Sunday, December 30, 2012

christmas tree hunting

Chad and I both grew up with real trees every year for Christmas.  It was just the right way of doing things.  In fact, my little brother calls people with artificial trees, "fake-tree-families."  For five years we were one of those.  We were given a hand-me-down Christmas tree just after our first Christmas.  I thought it was a nice artificial tree.  Chad hated the thing.  That is mainly because he was in charge of setting it up each year, in an old metal tree stand I saved from when I was in collage in Rexburg (which means it was cheap and made for a real tree).  He also had to put the lights on, which proved to be a trail every year.  Last year I was assigned to buy a new tree at the after-Christmas sales.  They were all gone when I got there.  I admit that I was not sad.  I really didn't want to fork out the dough to buy a new one.  When we moved Chad begged me to let us just leave it behind, but as is usually the case, I won.  It arrived safely in Ohio. 

This year, as the holiday season approached, Chad started early to plan the seeds of discontent in my heart.  He started looking up tree farms and  talking about the smell of the Christmas tree that just screamed, "Family Christmas!"  I didn't fully give in until the day I had to buy a new tree stand (the trusty rusty did not make it safely to Ohio).  As I stood there in Wal-Mart in front of the tree stands, I could see I had only two cheap options.  One was for a real tree.  The other for a fakie.  Right next to the tree stands were these little sticks meant to be hung in your fake tree that were supposed to make it smell real.  I had already decided I would be including them in my purchase.  However, all of the seeds Chad had planted got me.  If I just gave in and got a real tree, I wouldn't have to buy the tree smell too.  Chad won.

I googled tree farms (there are no mountains in this state to go real Christmas tree hunting), make few phone calls, and made a decision.  It was a good one too! It was about 25 minutes away, but you could choose any tree you wanted for $30.00.   Chad's day off just happened to be in the middle of the week on a perfect day.  We were greeted by a guy with a lumber-jack type beard in a green flannel shirt.  He led us into this cute renovated old bard that was decked out for Christmas, and smelled like Heaven!  They had us stand by the fireplace in the middle of the barn to get warm before going out.  They popped us popcorn over the fire while Christmas music was playing and answered all of our questions about their business while we enjoyed the surroundings.  It was so fun!
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Then off to the field we were told had some of their tallest trees.  Wish a tree wagon pulling the crew, we sang songs and walked all the way to the end of the field comparing our options.  After some debate, we finally settled on one, and Chad started sawing.  It wasn't as big as we had hoped, but it was full.
videoOnce we arrived back at the barn we pet the donkey that was there.  The lady that we paid was so funny.  She saw our tree and said, "I know this tree!  Did you get it about five rows from the back near the east fence?"  She really did know the tree, and apparently really loves the trees on her farm she grew from little seedlings!  We didn't tell her that we planned to trim the top that she had left tall to give it "personality."  Then we watched as our tree was shaken and wrapped.  This was fun to watch and made life so much easier than trying to do it ourselves.   Actually, it wasn't just easier, it was all kinda magical.  I 
it far exceeded our expectations, and it has already been decided that this will be our new Ohio family tradition!

As it turned out, it really was a prefect Christmas tree.  It was much taller than we thought once we got it inside.  It was exactly the right height (9 feet with a half inch to spare), full and beautiful.  While it was about the odorless real tree I have ever had, I think that was a blessing.  Smells have a tendency to bother me these days.  Maybe next year when all six of us head back to the tree farm, the tree we already picked out for next year will smell better!






Friday, November 30, 2012

thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving this year was what I like to call "nontraditional"  There wasn't much that resembled anything I grew up with, or anything that we have done in the last several years.  This is our 5th one away from family.  The last four, were during med school, and even though were weren't with our family, we were surrounded by amazing friends who were also away from family.  This year we are definitely surrounded by wonderful people, but life is just a little different.  The most traditional part was preschool.  We read books about the first Thanksgiving, made Pilgrim and Indian hats, and had a mini dinner.

