The February That Felt Like May

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2015 Feb Kaitlyn climbing tree 1 smThere has been no snowman building around here. In fact since December, we haven’t seen any snow except up on the mountains. While most of the country has been in the deep freeze, our February has been warm! We’ve had many days in the 60 degree range and our garden thought is was warm too and started coming to life. We are not used to seeing things grow here in February.

2015 Feb Sam in Tree 2 smWith no snow and warm weather Kaitlyn has been climbing the trees in our backyard and convinced Sam to join her. Sam had fun but Kaitlyn seemed to find her place. There have been a few afternoons I have looked outside and seen her sitting in a tree.

2015 Feb Kaitlyn climbing tree 2 sm

2015 Feb Sam in Tree

Sam and Abby have been playing basketball since the start of January. I haven’t yet taken pictures of Abby but here is Sam playing a couple of weeks ago. His season just ended last Saturday but Abby has one more game. Sam likes basketball but he is more excited for baseball season to begin in May.

2014 Feb Sam Basketball 1

2014 Feb Sam Basketball 3

2014 Feb Sam Basketball 2

The kids got discount tickets to a Jazz game as part of the Jr. Jazz program so Mike took Abby and Sam and Scott and Elizabeth joined them too. They rode the Frontrunner train to Salt Lake and Sam entertained himself taking some selfies.

2015 Feb Dad and Sam Selfie 2

2015 Feb Dad and Sam Selfie on the train

2015 Feb Jazz  GameI hear they had nosebleed seats but they did get to watch the Jazz beat the Portland Trailblazers.

Abby also did a little ice skating this month. Her class has pen pals from a school in Taiwan. To our surprise a group of those students came all the way to visit her class in Provo. Her class got to walk over to the ice skating rink to skate with the pen pals. I got to chaperone. With our crazy warm weather the walk was pleasant.

2015 Feb Skating 2

2015 Feb Abby Skating 1

Now Abby is asking for ice skating lessons. We’ll see….

Then there was Valentines Day. We did our traditional Valentine making activity but I was sick in bed so I didn’t make any Valentines or take any pictures of the mess. I did get out of bed to take pictures of the table in the morning. We always leave our Valentines, chocolates and small gifts out on the table early in the morning.

2015 Valentines Table 1

2015 Valentines Table Kaitlyn

2015 Valentines Table Sam

2015 Valentines Boo

Kaitlyn made sure even Boo got a Valentine. I think Boo just looked at it and wondered why this stuff was in his bed. I loved my roses in the dining room. I think I need flowers in there more often.

2015 Valentines RosesNow that February is over winter has decided to make a comeback. We are expecting snow tomorrow. Now I just need to figure out where I put those new snow boots.

White Christmas

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2014 Christmas morning snowing

On Christmas morning we woke up to this snow. It was beautiful and very Christmassy. I was glad I didn’t have to drive in it but felt bad for some family members who did just to get to our house that morning.

On Christmas Eve we had our big dinner with Grandma and Grandpa K and Uncle Scott and Aunt Elizabeth. We ate by candlelight (per Sam’s request), we followed Santa all evening with Santa Tracker and the kids became more anxious and excited the closer he got to Utah. When Santa is on the East Coast, they know they have to go to bed.  Before bed we watched a video about the Nativity, talked about Jesus, and the kids each opened one present- mostly pajamas.

I didn’t take any pictures on Christmas Eve, I don’t know what I was thinking except that it’s hard to take pictures when you’re trying to get a dinner on the table and have everything ready for Christmas. I did take one after the kids went to bed. Sam said to me that he wanted to leave a note for Santa that he could use our bathroom if he needed to. Then (this is the best part) the kids cleaned the bathroom for Santa! I had to take a picture of Sam’s note:

2014 Cookies for Santa 1

2014 Cookies for Santa 2

Christmas morning I took a couple of photos of what Santa left before the kids came upstairs and saw everything. Then while we waited for Grandma and Grandpa and Scott and Elizabeth to arrive, they went through their stockings and enjoyed their Santa presents.

2014 Christmas morning presents for kids 1

2014 Christmas morning Kaitlyns Santa gifts 1

The mantle clips I bought did hold up the heavy stockings but Santa left them down because we didn’t want the fabric loops to tear. The kids don’t care where their stockings are, just that they are full.

2014 Christmas morning stockings 1

2013 Christmas morning kids with santa gifts 1

2014 Christmas morning going through stockings 1

2014 Christmas morning going through stockings kaitlyn

2014 Christmas morning going through stockings 2

After everyone arrived we ate breakfast and started opening all the gifts under the tree. We always drag it out by starting with the youngest and rotating through. The grown-ups tend to run out of stuff to open much more quickly so then we just watch the kids.

2014 Christmas morning Kaitlyn 1

Abby sewed this pillow for Kaitlyn all by herself. We were all so impressed with her skills. We have to thank an amazing primary teacher for teaching her to sew since her mother’s sewing machine hasn’t been used in a couple of years.

2014 Christmas morning Abby and Sam 2 Batman alarm clock

The Lego Batman alarm clock was a hit. Sam even started carrying it around for awhile.

2014 Christmas morning Abby 1

2014 Christmas morning Abby and Sam 1

She wasn’t just excited to get a box of Pop Tarts, it had a Google Play card attached to the box. I have no idea what Sam was doing.

2014 Christmas morning Scott and Elizabeth 1

Everyone knows Scott and Elizabeth like to cook which must explain why they got two copies of The Joy of Cooking. We gave Grandma and Grandpa a framed picture of our kids with their cousins they don’t often see from Maryland.

2014 Christmas morning Grandma and Grandpa Kraczek 2

2014 Christmas morning Kaitlyn 2

2014 Christmas morning Mike 1

2014 Christmas morning Sam 1

Grandma and Grandpa gave Kaitlyn and Abby some beautiful bead necklaces from Africa. Then Abby gave Sam some toilet paper.

2014 Christmas morning Kaitlyn 3 with necklace

2014 Christmas morning Sam and Abby with TP

The final gift the kids opened was “the big box in the corner” they were excited about. It was a new gaming PC. We decided on this over updating our gaming system. That way they have a reliable computer for gaming but also school and other projects. And we purposely got them a desktop so they couldn’t carry it around.

2014 Christmas morning Abby and Sam 3 PC

After opening presents we relaxed, ate leftovers and lots and lots of chocolate, cookies, candy, and nuts. We also chatted online to other family members all over the country.

2014 Christmas morning online chatting

It was a wonderful Christmas day. By that evening I started cleaning up the house and getting ready for our trip to St. George the next day to do more Christmas things with the other side of the family.

But that’s another post- or two. We feel very blessed and grateful for all we have and are able to do to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the time with our families.

Christmassy Things

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2014 Christmas Kaitlyn decorating tree 1

Christmassy is a real word. I looked it up. Once again, posts are few and far between but it being December it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

We are excited to have our first Christmas in our new house and right after Thanksgiving we got the decorations all up because we knew if it didn’t happen then it would not happen until right before Christmas. We were wondering how the tree would fit in the living room but by moving a couple of things around it worked out nicely.

2014 Christmas everyone decorating tree 2 2014 Christmas everyone decorating tree 1

We still love our fake pre-lit tree from Costco. It has held up well all these years and we think it still looks great.

2014 Christmas Sam decorating tree 3

2014 Christmas Mike and Kaitlyn 1

Here’s our Christmas living room the next morning.

2014 Christmas Living Room 1

For the first time ever we hung our stocking on the fireplace. That was exciting. And if you are interested, I did my homework and decided the best way to hang them is with The Original Manteclip. They sell them lots of places but I got our from Bed Bath and Beyond with a coupon. The true test will be when the stockings are heavy and full but so far they look great and don’t damage the mantle.

