Monday, December 17, 2007

Mystery Gift

What is 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, wrapped in green paper and sitting in our dining room? It is the Christmas mystery gift. Brian and I put it out on Saturday afternoon. Brian's parents did something similar when he was a child. He has wonderful memories of the anticipation it built. We have heard some interesting guesses as to what it could supplies, ice skates for everyone, a TV, a window, and even a horse! Check back after Christmas to find out the answer to the mystery.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Cookies

For the past several years we have participated in a Cookie Decorating Party hosted by my dear friend Debbie. Each year she bakes all the cookies, provides lots of icing and toppings and invites several families to participate. It is an event my children looked forward to each year. This year I knew if there were going to be any cookies to decorate, it was up to me. Thankfully I have Debbie's recipe and the added benefit of double ovens. Making the cookies was easy. The children had a delightful time decorating them. (For some of them it was a challenge to see just how many sprinkles a cookie could hold!) However, we all missed the fun and fellowship shared with our friends.

Kathryn and Andrew

Before Andrew was born, I was concerned that Kathryn would be jealous of him. She has always been a mama's girl, however from the time Kathryn first visited Andrew in the hospital she has loved him. Kathryn has a very limited vocabulary, but she can say "baby" and says it every time she sees him or sees a picture of him. She wanted to hold him more than anyone else during his first few weeks with us. Kathryn thinks Andrew's paci is the answer to all his problems. She tries to give it to him whether he wants it or not! Kathryn also loves to kiss him. I'm so thankful she adores her little brother.

Congratulations Will!

Each of the children have learned to read using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Upon completion of the book each child has a "celebration". For the celebration the child gets to pick any dessert they want and I purchase a book for them. Last night we celebrated Will's completion of 100 Easy Lessons. He requested Key Lime Pie for dessert and chose Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold for his book.

After finishing his last lesson yesterday, he went to his room and came back with Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. He has been diligently working his way through the book. He needs help with a lot of words, but I'm amazed at how much he can read. Congratulations Will on your accomplishment! I hope you always love good books.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I posted on Saturday that I wouldn't have a chance of seeing snow until I returned to TN/NC in January. Well, I saw snow yesterday on our drive to church! When we moved to Irvine I was surprised that the area is surrounded my mountains. I could see a tiny bit of snow on the mountains visible from our cul-de-sac, however as we drove to church we could see mountains covered with snow. It was beautiful. How amazing that I'm in sunny Southern CA, 15 minutes away from the beach and can see snow from the end of my street.

I wrapped some presents last night. I'm listening to my favorite Christmas CDs today. It's finally beginning to feel a little like Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It may look like Christmas in my house, but until today it hasn't felt like Christmas. It has been difficult getting in the Christmas Spirit when my children are wearing flip-flops and shorts and everything is still green and blooming. Palm trees and Christmas just don't go together for me. I need to see frost (maybe even some flurries), wear a coat and drink hot chocolate. We could turn the AC way down, put on coats and drink hot chocolate, but the only snow we have a chance of seeing is during our trip back to TN/NC. It was in the 50s here today, but I don't think it will last.

Now that we have done some of our annual traditions, it is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas. Each year we draw names in our family. Yesterday we went to Target and let each person purchase a gift for the person whose name they drew. Brian and I divide up the kids to help them shop. It is amusing watching the children when we accidentally pass each other in the store. Everyone tries to "peek" into the other cart to spot their gift. We were smart this year and used Andrew's blankets to cover the items in the carts.

Last night the children decorated gingerbread houses. In the past I have used graham crackers, made my own icing, bought all the candies, etc. That was a lot of work and I didn't even make the gingerbread! For the past 2 years I've bought kits that contain all the gingerbread pieces, icing, and candies. This has been much less stressful. I want to make memories with my kids, but I don't want that memory to be of me being stressed/aggravated.

I bought 3 kits this year. The children paired up to work on the houses. (Ashley and Luke, Emily and Kathryn, Hayley and Will.) I think they all did a great job. They enjoyed seeing what the other groups came up with and were very complimentary to one another. Emily is to be commended for being willing to work with a 23 month old. Thankfully the kits came with extra gingerbread people to decorate. Eventually Kathryn was happy to decorate them and eat the candy.

Today we decorated our tree. We did this while Kathryn was asleep. Each year I give the children a new ornament. I try to chose ornaments that represents something that happened during the past year. I also bought a couple of family ornaments. Brian said if I didn't buy us something each year that when the children were gone we would have a bare tree!

2007 Ornaments

Family- Star Wars; Santa wearing shorts and flip-flops and holding a surf board.

Brian introduced the children to Star Wars this year. Over the past year they have watched all 6 episodes with some editing. They all love the movies. I do not care for science fiction/fantasy movies or books at all. I haven't seen more than a few minutes of any of the movies, however I am glad this is something they can share with Daddy.

Santa of course refers to our move to CA.

Ashley- a different Star Wars ornament
Emily- an "I love gymnastics" ornament
Hayley- a dog (She asks for one every year for her birthday and Christmas.)
Luke- a baseball player (Luke played t-ball for the first time this year.)
Will- Lightning McQueen and Sally from his favorite movie, Cars
Kathryn- Madame Alexander doll (just because it was cute)
Andrew- Pooh "My First Christmas" ornament

Monday, December 3, 2007


My parents and brother wanted to see some of the well-known sights while they were here. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving we first went to Venice. This is where my mom's parents met and lived for a year and a half. My grandfather was in the Navy at the time. He met my grand mother at the Aragon Ballroom in Venice. The ballroom was torn down in the 60's, but I was able to read about it on-line. Originally there were 2 Aragon's. One in Venice and the other in Chicago. The one in Chicago still exsists. These ballrooms played host to all the big name bands in the 40s and 50s. Laurence Welk's band signed on for a 6 week run at the Venice location in the 40's. That 6-week run turned into a 10 year stay! This launched his television career. His band was playing the night my grandparents met. We don't think the apartment complex my grandparents lived in exsists anymore either. My mom was happy just to see the area.

After leaving Venice we drove to Beverly Hills. I took some pictures on Rodeo Drive. The upscale shopping area was much smaller than I had imagined.

Next we drove through Hollywood. My mom and brother wanted to get a picture of the Hollywood sign. We didn't want to get out of our van, so we were never able to stop long enough to get a good picture. Hollywood is a symbol of the movie industry, but not a nice city. I was glad to leave the area. Thankfully my children were talking amongst themselves and not paying attention to the businesses and signs we were passing.

Our final stop was Dodger Stadium. My dad has been a Dodger's fan for as long as I can remember. We thought we would only be able to see the outside of the stadium. Instead we were able to go into the upper deck and see the field. Hopefully my dad will be able to attend some games when he comes back in the spring.

San Diego Zoo

On the Friday after Thanksgiving instead of joining the crowd of shoppers, we joined the crowd at the San Diego Zoo. We had originally planned to go to the zoo on October 12th as part of Luke's birthday celebration. Andrew's arrival on the 11th however changed those plans. We enjoyed our day at the zoo even though it was crowded. We purchased season passes so we will be able to go back again when hopefully there will be fewer people.


My parents and brother flew out to meet Andrew and celebrate Thanksgiving with us. We had a wonderful visit. We had our traditional turkey dinner around 1 p.m. Later that afternoon we drove to Laguna Beach to watch the sunset. This is the closest beach to us. It is only a 15 minute drive. There is a really nice public access area with a boardwalk, volleyball and basketball area, playground equipment and rocks to climb. My kids love climbing on and exploring the rocks.

Andrew Thomas Joyner

For those who haven't seen pictures of Andrew, I thought I would post a few. Andrew arrived on October 11th. Unlike his siblings, he decided to come on his own 2 weeks early. Brian's parents weren't due to arrive for 4 more days. It was quite shocking to go into labor on my own AND have to find someone to come stay with our children. Thankfully one of Brian's Eastman co-workers was able to help us out.

At birth Andrew weighed 8lbs 14 ounces and was 22 inches. He had a check-up last week (7 weeks old). He weighed 13lbs 14 ounces and was 24 inches. He is a big boy! He is already wearing 3-6 month clothes. He continues to nurse every 3 hours, so I have been getting up twice at night. This week-end I started trying to stretch out his feedings with the paci. I was able to get him to go four hours in-between feedings. I'm hoping his Christmas present to me will be a full night's sleep.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Humble Beginning

I've enjoyed reading the blogs of several friends and family members over the past few years. Now that my family is living far from those we love, I thought I would give blogging a try. I don't know how often I'll be able to post or how interesting the posts will be. My only long term reader will probably be my mom! Hopefully you will at least be able to watch the children grow and get an idea of what life is like for us in California. This picture was taken last weekend outside Dodger Stadium.