Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012 in Review

 This new header is a picture of the gift that Ben brought home from school for his family.
It was perfect!  All I had to do was add the word "Sampler".

We had one more Christmas party to attend...

My mom's side of the family gathers every year.  It's getting to be quite large including my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and their children.  It's always a highlight of the season though.  It's an evening filled with a talent show, a meal, a nativity, and a gift exchange.

Christmas Eve found me with so much to do and not enough time.  I woke up early and tried to be very efficient.  I wrapped, I crafted, I baked and shopped (groceries) and enjoyed the several inches of snow that fell that day.
My emotions were a little bit ragged by evening so it was nice to have a break and go to Mom and Dad's house for dinner.  Mom made the boys quilts this year for their gifts and they all loved them.  Josh and Matt's are Star Wars and Ben's is a train quilt.  So fun!  Mom had already made Abby a couple of quilts recently so she got some doll clothes...perfect.
The boys enjoyed snuggling up in their new quilts to await Santa's arrival. 

Andy and I were up until 2 a.m. getting everything finished.  Since our plans were to leave town the next day we spent quite a bit of time on getting Ben's meds and supplements crushed and packaged and butter weighed for meals/snacks.  Thankfully, I had already made all 18 meals during the previous week and frozen them...I tell you...this keto diet...I'm going to use a strong word here, but I hate it!  However, I love what it does for Ben.  The seizure reduction is truly miraculous.  So we continue :)

I had told Josh before he went to bed to not get up too early...6:30 at the earliest. 
Now, I know I'm a grown woman but I still have a hard time sleeping through the night on Christmas Eve.  I was tired enough when I dropped into bed that I fell asleep pretty quickly but I remember waking up several times throughout the night.  One time I woke up and realized it was light outside and I hadn't heard a thing from the kids.  I looked at the clock and saw that it was 7:45!  I knew they had to be awake...why hadn't they sounded the Christmas morning alarm?  I went out to the living room and found Josh...anxious but quiet and patient.  I asked him why he hadn't woken us up.  He said he thought I had told him he couldn't get out of his bed until 6:30 and to not wake us wait until we woke up on our own.  Oh bless his heart!  He'd been awake for at least an hour and a half...just waiting.  Abby and Matt were excitedly waiting too.

sorry about the poor lighting
Josh whispered in my ear before we started unwrapping that he had prayed that morning and asked Heavenly Father to thank Santa for all the gifts he had brought.
I love that guy :)

Ben started out grumpy and didn't want anything to do with his gifts until we pulled out the laundry baskets (to keep everyone's gifts separated and safe).  He immediately climbed into his and stayed there until all was said and done.

Christmas morning was everything it should be...but shortly after, we found Josh laying on the couch and very subdued.
Andy was very sick 2 weeks ago.  Sore throat, fever, and chills...the doctor said it was probably bronchitis.
After he got better, Abby came home from delivering neighbor gifts and said she felt sick.  Sure enough, the next day she had a fever.  She was very disappointed to miss the last day of school before the break and the Christmas party.  About the same time Ben had 3 seizures in one day and ended up with a fever.
 I took those two to the doctor and he said it was just the bug going around and there was nothing he could do.

Fell asleep with Andy on the couch.
Matt started coughing 2 or 3 days before Christmas and had his round of it for the next few days.  Christmas day we were just happy that everyone seemed to be doing much better and we could enjoy the holiday.

Back to Josh:
When we found him on the couch we took his temperature.  Fever.  He spent almost the whole day there curled up in a ball and sleeping.  Poor guy.
Consequently, we postponed our trip to be with Andy's family.  It did make for a pleasant and calm Christmas day.  I had been super stressed about packing and leaving that afternoon so I have to be honest and say it was a relief...but I felt bad that I was so relieved.  Just having one more day was all I needed to feel like I could make the several day trip.  Well, I ended up having more than one day and I feel very relaxed about leaving tomorrow.  Josh feels great and now hopefully we're done with the bug.

Christmas night we played a new game I found in my stocking...Tenzi.
It's a very simple game, so simple you might think it sounds boring, but it's actually very fun.  The kids really enjoyed it and Josh was even able to join us from his position on the couch.

After the kids went to bed I made a gingerbread shake for myself and Andy and I played Stone Age while we watched Muppet Christmas Carol.  We hadn't played that game in ages because it's so long...but I love it and enjoy the intense strategy scheming.

We are so blessed and it's times like these that I notice it most.
I love my family.
I love the gospel.
I love my Savior and am grateful for His birth, His life, His atonement and His resurrection. 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

p.s.  This was our Christmas card this year...

