Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

We had a delightful Christmas. We loved our celebration of the Nativity, complete with singing of Christmas hymns, candles and the Hatch family tradition of angel chimes.

Though my voice is so much better, I still can't sing much. The kids made up for my weakness by singing their hearts out.

After the Nativity the kids opened their Christmas jammies. Caleb had expressed concern that he may get coal so he really liked that his PJs had a message for Santa.

Santa was really good to all of us this year. We made a big mess but had so much fun opening our presents.

We were thrilled to see a little bit of festive snow. It didn't stick but it was fun that a few flakes fell just for Christmas. Alyssa wanted to capture a photo of it with her new camera.

We're lucky to have kids that slept in until 8:30 a.m. but all that celebrating was enough to wear poor Natalie out. She crashed on the couch holding her new baby from Santa.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

'Twas the Sunday Before Christmas

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas and what did we see?

Three kids all dolled up, as cute as can be.

They were dressed all in brown from their heads to their feet

Caleb looked handsome,

The girls, oh so sweet.

They're spoiled by Grandma with these holiday clothes,

The girls felt like princesses

with curls and with bows.

The brown shoes and tights were impossible to find

We searched here and there

I about lost my mind.

Alyssa's tights were bought in much too big a size

So we hiked them up snug 'round her muscley little thighs.

In the end it all worked out just fine

I think they looked cute, these kiddos of mine.

It's fun to dress up and make all the fuss,

Just another way to say, "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sneaky Snake

Sneaky Snake was the title of a favorite childhood song. It's a ridiculous song with a thick country twang about a snake that sneaks up on children and steals their root beer.

We've discovered a sneaky snake at our house. Actually, I always knew she was there but a new kind of craftiness has just come to light.

School lunch costs two dollars a day, which I feel is quite expensive, so this snake of ours is allowed to buy lunch just once during the week. Each student has an account which is accessed by giving a six digit lunch number. Last week, I wrote two ten dollar checks for each of the kids to deposit into their accounts. I was planning ahead, padding the accounts so that I wouldn't have to send more money for awhile. Imagine my surprise when I started getting notices that a certain adorable little first grader with a very sweet demeanor had a negative balance. At first I wondered if the check had been lost. When my charming girl assured it me it had been deposited, I was ready to blame the school for their mishandling of my money.

I went to the school kitchen, dragging Natalie in tow, where I explained (in my now-much-better-but-still-very-hoarse voice) that I had questions about my kids' accounts. "Yeah, they've been eating a lot of school lunch lately," said the lunch lady. What? She went on to show me the computerized documentation that school lunch had been consumed nearly every day for the past week and a half. What's worse? My checkbook had been left at home which required a second trip to the school, in the pouring rain, with a dawdling two-year-old.

My kids eat like birds most of the time so I hadn't been too surprised to see leftover food in her lunch sack every day. And my little snake also has a habit of snacking as she walks home so her lunch was always at least partially eaten. But as I drove home for the checkbook, it all came back to me. I recalled a brief conversation we had about the usual PB and J that, in recent days, were returning home untouched. I wondered if she had just grown tired of the overused standby but when I questioned her as to why she wasn't eating it, she just shrugged her little shoulders. Mornings are usually so hectic that I just made another fresh sandwich and didn't give it another thought. I realize some of the blame rests squarely on her mother's shoulders for being so easily taken for the ride.

No more. I'm on to her. I returned to the school to pay the balance and at her father's suggestion, even paid enough for today's lunch since we had already agreed this morning that today would be a hot lunch day. (I wanted to take her a cold lunch and let her know I had discovered her deceit.) We'll be having a talk this afternoon. I have a feeling this sneaky snake is going to be grounded from hot lunch for awhile.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Without A Voice

First a pajama party, now a pity party. I've been resisting the urge to indulge my self-pity since early this morning but I now admit defeat.

The voice is a powerful thing. Mine is a loud, sing-a-long, enthusiastic, opinionated, sociable, not-often-kept-to-myself kind of voice. Losing the power of my voice makes me realize just how much I depend on it. I need it to fulfill my responsibilities but more selfishly, I use it for my own enjoyment.

