Friday, December 31, 2010

Sometimes Matt brings me home little gifts. Two times he has brought me home body scrub that he has then ranted and raved about how good they smell and how they leave his skin so soft.

Sister always says that if you want to know the kind of gift a person wants, look at the kind of gift a person gives.

So after I read about making homemade body scrub here, Addie and I set out to the health food store and bought all the ingredients for our own special Christmas blend.

I wanted Addie to help at every step, so I set out to open each of the essential oils to find one that she approved of. But to each one I let her smell she said "ewww," so after about 15 times, I gave up. In the end I took the owners advice and went with grapefruit and lavender.

"Addie, smile! Addie, say cheese!"
And she did say cheese.
She just did it while wiping her nose on her sleeve.

She had so much fun making daddy's gift.

Do you like her pajamas and backpack?

Love the faces!

So proud of herself for being such a big girl!

Does it smell good?
"No, ewww."

Addie loved making it, wrapping it, and then taking it to daddy to open on Christmas morning. And just fyi, daddy loved his gift.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of year thoughts

(mommy and frankie. 4am. please excuse my hair and chins. oh, and i would like to eat frankies cheeks with a large spoon)

This is a post with kinda random, but all interrelated themes.
With some random pics thrown in because no one likes a post with without pictures.
Some people don't even read it if there are no pictures.


I love me a new year and all the expectations and goals and tabula rasa-ness of it all.
I know some people don't like New Years Resolutions.
But I love 'em.
I'm so gonna be all skinny and smart and spend tons of time with my super smart kids giving service and having fun together and living in a super clean house with all my resolutions.


It's been a rough year. I'm not even gonna go there and say things like
"Hope next year is more calm"
"Here's to a better year!"
Cause I'm just not.
I've done that before and that calm year hasn't come yet.
(does it ever really come? starting to think not)
This year our family has struggled and hurt and grown.
I feel like we're in the refiners fire (aren't we all!) and I just hope we all make it out in one piece and together.


(please excuse the super glazed it's-4am-and-i-am-exhausted-but-love-this-baby-and-the-snuggling-because-she-never-snuggles-like-this-with-me-because-she's-so-big-and-always-wants-to-eat-instead look on my face)


For months my little heart was heavy with worry. I wasn't even able to read my favorite "IlovemylifeIamsohappyIenjoyeverything" blog for a few months because I just didn't feel like enjoying the small things. And I didn't want to read about super happy, optimistic people while I was hurting.


But I am kind of loving being in my thirties, because I am gaining this new self-awareness that's kind of mind-blowing. I still worry and some days just really suck. Totally don't have it all figured out, but I am learning about myself and those around me.
Like "Ooooooh, now I get why she did that! Now it makes sense!"
I am becoming.
And I like becoming.


Becoming helps ease my worried heart. It helps feel less hopeless. It numbs my senses that are offended when the fruit of the womb act like teenagers. Like when they don't say "I love you" ever, even though it's been said to them at least twice a day for like, ever. I used to shut the door after shuffling them off to school and crumple in a heap and cry. But I am becoming, and I know, this too shall pass. And I'm okay. I can even read all my imaginary friends blogs again.


So, here's to a learning, growing, loving, strengthening the family, spending more time with friends, serving more, happier, becoming a better person new year.


With lots more pictures of feet.

(because addie was like "mommy, take a picture of my foot." so i was all "okay." and here it is.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday

We had a white Christmas!
The snow started around 4:00 and didn't stop until Sunday.
When we were looking for a home to buy in Southern Maryland, our Realtor (along with many other people) told us it doesn't snow in Southern Maryland.

On Christmas day we had Mindy's kids come play with us while she worked, and then our friends the Elicio's invited us over for some (delicious!) appetizers.
So we decided to postpone our Christmas dinner until Sunday.

So, on Saturday evening:
Matt gave Addie a bath and they used his new bath salts that we made him.
(post to come)
When Addie came downstairs, her hair was so greasy!
I guess the oils from the bath salt made her hair super greasy.
It's hard to see with a picture, but here she is coming downstairs the next morning.
(yes, we left her hair like that overnight and yes, she dressed herself before she came out of her room)

Every naptime or morning when she wakes up she says "Good morning! I missed you!"
Love this face!

