For a long time, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday (tied with the 4th of July), but over the last couple of years it's slid down to something I barely think about or sometimes even dread, in large part because of where it falls in the year. I had spent most of the month thinking that this sure was a rotten time for trying to be grateful, because this is easily the month it's the hardest for me. But today in church, I realized that it was exactly as it should be. This is the time of year when I need that extra kick in the pants, and I should welcome all the reminders I get. I'll be better next year.

Of course, this year Thanksgiving Day was a lot of fun. But, before that, the first grade had their program. Moses sure makes these things more rewarding for us because he is constantly looking at us to see if we're looking at him. We give him big grins and thumbs up and whoops and he alternates between beaming at us and looking away with that proud-trying-to-be-modest look on his face.

Then we headed down to my Dad's shop for the big meal. The bounce house was a huge hit. The kids spent almost seven hours in it, only taking brief breaks to eat, ride the dollies, and in Penelope and Ryssa's case, climb the stairs to the ceiling to narrowly avert death.

Dad opened with a Thanksgiving thought including Albert Einstein, Bob Marley and scripture. Mom organized it all and made it all look nice. Woo got all the mashed potatoes one could possibly want (and the next day, and the next.)

Right after eating, we held a series of races through the two sides. Tyson, Josey and I all ripped out the knees in our pants, and Lyndy only ripped off a nail. I was the slowest adult, but somehow I came out with the best prize (a giant bag of almond m&ms--and no, that's not debatable, Brody.) Marcus was the fastest kid, and everyone else was somewhere in between.

Ruby, surprisingly, spent a good chunk of time playing "princesses" when the bounce house was a "castle," and was instrumental in organizing it into a "haunted house" later. I think I'm the only one who went through that one, which is unfortunate because I'm not the funnest person to scare (just ask Tyson).

Herbie got hurt numerous times without actually getting hurt, which was no surprise until the time where he actually got hurt (bloody nose after landing on his face.)

Linus didn't let his broken leg slow him down. He got the cast signed numerous times, and wore a hole clean through his sock running around on the concrete floor.

Penelope told everyone that she beat her Mom! Which I guess is technically true because I lifted her into the house and over all of the obstacles ahead of me.

Archie was terrified the only time he went through with Woo, but he enjoyed all of the food. Especially all of the treats.

I'm sure you all are wondering who made the best dish. The smoked turkey or ham? The bounteous mashed potatoes? The fancy pomegranate and avocado salad? The rolls? The homemade peppermint or strawberry ice cream? I think we all were in agreement that it was the Stovetop stuffing, made with all the love and minimal mixing that five harried minutes can spare.

Happy Thanksgiving!



This week was better. Wednesday was a low point for me, which was mostly my fault. I couldn't get to sleep and then woke up early because I was too excited for the future (?!?!?). I know. Unfounded and crazy. Anyways, when I did get out of bed Wednesday I felt terrible and was as stiff as a board. After getting the big kids off to school, I laid on the floor all morning while the little kids played with legos. And it could only go up hill from there.

Ruby had her first school spelling bee. She and I were both excited when she got the study list and started out strong, but the time change hit us, and many times it felt like we were just clinging to air, holding out until the end. She managed to qualify for the school bee against a tough group of kids and did great in the real thing. She got 10th, which I think is perfect for a 4th grader. High enough to be hungry for the win, but not so high that she's paralyzed by pressure the next year. Anyways, so much of the spelling bee is nerves and luck (even for us parents!); it was fun to watch.

Herbie lost two things this week, his scout shirt and his library book. He remembered his library book the day before it was due, made a very thorough search, then asked me to pray with him, then went off again by himself and found it in an unlikely place in Moses' room. He remembered the scout shirt on his way out the door, ran around with his head cut off--frantic--until I shined a light in his favorite stash place in his room. There it was.

Sometimes we go five years without getting a babysitter. Other times we get two in one day. One of the boys Woo worked with as YM Pres in St Louis got married in the temple here Friday, and we were able to go to the sealing in the morning and luncheon in the afternoon.

