Sunday, December 28, 2008

The First Gift of Christmas

On Christmas Eve, after all the traditional happenings, it was time to settle the children down so the elves could get to work. Not an easy task. We had to read a few Christmas books: The Polar Express {we believe in this household & we do hear the ringing} and The Night Before Christmas. After reading that story I can never resist going to the front door and opening it to yell in my loudest & jolliest voice into the dark cold outside, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" This is the most embarrassing thing a parent can do in front of their older children. I don't care. I still do it. And they actually follow me, hanging back a few feet, to see if I'm really going to do it.
This time Andrew yelled out the door too. So fun..:)
Then comes the great pleasure of tucking Andrew into bed for a long winter's night. I knelt next to his bed for 10 minutes or so just listening to him talk about all his Christmas wishes. The first wish he explained in detailed was how he knew Santa would bring him a John Deer tractor to ride on in the back yard. This is the thing he asked Santa for when he saw him at his preschool Christmas Party. I couldn't help the smile and happy heart as I listened...

A very good friend of mine had called me a few weeks ago to get the okay on a special surprise for Andrew from her 10 year old son. He was given a front loader as a gift one year and has out grown it and wanted to pass it on to a fellow tractor lover. We all know Andrew's dream to be a "Working Dad." Plans were made and the time was set for the special delivery. How wonderful to be on this end of the giving. It felt so good to know that Andrew would be the receiver of such a thoughtful & perfect gift, especially since we could not possible give him that amazing wish this year.

So the bell rang and we rushed Andrew to the front door to answer it. He had already been asleep for ten minutes. He couldn't believe his eyes. He was so confused but so happy. He rode it into the house and road it around in the living room {still no furniture} and he gave Peter a few rides. Then I read the note to him.

And with a beaming smile he said, "Mom, I'm so happy right now." I'll always remember how that felt. Amazing. He'll be hearing the ringing of Santa's bells for a long time. We all will. Thank you dear friends.:)

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's over already...

So many pictures and moments to choose from

but here are a few of the highlights of our
Christmas Celebration.

Never wake up a sleeping baby...

Not even on Christmas morning to open presents.

Hurry! Give him some chocolate. And he ate chocolate all day long.

That ought to be real good for the liver.

I used to get really upset and uptight seeing my children eating candy before breakfast on Christmas Morning. I guess I'm over that. Life is too short...:)

Ahhh, Christmas Eve at Grandma & Grandpa Hallen's home.

Delicious ham dinner and gifts as place cards.

The Nativity produced & directed by Addie & Madi.
Sydney happily accepted the role of Mary and of course Andrew was Joseph.
Uncle Gary played the role of the donkey.
We've had fights in past years of who gets to play this role.

Who can resist taking a picture of baby legs???
Cute, sweet Kendall.

The Christmas Pinata from Aunt Kaye.
She makes them every year for us.
Grandpa filled it with the good candy this year.

Christmas Eve.
The first gift of Christmas went to a very deserving person this year...
More details on this major highlight.
Thank you Santa angel!
"Mom. I'm so happy right now." -Andrew

Addie is now a proud owner of a Webkinz Zoo.

Meagan patiently waiting to open a gifts.
It's tough being the oldest.

Happy children.

Happy Peter.

What a blessing!

He's hardly cried these past few days.

That is definitely a Christmas Highlight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A few of my favorite things...

I love Christmas. I love the color red. Thank you, Ma Kempton, for that. This is a little something that Addie made {for somebody for Christmas} with my much loved, button collection. I love it. She sewed on the buttons. Andrew painted the frame that came from a garage sale [of course]. Addie if you read this...I want one just like it.

