Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas - 2011

Christmas Season brings joy, peace, and magic. It also brings comfort - there's a certain coziness that comes with the decor that fills our home, the warmth from the winter sweaters and coats, and from the familiar traditions that fill the season year after year with the same spirit that makes Christmas wonderful.

Like the visit to Santa. My older boys know better than to murmur or complain...they WILL get their Christmas "outfit" on and brave the line-up to see this Jolly Man. This year it even took several attempts - long story. After all, I remind them, "Santa is very good to you - I wouldn't test him if I were you". This was the first year in a long time that I haven't have a crier for the picture on Santa's lap- they are all too old now - it makes me want to cry ;)

And Christmas Eve with all the cousins at Grammy and Papa's house for a delicious dinner, time to play and be excited together, and of course the Nativity Play done by the kids. This year Grammy put together a little program with speaking parts for the older kids and Christmas Carols mixed in with the scripture/story reading. A little something different, but still that same good 'ol tradition.

You'd think we would have enough actors with our big clan, but some of the kids were happy to play 2 parts if needed, like the shepard-wise man below...

I love how traditions bring out all the best feelings of love and kindness. You know you're there when the oldest is stealing kisses from the baby.

And of course there's the tradition of opening one gift each - which always happens to be matching Christmas pajamas. No one is ever too old for this tradition! And Papa leads us in a big family prayer - always tender and touching - especially this time of year.
And playing, playing, and more playing - even with pajamas on and down to the last second before it's off to home we go.

Before this mom and dad feel like they got a wink of sleep (mostly because we stay up late putting toys together and finishing touches on gifts, and enjoying peppermint ice cream and some quiet Christmas time together) our boys are up at 6am (the earliest allowed) and pouncing on our bed - ready for the magic of Christmas morning.

I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture all the kids and all the gifts, but some highlights include: Cade got a Kindle Fire - lucky bum

Luke's loving his new big wheel!

Bo's showing off his "slides". All the cool wrestlers wear them.

And Santa left a really cool surprise out in the driveway!! It's going to be a super fun sumer!
(p.s. - the RV isn't ours - more about that in a post to come )

I loved having Christmas on Sunday this year. After the chaos of stockings and gifts, it was a nice change of pace to go get dressed in our Sunday best and enjoy remembering the real meaning of Christmas and enjoying the true spirit of the season.

Then it was time to head back up to Grammy and Papa's for more gifts and celebration.
It was a knight Christmas for Cole. He's excited about his playmobile castle. So was mom - I LOVE playmobile!
Bo got a cool science kit
Ty's sporting new clothes and trying to figure out the puzzle ball

By then end of the 2-day affair, it feels a bit like a whirlwind. But it is a wonderful finale to a wondrous season. There are new gifts to admire, new things to be grateful for and a new outlook on a new year. I love that the end of each Calendar year is swelled up in this magical time of giving, sharing, celebrating and remembering the gift of the Savior in our lives. It was a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2011 for our crew for sure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas 2011

In Living Color Christmas Card
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Monday, December 19, 2011

A Happy 4th Birthday

A cute invitation (that got eaten by my computer - I have a new computer :) ) went out to a few friends that said something like: Hear Ye, Hear Ye, All Knights of the Round. Your presence is requested at a celebration in honor of Sir Cole's 4th Birthday. The friends followed the address to the castle and had lots of fun...Decorating Knight shields-

And earning their armor -

And playing in the bouncy Castle (in our garage - I leave it pushed to the side and ready all winter as a cold/wet weather activity to burn off the energy of my gang. Great! You should try it!)-

And feasting on treats -

And showering the Birthday Boy with noble gifts -

And making great birthday wishes and memories -

The kids all went home with their helmet/masks, shields, foam swords and a tube full of plastic knight toys. It was a hit all the way around. And this 4 year old is a big hit at our house! We love you Birthday Boy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Turkey Day 2011

This year the Thanksgiving holiday included a week off of school for the kids - so we had a whole week to celebrate my favorite holiday of the year. We spent the week counting our blessings and making new memories at our favorite place - Black Butte Ranch.

The older cousins set out one afternoon with the goal of hiking to the summit of Black Butt

But snow got the better of their attempt. But there were still plenty of smiles and a renewed goal to try it again in summertime!

The story of Thanksgiving dinner proves us genius! Grammy reserved a private dining room at the lodge and we let the Lodge restaurant do the cooking for our large group! It was delicious, relaxing and no dishes!! It might be a new tradition.

But just so that we didn't miss the whole "Thanksgiving experience" and so that we had lots of cold turkey to snack on throughout the weekend, Grammy still roasted this beauty!

The fun continues...

We had a
fun family time at the ranch's Turkey Trot. Bart was a trooper and did the kids trot with the boys while I ran the 5K.

And enjoyed the Sister's Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony

And the Sister's Thanksgiving weekend Parade.

Santa rode in on the last wagon to kick of the Christmas season!

Our blessings are countless and we have so much to be grateful for - a now another fun holiday to add to the list!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Papa turns 60!

When world's greatest Papa and Dad turns 60 - it's cause for a giant celebration. But since he doesn't like crowds and attention, we obeyed his wish and curtailed our party planning, and instead of a surprise party with the TONS of people who love and admire my dad (which is how we wanted to celebrate), Grammy rented a giant house at Lincoln City for all us kids and grandkids to share and party together. It was risky- the beach in November - but we lucked out with excellent weather and enjoyed lots of fun relaxing, watching movies and football, eating good food, playing games, not sleeping (since every family had at least one sick kid up in the night - but we'll try not to remember that part), and enjoying the sand and water.

All you need is a hoodie and you can still enjoy building sandcastles and gathering seashells at the beach in the fall.

And of course there was the giant family flag football game!

Uncle Andrew with his team!

Luke watched a lot of it from the window in comforts of the warm beach house.

Grammy put together some fun party games.

yes, one of which involved knocking over water bottles with a ball inside a pantyhose that hangs from your head :)

the kids put together a little program to honor papa and it ended with a dog pile on the birthday boy!

We hope a little birthday party in a beautiful setting with all the people who love him most made him feel as special as he is!

We managed to talk a photographer into driving out to the coast to surprise Grammy and Papa with a group photography session. This was my favorite moment caught on camera...

It was pretty chilly - so Bart had the job of keeping the kids warm and free of complaining during the photo session.

I wish every weekend could be frozen in moments like these. I love my family more than words and I love my wonderful dad - for the father, example, rock, inspiration, friend, advisor and hero he has been and always will be. He is truly one of the most generous, kind, humble, faithful, man of integrity you can ever know. Because of him I owe so much - everything. Thanks dad. And thanks for giving us an excuse to have another wonderful time together.