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!