Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013



The Fox wants to know... What do we say?

Allen says: I have almost 3 years as Scoutmaster under my belt. I enjoyed many campouts with the scouts as well as our week-long camp this summer and a rafting trip with some of our older kids. I enjoyed watching the milestones my kids have reached this year and have spent a lot of time contemplating my future life full of grandchildren.

Gerb says: Allen and I were able to take a trip to New York with our friends the Biglers. I got to see Newsies on stage again! I loved my annual week in the mountains at Young Women’s Camp and have a new assignment at church to work with the young women (age 12-18) and their leaders. I’m learning a lot.                             

Allen the Younger says: I love sharing the good word of God and serving the people of Fort Worth, Texas! I’ve gone through a tornado and ice storms (it literally rains ice!) in the last year and have also seen many miracles. You can read my weekly letters home at elderblackfortworth.blogspot.com. I love y'all!!!

Elle says: I’ve graduated from high school and finished one semester at BYU. But the best thing that happened this year was that I received my call to serve a mission in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 18 months, speaking Spanish! I will leave for the Mexico Missionary Training Center in late January and then on to Baton Rouge!

Thumbelina says: My braces are off! My XC team placed 9th in state, I made it into Chamber Singers and I love it! We sang backup at a Foreigner concert (they let me play bass guitar!) and I also got to sing in Utah’s All-State Choir. I finally got my driver’s license, went to Disneyland twice, and I’m graduating from high school in the spring! Fantastic!

All-a-Boy says: I’m a freshman! I had the privilege of performing as a Wickersham in Seussical, I have a lot of fun singing baritone in Men’s Choir. I was able to enjoy a two-week trip to the National Scout Jamboree and various church history sites this summer. I’m almost an Eagle scout! I started (occasionally) wearing glasses this year. Allonsy!

Cowgirl says: I turned 12 and got to go to camp with my mom this summer! I loved going on a backpacking trip with my dad and the other girls my age at church. I graduated from 6th grade and now I go to middle school. I’m in the choir. The kids in our family discovered Doctor Who and I can not get enough of it!  Geronimo!

Princess says: I’m almost 11. I love to read! Some of my favorite authors are Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Louis Sachar, Richard Paul Evans and Suzanne Collins. Of course, I still love the Harry Potter books too! I love to sing, go to school and be outside. We went camping in California over Spring Break and I got to shoot guns! That was cool.

Hubba says: I’m in third grade now. I got to be a Bear cub scout in October. It’s fun. That means I got my Wolf badge. I loved going fishing at our family reunion this summer. I caught a fish! I love shooting my BB gun. I also made up a comic strip called Mighty Boy. Nothing too exciting happened though. We didn’t move or anything.

Curly says: I’m seven now and my teacher is Mrs. Anderson. She really likes diet Coke. When we do math she makes it fun. I love numbers and counting as high as I can! I like to color and draw and paint and decorate things. I like to play games, ride my bike and roller skate. I love to read, especially Bailey School Kids and Flat Stanley books. Bye!

Little O says: I get to go at school now because I’m in kindergarten! I like to play with blocks and my brother Little X is my best friend even though he pinches me sometimes. I want to eat healthy food so I can grow huge muscles just like my dad. I like learning my letters.  My favorite letters are O and E and that one at the end of my name.

Little X says: Dats awaboyaygo. Wook dispartuk. Wach Bababurbur? Translation: That’s All-a-Boy’s Legos. (He loves to get into his brothers’ Legos when they are at school.) Look at this fire truck. (All trucks are fire trucks. Unless they are construction vehicles.) Watch Bob the Builder? (He loves watching Bob and knows the names of every machine.)                                          

We all say:  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fury of the Storm Wizard

Have you ever wanted to see All-a-Boy in his natural habitat?  Then here he is!



