Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Break 2007

We've had a really fun break so far with lots of time spent playing games, visiting family and friends, eating good food and enjoying the snow. A few of the highlights:

A visit with the "Greats." We had a nice afternoon visiting Grandma and Grandpa Great. The kids really enjoy these visits because it might include chocolate milk, popsicles, kaleidoscopes, ping pong and/or Grandpa Great taking out his dentures and singing "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth." The kids also get to perform some type of talent for a very attentive audience. This time the kids sang a few Christmas songs, explored the basement using Grandma Great's walker, were treated with rootbeer and clementines and, of course, got to hear a song sung by a toothless Grandpa Great. A few snapshots:
The kids think Grandpa Great is a lot of fun

Grandma Great browsing a photo album we gave them for Christmas

Cate's favorite thing to do is jump on the mini-trampoline

Sarah Jane got a lot of attention

Grandma Great's pill bottles make a great rattle for SJ

Grandpa Dave took a break from fixing Grandpa Great's computer to join in the fun. That's four generations!

Eugene x 3

After a fun visit, we stopped by to catch up with some old med school friends. So happy to have the Binghams close again! And thanks for the yummy pie! For dinner we went to The Mayan Restaurant . We had a great time! The food is average but the cliff divers are awesome! The restaurant is like a jungle inside and every 30 minutes, actors perform an ancient Mayan ceremony and then do fancy dives into a pool of water. It's pretty cool. And I hear there are fire dancers on Wednesday nights!

The next few days included taking the kids skiing for the first time, pizza with the Matesens, playing in the snow with the Kelsch family, dinner and a Jazz game with friends, shopping, and playing games with the family. New Years Eve was spent with some friends eating crab legs and cheese fondue, watching movies, and playing games. I didn't think the kids would last until midnight but they made it! We had such a good time!

Well, that's it for now. It's been busy but so much fun and the best part is we still have a couple days left! Happy New Year!

Snow Nativity

We were driving home the other night and stopped to take pictures of this nativity carved out of snow. Someone created this in their front yard - right in our neighborhood. It is beautiful! I can't imagine how they did it!

Just to give you an idea how big it is...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas "Eve" Party

This post is very long but it really couldn't be any other way.
I put the word "Eve" in quotations because technically this party was not held on December 24th but it is the traditional party that has been held on Christmas Eve ever since I was born, and for many years before that. Originally it included my grandma (and probably grandpa although I don't remember), aunts, uncles and cousins, although now it is just my parents, siblings and their families. But the activities have been the same for 3-4 decades now.
1. Christmas dinner
2. Christmas games - such as Christmas Bingo, the Christmas Quiz, or dressing a team member up as Santa using red crepe paper, cottonballs and toilet paper - then judging to see who gets first prize.
3. The Program - this might have included telling about a favorite Christmas present, singing a song, reciting a poem or story, or listening to Grandma or other adult telling about Christmas when they were a child.
4. The Nativity - my memories of this include all the cousins gathering in a separate room to don their costumes - feeling extra special the year it was my turn to be Mary. We would all file into the family room listening to "Adoration of the Magi" from the Ben Hur soundtrack on the record player, while someone read the story of the nativity from Luke 2. After everyone was in place, we would sing "Silent Night" accompanied by Shawn on the guitar.
5. The Presents - all the cousins would open their gifts from each other.

Did I forget anything? I know there are family members reading this - any memories to add?
I have been helping my parents transfer their old family movies to DVD and have seen year after year of the activities described above - 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, etc. It's remarkable.

This year was no different. After a lovely Christmas dinner, we played Christmas Bingo and then moved into the living room for dessert and the program. My mom really outdid herself this year with dessert - Floating Island topped with threads of spun sugar. Wow!

The Dessert Table

Isaac with one of Grandma's decorated sugar cookies

Cousins ready for the program

(this stairway has been the seating for many cousins over the years)

The theme for this year's program was "I Want to Share..."
Amy shared a poem Nick wrote called "The Little Drummer Boy." It was actually about Nick's little brother Jake who really does play the drums and was driving the family crazy with the ruckus. Baby brother Jack finally ordered "the little drummer boy" to stop and finally they had peace and quiet.

"The Little Drummer Boy"

Baby brother has a turn

Tess shared her memories of receiving different kittens for Christmas and how they ended up getting mauled by dogs and almost frozen to death or else stuck underneath the organ. (Note the painting of Tess in the background - done by Trevor Southey)

Cate did a lovely dance (of course) wearing her sparkly red dancing dress

I didn't want to fix the red eyes in this one!

