i've been counting down since last Dec 26 ... are you ready? me neither!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

a Christmas to remember

with all the counting down and ramping up, anticipation and decoration, christmas music and christmas movies and christmas presents ... this year's crowning celebration seemed to come and go all too quickly. (i need to figure out how to slow down time - does it seem to anyone else that the older we get the faster time flies?)

traditions are so fun! i decided this year to start a new tradition and join these 2 at Figgy Pudding every year from now on ... we went with them a few years ago and skipped the last few but went again this year and made a night of it ... it was SO fun and i totally want to make it our tradition! can you guess who was behind the camera??

on Dec. 22nd we headed to the westlake center carousel as we have for the past umpteen years - although we decided this year to not have it on the Monday before Christmas - instead we opted for the Saturday before!

this year was markedly different than past christmases because we celebrated 2 christmas mornings. last sunday (dec. 23rd) was Christmas Eve Eve for the rest of the world ... but at granny's house it was just Christmas Eve. my parents, youngest sister and brother were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spent christmas day traveling to my oldest sister's home in Texas to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's with them. So, we followed tradition and donned our new jammies and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and then Luke 2 and visited and ate and then when we decided that the kids needed to get to bed we hurried home because at 7:am we were expected to be back for Christmas Morning! My dad asked Santa if he'd make a special trip one night early - and since he (my dad) is one of the best "Santa's Helpers" he was more than happy to oblige. We woke at 6:30ish (ok ... so we didn't get out of bed until 6:45), decided that we'd get the van ready and then wake the kids. we loaded the gifts and stuff we were taking with us and then got the kids in and made our way to granny's. sure enough, Santa had been there and left some fun stuff for us!

Granny's tree was upside down again - she started doing that last year to accomodate all the myriad of ornaments she has in her collection. she figured that if there were more hanging room at the top of her tree then she wouldn't have to worry about little hands and also there would be more room for presents ... it just works better all around to have the tree upside down!!

after opening presents and eating breakfast - we followed tradition and took naps! it's boring - and i want to have different traditions ... but this one always seems to be the winner!

we loaded our 'granny-christmas' into the van around 4:30 and headed home for showers and change clothes from our jammies that we had been sporting all day! then to grandma Shaw's Annual Christmas Eve party.

Christmas morning came quickly for this gift-wrapping-procrastinator ... i was up until 3:30AM - i almost caught a peek of Santa and i think i heard him mutter something about having to change his route because of one little helper that wasn't in her bed when she was supposed to be!! i promised him that i wouldn't be the last one on the block to hit the sack next Christmas so he took my word for it and filled my stocking quite nicely - not one bit of coal in sight!

after opening our gifts here ... we loaded in the van and headed to grandma shaw's for breakfast and more gift opening.

the favorites this year:

Abi: Fur Berry, White Tiger and Lady and the Tramp Water Baby

Elyssa: Roller Blades, Pooh Bear Water Baby, and Fur Berry

Ammon: Motorcycles being hauled by a pickup, Train track with train and bucking bull in the middle, and Cowboy Boots!!

Easton: his very own Flip Phone, Race cars with track, and Pound and Play Xylophone - balls that you hammer through holes and xylophone all in one!

Andy: Brown coat, Touk, White 'Church' shirts, Belt (unfortunately just useful stuff for dad)

Me: my ZUNE(!!), matching Watch and Bracelet, and 2 purses

at about 10am we witnessed a genuine White Christmas!! it's been a VERY long time since we had one of those ... and it didn't stick around for very long. just long enough to get a few of these pictures! i will forever remember this Christmas because i've truly been 'dreaming of a white Christmas, with every Christmas card i write ..."

[i actually sent out Christmas Cards this year ... well - i printed 100 pictures, wrote in 80+ cards, printed out our letter, cut and folded it to fit in the envelopes, printed labels, stuffed envelopes, applied the address labels and return address labels, and mailed 13 of them so far ... i need to buy more stamps!]

we know that it's not all about what we get for Christmas - that the real reason for this season is the baby Jesus was born. at my parent's house there is a stocking hung for Jesus with a poem inside that helps us remember that we need to give Him a gift - a gift of self each year, everyday. (Abi drew Him a picture)

Wow! Christmas came and went in a whirlwind this year - I'm with Harlan Miller when he said "I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." in fact ... i think this year i'm going to light my pumpkin spice candle and do something related to Christmas around the 25th of each month. i'm also starting to decorate on Nov. 1, 2008 - then hopefully come december i won't feel like "wait! slow down! don't go so fast!"

I hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright!

i was up at 5:30 on the 26th for the after Christmas sales! they were fantastic again this year! i donned my 'after-christmas-sales-shopping-sweater' and headed to Wal-Mart first. i was alone this year, my parnter-in-crime was in Texas ... and so i didn't have anyone there to say "you don't need that!" (clearly my efforts to channel Mindy with my sweater didn't work!) and i spent twice my allotted amount. i shopped for coming birthdays, and next year's Christmas ... i think i did a GREAT job - just spent a little too much. in the long run i saved us a lot of money - it's just a little hard for andy to swallow when i come home with my arms loaded down and my wallet quite empty!

and now we're headed into the New Year ... we're counting down here at home with our kids and some friends! come on over!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

i believe - now and always.

the bell still rings for me. something you may not know about me: i have always believed in santa - and it makes me angry/annoyed/sick to my stomach when people make the assumption that one can 'outgrow' that belief. after the 17th time (this year) watching Polar Express (most recently at 1:30 am this morning) i have recommitted to believing 'just one more year'. my sister, jennalee, reminded me of another story that i love but haven't thought about in a few years.

the story in it's entirety can be found in this book:

but here's an excert:

"Several years ago just before Christmas, my niece, Shelly, took hold of her mother's hand and asked seriously, 'Is it okay if I believe just one more year?'

Since that memorable happening several years ago, our family has established a family tradition. Each year on Christmas Eve, we gather together around the tree. With the lights low and the fire burning in the fireplace, we ask the question once again, the most important question of the year, 'Is it okay if we believe one more year?'--not only believe in the traditions of childhood with Santa Claus, but more importantly in the message of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating. Do we believe in his mission, his atonement, his resurrection? Do we believe in his invitation to come and follow him?Of course we are not really committing ourselves for only a year. We are pledged to follow the Savior forever. But we live life a day, a week, a month, a year at a time, and Christmas is a season to focus on the year ahead and reconfirm our discipleship.

Following the discussion and the commitment, someone reads aloud The polar Express by Chris Von Allsburg, a story that tells how those who have faith can always hear the clear sound of a silver bell.

Following the story, we each receive a small new bell on a red satin ribbon to wear around our necks during the holidays. We listen for its clear sound as a testimony and commitment that we truly believe and will strive to live as we believe one more year. While the fire burns low, we then read from the Bible the glorious account of the Christmas story recorded by Luke telling of the birth of the Savior as announced by an angel, 'For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:11), and we believe." Ardeth G. Kapp

Thank you, Jennalee, for reminding me and for helping/joining me in believing year after year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

live and learn

sometimes its hard to take people's word for it. from personal experience, i can tell you that i don't like to be told what to do (or not do as the case may be). but when it involves a bad taste in my mouth (literally or metaphorically) i try to take heed. i can't say the same for my darling little 3 year old son ... who did NOT learn from the example of his big sister. during lunch today he was suddenly gone from the table - i heard him in the bathroom and found bits of wet bath salt on the counter. he too had tried to sneak a savory sip of the super soapy sundae that i brought home ... over a week ago!

some kids never learn [maybe i should have taken the straw out after the first 'would-be thief'] some moms never learn!

Monday, December 17, 2007

this is just one of mine ...

i have a long list of favorite Christmas Stories ... they range from 'Twas the night before Christmas and 'Santa Claus the world's number one toy expert' to Christmas Day in the morning and Luke 2. Somewhere in the middle i always read this one about Wallace Purling.

For years now whenever Christams pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally's performance in one annual production of the Nativity Play has slipped into the realm of legend. But the old timers who were in the audience that night never tire of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in the town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in movement and mind. Still, Wally was liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them or any game, for that matter, in which winning was important.

Most often they'd find a way to keep him out, but Wally would hang around anyway - not sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful boy, a willing and smiling one, and the natural protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. Sometimes if the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would always be Wally who'd say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother."

Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play's director, Miss Lambard, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally's size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town's yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, of beards, crowns, halos and a whole stageful of squeaky voices. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performace with such fascination that from time to time Miss Lambard had to make sure he did not wander onstage before his cue.

Then came the time when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the Innkeeper was there, waiting.

"What do you want?" Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

"We seek lodging."

"Seek it elsewhere." Wally looked straight ahead, but spoke vigorously. "The inn is filled."

"Sir we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and we are very weary."

"There is no room in this inn for you." Wally looked properly stern.

