Sunday, January 31, 2010

Talking to the Floridians and other thoughts

So for the third time we were able to talk to my brother, Daniel and his wife over Google chat through Gmail. It is one of the coolest things ever! When we are able to see them on screen and talk I feel like I am in a Sci-Fi movie that I watched as a kid thinking that it would never be possible and then here I am seeing my brother hundreds of miles away. We live in such a miraculous time! I will have my camera next time and take a picture of the whole family talking to them on the screen.

Since I don't have pictures of that, here are some pics I sent Bryan of us while I was typing his letter.

Yesterday my mom and dad asked if we wanted to go to Mexican or Chinese for dinner. I thought I would ask the kids. 10's response to eating Chinese was, "Do we have to go to China?" He is so smart! I love it. Then when we went to the restaurant, which was the Mexican one, he and 4 were so well behaved it made me proud. You know, you hear what the world says a Fragile X kid can do and then you see what they do and you have so much hope. I am amazed everyday at the successes my children have. The fact that 10 is actually doing double digit multiplication still amazes me, I was excited when he was able to to the simple addition facts. 4 knows all her colors, letters, numbers and is reading family member's names. I am so excited for their successes. It is funny, when you have a child with mental challenges every tiny little thing is such a miracle.

... You know, it just hit me, as I was typing that paragraph above that, here I am—wallowing in self pity about the challenges that are in my life right now, that I have neglected to focus on the many miracles that surround me everyday. What am I whining for? Look around me! Come on Rachael, you are blessed! You are very blessed! Pick myself back up, dust myself off and start running again. You can do this! Yes, I can... wait, I just got tired again. I remembered my struggles again, man, I hate when they creep up and remind me of my misery and self-pity! Pppthth!!! Get over it, Rach! Run the race and don't give up till it's done! Ya! OK! Woo hoo!

After dinner with my parents...

and a movie with my husband!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Silent Movie, Simple Moves and a Somber Mood

My mom was over helping me with the kids and we were at the computer so I could show her something I was working on. Baby kept crying and mom was entertaining her and making her smile so I thought I would turn on Photobooth and video her since she was right there. I went to watch it today and had to laugh as I realized there what no sound for some reason, which kind of makes it even funnier. Tee hee! I love my mom! She's the bestest! (smile)

Things to watch for:
10 and his lanky movements as he darts in and out of the picture.
4 falling over a blanket on the ground
10 playing the WII while still trying to stay involved in the filming
Baby's little arms flailing around as grandma Judy entertains her
My face popping in once
Baby's smiles (I wish you could hear her, it was so cute)
My mom's animated face and trying to read her lips at the beginning when she says "Oh my word."

Baby has been getting better at holding her head up. She is still a bit wobbly but she is definitely getting stronger. She has been bringing her hands to her mouth and it is so cute to see her that way, she looks like she is snuggling. She used to be able to roll over from her stomach to her back when she was laying on my bed, but, she hasn't done that for a while now. I worry about that. Anytime you see regression in a baby, you worry, but, when you top it with the diagnosis of Fragile X Syndrome and knowing there is that possibility for autism to go along with it... you worry. I have noticed that Baby doesn't seem to be developing like 4 did, she seems to be following more along the lines of 10's development. Only time with tell what her abilities will be, and I "abilities" because I don't want to qualify her by her disabilities. I have to do that enough once they hit school age in order for them to get the services they need.

4 is coming up to the age where I have to decide what kind of Kindergarten I will put her in. The district is trying to tell me where I have to put her and I guess I will have to get to the point where I will have to tell them where to put their regulations...

I had to take a picture of my face today. It is just somber. I miss the kids, 13 and 18. They don't come to visit, I thought they would. They don't call, I thought they would. I have called them almost everyday to make sure they are happy and to reassure them that I love them. I have to pray several times a day just to help me get through the day without missing them and keeping myself happy so that I can focus on my family here at home. I have good days and I have bad days, I guess today was a tough day. Maybe the fact that 4 and Baby have been crying pretty much non-stop today may be part of my somber face...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just in...

