throughout the week we go fishing, to Dickens on Main (the towns Christmas festival), to Bass Pro, to dig arrowheads, play in the barn (someone's kids -cough, cough mine- may have locked another person's kids in pigeon cages in the barn), fix up things like the Ranch Jeep, and usually get one big Ranch project done.  This year we built up a wall around an old well -seriously like 100 years old, built without mortar and dug by hand- so that we don't have anyone or anything (cows) falling in by accident.  This year we performed a religious ceremony, naming and blessing, the newest grandbaby together since she was not yet two months old, they waited for all of family to arrive.  Almost always on Sunday we celebrate Issac's birthday before we leave, because his birthday is December 1st and almost always we are on the road returning home.  It may not sound like anything special, when written, but it's pretty amazing to be a part of.  I love my in-laws, the family, the Ranch, and the legacy they have built, are building and passing on to my kids too.
some of the Whiting men
building a wall, concrete base and stone top

Old Fashioned, hand dug, no mortal stone well

mixing cement

Dickens on Main - families dance, bands play, fake snow is brought in
birthday boy and his cake