Wednesday, December 3, 2008

JUST DO IT!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my blog but doing nothing about it. I have a TON of pictures that I want to post and write about and this becomes very overwhelming to me. I make up all kinds of lame excuses. I go through denial (I'm really not that far behind). Then I get into an all or nothing mentality (I can't possibly catch up so I just won't do it at all). Then I go through phases where I blame it on pregnancy (I just don't have the energy to do it).

Well, tonight, I sat down to read a few blogs that I like to keep up on and I got inspired and decided to JUST DO IT. A friend at church also recently gave me a framed cross stitch that she did with Spencer W. Kimball's quote " Do It" on it. I put it up where I see it many, many times each day and it is amazing how this simple thing has helped me in many small and big ways in the last week or so... even my mending pile is gone!

I figure that along with all the other Christmas projects that I need and want to work on, this one has to take a pretty high priority. I keep reminding myself that one of my main purposes in doing this blog is to end up with a book of memories at the end of each year. It just wouldn't be right to skip so many fun things at the end of the year just because I'm tired (how lame!). So here goes... I'll put them in sequential order later...

Ziya's First Haircut

Two days before Thanksgiving, my friend Krista called me in a panic from Anchorage wondering if I knew anybody who needed/wanted a haircut. She'd made an appointment but then decided to go to Anchorage at the last minute and she wouldn't be able to make it back in time for the haircut. She didn't need to say it twice... I've been needing a haircut for months now and as adorable as she always is, Ziya was starting to look a bit shaggy, too.

So we dropped Ammon off at school, dropped Abraham off at pre-school and the two girlies trotted off to the beauty salon. A couple of times, Ziya asked "Ammon?" "Esta en la escuela" (he's at school) I answered. Then she asked for Abe. Same response from me. Then she asked for Papi. Again, the same response. Finally, she got a huge grin on her face as if to say, "You mean we're all alone?" I LOVED IT!

Ziya has watched her brothers and papi get many a haircut at Dave's barber shop, so she wasn't one bit nervous when I put her up on the chair and Abby pulled out her spray bottle and scissors. As a matter of fact, she was all smiles. Then mami got the brilliant idea of pulling out the camera. All smiles turned to a sudden outburst of panic and tears (the stress was just too much... most of us girls can relate, right?). I had to calm her down and put the camera away before she'd agree to let Abby continue on. I did manage to sneak these pictures. She just wasn't the same after the camera... my bad! The haircut is a good one. The back is all nice and even now and her hair actually has some shape. From gorgeous to even more gorgeous. What luck.

I got my mane tamed a bit, too. Abby straightened it all, which was freaky, but as it usually goes, there's no photo to go with my one straight hair day. Oh well.

Snow Fun With Tate

If Abe was in The Sound of Music and he were singing "A Few of My Favorite Things," his little buddy Tate and playing in the snow would be right up there with yogurt and honey. We love it when Tate comes over. And they love it even more when mami actually has the energy to dress everybody up and go outside to play! We just went to the little park next to where we live. After making some snow angels and failing at an attempt to make a snowman, we opted for turning me into a slave horse and pulling all three kids around in circle after circle after circle after circle (you get the idea...). They had a grand time. I guess I did, too.

This is What Became of Jacko

Remember Jacko? He was our Halloween jack-o-lantern.

When we lived in Idaho, a very "self-reliant" type of friend that I had taught me to make pumpkin butter (with pumpkins that she grew in her own garden!). I kept the recipe but never honestly thought that I'd use it. Well, as I watched our pumpkin start to get soft, I decided to put on my brave chef's hat (it's just imaginary!) and give the pumpkin butter a try. It wasn't so hard... especially with the help of my home-made costume Spiderman and his cute little sister. I froze the pumpkin butter and for Thanksgiving, I used it to make two pumpkin pies (homemade crust, too... I even impressed myself with this one) and (get this) a White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake (my new pastry chef friend shared this decadent recipe - o.k., o.k. she also helped me with the crusts). Ai, ai, aieeeee! I didn't get any pictures of the end results, but the couple of extra pounds I gained speak for themselves!

Pre-School Learning and Fun

For Abraham's little co-op pre-school, the moms take turns teaching two days in a row. For my week, we were in the "Food and Harvest" theme and I got "Grains" and "Meats". For grains, I taught the kiddos about different types of grains before grinding our own wheat and making whole wheat pancakes. They thought the wheat grinder was too loud, but they each had at least two pancakes for their "snack."
For meats, I decided to take them on our first official field trip to IGA, our local independently owned and operated grocery store. We were only scheduled to tour the meat department, but just like any good IGA, the meat guy introduced us to the produce man, who introduced us to the baker! We had lots of fun and got lots of free samples.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cute "Things"

Ziya is doing lots of cute "things" right now. I intend to do a "don't want to forget any of these cute things" post sometime soon, but for now, I'm just posting these few.

I went to shut the closet door for the night to find that she'd found a special place for Panda to sleep. It warmed my heart in just the right way that night.

When she gets out of the bath every night we wrap her in a towel and she wanders around the apartment before finding her way to the couch or bed where her lotion, diaper and PJ's await. She reminds me of Yoda when she walks around. I don't ever want to forget this image.

She has inherited, from her two very imaginative brothers, the ability to wow us with her "costumes."

She loves to stand on this chair and "read" Abraham's Zoo-phonics post-its. She has also taken to coloring on them (so much so that we had to take them down because they became illegible!). Now she stands there and asks me where her "a-a-a-a" and "b-b-b-b" are!

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth!

He lost the first front tooth on November 19.

And the second front tooth came out on November 30.

After primary on Sundays, Ammon always runs up to me to hand me all his stuff so he can free his hands and go stack chairs in the Relief Society room (he gets a small treat after doing this!). This past Sunday, he handed me a little plastic baggie with his tooth in it! Apparently, his Young Women classroom substitutes gave him a piece of chocolate during class, he bit into it and out popped his second front tooth! He was soooo excited.

Yesterday we were listening to the Disney Christmas CD and when the song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" came on, I caught his glance and we both smiled at each other. It was a really cute moment.

I slyly watched him eat his pork chop for dinner tonight. It made dinner quite entertaining (for me, at least).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jacob's Secret to Youth... Happy Birthday!


Guess who else is having a birthday??? Yup, Jacob and his mom actually share a birthday! Happy Birthday to my sweet Jacobo. I'll hopefully be posting more about our celebrating after the fact, when I've taken some pictures. I do want to share this though... just to show what an awesome man I was lucky enough to marry.

Two nights ago, after a long and frustrating day during which my actions/ reactions to misbehaving children were less than stellar, I sat down to read the General Conference Ensign. I came to a talk titled "Come What May, and Love It" by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. He says, "Over the years I have learned a few things that have helped me through times of testing and trial. I would like to share them with you..." The first piece of advice that Elder Wirthlin gives is "Learn to laugh." I read this section and immediately, I was filled with gratitude for a husband who knows how to do this. My mind was filled with many examples of Jacob doing this - both recent and not so recent.

Every single school day, when we pick Jacob up from work, one or both of the boys go outside and play in the snow and Ziya gets out of her car seat and plays inside the car. When Jacob comes out of school and is ready to go, we have issues getting everybody back in the car and back into their seatbelts. At this point in the day, I'm usually hungry, tired of being in the car and just ready to get home. So I get mad, very mad. Jacob, on the other hand has just exited his long day of work where a lot of times he deals with resistant, rude and disrespectful students. So what does he do when his own kids start to act this way? He laughs. And eventually he makes the kids laugh, too, and we get on our merry way. Thank you, Jacob.

Jacob has always made me laugh. He has made our own times of "testing and trial" (both big and small) easier through his laughter. What's more is that he does this for everybody around him. I'm thankful for such a great husband who teaches me much. I hope to laugh much on his birthday and on many days to come... cause I'm sure that he will!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Little Grandma's Birthday!


