Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas

This Christmas stuff is pretty magical. We were flying out at 7am Christmas morning, so a few weeks before Christmas, Bodie talked to the big guy in the red suit at the mall. He asked Santa if he could "swing by a day early when you are delivering gifts to the kids in China," and wa-la, our Christmas came early! Impressive Santa, really impressive.

When we ran out to the front room, we noticed some arrows pointing to the downstairs. I'm pretty new to this stuff, so I looked to my big brother for guidance when my parents asked us what we thought they were for. "Oh, those arrows are just to show us where more balloons are; I can see some balloons at the bottom of the stairs." Sure, balloon arrows I thought, that makes sense. Good point Bodie. So we stayed on the main floor and began opening gifts, then played, then opened another gift, then had breakfast - all the while walking over those "balloon pointing arrows."

I dropped a ball down the stairs and went to retrieve it. As I did, Bodie shouted, "Wait, I can see a toy down there," and raced down in front of me. He found a three-level car garage that Santa had left - it was awesome. So we began to play with the garage. My parents stood on the other side of the room asking, "Who is that for?" We ignored them and kept playing so they asked again. After about five minutes, we both finally looked up and saw a big card that said, "For Gates." Bodie was crushed; I was psyched.
Then he yelled with a smile, "But Santa wouldn't bring just one gift!" and he finally noticed this...it was about five feet from us - we never even looked up. My parents thought it was hilarious. Santa is a bit crazy because he gave my brother a seven foot race track. Clearly he didn't see the size of our house.
Christmas morning we hopped on a plane and headed to Utah for two weeks of fun. Luckily Bodie prayed for snow and boy did his prayer work. They had the biggest snowfall so far this year, starting on Christmas day! We spent Christmas day at my Uncle Rick and Aunt Margo's house. A Lybbert family tradition is to have wacky things on your plate at Christmas breakfast - this year it was bad teeth. I felt oddly comfortable with this group of crazies, but chose to pass on inserting the false teeth for the photo. (may I suggest you click on this photo to enlarge it, I guarantee laughs, especially if you do a close up on my dad and grandma!)
We filled the trip with sledding, skiing, ice skating, friends, and family - does it get any better than that? No skiing for me this year; so I did a lot of socializing in the lodge. We spent a few days out at Last Chance where we usually water ski in the summer. This visit we got to ice skate on the frozen lake and it looks like Bodie has finally mastered the sport!

Two other highlights were movie nights and dinner with the StJeor's and dinner with the Cook/McQueen family (they got a new brother!)
 

Lucky us to have such awesome cousins, friends, and family.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Dear Helmet Companies...

Dear Helmet Companies,
We would like a sponsorship. We promise to actively and positively promote your products. Helmets are an essential staple in our house and have saved our brains from (additional) damage multiple times. Regardless of the season, we are successful at smashing our heads into something and would appreciate free replacement products so we can continue to afford brain protection while having fun.

Summer fun was momentarily halted by a encounter with a metal guard rail (see Brakes post) and most recently, Bodie met a boulder - yes a boulder - head on while snow skiing. Once again, the trusty helmet prevented life-altering head trauma. The boulder roughed the helmet up a bit, taking a chunk out of the front and requiring a replacement (like I said, we could REALLY use a sponsorship).

Bodie's goggles, however, were no match for the boulder and shattered on impact. In almost 40 years of skiing, I have never seen anyone shatter a pair of goggles. And as we went to get replacements in the shop at the resort - a resort where thousands of people ski every day - they too were amazed at the damage done to the goggles...especially by a five year old. Nice work Bodie.

And as for the question you're probably asking about Bodie, he's fine. He was pretty freaked out immediately after, but then said, "I'm okay, let's go," and we skied the rest of the run. He had two large, matching bruises on his thighs and one on his arm with a small scratch on his head where the helmet piece broke off. He was actually pretty psyched afterwards because his replacement goggles have a band with pictures of the Angry Birds on it - so he feels like he got an upgrade. As for me, a dozen more gray hairs and even more gratitude - he continues to beat the odds and he does it with a smile.

So if you know a helmet company that is looking for a spokesperson, we'd be happy to apply - I think the relationship would be mutually beneficial.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sights from the Season

So my mom decided to do one Christmas activity every day during the month of December. With 24 days before Christmas, this allowed us to enjoy so many of the cool activities that only happen once a year. Even better was all of the fabulous friends who joined us for our adventures.

Our buddy Jackson joined us to visit the trains and lighthouses at the Botanical Gardens, visits with Santa, our friend Liam invited Bodie over to build a gingerbread ski chalet (clearly his mom is awesome!), we went caroling with almost two dozen friends (Gates rode along in our wagon
with a look of confusion as we belted out songs to random strangers), a few hundred of our favorite people filled our home with Christmas cheer at our annual brunch, the notorious Salvation Army bell ringing...twice!, Zoo Lights, the Smithsonian's Discovery Theatre, a visit to the National Christmas tree, and the list goes on and on. Here's are some more of the highlights in pictures....

Some of the more than 350 Christmas cookies just before they were gobbled up at our brunch and Gates perched among the brunch's preparations.
 
Breakfast with Santa and Lori, Karim, and Noah 
 
 
Baking cookies and the decorating cookies with Abigail
Intensely decorating gingerbread houses
 
 Sneaking into the Keenan's house to make them breakfast
Attending the Smithsonian's Discovery Theatre and visiting the National Christmas Tree
 
So many reasons to be merry (and grateful). Our Christmas blog post will be up shortly, stay tuned...
 
