Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Ashton Family Festivus!

The Ashton Family Festivus - 2009

This is what we called our Christmas vacation this year. Andy's parents and brothers (except Mike and Kathy and their kids - we missed you guys!) all came down here the Monday before Christmas to spend a week with us. We had been planning for months and we were so excited to really host our first Christmas all on our own! Itinerary was set, meals were planned, shopping was done - it was time to have a week of fun!

Monday we spent the night relaxing after dinner, since they had just driven all day.

Tuesday we took a drive down to Kartchner Caverns. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive but so worth the trip! This was seriously an amazing cave and the story behind how it was discovered was amazing in and of itself. The men who discovered it kept it secret for 14 years as they tried to figure out how to preserve it from vandals! Andy's oldest brother, Dave, his wife Ashley and son Noah took the trip with us, as did his brother Chris. Sharon and Henry stayed home to tend Zac - they were lifesavers, he would not have done well, as you could not touch anything inside of the cave and no baby backpacks or strollers were allowed! I think Zac had the best 9 hours of his life with all of the attention on just him!

(This picture was taken in front of a display of Woolly Sloth remains that were found in the cave)

Brynley climbing on a fake Stalagmite!

There were some small replica crevices that showed how small the entrance to the caves originally were. Andy and I only fit through the larger of the openings!

Unfortunately cameras were not allowed in the cave but it was magical. Hayden has suddenly taken on a huge interest in caves and the many formations inside. We bought him a book in the gift shop and he read it the whole way home then came home and taught Grandma about all of the cool things he saw! I highly recommend the drive down to experience the caves!

The next day Brynley had fun showing Grandma how to use the computer she got from my dad. They were so cute sitting together playing.
Wednesday morning the whole family headed to the gym for a nice workout to start the day. After the gym we headed to Makutus Island! It is a huge indoor play area that is made to look like a giant tree with climbing tunnels, zip lines, and slides galore! Zac was super brave and spent most of his time climbing this net and going down the slide, it was hard to drag him away!

Makutu made an appearance dressed as Santa!
Zac decided that playing Skeeball was much easier if you just climbed up and thru the balls in!
After a fun day at Makutus, the kids got to have a babysitter while the adults all went to Gecko Grill and to see The Forgotten Carols. This is a tradition Andy and I have been doing for 5 years, it was fun to share it with the family this year!
Thursday was Christmas Eve. The day started with a trip to the gym and then we went to see the movie - A Christmas Carol. The effects were great, there were some parts that were a bit scary for the kids but they liked it none the less!

Zac is modeling his Christmas Eve dinner attire!

The dinner table set and ready for some food! The menu included ham, potatoes, orange jello (with cheese on top), mustard sauce, green beans sauteed in garlic, and amazing rolls brought from St. George. All the recipes come straight from our family cookbook - I love good old family recipes!
The whole group (minus me) eating dinner together.

The kids getting ready to eat!

After dinner it was time to decorate sugar cookies and get the platter ready for Santa and his reindeer! You will notice the kids did plenty of sampling as well-
While decorating the kids heard a knock on the door. Who could it be??? When they got to the door, no one was there but on the doorstep was a present for each of the kids form Santa! Inside the kids found their new Christmas pajamas! Zac was thrilled and ran around, jumping and screaming!
When cookies were done being decorated the kids all got their P.J's on and were ready for some photos! We then watched a great Christmas DVD and I read one of my favorite Christmas books - Pippin the Christmas Pig.

One last photo op and the kids were sent to bed with anticipation of Santa coming!

A picture of the tree after Santa had already come!

The kids were super excited Christmas morning. Hayden got the two main things he had asked for - a skateboard and an Adidas shirt! Zac loved his Cozy Coupe and Brynley was super excited about her pink scooter and her Barbie House! We had some very happy kids and revealing the pregnancy was especially exciting!

Meredith and Steve and their kids came over for our traditional Christmas brunch. The menu included Egg and ham casserole, bacon, sausage, Monkey Bread, Orange Rolls, fruit salad, hash browns and an assortment of juices and milk. We managed to fit all 7 kids at the bar!

Some of the adults didn't get the memo that we usually spend the whole day in our pajamas!

Kate and Zac thoroughly enjoyed their meal together!

Christmas day was spent playing basketball and football outside, riding skateboards, and scooters, napping and all around just spending time together. It was a great day!
Saturday was spent at the movies! Most of the Adults saw Avatar while Ashley and I took the kids to see Alvin and the Chipmunks I would have loved to see Avatar as well, but Andy said he will take me again sometime. We had pizza and Wings for dinner, followed by family movie night with the whole family.

Hayden got the Blue Ray - "Up" from Santa so that was the movie choice. I love that movie, it makes me cry every time!

More watching and relaxing!

Sunday night we decided to have an early birthday for Andy's dad. We had grilled steak and shrimp with roasted broccoli and potatoes for dinner.
I made him a double chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and the kids made him some cute Birthday cards. It was fun to celebrate him a bit as we are never there for his real Birthday in January.

Grandpa with 4 of his grand kids!

