Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's the holiday season

I really don't know how anyone manages to blog during the month of December. I feel so swamped with...everything, involved in preparing for Christmas.

It is all great, it really is. I LOVE this time of year, but there is just so much to do. I'd love to document all of it, but I just can't fit that in right now--I think it's more important that I just live it. And that's probably okay because most of the happenings are about the same as they are every year--lots of good stuff, but not really new stuff.

But I do love having a record of this life that I'm living, so I'll just jot down a few tidbits:

1. Today we did a ton of baking all at once, to try to create enough goods for goodie plates to deliver this evening. And my kids (well, the older kids) were a huge help! Is the day finally here when my kids contribute to, more than they are a detriment to, a project? So cool. I didn't touch the rolling pin or cookie cutters, and yet pan after pan of beautiful sugar cookies came out of the oven. Thanks, Tyler and Tessa. They helped with lots of things, and were even quite handy at maneuvering and twisting the candy cane cookie dough this year. Amazing. It made the whole process happen much more quickly, and the kids loved being so involved. They felt important being an integral part of the "cookie factory."

And I loved hearing, "Hey, Mom, do you like the face I frosted on this snowman?" So sweet innocent...this from my 10-year-old son, who was either too cool or too grumpy to sing the hymns in church today. But he was certainly engaged in our family kitchen endeavors, and that was encouraging. It was a happy and productive afternoon. (of course it didn't hurt that my darling, treat-tasting two-year-old was taking a nap for most of the baking party; and I didn't even attempt the really delicate baking items...but still, this isn't bad for an afternoon's work)

2. Autumn decor doesn't always have to be thrown out when the evergreenery moves in. I liked the gnarly shapes of the gourds in my front porch pots through the fall and didn't want to part with them yet. So I painted them red and white a few weeks ago, which gave them permission to stay and blend with the winter decor.

3. If you want to make sure you slow down and enjoy the Christmas Spirit during the season, sing about it. I joined my church (Stake) choir that was formed to learn & perform songs just for the Christmas concert, and it was great to be a part of. I loved spending 1.5 hours each Sunday evening singing tender songs about our Savior. When it came time to perform, I was so touched by the song we sang about making room for the Christ child in our hearts, that I could hardly get through it. I am grateful I had this opportunity.

I do love Christmas. I hope I can survive all the fun.

Merry, merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a great holiday--time off work and school, lots of good food and family, no worries about gift-giving...yet it opens the door for the magical Christmas season.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. My sister Melayna came to visit and my kids hardly left her alone from sun up to sun down. She cares about them so much, and they love her back for it.

We did a few fun things with her in downtown Des Moines--the Festival of Trees, the Botanical Center, and "Disney on Ice," which was a special treat for the girls (Tyler graciously bowed out of that princessy event).

...a funny picture, but a fun memory.

The rest of the time we really just hung out at home. Luckily Tessa helped liven things with a Talent Show she concocted. We learned about it for weeks before with signs plastered around the house announcing try-outs, etc.

Sadly, Melayna and I did not make it into the final four--I guess my rendition of the Macarena just didn't "wow" the judge. Ansley's dance moves probably were more entertaining and original. But I can't understand why Melayna's expert piano performance of Christmas songs didn't make the cut. Anyway, it was fun for all...

The other thing that makes Thanksgiving great is the element of tradition. There is something special about repeating holiday festivities year after year. I felt a sense of satisfaction as Tyler went crazy over the cranberry-apple pie we made, more this year than before. That pie was a holiday must when I was growing up, and it feels good to have my kids adopt those same favorites. Tom hasn't taken as well to the tartness of it...yet, so it was fun to have Tyler love it as much as I do. He had like 3 slices!

I have so much to be thankful for. I need holidays like this to force me to remember just how blessed I am. I'm forgetful like that.