Friday, December 26, 2008

Silent night, holy night...

Right when I finished that last entry, I realized that I had not said a single word of the true reason for this season. The reason there's such a special feeling in the air, the reason strangers are smiling and cheerfully wishing you a Merry Christmas at a packed Honeybaked Ham store on Christmas eve, the reason we think of the less fortunate even more so...is because the real reason for this season is to celebrate the birth of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season. He is the originator of everything good and true. He, who is full of love and patience, peace, hope and joy...love that I cannot even comprehend. He, who knows us intimately, knows our strengths and weaknesses, and loves us anyways. I wish I could be more eloquent in expressing my feelings for Him. I love Him. I rejoice in Him. Amidst the presents and hustle and bustle, may we each still feel the peace and power that was felt that silent night, holy night...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!




We are headed out of town early tomorrow morning, so I just wanted to download Christmas morning pictures before we left. It's been a fabulous day here on Belmont Lane (as I hope it has been in your neck of the woods)...probably one of the best Christmas' yet. simple. We didn't go anywhere, but played all together while the "weather outside was frightful" (well, not really. Just rainy...which is "frightful" for California standards). We opened presents, drank wassail, played games, watched movies, took naps (amazing), talked with our loved ones, snuggled up by the fire, and were happy. I love days like this...especially when it's Christmas.

Last night, as I was getting the stockings all ready for Santa, I noticed a note tucked deep down in Savannah's stocking. It read like this: "Dear Santa, I think I was being a bit too greedy last year. I am eight now. The last time you came I was seven. I love that doll you gave me last year. I'm not really going to ask for anything. From, Savannah My list is on the back: 1. Happy for Christmas 2. Healthy for Christmas 3. able to do service 4. Help others 5. and give to others 6. My sister Erika to feel better Merry Christmas!"

I'm not even making that up (I could never cook up a note like that). Adam and I cried. You have those moments as parents...payoff moments. You get a glimpse that maybe, just maybe what you're teaching your kids is sinking in. I loved that.

Joseph got a sword (actually a "star wars sword!!!" that glows in the dark). One of his sisters bought it for him from the dollar store. We could have just stopped there...it was by far the hit of Christmas. He was wielding it all over the place.

Austin found Hershey kisses...we could've stopped there too.

Hope you have a peaceful Christmas season. Love you, each one.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tender Mercies






This past Sunday night, I flew down to Houston (as a last minute plan) to see my 93 yr. old grandmother, Dorothy. She lives in an assisted living facility and has been there for almost six years now, since my Papa passed away. We have never called her Grandma, Nanna, Granny...just "Dorothy." It just suits her. She (and Papa) have always had a special place in all her grandchildren's hearts. All growing up, it was just "Papa & Dorothy" like salt & pepper. So, having the supportive husband that I do, I was able to spend two full days with her. Along with my wonderful sister-in-law Natalie and sweet nephew, Ethan, Erika and I spent our days just chatting with Dorothy and being near her. We packaged nuts to give out to the people who work there and decorated her apartment for Christmas, while she rocked and sang to the babies. Heaven was very near. She hss absolutely no short-term memory. In fact, my sister Lauren called while we were there on Monday. It was Lauren's birthday. I handed the phone over to Dorothy and said, "Dorothy, say 'hi' to Lauren...it's her birthday!" She took the phone and cheerfully said, "Hey! I hear it's my birthday!" We laughed. She has a great sense of humor. This was definitely a tender mercy that the Lord so kindly bestowed on me. At the end of our visit, Dorothy took my face in her hands and said, "I am so happy you came." I know that tomorrow she will not remember me even coming, but I will.

On a separate note, our family has been enjoying the Christmas season, I'm sure just like you. The girls were in the Oxnard Christmas parade with their school. They had a great time. They even talked Adam into dressing up in his tux to walk with their group as one of the hot chocolate servers from the Polar Express. He is always such a good sport.

The other picture was taken right before we walked around the neighborhood, looking at lights. We do that often...it's so much fun! Hope you all are having a wonderful, enjoyable Christmas season. Love to you all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nine is Divine









Before I "dot another i" (Bob Kratchit...I'm sorry. I can't help throwing in a line from The Christmas Carol-my favorite! I'm giddy with excitement that it is Christmastime!), I just had to express my thanks in this wonderful season of Thanksgiving! I have the best family and friends and life. In my mind, I'm thinking of each one of you individually and thanking my lucky stars (well, actually Heavenly Father)for sending such incredible people in my path. I'm crazy about each of you. I have the greatest life...what can I say?! On Thanksgiving morning, my sister Adrienne and I were chatting about how great it is that Thanksgiving is the holiday that comes right before Christmas. (My sister is so wise and profound...I just love her.) It puts us all in the right mind-set for the "most wonderful time of the year." Anyways, how could I go another second without expressing my gratitude for my many, many blessings...Hope each one of you had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving.

