Saturday, November 29, 2008

Anchorage and Thanksgiving

Wednesday we left for Anchorage at 6:30 A.M. to make sure we had plenty of time to drive in the "treacherous" snow conditions (according to the radio).  We got to Anchorage at 10:30 and our first appointment was at 11:00.  We grabbed some brunch and headed to the audiologist.  Brenden went off to his appointment by himself, I went with Ethan, and Doug stayed with Nolan.  I guess Brenden did a really great job (he is always better for anyone but me) and Ethan was more cooperative than most 16 month olds, so we were able to get great results for him.

Brenden had his cochlear implant remapped, his hearing aid re-preprogrammed, and we discusses getting him a second implant (for his left ear).  He is not fond of the idea because he doesn't want to hurt.  Ethan had his hearing aid re-programmed as well.  His hearing has significantly dropped in his left ear, but the right ear actually tested better than it did in June.  (FYI: Brenden and Ethan have a progressive fluctuating hearing loss - some days are better than others.)  Also at the appointment we found out that Ethan has an ear infection in his right ear, so we were referred to an ENT.  The audiologist suggested an ENT so we could establish a relationship for when Ethan needs a cochlear implant and if we decide to do Brenden's other one.

We left to find our hotel and I dropped off Doug, Nolan, and Brenden to swim while I took Ethan to the ENT.  What a waste!  We waited for a long time only to talk to an ENT who could not make himself understand any part of the kids' hearing loss, cochlear implants, or the fact that Ethan had an ear infection.  I told him that the audiologist had looked in Ethan's ear, it was bright red, and the tympanogram was flat.  He said that there was no way Ethan had an ear infection while still being able to eat fine, sleep fine, and no runny nose.  At my suggestions, he looked in Ethan's ear and to his surprise, Ethan had a red swollen ear drum!  Basically, the appointment consisted of him asking me repeated questions and in the end he said we should not come back to see him because he is old and doesn't understand a lot of the new technology.  Don't worry - we won't (and I think he should pay me for my information).  He also made sure I knew that he thought we were nuts for moving to Alaska and specifically Nikiski, with deaf children.

We had a good evening in Anchorage and a good night's sleep.  Thanksgiving morning, we had breakfast and wasted time at the hotel while Ethan took a morning nap.  We went for a drive after we had to check out and then we picked up Emily. Jared, and Halle at the airport.  It was a long drive home in the dark and snow, but we made it.  We had planned to eat dinner somewhere along the way home, but we forgot to take into account the fact that it was Thanksgiving.  We got home at 7:30 and threw together some dinner and got the kids to bed.

The next morning, we headed to Kenai to see Santa.  It was FREEZING, so I was glad we were early enough to wait inside the building.  Brenden told Santa he would just write him a letter with his list of things he wanted.  He also told me that last year he was shy of Santa, but then he asked Santa for a green truck and Santa brought him one, so this year he isn't shy of Santa anymore.  Nolan told Santa he wanted toys and candy - wow, that was easy.
Jared and Halle waiting in line.
Ethan waiting...
Nolan waiting...
Brenden waiting...
And finally Santa arrived (via fire truck).
The whole gang with Santa.
We came home and left poor Jared with the kids (to feed and put down for naps) while Emily and I went to a Pampered Chef open house.  We arrived only about a half hour before it ended and were surprised to find out we were the only ones who ever came.  I am still anxiously awaiting the results on who won the door prize.

