Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Break Happenings

My little Cannon wanted to test out his new scriptures.  He's six and a half and we have a pretty lofty goal for he and I to read the Book of Mormon together all the way (separate from our family reading) through before his baptism in June 2016. 
I feel quite confident that we can do it, but even if we don't meet our goal, I will treasure time spent reading with Cannon.
George going to sleep with his new blanket.  And his Kitty is going to sleep with its new pillow and blanket courtesy of Faith and her new sewing machine.
The teen gang playing games.  May I draw your attention to Clark.  He is looking angry and has food hanging out of his mouth.  This is his lastest "thing" in many of his recent pictures.  Charming, isn't it?
The adults doing Christmas crackers.  Abe and I do Christmas crackers for Christmas Eve dinner, but we didn't know that the proper method was doing it hand-over-hand in a circle.
We did a "Favorite Things" gift exchange.  Abe picked a gift first.
Whatever could it be?
So beautiful! 
Have you ever watched little kids do a gift exchange in which they can steal something someone else has already opened?  It always ends in tears.  Always.
Abe didn't get to keep the quilt because someone stole it from him.  I really wanted to cry.
The little kid gift exchange.  Let's not mention how Andrea saved my parenting bacon by dipping into her on-hand supply of gifts because I forgot/failed to bring little kid gifts.  I don't know what my problem was.  I think that because the party was after Christmas I had used up all my present planning powers and I had nothing left.  Even still, shame on me.
Big kid gift exchange.  I think everyone was happy-- no thanks to me.

Today I helped organize and execute my first funeral luncheon as Relief Society president.  It was remarkably easy to do considering the wonderful women I work with and the women who stepped right up to bring food with very little notice.  The luncheon went very well and was very nice for the family of the older gentleman in our ward who passed away.

Abe and I went to see Unbroken this evening and what there was, was well done.  However, I felt that in the book, when Louie left the Japanese camps at the end of the war, he was kind of broken.  I mean, he was alive, but he was angry and had major PTSD.  It wasn't until he was healed through Christ and forgave those who had hurt him that he was unbroken.  Also, the movie was full of so many true, but really horrible events.  I needed more of the forgiveness and redemption at the end to make all the awful parts worthwhile.  A few words on the screen at the end were not enough to bring up out of the depths of the sadness of the previous two hours.  It made me want to read the book again, or at least the last 1/3.

Laser Tag, You're It!

