Monday, December 29, 2008

Lessons Learned

Sunday morning around 3am, I was placing Tanner back in his crib after his mid-night feeding and heard Amelie's sweet voice calling to me. It wasn't her typical nighttime cry indicating trouble, but I went to check on her anyway. I laid down beside her and asked what was wrong. She said she had had a bad dream. I asked if she was okay now and she said yes--that she had said a prayer to Heavenly Father asking Him to help her have better dreams, so she was fine now. What a simple lesson learned by a faith-filled four year old that her Heavenly Father loves her so much that he will help take her bad dreams away so she could sleep well. If only I had as much faith in my times of need to remember first to turn to my Heavenly Father and ask Him to help calm my troubled heart or 'take away' my 'bad dreams' so that I could rest easy. I am so thankful for such a wonderful little girl who teaches me to first turn to a loving Father in Heaven and have faith that He will help me feel better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As I have run out of time to send these, I thought I would post our Christmas letter here for all of your to see--plus, it will hopefully bring you to our blog and let you know a little more in depth how our family is doing and what we are up to. At Billy's band concert, a grandma of one of the other saxophone players was sitting behind us and chatting with us. She asked if this was called a Holiday concert or a Chritmas concert. Of course, the school had to be unoffensive and call it a Holiday concert. She made the comment that it is too bad that everyone is afraid to say Merry Christmas and offend another and that she makes a point of wishing others a Merry Christmas whenever she can. I take her wisdom and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and may Tidings of Great Joy fill your lives throughout the coming year!

Dear Family & Friends, December 2008
As another year comes to a close, I find myself facing the blank screen and wondering what to report of the Allen family news to you all. We have had quite a year and the next one proves to be just as exciting. We have now lived in Kalispell, MT for an entire year and love it just as much as the day we rolled in to town. We are slowly settling in and getting the house set up how we like it. We miss our friends & family in the south but love living in the mountains and having four real seasons.
As 2008 began, we prepared for the arrival of our little baby boy and I was most thankful for the healthiest pregnancy ever. The delivery on July 28 was the best c-section experience I could have asked for. I was grateful that all went so smoothly! I substitute taught before Tanner was born and continue to substitute as I need to. I began the year teaching the sunbeams (Amelie’s class of 34- yr olds) and now I teach the 10-11 year olds each Sunday. And in September I began my own Pampered Chef business. I have had so much fun with this because the products and recipes have completely enhanced my desire to cook. It’s easy to do fun, creative dishes and clean-up is a snap! I never knew cooking could be so enjoyable, so it has definitely been worth the effort of getting my business up and running. If you are ever interested, I would love to tell you more or get you free product as a host for a catalog or cooking show. Just let me know!
Jim is thoroughly enjoying his switch to the northern border. There is something to be said about hiking through the mountains of Glacier National Park and calling it work. It is beautiful and beats any office he could ever want. Jim also stays busy as the 1st Counselor in the Young Men’s organization, which means that he works with the 12-13 year old boys on Sundays and as the Assistant Scout Leader. He has had a lot of fun with them, especially Billy!
Tiffany (and Mary and Billy) got to help us move into our new home in the snow, then enjoyed Spring break with us and the summer, which was unnaturally cooler than usual. She is now half way through her senior year, and it seems that Senioritis is settling in J She is doing great right now playing Varsity soccer for Mesa high. She only has a half day worth of classes and she loves to fill her calendar with activities with her many friends. She’s a social butterfly and so much fun, who wouldn’t want to hang out with her?!
Mary is a busy bee as usual. She is a Junior at Mesa High and not only has a full and challenging academic schedule, but she also played tremendously on the Mesa High Varsity volleyball team and now on the Varsity soccer team with her sister. Mary also completed a huge project painting & decorating her room with Tiffany. Mary had her first job this summer at Bajio’s here in Kalispell and everyone there loved her. She is a hard worker and such a wonderful, fun and loving young woman.
Billy, Amelie and Eric have all lived through their first real changing of the seasons from summer to fall and fall to winter this year. What fun it has been to watch their excitement, especially for the snow! It has been so wonderful to have Billy with us. He is the best big brother ever. Billy is only 4 merit badges away from his Eagle Scout as he and Jim have been working hard on that. It has also been so fun to cheer him on as he played on his 8th grade football and basketball teams. And he has worked hard to make his first ever appearance on the honor roll—even recognized in the newspaper! He had 7A’s and one B. We have also thoroughly enjoyed listening to him practice and attend his band concerts where he plays the Alto Saxophone. If you check out our blog, you can listen to one of the songs he played in his Christmas concert. He has had a wonderful year and is growing into a fine young man.
Amelie continues to amaze us with her ability to learn and be creative. She loves planning parties for her pretend friends, which usually resemble cartoon characters. She is in Joy School to prepare her for kindergarten next fall and she loves it. She just played the Angel in the school performance of the nativity. Amelie loves to entertain! She is our little angel.
Eric thinks he is as big as Amelie and Billy. He will talk to anyone & everyone. He loves pretending to be a pirate or superman, or combining the two to be a superman pirate . . . to the rescue! Eric is a quick learner and would live outdoors if we let him.
Tanner is a very happy baby most of the time—even teething, he isn’t too fussy. He loves to laugh and smile, especially with Amelie and Billy! He is learning to sit up and just began scooting backward on his belly a little, too. He just discovered his tongue and that he can make all sorts of fun sounds & squeals. He is a big kid, too, wearing 9-12 month clothes at five months. He’ll make a great football star someday!
We are so thankful for the Christmas Season and the opportunity it gives us to focus on the gift of the Savior and on what we can give to the Lord and to others around us. May the true meaning of Christmas fill your homes & carry you well into the new year. We love you and wish you a very merry Christmas & a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Billy's 'Holiday' Band Concert

Last night, we attended Billy's Holiday band concert, which was performed with the eighth grade orchestra and choir. It was very well done and we enjoyed the night. Billy did a great job playing the Alto Saxophone. We had, of course, heard his part while he practiced at home, but it was fun to hear how his part fit into the whole band to complete each song. Music is such a wonderful talent to develop and helps more than we realize in our understanding of math and science. I once listened to a reading of the top essay at an Academic Decathalon competition in Arizona on the benefits of music programs and all they teach, above and beyond the obvious music skills, techniques and appreciation. It was excellent and I often reflect on what that young girl pointed out as I listen to school performances. I am so glad we have music programs in the school. I know they are often looked on as frivolous and are often the first programs cut, but I am truly thankful for such programs and that Billy is able to participate in them. I can't wait for the younger kids to get their turn at music classes as they follow in the footsteps of their older brother and sisters. Click on the video below and you'll hear Billy and the band playing my favorite of their concert pieces--It's called 'The Name's Claus, Santa Claus.' See if you can figure out why! It's really cool! Way to go Billy! You're the coolest sax player ever!

Joy School Christmas

Amelie performed in her Joy School Christmas play on Monday night for family and on Tuesday morning for a rest home. Somehow, I was nominated (did I volunteer for this?) to narrate and lead the songs. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Amelie was the angel and delivered her lines so well. She also did an excellent job on the songs and would love to perform them for you--just give her a call and she will sing them to you. She is a smart and talented little girl with a great deal of self-confidence and assurance. She was a little unsure of the elderly at the rest home, but the performance was a great success. The staff and residents couldn't stop telling us how much they enjoyed it and appreciated us coming. We were even asked to come back next year and perform not only for the regular ward, but also for the alzheimer's wing. We have been trying to focus more on the giving than receiving as this Christmas is going to be small (I have gotten far too carried away in the past and really, how many toys does one kid need? e don't have room for what we already have. let alone add to it). Plus, as a Joy School, each student is choosing one of their own toys to give away to a children's/woman's shelter. It has been tough for Amelie to choose, but a very good lesson in giving.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Billy gets the Grade

