Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just some other holiday photos

Messy sucker after visiting with Santa. Even messier sucker.

Christopher had a Christmas Sing at school, but our pictures turned out blurry.
It's hard to get Xander to agree to be in a picture. He's been my biggest lover of Christmas.
Whereas Darci is always willing to be in a pic.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

Christopher figuring out the GameCube New poster to hang

Darci on the go Preparing for a day of shopping
Style before comfort is key SUCH a diva
We woke up this morning to lots of snow and 3 very excited kids. Santa had come and left quite the haul. They enjoyed taking turns opening toys and we enjoyed seeing so much joy in their faces. They even took joy in each others' gifts. Christopher happily recieved a Nintendo GameCube and would play every waking moment if I let him. Xander recieved some Star Wars figures and lots of puzzles. Darci recieved a baby doll and stroller. Also some fun, girly accessories. I think she, especially, enjoyed the opening of the gifts.
My family (mom and dad, Brett and Shendi) joined us for an early Christmas dinner and some feel-good family moments. What a fun time we had. Brett and Shendi's little Blakelynn is 5 months old and got so excited around Darci. Darci had a little tea party with her, and sang to her, and all around enjoyed her little cousin.
There will be more pictures to come... here is just a sampling.

Christmas Eve

Bret and I making ornaments Darci dancing with Quinn

Christopher and Xander putting their homemade ornaments on the tree.
Brady, Christopher, and Xander being goofy.
We spent Christmas eve with Bret's family. His parents live in a condo community that has a really nice clubhouse. They had reserved the clubhouse for our festivities this year. When we gathered my sister-in-law, Audra, had so many fun arts and crafts prepared for the kids. She is always on the ball with this kind of stuff and I truly envy and admire her talent in that area. There was also a great spread of food that Darci ate and ate and ate. Bret's brother, Casey, is in from Milwaukee and after a little time the kids warmed up to him again. There was a large hot tub that some of the boys enjoyed. They also decided to be crazy and almost all of them laid in the snow in their bathing suits. It was nice to catch up with everyone and enjoy music, food, and crafts. We had pizza for dinner and then opened gifts. Everyone was truly generous and the kids had a blast. My only regret is that we didn't do the traditional reading of the Christmas story from the bible and then having the kids act it out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

I read in the paper recently that it is now perfectly acceptable to "blog" your Christmas card/letter. It makes you "green" because you are saving paper, and it makes you financially frugal for not spending postage. But really those are just my excuses for not getting one out this year. My other excuses are the plague we've been enduring for the past 3 weeks and I'm pregnant. Really, I can blame every thing on being pregnant, right? So, our year in review... **Bret is still working at the West Jordan library for Salt Lake County. He's been there several years now and doesn't look to be moving branches anytime soon. He speaks Spanish fluently and they need that at the West Jordan branch. He really does enjoy his work as a librarian. He likes being on the committees that order Rock CDs and he has a good say in the DVDs. It's fun spending tax payer's money. Through a ward split this year (and a total of 3 over the last 5) he has been kept as the ward organist. I don't think he'll ever get away from that one. It's a shame, really. A lot of people are missing out on other great spiritual talents he has, but they love to enjoy his musical talent. The members of the ward have learned that he doesn't need to much notice to get a musical piece right and he gets called for lots of accompaniments. **I've had a busy year. Do ever feel like you do a lot and never get ANYTHING done? Yeah, that's been my year. I redid my kitchen this year with the help and talent of a friend. It turned out beautifully. In the process of DIY home projects I decided (with the help and talent of same friend) to build a salon in my home. It was a challenging and tedious process. I did 95% of the work myself. I demolished the floor and took out a pantry and closet to open up a small bathroom. I did drywall, texture, and paint. And I laid my own laminate floor. I was able to get a steal on a shampoo bowl, chair, and hair station. Once we got it into the room we had to cut half the back off to make it work with the plumbing. We tried putting the toilet back on and it broke. And, after finding out I am pregnant in early September the whole thing got put on hold. So, the door to that room is shut and I'm sorta wishing I never embarked on that journey. And that's where the announcement of the pregnancy comes in. We've had a little spirit nagging us since about April. We finally gave in and after about 3 months of trying we are expecting a little girl around May 8th (which in my pregnancy timline will probably come around middle to end of April). Sometimes the thought of a 4th child scares the Dickins out of me. Most of the time I'm anxious to hold a new little one. I've already started having contractions so we are doing lots of praying and hoping that they will stay mild and that bedrest is still a ways off. I am currently serving in the nursery and I love it. **Christopher is in 1st grade this year and he's an ace. He is naturally smart like his Daddy and enjoys learning and figuring things out. He loves all day school and the first thing he tells me when I pick him up is what he ate at lunch. I wonder how long the novelty of school lunch will continue. Although, I look at his menu and it all looks pretty good. Another area he has grown leaps and bounds this year is in the Gospel. Certain things that seemed to go in one ear and out the other... or completely over his head... are clicking now. His knowledge of spiritual things astounds me. He's not the shortest kid in class anymore and I have to buy him new clothes all too often. He loves animals, especially Grandpa's horse. He is into video games, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and is LOVING Christmas time. **Xander is my ball of fire. He continues to amaze me all the time. He has stepped into the roll as Mommy's helper and big brother to Darci when Christopher is at school. He is so sweet and tender. And yet, still as stubborn as ever. He is in Joy School this year. That's preschool taught by all the mom's of the kidsin the class. So, I get to teach once every six weeks. He loves his friends from class. Xander is the most excited for a new baby. He kisses, hugs, and pats my belly. We are going to name her Eliza, and he and Christopher want to call her Ellie for short. **Darci is the light in all of our lives. Everyone loves Darci. She is happy and silly and fun and SUCH a girly-girl. She gives lots of loves and kisses. She'll play with light sabers with the boys and then turn around and tote a purse. In the past year she's gone from baby to little girl. She idolizes her brothers and she is a Daddy's girl. She's social and loves to sing. She loves nursery at church and to play with her friends there. I think Xander and Christopher would do ANYTHING for her... and she knows it. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. She doesn't quite understand that there is a baby on the way and her pedestal is probably going to be lowered a little. We're banking on her sweet, maternal nature to make her a great big sister when Eliza arrives. Despite the ups and downs in life we feel VERY blessed as a family this year and hope that the love and blessing we have in our life can extend to you and yours. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Christmas Miracle