Today I have no voice. None. I can manage nothing more than a barely audible, hoarse bark. While taking out some recyclables, I bent to pick up an item I dropped and shocked myself with the unearthly squeak that involunarily escaped my throat. I felt like Westley in the Princess Bride when they force a moan from his body that had been tortured in the pit of despair.

I miss singing. Nothing brings the spirit of Christmas like music. Christmas songs are my favorites and I know almost every single word. I look forward to Dec. 1st when we begin singing Christmas hymns in church. My vocal quality is scarcely better than average but I love to sing, I sing all the time and I sing loudly. I drove to church this morning listening to Christmas hymns and silently lamenting that I would not be able to join the congregation in praising the Lord with my voice today. I tried to make the best of my situation by noticing other things that might normally have been drowned out by the sound of my own voice. I noticed that all of the bishopric sings bass and it was fun to hear their voices. I noticed a mother lovingly cuddle two of her young children and a emtpy-nester couple holding hands. I focused on the meaning of the lyrics and felt the music I so desperately wanted to sing. I couldn't share scriptures or thoughts in Sunday School or Relief Society and could only smile at friends saying hello. I kept to myself because it was just easier that way.

The usual shout to call the kids for lunch had to be replaced with a deliberate walk all the way upstairs for a more personal inviation for frozen pizza. After cleaning up the dishes I really needed a nap. Natalie needed one as well and since Jon would be at the church for many more hours, I depended on the big kids to entertain and care for themselves. I woke a couple of hours later, grateful for kids who played peacefully (not implying they were quiet, but they did not fight) even if they did make messes. What reprimands I have had to give have been very soft and up-close and personal, something I should make a habit once my voice returns.

December is a hard month for a bishop and his family. Most of his day is spent in tithing settlements. As much as I want to feel sorry for myself being home sick with three kids, I know it's long and difficult for Jon, too. When I woke from my nap I decided to do something for him, hoping it would detract from my own self-pity. I fixed a batch of rolls, knowing how much Jon loves them. When 6:30 came and went, I knew I couldn't hold dinner off any longer. After we ate, I did the dishes, which would normally be done by Jon, and covered the rolls to keep them fresh.

I miss my voice. I need it to be a mother, wife and friend. I need it to teach school (I've been teaching reading to first graders three days a week), not sure how I'll swing that one. I want to be able to sing.

Jon just got home (8:00 p.m) and that makes me feel better already. Time for this pity party to end.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pajama Party

I love parties. I love food. I love spending time with friends. I love talking, laughing and staying up late. Our annual girlfriends Christmas gathering is all of the above.

Since we knew the party would last long into the night (til 3 a.m.) we decided to make it a pajama party. Pj's are the perfect attire for getting comfy and stuffing bellies. No discomfort from tightening waistbands as we spend hours downing cookies, candies and much more.

This is the invitation. The info was written in poem form, patterned after "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
The food is always an important part of any get-together. Nearly every morsel of our spread was gobbled. Yum, yum!

Dessert is the same every year; Homemade hot chocolate with So-Good cookies. We added a twist to the cocoa this year by including a scoop of peppermint ice cream, turning it into a hot float. Everyone enjoyed their own personalized cup of creamy chocolate deliciousness. Didn't these mugs turn out cute?

The gift exchange is always a blast. I got pretty riled (light heartedly, of course) when I lost my much desired snowman pitcher and later the adorable santa candy dish. But in the end, I went home with a lovely platter, so all is well.

What a great group of gals!

We put up our feet and gabbed wildly, sometimes laughing til we cried. How often do moms get to enjoy that kind of fun til 3 a.m.? Christmas comes but once a year. Isn't it great? Totally worth the throbbing heachache and laryngitis I woke up with this morning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry...

...You better not pout (or whine, or complain, or grumble, or moan, or argue) I'm telling you why: Mom's sick of it! I'm wishing for pleasant children this Christmas season.

Monday evening, the kids griped about doing their homework, argued about cleaning up their messes and bellyached about what I made for dinner (and it was something everyone usually enjoys.) I knew I had to do something. Tis the season to be jolly, right?

