Sunday, January 31, 2016

Merry Ti-bis

Now that a full month has passed since Christmas, it seems like it may be time to blog about it. Why, oh why, do I let myself go SO far behind? Do I even remember what happened at Christmas?! Enough of my woe. Here's what I remember.

0. The origin of Ti-bis. "Ti-bis" is the way Lila pronounces "Christmas." We all spent the weeks before and after Christmas asking her things like, "When does Santa come?" And "What are all those presents for?" just so we could hear her say "ti-bis." It's awesome.

1. We went to California! We usually go up early in December and come home not too long after Christmas, but this year Justin was playing a show we didn't want to miss, so we went up late and came home late. Going up late was a little weird for me because I usually save all my wrapping until we're at our holiday destination--otherwise the wrapping just gets torn/smashed/uglier looking whilst we drive. So this year I wrapped all my presents on Dec. 23rd (!!!), which was weird! Justin's show was Dec. 30th, and everyone knows that one place you do not want to be on Dec. 31st is I-15 between LA and Vegas, so we waited all the way until Jan. 1 to come home. Coming home with so few days between vacation and back to real life wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, though, and I loved being with family for New Year's Eve.

2. Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a big event in the Hambly family. Every year, everyone from Ryan's family who is in town gets together with everyone in his uncle's whole family who is in town and has a big party. We always eat large amounts of really, really good food and generally do some kind of talent show or game or something enjoyable. This year, we split into teams and made reindeer  antlers out of balloons shoved into nylons. The kids wearing the antlers then had to duel to pop an additional balloon tied on to their opponents' ankle. The reindeer games were quite entertaining. We also had a toilet paper snowman person contest. My kids all ended up being the snowmen for their teams and were so cute! Lila held SO still and was such a good sport. Asher may or may not have been able to breathe while in snowman form. 

In addition to the team games, we had two individual games: a redneck pinata for the kids and an unwrapping game for the adults. For the adult game, a present was wrapped in layers of wrapping paper. Each layer had an instruction on it for someone to pass the present to. I ended up opening the last layer (woot!) and walked away with a target gift card and a set of mugs!  

After the games (there's still more!) we did a live nativity. Reed was a choir member narrator. He drew the choir member part and was pretty disappointed, but luckily I had a part he was excited about, so we traded. Asher was a wise man. Lila was the second Mary. She kept trying to STEAL baby Jesus until someone smartly grabber her a baby of her own to hold. She then stood cuddling with Grandpa/Joseph. You get away with things like that when you're the youngest grandchild.

The nativity was so cute, and after it was done, we sang (per tradition) "the violin sings" song and 12 Days of Christmas, led by Aunt Sue. She is amazing and I actually got a little teary when we were all singing together. We finished the night with dessert, then headed home and tucked the kids (except Lila. I'm mean.) all into one room. I think it took them a while to get to sleep.

3. Christmas Morning. We woke up Christmas morning to kids practically bursting through the doors. So of course, we made them stay in a a few extra minutes and pretended to open their presents :) When they came out, there were many exclamations of glee as they went through their gifts from Santa and their stockings. Presents under the tree were passed out and we spent a long, happy time opening gifts! I think Lila said, "I WANTED THIS!" after literally every present she opened. The boys each got a few new Lego sets, which they were over the moon about, along with other crafts and games. I think my favorite thing Lila got was a diaper bag for Bitty Baby with a new darling outfit and tiny good! She was most excited about her Minnie shoppy cart, which she has been oggling at Target for months on end. 

After presents, we had a tasty breakfast before Justin's and Janelle's families had to head over the their in-law's houses. Our children had an enjoyable day trying out many of their new toys!

4. Clue. Reed got the game Clue for Christmas--and, surprisingly, it became an early favorite amongst the cousins! We played many, many rounds of Clue in the week we were in California! Some of us took the games quite seriously and came to the table armed with paper and pencils to take notes on the case and try to solve the mystery before the others. I personally loved that Reed and Asher were big enough to play and that the game was interesting enough that the big kids wanted to play, too. I joined in on several rounds of the game myself and had quite a fun time!

