Christmas with the Ice Storm

We got some snow early in December this year, which was great, because who doesn’t love a white Christmas? (Thank you, Danny Kaye & Bing Crosby.) Around a week or so before Christmas, though, the temperature started to rise to close to freezing and Texas sent us up a rainstorm of all things. The air where the rain-clouds were was above freezing while the air down on the ground was below freezing so for about two days, it rained and at the end of it, everything had a two-inch thick coating of ice.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

It made the streets and the neighborhood look like a Swarovski exhibit, and was pretty solid. In most places, the ice was strong enough to hold me (165 lbs) and every once in a while it would break through and I would fall down into the foot of snow below the ice crust.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

The obvious thing to do when 165 lbs doesn’t break through the ice crust is grab a hammer to concentrate your force into a smaller surface area and take advantage of whatever physics principles of leverage and kinetic energy that make smashing holes in the crust so fun. If we’re all honest about it, Betsy will probably tell you she doesn’t get it. (Not the science, the fun; she gets the science.)

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Of course it played havoc with the poor trees and powerlines. (The trees in these pics used to stand up straight.)

We lost power on Saturday, December 21, as the temperature was heading back toward a deep freeze. I had to let Michelle and Brian know (they were flying in Christmas Eve) that we didn’t have heat, power, or water at our house (the water is on a well with an electric pump, and while the heat is gas, for some reason, it doesn’t run if there’s no power).

For 3 days, we filled pots with water and set them in front of our gas fireplace (oddly enough, that worked, even though you turn it on with a light-switch) so that we would have something to dump down the toilets to get them to flush. We slept in sleeping bags and drove down to my office to shower in the gym there.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

We almost didn’t finish our ginger-bread houses before it got too dark to see for family night.

Michelle and Brian got to spend about 3 hours in the dark helping us put the finishing touches on Christmas preparations when a Christmas miracle restored power at about 11:00pm on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was fun, as always, with some really fantastic presents that the kids made each other. Reid made everyone super-hero towels, Porter painted some pretty amazing super-hero posters, and Afton made everyone pencil-holders. Lea (Betsy) made everyone the thing that they were giving so Reid got a towel, Porter got a poster, and Afton got a pencil-holder.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

It was awesome to have Michelle and Brian around. They stayed until Saturday and played with the kids the whole time–with presents, in the snow, card-games, whatever.

Betsy made me an awesome felt picture of our kids and I made her a Family night assignment board.

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Porter’s Special Month

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Porter turned 8 this month and that comes with a lot of excitement. It started with a Harry Potter party with his friends.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

In typical Betsy fashion, it was amazing. Betsy was Professor McGonagall, I was Snape. The kids all got wands, learned how to do spells, in Potions class we lit some stuff on fire (of course), and then the smart ones got to go to Honeydukes and buy an assortment of dragons’ tears and slug repellent.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

He had a second party a week later when his cousins arrived where we played some awesome games involving marbles and water-buckets, and shower-caps and marshmallows.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;
He got a new bicycle that he’s pretty excited about.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;
Even though she doesn’t look like it here, Grandma Porter had a blast!

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

After all the parties, we had a wonderful baptismal service. Porter picked out all the speakers, singers, and other participants and it was a really special moment. At the end of the day, Porter told Betsy that he felt ‘loved.’ We are very proud of him.

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

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The Bywaters

Probably the best thing about living out here has been how often we’ve been able to see Robin and Andrew, Sophia, Oliver, Elliot, and Isabel. We have thoroughly enjoyed every visit and really feel like we’ve gotten to know each other better and grow much closer this last year. Their kids are wonderful examples and play so well with mine. I get many ideas from Robyn on how to be a better mother and run my home more smoothly. I remember as a girl we used to go visit my Dad’s cousin Dee Whittier and his family in Virginia. His wife’s name is MaryLou and she was supermom. After every visit my Mom would have a new chore chart inspired by MaryLou–as kids we didn’t like that part, but we loved the visits. I imagine that my be a little bit like it is after my visits with Robyn. We’ve been able to celebrate holidays with them, baptisms, summer breaks, etc. That time has been unforgettable and I’m so glad we’ve made such good use of it.

hill cumorah

crafting

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American Thanksgiving/Hot Chocolate Stand

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October. There’s definitely not as much hype about it here as there is in the US. So, when November came around I was eager for the kids to be excited for Thanksgiving and also for them to remember what they are thankful for. The kids painted a thankful tree on a piece of butcher paper and then I cut out a bunch of leaves for us to write one thing we’re thankful for each day and then tape the leaves on the tree. It was an easy activity that helped us stay focused on gratitude for the month of November. We required the kids to be specific about what they were thankful for that day–it meant they had to think about it a bit and I appreciated that. We had two sets of missionaries (Elders and Sisters) over for Thanksgiving dinner. All of them were from Utah except one Elder from Alberta. We made napkin ring holders that Valerie made for us once when we visited them for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, we didn’t have pictures of the missionaries so Russell made them some out of pictures he cut out of a magazine. They were so funny and we all laughed about it. The meal and the company was wonderful. I really enjoyed having the missionaries celebrate with us and listening to what they are thankful for was a real treat. I was feeling most thankful that day for being a Mom and was reminded of it when the missionaries sang Silent Night to us at the end of the night. Definitely a memorable Thanksgiving.
That same weekend we did our annual Hot Chocolate Stand. I knew we wouldn’t have the traffic we were used to on Barkton Ct, but I really felt a desire to do it anyway. I wanted the kids to know that giving to others is important and so is hard work. We stood out there in the freezing cold for 2 hours, blaring Christmas music, and enjoying Hot Chocolate ourselves. Our great next door neighbors, The Braziers, came over, donated cans, gave us some Christmas gifts and chatted for awhile. Eventually, a few others came by and one neighbor didn’t have cans with him so he gave us $20 which we used to buys cans. I enjoyed it once again, like I always do, and plan on doing it many years to come. We brought all the cans we collected to the school–they were donating them to the Salvation Army. When Porter’s teacher found out where he got all the cans she put his name on the tree of kindness and he got his own ornament to remember it by.

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Halloween

I’m posting these pictures of halloween because you kind of have to post photos of your kids at Halloween. It was pretty miserable, though. Drizzling down rain, 33 degrees, and 2/3 of the houses dark. Not so sure the kids noticed any of that, though. (I should note that Betsy made Porter’s costume and he loved it.)

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

Russell Anderson: 2013 Fall/Winter &emdash;

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Back to School

The summer was a lot of fun. I enjoyed our month long visit out west and our daily sweet skills. I like having my kids close and under my wing. So, school starting was a bit sad for me. Porter is skipping 2nd grade so that he’s in the age appropriate class for Canada. We had him in 1st grade when we moved here and it was pretty obvious that the curriculum was not challenging enough for Porter. We’ve been pleased with what he’s learning in 3rd grade–it seems to suit him perfectly. His teacher is also fantastic. Whatever her method is it really motivates the kids to do more and do better. Her name is Mrs. Bardin. Reid is in 1st grade. He excels in reading and math and is in a separate group of a handful of students who are learning higher math. His writing is atrocious–we’re working on it :) We’re also trying to get him more excited about chapter books instead of Skylander Giants guide books, comic books, etc. His teacher is Miss Peckhover. Afton’s teacher is Mrs. Hodgins and I feel so lucky that Afton landed in her class. She was totally fine with me picking up Afton everyday at noon instead of keeping her in school the whole day. She’s only 4, in Junior Kindergarten, and I feel at that age I should still be her main influence. Mrs. Hodgins is funny and always has something very specific to say about Afton which is what every parent wants. She invites Lea to class parties and even sets her a place at the tables with her name on it. Seriously, she’s awesome. Afton’s strengths include being able to dress and undress herself in snow clothes for recess time, listening attentively, and being friendly. She has better handwriting than Reid :)

first day of school

Afton first day

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