And, how can it possibly be Christmas already??!! I got jipped! There couldn't possibly have been 365 days in this year! My mom used to tell us that the older you get, the faster time flies by! She's right! Yikes! Nevertheless, I have had a wonderful year.

So, about a year ago, my sister Lauren (also very wise and profound--I just love her too. living in Milwaukee)called to see if I could watch her little darlings during Thanksgiving week 2008, as she and her husband Hubble were going to be going on a trip with her in-laws to Ireland. Loving to spend time with any family I can get my hands on, I agreed. (I'm sorry my grammar is very sub-par right now. It's late and I'm writing with half a brain). So, I had my cute little nieces and nephew come and spend the week with us last week. We had a total blast and lived to tell the tale! Thankfully,my sister Adrienne came out from BYU to help me and my cousin Jimmy (living in LA)came also. We didn't do anything extravagent, but laugh, make big messes, eat, and laugh some more...memories. Juggling nine little ones under nine yrs. was actually a great strategy. It makes having six again not seem so hairy after all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

baby steps, baby steps...





Whew! I'm sitting in this chair, my children are sleeping (minus the tiny, sweet one in my lap), and I don't even know what happened today...it's all a blur (a fast one). I keep muttering to myself, "Baby steps, baby steps..." Much like Bill Murray in the movie What About Bob, shuffling down a crammed sidewalk, bustling with people, muttering to himself "Baby steps, baby steps..." But, as I vaguely remember from the movie, he was a little "coo-coo-crispies"--if you know what I mean, and I...well, no comment.

Last week, after Adam's mom went home and Adam went back to work, I was ready to fly solo(or so I thought). However, after the children all had veteran's day off, the laundry piled up in record speed, the house looked like all six children had been home, and I contracted mastitis (a breast infection-boohoo). I called my mom out in Salt Lake Wednesday morning, to see if there was any possibility of her coming out to help me. I didn't care for how long, I would take anything. Being the mother that she is, she received permission from her mission president to come out a day early (she was already planning to come for the weekend) and was in my home that night. Looking back, I don't think she was anything less than a miracle...a tender mercy. She was just the one I needed...I think I even detected a halo over her head. As always, she picked me up, wiped me off, kissed my ouchie and sent me back on my way--all better. Thank heaven for moms. That's how I want to be when I grow up. So, we are back on track, and doing good again.

Annie had her pizza party for soccer. Everyone had a good time. After leaving Rusty's Pizza Place, we were debating opening a pizza place of our own after seeing the masses of people at 11:00 a.m., eating pizza and celebrating their soccer season. Wow! One of the moms brought heavily iced cupcakes for everyone. I spotted Kate in the corner, wiping all the frosting off her cupcake. "You didn't like the frosting Kate?" Kate, "No. It tastes like dead jello." I replied (trying to hold back the laughter), "Dead jello? I've never tasted that." Kate, "Well then, Play-doh. yuck!"

Joseph is taking his role as big brother quite seriously. If we don't watch close enough, Joseph can be seen trotting around the house with Erika in his arms, her head flopping around, like he's holding one of Kate's dolls. Aaaah! He wants a chance to soothe her, but instead of tickling her or singing to her, he just puts his hand over her mouth. Oh boy! We've got some work to do around here, training our future fathers, but for now--baby steps, baby steps, baby steps...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy pictures





I'm sorry, I still am having technical difficulties. Here are a few pictures to go with that entry.

Hello Happy-Happiness!

These are the lyrics of a Sesame Street song that has been running through my mind all week. I don't even know any of the other words, just "Hello Happy-Happiness!" It seemed to suit the events of this week.

Grandma Thunell was a magic ingredient of this week's success. She kept the laundry going, the homework complete, the kiddies entertained, etc. so that I could rest and nurse and nurse and nurse some more. She left for home on Thursday, and I will always appreciate the time she spent here. Adam was able to take off Wed., Thurs., and Fri. of this week. It's been special having him home to spend time with us. Things just seem to run a bit smoother...ahhh.

Erika is growing (or at least she should be, with her high consumption of milk!) and I love just looking at her, smelling her, cuddling with her--it is heaven. The girls love holding her, especially the little mama Kate. Joseph is always shushing all of us, "Shhh! Baby E-ka is seeping!!!" Austin is still trying to figure out his spot. He is usually right there on my lap as I nurse baby girl. I don't mind at all. I love cuddling with two babies.

