Monday, January 27, 2014

Pinewood Derby TIme, It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year...

It was a huge blessing Nana and Papa rolled into town the week of the Pinewood Derby.  I don't know how we would have done it without Papa to help!  As usual, we started only a couple nights before the big event.  So, first week back to school after Christmas Break…and it is Pinewood Derby week.  Sweet.  

Since Gunnar's Dad was gone that week, it was a triple car making project for the guys.  Each kid drew their own design and a sweet neighbor down the street helped them out with a saw.  They were each pretty happy about how they turned out.  (See Joshua moving the Monopoly Game in the back, the boys have been kind of obsessed with Monopoly lately.  And just so you know I won my first game EVER against them all.)

I posted this picture on social media and got some heat since there were no boys involved.  I just thought the picture was so funny.  So much focus and concentration happening.  The stress of getting it just right at the last minute.  The project pretty much overtook my kitchen for three solid days.  The boys really did do a lot.  They designed their own cars, sanded them down, picked out their own colors and painted them alone, but there is just a rule when it comes to wheels.  Anyone who tries to tell you their son did their own wheels is lying.  Ok, maybe there are a FEW out there, but I would say 95% of the time the wheels are all the men.  During the installation of the wheels it is, "BACK AWAY FROM THE TABLE!"  The boys are not even allowed within "bumping" distance during this critical step in the process.  

 It really was a group project and I was proud of them for getting them done and making some great memories in the process.  THANK YOU, PAPA!  You were truly a lifesaver.  

 Luke made his car a "BYU" car.  

When Michael originally picked his colors and told me what he was doing I didn't see the vision.  I recommended a fire engine red or doing all silver.  When I saw the finished paint job I was glad he went with his own ideas.  It was really unique and classic looking.  I think it was my favorite!  I wish I had a close up, because at the last minute he glued a lego guy to the back of the car hanging on for dear life and it was pretty cute!

I have a ton of pictures  of Michael from this night and he would be so embarrassed if he saw them.  However, he doesn't read this, so I am posting them anyway because they crack me up. When I ever have him "pose" for a picture his personality doesn't seem to come through.  This time I caught him in action.   He thought it was so dumb I was having him wave this flag.  

 The "Pit" with all the guys adding extra black powder (whatever that is) to the cars, tweaking things here and there between heats.  

Gunnar chose to do an Army themed car.  He drew the shape and chose all the colors.  I was pretty impressed with the end product.  We told him it might not be as aerodynamic when he wanted to carve it that shape, so it might not be the fasted, but at least it really looked awesome.  Well, what did we know!?  He got third place over all with some very serious competitors out there!  He was so proud and happy and so were Dad and Papa. 

The crowd of spectators...

In the first few rounds Michael's car was just not doing as well as we had hoped.  You could see the disappointment on his face as this is his last Pinewood Derby.  However, his car started to get better and faster with each heat.  On this heat he got FIRST PLACE and we all cheered so loud.  He could not contain his smile...

But he also thought it was embarrassing that we were making such a racket!  "Shhhhh guys, its not that big of a deal."  

When he did it a second time we all cheered loud again, and he was smiling and giggling with happiness and embarrassment (of all the attention) at the same time.  

 It made me so happy to see him so happy!

Was he first over all?  No, but I would say his last Pinewood Derby was a great success. 

I love that our pack lets them do so many heats, the boy have so much fun with it.   It is weird how the same cars will perform differently each time.  In this heat these two TIED EXACTLY for first place.  THAT was pretty cool.  A best friend tie.  

Grandma with one of her old favorites from her Primary Teaching days.  

So much excitement to see whose car will pull ahead.  It always makes me sad for the cars that lose.   I guess it makes for good stories down the road.  (JOSHUA)


It seems like just yesterday that I had these older brothers in Wolves.  

Hurray for Pack 727! (Love all the various levels of attention we have going on here.)

Eleven Pinewood Derbies down, only TWO more to go!  

I don't think I will miss it too much to be honest. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christmas Stress turned into Christmas Bliss

I know that everyone is SO over Christmas, but I have to get this posted for our memories.  I already mentioned that Christmas Eve DAY was slightly stressful, just because we were trying to get out a million friend and neighbor gifts and just tie up any lose ends that had not been taken care of.

On the way out the door to my parents house for our Annual Christmas Eve gathering, we were rushing around and I called out to the kids to grab the container with all our Nativity Costumes.  Let's just say there was a misunderstanding, some kids found some gifts that Santa must have dropped off early or something, WHO KNOWS?  But gifts were seen and I was in tears.  It really was all so silly now, but at the time, ALL THAT WORK felt like it was slipping down the drain.  The stress of the past few weeks was all hitting me.  I was NOT in a happy mood nor was I feeling the holiday love heading out the door.  I arrived at the yummy dinner, my favorite dinner of the year, late and announced under my breath to a few of my siblings, "I hate Christmas."  That's how I was truly feeling. Ouch, not a good moment. 