Homemade Christmas

I had to wait until after Christmas to share some of these with now I am excited to finally post my homemade Christmas gifts.

First of all, it was long past time for these to be done.  I was hoping to finish them in the fall but after I finished the first one (Ben's) I took a long break.  As we neared December I decided to give them to the kids as Christmas gifts.  I cut it close but I finished them and the kids are thrilled to finally have their memories of Disneyland recorded in a book for them to relive whenever they want.

Next, Abby was in desperate need of a larger scripture bag.  I found a cute (and free!) pattern on Pinterest and went shopping for some fun fabric.  I went to several fabric stores to find just the right thing and it wasn't to be found.  Finally, I was in Hobby Lobby for something else and decided to check out their fabric.  Isn't this owl duck cloth adorable?  and I found some pink, super light corduroy to go with it.
I was hesitant to start a new pattern and so I kept putting it off.  The week before Christmas I delved in and found the pattern very easy to follow.
I actually scaled the pattern down to 75% so it would be better fit for a young girl.  I was so proud of myself for figuring out all the calculations for pieces that didn't have a pattern.  I love how it turned out...except that I didn't put the pockets and pencil holders low enough in the bag...I can't decide if I want to unpick and redo them.

Here's a jumble of other handmade items.
I found a couple of old frames at the D.I. and spray painted them.  I bought some chicken wire at Lowe's and hoped that a hot glue gun would do the trick of attaching the wire to the did!  I was so excited.  Then I made some scrapbook paper covered clothespins to go with it. 
The red and white star is what I came up with for an ornament exchange that I was invited to attend.  It is loosely based off of a pin on Pinterest but I ended up doing it quite a bit differently than I had originally planned.  It's two pieces of fabric with some stuffing in the middle and a burlap layer on top.  I stamped the word  "joy" on the burlap and added a safety pin with small beads and a bell.  They were fun.  The ornaments that I received from the exchange are in the bottom right corner picture.  They are all beautiful...the other women did an amazing job!
The silver and blue snowflakes are what I did for our neighbor gifts this year.  Again, inspired by Pinterest but added my own touches.  They didn't turn out quite like I had envisioned them but that's one has to know that...except I just told you...
Anyway, for gifts for teachers and bus drivers etc...I saw a cute idea on Pinterest where a woman stuffed some knit gloves with fun little pampering items.  The note to go with it said something about "helping hands"...perfect for teachers, especially Ben's.  I did have two males that fit into this catergory and I struggled with what to do...finally just gave them fun treats.
The center picture is part of a girls' "favorite things" gathering that we're doing for the first time with Andy's side of the family.  (It was supposed to have happened already but our trip was delayed due to illness.  More on that later).  I filled the jars with gingerbread syrup and attached a copy cat recipe for Red Robin's gingerbread milkshake.  Quick story behind that...a couple of years ago when Andy and Ben and I were frequenting Primary Children's Medical Center in December I made a discovery.  There was a Red Robin along the way and we stopped in to get something to eat.  I saw a gingerbread milkshake on the menu and about died and went to heaven.  Shakes are definitely one of my top favorite treats of all time and to add the festive flavor of gingerbread put me over the top. 
I had to figure out how to make one at home. I found a gingerbread syrup recipe online and added milk, ice cream and gingerbread (or graham cracker) crumbs and it turned out great!

These are the other part of my "favorite things" gift.  While looking for an ornament to make for the exchange, I came across these on Pinterest and thought they were gorgeous!  I clicked on the tutorial thinking that it would probably be way too hard but I wanted to know how it was done.  They are actually quite simple...just folding and pinning but they are time consuming.  I kind of got obsessed though and bought a ton of styrofoam balls and a couple thousand pins and got to work.  I made some for family and close friends who are quilters and then these last 6 (upper left) for our girls' gathering.
They are seriously fun, easy, relaxing, something you can do just sitting and watching t.v. and the final product is fingers did get sore from pushing all the pins in though so make sure you have a thimble on hand...literally :)

There's a summary of all the gifts I made this year.  Every year I tell myself I'm going to start early so I won't be stressed in December but it never happens.  We'll see if I can make it happen in 2013!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Programs Galore

There's been lots of stuff going on around here.  I'm trying to decide how much of it to post though because some of it is fun crafty Christmas gift type stuff.  I think for now I'll just do the Christmas outings on which the family has that correct grammar Mom?

Anyway, I was asked to decorate 5 tables at the ward Christmas party.  I grabbed some of my favorite decorations and tried to make them come together.

This one was kind of had too many little things.  Although, I was so excited to use my new cloche (I think that's what they're called) I found at hobby lobby for super cheap!