We invited the Schramm family over for dinner and games a couple nights ago.  Keith is the coach of Clark's robotics team and I have taught Schramm kids piano for several years.  They are wonderful.  We love them.  The Fox family held their own in card games.
But there was one game we didn't stand a chance.  We were decimated over and over again.  It was quite humbling.
Laser tag.  Nerf Laser Tag.
You see, their family has experience with real fire arms.  Laser guns are child's play for them.  Well, actually their children play with real fire arms, but you know what I mean.
They've had their Nerf  laser guns since this summer.  We just got ours for Christmas.  They schooled us pretty bad.
These guns have been so much fun for the whole family.  I would like to strongly encourage everyone I know to buy them-- then we can have a big huge battle for my birthday this summer.  Doesn't that sound fun?  You can do indoor or outdoor setting, team or solo battles, 10 lives or 25 lives.  They are a bit pricey, but just think-- you never have to buy Nerf bullets for them!  But you do have to buy batteries.
Mom versus mom.  Guess who won?
Not really even close.
 This was the final battle of the night.  It took awhile because they Schramms wisely rearranged the furniture for protection.  My children barricaded themselves in the basement for some serious trench warfare.  Another win goes to the Schramm Fam.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Merry Christmas, Peter!  This is the yummy sight I woke up to at 7:30 this morning.
And this was the scene across the hallway where the children gathered to watched some of Guardians of the Galaxy to let me catch a few more winks.  Such patience.  I was impressed and grateful.
The line-up.  Get ready...Get set...
Where to begin??
Faith got a sewing machine and Bethany got a cell phone.
Santa brought Clark a bike in preparation for his driver's license:)
George got his first bike.
Andrea helped me embroider everyone's names on towels in an effort to better manage the towel usage in our house. They liked them, but they're enthusiasm was dampened upon realizing I would be able to identify who left their towel on the floor.  Thank you, Andrea!
One of our absolute favorite books is now permanently in our library.
We paused in the middle of present opening for Abe to read "The Book With No Pictures".  Very funny and Abe had us all laughing.
Elinor had a thinking girl's Christmas-- books galore, a chemistry set, Mad Libs, and a Grow a Frog kit.  Love this girl!
Kind of a funny story about this shirt I bought for Faith.  It was on sale at and I thought it said, "Crazy like a fox".  When it arrived I realized it said, "Cray like a fox".  
WHAT?  How could they misspell a word on all these shirts?  No wonder they were on sale.  I would have returned it except the customer service line was too long last week.  Fortunately, I asked my younger, hipper sister-in-law Katie what the deal was.  She kindly explained to my older, lamer self that "Cray" was the new, slang way of saying crazy.  
For real?  Oh, okay.  I feel dumb.  I guess we'll keep the shirt.  Fay-Fay is now cray-cray!
Sweet Pete got a new bouncy chair, pacifiers, shoes, onesies, and a teething toy from Abe.
Sometimes I think Abe is just a grandpa stuck in a younger man's body.  He wanted bow ties and handkerchiefs for Christmas.  He's so cute!
Bethany sewed me this makeup bag. 
A couple months back Abe brought me home a lip balm from a fellow vendor at a show.  It was the perfect lip balm, with just the right amount of gloss and non-offensive flavor.  He was so sweet to track down the vendor and get a large supply so I won't run out for a long time to come.  That's love.  You know what else is love?  He gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble with a note attached that said he would come with me and slowly walk around with me while holding Peter so I could take in the sights and smells of the bookstore I love so much.  And I was to use the money on something for me and not school things for the kids.  He knows me so well!
A tin of English biscuits (cookies) from The London Market downtown.
THE picture of Christmas morning.  I like to call it "The Agony and the Ectasy".  The joy when Cannon receives walkie-talkies.  The agony when George is overcome with envy before he understands that walkie-talkies are only good when you share them.
A family gift of Nerf laser guns.  These were a popular item today.  I hear they eat batteries for lunch, but they work great!
Grandpa and George tested them out this afternoon.
Grandpa showed no mercy with all his tactical military training.
Cannon was a pretty good pilot of his remote control helicopter.  
She wanted a music box/jewelry box.
Oh, I'm sorry, Beth.  Would you like us to let you be alone with your shoe?  They were Clark's gift to her.
Here is something I'm pretty excited about-- new duvets for all the kids' beds.  How warm and snuggly!  No more ratty, falling-apart mismatched blankets.  You would have thought they would have lured the children to their beds before 11 pm tonight!  No such luck.  They kept saying, "But it's Christmas!"  
The girls tested out the new sleds.  We're big believers in cheap plastic sleds.  Well, truthfully, we've never had really nice sleds, so I suppose those could be better.  I should say we are contented with our cheap plastic sleds:)
This was a very special moment of the day-- when Cannon opened up his very own set of scriptures.  In the past we've given scriptures to our newly turned eight year-olds.  But when you read fluently at six, you must have scriptures to read!  When you're six it's hard for scriptures to compete with remote controlled anything, but I think he appreciated them nontheless. 
 Abe made his traditional British fried breakfast-- only this year he waited until about 1:00 pm to make it.  And he wore his bow tie all day.  
Will the children someday regret the lovely expressions they pull in pictures?  I hope so.
 Speaking of pulling faces and the pot calling the kettle black, most of my people got me gummy bears (my favorite treat) for Christmas.  I'd really like to tell you more about Clark's gift, but he threatened if I did, then the gift would become null and void.  Oh shoot!  I've said too much already.
It's been a very mild, dry December so to wake up to a white Christmas was a treat indeed.
Except that arrows can very easily be misplaced when shot into snow.  Maybe it will turn up next spring.
We didn't get far with the sewing machine this evening, but we did figure out how to sew a straight line.  I'm hoping that Bethany can pass on her sewing knowledge to Faith.
I'd like to say the day wasn't as extravagantly obscene as it appears in this picture.  But I'm afraid that's not true.  We lived it up.  We were in fat city.  It was over the top.  We killed the fatted calf.  
Or maybe nine people in a smallish room on Christmas morning just looks like a tornado struck.  Either way, it was a wonderful culmination to a beautiful Christmas season.  Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Traditions

The dishes were set on the tables with care in hopes that Grandma and Grandpa soon would be there.
  While growing up my parents were very traditional in our family's Christmas Eve celebration. We don't do everything exactly how they did, but it did make for magical Christmas memories, so we've tried to follow suit.
I am very aware that this is not a flattering picture of me.  Normally I wouldn't post it, but since I had a whole evening of seriously unflattering pictures, it seemed the honest thing to do.
Abe introduced us to the tradition of Christmas crackers.  You pull the ends apart, it makes a little firework sound, and you get a little toy, paper crown and joke.  The crowns come in handy for the wise men in the Nativity.
Ham and potatoes for dinner with my mom's Christmas dishes.  When my mom passed away almost 14 years ago, these dishes were the only thing I really, really wanted.  I treasure them and we've put them to good use over the years.
Elinor and Emi have a sweet bond.  They were pretty tight last night.
Cannon and Takara took their roles as Joseph and Mary very seriously.  And they were ADORABLE!  Bethany played many roles throughout the Nativity.  Here she is as the donkey.
Here she is as the manger.
Peter was baby Jesus.  It was his one and only chance in life to be baby Jesus and I'm sorry to say it, but he did a terrible job.  He would not hold still and fussed a lot.  I understand the actual baby Jesus probably squirmed and cried as well, but it just wasn't working for me last night.
Cannon did take a break from his role as Joseph to accompany us singing "The First Noel".
That's an image I'd like to remember in my old age.
Here is the two-headed angel of Elinor and Emi appearing to Bethany and the other shepherds.  Can you tell that Faith recently watched Home Alone for the first time?
The wisemen (Clark, Grandpa Cannon, and Uncle Dev) saw the start in the East.
"When they saw the star, they REJOICED with exceeding great joy"
They fell down and worshiped Him presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Bethany read her "Twas the Real Night Before Christmas" poem she penned last year.  Two years in a row means that it's a legitimate tradition now.
Abe read our family's favorite Christmas story,  A Christmas Bell for Anya.  It's a tear jerker, but it has a very special place in our hearts, as we first heard it shortly after we lost our Tessa.
There aren't many things in this life better than singing Christmas carols with your family on Christmas Eve.
After all the spiritual traditions it was time for the the fun.  Grandma Cannon always picks out super cute, comfy pajamas for the little ones to open Christmas Eve.
George may or may not have taken a pair of scissors and performed an experimental snip on his new pajama pants last night.
The big kids get cold, hard cash from the Grandparents.  Everybody is happy.
This year we surprised Grandma and Grandpa with some Christmas jammies of their own!
I got matching jammy pants for the ladies as well.
Nice photo bomb Clark.  And you say you don't want to be in pictures.  I'm not buying it.
Elinor had practiced "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for us to sing in preparation for...
...Grandpa reading "The Night Before Christmas".  The edition he is reading is the very one he read to us every year of my childhood.  Years ago my sister found the same book and bought copies of it for all of us.
  Traditions are so comforting!
Not necessarily festive, but very cute to have a houseful of Ninja Turtles.
A sweet little guy-- 4 1/2 months old on his first Christmas Eve.  I love a baby at Christmas time.
And lastly, Faith lost a tooth yesterday.  She was wise enough to realize that asking Santa and the Tooth Fairy to come on the same night would be too much.  Hopefully all responsible parties will remember to do their jobs tonight.