Sunday, December 27, 2009

a letter from Santa 2009:

Christmas morning, we found a sparkly gold letter written on delicate paper, resting on an empty's only company some rogue crumbs from the digested gingersnaps we'd left for him.
* * * * * * * * *
Dear members of the Taft household,

How delightful to come into a home so comfortable and clean! As you were one of my last stops before heading back to the North Pole, I was quite spent and ready to sit for a spell and rest. I had a nice chat with Mistletoe just before I took off for my Christmas Eve flight. He is a good little elf, never complaining about all the traveling he has to do. I want to share with you some observances he made of your family:

Father Taft: Mistletoe could not help but notice what a steady provider you are, working diligently morning to night so that you might offer a comfortable home, nutritious food, and warm clothing for your family. My attentive elf also tells me you like to have fun with your children by teasing or tickling them. They are very fortunate to have you!

Mother Taft: Mistletoe was impressed by the love you have for your children. He also noticed that you work hard to serve delicious meals for your family, but was disappointed that there are times your children do not eat the food you spend so much time preparing. Finally, Mistletoe wanted me to tell you that a few days he sat in high places that were very dusty. He hopes you can clean there a little more often.

Halle: when Mistletoe told me how much you believe in me, I smiled and gave a loud "Ho, Ho, Ho!" Your heart truly holds the spirit of Christmas through your willingness to believe in things that cannot be seen. That is called "faith", my dear child, and I hope you will always be so ready to believe, even if something cannot be proven to you. I have known you for many Christmases and have loved how you want so badly to make good choices. Sometimes you make mistakes, like when you tattle on your brothers or when you are grumpy about doing chores to help around the house, but overall I am pleased with most of the other choices you make and you are definitely high up on my "Nice List"!

Wyatt: What a sweet little boy you are! Mistletoe told me about how hard you worked to make those around you happier. When your mother was resting, you played with her hair or covered her with a blanket. When your brother was sick, you brought him a toy. You have a very caring nature, and for that it was my pleasure to bring you some new toys! Be warned, however, that there have been moments when I thought I might have to put you on my "Naughty List", like when your mother or father has told you to do something, and instead of being obedient, you have said, "no!" and cried. Tantrums are a big NO-NO at the North Pole, so it's a good thing I wasn't there to see it firsthand. Despite your tantrums, however, Mistletoe thought you were a very sweet child, who had earned a surprise or two on Christmas morning.

Carson: Little one, I remember the Christmas you had just been born. I visited your home those three years ago and could not resist sneaking up the stairs into the nursery to kiss your cheek before leaving your house. It was that way thousands of Christmases ago, as well, that I kissed the cheek of a newborn babe who had just arrived on Christmas night. Unlike you, He did not sleep in a crib. Instead he lay in an animal manger filled with straw. Mistletoe tells me you believe in that baby, the one they call Jesus. He also tells me that you love to make Heavenly Father happy by saying your prayers. You are a beautiful child, who loves to play and smile. Sometimes you are slow to be obedient: Carson, you must learn to listen to your mother and father and do what they tell you. Obedience makes us more like Jesus every day. I was excited to bring you these toys and I hope you enjoy them as much as my elves enjoyed making them!

And there you have it--a glowing report given by an elf that has come to love this family very much! He was tired from his journey, but tells me that he is looking forward to next December 1st, when he can once again return to your home and give me word on your behavior. I hope you will have the spirit of Christmas, that is the spirit of Christ, throughout all the year, not just during December. Treat others with kindness, always tell the truth, and listen to the still small voice!

Now, it is only a few hours until sunrise and I must continue on my way. There are still several houses on this street left to visit! But before I leave this home filled with love, I want to thank you for the cookies and cold milk. They proved to be very refreshing after I'd played a few games on the new Wii I left you in the family room.

Merry Christmas, dear ones!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

"like a giant birthday cake"--this is the best idea yet for Jesus' birthday gift.

I saw this on Ganel-Lyn's blog and just had to have it for my own! Turn off my music playlist and watch this video... It has definitely help set the tone for my Christmas Eve morning!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Years, 1095 Days, 26284 Hours, or 1577040 Minutes...

No matter which way you say it,
time has gone by far too quickly.

It was that short blink-of-an-eye ago when my third baby came into this world after a whirlwind delivery--something out of the movies, with panic, chaos in the hospital room, and him coming so fast I worried no one would be at the other end to catch him (a nurse finally paid attention to my "he's coming!" screams and stepped onto homeplate in the nick of time).
my christmas baby

I woke early this morning with that memory on my mind. As inconvenient as it is to have a child with a birthday so close to the visit from Santa, I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to be pregnant during the Christmas season.
That year it took on new meaning for me. How could it not? How could I help but reflect upon another young woman who came thousands of years before me, who was also expecting a son? My mind wandered often to the similarities and differences between her experience and mine. Had she cradled her belly often with her arm, singing to her unborn child, as I liked to do? Had Joseph wept at the sight of the newborn babe, kissing the sweat from Mary's brow, as my husband did? How blessed I felt to be giving birth in a sterile, clean environment, surrounded by medical professionals, ready to help my child take his first breath--which, by the way, seemed to take forever--instead of being forced to lay in a bed of hay, without the comfort of having one to help me who had "done this before"! And on top of her anxieties regarding the birth itself, she was burdened with the knowledge that she was to raise the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind. Yes, Christmas of 2006 changed forever my perspective of the birth of Christ--I saw differently what Mary may have felt, anticipated, feared, but also how she must have loved. There was much in her life I could only imagine, but when it came to the love for her child, that, at least, I think I could understand, because I felt it, too, for my own little one.

Carson was due January 2nd, 2007, but was showing signs that he planned to arrive earlier--which was good for several reasons: A) what pregnant mother doesn't want to be unpregnant sooner, B) we'd already met our deductible for 2006 and it sure helped us out to not have to pay another one so soon in 2007, and C) my parents were in town and I wanted so much to share those first days of a baby with them. The timing was forecasting more and more that I would deliver either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning, so my heart ached to think I might not be home for the traditional parade down the stairs with my other two children, to see their faces light up as they saw the surprises Santa would leave them.
At exactly midnight, December 22nd, however, I awoke to terrible pain and wet sheets. My water had broken and I knew from the severity and frequency of the contractions that Carson was coming as fast, if not faster, than Wyatt had (which had been fast enough in our book!). We knew we did not have much time and the hospital was a healthy drive away, so we quickly woke up Grandma to inform her of the good news and took off. In an effort to keep Brett calm, I played down the pain of the contractions, but I recall thinking, "We are never going to make it--I'm going to deliver this baby in the car!" Upon our arrival at the hospital the nurses did not belive me when I tried to tell them this was happening very quickly and that my body had even begun to bear down. (Why do nurses never believe you? I understand they probably have women tell them that all the time, but when you say to them, "My other delivery was very fast, my contractions are less than a minute apart, and I feel like I need to push" do they not take you somewhat seriously? They still putter around, humming to themselves, asking you to sign paperwork when I'm thinking, "Somebody please catch this baby!") We'd been at the hospital for just an hour, changing into hospital gowns and receiving an IV. As they tried to monitor the heartbeats, the computer would not work, so ironically, when I could tell the baby was coming out, we had probably 5 nurses working on the blasted computer, but nobody taking a second look at me. After trying to politely get their attention, I finally shouted, "He's coming! He's coming!" and fortunately one nurse took me for my word enough to take a look under sheet. Her face grew into shock as she yelled to the others that Carson was crowning. Hmmm...suddenly the computer wasn't so important anymore. Nurses began running everywhere, grabbing carts, sterilized tools, and towels. Three agonizing pushes later (remember, no epidural) I felt the relief of less pressure and waited to hear my baby cry. Nothing. I don't know how long it was, maybe only twenty seconds or so, but it was an anguishing wait. They swept him away to the cart behind him, did their magic, and finally, a deep satisfying wail. Considering how short my labor was, though intense, I was surprised at how tired I was. As much as I wanted to see my son, once I knew he was breathing and safe, suddenly I could not fight the sleep. My eyes kept rolling into the back of my head in an effort to stay awake, but I was losing this battle fast. I remember when they tried to put him in my arms, I said to Brett, "Take him--I'm so tired I can't lift my arms and I'm afraid I'll drop him". I finally did hold him a few minutes later, with Brett's assistance as I didn't trust my weary muscles. I looked at Brett and saw that he was crying, quite openly. Of course I was moved, but also surprised, as he hadn't cried at any of our other births. He had been simply joyously happy with a permanent smile. Now, when I ask him about it, he says he doesn't really know what made him weep so. He thinks maybe it was because the room was total chaos and he didn't know how to help me when I was obviously in great pain, or maybe tears were for those seconds when time stood still and we waited for our child to breathe, or finally if he cried because we had talked of this child being our last, and that he was crying for the experience he may never have again. At any rate, Carson's entry into this world was a whirlwind of drama and excitement!
8 lbs. 1 oz.

It was heavenly having my mother and father there for the first week of his life. Sharing those moments with them is something I'll never forget, always treasure. I was actually scared for them to return home, they'd been such a help and a blessing! Carson's big sister and brother could not have been more excited to meet him and finally have him home.

When I became pregnant with Carson, there were things going on in my life at that time that convinced me his coming to this earth was definitely mean-to-be, definitely part of Heavenly Father's plan, and that was a great comfort to me. It felt wonderful to be an instrument in the Lord's hand, as it had felt in Halle's and Wyatt's pregnancies, bringing spirits to this earth who needed to be here. I know they will all three do great things if they will hold to the rod and try their best to do the Lord's will.
For my birthday, Brett took me to dinner at McCormick & Schmick's,
where they print their seafood menus daily. I had called ahead
and had them print at the top of our menu the news that
we were expecting baby #3! It was a fun way to share
the surprising news to my better half!
Carson is a beautiful child--always has been. It's funny how kids the beginning, he was Daddy's little boy, preferring to be held by him over anyone else. But recently, he's taken a strong attachment to his mama, which I don't mind at all. Last night, while I watched Polar Express with the kids on the couch, Carson and I had a moment where we just turned our heads and instead of watching the television, just stared at each other for a long time, whispering "I love you". We have those moments often, and I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know that there are slivers of time when he wants to look at no one but me. It reminds me of holding him in the hospital as we introduced ourselves to one another.
For now, we do think we have had all the children we're going to have. I'm surprised because I always pictured myself with more. It's a decision that could change someday, but at present Brett and I both feel very peaceful and good about it. However, it does make watching your "baby" get older a bittersweet experience. I can see how it's easy for the last child to be a bit spoiled...I hope we don't do that, but I can see how it happens. You want to cling to their babyhood as long as you can, because you know you won't have that again.
I love you, Carson. You are strongwilled, stubborn, and so bright that you are sometimes to smart for your own good! But you are also funny, energetic, determined, independent, and affectionate--all qualities to your credit and our benefit. I cannot express the love that I have for you, and the gratitude I feel that you came into our lives.

Hope Sig1

Friday, December 11, 2009

a sign your kids watch too much t.v.

a conversation overheard at the breakfast table:

Wyatt: "Halle! Guess what? That show we wanted to watch is on tonight!"
Halle: "How do you know?"
Wyatt: "Because I was watching cartoons upstairs and saw a commercial for it. On the commercial I read the word 'tonight'!"
Halle: "Awesome! What time is it on?"
Wyatt: "Eight, Seven-Central."
Halle: "Awesome!"

Only a true T.V. junkie quotes time in time-zones.

Hope Sig1

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

all I had hoped for, and so much more.

