Sunday, November 27, 2011

FHE: The Christmas Story

Sheesh! Three posts in one night!! {If you want me to keep 'em coming, I recommend commenting on each.} What are Stefan and Damon going to do without me?? :)

Okay. The post. I have been pretty crumby at posting our Family Home Evening (FHE) lessons on here, but generally speaking we have been routine about having them. Tonight I whipped something together while the kids finished eating dinner (they are seriously the slowest eaters). This is what I came up with.

FHE: The Christmas Story

Opening Song: Away in a Manger (though any Christ-centered Christmas song would work)

Opening Prayer.


1. Brief recap of The Christmas Story (using a fabric book I made for James in '09)... Mary, Joseph, the manger, Baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men, etc.

(I bought the fabric panel from
Hobby Lobby. This photo is not
actually mine, but it looks basically
the same. I swiped this off of ebay.)
2. Elaborate if necessary... We talked further about the fact that Christmas is a time when we celebrate Christ's birth. ("It's Jesus' birthday", is actually what I said.) I like to tell them that Jesus doesn't need us to give him toys, but we can give each other toys and other presents because it makes Him and Heavenly Father happy. Kind of like when James is nice to Jolie, it makes me happy... etc. It is my way of explaining Christ's teachings when He said, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt 25:40) Our theory is that Santa must love Heavenly Father a lot, cause he gives so many people presents! :) Really, though, I think they understood.

3. Watch this YouTube clip {The Christmas Story, a clip from The Nativity Story I think, set to Silent Night sung by David Archuleta} *link here.

Activity: Make the following Christmas craft, using black construction paper, a nativity picture (found ours online here- scaled to about 5" tall), crayons, popsicle sticks, star stickers and glue.

Our pretty Christmas crafts
Mine (Becca's)
Treat: Cherry Crunch Pie via Marie Calendar with Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla ice cream (226 cal for my small portion) Mmm!

Closing Song.

Closing (Family) Prayer.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We put up our tree this weekend. Yes, put up. We bought a fakey last year, and while we love the smell and effect of a real one, artificial is so, so much easier (and less messy)! We did spend a lot of time choosing a tree that looked fairly realistic, though, so that helps.

Anyway, the tree. It's up. And decorated. And glorious! We got out our decorations (this was all Friday, I believe) and had a grand time putting them all up/out. It's so fun to see all of the decorations and things I haven't seen in a year and remember just how much I love them. Our stockings, for instance. And the darling little nativity set I bought our first year of marriage... and how it sat atop our lil' TV back then because we basically had no other furniture. :) The memories and nostalgia are a delightful side effect of Christmas. I love it all.

So now our home feels cozy and warm... and definitely ready for Christmas!

Here are a few pics. Taken with my iPhone. Because my little boy may or may not have put our camera in the freezer and made it unworkable. :( Oh, well. C'est la vie.


Daddy, James and Jolie
"helping decorate"
Setting up the train

Various shots of our pretty, festive living room:

(Our "real" nativity set...
purchased circa 2005)
(The kids' nativity set;
James wanted it set up
next to the other one.)

Ah... Christmas.

Thanksgiving Week 2011

Thanksgiving time has been a riot! We've been going, going, going, and (besides the crazy-kids aftermath) it's been super fun!

My brother, Michael, came up last Friday night from NM. Mom and I drove down to pick him up; Derek stayed home with kiddos. We went to IKEA first... um... AWESOME! I could (probably literally) live in that place! It makes me quite happy inside. Then we waited. A while. You see, silly Michael didn't realize the importance of arriving early (well, earlier than 24 minutes pre-flight) to the airport, so he missed his flight. Several hours and much stress (mostly his) later, he got to Salt Lake.

I was home by then.

Hm... okay, backtrack (so much for a brief recap). Michael missed his flight. We were on our way to Salt Lake. It was crazy snowy, and the roads were bad. We didn't want to backtrack and try again later. Plus... you know, IKEA called. :) So we went to SLC, and Michael got on standby for a later flight. We (Mom and I) shopped. It was great. I got a bunch of materials I need for a Christmas present I'm making for my kids; Mom got her Christmas gifts pretty much all taken care of. Michael was en route at this point. Mom and I went to In-and-Out Burger for dinner. I exceeded my calories, needless to say, but it was yummy. Then we waited. And waited. Michael wasn't supposed to fly in until the morning, so we drove to Micah and Brittney's house to crash. As it turns out, Micah needed to head to {insert home here} by early morning, anyway. Britt didn't want to come until later. I had a hubby headed to work at 5am and therefore kids potentially left alone at home, which wasn't going to work. And I was supposed to run my first 5K at 10am.

