And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year

Since church was cancelled on Christmas Eve, I made my family dress up in their Christmas outfits for New Years Eve. I sure do love this little family of mine and I love dressing up all "matchy-matchy." It is just one small way I like to connect us together. I love taking pictures and documenting these different stages. My kids are changing and growing so fast and I love looking back and seeing how we grow, both together and as individuals. I feel so blessed to have these three special spirits and one hunky husband to call mine for time and eternity!!
Each New Years I try to outdo myself by making the event bigger and better than the last. Typically this entails homemade Chinese food, homemade sushi, minute-to-win-it games, ringing in the new year for the kids...and then by midnight I'm too exhausted to do anything, let alone ring in the new year myself. It's a stressful way to celebrate and coming off a stressful and busy Christmas season...definitely not how I wanted to celebrate. So...this year the theme was "SIMPLIFY." I scaled down dinner with the help of mom and TJ by just going Costco route. Honestly if it wasn't Sunday I probably would have catered the entire meal from Wan Lung. We did orange chicken, egg rolls, fried rice, gyoza, BBQ pork, and cheesecake with homemade berry compote for dessert. Then we did a puzzle, youtubed the NYC ball drop for the kids at 9, put the kids to bed, watched a movie, and then said "Happy New Year" as we watched the countdown from my apple watch. It was simple, family filled, and yet still fun. Pretty much the perfect way to celebrate in my book. No one was stressed out and yelling at everyone (always my job), and everyone still had a great time. Don't get me wrong...I like going all out some years. But some years, it's just nice to relax and go the simple route!

Family History - Throughout all Generations

Doing family history work is something that has been nagging at my mind for years. More so when we lived in Okinawa and we didn't have a temple anywhere close. I realized that family history work and work that happens in the temple are two halves of a whole. I was only receiving 1/2 a blessing by only doing temple work for preassigned temple names. However, I again put off the work and my poor ancestors on the other side of the veil continued to wait. Well now is the time. I'm living with my mom who knows a lot of my ancestors stories and we have a lot of the work done...just not inputted. Not to mention, before my grandmother died, she made my mom promise that we would baptize her. My mom and I knew that everyone was coming home for Christmas and now was the time to prepare these names for baptism. Well low and behold we were able to prepare my grandma's name, her parents names, and her parents-parents names. That's three generations of family members that have been waiting years and years for their work to be done. What a joyous occasion for our family to be able to do together. We printed off the names, dropped our kids off with a sitter, and headed to the temple. The sun was shinning and the spirit was strong. I wanted to arrive early to take a few pictures and lucky for us there was a young man headed into the temple that said he would love to take a picture for us. Turns out he was there for his own wedding and got there a few minutes early. My dad in his infinite wisdom and wittiness, after learning it was this young mans wedding day quickly replied, "let us know if we can take any pictures for you." Luckily the young man had a sense a humor...and hopefully he has an understanding and flexible bride.
We headed into the temple and everyone got suited up in their jumpsuits. I'm not sure how other family baptisms go, but I felt the spirit so strong I could literally feel my ancestors spirits as if their hands were on my shoulders. We all gathered around the font as my dad read the name of my grandmother and my great grandmother and then dipped my mom into the water. We all had tears in our eyes as we knew Grandma accepted the gospel and was greeted merrily by Papa Charlie. Other family names were read off as we all witnessed and felt the love and joy of loved ones passed. Several workers commented on what a beautiful family we were and how strong the spirit was in the room. One lady even said "I'm fairly new to baptisms, but this was the loveliest and most spiritual family baptisms I have witnessed. I feel so blessed to have been an onlooker." This whole experience ignited a fire within me to get more work done! I need to find more names and bring my family the fullness of the gospel. I can't wait to do more family history work!!!

