Christmas 2014....and other December happenings

I realize I'm skipping completely over our trip to Guatemala, but that will require a few long posts that I don't quite have time for yet.  I figured while I compile all the Guat pictures I will finish off December.  We got home from Guatemala around 2:00 am Christmas day.  We talked about the possibility of catching Santa in the act, since we were getting home so late.
We came thru the garage door and quickly whisked the kids upstairs in case Santa happened to already dropped by.  Noah and Ava peaked in the dark living room and claimed they saw something big in there, and that Santa must have already been here.  We told them to get in bad FAST and go to sleep.  Noah didn't fall asleep for about another hour because he was just too excited. 
They were right, Santa had been there, and we interrupted him, so Adam called Edwin (our families elf) and told him to have Santa come back because we were home now and all the kids were asleep.  Santa did have a couple more presents to leave, so luckily he came back.
The trip to Guatemala was our present to the kids, so they didn't have anything to open (which they didn't seem to care about).  They hadn't opened their Christmas books and pajamas, since we got home so late, so they did get to open those present.  I take that back, I did wrap up some family games for each of them to open. Games: Headbanz, scrambled states and Jenga.
Of course Santa delivered some great presents, so the lack of wrapped presents wasn't even missed. He brought everyone this jungle gym (which the elves assembled before we even got home - such nice elves). Noah got a magic kit, I Spy Books and some chemicals to make popping bobas.  Ava got a huge cheetah, a little flying monkey and a matryoshka doll set. Grant got an over-the-door basketball hoop, a bunch of other little balls and a fart whistle.  The jungle gym was made into a fort almost immediately and the cheetah has had to be stitched up about 4 times already.  I find her in random places all day.

This basketball hoop is in the living room now, so it has been used for numerous competitions.
Adam surprised me with a fancy new road bike (which I'm loving) and a fitness watch, and I got him a new watch.
Adam thought we really NEEDED an underwater scooter, so he asked Santa for one. Can't wait for summer time to try it out. We had a great Christmas.  The Christmas season was very different than we're used to, but I loved it.  There really was NO focus on the commercial aspect of Christmas, because in Guatemala they really don't push consumer buying (at least not were we were).  It really was nice.  That being said, it was a mad rush to get everything ordered and here before we left on the 15th. This is my 3rd year of never stepping foot into a store for purchasing gifts.  Santa, and this mom, did ALL their shopping online - mainly Amazon. Forces me to ONLY get what is on my list and not get distracted by what I see on the shelf.............and I'm lazy and don't like to get out of my sweats.
Grandma Connie encouraged us to do the Old Testament challenge from The Friend (back in January 2014).  Every Sunday we read the assigned versus for that week, watched the really old videos from LDS.org (those still shot ones) and then colored in that weeks section on the picture.  We really learned a lot about some awesome old testament people. 
The kids were really excited to finish and call grandma with the news.
Grandma sent their prizes last week (some scripture figurines and Pass the Pig game). We started this years challenge (the New Testament) last Sunday.  We're pretty bad at reading the scriptures during the week, so at least we accomplish this every Sunday.
We tested out Noah's chemicals he got for Christmas, and made some Cool-aid popping bobas (those jelly filled balls you find at frozen yogurt shops).  We also tried cucumber juice, but those turned out pretty nasty.   These weren't that tasty either, but I've since read that real fruit (i.e. juiced strawberries or blackberries) turns out better, because the chemicals won't change the flavor with the real fruit.  We'll definitely be experimenting with this again.
Noah wanted to build a functioning helicopter, so Adam told him he would help him make a hovercraft instead.  A couple Saturdays ago, Noah went to home depot and bought the plywood (we told him he had to buy it if he wanted it to be his own) and he and Adam built this hovercraft.  Noah was smart and convinced the babies that they needed to donate some money to the cause so they could use it.  I think Noah eventually decided to just pay for it and then let them try it out. We were going to use the blower, but we couldn't get it to start, thus the reason we had to use the big shop vac.  We need a flatter surface and the blower and then it will work really well.

I've been envious of my mom's waffle cone maker, and kept thinking she would just give it to me, but she actually uses it on occasion, so it probably wasn't going to happen soon.  Anyway, I finally broke down and bought one (don't know why I waited so long, it was only like $30 with a coupon).  Anyway, we've been enjoying homemade waffle cones and are working on perfecting how we roll them so they won't leak. 
Once we got the cones down, we started experimenting with homemade 'magic shell', you know that runny chocolate that hardens once it hits the ice cream.  I poured some of the magic shell chocolate in the bottom of the cones and that made a hard layer and stopped the leaking!  They're yummy.
The real reason I wanted the waffle cone maker was so I could make my own Dutch Stroopwafel cookies.  Whenever I go to a specialty store, I search for these cookies.  They are SOOOO yummy, and kind of expensive (6 tiny cookies for $6).  Oh my goodness, the homemade version is just as good, or better, than the ones in the store, and it makes a TON.  It's a good thing they are a tad bit time consuming, because I would make them all the time.   The bad news is that the day I made them I got the stomach flu the following day, so I only got a small sampling of them by the time I felt like eating again.


My baby is 5!!

 Grant's birthday was in the middle of our SLC/Moab trip, so he didn't get the typical birthday celebration.  Before we left the primary presidency brought over his balloon crown.
We took one of his presents with us so he could have something to open. I thought I had a picture, but can't find it. :/  He opened some super hero action figure guys at Dex's house. After visited with grandma and grandpa we went to Thanksgiving point to do something fun for his birthday.  He got to choose the dinosaur museum or the new discovery museum. He chose the discovery museum.  
 This place is incredible.  Since it was a Monday, and we went during school hours, it wasn't too crowded (we heard it gets insanely busy).  We spent a few hours here and could have stayed longer, but it was dinner time and we were hungry.  If you're ever in Salt Lake, definitely try this place out.  It's pricey, but worth it for a fun day.
 Bug pad - certain squares light up and you have to jump to that square.
 Huge climbing structures everywhere.

 The water section was probably the favorite.  They all could have spent all day in here.

 Afterwards we went to a restaurant and got ribs. 
 When we got home he got to open the rest of his presents.  A batman Lego set.  He's into super heroes lately.
This boy is just like his daddy - he LOVES to get his back scratched. All he wanted for his birthday was a back scratcher.  He loves the bear claw back scratcher, but obviously still prefers me to scratch his back. :)  He requested a batman cake, but because we were leaving town I never got around to making it.  I was planning on making it when we got home, but then he got strep and then we were getting ready to leave on our next trip.  Anyway, we still haven't made the batman cake, but he reminds me every now and again, so I need to get my act in gear and get it done before his next birthday.  

Facts about Grant:
Tall and skinny - taller than Ava by at least an inch, but weighs less. :)
Only likes to wear shorts and t-shirts
Likes super heroes (batman and spiderman)
Has a sweet tooth like his mom
LOVES his 'blue blanky', and still sucks his right index finger when he is tired
Loves to snuggle
Likes sports (soccer, baseball and basketball) - we finally signed him up for baseball this spring. He's constantly kicking around a ball.
Wears pull-ups at night STILL!!!
According to his teacher he is perfect at school - she has never had to tell him to obey, and she said he is nice to everyone (even the girls).  Now if only we could harness that obedience at home. :)
Likes to make is brother and sister laugh - even if it means talking potty talk, which ultimately gets him in trouble. 
Eats his boogers (or so he tells me) - disgusting
Likes routine and organizing
Loves to ride his bike and thinks he's the fastest bike rider in the world
He thinks the way to determine if someone is smart is if they know the answer to 10+10
Knows all his letters and numbers to 20 and can sound out words
Loves to swim and dive
Has a few wiggly teeth
When Grant is intently talking or telling an intense story, he talks with his eyes.  His facial expressions are very animated.
Oh how we love this little boy!!!


Moab - 11/7/14-11/9/14

(Noah exclaimed he made it to the delicate arch)
First of November we went to Moab, Utah for my baby brothers wedding.  His wife's family is from Moab, and was giving this beautiful lodge for the weekend for the wedding and reception.
 The morning after getting to Moab we hiked to the Delicate Arch.  I've always wanted to see this historic arch in person. 

 It really is an amazing site to see.  At the end of the hike you trek around a narrow hill and then BAM, there it is.
 I was kind of nervous with the kids running around on the rocks, because there are cliffs everywhere around the arch.

 Proof my dad made it to the arch.  He didn't go over near it (had to hike near a cliff to get over by the arch), but proud he made it to the top.
 Indian writing on the way back down the trail.
 Little Ollie couldn't take anymore.
 Double arch - Marcus (Rachelle's boyfriend) was a great guide and drove us by a few more sites on the way back.
 Rock climbers repelling off the rock.
 Can't remember what this one is called, but pretty amazing how it's hanging on with very little to support it.
 After the hike, we rushed back (after eating lunch of course) to get the girls' hair done.  Funny the made Ava's hair curly.  Looked almost the same as she does everyday. She still looked adorable and thought it was fun to get pampered.

 Veronica, the bride, getting her makeup done before the wedding.
 Rachelle has a problem when the camera comes out.
 Handsome boys.  Gus held Ollie's hand the whole time.

 Flower girls

 Noah took his wagon pulling very seriously.  Everyone kept telling him to make sure the baby didn't fall out, so he went really slow and kept checking on the baby.
 The flower girls got a little giddy toward the end.  Ava and Meg were giggling the whole time.
 Here comes the bride....
My brother, Tyson.  He was wearing my grandpa Ballard's suit coat and I was wearing a skirt that my grandma Scholzen knitted, so our grandparents were well represented. 

 Watching the ceremony

 Afterward we took some family pictures
 My boys were not cooperating.
 The reception - Ollie dancing with grandma.

 After the reception the kids and I sat in the hot tub for awhile.  It was a nice wedding.  The scenery was beautiful, and Tyson and Veronica finally became Mr. and Mrs. Ballard.
 The next morning we made everyone come back to the lodge for pictures.  It was way too late (10:00) for anything decent (the sun was in the worst possible position), but we did what we could since who knows when we will all be together again.

 After pictures we took the long way back to downtown Moab (the lodge was about 20 minutes out of town) to see a few more sites. We found a little bit of snow on the side of the road and the kids thought it was the greatest thing ever.

 On our way home we stopped at Dead Horse State Park
 My dad was super nervous the entire time we were here.  He's scared of heights (especially with little kids running around), and we were surrounded by enormous cliffs here.
The panorama pictures don't seem to be working right on the blog. :/

 Forced the kids to get one more grandkid photo for my mom.
 The sad goodbye's

 The "we don't want to leave" forced walk to the car.
It was a fun trip.  I had actually never been to that side of Utah before, so it was fun to see a few of the sites.  Happy to see my brother get married too.  Only 1 more sibling in each side of the family left to get hitched!