Monday, January 23, 2017

Super Six

Surrounded by some big birthdays and Christmas, I was worried that Ammon would feel upstaged on his big day. Especially since we had to hold off the main celebration until Sunday, when the rest of the family was available to celebrate. When the day of his birthday rolled around, festivities were low-key, and yet, the day was good.

Ammon played with his legos before we headed off to exercise class. And I also had to fit in some pictures of the birthday boy on his big day.

I told him to make a cool move for his picture and this is what I got. He's pretty cool to me.

At school he raised his hand and asked his teacher when the class was going to sing happy birthday to him. Hahahaha! This cracks me up. And surprises me because he's so shy. I think he's acclimating to kindergarten just fine :)

Since we were waiting to eat his birthday dinner of steak, jello, carrots, and snicker salad until Sunday, we let him pick where he wanted to go out for dinner on his birthday.

And here he is with his ice cream sundae at Red Robin's. I decided Red Robin's is the perfect restaurant to take kids on their birthday because they give you the free sundae, they sing you happy birthday (which Ammon looked like he was being TORTURED while they were singing - poor, shy boy), and you get balloons as you leave. It's like a free birthday party along with your meal.

After dinner we had him open a good majority of his presents and he was thrilled with his pirate ship playmobile.

Sunday night we had his requested birthday dinner and he opened more presents from family. Ammon was also able to get his birthday desert, inspired by a previous trip to Dairy Queen.

Ice cream brownie sundae with chopped Reeses and chocolate syrup sprinkled on top. Good choice, my son. It was delicious.

Ammon is such a good little boy. And he is SUCH a tease. He loves to trick and joke and pretend. He asks for food constantly and could eat alllll day long. Ammon is so helpful and turning into such a gentleman - holding the door for me, helping with Kendrick, carrying my mat at exercise class. He melts my heart when he comes to me before we leave somewhere and asks if I need help with anything.

Ammon is starting to read pretty well and is a math and handwriting whiz. I'm really happy with his progression in school. We are just working on listening and remembering instructions. This boy is pretty forgetful. He's still shy and sympathetic.  He's basically your typical little boy, with lots of Ammon flavor. If that makes sense.

He's pretty much the best. 

I love him with all my heart and can't believe my first little man is six years old. Happy birthday, dude. Stay cool.

Ammon's Sixth Birthday Interview
1. What's your favorite song? Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam
2. What's your favorite thing to do with Mom? Play a board game
3. What's your favorite thing to do with Dad? Play a card game
4. What's your favorite day of the week? Saturday
5. How old are you? Six
6. Who is your best friend? Hyrum
7. What's your favorite thing to do? Play with Lydia
8. What's your favorite color? Black
9. What's your favorite food? Steak
10. What do you like to do with your family? Make cookies
11. What's your favorite toy? My art set
12. What do you want to be when you grow up? A ninja
13. What makes you happy? Our family
14. What makes you sad? Getting hurt
15. What's your favorite show to watch? Power Rangers
16. What's your favorite book? Superhero book
17. What do you like to learn about? Jesus
18. Where do you like to go? McDonalds
19. What's the best part of your birthday? Getting presents
20. What's your favorite treat? Brownie Sundae
21. If you could meet someone famous who would it be? President Monson
22. What's your favorite movie? Big Hero 6
23. What's your favorite game to play? Sorry
24. What sports do you like? Football, tennis
25. What do you like to wear? "this shirt" and points to shirt he's wearing (basketball shirt)
26. Who's your favorite Superhero? Spiderman

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tappana Times: Christmas Week 2016

Well I've updated about the month of December, up to Christmas. So it's time to fill in that blank. Christmas fell on Sunday and it was marvelous to be able to go to church on the day we celebrate the Savior's birth. Feeling the Spirit, taking the sacrament, singing Christmas hymns, and hearing messages about Christ? That is Christmas. Of course we had some Christmas spunk at church, making the babies wear the mini Christmas hats I made for everyone to party with that day.

The kids slept over at my parent's house Christmas Eve, so before we headed to church, Brigham, Kendrick, and I drove over and everyone went through their stockings and saw what Santa brought.

