Monday, December 27, 2010

'Tis the Season

Merry Christmas to one and all!

What a wonderful Christmas we've had!

One of the fun things we did was to take something to a family every day for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  We had a lot of laughs over what we took, sneaking around, whether they had "found us out", etc.  In the end, they gave us a far nicer gift than anything we gave them, and we are left with a bond of friendship and love for this family, even though it was all anonymous.  Interesting how that works!

Having Josh home has also made the season special.  I've mentioned this before, but this is the last Christmas where we'll all be together until 2015.  At that Christmas we'll have two returned missionaries!  But let's not think about that, let's concentrate on this Christmas!

We enjoyed a Christmas Piano Recital. Libby played a duet of "Ode to Joy with her friend Sydney.  Peter played Libiamo, from the Opera "La Traviata", and Mary played a Sonatina by Clementi.  Jesse played "Consolation" by Franz Listz.  The video is on my last post, in case you missed it.  I told her that when she wants to marry someone, if he doesn't absolutely melt when she plays that for him, then she shouldn't marry him.  Ha ha

Libby had a Christmas Gymnastics Recital.  Here is a short video of her floor and vault routine.  She took a summer camp in July, and now goes once a week to a local gymnastics teacher.  She has come a long way in just four months!

On Sunday, during Sacrament Meeting, we sang the Hallelujah Chorus again, with Jesse accompanying on the piano.  The conductor asked me to lead that number because she had never done it before and didn't feel confident doing it, so I got to conduct.  What a thrill!  A literal, physical and spiritual thrill.

This is Libby at the Ward Christmas Party with Santa Claus!

At the same party, Joseph was asked to play the part of "Joseph" for the song, "When Joseph went to Bethlehem".  He sang the part with the primary children.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to see it because we had to go to Mary's choir concert.  I heard Joseph, Peter and Libby all did a great job.  I did get to see Joseph practice with the Junior Primary, and I had tears streaming down my face the whole time, seeing him play that part.  He was not named Joseph by chance.

Mary had a wonderful Choir Concert!  Here she is singing a duet:

Mary has also had fun this past month playing on an indoor soccer team.  She played goalie in the last game and did a great job!

As luck would have it, Peter and Libby's choir concert was scheduled on the same night and at the same time as Joseph and Jesse's Madrigal Concert.  Joseph also performed with the Show Choir at this concert.  Oh, the pain of it!  Bruce watched the first part of Peter and Libby's concert with me, and then he took off to the High School.  I had watched the Madrigals practice one day when I was subbing at the High School, so I had at least heard their songs.

Peter and Libby have a wonderful music teacher at their Charter School, so they always do great music programs, and this was no exception.
Libby and Peter before their Concert
 Peter's class also did some bell ringing songs.  Unfortunately the stage and the lighting weren't that great, so I wasn't able to see their faces as well as I would have liked, but the music was great!

I did get over to the High School in time to see Joseph perform in the lats half of a number from "Grease".  From all accounts, it was a wonderful concert.
Jesse and Joseph after their Concert

A lot of people said it was one of the best Christmas concerts they had been to, which was exciting to hear! (Too bad I wasn't there to here it  - ARGGGH!)  Just had to release a little frustration there...

Christmas Eve brought caroling to friends (almost all said, "Wow - you guys sound good!"), Posole dinner, the Nativity Scene, and the opening of the first presents of Christmas, accompanied by the usual picture by the fireplace.  For our Posole dinner, we used a chicken that Peter and Bruce had killed and plucked a couple of days before. 
Mary is taking the picture

We also had the last of the Cider from our Cider Festival.  It was fun to use some of our own harvest.

Joseph and Mary are perfect for the Nativity Scene, of course.  I was struck by how pretty Mary looked.

  Jesse was the angel, Peter a shepherd, Libby a Wiseman, and Josh was the Innkeeper/King Herod.

Then came the pajamas...

 And the chaos that always ensues...
After prayers, they were off to make the famed fort.
They took every blanket, sheet, pillow, and MATTRESS in the house, except from our bedroom, and put them all into a big "Fort".  All six children sleep here for days on end starting on Christmas Eve.  
You can't see Libby very well, but she's already asleep.  You can see her face peeking out from covers right above Peter's head.

Last year they were so sad to clean the Fort up that we let them move it down to an empty bedroom downstairs.  Josh bailed after a week or so, but the rest slept in that bedroom together for the next five months, until May 29th when Josh left.  That empty bedroom is now our Master Bedroom, so that won't work for this year.  We'll see what they come up with...

Christmas morning is always a joy!  Here are some presents and smiles:
The beautiful painting that I got from Josh, Joseph and Jesse

Libby and her Zsu Zsu pets

Mary and her new cleats

What?  Doesn't he go to BYU-I?  "It's the football team!" he said.

Cousin Murlene sent this straight from Spain!

Now there's two happy farmers
Jesse eating an orange (a constant) and perusing her new Anatomy book.

My Zone Bar (the only chocolate treat I eat), my new sweatshirt, and my new boots
The Elders came over for some Posole, which we were happy to serve up.

 Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Into December

 Since Josh was stuck at home because of closed roads, we were able to do our annual "Measuring of the Heights" last Sunday.  We always do it in November.
The results?  I thought Jesse would be the one to grow the least, if at all, but it was Josh!  He grew a few millimeters only.  Jesse grew a whole half an inch!  This was a first - the first time each of our children has not grown at least two inches.  Signs of the times!  Mary wins for growing the most with more than two inches.  You do that when you're thirteen! 

On Tuesday evening of this week, it started to snow.  All across Facebook and texts, the word snow day and wishing kept popping up in the same sentence. 

I was lying in bed at 5:30 am Wednesday morning thinking about substitute teaching in a 5th grade class versus playing with the kids all day.  You can guess which one I wanted.  All of a sudden I heard a pause in the practicing coming from the piano room, and I heard Jesse yell, "Wohoo!" That's when I knew we had a snow day!  Holli told me later that's when she figured it out too!

I thought we would all sleep in, but no, it was practically like Christmas morning. 

By 6:30, everyone was jumping around the kitchen and giddily happy.  We did get the scripture study in, and some breakfast and then by eight something, Peter was out with the four wheeler and the sled.  The others soon followed.

With 8 inches of snow on the ground, the street was snow-packed and perfect for sledding.  We had the usual melee in the laundry room where all the snow gear is stored. Between sledding, we played board games and had hot chocolate and crepes. 
Libby in the snow

Walker, Skyler, Trent, Kalli, Nathan and Darrin all came over, so with Kyle, Dustin and Brooke already here, there were lots of kids floating around here.  Four year old Payton rode on the back of the 4-wheeler for so long that I thought he was going to be half-frozen.  Nathan came in and said, "I can't feel my legs."  Having moved here only a year and half ago from CA, I believe this was his first snow day, and his jeans were soaked from top to bottom.  He recovered.  There is something very unique about a snow day.  It's a guilt-free play day, and we did take advantage of it!

Libby got a new gymnastics uniform.  This is what she'll wear in her Gymnastics "Recital" on the 18th.  I can't wait to see it!

Tara and Mary
We got to go to Brooke's baptism on Saturday.  Holli's mom made her white dress, patterned after white dresses that Holli saw on Pride and Prejudice.  Wow - I admire that kind of talent! 

Here is a picture of Wade and Holli's family - the ones that have been staying with us.  And here is a picture of Payton (the one I mentioned earlier).
 Wade and Holli and family moved out today, but not before leaving us with this:
It was so clever and fun!
Kyle, Dustin, Mary and Holli
 They also left a big bucket of ping pong balls, many clean and organized closets, shelves and drawers, thanks to Holli's incredible organizing skills, and a huge empty place in our home.
Both families together
After they left, we sat around the kitchen table, kind of quiet, and we talked about what we had learned from having them stay with us.  The conclusion - they gave us a lot more than we gave them.  It left us with a desire to leave things better than when you got there, in whatever circumstance you are in.  That's what their family did for us.  I can't believe how much more we learned to love them while they were here, and how grateful we are for the time they were here.  Thank you Wade, Holli, Kyle, Dustin, Brooke, Payton and Tara!!