Monday, December 29, 2008


Ever since the Big Smunch, we've been going back and forth between a cheap car, mid-range car, a van for a little more, a van for a little less and so forth, and just looking for a good deal in all categories.
Well, we've found the right deal.
We now have the title for a silver 2003 Honda Odyssey EX-L. Never saw myself as a minivan owner, but oh well. It's very nice.
The bonus? It's not gold! We're all about the deal, so the last 2 vehicles we've had have been tan/gold because they were great deals, but we're actually really not fans of tan/gold cars.

Friday, December 26, 2008


This year marked our very first Christmas morning in our own house since we decided to stay in Milwaukee! Well, all of Christmas in our house! I was very excited, especially since it's also the first year that Avery remembers the previous year and what it's all about.
Avery was very proud of his milk and cookies for Santa. We made the chocolate chip cookies that day. We also had to put out a piece of cheese for Santa Mouse, as I always did as a girl.
Read the fabulous Santa Mouse
by Michael Brown for more...
Christmas morning, we heard Avery thump out of bed and go running down the hall. pause. Then he came running back.
"Mom, Dad, come look, I gotta show you something!"
But without waiting he ran off and the ran back carrying the empty plate.
"Look! It's empty! Santa came! He ate them!"
I love that that was his first big excitement rather than all the presents under the tree!
Avery was excited for the presents too of course, but he had to wait for Carson to wake up and then get dressed and eat breakfast first (I know, such mean parents - hey, I said breakfast first, Travis said dressed first)
So Travis made Mickey Mouse pancakes for the boys.
Make sure you eat his nose first, Carson:
Finally, we could open presents. Wait! Picture first! Carson dosen't look very thrilled here does he.
Emmett spent the festivities eating first, then doing this:
Eventually Emmett woke up after all the unwrapping and un-packaging. While I was holding him, Carson plopped down for to read one of his new books. Obviously that meant Avery had to come sit on me too:
Carson likes to mimic the faces in many of his books. This one was no exception. See the insert on this picture to see what he was mimicking:
The boys got this great collapsible toy box. Avery spent probably 45 minutes in it playing his new Hungry Hungry Hippos. Then returned to it later for another long spat but took with him Emmett's new wooden ring stacker. Can you imagine being in there that long? My knees and back hurt just thinking about it.
Travis and I decided instead of gifts for each other, we'd go for a family gift. Wii! Here Travis is teaching Avery how to bowl:
But way more entertaining was watching them box each other. Then Travis and I boxed. Wow, am I sore today! What a great way to get a work out! It felt great to loosen up the soreness doing it again today.

What a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ever seen a Sno-Baller?

This is a Sno-Baller.
And it's awesome.
If you have the right kind of snow, it works great and you can make snowballs faster than you can throw them.
Not recommended for kids indoors though - it makes a very loud clap.

Would you believe today was the first time we bundled Carson up to go outside and actually play in the snow!? Avery, Carson and Travis all got dressed to go out and play and since Emmett was sleeping I went out to take some pictures. It was a good Christmas Eve activity after all. Too bad the temperature was cooling all day so when we went out it wasn't nearly as comfortable as it had been in the morning. Carson didn't last long.
We had enough snow piled up to make a little sledding hill:
Avery loved it. Carson tried twice. He liked it the first time, but by the second run he had had more than enough.

While I was out there, the falling flakes were just right to take pictures. It was warm enough that they weren't crusty, and dry enough to fall separately instead of all clumped together.
I didn't get to take very many shots before Carson wanted to go it and it was nap time anyway.
By the time I got back out the temperature had dropped even more so that the flakes were crusty. So, sadly, I didn't get very many snowflake pictures.
Here are 2 that I did get:
This next one is a little blurry, but it was one of the more complete and (not that you can tell) larger flakes I saw.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Carson's Second Haircut

It's been almost exactly 5 months since Carson had his first haircut, and it had grown into quite the mop. If you look at Carson's First Haircut, you can see he had a little bit of curl that I was resisting cutting off. This time, there really wasn't any and I suddenly realized when he was walking away from me the other day that it looked like he was wearing a bad toupee! So, off to the hair cutters today.
You can see from these pictures that Carson was NOT a fan of this procedure. It definitely went way worse than last time. And he didn't just scream and cry; he gave us tortured expressions and just kept saying "All done. All done. All done..." over and over in a sad, pathetic voice.
One of the other people working there tried blowing bubbles to no avail. That's a bubble stuck to Carson's eyebrow:
But when he was finally "all done" he was quick to forgive and the results brought our little man out from under his mop.
And because Carson gave me such a nice smile tonight:

Monday, December 22, 2008

He's a mover!

Last night we laid Emmett in the middle of this folded comforter while we worked in the room...
Next thing we knew, he was up here:
We fixed him, but then he went the other way!
They learn to wriggle around faster than you expect! And that, folks, is why you don't leave a baby unattended on a bed or couch.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Icey Ingenuity

My sister-in-law, Megan, and her horse have a carriage from when they did eventing. With Oregon getting hit by the same storm system that got my parents up in Spokane, my father-in-law Ben decided to modify the carriage. They went to a thrift store, and got a pair of skis for something like $15. He took the bindings off the skis, welded up some framework to a metal pipe that could fit over the carriage axle and be taken easily off and, voila: they have a one horse open sleigh!
This picture is from yesterday. The tree is completely coated in ice and the fence is covered in ice cycles (click on it to enlarge).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowed in? Snowed out.

