Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Day

We made it until 7 am.
Then I found out that Jon had already gone downstairs and peeked at everything. 

This is him acting surprised! 
 See that is true surprise.
 Lily was kind of a lets open each toy now and play with it before moving on- not such a bad thing. 

 Roller blades for Joey.
 Barbie clothes and dolls for Arabella and the apron she is sporting in most of the pics. 
 Joey on Jon's scooter. 

 Arabella got a guitar from Grandma and Grandpa Rabner- I did not even know that is what she wanted but she was really happy to open it. 

 Lily managed to cut her finger in the process of opening and it would not stop bleeding. We had to pause the joyous activities to bandage her up. She actually left the band-aid on. 
 The girls were given this adorable baby doll ergo carrier by their Pope cousins. Grandma and Grandpa Rabner gave her the doll. She was definitely looking the little momma part. 
 Arabella declared Happy Birthday Jesus when she made this cake!

 The boys were thrilled to get Skylanders Swap Force and spent too many hours playing to today but they were having a great time together. 
 Our camera batter died about this time but as you can see, everyone was happy. We got some great new camping equipment from G and G Rabner. A new vacuum for our new floors from G and G Bird. Peter and I gave each other hew floors.
Having extra hands to help get toys out of packaging was so much fun! We had a wonderful Christmas Day filled with love, toys, relaxing, and great family time. 
I am thankful for this Christmas season and that it reminds us to think of our Savior and to try to be more like him. I hope I can be better about following his example. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve

This year I had to work Christmas night so we did our cultural Christmas dinner tradition on Christmas Eve. 
I believe it was Peter's idea to roast a whole pig- I will give him the credit.
We looked into it a bit and decided we were going to go for the "whole hog".
I ordered it from a local butcher with an estimate based on the number of people we had coming. I overestimated but leftovers are yummy!
 The butcher removed the head and feet for us. We kept the head but left the feet knowing we would not pickle them. 
 We are so lucky to have Peter's parents in town for the holiday and Jon's baptism on Saturday.
Max was awesome at cutting up the pig into manageable pieces to cook. We did not feel comfortable digging a pit and knowing it would be done right. 
 We did cook the head and it fit nicely into my crockpot. It was a bit eerie having it staring at me through the lid all day as I worked in the kitchen. 
 The meat was injected with flavor as well as a spice mix rubbed on. The kids all helped and thought it was great. 
 It looks like Max did all of the work but really Peter was busy getting all of the cooking apparatuses ready.  He lines this box with foil and puts it over our smoker to help control the heat. 

 Half of the pig was cooked low and slow on the grill. 

 Pictures of the finished products.
 From L to R: countertop oven roaster, smoked in smoker, grilled, head in crockpot, Costco sausages because they were a yummy sample and fit the pork fest theme. 
We were ready to "pig out".

 We invited our guests to bring sides. There were some yummy sides and some international ones at that. We had spaetzle, fondue, vietnamese spring rolls, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, fruit platter, brazilian limeade, green salad, herbed bread and crepes for dessert.
 Some were brave enough to try the pig brain. I was not one of them but kudos to those that did including Elder Worden.  
We also played reindeer races and acted out the Nativity.  There was a Mary and Joseph but Lily would not leave the baby Jesus alone so I jokingly said she was the nanny. A friend's little girl said to her mom that she did not remember Jesus having a nanny. 
 And the finally tradition of the night, opening a present of pajamas. Peter actually got two new t-shirts and I got a jogging suit type thing that still fits now but will be super comfy to lounge around in after the baby comes and still feel like I have gotten dressed. 

The kiddos ready for bed and Santa to come!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Joey's Testing

Joey tested for his 2nd degree black belt Thursday.
 His form was great!