Brynley's favorite person of the week was definitely Uncle Chris! He was so cute with all of my kids, we loved having him here. We don't usually get to spend this much time with Chris so it was very fun to have him. He was often found in the very back seat of the van squished between two carseats. I kept telling him he really didn't' have to but he said he was ordered to by Brynley! She has always had a thing for older men!

Zac sure loved uncle Chris as well.
This was by far the best Christmas we have had since my mom died. We stayed up late playing games almost every night, ate to our hearts content, played outside nonstop, and just had fun together.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An interesting Christmas Gift...

Santa left a gift for Hayden, Brynley, and Zac. Inside the kids were a little surprised to find a new stocking, pacifiers, and a package of diapers, along with this note from Santa:

Hayden and Brynley sat with their mouths wide open, then Hayden came over to me and told me he has been asking Heavenly Father for a new baby sister. We told him be don't know yet, but maybe it will be a sister! Merry Christmas!

(Thanks to my friend Toni who is a better poet than I am for writing the poem!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feeling like Christmas!

I love getting the kids all dolled up for Church the Sunday before Christmas. Hayden had been anxiously awaiting the day he could wear his new pants and tie. (He tried to wear them a few weeks ago and I made him take them off!)
Modeling her dress for me

What a nice big brother!

Yay, Zac smiled!

Andy came home from meetings just in time to jump in a picture before we had to leave for church!

Bryn and I tried for a quick pic after church!

Zac wanted nothing to do with pictures on the porch after church, he just wanted to play!
(Can I just say, dressing boys for holidays is so easy - usually. The matching ties are never a problem but who would have thought black plants for a toddler would be so hard to find??? I thought I had some from when Hayden was young but when I pulled them out they were navy - ahhhh!!! So after searching 4 stores yesterday we ended up with black corduroys, but they have grey dogs on them, what the heck!?!? Seriously - 3 other colors of plain corduroy pants, but the black had to have dogs. Oh well.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our Little Dancing Girl

Brynley had her very first dance recital last week. It was so cute, all of the girls looked super cute and had such a good time. We were so proud of Brynley for remembering almost the whole dance. The girls danced to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Shakin her hips!

My cute little reindeer!
The whole class with their wonderful teacher, Miss Misty!

What a cutie!

I will upload a video of the dance as soon as I figure out how to make it a little shorter!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gingerbread Houses and an Early Christmas!

Since Granny, Shelly, and Joe were in town, we decided to give the kids a little early Christmas. It was fun to have the family see the kids reacting to their gifts and the kids didn't mind opening a few presents early! The first two pictures are out of order but I thought Zac was hilarious with these blocks my Grandma gave him. He was concentrating so hard on them, his little tongue was hanging out the whole time!

They all loved their presents - Brynley got a Hannah Montana Barbi Doll that she has been asking for, Hayden got a set of 6 Bakugans as well as some crafting stuff, Zac got a golf game and some great building blocks. Grandma got all of the big kids their own sled - why you ask??? We took the kids to Flagstaff last year to go sledding and it was such a fun experience that we plan on doing it a few times every year, now we won't have to borrow from people! The kids were all screaming when they got them!

After presents we did our annual Gingerbread House decorating. Our family usually does this the Monday night after Thanksgiving but Hayden was so sad that Aunt Shelly would be gone, he asked if we could do them Sunday night instead. It was so fun, we had Meredith and her family bring theirs and we decorated them all together!
Lindsay and Caroline are pretty much perfectionists in this area, my kids... not so much! I love their creativity, even if it meant a green tree being stuck to the roof! Shelly and Grandma had a great time helping us.

Andy was taking the pictures while Zac was in bed. Not sure what Brynley's doing here!

Meredith's Family

Our finished Gingerbread House! Made with a lot of love!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving decorating party!

The day after Thanksgiving was always decorating day for our family... We would go and cut down a Christmas tree and then get right into the decorating. This is something we have always done in our little family as well (assuming we are in town). We always watch The Polar Express and drink Hot Chocolate while setting up the tree - the kids think this is the best part! Our tree is a fun family tree with an eclectic display of ornaments. Everything from the ornaments I grew up getting each year to the ones my kids get every year, to my mom's ornaments and souvenirs from trips. We will be buying a second tree at the end of the season to start setting up next year for strictly our "nicer" ornaments!

Zac loved the tree. He had a hard time hanging the ornaments but he would take them and set them on the branches.
Hayden asked about every ornament. He wanted to know the story that went along with each one. It was so cute! I give each of my kids an ornament each year that symbolizes them - Hayden could remember most of his ornaments from years past and loved unpacking them and hanging them up. The kids also learned that my mom used to collect mouse ornaments, every time they got a mouse out, they were exited because it had belonged to Grandma Sue!

An ornament we got in Disneyland last year. A tradition I started a few years ago is to buy a Christmas ornament on every vacation we go on. It is fun to unpack those and remember the fun times we have had as a family. We have ornaments from Hawaii, Houston, The Grand Canyon, New York, Disneyland, Prescott, Sedona, Oregon, and many more...

Brynley admiring Zac's ornament from last year!

While we decorated inside, Andy spent most of the day on the roof! Thanks to some great friends who let us borrow their huge ladder, Andy was able to get to the highest eves of the house! I am really proud of him and love that he is as excited as I am to make the house look cute!

A Perspective shot!