"Please good innkeeper, this is my wife Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired."

Now for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

"No! Be gone!" the prompter whipsered from the wings.

"No!" Wally repeated automatically. "Be gone!"

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, and Mary laid her head upon her husband's shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper did not return inside the inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, and his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

"Don't go Joseph," Wally called out. "Bring Mary back." And Wallace Purling's face grew into a bright smile. "You can have my room."

Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet there were other- many, many others- who considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants that they had ever seen.

What are your favorite Christmas Stories??

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

more tooth fairy sightings

saturday, dec 8th, elyssa finally got that extremely loose tooth out of her mouth - with her own tongue. she won't let anyone touch them ... the thought of losing teeth is not pleasant to this little girl. even the incentive of money from the tooth fairy isn't enough! she cried when she discovered that they were loose. (i took a picture of the actual event - the blood and recently dislodged tooth - but as i have mentioned before, my camera needs to be decommissioned and summarily executed, leaving behind only the SD card to carry on in a newer, faster, better camera! please help me! and thank you if you already have!) needless to say, we are on the fast track to toothless grins, only cut-up apples, and brace-face!

looks can be deceiving!

this past sunday, when we left the primary appreciation dinner the presidency handed these out to the teachers (both of the men got bags of candy!). if you look real close there's a line on note that says: "of course don't take a sip" - too bad elyssa didn't read the note before wrapping her lips around the straw! in trying to sneak a taste, instead she got a mouthful of bubble bath! YUCK! her face was priceless ... too bad i wasn't on the ball enough to get a picture! i guess i was too busy helping her wash it out and explaining the consequences for not asking before touching things that are not yours.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

not again!!

a while back ... the beginning of 2007, andy and i were broken into during a CHURCH meeting! as if that wasn't bad enough the theives wrote a check out of my check book at Fred Meyers and got cash back (only $5 - basically smash 'n grab theives aren't very bright and/or devious) and to make matters worse when the bank stopped payment on the check we got a NSF report and they tried to hit us up for the $25. Idiots!
then last night thieves were running amok in our neighborhood ... just outside my garage door! (see ... if i could park inside my garage ... but that's neither here nor there) i went out to drive abi to school and opened the door to put easton in and noticed the glove box was open. then i got that sinking feeling i get when i realize i have done something dumb. sure enough ... i had left my purse in the van!! it had been dumped and my wallet had been ransacked. what was missing you ask?? my license, a $5 bill, my temple recommend, 2 shades of brown eye shadow, brown mascara and my mint chapstick! they didn't take my debit card ... or the coins ... or my safeway, albertsons, or costco cards. BAH!! i hate that violated feeling - i was noticably shaken, i called 911 - at the adamant request of my 3 oldest kids.
then i called andy. he was unsympathetic and asked me why i left my purse in the car ... thanks for your comfort dear.
my mom called in the midst of talking to the sheriff's office and when i called her back, she too was as comforting as my dear husband. she said, "i just want to know one thing - don't you ever learn?"
"thanks mom. that makes me feel tons better."
"i'm sorry that happened to you, honey."
sometimes i just need someone to say "that's terrible - those dang theives!!" and not remind me of my stupidity!
i'm grateful for my personal safety and the safety of my family - but look out theives ... it's Christmas time and Santa is watching! i'll venture to say that your names are on the Naughty List!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

ya think it's gonna rain?

my grandpa would say,"If it doesn't it's gonna miss a good chance!"
i asked andy to snap some shots of the flooding he encountered on his way home! Dang! we have some real weather mood swings around these parts! andy bought me some rain boots a while back when we went to the pumpkin patch! don't even worry - he thinks i look silly in them - but my feet are nice and dry!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

it's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas!

don't you just love christmas music!? especially when it's so fitting ... it tells the story of what's happening right now! for example, i read my 'super' friend's blog and she reminded me of one of my FAVORITE songs!! (sorry ang!)

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground.
It's the time for play, it's a whipped cream day,
I wait for it the whole year round!

Those are marshmallow clouds being friendly,
In the arms of the evergreen trees;
And the sun is red like a pumpkin head,
It's shining so your nose won't freeze!

The world is your snowball, see how it grows,
That's how it goes, whenever it snows.
The world is your snowball just for a song,
Get out and roll it along!

It's a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts,
Take a walk with your favorite girl.
It's a sugar date, so what if spring is late,
In winter it's a marshmallow world!

i just love when it snows!
(but it's not here to stay ... even as i type this it's raining!!)