Tuesday, December 29, 2009

She Believes in Santa!

Hadley had an extra stocking that she'd gotten from her piano teacher. She decided to hang it up with her other one and put a letter in it for Santa. She did all of this without saying a word to us. I love her letter to Santa. Does it get any better than "I heart Christmas!"

So excited that Santa wrote back and was taking some cookies home to Mrs. Claus!

Santa's letter

Christmas Bingo

BINGO! On Christmas day we play Bingo every hour. Whoever gets Bingo first gets to choose a present from the prize basket. Ryan kept winning until we figured out how to review the numbers -- his winning streak quickly ended. Even Grandma, grandpa and Blake got in on the action when they came over for Christmas dinner.

Christmas Traditions

"By focusing on your loved ones, enjoying or building holiday traditions, and following the Savior's example of service, you can give yourself and your family true, lasting Christmas gifts." (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

We have a lot of Christmas traditions but this is one of my favorites. On the first day of December, we read this story and then each person draws a name to perform secret service acts on during that week. We add one piece of straw to the wooden manger for each act of service with the goal of making a soft place for Jesus (from our nativity set) to sleep on Christmas Eve.

Hadley drew Ryan's name the first week and went down to his room when he wasn't paying attention. She came upstairs and was worried, "I turned down Ryan's bed for him to go to sleep tonight but now it just looks like I un-made his bed and he won't know I did it to be nice." We had a great idea of putting this note on his pillow.

"Turn Down Service" quickly became the favorite service activity of the season. It gave us a good laugh as we went to bed every night to see our bed already turned down for us. Next year we'll need to make it even better by adding a mint to every pillow.

The wooden manger with Jesus under the tree on Christmas

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Holly, Jolly Christmas

Anxiously waiting to go see what Santa brought

A wagon for Mia

pirate paraphernalia and scooter for Griffin

Just what she asked for . . . COOKIES and books for Morgan!

American Girl doll (Ivy) and bed for Hadley

Ipod Touch for Ryan

Ipod Touch for Jack

Family picture collage for Gavin's office, cologne and suit

Gavin made us gourmet french toast with homemade syrup for breakfast. YUM!

We went to grandma's and grandpa's for brunch and more gift opening. Grandpa did a really good job shopping this year. The kids all really loved what he picked out! I am loving our new apple tv. Thank you mom and dad!

Grandma and Grandpa

As usual, I was spoiled by Gavin with clothes, perfume, jewelry, spa gift certificates, and a cute red purse. I am actually a little sad to have our advent activities over with. I really enjoyed it this year and it didn't seem too busy. I jokingly asked the kids what was in the calendar for today, Hadley sadly let me know that it only went to 24. I may just make an advent that starts the countdown on January 1st. Actually, no need -- it already comes quick enough as it is.

Family picture on Christmas Evening

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve

We had our Christmas Eve celebration with the Seal family at Brendan's and Nicole's home. We had a yummy dinner and then all the kids dressed up and presented The Nativity play for us. Then Aunt Rae read a story to all the kids about the Three Wise men and we gave our kids a 'red gift' which represented something spiritual or sentimental (Hadley opened scriptures, Jack & Ryan opened scripture stickers, Morgan, Griffin and Mia opened a book). And a 'green gift'which represented something of necessity (they all got their Christmas pajamas for this one). And a 'gold gift' which represented something fun and worldly. It was a nice evening with family and the true spirit of Christmas.


The Nativity

Wiseman Story and Gifts

All of the cousins in their new Christmas jammies

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 23--Make cookies for santa

P.S. They all washed their hands and none of these are leaving our house.

And Gavin wonders why I don't bake treats for neighbor gifts. I can't even make sugar cookies look good. These did start out looking like angels, flowers and Christmas trees but something happened in the oven. Now we are gonna make some without the kids' help and we're hoping they turn out like this. Wish us luck!!! I love this new-to-me website! www.ourbestbites.com

All I want for Christmas?

Morgan is my hardest child to shop for because she chooses the most random things to play with.
Like these polished rocks
She likes to sort, organize and pour things. If you know a toy that fits that description please let me know. So what does she want for Christmas? COOKIES!!!

She had her first school program and I wasn't sure what to expect. She's been singing all of the songs around the house for weeks now but I knew anything could happen when she was in front of everyone--either a complete ham or not sing a word. She was SO cute and sang and danced all through the program. I was all choked up watching her perform with her classmates. I wonder if that's how it will always be for me when I see her accomplish something. Probably. I was so nervous about our decision to mainstream her this year but it has been the BEST experience for her!

When we decided to have Morgan go to the neighborhood elementary school my biggest hope was that she would make friends and develop socially. Gracey has been amazing for Morgan. We almost lost her to a different school when her family moved 30+ miles away. I was so sad for Morgan and couldn't stop crying. But somehow they figured out a way to keep her at the same school. She's always by Morgan's side and helping however she can. I love seeing such love and compassion in a child only 6 years old. Her parents must be doing something right!

Morgan and Gracey

Morgan's cute aide, McKenna. She rocks!!!
We just got this note from McKenna:

Heather and Gavin
I just wanted to let you both know how much I have enjoyed spending time with Morgan. I have grown to love this little girl unconditionally! She has truly been a blessing in my life. I think I have the best job in the world! Morgan is brilliant and she is so blessed to have such a loving family to care for her! I am doing my best everyday to make a difference in her life and to help her in every way I can! Morgan is making progress everyday and I couldn't be more proud of her! Thanks so much for your constant support!

Morgan's first perfect spelling test!
Here's some video footage of her hamming it up at her program. She was so excited when she saw her grandma and grandpa walk in and wanted to make sure all of her friends around her also knew they were there.

Day 22--A Christmas Carol

I'm not just saying this to make it look good for the blog -- this really was such a fun night! We went to A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theater. I haven't been to this play since I was a teenager. The theater and cast were amazing! I'm pretty sure this is gonna be a new Christmas tradition for our family.

I was especially touched by the actor who played Bob Cratchit. It was his first year to be back in the play since the tragic car accident 3 years ago when his family was driving home from the cast party on Christmas Eve and were hit by a drunk driver. He lost his wife and two children that night. In the program he says, "The sweetest, tenderest, happiest homes are not those where there has been no sorrow, but those that have been overshadowed with grief and where Christ's comfort was accepted." What an example of faith and hope.

On our way into the theater

Jack, Ryan and oh, look, Gavin made it in the picture too.

My parents and Blake

My mom's friend was part of the cast

And this is what we came home to . . . SNOW!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 21--A Candlelight Christmas

"Make Our Traditional Candlelight Christmas Part Of Your Family’s Tradition ~ Enjoy The Peace And Romance Of Christmas As It Was In A Simpler Time" (taken from This Is The Place Heritage Park's website).

A more accurate description of this activity would've been: enjoy freezing temps, spend lots of money, fight your way through the crowds and ride a train around the park. There was nothing 'romantic or peaceful' about it! But it was fun to be with my parents and Jeff and Rae's family. My favorite part of the evening was when Rae called me out for being grouchy and said she wasn't feeling the holiday spirit from me and that I make my activities look so much better on the blog. So true. Everything can look great with some creative editing.

Jeff and Rae. Jeff was really excited for this one.

mom and dad. Dad was equally as excited.

Candle making

ZCMI. Jeff and Gavin were born and raised on this stuff (and the stuff they now sell inside this building).

Feeling the holiday spirit

Morgan and Gavin on the train

Father Christmas

After the group shot, we noticed we were missing someone, found her and she got her own individual time with Father Christmas.

Real reindeer

All smiles on the train ride back to the warm car