Friday, December 26, 2008

Latest Headline : "Blog-Slacker Attempts Redemption with Lotsa Pictures" (Lotsa lotsa pictures.)

Here's a giant stack of pictures documenting many of our holiday activities. Believe it or not, it's not all of them. But for some reason, Blogger is being a booger and won't let me add more to this post. I guess I'll have to do a "Part II Pre-Christmas". As usual, December was crazy-busy, but in a good way, packed full of family parties, ward parties, letters to Santa, keeping guard on our behavior which was under the watchful eye of Mistletoe, our magical elf, and even Carson's birthday (which will honor my blog with its own post soon).
We love our ward! Everyone is so warm and fun. It's such a great feeling to know you have the type of ward family that will be there if you need them. Our activities committee did a spectacular job on the program (kudos to Heather!), the dinner, the decorations (the tables wrapped as gifts was so clever!), and the "guest of honor" was of course the highlight of the evening. Just before the party, we opened an exciting package from Vernal...Grandma K. sent up festive socks that really "lit up" our ward party! (The ankle sported a figure that lit up each time you moved...very techno!)

My favorite part about decorating the tree is looking at it afterwards and enjoying how bottom-heavy it is...everything on the lower half, some branches sporting 2-3 decorations at a time!

Our Christmas Eve is so full now of treasured traditions, that trying to squeeze in one more of cookie decorating felt "too much" to me. However, I wasn't ready to give it up entirely either. So we compromised and fit it in during the weeks leading up to Christmas. This was Carson's first year. See his cookie below? The one with more sprinkles than dough???

This year was especially fun, because Wyatt can write his own letter. He still struggles with spelling, so I transcribed what he wanted to say on a separate piece of paper, which he then used to help him know in what order to write his alphabet letters. Carson did some very fancy scribbling. I'm sure Santa knows how to decipher toddler-code.
"This year I've tried hard to be good. Sometimes I'm a little naughty and make mistakes like, not sharing. But some of the good things I've done are taking care of toys. I'd be very grateful if you could bring me a firetruck toy. My favorite thing about Christmas is the tree. Love, Wyatt."

"I've been very good this year. Could you bring me a Hannah Montana Style Head. Then we will bring you some cookies and milk. Thank you for the Elf. Does he tell you we are good and nice. My favorite part of Christmas is Jesus. What is your favorite part of Christmas? Thank you for my cash register last year. Love, Halle Taft."

Dixie gave us our newest comes in a book called The Elf on the Shelf. It's an adorable little story that tells about the 7" elf you find in the back of the book. Every night, he magically goes to the North Pole and reports your behavior to St. Nick. In the morning, you find he has returned, sitting in a new spot each day. You can't touch him! Or he'll lose his magic. I love Christmas. Parents have such leverage. Don't want to buy your kid that bag of candy they keep begging for as you wait in the check-out line? You no longer sound like the mean mommy saying, No. Instead you simply state, "Put it on your wishlist" and your children sigh in defeat as accept your answer. Don't want to expend the energy and emotion required to referee the latest sibling rivalry or argument? Simply remind them that Santa and his elves are watching and they'd better be good. For parents everywhere, it doesn't get any better than this. We named our elf Mistletoe and he was anywhere in our house that the kids couldn't reach...on top of cabinets, light fixtures, the tree, the entertainment center, you name it, he was there! Although, one day he was a little lower, on a decorative easel in the front room. Halle accidentally knocked him down. Oh, the tragedy! There was weeping. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. See below for the details.

So see below? Here he sat when he was "accidentally" knocked from his precarious perch. I was actually very grateful for this experience. You see, at Carson's birthday, I committed the cardinal sin of absent-mindedly talking "grown-up" talk about Santa in front of non-grown-up ears. (GASP!) It's one of those moments when something slips out of your mouth, then realizing your children are still in the room, you are left wondering, "Did they catch that? Have I ruined their Christmas innocence?" At the time, the kids didn't say anything, so I had hope. And yet I was skeptical, as not much gets past Halle. I was sick about it, especially since I knew Halle's time of pure and undoubted Christmas faith would not last long, now that she's 7 and in school. It was only a matter of time before some half-wit school chum spilled the beans. The sacred Christmas beans. Over the next week, I observed her, and although her words and behavior would indicate she still believed, at times she seemed over-dramatic about it (surprise, surprise) and I couldn't help but wonder if she was just putting on a show. Then this happened. Her reaction, her tears, her anguish over "touching" Mistletoe and possibly causing his magic to go away, the possibility of being put on Santa's naughty-list (yes, she specifically said that) was obviously real and overwhelming to her. Inside, I was jumping for joy! She believes! She believes! I'm not the worst mother in the world and I haven't spoiled it--she still believes! I gave her a hug and assured her that Santa knows accidents happen and that if she felt that badly about it, perhaps when she came home from school she could write Santa a letter apologizing and explaining what happened. Although she still sniffled with concern, this seemed to appease her and she went on her merry way. When she walked through the door after school, what's the first thing she says? "I'll do my homework later, after I write Santa a note." the mean time, I needed to get Mistletoe back up on the easel. I kept waiting for Wyatt to go upstairs so I could simply pick him up, but Wyatt was too anxious. "How are we going to put him back? We can't touch him, Mommy! Oh, no! What are we going to do?" To keep up the charade, I had to go as far as to get out the plastic salad tongs. We picked up Mistletoe, about as effectively as the claw machine at the arcade, and after several attempts, successful returned him to his watchful spot on the easel. Halle left her letter with Mistletoe, who miraculously took it with him on his nightly journey to the Norht Pole. All is well, all is well.

