Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gone is 2011. . .

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .
The Maxwell Family’s 2011 Best and Worst of Times:

Best:  Our (new) annual ski-trip to the awesomely kid-friendly resort of Kendall Mtn. in Silverton, Colorado.  Two days of skiing plus staying overnight in a quaint home made it heavenly for our kids and us.
Worst:  Driving back to our home in a nasty, nasty snowstorm on one of the most treacherous mountain passes in America (siderails, anyone??).  I’m pretty sure I was crying for at least ½ of the drive home.

Best:  Celebrating my grandmother – a wonderful and beautiful lady whose positive outlook on life was a blessing and example to all of us who knew her.
Worst:  Her (Grandma Phyllis - Jelly-bean Grandma to my kids) sudden passing away in her home in Utah.  She was 93 years old.

Best:  Going camping as a family.  Sleeping in the great outdoors.  Cool nights.  Campfires.
Worst:  Going camping with Lucy – who was less than one at the time.  One time I stayed up the whole night holding her so she could sleep.  The other time it was Ben’s turn.  The other time?  There wasn’t.

Best:  The Maxwell Family Reunion.  This included Ben’s folks and all 3 of his siblings, plus spouses.  As well as 13 cousins.  This was in the Silverthorne area of Colorado.  It was beautiful and offered plenty of fun recreation – biking, hiking, trail-running (me and my sister-in-law, so fun!), etc.  But the best, truly, was being with family – devotionals, dinners, evening activities, and so on.  Our kids loved and adored their cousins so much!
Worst:  The Reunion coming to an end.  Bummer.

Best:  Two boys going to school.  Two boys who adore, adore, adore school and both of which are truly great students.
Worst:  Walking to and from school at 8am, 11am (to pick up ½ day attendee Jonas), and again at 3pm.  Now I love getting out in the fresh air – yes, even cold, fresh air.  But I don’t love Emmy crying at least 1 out of the 3 times we have to go to school, every day.  It gets real old.

Best:  Going to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving.  My parents are leaving on a mission for our church in December.  They are going to Tokyo, Japan (or Pinocchio, Japan as 2 of my kids call it) for 18 months.  We loved being with them and did a lot of fun activities – museums, lunch, ice cream, Christmas lights, etc.
Worst:  Most of my family was suffering from the Worst.  Cold.  Ever.  Sore throats, extreme congestion, throbbing ears, body aches – you name it.  I was on antibiotics for an ear infection.  Lucy’s eardrum ruptured while there.  At times Ben was achy and nauseous.  Emmy cried from ear pain.  The boys seemed okay.  

Reflecting on this past year I see so many “best of times.”  Our family has been richly blessed with so much.  But when it comes down to it I think most of our blessings are not from what we get or receive – but, rather, from what we know.  For I know that we are all children of God.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.  And I know that families can be together forever.  It are these specific blessings of truth that give me peace and joy this holiday season.

Much love this Christmas season,

Ben, Emily, Miles, Jonas, Emmy, and Lucy Maxwell

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The kids go Ice-Rinking in the backyard. . .

The kids had lots of fun - and lots of falls. 

Jonas got the biggest goose-egg I had ever seen.  I could hardly look it at it disgusted me so.  This was a few hours afterwards (he would not let me take a picture right away) - nothing in comparison to what it was.  It literally was golf-ball sized.  Jonas was quite upset and declared, "I won't go back on the rink for 3 day!"  But what that translated into was, "I'm going to go out on the rink 3 more times today!"   Ha.  The kids now wear ski-helmets.

After dinner the boys went out with their headlamps on - with Ben.  They had another wonderful time on the rink.  Emmy went to and stayed for about 1/2 the time.  It's pretty neat.

Here's a fun video of them doing the "Jonas slide"

Indeed they love it.  It's 7:45am and all three big kids are already suited up and out there.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas break

Some fun things have been happening here during our Christmas break.  Mainly playing with new toys.  It's perfect.  Tonite the boys finally got batteries in the headlamps (from Santa) and ran all around the backyard having such a blast.  It was pretty awesome watching them - from the inside.  :)

Here they are checking out what Ben has growing in our yard - yep, that's right, an ice rink.  Of course.


 Man I love this picture.  Emmy came running in at least 1/2 a dozen times crying, "They are scaring me and yelling about the one-eyed monster!"  Ha.

Super cool cuties.

There has also been a lot of rubber-band shooting:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

A Merry Christmas morning!  The boys were awake at 5:30 (just as expected), but Ben went and shut their door and they stayed there, as told, until 6:30 (okay, maybe they came in at 6:25, but close).

 Lucy loves her doll that Santa brought.

 Here are the happy kiddos on Christmas morning.

 Needless to say, Lucy didn't eat much of her oatmeal after this. . .