My friend Janelle's sister wrote this book and asked if All-a-Boy would be in the commercial to promote it. Pretty awesome, right?  The book sounds pretty awesome, too.  Here's a synopsis:

A storm is brewing in Silver Valley, where an unusual string of mining accidents has locals whispering of dark magic. When the marshal sent to investigate goes missing, his young assistant Boone turns to Jesse and Eliza for help. But Jesse is a new mage with raw magic, and Eliza is hiding a secret. The three must learn to trust each other before the valley is destroyed and they are ripped away from everything they hold dear.

We're excited to get a copy (shhh...it's going to be under the tree Christmas morning).  It sounds kind of like a Harry Potter-ish book set in the old west. Both things we love around here. I have a feeling this will be one of those books that gets passed from kid to mom to kid until we've all enjoyed it.

Not only can Shauna write stories, she has her own amazing story, too. Here's a little more information on the author and the book.

When Shauna Black was diagnosed with cancer in early 2012, her author aspirations were put on hold. Now, almost two years later, she will realize her dream as she publishes her first novel, Fury of the Storm Wizard.

Jesse, the main character of Fury of the Storm Wizard, must find courage as he grapples with the death of his mother and a move from the Kansas prairie to a Colorado mining town, where Jesse discovers he has astonishing magical power.

When he befriends a girl scarred by fire and a young dragon disguised as a human, Jesse finds strength to overcome his challenges. Together, the teens must uncover the truth behind a string of deadly mining accidents and foil the plot of an evil mage before Jesse can learn to control his magic and use it to save his friends and family.

Like Jesse, Shauna found strength to defeat cancer in the support of her loved ones. They gave her the courage to make her dreams into reality.


Fury of the Storm Wizard will be available the first week of December 2013 in paperback and ebook formats at online booksellers. Please visit http://www.thunderstrucknovel.com or http://www.shaunablack.com for more details.

If you read it, let me know what you think!  We'll be sure to do the same.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hubba's Greeting Cards

Hubba had a homework assignment to look at the pictures on these cards and then come up with greetings for them. I don't know about you, but a lot of cards I see at the store are a little dramatic.  I was impressed that Hubba stuck with more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach. For the first few cards he went with the obvious, simple greetings.  

get well soon

 can I hod the BaBY

thanks for the Bike 

But these last two were my favorites.

I Made you a wedding cake

Dear gma thanks for the turkey

I don't know about you, but I would pay good money for cards like these from the store.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Beholding of Angels


I have been studying and thinking about spiritual gifts lately - where they come from, how we recognize them and what they are.  When I first read over the list of different gifts I could only recognize one as a gift that I possess. But as I've thought more about each one I am beginning to realize that I have more than I originally thought.  

I received an email from Princess' teacher the other day.  It said,

I wanted to let you know about the wonderful job Princess had been doing in my class. She sits next to M, who is an academically gifted student with autism. M often has trouble focusing and sometimes makes odd noises or hums as a symptom of his disability. Princess has been so patient with him and has been a wonderful friend to M. I'm aware that it's easy to be distracted by his behaviors, and I am impressed with Princess' positive attitude towards the situation. M loves his table!

I was so proud of my sweet girl. She has always been such a tender-hearted young lady who is a friend to everyone.

Princess had a class store the next day, where each person had the option of bringing items from home to sell and/or getting to spend the class 'money' they had earned at other students' stores.  Kind of like a yard sale for 5th graders. When I picked the kids up after school I asked her how it went.  She told me about what things were most wanted and what she had sold and then wanted to show me some of the things she had bought.  As she pulled some binoculars from her pocket a ball of foil fell out.

"What's that?" I asked.  She looked like she didn't want to tell me. "Is it just some trash, Princess?"


"Mom, please don't get mad."


"Why would I get mad?  Did you buy some treats and eat them all?"


"No."


She went on to explain that her friend M, who sits at her table, didn't have anything to sell at the class store so he had made balls out of foil and set them out for sale.