SO... Micah and I took Mom's car and headed to {that town again} at 12:30am or so. Mom stayed at Britt's, and they would get Michael from the airport and then head up to {afore mentioned town} in the am. Micah slept over at our house and headed out to help his dad in the morning. I ditched my kids at Aub's and ran my 5K (SUPER AWESOME! More on that later...). Michael arrived safely, and Britt, Mom, Michael and the kids (Britt's, not mine... they're at Aubrey's, remember?) drove up here. We all met back at Aub's by about noon.

And the rest is history. :)

Jolie, Michael, James & Grandma
We hung out with "Uncle Ike-Oh" and "Glamma" for lunch time, had naps, then went out for Indian food (mmmmm....). Sunday we hung out too. Then Sunday night (afternoon, really) "Apple Pie" got here. More family, more fun.

"Apple Pie" is Jolie's unintentionally funny way of saying "Grandpa (&) Polly." One day fairly recently, we were sitting at the dinner table, and Jolie piped up with "APPLE PIEEE!!" She was really excited, but it was really random. Finally we figured out that she was talking about Grandpa and Polly, and we all laughed quite a bit. Super cute. So funny.

So Grandpa and Polly came and stayed at our house. It was lots of fun! We played games ("No... a fish!"), went shopping, ate some nummy nummy food (again with the excessive calories!) at Firehouse, watched the boob-tube, and lounged around enjoying one another's company. I'm so glad they came. It's great to see my kids bond with family we rarely see. The effort of travel and time is certainly not overlooked.

Grandpa reading to Jolie
Polly reading to Jolie (spoiled much?)
One afternoon while they were here, Polly and I went shopping while Grandpa and Daddy and the kids stayed home. When we got back, we saw that they had been busy! Building some fan-tastic snowmen! Apparently there's a Daddy snowman, a James snowman, and a Jolie snowman. Grandpa is unrepresented though he did much of the work. Sorry, Grandpa. :) They looked great. Derek said Dad (Grandpa, that is) was very meticulous with his snowman-making. Well apparently it paid off, cause look at those beauties! The kids were very proud. And quite sad when the snow started to melt and snowpeople started losing their heads. :)

Our single-parent snow family:
Dad and Polly left on Wednesday. We recouped, cleaned up, and had long, wonderful naps. Then the "Amma" / "Ike-Oh" party recommenced. We went shopping to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. We went out to eat (Mexican... Ole!) to avoid cooking (and cleaning) when Thanksgiving was just around the corner. Then the kids spent the night at Grandma's house.

They. Were. Thrilled!

Jolie was significantly more excited than I thought possible. I just assume she's too young to care about that stuff. She always surprises me by caring quite a bit. I think part of the excitement was due to the extra opportunity to be in Michael's presence. :) She really, REALLY loves him. It's super cute to see. I think she may have a crush on him. hehe. She just adores him, really. She was quite sad today when he had to go home.

Uncle Michael (with his new haircut!) shaving...
when did he become a MAN???
Jolie went from leery of Michael to
absolutely infatuated with him!

Here she is decorating his face with stickers-

Having a bath (all aboard!) at Grandma's...
let the Sleep Over begin!
Thanksgiving was wonderful. Mom made a beautiful feast (seriously; I made stuffing- and yummy, homemade stuffing- but still, everything else was thanks to Grandma), and we quite enjoyed eating it. We stuffed ourselves silly, took naps, then ate some more. We watched the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade (recorded, of course... we weren't even awake when it originally aired!). We hung out. We had a grand ol' time.

I should have made them wear Pilgrim hats and feathers.
Late that night, I experienced my first Black Friday. It was fun... for maybe an hour. The subsequent 2-3 hours (spent IN LINE)? Not so much. I will not be doing that again. At least with no sweet sale item in mind. It's seriously just not worth it. People weren't rabid or anything, it was just the waiting... But still. Ugh.

Friday morning, Derek worked and we spent a quiet day at home. That afternoon/evening, we met up with Grandma and Michael again. We did dinner at our place, then Grandma and Michael hit up the town (they went to the theaters to watch Jack & Jill... and liked it, I believe). Derek and I stayed home and vegged. Then at about 11pm, Aub came to my house and asked if I wanted to make a Kmart run with her, Tosha and Mel. I did.