I can't tell you just how wonderful it has been to have Billy with us this year!! He is such a wonderful young man! I couldn't ask for a better big brother, either. Amelie and Eric love to play with him and Tanner loves to smile and laugh with him. Billy has worked hard, too. He has earned quite a few merit badges and on his report card, he got 7 A's and one B. This was his first time ever on the Honor Roll and we couldn't be more thrilled!! I have thoroughly enjoyed helping him with his homework, too. I know, I'm crazy, but I miss teaching and helping Billy is helping me get my teaching 'fix.' Thanks, Billy for helping me keep up on my teaching skills. His teachers all enjoy him, too. They all praised his work and efforts as I visited with them at Parrent-Teacher conferences. Billy is simply the best!
P.S. On December 17, Billy was in the local newspaper (The Daily Interlake) for his academic acheivements in making the honor roll! Way to go, Billy! We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chubby Monkey

Tanner had his 4 month check up this morning and I knew he would blow me away. Here is the update:
He is 18 lbs. 7 oz. (at least a pound bigger than both Amelie and Eric were at this stage) and 27 1/2 inches long (again, at least an inch or more longer than both Amelie and Eric were). This places him in the 97th percentile for weight and the 98th percentile for height. The doctor even joked that she had a tough time checking his hips and legs because they are so thick (and he honestly had little chicken legs when he was born!). But she is not worried about his size--he is a happy, happy, happy, healthy little baby--and so strong! I threaten to cut my hair if he pulls it again because it hurts so much--watch out Darth Vadar, this one has a death grip of his own! And he was smiling and laughing with the doctor, just like he does all the time with Amelie and Billy. (They especially grab his attention.) He is truly a wonderful baby, though gone are the 6-7 hour stretches at night. That's because he is teething. The front of his shirts/bibs are soaked with drool and we are constantly pulling his fingers and thumbs out of his mouth. At least he'll try chewing on a pacifier! We all love watching him and talking to him and playing with him. He's our little chubby monkey!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today being Thanksgiving, I would like to take a minute and reflect on all the things for which I am thankful. I have a tremendous husband who loves me so much. I have six wonderful children without whom life would not be complete. I have a family who loves me and whom I love. I have a warm (usually) home that keeps us safe. I have a knowledge of God and Jesus Christ that leads me and guides me every day through all I do. I have wonderful friends all over the world whom I love and cherish. I have many luxuries of life. And though life is never without its trials, I am so thankful for my life and for all that Heavenly Father has given to me!

Here are a few pictures from our Turkey feast today. We had a wonderfully relaxing day and even started pulling the Christmas decorations out tonight. Tomorrow, we go to the mountains to chop down our own tree!!! I can't wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Parlez-vous français?

Jim is in Georgia for training this week, so when I picked up the phone this morning and it had his name listed as the caller, I was, of course, excited. I answered and the voice on the other end responded, "Bonjour!" Jim often does this (which is almost the extent of his French knowledge, though he tries, and of course remembers the bad words that my sister Anna taught him), so I didn't think anything of it. But, then the voice continued in French. "Oui, bonjour--Parlez vous français?"
Still, I thought it was Jim and he had learned/remembered this phrase, so I played along. "Oui, je parle français." Then, however, the voice at the other end started a full blown conversation with me in French and I knew it was definitely not my wonderful hubby. He had met a Moroccan at the training who, of course, spoke French and had him call me so I could speak with him in French. It has been at least a year since I have spoken to anyone in French, so it was a truly wonderful little surprise! And though I had to think for a second--and switch my mind over to French, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I know I made a few mistakes, but it was nice to know I can still communicate in French. What a simple but ever so sweet gesture from my wonderful hubby! Passez une bonne journée!! A la prochaine~

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

how do you do it???

I see so many cute blog pages and I know your templates are not on the blogsite itself--where do you get them and how do you use them/add them/implement them into your blog? Can someone teach me?

