Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration with the Seal family at our home (and my parents even stopped by for a few minutes, too). We had a light dinner and then all the kids dressed up and presented The Nativity play for us and sang Silent Night. Then we did the wise man gift exchange (red gift is something sentimental/meaningful--my kids got books; green gift is something needed--my kids got pjs ; and gold gift is something fun--my kids got Mr. Fuzzy and Morgan got a Barney DVD) and then we did the cousin's gift exchange.

Hadley was Mary and Ryan was Joseph which only added to the wonderful spirit of this play. They couldn't even get along long enough to make it through a 2 minute play. They were fighting over who got to hold the baby Jesus while we were supposed to be paying attention to the shepherds and the wiseman following the star. Never a dull moment in this house!

Nixon, Kamen, Zach and Griffin.
These cute little cousins are all within 2 months of each other.

All the sisters-in-law
Nicole, me, Jill, Annie and Rae

All of the boys
Gavin, Jeff, Scott, Chad, Trevor and Brendan

Jack surprised all of us (and Lolly) when he pulled out a small little box. Everyone knows that only one thing comes in those cute, little boxes...a diamond --a beautiful princess cut solitaire diamond. He said she had been a good girl and after 44 years she had earned it. This picture was taken after we all kept asking them if they could kiss again because we didn't get a picture of it the first time. So cute!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The countdown to Christmas

Wow! I know this has been a busy time of year for everyone and I feel a little guilty admitting this but I am so relieved to have Christmas over. I kinda fell behind on my advent calendar blogging and even though Christmas is over I am going to finish out the activities that led to Christmas. This year may have been the best so far at actually carrying out the activity every night. We stayed really busy . . . not too sure if all the busyness helped us focus on Christmas or just kept us really busy so hopefully next year we'll be better at making the activities more centered around service and help keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

Day 19--Dinner and Gift exchange with Gavin's family

We went out to dinner with all the adult couples and Nan

Gift exchange time at Trevor's and Annie's house. Little did we know when this picture was taken that we were sitting in some prime seats! Trevor's 2 year old quickly let us know that we were sitting on his car's road and continually asked us all night if we could please move.

Jill is laughing hysterically at the great boxers she got from Gavin--straight from Rome. If you've been to Italy than you are very familiar with all the merchandise available with artwork from the Statue of David! It was a very fun night and I think everyone enjoyed the gifts they got in the exchange.

Day 20--Dinner and a Christmas video with the Ware family

Day21--Go to The Messiah

Gavin took Jack, Ryan and Hadley to the Messiah at our stake center for a nice Sunday evening activity. They only lasted through the first act of three and then came home. Apparently it was a little too much 'opera' for my kids. Maybe next year...or maybe not.

Day 22-- Make chocolate dipped pretzels with Nan in the day
Nan with her grandkids
Peter Breinholt Christmas concert in the evening

We took Jack, Ryan and Hadley downtown to the concert. We first had dinner at PF Chang's and then walked next door to the theater. It was a really fun concert and my kids loved it! Ryan said it was his favorite activity of the month. They are at an age where they now appreciate musical talent and recognize the hard work that comes with mastering an instrument and really enjoyed the vocals, piano, guitars, keyboard, banjos, bass, etc. It was a really fun night!

And of course we couldn't have had this much fun without the Ware's!

Jack, Addie, Hadley, Emma and Ryan

Day 23--Deliver neighbor gifts

It wasn't the most creative neighbor gift but doesn't everyone enjoy a little bubbly (in cello wrap and ribbon) over the holidays?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 18 --Glee Club

Go watch Jack perform in the Glee Club at school

Jack was in the 5th and 6th grade Christmas choir at school again this year. He had to wake up and be to school an hour early three times a week for the past few months for choir practice. He did much better this year compared to last year. And got up most mornings all on his own with his alarm clock. The choir went to some fun locations this past week--the children's hospital, nursing homes, UDOT, and our local grocery store--Dan's (I didn't go to that performance, but Gavin did and apparently had a good time--another mom informed me tonight that Gavin was able to spend most of the time 'catching up' with an ex-girlfriend who's daughter was also in the choir! :) We got to go watch him perform tonight at his school and he did great! It's crazy to see him on the stage with all of his friends and think back to the Christmas preschool programs. It just doesn't seem that long ago and here he goes next year off to junior high! So crazy!