We went to Kmart, perused the toys and such, bought some silly socks (and some pretty dress-up shoes to add to the Christmas stash), and came home. The Kmart employees pretty much escorted us out. Kindly, but still. Apparently we weren't picking up on the "our store is now closed and has been for twenty minutes... please get the heck OUTTA HERE" intercom messages. :) We came back to my place for pie and pie and pie and pie, watched some sexy vampires on the telly, and crashed. A fun time had by all. :)

Tosha, Aubrey & Melody
Saturday included a DI run (or slow mosey, really) with "Amma" and "Ike-Oh" followed by a quick jeans-buying excursion to Old Navy. Then we went to Grandma's house for lunch and naps and came home in the late evening for baths and sleep. There's really nothing like your own bed for getting some good zzzz's. The kids didn't know it, but they needed their own beds. They needed home. Vacations and parties and outings are fun, but they make for some very frazzled kiddos (and mommies, let's be honest). Home is centering. It felt good to touch base.

James REQUESTED this picture.
I was more than willing to accomodate! :)
This morning (Sunday), we went to church with Grandma. Jolie coughed her germs all over the congregation; I'm sure they appreciated it. Needless to say we came home right after Sacrament Meeting. Church is wonderful, but not so much when you feel like death. The kids got into cozy clothes and played quietly. It was refreshing. I cleaned up the kitchen, and soon- we all got together here for lunch. A bit of wrestle-mania and some hanging out later, Grandma and Michael left for Salt Lake. :( They wanted to see the lights at Temple Square before he flies out tomorrow. We will miss him.

Uncle "Ike-Oh" being silly
We will miss everyone.

It is wonderfully peaceful to be home with just our little family, but I always feel a little lonely after holidays are done. I hate the craziness but I love the people. I miss the people.

Tonight we had a wonderful, Christmas-centered Family Home Evening. It was a pleasant and special way to end our crazy but wonderful week. And right now, the loudest sound I hear is my typing on the keyboard. The Christmas tree is glowing. It's warm and cozy in our home. And all of my wee family is under one roof.

"Peaceful" does not even cover it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Halloween 2011: a short story

Happy Halloween!! Okay, it was a while ago. But I'm going to post pictures anyway, cause you know- I'm crazy like that. I'm also gonna tell you a spoooooky tale. Here it is:

Once upon a time in a far away land lived a happy family of four. They were a perfectly normal family: a mommy, a daddy, a boy and a girl. Well one night when the moon was full and the wind was rushing through the trees, something mysterious and spooky blew through the air... and POOF! They all transformed into perfectly UNnatural creatures! Mommy turned into a witch (yeah, not a stretch at all). Daddy turned into a warlock with a crazy nose and mustache. The boy turned into a super-scary skeleton. And the girl turned into a glorious butterfly.

How surprised they were to find themselves in such a predicament! Whatever were they to do? Well, they decided to wander the streets in search of nourishment. They left before nightfall, seeings how it was warmer and the wee creatures were in happy moods. They went around from door to door, knocking on the doors and threatening, "Trick or treat!" Apparently the neighbors preferred to give treats and avoid the afore-mentioned tricks, so they handed over their candy. More and more and more candy. They family was thrilled! What a feast they would have! (What big thighs you have! Better to... hmm, that doesn't quite fit.) They continued to roam the streets and threaten any who would dare answer their knocks. Then it was time to return home. So they did.

At home, they devoured the candy, one by one... until at least one piece a person was consumed. Then they turned off the lights, turned to boom box high, and had a spooktacular dance party. What a glorious time they had! The lights were off. Each creature was armed with a magical glowing branch, and the house was a-rockin! Finally the wee creatures began to yawn (and yowl), so the witch and warlock readied them for Dream Land. In two straight (well...) lines they broke their bread, brushed their teeth and went to bed.

As they drifted off to sleep, they dreamt that change was coming at last. The wind rushed through the trees, a howl was heard in the distance, and magical fairy dust filled the air. When they awoke the following morning, they were normal again. A mommy, a daddy, a boy and a girl. Perfectly normal.

... Or were they?

Aaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha (that's a witch's cackle)!

:) Happy Halloween!

PS. The above tale is based on a true story.

PS#2. James got to dress up four times this year: once for a neighborhood party, once for Grandma Marilyn's ward party, once for preschool, and once for actual Halloween. His face paint got progressively better. Jolie got to dress up thrice. She was equally adorable each time. :) Both kids were super cute and very excited about the festivities this year. It was a very fun time had by all. Hooray for such a fun, silly holiday. Hooray for Halloween!