Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Bart!

Bart turned 34 this week.
We threw a party for him "dad-style" at Round-table pizza (a place where the kids can run and not bother everyone else) - and he was a good sport about it. I brought his favorite - mint chocolate torte. When we arrived home, there were about 50 young men and women from our church at our house to sing him "happy birthday". Bart tried to give me credit, but I didn't even set it up - they just love their bishop!

We love you dad!!

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

School Music Programs
Bo is not a fan of the spotlight - but he is getting better. We don't expect smiles, we're just glad he gets up to participate in his preschool singing programs. And hey, by the last couple of songs, he didn't even notice that he was singing along!

Cade had his school Christmas Music program the same night. So luckily Bart was in town and didn't have Bishop appointments - so we divided and conquered. I don't have any pictures of Cade, the dancing elf (which I am sure he is happy about), but our family all enjoyed a fun night of Chrismas music to help kick off the season.

Christmas Piano Recital

It is so fun to see how much the boys are improving. I truly thank our piano teacher for making lessons so fun. And for her wonderful recitals she puts together. Like she says, "they are a lot like Christmas...take endless hours to plan and are over in a snap". But we still love to listen to the holiday music played by our boys and other great kids.

Visit to Santa
We miraculously coordinated schuedules and were able to take all the cousins together to see Santa again this year. They're ready for Santa - is Santa ready for them??
The cousins pose for a picture while waiting. They had fun sharing their excitement all huddled under the outdoor heaters in the gazebo waiting for their turn with Santa.
poor santa.
The trick to this tradition is finding a "good" Santa - looks and spirit. The Bridgeport Village Santa has been wonderful the past few years. He takes time to talk to each child and even had the kids ask questions - like where he parks his reindeer. (I didn't hear his answer, unfortunately) Thank you Santa for being wonderful and adding magic to our season!

Teacher Gifts

*For Bo's preschool teachers we tied up cute Christmas kitchen towels with a story about the symbolism of a towel - a reminder to do works of goodness. We attached a note with our thanks for their works of goodness they do with the preschool and included some yummy chocolate covered peppermint oreos.
*For Cade and Ty's teachers I procrastinated a while waiting for some great-crafty-inspiration to hit. But I kept hearing and being reminded that teachers don't want more "stuff" or more treats to eat that they have already been given x 30 students. They just want gift cards (or something useful). So to all you teachers out there - just know that us parents try to listen. So I found these cute giant plastic muffin wrappers at the Container store and filled it with breakfast from Panera (a pumpkin muffin, gingerbread bagel and cream cheese, and orange juice) and a gift card to Panera. I figured I couldn't go wrong. Who doesn't LOVE Panera, and it happens to be just down the road from our elementary school (so a yummy spot for lunch during a school day!)
Cookies with Grammy

No matter how busy the holiday season gets, my mom still sets aside a Saturday to have the grandkids over (the older ones at least) to decorate sugar cookies. Then we get to take home these masterpieces and add them to our goodie-trays to give away to friends (well, the ones that are giftable anyways!) Even though we have to fit it in with basketball games and parties and everything else, the boys look forward to this every year.

We are blessed. And the Christmas season is so good to remind us of it. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas has come early!!

There have been a few monumental events that have occurred at the Dickson household that are blogworthy - or at least important enough to be included in our family album at the end of the year (when our blog becomes a book). 3 big events that feel like the best gifts of the season to me.

Lukers has kicked the "chair". This sad, old high-chair that doesn't really fit in our dining nook has finally been retired. Over the course of 5 kids, I refused to ever replace it - I only despised it more and more with each child and every passing year. I will never have to clean those creveses, scrub the straps, or wipe the windows next to it again. I KNOW I will have plenty more messes at mealtime to deal with - but at least they won't involve this old highchair. While I should be sad that this is a sign that my last baby isn't such a baby anymore...I don't feel remorse when it comes this worn-out scum-collector. I'll shed an extra tear for the crib or carseat when it is retired, but not the highchair. Good riddins!
Cole is officially, 100% trained. He has finally overcome his phobias of going #2 in the potty and is pull-up free, day and night. If you know me or my potty-training record, you know what a big day this is for us. We don't give advice or offer training in this area - it's not our cup of tea. But for this boy - he's all good! And warming up quite nicely to being an underwear model I think.
Saving the best for last...Bart and I cut a check, sent it in this envelope and recieved a reciept that our law school loans are paid in full! Now those years of toil and trouble can truly start to become a distant memory. I remember thinking this day would never happen. But now we can say - BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, CHECKED THAT BOX. Waahooo!
Some things just feel like - Merry Christmas to us!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Civil War Game

Call us bandwagon fans - but you would be too if your family LOVES college football like mine does and your state's university has made their way into the national championship game this year! The fact that UofO is a strong client of my husband's company also helps. But really, it's our oldest boys who are to blame. They have been routing for the Ducks for the past several years (a little to our shagrine, I might add - but we held our tongue) and now they have pulled us on the bandwagon. So when Bart got offered 4 tickets to the OSU v UofO Civil War game, we knew what 2 guests we would invite to come along! Does it make us bad parents if we used the game tickets as a motivator for accomplishing a goal first? But Cade and Ty worked hard on their goals we helped them set and truly "earned" their chance to see the Ducks beat the Beavers and advance to the National Championship game.
Even though the game was at OSU's Reser's Stadium - the boys would not allow us to go without sporting yellow and green - so we figured, "go big or stay home"!
Notice the sea of Orange and Black around us? Maybe it really makes us bad parents that we allowed our kids to be obvious and outnumbered in enemy territory. (There was actually a lot of duck fans scattered in even though you can't tell). We just feel we got the chance to give our kids a little lesson in friendly and not-so-friendly rivalry behavior. It was still a fun afternoon with our boys - perfect football weather (sunny and cold), time together, and a great game!
Don't worry - Bart wore a BYU Cougars shirt under his coat (closest to his heart!). Go Cougars! AND GO DUCKS!!

Over the River...

...and through the woods to grandma and papa's Black Butte house we go - for Thanksgiving that is! We celebrated this favorite holiday in the snow-covered beauty of central Oregon with my entire family - yep - 24 of us, all in one cabin! It was tight quarters, but so much fun. The cousins love being together - and the snow kept them entertained outside much of the time - which made the indoors even a little peaceful and relaxing at times! It was a rustic and cozy Thanksgiving meal.
The kids supervised Uncle Gregg carving the yummy turkey.

After the feast, we all put on our warm clothes and boots (if we could find them in this pile) and went for a wintry walk together to get some fresh air and work off our stuffed stomachs.

It doesn't get much more beautiful than a snow covered trails at dusk in Central Oregon.
Cole and Luke enjoyed the "ride"

Two of the things I'm most grateful for - beautiful, bundled-up babies, and huggable, generous papas!

After our chilly walk, we played our traditional huge-family-bingo-game - complete with awesome prizes from grammy. The kids all crashed that night, with full tummies and grinning faces. The holiday weekend included late nights for parents playing bananagrams, moms staying up late doing secret craft projects, trips to the indoor swimming pool at the ranch, and lots of time in the hot tub. It was a perfect Thanksgiving - with much to be thankful for!

Mostly my family who I love beyond measure. As long as we have each other, we have enough - everything else is just icing on our cake.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boo to You!

Halloween time means a trip to the pumpkin patch, picking totally random and fun costumes, trick-or-treating, lots of treats and tons of fun. Ours fit the bill pretty perfectly.

We got to go with Bo's preschool for our first trip to a pumpkin patch.
Luke can't believe how many big orange balls to kick and throw he has to choose from

Cole stops playing "chase" in the hay maze long enough to get a snapshot
Bo's found the perfect one! He had to make sure it had a little dirt on it - "so we know it's real mom".

Cole switched from "chase" to "hide-and-seek" in the hay maze - he wasn't impressed that the camera found him!
Typical preschool class picture.

Then we had to make our annual trip just down the road to our favorite farm with the big brothers (mostly for the apple cider and pumpkin donuts, but we fit in some other fun too).

we got stuck at the baby chicks for a while - Bo and Tyler are softees for cute, fluffy things
I was a softee and gave into the overpriced pony rides...Coley (behind) wasn't a fan

This year for trick-or-treating we had a Crazed Ducks Fan, a Colts Football player, batman, a shark, and lion. Members from our church handed out candy on Saturday night, so we got to start our sugar high a night early!

Hope everyone's Halloween was just as Happy!

Tricks and Treats

Something festive got into me this fall. Maybe it's that I am feeling myself emerging from "survival" mommy (with too many little-ones causing sleep- deprivation and a feeling of barely keeping my head above water, so I commit to only the ESSENTIALS of life - nothing more) to a mom who is feeling more like her "normal" self. Whatever the reason, I had Bo help me pick some favorites from my list of ideas in my head and we enjoyed some spooktacular afternoons (usually while little ones were napping) being crafty together this past Halloween season. Here's our attempts at being festive...

Cagey Ghosts
We made these silly ghosts in the front yard. Who knew tomato cages had so many uses? So before my got shoved deep into storage, we used them as the frame for these happy haunters.
This is a little sketch of the idea if you are still confused how a tomato cage becomes a ghost...

I used some tie-wire to form the heads (I had to add this since my tomato cages are the beefy-er type and don't have the loose wire ends at the top). Then we strung the frame with lights. Next, simply throw some white sheets over the top and add the faces. I cut my eyes and mouths out of the craft foam sheets and straight pinned them on (the faces held up well through the Oregon weather, and were easy to remove when I took it all down and needed to wash the sheets before storing away). The arms on the one ghost were created by duct taping a tennis ball to a wooden dowel that I stuck in the ground next to the structure.
This is how they looked all lit up. We were pretty tickeled with them.
Tasty Pumpkin cupcakes

Witches Hands
These are so fun and simple for kids to do. The hardest part was getting my hands on those clear plastic kitchen gloves (I'll save you the long story). I like the medium size. It doesn't really matter, but if you go too small, they are harder to fill. Put a candy corn in each finger tip and slip in several M&M's (warts) as you fill with popcorn. The finishing touch is the spider ring!

These spooky-looking pens are a cinch to make and cause everyone to do a double take. We made a batch and gave them as gifts to the boys school and piano teachers. When I showed my neighbors, they were all started making them too!
Just cover a ball point pen with white molding clay making sure you leave the tip of the pen exposed(I like the Crayola Model Magic-it's really lightweight and easy for kids to use). Shape the clay into a finger shape and attach a plastic finger nail with glue, leaving room for the pen to write (before attaching the nail, I used clippers to make the nail tips broken and jagged-looking). Using a small knife or toothpick, I made the creases at the knuckels. Trim the nail down leaving room for the pen to write and Then paint the fingernail a ghastly color. Make sure you let it sit out for a couple of days to dry. One of the boys' teachers was even using it for parent conferences! They loved it.

Sugar Cookies
No holiday is complete without decorating cookies. I snagged this "Boo" cutter from Crate and Barrel this year and had a lot of fun with it. My best friend from college has an amazing blog ( and her tips are helping overcome my fears of frosting cookies. I used her royal frosting recipe and "squeezie bottles" as she calls them. (thanks Ash!)
Halloween Dinner
My Mom and Dad hosted all the family at her house for a dinner and party Halloween night. The menu included 4 different yummy soups (one made by each of us girls) and these breadsticks that looked like withes' fingers (a witch with edema anyways!)
I made some "edible eyeballs" using big slices of carrots topped with sour cream and a sliced olive.
and also these "monster bites" out of apples and slivered almonds.
And of course, we didn't leave out our Halloween tradition - homemade donuts!

After writing this post and remembering all the fun projects, I'm feeling like I'd better hurry up get going for Thanksgiving and Christmas before "survival" mommy decides to make a comeback!