I must say, I pulled it together and by the end of the night I was feeling the holiday love again.  But, less my future posterity think it is always happy pictures and glowing lights at Christmas, there are those moments when we are not our best selves, and when Mother's especially, lose their minds.  (I talked about the Christmas marathon back here.) I truly don't know how my mom did it when we were growing up.  All I had to do was SHOW up to dinner with a salad and a side in hand.  If I had to PREPARE a dinner on top of all the other hoopla going on that day, I might have been in the looney bin. 
Hey, at least the kids were happy…

These guys were the ones that might have heard my less than cheerful comments about my love for the holiday.  Thank goodness I had that fondue pot of cheese to sit in front of, a pot of cheese is bound to cheer anyone up. Drowning your sorrows in a pot of cheese sounds about perfect.  Food, especially food that I did not prepare myself, truly lifts my spirits.  :) 

As I stepped into the house, I thought to myself how lucky I am that I have a family to celebrate that special night with.  How many people spend the holiday alone, with no one to be with?  I thought of our family not with us that night.  I though of all those I know that have lost a loved one, those serving in the military away from home, those serving missions and missing their families, those that have strained family relationships and are alone, those in the hospital, the list goes on.  I quickly realized how selfish and petty I was being, and as usual worrying about things that don't matter.  I said a quick prayer for all those out there in the universe to feel the love of the Savior in their life this Christmas.  A quick cure for some holiday blues is GRATITUDE.  I have MUCH to be grateful for.  

For example, this table of cuties...

Uncle Brett was keeping an eye on this table of growing teenagers.  

"The Middles" 

The number of tables set up has grown over the years and we all commented on how much food these kids are starting to put away compared with even just last year.  

After dinner while people were cleaning up, I decided to try and gather the kids for some games to keep them from running wild.  They introduced me to one in which they create a circular mosh pit of sorts.  They had a great time tossing Eliza to and fro from kid to kid.  

Next they tried Isabelle…(I love Lauren's face here.) 

Finally, they gave Annie a whirl.  

Soon enough, we started to prepare for the Annual Nativity.  Such a cute little cow and angel.  

Something about doing the Nativity, seems to bring out the silliness in everyone.  I think it is the whole costume thing combined with all the excitement of the day.  Let's just say, this wasn't the most reverent rendition out there. 

The sweet angels, with a photo bomb by a lone shepherd.  (James)

Where do I begin?  Luke, what is happening? 

The little sheep out front is resting in the stable, either that or he has lost interest. 

Michael was playing the part of Joseph.  When the part was read about Mary delivering Jesus he yelled, "PUSH!" to Mary.  

The Pollard girls played us some beautiful Christmas Music following the Nativity. 

We sang our 12 Days of Christmas Song, and we could no longer hold the kids off.  They wanted to get to all these presents!  

Each cousin has the name of someone else.  (In reality is more like the five aunts all have about five kids names.)  The kids really love both opening their gift, and seeing what others received.  

Max definitely stole the show that night.  I had both his and Will's names.  I got them both some clothes. I apologized in advance that they would not be very exciting gifts.  Boy, was I wrong!  I wish we had gotten Max on camera.  To say he was THRILLED would be an understatement.  Both boys put their new outfits on over their clothes and proudly wore them all night. It was so cute. 

Max and Will (or Melissa) had Sophie.  They got her a cute little tea set.  She played with it all night and she loves it.  

The kids all open their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa too.  Max was again pretty excited about some new boots. 

Lots of Christmas Cheer to go around...

Shout out to Uncle Michael and Aunt Carly from my Michael up there…thanks for the sweet sweatshirt!  He loves it. 

All the hoopla wears Grandpa out...

At the last minute, and I don't even remember why, I piled all the kids into the car.  It was probably just  to get them out of the house for a minute.  We headed out into the neighborhood to do a little Christmas Caroling.  We have never done this before.  A.  Singing is not really one of our talents.  B. Refer back to A.  
It turned out to be so fun, and the kids even sounded good!   I think this was one of my favorite things we did this Christmas.  One of the houses we went to was a good family friend who's dear wife passed away this year. We all miss her.  She used to bake us a Christmas Sweet Bread/Cinnamon Roll type thing every Christmas.  It was great to see them and feel their holiday cheer. I think they did more for us than we did for them.  I am sensing a new tradition, kids! 

The night was getting late and if we were going to get home before Santa arrived, we had to hurry!  (Pollards all headed over to a Midnight Mass!  Imagine that!)

"The children were nestled, All safe in their beds."

"While visions of sugar plumbs danced in their heads."  

Usually Santa leaves all the gifts in this room, so when I snuck down to peek and see if he had come, I thought he might have skipped our house this year!  

Then I peeked in the family room, and he had definitely come!  Each child had their own pile of excitement waiting for them. Hooray!  I quickly tiptoed back upstairs.  

Joshua and James were even out quickly that night. The house was so peaceful and quiet.  There is nothing quite like Christmas Eve Night.  

So despite my momentary meltdown…it managed to be a Merry Christmas indeed!