Tuesday, December 29, 2015

good stuff

We are winding down... the year, the holiday vacation, the leftovers... we really are but still...

 Yesterday, the kids and I spent most of the day at home, until the later afternoon.  They are busy on the Wii, coloring in their new coloring books (that cracks me up!!) and for Zee, like me, organizing and cleaning her things.  She cracks me up!  At 3, I dropped the girls off at the mall and took Quayd to work.   They had money burning holes in their pockets and gift cards to use.  I was impressed that they came home with more than half of their stash still in hand.  I made a quick stop in Hobby Lobby to return something and couldn't be bothered.  There were so many people and lines and I just bagged it. I'm shopped out for a while...thankfully, I've got most of Grace's birthday shopping done.  There's only one thing that I need to grab besides groceries to celebrate her 17th this weekend!

I did some cleaning, some laundry, a little reading, made a tasty dinner of openfaced turkey sandwiches in gravy over toast and mashed potatoes.  We cooked a turkey on Christmas Eve but didn't even touch it.  Doug deboned it and put it in the freezer, except enough for me to make a few dishes with.  Everyone loved dinner, which always makes me happy.

In the later evening, we watched the first half of "Scorch Trials" with Quayd, while the girls were hanging out with some kids from the ward.  (Doug had to work and it was getting late, so only half.)  Then, Carol called.  She's been vacationing in Park City since Christmas Day with her kids.  When she dropped Matt off at the SLC Airport, he discovered that his 4:00 flight was cancelled... both the flight to Chicago and the flight into Virginia, where he is stationed.  So, he ended up taking another flight at 10:30.  Carol ended up turning back to get him at the airport and they went to dinner and a movie during the several hour interim.  It was 10 before she was heading home, so I talked with her for that hour and a half while she drove home through snow and an accident that left her sitting totally still for 30 minutes on the freeway.  CRAZY night.  BUT, she made it home.

I'm excited for tonight.  Carol and her daughter, Madi and our mutual friends, Paul and Andrea are coming over for dinner and games.  We've been trying to do this forever.  Doug has to work tomorrow (his last day for the week, supposedly) so it won't be a late night, but it should be fun!  I'm making a snacky dinner and they're bringing munchies.  We were group texting about it yesterday and Paul said, "I'm excited!" then sent a GIF of two excited people.  It was so surprising that I about sprayed my coke across the room laughing!  I expect we'll do lots of laughing tonight too!  Laughter is one of my favorite things!  I'm excited... like the people in the GIF!

The decorations survived another day and today, I'm too busy to worry about them.  So, I'll probably take things down tomorrow.  Sadness.  BUT, on the other hand, I always say that when you have to start dusting the ornaments, it's time to take them down! Yesterday, I rearranged furniture in the den and moved a Christmas tree. (Doug teased about that one!)  It's time. Besides that, I'm out of Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint Candles, and that really puts a damper on things.  Oh my, between Twisted Peppermint and the Balsam candles, I do love every second of the holidays.  I may have to make a run into the mall for one more to get us through the weekend!  Then what!?

Other than prepping for tonight, the only thing on my agenda today is laundry and a Sonic run with Carol!  Life gets pretty normal pretty quickly.  The kids are Ice Skating tonight with the YM/YW.  Quayd has to work and will be missing it.  This was the first activity that the kids did last year with the new ward kids.  This week, it is the anniversary of the first time we stepped into this home and our lives changed drastically.  I'm celebrating that!  I love that we moved!  I still miss many friends from Smithfield, but the ones that really were a part of our lives still keep in touch and most of those, regularly, which I love!  My philosophy on friends... the more the merrier! 

I love Christmas Vacation and lots of laughter laughter and good smelling candles and decorations and lots of fun activities and lots of friends and family around us!  Life is good!  I am blessed!

Monday, December 28, 2015

don't say it's over....

sadness...I hate to see Christmas come to an end.  I'm not sure what's happening to me, but this morning, I woke up, thinking I'd get up and get the trees undecorated before the kids even wake up.  I walked into the living room, looked around and decided to leave it all up another day.  I walked into the den, anxious to move the furniture around and deep clean it.  Nope, it will stay just like this for another day.  Or two.  Or three.  Who knows.  I'm not ready.  This is a first in my life!  Now, by afternoon, I may change my mind, but for this moment, I'm not there yet.

