Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day! (edited edition)

Somewhere around the 16th of December I realized that none of my family would be with me for Christmas. And this hasn't happened since we had kids. I started to be a little worried because there are usually more presents and more people and I wondered if we would be enough. We decided that we would open the presents slowly and let the kids play with each one and not rush our morning. It worked perfectly.

Christmas eve some visitors (without kids,) brought us cookies and we invited them in for our Christmas Eve dinner of waffles and bacon. They stayed and helped us wrap presents, bring up the desk, and deliver another flying tree squirrel to his new home. I enjoyed having them and it made me miss my sister and her wrapping help less. Later we finished setting up the doll house and all was ready for Christmas morning.

Annika's Christmas presents from Santa
The Christmas Tree!
Our girls always surprise us on Christmas. They wake up at the normal time. Annika woke up first around 7:00 am and then in our bed she yelled to her sisters until they woke up and came in. Then we all went upstairs to see what Santa brought us.

Cameron made Ashling a doll house for her barbies and we bought a set of furniture to go in it. She was very happy to have it.
I bought a used ugly desk and chair from the thrift store. It didn't seem to hold much promise. But a new coat of paint plus painting the hardware and recovering the chair made a brand new desk. Ali has been wanting a new desk for a long time and she was very happy to get it.
Ali gave me the biggest, longest hug in the world for giving her the desk.

Santa gave Annika a shape sorter that she seemed very happy to have.

Annika loves our dog and is always climbing all over her but our dog doesn't seem to mind it.
Annika has started to ask to go outside. Too bad it is the coldest, wettest part of the year. I guess we will have to go down the hill where she can crawl around in the warm sun at the park.
For Christmas I was spoiled. I got a treadmill that was hiding in the garage. I like my treadmill because Cameron had to do research and buy it off of Craigslist where we could afford it. Nothing like a little thought. After it was set up I got right on it and started running. What surprised me the most is that Cameron went running on it too. I also got some ski socks, a sweater, a pair of pants and some perfume. (Hopefully I will smell better now!)
Annika is an expert stair climber now. She can go up and down!

The girls gave Annika a puppy that sings, dances and moves around. It also will chase its bone. Annika loves the little toy!

We are ready to go to Grandma Sue's house for Christmas dinner!

We opened presents at Grandma Sue's house. We sorted them all out and each family took a turn. Our families are getting too big to open presents all together. I am not sure what the best way to open presents is. How do you open presents in your big family celebrations. It was fun but it was a very tight fit in their living room all together.

Ashling got a Karaoke machine for Christmas from Grandma Sue and she hasn't stopped singing since we opened it. It was what she kept asking for and she was so excited to get it!
Annika was a little hard to contain during the present opening at Grandma's house.
Cameron had two themes for Christmas. He got a hat, gloves and thermos for skiing. He also got an external hard drive, ear buds, and a cooling fan in the hopes that we can once again have music on the computer. He also got an emergency radio from his parents with weather band on it. (If you know Cameron then you know how important that is to him.

Merry Christmas to all and I hope your Christmas was great too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thoughts on the Eve of Christmas Eve

I went shopping without Annika and it was easy. The other girls kept up with me, didn't cry and they buckled their own seats when we got back in the car.

The girls rooms are cleaned and ready for santa to come. (We have a bag to give away, a bag for the trash and some things we chose to put away for a while.) We are hoping for some new toys to fill the empty shelves.

In cleaning the rooms I put away the newborn toys and filled Annika's cupboards with Little People. She played with the house for an hour. She put the animals and people in and out and pushed the buttons. She spun the mobile on the baby's bed around and around. I am glad she likes the new toys but I am sad that I have to say goodbye to my newborn baby and see an almost toddler take her place.

My Christmas shopping is done, my cupboards are full and I am happy. I may not leave the mountains until January and I may go skiing everyday.

I still need to do some wrapping.

It snowed yesterday and it is cold. I think we will be having a white Christmas.

We got our season pass pictures taken yesterday. Ali reminded me she is growing up. She put a scarf on, wouldn't wear her coat in her picture, had on a hat and posed just so for the picture. Her season pass picture looks perfect. Mine is okay.

I am very excited that Cameron will be home with us until after the New Year starting tomorrow.

I wish my family had come to my house for Christmas and I miss them.

My girls are playing together happily today and it makes me happy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Windows of Heaven

Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

This year has not been financially easy. I am sure you know that. And it is not over... at least I do not think so. But I feel like this past week the Windows of Heaven have opened on our small family. Cameron has worked overtime for the 6th straight day in a row putting in 12 hour days and working his furlough day. (The overtime hasn't happened in over a year.) Other blessings have been poured down on our heads in abundance. It couldn't have come at a better time and I am so grateful for the blessing during this holiday season. Just when I was sure we couldn't take another day of being so tight we have been given a respite. And I am grateful. It is interesting to look at the Lord's time in retrospect and to see how he has guided your life to this point even if you couldn't see his hand in everything while it was taking place.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ashling's Christmas performance

Ashling's preschool class did a Christmas program at night. Ashling could sing every word to every song on the whole program. It was cute, short and simple and I really liked it. She loved having Grandma Sue and Pa Pa come too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"if fierce winds become thine enemy"

The rain came down hard and fast. It fell in waves and drenched the thoroughly soaked earth even further. It was dark, cold and wet. I could hardly remember a time when I had seen so much rain at one time. Our family piled into the Escape tightly with our coats on. Even though the garage was dry we already felt damp. The drive over to the camp was foggy and lonely. I wondered if any body else would come and I wouldn't have blamed them if they didn't.