Here he is singing about Santa being on a vacation or something like that

The Glee Club (Jack is on the back row, 4th one in on the left)

Tomorrow is the last day of school for winter break so tonight we put together the teachers' gifts. We are giving them a Christmas mug with hot chocolate, candy cane and chocolates. Something I didn't realize before Morgan was literally takes a village (one wonderful teacher, four aides, a speech therapist and three bus drivers) to give her a good education. So check out the kids showing off their teacher's gift. Morgan has nine compared to Hadley, Jack and Ryan's one gift.

Day 17-- Christmas Story

Choose a Christmas story to read around the tree

This activity went a lot like it did last year. No one really cares about what book they choose but just wants to make sure theirs is the LONGEST one.

Day 16--Caroling

Go visits mom's patients and sing a Christmas carol to them

Standing in front of a big gingerbread house in the lobby of the assisted living center

I had no idea how much I would enjoy this activity. I have been a home health nurse for 9 years and have seen some of my patients for almost just as long. We went to an assisted living center where some of my patients live and did a surprise visit and sang, "We wish you a Merry Christmas" to them. I loved showing off my family to my patients and was so happy they finally got to meet my children. My patients love that I have six kids and like to tell whomever is around when I am doing their visit. It felt so great to sing to them and bring a little Christmas cheer into their home! After we were done caroling we met up with the Ware's for dinner at Training Table.

Day 15--Cookies

Our church is doing a 'neighborhood tree' with ornaments that have an address written on it. The idea is that each family take several ornaments and do some sort of service for that family during the month. We (well Jack, Ryan and Hadley) made cookies (while I wrapped Christmas presents upstairs) and took them around to the families that we had chosen on the tree.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remembering Jason

It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since we got the awful news that Jason (my brother-in-law) had died in a skiing accident. It honestly seems just like yesterday and still feels like it can't be true. We were just getting to know him when he was taken from our family. He was married to Gavin's sister, Laurie, for two years and they had a two month old baby girl. We miss Jason so much!

I love this picture of Laurie! This was taken 6 months after they were married, holding their new nephew. The smile on Laurie's face is priceless. It is easy to forget how happy she was with Jason by her side! I miss that smile!

This picture was taken one month before Jason died. He is out in his backyard (connected to a golf course) where he spent a lot of his time playing in the snow and snow shoeing. He had a special bond with his nephew, Noah.

This picture was taken two weeks before Jason died. We are all on Jason and Laurie's front porch after Lily's baby blessing in Jeremy Ranch. (I'm not in the picture because I was the one taking the picture). How lucky that Lolly insisted on getting us all together for this picture. I remember lots of complaining about the sun being in faces, being hungry and cold and not wanting to pose for pictures. It would have been so easy to just have waited for another 'more convenient' time and not have taken this photo. This is our last family picture with all of us together.

Jason, Lily and Laurie at their house after the Lily's baby blessing. I absolutely LOVE this picture of the three of them together. I'm not sure, but I think this may be their only family picture. I'm so glad I decided to take this picture before I got in my car to go back home. Jason lived each day to fullest. He accomplished so much in his life. We are so lucky that we got to know him and have him be a part of our family. I'm so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we will all be with Jason again.

Day 14-- Christmas Party

Christmas Party at Grandma and Grandpa Stewart's house

I am the cute little girl on the right that looks like a boy in a dress. The one that my baby brother is staring at --maybe he doesn't like my hand position on my popsicle or he just wants my popsicle!

My favorite Christmas tradition happens to be the one my sweet grandma Norma started many years ago. She loved Christmas-- the songs, especially Silent Night (at least she cried every time she sang it with us so I am guessing it was out of love and not that our voices made her sad), our Christmas Eve program from Luke 2, serving and giving to others, and the surprise visit from Santa. I looked forward to this party at my grandma's house all year --seeing all my cousins, exchanging Christmas gifts, playing songs on the piano for the program, and the anticipation of the real Santa's visit. My mom has continued this tradition at her home now that Grandma Norma has passed away. She had a house full of relatives--my aunts, uncles, and cousins (and their children)--I think it was around 75 people this year.