I love this Santa that Andrew made at preschool. He looks so cheerful displayed in our family room. I love how you can curl construction paper with a pencil. I have to get this down about Andrew's thoughts regarding Santa Claus. He's been thinking hard about him these past few weeks. Andrew thinks that Santa lives by Heavenly Father. Sweet. And the other day I noticed a pile of coins under Andrew's Christmas tree in his room. Is he trying to bribe Santa??? Nope, he just wants to help him out with the cost of his presents
What consideration!
I can't wait for Andrew to open up his present that I just finished making for him tonight. He has been asking for a new quilt for his bed. The one he has on his bed is old. John & I received it from Aunt Gloria 18 yrs ago. It's dark blue on one side and matches his room. But it has a couple of rips. Andrew's really upset about this. So I went to the day after Thanksgiving sale to buy some flannel for his new quilt. I had to act pretty pathetic to get it. Long story. I also bought material for another little boy who needed a blanket, a friend adopted a family for CHRISTmas, and we signed up to help with that one thing. So poor Andrew had to hear all about this other little boy needing a blanket. John tells me of the night time dialogue from Andrew as he's tucking him to bed. "Dad, why doesn't mom just make me a blanket? I know she has the stuff to make it." So John put an extra blanket on him last night. Tonight, I tucked him into bed. "Mom, do you think they make blankets with construction trucks on it? Cause, I would really like that for a blanket. You have some on your ironing board." I told him that material was for a little boy who needed a blanket. He told me that he liked little blankets. Oh, I'm braking his heart making him wait until Christmas morning. I put another blanket on him. I can't wait to see him open that present. That's what Christmas is all about for me...I love it.

Candy can Christmas tree ornament.
I made this for a ornament exchange last week.
I wanted to keep this too.
It's made out of ribbon tied on to a real candy cane.
Only three more things to do and finish before Christmas eve. Yikes.
The panic is beginning...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Date Night

It's late. Everybody is asleep. I'm waiting to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer so it gives me a few minutes to tidy up and blog. Yes, I actually cleaned up first. Proud of myself for keeping my priorities straight. It wasn't easy though.
We're starting a new tradition in our household.
Fun Fridays.
We pick up pizza for dinner. {that's not new}
Settle down and relax at home. And then: Let the games begin.
Okay, that's the only new thing there.
I realized a couple of things that made me wake up and want take hold of the time we have with our children. First thing, Meagan is 13 and soon will be wanting to go out with friends on Friday nights {natural evolution of a teenager. yuk}. She's going to figure out how uncool her parents really are and want to have grown up fun with friends. I think we have her fooled a little right now. But she's a smart one and I think she's catching on. And then I realized that every Friday night we sit down in front of the t.v. to be entertained for the rest of the night. That's so wrong because I'm quite entertained by my children.
So I shocked everybody a couple of Fridays ago when I announced that we were going to turn off the tv and play a game. I think I saw John roll his eyes and then I heard Andrew ask what that meant, play a game. Addie got into the FHE mode and started delegating the prayer, song, lesson, and treat.
So we played charades using Christmas song and movie titles. It was painful at first. Really painful. But we ended up laughing really hard. I dare you to invite us over for Christmas Charades. We have our own hand mimes for Christmas out.
Tonight we taught them how to play spoons the Hallen way. I'm embarrassed to admit that we haven't played that simple game with them yet. They've played at friends homes with other families but not with us. Shame on us. Bad parents. That was such a basic game for me growing up. My brother, Bert, could fake a grab for the spoon that got me every time. John, though, he's a sly one. He sneaks the spoon and, well, let me just say...I dare you to invite us over to play spoons. Even our cool teenager was loving the game. So fun.
Next week, creepy crawlies. Is that what it's called??? I'd asked John but he's asleep.
Oh, the washer's done.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Let the Christmas festivities begin...
{A photo essay}
Hallen's feeling the joy of Winter and the hustle & bustle of our Christmas prep.
It all started with the gift of snow in Mentone.
Andrew & Addie couldn't resist playing for an hour in their P.J.'s out in the blizzard.
I think they were able to make five snow balls before the snow turned back to rain.
Look at that snow line. [minus the telephone lines]
View from our backyard.
The kids are counting this as their first gift.

Why is there always fighting???
The coveted kitchen step stool.
Please, Santa, bring us another stool...

Dad, taking a break...a 2 hour computer game break.

Meagan found this cute little beanie from little brother,
Andrew's, drawer and has worn it all week.
I can't believe it fits her.
She must not have the big Hallen head.

Meagan playing her greatest hits.
Peter playing the piano with the wooden horse.

Addie was busy for the past two days making a gift for her teacher.

Chocolate thumbprints for the Cookie Exchange.
Very yum. Very chocolaty...