After the kids' naps, we packed up dinner and headed back to Kenai to see the famous "Christmas in Kenai" parade and fireworks.  I guess it is a pretty big deal around here.  It is an electrical lights parade.  So, we arrived at 5:30 and the parade was scheduled to begin at 6:30.  We ate in the car and watched Shrek 2 while we waited.  And then, the parade began and we all decided it was warmer in the car and we could see just fine from there.  The parade was, well, I'm not sure I would quite call it a parade (some cars and trucks with lights on them), but the kids liked it and Santa was riding on a fire truck, so that was all that mattered.  Nolan stuck his head out the window and started screaming "Santa! Santa! HI SANTA!"  Then we waited for another 45 minutes for the fireworks.  Nothing will ever compare to Fireworks in Idaho Falls on the 4th of July, but they were fun for the kids to see.  (They don't do fireworks here on the 4th of July because the sky is too light to see them - Thanksgiving is the substitute.)  During all of this, there was a huge bonfire going on, but we chose to stay far away from that with 4 kids 5 and under.

Today we had Thanksgiving dinner.  Here is a picture of my perfect turkey (no, really it is called that on my oven setting).  Just give me a big ol' stick with a hand on it so I can pat myself on the back - I am just so proud. 
 Still cooking (while everyone around me is saying: It smells done!) - wait for it, wait for it...
It had great flavor and was so moist and delicious.  I made most everything else a few days ago, but there was quite the rush toward the end of lunch preparation because I didn't know the convection oven would cook the turkey quite so fast.  Afterward, we went sledding at the neighbor's house - they have a HUGE hill and no kids to sled on it.  We went snowmobiling for a little while and were finally frozen solid and exhausted.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

3/4 of the way there...

The tile in the kitchen/dining room is so close to done, yet it feels so far when I look at what still needs to be done.  The tile itself is all finally laid (except 3 tiles) as of last night.  It has an odd stopping point because we decided against starting into the bathroom before we have Thanksgiving guests (the more bathrooms available, the better).  I have been scraping out the thin set between the tiles today in hopes that we can get it grouted tonight - and then the moulding up and the heater covers back on!  Unfortunately, I think the hardest part is still ahead.  We have a sunken living room, divided from the kitchen by 2 stairs.  We still have never officially decided what we want to do with the stairs, but I made the executive decision and removed the carpet from them.  Doug also needs to build a stair for the other end of the living room (unless I beat him to it).  

Doug re-set our toilet in our bathroom, so at least we have one more toilet (as long as you don't want to wash your hands when you are done).  I have also been scraping out the grout in our shower and I will have that grouted before Doug is home today and seal it first thing Monday.  This afternoon I am hoping to paint the bathroom where the cabinet was torn out and we are putting in a pedestal sink.  Doug has a few parts to pick up and then we will have a working sink.  I need to finish building our cabinets for our bathroom, but they're pretty low on the priority list.  Don't hold your breath for a "finished product" picture any time soon.

One of our friends said, "You must really like fixing up houses."  No, and I thought I was buying a house with relatively little to do.  Projects just seem to escalate out of hand around here.  All I wanted to do was replace the floor in the dining room.  The end.  We just start into projects and can't seem to resist making them a little more complicated than they really ever needed to be.  I keep saying that our next house will be done before we move into it.

While my mom was here, we took apart my vacuum (into a million and one pieces) to clean it - it just wasn't picking anything up.  Well, yesterday I received some new parts and now it is like new.  I have been vacuuming the house over and over and over.  I love vacuum lines.  They are so pretty and make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  

I know, boring post, but I had to make sure you all knew I wasn't sitting around watching soap operas and eating bon bons.   

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Two days ago, my mom sent me an email and I haven't been able to get it off my mind, so I decided it needed to be shared so you can all share in my thought consuming story...
What Do You Do All Day?

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.

The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall.

In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a Cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.

He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?'

She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world do I do all day?'

'Yes,' was his incredulous reply.

She answered, 'Well, today I didn't do it.' ... 
Okay, now that is out of my system.  I think about it all day - as I also think about my treadmill and elliptical, my untouched Twilight books, and my most recent Richard Paul Evans book (thanks, Jim - and for the cds too).  How many years will it be before I open to the first page?

