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Friday, December 31, 2010


To celebrate the end of another year we took a fun trip down to DC. We saw this Chinese dance troupe at the temple visitors center. They were really good and we enjoyed the show very much. We also looked at their creches from around the world. My favorites were from Poland and from South Africa, but they were all beautiful!
After we went "tail-gateing". We brought a gott full of hot water and hot chocolate and cookies and planned a treat for the parking lot. We happened to run into the Hendricksons and invited them to join us at our car. The kids loved running in the Christmas lights and drinking chocolate and eating cookies with friends.

This was my favorite of the dozen or so trees they had set up. It's a "Maryland" tree with crab ornaments and a lighthouse on top and other oceany things. Very cute.
All the kids played with friends today.
S and J both had to work tonight and now are both out celebrating with their friends.
Yesterday we took a fun trip to Waldorf to use our Christmas gift cards. E bought a bow and arrow...because every 8 year old needs to build his weapons arsenal at every gift giving occasion available.
Lucy bought a baby doll and bathtub. She took two baths today with her baby :) and told me "mom, I am going to be a good mom when I grow up. Even though it will be a pain to get them here it will be worth it" She's so funny. Where did she hear that??
H bought a cool movie projector and last night all three little kids piled in her room and watched "happily never after 2" projected on the wall. They thought that was pretty neat!
J also spent the day shopping but she went to Annapolis with her friends.
S worked.
Today Big painted. I did laundry. We ate at Baja Fresh.
And that brings 2010 to a close.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love the holiday week when everyone is home. We've been enjoying each others company a lot. Today the 3 big girls and I went shopping for Sierra's birthday. She turned 20 on Christmas day! I can't believe it. I wanted to get her a couple of nice church dresses. We drove to Alexandria and checked out "rugged wear house". Everyone found some cute shoes they liked. Then we went to TJ Maxx and found Sierra 4 nice dresses. It was a lot of fun trying things on and shopping together. We stopped at Panera for a quick lunch before heading home (thank you Uncle Brian). No one in the world makes me laugh more than my crazy girls. We laughed and laughed.

Yesterday we went to the Martines' home for home made pizza and playing. It was great! I am grateful for their friendship and always good company :) We also went to iHop for breakfast and did some shopping in the middle. Our sweet Ghanaian neighbor had a baby boy a few days ago. We made dinner for them and took it over. The kids were excited to see the baby and we took them a super cute little jammie with jungle animals all over it. Their favorite food is goat, but since I don't have any good goat recipes I had to make something else. Hopefully they liked PW lasagna okay.
Monday was a playing in the remaining snow day. J had a doctor appointment and got her "going to college" shot. That went well and she didn't even feel faint. We went to visit the Smith's and had a good visit. The kids really enjoyed shovelling their driveway. Bro Smith is pretty frail and the chemo is taking a toll on him but he was happy to see us and Diane was in good spirits.

Tonight we are having some new friends over for dinner. Big is manning the grill. I am in charge of veggies and dessert.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

little brown bear

can you love a boy that you've only seen once? for like 15 minutes??

YES, completely.

My darling nephew Joneaux is the cutest little guy! Some day I will get to play with him.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

cheery fun

me in my new scarf, a gift from S and J, and beautiful j in the snow after church.

Church was so fun today, except when I "tapped" the pole in the front of the building due to some icy slippage. Don't worry, the pole was fine. Other than that the Christmas music was splendid, the talks were thoughtful and the warm hugs with friends filled me with a special glow. What a lovely snowy Sabbath day!!!

beautiful Sunday morning

the snow is so pretty on the trees. I am happy it's Sunday and looking forward to a nice day at church.
I forgot to write earlier that we spent Christmas Eve with our friends the McCombs and the Rays and had such a great time. The kids ran and played. We ate pizza and played a crazy game and got a chance to relax together. Nice.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

good night to Christmas for another year

it's been wonderful, this day will go down in our memories with the sweet rosy haze of a Christmas well celebrated.

a few more pictures from the afternoon

We spent a nice afternoon, ate too much, played lots of games. Lu got a Disney princess game that we played a few times. Big got cuplunk, which was played a lot. Anna and Amadeo gave us Loaded Questions, which is hysterical. E raced his cars and built legos. It was a very pleasant, low key, fun afternoon of family togetherness and spoiledness.