Chad had to work on Thanksgiving.  He had thought that we would just celebrate on a different day, but instead decided to just celebrate the most important part: the things we are the most grateful for.  We drove into Dayton and met Chad at the hospital cafeteria.  We had Thanksgiving dinner resident style, but still as a family.  Aimee, Porter and Pratt had chicken fingers, I had ham, and Chad went with turkey.  When the kids and I got home we made a few pies.  Apple for Chad, and banana cream for me.  Chad actually got off early and was home by 5:30 that night.  It was awesome just to have a little extra time together.
 We did spend the entire month making a gratitude tree.  The kids and I gathered some dead sticks and put them in a vase. I cut out tons of the little circles or "gratitude leaves."  Each morning the kids and I would write down something that we are thankful for after scriptures, and Chad would usually leave one on the kitchen counter each morning to be hung up with ours.
Chad asked me to please save the leaves.  I told him I would save them long enough to record what things made it on the tree.  Here are most of our "gratitudes."
Daddy:  warm clothes, singing, Joseph Smith, snow, Sundays, days off, the sacrament, faith, prophets and apostles.
Mommy: family scriptures, happy home, the temple, our bodies, America, our beautiful world, health, LDS church membership, repentance, my sweetheart, Jesus Christ, the atonement, covenants, Huban, the Holy Ghost, a living prophet, missionaries, the priesthood.
Aimee:  dancing, fruit & home, catching frogs as a family, when dad gets to stay home and play, our berry tree, animals, Thanksgiving lunch with dad, Grandpa's and Grandma's, my sweet brother Porter, our happy home, Daddy's job, Barbie movies, Jesus us our brother, Heavenly Father & Jesus, people at the hospital, Mommy and Daddy, forever families, dolls.
Porter:  milk, lights, the tree of life, cereal, a nice warm home, waffles, doors, birds that fly, trees, Aimee is my best friend, family, popcorn, animals, Dad's hospital, the gratitude tree, Daddy, waffles iron, a new freezer, Mommy, waffles, snow.
Pratt:  he scribbles on a few leaves when I wasn't looking, so I hung them up
We are so blessed!
 

days off

Chad's days off are always a big deal to the kids, and we try make it a day to always look forward to.  We are, however, cheap, and proud of it!  We find fun for free.  This day off we redeemed several Chuck E. Cheese coupons off the back of our string cheese package for free tokens.  We used to to this all the time in Omaha.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that our new home location was much nicer, and far cleaner!  We can get 36 tokens per trip (or three wrapper coupons).  That is plenty to keep everyone happy until we are ready to ditch the place.  One of our favorite things to do there is to get a family picture from the photo drawing game.  I don't have that picture in my camera, but here a few from the day anyway.
 
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 A friend of mine invited us to go to the free day at the children's museum.  It just happened to be on Chad's day off so we all piled into the van and enjoyed the afternoon exploring Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.  It was much bigger than the one in Omaha.  It's biggest downfall was that it has several levels connected by slides and climbing nets.  Chad just about had a heart attack when Porter zipped down the slide before we could see where he went.  Pratt peed through his diaper about the same time we found him so "running off" was punished with it being time to leave.  I hear there are two other free days a year, so we will be going back!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

aimee's art

I am not sure why Lehi's vision was the subject Aimee chose to draw for Aunt Torj's birthday, but I had to take a quick picture before I put it in the mail.  I also took the liberty of labeling the picture to make interpretation slightly easier.  Although, I think the most important things can be picked out just by knowing the subject.  Taessia's favorite was the "bad girl."  I am pretty sure she represents all the "bad" people that went to the great and spacious building.  My little artist would draw all day if I would let her!

