Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Student

It may have brought a little tear to my eye when this sweet boy brought home the Student of the Month award. Just a few months ago we were battling with the district and the administration to protect Ben's right to be educated in the mainstream classroom and faced all kinds of resistance from teachers and professionals who underestimated Ben. That little boy is a shining example that, with hard work, perseverance, and a little divine intervention, all things are possible. He is a joy and a delight and I couldn't be more proud of this achievement. 

Grandma Kulm is 100!

When your Grandma throws a party for her 100th birthday, you come. You just do. I have always attributed my strong genes (and maybe the less well loved early gray hair gene) to my Grandma  Kulm. She is one tough cookie. Though we didn't have a close relationship, my Grandma has always been an example of hard-working, out-spoken, no-nonsense strength. I can't imagine the memories she's collected over the course of a century--a living piece of history. 

Though Grandma lacked a little vitality, she still has her marbles (she addressed me as 'Coco') and looked as beautiful as ever. Happy 100 Grandma!

Christmas Togetherness

We've been busy all month long with various Christmas crafts and activities. Last year, I felt like this tradition served to wear me out more than fulfill its intended purpose to build family togetherness. So this year, I selected activities that required less running around on my part, so that we could focus more on spending time together. I'm not going to lie, there has still been a fair amount of facilitation required, but I feel like we've spent more time just being present together as a family...so that is a Christmas win!

On this night, we decorated 'ginger-ninjas,' made homemade pizza (which I've perfected to a science, bytheway), and ate our treats on a picnic blanket under the Christmas tree. Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, but really enjoyed the good old quality time together.

Annual Nativity Program

We are so lucky to have some of the best neighbors. In just two days we pulled together a nativity program with costumes, speaking parts, carols and musical numbers, and refreshments. It definitely wasn't a reverent environment with this bunch of kids, yet I felt such a deep appreciation for our Heavenly Father's plan to send His children to earth in a family setting and felt very humbled that He trusts me with the task of returning them to Him. Even though this nativity program was mostly just an excuse to mingle with our awesome neighbors, I hope the boys felt the spirit as they enacted those sacred events too.

Oh Christmas Tree!

We keep flirting with the idea of buying a fake Christmas tree, but then when the time comes to spend several hundred dollars, during our budget tight month of December, on a plastic, fake-o tree, we back out and decide to go the natural route another year. This year our great Christmas tree hunt consisted of driving around from one big box store to the next and walking through their picked over lot for any tree over four feet tall. When we found one scraggly noble fir that measured 7.5 feet, we pronounced it the most beautiful tree in all the lot, threw it in the truck, and hauled it home. 

This year Aaron accepted defeat before he even engaged in the battle with the tree to center it in the base and just left it to tip forward at a precarious angle. I sacrificed an entire nap time to prep the tree with lights, only to have half the strands blow out mid-way. Overall, the tree is about par for the course!
It was all worth it for the five frenzied minutes that the kids fought over who got to hang which ornament and loaded the bottom third of the tree with the entire box of ornaments. The boys declared it a super fun family night--the best ever--so I guess I need to color my glasses a little more rosy;)


Max loved playing on a basketball team with all of his buddies from school and coached by his dad. It didn't hurt either that Max was a total standout and was scoring baskets left and right while the other space cadets were still trying to figure out which hoop belonged to their team. Once Max had six or seven points, Aaron would direct him to pass instead of shoot so as to not attract quite so much attention to Max's skills. Not joking. I'm often the mom of the kid who put something weird in his mouth, or the mom of the kid who hit someone else's kid, so it was refreshing for me to be the mom of the kid who was a basketball star. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Black Bear Breakfast

Give us a few years and we're going to put this place out of business with our army of bacon-lovers. We loved starting out our Saturday morning with full tummies of yummy pancakes. 