So, I love the Twilight series--thanks, Tiffany for introducing them to me. And I took the quiz on my cousin Jerusha's blog to see which girl I was like the most. And well, I'm an Esme. I like her a lot and I do seem a lot like her character, so I guess, if the shoe fits . . .
I am excited to see the movie come out in December. Maybe that could be my birthday treat! (Hint, Hint!) I love to read most books, but this one was enjoyable and I had no idea it was written by a Mormon until I had completed the series. So, when is my inspiration and amazing plotline going to come to me so I can write a multi-million doolar series?! I keep brainstorming and hoping :) Perhaps someday . . . or maybe not.
Here's the link to find out which character you resemble most:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pampered Chef

I just became a Pamperd Chef Consultant and as I practice and review recipes and product info, Amelie is right there beside me. She has become quite the helper. She now wants to 'do Pampered Chef' with me whenever I am practicing a new recipe or trying out a new tool. She has become quite the tart shaper and loves to cook with me. She will even talk like she is a Consultant doing a cooking show, repeating phrases she has heard me practice and acting so mature! It's fun and entertaining. I love spending time with her in the kitchen and Pampered Chef has really increased the time she and I spend cooking together. She loves using all the cool tools (just not the knives--or other sharp ones). She is already becoming quite the Pampered Chef, herself!

Tanner is two months old

Tanner has hit his two month mark and it is so amazing the changes we see already. He is so curious--always looking around him and trying to take it all in. He is cooing and smiling more and more. He's even starting to reach for toys. The grip on hair is still very solid!

I found a hard, bluish lump in his right palm, under his ring finger. The doctor checks it out tomorrow. Hopefully, it is nothing. We love our little Tanner man!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Billy started his 8th grade football season this week. He is playing linebacker on defense and receiver on offense. His team won their season opener against Sommers 48-6. This morning, they had a little tournament--3 short games. His team won one, tied one and lost one. He is doing very well and we are thoroughly enjoying his games!! He's such a wonderful young man!

Growing Baby

Tanner is growing fast--all the kids are. He is changing so much at this stage. He's starting to smile and coo more regularly now. He loves to look up and is curious about his surroundings. And Amelie and I can atest to his grip--he's latched on to our hair a few times and boy, is he strong! He's definitely a keeper--and still has blue eyes (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed, though I know they could still change. We are all enjoying the newest member of our family.
Tanner was blessed on Labor Day weekend. Anna and Jacob with Justin, Chelsea and Coby were there, as well as Michael and Karen and Grandma Marie. We missed Tiffany and Mary immensely. It was a great weekend as we traveled up to Logan's Pass on the Going to the Sun road through Glacier National Park. Jim gave a beautiful blessing and Tanner was a great baby until it came time for pictures after church. He's a wonderful baby and very loved!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Newest Allen

On July 28 at 8:16 a.m., we welcomed Tanner James Allen to our growing family. He came out very vocal--in fact, all the doctors and nurses in the OR with us commented on his very healthy set of lungs. His pediatrician even said she had never heard a newborn quite so loudly announce his arrival. And then he promptly peed on her. Oops! But that was not our only surprise at his birth. He was born at 39 weeks while Amelie and Eric were both basically at 41 weeks. Good thing we didn't wait any longer as he fooled us all with his size! At 9 lbs 12 oz, he caught us all off guard. We lost a whole pound before we left the hospital but is now back up slowly but surely to 9 lbs. 4 oz.
The delivery went exceptionally well. I have a wonderful OB and my Bishop was the anesthesiologist so we were in very good hands. Jim got to see them pull Tanner out and I got to hold him just minutes after he was born! The lactation nurse had me nursing him within 15 to 20 minutes or so after his birth--the doctors were still patching me up on the other side of the curtain. It was quite the miraculous experience.
Tanner is a wonderful baby--he had to be on a billibed here at home for a few days, but he's much better now. He smiles and is so curious as he takes in his surroundings. Tiffany and Mary laid claims on him right away, taking turns holding him in the hospital. Amelie was just so excited to finally see his face and touch his soft skin. Eric wanted to see 'that Nanner baby' and kiss him over and over again. Billy can calm him like no one else--Tanner knows his big brother! we sure love him and are so thrilled he has joined our family!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jackie Johnson

While teaching at Yuma High, I had the great opportunity to coach volleyball and basketball for seven years. One of those athletes, Jackie Johnson, went on the play basketball and track at ASU. She is a tremendous athlete. She was a great student, too, as I was her Junior English teacher. Anyway, she led the ASU track team to several NCAA championships. She graduated from ASU last year and participated in the Olympic Track and Field tryouts in Oregon at the beginning of July. We watched her compete with anticipation and excitement. She came in 2nd in the heptathalon Olympic tryouts, so she is headed to Beijing! I saw her Nike Olympic poster on her facebook site yesterday. She sounds good and looks great on the track. I can't wait to watch her next month! It is so neat to watch former students/athletes with whom I have worked excel in whatever they do!
Way to go, Jackie!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Update

We are getting a real kick out of Eric--he loves to stand on his head on the couch (which does wonders for his harido!) and he loves to laugh. He is talking in sentences--okay, so maybe he leaves out a few filler words, but the basic sentence structure is definitely there. This morning, he said the blessing on breakfast without any help! He's adorable!
And Amelie is a hoot--she talks non-stop. We have to tell her to stop talking so she will eat a meal or so we can talk or watch a show. Billy loves to bug her and she is quick to catch on and feed it right back to him. She loves to have Mary and Tiffany put lipstick on her and do her hair.
Billy is getting ready for a big scout camp all next week and possibly the next week, too. He's well on his way to getting his Life Scout and his Duty to God. He and Jim have done 85% of his Deacon's requirements this summer. Billy is a very big help, as is Mary.
She and I are doing her summer reading packet stuff on A Midsummer Night's Dream, so I feel like I am back in the classroom to an extent. She has her first job this summer and is thoroughly enjoying it. She and Tiffany just got back from YW camp on Saturday and they loved it. I got a little jealous listening to al lthe fun they had, but am so glad they enjoyed it so much!! :)
Tiffany works and plays with friends and texts, and she got me into reading the Stephenie Meyers series. They are good. I especially like the connections with Wuthering Heights that the author makes. Tiffany is getting ready for senior year and has chosen the school she wants to go to, so Jim has been going through questions for her to ask of the school and things to get going so she can make it there (FIDM) next fall (Can she really be only a year away from college?!?)
Next Monday morning I am scheduled to have this baby- c-section, of course. We are so excited. I am so ready. And this summer, the weather has been awesome! Those who saw me during either of the other pregnancies may remember how swollen my whole body from face to feet was with the other two. Well, my feet have never swollen at all and my face is just chubby because of the weight gain, though I have gained less with this one than the others--I've been on a special 'diet' and exercised more religiously until it was too painful. Overall, it's been the best pregnancy :) But, I am certainly ready for him to be here with us!!!
Jim is enjoying his office in the mountains here in Montana. He is always telling us about the wildlife he has seen at work--elk, moose, tonnes of deer, I think even a bear, or at least tracks. He is also thoroughly enjoying his calling in Young Men's. He is 1st counselor and works with the Deacons (I don't even know if our ward has 1 teacher right now!). He and Billy are working hard on scouts. He also just started a night shift stocking shelves at Target. We are most excited about the 10% off discount :) That will help with diapers for the new baby, school supplies, . . .!!
That's the Allen family update in a crunch.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Summer Fun Begins

The summer will officially begin for us tomorrow as we travel to Utah to pick up Billy, Mary and Tiffany. Tiffany and Mary are going to spend the week at EFY while the rest of us visit family and friends and play. Today will be busy preparing for the trip and getting bedrooms set up for the three big kids. Jim is busy building Billy's room and I will be putting bunkbeds together for the girls. And Amelie keeps asking when we are leaving--she is so excited! Eric just keeps mimicking words he hears--usually the last words in our sentences. It's very cute!
Believe it or not, one of the terms of endearment that we use, and I am being totaly honest when I say it is truly and usually a very dear term of endearment said with love and fun, is bonehead. The other day, I came home from an afternoon of subbing for elementary music classes and Jim asked Eric 'What is Mommy?' Without hesitation, Eric replied, "Momma bonehead!' And then he went through the family saying the same for us all. Jim was so proud of having taught Eric to say this that Eric says it quite often and always with a smile. We love our quirky family!