bedtime & dancing

Bedtime is the most eventful and funnest time of the day.  Mostly because this is when daddy is home.  The kiddos get plenty of mom everyday.  Sure, if someone needs help or gets hurt, they want mom.  But, their daddy time is such a precious commodity that they live for when he walks through the door.  Aimee and Porters usually response to the garage door opening at night is to make the tough decision whether to hide, surprise or trick daddy.  And every night, no matter what they pick, Chad plays along.  Pratt on the other hand, slides down the stairs so that the moment the door opens he can jump into his daddy's arms.  I have had to start leaving a light on down stairs so that Pratt, in his excitement, doesn't plow into corners or chairs on his way.  I usually just sit back and watch the magic, and wait patiently for my kiss.  I think Chad is just about the luckiest man alive to have such a fan club, and that we are luckiest family alive to have such an amazing husband and dad.  Chad and I used to be such sticklers about 7:00 bedtime.  Now, I usually wait until the babies temperaments can't wait any long, dad sends a text to tell me it will be too late for them to wait, or that beautiful moment when pure joy erupts in the house at his arrival.  Sometimes it only lasts five minutes, but those minutes are the best of the day
I have one last video of our family bonding time at night.  Life is pretty good in the Williams home!
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pillow bums/bombs

I recently posted some of the games that make up most evenings that Chad makes it home in time for bedtime.  Somehow I failed to post my personal favorite.  Chad and I call it 'pillow bombs'.  Aimee and her funny little accent that I have yet to find the origin, calls it 'pillow bums'.  Porter is the best part of this game.  He is my cautious, easy to tear up, doesn't handle discomfort of any kind well kid.  The exception for him is playing pillow bombs. Somehow he manages to laugh and keep playing even when he takes a solid hit.  The truth is that I often purposely try to take him out because it is so darn funny.  I think Chad takes him out so he can laugh at me, laughing at Porter.  Over time we have had to add a few rules.  For example:  if you hit the blinds with the bombs, the game is over.  This rule, and all the others are mostly for Chad. 
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

abc's

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Honestly, I am not sure where Pratt learned to sing the alphabet (yes, that is what he is singing), but it is so cute!  My best guess is that he picked it up from Aimee and Porter, but I rarely hear them singing it.  It is a mystery.  One of the best parts about it is that he starts with H-I-J-K.  I initially recorded it for Chad since he often misses these kinds of things, but had to log this one in on the blog.  The day I recorded this he sang it all day!

I also just thought I would include this little picture of Pratt in time-out.  He isn't very good at keeping his nose on the wall, so he caught me taking the picture.  I would say the smile on his face sums up how effective it turned out.

dinosaurs

 
Halloween for us started back in February.  I was paroosing Pinterest and came across these adorable dinosaur tails.  I asked Aimee and Porter if they would like one, and even in the dead of winter they said, "yes! We want to be dinosaurs for Halloween!"  That solved my costume dilemma!  As dumb as it might sound, that can be a little stressful for me.  One of the great things this costume would do for us was supply a post-Halloween dress up that is acceptable for boys and girls.  Aimee loves to dress up, and Porter loves to do everything Aimee does.  Since Chad and I are the kind of parents that don't want our sons dressing up like girls, this was a great solution.  Also, I knew that it would be cool weather and we could dress warm without ruining the costume (which I hated as a kid).   These hoodies and pants could also be used all season.  That was looking good for my budget.  Naturally, I waited until the end of September to start the project.  Our first costume event was the 20th, so I had about three weeks to buy all the material, all of the sweats, sew about a million spikes for the tails and hoodies and stuff and close the tails.  This was the reason the blog didn't happen much until the sewing was finished.



 
To make it all just a little more exciting, we decided to also play make-up.  I watched a little face painting tutorial on YouTube.  They were all full face tutorial, but I just didn't see that happening.  We did a little improv and it turned out fun.  I just used regular acrylic paint so I wouldn't have to scrub everyones faces when we were done, and it would be a fun experience (although I used just a little on Pratt and regretted it).  I am thinking about supplementing my families income by hiring out to do face painting at parties... 
 This was the big night!  Chad, Aimee and I rubbed holes in the bottom of our tails from them dragging on the cement, but it was so worth it!  I never thought we would have as much fun trick-or-treating as we did in Omaha, but we did!  Such a fun time together!
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

annual pumpkin painting

Our family had a really rough week of the yuckies!  It went from one kid to another being sick, but each kid had something different.  It might not have been all that bad if I hadn't gotten sick too.  I'm sure there are plenty of moms that know what it is like to feel like crap, and have to buck up to take care sick babies.  Anyway, it really threw off our annual pumpkin painting.  Since we paint, and don't carve, our pumpkins last for weeks, and we like to show them off as long as possible.  Plus this year we have a covered porch that would make them last even longer.  Truth be told, both of the painting nights we planned wouldn't have worked anyway.  Chad ended up making it home late those nights.  So we strayed from tradition a bit.  We had a great time!  It was fun to see Aimee and Porter do more than smear all of the colors together and coat their pumpkins in the poo color they would create.  Someday it will also be fun to see Pratt not spend the night sucking on the paint brush.  Eating a little paint never hurt anyone, right?
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finding dolls