 Miles and his goodies from Santa.

 Jonas loves this plane from Santa.  You can hardly see it since it blends in to the tree, but oh well.

 Emmy in her castle from Santa.

 This was one of the first "contraptions" Miles set up.  I love this set and so does Miles.  It's perfect for him.

I had told the kids the night before that when we got up we were just going to check out what Santa brought.  Santa leaves each kid one "big" gift and then fills the stockings.  There was plenty of entertainment from Santa to keep us busy for the next couple of hours that morning.  A little before 8:30 Ben headed out to church early to practice with the choir.  I got everyone ready and then had to take pictures.  And you get to see all 3 of them b/c they all make me laugh:
 Yep, the sun was a little bright and glaring.

 Yep, sun still there.  Glaring.  It was also so cold!

 Kind of better.  Totally cute, in my not-humble opinion.

After church we came home and I got some things ready for dinner while Ben picked up a little bit.  Then we got to unwrap the presents:
 I love this picture of cute Lucy playing with her new toy from Grandma.

 Jonas was So Excited! when he opened this gift.  So Excited!  He then spent the greater part of the afternoon assembling it together, on his own.

TaDa!  Awesome.  

The batteries in our camera were dead by now (in fact, to get this picture, we had to scrounge around for a lot of random batteries.  I think some of the batteries were from the TV remote. . . I tried to get one more shot, but all batteries were completely exhausted at that point.)

So lucky for you I don't have more pictures.  Because I could have.  I tried to get Ben to go to our neighbors and "borrow" some, but he wouldn't.  Sigh.

Our dinner consisted of everyone having their very own cornish hen (Lucy and I shared).  Nobody but Ben really eats most of the chicken (though he doesn't eat much of the white meat. . .), but it's still fun to do.  And I picked off the uneaten meat and we'll be using it in dinners this week.  We also had yummy cooked carrots and potatoes.  And rolls.  And red,white, and green layered jello.  Definitely tastier than Christmas Eve!

It was really just a great, great day.  The kids loved it and loved everything they got.  We're all sad it's over and gone.  Now on to 2012 I guess!

Christmas Eve

I started out Christmas Eve with an incredibly chilly run - a good run, though.  I did about 7ish miles and it was 2 degrees out with a "real feel" of -11.  I think that's ridiculous; it didn't really feel like that.  But, for sure, it was cold.  When I came home I found the boys out in the back playing:
 Cute, but brrrr.  Miles had on some pathetic PJ pants but told me, "I like being cold!"  He's like his Grandpa G.

The rest of the day was just spent around the house getting things done and ready for the evening and next day.  For dinner we had decided on a "Little House on the Prairie" theme.  Ben actually bought a cookbook a year ago based on foods from the series. Here was a quaint dinner set-up:
 Isn't it lovely?  Sadly, though, the ambiance was much more delightful than was the meal.  I know we won't be doing oxtails again (not totally yucky, really, but you couldn't get any meat off the bone.  I got one piece from my chunk.  Which, I guess, was perfect for me.  Ha.)  Creamed carrots - score!  So good.  Corn dodgers - okay.  Baked bean - alright (though Ben loved them).  We ate on our camping plates.  It was fun, just not tasty.  :)

 The kids in their Christmas PJs.  Cute.

Then we went to open up the sibling gifts.  We had drawn names earlier this month and whose name you got you had to make them something.  It's a tradition I know we'll continue.  It was a lot of fun.

 Jonas made Lucy some empty water bottles filled with glitter and oil.  Cool!

 Emmy made Jonas a wood sword.  Ben cut it.  Emmy painted it.  Jonas loves it.

 Lucy "made" Miles a book enitled "I love Miles."  It's full of pictures of them and some wording as well.  I had planned to make that for Miles and then I got an email for up to $30 of free products from this store.  Score!  I created it and only had to pay for shipping.  So it's kind-of homemade, right?  :)

And Miles made some wooden clothespin mermaid doll that he found online.  Emmy was definitely sweet on it.

The kids were in bed and asleep before 8pm.  It was truly a Christmas Eve miracle.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hansel and Gretel

So Miles' class did a play production of "Hansel and Gretel."  We got to watch the performance last night.  It was so delightful.  Miles just loved it, too.  Even though he didn't have a major role, he was totally satisfied with his part and told me that he wanted to do 1,000 plays in his lifetime.

Miles was a bird.  But not just a bird, I guess, the Lead Bird.
So here he is with a few other birds, picking up the crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel.

He had 2 "solo" acts - solo bird acts, I guess.  The first time, he lead Hansel and Gretel to the Witch's Gingerbread house.  The second time, he lead them back to their home.  Both times he lead them on an elaborate path (he told me exactly how he was going to do it, "I go around the table, behind the. . . ") and trilled the entire time.  It was quite adorable - his trill.  

