Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Miracle

I have often lamented the fact that my little family just does not do well with family pictures.  Staying still.  Looking at the camera.  Smiling nicely.  All things we struggle with.  So when the kids were all dressed in their Christmas finery for a church Christmas program, I thought we'd give it a shot.  And we got THIS!  Everyone looking at the camera, posing nicely, natural smiles, no wonky hair or silly faces or weird poses.  Christmas is based on the miracle of Jesus' birth, so it's only fitting that we experienced our own little Christmas miracle.

I may just use this same photo next year too.

Christmas Letter

*My annual disclaimer:  Yes, many of you have already read and received this letter.  But since this is our family archive, I like to post it here as well.  Feel free to skip and check back another day when I'm not posting old news.

2016 was a big year for the Sancken family.  One of us learned to walk and talk.  One of us started pre-school.  One of us started Kindergarten.  One of us set a new personal record for number of miles run in a single year.  One of us discovered a talent for determining when a screaming child in the other room actually requires immediate attention.  Two of us mostly just shed and slept and hid from the kids and coughed up hairballs.  Two of us realized that a week of kid-free fun in Hawaii isn’t a bad way to celebrate 15 years of marriage.  And all of us (well, minus the furry ones) determined that Disney World is, indeed, a magical place and can’t wait to go back.  All in all, it was a full and fun year.
Zach continues to work as a finance manager at State Farm.  He spends his free time running, fixing things around the house, co-coordinating the St. Jude Eureka to Peoria Run, cheering for the Bears, having tea parties, playing trains, disregarding household rules, and generally being the more fun parent.

I continue to work two days a week as a pediatric occupational therapist at the Children’s Hospital.  I spend the rest of my days at home playing with the kids, keeping the house picked up, doing laundry, volunteering at school and church, and juggling our ever-expanding calendar of birthday parties, school events, church programs, and extracurricular activities.  I manage to squeeze in the occasional run and sometimes even get to take an uninterrupted shower.

Staley is just about to turn 6 years old.  (Whoever thought that having a child a few weeks after Christmas was a good idea wasn’t really thinking it through.  Good-bye Christmas.  Hello party planning.)  Staley started Kindergarten this year and LOVES it!  I guess when some of your favorite activities include learning, reading, doing crafts, following rules, doing science experiments, and playing with other kids, Kindergarten is sort of made for you. Through a variety of extracurricular activities this year, we’ve determined that soccer is not her thing, but acting just might be.  Staley also loves singing, dancing, pretending, arts and crafts, being in charge, and planning.   On the other hand, she doesn’t love veggies, uncomfortable clothing, getting up early, being told what to do, and moving quickly.  She is a sweet, stubborn, independent, helpful little girl who is growing up way too fast.

While Staley is almost 6, Adelie is quickly approaching 4.  Although she is often lamenting the fact that she is not old enough to do everything Staley can do, she does her best to keep up.  Luckily she has 2 mornings of pre-school and a weekly gymnastics class to fill some of her time while Staley is away at school.  She is confident and social, making friends wherever we go. She loves mermaids, Barbies, books, and crafts.  She does not love sitting still, being quiet, or doing anything that involves sitting still and being quiet.  She’s lots of fun, but definitely keeps us on our toes.

At 21 months, Briggs is evolving from a baby into a little boy.  He is walking, talking, making connections, and learning new things every day, like how to throw tantrums when things aren’t going his way.  (Hello, 2’s!)  He loves anything with wheels, books (especially about things with wheels), and his sisters.  I’m guessing he wishes they had wheels too.  He doesn’t love being told ‘no’, sharing his favorite toys, waiting, or having to stop a fun activity.  (Refer to sentence about throwing tantrums.)  He’s changing quickly, but generally remains a happy, cuddly, easy-going, sweet little guy.

Jake and Elwood are still alive.  Not much has changed with them in the past 14 years.  They still shed, sleep, get in boxes, and generally only make an appearance after the kids have gone to bed.  Sometimes the kids ask if we can get a cat.  I remind them that we already have 2.  They’re not convinced.

As we say good-bye to 2016, there will be lots of great memories.  Disney.  Hawaii.  Michigan.  St. Louis.  Kindergarten.  Pre-school.  Those 3 games the Bears won.  And sure, there are plenty of other moments that we might as well forget.  Tantrums.  Tears.  Whining.  Tattling.  That time Briggs pooped in the tub.  But in the midst of it all, we are healthy.  We are happy.  We are surrounded by loving family and friends.  And there is no doubt, we are blessed!  Wishing the same for you this holiday season.

Ellen, Zach, Staley, Adelie, and Briggs

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Monday, December 26, 2016


I love the whole Christmas season.  I love the music and the decorations and the shopping and the giving.  I love teaching my children about the true reason for the season, and I love seeing them embrace the spirit of giving.  We've had a full and fun week-end of Christmas fun, and now I have a chance to sit back, relax, and remember how another Christmas filled my heart.

We started our celebrating with Zach's family on Christmas Eve.

Our own little Christmas miracle--a successful timer picture!!

The kids had so much fun playing together that they weren't even asking to open gifts.  I love that spending time with their cousins is such a treat for them.

The book-end boys...biggest and littlest.

I think it's so sweet and generous that the cousins want to give gifts to each other.   Olivia got Adelie this crown and wand set, which caused a little minor distress because Staley had gotten Adelie the exact same thing for Christmas.  Luckily, Staley had also gotten Adelie something else, so Staley just gave her crown to Caroline the next day.

Staley got an American Girl Doll (Grace) from Uma and Papa.  This was the very top thing on her Christmas list, so she was so excited!

After a full day of fun with cousins, we rounded out our Christmas Eve with the Festival of Lights, dinner out, reading the Christmas story, and putting 3 exhausted kids to bed.

The girls got up first on Christmas morning.  Since Briggs was still sleeping, we read the Christmas story and then read other books in bed until Briggs woke up.  It was so fun just snuggling, relaxing, and enjoying family time before heading downstairs to open gifts.

Stockings are always a highlight.  I guess there is just something fun about new underwear, chapstick, toothbrushes, and lotion.  Briggs got 2 little bath tub cars in his stocking, and he would have been happy not even opening anything else.

However, he seemed pretty excited about his new bulldozer and dump truck too.

The kids got a new dollhouse, which has been a hit with all 3 of them.  Adelie's mermaids can be seen sleeping in the upstairs bedroom, but it's not uncommon to see Briggs' Paw Patrol characters riding their vehicles through the house as well.  (The girls have been playing with it for the past 2 hours straight!)

The easel was the other big gift that the kids got.  Staley spent a lot of time creating with the easel and her new art set on Christmas morning.

After a fun morning of opening gifts, playing, and eating cinnamon rolls and pastry puffins, we headed over for Christmas with my family.

Two successful extended family timer pictures??  Magic was truly in the air.

There was more cousin fun.  Staley made this little stuffed animal for Liam.  It was so fun to see my girl with her generous heart get SO excited about buying, making, wrapping, and giving gifts to her cousins, grandparents, and family.  She was giddy about it and wanted to give her gifts before even getting any.  I love seeing her big heart!

Aunt Melissa made the girls these super-cute mermaid tail blankets, which was the top thing on Adelie's Christmas list this year.

Caroline seemed very enthused about her crown and wand set that Staley gave her, so it all worked out.

And we all took turns snuggling with sweet baby Lucy!!

It was another blessed Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Traditions?

Each year as our kids get older we tweak some of our Christmas traditions.  Picking out a tree, enjoying the Festival of Lights, the nightly opening of the advent calendar, delivering goodies to our neighbors...some of these remain staples and hopefully will for years to come.  This year, though, the girls played a bigger role in decorating the house.  Much to my surprise, Briggs hasn't messed with the stockings or tree at all.  (He does like to play with the animals out of the Nativity set.)  Not surprisingly, Adelie has pulled her stocking holder off the mantle 3 times already and broken it once.

The girls and I decorated the tree, saving the star for Daddy to put up.  A great Christmas tradition since that decreases the opportunity for arguing about who gets to put up the Christmas star.

We added a new tradition this year when my mom and I took Staley to see 'The Nutcracker.'  She loved it!  This is one tradition that will probably include Adelie when she's a little older (and a lot more able to sit still).  It will probably never include Zach since the one time we went to see it together, he declared it "2 hours of my life I'll never get back."

Girls day out at the ballet

We trialed Gingerbread Houses this year.  The idea was good in theory, but the girls each added about 10 pieces of candy to their houses, ate WAY more than that, and when I suggested that they'd eaten enough of the candy, they were done.  This one might not make the 'Christmas tradition' cut.

Although if it involves eating frosting and candy, this one's all in.

The girls have also added their own tradition of putting on Christmas plays.  So far we've enjoyed "Elfie's First Delivery" and "The Candy Man."  The songs and dialogue seem to have an impromptu feel about them, but making the costumes and sets keep the girls occupied for long periods of time, so I consider it a winning tradition.

Elfie and Rudolph after their "production"

Briggs is an ever-willing audience member
(The girls set up the chairs and even had glasses of water available as refreshments for the show.)

One of the rousing songs (and dances)

It's tough when you are the actor, singer, writer, director, choreographer, set designer, and costume-maker, but this girl handles it well.

Our Christmas celebrations start tomorrow, but our traditions, old and new, have gotten us into the Christmas spirit.  We're looking forward to a very merry Christmas!!


Sunday, December 18, 2016


Remember when Staley was in "A Charlie Brown Christmas?"  And remember how her director wanted her to wear black jazz shoes or black dress shoes?  And remember how I took Staley on the worst shoe shopping excursion imaginable where Staley literally tried on every. single. pair. of black shoes in the store and ended in tears because every. single. pair. felt so horrible to her that she couldn't possibly wear them for the play?  And remember how I ended up frazzled and frustrated and bought the pair that Staley finally deemed the least horrible of the lot?

Remember when the director then said that she wanted Staley and her twin to wear pigtails?  And remember how Staley was so resistant to this because pigtails pull and hurt her head and she couldn't possibly stand to wear pigtails for the play?  And remember how, for Staley's dress rehearsal, I put her hair in pigtails at least 5 different times to try to decrease the pulling and make them tolerable for Staley to wear?  Remember how that, too, resulted in tears?  Remember how I ended up frazzled and frustrated and making idle threats about Staley not being able to be in the play if she can't handle what the director asks her to do?

Then remember this morning for church how Staley asked me to put her hair in pigtails and asked if she could wear her new black shoes?


Little Star

Staley has been taking an acting class every Monday night since September called "Stage Kids".  It culminated in a 2 night performance of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  Staley's role was one of the twins.  She sang and danced and said her 2 lines with power and projection.  You could tell she was having a great time on stage.  As one of just two 5 year olds in the cast, Staley loved making "big kid friends."  As the oldest in our house, I often think of Staley as the big kid, but she looked so small on stage with all the older kids.  (The cast ranged in age from 5 to about 16 years old.)  Although now sometimes shy around new people or in new situations, Staley's confidence on stage is always amazing to me.  She truly shines!  I was so proud of her!

Staley and her "twin"
(Must be fraternal.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bedtime Prayer

This was Adelie's bedtime prayer tonight:

"Dear Jesus.  Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and all the people in the whole world and even the people in Mexican and pray that they won't have bad dreams.  And I wish that all the people with broken legs would not have broken legs at Christmas.  Amen."


Family Game Night

You know those visions you have of family game night where everyone is sitting around a table, laughing, bantering, building memories of togetherness fun.  Yeah.  That's not really how it happens at our house.

Tonight we were having family game night.  We were all sitting on the floor, playing Tumbling Monkeys together.  Except Briggs kept trying to steal the monkeys and knock over the game with his trucks.  And Adelie kept marching around the room while blowing a whistle in between her turns.  Staley was so focused on making a score sheet and keeping score that she always had to be prompted to actually take her turn.  Two out of our three kids cried at some point.  I'm not sure what the final score was, but it felt like we were all losing tonight.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Question of the Day

How is it that with only 2 feet to choose from she still manages to get her shoes on the wrong feet at least 75% of the time?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Season

Yes, it's only December 5, but our Christmas celebration is already in full swing around here.

We picked out our tree and followed up our tree picking with a trip to the Festival of Lights.

We decorated our tree.  The girls have also already done their Christmas shopping, wrapped their gifts, and put them under the tree.  This has been a little difficult for Adelie as she asks me every day if it's Christmas yet and time to open the presents.

We went to a Christmas Pajama Party fundraiser at Adelie's pre-school.  She loved seeing her teacher, Mrs. Ferguson.  The kids had the best time listening to Christmas stories, decorating their own cookie (and eating it), and meeting Santa.

Staley performed in the Christmas musical at church.  She auditioned for a speaking role, and was so excited to have her own lines.  She eagerly attended 3 hour rehearsals every Sunday for the past 6 weeks.  She memorized her lines (and songs and dances) and did a great job performing on stage. 