2014 Christmas Fireplace Decorations 1

We are still excited about the Pottery Barn stockings with our names I found at DownEast Home last year and so we decided to go back and look for a stocking for Boo. We knew it would be unlikely we would find the name Boo but we did find Buddy and since we call him that a lot we decided it was good enough. I also wanted a smaller stocking for the dog so the one we found fits well. Our little stocking cost us only $2.

2014 Christmas Boo Stocking

Here are our other popular Christmas decorations the kids love. This advent calendar (also from DownEast and complete with the MacDonald family name) is a huge hit. Someday I will find something to cover that name or include ours but for now we don’t care. The kids still love the Christmas countdown also and because our piano finally lives in the living room we also have another spot to put things.

2014 Christmas Tree Advent 1

2014 Christmas Living Room Piano 2

Our kids are still playing with the Little People Nativity set. Yes one of them is 11 now but they are happy to pull it out and set it up. Then they fight about how is should be set up. This may be one toy we can’t get rid of.

2014 Christmas Little People Nativity

This little girl lost her front tooth this month and the other one is loose. She might loose it just in time for Christmas then she could sing the song! We can’t get her to sing the “All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” song yet.

2014 Christmas Kailtyn lost toothAnd what is cuter than a kid in front a Christmas tree? A dog!

2014 Christmas Boo 1And what is cuter than that? A dog with antlers in front of a tree.

2014 Boo with Antlers 2 ed

Now that Christmas is just days away we have almost all of the shopping done and we are going to spend our Saturday baking cookies and breads for our neighbors. Our neighbors are fantastic and came over to introduce themselves and bring us goodies for at least two months after we moved in. Now we have a lot of people to reciprocate for.

Merry Christmas!

One Day in November

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2014 Sam in leaves 3

This is all the pictures I took of November. When the leaves on the tree in our front yard came down all the kids were excited to rake them up and jump. After school one day they ran outside to start raking. As much fun as that sounds, they spent more time fighting over who rakes and who gets to jump first. They finally agreed they needed to jump one at a time.

2014 Sam in leaves 1

2014 Sam and Abby in leaves

2014 Abby and Kaitlyn in leaves

2014 Abby and Kaitlyn in leaves 2

2014 Kaitlyn and Sam in leaves 1

Sam decided to try knocking more leaves off the trees.

2014 Sam in leaves 5 shaking leaves down

2014 Abby in leaves 1

2014 Kaitlyn in leaves 2

2014 Kaitlyn in leaves 1

2014 Abby in leaves 2

I don’t have a picture of the moment, but the fun basically ended when Boo walked over, lifted his leg, and wet on the leaf pile. The kids started yelling, “NOOOO!! YUCK!” That was it, it was time to go in and do homework. Most of our late afternoons and evenings on weekdays look like this:

2014 Nov Abby doing homework

Abby had a few projects due in November and she spent a lot of time in her favorite homework spot.

We did have a great Thanksgiving, I just was too busy mingling and talking to take any pictures. We had family over at our house and we also had a big dinner with extended family up in Bountiful, Utah. It’s good to live near family and we have much to be thankful for this year.

And Speaking of Halloween

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2014 Pumpkin carving 2

I know… you’ve eaten your Thanksgiving leftovers and put up Christmas decorations and I’m still talking about October. That’s just how it goes around here. Fortunately (or not) I don’t have many pictures of November (where did it go?) so I will probably get to Christmastime sooner than later. But here is one lengthy post about all the Halloween hoopla that happened. I was thankful that Halloween was on a Friday this year. It definitely made things easier.

First, the pumpkin carving:

2014 Pumpkin carving 1

2014 Kaitlyn with pumpkin 1

2014 Sam with pumpkin 1

Sam (with help from Dad) carved a minion into his pumpkin. Abby wanted her pumpkin to match her pancake costume.

2014 Abby with pumpkin 1

Then there was the school costume parade.

2014 Sam in costume parade

2014 Kaitlyn in costume parade

And because my favorite part of the costume parade is seeing what ideas other people had- here were my favorites. First Shoulder Angel from Studio C. Studio C is huge around here (no surprise) and Abby and her friends can’t get enough. But if you haven’t seen the shoulder angel skits you can watch it here or this one here.

shoulder angel costume

I liked these too. One is Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the rest are obvious.

Bertie Bots costume

vending machine costume

Instagram costume

Here are more costume pictures.

2014 Abby Pancake 1

2014 Halloween Costume 1

2014 Kaitlyn costume 1

2014 Sam Batman 1

2014 Sam Batman 2

Sam loved his Batman costume. He was wearing it days before Halloween. Finally, here they were sorting and trading the loot the next day. Sam gave me a bunch of Twix bars (they’re one of my favs) and I put them somewhere and now I can’t remember where. Someday I’m going to come across them and find myself a treat!

2014 Halloween candy sort 4

2014 Halloween candy sort 1

2014 Halloween candy sort 2

2014 Halloween candy sort 3

 

Okay. I’m done with October.

 

 

The 11th Birthday

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2014 Abby's Cake

The second birthday of the month looked a lot like the first- only there were girls instead of boys. Abigail was excited to have friends from school, the old neighborhood, and here in our new neighborhood come together to celebrate. Instead of a movie they played Just Dance 2015 on the Wii. We heard a lot of laughing and they seemed to have a great time.

2014 Abby's Birthday 2

2014 Oct Abby's Birthday 1

2014 Abby's Birthday 4

2014 Abby's Birthday 6

2014 Abby's Birthday 5

Abby’s favorite gift was her new pet. She wanted a goldfish but I decided that a betta fish would be a better choice and live longer. She named him Dragon, but I mostly call him Fishy. Fishy happily has been living in her bedroom.

2014 Abby's New Fish

Celebrating at Frightmares

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2014 Lagoon Teacups edit 1

Warning: Be prepared for some of the worst photo quality ever. This probably doesn’t bother anyone but me, but these were all taken on camera phones and we got what we got. Nevertheless- at least we have some photos of the day.

The day after Sam’s birthday we took the kids to Frightmares at Lagoon- the amusement park here in Utah. We have been to Lagoon several times in the summer but we didn’t have time for Lagoon in the summer this year so we decided to go to when they opened for Frightmares- their Halloween themed time.

We spent about 12 hours running around the park until we were completely exhausted- as usual. Mike and I had an agreement that he would take kids on wet rides and I would take kids on spinning rides. As the high was only about 70 degrees- I thought I got the better deal. But at some point we split up and I ended up with Kaitlyn on a wet and spinning ride so that didn’t turn out as planned. Fortunately I managed not to get too wet.

So here we are in the spinning teacups while I fulfill my end of the bargain.

2014 Lagoon Teacups 2More bad photos of the day:

2014 Lagoon Bumper cars sam edit

2014 Lagoon Bumper Cars Mike and Kaitlyn

2014 Lagoon Wild Mouse

2014 Lagoon Roller Coaster 1 edSomewhere in the front car is Abby and Sam. And here is Mike fulfilling his part of the bargain by going on the wet rides- there were only a couple open.

2014 Lagoon Log Flume 1

2014 Lagoon Log Flume 2

2014 Lagoon Raft ride 2

2014 Lagoon Raft ride 3I feel chilly just looking at these pictures. The temps were in the middle 60’s when they went on these rides. We did bring a change of clothes for everyone so they could warm up afterwards. It was good we did because once it got dark it really did get chilly. Had we waited another week to go to Lagoon, these rides would have been closed. Probably the ideal time to go to Frightmares is at the end of September when they first open up again.

2014 Lagoon Carosel ed

2014 Lagoon Skyride

The Frightmares attractions all opened around 6 p.m. There were quite a few haunted houses but some were too scary for our kids. There were some for kids that were not very or not-at-all scary that our kids loved.

