We took a day trip to go see our new niece. It was going to be a quick trip so we wouldn't overstay our welcome. After all, they got home from the hospital the night before and had just made it through their first night at home alone. (Anyone else remember those days? Me neither. Apparently sleep deprivation ruins memory retention.)
It was an apartment full. Michael, Blair, Simon, and baby Charlotte, plus Rick and Kim, plus our family, plus Brynne and Curt.
I made a beeline for the baby. It's nice to hold a new baby. But then I had to share. There was a newly married sister-in-law, and my four girls all wanting turns.
Before we left, we got to see how Simon was reacting to his new sister.
I think she will be loved.
Our stay in the apartment was short, so we detoured to the Spokane Valley mall to exercise the kids' legs, and then we had a snack at Krispy Kreme donuts. Can't say no to the fresh hot donuts sign.
First off, I would just like to say that I am so thankful my children are not the ones who get up at 4 am wanting to open their gifts. They were up at about 7:15 and bouncing with excitement.
I think Santa managed to bring what they asked for. We had some good smiles.
The kids played with the new toys while I made pancakes and sausages for breakfast.
After breakfast, we got our clothes on to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house. About 45 minutes into the drive there, my phone beeped with a voicemail message that said maybe we didn't need to come up today because they were going to go because Blair was likely going to have her baby soon.
After a quick call, we determined that we were close enough to finish driving there to see them before they left. (That's good, otherwise the kids might have mutinied.)
We arrived, opened gifts, ate lunch, and came home.
The rest of the day was pretty quiet. We got progress updates on Blair via text, and played and watched The Sound of Music.
It should be obvious, right? The Sunday before Christmas, you should wear something Christmas-y. Well, not to certain children of mine. In fact, Annie is actually anti-dress lately. Skirts- fine, dresses- no thank you.
So this morning we go upstairs to find suitable clothing to wear to church, and I gave Annie a few options. She did not like any of them. I guess it was a good thing I decided we were all wearing hand-me-down dresses, rather than spend money on pretty new dresses.
Eventually, Annie and I came to a compromise. BUT, we had a couple of girls who didn't want the bother of taking that annual photo in front of the Christmas tree.
DARN IT. WE ARE MAKING MEMORIES. YOU WILL STAND IN FRONT OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE, AAAANNND YOU WILL SMILE! YOU WILL APPRECIATE THIS ONE DAY.
I really had the Christmas spirit this morning. But at least it got results:
We took about 20 pictures, and got a good one finally.
At church Emma found she was almost twins with best friend Kaylee. It warranted another picture.
After waiting and waiting and waiting, it finally snowed. It was a really good thing, because I had a couple of children not excited to go to the last day of school before Christmas break. Not even the yearly class party was providing motivation. However, the groaning stopped after I mentioned the word "Snow," and those kids were up and dressed and outside much quicker than I was anticipating. (whew!)
The kids brought home gifts for family from their classes. I love each one of their offerings, and thank the teachers too! I am excited to see their sweet gifts.
Please note the writing on the gift bags. Aren't Annie and Maddie doing well?
Annie and Maddie had their preschool Christmas party today. It was a pajama party, which causes many giggles from 4 and 5 year olds.
This picture was taken after the "What's in Santa's Bag?" game. The moms were also wearing silly things, but no one was brave enough to get their picture taken. But then, Sean (one of the preschool boys) wasn't interested in getting his picture taken like that either.
Yesterday night was Emma's yearly school performance. Being a 5th grader (you know- the oldest grade at school), Emma had a "big" part this year. She was one of the Penguins, and had a speaking role. In addition, she is in the before school choir, and they performed before the 4th and 5th grade play.
(Emma had a solo in the choir!)
They all did well.
As we were sitting in the gym before the performance (we had to be there extra early because Emma had a speaking role), it was pretty cold. Ryan walked around the gym trying to find some kind of thermostat, but there wasn't one to be found. Luckily, Ryan knows important people around here. Ryan texted one of the school district maintenance guys (who was unaware that the building was going to be occupied that evening). And the guy turned on the heat from his smart phone.
He's a problem solver, that husband of mine. Everyone started removing their jackets, and settled in to enjoy.
As I sit here trying to catch up with my blog, I am thinking about the more somber Christmas Season we've had this year. It started with my Grandpa passing away before Thanksgiving, and attending his funeral in early December. While I know he isn't in pain anymore and lived a full life, and likely very happy to see relatives that have passed before him, I'm sad for me. And I'm sad that my children never knew him like I did.
The week following his funeral, a lady from church that I knew from Primary in her mid-fifties also passed away.
And the following week, Cannon Copeland (you can read his mom's blog here) left his all-too-short mortal sojourn due to Menkes Disease at the tender age of 3. We know his family from church, and his mom Natalie helped throw my baby shower before the twins were born. The lives and examples of the Copeland family as they have shared their life with Cannon have touched everyone they have come in contact with.
While we do as a family like to celebrate the more "fun" aspects of the Christmas season, this year it's been a bit different. We've had quite the reminder that life is short, and some things are more important than others.
So, let's celebrate the birth of our Savior. Let this time of year be a reminder that He is the one who has borne all for us, and is the way and the path that leads us back to our Father in Heaven.
