Monday, December 27, 2010

Homemade Christmas

This year my family decided to exchange homemade Christmas gifts. The ideas were so creative that I wanted to record them here:
a fleece BYU throw, 
a fabric party banner,
a treasure box filled with pirate supplies,
festive crocheted washcloths,
a POWERFUL potato launcher,
a lap desk,
 a child-size chair,
a guitar strap with a pick case riveted on,
 a photo desk calendar,
 a hollowed-out book with foreign coins hidden inside,
a leather quiver for my brother's arrows,
 a drawstring backpack with Scooby Doo books inside,
a homemade Uglydoll,
 made-from scratch hot cocoa mixes,
a recipe holder and personalized recipe cards,
 a basket of fabric play food,
 a duct tape wallet,
and a Guess Who? game personalized with our family pictures.
I've never had more fun watching gifts being exchanged. What a memorable Christmas morning!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boston weekend

Eric's parents gave us an ideal Christmas gift this year: a weekend date trip to Boston! What on earth would I do with a husband all to myself, I wondered? Everything became a date--the plane ride, the meals, the walks around the hotel, the trip to a used bookstore--everything! Here we are at the Inn at Harvard Square:
The trip's main event was the Harvard University Choir Christmas concert, in which sibs Lindsey and Sam performed beautifully. We also got to see their dorms and meet some friends.
And can I also mention that the 50-degree rain felt like a balmy slice of heaven?
One favorite stop was a trip up to Lexington and Concord,
where we enjoyed a pleasant walk over Old North Bridge.
We partook in strictly local food establishments: a delectable creperie (twice!), a basement Harvard hangout, a Mass Ave Chinese joint, and an iconic hamburger place:
Boston! That city's so cool, someone should name a band after it. We had a really good time.
P.S. ALSO, this date would have not been possible were it not for my dear sister Kimberly, who indulged my children with a weekend of cookie-making, movie-watching, Christmas-tree–decorating, bowling, and game-playing back home in Wisconsin. I'm not sure if they were too busy having fun to take pictures. If I see some, I will post them. I think that the kids probably had as good of a time as we did!  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wisconsin winter

When the weather here in Wisconsin began to get cold, we all felt a little cheated.
But after getting acclimated, 
 it's not so bad.
 One of our favorite days so far was a wintry one at a nearby tree farm.
 The tree farmers even turn over saws to the common costumer:
Although we didn't cut down our own tree, the boys spent a magical time there poking around the evergreens,
following animal prints,
and joking around with Aunt Kim (visiting from Utah!).
I'd say that even despite my unfortunate shoe choice,
 it was pretty much a perfect afternoon. Snow on, Wisconsin.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More fun with 27

This Thanksgiving Eric, the boys, and I were excited to welcome all of Eric's family to our home: there were twenty-seven of us in all! It turns out that you can have a lot more fun with twenty-seven Brintons that you can with six.
Check us out enjoying fun mealtimes (with all paper products, ah yeah!),
demolishing a pinata in our living room,
completing a Thanksgiving service project,
exploring the local treasures
(including an indoor tropical garden!),
decorating gingerbread houses,
tearing up the gym in an intense broom hockey game,
decking out the serving bar with a gorgeous Thanksgiving spread,
hosting a marshmallow war
(the girls were naturals),
and hiking around the neighborhood.
This year, it was easy to think of things to be grateful for:
We miss you all!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What I've been doing when I haven't been blogging

I've been telling Eric today different things that I want to do with my extra hour this evening. This is funny, because I never plan on things that I'm going to cut out with the hour "lost" when daylight savings time begins. I am tickled nonetheless for the chance tonight to not feel so bad about going to bed late, and so here I am at the blog with a quick-and-dirty to record some of the past few weeks. 

Sutter's Ridge Farm
One afternoon Eric had three hours in between clinic and overnight call, so we went to a nearby farm to play in the sand, feed the goats, ride the kiddie tractors, get lost in the corn maze, and enjoy the caramel apples.
One detail: there were signposts hidden throughout the maze that we had to find to receive a prize at the end, and the two older boys were surprisingly systematic about the search. They would place two corn husks in an 'X' to mark spots where we had been--it took us over an hour to finish, but we did it!