Last, but not least,
making & packaging up John's handouts for his office people.
[The only clean spot in the kitchen]
Tomorrow's photo essay:
Me, mom, cleaning the festivities mess...
So glad Meagan is off from school. Oh, I love having children.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Love Apples

This made my day. And if you're an apple figure, it'll make your day too. Click here to read more about lovely apples

"Ignite the spotlight for middle figures. If your waist/hip or waist/bust ratio is greater than .75 {i'm not admitting this out loud}, absorb the glow of your moment. ...There are no bad or better body types. Swallow before the words "I'm exercising my way to an hourglass" spill out your mouth. They have their own jar or pickles. Now back to you, you and your soft delicious center. Your figure implies comfort with volume lying around your navel. You have the body type people want to cuddle. Especially tiny people, who most people call babies. Babies may have shaped your body into womanhood, and you should bear your wounds of motherhood with honor, not shame. Your waist is not a body flaw it is a body attribute..."

No more shame. Now I'm ready to face the world {okay, Andrew's preschool Christmas party} in my monochromatic outfit. Remember: Soft deliecous center...)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Patiently waiting for Christmas...

I am not even close to being ready for Christmas morning. The weird thing is...the panic hasn't hit me yet. And I don't think it will. I keep thinking that I should be more in a hurry to get things done. Finish gifts that need to be made. Bake the bread that we're going to pass out to our neighbors and friends. Oh, this is a big one; buy the stocking stuffers. Crafts to make with my children. But the Christmas cards are mailed and with only one mistake on them. I had to keep myself business those first few days in the hospital while Peter was sleeping.
I guess the reason for the lack of panic and stress...Christmas has already come to our home this year. We've been receivers of the First gift of Christmas but never a Christmas Miracle. WOw. I think this is how Christmas is supposed to be celebrated; without want of something to make us "happy" but realizing that we have all we need and that we are already happy. What else could I wish for this year??? I have so much. Family. Friends. Home. {now to help the children understand this...there lies the stress and panic}

Oh, the warmth that the Christmas Season brings.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Precious Christmas Gifts

There was a Christmas surprise waiting for Peter when he got home from the hospital today. Tadpoles. Not just any common tadpoles. This was a well thought out plan with the help of a few kind hearted teachers and schoolmates. It all started with a school assignment for Addie in November. Her class was learning how to write persuasive essays and she had to write one. She choose to persuade us to get a pet. I think we should get a pet frog for Peter. Her reasons were good ones. One touched my heart, especially. A pet frog would make Peter happy then mom could make dinner without him crying... I read this at Addie's teacher parent conference. I didn't realize that before but she's right. Peter crys a lot during dinner prep hours. I guess he's tired, not feeling well, having to share mommy with brother and sisters, and I can't hold him as much. Mrs. Cherry {love that name for a teacher} made an offer. Another teacher had tadpoles in her class for a science project and they needed a home. So with the approval of the students, and a banning on a strict Hallen no indoor pet rule, we accepted the sweet offer. Peter is going to have frogs for Christmas.

Andrew introduced Peter to his new pals. Not too cuddly now but in a few weeks or so it's going to be real fun. Meagan's already named them Alec and Alice. Hmmm. Where did those names come from??? She's so obsessed with Twilight. We're going to have to come up with new names.

Peter loves them. He laughs when they wiggle around and when they kiss the glass. He is very entertained. A big thank you to Mrs. Cherry, Mrs. Taylor, & Mrs. Moffet's class. Soo Sweet. Very much appreciated.

And the other precious Christmas gift was given to us on Tuesday evening. The surgeon told us the results of the pathology from Peter's surgery. The margins are clear. That was the news we were hoping and praying for. This means that there's only a 5% chance of it reoccurring.

The surgery went well. It took about 3 1/2 hours. Peter did amazingly well during it. He lost less blood than they anticipated for this type of surgery. The surgeons had to remove the whole right side of the liver and gull bladder. An amazing fact about the liver. It will grow back in about a week a or two. Incredible. The incision scar is really big. It looks a like a Mercedes Benz emblem. He did very well during the recovery. He finally knew when not to fight. We spent the next four days and nights in the ICU with wonderful nurses and doctors. I have so much respect and love for them. Great people. I will always remember their kindness, love, professionalism, and care. They got us through some difficult nights.

We were told that we could be there for up to two weeks. What a blessing that Peter did so well and we could come home early. We knew Heavenly Father would answer our prayers. We just didn't know it would be this great. John was driving to L.A. every day and then sleeping at home and then going to work for a few hours and then back again. Long hours. The Papa's have been taking care of house and home. I've heard from the older sisters that Andrew was a handful. Grandma & grandpa have earned their wings {again}. We are all exhausted.

And we are so grateful...Welcome Christmas season. The season of miracles.
More experiences to share coming soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Ride of Your Life

I loved what Brother Holman said in his testimony back in August during Sacrament Meeting. Went something like this: "Life is like a ride. I'm just glad to be along for it. The ups and the downs." It stuck with me because at that time I was going through my one year post cancer check and had to be on the special low iodine diet, no dairy of any kind {you know that's not easy for me if you know how I cook} and no thyroid meds to act as my metabolism. And having thoughts, worries about cancer returning. What he said stuck with me because he was {is} battling cancer for the 3rd or 4th time. It gave me courage.

It's just what I needed to hear prior to Peter being diagnosed with cancer. Those words still give me courage.

But this picture explains it all.
  1. Hold on tight
  2. smile
  3. pray

Lots of prayers have been said for Peter. Thank you a million times. Those prayers have been answered. Peter had his surgery. He's doing better than I expected. We don't know the results yet but he's doing amazing. The surgeons are optimistic. Mother and dad are encouraged. Peter is resting. I'm home for the afternoon for a nap in my own bed and a shower. More updates on Peter soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Calling all Readers...

The Nutcraker Ballet and The Messiah Sing along. A sure tell sign that the holiday season has arrived. Andrew's off to the Nutcraker with the Papa's. Doesn't he look excited? Wish I was going too. But we're off on a different adventure. Peter's surgery. I'm actually grateful that it's happening so close to Christmas because of all the festive spirit during this time of year. Peace. Hope. Love. Miracle celebrated. JOY..

I have our Christmas cards ready. I'm taking them to the hospital so I can address the envolopes. If I don't have your address please leave it on the comments. {Lindsey, Natalie, yes you, and you too...}

We're off...We'll be home for Christmas..)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Some of My Favorite Sayings...

I have to take a minute tonight to write down some of my favorite Andrew questions, answers, chattering, and sayings or else I will forget. Oh, I don't want to ever forget the fun words and phrases that he derives up and that forever runs endlessly out of his five year old mouth.

On Saturday John took Andrew with him to run some errands. When they came back I was making lunch and asked Andrew if he wanted some. He's always hungry. But he didn't want anything to eat. Suspicious. I asked him if they ate out for lunch. He tried really hard to ignore me. Then finally said, "I'm not suppose to tell you. You might get sad."

The other moment that puts a smile on my face every time I think about it happened a few months ago. After we ate the apple cider mini donuts we stopped to look at the hillside of goats on display. Peter's love of animals encourages us to spend time animal watching. Then Addie heard a goat pass gas {I can't bring my self to say or even spell the word far(t)} That felt wrong. She was totally offended. I guess she didn't know that animals do that. She was so grossed out it was funny. Then she made a big deal when she smelt it. Hang in there. I know this is getting disgusting...And this is what makes me laugh. Andrew asked her, "What does it smell like." Who thinks like that??? Boys. Or maybe just Andrew.

There are so many more...look at me forgetting already. So sad.

I'm devoting the title: Some of My Favorite Sayings to Andrew. More to come.

By the way, the picture above is Andrew holding a almost dead lizard. He found it "taking a nap" in a bucket of water in the back yard. He's not dead. He's eyes are closed because he's tired and taking a nap.

It is a boy thing...

After I went to bed I remember something else that I wanted to write about. These past few weeks Andrew has been asking some pretty tough questions about cancer and Peter. The questions sound really easy and simple in context. "Mom, how did Peter get cancer?" Then the next day, "Mom, When will the Peter's cancer be over?" And other questions just like those. Simple yet complicated. These are questions I've asked myself also. The answers aren't there. So I just give simple replies. I try to reassure him that it will all be okay. Peter will be okay. I wonder if he's asking because he is worried that he might get cancer too. When somebody in the family has cancer it's like everybody having it. It's been tough on Andrew. I can't even explain all the different ways. Peter gets a lot of our attention. Andrew has to give in to Peter all the time with his toys or anything. We have a lot of work, and catching up to do when Peter is healed of this.

One thing amazing to me is through this difficult time the children, even Andrew, have never complained about any of it. I want to always remember that not only have they not complained they have excelled in their school work and other responsibilities. I can't even say that for myself. There they go. Teaching me.

I can't wait to give Andrew the answer when he asks, "Is Peter's cancer gone today?"

"Yes. It is."