The gang dressed and ready to go...the primary's nativity was first on the program.

Smiling shepherd Matthew.

Smirking wise man Joshua

Another big grin from Matt.

Sweet Angel Abigail

It was kind of a crowded manger :)

Sunday, Andy was released after 5 years of faithful service in the bishopric.
I can't tell you how excited I am to have him home more...especially on Sundays...Tuesday nights will be nice too.  He is a little melancholy about it however.  It will be nice to not have all the added stress and responsibilities that comes with that calling but he truly loved the association with the other men in the bishopric.  Not that they won't see each other any just won't be the same.

I get this guy back!

Sunday night we were headed out to my parents to have dinner and Ben had a seizure.  He slept for a couple of hours after we arrived.

The last few years our family along with my parents and brothers have gone to a rest home/retirement home and sung.  Sometimes we have gone caroling from room to room and sometimes we have done a whole program for a big group. 
Monday night we performed for some very sweet people.
They were very welcoming and forgiving :)

The kids sang took some bribing to get Josh up there...he said he felt a little embarrassed.  They had practiced the song with all of the little in between lines but when they got up in front of the crowd they were very hesitant to sing them and most of the time one of them would faintly start and then fade out.  It was cute.

The men sang "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem".

We ended with the kids singing the first verse of "Silent Night" with the group joining us for the rest of the verses.

Mom played her violin also.

Ben was kind of a handful and kept running around with his jingle bells and making noise.  I didn't dare take them away from him though for fear of a much louder noise he would make.
There were two residents there that were old friends of the family.
"Brother B." was the choir director for Sounds of Zion, the performing group where Mom and Dad got together.  It was a neat reunion.

The second was Phoebe...a Young Wardite from way back (Young Ward is the little farming community in which I grew up).  She too was a choir director for many a year and stories of  Phoebe are Young Ward when she stopped the whole congregation in the middle of a hymn and told us what we were doing wrong and had us fix it :)

Phoebe is mostly blind now but still took the bull by the horns and was almost as much a part of the program as the rest of us were.
She and Grandma chatted for quite a while.

Josh had his first orchestra concert last night.  Andy is very sick so he had to miss it but I took Matt and Abby and met up with Mom at the concert hall.  Dad was very kind and watched Ben at the house for us.
We didn't know where he would be sitting when we took our seats so he ended up being completely out of view except for a few head bobs.
This is the general vicinity in which Josh sat.  I spent much of the concert with my phone held in place waiting for one of those head bobs.  No such luck.
Mom encouraged me to go sit somewhere else so I could get some pictures.  I'm glad I did.  He was right on the end of the back row so there were no obstructions there.  
I had kind of a hard time getting a clear shot from a distance though, and once the concert was over my battery was dead so this was the best we got.

It was so fun and I was so proud of Josh.  He looked sharp and seemed to really enjoy the evening.
I'm glad he's still excited about playing the cello.

After I've given my homemade ornaments to all of the intended recipients (at least the ones that may read this blog) I will do a post on those.

Happy Christmas preparations and celebrations to everyone!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Regan at the Eccles

Last night Andy's sister, Jenny, and her family drove down from Idaho Falls and briefly joined us for a much anticipated event.

A couple of years ago, Andy took me to a Brian Regan concert and I about died laughing!  It was the most I had laughed in...possibly forever!  I walked out with my stomach and mouth hurting from all the laughing.
Since then, Jenny and Mike have heard some of his stuff online and expressed interest in him.
When Andy and I discovered he was coming to our neck of the woods again, we jumped at the chance and bought four tickets.  He was doing multiple shows over the course of 2 or 3 days and most of them were pretty full already.  I did however, find four seats together for his 10:00 p.m. show :)

We have been so excited for this weekend for a while.  My kids have been super excited too knowing that their cousins were coming to spend the night.

Ben and cousin Austin chillin' around the pad.

My very kind brothers were willing to watch our 8 children while we were gone.  Our plan was to have the kids either asleep or on the brink for the boys before we left.  The two youngest were in bed and all the others were camped out on the family room floor watching a movie when we walked out the door.

We had such a blast!  I just can't even tell you how hilarious this guy is...and the thing that we love about him is that he's clean (one or two mild swear words and that's it).
He is definitely worth looking up on You Tube if you are not familiar with him.

I know, terrible picture, but I had to try :)

 We had such a fabulous time :)

I love our beautiful, old Ellen Eccles Theater!

Abby was there just a few nights ago with her good friend to see "Miracle on 34th Street".

When we arrived home at 11:45 p.m. we found all of our nieces and nephews asleep and all of my kids awake...even Ben.  He was happily sitting with my brothers on the couch watching the movie along with my other kids.  I had been concerned because it was raining when we left and Ben doesn't do well in his crib, by himself when it rains.
Oh well, at least he was happy :)  We were so grateful to my brothers for their service.

Jenny and Mike had to leave by 6:00 a.m. this morning to get back to some commitments at home.  They told us to not even get up to see them off.  I planned on getting up anyway but since Andy was so generous and sent me in to bed instead of sleeping on Ben's floor last night, I didn't hear a thing...I was so soundly asleep.  We're so glad they could come...even though it was less than a 12 hour visit :)

An Ornamental, Sentimental Journey (+ 2 Christmas Crafts)

 While I was setting up and decorating the tree with the kids the day after Thanksgiving I decided to snap some pics of some of my favorite ornaments.

Through the years my mom would give each of us children a new ornament every Christmas...{when we got older we got to pick out our own} and by the time we moved away from home we had a box full of ornaments to use in our new home.  It's a lovely idea and I'm sure many other families do the same.  I now carry on that tradition with my own children.

The child on the red horse was my very first ornament when I was a baby.
The baby in the walnut shell was something I "made" in nursery (I think) and I've always thought it was special.
The santa book was such a fun ornament because it was really truly a book but so tiny.
The kittens in the basket were hand painted by my mother.
 I remember my Grandma "O." making the center ornaments with us out of tin little Christmas scenes.
I loved my "Mary and Jesus" ornament and each year I tried to make sure that it was hung right in front of a light so it would shine through.
The little cross stitch ornaments again, were done by my talented mother.  She had several and just a few years ago passed them on to those of us who wanted them.
The sweet bluebird was made out of felt by my sister.  It's adorable!
And the white santa opens up like a matroyshka doll.  Each of the kids had their own and every year there was some little treasure tucked inside on Christmas morning...either money or something else very small so of course that was a favorite!

My brother helped me find an app that could do these collages so I don't feel like I'm having everyone scroll through a ton of pictures in each post.  Sooooo easy and fun!

 The following pictures are of ornaments that I have made (or helped make).  

The first is an assortment (although you can really only see a couple) of ones that I made as a child.
The next ones I made with the kids a few years ago out of jar lids and old Christmas cards...kind of fun.
The wooden ornament I made the year my Grandpa "O." died.    The wood was from a limb off a tree he had planted decades earlier.  I had Andy cut it for me and then added the vinyl lettering and gave them to family members.
Kind of by accident it has become a tradition for me to make an ornament for my gifts to neighbors and friends each year.
The wire stars with beads were the first I made. 
Two years ago I ordered a ton of bottle caps and also some digital images off of Etsy and had fun putting the bottle caps together.  I gave them in sets of three.  I had one cute friend decide to wear them as earrings :)
Then last year I spent a lot of time punching out paper, folding and gluing to come up with these fun geometric figures.
I'm kind of frustrated with my idea for this year.  It's not quite turning out like I had hoped.  When I come up with a final product I will post it.

So this is kind of silly but every year since we have been married I've been using a plaid, square table cloth for a tree skirt.  Of course, it didn't fit very well and looked kind of awkward in the back.  I don't know why I never bought one or made one before now.  Well, a year ago when I joined the dark side of Pinterest I started seeing super cute tree skirts that didn't look to hard to create.  This was the year!...and this was the pin I referred to for pinsperation.  Isn't it adorable?  She did an amazing job and I love her colors.
So...I grabbed some fabric and a big hunk of felt.
I folded the felt in fourths and then cut a small, quarter circle out of the center.  Then I made a larger, similar cut to round off the corners.  I know my mom will laugh at this but didn't measure like I knew I should have and so it didn't turn out that evenly the first time...or the second or third.  Finally, I pulled out a thumb tack, a piece of ribbon and a pen.  I made a make shift compass and finally arrived at a good looking circle.
I cut a slit down the back and then started adding the fabric.  I cut about three inch strips and hot glued it down starting from the outside.  I made ruffles as I went and did six different layers.  The original plan was to do the whole skirt but after several layers I thought it looked kind of cute like that.  
I had accidentally made the hole in the middle too big so I added some ruffles to the center to fill it in.

 Do you think I should finish filling it in or is it fine the way it is?

I made a photo booth for our Christmas card pictures and my mom was sweet and came over to take them for us.  Ben was a little tricky to work with...we had to promise him a snack of popcorn afterward...but we got a few good ones :)  I will post the cards as soon as they're finished.

Happy December!
(I told Andy today that I wish it could just stay Dec. 1st for a couple of weeks.  That way I could get even more on top of everything and not miss out on enjoying the month and all of it's festivities.)
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