Wow, that is the first time I've typed the new year ... it looks so sci-fi!
Anyway, It's time again for the annual new year's email, with all the information you ever wanted to know about us ... and some you didn't!! So, without further adieu, here goes .....
Sophie... Favorite food: She loves it all. She is our best eater! Of course, she goes crazy over chocolate. Loves: Babies, Sport Dog, her family, Ella (her favorite friend at school), her teachers, pushing the kid-sized buggy at the grocery store, bathtime, doing things HERSELF! Does not like: Taking naps. Otherwise she is a really happy kiddo. Favorite movie: She loves Dora the Explorer now, especially the one where Dora turns into a "true princess." She also likes the princess Barbie movies. Favorite book: Pinkalicious, Purplicious, Goldilicious (by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann) Favorite animal: A little plastic toy unicorn. Today, anyway! OH, and Sport Dog, of course! Wants to be: A doctor, I guess. She insists that she already is! ("Daddy is a doctor. And I am a doctor too!") She also likes to tell me, "Mommy, I am the teacher," and then boss me around. Also she wants to be "Girl Superman," and she insists that Superman is coming to take her to fly with him. Annoying habit: Rolling around on the floor and making her processors come off. I hate that! Also grinding her teeth. Yuck! Best trick: Putting her 'ears' to bed! Every night, she puts the batteries on the charger, the processors in their special drying box, and the 'ear gear' (the cloth cover that clips on to her shirt) in its box. Then she signs 'good night' and 'stay in bed' to them. :)
Favorite color: Why, pink, of course!
Challenge: Keeping her processors on her ears.
Sophie is our little ray of sunshine! She is happy, friendly, agreeable and fun. She makes us laugh all the time, but there's nothing big I can share ... it's just a million little things all through the day. She is fancy. She calls her eyelashes "eye-licious" and must always eat her food on pink plates and bowls. She makes the funniest faces and loves everybody. When she gets excited, she jumps up and down laughing. She is very gentle and nurturing. I would say she is the best of the kiddos with handling Sport Dog. She touches him softly and cradles his chin in one hand while stroking his head with the other, and whispering to him what a good boy he is. She wants to help take care of him. She loves to look at books and sing songs for us and dance. Music is still a big deal with this one!
Harlan... Favorite food: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, fruit and cereal. Really, that's all he wants to eat. He humors us by eating pizza and rice and other things, but if he had a choice he would live on those three things. We're cutting down on his gluten, and I've bought some pills that he can take when he eats wheat that will help him to digest it, and his tummy aches have ceased! Hooray! Now he can eat and grow a little -- maybe! Loves: Watching movies, making art, writing 'notes' -- like one from yesterday that says, "I LOVV YOO MOM AND DAD" (and the O in love is shaped like a heart.) He loves pretending to be a hero, playing outside, driving his little jeep that Wes fixed up for him, working at the food pantry, HELPING. He doesn't just love helping; he feels a compulsive need to do it. Always. And if we don't let him, he cries. He also loves making pottery with me! Does not like: Sitting at home doing nothing. Too bad he's not in school yet! Favorite movie: The Superman movies with Christopher Reeve. He loves all four. He also watched Spiderman for the first time recently, which was thrilling! Favorite book: This week, he loves this book called "Snowmen at Night." We have a couple of snowmen in our front yard, and the book is all about what they do at night and why eventually they start to look a little droopy. It's because of the Snowmen Games. He also LOVES the pigeon books by Mo Willems.
Favorite animal: (Besides Sport Dog) ... He still loves this bear that our neighbor Kim (Kiki) gave him for Valentine's Day last year. When you squeeze it, it sings part of "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." He likes to sleep with it. Funny, he didn't seem to care about it when she gave it to him, but now it's one of his favorite things. Go figure. Wants to be: I have no idea. With this kid, anything is possible.
Annoying habit: (We spend 24/7 together ... so I can make a longer list for him than for the girls.) He still talks too loudly. Except when I'm in the car and there's a lot of road noise, and he actually NEEDS to speak up to be heard. Then he whispers. And he talks to Sophie when her ears are off. I am so sick of telling him that she can't hear him!!
Best trick: He is really strong and can do amazing things on the monkeybars and the bars at gymnastics! He is very creative and makes up the coolest stories and songs. He's a good dancer, too, and I love to see the art he comes up with! Favorite color: It depends on the day. He seems to like them all.
Challenge: He is really impatient. He gives up easily and throws tantrums when something is too hard for him. Example: today we were playing Beatles Rock Band and he knocked over the drum set in frustration. I think his temper causes quite a lot of his troubles.
Harlan and I have been volunteering at the food pantry for two and a half months, since October 15. We go every Thursday with our friends Sarah and Kaitlyn Stancliffe and have not missed a day yet ... even Christmas Eve and New Years Eve! He loves it (you know, he NEEDS to help!) Sean, the guy in charge, gives Harlan and Kaitlyn (who is four) really great age-appropriate activities to do. They love to stock the shelves, bag the veggies, push the carts of food, open boxes, and even use the box-crusher machine (with supervision, of course!) According to Sean, we are his fastest volunteers! It's been great for Harlan's self esteem, attention span, and social skills. He has to follow directions and do the jobs he's given, not just the things he wants to do. Also, from stocking the donuts, cookies and cakes, he has learned that just because he sees something he wants doesn't mean that he gets to have it. (That was a struggle for us for a long time!) And now when we walk in, Harlan looks to see what needs to be done, then he goes straight to the shelves and gets to work, without even needing to be told! He is friendly and usually has a sweet smile for everyone. He is also very entertaining. He has this awesome fake-faint that he does when we tell him something exciting, like if we're going out to eat, or if friends are coming over, or we're going to the pool ... He smiles, rolls his eyes back in his head, sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth, and fake-faints on the floor. It is hilarious to see!! He is curious, intelligent, helpful, caring and creative. And above all, ACTIVE! When we figure out how to harness all of that energy, he will do great things!!
Lillie... Favorite food: Still cauliflower. And strawberries, nachos, and rice with butter and salt. She likes pasta with white sauce and mac-&-cheese. Her favorite pizza is the macaroni and cheese pizza at Cici's.
Loves: Reading! She has a little bookmark light, and she stays up in her bed at night reading. She loves to roller skate for fun, but she didn't want to continue with her lessons. She also loves making art, planning lessons and activities for family home evening (which we don't do every week like we should). She loves planning anything, really, now that I think about it. She is a big planner.
Does not like: TOMATOES. And sweetened coconut. Oh boy, you should see the face she makes when she tastes these things! It's almost as good as my mother-in-law's mayonnaise face. Which is hilarious. :) Favorite movie: Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure. It's new. She also likes "G-Force," which I still have not watched entirely because it looks ridiculous to me. It's about guinea pigs that are spies or something. But the kiddos love it, Lillie especially. Favorite book: We still haven't finished the Little House series. It is really hard to find the time each day to read with just her! I need to do better with that. Anyway, she has been reading every smallish chapter book she can get her hands on. She loves the Rainbow Magic series, Junie B. Jones and Katie Kazoo Switcheroo. She really enjoys Choose Your Own Adventure books as well, but it's hard to find them on her level. Favorite animal: She still sleeps with the huge Care Bear that Auntie-Mel (our friend Melva) gave her for her first Christmas when she was only 11 months old. And "Little Brown Dog," which has been dear to her for a long, long time. She has a few others that are 'special' ... but not really ... at least, they aren't until Sophie or Harlan grabs one of them, then suddenly it's the end of the world because that's her special toy! Wants to be: Everything! She still can't decide. And frankly, she is so smart that she will be great at anything she chooses to do. Annoying habit: WORRYING!! She worries about everything! Germs, and weather, and Wes and me leaving to go see a movie, and the fireplace, and burglars, and monsters, and vampires, and the dark ... She is a huge worrier! Best trick: Reading. She is an amazing reader. She read the Christmas story this year, and I put it on youtube for our family. (See it here.) She's also a talented speller. She sometimes spells entire sentences when she is talking to me, just for fun. She has learned to do really amazing things on roller skates during her lessons these past few months! She can also do the monkey bars, make beautiful art, and create neat stuff out of junk! Favorite color: Purple.
Favorite word: Voracious is her very favorite word. She uses it a LOT. ("Mommy, I'm VORACIOUS!") I don't think she really is, because she still manages to be picky, and voracious people are not picky eaters! Pelvis is her favorite 'body part' word. I have no idea why, but she's been saying that for over a year now!
Lillie is a very scientific, intellectual kid. She needs specific answers and proof to back them up. She asks questions that sometimes stump me, and even Wes, and we can tell that she has put a great deal of thought into them. And they are never-ending! She always has something going through that little brain of hers that she is going over and trying to figure out. She never stops thinking and analyzing EVERYTHING! She is, as I mentioned, quite a little worrier, which is annoying. But it also means she is very careful. She always remembers to wash her hands or use hand sanitizer before she eats, she remembers to say her prayers, she doesn't do dangerous things, she makes sure to bundle up before going out (unlike Harlan, who wants to wear short sleeves and no coat in the 20-degree weather.) She is a great helper with Harlan and Sophie. She sometimes brushes Sophie's teeth for me (actually, sometimes Sophie asks for her to brush them!), she takes Sophie potty, and one night when the phone rang in the middle of book time, I came back to the bedroom to find Lillie reading Sophie's Dora book to her. She had picked up where I had left off when the phone rang! She is very, very good at doing chores! The other day, she collected all the toys from the house and put them in the playroom, then took all dirty clothes to the laundry chute, sorted the clean kids' clothes into a pile for each kiddo, cleaned and wiped off the dining room table, and vacuumed and swiffered the dining room floor! Without complaining! She can also straighten the playroom by herself! She is a thoughtful, loving and caring girl; a wonderful helper; and a sweetheart and a blessing to our family!
Wes: Favorite food: Pizzas, sloppy joes, grits and fried eggs. He also likes trying the dinners that I make up as I go along. I love him for that! :) Loves: US!! He has been so, so, so nice and wonderful since residency started this year. While other women are complaining about how their husbands are never at home and/or awake during residency, he is reorganizing my pottery space, building shelves and a toy fridge for the kiddos, doing the yard work, straightening the house, making snowmen, helping friends with various projects (fixing a piano bench, helping to move, making steps on a steep hill in someone's back yard), spending time with me after the kids are in bed, hanging out with friends who come over for dinner and games, and building fires for us in our fireplace. (So that is where Harlan gets his desire to help! I just realized that!) Anyway, so you see, he just loves us! Aren't we the lucky ones!!! Does not like: Sweetened coconut. Just like Lillie. And clutter. And those times when I think I've told him something, but I haven't really, and I talk to him about it like he already knows. He hates that. Otherwise, he pretty much likes most other things. Favorite movie: He loves almost all movies. But I think his favorite at the moment is "August Rush." He was recently impressed with "Avatar." He also loved "Slumdog Millionaire" and the Bourne trilogy. And all of the X-Men movies. OH, and Ironman. He gets really excited about that one. Favorite book: Most recently, he listened to an audiobook called "Born to Run," which he thought was really interesting. He also enjoyed "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell and was excited to get another book for Christmas by the same author called "The Outliers." He also loves the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. Favorite animal: Phoenix. Hey, who said it had to be a REAL animal?! Wants to be: A physiatrist. And an inventor. His ideal career would be to work in academic medicine, doing research and coming up with better instruments to help other doctors in his field as well as tools to help the patients get around and build their strength. He has a load of great ideas, of course, and can't wait to get started! Annoying habit: Falling asleep. I guess it comes with the first year of residency. He usually keeps pretty busy (obviously) but as soon as he sits still for even a few minutes, he is out like a light! It is annoying, but forgivable. And completely justified! Best trick: Making something cool out of a bunch of junk. (Like Lillie!) And making our house the coolest, most awesomely fun house in town ... with a secret mouse-hole from the coat closet to the playroom closet, and monkeybars in the basement, and the best at-home pottery studio ever, and Lillie's own 'room' made out of the bottom half of her bunk bed! Favorite color: Black, green, blue.
Life Philosophy: Normal is boring!
