Monday, December 26, 2011

The Magic of Christmas

With Christmas on a Sunday this year we had to start extra early! We have 9:00 a.m. church services and as much as we would have liked to play hooky, just this once, we couldn't! We were in charge of the Christmas program. Brandon did a wonderful job leading the choir. I sang in it. The kids managed miraculously on the front row bench. Intermingled with music were a couple of short but beautiful messages about the Savior, his life and mission. We just had the one meeting and it ended a little early--yay! You're welcome fellow Saints--I do what I can as music director:) After church we zipped home, got into our pj's and relaxed the rest of the day.

The girls trickled upstairs around 5:30 a.m. and got right to work rifling through their stockings.What goodies: yummy lotions, bubble baths, chocolates, and motorized toothbrushes!
Brushing teeth has never been so exciting at our house.
Then it was present opening time:

Cannon was in prehistoric heaven with his menagerie of dinosaurs.
Adrie got the American Girl Itty Bitty Twins....and HOW did Santa know that she wanted the Latino ones when she didn't even show him the picture at the family party?! He really must be magic. She also loves her new fuzzy puppy pillow/blanket set and Narnia DVD.
Brynn spent all day whizzing through the house wearing most of her presents--spiffy rollerblades, shorts, a watch, even the fuzzy socks from her stocking. She also loves her new furry blue blanket that she also wore while skating.Kate's favorite presents were her basketball and football. She is also wearing some presents.
But the highlight of her Christmas was opening a box with a collar and a picture of...

The new puppy that she will get as soon as it is fully weaned!!! (a min-pin or mini pinscher) Santa must be real because Kate has been begging for this moment ALL YEAR to her stubborn and unfeeling parents.
She read on the internet today that this breed will want to play with her outside AND snuggle in her bed. She can't wait to get started!!

Santa surprised me this year with a ping-pong table. Our basement is now complete.
Christmas Eve Traditions: We had a candlelight dinner with ham, potatoes, and orange rolls. The only thing I forgot to buy was sparkling cider but right before dinner the doorbell rang. It was our neighbors wishing us a Merry Christmas with a bottle of cider bubbly. How perfect is that.
We read the Christmas story from the Bible and acted out the Nativity. The kids opened their presents from each other, a new tradition for us and definitely a keeper.

Christmas really is magical with kids. I'm glad I know some. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Came Already?!!!

Lucky, lucky kids!! Santa came with loads of gifts to visit the kids at our elementary school. He came in by a small plane (saving the sleigh for Christmas) and the kids took a field trip to our little airport to watch him fly in. Very exciting. See those Eagle Scouts seated there in the picture?? They banded together from all over the state and picked our school kids to be the recipients of some early Christmas presents from Santa himself!! What a day! And the kids wondered why some of their teachers were bawling?!

This is our church Christmas party with dinner and a program. See Adrie holding the silver star?The other girls are somewhere in the comfortable back of the crowd and Cannon is on my lap waving to them incessantly and trying to wrestle away the camera and snap his own photos. (those didn't make it on the blog) After making that silver star painstakingly with layers of tinfoil I was horrified to come upstairs later in the day and find that Cannon had unwrapped it! How fun for him. Is there a sarcastic font for that last sentence. Anyway, I rewrapped it and we made it for the show in time. I'm just going to go ahead and say it, stars aside, "ward parties can be stressful." There, go ahead and quote me on that.

Adrie and Brynn had their gymnastics show-downs. They also had their violin recital. Our teacher combined with another teacher in the area and we were told that it would just be a few kids. This is what our kids were planning on so when we walked into a church and saw the cultural hall FULL to the back you could hear the panic in Adrie's breathing--like a woman in hard labor. It took a miracle--Dad playing his violin along with her--but she made it up there to pluck her song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas." Brynn and Dad did a good job on their duet "Away in a Manger." 50 (groan) students later and we could go home and relax.

Here's the family party. It was great. We just showed up and volunteered for parts. Had a short and sweet program and a good dinner and lots of visiting. That's the way I like 'em.

Pictures from the Light Parade on Main Street.
Today the kids are out of school. We're headed to W-mart for the second time today, taking the kids to get gifts for each other. They drew names and did 5 jobs for me to earn the $5 to buy their presents for their beloved siblings. We'll open those Christmas Eve. Tonight we are celebrating Joseph Smith's birthday with pizza and root beer floats. Brynn is requesting we make salt dough ornaments. And I wanted to fit Hanukkah in there--at least a game of dreidel--but man there's just too much fun and too little time.

Santa is ready!! There are a few presents under the tree....the excitement is building fit to burst!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chestnuts, anyone?

What would Christmas be without roasted chestnuts? Totally normal. We've never had them. Have you? What's weird is that we had a chestnut tree in our front yard growing up. We had fun collecting them after they would fall to the ground. I always thought they looked so pretty with their shiny brown swirly wood like patterns. We never thought to eat them but we found out that they made a spectacular popping sound when cars ran over them. So, we would make lines of them across the road. Then we'd hide in the bushes, waiting for the next unsuspecting car to drive by. I can still remember Mr. L pulling his shiny black Mercedes over to the side of the road to see if the damage was as bad as it sounded. Ha! funny.

Anyway, back to the present. We tried roasting chestnuts last night--tried, being the key word there. They were terrible. It was one of my brilliant Chrismassy ideas gone bad. I'm going to blame it on a bad batch. Not that I'm going to try my luck a second time. Those things are expensive! Forget it. We'll stick with our roasted pine nuts.

Oh well. We had some other Chrismassy successes. We went to the Light Parade. Everyone complained about being freezing to death. (So dramatic.) Really, parades in the dead of winter, at dark, are just a parents way of getting their kids to beg to go home, get in their pj's and get right to bed. It worked!

I played in the community production of the "Messiah." Love that music and it's message.
Brynn and Brandon played a violin duet in church of "Away in a Manger." They did a great job. And speaking of violin Brynn passed off Suzuki Book 2 --that takes like a year so don't be shocked when I tell you her reward: a remote control monster truck--really, that's what she chose tonight at the store with Dad. Too bad they forgot to pick up some batteries for it...

We sang carols at the Senior Center--which again brought out the complaining--and the parental reminders that Santa is watching....
We put up the Christmas stars in our front windows. Tonight we got out the gingerbread house kit from last year's clearance. That was $2 well spent. Cannon was very very proud of his creation. And that seems like enough for one week, eh.

In conclusion, I want to share a happy tidbit from the front page of the news today. I just loved this:

(Kmart, Michigan) An anonymous woman approached a Kmart customer service counter and asked to pay off someone's layaway balance...She picked three contract tickets and handed over $500 and signed the receipts, "Happy Holidays from a friend." ...It made the local news...Since then, copycat do-gooders have been popping up all over the United States. One lady who had her $180 ticked paid off said, "It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Super Duper Saturday

What a lucky day for me. I won the candy jar at the family party by guessing the right amount! AND I got to play my cello for the Julie B. Beck conference.
These are my string quartet friends. We had the wonderful opportunity to play for the president of the largest women's organization in the world--the General Relief Society President of the LDS Church --as she came to speak in our area. We played prelude and the musical number--all Christmas songs--our favorites. Sister Beck thanked us publicly and voiced the lifetime hours of practicing that it takes to create that kind of music--Wahoo! There's a pat on the back!

There were a few questions/concerns I had in my life before going to this conference. Some I had prayed about and others were just ideas floating in my mind that hadn't made it to the prayer stage yet. Sister Beck answered them all in her talk!!! That is the truth of the gospel right there, people. You ask the Lord for wisdom and he sends it. Often, in the form of another person.

Sis. Beck had an interesting format. She asked for 6 questions from the audience, "We're not leaving until we get them so start standing." As people stood up they were handed a microphone. Questions ranged from "How do I get over feelings of inadequacy to where's the most remote place you have been with your church work?" (Sri Lanka) She then spent the next while addressing all those issues and others in between with the scriptures, and with her own life lessons. After all that, she invited 3 people to stand and share what specific thing they had learned at this conference that helped them. Remarkable.

I was so richly fed with wisdom, the time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to go. We had a family party to get to. But more on that later. Let me just share some of the things that I took to heart:

1. All of our ancestors at some point left their countries and came here to America for a better life. Imagine how scary to be a foreigner trying to fit in. Reach out to the hispanics in the community. Start with "Hola." Reach your hand out and say "Mucho gusto." Then lean in and give them a kiss on the left cheek.
She made us practice.

2. This life is not the dream. This life is to PREPARE for the dream.

3. The Lord works in councils--marriages, families, wards, etc. Be an active contributor to these councils by sharing ideas, knowledge, skills. Speak up, already!!

4. Visiting Teaching has the power to contribute to the Lord's work exponentially. She shared a humorous example of some clueless but well meaning visiting teachers who dutifully gave their 30 minute lesson while the house fell to shambles. Gone are those days, Ladies!! Get to know your new friend. Find out what kind of help she needs and HELP her!

5. If you get an idea to to good---DO IT--NOW!! That is how the Spirit works.

6. Secret to success? When you wake up in the morning roll out of your bed and onto your knees in prayer. Next, spend some time in the scriptures. Then make your bed--you are not getting back in it for the rest of the day! Lastly, get dressed. Take the time to make yourself presentable. After all that you are symbolically saying to the Lord, "Okay, I've done my part. I'm ready. What does the Lord have in store for me today?"

Okay, there were many many more gems. I could have feasted on her words all day but like I said, I had a party to get to--

The H. family party that my kids have been looking forward to for weeks because of all the fun prizes, cousins, and the chance to see Santa!!

Brynn asked for roller blades--not the kind that are plastic and noisy when you ride down the road like she already has--but the ones that are smooth and quiet and make you go fast like her friend's.

Adria brought a picture of the itty bitty twins from the American Girl catalog (she wants the Latino ones)Kate wants a dog. Preferably a husky. Hmmmm What's Santa to do about that?
Cannon wanted nothing more than to stay put and NOT sit on that jolly guy's lap. What is this craziness anyway?! We already knows he wants dinosaurs. Big ones. Lots of them.
Group singing, prizes, reading of the Christmas story.

A brotherly quartet sang for the program. Sounded awesome!

And, a little out of order, on the photos, but this is what was happening earlier in the day, instead of morning cartoons. A FULL, FULL, FUN, FUN day!