Doug went back to work this morning.  They are working a lot of overtime. He could have opted to take the whole week off, like many did, but he told me this morning, when I asked if he had to go back to work, he said, "Babe, I'd feel guilty if I were just here kicking back with all that they need done before the end of the year."  So, off he went.  He'll only have to work for three days this week, though, so it's okay.

Last night, the B's came over without kids for a visit.  We've not seen them at all during the holidays.  So, we had a nice catch-up visit.  Doug's working will change the fact that we won't have as many "party nights" this week.  But, we did discuss a game night before the break ends.

Shortly after they left, the kids' birth grandparents came over for a visit and to bring them gifts.  It was a fun visit with them, as well.  David and Toni are such good people and we always enjoy their company.  They don't see the kids often, so it's always fun because they see the changes in the kids over the time in between.  They've always been very generous with the kids' gifts. I am always proud of how gracious the kids are when they open them.   It was a nice evening of visits.

A few other photos from the holiday that I want recorded here...

We/Santa bought this little clippity-cloppity stick horse for Aylabelle for Christmas.  She's discovered Jesse from Toy Story and runs around saying Yee-haw! all the time, so she needed a horse, right?  The video of her coming down on Christmas morning and not being quite sure what to so with it was precious.  But, she's got if figured out now!  Liza says she has horse in hand all the time.  Last night, she sent this text and it melted our hearts.  Grampy's got himself a little cowgirl!  Could she be any cuter?

And here she is going to visit my mother on Christmas Eve.  I am a little in love with this child.

Doug came into the kitchen last night and said, "Babe, there's a picture of Liza and Aylabelle in front of the fire, both looking up.  When did you take that?"  He'd seen it on my laptop as it scrolls through pix for a screen saver.  He said it's his favorite picture ever.   Have I mentioned that I love both of these girls!?

 The entryway is full of "Believe" and nativities.  I really don't want to see this all put away for a whole year.

 Carol has taken her entire family to Park City for a few days.  I've missed our daily Sonic runs.  For about 36 hours of the weekend, I had a serious upset stomach.  My dirty Diet Coke was the only thing that sounded good.  And it was!  Carol's on her way home!  I'm thrilled that they had a wonderful experience, but I'm very happy that she's home!  Sonic, anyone?

 This was one of my favorite Christmas pix...totally silly.  The kids were about to make a video message to my mom to thank her for her Chuck-a-rama Gift Card.  They were just begin silly, which is what I love most.

This little event happened and we laughed so hard!  Grace is our little princess.  She doesn't lift things because "I don't want muscles." This began with her Uncle Alan teasing her forever ago. So, on Christmas Eve, I was getting dinner on the table and tried to open the apple juice to mix with the Sprite. It wouldn't open.  I rinsed, I soaked, I tried.  Nada.  Doug came in and he attempted.  Nada.  Zeej came in.  Nada.  Doug went out to the garage to grab a tool as Grace was walking in.  She said, "I'll try it."  I looked at her like, "Riiiiiighhhht."  I explained that Dad, Zee and I had tried, there was no way she could get it open.  I went to the dining room to light the candles on the table and came back in.  Grace was in tears.  "I did it!"  She had opened the jar!  Doug walked in about that time and we both were in shock.  She was so proud of herself.  I said, "Wait!  Let me take your picture to remember this moment...the moment that you had a muscle!"  She looked at me, made a muscle, holding the lid and said, "Take that, Uncle Alan!"  I texted it to Alan and he wrote back, "It's a Christmas miracle!"

Last night, as things were settling down, I stopped in the empty den.  Doug and the kids were downstairs in the family room on the Wii.  I "had a moment".  I do love our new home.   It will be a whole year this week since the first time I walked into this room and fell in love.  It's been a good year and much of that goodness has taken place right here!  I am blessed!
This week, we have a few things on our agenda... a game night tomorrow night.  Kids are working different hours all week.  New Years DAY Party with the kids because Quayd and Grace are scheduled to work. Grace's birthday is Saturday and we may make a day trip to SLC, depending on schedules.  Lots to look forward to!  Don't let it end!