"No one was buying them, Mom" she told me, "and he was really excited about them at first but then he started to look really sad. So I went to his store."


"And bought one of his foil balls?"


"No." She pulled three more from her pocket. "I bought four."


My vision got a little blurry just then.  I drove in silence for a few minutes and then I told her about the email I had gotten from her teacher the day before and how proud Allen and I were of her. "Those foil balls are my favorite of all the things you bought, Princess", I told her. 


Grades are important and all, but this is the kind of stuff I love to hear that my kids are learning.


One of the spiritual gifts that we can be blessed with is the beholding of angels. I remember reading about that gift and wishing I had it - to be able to see my dad again and others who have left earth life.  But when I stop thinking of angels as immortal beings and recognize the earthly angels that I share my life with, my kids who teach me by example how to bless the lives of others, the more I think about it, the more I feel like this is a gift I may have been given.  Because even though they can be typical kids a lot of the time I am constantly impressed and touched by how natural it is to them to serve and help others. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let It Snow!


We woke up this morning to a world covered in white stuff.  Little X was completely fascinated and would not stop staring out the window and pointing out everything that was now covered in snow.  He was excited when he saw Little O getting his snow gear on after breakfast.  X went and found his hat and snow boots, put them on while still in his pajamas and loudly proclaimed, "Outside!"

I helped him into clothes more suitable for the weather and the two boys happily played until their cheeks were tinted red and I made them come inside to warm up.    



The snow has not stopped falling all day long.  It's been piling up like crazy and Little X has resumed his watch from the window, fascinated as every evidence of his play time this morning is slowly disappearing beneath the falling snow.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our Newest Addition

In order to get his Family Life merit badge All-a-Boy was required to do a project that would benefit his family.  This little front yard project was something Allen has had in mind for quite a while so we got All-a-Boy working hard over Thanksgiving break to complete it.  He cut sod, dug deep enough to fill the space with gravel and sand and then laid the tiles (all with some help from his dad).



And now we have a little walkway to our side yard, along with a spot for the trash can to call home.


I love seeing what my kids can accomplish when they're willing to work hard. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Fire Ring

Allen has been doing a lot of work in the back yard lately and it's coming together really nicely.  One thing we decided to put back there is a fire ring.  It was a one-day project and probably something the kids have been the most excited about.

One afternoon we noticed it was super quiet, like the kind of quiet that means Little X is likely up to some monkey business.  I went to see if he was getting into his big brothers' legos (a favorite thing to do when they are at school) and Allen called me back upstairs to look out the back window.



Little X had found himself a sandbox to play with his cars in.  He made roads, pulled the grate over the pit and lay over it, squished his toes in the sand - he was having a grand time out there in this new sandbox.  We watched him for a good 15 minutes before he realized we were there in the window.


The lava rocks went in over the sand this morning and we'll have a marshmallow roast sometime before the snow falls. I think Little X is going to be pretty disappointed when he realizes what this is really meant for.

The good news is that there is still plenty of dirt in the back yard for little boys and their trucks to play in.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving


When one of the kids gives us all that they have it means more than anything.  Besides that, Curly not only loves us, she likes us too.  

I'm feeling pretty rich today.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Feast

We're hosting Thanksgiving for my side of the family here at our house this year.  That meant that today was a day for baking like crazy!  I love my usual roll recipe but wanted to try for something new this year.  So I tried THIS RECIPE and they turned out awesome!


I am also a little embarrassed to admit that pie crusts scare me.  They are so hit-and-miss!  But I went for it and tried two different recipes this year.  I'll have to let you know which one turned out better.  I made my fruit pies using THIS RECIPE my friend Michelle shared on her blog.  Everything she makes looks amazing and she has a lot of kitchen experience so I figured her favorite crust recipes were worth a go.
  

And then I made two pumpkin pies using the pie crust recipe in my trusty old Betty Crocker Cookbook.