Last week we celebrated my mom's birthday from a distance. Now we are celebrating Jacob's mom's birthday... again through our blog! Happy Birthday Little Grandma! This time the kiddos wanted to share some of their goofy tricks (or "moves" as Abraham calls them!). Enjoy!

Abraham is very proud that he can wiggle his nose, move his eyebrows, snap his fingers (he actually taught Ammon to do this) and most of all, that he has become such a great color artist (thanks for the artistic genes, Grandma!).
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Many a night in our home is spent entertaining each other with goofy Munyer tricks. What's funny, is that I (Berenice) can't do many of them. It must be something in that Munyer/Morgan blood (since I know that you, Little Grandma, can also do most, if not all, of these!). Here Ammon is moving his ears, raising one eyebrow, spreading his toes and snapping his fingers.
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And finally, there's little Ziya. We have an "ABC" wall with little pictures from ZooPhonics on it. Sometimes, while we're eating or sitting at the table doing other stuff, we review these with Abraham. Well, a while back, Ziya started pointing to the pictures and saying different phonics sounds. Now, she likes to take crayons and markers and color on them, too. In the process, she has learned quite a bit!

ZIYA'S VIDEO WON'T LOAD... I'LL KEEP TRYING!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Tita!

It's my mom's birthday today. I hate that we're so far away and can't be there to personally give the well-deserved hugs and kisses. And since I don't know how to send videos via email, here they are on our blog.

Mom, I hope you like them! This is what los ninos are most proud of right now... their dance moves... and they wanted to share them with you. I hope that if anything, they help you start off your birthday with a big smile. We love you and hope you have a fantastic birthday!

I had a hard time getting a good recording of Ziya and her moves. She really does know how to "mover la colita!"
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Abe even dressed up for his portion of the video(he uses any excuse imaginable to dress up!). Fancy moves, huh?
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Ammon insisted on mittens and socks cause they help him slide around better.
For those who are familiar with Jacob's "chicken dance", do you see hints of that in Ammon's dancing? Scary, huh?
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm Getting Fancy

So, I'm on to a new adventure... Photoshop (big shout out to Cameron, Gina and other talented friends who inspire me!)! I'm slowly re-doing some of my pictures on my Halloween post - scrapbook style! Check them out!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Activities

Darth Vader, Ladybug and Black Spiderman (not to be confused with Venom... he refused to be called this).

We had a really fun Halloween. For us, it really started on October 1st when we flipped our calendar page and Ammon realized that it was finally "the month." He and Abraham faithfully counted down every single day.

We made our paper mache spiders. Abraham's is the one that is the most anatomically correct, with a cephalothorax, abdomen, spinnerets, etc., since he made his at preschool and the kids were learning about spiders. We didn't have enough foam balls for Ammon and Ziya's spiders to be so educational. They didn't seem to mind. Ziya's spider has pink polka dots and Ammon's has the "blood eyes!"

We also carved a pumpkin. The boys designed it themselves (it's a two-sided jack-o-lantern so that everybody could participate!) and then it was carved in shifts. Three excited kids and a sharp knife was a bit scary. Even scarier though were my headless boys who wanted to pose with "Jacko."

Abraham and his little preschool (plus siblings) had a party. They performed a cute pumpkin rhyme, participated in a cute story about ghosts who turned different colors (because they ate broccoli, grapes, etc.!), decorated sugar cookies, made a craft and had free play time. He and Ziya both had a super fantastic time. Thanks to Adelle for hosting us!



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Ammon had a great time celebrating Halloween at school. He made a harvest house (graham cracker house but decorated harvest style) and a rice krispie pumpkin. The highlight of his day was that his good buddy Creed was also dressed as Darth Vader (Dark v. Darth and lightsaber vs. lifesaver were big debates between them). His other good friends were a knight and a witch. He participated in a parade, too.


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After just a tiny bit of outdoor trick or treating (it was only about 25 degrees so they didn't last long), we went to our Halloween social at our Church. Jacob was the MC... he has a great personality for this type of thing. He did a great job. We had some yummy soup and rolls and the kids had fun running around and showing off their costumes for their friends. Our cute little ladybug Ziya actually won the costume contest for her age category. She has a lot of admirers in our ward.


