Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas on the Farm

We had a great Christmas holiday up at my parents' house-- as we always do when we get lots of us kids together. Six of the eight kids were home, plus spouses and squirts, so a full house!

Evan called me Tuesday morning and told me there was freezing rain expected Wednesday, so I really should leave right then. It was pretty hectic, getting Cheyenne to and from school, having Elliott's speech therapy, packing for a week away, cleaning my house. In the end, the house wasn't real clean when I left, so my long-suffering husband had to clean it for meeting the next night. I did get out of the driveway by 2:00 p.m., though, which was sort of a personal triumph. The hardest part was trying to convince Rilla I wasn't going out of her life forever as I made trip after trip hauling stuff out to the van-- lots of tears were shed!

Evan picked up Lindsey Wednesday night, and they were up at Mom and Dad's by midnight. Then, a cozy Christmas!

A little Fat-Lip Lily, in her snuggable jammies.

Orianna and Lily checking Marilla out. They were both infatuated (Grandpa Dana, if you were worrying that Rilla wouldn't get hugged enough, set your fears at rest. Orianna single-handedly took care of it several times every hour!)

Then, to the delight of my family, I pulled out my zoom lens and started taking closeups. At least, the groans and screams were probably delight.

A beautiful redhead in the morning light.

Tori embodying the family's attitude to zoom lens.

Livvy with her new sheets from Evan.

Handsome little man.

The beautiful Jill in the afore-mentioned morning light.

See, you don't see Rilla fussing about the long lens. And she has double chins. (Phooey on growth charts.)

Happy little girl exploring the new place and exciting people.

I don't think Evan was as excited about portraits.

Olivia is young enough to handle the extreme closeup and still look pretty.

Bethaney brought a little automated circus scene that played Christmas songs. She found it at The Thrift Store. The Thrift Store, open Wednesday and Saturday, located in Wilmington, NY is now an official member of the family. It is pointless to call Bethaney Saturday or Wednesday morning, but it's always interesting to call those afternoons and say, "So, what did you get...?" She's made a handsome second income reselling some of the things on eBay. So, thanks, Thrift Store, for the morning entertainment. It sure kept the kids captivated.

All the little animals did things, the carousel horses went up and down as it twirled-- the sound quality was even really good. Pretty spiffy.

Cheyenne and Lily both dressed in red pajamas. Cheyenne, with ever the keen eye for a photo op, requested this picture.

Bethaney, smiling fakely. She can CLAIM it was because she didn't want her picture taken right then, but it was really because I had just beaten her at Wordthief. It must be sad to have to play with Clover and always lose... Sigh.

Dad, in a similar predicament.

Yet another game.

Mr. and Mrs. Farmer came late Thursday night, after spending Christmas morning with Ashley's family. Here they are, all dressed up to go feed cows. Owen graciously allowed Cheyenne to go out with him every time. Cheyenne was quite concerned about leaving today, since they wouldn't have her help any more.

Ashley is always a hit with the kids. She is so good with them, and she's willing to watch them when the Mommys in the family aren't feeling very nurturing.

A cake for Mrs. Jill, to celebrate her brand-new bachelor's degree. Earned while she worked full-time, raised children, ran a house, had lots of company, etc. She deserved a brand-new house or something, but we went with the cake.

Lots of helpers with the candles. You're amazing, Mom, kudos to you!

Cute little dancers.

I think marriage has made Owen even more modest than usual.

Evan and Justin stayed busy Friday, Saturday and Monday gutting Mom and Dad's former tenant house. The plan (or hope, at this point) is for Bet and Justin to fix the house up for themselves. It is a very old house, so there is a lot of work to do. When we first moved to the farm from Delaware, we lived in that house for the summer, before we moved in to the house next to the barn. I remember us counting at least seven layers of wallpaper visible on one wall. It has a lot of character, and is surrounded by beautiful maple trees, but as is often the case, "character" translates into major renovation needs!

One melancholy note to the weekend was the death of Molly, Cody's extremely old Belgian draft horse. She had been failing this summer, but Dad said she had perked up in the last couple of weeks. Monday, though, she couldn't muster the energy to stand up, so she had to be put down. I'm sure that wasn't news Cody wanted to hear. She was the world's most beautiful horse, in my opinion. All the digital pictures I have of her is when she was really old, but she's still pretty.
I should go unpack one of the 632 millions bags/suitcases/Rubbermaids I carted home today. Tomorrow should be nice and busy, but at least Cheyenne's on vacation! Yay!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hallelujah!