Jack asked Santa for a new Nintendo DS and the Nintendogs game

Ryan wants a teddy bear hamster

Hadley asked Santa for a barbie house

When Santa asked Morgan what she wanted him to bring her, she responded "Christmas!" That is really all she needs to be happy. Well that and scissors. She also absolutely LOVES scissors!! She found some during the party and cut two holes in her new Christmas dress and gave her bangs another little trim. Thank goodness-- they were getting really long and outta hand since her last self-haircut 3 months ago!

Griffin wants puzzles. He LOVES puzzles and spends all day taking them apart and putting them together. He is helping Morgan get better at doing puzzles too. She used to not have any interest in trying the harder puzzles (without pegs) but now that she watches Griffin do them all day she has been able to do some of the harder ones too! Yea for siblings!

Mia just wanted to get away. This is after she managed to squirm off his lap!

As we were getting the kids dressed for church in their new Christmas clothes, we realized Jack's and Ryan's Christmas sweaters still fit them from last year so we could just take back the new ones and have them wear the same ones again this year. Then Jack let us know that he has worn that same sweater for more than one year. Here is the proof:

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2006

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 12-- Lily

Go visit Laurie and Lily. Take Lily her Christmas present.

Cute little Lily Brynn

This year has gone by so fast. I know they all seem to go by quicker and quicker but I guess it just seems more real to me this year. It is hard to believe it was almost a year ago that Jason died. It has been such a difficult year for Laurie and hard for all of us to watch her go through this and not know how to help, what to do or what to say. It's interesting to me that Jason's death is just beginning to seem real to my children. As we drove up to Laurie's house, Ryan had a lot of questions about his Uncle Jason. He was sad to see Laurie's house for sale as we pulled in her driveway. He asked if she was moving so she could live closer to us. He was so sad when I told him I thought she would move to New York. Then a few days later he was asking me about a Christmas card we had received. He wanted to know why the dad was not included on the card. I explained to him that my friends had gotten divorced. He thought for a minute and then said, "that's really sad, but not as sad as what happened to Aunt Laurie." I can only imagine how hard this time of year is for Laurie and hope she knows that her family loves her and is always thinking of her and Lily!

Lily, Hadley and Mia

Hadley and Lily

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 11--Mall and Santa

We went to see Santa with the Stewart cousins. We met in the food court for some delicious dinner and company and then we went to see the old guy.

This is the best picture I could get. For some reason Morgan kept yelling "Santa" which left her with a nice big open mouth. And of course Griffin had to copy her because that is just what he does. Merry Christmas!

Day 9-- Gingerbread houses

Make a gingerbread house

We usually have all the kids build one big gingerbread house together from a kit I buy from the store. But this year we thought it might be fun to let them all try to build their own houses out of graham crackers. Maybe it wasn't the best idea. It started out great! All the kids were helping me make the icing, excited and full of anticipation of what their house was going to look like and then the actual building began. We quickly found out there is a definite skill that goes along with this--one that none of us has yet acquired! The houses kept falling apart. Over and over. After lots of tears and frustration we finally got a few houses to stand. And even a few smiles.

Jack's final house.
He had a great attitude and was totally content to decorate a house that had fallen apart.

Morgan LOVES candy and it was so cute to help her decorate her house. It was seriously a race to see who could get the candy first. Me-to put it on her house or Morgan-to put it in her mouth!

Ryan had the hardest time with this project. His house collapsed several times and he got very frustrated. But by the end of the night he was able to smile and show off his house.

Hadley had enjoyed decorating her house and decided her attic needed a doll and pet

Griffin's extent of gingerbread house action was enjoying some graham crackers and frosting.
Day 10--Wrap the presents for the Seal cousins

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 8--Christmas House

Drive around and see the Christmas lights and hear the music on the 'Christmas house'

Hadley wanted a better view so decided to get out of the car even though she was only in shorts from her basketball practice. This house is next door to the real Christmas house. It has good lights but nothing like the other house. Not sure why I didn't get a picture of the other house. but just imagine lights everywhere, synchronized to music, Rudolph singing the words, Santa in the window waving to the children, a big angel on the top of the house, reindeer flying up to the sky, bubble machines, and a electric light band. Yah...pretty cool! I'm pretty sure Gavin is totally planning on doing the same thing to our house next year!

Everybody hanging out in the car, enjoying the light show

Look who joined us...The Debrys!