Oh yeah... I kind of dressed up, too. I put a sign on my belly that says "#4" and one on my back that says "Coming May 14, 2009" and I carried around a small trash can. This was our big Halloween announcement. I'll write more about it later! And no, I didn't even take any pictures... how lame, I know.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Post is For Craig




In Alaska, when it comes to "large talons" we don't mess around with chickens. We go straight to the "really large talons!" So if you're in to large talons, maybe you, brother, need to come North! And as for keeping my own talons warm, well... that one's harder... still trying to figure that one out.
Jacob
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Earning A Free Ride to Mars (Including a Lesson on Prayer)

We never got around to doing the apartment cleaning that I intended for us to do on Saturday. Instead, we decided to focus our efforts on our recycling. A bit of background: when Ammon started kindergarten last year, one of the first units that his class did was about recycling. He came home and announced that we weren't doing our part to save the earth by recycling. So we started! At the time, we lived upstairs with an empty workroom next door to us. It was very easy to daily take our recycling to that room, let it accumulate and then periodically take it to the transfer site to recycle it. Now, we live downstairs and the trek up the stairs and to the workroom is a bit more of a hassle. But we still do it (it's amazing what guilt will do to you once you've recycled and then feel like stopping!). We even have our little old neighbor, Buford, contributing all his soda cans to our cause! Whenever we use tin cans, plastic bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes, etc., they end up in a very messy pile underneath our kitchen sink (we need a better system for this part). When it starts to overflow, we stick it all in a bag and somebody runs upstairs to throw it (literally) into the workroom. Well... the workroom was overflowing (again, literally), and we decided it was time to sort, bag and take everything to the transfer site.

The kids had fun sorting everything. They were amazed at how much milk we drink, how much canned fruit we consume, how many eggs we eat, and how much other stuff we use. I was, too. (By the way, I think that as a society, we totally overdo it on our food packaging!) It took us a while, but we finally got it all packed in our car. The whole time we were doing all of this, I kept thinking of Long Beach, where the city provides a gray trash can and a blue one for recycling and both are picked up weekly. It was sooo easy! I also thought about the short time I lived with my grandma in San Jose, where you actually get fined if your recycling bins aren't used. Oh well... kudos to them!

As we were leaving home, we realized that the keys we'd used to get into the workroom were suddenly missing. All fingers pointed to little Ziya, who was last seen playing with the keys. We checked her pockets (she's a "stasher") but to no avail. This was extremely stressful, since these are a set of master keys that open every single door in the apartment building (including our own home!). My immediate thought is that they were buried in one of the many bags of our recycling stuff. We said a prayer in the car asking Heavenly Father to please help us find our keys, and then we continued on to the Soldotna transfer site.

We gingerly emptied all our bags into the appropriate bins (the boys absolutely dig this part!), first shaking everything to make sure the keys weren't lodged in a can or box somewhere. I was really starting to get nervous as I pulled out the last bag of plastic stuff. It was a real pain to take out bottle by bottle and jar by jar, but there, at the very bottom of the bag was our set of master keys! Hooray! It was as if Heavenly Father just needed us to be patient and persistent until the very, very end. We passed the test! The boys were excited as we talked about the beauty and the blessing of answered prayers. It was a good opportunity for us to teach them that we can pray all we want, but we also have to do our part. I'm thankful for the experience.

I'm also thankful for an environment-conscious kindergarten teacher who helped us get this whole thing started. We all talked about how it really felt good when we left the transfer site and learned that we'd recycled about 200 pounds of stuff that could have very easily gone to a regular landfill.

Ammon came up with a scenario that might encourage others to start recycling. As we were talking to the kids about how regular garbage just gets put into the earth and it takes years and years for it to decompose, he said that he thought it would be a really good idea if in the future, when the earth gets too full of trash, all the people who recycled would get a free ride on a spaceship to go live on Mars, and all the people who did not recycle would have to stay on Earth. Hmmm... just something to think about!

Bragging Rights for Alaska... Dunbar Update

In my Mid-October Catch Up post, I mentioned "the famous Dunbar kid" who broke his own state cross country record in Palmer with a 5K time of 15:07. Jacob just gave me an update on the kid (whose name is really Trevor Dunbar from Kodiak). For any runners out there (or just anybody who wants some Alaskan bragging rights), here's a link to an article about what he's been doing (and here's another one). He's actually the fastest high school cross country runner IN THE NATION right now!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mid-October Catch Up...

***CAUTION: I've just finished writing this post and it is somewhat long. Remember, nobody (except for my mom and Jacob and o.k., maybe my sisters), should feel obligated to read all my ramblings. This is after all, a sort of journal for me. But happy reading if you do decide to read!***

I wrote the date for something tonight and I couldn't believe that half of October is already gone! Amazing. I also realized that a lot has happened that I haven't posted about... uh oh! So here goes a big catch up session. See, my dedication to this blogging thing sometimes waivers, but I always (well, almost always) find my way back. Here goes:

October 3-5: I didn't want to be alone with the kids for General Conference weekend, so I pulled Ammon out of school early and my three kiddos and I made the drive to Anchorage all by ourselves (I felt like such a big girl... making the drive alone was a first for me). We went to Value Village (a really cool second hand store) and bought Halloween costumes (this was a blast) and some more jeans for the boys (they're growing much faster than our budget can ever hope to). We also did some Costco shopping and had dinner there. This was an interesting experience. Every time we got to the farthest end of the warehouse, one of the boys decided that he needed to make another trip to the bathroom. Usually, Jacob or I would make the trek while the other continued shopping... I'll just say that Costco shopping without Jacob took us A VERY LONG TIME! When we finally finished at Costco, we made our way to a vacation rental that our friends own and bunkered down for the night. In the morning, we watched Conference on our laptop while we had some breakfast. It really was a lot of fun and I enjoyed what I heard. I'm learning to relax and just try my best at getting out of Conference what I can rather than be upset that my children are the only ones in the whole entire world who can't sit reverently for two consecutive hours ;)


After this morning session of Conference, we drove to Palmer to be with Jacob for the Cross Country State Finals Meet. This was an interesting drive for me. In the two years since we've been in Alaska, this was my first time going beyond Anchorage on the same road that brought us here back in 2006. I had mixed feelings (a whole post in itself... maybe another time!). A couple of interesting notes though (I wish I had pictures to go with these):
  • Ammon had fun counting the overpasses/ bridges that we drove on. I realized that living on a peninsula, this isn't something that is familiar to him. Ammon's excitement about highway overpasses reminded me of my mom telling me about my Mama Gollita (my great grandmother) who on her first drive through Los Angeles looked out of the car window in utter shock and amazement as she drove through the city and saw the hundreds of overpasses. I guess my children are very much "small town" kids now.
  • It was fun for us to see highway signs signaling that the next exit had fast food, gas stations, hotels or restrooms. It was a subtle realization, but again, I was struck by just how different it is where we live now. I realized that the highway signs we are used to seeing tell us about the hiking or skiing trails, the camp sites, lake or river access, or the moose that may cross the road right in front of your car.
Anyway, on to the Cross Country meet. KCHS only had two girls that qualified for this state meet and the entire Munyer family was there to cheer them on with all our gusto. As I usually do, I cried as I watched many of the races. I cried because Jacob told me about the little freshman girl from a place called Kenny Lake who showed up at her school and told her PE teacher that she enjoyed running. Well, with no team or uniform to speak of, they somehow managed to send her to a couple of races (Jacob said that at the last meet where he saw her, she still didn't have a uniform to wear). She did manage to borrow one for this state meet where she quickly ran to the front of her race and beat all the other runners by quite a margin (she beat the second place runner by 14 seconds and the third place runner by almost an entire minute). I also cried when I saw the famous Dunbar kid beat his own state record by about 30 seconds (many thought he couldn't do it on such a cold day - it was after all, only about 34 degrees). As I've written before, I'm pretty sure there is an unfulfilled runner somewhere deep inside of me and every once in a while, she gets glimpses of awesome running accomplishments that make her cry.

