Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve

I have to confess, it is very difficult for me to post about Christmas once Christmas is over. Why is it that all the magic and splendor and beautiful decor looks like clutter that you can't wait to take down the day after Christmas? At least, for me anyway... But, I didn't take these pictures for no reason, and we truly had a wonderful Christmas, so allow me to re-live Christmas one last time for you beginning with Christmas eve:

The winds were finally gone, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. So, to the park we went on Christmas eve!

The dogs were very grateful to come along, (despite the fact that the little kids at the park attempted to ride them!)

As usual, Grandma kept the kids well-entertained! They are so blessed to have such a fun Grandma!

Well... at least the kid with the glasses is smiling!

And, certainly Grandma is smiling holding her newest grandbaby!

That evening we picked-up Uncle Nate from the airport. Just think, little Malachi... instead of Sierra getting thrown around, that will be you, soon!

Traditionally, we do Christmas eve service that night along with our Swedish meatballs. This year, since Daniel was working and Christmas fell on a Sunday, we saved all the festivities for Christmas day. Pictures to come... and then I'm officially done with Christmas!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Malachi at One Month

You've only been here a month, but you've completed our family!
Sweet and mellow are the 2 words I would use to describe you.
I LOVE when Sierra calls you dude.
We worked hard to get the perfect cross-eyed picture of you; so precious!
You have baby acne, but I still think you're the most handsome thing ever.
Your Papa and I go gaga over you every night.
Your sisters fight over who gets to hold you.
Sometimes Sierra likes to poke your eyes. Sorry.
You slept 5 1/2 hours straight for me last night. Please make it a habit.
Love you tons, Mama

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Graber Olive House

...Only a week late! Last Friday we joined some homeschooling families from our church for a tour of the Graber Olive House in Ontario. I had never even heard of it before, but really enjoyed the tour!

One thing we learned is that most olives are picked very early and then soaked in lye to turn them black... Graber's, on the other hand, are hand-picked when ripe. They were really yummy!

I must admit, I spent much of the tour looking around at the old original barn-setting, dreaming of what an awesome renovated house it would make. Oh, it had such character!

And, Daniel spent much of the time doing double duty with the kids! (What a stud!)

If you get a chance, check them out. They have a really cute gift shop with some unique things, as well. And, if you like olives, these are awesome!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In search of snow...

Natalie's birthday celebration, day 5: Searching for snow!

Ok, this is the final birthday celebration for Natalie... I promise! Really, this was just fun for the entire family, but it was inspired by Natalie. If you recall, we went to the beach and stayed at the Ritz Carlton for part of Allison's 5th birthday. (I had won a free overnight stay at a raffle through my husband's work!) Ever since then, Natalie has wanted to go to the mountains for her 5th birthday since her birthday is in winter. So, that's what we did! First, the girls helped us get out our Christmas letters... then we searched for winter clothes, (which was no simple task; the girls have grown!) Finally, we were off...

Once again, lollipops saved the day keeping them happy on our short commute, and lasting through the ice snow adventure!

We usually head to Wrightwood, but decided to try Mt. Baldy this time. It is literally a 25 minute drive from our house; can't beat that!

Daniel and the big girls spent much of the time hiking up the steep ice and rocks. Meanwhile, Malachi was in the bjorn, and Sierra and I hiked down the not-as-steep rock and ice path. We sang songs together as we held hands, looked at pinecones, sat on logs, and she loved dipping her lollipop in snow. I loved it!

Aaaah, the joys of being a 2-year-old.

Can you spot Sierra in the picture below?

Once again, happy birthday Natalie... until next year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Natalie Turns 5!

Even though we had a big birthday party the day before her birthday, we tried to make Natalie's actual birthday a special day, too, by giving her a choice of what she wanted to do. I slept-in with Malachi, but my hubby was on top of things making her a special pancake breakfast...

(... There was a special breakfast waiting for me when I woke-up, too!)

After breakfast, we opened family presents. Once again, Natalie was spoiled with lots of fun gifts from Grandma! She was also very excited about her gift from Mom and Dad... a new bike!

One of Natalie's favorite dinners is Panera soup and bread. Ironically, a sweet friend signed up to bring us just that for dinner that night! (She even spoiled us with bagels and honey walnut cream cheese for breakfast the next morning!)

That evening BOTH big girls had a gift to open... new pajamas for their special sleepover. As I mentioned earlier, we gave Natalie the choice of many fun things to do for her birthday. She wanted just one thing; a sleepover with her sister! Daniel took the girls to the library ahead of time to pick out a movie.

Natalie chose "The Princess Stallion." They were also allowed to pick a dessert to bring upstairs. Both girls chose a lollipop!

I stayed just long enough to take a few pictures, then headed downstairs to clean-up the kitchen. For their first sleepover, the girls did great! They talked just a bit, and then fell fast alseep. I believe we have reached a new level of maturity where the girls are finally good sleepers... ooh I hope so!

Happy birthday, my sweet Natalie. I am so proud of you!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hello Kitty Bubble Gum Party

I love, love, love that my girls pick a theme several months before their birthday, (often 11 months!) and stick to it. It makes the prep work that much easier! This year Natalie chose a Hello Kitty Bubble Gum theme for her 5th birthday. Since Hello Kitty is everywhere these days, (and since we have a lot of HK stuff ourselves), I was in luck! We even have Hello Kitty Christmas lights my dearest friend Glory gave us years ago... how perfect is that?

Below is one of my favorite finds: HK ornaments that came in a 5-pack in the dollar section at Target!

In addition to knowing the theme super early, I also attribute all of my party success to the most wonderful, helpful husband in the world! He took the girls to church that morning giving me 2 hours to clean-up uninterrupted so they could learn about Jesus! And, he made nearly 40 Hello Kitty pannini sandwiches for lunch!

We had 2 crafts:
  1. I used my Cricut to cut-out HK santas and made them into ornaments for the girls to decorate.
  2. I found a "How to draw HK" tutorial and printed it up for the kids to try.

Sierra was a little shy at first... good thing for sweet friends to help take care of her!

The sandwiches turned out soooo cute... (Great job, Honey!)

For games, we played a little game I made-up using an old bubblegum rhyme I learned as a kid... it was similar to hot potato, but the kids got a prize for going out so they wouldn't be upset about it. :)

Of course, after the balloon game came the real balloon fun... kids just going wild!

We also played pin the bubble gum on the bubble gum machine.

"Let's get serious now," says Sierra!

The kids were so good while Natalie opened her presents. Natalie sat on the birthday chair while the kids took turns bringing her their presents. I was proud of all the kids at how well-behaved they were! And, Natalie was blessed with a lot of fun stuff!

Once again, we had "Tata" make the cake. There are no words... she is uh-mazing! Natalie even thought the top was a doll; nope! ALL cake! I feel truly blessed and humbled that my friend would do that for us. Natalie was beyond thrilled.

It was a fun day! Little Malachi slept through most of it, but woke up just in time to ask...

..."Is it over, already?"
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