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Colorado and Kansas

We headed west for Thanksgiving stopping first in Colorado and then over to western Kansas. I got to meet my Colorado cousins in person for the first time. It's easy to see why Bodie says so many good things about them - they sure are fun. We ate an enormous Thanksgiving meal followed by a fun day of basketball, visits with Uncle Jim and Aunt Rosie, and an adventurous day at their super cool zoo.

The giraffe exhibit was incredible, you come (literally) face to face with dozens of giraffes. I would squish my face into the fence, dangling the lettuce out and grunting at each giraffe as they came near. When they gobbled up lettuce from my hand, I usually fell over or took off running - but then quickly returned for the next round of giraffe encounters. Check out the picture with the giraffe eating lettuce OFF OF Bodie's head! Simply awesome. They also have the most impressive variety of bears my parents say they have ever seen in a zoo including a HUGE grizzly who looked like he was getting really close to hibernation.
For those of you who follow this blog, Colorado Springs is where Bodie fell off of Dave's shoulders and fractured his skull three and a half years ago, http://piantanidafamily.blogspot.com/2011/04/colorado.html. While quite a while ago, my mom was a bit nervous about "returning to the scene of the crime," especially repeating a family basketball game. There Bodie is, shooting a basket - not on my dad's shoulders this time. Fortunately, we all remained intact and we had a wonderful time.

We then traveled east to my nana's family farm in western Kansas. She is the oldest of seven kids and they grew up in a small town called Scott City, Kansas. The family farm and ranch have remained in the family and my dad refers to it as a HUGE playground; I'd have to agree. Harvest season is over so we lucked out and got to play with our family - farmers work incredibly hard, so finding down time was a treat.
We stayed with our fun cousins in Garden City and packed in ten times more fun than we could have ever thought possible. My Uncle Luke has a rock star collection of cars and hosted a ton of cousins, aunts and uncles at his "shed" for a party for us. Uncle Luke and I have several of the same cars, the only difference is mine are about two inches in length and say Matel on the bottom. Oh, and it's not just a car shed, it's got tons of toys including a basketball hoop so I had some down time to practice my shot (I'm getting closer!).
Cousin Chris and Uncle Bob let us play with their "toys" and Uncle Bob took Bodie out to do donuts in the field in the ginormous tractor. My mom said she felt like a tiny petite flower next to this equipment - I guess that's a good thing. I felt like an ant, (yes, that tiny speck under the 120 foot sprayer in the picture on the right is ME!)
And I'm told no Kansas trip would be complete without something outrageous, so we checked out the World Record Holding Largest Hairball. Yep, I said hairball. Here's the proof. Surprisingly, this massive thing was actually bigger - it's lost some density over time. But in it's glory days, it was 55 pounds and 37 inches in circumference. Yikes. Of course we took a photo!

Thanks to all of our amazing family for such a memorable trip. Looking forward to doing it again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ringing the Bell

Today I attempted to teach our boys about giving and kindness. It didn't exactly go as planned.

I signed us up as volunteer "bell ringers" for the Salvation Army. We went to our assigned local grocery store at our assigned time and got our red aprons, red collection kettle, and the famous gold Salvation Army bell.

Now for safety. I had a one year old and five year old on the curb of a busy parking lot, (no, none of this was well thought out when I gleefully signed us up). At the last-minute suggestion of a friend from Idaho - I'm convinced God contacted her directly - I brought our red wagon and strapped both boys in, put a festive Christmas blanket on their laps, and labeled it with a sign that said, "Santa's Back-up Sleigh."
Bodie joyfully put reindeer antlers on his head. I put an extra long Santa hat on. Gates happily threw his Santa hat on the ground along with his shoes, socks, and jacket; it was 45 degrees with an impressive wind.

Knowing it would be tough for two little guys to sit in a wagon for ninety minutes,  I sweetened the deal, telling the boys that every time we got five donations they could have a chocolate kiss. I envisioned crowds flocking to us, pulling every last dime from their pockets, praising the boys for their efforts as they stuffed their faces with chocolate kisses.

We attached our kettle to the stand outside the store and began ringing our bell. From the first ring of the bell, the traffic pattern of people going into the grocery store drastically changed. People walked 50 to 200 feet out of their way to AVOID us and go in the other door. We were like human repellant; a giant anchovy in the middle of an otherwise delicious pizza.  

To make matters worse, I had done some pretty good build up with the boys about how wonderful it is to give and how when you give, it makes others feel good and they want to give too. My pep talk did not include, "People will not make eye contact, pretend they didn't hear you shout 'Merry Christmas,' and walk face first into the glass of the exit door just to avoid you," (true story, it happened SIX times!)
video
Fortunately Bodie was committed to earning a chocolate kiss. He shouted Merry Christmas over and over and over again. Gates rung the bell, ate the bell, dropped the bell and rung it some more and after 90 minutes, we rallied 16 donations.

So here's what I learned...
  • I will forever make eye contact with the Salvation Army bell ringers - whether I donate or not, I can always be kind,
  • While writing a check would have been easier, there is no substitution for experience,
  • Wagons (and inspired friends) are life savers,
  • I never want to be a perfume sample sprayer in a department store, and
  • I am a glutton for punishment because we have a second shift on the evening of the 22nd...Bell Ringers, Take Two!