And, just because you have a new baby doesn't mean all the kids slow down. I was in getting Austin x-rays this week. His elbow keeps popping out of joint--ouch! So, he was in to see the Orthopedic Dr. this week, trying to figure it all out. As I was standing in the waiting room, an older lady looked at Erika and said, "How old is your baby?" "Five days." She looked at me and said, "Sit down." I laughed out loud.

Annie's soccer season finally came to a close yesterday (is it ok that I say, "whew!"?). It was certainly fun while it lasted, and I know that Adam will enjoy having more of Saturday available. As Adam had the latter part of this week off, he was so great at taking charge...hallelujah, truly. Kate was having a "moment" and I heard him say, "Come on Kate, let's go outside!" (with ipod in hand). He spent a good 45 min. on the swing outside, playing "Guess that song." I could hear their dialogue through the open window: Adam, "Kate, can you guess who this is?!" Kate, "A rock star?" Adam, "Kate! It's Oingo Boingo!!!" (with a whole lotta enthusiasm) Kate, "Oh." He proceeded to pull out all of his 80s music: Duran Duran, Asia, Journey, Styx, and I'm sure a little Pat Benetar's "Hit me with your best shot. " It was so cute, a little moment in time that was so sweet to observe. I then watched from the upstairs window him playing four squares and monkey in the middle. It definitely brought me "Happy-Happiness!!!"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Introducing...



Our little baby girl, Erika Louise Thunell, joined our family on October 30th at 12:35 p.m. She weighed in at 7lb. 9oz. and measured 20 inches long. Like Savannah, she has a full head of black hair, and we're still trying to figure out who the rest of her features resemble. Everyone has been claiming something...Annie, "She definitely has my chin.", Kate, "Look at her nose and then look at mine--they're the same!" The jury is still out... Eventhough it is total chaos at our home(nothing new), somehow in her tiny, sweet, helpless body she brings a calming, peaceful spirit that is so powerful and strong I am left feeling amazed and in awe. I feel Heavenly Father's presence very near and I can't help but think that there are angels still surrounding her, bidding her farewell and good luck in this new, exciting journey ahead. It is especially in these moments that I am exponentially grateful that I am a mother and I am in close companionship with Heavenly Father in bringing another one of his beautiful children to the earth. It is a blessing that I have difficulty expressing in such feeble words, but I'm sure you can understand my feelings in spite of me... We arrived at her name as we were searching through our geneology. The original Erika Thunell joined the church in Sweden. She and her husband traveled over to the U.S. and joined the pioneers in Utah. Her husband, a master craftsman, was one of the ones who worked on the beautiful staircase in the Manti temple and helped hang the doors on the Salt Lake Temple. It is a beautiful heritage and I'm so glad and grateful to have a husband with such a legacy of faith and goodness to pass on to our little Erika Thunell. Louise has very special meaning to us, in that it is my Grandma Dorothy's middle name and my mom's middle name. These two women have been two of the most important women in my life and I love that Erika is named after both of them. They, also, are women of joy and goodness. On the day of delivery, I was hooked up to the pitocin and epidural by about 9-9:30 a.m. I had her at 12:35 p.m. It was, by far, my easiest delivery yet. I think Adam felt a little short-changed as he brought the DVD player for us to watch, books to read and games to play and we didn't end up doing any of it. Oh well, I think we both loved the way everything turned out. It's been rainy and overcast, which makes it even more cozy and is the perfect weather to sit and cuddle with a newborn baby. Everyone is doing well. Grandma Thunell has been amazing, holding the fort up with all these wild Indians, which is a feat in and of itself. All is well, all is well...actually, all is wonderful. I'll post more later. In the meantime, have a wonderful day.
video

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Are we there yet??!