Since I'm supposed to be cleaning the house for Wednesday night meeting and packing for a week away from home, I REALLY shouldn't be sitting on the computer right now. There are just a few things that are too exciting to keep trapped within me.
  1. Rilla slept for NINE hours last night! She had done really well the night before, and Evan and I were wondering if it was because we had turned the heat up from it's usual nightly temperature of 60 degrees. We turned it up again last night and she slept from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. (Soaring, exultant music in the background!!) Mind you, we did have her bundled up like a little Eskimo the other nights, but it must not have been enough. With the complete lack of insulation in our walls, it was probably in the 50s most nights-- too cold for a tender little baby. So, hang the expense (says the woman with no personal income), the heat is staying up this winter!
  2. Cheyenne had a snow day, so I had a reprieve in the making cards and wrapping gifts for teachers. It was also cozy to watch the wind whip snow around while I stayed firmly plunked inside. At least, it was cozy once I had a phone call from Evan to say he was safely ensconsed at work.
  3. The little monologue Elliott just had: He looked at the floor, still strewn with Rilla's lunchtime Cheerios, and said, "I sweep Roo's Cheerios." Then, as he got his little broom and got down to business, he kept muttering, "Messy, messy, messy." I said, "Thank you for being such a big help, Elliott!" and he said, "You're welcome!" Speech problems, my foot. The kid is a genius, and considerate and responsible to boot.

So these are the things making my Monday laundry day seem mighty fine!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Activities

Friday was Cheyenne's class Christmas program. They sang quite a few songs-- I was impressed at how well they did. The most impressive part of the program was when they DIDN'T sing on the "music only" parts. Not even one kid started blurting out the song when they were supposed to be quiet!

They were dressed as angels. Cheyenne wore her halo until I threw it out yesterday. It was shedding everywhere. For about 5 cents worth of material, it sure made her week!

Afterwards, they had ice cream sundaes (along with overexposed pictures!) Cheyenne is of the belief that you put EVERYTHING that is available on your sundae.

Grandma Eleanor came along, to lend moral support, babysitting help and praise for Cheyenne. I totally forgot to bring a pacifier for the program, and it was right in the middle of Marilla's normal nap period. She was so excited to hear the singing and watch the kids she never squawked, though. It didn't hurt that she got to chew a paper cup to smithereens under Eleanor's watchful eye.

Then, Elliott's favorite part-- getting to play with all the awesome toys. The last two times we've gone to something at Cheyenne's class, this is what he has wanted to do, but I didn't want him to be the bratty kid pulling toys of the shelf. This time it was sanctioned, though. The house Cheyenne was playing with seems to be the favorite with the kids. There were several things happening in that house, rather independently of each other! Dora the Explorer was getting ready for bed while the dinosaurs were invading! Each kid had their own idea of what was happening, and were blissfully oblivious to the next kid's idea.

Elliott, of course, found a truck.

Cheyenne graciously sharing her birthday paints with Elliott. They're a set of one-use strips, so we convinced her it didn't matter if Elliott didn't do it just right, we were going to throw them out after an hour anyway. They had a glorious time.

Cheyenne dressed in her matching outfit with Danielle Bethaney, "her" Cabbage Patch doll. (I didn't have a Cabbage Patch doll as a child, so it was really more for me than her that I got her this one. The smell of a Cabbage Patch Kid is one of the best smells on Earth. We have a hand-me-down one that is really old, and it still has that smell-- nothing else replicates it. I sneak in and sniff the kids' dolls at night. Not that I'm weird, or anything.)

We are moving bedrooms around, still trying to solve the Rilla-sleep problem. For a few days, the crib mattress didn't have a home, except on the living room floor. It sure got some use there. More blankets were spread with care, and House was played... it was almost a shame to reclaim our floor and put it back in the crib.
Always available to pose.
Mr. Cool, playing his harmonica...
which reminded me of this one I took this summer. I don't think it ever made it on here, definite oversight on my part. It's one of my favorite pictures!

Cheyenne having a ball playing outside.
Elliott, wishing he could have a ball outside, but too scared of the snowblower to stay out for more than 20 seconds. I'm actually glad of that... I know Evan is careful, but it just seems too dangerous to be out there when Evan is snowblowing. Daddy took mercy on Elliott, though, and played outside with him for a while after this picture.
I've been busy tonight, trying to make gifts for Cheyenne's teachers. Since I've been good and haven't been to Wal-Mart yet, I had to dream up some gifts. And some cards. I would love to have some card person in the area, I've never done it much and the extent of my ability is to tape a picture on the front of a folded piece of cardstock. NOT very professional looking, but I don't have anything else, and at this point, even if I was in a spending mode, I don't have any time to go buy anything. For the gifts, I made chocolate chip cookies, and I'm tucking them inside a coffee mug (for her male teacher) and a cute little bag someone gave me a long time ago that I've never used (for the female TA). Regifting that hopefully won't look tacky! Then, wrapping them somehow. I have no idea how people take care of gifts for lots of people! I'm worn out doing it for just a few.
The Anti-Spending Month is suprisingly well. Of course, I still have a few weeks to go, so we'll see then! :-) About the only thing I don't have that I'm really missing is Constant Comment Decaf tea, but that's less about not buying it and more about the fact I haven't been able to find it in stores for several months. I am down to my last box of Raisin Bran, which is worrisome. Otherwise, I have actually enjoyed trying to make meals without making a grocery list. Some things I have noticed about this is that I waste a lot less! Instead of just grabbing a whole bunch of plastic wrap, I actually figure out how much I need. I cook just half a bag of the frozen vegetables, because that's all we usually eat anyway. I use my reusable plastic containers more instead of grabbing Ziploc bags. Small changes, but it may help me learn better habits!
And now, for something completely different...

Rilla with her Snuffle Pig face. Imagine vigorous snuffling as a soundtrack.
Snuffle Pig with Tip of Ridiculously Long Tongue. I cannot NOT laugh when she does this, and she does it a lot. Keeps me happy!
Off to bed, to dream about offended teachers rejecting my gifts. Okay, maybe I'm more like my worrywart mother than I like to admit! :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cheyenne's 5th Birthday Party!

As befits an extremely grown up five-year old, my daughter was very composed during her birthday party. Or maybe it was just that the crown that came in Auntie Lisa's card imparted a regal elegance. Either way, she was Miss Important. The plan had been a party Friday night with some of the folks from our meeting, Grandma and Grandpa White, and Bethaney, Olivia, Tori, Orianna and Lillian. Between bad weather and nasty winter sicknesses, that party had to be canceled, and Cheyenne ended up with a grand total of seven people at her party tonight-- Grandma, Grandpa, Daddy, Mummy, Cheyenne, Elliott and Marilla! Not that most exciting bash, but it was fun. It's been fun for her the whole last three days...

Starting with Auntie and Eun Hui stopping by for a quick story on their way north for special meeting rounds! Auntie read books to the older two...

while Rilla charmed all with her smile. And her bitable cheeks. Grandma and Grandpa left their house still without power and braved the yucky roads to get here by Saturday night.

Saturday was helping outside...

and making snow angels!

Grandma Marilyn brought a gingerbread house kit. First they had to put it together with frosting, then WAIT several hours (by far the hardest part of the project!)

Then, starting to decorate.

Elliott maybe wasn't quite as helpful as he could have been...

Especially once he discovered the frosting was edible!

Frosting cheeks.

"Hi, Mom."

"I'll smile for the camera."

"Then I get silly for the camera!"
Despite the "help", it looked pretty good in the end!
"Help" was sort of the theme of the weekend.

Rilla helped Grandpa eat his icecream...

"I like this stuff!"
"I'm getting spoiled!"

Little pucker for the cold.

And another bite! Grandpa didn't get much of the bowl in the end!

Elliott helps Evan wrap Cheyenne's present.

And gets to touch the forbidden tape.
Cheyenne helped make her birthday cake this afternoon.

She's a girl after my own heart. When I asked her this week what kind of birthday cake she wanted, she answered, "Vinegar cake!" like "Duh, Mom, is there any other kind of cake?" My sentiments precisely!

Quite the adorable little chef with the bun in her hair and her apron on!

We had our special meeting today at 3:00 in the afternoon. It sure felt strange not to go anywhere Sunday morning. I had time to make a nice ham dinner, though! Daddy got to snuggle his girls.
And Rilla got to make funny faces.

We let Cheyenne open her Bible before meeting. She looks so grown-up, composedly ripping open the package!

Then after supper tonight, she had a choice: cake or presents first?

Presents won.

Some Polly Pockets from Grandma and Grandpa.

And an outfit Grandma made her-- plus a matching outfit for her Cabbage Patch kid, Danielle Bethaney!

Mommy and Daddy's present was an art set.

Lots of markers!

The middle pops up like an easel.
Finally, the cake, and the happy birthday song.

Elliott helped blow out the candles-- Evan kept relighting them and they'd blow them out again!

Marilla sang along-- she adores music, bounces around and makes noises the minute anyone starts singing!

Grandma helps Cheyenne play with her new set.

Elliott, who has been direly threatened about ever touching Cheyenne's art set, got the consolation prize of playing with scissors. Ever since the Cutting the Shirt and Pants Incident, he doesn't get to use scissors much. (Don't you like his outfit? Evan didn't think his adorable little suit would do well with chocolate cake, so he got stripped down!)

Grandma helping unpack the Polly Pockets!

This picture has nothing to do with Cheyenne's birthday, but when I was downloading Dana and Marilyn's pictures of this weekend, I found this picture of the Evil Twins from Thanksgiving. They really don't look like the Evil Twins anymore-- they must be growing up! I love Orianna's crossed legs...
Tomorrow is Cheyenne's real birthday, and her Special Day at school. Daddy took her to Wal-Mart to buy cupcakes, since it is her turn to bring in snacks. They have to bring in storebought snacks, so my big Anti-Shopping Creed had to be set aside. She had seen pictures today of the beautiful roses on Mr. and Mrs. George Chappell's (!!!) wedding cake, and she insisted she had to have roses on her's. We compromised with some decorative hearts (that I need to go plop on top of the cupcakes before I head to bed here).
One of the weirdest things about Cheyenne turning five tomorrow is that means I will have been a mother now for five years! Hard to believe, although I can't remember life without my kids. It was a wonderful event that brought Miss Cheyenne in our lives!