We had a little Christmas miracle occur at our house today. My emotions have run the gamut lately. My little family have all been sick on and off since the week before Thanksgiving. Just yesterday Bret was diagnosed with Strep throat. I've been frustrated because it seems like we just can't catch a break. I have already started in on mild contractions and feel frustrated because I haven't been able to bring in a little extra by doing hair. Things have been a little tight financially around here. But who hasn't been struggling? We have still felt very blessed with what we have (minus health). As Bret and I ate some lunch this afternoon (brought to us by a very kind neighbor) our doorbell rang. I couldn't figure out who would be at our door in the middle of the afternoon. As we opened the door all that was there was a card and a cute Tigger and Winnie the Pooh (which immediately pleased Darci). We looked around and saw no one. We brought the surprise gift into the house and opened the card. All it said was "Merry Christmas. There is a surprise inside Tigger and Pooh. From Santa". Tigger and Pooh had little zippers on their backs and inside was a VERY generous gift. I haven't cried that hard in so long, and believe me I've cried a lot lately. I had to explain to my boys that they were tears of joy. I don't know who our secret santa was, but I hope you read this and know how very, VERY much we appreciate your gift. I hope that I can find a way to pay it forward and give like you have given to us. Darci with the bearers of the gift and her new favorite snuggle buddies.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Xander's Birthday Party

I'll admit to you... I was dreading Xander's party tonight. Half the people weren't coming to safegaurd their children against chickenpox. Don't get me wrong... I totally understand. I wouldn't want them to come. I was just worried it wouldn't be a good event for Xander.
It was a wonderful success. Xander LOVED his cake. He got excited with every family member that showed up. He loved opening his presents and showed great appreciation for each and every one. A huge change from 2 years ago when he threw a tantrum and got overwhlemed by the attention.
We did an Indiana Jones theme. I decorated the house with lots of green crepe paper to look like jungle vines. Xander seemed to like that. He also got several Indiana Jones toys. He enjoyed his time spent with those that came and went to bed content and happy.
Thank you to those who braved the plague at our house and made this day so special for Xander. In return I will pray for your continued health.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Itchy belly Her face has it the worst. The one almost in her eye is the saddest. So, our children have had the misfortune of being infected with chickenpox. Even though they have all had the vaccine for it. Christopher and Xander had VERY mild cases, but Darci has been hit full blown. Despite it all she has been in good spirits. POOR BABY!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday Xander!!