In other news, Ethan has been especially dizzy today.  Even when holding onto a cabinet while simply standing, he loses his balance and falls down.  He fell down the stairs yesterday; something he has never done.  I am beginning to wonder if his nose is broken.  It is bruised and swollen, but I can't tell if it is out of place.

Speaking of noses: Brenden had a bloody nose last night.  This morning when I woke him up, I asked him what happened and if he had punched himself.  He said, "No, you did."  "Huh?  When?"  "Last night you did... You DID!"  I hope that rumor doesn't spread.  Jail time, indeed.

Speaking of jail time, I took a hilarious photo of Nolan which I will not be posting or I might be incarcerated for child pornography.  I think he wanted to make his own "Firefighter of the Month" calendar.  He was running around in a fireman hat and red rain boots and that's it.  In the picture, he is covering his "little boy parts" with both hands.  It was just too funny.

Now for some pictures:

Where would you say *THIS* (below) fits into the list of things to do?
Really, that is ALL the water that comes out of it - FULL FORCE.  Have you ever tried doing dishes like that?  (Doug told me faucets were hard and not to attempt it by myself or I would have.  I bought the new faucet/sprayer in July.)
I think Ethan was hungry - this is dog food.  He placed it in the microwave a piece at a time (which involved walking across the room between pieces).  Hey, at least he didn't eat it, right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lots of Pictures

Yesterday when I got home from seminary, it was 1 degree.  When I took Brenden to school, it was negative six.
November 13
Doug and Ethan started the day working in the garage.
"Look, I have a gigantic screw and my own seat!"
"Oops, I lost it."
"I love to help dad, we have so much fun together."
"Excuse me for a moment, I have a phone call..."
While cleaning out the garage, I found the sled we bought in the spring on clearance.  I think it took a half hour to get us all layered up and dressed to go.

"Dad, did you need me to clean your lens?"
Doug and Nolan went snowmobiling.  Yes, Doug is wearing shorts... still.  For anyone who doesn't know Doug well, you will find him in shorts daily unless he has to go to work.
Nolan loves to snowmobile.
The snow was so deep, Nolan had a hard time walking - heck, I have a hard time walking in it.
Nolan giggled and giggled.
Nolan enjoyed sledding much more than Ethan did.
Our neighbors across the street live on a huge hill, so we borrowed their driveway (if you can call it that - it is kind of like their own street up to their house) and Nolan and I sled for a while.  I picked up Brenden with the sled and pulled him home.  I couldn't figure out why I felt like I would die only half-way home.  Yes, I was walking up a hill, but I have walked up the same hill a hundred times before.  I looked behind me to find Brenden digging his feet into the ground while I was trying to slide him along.  I let go of the sled and he got a nice ride back down the hill.  Then we came home and went to the neighbor's house again.  I don't think I've ever had so much fun sledding as I did with Brenden that afternoon.

Unfortunately, after a day of play, Doug hurt his back and wasn't able to tile for a few days.  Here is how he got a back massage:
November 17
I spent the morning cleaning out the ash and coals in the fireplace.  Doug swept out the chimney and we had our first fire on Monday.  The boys are loving it.  I make a fire first thing in the morning when I get home from seminary, so Brenden can see it before he leaves for school and the boys sit and watch the fire for a while before bed each night.
Doug picked up Brenden on the snowmobile today.  All of my efforts have been foiled, so now Doug looks like the cool dad who comes to the bus stop on a snowmobile.  Brenden got home and said, "That was SO FUN!  We went FAST - like 100 miles........... (thinking intensely)  No, maybe like 120 miles fast!"  My other favorite quote of the day:  "Mom, are you gonna chump some more cheese?"  (He made up his own word for shred.)

November 18
I spent the morning hauling wood to the house for our fireplace.
Nolan wore the snowmobiling helmet around all afternoon...
but he can't quite see out of it.
Brenden gets his homework done as soon as he gets home from school.
Practicing snowmobiling - too bad he won't wear the helmet ON the snowmobile.
Helper #3
Since no one ever gets to see my decorating (except Emily in ONE WEEK!), I thought I would take a picture.  Brenden brought me home the pine cones from school.
My Super Saturday Creations in all their glory...

(the tile, not the flower arrangement)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

8 years

Today is my 8 year anniversary.  Sometimes I look around and wonder how I got to where I am today.  There are days when I think, "Where did all of this come from?"  "I can't believe I'm married!"  "I can't believe I have three kids."  "When did I grow up?"  In 8 years, Doug and I have had lots of adventures, some better than others, but in the end, as long as we're together, everything seems to have been for the better.

Some highlights of our 8 years:  (Notice I didn't say high points, just highlights)
It all started with a girl grilling outside her apartment and some girl-seeking boys.  I owe a large portion of my dating turn marriage to some of my great friends who were enlisted to be my companions while making visits to see Doug.  Poor Vickie and Jess (I wish I still knew where Jess was...), poor Dallin - thanks guys.  I don't know that Doug and I had a one on one conversation for the first several weeks of dating because one of us was always hauling a friend along.

I am not a patient person.  Getting my wedding ring was no different.  Doug insisted he was buying shocks for his car and that he needed to save for them - I had no idea this was code for "wedding ring."  That is one of the few times in our relationship I wish I could take back.  I was not very nice.

I always knew Doug would be a good Dad.  We used to take my cousin's kids off her hands as often as possible.  Doug has always loved kids and other than when he has a beard, I don't think there is a kid out there who can resist him.

Doug was amazing during Pharmacy School.  He made sure we were taken care of before ever taking care of himself.  Four years of no sleep can't be good on a person, but somehow Doug made it through school while keeping his family and home well taken care of.  In retrospect, I didn't fulfill all of the responsibilities I should have taken over while he was so buried in school work.  

I want to publicly announce that I love Doug and that I can't imagine what my life would be like had he not come along.  It is amazing to me that as soon as I stopped looking for a husband, the perfect man for me literally arrived on my doorstep (hidden behind some girls "coming to meet their new neighbors").

8 years ago, had you asked me where I thought I would be today, I never would have told you I'd be in Alaska with 3 little boys, but then again, who can predict the future?  It just another one of those adventures for us, but as long as we're together, we'll come out on top.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I have been tagged many times over and I have not forgotten and I will get to them.  I think I owe a tag posting to:
Please let me know if I have missed a tag by you.  I WILL do them.  Brenden has not read any blogs yet, but the people who posted for him, thank you.  We will likely read them tomorrow.

Today was Super Saturday, so I have new crafty projects to show for my day of fun with no kids and out of the house.  I had tons of fun and got some new ideas.

Doug tiled today.  He got a babysitter to come stay with the kids, but Ethan is a daddy's boy.  He won't even let ME hold him if Doug is around, so he was not a very fun kid to babysit if his dad is around.  We are getting much closer with the tile, but it is still not finished.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Doug sent Brenden a fax yesterday.  Try explaining a fax machine to a 5 year old.

Brenden's explanation on internet shopping:  "You order it on email and they will send it to me in the mail!"  "Did you order me anything today?"

Your blogs are all "stories" written for Brenden's reading enjoyment.  He considers it part of his homework reading time to check them out.  "Are there any new stories today?"

I'm not the only one

I guess Brenden is as tired of the mess as I am.

Brenden's quotable quote of Sunday:
"God's just talkin' too loud."

Nolan's quotable quote of today:
"But I don't want you to get on your 'puter." (computer)

I just found Newman (our bassett hound) standing on the kitchen table, so I sent him outside, but the snow is deeper than he is tall.  This sounds silly, I know, but it is finally warm enough to snow.  It just can't snow at 12 degrees.