Girls opening cards from the family!

H using her super cute baby cakes!

the money shot....Big helping little set up his race track :)

Christmas morning

our little guy was the Christmas elf this morning. His job was to pass out presents.
Everyone was spoiled and got lots of wonderful gifts. J got 4 pairs of boots, and some BYU paraphernalia.

Sierra scored an ipod touch! She was thrilled. Also lots of stuff for going away to college. She is thinking about mechanical engineering! which was a present for's good to have a plan :) and she's such a smart girl.

H was hoping for some custom converse and got them. She got a beautiful bracelet and some books and some hoodies.

Little Lu was the most spoiled. She got some fun books, little animals, magic sand, a fishing pole, grew her herd and a rescue pup!!

the boy got a new bike, a race track, some wii games, some science toys and a bionicle.

We had a nice breakfast together and are now playing with our new toys!! Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010


we were laying in bed early this morning when we heard the rumble of the garbage truck coming down the street.
Big leaped out of bed and ran out to try and get the can to the curb; but he was too late. I heard a huge ruckus as he charged back up the stairs and grabbed slippers and jacket then ran back out the door. He grabbed the can and started dragging it down the road on an intercept course with the truck.
Another neighbor, in a similar predicament, grabbed his can and joined the early morning garbage parade.
They went down the road, made a turn, and finally caught up with the garbage men!
Mission success! two empty cans ready to hold lots of holiday debris tomorrow, two sheepishly smiling heroes headed back home to hop back in bed.

the problem with service

Merry Christmas Eve. What a sweet and tender time of year. It's a time when everyone seems a little more generous, and a little more thoughtful. There are food drives, and clothing drives, and gifts for neighbors and visits to nursing homes. Everyone pauses a little to look outside of themselves and to reach out to lift and help another. That's probably my favorite thing about this season.
However I have a problem. It's with the service I try to do. When I set out to serve I end up so blessed myself that I am not too sure who served whom.
For example a couple days ago I was asked to give a dear sister a ride to the doctor. I got up and drove to her home where I was greeted by the biggest, warmest hug. I then spent the next couple hours playing chauffeur but really I had the most delightful time. I laughed so much, and learned so much and just was so grateful for the time I got to spend. I even learned "the secret to a happy marriage"~ which I plan on putting into action. I was lifted up much more than I helped.
Example 2, this morning we went to clean the church. The kids weren't too excited but I figured what better way to start off the Saviours birthday than but getting His house clean? J had some friends spend the night, and they were up late :) so I had to DRAG them out of bed. They were cheerful and sweet once awake. Then we got to church and met with some more friends and cleaned and had a nice time. Many hands made light work. Matt brought donuts, and the kids played with friends, and H watched the babies and again it was more of a blessing to me than a service for someone else.
Example 3, we take goodies to someone. They reciprocate and theirs are tastier and so exciting to receive.
Example 4....I could go on and on.
It is such a joy to serve, I love it, but if I am so blessed where is the sacrifice?? Sort of a rhetorical question.
Note to self, and posterity: serve often, it makes you happy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This day in 1805 the prophet Joseph Smith was born. A few weeks ago I was thinking that it's been a long time since I have thought a lot about him, or talked with the kids about him. I decided it would be fun to celebrate his birthday so I invited a few friends and asked them to come ready to share a story from his life.
We had four families over and started with a delicious spaghetti dinner. After dinner we gathered in our music room and sang some carols and "once there was a snowman", then had a prayer.
Our family shared about his childhood, told some stories, did a skit, had a stick pull.

