Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Two years ago Trent and I were really wanting to start some new family traditions for Chrsitmas. So, we decided to do a Family Christmas Countdown. For 25 days leading up to Christmas, we pull a piece of paper from our advent calendar that says something we are going to do as a family that night. (First of all, what was I thinking startig with 25?! I should have started with TWELVE. That would have been way easier.)

Well, I can't find my list from last year, and our countdown starts tomorrow. I need a few more ideas. Can you help me? Here's what I have so far. They are in no particular order.

Read the story of Jesus’ birthday and draw pictures of the Nativity.

Make caramel apple balls for dessert

Make our own Thai dinner (Pad thai and wontons)

Make a special Christmas craft after dinner

Have a fancy dinner tonight, with candles and sparkling cider. Don’t forget to dress up!

Make a gingerbread house

Buy a toy for a boy or girl that might not receive many others (those things on the trees at the mall? Anyone have a good idea of where to find a specific need? Or just donate to the generic community toy drive?)

Family movie night! Don’t forget the popcorn.

Make and hang snowflakes in the house.

Have a family game night

Go see the Christmas lights

Make and decorate sugar cookies!

Paint our handprints on a canvas (we did that 2 years ago and it was fun)

Make special ornaments for the tree!

Wrap gifts for cousins and friends.

Make bracelets or keychains for grandmas out of beads.

We’re having breakfast for dinner! French toast and bacon!

Make a special Christmasy dessert! (This can be repeated, as I have a couple easy ideas.)

Open and wear NEW Christmas PJ’S! (already purchased on sale)

Open and read NEW Christmas books! (already purchased for $1 through scholastic)

Take Christmas goodies to relatives

Drive to the snow and go sledding!

So... throw me any ideas you have! I'm sure we'll have some details and photos to come. :) I'm thinking Sydney will be more involved this year, which will make it even more fun. Do you have any special holiday traditions?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santa isn't coming to town.

Tonight we were in the car and the song "Santa Claus is coming to Town" came on the stereo. From the WAY back of the mini-van (Carson's newest favorite place to sit, which drives me crazy, because I can't hand him anything and he's constantly saying "What? What did you say? Are you talking to me?") Carson says quietly, "I know Santa's not real. Jimmy [friend's real name withheld to protect identity] told me today."

Aaaaaaand, there it was. Trent and I looked at each other quickly, trying to have a conversation with our eyes. Furrowed brows and wide open peepers and shaking of heads didn't really work, but I knew we were thinking the same thing. THIS IS IT.

I jumped in with the old classic "And what do YOU think about that?" (Our standard Santa party line thus far.)

"I don't know" says a quiet voice from the backseat.

"Do you think Santa is real?" Trent said.

"Not really."

Trent looked at me and muttered something, I think it was "Are we going to do this now?" And I said "Yes, let's do it."

So we told Carson that no. Santa is not real. St. Nicklaus was a real person who did give gifts to people and we would find a story and learn more about him. (Note to self--get on Amazon ASAP after blog posting and find appropriate educational tool.) But that Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday and Santa is just a fun game we play at Christmastime. JESUS is real and we will never, EVER tell Carson that He isn't. But yes--Santa is pretend. The gifts come from Mom and Dad.


I asked him if he would like to do that: go see him at the store, leave cookies for him and pretend he's coming--like a game. "Would you like to do that still?"

"Yeah. That's sounds pretty fun," said the hesitant and husky voice from the darkness.

"Okay." I said

"Okay." Daddy said.

"Okay." Carson said.

And it was over just like that. I'm feeling way more relieved than sad, which I think tells me more about my own views of the internal debate of what to do in our particular household. (For the record, neither of us felt passionately either way, so we just decided to let it ride without ever making a definitive statement until the Time Came.) We DID remind him that a lot of his friends still believe in Santa and that it's something we probably shouldn't tell them. They need to talk about it with their parents.

But really? I think I owe Jimmy a favor. A little innocence is lost, but I don't have to worry about all the Santa crap that bothered me last year, like: Does Santa have his own wrapping paper? Does Santa have unusual handwriting? How do I get around flat-out lying? Why am I letting this fictitious character get the credit for the big gift that Carson LOVES and that we hunted for all over town?

No, this is good. Not sure where it's going to lead with his two younger siblings some day, and I still support a family's right to Santa or not to Santa, but for us? Santa isn't coming to this town, and we're OK with that.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Annual Tree Hunt

Aw! Love this. Sydney was not dressed for photo ops. Free candy canes and chocolate milk on her face add to the, uh, eclectic look she's sporting. But she's getting loved on and she's happy--despite her facial expression.
"Sisters...sisters...there were never such devoted sisters!"
Love my boy.
And my other boy. Cutie patooties!
Grandpa Phil helped us get our tree home and up. Here's a priceless 3 generations shot cutting the twine off the bundled tree. And yes. Trent's "work pants" are an old pair of Old Navy khaki cargo pants.

Let Christmastime begin in the T household!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beach Birthday Weekend

Between October and December of this year, both my parents turn 60. My brother and I (and our families) wanted to do something special and not let this important birthday slip by. So we planned a trip to Hawaii! But then we realized it would be better to go to the Oregon coast in November. ;) And by "better" I mean "actually possible." We had a wonderful time with just the 10 of us and we're in one of those cheesy families where spending quality time really is the best gift.
My niece, Kaitlyn, is 11 months old and a crawling maniac. It's not hard to lose track of her after looking away for 4 seconds. The first night we were there, we realized she wasn't in the room with us, but we heard her laughing. I peeked into the kitchen and saw Carson entertaining her. This vid is a little dark, but I love it because the noise in the background is very representative of the chaos that happens when we're all together these days, and it brushes the surface of capturing Sydney's superintense love of Baby Kaitlyn:

The other two cousins, Jack and Sydney, enjoyed some hot chocolate after being outside on a cold day. They are 6 months apart and starting to learn to play together. They are the curly-headed cousins!

Some dear friends SO graciously allowed us to stay at their personal home at the coast. They have grandkids and build this superfun swing in the back. The pictures are a little blurry, but you can see how much fun the kids had swinging between Uncle Trent and Uncle Mike.

Here's Bapaw Roy reading to Sydney. The kids were in heaven, having 2 teacher/grandparents available and willing to read to them constantly...often the same book over and over again!
OK, this isn't a book, but it was still cute. :)
Aw, classic Jojo love language. We Bunches carry all our stress and tension in our shoulders and neck. Ouch.
We even got a sunny day! Mind you, it felt like 10 degrees with the wind-chill factor, but it wasn't RAINING!
Jojo and the colorful Birdie.
Jack in his happy place.
Kaitlyn in her gender-neutral hat, blinded by the sun.
Sydney saw this pictures and said "My Becky--me hold!"
This picture is just funny to me. I was posing for Mike while he set up the self-timer to try for a family shot. I was freezing my heinie off.
But we got one! Happy birthday, Mom & Dad! We love you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Carson and I had a great moment the other day. It was one of the only situations I can think of where my son was physically and emotionally upset, and I was glad.

Let me explain:

Being 5 comes with loving games, and Carson is no exception. He loves the board games we have, and likes to play often. However, he is also (because he is strong-willed? because he is 5?) extremely competetive and does NOT like to lose. We've been working regularly over the last year on how to be a good sport, how to act when you win and when you lose. That you can't always win. That the reason we play is that games are fun--not just that winning is fun.

But this is a long, hard lesson. (Many adults still don't get it!) So, the other day Carson came to me and asked if I'd play Candyland. (CLASSIC, right?!) I said yes. He led me to the table and said "OK! I've got it all set up. We're ready to play. But I get to go first." Uh-huh. Suspicious.

"Carson. Did you set up the cards so you'd win?"

My son is not a good liar. Hooray! When he is lying, it looks like he has a ping-pong ball in his mouth, and his lips curl down in a determined moon shape. He shook his head NO. He might have even said "No." I decided to not pursue the issue at that particular moment and just see what happened. (Trent and I have different strategies. One time he let Carson cheat, then the next game, Trent cheated mercilessly just to give him a taste of his own medicine. The jury's still out on how successful that was.)

So, Carson and I got our little plastic people all set on the board, and I told Carson he could go first. He started to reach for the unusually neat and tidy stack of cards, when suddenly, I swear it looked like he was seized from the inside by a sharp and searing pain. He clutched his hands into fists and held them to his chest. He straightened his body like a board and fell back on the couch. His face was contorted in a grimace. And he cried out, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" Then? He started sobbing. Hard. Loudly.

"Okay, okay! I cheated! I just wanted to win!" he choked out as he was crying. "I'm sorry! I just wanted to win! I'm sorry!"

I held him in my arms as he kept crying and crying. And I was sad to hear him sad, but I was smiling. Ok, maybe even giggling a bit, because he is SO drama. But when he calmed down, I told him how proud I was that he told the truth. I told him that feeling in his stomach that hurt when he was lying was the Holy Spirit's way of reminding Carson what was right and what was wrong, and helped him choose what was right. I told him how wonderful it was that God lives inside his heart and helps him know the difference. I told him that even his dad and I have times when we are doing something wrong and we have a feeling in our gut that tells us it's wrong. I told him again how proud I was of him for telling the truth.

Because even though he was sad and upset? I was glad. And grateful.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It's Wednesday night, and I feel like last weekend got over about 5 minutes ago. It was that good! For some reason, I don't like the phrase "women's retreat." It sounds so old-fashioned and cheesy. But that's what it was. I am convinced that it is pretty much summer-camp for grown up girls. We stayed up late talking and giggling and eating junk, made a bunch of new friends, and the last few days it's been all we can talk about in person and on FB. Thanks for all your prayers, kind thoughts and especially kind words.

My main portion of speaking went well on Saturday night. I also was on a panel on Friday night and spoke for a few minutes on Sunday morning. I made some novice public speaking mistakes, like not numbering my pages of notes. I got flustered a few times when I couldn't find where I was. One of those times, I was vamping for a couple sentences while locating my notes. I was on the topic of swords, so I said something about Legolas. First, a Lord of the Rings reference without explanation in a room full of women? Risky. Second, it was totally random, totally unplanned, and totally the WRONG CHARACTER from Lord of the Rings! I realized it about 5 seconds later, and SO wanted to correct myself, but I was already rolling back with my actual prepared message. All I kept thinking was that if Stephanie Marr was there, she would have been so disapopinted in me. ;) For better or worse, I just let it slide and the other geeks in the room were gracious enough not to correct me in front of the whole group.

BUT, I was able to get through the 22 minutes without completely falling apart emotionally, so SCORE! I did share the hard story of my girls' miscarriages during my pregnancy, and I did cry a little. Going on 6 years and I have never been able to tell (or think) of it without crying a little. But that's OK. It's part of our story, and it's shaped us as friends and mothers. And here we go, I'm starting to cry again, so...

I also shared the story about Carson locking me out of the house in August. I hammed it up and got the laughs I was hoping for. I knew that story would come in handy eventually. I'll blog about it soon since I've never really shared the details with you lovely readers.

But really, the best parts of my weekend had nothing to do with me being a speaker. Some other highlights included sharing the weekend with my mom, since her BFF's didn't get to come. She and my roomie Kellie got along with flying colors (it doesn't hurt that Kellie is one of the funniest people I've ever met), and Mom fits right in with all my church girls. Another fun hightlight was developing relationships with a group of women that are about 10 years older than me, and another group of women about 10 years younger! It was just a reminder that we are cheating ourselves of God's FAMILY when we surround ourselves only with people who are in the same season of life as we are. It made me want to spend more time with both groups. I especially was touched to meet in a small group with some younger mommies. Some doing OK with the whole parenting journey, some struggling a bit, and some were really struggling--including some single moms. WOW. The road they are walking is so, SO difficult. My heart just ached for their trials, their exhaustion, and their loneliness. But their determination and perseverance was completely inspirational. My prayer for them was that this weekend renewed them and gave them a couple days of rest for their bodies and souls.

I wouldn't say it was restful weekend for me, but it was wonderful and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Everyone needs to be a camp "high" at least once a year, right? :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Checking In

I'm off the grid for a while--meaning I have been and will continue to be. Life is swirling at triple speed for a couple weeks. My main focus right now is our church's women's retreat this weekend. Last year I agreed to be on the 3 person planning committee. We're averaging about 30 emails a day on the organization part. Then this summer I was asked to be one of the speakers at the retreat. "What a scary, fun honor! Sure I can do both!" In hindsight that might not have been the wisest move to wear both hats, but I know that God will honor this weekend and I'm excited about it.

If you're the praying kind, and I hope you are, I'd love your prayers specifically on Saturday night, when I'll be giving the main portion of my msg. I especially need prayers to keep my emotions in check, b/c I'm sharing a very personal and emotional story about my pregnancy with Carson and how 5 of my friends had late-term miscarriages during that time. I want to share about how Satan really used those tragedies to mess with my mind, but what I learned from that and how FAITHFUL God is--through my friends, to my friends and to me. BUT, it's still a really painful topic for me, and though I feel the holy spirit leading me to share it, I would love if He would also help me get through it without falling apart! It's one thing to get a little teary, but I've been known to bust out the "ugly cry" on stage, and that's just not really helping anyone.

On to further updates, I finally heard back about a job I was technically hired for in September. It's a 2 day a week tutoring job in the afternoons, and in theory it sounds like it will be a good fit for me. However, I hadn't heard anything for weeks, then yesterday I got a call that I start next Monday (the day after the retreat is over and when I already took a sub job) and need to be available for training this Friday. Well, I'm leaving for the retreat tomorrow, so that didn't work. So, cram it all in next week, training, starting a new job, finding childcare, etc. Yikes! Again--it's all good, it's just a lot happening at once.

Another thing that I've been hesitating blogging about is my grandparents' health. My mom's folks live locally, and neither of them are doing well. It seems they are facing one health crisis after another, and my heart is just aching for them. They are both in their late-80's, and I know they don't want their last few years on earth to be dealing with pain, discomfort and stress. It is unknown how long they will be able to live together and independently, but it is not an easy decision to make. You can be praying for them, but also for my mom and her siblings, as they are having to make many sacrifices and adjustments to their lives to care for the gparents, as well as carrying the load of decision making. We could use some calm and peace in that whole situation.

And in better news, really some of the best news I could possibly share: SYDNEY IS POTTY TRAINED! I'm not even kidding you. We honestly just kind of stumbled onto a miracle, b/c I wasn't working at it very hard at all--I was just letting her wear undies at home and then putting diapers on when we left the house. She started getting used to the feel of undies and didn't like pull-ups or diapers. But she was still having accidents! Ugh. So it was a battle every time to put a diaper on her. THEN? We got a bunch of Halloween candy. Bingo! Yes, I'm not ashamed to say that Tootsie Rolls and Skittles are to thank for my daughter being out of diapers. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Sydney and her little bladder have caught amazingly quickly and she hasn't had an accident in days. She still wears a dipe at night, and we're still in the exhausting urgency of being in public with a newly trained toddler. But I'm thrilled about having maybe 18 months or so of no daily diapers! Woohoo!

So that's the news update around here. Not sure when I'll be checking in again. Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 05, 2010


So, I'm working on my goal to be content with my point-and-shoot camera and take Ashley's advice and switch up my angles. I went for it and got way down low. So low that I was laying on the ground. Here's the point of view from mommy on the ground on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
Ok, I'm actually glad I decided to let him wear that today. I started to protest this morning, but now it's kinda growing on me.
I'm so glad we have a backyard that is fenced. I wish Carson was this entertained with a stick all the time.
Cute boy. When he looks down at me like this he looks rounder, like when he was a toddler.
I really like that sweater I got for her at the consignment sale last year. I wonder how many pictures I have of her up against this fence? It's a good backdrop.

Ahhhh! Tackle!
This is actually kind of a cool tree. Too bad we don't hang out over on this side of the yard more. Maybe I can build a little tree-seat or something between those three trunks. I wonder if our new little brother will play in this tree much? I wonder if I should get up now that the kids have run away and I'm laying flat on my back in the wet grass? Nah. I'll try to be artistic. See? A branch.
Oh, they're coming back.
It's not so bad down here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I love costumes and dressing up. In fact, I have a dream that someday our whole family will get matchy matchy costumes together, like the Templetons. (I'll put up a link in hopes they will post pictures of their entire family as the cast of Scooby Do! So cute.) Even my kids matching would be great! But they are not into that. This year they were a ladybug and a character from Star Wars. I just want to clarify that I asked both kids to come outside for a little photo shoot and Carson chose not to. It's not that I chose the cutest costume and took a zillion pictures out of favoritism. (But it is pretty darn cute!) I KNOW, right?! A-stinkin-dorable.

I've been bemoaning the fact that I don't have a DSLR camera and probably will not be able to afford one for a long time. Sometimes I almost don't want to take indoor or bad-light pics because I think they will just turn out lousy. I read a photo blog that had tips for people with regular old point-and-shoot cameras. This photographer said her number one tip for better pictures is to switch up the angle. So I'm going to try experimenting with that. This one turned out pretty cute!
We had a fun evening on Sunday. We invited some good friends to come over for pizza, then we went to a local church carnival. The kids got a ton of candy and played great carnival-y games. It was a little crowded and hot, but the atmosphere was fun and positive and it wasn't raining inside!
Here is the best shot so far of Carson's costume, which was a little big for him, but he didn't seem to notice! We thought he was a stormtrooper, but I found out he is someone called Captain Rex. (???) A friend loaned us the costume and he fell in love with the helmet that makes you talk like a...well, like some Star Wars character. Along for the ride are a friendly witch, Little Red Riding Hood and Miss S who decided at the last minute she didn't want to wear her costume. :)

Maybe next year I can talk Trent into doing a theme costume night!