Life is good!  Live it with JOY!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas in a new home means everything is a bit different than the babes have had their whole lives.  They are pretty set on keeping traditions, but we changed things up a bit for the better this year, for sure.  They slept in the family room downstairs and came upstairs to find that we'd moved all of the gifts from the front room to the den.  After all was said and done, we all agreed that the den is where Christmas should happen!  Good call!

5:45 came early, but it brought smiles and anticipation!  Notice Quayd's gift, wrapped in his High School blanket.  He said that it was his gift wrapping since he doesn't know how to do it anyway.

The girls were very excited to slide that pocket door open and find the gifts and the music that we always have playing, Mannheim Steamroller, but all new was a fire, and the small snowman tree and half the floor filled with gifts.

 Stockings first...

Grace suggested that since they aren't little kids anymore, this year, they should have "Grown-up" candies.  She got her own box of Andes Mints.

 Everyone got gift cards to their favorite places... the girls got Rue 21 and Quayd got Subway Subs.

I love it when one gets excited for what another receives!

A tie!  I tried not to "put pressure" on Quayd by buying lots of missionary things.  But, a tie isn't pressure, it's just a tie.  Quayd's gift to me, however....  

ZJ was so thoughtful with her gifts.  All three of the kids worked and saved their money, so this is the first year that I've not had to take them shopping and buy their gifts for each other.  They all did great and were very thoughtful in their choices for each other.  ZJ made a sign for Quayd's room that said, "When I'm asked who is my hero, I say YOU."  It had a Q in the Superman shield.  She adores her big brother.

Quayd hugged her for a very long time and Zee responded, "That's the best hug I've ever had."  It was a sweet moment. 

Grace and Zee both gave Doug jams and salsas.  He was very pleased, especially when he put some on his German Pancakes at brunch!

Zeej bought Grace the top that she'd seen and fallen in love with while they were at the mall together.  She was one happy sister!

More hugs came as a direct result! I love this!

Zee really touched me with her thoughtfulness.  She came up with two Christmas trees that she'd crafted herself.  They were adorable.  She presented them and said, "I made two because Aunt Carol collects trees too, so you both need one." They are adorable and will be perfect in our collections!

The highlight of the morning for me, however, was when I opened Quayd's gift... not because it was my gift, but because of what it meant.  He gave me two boxes of gift cards, a box of stationery and two pens, calling it my "Starter Kit", so that I would have something to write to him on when he leaves on his mission.  It was thoughtful and promising.  He mentioned "when I'm on my mission" many times throughout the morning, realizing that he could well be gone next Christmas.  It was sweet and yes, I cried.

This big box has been sitting under the tree for three weeks now and no one had a clue who it belonged to.  The kids were clueless!  I told them it was for B, which meant nothing to them because this year's gifts had B, H, M, S and P on them.

B=Doug - Boss, Best Friend/Dad/Husband, Babe, Bank
S=Sophia... they had all sorts of S words, thinking it was each of them
P= ZJ - Persistant, Pretty, Peacemaker
M= Grace - Modest, Musical, Middle and a few more
H=Quayd - Hardworking, Handsome, Hungry

But, this gift didn't really have a letter on it.  They each hoped it was their own, but Doug announced that he needed help opening it and they knew it was a family gift.  We have entered the electronics era and bought a Wii, nine games, two guitars, two steering wheels and a whole bunch more.  They were pretty happy campers.

Figuring it all out.  Their parents are clueless!  They were on their own, but seemed to all know what they were doing.  

Doug and I laughed hard about this... about a week ago, I told him that, aside from the Wii, I really hadn't bought them anything "fun" this year.  They wanted clothes.  They never gave me a real list.  It was always clothes or money.  No one had a special want this year.  So, I decided at the last hour to buy them adult coloring books and pencils.  Doug looked at me like I was crazy when I told him.  They are $20 a piece.  And the kids are not little kids.  I explained that it's all the rage this year.  He just shook his head and said, "Okay???"  Well... we laughed hard this morning... who needs a Wii when you have coloring books!?  The girls colored all afternoon!  Quayd's Star Wars coloring book was a hit.  Score one for the mom!