Families are forever, and I am so thankful for that. I'm thankful for temples so my family can be sealed together even after this mortal life. I'm thankful for the Holy Ghost, and the peace I can receive when my heart aches.
We were given a gingerbread house kit with 4 little houses for 4 little girls. So, this afternoon after church, we got it out and attempted to put together gingerbread houses. And then, I tried to put gingerbread houses together. Eventually, they kinda held up long enough for the kids to decorate.
I think this may have been the coldest night for our annual parade that we've been to. If not, it was right down there with the lowest of the low. My roommate from college Jauna has always wanted to ride in a parade float, and this was the year it worked out that she could come and ride on Ryan's FFA float.
Poor Jauna's family. I wonder if they've forgiven her yet.
Ryan's parents were in town, and kindly offered to sit with our girls in their car and watch the parade from the high school parking lot. Some years it would have been impossible to see the parade route, but not this year. The turn out for the parade was quite low compared with last year, thanks to the frozen weather. I think our daytime high was 20 degrees.
Ryan was given a big tractor to pull his float this year, on a loan. This thing cost at least as much, if not more, than our house. But it kept us out of the cold, and I didn't have to drive (and worry about doing something wrong), and so I was thankful.
I take awesome "selfies." See the inside of my nose?
I hopped out of the tractor at the high school, as it is pretty much at the end of the parade route. I offered to let Jauna and her family thaw out in my minivan, while I crammed in my in-law's little SUV with the 6 of them. When the parade ended, Rick and Kim took 3 the girls back to the house while Emma and I took Jauna's family back to her car.
After a late night of travel, Ryan was up early to head down to the high school. The FFA was hosting the community event Cookies with Mrs. Claus. Ryan put a couple of people on the job of getting ready on Friday while we were out of town, and they did a great job. (That's not to say that Ryan hadn't spent HOURS beforehand, because he did. And I did help too, as I was the reason we were gone the day before his big shindig.)
When the girls and I arrived, it was in full swing.
We grabbed our cups of frosting, two cookies per kid, and found a table.
Then we headed over to say hi to Santa and Mrs. Claus.
When we were done, the kids went into the library and watched a movie, while I took pictures and chatted with people.
The cheer leaders and dance team also helped out.
Once we were all cleaned up, we headed home to gear up for the parade.
Yesterday was Grandpa's funeral. We left in the morning, drove over the mountains and arrived at the church building a little over an hour before the funeral started. The church building was sadly locked, and the weather was sadly below freezing. But the kids' legs were needing some exercise, so we did laps around the empty building. People showed up to bring food for the funeral, and we offered to let them leave it in our van so they didn't have to hang around.
Sometime after Grandma and her entourage arrived, someone with keys found their way over and let us in.
While Grandma, Aunt Linda, and my mom set up, we found the restrooms and changed into our church clothes- Ryan by himself in the men's room, and the four girls and me in the ladies' room.
I got to give the eulogy, which was first up on the program. Janelle sang, my mom, Nichole's husband Jake, Nancy, and my Grandma spoke. It was a long funeral, but how do you do justice to the life of a man who lived over 90 years and touched so many.
After the funeral, the ward provided us a nice spread of fruit and vegetable platters, and desserts. Those of us with small children let them run around crazy in the cultural hall (well, within reason- they had all done well sitting quietly during the funeral). I was accosted by people claiming they knew me, and I had to dig deep to remember names. My old dentist from when I was in elementary school. My mom's friend from before I started school.
Grandma put together a whole display of pictures of Grandpa's life. There were three different poster boards, and a 3 ring binder of pictures either Grandma drew/painted, or pictures of his jewelry pieces.
The flower display was reminiscent of Denmark's flag. We each got to take a carnation home.
And on a rather unrelated note- driving through the mountain pass made our minivan filthy. This was after heading west, with the trip back home still ahead of us.
I keep seeing cute kissing balls on Pinterest. Today, I decided to make one for myself, and it was entirely free. I used a styrofoam ball that I'd used for another project (ripped the old, dusty crepe paper flowers off first), and went around the yard cutting bits of still-green plants, and some pieces off the Christmas tree. (Those were the branches that had to be cut off so it would fit in the tree stand.) I stabbed the bits of greenery in the ball, went back outside for more clippings..... And voila!
Today was my birthday. Ryan wrapped my present in a bazillion bags that took a while to unwrap.
I wanted to get a Christmas tree, so we put on all of our coats and cold weather gear and went to go get one.
Blair and Simon came with us. I thought it would be nice if Simon took a picture with the girls. Simon thought otherwise.
Once the tree was at the house, Emma and Elizabeth took me out to lunch for my "present." It was really sweet.
I decided to do something different with the tree this year- white lights instead of the multi-colored ones. Courtesy of Black Friday, we got the new LED lights for a very reduced price. :) The girls and I decorated the tree while Ryan did homework. I guess that's the price he paid for not having an assignment on Thanksgiving, but it meant he did homework for a long time.
Our pretty tree:
Ryan did get me a pretty cake from Safeway.
After dinner (and cleaning up after it), I felt done watching the kids. So I went upstairs and sat in our jacuzzi while Ryan put the kids to bed. I sat in hot, bubbly water for a good 90 minutes. I felt better afterwards.
This was the birthday card I got from my in-laws. It was kind of funny, but what were they trying to tell me...?