I admit that I'm not always the picture of cheerfulness, especially during the holidays. It's a busy time of year and I make it more hectic (and more messy) with all sorts of projects. Since happy kids equals happier and more productive Mom, we've implemented a plan for pleasantness. It's really simple; behave appropriately, earn a stamp. Fill the chart with stamps, open the present. It's one gift for all three kids so their good behavior requires teamwork.

So far, so good. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Trouble With the Tooth Fairy

Alyssa lost her second tooth late last night. She was thrilled, of course, as it's a big event in the life of a child. She placed her tooth under her pillow just as any child expecting a visit from the Tooth Fairy would do.

I have issues with the Tooth Fairy. She's sweet and thoughtful and provides children with that wonderful feeling of anticipation, but she causes me trouble and anxiety that her other holiday cohorts do not.

Caleb accidently swallowed his first lost tooth. We had to arrange a phone conversation with the Tooth Fairy to explain the situation. We've never had to call the Easter Bunny. She has also forgotten to come on more than one occasion. Santa never forgets. And there's always the risk that she will wake the sleeping child, which I'm convinced is what happened this morning. We must have been last on her list last night (I think she always comes to our house late because we seem to be so easy to forget) so she made an early morning stop.

Alyssa woke this morning to find both a dollar and her tooth under her pillow. It was great that Dad just happened to be in the room so that she could share her excitement. She wondered how she could be so lucky to be able to keep her tooth, doesn't the Tooth Fairy usually take it with her? I explained that she was most likely worried about waking her so she just decided to leave it. "I thought I heard something," she said.

The Tooth Fairy may be a pain in my side but the kids love her and since we've got many more teeth to lose at our house, I hope she'll continue to visit.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is put away, we start decking the halls for Christmas. I just love getting all the decorations out. Jon tackles the job of the outdoor lights. Although it makes me nervous with him up on the roof, I think he makes the house look nice.

Everyone has a favorite kind of Christmas tree. Some like them fat, some like them lean, some like them real, some like the artificial. My tree suits me perfectly. It's an artificial, prelit with a triangular shape that's very pleasing to my eye. It's decorated with coordinating red and silver ornaments and ribbons. When I was a kid I always admired those pretty trees with matching ornaments in the fancy gift shops but my tree is full of sentiment as well.

My paternal grandmother passed away the day after Thanksgiving five years ago. I adored her. After the funeral, each of the grandkids was presented with a nice inheritance from her. We saved most of the money but decided we would use a portion to purchase a tree. We had only lived in our house for about six months, didn't have a ton of extra money and had never had a full-size Christmas tree. Our former home was small and since we had never had Christmas in our own house our table top tree had been adequate. Now that I had the space for a tree, I really desired a tree like those I had admired as a kid. Every year, as I fluff the branches, plug in the lights and carefully place the ornaments, I think of my grandma and offer a silent thank you.

As much as I love my tree, my favorite Christmas decoration is the nativity. It's always the first thing I put out and the hardest thing to put away when the season is over.

Our HOA hosts donuts with Santa each year. The kids look forward to their chance to share their wishes with good ol' St. Nick.

Caleb has asked for the Ratatouille Movie. I love that my nine-year-old is still so innocent and believing.

Alyssa asked for a baby doll. She's got plenty of them already but has misplaced her beloved "Kate" and desperately wants a replacement.

How cute is this picture of Natalie? This is the first year that she really understands what Santa was all about. Her desires are simple; she wants a blue present. I'm not sure where that came from but I'm sure Santa will be able to deliver something suitable.

The kids love making wish lists but they are just as excited to spend time reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas. They were thrilled to begin the scripture advent calendar and sing Christmas hymns. We attended "The Savior of the World" put on at our church and it was a great way to begin the Christmas season. The kids watched intently.

It's a busy but wonderful time of year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Heart-Pounding Moments

Caleb has participated in the Seattle Kids Marathon for the past three years. It's become part of our Thanksgiving tradition. We usually drag the kids around Seattle for some day-after-Thanksgiving shopping, which is something they loathe, and then check into a hotel, which is something they love. For them, the indoor pool is the best part about spending a night in a hotel. And the breakfast buffet is pretty good, too.