More coloring...

Notice Go-Go in every picture, thinking that the big pillows were for him!
Zulu didn't like the excitement and stayed away until the unwrapping was done.

The biggest highlight of the day, for us all,  was when I shared the best gift of all.  A book called "For the Brand", which had been compiled this past year by three of Doug's cousins.  It is a book filled with uplifting stories and examples of the remarkable character of Doug's grandparents, father, aunts and uncles' lives.  We reviewed the book together, reading in detail, the chapter about Doug's father.  This book is inspirational.  After an hour of visiting and reading the book together, Quayd then asked for a turn at it and spent an hour just reviewing it on his own.  We will spend the next few weeks of Home Evenings reading each and every word.  The kids were thrilled!  But, even moreso, Doug was moved to tears as he learned things about his own father that he'd never known.  It is a treasure.

Listening to and discussing "For the Brand"

There was much napping throughout the day, off and on by all of us!

This was a different year for me, personally.  I have had many emotions on the Christmas day.  One... No word from Kelly.  Two... thinking about grands and wondering how their Christmas was.  Aylabelle was on my mind, as I was anxious for Liza to send photos and video of her first Christmas that she is old enough to really understand.  Three...the thought of this being Quayd's last Christmas at home, if he chooses to serve a mission.  Four...the thrill of our first Christmas in the new home.  And many other things on my mind.

Then, there was my mother.  Mom lost Boyd in July.  My brother has disappeared off the face of the earth since days after Boyd's death.  Mom has not heard a word from him.  We've done some checking on him with no luck.  But, this is Rick, so we never know what to expect from him.  I did think that he'd at least call her on Thanksgiving.  Nada.  I was certain that he'd show up on Christmas Eve, knowing that Mom is alone.  (She wasn't alone last night because she invited Liza and Buddy over for Christmas Eve dinner and they had a lovely evening together.  I'm so thankful that they are near her.)  Anyway... no word from Rick.  

So, I have really been concerned about my mom spending the holiday all alone.  That being so, I decided to send her photos and video texts throughout the day.  It's been months and months of trying to teach her how to open a text, via phone, and she finally has gotten it figured out this past month or two. But, she does not understand how to text back, even though I've tried walking her through it.  She can do it if I'm on the phone telling her how, but not on her own.  AND she always calls me the second she gets a text.  So, all morning and throughout the day, I would text her.  We were still opening gifts when she called, so I didn't answer.  I'd just send her another text.  After a few attempts, I got a text from my mother!  "Good!  Cute!  Wow!  Fun!  All one word, but she figured it out!  So, we texted all day long!  I sent her one text that said, "Look' at you, texting!  Go, Mom!"  She was quite proud of herself.  We did talk on the phone a few times, but she texted all day!  How cool is that!  

We grazed on food all day long.  Brunch was German Pancakes, a pound of bacon and a pound of sausage, fresh pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries and buttermilk syrup.  Leftovers from last night and I can't even begin to mention how much chocolate and candy were eaten. 

 I had to laugh so hard at Doug.  I'd made the pretzel turtles (where you bake the pretzel with a Rolo on it and then put a pecan on them right out of the oven.)  Doug ate about 30 of them, literally since last night.  One of the girls mentioned that Dad doesn't like sugar and I said, "Oh, that is so far from wrong!  He's the one who's eaten a whole bag of Rolos in one day!"  Doug said, "What Rolos?  I haven't eaten Rolos."  I said, "What do you think is between the thirty pretzels and pecans that you've been eating all day long... whole wheat flour?"  The last four are still sitting on the platter now that he knows what he's been eating.

Grace said the kindest thing this afternoon, "Mom, you always make Christmas perfect... it's spiritual, it's inspiring and it's fun."  That was all the thanks I needed for this year's effort!

We spent the afternoon napping,  grazing on food, watching new movies, and I started reading my new book, Maisie Dobbs.  Layne and Julie came over for a short visit in the evening and the kids have now hooked up the Wii downstairs.  They have been singing, dancing, racing, mostly being very noisy all evening!   I'm guessing that's where they'll spend most of the holiday vacation.

It's been a wonderful day.  I feel blessed... very blessed... to have such a wonderful family, a wonderful life... filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ, good friends and family and more blessings than I can count.  Life is good.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Eve in pix ... Tradition, Tradition!

It occurred to me that this might be the last Christmas picture of the kids under the tree.  Quayd could be who knows where next Christmas serving his mission.  He brought that up many times during the evening!


The snow has just continued to come.  It's been lovely, off and on, all week.  From what the weatherman says, we should wake up to more falling snow!  We got our White Christmas!

After dinner, which I didn't take one shot of because everyone was starving...Doug gathered us together in the den for his devotional.  We read Luke 2 this year and then he bore his testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ and expressed his gratitude for Him who we celebrate this wonderful holiday!

The kids listen to Doug with great attention during his Christmas thoughts.  It's one of my favorite nights of the year.  Quayd had worked a seven hour day moving carts from the parking lot inside and bagging for the last minute holiday shoppers and was pretty tired tonight... until it was time for bed!  Then, he was wide awake, along with his sisters!

After the devotional, everyone opens new jammies.  This year, Doug went first.  He got a pair of fleece-lined sweats with pockets... which he said he could keep his guns and his floss in.  (Hmmm... I didn't know he had any pocket guns.)

Grace's first words were "MINT!"  Her favorite color and everything has to be mint for Grace!

Quayd got a RED shirt and opened another gift because I gave him the wrong one for jammies!  Oops!  Tomorrow, he gets new bottoms.  When I bought this shirt, I thought of Spiderman and it was Quayd's first words.  Some things never change!

It hit me tonight that I've not really shared many photos of the house with all of it's halls decked!

The yellow sures stands out in these pix, but it much softer looking than this.  I miss my pumpkin colored walls at Christmas, but this cream and white and yellow living room makes me smile!

I can not say how many times I've been moved to tears because I finally have a real mantle to decorate for Christmas!  As a matter of fact, I have three!  This has been my favorite thing this year, next to the fire.  I've sat here and just stared and enjoyed it for hours!

With and without lamps...

 Zeej thought it would be fun to walk the neighborhood with our jinglebells to let all the little kids know that Santa was coming.  This is the first year of their lives that Santa didn't ring the bells for them!  She wanted to start a new tradition, so, she and her dad went for a very chilly walk and rang the bells around the neighborhood.  While they were gone, Grace cleaned up the kitchen and put out milk and cookies for Santa and Quayd settled down for a long winter's nap.

My favorite tablescape of the year is always Christmas!

After much debate and discussion, Doug finally made the decision for us all... we will celebrate and open gifts in the den.  It's warmer, it's Christmassier (is that a word?) and we just love being there!  So, after the kids were downstairs, supposed to be going to sleep under the downstairs family room tree, we moved all of the gifts from the living room into the den and set up Christmas.  Next year, we decided, I'll get another bigger tree for the den and rearrange things so that it's just "expected", Christmas is in the den.  I'm so glad that this was the decision because it's what I really wanted to do all along!

But, this mantle... it's so beautiful... I really wanted Christmas in there too.  ;)

Decisions, decisions!?!?

 I couldn't love these kids anymore!  What fun we had!

My cute niece, Jocilyn, designed this pillow for the company she works for and called yesterday to let me know that she had one for me. LOVE IT!!!!  And it's perfect in the living room!

These pix are in such random order, but this is how they popped up and I'm getting in the hot tub as soon as I hit post!  So, this is the order they'll be in.  Here's the den, after gifts were moved.  Did I say this already?  It's late!

These giant body pillows will be a fun surprise for the kids in the morning.  They are as soft as any fleece blanket I've seen this winter!  Can't wait to see their reactions to them because they always want to play on mine!

Here's my funky tree topper.  Very different.  I'm too traditional, I guess, but these pokey outtie things are still not my favorite thing.

And last but not least, the reason I'm blogging at 11:33 on Christmas Eve... my sweet husband is in the kitchen deboning the turkey so that we can have turkey sandwiches and ham sandwiches tomorrow afternoon.  We'll graze all afternoon so that I don't have to spend Christmas in the kitchen, once brunch is over.  He's my favorite bestest friend most wonderfulmous husband ever!  He's a keeper!

life is good!  I am blessed!  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!