Merry Christmas everyone! I have taken a little blog vacation, but I guess a promised Christmas letter should help me get back on track.
We started off 2014 with a big birthday for Raef and Zach. They turned 12, which means they were ordained Deacons and started passing the sacrament in church. They took to it well and have never looked back.
It was also a month that brought great change. Rinar's dad passed away after many years of poor health. We were able to have a beautiful funeral service for him to send him home. We miss him every day and look forward to a happy reunion some day.
Eli turned 6! And we also took a family trip to San Diego and Legoland. It was really nice and fun to be able to go when it was not busy. It is one of the perks of homeschooling, for sure.
We got back to business with school work galore. All the kids are growing, but especially Noelle, who passed the 6 month mark.
Noelle, Rinar, and I went with Bart and Monica on a quick trip to Las Vegas so that the guys could compete in a triathlon relay with our Vegas friends Rich and Johanna. The guys did great and won the relay. Then later in the month Rinar and I went to North Carolina for my 20 year high school reunion. It was fun to get away and do a bit of reminiscing.
We had an unexpected visit from Rinar's cousin Ranel, did lots of little outings, including a day trip to the Golden Spike National Monument and some scenic mountain drives. Then my mom came out to stay at our house for two weeks so that Rinar and I could take Raef and Zach on an epic Eastern states American history trip. We did it all, from Jamestown to the coast of Maine. I thought they didn't really learn much, but I have been surprised over the rest of this year how many things did sink in. Thank goodness!
The little kids took an intense interest in coin collecting. That is a super easy souvenir to bring back from any old trip. The boys also did a Father/Son camp out with our ward. And as always, it was violin camp time. This was Eli's first year and he really enjoyed it and wanted to play his violin a lot more.
We visited family in St. George for the 4th, did lots of swimming, visited the Salt Lake Cemetery, the Utah Arts Festival, and skate park. We also planted a garden this year and it really took off. The kids just loved going out there every day finding botanical treasures and asking lots of questions about nature. I also took a weekend trip to Sedona with my sister Heather and my Dad came for a week long visit.
Football was in full swing for our house. Raef made it onto a better team this year and had a positive experience with the coaches and the season. He was back on the line and learned a ton. Eli also played flag football with his crew. We went camping, hiking, swimming more, and worked on lots of merit badges for Boy Scouts. Zach participated in a triathlon and did a marvelous job. And the biggest event this year was probably that I enrolled both Raef and Zach into the public middle school.
Harry and Julia both played on soccer teams and had a blast. We made a day trip to Wyoming and the mountain man rendezvous and a visit to the fairy forest. And darling Noelle turned 1! Holy Moly!!
Julia had a special princess birthday party to celebrate 5. It was a huge success. Harry had a LEGO party with the little boys in our neighborhood and just loved it. Two separate parties. I participated in the Red Rock Relay with my running friends and almost died running my leg around Jordanelle Reservoir. Somehow I survived. And Raef's team won the championship. Go Chargers!
Zach started with the wrestling club and really loves it. Raef found a competitive basketball team to play with and is enjoying it immensely. We also did the craziest thing by driving all the way down to Arizona to visit my family. Thanksgiving was at Golden Corral with my parents and sister Christi and her family. We stayed in a hotel in Mesa and were able to visit the beautiful Christmas lights at the temple and spend time with everyone. And somehow we limped home all in one piece.
Eli started playing basketball and is really enjoying it. Raef, Zach, and Eli all had string recitals and Raef and Zach continue to play in a chamber group with another violinist and a cellist. It has been a great experience for them. And Rinar and I took an over-nighter to Las Vegas to watch our Utes play victoriously in the Vegas Bowl. We also were able to catch up with some wonderful Sunset Ward friends. We stopped by at a few other places to surprise people but nobody was home. Boo. I wish we could have seen everyone. Las Vegas has the best people in the world.
And you must really love me if you read through this entire list of family happenings. Have a Merry, merry Christmas everyone. We love all of you and look forward to hearing from you in one way or another.