We really enjoyed ourselves, and the kids had a ball while we were gone. Penelope got to play with her best friend while Linus dressed up as a wiseman and Archie as a cow in the morning. In the afternoon, they made movies of themselves with a helium app and found squirrels outside with "Tanner Jon."

When I asked Linus what his favorite thing of the day was, he said, "Being a scary bear with Jon. That was funny!"

Both sitters told us how good Archie was, and how he was so mellow, and good, helped clean up, etc. And we're always kind of surprised that people are surprised. Aren't all 1-2 year olds that way? But maybe we don't appreciate him like we should.

Moses saw a new friend from church at school.
Me: Oh, did he say hi to you? 
Moses: No. I said hi to him. He didn't even know who I was.  
Herbie: I know why. Moses is taller in his church clothes.

Penelope got to see her old pal Aunt Alisa today, when Alisa and her family dropped by for a visit. Alisa wasn't wearing sunglasses on her head, so I wonder what Penelope will be running around with to help her be Aunt Alisa for the next few days.

Apparently Woo's biggest disappointment in marriage is that I don't make mashed potatoes and gravy often enough. I've had my moments, but they've never been something I've enjoyed making. (Or eating.) Anyways, he made his own today, so we both could be happy. Thanks, Woo!

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



I apologize to all you November birthdays out there, but for my life, right now, November is the worst month of the year. (Darn you, time change! Darn you!!)

It doesn't help that we always have vehicle registration in November, which in a very pleasant surprise (miracle???), we passed on the first try. You wouldn't believe the sense of euphoria we felt when that happened. It felt like we had finally gotten a well-deserved break.

Anyways, let's just say it's been a long two weeks of whining, yelling, wrestling, arguing, and not being able to get the kids in bed fast enough. But why focus on that? Here are some good things--

Turns out fears of Ruby being bullied were overblown. She's not dealing with anything above and beyond what any normal kid does. That was also a great relief. Sorry for the false alarm :)

Every day her class walks or runs 1 mile. This week she was very excited to tell us that some kid in her class (we'll call him Dexter) was going to pay the winner of the mile $20. And then just before she left for the bus, she accidentally let slip out that Dexter would give $20 to the winner, but you had to give Dexter $1. I immediately confiscated the dollar that she did indeed have in her pocket.
Woo: So Dexter's getting into race promotion or gambling?
I was thinking more like fraud.

(She did win the mile, and no one got $20, in case you were wondering.)

Here are some things Herbie is proud of and is excited to share with me: when he anonymously shovels the neighbor's walk, invites a friend to church, passes off his multiplication tables, is "top dog" in his class, or when he cleans his room or makes his bed really well. He'll also come home excited about any successes the autistic boy in his class has made that day.
Ruby: Did you know Justin Bieber taught himself the guitar?  
Herbie: Kinda like I'm teaching myself the guitar? 
We don't own a guitar. At least I don't think we do.

Linus got his leg casted this week, and he was able to walk on it right away. Partially because we again requested one cast for the full duration instead of a new one every couple of weeks, and they casted his leg at an angle comfortable for walking right away. He's even able to go play out in the snow. He just wears my snow boot over his casted foot. Linus has done an incredible amount of whining this week, but did make Herbie's bed for him one day, and was very proud.

Moses' attitude change about always trying his best seems to have spilled over into school too. He's now bringing home spelling tests with sentences that are absolutely perfect and written in very neat handwriting. He also keeps bringing home "pink slips," which sound bad, but are actually compliments from reading aids.

Penelope still really believes that she's a mom, and is offended if anyone suggests otherwise. She napped a few times this week, but not enough. It's always amazing to me how little kids, who're low on sleep, are somehow unable to relax and get the sleep they need for a maddening amount of time. Hopefully, this week's the week.

Archie was very excited to see the snow. The other kids thought it was so funny when he walked right up and stuck his bare hand right in the first chance he got, not realizing they'd all done the same thing as babies. He's spent some quality time trying to get boots on his feet, gloves on his hands and hats on his head.

Woo drove down to town with a neighbor on Tuesday to unload some junk at the dump. He took Linus, Penelope and Archie along for the ride. Nobody realized that it was a holiday and the dump would be closed, which it was. The saving grace was the free krispy kreme donut they got at the gas station. Woo decided against sharing with the kids because of the mess they'd make in the back of the neighbor's car, so instead stuffed the whole thing in his face and climbed in.
Linus: It smells like donuts in here!
Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



The day after Moses got his cast off, Linus broke his leg. He seems to be doing fine, other than the fact that he can't walk. He's scooting pretty well around the house, and can climb into chairs, but he needs help dressing, getting up and down stairs, etc. No idea how long this will be. He still just has the splint on.
Moses (while driving up to the grocery store with the words food and drug prominently displayed): Mom! Do not take me to the part that says drug!  
I made a pledge at my school to not take any drugs!

Ruby, Herbie and Moses have had a few fun evenings running around and playing tag in the dark after dinner, now that the time had changed. They originally thought they needed their snowsuits, but soon peeled those off--the weather's been so nice.

I moved Archie out of his little high chair. He now sits in a kid chair around the table just like the rest of 'em. I always love to watch the baby get to do something just like the older kids for the first time. They're always so excited. Archie's "no" has evolved to "nope" and he says it most of the time. He'll say "yep" only very rarely.

I'm tired. Part of it is that Penelope hasn't napped well this week, so I haven't. But mostly, I'm going to blame the time change and all the extra work that always brings. It's always worked for me in the past.

Woo worked a lot, told some jokes, did some nice things ... I can't remember any specifics right now, but I think we've both had better weeks.

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



This week was sandwiched between extended family. We saw Woo's family last Sunday for a family dinner and to see his brother, Kevin and family, in town, and on Saturday we saw my family for Taija's baptism.

Herbie was very excited to see his older cousin (a freshman at BYU), and stuck to him like glue. It reminded me of the last wedding reception we went to (actually a non-wedding reception, but that's a long story). Herbie parked himself next to the (non)groom and his friends for most of the time we were there. I wonder how old he really thinks he is.

Herbie and I have played a lot of catch in the last couple of weeks. For not being much of a baseball fan, I find playing catch to be surprisingly fun. And Herbie and I are just about the same level--8 year old boy. I have an edge on catching and he has an edge on throwing.

Archie had a love/fear relationship with Kevin and Margaret's dog, Ollie. He used a toy spatula as a tool to pet Ollie, and he did a lot of laughing. Nervous laughing. It's the same laugh he uses when we have to walk past the horses behind our house.

I also loved watching him run up to a crying Penelope a few days ago with his arms outstretched and making kissing noises, which he planted on her back. It was just what she needed.

Penelope loves the leaves on the grounds right now. She likes to pick up a whole armful on our walks. And if she happens to take an armful into the library, she likes to drop them all right in the middle of the floor the second her mother notices them.

Woo has had an extremely busy week, but he still managed to make it to Herbie's pack meeting, go for a walk with Ruby, help out with Moses' class Halloween party (and dress up as an escaped convict so policeman-Moses and friends could chase him at recess), bear his testimony with a story about Penelope, and sit with all the crazy Halloween-high kids alone, while I waited in line for mine.

Moses (on our way out the door for trick-or-treating): Mom, sometimes people give out healthy food...
And you say thank you, even though it's healthy. 

Penelope discovered that when people lowered their bowl of candy at the door, she could grab a handful, and then another, and then another, without them even saying a thing. Then she tried the exact same thing today with the Sacrament bread.

Ruby has been so much better this fall at home, but we found out that she's moved all her moody behavior to Primary. Also those cool kids at school are a problem. Not only do they not like her, but they're actively mean to her. Feel free to shoot up a prayer or two in her behalf.

Linus has been in a pretty crabby mood all week. Almost as soon as we started learning his talk, he refused to even try. I just kept repeating it to him every once in awhile, and one day I bribed him to try the first part with a piece of candy. He spit out the whole talk right then, perfectly. He told me he'd practiced by himself and "learned it in the middle of the night." That little stinker.

Here I am in my natural state: surrounded on four sides by children everywhere I go.

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week and a happy Halloween!