The best thing I invented today were these:

I'm not sure why I never thought of doing this before.  I used to try to wrap little strips of foil all around the pie and they wouldn't stay on half the time.  These are just like little pie hats!  I folded some aluminum foil in half, cut a circle out of the center and couldn't believe I never thought of doing them this way before.  Why didn't anyone tell me there was an easy way to do this?

Thumbelina thought the leftover dough was for playing with.

 I also made frozen cranberry salad, something Allen's mom always makes for Thanksgiving and we all love.

I got the recipe from here, our family cookbook:

Tomorrow I'll make a big pot of mashed potatoes with lots of butter and a sweet potato casserole that tastes more like dessert than a side dish.  

And the next day I'll rest.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Head To Head

Have you ever wondered what would happen if two boys happened to run headfirst into each other at school during inside recess?  Probably something like this:

The secretaries told me that the swelling had gone down considerably in the time that he waited for me to arrive at the school to pick him up thanks to an ice pack.  When I asked him if the other boy was okay he told me frustratingly, "He didn't even cry!  But I sure did!"

When we walked into his classroom to pick up his backpack and coat so I could take him home he gave a hearty fake cough to call attention to himself, put on his saddest face and then pulled away the ice pack slowly for dramatic effect to reveal his goose egg.  It totally worked - he was rewarded with resounding "ooooooh!"s and "owwwww!"s from his classmates.

By the end of the day it was just a nasty looking bruise and Hubba was happy for the time spent at home watching movies and showing off his injury to his siblings.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chivalry Is Not Dead


When I drop my Little O off at school each day he always love to race to the kindergarten door then turn and wave or flash me an 'I love you' sign before disappearing inside.  I have noticed something else, though. When another boy arrives at the same time as he does it is always a race to see who can get inside the door first.  But when a girl is there?  He runs to get to the door first but then always holds it open for her.

Last Friday as Little O jumped out of the car and started to run to the door he looked and saw two girls being walked to school by someone's dad.  He waved to me and then ran to the door.  He then held it open and waited for probably a full minute until those two girls had gotten inside.  He gave me my wave and started to go inside when he noticed another girl coming so he opened the door and held it again and waited until she was in the classroom before he followed behind.  Neither Allen or I remember teaching him this.

What a proper little gentleman.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Magical Smart Car



One morning when it was just starting to get chilly Hubba noticed a red car on our street whose windows were frosted over.  Since he was ready for school early on that day he decided to do a little service.  He walked over to the car and started to clear the frost off of the red car's windows but as soon as he touched the car it honked at him.  Not the incessant kind of honking that means you've triggered a car alarm but a quick, friendly honk.

Hubba looked around, wondering if anyone else was seeing this.  He waved at the car.  HONK.  He touched the window.  HONK HONK.  He couldn't believe it.  This car was smart!  It was like magic!

I didn't know about the car until a few weeks later when someone at church told me about it.  So I asked Hubba.  He told me that the car was his friend.  It liked him, so it would honk when he did something funny or even when he just ran past.  "It's like a magical smart car," he told me.

Since then I've researched Magical Smart Cars and discovered various dances and cheers and chants that these cars really like.  I taught them to Hubba and when he performs them for the car he is rewarded with a string of happy honking.

video

All of the other kids in the family have befriended the car as well but everyone says it seems to like Hubba the best.  This is one of those friendships that was just meant to be.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Missing Our Friends


Because I drive a 15 passenger van and there is a pretty good crowd of kids from our neighborhood who go to a school outside of our boundaries, I volunteered to transport them to and from school every day.  Two of the kids who ride with us are Miss H and Mr C.

Not only do they ride to school with us, they are sweet kids who are polite and gracious and kind.  Miss H is Princess' best friend and Mr C is one of Hubba's favorite friends to play with.


We found out about a month ago that Miss H and Mr C were moving.  Not just on the other side of town, but to a city about an hour away.  Last Saturday was the official moving day.