***Xander about 3 days old***

I really think that for mothers a child's birthday is a time to reflect on the day that child was born and what has transpired since. I remember the day he was born VIVIDLY. ***Xander 11 months old***
Xander is such a special child. He came to us after we had a baby that was stillborn. He has a unique personality and a strong spirit. He is in the position of middle child, but makes sure he gets his fair share of everything.
***Xander on his 2nd birthday***
I wanted to make today very special for him despite it being a weekday and Daddy having to work and Christopher going to school. We started out by heading to the store to order his cake for his party coming Sunday. He's excited to do things Indiana Jones style. He also picked out a donut and a chocolate milk for today. Then we went to Target and he picked out a toy. His choice was the game Hungry Hungry Hippo. We got back in the car to meet Grandma Pingel at the mall for lunch and I noticed he looked very flushed and tired. By the time we pulled up to the mall he was fevering and listless. Oh dear!!! Just like Christopher on Thanksgiving. Despite it he enjoyed his time with his grandma.
***Xander on his 3rd birthday***
The rest of the day he mostly slept and watched cartoons. He didn't even want his pizza and rootbeer for dinner. My poor little man. Hopefully his party in 5 days will make up for the crummy day he had today.
Xander, my man, Mommy loves you so much. You bring such a light into all of our lives. Your joy of building things whether it be puzzles or blocks or potato heads amazes me. Your love of music and singing makes me happy. Happy Birthday Xanderman.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A sweet and sour Thanksgiving

No, we didn't eat Chinese for Thanksgiving. We spent it with my side of the family, but we spent it with half of us fighting colds... including me, which is totally unfair! Pregnant women shouldn't have to fight illnesses that they can't take medications for. But I digress. Christopher was fine when he woke up in the morning, but by the time we were headed out to Grandma and Grandpa's house he was burning with fever. He went from bouncing off the walls with excitement to see his cousins and eat pumpkin pie to lying listless in bed and refusing all food and company. As crappy as I felt my heart ached for my little man. It broke when he told me how unfair it was that he was sick on such a special day. Bret has been fighting his cold for almost 2 weeks now. It's pretty much gone, but when Bret gets a cough it hangs on forever. I've been sick since about Tuesday. It's hard enough to sleep when pregnant, but harder when you are congested and coughing. That's the sour. THE SWEET... All of my siblings and their families were able to come for Thanksgiving. Despite distances and tight financial situations we were able to all be together. As a lot of Thanksgivings are... it was all about the food. My sister-in-law, Carrie, makes THE most fantastic dips and appetizers, and Lindsey makes a very yummy cheese ball. We spend much of the day munching and grazing on these delectable foods while the big bird cooks. The cousins all played so well together and had a blast. The boys played lots of basketball and football. Lindsey's baby sister and her boyfriend, Kurt, joined us for the chaos. Ali is so sweet and funny and she is so cute with all the kids. They were a great addition to the day. In the middle of the day I started to feel pretty lousy and Lindsey had a medicine suggestion for me (she's due with a little boy 2 weeks before me). And my mom suggested taking a long soak in her jacuzzi tub. It may seem very silly, but I am so thankful for them and their suggestions. The tub was a piece of heaven and the medicine helped me get through the day. Dinner rolled around, and as we always do we went down the line and listed what we are thankful for. My family is known for being a bunch of bawl-baby-boobs and we didn't disappoint. We are all so thankful for our tight knit family unit that is sealed for eternity. For our wonderful and supportive spouses and our beautiful children. For my mom and dad at the head of this family that lead by example and with strength. One of the things I listed last night was how grateful I am for forever families. I told everyone around me that if our family is this great in this earth life imagine how amazing and cool it is going to be in the eternities!!! I am truly grateful and thankful for my wonderful family. Those within the walls of my home and those that are extended. My sweet husband is the very best to be found. He is my very best friend, biggest support, lover, and amazing father. We are equals and partners and companions. He is patient and kind (almost to a fault). My children are the best. I don't have to tell you that. 99% of this blog is dedicated to bragging and telling everyone about them. My mom and dad are my heroes. My brothers and their wives are such great friends and examples. And for it all I only have my Heavenly Father and his only begotten son, Jesus the Christ, to thank for ALL the blessings in my life. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A sweet surprise

