Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Creations 2016

This year's Christmas card idea came together fairly well thanks to the talents of some good folks.
I wanted to do American Gothic.
Andy found an image for the background and did the photoshopping and my good brother James took the pictures...he's always a good sport about that.

And it's always quite a chore to get everyone to cooperate at the same time :)

Poor Ben was so played to our advantage in the long run as long as we were able to get his eyes open for a few seconds.

They turned out great :)!

I always love dropping them all in the mailbox!

A friend gave me the idea of doing gift cards to Swig for all of Ben's many aides and teachers...

Perfect idea!

I found these cute skillet cookies/brownies/cinnamon roll mixes at Wal Mart and stuck bows and cards on those for the rest of the kids' teachers/bus drivers.

For my ornament this year I knew I wanted to do something with felt...
After looking at a bunch of things on Pinterest I decided on a nordic/Scandanavian look.

I made about 75 of these puppies.
I started in October so I wouldn't be scrambling.
They were pleasant to work on while I watched many a Christmas movie :)

They are all a little unique...
Sometimes I did one and really liked the pattern so I tried to copy it a few times, but mostly I would just start one and see where it led.

I downloaded a free scrapbook paper and made a tag in photoshop.
I wish I hadn't decreased the opacity because it makes the red look orange...but I was afraid otherwise you wouldn't be able to read the text.

I'm already starting to think of ideas for next year's ornament :)
I love creating these things each year to give to friends and neighbors.
I know some would rather get treats and some probably just throw them away, but I know there are those that actually appreciate them.  They tell me each year how they look forward to my ornament.  One family tells me they have a special section of their tree for just my ornaments and another family that stores them in the original packaging year after year when they take them off their tree.

I did one quilting project for a Christmas gift this year.
I always struggle knowing what to give my best friend growing up.  We live in the same community but rarely see each other since our lives don't have a lot in common any more...but she's still a dear friend and we always exchange gifts.
I can't believe I hadn't thought to do something like this for her before.
Just a simple table topper...
I had her sister in law help me remember the colors of her home and I dug through my repro fabrics trying to come up with a good combo.

I'm always so lazy and squaring up blocks is one of my least favorite parts of quilting so I sort of skipped that step on my four patches.  I realized the result after I put them each on point in their squares.  So I called my quilting expert mom and she helped me come up with some ideas on how to help it not look so bad.
My points didn't quite match up but I was able to rescue them from being cut off which was my biggest worry.
I struggled knowing how to quilt it.
I haven't done much with overall designs and so I thought it was time I gave that a shot.
My problem with meandering patterns is that I work myself into a corner and have a hard time getting out gracefully.  This was a small enough quilt though that I figured I should be able to keep track of my progress fairly well and plan out my next steps.

Love it!

And I have plenty more little four patches (which I will square up) with which I plan to make another similar one for myself.

I'm actually excited to give my friend her gift this year...
I hope she likes it!

Christmas Concerts

Christmas time means lots of concerts and recitals :)

Josh had his first ever cello recital.  He's been taking for over four years now and is on his fourth teacher and he finally got to do a recital :)

He first participated in a trio...

...and then he did a number accompanied by another student.

I love hearing him play and it was such a joy hearing him perform in a setting other than a large orchestra concert.

These are awful pictures and so I'm keeping them small and only posting one of each...but the three oldest had their piano recital.  Their teacher always has them do duets for Christmas so it makes for quite a fun recital.
They all did an incredible job and were happy with their performances.

Ben had been a handful at the cello recital a few nights earlier so we made sure he had his full dose of meds before this recital and I came well prepared with things to try and keep him happy.
He sat on Bapa's lap the whole time and was so quiet.  He almost fell asleep and we had absolutely no problems that night.

Josh had his orchestra concert last night.  Their group sounded amazing!
They performed, among others, the Hallelujah chorus from The Messiah.  It gave me chills!

Today was the last day of school before the break.
Abby received a reading award...
(again, terrible pictures but she's the one towering over all the other kids :)

...and then there was a sing a long.  Abby's class performed on the xylophones which was fun.

Then some select sixth graders sang Angels we Have Heard on High.

We're so proud of all of our kids and their efforts toward their music.
I totally get that it's not always fun but I'm just as strict about practicing as my mom was since I know well the benefit that comes from dedicated practicing.
Thanks Mom :)!

Random December Stuff

Jenny Oaks Baker came and spoke/performed at Religion In Life at the institute at the beginning of December.  It was Andy's and my turn to sit up on the stand and have lunch with the speaker afterward.  She and her children did an amazing job and it was lovely to get to interact with them on a more personal level during lunch.  
She is extremely talented and my favorite number that she performed was Bring a Torch Janette Isabella.  It's definitely worth a look up on iTunes!

I loved these mini poinsettias I found at Macey's!  Aren't they just darling?!?!...and look at that cute mini orchid too :)

To the great disappointment of my children, we do not own an elf on the shelf.  They often talk about the exciting exploits of their friends' elves and wonder why we can't have our own.
I found this little gnome (below, right) at a boutique and thought he was darling.  Matt decided he could be our "elf" and I could just hide him every day so they could look for him.  After much begging on Matt's part and me making sure the kids understood that our gnome wouldn't do any crazy things...he would just move around the house waiting to be found...I acquiesced and he is currently "hiding" on the chandelier above our dining table.

Ben came home from school one day looking extra cute in his Elmo hat and I had to try and get some pics...

The one on the left is my favorite!
He had his backpack on and was apparently a bit off balance because of it...he kept falling backwards and got quite a kick out of my reactions each time he did.

These antlers came home in his backpack yesterday.  When I put them on his head he didn't even try to take them off and just went about his business of lining up his trains on the arm of the couch. 

As far as an update on this guy....
the anti aggression meds have really cut down on his hitting/throwing/yelling/
kicking/head butting etc...
The only down side is that he is often very tired and falls asleep frequently during the day.

However, this med has also seemed to lengthen the time in between his clusters of seizures.
Where before, we were seeing about a cluster a week, since he's been on the Guanfacine, he has gone 2, 3 and once even 4 weeks in between.  He still will have random seizures during those weeks but not a full blown group of them.
It sounds weird, but while I'm thrilled that the number of seizures has decreased, they are much more sporadic.  Predictability was kind of nice :)
Now things are much more unstable as far as timing goes.
He is doing well though and we sure love him along with each of our other three kids!
We are truly blessed!