The Rays shared about the martyrdom and the Watsons the restoration. It was a nice evening. I heard some stories I didn't know and we had a nice time together.
We played the bells, the kids ran around :), we had birthday cake and a hot chocolate bar.
Thanks for coming friends!

playing the pipes

Tonight we had some friends over, I asked Christina to bring her musical pipes and we had such a fun time playing them. I filmed the first song on Big's phone, and then joined in the playing. I should have waited because we got so much better!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

monday before Christmas

first, my camera has finally died :( Very Very sad.

If it had not I would have posted a picture of Miss H this morning. She was the stay puff marshmallow girl in her winter garb. It's a chilly walk in the dark to the bus stop for her. She did have a big smile on her face and striped Christmas socks on though :)

I would have also taken a picture of the cute peppermint pinwheel cookies I brought to Michelle's yesterday for her cookie exchange. I had a great time visiting with everyone and eating some delicious foods!! My fav was Mindy's baked brie.

I might have taken the last photo of the kids by the water delivering goodies to Julie, or maybe little b running around with Toto, seriously the cutest dog, at Donna's. Last night was our take Christmas treats around night. The hardest hardest part is deciding to whom to deliver. We have so many sweet and awesome neighbors and good friends at church that I seriously could have made up 50 plates. Instead we did our neighbors right next door, and then I let the kids choose two other neighbors. They chose John's family and Julia/Webb's family. Then we did my VT route, and Big's HT route. With one last gift for the seminary teacher, because anyone who is willing to teach at 6:30 am every day deserves pumpkin bread!

We started our deliveries at 5:45. It was a bit of a rocky start with H crying and complaining for the first 45 minutes and a bunch of jostling for space and "he's touching me" and "someone farted!" followed by a chorus of "Ethan!!!" I have to admit I was gritting my teeth and almost willing to abandon the efforts and was growing weary of explaining the joy of giving. Then we stopped at the Everetts. Dear Noni wasn't home but Michael and Donna let us in and we had a lovely visit. She is so sweet and kind and the kids settled down, were charming and entertaining and happy. After that stop our car was full of Christmas carols and laughter. It was a real blessing for me. I guess the lesson is keep being nice until everyone is nice.

We got home from the last drop off around 9:20 and plopped into bed. I was pooped. I had gotten up at 5:30am to start baking and spent the day cooking, and visiting and cleaning up between times. It was a good day though :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas celebrations

E and some boys having a spontaneous showball fight in front of the church.

What a busy weekend! Friday night H was invited to birthday sleepover at a neighbors house. They made aprons and cookies and home made pizzas and a had a great time!

E, Lu, Big and I went to see Tangled. I loved it. So cute!
Saturday morning we had a soccer game. E's team won 9-0. And they were playing a U-12 team!
Then we had tithing settlement.
Then we had our ward social.
Our good friend David is in town so we invited him to come with us. It was fun to see him and to hear about how everyone was doing in TX. We had a dinner and a show.
H participated in a piano solo and also in this fun Bommy Knocker musical group.

Lucy really wanted to participate so she went and asked Sister Lancaster if she could sing "I Am A Child Of God". Of course she said yes and Lucy bravely went up and sang. It was very sweet.

The young women sang a song, the HP played Kazooos, the Darrows did a rap and other people also shared their talents.
It was a fun night.
Tonight the RS is having their social. What a festive weekend :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


this is the dresser that j and i fixed up for her room. It turned out so cute!!

snow day

Our first snow day of the season. The kids are thrilled. I don't mind, except for all the extra laundry.
Everyone headed out to the little pond in back of our house to "skate" around and throw snowballs. I was worried the ice would crack, but it didn't.

Took the girls to the eye doctor this morning. J and H both are getting new glasses. I need to send Sierra next.

In other exciting news Jenna has heard back from two of the four colleges she's applied to. She got accepted to Towson, and to BYU-I. Still waiting to hear from the other 2 BYU's.

