Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December Don't Forgets

Love what has turned into an annual baking day. Homemade caramels, toffee and fudge this year. Even if one tray of caramels had to be thrown out and one batch of toffee ended up tasting like onion from an unwashed pan! (Melanie's not mine!)

I love the patient waits for dinner parties to begin.
No photo but-I love that on Christmas Eve afternoon Mike sent me out to get a pedicure. I think he was desperate to get me to calm down and quit barking orders at everyone! The highlight though was coming home and finding a Christmas bouquet of flowers on my counter. It made me smile more than all my Christmas gifts combined. 

Joshua's Christmas train from pre-school.
I love Sundays in December with kids always dressed "just so". And of course I love, love, LOVE the reindeer sweater Luke has worn for four years now. I'm just not so sure he'll fit into it next year and I surely think I will cry. (You can read the story of our Christmas sweater here.)
Of course there are so many other things I don't want to forget, but probably will...but as long as I never forget the excitement, chaos, magic and joy of five young children in December all will be well.

December is now over, now it's onto the new.

The Big Day

I read somewhere this year that someone had Santa came a day early to their house to avoid the chaos of Christmas morning. Wwwhhaatt? That's what Christmas is, and I absolutely can not imagine not wanting the chaos of Christmas ON CHRISTMAS?

Oh well. We love Christmas morning around here, in all of it's chaos, mayhem, excitement and messes.
My kids waited patiently on the stairs for about 20 photo attempts for this picture. I remember clearly the agony of waiting on Christmas morning for my dad to get clothes on, for my dad to go to the bathroom, and for my dad to turn on the Christmas lights. Even though in reality it probably only equaled 5-7 minutes to a child it was foorrrrreverrrrr. I am sorry my children now have to have the "long" wait too, and posing for this picture was part of it!

For a few years now we've had the kids draw a siblings name to purchase a gift for. My kids LOVE planning, shopping, wrapping and presenting their gifts for each other. It really is a highlight of Christmas morning for me. I especially loved seeing Luke and Ellie plan, shop and wrap each others gifts. Though not exactly the siblings that get along the best, they really put a lot of thought and love into each other's gifts. (a cowboy hat for Luke and a makeup set for Ellie)
Drew didn't quite understand that he GAVE the gift to Megan, and instead claimed it for a few minutes for himself. Although when he finally did hand back Megan's umbrella to her he announced "For you walk to bus stop."
Joshua's trademark smile showed when he received a 100 piece art kit from Megan.
Joshua and Drew blurred together as one green bundle of Toy Story pajamas after Drew opened a Hot Wheels car that Joshua thoughtfully picked out for him.
What a wonderful day! We are truly blessed.
Santa brought Drew a music stand. Look at those photos of him just staring at it. All the coaxing in the world could not get him to use it at first. An hour or so into Christmas morning he started his singing and conducting, and hasn't stopped since.
 Joshua received his long awaited for "Jesse and Buzz" toys AND a new cowboy hat after his black one mysteriously went missing this fall.
 Megan received more clothes than a small clothing store and was thrilled to receive a chair from Nana to go with her desk she purchased herself earlier this year.
Ellie LOVED her baby doll, and I LOVE that she still loves baby dolls. It will be a sad day when she doesn't receive a baby doll on Christmas anymore. Ellie was thrilled to get a new desk and a new chair courtesy of Nana and Grandpa. Too bad the desk was damaged. She is patiently awaiting the arrival of a new one.
Luke always receives unique gifts that many 10 year old boys would have no interest in. But he is of course thrilled with them all. The highlight most certainly was his wood/leather burning kit.

My favorite quote of Christmas morning, "Shall I open this for Hank and Hazel or take it over and let them eat it open?"

Goats on Christmas morning? Whoever would have thunk it?!?

And so this is Christmas! (insert John Lennon's voice here)
(That's the extent of my holiday listening anymore. 7pm Christmas Day, Christmas music is over for me!)

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Annual Christmas Eve Dinner

Was certainly a different feel this year without my little brothers and their families with us on Christmas Eve, but we made do.

Pretty much the same old thing as every other year--everyone required to dress in their Sunday best (well of course except for Drew...and was NOT worth the battle!)

The trifle tradition in all of its anticipation was as always, one of the highlights of the evening.

And the winner was... 
Which left the rest of us not feel quite as obligated to finish our dessert portion. Well except for Luke, I think he was convinced their may be a second quarter hidden somewhere for his winning. (Of course there wasn't.)
I forgot that every year halfway through dinner the children always change into their new pajamas received from the Pajama Fairy that morning, until my sister-in-law Cindy mentioned that was one of the things she would surely miss this year.
(and darn it--my mom was taking those photos with her camera not mine!)

Grandpa usually gets the job of tracking Santa on NORAD with the children while the clean-up is done swiftly.

Then everyone leaves for home. We do our Luke 2 and singing traditions and then pictures by the tree before bed. Except Mom and Dad had run completely out of patience by then, and despite Megan's insistence that "We have to be holding our stockings for the picture", it didn't happen.

Not really sure anyone's patience was at it's peak. But such is life sometimes with seven people in a house.

Merry Christmas Eve!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tastes of Christmas

I absolutely LOVE having dinner parties in December. I love the different friends that come and the different activities we do with each. I love setting the table, cooking dinner, visiting and laughing with friends, and I even love the clean-up!

Certainly one of my favorite Christmas traditions...
We LOVE, LOVE our neighbors Kellen, Kari, Miles and Damon. (And I'm happy to report they join us for dinner far more often than once a year!)
Our 7th annual Christmas dinner with all the Tingeys:
(I love that Megan and Brandon did a harp/piano duet. (His very first time playing a harp!)
Some of our oldest and dearest friends, Keith and Brandi and their girls are some of my favorites to have dinner with. And of course we see them far more than once a year too.
(of course the singing photos in the previous post were from this dinner party.)

I love dinner parties that other people host--especially when it is for adults only! Family adult party at Mimi's house:
And we had a great family breakfast with my absolute BFF Melanie and her family at her house. But oops-the food was so delicious (Belgian waffles!!) I forgot all about taking any pictures-so this blurry one copied from Melanie will have to do.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sounds of Christmas

Who doesn't love Christmas music? (Besides Mike!) It is one of my favorite things about November and December. Fortunately, even though Mike would rather not HEAR any Christmas music playing, he is absolutely fine SINGING Christmas songs when I insist kindly encourage everybody to sing around the Christmas tree and/or piano each evening.

Tomorrow I'll do a little dinner tour of all of our December dinner parties (another December favorite!), but tonight I'll skip ahead to one of my favorite dinner party traditions each year--when our friends, Keith and Brandi and their girls come to visit. They are some of the only friends we have that wouldn't burst out laughing when asked to sing Christmas songs together. I think I only ever asked once, umpteen years ago. Now it is just part of our wonderful December dinner.

Brandi has a beautiful voice and I make her sing for me nearly every time she comes. Just in December I make everyone join in too.
 Without anyone saying anything, Drew took his proper place at the front of the room and conducted the music. Of course we are all used to his antics and conducting energy--but Keith and Brandi were thoroughly entertained by him. Drew shows no shyness or self-consciousness of anyone giggling at him-when he is listening to music and conducting, he goes off into his own world of musical fantasy.
 I love that now I can sit back and sing along and Megan accompanies us instead. Plus of course she is a much better piano player than me so it all runs a little more smoothly.
 Luke is probably the least enthused to be singing Christmas songs, but after losing his National Rodeo Program due to unkindness to a sibling, he resorted to other forms of entertainment. I'll have you know though he did join in singing "Away in a Manger." Who cares if he was upside down while he did it!

 Ellie is quite the little singer. She loves to sing. Bummer though--we didn't get either of her two favorite Christmas carols in--Silent Night or Angels We Have Heard. Good thing we still have a few more days to sing.
 Ahh-not only do these fine husbands sing, they also understand the unspoken, okay SPOKEN rule to wear the Christmas cracker hats longer than just at the dinner table. (More on Christmas crackers tomorrow.)
This year I was delighted that Lauren brought her violin along and played one of my favorite pieces of music.  (Canon in D--Pachabel).
Like I always say...
The Good Lord didn't bless me with a good singing voice, but he blessed me with a love of using the one I have. I love to sing. (Even though I am cringing at the memory of singing, "O Christmas Tree" with an English accent, off-key and a tad too loudly for Keith and Brandi tonight.)

I have high hopes that God will bless me for my singing efforts in this life with a beautiful voice in the next.

Now go enjoy some Christmas music. Only four more days to listen to it, by 7pm Christmas Day I don't want to hear anymore until November 1st of the next year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa, Ice and Fries

Bet that picture makes you look twice. Winter clothes and life jackets to see Christmas lights?
That's because Utah law requires life jackets on boats for children under 12. And when you're going on a Christmas Cruise you've gotta obey the law.
(excuse Mike's hand--not sure why it is in the picture)
Ellie quickly declared Santa a "helper" rather than the real thing. Guess the canoe instead of a sleigh was a dead give-away.
After the Christmas cruise down the Provo River, Mike had to drive further to explore his old stomping grounds around the Provo boat harbor at Utah Lake. Mike and the kids were thrilled to discover the lake frozen and entertained themselves with finding as big a rocks as possible to throw onto the ice. (It was pretty frozen, the rocks didn't break through.)
Mike was so excited about the big rock he threw and the thud it made as it bounced on the ice, that he summoned me to join him on the precarious rocks and watch him throw another one.
I don't think I gave Mike the excited reaction he was hoping for when the rock hit the ice, but I did give Megan a pretty excited reaction when she told me she "just got the coolest background in this picture." Kind of looks like we were on the moon.
And that was tonight's "soak up the week before Christmas activity"...
A Christmas cruise with Santa and throwing rocks at a frozen Utah Lake. Oh and a stop at McDonalds for french fries and ice cream.

Doesn't get much better than that now does it?


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