Monday, December 29, 2008

Peace on Earth?

Sunday morning. (Relatively) quiet. I was sitting on the family room couch, brainstorming New Year's goals and enjoying the peaceful reverence that we try to encourage in our home on the Sabbath day, when I heard an odd rumbling sound coming from the kitchen. As I watched, a loud vehicle crept ominously around the corner, heading in my direction. Through the hallway...down the step...across the carpet, straight toward me....

It stopped in the middle of the floor,

aimed its machine gun...

and fired.

All this, and not a driver in sight.

(This is what happens when you let Daddy do the Christmas shopping.)

The invading nation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Girly Christmas

Not to give Grace an unfair amount of screen time, but this was the first Christmas she really got into the action. (If I remember correctly, last year she slept through the opening of presents.) And this year, her girly side truly revealed itself. Notice a theme here?

Chocolate!!! Another new word.

How many toddlers do you know who are thoroughly excited about new clothes? Grace spent 20 minutes trying them on.

White Christmas: A Summary

Snow on Christmas Eve. The boys wanted to know just what technology Santa has that would enable him to fly in this.

Christmas Eve at Dad's house.

The annual Christmas Eve jigsaw puzzle. This is the first year in recent memory that we actually finished it on Christmas Eve! (Dad has a preference for the really hard puzzles - he did an 18,000 piece a few years ago.)

Christmas morning at Mom's house. Orange rolls, hot chocolate, gifts, and family.

Back at home Christmas afternoon.

Jacob made this snowglobe at school as a gift for Daddy.

Grace learned many new words this Christmas, most importantly "stocking" and "candy."

Lastly, we opened the envelopes on our tree and read our gifts to Jesus. (A couple of weeks ago in family home evening, we read this story and each of us wrote down something we would give as our gift to Jesus this year.)

My mom and all of my siblings joined us for Christmas dinner and a suspenseful game of Settlers of Catan. It was a beautiful holiday, and we have so much to be thankful for.

We hope you all had a peaceful and joy-filled Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Joy to the World

Amidst all of the excitement of this wondrous time of year - the presents, the food, the games, the laughter, the traditions - we remember and offer our deepest gratitude for the greatest Gift ever given. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord and King. All that we have and are is because of Him. We love Him and worship Him with all of our hearts.

The Cheapest Rink in Town

What can you do with a 9-square-foot patch of ice on the patio? Why, ice skate, of course.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One. More. Day.

And the excitement level among the children can't possibly get any higher or they'll explode.

{This is our llama, Dolly (get it?) who is the closest thing we have to a family mascot/guard dog. She was a wedding gift from my father. She likes to dress up for holidays.}

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The following conversation took place in the back of our minivan today.

Isaac: You know what, Jacob?

Jacob: What?

Isaac: Chickens are very important. {He pauses for dramatic effect.} Because if we didn't have eggs (pronounced "iggs") we couldn't make cookies. And without chickens, we wouldn't have iggs!

I could tell that Isaac had been working on this line of thinking for quite some time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas in Nauvoo

Our ward Christmas party. The activities committee did a fabulous job receating historical Nauvoo (circa 1830's) complete with Scovil Bakery, Red Brick Store, a print shop, a blacksmith's, and a main square. The boys got to make their own "tin" ornaments and reindeer candy canes. They even had an old-fashioned taffy pull. After a turkey dinner, they put on a short program of music and narration, for which I played the piano. It was a busy evening, but memorable. So fun to dress up and go back in time for a night!

Friday, December 19, 2008


I finally got around to making an advent calendar this year. (Never mind that I didn't finish it until December 8th or so.) On each day is written some small activity for us to do. They range from "decorate gingerbread house" to "sing your favorite Christmas song" to "read stories about Jesus from the Bible." The kids have great fun every morning checking to see what the activity of the day will be. Isaac's reading skills have really improved in the process.

Some highlights so far:

Our annual drive around town to see the lights.

Jacob and Isaac putting the finishing touches on the roof.

A visit to Santa. (The REAL Santa - I'd bet my life on it.)

The boys each got to tell Santa their Christmas wish. Isaac wished for 100 cars (he likes round numbers) and Jacob wished for a basketball and a football (to replace the one he kept throwing over the fence until it disappeared.) In a quiet, somewhat secretive voice, Santa said to the boys: "You know, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but your house is one of my first stops on Christmas Eve. So would you do me something for me? Would you go to bed just a little bit early on Christmas Eve?" And the boys, eyes wide, nodded. Mom and Dad love Santa.

This is Santa's house. There is a helicopter on the roof.

Hot chocolate...

...and marshmallows. Grace calls them "yellows."

I can't wait to see what today brings.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Another portrait by Isaac. I may have to start paying the kid. (What's the going rate for 4-year-old photographers these days?)

13 Days to Go...

...and the countdown continues. Our stockings are hung.

That bright spot in the photo is the moon outside our window. At 7:30 in the morning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

O Christmas Tree

It's one of our favorite family traditions. We pick a night in early December, and let the kids know a few days in advance so they can go nuts with anticipation. On the appointed day, out comes the big green Rubbermaid box. The boys and I put together the artifical tree that we bought (on clearance, I believe) for our first Christmas nine years ago. (You can tell it was an apartment tree because it's about seven feet tall and only two feet wide.) We lug in dusty boxes of ornaments and decorations from the garage. Garland and white lights drape the piano. The nativity set is carefully placed, one piece at a time. All the while, Josh Groban sings Little Drummer Boy and O Come All Ye Faithful.

Finally, evening arrives and Daddy comes home from work. The time has come. Marty opens the tattered boxes, revealing ornaments and memories. There are the icicles that were placed on Marty's parents' first Christmas tree. There is the painted ball from the year I was born. There are nutcrackers, a gift from Marty's dad several years ago. There are little cloth ornaments I received as gifts when I was a child. There are ornaments commemorating our wedding and each of our children's births. The collection grows a little each year, as our family grows. Our decorated tree is a sort of three-dimensional family history.

Daddy passes out the ornaments to their respective owners, who circle the tree jockeying for the best potential hanging location. (What is it about children that makes them want to place every single ornament within one square foot on the tree?) Stories are told and memories are relived. Cookies bake in the oven, and there is always hot chocolate. Always.

This is the "Merry" in Merry Christmas.


When I showed Isaac the photos he took in the previous post and told him they were wonderful pictures, he said:

"Yup, I say my eyes did a pretty good job. High five, eyes!"

And then he gave his eyes a high five.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Come What May

This is what happened: Marty went in to work early this morning to learn that, due to the state of the economy, his job is being cut back to part-time. Meaning he will be looking for PRN work or another job.

This is what we did about it:

{Dancing to the Wiggles Christmas CD}

Because you can't worry all the time.

As Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said in his last General Conference address (on the subject of adversity,)

"Come what may, and love it."

Meet Mr. Peeps

This is Mr. Peeps. He arrived at our house straight from the North Pole on the day after Thanksgiving. He brought with him this note:

Christmas is approaching, and this is the day
Santa has sent Mr. Peeps to your house to stay.

He send this small elf to your house and mine.
The day after Thanksgiving. He must be on time.

Mr. Peeps has a purpose. His purpose will be,
To whisper to Santa all the good that he sees.

Soon after he gets here, he moves only at night
To high places, low places, he stays in plain sight.

In the kitchen, for instance, he sits high on a shelf.
Mr. Peeps can sit anywhere, for he is an elf.

He holds very still when he thinks you are watching.
His magic is precious, it fades with one touching.

He sits on the tree on Christmas Eve day.
He knows that Santa is soon on his way.

He waits and he waits without making a noise.
He waits until Santa arrives with the toys.

So you better be nice and mind what you say
Because Mr. Peeps will tell Santa when he comes with his sleigh.

Once Christmas is here and Santa has come,
Mr. Peeps must leave, for his job is well done.

But, he will return next year on the very same day,
To watch your behavior as you work and play.

- Sharon Reynolds

The children are completely enamored with this elf.

Grace noticed him first, sitting on a bookcase in our living room. Her reaction was priceless. She stopped still in her tracks, stared at him for a long moment, then started waving and talking to him while jumping up and down and circling him like a curious animal. "Heh-wo! Hi! Heh-wo!" Giggle, giggle, giggle. It was awesome.

Jacob greeted our new visitor with intellectual curiosity and a hundred questions. "But Mom, where did he come from? How did he get here? Is that true?" Ultimately, he decided this was fun.

Isaac, however, was traumatized. He thinks Mr. Peeps is alive, and he was terrified that the elf would come into his bedroom at night. After much crying on his part, and many reassurances on my part that I would make sure Mr. Peeps didn't enter his room, he finally agreed to go to bed.

Now Mr. Peeps is the first thing on the children's minds when they get up in the morning. They race downstairs to see where he is today and who can find him first. Even Grace plays this game. She has dubbed him "Pop" and waves to him every day. "Heh-wo! Heh-wo, Pop!" Giggle.

I love Christmas.

*another great idea from that Institute parenting class

Friday, December 5, 2008

December 5th

So, I'm still working on the December Daily album that I started this week. But in terms of "noteworthy" events, this week was pretty sparse. Hence, not much to post about.

My week in a nutshell: Christmas service project, wrapping paper, caramel brownies, Mod Podge, 70 red Christmas ornaments, grocery shopping, library storytime,, post office, four preschoolers, jingle bells, piano lesson, Clifford the Big Red Dog, new jigsaw puzzle.

See. Not that interesting.

But these things are (um... I mean, will be) documented in the album. That's part of the charm of it - recording everyday life, celebrating the ordinary, enjoying the daily routine. Because 95% of my life is pretty ordinary, and I think it deserves fair representation.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin

Hello December!

Inspired by Ali Edwards, I put together this "December Daily" mini-album last week. It will feature our daily activities/traditions/preparations for Christmas during this month. A great way to document the magical little moments that might otherwise be overlooked in the rush to get things bought, wrapped, shipped, baked, cleaned, written, caroled, decorated, and serviced. (I don't believe in rushing, but unfortunately it seems to believe in me.)

Most importantly, I want it to be a reminder that this season isn't about "things" at all - it's about time: time with family, time pondering about our Savior's birth and life, and time given in service to others. I hope this month will be time spent meaningfully.

December 1st: Christmas music makes cleaning house so much more enjoyable. Even the dishes - and that's a tall order.