Princess has had an especially hard time since they moved.  Miss H is the perfect kind of friend for her. They have always gotten along really well.  Their personalities just seemed to mesh.  I'm not sure how to explain it really, but we are wishing they still lived a block away.  


We need to plan a trip to their new home.  We sure miss our friends!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun at Trafalga



Last year for Christmas we got everyone in the family a pass which allows us to visit a waterpark in the summer and a variety of other venues all year round, including Trafalga. You pay a one-time fee and everything is 'free' for a year with the pass. To be honest, it has not been a lot of fun to take Little X.  Mostly because he doesn't want to stay in the stroller and he's difficult to keep track of.  However, when we went last month it was totally different!  He didn't even have to stay in the stroller because he walked right next to me and loved riding on the rides with the bigger kids and climbing all over in the kiddie play land. 


The older kids (meaning: everyone older than X) all love playing laser tag and kept going back because there was almost no wait (which is rare).  So X and I had to find something to occupy our time.  After about 20 minutes in the play place he was ready to leave so I decided to let him try mini bowling.  He was instantly hooked!  

video

I think my favorite part was the little victory dance when he would knock pins over.  He didn't understand that he needed to roll the ball and not throw it.  He also didn't want to wait for the game to re-set the pins between each turn so he just threw a ball whenever he wanted to.  He was in heaven.

We will definitely be back to Trafalga for some more bowling.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mummy Boy


Hubba is a cub scout and he loves every minute of it.  Last month's pack meeting ended with a mummy-wrap game that he wanted to play over and over again.  I guess there was just something cool about being wrapped in toilet paper and then breaking yourself out of it.  I was visiting with another mom across the gym and someone had to come tell me that Hubba had been trying to get my attention so I could take a picture of him - but he couldn't move or the toilet paper would break.    


I love this crazy kid.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cross Country 2013



Thumbelina's cross country team made it to state!  They got 2nd in region, which was pretty amazing.  She beat her time from last year's state meet so she was happy with that.  The photo above shows the Varsity Girls team and all of their coaches.

Here's my girl running her hardest and passing up a few other runners about halfway through the course.  

Other than a trip to compete at Footlocker at Mt. SAC in December this was her last race because it's her senior year.  That was kind of a bittersweet thing because she enjoys running but not racing.  

I am so proud of what she accomplished on the cross country team this year!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seussical


Our family went to see All-a-Boy in Seussical at the high school on Monday night.  What a treat!   He's the ape-boy up front in this picture:

I'm pretty sure that the Wickersham brothers had more fun on stage than anyone.  And probably off stage, too.

There was so much color and energy and excitement in this show!  It made me want to get up and dance.  (Don't worry, I refrained.)


The circus scene was pretty amazing.  All-a-Boy is the hoola-hooper on the left.  I couldn't believe how long he could keep that thing going for!  The circus was like a show within the show.  Something new was happening about every 5 seconds and I was worried I'd miss something if I looked away.






Here's a pretty good shot of my boy when Horton's singing a lullaby to the egg.


And then he's monkeying around as a Wickersham again.



The elephant bird.  So darling!
 
All-a-Boy is a little scary here but it's the only picture I got of the whole fam after the play had ended.  Allen and Little X were there for the first 15 minutes or so but when I called Allen at intermission to ask where they went he told me they were at home and Little X was happily watching Bubble Guppies instead of running rampant through the rows of seats at the back of the auditorium. 

The kids were all dying to shake hands with the Things and get a picture with the Cat in the Hat afterwards. They wanted to see Horton, too - but we couldn't find him.  It was sort of like Disneyland for them, getting to meet the characters and talk to them.

Allen and I will go back to see Seussical again this weekend and I'm excited to just get to sit back and take it all in without having Little O ask me which one is All-a-Boy? and Hubba ask me I'm just wondering...do you have any food? every few minutes.  

I love seeing my kids on stage!