I've been asking myself this question quite a bit lately; however, it has now transformed into "Aren't we there yet??" At my appointment this past week, my doctor sweetly suggested we induce on Oct. 30th --that is the day he is on-call. what? "Well, what about Oct.27th...pleeeease??" I explained all the reasons I should be induced sooner than later--but to no avail. rats! When I informed Adam about the 30th, he timidly asked me if I wanted him to call Dr. Reisman about inducing this week instead. No, my dear, this is another good lesson for me on patience... In the meantime, we have been busy. Our dear friends, Todd and Jen Hilbig and family came to visit last week from Utah. Todd served a mission with Adam in Germany and later the four of us became fast friends during our BYU days. We spent the day with them at Disneyland and then they spent the rest of the weekend with us making wonderful memories. We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, which is always fun and festive. We have so many pumpkins around our home...I love it! We're still trying to decide on costumes for everyone. Everyone changes their minds on a daily basis. I usually end up scrambing around on Halloween afternoon, trying to cook up a princess wand, a princess cape, a bunny rabbit tail, a witch outfit, etc. Adam may have to come to the rescue this year (or maybe even Grandma Thunell--she arrived out from Utah this morning to help when the baby arrives. She is super creative, thankfully, and can possibly become our costume designer this year! Hooray for Grandma!). This week, Annie's soccer team was informed that they made it to the playoffs! She was bubbling with excitement! We got out her team picture and she explained to me how much they've improved throughout the season. We went through every teammate, "She is such a great goalie, she is such a great forward, she is awesome at defense, she is such a good forward, etc." It was cute. When I was tucking her in that night, she looked up at me (with a thoughtful look on her face) and asked, "What does playoffs mean anyway?...will we get a medal or a trophy?" I giggled about that the rest of the night...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"The Best Day!"





Tonight as we were loading into bed, Savannah sighed and said, "This was the best day." As I was thinking back on the days events, nothing seemed to happen out of the ordinary...laundry, sloppy-joes, homework, baths, looking for the right Halloween costume, reading, prayers...hmmm. Our children are so wise. As I've mentioned before (I seem to have this epiphany on a daily basis...it must be what I constantly need), life is just, well...awesome. Thank you, Savannah, for the reminder.

As part of our days lately, we are up to our ears and eyeballs with this Proposition 8 campaign. This is the important issue which states that marriage is defined by the union of a man and a woman...period. I have to admit, I love a good cause (something I inherited from my politically active mom!)and this is most definitely a good and huge cause. Adam and I have been calling and going door-to-door to help educate voters on this issue. Amazingly, we have received some very positive feedback. However, we have also noticed some negative. Some of our friends in our neighborhood have had their Prop 8 signs taken out of their yards or written on, etc. Just today, in fact, our friends, the Hartmans had their sign taken out of their yard. Their house is right next to the front gate. Later today, I glanced over at their yard, and I belly-laughed at what I saw (I just had to show you a picture). Anyways, keep this in your prayers.

My children must not get enough of eachother during the day because this has been their sleeping arrangement as of late. We have 3 other empty beds, but they all end up sleeping together...so funny. I figure, as long as they are all sleeping through the entire night and are getting plenty of rest...great! All's well that ends well...

The last is just another picture of the kiddies enjoying the fall night, eating some pears. They loved eating outside, so after they finished the pears, I brought up some carrots, broccoli, apples...as much good food as possible. Am I tricky or what?!

(By the way, I won't be induced next week, but the following week...Oct. 27th). Hope your week is happy...the very "best!"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall is in the air!

Admittedly, California is uncharacteristically warm for this time of year, and there are no fall leaves changing colors or cuddly sweaters being worn; however, it still is sunny and beautiful (and did I mention a little warm?) Yea...it's fall! We have been busy doing our favorite "fall" things...picking apples up in Santa Ynez (a beautiful little town north of Santa Barbara), eating the apples (mmm...delicious! We got Golden Delicious this year. What luck!), going to our high school football game (which was a blast! We shelled peanuts and cheered!), putting up our pumpkin decorations, and getting ready for our little baby girl to arrive (my good friends threw a wonderful shower for me at the park...which was so sweet and perfect! You know they are true friends when they still want to throw a shower for your 6th baby!!). I've been nesting like crazy! Every time I finish another project, I think, "Ok, now she can come."--and then I think of something else. We will most likely be inducing the week of October 20th. I feel and look like a beached whale, a boat, a side of a barn...whichever you prefer...just large. Everyone around here is anticipating her arrival; however, we're still stuck on names. We do this every time. For Family Home Evening, everyone was contributing to "the list." We came up with some pretty good ones (minus Joseph's Claw and Blue), but nothing is decided...we'll see. General Conference was, of course, fabulous! We enjoyed every minute of this past weekend! I can't believe another weekend is already upon us...my, my. Hope your weekend is full of wonderful things!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Creation & Compassion

This past Saturday night, I (like many of you)completely feasted at the Relief Society General Broadcast meeting. The evening began at our Stake Center, where the sisters in our stake assembled over 900 hygiene kits to be sent off to Salt Lake. There was such a feeling of sisterhood, love, and service. I looked around and relished in the moment. There were smiling sisters, talking, laughing, making quilts, stuffing zip-lock bags...it was fabulous. We ate a delicious meal with homemade rolls. (Why do my entries always feature food?). Then, we enjoyed listening to the General Relief Society Presidency and President Uchtdorf. I love being reminded of my important membership in Relief Society. As Sister Beck quoted her sweet mother, "Relief Society will be your mother." I love our charge to look after the downtrodden (which we all fall into that category at one moment or another) and lift up the feeble knees. Also, I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's encouragement to find happiness as we use creativity and show compassion. I've never heard it quite like that, but it definitely gave me a new set of lenses to look through today. It certainly wet my whistle for General Conference this weekend!