Someday when they are grown, they're going to love hearing this story.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart—and our neighbors as ourselves. It is well to remember that he who gives money gives much, he who gives time gives more, but he who gives of himself gives all. Let this be a description of our Christmas gifts."

Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, December 18, 2008

turn off my playlist. and get yourself a tissue. or two.

The emotion visible on Joseph's face as he holds the newborn Savior of the world is what did me in. Thanks, Mom, for sending me this.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

there's a first time for everything

I thought it was worth mentioning that yesterday while driving downtown, Carson said a very important word for the first time: temple. As our car headed west on South Temple, directly out his window he could view the beautiful granite structure. And then he said it, and it was so sweet I nearly cried. "Mommy, wook! The dimple! I see the dimple!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

deja vu

I feel like we've taken a ride in a time machine and are about to land in 2006, at the peak of the "dark ages" Brett and I and the kids experienced during his last year of the MBA program. When the contraption's door opens, I'm nervous I'll painfully see ourselves back in an all-too familiar routine...anyone who's had a spouse in school will recognize it. Going your different directions, finally seeing each other for the first time each day as you pass, almost like strangers, in the night--one person just getting home, the other just going to bed. Rearranging family outings for the one day of the week you've got together, but also trying to cram in a billion errands & to-do lists.
After much thought and prayer, we agreed Brett should get a second job working nights for the Post Office at their Data Entry center. He applied and was offered the position, starting in January.
But (and there is a positive "but" here), I keep reminding myself this is a good thing. We're looking at this as temporary (very, very temporary)--a year or just over year. During that time, we're planning on using the extra income to expedite the payment of some debt and also to accrue a more substantial savings to give us comfort should that "rainy day" ever come. No cause for alarm, I assure you...just wanting to have less debt and more reserves. I'm grateful for a husband willing to do whatever it takes to provide for his family, even if it may seem unnecessary to some, he's building security for us. How blessed I am to have him! And many that we know, we're taking extra measures, extra steps, to ensure the stability and comfort of our little family. Wish us luck!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sleeping Baby or Contortionist?

It's interesting to note that Carson is still learning the boundaries of his new bed. It's not uncommon to find him in positions similar to the ones below.
(See the humidifier in the bottom-right corner? My poor boys have had the most difficult time getting over terrible colds. It's been nearly a month of sniffles, sneezes, and now coughing. I fear saying it out loud, but I'm hopeful that a week of constant "humidifying" may have proved to be helpful and they might just be on the mend. Let's cross our fingers...we've cleaned out the store shelves of kleenex!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

a bunch of turkeys

Yes, this is a typical Kremin family party. And I love that.

So this picture shows how the craziness started. Mark & Bill were having a "swinging" time teasing Halle, lifting her over the stove and pretending they were going to cook her for her dinner. Before we knew it, other women (yes, grown women) were in their grasps, being rocked back and forth, their derrieres nearly simmering with the gravy! I love my crazy family--always doing something fun. We were all in hysterics!
Our Thanksgiving weekend in Vernal didn't start out very funny, however. On our way out there, we stopped at Dairy Keen in Heber (you know, the "train" restaurant) to eat dinner. Afterwards, we missed seeing a large truck in our blindspot as we were leaving the parking lot, and as a result backed up into the front of it. Brett went inside the restaurant and talked to all the customers and employees, but could not find the truck owner. It had only gotten a scratch (our vehicle definitely got the raw end of the deal), but we did not want to leave without owning up to our mistake. The best we could do at that point was leave a note on the window apologizing and leaving our number. We never did get a call, so they either didn't care or didn't see the note. Oh, well. We couldn't wait around all night. You do the best you can, right?

Here we are in front of the infamous leg lamp, or in other words, "electric sex gleaming in the window".
Poor Carson. Or should I say poor Benson? Carson followed him around all night, trying to make friends. Benson simply wasn't interested. It was funny to watch Carson, being so persistent, and Benson, getting more and more annoyed. Maybe when you're older, boys!

Sing it, baby! Dixie was nice enough to loan me her karaoke machine, which we had a ball with! Believe it or not, I could not find a karaoke CD anywhere, so we made do by singing over other voices (we sounded better anyway, right?). What was Halle's song choice? "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth", of course! Even Carson took a turn singing "Jingle Bells"! If you weren't singing, you'd have better been dancing!!!

Turn off my player and listen to our "Kremin Idol" contestants!

Professional Bird Carver.

I was lucky enough to "grow up" with my nieces. To this day I count them as some of my dearest, best-est friends!

Laurie and Kristen put together a fun gift-exchange game for the kids. As soon as they rolled doubles on the die, they could open a dollar-store gift. Thanks, ladies! Even the adults got prizes. Here's Joleen with her envied battery-powered travel-size electric whisk. We decided she should keep it in her would be just as effective as mace!

Prior to leaving town, Wyatt's preschool had a "Thanksgiving Feast". One parent could attend, so Brett took off work just for Wy's special day. The kids put on a little program, singing songs, and I could tell Father and Son enjoyed spending that time together!

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson