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.