 Here is the entire cast.  :)  So cool that his wonderful teacher does this!  She even did it last year with Miles' 1st grade class.  Amazing.

 This is after the play.  This is how Miles showed the gingerbread house to Hansel and Gretel.

Perfect that he got to play a bird, huh?  It's only his most favorite animal.  :)  At the very end of the performance the kids were all lined up and were to say their name and who they played.  Miles was towards the end and about 17 kids had gone and said, "My name is David and I played the woodcutter," etc.  And what did Miles do?  He just trilled and trilled.  He truly stayed in character!  So funny.  So cute.  So Miles.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ben's 36th Birthday

 So I think it was a fun day for Ben and the rest of us.  Long and busy, but hopefully good for Ben.  After we got Jonas from school I thought it would be fun to "decorate" Ben's bike (he bikes to work every day).  The kids were totally excited to do this!  So we got a few balloons and then went to his work "secretly" and tied on some balloons and even put streamers on his handlebars.  I really wanted to put crepe paper in his tire spokes, but it was getting cold and Lucy was running all over the parking lot.  So we left, smiling at our balloons.

So, naturally, we were excited when Ben called to say he was headed home.  We all went out and eagerly awaited to see him on his birthday bike.  :)  Ben said the ride humbled him.  Ha.

But you can just see from this picture how fun it was!  Well, for the kids.  :)

 Ben opened a few of his presents and cards from the kids.  I helped the kids work on some cards and each included a "coupon" for Ben.  Emmy's coupon:  one drawing by her.  Jonas' coupon:  2 games of memory.  Miles' coupon:  hiking the Y.  So cute.

Then we had dinner (beef casserole and butternut squash - his pick) followed by cake.  The cake was super-duper rich.  And delicious.  Think Nutella in cake form.  But the kids weren't big fans.
 36 and handsome.  Nothing wrong with that.

After all this it was gingerbread time.  It was late enough that I was able to get Lucy out of the way to bed.  It was fun.  Ben and I shared a gingerbread house - I didn't get a picture of the "B & E" Ben so lovingly put on the back of our house.  :)

But the big finish of the night has no pictures. . . we played chess.  Ben has wanted to teach and play with me for the past 9 1/2 years and I have sweetly refused.  Until tonight.  I thought it was time to give him this as a birthday present.  So we played.  It lasted forever.  In the end, I won.  By pure accident since I really didn't have much of a clue as to what was happening (I kept telling Ben that he was really just playing against himself. . . )  But it was kind-of fun.  And I just might play again.  Perhaps on December 20th, 2012.

I love this man and was happy to get to celebrate him with our kids.

It's a wonder. . .

So. . . for my birthday I usually request a rice-krispie cake with chocolate frosting.

And for Ben's birthday?  Well for today he requested "Swedish Chocolate Layer Cake (Chokladtarta)."  It has 3 different parts, making a 7 layered cake.  The cake part is made with hazelnuts and cocoa, among other ingredients.  The "filling" includes whipping cream and chocolate.  And the glaze has more cocoa and powdered sugar.

I just think it's funny how different our requests are.  It's a wonder that a rice-krispie cake type of gal madly loves her chocolate layer cake type of guy.

Happy Birthday Ben.  I love you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jonas' birthday. . . could it have been better?

Well Jonas is a great boy to have a birthday celebration for.  He was perfectly delightful.  He just loved it all.  Thought it was the best day ever.  Adored his toys.  And so on.  A true delight - both him and his birthday.
 I asked him to show me how old he is and this is what he did.  Awesome.

Birthday breakfast = Sugar cereal.  Notice the cool chair just for him - kudos to Ben.

 Opening his 1st present in the morning - just one until Dad comes home. . . He was pretty pleased with his Mario car thingy.

I went to Jonas' classroom at 10 - with Lucy and Emmy, too.  We brought some snacks - white-chocolate dipped pretzels (Jonas helped make), Kettle corn pop-corn (the only kind Jonas likes) and Capri-Suns.  Super fun.  I love going to his classroom - and he was so happy to have us there (especially Lucy, I'm sure.  She was a big hit.  Especially her stylish boots.)  Everyone had snack and then we played "The Number Game."  Everyone gets in a circle.  Jonas got to pick a number - 6.  You go around the room with everyone saying a number, "1," "2," and then whoever says "6" has to sit down and it starts over.  The kids were roaring with laughter when Ms. Kristi got "6" and had to sit down.  It was hilarious and adorable.  But I forgot to take pictures in his classroom - so here he is by his school building.  He is wearing the birthday hat his teacher made for him, which he wouldn't wear in the classroom (I knew it).

Mother Nature also brought him a present - 5 inches and thick, wet snow.  Snow Fun!

We left school a half-hour early so we could go to Open-Gym at the local gymnastics place.  We haven't been all season and it's only on Wednesdays - so how perfect!  He told me before he went that he wanted to do "flip-overs."  And he did - in the foam pit.  He loved, loved, loved every minute of it.  It was the perfect place to go on his birthday.

The kids got to watch a movie that afternoon.  We had bought him a Scooby Doo one and they all seemed to love it.  

Then we finally opened presents. . .

He got some great things - but this was definitely The Hit.  Lego Dirt Bike Transporter.  Totally worth the expedited shipping (the toy wasn't even on the market until Saturday - and I just knew it would be perfect.  And it was).

Oh man was Jonas hilarious after opening his gifts.  He commented at least a dozen times, "I love you Mom!"  (Yes, I kept reminding him his Dad played a huge part in his birthday, too.)  And literally smothered me with kisses.  He was just so ecstatic!

His beloved toy.  I love it.  He LOVES it.

And he was so adorable when talking to his grandparents.  When my parents called (from the MTC!) he talked to them for a few minutes and answered their questions.  Then he whispered to me, completely on his own, "Mom, what did they give me?"  I told him and then he thanked them and told them he liked their gifts. Such a sweetie.  He pretty much did the same thing when talking to Ben's parents as well. It was amazing.  :)  He was amazing.

We had a school-program for Miles that evening and then we came back and ate cake.  No ice cream for this ice-cream non-lover.  So his cake was a "bike-jumps" cake and we even got a bike and stuck a picture of Jonas on it.  Suh-weet.  The "other stuff" on the cake was to look like pebbles, rocks, etc.

It was such a delightful day because Jonas was just a pure 6 year-old delight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Dearest Jonas,

So Jonas it is this time of year again. December is such a crazy, crazy month and I think this year has proved our busiest so far. School programs, activities with friends, and so on. But, alas, I cannot stop time and so you have, yet again, another birthday. 6. 6. You, 6? Oh me oh my. You're such a wonderful boy and you'll make a wonderful 6 year-old. In some ways, you haven't changed much since last year. In some ways, you've changed a whole lot.

You still are sweet. And you still adore Lucy. I hope neither of those will ever change. You want to make us happy - usually when we ask you to do something (be it chores, getting PJs on. . .) you do it. The first time we ask. Usually without a murmur. It's pretty awesome (one of your favorite words). You're easy-going and fun to get along with.

Lucy-lover. That was how we described you last year on our Christmas letter. And it continues to be true to this day - maybe even more so. You always are telling her that she is the best baby, that she is so awesome, that she is the cutest, and on and on. Saying you love her is understatement really. You are in her face quite a bit - literally. She doesn't particularly like that. Your name was the first she learned to say of all her siblings (Joe-Joe). It's adorable to hear her say your name. If it melts my heart, I can only imagine what it does to yours. You want to please her, make her smile, and just make her happy. You, Miles, and Emmy all fight over who gets to sit by her at meal times. It sounds sweet. And it kind of is. But it's also really annoying when I'm trying to get 4 kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door for school - and you boys are crying about who gets to sit by Lucy at breakfast this week. Ugh.

You are a game-player. You got Minotaurs last year and just love, love, love playing it. Just ask Grandma Diana (who babysat you for a few days while I was in Utah. . . and played that game with you, oh I don't know, maybe a hundred times?) It's kind of a cool game. You love memory games, too. And you are good. Sometimes you'll even beat me. Once, though, when I was way ahead I said, "Jonas, I'm gonna cream you. . . in to pudding." To which you responded: "If I was Amelia Bedelia I would go and get a bowl and spoon right now." Nice.

Which leads me to another thing about ya: you are dang funny. You say the funniest things. Sometimes trying to be funny, and other times not. You're a silly goof and very fun and entertaining to watch, listen to, and just be around. You liven up our home in a very, very, very good way. Oh I love you.

You continue to be our little trickster, too. Always doing "tricky" things. You skateboard a teeny-tiny bit. You like to ride your scooter in all sorts of funky ways. You also love to jump and catch air with your scooter. You're pretty neat.

The biggest change this past year has been school. You are now a school-goer. And, like your big brother, you adore it. You have a great teacher and some great classmates. You have a best buddy, Jake, that you talk about all the time. We like Jake, too. You think a lot of the girls in your class are beautiful and you like them- especially Bella. You are smart. Smart, smart. You read well and write so well. You have great penmanship and spelling for a kindergartner. Here's one of my favorite writings you've brought home:
How perfect is that - it shows your love of Lucy and you're great writing. :) I especially like how you play "ga-ga goo-goo" with her. You're so cute.

You are just a delight to have around. You add great balance to our family. You are an amazing brother and son. You are treasured. You are loved. A whole lot.

Happy 6th birthday my little man,