Monday, December 23, 2013

Chrsitmas Letter, cause i'm too lazy to address envelopes :)

Dear Family and Friends,                                               2013

‘Tis the season for writing Christmas letters, and so here goes:

This year has been rather long (nearly 365 days!) so I’ll do my best to recap. The year started off with a long lonely winter when Paul was flitting about the country in search of a job, that is, he was interviewing from New York to California, North Dakota to Houston… He interviewed at I think 14 places, and 13 of them were in person, so if he’d managed to fly the same airlines, he’d have killer mile-points… ironically we found out in February that he was accepted to the one place he didn’t visit personally for the interview.

In related news, the kids and I planned as many Dallas-based activities as we could cram into our spring. We visited downtown a couple times, went to all the parks we could, and spent lots of time with friends. In other words, we had a blast! Thanks to all our family and friends in Texas that helped us make the most of our last few months there. We also had an incredible amount of help packing up 5 years’ worth of junk out of our house, and babysitting so I could get even more done. There’s a surprisingly large amount of junk that can accumulate in that length of time, especially with kids.

School ended well for the girls, Afton loved her teacher, her class and her school, and we were both sad to leave them (especially since Rayna knew and loved the teacher too, and would have been in that kindergarten class this fall). Rayna got used to going to school every day at her pre-k school, and it was the perfect distance for me to get out walking every day, so it was a win as far as I was concerned. She thinks she doesn’t like school, though she loved her teacher and she still wants to be a teacher when she grows up (she mostly got upset when other kids got in trouble! She’s truly tenderhearted).

Soon summer came, and with it our move to capitol city… or close enough. We loved having help from Paul’s brother and sister, with driving out and moving in, and we love having nearly double the space to unload all our junk into J. We had to move in fast as Paul was off to Commissioned Officer Training (COT, if you want me to start using military abbreviations). It was another long month with him gone, but the kids and I tried to use it as best we could to get to know our new home (again, many thanks to Emalie for being another grown-up to talk to!). We went to the zoo, the beach, the national mall, a couple Smithsonian institutions, and we took a week to visit Great-Grampa Anderson and see the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I was particularly excited to take my kids to a place with so many great memories from my childhood. We were very excited for July to end so Paul could come home. Very, very excited.

With fall came school again, and the girls were off and learning. Grandma F. came to visit… though the much anticipated event took his time arriving. Asher Blaine Williamson is clearly the main event of the year, though it took clear ‘til September for me to get him into this letter J. He’s my favorite child right now, and I don’t even feel bad admitting it, since he’s the favorite of all his siblings right now too! He’s such a good baby, almost always smiling and playing, and clearly well-named: Asher means Happy, and Blaine for his Great-Grandpa. He loves to catch the attention of his siblings, and he smiles so big at them all, and giggles like crazy with them. Asher also started sleeping through the night by himself at 12 weeks old… which thing I’d always considered myth… He still usually wakes up sometime between 5-6 to nurse, but he goes right back to sleep, and I don’t mind because that means I don’t have to worry about him waking between 6:30-7:30 when I’m busy getting the girls up and off to school. I still can’t believe sometimes that I have 4 kids, let alone how smart and amazing they all are J.

Much love to you all, and let me know when you’re planning to take advantage of us and our guest bedroom, and our close proximity to so much American Culture—we’ll make your favorite treats and do our best to ensure you have a great time! We’re here for a limited time, and we want to make the most of it for us and all of you, if possible J, so let me know when you can make it!

Merry Christmas and Happy 2014!

Paul, Elise, Afton (7), Rayna (5), Malachi (3), and Asher (3 months)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

So here it is mid-December, and I'm finally getting around to posting Thanksgiving pictures :).
we started the day with a family 2-mile-turkey-trot though it was just below freezing outside. Dad and the kids also stopped at the park, though I ran on home so I could finish starting the turkey. I almost didn't get the picture in time, this is obviously back in the garage... it was really cold outside! the kids did great though!
I was a little worried we'd be bored or grumpy because we've always had some family and/or friends to share Thanksgiving with before, and we were alone this year, but it was wonderful! I think everyone had a great time and we loved working and playing together for the day :)
helping with dinner
even Asher was helping!
Our 'rainbow' meal: red cranberry chutney (a big favorite, the kids ate a double batch over the next few days, and have requested that we make more), orange sweet potatoes, yellow corn pudding (another new recipe this year), green beans, and blue-purple potatoes (made with half purple potatoes and half regular russets, those purple potatoes are REALLY purple if you ever buy them!!! and for the curious, the flavor is exactly the same as regular), also boring brown turkey, rolls, and gravy.
finally, ready to eat!!!
Everyone had some favorites:
Rayna loves bones!
Malachi is a roll guy.
and Afton loves everything! (though I think her favorite this year was the chutney)
Asher's favorite is pulling his burp cloth over his face and falling asleep :)
and to cap the night off, we sand songs by the fire (sorry, these pics are from Paul's phone... it doesn't do red-eye like other cameras, it does white... a little vampirish)
I forgot to take pictures of the pies! we had apple and pumpkin, and they were ah-mazing sorry the rest of you missed them! you should really come visit next year :)
and the lucky kids got to have a sleep-over in the guest room for the night:
the impressive part is they did go to sleep relatively well!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

pretty things in November

Some more pictures to keep you all up on what's newest and most exciting in our lives :)
Once upon a time Afton learned about dioramas from the miniature train man at the library display. He even gave her a book about how to make different kinds of dioramas and miniature-settings. She was thrilled... and has wanted to make a diorama ever since. Mean-old Mom wouldn't let her make one until there was a school project that necessitated it. (I guess I'm just that lazy, folks...)
Her first diorama... unfortunately I forgot to take pictures before she turned it in. This is after she brought it back home, with it's subsequent distress...
it includes: shark, seahorse, sea grasses, anemone, clown fish, branch coral, mat coral, and seaweed (the most ravaged by time... see the greenish stuff falling all over the right side?) I personally was most impressed by the colorful mat corals--painted moss and tree-mushrooms layered in the back 
Malachi and I saw this rainbow one day as we were driving to the kids' school for their first quarter awards ceremony. We thought it was worth stopping to take a picture.
Rayna got all three possible awards, academic (essentially straight A's), Citizenship (only awarded to 2-3 kids), and perfect attendance.
Afton got an award for academics (I think her teacher forgot the attendance ones, oh well!)
This is the view from our back door.
We use the fireplace pretty regularly, including occasionally for FHE.
My girls have been asking for beads in their hair like all their friends at school... I haven't had time to do Afton's yet, but Rayna rocked 24 little beaded braids for the week of Thanksgiving. She loved all the attention she got at school, and I loved not having to do her hair every morning! We'll try it again sometime, and Afton'll have a turn too.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Early November

I just realized how out-of-order these posts are... oh well, I'm getting to most of November in November, so that counts, right?!
Rayna's very good with helping Asher.         *burp*
I guess most of these pictures are somewhat random snapshots of our life. They make me smile though, especially to see the big kids playing so nicely with baby, and even with each other.
these boys play so nicely together (meaning Asher doesn't mind when Chi plays with him), hopefully it will always be so!
sleepy little chunk!
We've been taking a lot of pictures when the girls are at school lately. Malachi particularly likes taking and posing for pictures! and I gotta say, he sure makes me smile!
ladybug game anyone?
(ps, Chi won)
Afton was reading a bug book to Asher... She still wants to be an etymologist most of the time
goodnight sweetheart, it's time to go-o... goodnight sweetheart, goodni-ight
you didn't think I could post all those pictures of the leaves without finding some somewhere to jump in? hooray for fall!
and this little guy evidently moved in to our yard. The kids named him/her Wise, and she (I'm guessing girl because it was pretty big, we'll go on that assumption?) was in our front yard, mostly right next to the garage, for a couple weeks, maybe a month before she died (Malachi may have helped that along by accidentally stepping on her... though she was still able to move a day after the initial impact). We're now awaiting spring to see if she left any eggs nearby somewhere.

zoo with Dad

so we went to the national zoo a couple times so far... and evidentially I haven't posted any pictures of it yet! shame on me! anyways, here's a few of our favorites. (first, I should say, we had a great time when we went before with our cousins!) this time we went as a family; we love Dad's new job because occasionally he has some time off when he doesn't have to be working on something (aka dissertation) at home, so he can play with us! we had a chilly, fun trip with him on Veterans Day.
the cheetahs are a great favorite, especially with chi, and double especially when you can see the zebra in the background
just to prove baby was there too :)
Afton desperately wanted to visit the children's area last time, but we ran out of time, so we went this time. It was fun, but mostly farm animals, so not perhaps super-exciting. The girls did get to pet this cow. If I remember correctly, her name was Rose (the other was Tulip, I think i'm remembering which is which...).
There was a lovely tiger-enclosure, this one just had a baby a few weeks ago, the baby wasn't on display at all yet, but she was quite majestic on her own!
There were also some lovely lions, this guy was reclining happily at the top of the hill, looking for all the world like the king of beasts :)
We were also very excited to see the caracals and bobcats--we got there at lunch time, so they were all awake, and moving around. Rayna was particularly excited to see the caracals, though she was a bit disappointed that they didn't feed it live birds so it would jump up to eat them... I didn't have the camera at that part or I'd have a great picture of her excited face!
gorillas... there was a baby cambering around in there too, but by the time I got the camera on, he was hiding :)
the panda was particularly active that day too. I didn't realize she ever really walked around in that area... it seemed last time like she just laid there most of the time, doing not much of anything.
and it's not much of a zoo post if there isn't a picture of the kids climbing on a statue :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

east coast fall leaves

So now that we're living on the east coast, I felt it was time to take a million pictures of the autumn leaves for everyone that lives in the south (where it's brown) or the north or west where it's already snowing... these were actually about three weeks ago. We took the camera on one of our walks to get the girls from school. These are all within about a mile of our house, and all taken within an hour of each other, but the colors were amazing for over a month! It felt like it took a little while for everything to start changing, but then the bright colors stayed around for a good month or 6 weeks... there are still some left, though the cold snap we've been enjoying is finishing them off.
I wish I were better at waxing poetic, because the bright colors really brought out that side of me... but I'm really not! so feel free to insert your favorite autumn poetry here, or make up some of your own :)
This was a picture Malachi took from the stroller, just to give you a little of his perspective.
All three big kids had turns with the camera, and to be honest, I'm not sure who took most of the pictures (there were nearly 100 all together, so I really did pare it down for posting). I love all the bright reds, golds, and greens mixed together:
and the long, long streets, reminds me of an old painting or something... though the telephone wires don't quite work with my ideas, or even the cars, I guess I need an old barn or schoolhouse or something :)
I love this street:
it felt like walking through a tunnel
it surprised me to remember how truly bright and brilliant the colors can be! red, yellow, and brown don't begin to cover the variety we saw! they're really jewel-tones, and I'm sure I knew that at some point, but you forget when you live far away from it, or have a really short season... or at least I did.
and this one might be my favorite: the schoolbus was stopped there for some reason (I've never seen it stopped there before or since, so it was a perfect day for me to have my camera!)
okay, they're probably all my favorites, but still, I knew autumn was my favorite season, and now I remember another reason why :)
happy fall!

Friday, November 15, 2013


you could call this a theme... or not, i'm not really sure if they looked like anything in particular, what do you think?
asher is technically part of the crew, though he doesn't look like much of anything... I was too rushed this year... like always ;)
any guesses?
Cinderella (not Disney, of course), Evil Queen (note the mirror), Prince Charming, and the poison apple.
Malachi really doesn't like being told what to wear, so I really wasn't sure if he would dress up at all, even for candy (though that is his most powerful motivator). He was excited about the cape and horse though, and the crown was little enough that it didn't bother him.
This was from the night of our church trunk-or-treat. We had fun at the chili cook-off and costume parade inside before going up the sidewalk where the cars were parked as quickly as we could... it was COLD! I liked how the organizers arranged it though, the kids only went to each car once, and they weren't running through the parking lot like crazy people.
It turned out to be a really good thing we got so much candy that night too, because evidentially Halloween isn't much of a holiday around here! we only had 5-6 trick-or-treaters and we went all up and down our street (and the 4 little circles that stick off of it), and we only had 2 houses where people were giving out candy :( I was kinda glad when it started raining because it gave us the motivation to get back home, and we still had plenty of our candy for the kids.
The kids' school doesn't celebrate Halloween either... kind of... They had a school-wide Wizard of Oz unit where they decorated the school and had special activities relating to the story for the week leading up to Halloween, and on the 31st they got to dress-up (which is an even bigger deal when the option is a uniform!). The kindergarten and first grade hall was munchkin land, so they had the option of being a munchkin or Glinda... I had one of each (ps, you're right, Glinda doesn't really have wings, but we thought they completed the outfit anyways :). I was impressed with the costumes we were able to pull together at the last minute. Afton's bonnet is made of paper! and her apron is a napkin... she was being munchkin-like here, but she also had a big poufy skirt and striped knee-socks :)
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Pictures (lots of pictures)

well, I've been keeping up (more or less) with Asher pictures, due to popular demand, but I haven't done too much for the other kids, so, here's a few pictures to showcase the last month for everyone else :)
primary kickball at the church kids vs. bishopric
attitude welcome
run, get that ball!
sorry for the bad pictures, the kids kept moving...
Asher was dressed for the game too, red tennis and a sporty burp cloth.
one random teacher-in-service day we went to the park with some friends.
Afton loves holding the baby too, but she has the least patience, so she frequently will burp him over her leg and be done for a while. he loves it (though it doesn't look like it in this pic...)
FHE activity/lesson, learning to shine our shoes :)
and Afton was finally able to change her earrings... green!
the boys like to play cars together... the boppy doubles as a headrest for Asher and a road for Chi
have I ever mentioned that one of the things we were most excited about with this house is a real fireplace?
we ordered a half cord, and stacked it one Saturday morning. We warmed up pretty quick!
I couldn't pick just one picture... I liked them both :)
everybody really loves baby!
This series might not mean a lot to those that don't know Malachi well, but he absolutely HATES getting his hair cut... which is why every 6 months or so over the last few years you may have heard a faint echo of screaming from our direction... well, I gotta say, it comes in super-handy to have a psychologist for a husband! I finally, jokingly, said to Paul a couple weeks ago something about if he wanted to do me a favor he could convince Chi to get a haircut... and this is what happened:
Chi had 'homework' for a week or so every night with the girls (they did their reading and math stuff), his job was to hold the buzzer. just hold it. then they held it while it was turned on... etc, until one night he said he wanted to try it on his hair!
(note, he's even smiling!!!)
and when he started to get nervous, instead of letting him cry or scream, he got to try it on Daddy's hair!
or just hold it on his hand and remember it doesn't hurt.
me:      *SIGH*
speaking of homework, Rayna's reading is coming along AMAZINGLY, feel free to compliment her if you talk to her on the phone... she was rather hesitant, and not too excited, but she's doing really, really well!
Chi wasn't sleepy, but he was willing to keep quiet for a minute for a picture...
and it's the only one I have of his haircut so far
we're accomplishing things here folks! and we feel good doing it :)