5. Death March, Part 2. While we were in Lake Tahoe during our Hambly Family reunion, we went on a hike that was almost immediately dubbed "The Death March." In a somewhat hilarious twist of fate, we found ourselves in the middle of another Death March during this trip! We went on a hike that was supposed to be family friendly. And the hike was, in fact, quite friendly, until we came to a muddy portion. This mud wasn't just a minor inconvenience. It only stretched 30 or so feet, but it was deep and wet and sticky. To one side of the mud was a deepish ditch with a creek at the bottom. To the other side was a do-able hill--but the hill was also covered in the mud. We were trying to sneak along the cliff-side when Greer just decided to go for it. She took two steps into the mud. On her third step, her shoe stayed behind! With her fourth step, her other shoe was a goner! Her shoes weren't even visible, but after a little digging, she found them. She slogged through the mud to the clear path. Steve went along the edge with some difficulty, but managed to get to her. And now that part of our group was on the other side of the mud, we realized we couldn't just turn around. We searched the hillside for a way around the mud with no luck. A girl walking her dog came upon the mud and we tried to warn her, but she didn't believe us, pausing and waiting until a runner came, also didn't listen to us, and got stuck in the mud for a minute before making it through with shoes that weren't quite what they used to be. Eventually, Ryan came up with the idea to gather the biggest sticks and branches we could find. We made a chain and passed them down the line to put into the mud to give our feet something to catch traction with. It took some doing, but eventually everyone made it through the mud.Poor Greer finished the hike barefoot! 

After the mud, we thought we were past the Death March portion of the hike. Then we came to a fork in the path. The way to go seemed quite clear--man-made steps that led up and up and up and up. But at the top of allllllll those steps was an empty field, not anywhere near where we'd needed to be. Ironically, Janelle and Steve had done this hike before and had made the same mistake! We went back down the stairs, then took the other fork--which also led up a steep path, this one without stairs. 

Finally, we made it to the end of the hike--which was a couple hundred feet down the road from our cars, ha. The bigger cousins made a chair with their arms and carried Greer the last little bit.

And just like that, we survived another Hambly Death March.

6. The tall girls. Instead of figuring out which older girl cousin was which (there are 4 of them who were with us at Christmas and they all happen to be blonde), Lila just referred to them all as "the tall girls." She'd come up to me and say, "Mommy, you know those tall girls? One of them helped me get a dolly!" I didn't hear her actually refer to them by name even once! 

7. Justin's Show.
Justin was playing at The Viper Room on December 30, and we definitely wanted to stay long enough to see his show! The "tall girls" babysat for us and I'm pretty sure all the cousins had a fantastic time while all the parents and grandparents were at Justin's show! As we were headed out the door, I had my purse in hand when Ryan told me he could put my phone in his pocket so I didn't have to worry about my purse. That sounded like a plan to me, so I ran and put my purse back in the house. We went to dinner, then drove all the way downtown. We walked up to the door and realized a problem. Without my ID, I couldn't get into The Viper Room. Sweet. Luckily, the door guy was really nice and when Ryan's dad asked if we could have someone text a picture of my ID, the door guy said that could work. Luckily, the tall girls (Kamdyn, namely), were able to take and text a picture for me and I made it in to the show! The show itself was awesome! Justin did a great job and we had so much fun watching him perform! We also happen to love his music, which is a plus. The kids are also all pretty pumped to have an uncle on iTunes (look him up! Pigmanlion on iTunes and Spotify.) After the show, we went out to Diddy Riese for ice cream cookie sandwiches, which is never a bad idea.

8. Bowling
Grandma had the week off after Christmas, so we got to spend a lot of time with her. One day, we went bowling together! We don't go bowling often--in fact, the last time we went bowling was almost a full year ago--but the kids LOVE it. Their turns couldn't come often enough and they loved watching the scores to see who was leading at all times. Ryan and I also bowled and I almost beat him for the first time, ever. We were on the last frame and I was down a bit. Then I bowled a spare (!!!) and all I needed to do was knock one more pin over. I failed to knock one more pin over. Sad day for me.