2014 Lagoon Coffins 1 edit

2014 Lagoon Coffins 3 editWe discussed whether we preferred summer or fall at Lagoon. One advantage to Frightmares is that Pioneer Village is so much more interesting haunted, don’t you think?

2014 Lagoon Pioneer Village haunted 1 ed

2014 Lagoon Coffins 5

2014 Lagoon Pioneer Village haunted 3 ed

I decided I prefer Frightmares to summertime at Lagoon. Here is why:

1- The weather was perfect. If I timed it again, I would go the last week of September. Then those wet rides would be a little more tolerable.

2- The haunted houses add more attractions and they also take people away from the regular rides which means lines are shorter in the evening.

3- Going in October means no water park access, but we didn’t care. We prefer the water park where we have season passes in the summer so we wouldn’t take the time to go to the water park at Lagoon even if it was open.

4- The Halloween theme is fun- including the zombie actors who are out trying to scare people.

The only drawback is that there is no bounce-back passes available. In the summer you can return to Lagoon within a time period for less than $20. I don’t know when we will go next year. Maybe we will get out of Utah and try another park somewhere else. We are already throwing around ideas for summer vacation plans.

About Turning 9

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2014 Sam 9th Birthday 1

The birthday month starts with Sam. Instead of having big theme parties this year, we talked the kids into more low-key parties instead. The trade-off was that we would take them to Lagoon for Frightmares.  The boys arrived for cake and ice cream and later watched a movie. Here are the highlights:

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 2

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 3

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 6

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 4

2014 Sam 9th Birthday 5

Sam had a good birthday. He got a remote control helicopter, lots of books and money, and a basketball- which he was excited about. It’s hard to believe this baby boy is 9!

 

Speaking of October…

2014 Box House 1So as usual, October was full of birthday parties, activities, and Halloween. Now that it is over, I have time to tell you about it. We started the month with beautiful weather and watched the leaves change color up on the mountains and eventually all around us on the bench. We have still been working on unboxing ourselves and I am happy to say I finally unpacked the last box. We are officially all moved in.

The kids took the boxes from our new IKEA corner sofa and didn’t just make a box house- but a big box house complete with garage. There is no shortage of cardboard around here.

Box House 2

Box House 3

October Trees House 1

October Fall Leaves 2Here is my favorite tree in our yard. This is what it looks like today.

Favorite Fall Tree in yard 1

Favorite Fall Tree in yard 2We have also had some amazing sunsets. Here is the view from our kitchen.

October Sunset 1

 

Time with Cousins

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2014 Hike around Silver Lake Kaitlyn smThe beginning of this month we did get to see some cousins from both sides of the family. I am finally downloading pictures so here they are. Over Labor Day weekend we met with our Utah cousins in Big Cottonwood Canyon for some hiking and marshmallow roasting and telling stories around the campfire. They camped but we just went up for the day. We still had too much to do at home but next year we promised to camp out with them.

2014 Hike around Silver Lake 1We first did an easy hike around Silver Lake with our Aunt Debra. Then later we took a longer hike to Donut Falls. We didn’t make it all the way to the top of the falls because we were not prepared to hike all the rocks. It was pretty anyway and a hike we need to do again since it isn’t too far from home.

2014 Abby and Sam at Silver Lake 2

2014 Hike around Silver Lake 2 sm

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 1

2014 Hike to Donut Falls sm 4

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 2

2014 Hike to Donut Falls 3

2014 Sam at Donut Falls sm

Goofy Sam. Our other cousin time came just a week later with cousins who flew in from Maryland. Unlike our Utah cousins we don’t get to see these cousins very often at all – once every few years. We decided to take the opportunity to have a photo shoot at the Provo Temple since it may be years before we see them again. Unfortunately we should have taken pictures about a hour earlier. It was getting dark fast and these were taken in very low light so we did the best we could.

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 1 2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 2

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 5

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm Julia AbbyThese two girls are only about 3 weeks apart. They had such a good time together the couple of days they had to play.

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 6

2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 72014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 8 2014 Cousins at Provo Temple sm 9Until next time…

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