On Sunday:
We went to church and had just Sacrament Meeting because of the snow.
There weren't many people there and it was so cozy and the meeting was so nice.
As soon as we got home, Matt and I changed our clothes and then shoveled the driveway and sidewalk.
That was the first time I had ever shoveled snow.
Last year I was big pregnant with Frankie and before that I don't know how I got away with not shoveling. But I wish I could remember so I didn't have to do it anymore!
At first I was thinking, "this isn't too bad."
Then after about 10 minutes I wanted to be done.
And then shoveling the next day I really wanted to be done!
Here we are after we had finished.
It was still snowing and it had already re-covered everything.

Snowy kisses.
With a romantic truck behind us.

Our Christmas dinner.
On the 26th.

I tried something different this Christmas season.
I didn't stress about anything.
(at least I tried not to)
I never made cookies for teachers and neighbors.
Cards went out on the 27th.
Gifts did not get mailed. (or made for that matter)
I went Christmas dinner shopping early and then never really checked again to make sure we had everything.
Consequently, we didn't have whipped cream (and no pink fluff because of that), cranberry sauce, or sweet potatoes.
I didn't make pies early, so on Sunday I whipped together a quick cheesecake and decided to forgo the pumpkin and chocolate chip pie.
We still haven't gone out to look at Christmas lights.
We didn't do any of our advent calendar activities.
I didn't even do St. Nicholas day on the 6th!

My thoughts on my experiment:
I liked the not stressing part. A lot actually.
But it all felt a little off.
I like making things special for my family.
And for me, that means making a big deal about everything.
I like spending all day in the kitchen making cookies and trekking through the snow to deliver them.
I like making and sending gifts.
I like pink fluff and cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.
Soooo, my goal for next year (and forever I guess) is to make things special, in my way by making a big deal, but planning and being prepared so I don't stress.
Easy squeezie, right?

Anyways, on Monday:

Alexis played (is it still called 'playing' when your 14?) with her friends all day.
I took Frankie to the doctor (no camera) and she weighs 19.5 lbs (75th %), she is 29 1/2 inches long, (97th %) and I forgot how big her head is, but I know it was in the 75%.

(I love the way everyone, even people at the pediatricians office, ooh's and aah's over my sweet girl. They say she should be the Gerber baby. She really is beautiful. Even though she's bratty. :)

Matt and I went on a double date with Mindy and her bf Rod. We ate yummy Mexican food (except for my Steak Tampiquena that kind of tasted like old cheese) and had a wonderful time.
When we got home it was bedtime and (surprise!) Addie didn't want to go to bed.
So she made herself a bed on the floor of the living room.
She had her pillow pet, blankie, Oscar bear, one Wiggle (without a shirt because Addie decided they needed a bath), and then Frankie's coat to cover her feet.
Here she is fake yawning.

And fake sleeping.

Then she decided to put Frankie's coat on her legs.

She's a hoot and a holler.

I am almost all caught up on blogging!
Someday I will print my blog into a book and I wanted to be sure all of the 2010 stuff went into the 2010 year.
Hence, day 2 of marathon blogging.

MerRAY Christmas 2010

MerRAY Christmas, I just came up with that right now!
Sometimes I've just got it!

Our Christmas morning featured:
A new kitchen for Addie and Frankie.
Craigslist yo!

We've been on a major The Office kick up in here.
I found this gem a few days before Christmas and was able to get free shipping, so Santa brought it to our family.
It may become a White Elephant gift someday, but for now, I love it.

The guys at Matt's office have Nerf wars and Matt didn't have a gun.
So I hooked him up.
I mean, Santa did. ;)

The Office.
Check out this best quote #2 here.

I like to call this "Ghetto Tree."
Ghetto Tree happened because I could only find one strand of working lights (you know, the kind with the green cord). So I did what any self-respecting Christmas light lover would do, I put the white corded icicle lights on.

Santa ate his cookies and drank his nog.
And I guess after Santa ate his cookies, he unlocked the front door and let the reindeer in to eat their carrots.
Good thing Santa is so thoughtful.

Addie saw her kitchen first and Christmas morning was over for her.
She didn't care about anything else.

Christian and Addie got Alexis a Zebra Snuggie.
She tried to act like she didn't want it, but seriously, who wouldn't love that?!

We got some awesomely thoughtful gifts.
This is Alexis opening the book that Grandpa Ray made for each one of his sons and every single grandchild.
It's called Sharon Harmon Ray: A Book of Rememberance.
Matt and I may or may not have opened ours early and read it every night.
Some nights through tears.
It's pretty awesome.