9. Star Wars. One of the boys' Christmas gifts was tickets to see Star Wars VII. Ryan and I saw Star Wars the weekend it came out while we were in St. George. We wanted to preview the movie to see if we thought it would be okay for the boys to see--it is rated PG13 and we generally don't let them watch PG13s. We were super duper sneaky and told them we thought it was too scary and that they'd need to wait until they were older to see it. They took the news pretty well but were definitely disappointed. 

On Christmas morning, they unwrapped Star Wars shirts with a note telling them we were going to go see the movie. They were kind of confused at first, but when we explained that we had been keeping it a secret before they finally understood and were SO excited! They loved the movie and had a fun time going out to the movies together. Grandma and Grandpa joined us for the movie and spoiled the boys with their own treat/popcorn/drink boxes!

10. Graham Cracker Houses and Sugar Cookies. Even though we'd made graham cracker houses twice already, we thought that building houses with cousins could be quite fun--and it was! While we built our houses, Janelle made sugar cookie dough. The kids helped cut the cookies in shifts, and finished their houses while the cookies baked. Once the cookies were cooled, Janelle made runny royal icing so we could try our hand at making pretty cookies. They were so fun to make and were even quite tasty!

11. New Year's Eve. We've spent our last few New Year's Eves alone, so it was nice to have some company this year! The kids spent a large portion of their evening playing WiiU with their cousins--we seriously didn't even see them for long periods of time that day! We also played a rousing round of Clue. And, of course, we ate really good food in really large quantities. When we were ready for our kids to go to bed, we watched the fake countdown for kids on Netflix and toasted the New Year. After they went to bed, we settled in to a movie, then rallied at midnight to drink some sparkling cider. Ryan actually went to bed before midnight, which is atypical for any of his nights when we are in California, so missed out on the cider.

The next morning, we packed up and hit the road! We had such a great trip.

This year's Christmas jammies from Grandma Lexie

Little drummer girl.

I tried to get a decent picture of all the kids in front of the tree. I was semi-successful. And missing two kids!

This picture was after the two missing tall girls joined us.

Lila the snowgirl.

Lila had everyone wrapped around her finger. Here she is cuddling up to Uncle Justin.

Asher the snowman. He could kind of breathe.

Reed the snowman.

Reindeer games

The nativity! Notice the two Marys.


They are so good to her.

A gaggle of Hambly cousins eating Christmas breakfast.

This was taken during the non-death march portion of our hike.

And these are the steps of doom that led us to the wrong path!

Happy New Year!

The day we got home, we had things to get done and errands to run--so we all wore track suits! We are so cool.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mama Makes a Quilt {Again}

I had so much fun making quilts for the kids last year, and I really loved giving the kids something I had poured time, effort--and yes, love--into. So I decided that even though I stressed myself out sewing to the very last minute last year, I was going to make something for the kids again. I wasn't planning on doing another quilt set; but then I had a eureka-type moment when I remembered that Ryan had a quilt idea when Reed was a baby that never came to fruition: a dot-matrix style Tecmo Bowl guy quilt. And, since Star Wars VII was coming out right at Christmas time, I thought I could take the dot-matrix idea and turn it into a dot-matrix Star Wars quilt!

I found a pattern for a friendship bracelet that suited my idea nicely. Originally, I was going to make one large blanket with four Star Wars guys on it: Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. I bought and cut allllllllll that fabric, then started sewing. Once I had Luke's quilt front sewn together, I realized that each guy was going to be big enough to be his own kid-sized quilt. Han Solo got cut from the list (sorry, Han), and I decided to make three small quilts instead of one huge quilt.

I sewed and sewed and sewed. My squares were only 2", each row has 17 squares, and the quilt is 36 squares long--so putting each quilt top together was a lot of work! Finally, though, I had three quilt tops. Next, I went in search of backing fabric. We made the 45-minute pilgrimage to JoAnn's because, though I do love Hobby Lobby in general, their fabric section is quite lacking. JoAnn's was like a fabric Mecca compared to Hob Lob. I honestly was a touch overwhelmed by the WALLS of fabric. Eventually, though, I found the Star Wars flannel and realized that to back my quilts with Star Wars fabric would cost $40 (!!!!!). I walked slowly away, holding my $40 fabric, and ran into the clearance fabric table that was fortuitously right next to the Star Wars fabric. I found a cool pattern that looked Star Wars-y that was on sale for only $3 a yard--a mere $15 for my entire project! Sold. I grabbed the fabric and waited in the very long line to get my fabric cut.

The next obstacle was the tying issue. I don't know how to machine quilt, and I didn't want to mess up my quilts by trying. I also didn't want to spend the small fortune I'd pay to have the quilts professionally quilted. Tying the quilts with yarn would be distracting to the pattern. Finally, Ryan came up with the idea to tie the quilts with embroidery floss, with the tied ends coming out on the back side. This method also posed a problem, in that I had to have the quilts face-up so I could see where on the body I was tying--but had to tie the knot underneath the quilt. Tying took way longer than planned, and again, I was literally tying quilts until the night before we left!

We once again let the kids open my "secret project" on Christmas Eve. We pulled the presents out while Lila finished breakfast and the boys were being so goofy with their boxes while they were waiting, as you'll see in the photos below. Finally, she finished and they all ripped in to the paper. They were so sweet and excited about their quilts, and they've even been using the quilts since. That's a win to me!

Next year, though, I really need to find a new type of project!

{Asher is Dark Side and Reed is Light Side, so the obvious choices for their blankets were, respectively, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Lila has always loved Chewbacca, so that's what I went with for her!}

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Monthly Reed: 85

 One day, we were at the park playing and decided to go on a walk. We came upon a series of big rocks. Reed got us involved in a game in which we were each the captain of our own rock and were flying on missions to other planets! He has such a great imagination.

Reed is doing so well in school! I got to go to his parent-teacher conference this month and kind of loved hearing his teacher talk about how awesome he is. His teacher is going to start giving him some extra reasearch projects to work on with one other child in the class so when he has extra time after his worksheets (which apparently he finishes pretty quickly) he can have something more challenging to do! One thing that I really liked hearing is that after he's finished with his worksheets, his teacher lets him help other kids who might be struggling. She said that he is always happy to help and is a good leader in class. He's kind to others and the other kids want to be like him! I love that he is setting a good example for the kids around him.

Reed had so much fun while we were in California. He was constantly playing with his cousins and the only times I saw him were when I went to find him to join in! One of the gifts he got for Christmas was the game Clue. The game was an instant hit and we have played many rounds already. The cousins all loved the game, too--even the older cousins--and I think Reed liked having a game that was so popular to play!

Reed is very creative. One of his goals for the new year is to write a novel! I'm excited to work on it with him and can't wait to see what he has in mind. He wants to be an author when he grows up, so this could be the first novel of many.

Reed has grown into quite the hiker. While we were in California, we went o na hike that ended up being quite a bit more than we'd bargained for. Reed didn't complain at all and kept pace with all the bigger cousins. He hasn't complained about being tired or worn out on any of the past few hikes we've gone on. He's getting so strong!

Ryan and I decided it would be good for the boys to start taking scriptures to church. Reed's class actually uses their scriptures and we thought he'd like having a set to follow along with. We took scriptures to church today, and the boys spent the first part of sacrament meeting looking through their books. After the sacrament, I showed Reed that the sacramental prayers are in the Book of Mormon, which he loved seeing. I showed him how to mark a verse, which he thought was really cool.

He jumped too high :)

Another Book of Mormon story: Ryan gave a talk today in sacrament meeting. He referenced Mosiah 2:17 in his talk. A minute later, I noticed Reed had opened to Mosiah and was marking the correct verse! He told me he heard Daddy say "Mosiah" and knew that was in the Book of Mormon so decided to find it! He also helped Asher find the scripture, which I thought was really sweet.

And yet another Book of Mormon story: Reed asked me if I'd ever noticed how short the book of 4th Nephi was. I told him I had, then showed him Words of Mormon. He was impressed by the mere 1.75 pages, and showed Ryan as soon as he got home from work. He has also loved flipping through the book and finding all the pictures that are spread throughout.

The Monthly Asher: 62

He made a super big sam and wanted to show it off to me.