We got a little extra excitement at our usual hotel this year. We had been swimming, had some dinner and had gotten the kids ready for bed when the fire alarms sounded. A voice over an intercom system instructed us to evacuate the building. Though I never felt too panicked, it was a little unsettling and I rushed out without thinking to grab coats or shoes for the the girls. We waited outside for a few minutes as we watched the fire trucks come in. A few firefighters went into the building and though we could smell the smoke, we were cleared to reenter shortly thereafter. Just a little commotion to an otherwise peaceful stay.

Though a wrong turn on the way to the race threatened to keep Caleb from making it to the starting line, we arrived with only a few minutes to spare. I planned to run with Caleb, mostly for safety reasons (there were over 3,000 kids participating)but my heart pounded fiercely as I unsuccessfully tried to keep up with him. Once he made his way through the crowd at the start, he broke free and I couldn't keep up. Thankfully I was able to find him in the sea of people just beyond the finish line.

The rest of the day was set aside for the BYU-Utah game. Jon pushed play on the DVR and I settled in for my very short-lived set on the couch. My nerves go crazy anytime the Cougs play but when the Utes are the opponent, I simply cannot sit still. I can't just watch, I have to move. I scrub feverishly, stopping every few seconds to watch the next play. It was another thriller, one for the history books and the kitchen ended up sparkly clean. I thought my heart would jump right out of my chest but that's the best way to win!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Eating Football

The speaker in church last Sunday began his talk on gratitude by listing the many things he loves about Thanksgiving. His ideas included family, eating, football, etc. Caleb, who was half-heartedly listening, didn't process the pause which suggested a comma between the words eating and football. He quickly cocked his head to one side as he incredulously asked, "Eating football?"

Football and Thanksgiving go together like mashed potatoes and gravy, like the Rockettes and the Thanksgiving Day Parade. And there are always several games to help satisfy our appetite for the sport.

Jon and Caleb started the day by bundling up for the annual Turkey Bowl. It was a sunny, crisp fall day and they looked so cute as they headed out together. Caleb had a blast running around with his buddies while Dad played a few games that would make him sore enough to spend the rest of the day limping.

I spent the day (and several hours yesterday) in the kitchen. It takes so much time to prepare a meal that takes a mere minutes to devour. Since we were a small crowd this year, I contemplated omitting some of the standard side dishes. But in the end, the traditionalist in me couldn't let them go so I managed to get all the trimmings on the table. It was the classic Thanksgiving dinner.
There are so many yummy things about Thanksgiving but we've decided that the quintessential item is the pumpkin pie. It is the one thing we just wouldn't want to live without.

I made two pies but we couldn't resist indulging in the first one last night. After today's feast, half of the second pie remains. We have lots of other leftovers too, but we can't wait for our huge extra helping of football when we watch the big rivalry game on Saturday. Go Cougs!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Caleb Briefing

Jon and I went to the school this afternoon for the kids' parent-teacher conferences. We passed the principal in the hall and he commented, with amusement, that he had heard about Caleb's "show." The confusion on my face prompted him to say, "You didn't hear about that?"
The fourth graders put on a Veteran's Day program which was performed at an assembly for the student body last Friday and again at an evening performance on Tuesday. The music teacher is really talented and put together a great program with a 40's radio show theme. Caleb dressed in a Dodgers baseball uniform to portray his role of Jackie Robinson.

Evidently, after the show on Friday, the kids went to the restroom to change from their costumes into their regular clothes. Caleb removed his baseball uniform, which included baseball pants and dressed in his every-day shirt. He then realized that his regular pants were accidently left in the classroom. What does any innocent, slightly socially-challenged, adorable little boy living in his own state of oblivion do? He walks to his classroom to get them!

It's still not clear just how many people witnessed the streaking of Caleb in his skivvies, but he seems certain it was just one of his teachers who experienced the sight of his boxer briefs.

I had to cover my gaping mouth as the principal recounted the situation. I was embarrased, sure, but you can't help but love a kid like Caleb who gives us lots of good laughs.

And by the way, he got a great report from all of his teachers!