I just received an email from 10's teacher. It says:

10 sang karaoke in our assembly today! He was awesome! He sang a Taylor Swift song and he just belted it out! We were very proud of him!
Just wanted you to know. Thanks, Miss B

Wahooo!!! I am so proud of him. He loves to sing and I am so glad he finally showed off his talents!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheap Overnighter

So my mom watched 4 and 10 while Marc and I treated our house like a hotel. We couldn't afford a hotel stay so we thought we would use the house. We even took goofy pictures, you know like in those photo booths at the mall or whatever. Anyway, it was fun. We made the best of it anyway, I mean, it is hard to really feel alone when you have a baby stuck to you most of the time... Anyway, here are some goofy pictures.

Friday, January 22, 2010

teddy bear, piggy and adjusting

I had to post these cute pics of Baby. I had cuddled her up in her blanket on her way home from grandmas and stuck her in the car seat. She looked a little like a pink teddy bear. My dad was so cute, he was holding her up to the light so we could get a cute picture because he thought it was so cute—so I got one of him too. I love my dad!

Then, if any of you know me, you know I LOVE to do hair and the fact that my girls have started off with a little just makes my day. Hence, Baby's first piggy tail. Oh, my word, I just had to giggle. And sorry the angle is weird so her nose looks big, but I love the tongue and the smile! Oh, could she get any cuter!!!

Everyday 4 asks where 13 is... I keep trying to explain... Then a couple of days ago she said, "Mom, you talk to 13. Tell him he has to come home now!" Oooh, tender.

The adjustment will take us a while. I am sure it is a little easier for 13 and 18 because they are with their parents, who they were with their younger years and it is probably just like getting back into the groove. On, our end, my kids (mainly 4) haven't known any different and Baby won't even remember any of it. I had to work a LOT harder to help them feel loved and accepted when they moved in with Marc and me—so much work that I hope still makes a difference. I haven't cried since the day they left but, I have been close many times.

I have called them a couple of times to let them know I love them and to make sure they are happy. I asked 18 if she was glad that I made the decision for them. She said yes, and that she was happy. I hope that I did some good and that I am not just forgotten after a few months, that I am still a part of their lives. 10 loves to go to Grandma's to be able to see 13 and 18 but the times we have been there 18 was gone and one of the nights 13 was gone. I think that he was a little disappointed. But, on the up side: 10 and 4 are sharing a room now and are so happy to be together. They sleep better and they have been obeying better. Maybe I have been able to focus more on them and it makes them feel more loved. I don't know. Marc and I feel like our house is so huge now. We are still trying to clean up and arrange the house after moving out so much stuff and gaining and extra room. I changed 18's room to a guest room that is really set up in hopes that 13 and 18 come to sleep over.

I have had some people ask why I am still calling 13 "13" instead of fourteen since he had his birthday this week. Well, I guess that they will always be 13 and 18 because that is when they left me, and that is how I thought I would keep it on the blog. Who knows, maybe one day I will get brave and put in their names...

Also, some have asked if it was 13's and 18's choice. Yes, and no. It was a tough decision. They had made a life here, new brothers and sisters, a different kind of love and acceptance. Ultimately, I made the decision because I think they couldn't because they were scared to hurt our feelings. When it came down to it, we all knew what needed to happen. It was a good thing, a hard thing, but the right thing. It is what Heavenly Father wanted.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where do I begin?

June 2002 started something in my life that I never dreamed of. You know when you are a teenager and you sit and dream about being married and having a family one day. I mean, heck, you play "house" as a kid and play mom with all the little neighborhood kids and we all know we will have kids one day and all that jazz. But, when I thought about those things I never thought, I'll take in some nephews and a niece too, along with my other kids...

I was twenty-five years old when Bryan came to live with us and then soon after in July of 2002 18 joined him in our home. Marc and I treated it kind of like we were playing house. We had one child of our own (10) and we were so happy to have him and we were still in that mode of "we can do anything." So taking on two children who were, at that time, ten and twelve sounded like fun. We knew it would be hard, we just didn't realize how much of a commitment we were making at the time. We agreed to take care of Bryan and 18 for one year so that their parents could clean up their lives and get things back in order.

A year passed and then two. We were beginning to realize this could be a permanent arrangement. We decided our tiny home was not big enough and we needed to build a new one to accomodate all of us.

Shortly after moving into our new home we were asked to take on 13 who was eight at the time. We prayed, and although I had been having some of the toughest times of my life the spirit confirmed to us that we needed to take him into our family and home also. Soon after he moved in we found we were going to have another baby, 4. So now we had five kids, two of my own and three of Marc's sister's kids.

Times got tougher between Bryan and I. I had to make the hard decision to have him move in with his grandparents who at that time and just moved in a block away from where we live. We were still able to see him and 18 and 13 were still able to be close to him as much as possible.

Over time I began to regret my decision to let him go. I ached knowing that I had failed. I wished I could have been a better mother to him. I vowed I would never make that same decision again and no matter how hard it was I would do my best to be 13's and 18's mother along with my own children.

Last year 18 and 13 started calling us Mom and Dad. We were all really becoming a close family. Things were REALLY hard but, we were really all a family. It felt real.

In March of last year we found out we were pregnant again. We were all so excited. 18 kept saying how she hoped it was another girl—she enjoys having a sister. We found out it was a girl and we were all so excited. All was well. Life was really hard but so worth it. I was happy. We were happy.

Then we heard news that 18 and 13's birth mother, Amy, and 13's birth father, Frank, (18's stepfather) would be moving in with Marc's parents. We were all devastated. We were scared. Things were going well. I was angry. Now I had to try to raise my kids in front of their birth parents. I had fought so hard to make our family a family. To be their mom. And Marc to be their dad.

Things were really awkward, uncomfortable, weird. We all felt it, I could tell.

Frank and Amy were coming to church. We were happy because Amy had been inactive and Frank was not a member. But, at the same time, I hated it. I felt like I was in a competition. The kids didn't know how to act or what to do.

We had family get togethers, even though it felt strange, because we wanted to be Christlike. We were trying to do what was right. I was stressed. I was scared. I wanted to keep "my" kids. The stress was getting high. Baby came six weeks early, and I think it was probably because of all the stress I was under.

Baby seemed to bring a strong spirit with her. There was a special feeling that all of us felt. She came for a great reason, many reasons... I never even knew then, how many reasons.

One night the missionaries showed up for a BBQ we were having outside. We went inside after we were done eating and gave the Family Home Evening Lesson. After the lesson one of the missionaries asked Frank if they could meet with him later that week. A few weeks later, Frank told us that the missionaries had set a January 9th baptism and it was November! Huh? I figured it wouldn't really happen. Frank had never seemed to really like the church and I felt bad for the missionaries high hopes.

I was wrong.

Frank was baptized. During his baptism, I could feel the spirit so strong, Frank was beaming. Anyone there would not be able to deny the light he had. It was inspiring. But, even though I felt the spirit my heart ached as I watched 13 sit by him and Amy. Something seemed right, but, I couldn't handle it. "I can't give them up, don't ask me to," I pleaded with God.

So many people will have questions, they will be so confused. I am trying to write it down in a way that all of you will understand.

God is a loving God, our Heavenly Father. He loves all of us. He wants families to be together. He wants all of us to be happy.

I made the toughest decision of my life so far. On Monday, January 18—Martin Luther King Day and the day before 13's fourteenth birthday, I sent 13 and 18 back to Amy and Frank, their parents.

I shed many tears, but the spirit was strong, so strong I couldn't deny it. Amy and Frank were so happy that they shed tears along with me.

I know now that Heavenly Father and all my guardian angels were up there during my heartache, pain, and inadequacy, saying, "You can do it Rachael, just hang in there a little but longer, they are almost ready. Please hang on. Endure it well." And I did it! This is truly a miracle. A real miracle. My heart was softened so that I could turn my kids over to them, and they have made miraculous changes in a short time. I see now, all things that have happened in my married life have led to this moment.

13 and 18 are happy. I am happy. Marc is happy. 10 and 4 have really been bonding and taking care of each other. But, we all still shed a few tears. It was our life for 7 1/2 years. Now we open a new chapter in "Our Life." I love you 13 and 18, I always will. I hope I will always be your other "mom."

God is wondrous. I know there is no way I could ever do this without Him. I am so thankful that Jesus Christ knows the pain I have had and is there to lift me.

Now I will focus on my three children and their needs.

I wanted to put a slide show together of some of my favorite pics of 13 and 18 from 2003 - 2007. (I am too lazy to scan in the ones from before my digital camera.) I also included Bryan's pics because, well, I am attached to him too.

Side note: I know some of you will ask. We still get to see 13 and 18 a lot. They live close and hope to stay close. I hope to have them sleep over soon. I guess I get to take on a grandma-type role—have fun with them and then send them home. :)

And this video will be one of my many treasured moments...

The Gibson Family from Davey Orgill on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Still in Business and Exercise No Matter How Hard

So, I realize I have not posted about my little mess maker, 4. Don't worry, she is still in business. I have just been too tired and busy with other things to take pictures of it or write it down. But I figured, since she did this all in one day I would post about it... enjoy! I laughed pretty hard... after.

She got mad because I wasn't helping her find a video quick enough, so I guess this was my punishment...

She loves to sit in my closet and pull out all my shoes and socks and try them on, but she doesn't like to put them away.

You may have to study this one for a minute... she loves to get all her bloomers (the things that you put on under dresses so they aren't showing their underwear) and put them on the stairway post. Sometimes she changes it up a bit and puts her underwear on here. She only put on five today, I have taken off twelve before. Tee hee!

And last, but not least...

I must exercise! I must! I go crazy if I don't at least, a little bit. Baby does not let me put her down very much at all, she cries A LOT so I don't get a lot of exercise in (not to mention a shower). I discovered today how well the snuggly pack works while on a stationary bike. I just had to take a picture so you could see how funny it looks. All I had was my computer camera. I love to watch Quantum Leap on hulu while I ride so I was already in front of the computer anyway.

Here's my view of Baby. Too cute, I love the hand placement. You can tell she is Marc's daughter...

Sick Baby and a Baptism

So the Saturday before Baby's blessing we took her to the Pediatrician because she was so congested and was having a hard time nursing. Now this is where having Fragile X makes it a little tougher for her. With FXS the connective tissues are low tone and can cause rattley breathing, snoring and ear infections. For instance, 10 had to have his adenoids removed at three months old because they were obstructing his breathing so badly. So when I go into the doctor for congested breathing I never know what we will hear. Anyway, the pediatrician on call knew about FXS and was actually good to factor that into Baby's problem. He listened to her lungs and they sounded good but, her congestion was the worst he had seen. He gave us some suggestions and one of them was for me to sleep in a reclined postion and allow Baby to sleep on my chest so that she was on her tummy in a reclined position and could allow her to breathe. It was a long week. I was up most of the nights mostly because I was trying to make sure she was able to breathe. I set us up a little spot in the study with the futon reclined, a humidifier, and a variety of things to keep her nose clear so that she could nurse and breathe. With a lot of work, dedication and a Father's Blessing, we made it through without having to get her into the hospital. We had her well enough by the Saturday that Frank was baptized.

Frank has been taking the discussions from the LDS missionaries since November 2009! That was fast! He has made some great changes in his life and you can see the light in his eyes.

Frank is 13's birth father. He was baptized on Saturday, January 9th. He was confirmed on Sunday the 10th. He seems to have a strong testimony of the scriptures and is very excited to be sealed in the temple to his wife someday. The thing he kept saying over and over again after his baptism was, "I feel so clean—like I have a clean slate! This is awesome!" Congratulations Frank!
Frank and the missionaries. Elder Liau (on the left in white) baptized him

10 was excited for Frankee

Baby Blessing

I have a very dear friend, Kandi who is amazingly talented. She made 4's baby blessing dress for her and when she found out I was having another girl she offered to make her blessing dress too. Well, this one was quite extravagant and I loved it! She did such a nice job and it is a total surprise what they turn out like.

Baby had been very sick all the week of New Years. Maybe it is good that I have had to play catch up because then I can't remember all the complaints I had about it—although I do remember some, and I will get to those later. (smile) Anyway, we did not invite people because she was sick. We blessed her on Sunday January 3rd, and I took her home after sacrament and then after church only immediate family came to eat afterwards. It was good to have everyone there, especially knowing that this was the last celebration-type family get together we would have before Daniel and Tynelle left for Florida.

Marc gave Baby a beautiful blessing. I really wish that I would have had a free hand to take notes as to what was said. I remember though that he talked a lot about how she would be charitable, compassionate and have a desire to be close to the family. It touched my heart hearing him give her a blessing like that knowing that she may have limited capabilities later on in her life. He also blessed her with strength to do the things that she needed to do. What a great father he is.

While everyone was still at church and Baby was still in her blessing dress I had Chelsea take some pictures of Baby. I think because of her feeling sick Baby did not cooperate very well and cried constantly so we weren't able to get too many pictures, but the few we got are prescious to me! Thank you Chelsea for your hard work. We even tried to get some other pictures of her but, to not avail—although we did get a really cute crying picture of her! Check them out!

I know she is making a funny face in this one, but I wanted to have a picture of the bonnet she wore with the blessing dress. We decided to take it off for the other pictures because we thought maybe it was bothering her. Anyway, it reminds me of a pioneer bonnet, hence the reason I edited the picture the way I did—kinda cool.

I love how peaceful she looks.

You can see the detail of the laces on the dress and the cute little shoes she was wearing.


AFTEROH, so cute...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year's Day Basketball and Sledding

We all went and played basketball at my mom's church building on the morning of New Year's Day. It crazy fun. Let me list everyone who was there:
My Uncle Brad, his wife, kids, and their 3 grandkids, Kirsten and Jeremy, Mom, Jessie and Joel and their 3 kids, Aleesa and 3 of her kids and all of us. Whew!

It is no wonder I ended up spraining my ankle—OK, actually it is, because no one was around me... ya, I am a claud. I landed on it wrong after a shot—so I was out for a bit. But, it wasn't a bad sprain and my adrenaline was still going so I was able to play a couple of good rounds of prison ball. Man, that was fun. I do wish I had my camera that I had pictures of all of us and the fun we were having!

Right after that we went sledding with Marc's side of the family. Frank, Amy, Lynne and Gary and us. The hill wasn't too crowded and it was a blast. Even 4 went down multiple times by herself. 10 wanted to go with Frank and then eventually went by himself a few times. 13 was having a blast with some friends that were there that had some tubes, and 18 joined in. Fun was had by all. I have pictures of that.
I love the look on 10's face! Pure happiness. He LOVES his Uncle Frankee!

4 being brave and having a ball!

Marc and 4 — I love the action shot!

13 having a great time! I love his face in the picture above—classic!

I love Amy's face in this one! She is having a blast!

The observation bench. 10, 18 holding Baby, Amy and me

18 trecked up the hill many times to go back down with 4. I like the shot above with 18 looking down at 13 and his friends.

Here's baby all bundled up. She didn't go sledding but we wanted her to have memories of sledding and snow in pictures...

Happy New Year! I am almost all got up! Only 2 more weeks to catch up on.... ugh!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Shoeing, New Years Eve, and my last post for 2009

I love snow shoeing and now I have friends who like to go. Michele called me up on the Wednesday before New Year's Eve and we went up on the bench. It was only a ten minute drive and we went for about 1 1/2 hours. We came upon a heard of dear. Wish I would have gotten some better pics of the dear. Oh, well, I got some of us!
Me and Michelle


Lisa and Michelle

Me and Lisa

there's a dear in there...

New Year's Eve was spent at home. We played games, watched movies, ate lots of great junk food, soda and treats. 18 went to a regional dance to ring in the New Year and it was exciting to know she was driving herself and I didn't have to go pick her up. Marc blew his elk caller to ring in the New Year. That was funny. We watched some cool fireworks go off in the neighborhood. And that was it. Nothing big, but nice.

2009 has been an interesting—never boring year. That is for sure. Welcome 2010!

Still Catching up... Here's Christmas Eve and Christmas

OK, so it is actually January 7th and I still am not caught up in my journaling. I have so much to tell but am trying to keep it all in order for my book. So hang in there, it is all coming soon.

Christmas Eve, of course, was the best!

On the morning of Christmas Eve at 11:30 we got a call from Elder Bryan in Chile! It was so awesome! He was trying to call Grandma and Grandpa but their phone wouldn't let him call through so he called us and then they all came here to our house. We had four phones open at a time so that we could listen to him. He had a slight accent. He sounded happy—happy to be on a mission and happy to be talking to his family, hearing their voices. I even got to hear him speak a little Spanish to one of the members in the background. He was telling us a story about a dog that came through a fence and bit him! He said there are dogs everywhere. It was so good to see the kids talk to him and see their faces light up as he spoke. He has such a strong spirit and it was good to hear it come from him. Bless his heart!

Then, we started the tradition last year of sledding with the family on Christmas Eve. We use my Uncle Jeff's four-wheeler and pull around a plastic sled. This year, though, a neighbor of my parents let us borrow a Redneck Sled! Ya, Redneck Sled, it is a truck hood with a bar welded to it to hang onto, and a pad on the bottom to sit on! It was awesome! I must trully be a redneck because that was one of the funnest sledding experiences EVER!!!!! It was awesome because we could get four kids on there at a time, and two adults with a kid or two! We had so much fun!

Marc, 10 and 4 have a rodeo kindof ride!

Grandma Judy taking the waiting kids on a little sled ride.

Joel taking Kirsten and Jeremy for a sled ride the first time as a married couple!

13, 10 and 4

Me and 18 couldn't stop laughing, not only because it was fun, but because our faces were frozen that way!

Grandma Judy even took a few rides—doesn't her hair look pretty, flowing in the wind. (ya, your welcome, Mom)

Jessie, Mom, me and Aaron

Chelsea told 4 to smile and this is what we got...

During sledding we would stop every so often to eat all the great food. Once it started getting dark we came in for the night and started opening presents. We draw names every year and then give $5 gifts. This year we rotated couples and did $10 couple gifts and all the kids rotated. This way we can get someone different each year. It is kinda funny, though, because I have five kids and there are ten grandkids so we just basically had all the other kids—I guess it will be that way until Kirsten & Jeremy and Aaron & Chelsea have kids... or Daniel and Tynelle have more.

My mom and Dad really spoiled us this year. They give of themselves and their hearts much it truly humbles me. There were many tears shed as they carried up five solid marble Christus' for all of us kids (my dad's gift). And then my mom teared up as she was holding five very small red gift bags. She said, "Big things do come in small packages..." and hand us these bags. They were heavy and had gold dollar coins in them! Wow Mom and Dad, you outdid yourselves this year. We will try not to expect that again! What a surprise all that was.
You can tell 4 was worn out. She was like this the whole time we were opening presents.

Yes, those are tears in my eyes and it is over the antique apple cookie jar I am holding. Let me tell you the short story. When I was a kid, little kid—like five or six I remember this cookie jar my mom and dad had. It usually just sat empy on our table. Now I don't know what happened to it, where it went or at what time period it was gone all I know is, it was gone. I remember seeing one later in life and it reminded me of being a kid. I could smell the home-made play dough, see the dim lights in the kitchen and feel the smoothness of our old white and yellow soda-shop-type table. It brought back memories. So whenever I was at a yardsale I would look for one just in case. Anyway back in the summer, my sister, Jessie was telling me one day that mom had found one at a yard sale and had sold it to the antique dealer. I was so sad that I didn't get it. Anyway, I guess Jessie had told my mom about it and there it was all wrapped up for me on Christmas Eve. It has no significance to any of my other siblings except me, just one of those special things I remember.

We had Joel's name this year. Marc came up with the saying, and I woodburned it. We thought it was the perfect gift for a true hunter!


Our annual family picture in front of the Christmas tree at Grandpa and Grandma's

Then after gifts we awaited Santa's visit. This is a tradition that has been in my family since my mom and her siblings were little. It holds a real special place in my heart and I truly treasure the memories. I wish my kids could experience it the same way I did as a kid, but, because our family is getting so big, we all run into Kirsten's room and gather together in giggles and whispers listening to Santa "ho, ho, ho" as he comes down the hall to ask all of us what we want for Christmas and then hands us each a cold orange from his bag. I seriously teared up again this year as I listened to my kids enjoying Christmas Eve in a little way that I did too. Oh, and another cool thing about Santa's Christmas Eve visit is listening through the open front door for Santa's bells. There is nothing like sleigh bells breaking the crisp air outside while you hold your breath to hear how far or how close they are. And then when they get close we all scramble up the stairs as fast as we can to get back to our rooms so we don't get caught trying to catch Santa. It's really funny now, too, because there are fifteen of us, or so, running and clambering up the stairs so it sounds like a herd of elephants. Boy, I love Christmas Eve.
Listening for the bells

He came and went and Jessie snuck a picture

Jessie started this tradition of taking a picture of all of us with our oranges after Santa leaves.

This was also a special Christmas Eve because it is the last one with Daniel and Tynelle's family before they leave to Florida for a few years for school. We tried to treasure every moment.

When we got home from my parents we read a story, called "Christmas for a Dollar." Really cute story. Then we hid the pickle in the tree (a German tradition—and yes, we actually have a pickle ornament—originally Germans hid a real pickle.) Our kids LOVE this! Whoever finds the pickle gets to open a present. It is really fun to watch them look for the pickle. 18 is usually good to point the pickle out to the excited little ones—and she did again this year so 10 "found" the pickle this year. He got to open the pickle present (which is usually a family game) and it was "Snorta." You'll have to play that game sometime, it is really quite fun and is good for ages four to fourty-one! or so...

We got to bed about 10-10:30. We were so tuckered out from the day.

Santa was a about to come when at midnight 10 woke up and asked 13 to check and see if Santa was here. The door creeked open and footsteps came up the stairs. "Creek." "Pause." and back down the stairs... no Santa. This continued until 3:30 in the morning about every half hour. 10 was so excited to get his horse from Santa that he just couldn't sleep. 13 must have been quite excited too, because he was the one brave enough to try to catch Santa. Well, finally, I thought I would come out to see if Santa had come, nothing there, so I went to go get a drink of water. While at the top of the stairs I heard a creek, so I quickly ran downstairs, flung open the boys' door and jumped into 13's bed! "What?", 13 asked startled.

"I think I heard Santa, you guys! And I didn't have anywhere to hide so I ran down here to be with you guys. Shhhh, listen, do you hear him?" 10 and 13 were giggling with excitement and surprise that I was down there with them getting excited for Santa's arrival. We heard a creek and I quickly jumped up to 10's bed and giggling like a giddy school girl I said, "Act like we're asleep.... Wait, what if Santa won't bring us presents because I am not in my bed? What should I do you guys? Should I try to sneak back upstairs?" 10 just kept giggling uncontrollably, I mean he was rolling, 13 was laughing and kept saying, "I can't believe your are laughing so hard Mom." We were having so much fun, and I had a blast being a kid again. We all need to find out inner kid once in a while, if not for ourselves then for our kids.

Anyway, we finally calmed down and I convinced the boys to cover me while I snuck back upstairs so that Santa could come bring our toys. They said they would be good while they waited.

When I came upstairs I saw that Santa had come while I was down laughing with the boys. I didn't go down to tell them because I was so tired from all the laughter and thought it might be fun for them to still be down there listening for Santa and enjoying the magic. So I went to bed.

Then at 5am 13 and 10 came to wake us up.

We were really blessed this year by having my brother, Daniel, help us with Christmas. Since he and Tynelle were moving they had some things they wanted to get rid of and in turn it really made our Christmas. Thank you Daniel and Tynelle!

We have joined the ranks of modern society and we now own a WII! With very strict rules of course... Man, that thing is fun! I love WII Sports and it has been a real fun way to have 10 play sports and not feel overwhelmed. SO fun! One of my favorite parts is creating the MII's. We have all my family and most of Marc's—we are working on them.

13 got an electric guitar and amp. 18 got a pocket PC. 10 got another toy horse (ya, I know, SURPRISE!) 4 got a CD player. Baby got a doll. Marc and I each got a pair of chaps. It was a very giving Christmas. We were so blessed.
This is the only picture from Christmas morning. The rest is video. 4 was excited to open her present.

We then had crepes for Christmas breakfast upon Marc's request. We will now make that our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.

After breakfast and getting ready we headed over to Marc's parents. There were many presents there awaiting the kids. Frank and Amy got some much needed things for 13 and 18 that were much appreciated. We ate some great food and had a good time socializing. The missionaries even came to join us. We played games and watched movies the rest of the day. It was fun and relaxing.