Ethan is getting pretty good at walking these days - it's about time!  I keep wondering if my brother's new baby Kolton will be walking before Ethan.  His kids walk early and mine walk really, really, late.  Ethan just get cuter and cuter everyday and does more and more silly things.  His new favorite word (okay, it is only, like, his third word) is "look!"  He loves to go to the bus stop and wait for Brenden and when the bus rounds the corner he starts yelling, "look!  look!"  He doesn't talk much, BUT, I figured out how to keep his hearing aid in - so now maybe he will learn to actually talk.  I taped it to his hair so that when he pulls on his hearing aid, it in turn pulls on his hair.  I know, it seems mean, but he has to learn to wear the hearing aid somehow.  Especially since he will potentially end up like Brenden, with a very expensive cochlear implant that cannot get lost or it just might be the end of the world.

Brenden came home last night and promptly did his homework and then wandered into the kitchen and cleaned out the dishwasher.  Then he made everyone cinnamon toast for dinner.  All of this without even a suggestion from me!  It was very tasty cinnamon toast besides.

I opened a few Christmas totes today.  I removed the lid from about the forth one and the smell of mold came pouring out of the box.  I don't know what happened, but I can assure you that nearly everything in that box will go into the trash as soon as my "helpers" are down for naps.  Luckily, most of the box contained glass ornaments, but the cardboard storage boxes will have to be replaced.  Felicia and Celeste will appreciate how sorrowful I am for the elf basket having molded.  I think somehow I still ended up with two.  I am so relieved that it is not the stockings or tree skirt or Christmas books.  I know, I'm a little early, but it is hard not to be with all of this snow.  Our neighbors have Christmas lights up.  It is about time to start scoping for a tree.  Around here you just wander through the woods until you find one you like.  No more Charlie Brown artificial Christmas tree for me!  I am having to contain myself from decorating since we just took down the Halloween decor.  

I guess I better go clean the floor, as per Brenden's request, I mean, demand.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Nov. 4 
Grandma reading to Nolan (safety is his first priority - note the goggles)

November 7 the Pre-K through second grade at Brenden's school put on a "Salute to America."  They sang patriotic songs and were able to show off everything they have been working on in music so far this year.  Brenden informed me 5 minutes before the show that he was the Liberty Bell.  I wasn't sure if I missed the memo and he was supposed to have some sort of costume, but at that point, it was too late.
Getting ready to go
"The Liberty Bells is more than it's cracked up to be
it stands for equality and freedom for you and me..."
Brenden says the girl in the pictures follows him and always has to talk to him and sit by him.  His "girlfriend" is the one in the red jumper in the second picture.  Her name is Tika and she is so cute.  She was wearing make-up and Brenden said, "Tika had red lips tonight, how did she do that?"  

Today was the most frustrating day EVER and none of it even involved my children.  I had removed all of our appliances to tile the kitchen.  After having no appliances for several days - let me stress that again - several days - I finally tiled most of the kitchen myself and we grouted it today.  Now, here is the frustrating part...  We started to put the trash compactor back and now the floor is too high, so it didn't fit.  We eventually had it wedged to the point of no return - it had to go in because there was no getting it out.  We removed the back side of the cabinet to try to find the problem, but there was no apparent problem.  We pounded and pushed and shoved and are sufficiently bruised and worn, but approximately 6 hours later, the trash compactor has half of its top jaggedly sawed off and is dented (as is the counter top), but I was able to successfully use my entire lower body while sitting on the floor with my back against the island for that added counter-push to get the trash compactor as far into place as it will ever be.  If it ever breaks, it's not coming out without replacing all of the cabinets.  How much of that do you have to put into a disclosure statement when you sell?

So, as if that's not bad enough, the floor is also enough higher that the stove no longer rests nicely even with the counter-tops.  It is nearly 3/4 inch above them providing that ever so desirable place for all food and gunk to get stuck.  It is in the island, so it has a nice overhang so that everything looks flush and beautiful - ruined!  The dishwasher also required some work to get into place, but considering what else we went through today, that isn't even worth mentioning.  The fridge is still in the middle of the kitchen (I'm still not sure if that is better or worse than the middle of the dining room).  By this point, I had had ENOUGH.  Doug was looking at me like he was going to call the nearest mental health facility as I pulled out the Pam and started spraying the fridge and the cabinets to try to get the fridge to slide into place.  I must say though, that it worked.  And then we remembered we didn't put the moulding back behind the fridge...   So, it's back in the middle of the kitchen.  I am out of energy.  My mom said she wanted a picture of our kitchen fully tiled by tonight, but no more tile got done.  Tomorrow is another day.  Well, I guess Monday is another day.

BUT, in other good news, I now have a toilet back in my bathroom.  Still no sink, but a toilet.  I am thrilled about that.  I am ready for my day of rest now.  When exactly does that fall in the week for parents of 3 boys?

Today Brenden made a game and while Doug and I were sufficiently frustrated, Brenden came into the kitchen and said, "I made a game, do we have some time to play?"  So Doug and I put everything down and went to the living room.  Brenden told us it was a matching game.  My turn was first.  I flipped over a picture of a man that said "man" on the paper and one of a car.  Brenden told me I was wrong and it was his turn.  Brenden flipped over a car and a car.  Then it was Nolan's turn.  Nolan flipped a car and a car.  Then it was Doug's turn.  Doug flipped over a car and a car.  Then it was my turn again and there were only 2 pieces left.  They were a man and a car.  I guess I had no hope to win from the beginning.  Doug commented that it was a game with a handicap.  Brenden ran off to make a new piece and came back with another piece that said car.  He asked me to draw a car piece and I told him his cars look better than mine, so he drew me a dashed line picture of a car to trace so that I could make the piece.  I guess maybe we need to play Memory more often.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Easily Impressed

Brenden: Wow, Mom.  You can cut tile!  I didn't know that!

Potty Training

Me: Nolan, go potty please.
Nolan: (whining) But I just went pee on the couch!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Catch Up

My mom left yesterday, so now my next rush of cleaning doesn't have to come until the day before Thanksgiving when my sister comes - just kidding.  I just thought I would take a few minutes to share our Halloween pictures.

October 25 Brenden's school had a Fall Carnival (it was a fundraiser - yes, another). The kids and I all dressed up and headed out for some fun.  We were in Houston for Halloween last year and bought the 2 little boys' costumes on clearance because who needs hot, fluffy costumes in Houston?

Brenden - aka Jack Sparrow (last year's costume, which we all still love)
My very scary fire breathing dragon named Ethan.
An equally terrifying and ridiculously cute lion named Nolan.Nolan getting his face painted.
The result.  Much less impressive than the tiger I saw, but perhaps a lion is much, much harder.Captain Jack tired of standing in line.
How Nolan plays toss to win prizes.
The final result of the evening.
Tell me, how am I EVER supposed to say "no" to this face?
We (all 3 of us - me holding Ethan) did the cake walk WAY too many times and never won a thing.  Brenden was so sad.  He didn't understand and his implant battery was dead so he had a really hard time with the cake walk (it is hard to know when the music is playing and when it stops if you can't hear it).  
Oct. 27
I almost wore this wig to the carnival, but decided against it.  Nolan decided he liked it - mostly because it has horns - especially suiting for him sometimes.

My mom arrived on the 29th.  Brenden had a big banner to hold for her in the airport that said "I love you Grandma!" but we were a few minutes late arriving and he didn't get to hold it up.  He forgot I was picking him up and I had to chase him down and get him off the bus before it got out of the school parking lot.  Grandma brought with her a Superman cape (which Brenden has claimed) and a Wonder Woman cape (which Nolan has claimed, but don't tell him it is a girl cape - it is red and yellow and no one remembers Wonder Woman anyway, right?).  The capes were my brother's and mine when we were little.  We had super heroes running all over the place.  My mom also brought a dracula/little red riding hood cape which I am sure will see its fair share of use.  But, the best thing she brought (besides herself) you will soon see...

October 31 we went to our church Halloween party.  They had a pumpkin carving contest, so we handed Brenden a marker and a knife and let him be creative - yes, he was supervised, but he did carve it all by himself.  (I am sure there are at least 3 people right now thinking I am a terrible mother for giving my 5 year old a knife.)  He has been drawing it out on paper for nearly a month to plan for exactly what he wanted his jack-o-lantern to look like and he was especially proud of how it turned out.  It does have a nose, which is hard to spot in the picture and very cute, realistically shaped ears.
The Jack-o-lantern's name is Carvr and he is "scary."
At church, they started with a costume contest.  
This is the nursery contest. You can see that to the left of Nolan (the lion) is Ethan's twin dragon (a little boy 4 days older than Ethan).
A close-up of the 2 dragons - Ethan is on the left.
THIS is the best thing grandma brought.  
Brenden in the costume contest - he flexed the ENTIRE time.
Brenden called my mom and asked her to bring this costume a few days before she came.  She only had room to bring 3 outfits because she had to fit this in, but it was a HIT!  It is a He-man costume she made for my brother when he was about the same age, but Brenden just thinks it is a "muscle man" costume.  I think it has seen more use than about any costume out there, but it is in great shape.  Brenden nearly refused to wear it because he was concerned people would laugh at him, but in the end, Brenden WON the costume contest!  (When he left the stage, they hadn't tallied the votes yet and he cried that he hadn't won.  I told him they had to count the votes before he knew and he waited, but rather impatiently.)  We had LOTS of compliments on the costume and everyone was SHOCKED when I told them my mom had MADE it - 25 years earlier for that matter!
Brenden and his winnings.  I don't see the intelligence in giving kids a whole bag of candy as a prize on Halloween, but hey, candy is candy to a kid, right?
Our missionaries and one of their investigators.  They even still have their tags on.
Our brief and very cold trick-or-treating.  
The boys had TONS of fun!  Nolan really caught on and he would say, "Thank you for the trick-or-treating" in his cute high pitched voice when the people gave him candy.  Brenden for the most part just stuck out his bucket.  At one house, I could see the person on the other side of the door waiting for Brenden to knock, but all he did was stand there and wait with his bucket out.  I kept saying, "Knock!  Knock!"  Finally the guy answered and said, "All of those muscles and you can't even knock?"  I think my legs were frozen solid by the time we finished.

Unfortunately, my mom missed out on any form of Alaskan fun.  There was not enough snow to snowmobile, but it was too cold to do anything outside.  We wandered down to the lake to see just how frozen it was, but missed out on any sight seeing with how early it is getting dark now.  My mom ended up really just cleaning my house and helping me try to make order of the chaos around here.  With everything torn up, I don't think she experienced a good representation of my house.  She vacuumed and scraped up versabond, helped me haul a huge load to the dump (oh, don't you worry, she has a picture she should be posting on her blog - I think that was the pivotal point of her visit), and just really helped me in more ways than she will ever know.  I have really missed her.

Brenden told my mom she had to stay until Valentine's Day and then she could go home.  He was very upset to find she was not going to listen to his demand.  On Sunday, Nolan insisted on bearing his testimony and as he and I were on the stand waiting, he point to my mom and said, "I love grandma SO much."  The first night my mom came, Nolan didn't want to go to bed because he was afraid grandma would go home.  He was constantly asking where she was and if she had gone home.  He kept close tabs on her.  Even Ethan figured out how to yell "Mah-maw" at her when she was ahead of him.

Other than Halloween, the only pictures I have to share are from October 28.  We had a moose right outside our basement window - within 5 feet of us!  By the time I ran to find the camera, he (or she?) was done munching and was headed toward the next snack.  
No, the trampoline never got taken down.