Friday, December 17, 2010

Thank you, Antionne.

Right now Danin is running around the house repeating, Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Hide your kids... I love it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I love my girls.

Right now my girls are having a war with some imaginary boys. They're yelling things like "We saved the day!" and "Fox on a mission" and "You blockheads!"

I love it. I just love it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

'Tis The Season

Well, my birthday and the Creche Festival and My Favorite Things party have come and gone. So sad. Brian commented to me last Saturday while we were getting things ready for the party that I get as excited for my party as I do about Christmas. Hmmmm....yeah, he's pretty much right. But to me, My Favorite Things party is just part of Christmas, you know? It's not Christmas morning that I can't wait for anymore. Watching the kids on Christmas morning is super exciting and fun, but it also means that the season is rapidly drawing to a close. No, what I can't wait for all year is the decorating, the trees, the wrapping, the treats, the crafts, the smells, the parties, MY party, Christmas morning....ALL of it. I love it all. And don't worry. I don't forget the true meaning of Christmas either. I love and am grateful for that, too. :) I even look forward to serving and am always praying to be guided to someone whose day I can brighten in some way. But anyway.... I'm loving The Season--my house is all Christmasified and I love it. (Notice that piece of paper hanging on the Christmas tree? That's one of Janey's homemade ornaments. I love that girl :) )


























It has become somewhat of a tradition for Becky to come visit the weekend of the Creche Festival and my party. And it is always so fun to have her that weekend. She helps me with all the last minute stuff for my party, she attends the Creche Festival with us and admires all of the nativities, ( I think I have over 15 of them now--14 or so of which she has given me) and she goes with us to see the lights down at Shore Acres. It has just been one of those things that we look forward to at the start of every December. We love it.















This year, the Creche Festival came with a little surprise. Back in November, I mentioned that Brian and I had gone down to Ashland where Brian was running his first trail marathon (and he did amazingly well, by the way). While we were there, I looked around in a couple of shops while Brian and Rob were registering for the race. Well, in one of the shops, I saw and then pointed out to Brian the Three Wise Men figures from the Department 56 Krinkles line. I had never seen them before and they were stinkin' cute. I started kinda collecting Krinkles about 7 years ago after Diana gave me my first one for Christmas back when I was managing the candy store. (You're awesome, Di.) So anyway... I saw the Three Wise Men, and just wanted to show Brian how darling they were.

O.K. now back to the Creche festival...I got there around noon on Saturday with Becky and the girls and talked with people and introduced myself for a while (I was one of the hostesses for that hour) before going around to look at all the different nativites. Immediately, I noticed that Amy Wade had been able to grab a magnet board from her house to display a magnetic nativity set that Becky had given me last year. As I neared it though, I also noticed that the name card labeling it as mine had been erroneously (or so I thought) placed in front of a set just next to the magnet board. I felt bad that I was getting credit for someone else's beautiful nativity, so I quickly grabbed the place card and went to put it in front of the magnet board. Right as I was doing so, I realized that the place card said, "Ann Lacouture's new nativity--2010" and the set it was sitting in front of was the Department 56 Krinkles set--the WHOLE set. Could this be a coincidence? I turned to look at Becky, who smiled back at me, and I quickly realized (as Amy snapped pictures of me and everyone else in the room smiled on) that the set was mine. It had been a surprise and a birthday gift from Brian and Becky. Oh my heavens. I couldn't believe it. It's not good to brag, I know, and Brian's not perfect, but because this blog will (hopefully) be really special to my children, I have got to say that I love my husband. He makes me feel taken care of. He makes me feel loved. He loves to spoil me and make me happy, and I am SO grateful to him. I am a very lucky girl. And I recognize and have thanked Becky many times because I know Brian is this way because of her. Anyway...the Creche Festival was wonderful, and my new Krinkles just made it more so.











Later that night, we (Becky and I) continued getting ready for my party. Brian had gone to the Civil War game and was on his way home, and the girls had both fallen asleep. Becky was even so wonderful as to return to the church to pack up my nativities so that I'd have time to vacuum and take a shower. It's so funny because I've found that just about every time I throw a party of some sort, I finish cleaning and cooking and getting stuff ready just in time to look down and realize that I look like poop--I'm wearing paint-stained sweats, I'm unshowered, and I stink like crazy. Not this time, though. This time I was clean AND there were lines in my carpet. What a treat! And the party was fun. So, so fun. It is fun every year--at least it is for me. I tell everyone--and I'm not kidding--that of course I love and look forward to the party each year. It's all about me. :) That's why I recommend that every girl throw a favorite things party for herself. My philosophy is that each of us should be able to do whatever we want for our respective birthdays. Isn't that reasonable? Totally. But anyway, we ate and talked and I went through my 32 favorite things (blank note cards, 3M velcro strips, baby wipes, Bath and Body Works lip gloss, baby powder, mudrooms, google.com, allrecipes.com, Costco makeup, my green book, Sarah Richardson, Christmas decorating, sweats, my red pot, Biosilk Smoothing Serum, my blue earrings, bedding, Christmas light remotes, my red shelf, baking soda, olive oil, BH&G magazine, Brummel and Brown butter spread, aprons, my two hallway rugs, my pan scraper, clean carpet, my pot rack, bag clips, Los Amigos Burrito tacos, ziplocs, and the Youtube video of Antione Dodson's interview), AND most importantly, we danced. And I loved every second of it. Just for old times' sake and to commemorate my favorite things of the past (which is ever so important), we first danced to Mark and Chelsea's Bleeding Love, and then The Best Wedding Entrance Ever, and THEN we danced to Antione Dodson. (It's way better if you watch the interview, and THEN the song. ) I'm smiling big just thinking about it. (As a side note, I've gotta say--these videos affect me in an almost spiritual way. It's like my blood starts pulsing at a different rate. And I'll tell you what--I'm not a super big romantic, but that wedding dance? THAT is romance, my friends. ) Becky was able to come back( from having been with Brian and the kids) just in time to have dessert and open gifts, and then she and I and several of the girls stayed up forever just chattin' it up. So anyway, I'm so grateful to have friends at all, and especially friends who are willing to humor me for one night. And I sincerely hope that I wasn't the only one who had fun.














So that's the scoop. I'm going to go straighten the family room (so that it will be clean tomorrow morning when Amy comes over to take our family picture for our Christmas cards) while I listen to a little Mannheim and Transiberian Orchestra. Wish you were here, Mom. I love you all. Thanks for reading.





P.S. Just one more thing. I'm not sure I've yet mentioned that Camp started Boyscouts and he LOVES it. He's a total scouting nerd, and it is the funniest thing. But anyway, the other night, he told me that he wanted to go "scouting for food." I asked him what that meant and he told me that his troop (which Brian leads) was doing a food drive. I suggested that maybe we wait until we could talk to Brian so that he could fill me in on a few more of the details. Camp didn't go for that. Instead, he outfitted the girls with backpacks and out they went into the night. After about a half hour or so when it had gotten dark and the kids had not yet returned, I got in the van to go track them down. When I was unable to find them, I returned home briefly to grab my phone and start calling a few neighbors to hopefully figure out where they had gotten stopped up. As I headed back out to the van, though, I heard their voices coming around the corner, so I readied the video camera and went to meet them. There they were, trotting along in the complete dark with backpacks loaded with canned food. Three little kids--ages 7, 5, and 3--in the dark, with no coats, and no adult, but smiling and bearing 20 lbs or so of canned food. I asked Camp what he had actually done and he said he had knocked on each door and said, "May we please have some canned food?" Oh, man. I was laughing so hard. At the very worst, I was going to have Child Protective Services contacting me any day, and at the very best we were going to have neighbors praying for our well being and leaving piles of food and other goods (like coats maybe) on our doorstop. This must really have been a slow year for the Lacouture's I could picture them thinking. It was so great. I will admit, though, that later Camp did say that he did introduce himself as a scout and tell them about his purpose as well. Let's just hope so. But man, what funny kids. Oh, and the reason I hadn't seen them when I had gone around the block was because all of the neighbors (who are all senior citizens) had invited them in to get out of the cold. Ohhhhh boy...










video

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nativities

For those of you who live in Florence (or the surrounding areas) and may not otherwise know, this Friday from 1 to 7 and Saturday from 10 to 5, our church is hosting the 5th annual Community Creche Festival. If you are not already familiar with it--it is basically just a huge collection of the nativities of people in our community. They come from all different countries and are made out of all sorts of materials--soap, paper, metals, glass, etc. There are those that have been sewn, those that have been painted and even those that have been made and/or colored by children. You can stay for as long or as briefly as you like, and while you're there you can enjoy cookies and Christmas music performed live periodically throughout the festival. Everyone is welcome--there is even a kids' table with nativities to color and display while you are there. Anyway, I know some of you may think Mormons are weird, and I'll give you that, and there are some things that make our churches all a little different, but I think mostly we have the same goals and desires and we certainly all worship and love Jesus Christ and desire to be like him. I have benefited from and enjoyed the events sponsored by many of the other Christian churches in town, and I hope this event will be no different. It is improving every year. So anyway, I invite you to pack up the family and come. I will be hosting (hostessing?) on Saturday during the noon hour, and would love to see you there then. Merry Christmas!