I had my regular 16 week check up with my obstetrician today. It's one that I look forward to with much anxiety since Xander. Before we had Xander I went to this appointment (a week late because of the holidays) and discovered our baby had died. My body hadn't registered that fact and wouldn't go into labor on its own. I delivered and held and mourned that sweet little boy and ever since have lots of fear as that particular time in each pregnancy rolls around. So, we had a long wait in the office. It's a holiday week and things were crazy. After waiting a little over an hour they got us back and Dr. B came in and said, "Should we find out whether this is a boy or girl today?" Ummmm... this appointment usually consist of a quick check of the baby's heart beat and they send you on your way. A bonus ultrasound, whether they can tell the gender or not, is always a treat. He takes us to his ultrasound room and zooms right in. I could tell immediately and so could Dr. B... IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!!!!!! Now, it's kind of early to be able to tell for certain. It's possible that we'll get to our big ultrasound, that checks the baby for everything under the sun, and we'll find a little something that wasn't there before. But I've been feeling that this baby is a girl for awhile now and the fact that I was able to point out her little parts says something about how clear our view was. So, for now we are celebrating having a little sister for Darci and snuggling another little pink bundle. Naming is currently in the works.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"I'm gonna be a man!"

This was Christopher's declaration to us on Saturday morning. Trying to suppress giggles I asked him what he meant. "Well, Mom, first I think I need to start taking showers instead of baths. Also, instead of calling you guys Mommy and Daddy I'm going to just say Mom and Dad. AND I'm going to start wearing a watch." Hmmmmm...ok... I can handle this being a man stuff. Bret then told him some other things he could do to "be a man". Like, helping mommy when she isn't feeling well and being more patient with Xander and Darci, and helping mommy get dinner going on nights he isn't home. Christopher thought on this for a few seconds and then agreed. Christopher gets bigger everyday and it is mind boggling sometimes. He's such a sweet boy and you can tell he thinks deeply about things. So, as hard as it is for Mommy... Christopher is on his way to being a man.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Danika Leigh

Dustin and Crystal, We just think she is absolutely precious and can't wait to spoil her with lots of love.

Me and little Danika. She is sooo alert and interested in everything around her. Bret holds Danika as Darci moves in for a kiss. Hopefully she'll react this well to the new one joining our family in May.
Xander singing to Danika. He has been waiting and waiting for "the baby to come out of Crystal's tummy". He can't wait to play Star Wars with her. ;)
Christopher was a little nervous holding her, but was determined to do it. They were so excited about our trip to see their new cousin, and disappointed when the trip was so short. But Danika was hungry and "Mom and Dad" looked tired.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I love babies... especially teeny, tiny new babies. I love their smell; I love their cry; I love how they stay all curled up when you hold them. The worst part is that they just don't stay that way long enough. A lot of people think I'm crazy or lying when I say that I love the newborn stage the best. I don't mind getting up 4 or 5 times a night to feed my babies. I think I like it more with each child, because I know I'm closer to having my last. Yesterday around 9:15am I had a new little niece come into this world. Her parents, Crystal and Dustin, are some of my very favorite people. Crystal is one of the most genuine people I know and is truly kind. She had a rough labor with 3 hours of pushing at the end. They hadn't found out the gender previously so the first declaration was that they had a girl. Next bit of news we found out was that she was 7lbs 10oz with brownish-red hair. She was bruised from being face up and needing a vaccum extraction. Finally, after waiting all day, we discovered that her name is Danika Leigh. I'm excited. I've actually had a strong suspicion that this baby would be a girl and that her mommy would get her way with the name Danika. So, in my mind that is what I've been calling her. Tonight my family is going to see Dustin, Crystal, and Danika. I want to take lots of pictures. Christopher and Xander are so excited for a new cousin. Even Bret is excited to see Dustin and Crystal's first baby. I'm hoping to add those pictures to the blog later. I have this picture in my mind and it is so sweet. I know we don't KNOW what the gender is of the baby I'm carrying, but I've been feeling very strongly that it is a girl. I have this vision of about 3 years from now... Darci is the leader of this little pack of girls. Danika and our baby are following her around and they are doing fun girly things. Hopefully with minimal intervention from parents to calm disputes. I'm hoping another SIL of mine isn't far behind in adding to this group of girls and that cousin will be a part of the group, too. Ahhhhh... I love babies.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Loved or Liked

Is it better to be loved or to be liked? Most people would say loved.