 His weapons which he was most nervous about went really well. It was one of the best I have seen him do.
 He had great sparring!
The board breaks were his down fall. This upper punch board break has been hard for all of the students but Joey did it a few times successfully in class. That night it just was not meant to be. He tried once and it did not break so he turned and did his kick and snapped the board without a problem. It was a beautiful but we missed it on the camera.  He then was able to try the punch 2 more times but it was not meant to be. I was instantly worried that he might breakdown but he held himself together. We assured him it was okay and that we were proud of him! There were no tears and he left with a smile, so all in all it was a good night even if he did not get his next belt.  Joey did earn 10th  place in the World Champion ranks for sparring and forms.  We had not idea but he earned enough points at the one (maybe two) tournaments he went to this last year to rank.  Joey is registered in the cognitive challenges group and so we thought maybe we will try a few more tournaments and who knows he may place even higher.  I am so proud of Joey!

I also had Joey's ARD meeting with the school to discuss his IEP (individual education plan).  It went really well. He is not having any problems academically, which was not a shock to us.  His teacher did say that the only struggle they have is that she catches him reading during non-reading times regularly.  This leads to him becoming frustrated and sometimes upset because he has missed some of the instructions.  He has a second teacher (the class goes to one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and she said that he just that morning he had been in a hurry to answer a question and answered wrong in their game but she encouraged the class to respond positively with "good try" and such and there were no tears.  We also learned that he does not let anyone at school call him Joey anymore.  He did tell me that he is older now and so he should go by Joseph.  Well, there is another Joseph in his class and so it was getting confusing so one of the teachers asked if they could call him JR and he agreed. I had no idea that he was JR. I am so happy to hear about him adapting and being willing to change if needs be.  They have also learned that he works better in small groups and putting pressure on him to socialize at recess makes him worry too much so he has a mentor that plays with him once a week.  Also there is a teacher that goes out once a week and does a group game with Joey participating.  One teacher stated that Joey is such a good reader that she often has him read things out loud and then explain them to the class in terms they can understand. His social teacher (that is what I call her) stated that she had never worked with a student whose driving force for doing things is adult approval.  I knew that but I did not realize just how important it was to him. Peter and I are going to try harder to be more liberal with our praise.  This will be good for Joey and really all of our children.  I appreciate these meetings and the chance they give me to learn more about my Joey and how he is doing at school and in life in general.  The teachers and counselors are all reassuring too.  I am so thankful that I get to be this amazing boy's mother. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Arabella's Christmas Concert

It was a few weeks ago but Arabella had a great Preschool Concert.
 It was hard to get a non blurry picture as the kids were walking in but she felt beautiful!
 The songs were adorable and mostly Christ centered (the perks of attending a church owned preschool).
 The little boy in the lower left corner more than once turned around and rubbed the velvet on her dress. It was funny!
 A group of preschoolers trying to do actions and sign language is always entertaining. 

This is Arabella with her teacher Mrs. Hammond. Arabella loves her!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jon turns 8!

Jon has been so excited about his birthday! 
He asked me on Thursday if he would get to open presents on the 14th and I said no of course. He asked why not and I said well mostly because your birthday is on the 15th! But nice try!
 Breakfast with famous pancakes and syrup (and eaten at the kitchen table which is a first in a week due to construction which I will post about later.)
 Peter and I gave Jon a scout shirt and a some video game accessories but they did not compare to the gifts from the grandparents.  They were so amazing there was dancing around the room with them and striking awesome poses!
 He told me the coolest part of this lego set is that there are pieces that glow in the dark!
 The girls were not going to be left out of the dancing.
We finished the night with the dinner of his choice: shrimp (he picked the tempura kind at Costco), tacos, and orange kool-aid.  For months he has been asking to have cheesecake for his birthday and tonight his wishes came true. It was a sampler and he loved it! 
Jon is full of spunk, curiosity, a funny side, and an explorer of sorts (including boundaries).
What I love best about Jon is that he has always been a sharer. He will give you his last bite if you want it just about every time.  He also stretches me as a parent and I am thankful for that.  I am so thankful for the way he loves to play and do different things with his little sisters.  There are things that he does not like to do but he is learning that if he does them with mom when she asks it is not the end of the world.  He is becoming a pretty good piano player and he is a problem solver- some solutions make me chuckle.  Your options in life are endless Jon and I know you will be great at whatever you decide to be and do as long as you put your mind to it.  You will be an incredible force for good, I know it! We love you so much and we are so happy that you are getting baptized! You are a very special boy and we would not trade you for anything in the world!