Isaac and Addie played Christmas songs on the piano (including one duet with mom)

Kip showed a figure that he bought in Israel of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. He shared his feelings about the family and the birth of the Savior. He also wanted the rest of us siblings to know that even though the figurine was currently on display at Mom and Dad's house - that it belonged to him (it even had his name written on the bottom!). (Sorry Kip, it was the best picture I had.)

Papa shared what he got in his Christmas stockings when he was a boy. Every year he received the same thing - hard tack candy, a brown banana (his family owned a grocery store and his father would bring home the leftover brown bananas for the family), a can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk, nuts (with the shell), and either an orange or an apple.

After the program was the nativity. Addie was Mary this year, Jake was Joseph and then we a had a couple of angels and wise men and a shepherd. Of all the nativities we've had - I think this is one of the sweetest I've seen. This time we listened to "Star of Bethlehem" from Ben Hur as the kids took their places, but we still sang "Silent Night."

Then the fun began! The kids got to open their gifts from the cousins and the grandparents.

Just a few more good snapshots...
Busy in the kitchen


Finally taking off the apron to join the party

Cute cousin

Nice shiner! Got it from basketball

A very horribly washed out picture of the one usually behind the camera

Uncle Kippy

Addie must have inherited this ability from her aunts!
All in all - a wonderful evening. Sorry - I warned you the long post!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Weekend Whirlwind

Wow! What a weekend! I don't have many pictures except for my family's Christmas party but I will save all of those for another post.

Friday - Dinner party with Great Grandma Eldine, Grandma Jan, Eliott and Jack, my parents and Kip. Eldine and Jan planned the party but we hosted it at our house. Lovely sit-down dinner (I used my goblets for the first time! They've been in storage for over ten years). The meal included pork roast, "potatoes-in-the-half-shell," mixed vegetables, rolls, and salad - all of which were very tasty. The salad was the only thing I had to provide so I felt pretty lucky! My mom provided homemade peach pie or chocolate mousse for dessert. Yum! After the meal, we played a couple of games and the kids played some Christmas songs on the piano. Then came the gifts. Phones for all - compliments of Uncle Eliott. Afterall, he does own a phone company! Thanks to Eldine and Jan for a very fun and enjoyable evening.

Saturday - Weston's birthday - but before we could get around to celebrating there were a few other things to do...First, woke up bright and early for the 8:30 am choir rehearsal. It was a very productive practice and we were rewarded with homemade cinnamon rolls - thanks to the Bishop and his wife. I was feeling much better about the choir program after our two hour rehearsal. After lunch we took the kids to "Cousins' Day" - a wonderful tradition of Grandpa Dave and Connie. The kids spent the afternoon making elaborate gingerbread houses, playing Christmas games, and eating lots of pizza and candy. It gave Wes and I a couple of free hours. Wes took a birthday nap and I got busy getting ready for his birthday party. Actually it was a birthday party/football game party. My family came and we took a break from fancy Christmas food to have typical football game faire -hot dogs, chips, licorice, and other snacks. It wasn't the most appetizing meal but it was easy! Skipped the birthday cake and made ice cream pies for dessert. (Store bought oreo pie crusts with peppermint ice cream - topped with hot fudge sauce - again, very easy!) We played some games and Wes got some fun presents but I think the highlight of the evening was that BYU won the game - by pure luck!

Sunday - A busy morning including choir practice and preparations for the family Christmas party at my mom's house that night. The choir Christmas program went very well - everyone did a great job and there was such a nice spirit during the meeting. Isaac sang a solo for the first verse of Silent Night and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. So sweet. I was so pleased with how it all went and had such a feeling of relief when it was over! Right after church we hurried to my mom's house for the traditional family Christmas Eve party (which we don't actually hold on Christmas Eve anymore). I will dedicate another post to this fun event.

Today is Christmas Eve and after the busy weekend, we are all feeling content to just relax and enjoy the fact that we don't have anywhere to go (which is why I have the time to write this post)! Tonight will be very low-key. Probably just leftovers from all of the parties for dinner, sitting by the Christmas tree, reading favorite Christmas stories and the kids will receive their new PJs. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

When Dippin' Dots Fell From the Sky

We had an interesting snowfall last night. It looked just like Dippin' Dots Ice Cream! So the kids scooped some into bowls and drizzled some chocolate on top for a fun treat.