Disney countdown picture, mickey/minnie ears and shirts, and disney lanyards with pouches were from Santa, since he knew about our big trip. Santa, what a guy, helping Mom and Dad get fun stuff for our trip.
Brigham and I had a big surprise for the kids this year: Disneyland!! We've been able to save up some credit card points and finagled a few things to scrape enough together to make it to Disneyland. I'm the only one that's ever been, so it's been really exciting for Brigham. It'll also be our first trip with just OUR family (that's not to see family).

We had planned for weeks how to break the news to the kids, and though we didn't go with balloons bursting out of a box, it was still fun anticipating their reactions. Brigham thought they would freak out, but I knew it would be a little too abstract for them to grasp at first. And it was. They didn't even really look at the stuff on the piano, and just dug into their stockings. When we stopped them and helped them figure out everything meant Disneyland, we got a mediocre, "yaaayyyy....." Lydia's defense is that the countdown only says "Disney" and not DisneyLAND, so how was she supposed to know?! Now that we've talked about the upcoming vacation and they get to write a new number every night on the countdown, they are much more excited. Ammon even tried to wear his Mickey ears to school the first day back from break. 

Kendrick was both oblivious and confused, but enjoyed the rocking dinosaur that Santa gave him. 

We literally spent hours opening presents after church, although we were interrupted with a missionary phone call from Kenny. He seemed happy and looked great.

I just want to take a minute and gush about the cute Christmas hats I made. I saw them at one of the many craft shows we went to this season. However, they wanted $5 for each little hat. Outrageous! I knew I could make them for cheap. And I did. It probably cost me about $5 for the twelve I made, and I have plenty of materials to make more. I made most of the adults wear them and it added such a Christmas party spirit. I loved it!

Not to mention, it turned babies into little Christmas elves.

Oh my heart. I saved the hats for next year. So much fun from something so small :)

 We were definitely spoiled. It was a wonderful Christmas day.

The following week was jam-packed with family activities.

We drove around town and saw Christmas lights.

And blinded everyone in the car by using a flash to take pictures.

We had another successful murder mystery dinner - western style this year.

It was thrown together very last minute, but the costumes still turned out amazing. Russ even made a ten-gallon hat out of cardboard.

Aunt Sandy was once again the killer. No one knows who the murderer is until the very end when it's revealed, and both years it's turned out to be Aunt Sandy. Watch out for her, folks. That Elvira!

The western accents were also a crack up. I love seeing the acting skills come to life.

The Tappana family spent a day in Seattle with my brother and his little family.

Cold, but sunny, we enjoyed Pike's Place Market, walking along the waterfront, and eating fish and chips while overlooking the Puget Sound. The kids were troopers, walking for a long while and not complaining about the cold. I think it was because of their new, warm, fuzzy hats.

We had a Great Nelson Bake Off that my father arranged, dividing us into teams and giving us the challenge of a yeast savory bread, and a pie. My dad invited neighbors and friends to come judge the results and they didn't know who made what. They tasted, rated, and revealed.

Two-toned Vienna bread from Sandy, Russ, and Polyana
Braided cheese garlic bread by Becky, Kari, and Brigham
Chili cornbread by Scott and Nils
The judges choose the braided garlic bread as the winner for the bread category. Yes!

Strawberry cream pie by Sandy, Russ, and Polyana
Blueberry cheesecake pie by Brigham, Becky, and Kari 
Chocolate French silk pie by Nils and Scott
 The judges choose the blueberry cheesecake pie as the winner. Sweet!

My team swept the competition. It was actually a super close call and we barely won. The judges based on looks, taste, and bake, and then revealed the overall winner. If they had picked a winner in each category, we wouldn't have always taken first.

The competition was fierce and fun. We have already talked about how we would arrange future competitions.

The winners!
Besides those fun activities, we had multiple game days, a movie night, football games, and lots of general family fun, food, and goodness. Ryan and Kendrick fell asleep together while we watched old family videos, and Chloe constantly wanted Kendrick to play with her, and even would kiss/smell his neck, while he just stared at her.

We were out late almost every night, and the kids were often so tired from all the fun. I treasured letting the cousins play together, though we were missing the cousins far away in Utah. Being around family is what made the holiday season hectic, busy, fun, crazy, and wonderful. Just like it should be!

Monday, January 9, 2017

December: Snow, Santa, and One-Year-Old Baby Jesus

This past December was a typical holiday month for us. We started to get the cold weather and out came our hats and coats. It was fun seeing Kendrick in the same gear that Ammon wore years ago.