(Wes, you can skip this paragraph if you want ... this is where I brag shamelessly about how wonderful you are!) Wes is halfway through his first, hardest year of residency. Somehow he manages to make time for it all, as I already mentioned. He balances his church calling (elders quorum counselor), his 90-hour, frequently-overnight-with-no-sleep job, and his family as well. He is the smartest person I've ever met ... not just book smart, although obviously he is that, but really he is very talented at figuring out unorthodox ways of making things better and solving problems. He is excited about life ... take for example yesterday, when he came in after an overnight shift with only a 2-hour nap, and was so excited that the snow outside was perfect for making a snowman! He changed into his warm clothes and immediately set to work outside. He built a snowman almost as tall as himself before showering and hitting the sack. He makes life an adventure, full of fun, love, learning and creativity. I am so grateful for him! Samantha: (My answers haven't changed that much since last year.) Favorite food: Sushi, Indian food, chocolate, Wes's cheese grits with turkey bacon. Loves: Pottery, reading, art, yoga, editing, cooking new things, helping others. I love working at the food pantry! I love to help in the community, and I love what it's doing for Harlan! Does not like: Cleaning clutter, potty training, paying bills, having to be the mean disciplinarian. I'd rather just have fun with the kiddos! But I do what is necessary. Favorite movie: Different ones for different days. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new Star Trek movie that just came out this year! Wow, that movie makes me happy! I can't wait for the next one. Favorite book: Sadly, my list of to-reads is much, much longer than my list of already-read. I loved Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. Seriously, though, it's been a long time since I had a chance to sit down and read. Laundry/kids/dishes/misc cleaning/quality time with Wes/pottery have all killed my reading time. All good, worthwhile things. There just aren't enough hours in my day.
Favorite animal: I like turtles. And now I like Sport Dog. He's the best doggy ever. Wants to be: A great mom, a potter, a person who makes my community better and helps others, a good friend, an open-minded and nonjudgmental person. I'd also like to go to grad school someday. I also want to be the driver of a 1964 VW bus. Now taking donations. ;) Annoying habit: Making clutter. Losing stuff. Wearing jeans too many times before washing them again. Washing a ton of laundry but not folding it. I'm sure Wes and the kids could come up with a few more ... but I won't let them. I do all the typing around here!! Best trick: Making pottery. Also my awesome eye trick. And having really cool kiddos. I mean, there are no better kiddos than mine!! I can also make up dinner as I go along and end up with something tasty. (At least Wes says so!) Favorite color: Easy answer: earth tones. Brown, green, 'brownish-greenish,' as Lillie would say. I wear a lot of black lately as well. But really I love all the colors for different things. For example, I love the red of my dining room walls and my iphone case. I thoroughly enjoy my bright orange bar stools. I like the bright green of my jacket and the flower pot my mom glazed in some pottery class in the 70s and the yellow in my Rosie the Riveter poster.
Life philosophy: Life is short, so try new things!
Sport Dog (just for fun!)
Favorite food: This dog eats everything! He loves peanut butter, apple cores, pancakes with syrup, asparagus casserole (found that one out after I went to put the kids to bed without clearing the table first. Oops!) And he enjoys his beef liver treats. Gross! Loves: People! And tug-of-war and fetch. And barking at people who walk in front of our house. Does not like: People who walk in front of our house. Especially the ones with dogs. And they are not allowed to walk on the sidewalk across the street, either. It is all Sport Dog's territory. And ohmygoodness you should have heard him when a family of deer wandered through our neighborhood one night! Favorite movie: Well. He is a dog. But when a dog barks in a movie, he barks back. So I guess he likes movies with dogs. Or maybe he hates them. It's hard to tell. Favorite book: We have a board book with a squeaking cricket on the front that he occasionally gets and chews. He freaks out when it squeaks. It is quite funny, especially since it's just a book we got at the salvation army. He has never ever chewed any other books.
Favorite animal: Ummmm .... people? :) Wants to be: Well fed and pampered. Don't we all? :)
Annoying habit: He is always right at my heels, which is simultaneously annoying and endearing. When he wants to play, he brings a toy and presses it against my leg until I throw it for him or play tug-of-war with him. This is usually fine ... except when it's his loud squeaky toy! Then it gets annoying! Also he eats people food off the table without permission. And it gives him gas. And that is disgusting and annoying. Also, I am very grateful that he was so easy to potty train ... he hasn't had an accident in the house in a couple of months. But I am annoyed at the poop in the yard. I would like the yard to be clean for my kiddos and their friends to play. It would be nice if he would just not poop. I'd appreciate that. Other than the pooping, he's a great dog.
Best trick: He has lots! He can sit, lie down, roll over, crawl, turn in a circle, beg, and shake. My favorite, though, is that he can shut the door behind himself when he comes in from outside.
Favorite color: Aren't dogs color blind?
Challenge: Getting him to quit jumping on people when they come over! He is just so excited to see them! We're working on this one.
Life philosophy: Who are you? Let's be friends! Can I have a bite of whatever that is you're eating? Is that a toy? Looks like a toy! Here's a ball! Throw the ball!! Let's play! You're my best friend!
And, if that isn't enough of the Rayburns for you, check out our pictures!! Lots and lots!!