Monday night was incredible. One of those nights you go to bed, snugly & warm in your blankets, with a huge smile of contentment on your face. Brett and I went on a double-date with my parents to see Pioneer Theatre's production of "A Christmas Story". I admit I had high expectations, so high that I was nervous I'd be disappointed. Turns out I had no cause for concern, as it lived up to my ideals. I left the theatre so happy and satisfied, I even made the comment to my dad that it may have been better than the movie. (Gasp! Blasphemy!)
The night started out with a much-craved Greek dinner at Aristos. Yum! Fun to go somewhere "out-of-the-norm". My gyro was divine, Mom's shrimp kabob was delish, and Dad's lamb stew was tender & sweet. I won't even get into the tsatsiki...words can't do it justice! :)
Parking for Pioneer was a nightmare, and stressful. Everyone was in the theatre except me (long story) so I sprinted (I use that word lightly, inasmuch as a 5'5", 170 lb. woman can sprint) from the far end of the Utah Stadium parking lot all the way to the theatre door, where I was informed by a very serious-looking usher that I had 20 seconds to get into my seat before the doors would be locked behind me. Made it by the skin of my teeth! But the point is, we all made it and we're so very glad we did! It was clean, funny, and sweet. We laughed out loud more times than I can count and by the end my dad and I both had tears in our eyes. I'm so glad I could share this experience with my parents.
Black Bart is tough,
Baby-pink Bunny is not.
This scene was obviously a riot, but I wish
I could share a picture of the "soap-poisoning"
melodramatic bit. Too, too, too funny!
"But the bell rang...the bell rang!"
------------------- I think one of the characters I enjoyed most was Mother.
The actress had a very "Joan-Cusack" quality about her.
Here, the Old Man is opening mail that
informs him he's won a "major award".

Let me explain this picture.
I said to Brett, "Try to look like you're in love."
So here's my swooning impression.
He just looks ruggedly handsome.
No, seriously, isn't he gorgeous?
Hate this pic of me, but love it of the folks.
This really was a highlight of my year--
thanks for driving out (braving snow), Mom and Dad!
There's nobody else I'd have rather seen this with.
I love you so much and will never forget that night with you.

elves & dancing. (but not dancing elves.)

December 1st, we awoke to find a houseguest perched on our kitchen window. Mistletoe the Elf had returned to keep an eye on the kids during the days leading up to Dec. 25th. Each night he reports to Santa their deeds, making recommendations for the lists "Naughty" or "Nice". Last year he was kind in his feedback to Santa, which was evident by the mountain of gifts left under our tree. We hope he'll be as generous this year!

December 4th, Halle had her first dance recital in Sandy @ the Festival of the Trees. In September, she began taking classes at a nearby studio, Dancin' It Up. It was fun to watch her perform and shake her booty--or as Halle says, "Shake what your mama gave you" (Thanks, Alvin & the Chipmunks...). She remembered to smile the entire time and I have to say my baby looked beautiful! She practiced her routine a lot at home and I think it paid off--she was great! I wish the pictures were better but we were sitting pretty far back. Afterwards, we had a great time looking at all the interesting trees and displays. People are so creative!

Friday, December 4, 2009

and it begins.

the very crazy, constant holiday schedule.
it's busy, it's nuts, it's exhausting,
but it sure is fun and only comes around once a year.
i love it!

dec. 4: halle's dance performance at festival of the trees
dec. 5: a.m.-work party, p.m.-ward party
dec. 6: a.m.-church, afternoon-practice for
musical numbers, p.m.-carson's birthday party
dec. 7: a.m.-shopping with mom!,
p.m.-"a christmas story" at pioneer theatre
dec. 8: p.m.-relief society meeting
dec. 9: p.m.-mutual at my house
dec. 10: p.m.-heritage place party
or dry pack canning
dec. 11: p.m.-motab & natalie cole
dec. 12: a.m.-shopping with kids
dec. 13: a.m.-church, p.m.-taft family party
dec. 14: whew! first day with absolutely
nothing slated on the calendar...
at least, not yet!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

fireproof: good movie.

Via Netflix we watched a great movie Sunday night. It's called Fireproof and stars Kirk Cameron (remember Mike on "Growing Pains"?). I have to say Brett and I enjoyed it and even got some ideas on how we can make our marriage even stronger (more fireproof). It's not "oscar-acting", but for a Christian movie, which let's face it, can sometimes be cheesy, it really was worthwhile and I'd recommend it. If you've seen Facing the Giants, you'll like this--it's even better. So if you're looking for new flick to watch this weekend, something different, give it a try.
"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson