Monday, January 25, 2010


This past week, Heidi officially entered the double digit world with her 10th birthday! We celebrated earlier this month with her friends at a polka dot party.

We had fun with the circle punch for these decorations!The girls played Twister and other "dot" games, made polka dot bookmarks, and ate birthday cake dotted with Skittles. There is nothing like being crazy with friends!

Traditionally our family has a birthday dinner on each person's actual birthday. Heidi requested a "fancy" dinner to which we invited the cousins (and Uncle Kevin and Aunt Krista too! :)) So on Thursday the tables were set with tablecloths, flowers, and the good dishes, and the Rideout Restaurant opened for business. Here is the "middle table" with Kira, Kay, Brynn & Tom. Notice how sophistocated Kira and Kay are :)!The other table sat the adults, "big" kid, and little kids: Kevin, Krista, Elayna, Silas, Heidi, myself, and Ian.Kay did a fine job as our principle waitress. The evening opened with a salad course, with lettuce fresh from our backyard and homemade rolls. Next came grilled steak, baked potato, and green beans, followed by the finale of chocolate cake with two flavors of ice cream! My detail girl loved the little touches of using the butter knife and salad forks, and having garnishes of orange slices and parsley for the main dish servings and lime slices in the water glasses. Heidi decided it was more "restaurant like" to only blow out one candle on her own serving of cake. We had a fun evening celebrating our TEN year old!! The best part? No one was grouchy the next day because everyone even got to bed on time! It was a school night after all...


Kids go through many different stages of play but the last few months we have a new one at our house I have never seen before! Tom's latest obsession has been setting up "robber traps" across the door to his room. I have NO idea where this idea came from, but for the last month or so, when entering his room we have encountered string of various types propped up with swords, wrapping paper tubes, and chairs; tied around bed posts, door handles and dresser knobs; and ALWAYS with a bell attached (the robber alarm). Usually there are a few stuffed animals and a rubber snake standing guard as well in case the robber gets through the first defense! Here is an example of one of his creations, though not by any means the most elaborate! I have no idea how this came to mind, but he really enjoys spending the hours intricately balancing all the items and he loves it when the bell goes off meaning he "caught" Mom trying to put his clothes away or someone trying to mess with his legos. I've noticed he hasn't been quite as diligent the last few days at setting it and more focused on creating farm and ranch corrals, so perhaps we are moving on to a new phase...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

PJs, Stockings, & Underwear

Here are some pictures of us in our pjs opening stockings on Christmas morning...

Here are the kids with their stockings. You can't see the sling shots Daddy bought them sticking out the top!

Tom gets a giggle out of the underwear in his stocking. I have discovered that just the word causes gales of laughter in kindergarteners, so I couldn't resist sticking some in his stocking. Sure enough, it was a big hit. hee hee hee...

We love to have Auntie Beth and Auntie Anisa come and spend the night with us so they can be in on the Christmas morning excitement...

This is just to prove that I was actually there... I usually can't produce photographic evidence! I have more photos, but that is all the blog let me post at one time, so others will have to follow in the next edition...

Christmas Eve

Somehow Christmas Eve snuck by without many photos being taken, but perhaps we can claim that is evidence of a fun evening where we were too busy to remember our cameras?

This is the first Christmas since the arrival of Ian's brother and family that we have all been together in Niger for the holidays. As our "family" here in Niger is so large, we decided to keep Christmas eve as our celebration with just our two households. Both Krista and I like traditions, so as this was the first year we have celebrated in Niger together, we decided to try some on for size.

Our first tradition, which I think might be a keeper, was having fondue for supper! Everyone enjoyed the special treat of two kinds of cheese fondue followed by chocolate fondue for desert! Bread, veggies, pretzals, fruit, cake, marshmellows...YUMMY!!!! Fondue is fun anywhere, but here it is extra special as both cheese and chocolate are quite pricy. Both Krista and I have 2 fondue pots, so even though we were a large group, we worked the logistics out quite nicely.

Another tradition we tried on for size is the first annual cousin produced Christmas play. Both Krista and I grew up having family Christmas plays as part of our own traditions, and both of us thought our kids would enjoy this one. I think this was another keeper! Heidi, as the oldest assumed the role of author and producer, which had its rocky moments. She had to learn a bit about compromise in this family of strong opinions, even if they were strong, little opinions! :) Most things got ironed out, Tom was happy to play any four legged creature, Elayna was radient as the angel and keeper of the star, Brynn and Kira with perhaps the most realistic costumes played Mary and Joseph,...they did a great job. I look forward to ensuing years as they develop in both their creativity and compromise skills! :) Here is a picture of the grande finale where they all lined up to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." It was a fun evening and extra special when shared with family!

Christmas Programs

I know I am a bit slow here, but didn't want Grammy to miss out on any of our activities, especially the grandkids as the stars of the show! :) Christmas wouldn't seem like Christmas without some kind of performances from the kids. I recall being in many of them myself, often with tinsel in my pigtails... Here are the reviews from this past season!

The last day of school, there was a Christmas program at school. Tom wouldn't tell me much about it, but his teacher had sent home a note to parents asking them to please allow the children to dress in a manner they felt was appropriate... Tom requested a sheet! So off to school he went with his sheet. The kindergarten admirably performed a song about baby Jesus who was played by Tom wrapped in his sheet. The shepherds came and brought him a lamb (as in the picture below). The wise men came and brought him gifts etc. It was very cute. Tom thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention as well as pretending to be a baby.

The Sunday before Christmas the Sunday school classes at church were given the morning service time to perform. Kay is the only one of our children that currently attends French Sunday School. Their class had practiced the chorus to "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in English (there are three anglophones in the class) and then the three who knew English sang one of the verses together. The church members got a big kick out of hearing the 7-9 year old class singing in English. They were a very enthusiastic audience! Ereina, Bright and Kay all sang with lots of gusto, but somehow the girls ended up with the microphone in the front, you can't even see Bright standing behind them in this picture!
In addition, each member of the class had memorized one verse from the Christmas story in Matthew. The kids all did a great job passing the microphone down the line, each reciting their verse in sequence. The church let out a roar after Ereina and Kay said their verses in French though. They obviously knew that French was not the girls' first language and were very kind in showing their appreciation of the girls' hard work at memorizing their verses. It was a fun morning, each class was so proud at showing their parents verses, songs, and even a play that they had worked so hard to learn.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tree Trimming A & B


This vacation we have gotten to lots of little projects on our to-do list. One of those was tree trimming. This first kind is not the seasonal trim the Christmas tree kind of trimming, but the borrow a friends extension chain saw kind of trimming! Ian did the major work. Holding an extension chain saw up in the air for a good part of the morning is no easy task! But is was a fun new power toy! He cut down a lot of dead branches and then thinned out some branches from the big trees in the back yard. It was a family affair for the entire morning. I got in with the clippers and trimmed little sucker branches off trees as well as a lot of over grown plants. Kay and Tom enjoyed helping by moving branches to the wood pile. Why are kids so attracted to dead branches? Heidi helped some too with plant trimming and moving brush. What an object lesson! We were able to talk and think about how branches dry up and die when they are not connected to the tree just like we dry up when not connected to our Savior and his life. It is satifying to have that project done! Hopefully the gardens in our compound will benefit! I know our family enjoyed the morning together talking and working to make our compound look nice.

The other, more traditional December type of tree trimming happened this year as well! Dad's job is assembling the tree and hanging the lights up, then he claims the "supervisory" role. Mom's job is to hand out the ornaments, making sure they all have hooks and supplementing the upper branches at the end with a few extra ornaments. The kids all love hanging their special ornaments up on the tree and hearing the stories of where different family ornaments have come from over the years. I always enjoy the wide variety of ornaments we have: wood, metal, glass, yarn, clay, walnuts-almost anything you can imagine. This year we even had an ornament made out of a toilet paper tube (Go Tom!)! The shapes are even more varied than the materials: a violin, multiple air planes, a mailbox, and a church, a train, several dolls, a lobster, and lots of snowflakes, just to name a few! This process always reminds me how love, time and memories make even the most humble purple, clay angel beautiful! Here are the kids proud of our tree!As the kids get older I am enjoying the preperation for Christmas more each year. They love the traditions so much and I seem to find new wrinkles of meaning as I listen to them explain to each other why we do certain things.