P.S. Oh, yeah. And just in case you're wondering--there will be no cost (and nothing being sold) and absolutely no proselyting. So don't you worry. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who said it doesn't snow on the coast?















You know those movies where the perfect family wakes up to a beautiful holiday morning with a magical snowfall, and all the kids go into their parents' room and pile onto their bed? Well, yesterday, that scenario became as much a reality as it ever will be--except that the beautiful holiday wasn't Christmas, it was Jane's birthday (well, and except for the fact that we are far from the perfect family--but whatever). What a perfect gift for a perfect girl. It was so fun to see snow falling outside onto an already snow-covered ground as we were all awaking. The kids downed their pancakes (which I only made because it was Jane's b-day) and piled on their warmest clothes to head outside. On his way out to work, Brian stopped--for what I'm sure was supposed to be a couple of minutes--to pelt the kids with a couple of snowballs, and I even put up my hood and grabbed Brian's Crocs to head outside with the camera. (Having snow reminded me of what a wuss I am in the cold.) Oh, my heavens--it was so fun. I saw that the kids had attempted the first tier of a snowman before heading for the tramp, so I went over to see if I could make something more of it. At first, the snow was really tricky to ball together as it was super dry and looked just like little tiny Styrofoam balls, but Brian and I persisted, and pretty soon, he and I--with the help of the kids--were rolling three huge balls around the yard. When they were ready, we transported them to the front yard and started to build. (The two bottom balls were so heavy that Brian had to pull up his truck so that we could use the tail gate to rest the second ball on until hefting it (the second ball) onto the first.) We got the body stacked and then rounded up some goods to make our snowman complete. And man, we were-and still are--proud of that snowman. That sucker was around 7 feet tall! ( I say was because today, he's hunched to only about 5 1/2 feet.) I even called the local paper to brag--confident that we had surely constructed the biggest snowman in town. But anyway, that kind of family experience (aside from being a strange form of aphrodisiac) is just one of those things that makes me so grateful to have a family. You know what I mean? THAT'S the kind of thing I want to to enjoy throughout the eternities.
Jane's birthday continued to be a wonderful one. Brian made her a real "poodle house" to replace the ones she is constantly trying to fashion out of paper scraps, cracker boxes and scotch tape for all of her little stuffed animals. And Brian is totally of the 'go big or go home' mentality, so this little dog house is no little thing. He actually stripped cedar down to make little tiny shingles, cut little skinny pieces of siding, carefully installed and trimmed out the windows, installed real bamboo flooring and painted the exterior and interior. INcredible. And Jane loved it, of course. Brian had anchored five mylar helium balloons to it, so it was very reminiscent of that darling little house on Up.
Just like on Camp's birthday, we all went bowling and then had dinner, and then headed home to have cake (the one that Becky had made when she was here in October) and oreo blizzards with the Larsens. So fun. I really am lucky to have Jane. She is seriously the most wonderful little five-year-old ever.
And Jane's birthday would be a big enough thing on its own. But this time it also happens to be the shot gun for what I'm sure will be a fabulous week of events. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, of course (and man, it seems especially lonesome this year to not have any extended family with us :( ), Friday I'm going shopping--which is a really big deal--and Saturday we'll be getting at least one of our two trees. Can you see me madly rubbing my hands together? I CAN'T wait.
I'll admit that I've already been listening to Christmas music--but only in the car, because there is a radio station that is already playing it and THAT is just more than I can resist. Come Friday, though, there will be music inside...

Oh, and one more thing. Next week is my birthday (the reason I'm able to justify my shopping on Friday) and you know what that means....it means My Favorite Things. It means I get to dance.
video

Monday, November 1, 2010

What a month...
































Welp. There goes October. Crazy how that happens. October was a good month for us.

Sugar Plum turned three. Man, what a darling little thing she is. It'll be interesting to see how this next year goes, though--because for my kids, it has been the threes that have been 'terrible.' And I can already see the craziness showing up in Danin. She's started throwing fits and developing a temper that she's never had before. Uh, huh. I've seen this before. Great. But anyway, for her birthday, we went to Chuck E Cheese. We had never been there as a family before. Interesting place--one that I am WAY too cheap to frequent. Thanks to the special occasion and an on-line coupon that came with 100 tokens, my kids got lucky. And they loved it. We all did, really. Brian and I joked that our 100 tokens would probably earn us just enough tickets to get the kids each one tootsie roll, but would you know it? Brian hit the "Bonus" on one of the games and it spat him out 190 tickets all in one shot. So you'd think that'd be enough to get like a radio or a huge stuffed animal, right? Nope. TWO tootsie rolls AND a plastic frog. Man, those places are crazy. But whatever. It was Dan's birthday, and she loved it.
Becky came up just in time for Camp's birthday. It's become kind of a tradition. She spoils the kids by making them fancy cakes--the likes of which I do NOT have the skills for, and they all totally love it. She even makes and decorates a cake for Jane's birthday while she's here and puts it in the freezer so that Jane will have a fun cake, too, come her birthday in late November. Anyway, for Camp's birthday, we ate Subway and went bowling and then returned home for cake, Oreo blizzards and the new Karate Kid. They did a pretty good job on that remake-- I've gotta say--except that a 12-year-old romance is a bit ridiculous, and NO ONE could EVER replace Mr. Miagi (how the heck do you spell that?!!)
Lucky for the kids, I forgot to send Becky home with Rachel's costumes that she had sent up with Becky LAST year for Halloween, and upon going through the bag, we discovered that there were costumes that fit the kids this year that hadn't last year. So Dan was a butterfly, Jane was a vampire bat, and Camp (again) wore the very same karate outfit that Brian had worn when he was a little guy. So awesome. ( I really am sorry, Rach, for forgetting to send those all home with your mom. You really have saved me every year.) Unfortunately, I never got a picture of Danin in her costume even though she wore it for like three day straight, but I did manage to get photos of the kids with their jack-o-lanterns and of them with their candy, so that will have to suffice. Being that Halloween was on a Sunday this year, things were a little different, but everything turned out really well. Early in the month, I had determined that I didn't feel comfortable with the kids trick-or-treating on Sunday. I wanted them to realize that keeping the Sabbath day holy often times means sacrifice. So anyway....I managed to broach the topic with them one evening, and the idea of not trick-or-treating did NOT go over well. I reassured them, however, that whatever happened--I would make sure they got lots of candy. (Sacrificing can only go so far, after all.) So as it happens, I had a handful of neighbors who found out (either because I told them or they were told by another neighbor) that we would not be going trick-or-treating on Sunday, and were totally happy to have us come on Saturday evening, instead. Now that might be normal in Utah, (and I swear we went trick-or-treating on Saturday in Vegas when Halloween fell on a Sunday) but I can tell you this--the Lacouture kids were the ONLY kids in Florence out trick-or-treating on Saturday night. And even though we were only able to hit about seven houses, those seven houses took care of us. (Man, we are so lucky to have such kind neighbors.) Additionally, this year I made an extra effort to lobby for trunk-or-treating in our ward, which has never been done here (that I'm aware of). Another mother and I made sure that the ward party would have candy and games and everything to make little kids happy, and our ward members really delivered. Some of you have got to be thinking, Does it really matter THAT much? It's just a pagan holiday that involves tons of candy! Yes, it does. Halloween memories of sorting and trading mounds of candy are among the sweetest (pun partially intended) of my childhood.
As my siblings will remember, our childhood started out with my mom being the one to take us trick-or-treating every year. And every year, she would give us a little brown lunch sack and take us to the houses of a handful of ward members and the neighbors whom they recommended as being safe. One fateful year, though, the responsibility of taking us trick-or-treating was delegated to my dad, and though none of us would ever have guessed it (no offense, dad) that absolutely changed everything. That year, we were armed with pillowcases and those suckers took in a good load of candy. And we just could not believe our good fortune. Needless to say, mom was never invited back. What's a few razor blades in a whole pillowcase full of candy, anyway?
So, yeah. It matters that much.

Other than that, Brian's turn for a birthday falls on Sunday, so on Friday, he and I will be heading to Ashland for a day or so where he will be running his THIRD marathon in just over a year. Crazy. And this one is a 26-mile TRAIL run. It's no coincidence that I finally bit the bullet and got Brian some life insurance. He BETTER not push it too hard.

And I'm doing just fine. Like I've said before, I love being pregnant--and part of that is because my body looks so much better this way. It's the only time I have an excuse for no waist and ugly legs, AND I'm finally filling my 36-B cup again. Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful.

With that, I'm about out of words--so I'll just let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Oh, one more thing. I apologize for the additional pictures of the house, but I rearranged some furniture and got a couple of fun yard-sale finds, and I know Brooke (if no one else) will appreciate seeing the changes. I've included a couple of the before pics of my kids' rooms so you will know why it is so special to have these rooms clean. Anyway....