Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a Merry Christmas

Today has been completely nuts.  I guess that is what happens when you decide to leave everything for the last day.  I have been in the kitchen all day.  All friggin' day. I did get most everything done. I baked and baked and baked. Then I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped.  I was going to sew and sew and sew but I guess that the people receiving my sewing projects will have a New Years present to anticipate instead. It is just the way it is going to have to be.

Anyways, we are leaving for St. George tomorrow and then I will not be blogging again until the new year.

So, I just wanted to say to all of you out there...

Have a Merry Christmas. Take time to ponder the real meaning and that so long ago a little baby was born in a manger.

Truly, Christ the babe was born for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Meadows Christmas Program

I have finally been able to get back on track with a Christmas tradition Rinar and I started many years ago.  We shared a Christmas program at my grandmother's retirement home tonight.  We haven't done one the past three years because I have had two pregnancies in three years. It just wasn't going to happen.  But it did tonight and it was wonderful.

My grandmother lives in a nice little retirement home in St. George, Utah. Rinar, Raef, Zach, and Linda (Rinar's mom) all participated.  Linda was awesome. She just jumped right in a played the piano for pretty much all the numbers. Rinar usually plays all the accompaniments, but she did it this time instead. She also played a beautiful piano solo by Sally Deford that incorporates Still, Still, Still and Silent Night.  

But the best part was watching my little boys do many different musical numbers so confidently and with pizazz. It was neat.  They played 5 different songs on their violin/viola.  They sang two duets, Little Drummer Boy and Away In a Manger in perfect harmony. Raef recited the Christina Rossetti poem "What Can I Give" and then sang a solo, The Nativity Song.  Zach plopped himself down on the piano and played some jazzy number he likes to play at home with a lot of his own Zach improvisations. It was neat to see how they would just keep going or adjust if they messed up a little bit. It didn't phase them at all.  They love an audience and they have no fear.  I don't think many people can say that about 8 year-old boys, but I definitely can about mine. 

I  had to drop the babies off at the babysitter's house, so I got there 10 minutes before we were supposed to start and the kids were already standing up there playing pieces they have been working on for the past few months. They took turns and they played and if they messed up a little they just kept going.

Oh yeah, I also sang several songs and then we did a quick sing-along of Christmas hymns at the end.  It was funny but I sang Silent Night with an arrangement by Sally Deford and I got all choked up and almost couldn't finish. It just touched my heart so much. I have no idea why, nevertheless I was grateful for the feeling.

Both of grandmothers came to our little concert and many residents were there as well. It was a lot of fun. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Rinar played a really great version of Jingle Bell Rock on a saxophone he rented for the month from the music store.  He is such a ham. It was a lot of fun seeing him play and work the crowd.  I begrudgingly admit that it stole the show.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spiritual Gifts

I have heard about this a lot this month, spiritual gifts. I wrote the Christmas program for sacrament meeting next week and the theme is gifts. Brother Richards talked about spiritual gifts at our Relief Society meeting last Tuesday night and my lesson on Sunday for Relief Society was on spiritual gifts. I have been bombarded with this idea for the last month or so.  

And it is a good thing!

It came in handy yesterday.  I finally got my hair done. It has not been done since the spring. My hairdresser moved to Oklahoma. I found a new lady in my ward who does hair and I was able to bring my kids to the appointment at her house. Shelly has the cutest house ever. It was so clean and perfectly decorated. Just enough stuff, not too much stuff. There were calming colors everywhere and so many fun projects she has completed like reupholstering sofas and chairs, hand-painting lampshades, etc. etc.  Then she has trained her kids to play with toys one at a time.  She got out a fun train set and they all played and it was a lot of fun.

Here is where every woman falls guilty of the whole comparing and coveting trap.  I came home to a chaotic house, crumbs, toys, paper EVERYWHERE!!  Things were falling in on me and I felt like I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over. Oh why can't my house be like hers?  Yep, those thoughts started to creep into my mind.  Then it was like...STOP!  SHUT UP!  

There are people who have probably walked into my house, on a good day, and thought the same things.  Then I remembered what I had taught on Sunday about seeking out the best gifts.  The Apostle Paul admonishes us to "covet the best gifts" (1 Cor. 12:31) and here I was coveting things that were not important. Yes, they are nice things but they are not the things I should be coveting.  

I learned that I need to find out what my spiritual gifts are and I can do that by fasting and praying.  Once I know what they are, I can harness them in my daily life.  With all of the chaos I have to deal with, I need those things the most. Perfectly decorated houses do not last, and at my house they only last about 10 minutes.  But the spiritual gifts that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with are eternal.

I love this quote by Gene R. Cook.  "It is part of the gift of charity to be able to recognize the Lord's hand and feel His love in all that surrounds us. At times it will not be easy to discover the Lord's love for us in all that we experience, because He is a perfect, anonymous giver. You will search all your life to uncover His hand and the gifts He has bestowed upon you because of His intimate, modest, humble way of granting such wonderful gifts."

Isn't that a wonderful thought to ponder? He has blessed me ten-fold and I must remember it. He has blessed me with wonderful gifts and talents. I feel His love daily and my heart is constantly touched by His influence and guidance.  Am I really going to squander that by worrying that my house isn't clean or pretty enough?  That really would be a waste of my time.
So, this Christmas season really is a season of gifts. Think of all of the gifts that you have been given and most importantly, the gift of a little baby in a manger who grew to be a perfect man, a perfect teacher, full of love and grace, who has paid for our sins that we might live again.

When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit. -anonymous

Therefore, think of the poem by Christina Rossetti...

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wise man,
I would do my part, -
But what can I give Him,
I will give my heart.

I hope that I can rededicate my life to giving my heart to Christ and searching out those gifts from that anonymous giver, even Jesus Christ.

I hope you will all strive to do the same thing...and have a Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Busy Week

This is in front of our condo in St. George. There have been tons of leaves and it is better than Disney land. The kids have been in heaven playing in the leaves. We don't really have anything like that here in Las Vegas so it is nice to get away.

It is especially fun to bury one year-olds in leaves. Well, it is fun for the older kids.

Zach has rediscovered his love for the piano. I love it.

Julia and Harry got new pjs, thanks to Black Friday.  Don't you love the stripes? Does this  mean they belong in jail?

Look what Raef made at Cub Scouts.  Yay! One Christmas thing I can check off my list.

The boys played with NSA at the mall.  They played for an hour...especially Zach. He had to play every single song and I was so proud of him. He didn't do anything embarrassing. He has come a long way.
Eli came with us. Yep, that is Jamie with his newly fianceed Leah. They are getting married in March in Oregon. Leah was the maypole in this picture as Eli and Jamie ran circles around her. Then Eli discovered the escalator. It was an Elf moment. It was hilarious. We must have gone up and down that thing 30 times. He was in heaven. If you are ever trying to think of something fun for your toddler to do, just go to the mall: escalators and elevators!

We had a ward Christmas party Saturday night and I decorated a table. Yay for me!  Thank you Leah and Heather for helping me.
Heather came to visit as well. She stayed for 4 days. She thought she was going to get a break.  MWHA HA HA! I think this was more stressful for her than what she has in Arizona.  But she seemed to have fun. We just hung out and did the regular, boring things. She is such a good auntie.

She even played Wii with Raef and Zach. I don't even do that!

Then we decided to decorate the Christmas tree. Eli decided that he would put all of his Christmas spirit into these math manipulatives. I could not pry him away. By the way, it would seem that this shirt will be making a lot of appearances in my blog for now. He will not wear anything else. The kid's got style.

The boys loved decorating the tree.

Bye Heather. Thanks for spending time with us. I don't think we will see you for a couple  of years.  That is how long your nap will be to recover.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When a Two Year-Old Decides

We went to St. George on Friday. It was a quick trip. Heather is here and she wanted to see the condo and the Grandma's.  We accomplished all those things.  The funny part of this was on the journey to St. George.  When we were five blocks from our destination I heard an urgent call from the back of the car.

"Go potty Mommy!" 

Eli's face was strained and he looked like he might burst.  I reassured him that we were almost there and stepped on it.  I didn't want an accident when I was so close to the end!

I pulled into the driveway and Eli started screaming. I unbuckled his seatbelt and he only got more irate.  I decided to ignore him and pulled both of the babies out of the car and put them in the condo. Then I went back out and Eli was still sitting in his seat and he was not happy.

"Eli, let's go potty! Come on."

I decided to extract him and I really had to. He went rigid and so I put him down. He proceeded to climb back into his seat.  What the heck was going on?  I asked Heather if she could understand him and she was just as stumped as I was. Finally, he put together a cohesive sentence.

"Eli potty on road!  Potty on road!"

What the heck?  Oh, then it finally dawned on me. He wanted to potty on the road.  When we drive to St. George and they have to go potty there is absolutely nowhere to stop. So, we just pull over somewhere and get the business done.  He wanted me to drive him out to a deserted road so that he could pee properly.  I offered to let him pee on the tree in front of our condo but he wouldn't have it.

I luckily had a lollipop and I bribed him that way.

You never know with that kid.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gold, Not Silver Boys!

Two exuberant 8 year-old boys give me a definite advantage. Christmas decorating is done. They left me no choice. I couldn't procrastinate any longer. We had a lull yesterday when we finished school and they were driving me crazy and I didn't want them to veg in front of the television or video console, so I told them to bring in the Christmas boxes. I was talking to my sister on the phone. Then I told them to start getting everything out. I was still on the phone.  And because I was closely supervising them (wink, wink), I told them to start decorating stuff.

And look what those little rascals did?

I mean, they have a lot of nerve, don't they?  I told them the colors were red and gold this year, not silver.  But their creative juices could not be contained.

Besides this dresser that is totally in my house by the way, it looked like a Christmas bomb had exploded in my kitchen.  I was forced, FORCED to clean it up and do some darn Christmas decorating.

Fine. I did it!

Unfortunately, it is late at night and I am too lazy to take some pictures. But believe me, it looks way better than that silver scheme my kids did.

Heather also helped me. That's right, my little sister came up from Arizona to visit me.  So fun.  I didn't bother to clean anything for her arrival. If you want to know the truth, I rarely clean for anyone's arrival anymore, generally speaking. It is what it is. That's all I am saying. Since Heather came, I had a really productive day today. I took the babies to their 6 month-old appointment. Oh wait, they are 14 months-old. Well, whatever. I cleaned a lot of stuff with Heather.  I couldn't stop her from cleaning so I didn't bother trying.  We cleaned together while the babies napped, Eli sang, and the boys played in the orchestra. It was quite lovely.

Then after dinner I went to Spender's Saver's to find a few things. Boy, did I ever!  Got a bunch of toys there and with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, they will be good as knew. 

Look, babies don't care if stuff is brand-new.  Then again, why should we, right? But I have to sell this "new" idea to Raef and Zach because it has to be from Santa Claus.  Raef is still on board 100%, but Zach is getting suspicious. 

I think I will save the Santa Claus blog for another day.  Stay tuned!
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