Monday, December 26, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

What a wonderful couple of weeks we've enjoyed! So many fun activities, parties, gatherings, sights, smells, sounds, and feelings! Early in the month we had a super-fun night at my brother, Calvin's, with members of my family that live nearby on the Wasatch Front. Too bad it was so fun that the camera never made it out of my purse! A lively exchange of White Elephant Gifts (we made out with an awesome Pirates of the Caribbean chess set), Just Dance on the XBox (way to shake your bon-bon, Cal!), and delicious soup and goodies. All around such a lovely evening. The kind you drive home from feeling very content and happy. It was great to see you: Cal, Wendy, Nathan, Chris, Cassidy, Joey, Rayna, Faith, Les, Mark, & Tracy!

Then, a couple weeks later another delightful night at the annual Bauerle party. This time we had it at Dixie's church, which proved to give us just enough more space that the kids didn't feel so underfoot or bouncing off too many walls! :)
- - - - - - -
I think I hear Santa's bells jingling out in the hallway...
Wyatt always rings his hands together
when excitement overcomes him!
(I LOVE Aunt Betty's face here!)
- - - - - - - -
Is this a fabulous photo op or WHAT?
Grandma B. looks beautiful
and suddenly next to Santa seems 50 years younger!

- - - - - - -
Partaking in yet again another
satisfying Utah Symphony Lollipop Series matinee.
It was a long way for them to drive out just for this, but having Grandma and Grandpa K. as well as Grandma Dixie and Grandpa John join us made it even more special and fun!

- - - - - - - - -
We were there plenty early so no
waiting long lines to see St. Nick for us!
We walked right up and happily
shared our Christmas requests!

Santa: "What would you like for Christmas?"
Wyatt: "Uh...don't you need to know my name first?"
Santa: "Oh, yes, of course - what is your name?"
Wyatt [very slowly, loudly
and well-pronounced, so there is no mistaking it]:
"Wy-att TafT."
- - - - - - -
And this guy below seemed to enthrall the kids
even more than Santa. Look, kids,
it's Seymour the Symphony Seagull!
The kids couldn't get enough of them,
to the point it was embarrassing.
I finally had to tell them to
"back off of the bird"!
- - - - - - - - - -
Days off from school meant
hours of trying to find things to do.
They got creative and made a fort out of the bunk beds.
Did the massive mess of blankets and pillows bother me?
Heck no! It was good for two full days
of self-entertainment and very few squabbles between siblings!
Welcome to "Fort Happiness"!
- - - - - - - - -
And naturally,

- - - - - - - -
Finally, after much anticipation, Christmas Eve arrived. After a delicious (and filling!) brunch at Brett's parents house, then another filling dinner with them at our house, we made our way to the new theatre in Centerville to watch our annual Christmas Eve movie. We rarely take our kids to the movie theatre, so it's quite a treat for them. This year's choice: "Arthur Christmas", which was very cute and put us even more in the holiday mood.

By the time it was over and we'd driven up to the Bountiful Temple to view the lovely signs displaying the Christmas Story from Luke 2 posted in the yards along Temple View Drive, it was 10:30 and time for bed. Of course, that means NEW PAJAMAS. Carson picked them out this year and thought he was so clever to find jammies that turned him and Wyatt into Santa's elves:

- - - - - - - - -
The kids slept in the same bedroom like they always do, this time choosing the boys' room (Halle on the top bunk, Wyatt on the bottom, and Carson on the floor). Surprisingly, I think the day had worn them out and they went to sleep rather quickly. Brett and I turned on "Christmas With the Kranks" and by the time it was over it was pretty late.

Having "waited up" for Santa until 1:30 a.m., it took some convincing at 6:30 in the morning to get Daddy out of bed (he takes some sort of sick delight in torturing the kids with threats of "I think I need to sleep another hour" or "let me shave and take a shower first"). The kids begged and then sat on the stairs, rather impatiently...

At LAST Dad emerged from the bedroom
and it was like a herd of elephants thundering
down the stairs into the family room.

Santa HAD come
and apparently the kids HAD been
good enough to receive a few surprises!

Halle was thrilled to find the camera she'd been begging for, Carson "just knew" Santa would come through on the "Toy Story 3 Landfill" toy he'd been eyeballing, and Wyatt couldn't have been happier to find a Star Wars Wii game and all the Star Wars movies sitting next to his stocking. We were truly blessed!

- - - - - - - -
Since we had sacrament meeting to attend, we saved opening presents for later in the afternoon. We enjoyed Santa's fun things, ate a scrumptious peach-stuffed-french-toast-&-buttermilk syrup breakfast, then donned our new Christmas outfits and headed off to meet with our Ward Family.

I've decided I'd be more than okay if Christmas landed on Sunday every year. It brought a spirituality and joy into my heart to truly refocus my thoughts Christmas morning to my Savior and the miracle of his birth, death, and resurrection. I wept through most of our church service and felt overwhelming gratitude to know that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep". The gift of us atonement makes everything in my life miraculously possible and lasting!

- - - - - - - -
Late afternoon brought another exciting event - talking to Aunt Heidi on the phone/Skype. She's on a mission in California and has been wonderful at sending letters and photographs, but hearing her voice and seeing her on the webcam made us all feel so happy and reconnected!

One highlight of our time at their house was when Carson opened his gift (a Crayola 3D coloring book) from Grandma Dixie and Grandpa John. When someone said, "What is it?" his reply was:
"I don't know, but it sure looks awesome!"

Then it was Brett's turn (and Tanner's and Tyson's) to open their gift. I had an idea back in the summertime of what I wanted Brett's Christmas gift to be, but I couldn't do it without his dad's help. That turned it into a sort of gift for most of the brothers and I think it's safe to say Brett was pleased with it - a male-bonding trip over 2012 Father's Day Weekend to the U.S. Open near San Francisco.

Tyson opened the first box,
which led to a smaller box with Tanner's name on it,

which led to the last box for Brett,
which contained a manila envelope for each man containing a very "official" passport detailing the itinerary of their "manly" vacation they can look forward to for the next 6 months!

- - - - - - - - -
This year we had the kids exchange names. When there are only three, that meant rigging the drawing so it went the right way. We encouraged the kids to do homemade gifts and the older two ran with that like Ruby with a dropped crayon!

Wyatt chose some UTAH fleece and painstakingly cut all the notches for a fleece blanket for Carson. He was such a trooper - the scissors hurt his hand but he kept at it until it was all done.
Carson loved it and said it was the "warmest blanket EVER"
Halle chose her favorite photos of Wyatt and paid to have them developed. Then she decorated an album and inserted each picture, along with a caption of why she liked that photograph so well. It was a labor of love and made Wyatt feel so special!
Carson did not make his present, but he put a lot of thought into it beforehand and as we were driving to the store told me he wanted to find something that had to do with Halle's favorite Disney princess, Snow White. He found this Barbie and just knew his sister would love it. I appreciated his willingness to, even at such a young age, put himself in Halle's shoes and select something SHE would like rather than something "he" thought she would like.

In the end we were very proud of the kids and the efforts they took to do something truly with their sibling in mind. It was fun to see them understand what goes into a homemade gift and what makes it that much more treasured and enjoyed.
- - - - - - -

Halle got a box of "nail stuff":
everything you need to have
fancy-schmancy fingernails!
- - - - - - -
Wyatt and Carson shouted with joy
over their new UTES pillow pets
And even as I type this
Halle is listening to her new
David Archuleta CD
(her latest celebrity crush)!

2011 has been one astonishing surprise after another! First, we surprised ourselves in January by agreeing to adopt a 4-legged family member: the most lovable little shih-tzu puppy named Ruby. Then, in May (ironically immediately after we sold our baby items in a yard sale) we were shocked (and, once we caught our breath: delighted) with the discovery that we were "unexpectedly expecting" yet another addition - this time the 2-legged kind. Halle will finally get the sister she's always wanted, Charli, who is due in February. Next, we spent our summer & fall in an unforeseen renovation of our main floor. However, we are enjoying the new paint, flooring, moulding & especially that the project is completed! Another happy revelation? When Halle & Wyatt started school, it was the SAME school: Legacy Prep. Wyatt was fortunate enough to get in last year so to have them finally together was a blessing indeed! We're so pleased with their academic progress & hard work! And yet the surprises didn't stop: I was next in disbelief that my time in Young Womens had come to an end & although I miss it, I have a new opportunity participating in the ward music program. Brett is kept on his toes with the children in his primary class & hard work at GSL - all while being such a great father & patient husband! And finally, Mr. Carson has continued to amaze us with his humor & astute (yet brutally honest) observations. He is a fun preschooler who can't wait to start kindergarten next fall! He's also excited to no longer be the youngest in the family & has informed us that once the baby comes he believes he will be so grown up that he "will probably not punch her".

So we welcome 2012 with open arms and plan to embrace whatever new surprises come our way. What we are currently looking forward to most is our new daughter, who we hope will come sometime within the next 3-4 weeks. It makes it feel so soon, and yet we cannot wait!

May the blessings - blessings from abundance and also blessings from our trials - continue to bring us closer to our Savior and to each other in this next opportunity for a new year and growth.


Dixie said...

So beautiful to recored the events of Christmas like this! You always make me cry.

Tif said...

You have a wonderful family. So glad to have you as friends.

M&C said...

Great Post. we loved reading it. Mark and Colette

Wendy Kremin said...

Fun blogging Hope! I have a hard time getting yours to pull up but this time it did and was very fun to read! I'm glad you guys had a great Christmas. :)

Jen said...

Great post, Hope! Looks like you guys had an incredible Christmas. :) I love that your kiddos sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve--my sister and I always did that, too! Such a fun tradition. :) I love going to church on Christmas...but then again, in my church, we always go to church on Christmas or Christmas Eve. :) Your kiddos are so sweet and sooooo cute! I bet you're all getting super excited to meet baby Charli--what a great (slightly late) Christmas present! Good luck and God bless you these next few weeks. Love you, girl! Glad you had such a Merry, Merry Christmas!

"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