While Travis shovels, Avery and the neighbor girl watch a front
loader piling more snow up in our dead end street today.

I guess it was a good thing my parents got out when they did. They left last night, but then the snow started and Milwaukee airport has been shut down all day today. Unfortunately, they arrived in Spokane, WA to much worse. Spokane gets it's share of snow every winter, but they are definitely not equipped to deal with it the way Milwaukee is. (Honestly, people who complain about snow removal in Milwaukee really have no idea) Anyway, my parents flight was one of the only ones that even made it into Spokane because they had so much snow. The main roads were just barely clear enough that they made it almost all the way home. 2 blocks from their house the plows had quit and a foot+ of snow is a bit much for a car to get through. They were high centered and had to walk the rest of the way home (at about 1am). So today they've spent digging the car out.
The worst part? They go to the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater and this year the SUMMER theater was going to do White Christmas as a special for 3 nights only. My parents had tickets for tonight. But the weather won't let them get there. AND if it hadn't been for the theater, they would have stayed in Milwaukee with us through the weekend! Still, I guess it's better they got home when they did, because things aren't looking so good for travel at this point...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goodbye Gpa & Gma Benjamin!

Well, the house is quiet again. At least, it's as quiet as a house with three boys can be...
We had such a great time with all the family here!
Sunday we managed to get everyone around the kitchen table with some creative chairs choices. Thank goodness for inheriting my Grandma Benjamin's old table that can go from a two seater and expand out to fit as many as 10, more if you want to squeeze!

Yesterday was our last full day with my parents and while "Chef Cooker Avery" and Grandma made dessert...
Emmett got some quality time with Grandpa, watching the tv:

I also have to throw in this picture of Grandma dancing with the boys from Sunday.

And then last night we had our Christmas with my parents. Look how nicely the boys sat in such proximity to the presents without touching them so I could take a picture!

And today we had to take them to the airport and say goodbye...
Thanks for coming Grandma and Grandpa Benjamin!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Smunch

Let me tell you a story.
A man sits at a red light in his big truck.
A man and woman coming home from Christmas shopping are driving along and cross through a green light.
The man in the truck at the red sees a green light at the next light further along (not his own, which is still red) and hits the gas. He makes it into the second lane of traffic where the man and woman driving through the green light (boxed in by oncoming traffic on their left and another car in the lane on their right) can't do anything but plow into the idiot truck.

My Mom and Dad are fine. Our car? Not so much.

That happened yesterday evening so I guess tomorrow's trip to La Fleur's Gym with my parents is out. We weren't going anywhere today anyway, it's baking day for our pre-Christmas Christmas dinner with my parents. Our insurance covers a rental, but they won't have it ready for us until later.

So now we're on the hunt for a new vehicle. Maybe, that means we'll be joining the ranks of owners of Mormon Assault Vehicles - the minivan. We knew with 3 kids jammed across the back seat of our Explorer we were probably headed that way anyhow shortly after moving back to Oregon in May. It was even the Malibu Travis figured we would get rid of. A big SUV just isn't economical for us right now with them costing more for the same features and the fuel economy being worse, so if we go the family vehicle route, it'll have to be the minivan.
But maybe a better idea will be to just find some economy car, something cheap, for Travis to drive and get us through for a while and worry about a new family car post move again. Unfortunately, although our insurance covers the rental for 30 days, once the claim is finalized and the check written then we only get the rental for a further 7 days. So we have to figure something out pretty quickly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mechanics and Milkers

Today we all went to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum

Avery loves playing mechanic:
And Carson enjoyed some of it too (he would have nothing to do with the creeper):
But the cutest was undoubtedly Carson milking the cow (how'd he know what to do? Thanks again to tv no doubt)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Goodbye Papa and Gma Hunsaker!

We left my parents at the museum to explore more while we had to take Papa and Grandma Hunsaker straight to the airport. After checking in, we got some lunch.
While Travis, Ben and I waited for the food, DeAnna caught Avery stacking all the nearby salt and pepper shakers:
Carson had to try too. Notice the pepper is upside down on the salt, and the salt is getting dumped all over the pepper as he tries to stack it upside down too:
Emmett hangs out with Papa:
Then falls asleep on Grandma:
Isn't he so sweet:
After they departed, we went home, leaving my parents to sleep at the museum. Oh, I mean Travis went to pick up my parents while I took the boys home so Carson could nap. Neither Carson, nor Avery could wait until we got home. Normally their heads fall back, but they both managed to fall forward this time, although at least Avery is resting his on Carson's arm:

Thanks for coming Papa and Grandma!
Merry Christmas!


Today we took the grandparents to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Of course, the boys' favorite is walking amongst the butterflies. DeAnna's not too fond of bugs of any kind, so she held on to Emmett for me while I took pictures for her (and me of course!)
My parents meet a butterfly:
Carson was much better at holding the butterflies this time (last time):
It's pretty easy to get the butterflies in the previous pictures on your finger, but the big blue morphos are a lot more skittish. Imagine our surprise when one perched on my Dad's head. And it even obliged by sitting with it's wings open so we could see the blue:
That same friendly blue morpho later even let Travis actively pick it up:
This was also the first visit where I managed to get pictures of the boys on the beetle without a mob of poorly supervised school kids climbing all over the place!
I think this was the first time I ever noticed the big dino print that Avery was stepping in here! (It's where the T-rex is eating another dinosaur.)
Meanwhile, Emmett found his hands more interesting than anything the museum could offer: