Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Very Happy Anniversary

Brian and I had a wonderful time celebrating our anniversary this week.  It was our 25th, and the main celebration occurred last month when we took a wonderful cruise to commemorate the big event.  Along with that, we also celebrated on the actual day this week by having a little get away to the Big City.  We had a wonderful time eating, shopping, watching a movie, etc.  The next day we had a delicious breakfast and ended our get away by attending the near-by LDS temple.  It was a wonderful experience, the perfect way to begin our twenty-sixth year together.

My Favorite Gift Ever!

My very best gift of all and the most exciting part of Christmas was a wonderful gift from Brian.  He really outdid himself this year and gave me many gifts, but one in particular, was the best ever.  He really knew what to get me, and it was a present I hadn’t let myself even dream of.  He was pretty happy that he had both surprised me and made me cry.  And the present???  It was an envelope containing flight information for and upcoming trip to see my sweet little grand daughter, Lily and her parents!  I definitely have the best husband ever, and I can’t wait to go.

Christmas Morning

Who was up first on Christmas morning?  Not the kids, not Brian, but me, and even I slept in longer than usual.  I got up at 6:50 because the plan was to open presents at 7:00.  You see, Christmas this year was on a Sunday which meant church at 9:00 am.  It’s strange but true that while the rest of the Christian world goes to church at Christmas time, some never stepping foot inside the rest of the year, some Latter day saints complain about going to church when Christmas is on a Sunday.  Some may complain because they figure since we go to church every week the rest of the year, it would be nice to have a break on Christmas.  But I think for most, the main problem is the logistics of it all.  It’s hard enough to get a family of say six or eight fed, showered, dressed and out the door for church by nine o’clock in the morning, but when you add Christmas morning pandemonium to the schedule, it becomes almost impossible.  I think many families opted to open presents after church to avoid the difficulties.  You can imagine how the kids felt about that!  Anyway, with no little kids to get ready, we figured we could start opening gifts at 7:00, finish by 8:00, and be to church by 9:00, and we did just that.  It’s weird, though, having to wake kids up on Christmas morning which is just what Brian and I had to do.  He woke up shortly after me, and so did Katrina, but we had to roust the rest out of bed.  That’s teenagers for you!  We had a family prayer and then gathered downstairs around the Christmas tree to open gifts.  Everyone seemed happy with what Santa brought them.  After the festivities, we were seated in Church before nine.  It was wonderful to sing and hear of Christ and to be reminded of the reason for Christmas.  

I Love Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we stay home with just our little family.  We cook a nice meal—this year it was prime rib—and set a beautiful table.  We dress for dinner in our nicest clothes, open Christmas crackers, and then eat.  Afterwards, we open pajamas, get dressed in them and head downstairs to share Gifts from the Heart around the Christmas tree.  We’ve been doing Gifts from the Heart for almost a decade now.  Each family member gives a gift to another family member—anything in the world they want to give—the only catch is that it can’t cost any money; instead of coming from the store, it has to come from the heart.   We have had some amazing gifts from the heart over the years.  This year was also wonderful.  Brian gave Katrina a coupon for six hours of time with Dad which she will probably use to watch a movie or two with him.  Katrina wrote Matt a beautiful poem that she shared with the family.  She's quite the poet.  Matt wrote me a song.  It was funny and original, and I loved it!  I gave Thomas a triple layered blanket—quilted, bonded, and fleece—to keep him super warm.  I started the blanket long ago and never finished it, so I decided I’d finish it up for my gift from the heart.  Kind of lame, but he was pleased.  Thomas gave Miriam a bracelet that he conned her into helping him make by telling her it was for Katrina.   He figured that the best way to make sure she liked it was to have her help pick out the beads herself.  She wore it to church on Christmas.  Miriam gave Jon the biggest, biggest heating pad I've ever seen.  He really seems to like it.  Jon made Brian a video.  It was hilarious!  It was all very fun—one of my favorite parts of Christmas!  Then Brian read the Christmas story, we prayed, and went to bed.

Christmas Traditions

Our family has many Christmas traditions, but we don’t do them all every year.  Instead, we do whichever ones feel right for that particular year.  Some of our many traditions (besides the Christmas Eve ones which I will mention in another post) include a nativity advent, reading from the Christmas story basket, decorating a gingerbread house, giving gifts to Christ, going to the city’s light display, going to the light display at the LDS temple grounds, doing twelve days of Christmas for a needy family, singing Christmas carols around the tree on as many nights in December as possible, participating in the neighborhood Christmas play, etc.  We also like to try new traditions as we go along.  This year, along with doing a selection of the old traditions, we also read excerpts from the four gospels every night possible in December.  By Christmas Eve, we’d read the highlights of Jesus Christ’s life, atonement, and resurrection.  It was a wonderful way to remember Christ during the holiday season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's Everyone Else Up To?

Brian has been busy at work and at home doing whatever needs to be done.  The other day he dreamed that he found rare currency worth a ton of money—definitely a good dream for Brian; he woke up happy.  His work party was last Monday, and we all went as a family.  It was nice having a family party instead of a couple’s party.  His Christmas gift from the school district was 2 movie tickets, so he and I went to the movies Saturday afternoon between Christmas parties.  He’s been suffering from a cold lately which really stinks, but feeling sick doesn’t stop him from being a wonderful husband and dad.
Lily and her parents are doing well.  We sent them a Christmas package and they got it on Friday.  They seemed to like the Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus that I crocheted for them.  We also sent them each an individual gift.  They opened everything early because they won’t be home for the holidays—they are taking Lily to meet her other grandma for the first time.  They posted new cute pictures of the fam on their blog, which I love!  I hope they have a very Merry Christmas.
Jonathan has been the Santa Claus Junior of the family this Christmas.  I swear he knows more about what people are getting than I do, and I’m Mrs. Santa Senior!  He’s really been helpful telling us what people want and coordinating the buying of gifts.  This has been finals week for him and Matt.  I transferred money into their accounts so that they could buy some finals survival snacks.  I know it’s not much, but its something.  He and Matt come home today!!
Matt says studying for finals is going well for him.  I chatted with him on Facebook the other night which was fun even though he spent the whole time teasing me.  Actually, that was why it was so fun.  Jon is going back to college at the new year, but Matt will stay and prepare for his LDS mission.  He’s and Jon are planning to load all their stuff in the little pick-up, and head home this afternoon.  Suddenly I’m wondering where we’ll put everything all when they get here.  Matt’s got lots to do this next week—get photos and doctor’s appointments and send off his papers.  Pretty exciting.

Miriam has been singing her head off lately, I’m so proud of her!  She sang a solo—"What Child is This"—at our congregation’s Christmas party and again in our annual neighborhood Christmas play.  Her voice is so beautiful and she got tons of compliments.  I’m so proud of her!  She also performed with the school choir Wednesday at a beautiful Christmas concert.  We brought Brian’s mom with us and she loved it.  So did I, it really brought the Christmas spirit!  Tonight Miriam gets to go to a party which will really be fun for her.
Katrina has been busy with drama club counsel and is getting ready to begin tutoring for National Honor Society.  She has been accompanying Miriam when she sings “What Child is This.”  I had no idea that she played so well.  We went to Katrina’s choir concert last night.  They sang “Come O Come Emmanuel” and The Halleleuiah Chorus.  It was beautiful!  Katrina tried out and got a part in Beauty and the Beast.  She will be playing “the aristocratic woman.”  It has a few lines and a bit of singing.  I’m so excited for her!
Thomas also got a part in the school play.  He will be playing “Le Fool,” Gaston’s sidekick.  It’s pretty unusual for an eighth grader to get such a big part, so he’s pretty stoked.  Sadly, however, he had to quit wrestling because the practices conflict.  Bittersweet.  Thomas is sure looking forward to his brothers coming home tonight.  With Brian and I going out on a date and the two girls going to Christmas parties tonight, it will be just the boys at home.  They should really like that, especially if I get them a pizza and a couple of moviesJ

Testing, testing...

Last week and this week I am working full school days doing testing.  We go from school to school doing benchmark testing in resource as well as mainstream classrooms.  You think those last two sentences I wrote were boring, you should try listening to kids read the same passages over and over every week day for two weeks and then coming back 3 months later and doing it all again. 

It’s the fictional passages that are really dull because I don’t really care if Kim and Anna are entering a jump rope contest or that Mother Kangaroo keeps loosing her baby.  But the non-fiction passages aren’t too bad because at least I’m learning something.  For instance, I now know that Big Ben has four faces so that it can be seen from every direction and that those faces are 20 feet wide and, the numbers are 2 feet tall, and the minute hand is long as a car.  I also know that Carl Gauss grew up in a poor family in Germany and could work math problems in his head by the time he was three.  When he was seven, his school teacher asked the kids to add up all the numbers from one to 100, and he figured out the answer almost instantly.  Kind of interesting, right? 

 Non fiction stories have their frustrations, too, however, since no one ever gets farther than half way through the information.  The passage about Big Ben begins with people climbing up it’s face.  It took me 5 days of testing before I got a kid who read far enough to find out that the climbers were actually cleaners.  What happens next?  Do the climbers fall?  Do they ever finish cleaning London’s clock?  I may never know.  I also may never know what amazing things Carl Gauss did after the age of seven.  I keep telling myself that I’ll go back and finish the good ones, but when I’m off work, I come to my senses.  Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandma

My Grandma is turning 90 this month, and her kids are asking for everyone to write something to her, so this is the letter that I am sending to my Grandma.

Dear Grandma,
I have so many memories of you over the years.  I remember you making me hominy to eat and I remember  drinking your delicious, slushy grapefruit drink.  I remember you giving us hot water bottles to keep us warm when we spent the night.  I remember you giving Great Grandma perms; it taught me alot about honoring my parents.  I also remember all the things you made.  You made me and my siblings stuffed frogs with colorful soft bodies and big bulgy eyes.  You made me and mys sister Julie each a doll with sleeping eyes on one side and awake eyes on the other.  I named mine Jane.  You made me a quilt stitched in the outline of the temple.  You made my son, Jonathan and Katherine's boy, Michael, quilts out of the same fabric when they were babies.  You made Katherine a rag doll, I think it's name was Bernice.  You raised chickens, grew raspberries, hung and ironed laundry, mopped miles of linoleum, and lived through ten teenagers.  Grandma, you are truly my hero, I hope I can be half the mother, grandmother, great, and great great grandmother that you are, and I wish you a very happy birthday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Nice Week

This week has been nice.  On Monday we worked outside raking and sweeping up leaves and cleaning out the garden shed for winter.  After dinner, Brian read his dad's life story to us.  It was wonderful to hear again the story of his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He was living away from home when his parents became members of the church.  They told him they would like him to join, too.  Brian's dad decided to be baptized into the church to keep peace in the family, but determined to leave the church as soon as he turned 18.  His resolve changed on the day of his baptism; he was so filled with the spirit of the lord, he knew that he had joined the true church of Jesus Christ.  He remained a faithful member throughout his life.

Brian's Dad, Wally

Thursday was activity days.  My church calling is to work with the eight and nine year old girls of my ward (congregation) in doing activities that promote their Faith in God.  Next week, we plan on visiting a local rest home to sing Christmas songs to the residents there.  The girls sing wonderfully as a group and we thought that this would be a great way to spread Christmas cheer.  This last week, we planned on having the girls make poinsettias to had out to the nursing home patients after we sang.  The poinsettias are a craft I came up with and I was excited to help the girls make and share them.

 Sometime during the week previous, however, I had a different idea, and I think it was a prompting from the Holy Ghost.  The thought of a sweet lady in the ward came to my mind.  She is unwell most of the time and rarely gets to leave home except to attend an hour of church services every week with her husband.  They are an older couple who try to stay busy and positive, but I know that it's hard some times.  This wonderful lady has a collection of dolls from all around the world displayed in her living room.  As I thought about her and how lonely she must sometimes get, I knew that a visit to her from my little activity day girls would brighten her day and enrich the lives of the girls.  When I asked her husband if he thought she would be up to the visit, he said she would absolutely love it.  He asked me to call her to make the arrangements.  When I did, I knew she was delighted by the little laughs in her voice as she talked.

On Thursday, we went to their house and had a wonderful time.  The husband showed each doll and explained where she was from.  Afterwards the girls asked a few questions about the dolls.  They also wanted to know who made the beautiful hand-crocheted ornaments hanging on her tree and were very impressed to hear that she had made them herself.  Before we left, we sang "Silent Night and Jingle Bells," then we went out the door with "We Wish you a Merry Christmas" ringing in their ears.  Such a simple thing; such a wonderful feeling!

Yesterday, (Saturday) we went to the temple to see the beautiful lights and the nativities.  We had a wonderful time!