We also got cute home-made scarfs from Cami and Cosette. (thank you, they are so cute!)

AND we got 31 dvd's of Seagrove family home movies.
Awwww, yeah! You know what we did all Christmas day!
Thanks Dad!

Matching babies.
That don't sit still for pictures.
Thanks Allie!

The aftermath.
Pretty messy.
And I don't care.
And that's a whole church volleyball game there playing on the big screen.
The. whole. darn. thing.

Our baby's first Christmas.

Hope your Christmas was very MerRAY too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was spent with our friends, the McCombs and Utzingers.
They ordered pizza and we had appetizers and goodies and played games.

When we got home it was time to get ready for Santa.
Addie and I had made peanut clusters, so we put them out on our Santa cookie plate and Addie helped pour the eggnog.

We used to give Santa Red Bull so he could have energy, but I don't keep that around the house anymore.

Then we had to get some carrots out for the reindeer.

We counted out 8 in English and then Spanish for good measure.
It wasn't till the next morning that I realized we probably should have put the reindeer food outside for the reindeer instead of on the table with Santa's cookies.
I was tired, alright?!

While we did all that, Lexi did some of this.

And then before heading up for stories and songs, we checked NORAD to see where Santa was.
He had just been to Newfoundland, which Matt made fun of me for pronouncing New-FOUND-land.
I was tired, alright?!

And then we tucked our babies and big girl in bed to dream of sugarplums.
(ps - look at me go! 12 blog posts in 1 day!)

Terrible for two

Addie has hit the terrible two's, and she has hit them hard.
She used to be reasonable after a timeout or two, but not anymore.
One day she was crying about something and I got out my clip-on Christmas tree earrings that one of my Kindergarten students gave me one year.
She loved them!
She was dangling them all over the place.
And she was my sweet two-year-old again.
Come back soon, sweet two-year-old.
Mama misses you.

Cheer Captain

Lexi cheered the whole football season and even though I went to every game, I never got any pictures! Still not sure how that happened.
But it did.

Then for basket ball cheerleading the girls had to try out again, which she did and made the JV team again. Then the girls voted for their captains and she made JV Team Captain.
I'm so proud of her.
She's tried a lot of sports.
Ballet, jazz, soccer, baseball, volleyball, and swimming to name a few.
But she never really liked or excelled at any of them.
But she likes cheering.
And she's excelling.
And I like that.
(that she likes something, not necessarily that she likes cheering)

It's not easy to get pictures of cheerleaders! I sat behind them so I could be close, but that doesn't make for the best picture or video.
Oh well.

This video is the "cheer" they do when one of their players makes a free throw.
I like to do this one too, which is a sight to see if I do say so myself.

And I like this cheer.
Even from behind.

And if you made it through both of those, then here is your dessert.
The half time show.
And this is Lexi's first performance as a flyer!

So proud of my big girl!

Gaylord National

Christian had to go to Texas for Christmas this year. It was the first Christmas he has ever been gone. We didn't quite know how to celebrate. We wanted to have a Christmas celebration with him, but we also wanted to have a Christmas day for our girls.

So Matt came up with the idea to take the kids to the Gaylord National Hotel to have a fun mini-Christmas celebration before Christian leaves.
The day before school got out we pulled them out early and drove up to the National Harbor. The hotel was beautiful! There were Christmas trees and decorations everywhere!

Waiting in the lobby while Matt checked us in. Check out Lexi's ho, ho, ho jammies that she wore to school. I don't know about that girl sometimes.

We got a package deal from the Navy and to get an atrium room overlooking the inside of the hotel was an extra $100, so we just settled for a room facing the street. Then as we were walking up to our room, Matt led us to an atrium facing suite! They upgraded us for free!
It was a beautiful room with a cool, high balcony that terrified me!

Addie loved it and tried to climb the railing, I seriously almost had a heart attack.
Just thinking about it makes my palms sweaty.
I only felt comfortable with her out there if Matt or I held her, I know I'm such a worry wart, but seriously.

"Matt, you hold onto her!!!"

So darn pretty!

Can you tell which is the trouble maker?

The other side of the hotels empty elevator shafts. They had glass elevators, so fun!