Old Woman Park and the Zoo
Isn't this the most charming slide you've ever seen?
We spent a day at the park, then we walked from the park around Lake Wingra to the zoo, where the active animals were an absolute pleasure.
One detail: There was a UW Badgers game that afternoon, and we were surrounded by tailgating parties all day. It made it even more fun--a festival of red.

"Day Camping" at Lake Kegonsa
The kids always ask to go "day camping," which basically means that we go to a state park to poke around, make a fire, and eat s'mores. This time we also caught a fish, burned a dump cake, and lit a bonfire. Isn't the reverse sunset gorgeous?
One detail: When I was cleaning the fish to cook it, Zachary pled to "see its brains! PLEASE let me see its brains!" After I showed him what I thought looked like the brains, he said, "Now can you take off your skin? I REALLY, REALLY want to see your bones!"

Jacob's school play
Jacob has a phenomenal teacher, who helped her class write, memorize, stage, rehearse, and perform a humorous play about an overzealous school principal. Jacob played the narrator and hammed it up. I was blushing by the end, I was so proud.
One detail: Ever since the play, Jacob has been using his dramatic "stage voice" when he reads books to the younger boys. I love it!

Eric's Birthday
For Eric's birthday we went on a date to go target shooting and shoot clay pigeons with some friends who live outside of Madison. Later the kids arranged a scavenger hunt for Eric's gifts and we had cake. It was pretty much a perfect day.
One detail: Eric got a fitted Milwaukee Brewers cap for his birthday, and he has pretty much worn it at every opportunity since. Handsome guy.

Chicago, for the Giant Eyeball
A month ago when I told Zachary that there was a 30-foot eyeball on display in Chicago, he began talking about it daily. So even though the thought of driving for six hours and trekking around a big city with four little boys by myself was initially intimidating, I got up my nerve and took them last week! The giant eyeball did not disappoint; and the Sears Tower, Millennium Park, the Chicago Temple, and Dunkin' Donuts were a huge hit!

One detail: I took the boys around the city by wagon, and the two younger boys were so exhausted by the end that they fell asleep on top of each other in the wagon bed. They looked like little puppies cuddled up next to each other--we were an unlikely sight tromping alongside business folks on a Thursday afternoon!

Halloween Celebrations
Our church Trunk-or-Treat and Halloween carnival were an absolute blast! We also went to a spook alley (staffed by costumed local high schoolers) and a preschool Halloween party. On Halloween night, the kids made construction paper monsters and posted them all over our house while we greeted trick-or-treaters. The kids wore different costumes to every Halloween event that we attended, so they were constantly confused when adults asked them, "What are you going to be for Halloween?" Oh well.
One detail: At the Halloween carnival, the kids scored big at the cakewalk. Zachary came home with this haunted chocolate mansion,
and Jacob snagged a dozen of GiGi's cupcakes!  
The wins were especially ironic, as I've been constantly quoting this book lately:
We decided to save some of Dr. Sears's advice for our post-Halloween resolutions. :)

My Birthday
Last night Eric and I biked through a beautiful nature trail, where we saw deer, opossum, rabbits, and more! When the sun went down, we went out for some sukiyaki and sashimi. Eric and the kids planned a family party afterwards, the little darlings.  
One detail: One time I called a friend on her birthday and she told me that she was cleaning her house as her birthday present for herself. I tried to do that on my birthday, but I kept feeling entitled to something more fun and ended up spending most of the day reading books with the kids by the fire. It was lovely.

And a few more details...
First of all, what is it with the kids writing on other people? Zachary labeled Adam the other day (the 'r' and 'y' are on the nape of his neck). I also have a picture of Adam with Jacob's name on his forehead from several months ago. Today I saw that Zachary had "DAD" carefully printed on his back and "ZOO" on his stomach. I don't get it.
Also, I never liked the song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" when I was a kid. It was so laborious to repeat all those animals' names. But my kids love it, and we've been making all sorts of visuals for it:

They also can belt out "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "On Top of Spaghetti," and "Little White Duck" with amazing enthusiasm. Our time at the piano is so precious to me.

The two older boys' project is making pinewood derby cars with Eric whenever they have some time in the evenings. The endeavor has necessitated new woodworking tools, a bench, and Dremel attachments, which Eric assures me will be indispensable in the coming years as Cub Scout parents.     

And now I've spent more than my extra hour, but it will have been worth it. I love rereading the blog and remembering all these joyful little experiences.