Although not yet old enough to be in the church musical, Adelie did get to do some performing of her own when she sang a few little Christmas songs at church.  She knew her songs and motions and sang out proudly.

Staley also sang in her Christmas concert at school.  All the Kindergarteners made their own reindeer shirts, which was so cute!

And although not yet old enough to do any performing, Briggs has thoroughly enjoyed looking at the tree, opening the advent calendar (although is never quite satisfied with just opening one door each day), and seeing all the Christmas lights.

What a fun start we've had to this Christmas season.  As is evidenced by Staley's card, we are already busy wishing Jesus a happy birthday!

Those moments

Ever have one of those moments?

You know, the kind of moments when your kids are having the best time taking a long, morning bubble bath to warm up after playing outside...and then your older child asks why it smells bad...and then you realize that your younger child has pooped in the tub...but since there are so many bubbles, you didn't notice when it happened so you're not really sure how long your children have been soaking in a poop you whisk everyone out of the tub and take them downstairs to scrub them off in the shower...and the fun turns to screaming since your son, apparently, really doesn't like showers...and then you spend the next 30 minutes cleaning and sanitizing the tub and throwing away tub toys and doing laundry.

Yeah.  Those moments aren't my favorite either.

Snowy Day

Briggs may have seen snow last year, but he doesn't remember it and he never played in it.  Well, let's add another first to Briggy's ever growing list of firsts.  Today he enjoyed his first fun-in-the-snow day.

Briggs was enthralled by watching the snow come down yesterday.  He kept talking about it and looking out the window.

And he was all smiles when we bundled up to play outside this morning after dropping Staley off at school.

We built snowmen.

And did some sledding in the backyard, although Briggs kept calling it a "boat."

Adelie and Briggs took turns pulling each other around on the sled.

Briggs and Adelie played and played and played until I finally made them go inside.  Since Briggs doesn't have boots or snowpants or waterproof mittens, I knew his hands and feet would have to be getting cold.  They were!

Snow much fun!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Life's Disappointments

Tonight at dinner, we had this conversation:

Staley:  "What are we having for dinner tomorrow?"
Me:  "I'm not exactly sure, but I do have some chicken defrosting in the fridge."
Adelie:  "FROSTING?!?!"

Oh, the disappointment when she found out that frosting was not, in fact, our main course for dinner tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Keeping You Humble

The other night when Zach got home from work, Adelie exclaimed, "Daddy, you look really handsome!"  Then Staley chimed in, "Yeah, but handsome people usually have hair."

One day this past week I went running in some colorful running tights.  When I came home, Adelie said, "Your pants look like cotton candy.  But they smell like stinky, yucky cheese."

Adelie was playing with one of Zach's hats the other day.  She told him, "This hat smells like you."  Zach said, "What do I smell like?'' Adelie's response?  "Dirt."

The other morning, the girls and I were playing a game where we'd draw something and the other two would have to guess what you were drawing.  I drew an elephant, and Adelie commented, "You are good at drawing elephants.  Except for the trunk.  You are really bad at that."

Nothing like the honesty of kids to keep you humble.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" like a girl in a turkey hat.
Just one of the many reasons I have to be so, so thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sibling Love

Our life is chaotic.  It's loud and messy and crazy and busy.  Someone always needs something.  Always.  Restaurant outings are a circus.  I have to gear myself up for grocery trips.  Laundry is an every night occurrence.  I generally sink onto the couch exhausted at the end of the day.  Life right now makes me tired, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And it's moments like these that make it all worth it...

Staley reading books to Briggs in his crib

Adelie and Briggs holding hands in the car

All the kids working together to push/pull the pumpkin wagon at the pumpkin farm

Sister love on the hayrack ride

Adelie and Briggs looking at Adelie's Disney autograph book together

It's little moments like when Staley went to the "Caught Being Good Store" at school and used her caring coupons to buy herself a prize, but also one for Adelie and Briggs.  How Adelie will go into Briggs' room when he wakes up and play with him in his crib until we can come in to get him up.  How Briggs and Adelie both give Staley big hugs when we drop her off at school.  It's those moments when the kids are playing so nicely together or snuggling together on the couch or making things for each other that just fill my heart to the brim.  Yes, there is chaos.  Yes, there is tattling and whining and fighting.  But there is also love.  So much love.