 
One of our new favorite games at our house is hide and seek.  Sadly, my kiddos stink at this game!  They argue over who gets to hide in the toy box, and the one who doesn't win that battle, hides under the couch.  The game goes pretty quickly.  One day, out of nowhere, Aimee went stiff when she was discovered.  Chad played along.  He called Aimee a dolly, and just like that, we had a new favorite game.  The best part of the whole thing was that Aim showed amazing restraint when Chad tickled her while trying to get her to drop the act.  I wish I had got that first game of "dolly" on film!  It has now become a recurring game, and I took the liberty of catching one of them. video
 
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Not to be left out of all of the attention that Aimee was getting, Porter told us one night that he was going to be a boy doll.  It was his turn to "hide" in the toy box, and as stated, when he was found he did his best to copy Aimee's doll act.  He definitely does not have Aimee's will power.  Porter loves being tickled by his dad, and he just can't hide it!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

fetch

 

As I mentioned in the last post, we want to find just the right kind of dog to add to the Williams family.  In the search (and while we are putting it off) we found this great little dog store in the Dayton Mall called Fetch.  You can go into a little cubical and sort of test dogs out.  It has become a favorite past time!  We play with different kinds of puppies and ask lots of questions.  We are enjoying narrowing down the choices!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

higgins

When we were in med school and living at Village Green we were not allowed to have pets.  Chad promised me that when we went to residency and had a house of our own, we could have a dog.  Well, we are there.  As we discussed this, some friends of ours asked us to dog sit their bull dog, Higgins.  It was an eight day gig.  Higgins turned out to be one of the worlds most patient dogs.  He was so patient with all of the "playing" the kids did with him.  I can't say I would have tolerated it as well as he did.
 It was a fun eight days that was really good for us.  While I had dogs my whole life growing up, this was great to remind of what it was like, and things to think about.  One thing that was tough was dealing with the messes that my kids (actually just Pratt) made out of his food.  Poor Higgins had to wait until the kids went to bed to have his food and water left down.  Every time I forgot to put it back up I paid for it.  Pratt either dumped the food out, or ate it!  Notice poor Higgins waiting his turn to eat...
 
This experience also made me realize how important the breed is.  Higgins is a good dog but when the time come, and it is looking further away at the moment, we will have to be sure to find the right fit for this Williams family!

young's dairy

One of our favorite fall traditions has been a family trip to Vala's Pumpkin Patch.  We had to leave that behind in Omaha.  I was happy to learn that we would have something to replace it with.  Chad's hospital sponsors an event every fall for all of its residents and their families.  While we knew it would be different than what we have done, we were excited to give the new place, Young's Dairy, a go.
We started by enjoying a BBQ picnic, complete with several products made right there on the farm.  The ice cream was awesome!
Then we headed off to enjoy the activities available.  We hit the driving range.  I have never even attempted to drive a golf ball.  I must say, I think my father-in-law would have been proud!  Chad and the kids did great too.
We hit the kiddie coral as well.  This kid zone had a bounce house, a John Deer bike track, corn pit (like a sand box, but with corn), slides and few other little games.  Porter liked the bikes the best, although he had a hard time finding a bike that was small enough for him.
Aimee preferred the more active activities.  We had a hard time convincing her to give other activities a try once she got in the bounce house.
We checked out the farm animals, which was followed by passing around hand sanitizer.  We were in the company of doctor/germaphobes after all.
We took a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch.  We did this every year at Vala's, so I expected to ride out through fields to select our family pumpkin.  It kind of threw me for a loop when the ride took us from one end of the parking lot to an actual pumpkin patch.  It was about the size of my dad's back yard.  It made me giggle at how different it was from what I had expected.
Aimee chose and cut our pumpkin this year.  We had to just choose one because they were all one size: huge.  Since we only got one free, and we didn't want to pay by the pound, we got one.