I've made enough pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in the last three weeks to last me a lifetime (notice how I said me...I, of course, have eaten most of them!). I keep wanting to "celebrate Fall"...I just can't help it. I love everything about Fall.

Savannah had a little set back last week with her ears. She had an infection flame up in one of her ears, but is going through a round of antibiotics, (and a little bit of vicadin). She seems to be doing better and is without the pain she experienced last week...poor thing.

While getting Joseph ready for church yesterday (which, by the way, thank you for all your advice about sacrament reverence--it was very welcomed!), and was trying to coax him into wearing a cute little fall sweater vest. After his protests, I exclaimed, "Joseph, do you know who you look like?!" (I was thinking, "daddy!") He promptly responded, with a grin, "a missimary!" (missionary!). smile.

Hope your week is full of sunshine!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sorry...the pictures




I guess these pictures didn't make it onto the blog page. Sorry.

Tubes...revisited

Savannah survived another surgery yesterday...getting her second pair of tubes put into her ears. She is always so brave; however, after coming out of the anesthesia, she didn't say a word, but had big crocodile tears streaming down her face. She had a couple of days of some good R & R, she is on the mend, and will be back to school tomorrow. Thank heavens...really.

The other pictures were taken this past weekend at the church primary activity..."LDS Idol." Very clever and fun. Lots of the children performed a "talent" which ranged from piano performances, to a Sunbeam doing sommersaults across the stage. It was wonderful and everyone enjoyed themselves! Annie and Savannah showed off their hula-hooping skills to "Round round get around" by the Beach boys, Savannah played a piano piece, and Kate made us proud with her delicious peanut butter cookies!

By the way, has anyone found any good tips on keeping children 5 years and under quiet, much less reverent, during sacrament meeting on Sunday? I'm at a loss, after wrestling my children for a good hour, and knowing that straight jackets and duct tape are not options. HELP!!!

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Feast!









As the saying goes, "It's either feast or famine!" Well, I'm afraid around these parts, there is no such thing as a famine! Somehow we manage to completely fill our schedule to the very brim...which most of the time is a good thing (that is, until we all collapse from sleep deprivation!). Just last week I was mentioning to Adam, "You know, maybe we need to pick up a new hobby: painting, woodworking, basketweaving, etc. Maybe we need to rediscover a new dimension of ourselves, to be a little more interesting? What do you think?" Adam's response, "Alexis, I don't think I have another dimension to discover right now. Every dimension is already taken." He's right.

Just this past weekend, Adam and I went to the temple Friday night(which, of course, is always a treat! especially when you can go with your husband!)! Saturday was filled with soccer games (which I'm really getting into! I think I'm probably the most vocal spectator...it's a blast!). We had our dear friends, the Masks, come and visit us from Arizona (which we always absolutely love!). We celebrated little Dallin's 6th birthday! Sunday night, we attended a fireside at the stake center featuring Sister Mariama Kallon from Sierra Leone, Africa. Her story is written up in the Liahona, August 2007 edition. You can read it online. And, if I were more computer saavy, I would be able to supply you with the link...oh well. Her story is amazing. I brought my two oldest with me and it made an impression on them. They wanted to go meet her afterwards. After listening to her story, you will agree, we are so blessed. My problems really aren't worth mentioning. It's very stirring, so if you get a chance, read it! (by the way, I need to put in a plug for the Sept. issue of the Ensign. It's incredible! Maybe all the articles stood out to me because I needed them. Nevertheless, it's wonderful.) Monday, we went to Disneyland for Savannah's birthday. We always have a fantastic time together there! Whew!

I was telling Adam, "as long as I can just stop and smell the roses, this feast of a schedule isn't so crazy to me." Those moments with the roses happens to be having a great conversation with someone I love, playing peek-a-boo with Austin in the rear view window of the car, watching Joseph do sommersaults across the family room floor, playing Barbies with Kate (eventhough, I usually just need to sit there holding the dolls, and she supplies all the dialogue), listening to the plot of Savannah's latest read, giggling with Annie about something funny someone said, and romancing my husband. If I can manage to stop and smell these roses, then, "Bring on the FEAST!"