And last night was our YW Christmas party, which was soooo soooo fun. We all came in warm winter jammies and ate pancakes and bacon, followed by some gingerbread house decorating and a gift exchange. There was a lot of laughing and it was so fun. I love our girls. They are so awesome. Sadly I forgot my camera so I'll just have to remember it in my head.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the rest of the nighttime readers

this little guy will read for an hour or two or three every night, unless we turn off the light and force him to sleep, like the uber meanie parents we are.

what are you reading Bub?
She will also read all night, if allowed. Do you like the hat? Our ginormous house is great for having parties, for letting 10 kids play in the basement, for spreading out and having lots of space. It's not so great on the pocketbook for keeping toasty warm, so we keep it "warm enough". Some of us choose to wear trapper hats to bed, and some of us sleep in our 0 degree bags but we keep the bills down, and no one has lost a digit to frost bite yet.

tonight's stories

Bedtime stories are a nightly ritual. Tonight we read Llama Llama Holiday Drama, Fancy Nancy Spleniforous Christmas and Tina Cocolina. Favorites all :)

Birthday Lunch

Jenna is 18!! Whoo hoo!!
We went out to lunch to celebrate and then did a DIY project fixing up a dresser for her room.

Christmas recital

Last night was the girls Christmas recital. It was very nice. It was held at a little old church on the square and it was just as cute as can be all decked out in Christmas finery.

All of the students did a lovely job performing. I really enjoyed the carols and sweet spirit there.
After there was a lovely reception at Johnna's home. We had cookies and got to visit.

Johnna, Angie and me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

our weekend

The morning brought with it a light snowfall. Luckily the children still got to go to school. We bundled them up in coats and jackets and gloves and hats and scarfs and went down to the bus stop. Boy, those kids were excited. They were running around in a blur of winter wear chasing the snow and each other. Shouting in the cold. I feel sorry for the teachers today. June/July/August will never seem so far away :) It's very Christmasy outside. I am headed to the post office today to mail off our boxes. And I am looking forward to a lovely Christmas recital tonight.

Our weekend was good. This little princess sent me this cute picture of her in her Christmas sweater.
The other day little b was laying on the floor watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom with his feet propped up on the fireplace. The soles of his shoes melted onto the glass. It left a huge smudge of rubber. Lucky Big B got to scrap it off. Fortunately it came clean. The adventures and the glamour of our life never ends :)

We decorated the Christmas tree, Big and little went to a soccer game, we all went to a surprise b-day party for E's cub leader, H and I watched "Eclipse", we had the missionaries over for dinner, went to church & choir practice & cub committee meeting, Big went on a long long bike ride, J worked and hung out with some friends, S worked and worked on some papers she had to write.
That's it :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

my favorite present!!

Yesterday morning, while we were decorating the tree, a small package came for me in the mail. I opened it up expecting to find a wrapped gift to put under the tree. Instead out plopped a handful of these adorable little owl ornaments!! I love them!!! Dani and Tate sent them to me, because "owls are my favorite bird of prey" and they are! and those two are my favorite girls!!! I was so touched that they made something just for me, that they knew my fav bird, and made it. I am a lucky duck :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

tired children

this one fell asleep during scriptures

this one didn't even make it to the living room, she was tucked into bed before scriptures :)

Flat Iron Farm

Had a busy busy day. While the kids were at school I went to John Everett's funeral. It was really nice. He was so sweet and kind and many people loved him. I stayed after the service to help Colleen and Becky get the dinner ready for the family. Serving together is always a treat and such a special time. John reminded me of my dad, I need to go see him. I am glad for the great plan of Happiness that allows families to be together forever and I know it is a great source of comfort to his family right now.

I got home just in time to get the kids and head over to the middle school where H was auditioning for a part in Guys and Dolls. She is nervous but did a good job so we'll see.

After we went to Salsas to eat and watch Jen work :)

After that we headed up to Flat Iron Farm for some Christmasy fun. They had lots of animals and lights and shops and Santa.

I loved this beautiful choc late Santa. Isn't he lovely?

It was chilly out but we had a good time :)

After we went searching for a tree for our house & came home for some hot chocolate.