We were able to get our traditional family pumpkin patch picture!
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This was one of the fun rides they had for the kiddos.  We had to do it a couple of times to appease the kiddos.
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Porter, no wait, Pratt enjoying the slides.  We have to work on waiting our turn...
 
There were a few other fun things we did that we didn't get pictures of that rounded out the day (like the batting cages that Aimee loved!). We had to call it a day earlier than we wanted to because it got cold and windy, but it was a fun family day.  It was much less commercialized, and very different from Vala's, but it was fun!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the bug wisperer

It is possible that I may be exaggerating just a tad by calling Porter the bug whisperer on the title.  However, the little cricket, or baby grasshopper as the kiddos call it, is sitting serenely on Porters hand, unmaimed as of yet (yes, yet).  In this house that is enough to qualify you as 'the' bug whisperer.  The truth is that Aimee usually catches the bugs.  Chad was mowing the lawn, so they were a little easier to find.  Aimee also usually stuffs them in a container as quickly as she can.  In fact, we recently found one of the bug bottles had fallen behind the toy box upstairs.  It had been there for a couple of weeks, according to my calculations.  There was a bug inside that was still living.  Hardy little thing I guess.  Porter, is happy to just watch them crawl on him until they get away. Even though this cricket had a leg at the wrong angle when he let it go, it may have a better chance at life than his friend that lived in the bottle behind the toy box. Hence, bug whisperer.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

apple field trip

One of our themes for preschool this month has been apples.  It has been a fun means of presenting information, and it's cutsie.  Either way, it works.  We decided a trip to a local apple orchard would be seasonally appropriate, and a fun adventure.  We were missing about half of the crew, and the weather wasn't exactly in our favor but we made the trip anyway.  It was a cute little orchard that was free (my favorite part) and fun for the kiddos.  They started out by meeting and feeding a few of the farm animals.  I am pretty sure this was my kids first experience with a Tina, but they passed with flying colors.
Each kid got a basket and we turned them loose in the orchard. 
 Luckily, the drought reduced the apple crop substantially, so there wasn't a huge selection.  This was good because Porter's muscles couldn't carry very many apples. These apples cost more at the orchard than at good ol' Wal-Mart. 

 Note the muscles in this picture...

 After we paid for the picked apples, we took advantage of their freshness (although we save enough to supply Chad with his favorite dessert, homemade apple pie), and let the kiddos play a bit before heading home.
In this picture, Pratt decided it was more fun to eat the animal food than give it away.  Figures.

the pool

While we weren't looking for a home with a pool, that is what we got!  It is pretty much the only thing we can see that our HOA gets us, so we tried to take full advantage of it.  It was a great way to kill a hot morning or afternoon.  It was also nice to have something close to us to do while we were getting to know the area and make new friends.  It was so funny to see how my kiddos personalities were directly reflected in the way they played at the pool!
 
Aimee started out very enthusiastic.  She found her limitations and then spent her time in the pool telling me about accomplishments.  For example, she quit running after she ate cement, and waited for me to cheer when she held her breath under the water, or was able to get a water stick with help.   
 
 Porter spent nearly every minute we were at the pool doing exactly what he is doing in the picture: standing on the stairs and holding on to the hand rail.  You might also note that he has on a life vest, even though he was the child with the least rick of getting hurt because of his extreme caution.  A few times he would copy Aimee and jump from the edge, but only if you were close enough to touch!
 Pratt.  Pratt, Pratt, Pratt.  This kid doesn't believe in mom relaxing at the pool.  When we first started going I had read up on teaching a baby to swim.  We went and did all of the things we read.  I think it would have probably worked if A. Pratt had been younger, and B. It hadn't been Pratt.  He became very comfortable with the pool, and thought it was a fun game to run to the deep end of the pool and climb half way in while he watched me frantically bolt to "save" him.  He eventually lost interest in that game when he got in trouble.  Still, swimming was too much of a game to work on skills.  He had fun though!