Some of you know that Xander's preferred way to express affection is to say, "I like you". His Grandma Armstrong is often trying to tell him that she loves him and that's even better. But, Xander being Xander, you can't convince him otherwise.
So, I've been thinking... is it really better to be liked or loved. Well, the way Xander says it... it's better to be liked. His young, innocent explanation was way too deep for his age.
Xander: I like you, Mommy.
Me: I like you, too.
Xander: But will you always like me?
Me: Xander, Mommy always loves you not matter what!!!
Xander: MOMMY, I KNOW you'll always love me. Even when I'm being very bad. But will you always LIKE me?
This pulled me up short. How often do we have days where we dislike someone that we will always love. I know I have.
So, I truly believe it is the greatest compliment when Xander comes up to me, wraps his arms around my neck, and exclaims, "Mommy, I LIKE you!".

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween 2008

We had a pretty typical Halloween. Costume parade at the Elementary... dinner with the Pingel's... and Trick-or-Treating. I'll let the pictures tell the story. I have WAAAAAYYYYYY cute Halloweeners.
Christopher Spidey
Xander Vadar
Darci Bumblebee

Saturday, October 18, 2008

UTE Game

Utah vs. Colorado State The fun people around us. Marissa and Bret before we got sunburned Many of you know that Bret is a University of Utah fan. As a result I am happily letting my kids become Ute fans and in the process becoming one myself. I am learning and enjoying football more than I ever have. So, Bret gets season tickets this year and gives each of his brothers and his dad a game to go to and then that left one for me to go to. I didn't have a preference when it came to the opposing team, so my game was by chance. It was a day game on a gorgeous day. The weather a week earlier had been near record cold, but just 7 days later we were having near record highs. The people around us were a fun array of personalities and Bret and I truly enjoyed our time together without the kids. We had fun, it was a great game, we won 49-16, and we got sunburned. I didn't even have to ask Bret too many questions. I'm hoping next year (young baby permitting) I can go to a few more games.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Last post continued

2 days after posting Christopher's handsome 1st grade pic and telling about the note home from his teacher we had his first Parent/Teacher conference of the year. Christopher did not disappoint. His reading level is "top of the class" and he's getting "bumped up another reading level" next week. He is sent home every night with a homework book and he flies through them. Homework books are supposed to be books to help them practice. They aren't supposed to be hard, but Mrs. Shakespear said everything is so easy for him. She also pulled out a paper and showed me the words she had asked him to read. He was only asked to read the first 25 on the page, but he kept going. Of the 100 words on the page he only missed 4. Math is also another area he is excelling in. They have been working on addition, but he'll ask Mrs. Shakespeare lots of math questions pertaining to subtraction and counting in 2s, 5s, and 10s. He's a "sensitive boy" and "quick to tears" but he's getting better. THIS doesn't surprise me. I wish I coul take credit for a lot of this. We worried when we didn't do pre-school with Christopher. I work with him, but I always feel like it isn't enough. I guess it is. He gets a lot of natural smarts from his dad. I'm scared for the day he asks for help with his homework and he knows more than I do.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Christopher in 1st grade

Christopher got his school pictures today. I must admit that I was dreading them. Christopher is known to crack a goofy grin for the camera. They turned out awesome. I think he is soooo handsome and I just love those blue eyes (he gets those from his daddy). I also got a note home from his teacher today saying how much she appreciates how thoughtful, helpful, and kind Christopher is to everyone in class and her. She listed several occasions of him cheering up a scared or upset kid and even cheering her up. I can't believe my little man is 6 years old. I'm so grateful for the person he is.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


So, when we moved into our home 5 years ago one of the things we loved is that the previous owners had landscaped it in a way that took minimal work on our part to keep things pretty. One thing we discovered was 3 grape vines. I don't know how to grow grapes. The 1st year they went to the bugs. The next couple of years I tried to pick and eat them, but they were teeny tiny. My neighbor that grew up working on grapes as a youth in California told me how to prune them a get a good fruit. This year we have an amazing crop of grapes. WOW!! They are a seedless variety and very sweet. I've been told they won't be good for juicing. I'm wondering if I can jelly them. They really are good to just eat. I've only picked about 1/4 of what I need to. It's something I will be working on for the next several days.
This picture is what I have picked, cleaned, and removed any bad grapes from. It came to around 8lbs of grapes.
If you would like some grapes please come get some. They are at perfection right now. Just the right size and sweetness and not mushy yet. Also, the bugs have mostly left them alone (except the bees).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Too cute!!

Darci sat still long enough for me to put her hair in ringlets for church today. I think she looks so cute!!