Our front yard

View of part of our backyard
View of the front drive way

I was THRILLED when we actually got a decent amount of snow! Usually, when it does snow here, Maple Valley gets one teeny-tiny inch that quickly melts. This snow fall we had a good amount - enough that we could actually play and enjoy what I've missed by moving away from Utah.

Eager to get our fun in, I told Lydia she was skipping the first half of school to have a snow day with me. I was the cool mom for one morning as we heard all the other kids getting on the bus and we continued throwing snowballs in the backyard.

I felt like a little kid again as we stomped around in the white stuff. I love the snow. Especially at Christmas time, it adds such a magic to the season and I was loving it for days.

When Lydia told me she had never made a snowman and didn't know how, I was shocked! My kids had not experience childhood before this day!

Cue snowman making instructions. I showed the kids how to roll a smaller snow ball until it became bigger and bigger. Their eyes grew at the same rate as the balls of snow, "You can just make it grow by rolling it?!"

Ammon loved packing the snow between the different snowball levels, in order to make the stay together. He would bossily instruct Lydia that her packing job was not up to par. Of course, he was the first to cave and start crying that his feet hurt because they were so cold. I had to cut him some slack because we had already been playing outside for a couple hours, and we were on our second model of snowman (due to a collapse when trying to stick the face rocks in)

Lydia stayed out to finish the snowman job while I headed in with Ammon to join Kendrick, who had been inside crying at the back door for the last half hour. (He didn't like the cold and I couldn't set him down in the snow, so he lost out and I was a super un-cool mom for him that morning as he sat in the house crying by himself) After we exhausted ourselves in the snow, I drove Lydia to school and took the boys and myself to what was left of exercise class. One of the best mornings this year, for sure.

A couple weeks later, after warmer weather came back and rain set in, Mr. Frosty (as dubbed by the kids) was feeling pretty Greek.

With the fake creepy-ish Santa that dances and sings
Christmas parties abounded in December and the kids had a blast at Brigham's work Christmas party. They swam in the boss' pool and made amazing surprise Christmas gifts for us, with the help of the boss' wife. Because my mom works for the same company as Brigham, my parents and brother and sister were at the party as well. Prime rib, a gift exchange, and letting the kids enjoy swimming made it a successful night.

The Ward Christmas Party was in the same week and the kids were able to sit on Santa's lap .

Each year our church puts on a Nativity for the community. Members bring all their different nativity sets and put them up in the gym decorated with hundreds of Christmas trees. Live choirs and musical numbers sing in the chapel, and other rooms are set up for dress-up pictures, treats, artwork, and children's activities. It's a HUGE, beautiful production that lasts for three days and takes thousands of hours of work and volunteers.

Another huge part of The Nativity is the live nativity at the back of the gym. This year, they were short on babies so they asked if we would be willing to participate and have Kendrick play baby Jesus. I laughed, knowing that he is a bit too old to play the part, but decided an old baby Jesus is better than no baby Jesus.

And though it was comical that our baby Jesus was sitting up on his own in the manger, and would babble and stare at all the guests, a special feeling and awe was felt and expressed by us and visitors. Many people stopped to take pictures with us and to say how sweet Kendrick was. The reverence and respect was tangible.

It is true that much laughter was heard when Kendrick kept attempting to stretch his arms to free his hands of the sleeves that were much too long.  It made him appear as though he was preaching a sermon to his people.

Our older kids played their parts for a half hour before we let them escape to the children's room to make crafts. Of course, I had to hear, "Has it been a half hour yet, Mom?" about thirty times from Ammon before the half hour was up. But he was an adorable shepherd, and Lydia a beautiful angle, while it lasted.

Talk about reason for the season.

My favorite part of The Nativity was a special ending of the art section. The Nativity committee had constructed a classroom to be the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. You never would have known it was a classroom, it was done so well. With walls and ceiling draped with sheets, an empty bed, empty linens, soft glowing lights, and even the smell of spices that would have been used to clean and preserve Christ's body, the Spirit was SO strong it was unbelievable. I could have spent much longer there than I did, but already the tears flowed and my heart grew to bursting. I know so many people that were touched by the empty tomb. It was truly special.

That experience, and playing the live nativity, really set the tone for December. I enjoyed reflecting on my testimony of Christ, his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection as we participated in the events of the month celebrating the baby who changed everything.