Family Time

I always love seeing family come into town. To catch up on everyone's happenings and then reacquaint ourselves since we all saw each other last. With our kids being so little I feel like each time we get together...everyone is strangers to them. Dominik and Brooklyn are starting to be old enough to pull from past experiences, but everyone else need a few days of getting to know everyone before they start to feel comfortable. Grandma and Grandpa Finlayson, Uncle Chase, Uncle Curtis, Aunt Courtney, Dean and Quinn were all the guests of honor for the Christmas season and we all could not be more excited. We had so much planned...most of which deserved its very own blog post...however, it was the day to day monotony that was so much fun that it deserved its very own post. I absolutely love my family. They bring me so much joy and I want to remember the big things we do together as well as the little things. Cooking in the kitchen, taking family pictures in the freezing cold, Dean spreading spoonfuls of peanut butter onto a whole apple...making a complete mess...but loving every bite, Parker and Dean coloring on each others faces, playing Nintendo Switch and wasting hours of time...but laughing...and talking about life all the while, and going to the escape room where I felt under qualified and overwhelmed...but still having fun surrounded by family.
These are the moments albeit little...that add up. They are the times we laugh together, cry together, and just all around have fun together. I'm so blessed to be with these guys for eternity and I want to soak up every single second that I can!!

A Real Who-Done-It

For Jana's birthday last year I had to bail last minute due to sick kids and a lack of a car; so this year I was going to go above and beyond to let Jana know how special she is to me. She is after all, the one who set me up with my forever companion...I pretty much owe everything I have to her. I have also always wanted to put on a murder mystery dinner so this was all setting up to be a win-win situation. I messaged Andy with the idea beforehand and he LOVED the idea so we were moving forward with plans. I went onto Etsy and found a pre-scripted murder mystery and thought that it was the best way to go since I had never technically been to one before. The dinner was a movie premier and was set in the 50's in Hollywood. I was the hostess, but the dinner itself was at Andy's sisters house in Boring so that made things a little difficult, but not impossible. TJ was coming straight from work but luckily for me, my mom and dad watched the kids and Chase and Courtney came with me to help set up. The dinner itself was a delicious compilation of appetizers brought by everyone in attendance. Everyone was sent their parts with a brief summary of who they were (things they could share) and their objectives during the first half of the game (things they couldn't share). The success of the game depended solely on the acting of the participants so I was pretty careful when assigning parts. Brandi and Tyson were supposed to come but poor Kylie had a double ear infection and double pink eye the day of the party. Courtney and Chase stepped in last minute though and did great; so while I really missed Tyson and Brandi... I was happy that the part was filled and I still had someone to hang out with at the party.
Everyone came dressed to the hilt and was hilariously in character. The decorations were on point and the evening was shaping up to be fantastic. The guest of honor (Jana) arrived promptly at the part starting and was greeted with "Happy Birthday's" and clapping. She looked stunning! The guests started off enjoying appetizers and getting to know one anothers (their characters at least). About half way thorough Doris Law (Courtney) screamed and everyone moved to a side room that was set up with a dead body and various clues. Everyone then received another character synopsis that said whether they were innocent or guilty and then everyone had to plead their case. The murder was identified and then they solution was read. Everyone seemed to have a fabulous time...and best of all...Jana LOVED it!!! What a fantastic night it was!!!

Christmas Bells

As a kid I would lay awake on Christmas Eve in complete and total jubilation. I was too excited to sleep, and too tired to get up and watch for Santa's arrival. I loved the magical butterflies that would swarm as I waited for the sun to rise and my parents to give us the go ahead and open up presents. Such a special holiday. As I grew older the magic slowly dissipated, and while I still enjoyed the holiday it evolved into more of a special time to spend with family. Now that I have kids the holiday has regained the magic...but in a completely different way. The magic is through the eyes of my children. Christmas is more magical now then I ever thought possible. I can't even explain the joy I feel as I listen to my children speculate and talk about Christmas. They are so absorbed in the idea of Christmas and the fact that we celebrate Jesus' birth as well as Santa and presents and even giving. They love shopping for others and they love (definitely more) talking about what they want from Santa. They take every chance they get to write letters to Santa and I swear they ask for something different every. single. time. Drives a mama crazy! Needless to say...I awaited this Christmas with great anticipation. So we sent the kids to bed Christmas Eve and got everything set up. The presents were laid out, the stockings were stuffed, and Courtney had the brilliant idea to set out Santa's footprints (made with dusted flour around PaPa's boots). What a magical living room!! The adults went to bed and again I found myself laying awake thinking about the faces my kids would be making as they saw the magic downstairs.
The kids woke up and the excitement levels were through the roof. Santa brought Dominik, Parker, and Maylee (Santa was on a budget this year) a Nintendo Switch with extra controllers, Minecraft (game), and a few accessories. Santa brought Dean a Flip-a-zoo and a soccer ball. The kids loved the little trinkets in their stockings and then we opened our little presents as a family. This year I simplified and got each child 4 things. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. I loved it! They weren't overwhelmed with presents but still got a few presents. Grandma was sure to inundate them with all her presents, but our little family Christmas was just perfect. Only took a little bit of time, and was still magical and fun.
After our little family Christmas we did breakfast as a family. I made creme brule overnight French toast and it was absolutely spectacular. It was instantly a family favorite and everyone requested that it become an annual Christmas breakfast meal. I happily obliged as the dish was super easy and required zero work on Christmas morning. My kind of breakfast!
Breakfast was devoured and we were joined by Tyson, Brandi, and family and the kids were in cousin, and excitement overload. They had waited long enough to dive into the presents and we could no longer hold them back. The adults decided to do kids presents first and then the adults could go around and open theirs. Each kid opened one and then they would excitedly watch their cousins open theirs. I was so pleasantly pleased at how excited and happy that Dominik and Parker were for their cousins when they would open their presents. They were patient for their turn and showed lots of gratitude to their gift giver. Makes a mama proud! Dominik's favorite present was his drone and Parker's was his roller skates; although I'm sure that despite the pads that came with the roller skates, they will inevitably result in a few broken bones. Maylee slept though all the festivities so it was unclear at this point which present was her favorite.
Once the kids were all done with their presents it was the adults turn. I love going around in a circle and opening the presents one at a time. Each present seems to have a story and I love seeing everyone else's faces as they see their gift. I love all my siblings (an in-laws who are just like siblings) so much! Towards the end of present opening, Maylee and Quinn woke up and then we all got to see them open their presents.
I always feel so sad when the presents are done opening and then the big Christmas climax seems to fizzle out and the holiday jitters and excitement are over. This year however, we had 2 Christmases planned as Grandma and Grandpa Finlayson were in town and at Jana and Andy's house. After lunch and presents we headed over to spend some time with them before they had to catch their flight back to Las Vegas. The kids at this point though were on present overload and had just about as much sugar, presents, and excitement that their little bodies could handle. Parker at one point screamed "I WANT MORE PRESENTS." He's a pretty high-energy kid as it is but the festivities were just too much; he was running on fumes. Sadly we only had a little bit of time to spend here before Grandma and Grandpa had to pack and take off. We were supposed to spend more time with them, but the weather brought treacherous road conditions that weren't safe to drive and we unfortunately only got to see them a few times. We still enjoyed the time they did come and are grateful we got to see them at all! After Christmas with Jandy we went back to Grandma and Grandpa Papenfuss' house and finished the holiday with a delicious Christmas Dinner and some Nintendo Switch. Dinner was a perfect combination of comfort foods and tasty treats. We had ham, gratin potatoes, sweet potatoes, bacon green beans, pretzel jell-o salad, broccoli salad, berry pie, and chocolate cream pie. The perfect way to end the holiday...the kids were exhausted, happy, and full. My cup runneth over. I love everything about Christmas!!