We rode up to the 17th floor and back down a bunch of times.
And I learned something about Christian.
That boy is afraid of heights!
He stood at the back of the elevator and when we talked about going all the way up he was like "Yeah, just to the 8th floor or so, right?"
It was so cute to see my big boy admit he was scared.
I love that kid.
And this kid who loved laughing at her baby brother.

Addie chose me to ride the train with her.
So proud. ;)

Behind us here are the fountains that play a show to Christmas Carols ala Bellagio.

They had cute Dr. Suess sculptures all over.
Addie can be such a picture turd!
She hates posing with the group!

That afternoon we went over to ICE.
First you walk through a Dr. Suess style museum.

Then you don huge blue parkas and go into a 9° freezer to see huge fun Dr. Suess ice sculptures.

Addie looked so funny because her parka was the perfect floor length.
I wanted to get a picture of her standing still and while I was getting the camera ready she fell!
She wasn't walking or doing anything, she just lost her footing and fell.
It was pretty hilarious!

They had these fun ice slides that Addie, Matt, and I loved!
The big kids went once and were done.

Asking someone to take your picture is like a box of chocolates.
You never know what your gonna get.
Maybe you'll get The Grinch in his Santa suit for your background, maybe not.
Maybe everyone will have their eyes open, maybe not.
And maybe everyone will be fully in the picture. But maybe not.

Still trying to get that full length shot.

The big kids ran ahead and we actually got a good photographer.

There you go, full length.

Later that night Matt said something about the "Welcome to Merry Ville sign."
He kills me!

The Worlds Largest Peeps Christmas Tree.
Looks delicious!

That night as we were getting ready to go swimming Addie partially disrobed herself and played in the sink. We never let her do that at home (the playing in the sink part, the nakie part we do all the time!) and she could have played for hours. It was all fun and games until she clogged the toilet. Still not sure quite how that happened. The maintenance man that came to fix it just talked and talked and tried really hard to not make us feel silly for having a clogged toilet, like it was just the most natural thing in the world.
Bless his heart.

That night we went swimming.
And by 'we,' I mean Addie and Matt.
Alexis wanted to stay in the room by herself (although she used the excuse that she didn't want to swim) and Christian and I felt the pool water and decided it was way too cold. Then the jacuzzi had a sign that said "No one under 18 allowed per Maryland State Law."
And they mean business about that rule, if you know what I mean.

So Christian went back up to the room and I hung out with the Franks.

Addie taking a break.

The pool area was beautiful and every night they show a movie.
That night it was Jim Carrey's A Christmas Carol.

We all went and showered and opened our Christmas jammies (thanks Allie!) and by that time I was famished! Not sure about everyone else, but I felt like I was about to pass out from hunger.
So Matt went in search of cheap fast food (the family friendly hotel restaurant buffet was $36 per person. No thank you.) and we went downstairs to enjoy the indoor snow fall.
After I ran around the National Harbor in my pajamas.
But that's another story.

Snow machines.

Matt and I were a little confused about what came with our hotel package deal. We thought the breakfast buffet was included (which Addie and I are seen enjoying) but because we got the Military rate, it wasn't.
And it ended up costing $101.68.
For breakfast.
Life lessons, my friend, life lessons.

After our $101.68 breakfast, we opened presents.

I brought all of Christian's presents, all the presents he bought for us, and one or two for each of the girls.

Santa got Christian a nice, new RC airplane.
Which he promptly crashed and broke the propeller off of.

One of my favorite gifts this year.
The official Antoine Dodson t-shirt.
And if you've never heard of Antoin Dodson, Ima run and tell that to you.
Check him out here and here.
And Merry Christmas.

Before we left I got some more balcony shots. I got to know that balcony pretty well as I held Frankie in the wee hours of the morning.

We thought ice skating was included in our package but that wasn't either. As Matt was asking the front desk about it, someone who did have it included overheard and gave Matt 2 tickets because they weren't gonna use them. I love random acts of kindness! Then the big kids said they didn't want to skate, so it worked out perfectly.

Addie was so cute on her skates. She was like a little baby fawn (is that redundant?) learning to walk with her feet sliding all around beneath her.

On our way to the airport we stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch where Addie and Frankie played and the big kids and parents visited.

And then I dropped my baby off at the airport for his first Christmas away from home. :(
And Matt lost his credit card. :(
But that's another story.
Life lessons, my friend, life lessons.