Movie Night

We don't take the family to the theater very often because...why?! What would be the point of paying for 7 tickets so we could spend two hours chasing the wiggly kids around the theater, shushing them to be quiet, and taking them back and forth to the bathroom? So, it was a pretty big treat when some friends invited us to the theater that they'd rented for their company party. With all the complimentary popcorn and treats they could carry, the little guys stayed happy at least through the previews;) Soon. Soon we will all be able to enjoy a full movie together. Until then, I'll just run the little guys home where we can let our crazies out while Aaron and the olders represent us at the party.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


The night before our visit to see the reindeer, we had watched a family movie about Santa's reindeer, so Joey was thrilled when he called out to the reindeer and they responded by snorting back at him. It was too cold to stay long, so we warmed up with ice cream inside;)

Living Nativity

After our improved experience on the polar express, I had the false hope that the crazy years were behind us and it was only smooth sailing from here on out. When we took the kids to a live nativity performance, Rocky quickly brought me back to reality: he climbed on stage during a spiritual musical number, wandered off at the Bethlehem exhibits, and decided the nativity enactment was a good time to pitch a five-star fit. Another reminder, "time and a season for everything."

Polar Express

Two years ago, we took the kids on the polar express...and I'm still tired just thinking about it. When our friends invited us to join a group of families on the polar express this year, we accepted the invitation, but braced ourselves for a long ride. Well, I don't know if it was the addition of good friends, the difference in two years in ages and stages, or if the odds just happened to be in our favor that day, but we had a great time! The temperature was cold, but manageable with coats and hot chocolate, the ride was scenic and entertaining with group caroling and a visit from Santa, and it was a great kick-off to the Christmas season! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

'Tis the Season!

Aaron has been such a stickler about banning all things Christmas until after Thanksgiving (me, I've been rocking out to Christmas music since Halloween!), but we finally wore him down and he let us enjoy an early Tim Tam Slam. Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can dunk away guilt-free! Let Christmas begin!


Last Thanksgiving we had lots of extended family join us for a fabulous, and labor-intensive home-cooked feast....and all the kids ate was a few rolls and some pop. This year, with it just being our own family to feed, I couldn't get excited about cooking up green bean casseroles and candied sweet potatoes that no one but me would enjoy, so we opted to eat out! It's not quite as intimate to eat Thanksgiving dinner in a ginormous banquet hall filled with strangers, but the food was over the top...and I skipped the grocery shopping, the slaving in the kitchen, and the mountain of dishes! Fair trade! I don't think any of us even had a piece of turkey: Aaron chose the prime rib and crab legs, Hank picked macaroni and cheese, Max went for the chocolate dipped strawberries, Ben had his favorite chicken fingers and French fries, and Joey and Rocky gobbled down corn dogs and cookies.....non-traditional, but everyone was happy! 

I do love spending time in the kitchen with my loved ones, preparing food from the heart and enjoying the fruits of our labors, but I actually think I was more able to focus on taking personal inventory of my blessings and reflecting on the things (or people) I'm most grateful for without all the kitchen work to keep me busy. My heart is full of love and appreciation for my sweet family and the sweet life we share together. 

After dinner we rested our full tummies while we watched a Christmas movie together.

Benny's play date

Ben loves to have play dates, but he's still working on learning to interact together with his buddies, so I thought it'd be fun to invite a few of his friends over for a Thanksgiving party. After a few rounds of Thanksgiving bingo, a pin the gobble on the turkey game, and decorating cookies, kids are going to be begging to come play with Ben. 

Potty Talk

The boys have picked up a few 'potty words' that I'm not happy about them using. To help them break this habit, they've been giving me 10 push-ups every time they use a naughty word. I'm not sure if there has been a decrease in potty talk, but they're going to have good biceps before long!

Donut Day

When the boys came home from school with report cards in hand, they hit me up first thing for donuts and the fun center (both places offer freebies for good grades). This celebration was particularly sweet because Ben earned his first report card--ALL 4s. A few free donuts doesn't seem adequate to acknowledge such a major accomplishment for this little boy, but he seemed pretty pleased with his reward. 

My turkeys

Cold weather means indoor play, so I've been keeping these two busy with lots of "projects." Anytime they get to smear paint around and get their fingers dirty they're pretty happy. 

The Derby

Hank was very specific about his pinewood derby car design and color scheme this year. He knew exactly the way he wanted it to look and took over the creation of it himself. I think the car definitely took first place in the aesthetic department, but not so much in the speed department. Trial and error. He's already got plans for modifications for next year.


After we made it back home from St. George, I promptly fell victim to the stomach flu. It really shouldn't be allowed for the mom to get sick. As much as I appreciated Aaron's help, it was so overwhelming to have him leave for work and be left to take care of the kids, sanitize the house from top to bottom, and make order of things after returning from out of town. This pretty much sums up how I was feeling: