Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can't. Stay. Awake.

Oh crap! I'm totally falling asleep! On New Years Eve! What is wrong with me? I stay up till midnight all the time. Every day this week, in fact. Which just might be my problem tonight....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Enjoying the snow

I used to go sledding all winter long when I was a kid. We had a pretty decent sized hill at the elementary school right behind our house so getting sleds for Christmas was common for all the kids in our neighborhood. Since having children of my own, however, sledding has been rare so today was like a new experience for them and a blast from the past for me. Our friends Gary and Hannah proposed the idea and even shared their sleds with us since we didn't have any. It snowed throughout the night and all day today so the snow was fresh and fluffy. We found a place nearby that had numerous hills of various steepness and we had a blast! We slipped and slid all over the place...and not just on sleds! Climbing back up those hills after sliding down took concentration and patience to get to the top without slipping. All of us, adults included, landed on our backsides more than once. And a lot of laughing ensued.One big hill was entirely ice. That's where Rebekah and Brandon spent the majority of their time because you didn't need a sled....just a slick pair of snowpants.
Poor Julianne, though. She discovered a bit too late that a different hill she was sledding on had a jump at the bottom. She hit it exactly right, was airborn for a second, but then landed hard on her back with the wind knocked out of her. She's a bit sore this evening. Overall, though, it was a great experience and I think we'll head back sometime soon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Smells of heaven

Julianne (with her head buried in a basket of clean laundry): "Mom, if heaven has a smell, I bet it'll smell like this!"

Hmm...a clean, fresh smell. I can see that.

Personally, I'm more partial to the smell of pine trees. A good woodsy, nature smell would work for me. Maybe heaven will smell differently to each one of us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It took us an hour and a half to put this doll table together! If I had known, maybe we would've have got to work on it earlier. I think we finally got to bed around 1:00 AM.

This is the finished product. Lilian was quite pleased...despite the look on her face. (She was frustrated with the hair in her face. I went running for a barrette shortly after taking this pic.)

Brandon recieved an air soft gun for Christmas. And I had that quote from "A Christmas Story" running through my know, when Ralphie gets the Red Rider BB gun for Christmas and he gets told, "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Pretty Julianne checking out one of her new CD's.

Rebekah, looking every inch like your average teenager, was especially thrilled with all the earrings and necklaces she got. Lucky me, she says she'll share.

Traditional Christmas morning breakfast at our house is crepes....along with fruit, whipcream, eggs, sausage, etc. as filling. Yum...

Me: "Brandon, aren't you cold??"
Brandon: "Mom! Boys never get cold without their shirts on....unless they are in Antarctica."

Or, apparently, if they have Daddy's who like to put their cold hands on that bare chest.

Later in the afternoon my parents, along with Mary and Ryan and their kids who were in town from Idaho, came for Christmas dinner. Bryan and I made a turkey that would've made Alton Brown proud and we all ate much more english toffee than was probably good for us. But my favorite part of the evening was probably singing with Mary at the piano while my Dad played song after song. I miss my Mary. I wish she still lived close by.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Merriment

We spent Wednesday celebrating with Bryan's family at his parents house. Thursday was with my family at my sister Katie's house. Between the two events there was a lot of great food, cousins, games, presents and even a nativity. Here are a few of the great many pictures I took. (Bryan and I bought ourselves a new camera for Christmas and these two parties ended up being the perfect time to experiment with all the fancy features.)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sun...oops, I mean SNOWbathing

I suppose you could say the white snow is reminiscent of the white sand beaches of Cancun or some other equally warm locale....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Sunday

Yesterday was "Christmas Sunday." The Sunday before Christmas where the ward choir does the big Christmas program, where we all have Christmas lessons in our classes and where the kids dress up in their pretty new Christmas finery. It was my first time accompanying the ward choir since I received my new calling. But seeing as we were doing six songs and the choir director was also hoping to have me sing on a few numbers where the sopranos sing especially high, we played musical chairs at the piano and split the accompanying between three of us. One of the songs was just Julianne and two other girls, each taking one verse as a solo, and coming together at the end. It was the song that made everyone in the congregation cry. Sweet little voices tend to do that. And Julianne did great...wasn't nervous a bit. How does she do that? My knees were knocking when I sang a solo in Sacrament Meeting a few weeks ago.
Seeing as our teenage daughters don't necessarily care about getting fancy Christmas finery to wear to church any more, Lilian was the only one modeling something extra new and special yesterday. Doesn't she look pretty? And so big! She is growing so fast.

And then last night we continued our yearly tradition of letting the kids sleep under...or well, actually, NEAR the tree in their new Christmas pajamas. I had grand visions in my head of all of us peacefully sitting together next to the tree reading Christmas stories before letting the kids drift off the sleep. Well...everything happened but the peaceful part. Arguing over which book to read, Lilian bouncing all over my lap, whining over why "she gets to sleep closest to the tree!", etc. But everyone eventually settled after about three books in and all four kids were actually asleep before 10:00....something of a miracle looking back on the past few weeks of bedtimes averaging around 11:30.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday: Under the tree...

Christmas 2006. Love the look on his face and his clasped hands. A sort of good natured tolerance. "Mom is making us do this pose again? Well, okay."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ribbons and Wrappings

This is what we were doing last night. Today being the last day of school before Christmas break, the kids needed to take their gifts to their friends. So I spent hours and hours wrapping them in clear cellophane wrap and tying them with curling ribbon. (Can I tell you how sick of curling ribbon I am??) I figured as long as I was at it I should do my neighbor gifts as well.

And here's the result. Mostly. Some of the tiles the girls made were still wet with sticky resin and needed more drying time. And I ran out of cellophane wrap before I got all of MY gifts finished. Picking up more cellophane is just one more thing on my list today. But almost! Almost done!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Got the driveway all cleared only to get stuck in all the frozen snow chunks the plow left behind. Took about fifteen minutes of shoveling, pushing and cursing to get Bryan on his way.
Actually, we didn't really curse because Bryan so doesn't do that. If it had been just me stuck in the snow? Well, then maybe. Oh. Should I have admitted that?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Decorations

It took me bits and pieces of four days to get all the Christmas decor up. But, oh! How I loved doing it! Bryan, I think, found it amusing that I was clearly having so much fun setting up trees, hanging garlands and setting up nativity scenes throughout the house.We don't put lights up on our house. Bryan hates doing it and it's rather expensive to hire it out so I've been looking for other ways to make out house look festive. Last year I decided to put wreaths up in the windows of our house and loved SO much how it looked that I decided it would be a yearly thing. All together, between the windows, lamp post and coach lamps there are nine wreaths out there.

Here's the kids putting ornaments on the upstairs formal tree. Berries, poinsettias and balls.
It took me three years to get the mantle to look just right. Okay, yes, it's probably a girl thing...but I spent so much time experimenting with different decor up there I was practically giddy when I got it right this year. I even met Bryan at the back door after work one day to insist he come right in and look. "Um, yeah looks really good, I guess...." was his reply. He may have thought I was a little bit strange.

Ahh, my Willow Tree nativity. And yes, I know that just about everybody has a nativity like this. But I LOVE it. It's the last thing I take down every year because I find it rather sad to tuck the pieces back in their boxes. And don't my poinsettias looks pretty under the table?

I always hoped to one day have two more formal and one with all the fun ornaments the kids and I have made over the years. This house made it possible....this tree is in our downstairs family room. See that Santa ornament? It's made out of a light bulb. Isn't that cool? I made it at my Aunt Jana and Uncle Craig's annual Christmas party way back when I was probably 10 years old. Ahh, memories.

That crocheted stocking is mine from when I was a kid. My mom made one just like it for all of us siblings. When I got married and started my family I decided that I, too, wanted to make stockings for all my children. I started crosstitching Rebekah's (the one on the right end) when she was probably about 2 years old. Wow. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into! After about 2 or 3 years I handed it 2/3rds of the way done to my friend Lori who finished it up for me while I started on Julianne's. And that half done stocking still sits to this day in a sack up on a high shelf in my closet. not happening. This year I decided that maybe it didn't matter if all the stockings matched and took the remaining stocking-less kids shopping to let them each pick out a personal stocking. Brandon's is the one on the left end, then Lilian's snowman stocking, and then Julianne's. And I'm finally feeling like I can let go of that self-induced pressure and guilt about my unfinished stocking goal.

My mom started the tradition of always keeping a Christmas puzzle out and available to work on during the season.

And here's the pine candle that makes our house smell like we have a real tree...even though we don't. I love that smell.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Lesson Learned

A warning to all parents: If you care about the life of your laptop, don't let your two year old near it. Apparently I did not learn this lesson as well as I should've....this keyboard disaster comes on the heels of the crayon debacle. And although I got all the keys back on in their right places, unfortunately the O, F and Shift will never be the same. I didn't realize just how much I use the O key. Why couldn't it have been the X or Z?

Favorite Photo Friday: Mrs. Claus

Jordan and Rebekah delivering the first gifts of Christmas 2004. Rebekah especially likes this picture of herself. Doesn't she look pretty?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Bryan

It's Bryan's birthday today. He stayed home from work and spent the whole day with me! We went shopping and bought him a brand new garage door opener. And let me tell you, that's an exciting birthday present because now he won't have to scrape the ice off his car each morning as he leaves from work. Or brush the snow off either, like yesterday. Yesiree, now all we have to do is install the thing.
Somehow, even though it's his birthday, I ended up with Michael Buble concert tickets and a new Palm Pre phone.
Well we could say that the tickets are really a gift from my sister, Melissa, who excitedly offered to go with me so Bryan didn't have to feel bad about me going by myself since he is not a Michael Buble fan. And the Palm Pre? He's been begging me for months to get one because he loves his own so much. I guess it's only fitting that he finally gets me using one on his special day, right?
All kidding was wonderful spending the day together. He is my forever sweetheart and my best friend. I love him! Oh, how I love him!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The tale of three concerts

