Monday, January 2, 2017

Photos to Inspire and Entertain

Here are some highlights from our first day home, and our last day of Christmas break.

Phillip and I wanted to start the new year off by giving each of our children a picture of the Savior to put in their room.  We let the three oldest kids each choose a print to hang on their side of their bedroom.  Joy chose to put her print in the middle of a heart, fashioned from school certificates and gymnastics ribbons she's earned.

Daddy needed some shredded cheese for lunch, and was delighted to learn that our food processor has a grating attachment that allows him to grate a whole pound of cheese in seconds.  He can't believe that it took him over eleven years of marriage to discover that we have a "power tool" for grating cheese.

Joy spent the afternoon using my old camera to shoot a stop-motion Minecraft video using her Christmas Lego set.

She chronicled Steve's foray into his mine in search of gold ore to make some fancy armor.  The rest of us had fun watching the slideshow after she wrapped her photo shoot.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Farewell to the Andersons

A few more highlights from our visit with the Andersons:

Mike and Shelly watched our kids yesterday morning while Phillip and I went to the Houston Temple.  Coming from Conway, where the closest temple is over three hours away, it was so nice to be able to drive just ten minutes to worship with my sweetheart.

And don't assume that we drove to Houston just so the Andersons could babysit our kids all the time; we helped them out too.  I cooked a couple meals, and Phillip helped Mike with two home improvement projects (it's Dremel time!).

Last night the adults rang in the New Year sipping Martinelli's and watching the neighbors light up the sky with fireworks.

This morning we snapped a few group photos, went to church, then headed for home.  And no, the Andersons don't go to church in their PJs.  Their ward meets at 1pm and we didn't want to leave for Arkansas that late in the day, so we went to a ward that meets at 9am instead.

Thanks for the memories, Mike and Shelly!  Hope to see you again soon!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Space Center (and Star Wars)

Our family and the Andersons headed to Houston's Space Center Museum today.

We took a cool tour of the Space Shuttle.  OK, it was actually a replica of the Space Shuttle . . .

. . . but the special 747 that ferried the shuttles across the country between launches was the real deal . . .

. . . and it had some fun, interactive displays.  In this one, three people work together to get a model of the Shuttle situated on the 747.

Daddy only took one picture during our entire visit.  Of course, it was of the Shuttle's really complex control panel.  That's our Engineer Daddy.  Actually, maybe he was thinking of Todd, who loves to push buttons.

Since I'm a historian and a geek, I loved learning about NASA's various missions through the years, and how scientists figured out solutions to varied (and sometimes unexpected) problems.

Todd's favorite part of the museum was the elevator.  He and I must have ridden it up and down at least a dozen times.

Before long, he had all the other kids along for the ride, too.

Coincidentally, after spending the afternoon learning about real space adventures, Phillip and I went on a date to see the latest Star Wars installment, "Rogue One."  Thanks to the Andersons for watching our kidlets!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mike, Shelly, and Joe

We decided to take a holiday family road trip down to Houston this week to visit the Andersons.

Mike and Phillip have been friends since college, when they used to play tennis together.  Tonight they opted for chess instead.  Phillip won.

After they finished, they talked their wives into playing a game too.  We're not nearly as good at chess as our husbands, but we played a decent game and I managed to sustain the Hendrickson winning streak.

As happy as we are to be visiting the Andersons, I confess I was also pretty excited to learn that there was a Trader Joe's near their home.  I've really missed that store since we moved to Arkansas.

Happy dance!  They still have my favorite holiday cookies (and pumpkin toaster pastries, and yummy chunky applesauce, and dreamy creamy yogurt)!  I was also pleased to find that the TJ staff in Houston are just as cheerful and friendly as they were back in South Pas.

Between the warm Houston weather and the joys of shopping at Trader Joe's, it almost felt like we were back in California . . . except for the woods across the street.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Gifts and a Missing Spider

Merry Christmas!

I'm pretty excited that I received a new and improved camera.  Huzzah for improved photo quality, and no more random fuzzy spots that I have to Photoshop out (sometimes I just didn't bother if it wasn't obvious--sorry, posterity)! 

Joy is excited about receiving a prehistoric creature aquarium, and (look closely) a tiny Minecraft spider which her loving mother found on ebay to replace one Joy lost a few months ago.  She's already lost the new one three times today.  This doesn't bode well.

Todd got a sweet set of wheels and a clock.

The girls got some cozy slippers (and Daniel's rocking some festive socks he received in his class's holiday sock exchange).

No geeky household is complete without a stormtrooper candy dish.

After church, we had a (super-competitive, as in there may have been some crying and screaming involved) family treasure hunt.  The treasure at the end was a big package of suction cup Nerf darts to use with our  PVC blow guns.  The kids had a blast with them this afternoon.  Now I just need to figure out how to adapt the treasure hunt rules next year so there's more fun and less outrage that the oldest child can outrun everyone else to the next clue.

We wish you a creepy Christmas, and a happy new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve in Arkansas

As I prepared Christmas Eve dinner tonight, I reflected that it didn't feel much like Christmas to me.  I realized that was because for every Christmas of my life (except when I was a missionary in Uruguay), someone else had planned the festivities.  Tonight, for the first time, I was the one in charge of preparing the feast, planning the program, and basically inspiring peace, goodwill, and warm fuzzy family memories.  That's a lot of responsibility.  I kind of miss the good old days when I could just sit back and let someone else make the evening magical.

Our Christmas Eve program was a mix of both our families' traditions.  We followed Pink Grandma's tradition of reading the nativity story from the scriptures . . .

. . . and pausing periodically to sing a Christmas carol based on the event we had just read about.

To get the kids more involved in the story, we incorporated Papa and Red Grandma's fun tradition of having them move nativity figures from various spots in our home to the stable where Jesus was born.  Tonight, that meant that the three wise men raced toward Bethlehem with more exuberance than reverence.  Sometimes it's hard to know whether to focus on teaching respect or encouraging joyful family bonding.  Since it's Christmas Eve, I decided to err on the fun side in this case.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Break, Day 5: Kitchen Sink Cookies

Today I decided it would be fun to mix up some chocolate chip cookie dough, leave the chocolate chips out, and let each child choose what they wanted to mix into their portion of the dough.  I figured one would like Butterfinger bits, another might like crushed candy canes and chocolate candies, and another might choose sprinkles just for fun.

It didn't occur to me that Anna and Daniel would each put ALL FOUR of the mix-ins into their dough.  I called their creations "kitchen sink cookies," because that's about the only thing that didn't get mixed into them.

It also didn't occur to me that Todd would grab a spoon and start gobbling sprinkles, because you know, I think like an adult, not a three year old.

And then there was plain-cookie Joy, who preferred to keep her dough pure and unadulterated.  To each their own.