Asher has whole-heartedly embraced the dark side of the force. His love of the dark side started with an affinity for Darth Vader and has progressed to a love for every dark side character. He LOVES being dark side and thinks it's hilarious that he likes the bad guys. I think sometimes he even exaggerated about things so he can be even more dark side than he already is. When we saw Star Wars, he was totally cheering for Kylo Ren. And after the movie, he said his favorite part was when Kylo Ren killed Han Solo! Then, we were talking about our ideas of what might happen in the next movie, Asher said he thought Luke was going to turn to the dark side and kill Rey. He's awesome.

One day Asher and I were listening to Christmas music while we did M + A time. One song said, "it's the best time of the year for the family." Asher said, "Well it's not the best time of the year for people on the naughty list!" We were both cracking up. Then, when I tried to take a picture of him--because as we all know, I needed a photo to post with his funny joke on instagram--he started shaking his head around on purpose so I couldn't get a clear shot! I was sneaky and caught the one (above) of him cracking up, super pleased with how hilarious he finds himself. 

Asher is still loving the Magic Treehouse books, he's now read books 1-10! The most recent book he read, Ghost Town at Sundown, he finished completely by himself in just two days. We gave him and Reed books 9-12 for Christmas and he is soon going to be through all of those. Every time he reads by himself, he comes to me giggling, super pumped to tell me how much he's read and what's happening in his story so far. I love it! Reading these books has increased his reading fluency hugely. When we first started reading them together, he needed help with quite a few words. I was worried the books were a little too hard for him, but he really, really wanted to read them so we kept going. When he was reading book 9, we read quite a bit together, trading off reading pages aloud and I was so impressed by his fluency! He hardly needed help at all. 

Asher had his new primary teacher for the first time today. Last week he got a freebie because his teacher was out of town and Ryan was his sub. Every transition to a new teacher so far has been rough, and they haven't seemed to get easier with time. This time, though, I took more effort in preparing him for who his teacher was. Thankfully, he'd met her before--she lives at Spring Mountain Ranch and when we went out there with our ward she caught a crawdad for all the kids to touch. I kept reminding him about how nice she was and wasn't that crawdad cool? and I knew she was such a fun teacher, etc. And today he did not cry at all and didn't even hesitate to go to class. Yay! 

Asher calls this the "exploding straws cup." If you're just a little thirsty, you drink through one straw. If you're super thirsty, you drink through all seven. 

Ryan and I thought it would be good for the boys to start bringing scriptures to church. Now that they can both read, they might legitimately use them. This week, Asher and I worked on making his very own scripture bag to hold his Book of Mormon. He picked out a fabric he liked and helped me with all the sewing. He spent the week super interested in his scriptures, finding the Pearl of Great Price and Book of Mormon, and letting us borrow his scriptures for our family scripture study. Today he was so proud to take his scriptures to church and spent the first 20 minutes of sacrament meeting quietly flipping through the pages, finding title pages, and just being super cute.

One day he was wearing his Darth Vader costume when it was time to pick Reed up. I didn't make him change ;)

Part of the deal I made with Asher when we started to do homeschool preschool this year was that he had to listen to me like he would a teacher--he couldn't get out of doing a worksheet by being grumpy about it, because that's not what would happen at school. And, for the most part, he has been a great student. If he ever is being grumpy, I remind him that we decided to do school at home and he needs to still work hard at learning, and he immediately gets on task! We are studying planets right now. Each day we've been using a different art technique to make a planet. He loves his projects and hangs them immediately in the "art gallery" to show Ryan and Reed when we get home. One thing I love is that if I show him a cool video or we make a neat craft or do something extra fun, he wants to show Bub when he gets home from school. We'll watch the video again or let Bub make the craft or whatever it is. He doesn't want Reed to miss out, which is super sweet. 

 Sliding down the fire pole is Asher' favorite thing to do when we pick Reed up from school.

Asher had never made it to the top of this climbing wall. Each time we were at the park, he'd get a bit higher, then freeze and cry if we tried to coax him to climb higher. Last time we went to the park, he started calling to me and I went over to see him at the very top! He overcame his fear and climbed the wall several more times while we were there.