Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Joys

Today was Christmas Sunday- or rather, the Sunday before Christmas.  Abe, me, Bethany, and Faith have enjoyed singing with our ward choir for the last few months.  Faith and Cannon sang with about seven Primary children "Away in a Manger".  They were very sweet, even if Clark's friends were teasing Cannon a bit and trying to get him to laugh while he was up there.  I think Cannon held strong.  Bethany played her violin beautifully while the choir sang "O Holy Night".
It was a really nice day at church.
Then it got even better when we gathered at Steve and Candee's house for family dinner.  Dad and Bev surprised us by showing up with their mission call.  We knew they'd submitted papers, but we didn't know they had received their call two days ago!  We got the non-local siblings on Zoom and enjoyed watching them open it.  They were so happy to get called to serve a full time, two year mission coordinating senior couples service missions while living at home!  They were willing to go anywhere they were needed, but they did put their preference to live at home.  So everyone was thrilled that they get to be full time missionaries, but we don't have to say goodbye for two years.
Peter's first visit to see Santa.
We were sitting down to a family game night last night, when my friend called to tell me the Coca-Cola Santa was at the local Walmart.  She knew I was looking for an opportunity to visit Santa that didn't involve a trip to the mall.  We called for everyone to get their shoes on and grab a jacket--"We're going to see Santa!"
On the plus side, there was no line, you immediately got a free picture printed out and access to it digitally, and Santa gave you a little plush polar bear.  On the down side, he wasn't a particularly impressive Santa, he didn't actually talk to the children or ask them what they want for Christmas, and just took the picture and then got rid of the child.
No matter.  We've visited Santa and everyone was happy.
It made me happy that Elinor would still sit with Santa.  Clark refused and Bethany was off babysitting. 
Clark had a fun activity all day on Saturday.  He has enjoyed a game called "Heroscape" for many years.  He organized a tournament at a local game store, and even though they don't make Heroscape anymore, he has several friends who also have a large collection of game pieces.
The event even had an official name: Jingle Bell Bash. 
Clark and Bethany recently invited a group of kids from their church classes over for a game night.   It was a really nice, fun group of kids and there was an added benefit to our family as well.  Clark and Bethany were very anxiously engaged in cleaning the house all day in preparation.  
Was it wrong of me to take such enjoyment in watching their frustration as rooms they had just cleaned immediately got messy again?
Yes, it was wrong of me.  But justified?
Elinor and Faith worked on a gingerbread house.  Perhaps no one mentioned that they could use all the icing.  I think they thought there was an icing shortage.  
Sadly, this was made on Saturday afternoon.  As of Sunday night, the candy had all been picked off.  Our family has yet to create even one respectable gingerbread house that lasts more than two days.  
Maybe next year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tis the Season for Performance

My Piano recital was Tuesday night.  I had fifteen students playing and I was very pleased with how everyone played.
I quite like all these kids.  They have been very patient and understanding over the last few months with the new baby during lessons.  I'm looking forward to the next several months now that Peter is much more manageable.
But I won't get to teach this lovely young lady in the new year.  Elinor and I have decided it is time for her to move on to a more advanced teacher starting in January.  I've loved watching her progress and look forward to seeing how far she will go.
I told another one of my advanced students it was time for her to move on as well.  So my number of students will be shrinking.
Here is a video of Elinor's performance.  She played "A Scene from Swan Lake" and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Here is Faith playing "Down in the Valley" and "O Holy Night".  Faith improved so much since the last recital.  I was especially impressed with how musically she played "O Holy Night."

Faith is growing up, but she still has a really sweet, childlike voice that delights us.
Here is Cannon playing "Waltz Time" and "The First Noel."

Bethany had her violin recital a few days earlier up at the University of Utah.
She played beautifully, but I will warn you that the video is rather long.  Beautiful, but long.

Faith had her gymnastics recital Thursday night.
She is on the back row, second from the left.  Here's an interesting little tidbit.  The girl on the back row on the far right is the daughter of the last lady featured in Meet the Mormons, whose son goes on the mission.  The little girl is a friend of Faith's and they call themselves "Butter" and "Toast".
Here is the video of her performance.

Alright.  I think that's enough.  Thanks for watching  (if you watched).  And if you didn't, that is understandable.   It was a bit much.

The Little People

Yes, this is as much fun as it looks.
Who knew the little boys would love their little brother so much?
 The hottest tickets in town during the Christmas season are to the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square Christmas concert.  Every year they have some magnificent guest performer and Abe and I have been so lucky as to go several times over the years.  But this year topped all the rest-- I took the little kids-- George, Faith, and Cannon to hear Santino Fontano (voice of Hans in Frozen) and the Sesame Street Muppets-- Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Abby, Rosita, and the Count.  It was the most enchanting, charming, delightful, touching night imaginable.  The kids were thoroughly entertained and I only wished it were twice as long as it was. 
Abe had a date downtown with Elinor and Peter during the concert so he could drop us off and pick us up to save time with me away from Peter.  It was a special evening and even though the kids are little I hope they remember the sweet time we had together.
This is one I cannot wait to watch again when it is shown on PBS next year.  Particularly the Count and the organist's "Twelve Days of Christmas".  I've never heard anything like it, but was nearly in tears with enjoyment.  We really lucked out with tickets this year.  We got them from Abe's sister-in-law's step-father who is in the Orchestra at Temple Square.  
We have had unseasonably warm weather for the entire month of December.  It inspired the little kids to drag the bikes back out of the garage.
I am not complaining about the lack of snow this year, but if we were to get some snow during the Christmas break for a sledding party, that would be okay too.
We got the supersaucer back out after a several year haitus.  I'm glad we kept it stored in the garage and didn't get rid of it.  Peter loves it and my arms have enjoyed the break.  
By the way-- I dedicate my usage of the word "haitus" to my dear friend Emily Leblanc and our 11th grade English teacher whose name I have long since forgotten.  We loved that word!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ward Christmas Party 2014

I like him a lot.  He is a "Jolley" elf.  Abraham Jolley Fox was aptly named.
Here's another Jolley Fox. Cannon Jolley Fox.  We had our ward Christmas party last weekend and it was great fun-- it was themed, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".
George and his best buddy Lincoln.
Elinor and Megan-- two young ladies getting pretty excited to join the Young Women next year.
To state the obvious-- I love my George.
As part of the evening's entertainment, each auxiliary had to present a talent to help Charlie Brown find the real meaning of Christmas.  As a Relief Society presidency we sang and danced "O Candy Cane" to the tune of "O Christmas Tree".  Needless to say, we did not represent the true meaning of Christmas.  And we weren't even that good at singing or dancing.
The young men acted out the song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."  Clark fulfilled his dream role of the Grinch. 
I particularly liked when he stole the tables' centerpieces.
Bethany helped out the young women by telling reindeer jokes.  This one was either really funny or just really bad.
It was really sweet at the end when Santa Claus came and shared the true meaning of Christmas by reading the Christmas story out of the Bible.  
We left the party in such good spirits.  I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but we love our ward.  We feel so blessed by the good people we're surrounded by.
And although this picture of Peter would suggest otherwise, we are having lovely Christmas season.  Just before our Thanksgiving trip to Spokane Clark, Bethany, and Elinor sat me down and informed me that they were quitting swim team.  They had been having a hard time with a coach there for several months, and they had finally had enough.
I saw that resistance was futile and they really were done.  While I was a little sad to move one, I did appreciate that they banded together and had a united front.  And I REALLY appreciate that I am not driving to and from swim practice anymore.  HOLY SMOKES!  How did I do that for so long, so many times a week, right at dinner time???  
The point is, since then our evenings have been considerably less frenzied-- even with December festivities.  Hopefully we won't go stir crazy in January and February.  Not to worry, I'm sure we'll find something else to fill our time, and probably sooner rather than later.  We'll enjoy the calm for a little while at least.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Little Boys, Little Boys

I mean, seriously! How is such cuteness even possible?  Peter has been a very happy camper since we returned home.  None of my other babies have cared much for the swing, but Peter loves it and regularly naps in it.  I think we both missed the swing while we were on our trip. 
This picture is a good shot of Peter's cowlick.  I noticed it the first day he was born.
George has a cowlick as well, but I don't think it's quite as strong as Peter's.  In fact, for a long time I thought I was just doing a really bad job of cutting and styling George's hair.  But no.  In preparation for our trip to Spokane I took him to get it cut and it looked worse than ever.  At least now I know it's not my fault.  And I know it's no use spending good money on haircuts.  I can make it look bad for free!
Monday night Abe, Elinor, Cannon, Peter and I  went back downtown to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for Cannon's choir concert.  Cannon is in the Riverton Children's Prep Choir.
Absolutely melted my heart.  The moment he started singing in his little choir robe and curly hair I got teary-eyed.  Truthfully, I had to look away and get a hold of myself because I was about to lose it big time.  SO SWEET!  I love to hear Cannon sing-- easily one of my very favorite sounds ever.
This is the choir that feeds into the Concert Choir that the girls are in.  
On the way downtown I asked him, "Cannon, have you liked singing in the choir?" 
He responded, "Sure, of course I have!"
What a silly question.
Another picture of George and his beloved nutcracker.  Yesterday we were complimenting George on how he is doing such a great job of looking at the camera for pictures.  We said, "George, who taught you how to take such nice pictures?"
"I just taught myself!"
Another silly question.

Let the Season Begin

We're back home.  We arrived home late Saturday evening after a somewhat eventful drive home.  While we're usually quite pleased with ourselves at being able to complete the drive in eleven hours, the return trip took us thirteen.  Oh, the shame.
We did have a bit of car trouble, so we needed to take it a little slower.  The good news is we made it home and didn't have to stay the weekend in a hotel in Idaho Falls.  The bad news is we had to take our van into the shop Monday morning.  The good news is they were able to fix it the same day.  The bad news is it cost $750-- in December no less.  The good news is we had the money to fix it.  So, I'll not complain.
The first order of business after church on Sunday was to get out the Christmas tree and decorations.  Faith with her "Faith" ornament.  It's really easy to find personalized ornaments for her.
We really needed to get home on Saturday because the girls had a Riverton Children's Choir concert Sunday evening at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.  The concert was really, really fantastic.  There are three directors and I have been so impressed each time I've heard the choir sing.  Bethany had a solo part in one of the pieces and she did so well.
Here is a picture of the choir and the soloists out in front during the applause.
Our ward is very well represented in the choir.  Eleven kids!  I have the fun job of driving the choir bus on Mondays.  I drive nine of them in my big van-- and the only thing I require is that they sing me a song on the way there.
And since we were headed to Temple Square, we all went so we could see the lights.  This is a cute family picture, but I'll tell you the truth.  Maybe it was because we'd been in the car all day the day before.  Or maybe it was the week of junk food and movies at the grandparents.  But all of the kids were rather unruly as we walked around Temple Square.  They were fun, but unruly.  I suppose that contributed to our decision no to go to the live nativity this evening.
Clark was very helpful with George.  Actually, a week of junk food and movies must sit well with Clark-- he's been very pleasant since we arrived home.
 One more family picture on Temple Square.  
You can see why our older kids are resisting taking pictures.  And I don't blame them-- we go overboard taking too many pictures.  Will they be grateful someday?  Are we creating little narcissists?  We do it out of love.  I think.  Maybe we have a problem.
George's nutcracker!!
He was so excited to get his nutcracker back out.  Mind you, we've had this nutcracker for years, but nobody has loved him like George does. He's been feeding him animal crackers.  It is messy, but the crumbs are dry and easily swept up.  I can't tell him no.