As they always do, my kids had a fantastic time at this meet. Jacob and I have both said time and time again that cross country is definitely the most "family friendly" sport for a coach and his family. I think my kids would agree.


I'm posting this picture separately because it just reminds me of how "wild" Alaska is. I love it! Look at all these different school mascots:

After the cross country meet, we went back to Anchorage and we had a scrumptious dinner at Red Robin. I have to say that ever since my little nephew Isaiah went to Red Robin in Salt Lake City for his birthday, I've been craving it. I forgot that Anchorage has one! Ymmmm... I super enjoyed the dinner not only because the food was good and the experience was fun, but mostly because it satisfied a major craving that I erringly thought was un-satisfiable. We spent another night in Anchorage, watched the Sunday sessions of General Conference on our laptop again and then drove back to Kenai. We saw our first snow of the season on this drive. I didn't snap a picture, but we did in fact see snow falling on October 5th! Here are some other random driving pictures.

October 7: Jacob came home from school with a huge bag full of hockey gear intended for Ammon. It fit Abraham instead... and Ziya. I don't know if we'll really sign the kids up for hockey, but at least one of them now has a new super hero costume! I never thought my kids would be interested in hockey, but it seems to be one of the things to do up here to keep kids busy during the long winter months... and my boys have started talking about it. We'll see... I kind of think it's a violent sport and my kids are violent enough on their own without being "encouraged" and "taught" to be so. I may change my mind about this as the winter continues (and continues and continues) on.


October 9: I don't remember exactly now, but I think we actually had some snow accumulation a few days before this. October 9 is just the first time I actually pulled out the camera and took pictures of the kids playing so I have the date recorded on the pictures. Either way, it sure is early for snow, although nobody seems to be too surprised given the very wet summer we had. What I think is most tragic about all this is that we didn't really get a chance to finish out our beautiful fall (I kept telling myself to do a fall post with some pictures of our beautifully colored landscapes, and now I'm too late!).

One Tuesday at story/craft time at the public library, Abraham made this beautiful fall tree. The very next Tuesday, the mood had drastically changed and he made this snow hill scene! The change is all so sudden! I snapped a picture of a tree in our neighborhood: its beautifully changing leaves never even had a chance to gracefully flutter to the ground before the snow forced them to schlep down! Tragic, indeed!


My poor Abraham doesn't get to play in the snow the way Ammon does at recess. On this day, I got both him and Ziya all geared up (except for Abe's hat... oops), picked Ammon up at school and met a little friend at the high school to play on this small hill. They had fun jumping and sliding down the hill. I couldn't force a smile out of Ziya - she didn't seem too happy about not being able to move very freely. At a mere 30 or 32 degrees, Ammon got hot and decided to take his coat off. So not only are they small towners now, they are also quite acclimatized!





October 11: With the cross country season over, we finally got to enjoy a Saturday with absolutely nothing on our calendar! It was great. We spent part of the day doing apartment work. The kids helped Jacob pull the flowers out of the planters, sweep up the mess they made and then put out the snow shovels at each of the apartment entrances. I truly enjoy working together as a family. It's amazing how when we work together, all the arguing and fighting stops and we're able to actually be productive and have fun while we're doing it. Even Ziya got in on the action. Her job was to hold up the dust pan as I swept stuff into it. I'm convinced that soon, very soon, we need to buy a home with enough land with it to have either a few animals or a small orchard or at least a garden so that we always have work to do together. It's one of my goals. For now, we will have to be satisfied with dousing the hallway windows with a ton of Windex, wiping down the coin operated washers and dryers in the laundry rooms and vacuuming our eternally long upstairs hallway (this is the family work that we're going to do this Saturday!).



And now, I'm officially caught up. Maybe I should send Jacob away more often since this is the only time I ever seem to blog these days! Tonight, he went to a stake dance, after which he is supposed to take the Young Men and plan the next couple months' of activities while having a sleepover at a big fancy cabin (oh yeah... there's also paint ball guns and snow ball launchers involved... I wonder how much "planning" will get done?).