Over the weekend I went to three concerts...two as a spectator and one as a participant.
Saturday I attended Lex de Azevedo's "Gloria" with Kim, one of my old Snow College roomies. Thank you Facebook, for bringing us back together again after 13 years! But the poor girl had no idea that this would be such an emotional evening for me. It was the first time that I had ever watched "Gloria" from the audience and I'm afraid my eyes started tearing up from the opening notes. The music was gorgeous! A couple of the soloists were ones that I hadn't seen since we sang "Gloria" in Jerusalem and the memories just flooded over me. The combination of the wonderful spirit of the music and the fact that I wasn't up singing with them meant that by about 2 songs in I was almost sobbing. Tears rolling down my cheeks. I was having to make a conscious effort to not make any noise, I was crying so hard. And I was wishing mightily that I had thought to put on waterproof mascara that morning! Sweet Kim kept me supplied with kleenexes.

Sunday I sang with the Sally Bytheway Chorale at the Assembly Hall. Our concert was to start right after the First Presidency's Christmas message. Which meant that although traffic was light seeing as all the hordes at the Conference Center were already in their seats, parking was scarce. I parked a good 4 LONG blocks away and hiked to temple square in my skirt and high 18 degree weather! Brrr! Have you ever sung in the Assembly Hall? Or been to a concert there? It's an amazing building, but especially for sound. I always enjoy singing there. But Sunday night, unfortunately, I had next to no voice due to a lovely little cold Brandon brought home and spread around. And the coughing! Our concert was being recorded for use on various church radio channels and I was panicked that I was going to cough in the middle of a song! But I couldn't just claim illness and miss the concert because I play the chimes in 2 of our songs and my part was rather crucial. So. I sucked on a cough drop through the majority of the concert. I did more lip synching than actual singing in the hopes that I wouldn't have to take any deep breaths that would trigger an uncontrollable coughing fit. And I made pretty facial expressions to hopefully fool the audience into thinking all was well. :) And overall the concert did go VERY well. And I did enjoy it...just not as much as if I had actually been able to sing. Here's hoping I have my voice back and those nasty coughs gone by the next concert this coming weekend!And then Monday evening Rebekah sang in a concert with her school's music department. My favorite part, however, was actually at the early rehearsal that morning that I helped chaperone. It was a rehearsal filled with chaos. Imagine 300 teenagers spread throughout the auditorium...all talking to their friends, calling out to people across the room, laughing, being silly as teenagers do. And because it was snowing outside, the music teacher who was in charge of this whole rehearsal, was late. Stuck in traffic. She finally showed up and got the reluctant and chatty teenagers into some kind of order so they could practice their big number. She's yelling as loud as she can to get their attention. Because there are 300 of them, remember? And they won't stop teenagers do. But finally she throws her arms into the air and all the sudden the talking stops. The bell choir starts the opening notes of the song. And then 300 pairs of eyes focus on the director and 300 voices start singing...

"Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow."

And wow. Cause all the sudden things ARE still. And it really IS snowing outside. The contrast between the noisy chaos and the quiet, sweet song was amazing. And yes, as soon as the song ended the kids immediately started talking and once again chaos reigned. But for just a few minutes everything was so peaceful. And it made me think about the craziness of this Christmas season. That if we just stop for a minute and be still.... That's when you really can focus on what this season is all about.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cold Turkey Invitational

Brandon started gymnastics this past September. It was something he had always been interested in doing but Bryan didn't want to enroll him in just any kiddie gym. He wanted it to be at a place that took the sport seriously. He found a such a gym not too far from our house and the two of them went in to meet the coaches and sign Brandon up for a beginner class. But when the coach heard all the things that Brandon could already do he asked if he could run him through a quick workout. Bryan and Brandon agreed and afterwards the coach informed them that Brandon was no beginner. In fact, he was very excited to get Brandon onto his level 4 boys competition team. It means a commitment of twice a week workouts for two hours each time and I was worried that it wouldn't be too long before the novelty wore off but so far Brandon loves it.

When talk of competition meets came up Bryan and I were a little nervous that maybe Brandon wouldn't be ready....most of the other kids had been taking gymnastics for a few years. The coaches assured us, though, that not only would Brandon be ready but he was actually one of the better kids on the team! Yesterday was his first meet....The Cold Turkey Invitational. A kind of pre-season, practice meet really. In my performing lingo I'd call it a dress rehearsal. :) Judges were there, not to give scores but to give constructive feedback to each gymnast. Brandon says he had a wonderful time. I know I enjoyed watching him!

(Brandon is the second kid from the end....)