The camp was saturated with water. We parked and prepared to get out. I put my hood on hoping that very little of the outside world would touch me. A man dressed in a poncho with an umbrella met us and showed us where to walk down to the lodge. The patio around the lodge was a pool of ice water. Chunks of snow were marooned in the rain water. A path was available for us to walk without getting wet.

Inside the lodge a fire was going in the gigantic fireplace. Huge logs were piled up next to the fire getting dry for later. I could smell turkey, roast and potatoes cooking. I smiled at friends who were dripping and they smiled back. I waved, hugged, said hello and dropped my cake off. As more friends arrived we greeted them and watched as they dried off and then joined in the festivities. The kids ran and played with their friends. The room grew full. We ate and then ate again, laughed, shared our talents, sung songs, laughed some more, Santa came and the children made a Nativity. It was our Branch Christmas Party.

Outside it continued to rain in sheets. The wind continued to blow as it only can in the mountains along the coast of the mighty pacific ocean. The ponds of snow water grew deep and the world became even darker. We could hear the water blow against the windows and taunt us as it tried to make its way in. But we dried ourselves by the huge fire and got warm. We mostly forgot the storms outside while we enjoyed each other.

We said a prayer, cleaned up and passed out the leftovers. I walked over to find my children. They were involved in a big game on the floor. Ashling played and so did Ynez who is 16. All the kids were there in a circle playing together, smiling and having fun. The big kids were keeping the small ones busy so the floor could be mopped. It seemed like Heaven. I have felt Heavenly Father's presence in my life many times but as I saw those children playing together, smiling and laughing I knew that Heaven was like this. When we lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to earth we played with our brothers and sisters.

As I prepared to exit I put my coat back on with the hood, buckled the straps on Annika's hat and then I stepped outside. The deafening wind hit my face wetting it. My hood blew from my head and my hair was wet instantly. The water bled on to my socks. The wind helped me open my door and I jumped inside tugging it shut. We drove home on a road of leaves, rocks, pine needles and dirt, also known as Highway 18. The creeks flowed like rivers and the dam on our small lake was breached.

As the storms of life rage I know that there is protection in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that my Savior lives and loves me and that he gives comfort and protection from the things of this world. I am happy to celebrate Christmas at this time of year and remember all of the many things that Jesus did for us. I am thankful that Heavenly Father loved us enough to give us a Redeemer. I am thankful for His atonement that allows us to repent of our sins and then return to live with our Heavenly Father again.

""...If fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below then all. Art thou greater than he?" D&C 122:7-8
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thin afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." D&C 121: 7-8

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Program

Ali had her Christmas program for school last night. It was a big deal for her. She dressed up all nice for school and the performance at night. She spent the night before reviewing her words. She even got to wear a little make up which made her feel very grown up. The program was funny with a song all about shoveling snow which fits in perfectly with living in the mountains. The kids did a great job and it wasn't too long making it fun for all.

This back ground was painted when Cameron was in the first grade by a Disney Annimator

This is Ali before the performance and she is very happy to see us sitting there.

This man played the piano and wrote a song about Christmas at Hoffman Elementary. It was a cute song and made so much sense.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A touch of Sun

It snowed on Monday and it was beautiful. I loved watching it fall all day while enjoying a fire and playing with my children. We went sledding and it was fun.

We had two snow days and went skiing on the second one. I love skiing with my children. They seem to have retained most of what they knew last year and it was fun. The sun was so warm it didn't feel cold at all to be skiing. I love southern California skiing after a good storm!

The sky was so blue this morning, the sun so bright and the trees were so covered in snow. It was beautiful.

It has been a good week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Best

Sunday I dressed the kids and ourselves in our Christmas Best!
Cameron's work has a children's Christmas party every year. We attended after church.

Santa gave each child a present. Ali received a digital camera.
Ashling received a polly pocket roller coaster thingy.
Annika received a lion stride to ride thing for her to walk along with.

Annika liked Santa Clause a lot.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

dinner party

I had a good day yesterday. It started with a call and an idea. Lets have lunch at my house again. It was easy. The house was clean and the kids stayed upstairs and easily played with the toys I put out for them (only one box of toys and so cars.) We sat around the kitchen table and talked and ate our lunch. We shared and I enjoyed it.

Then later we were invited to a dinner party. We were to bring a side dish recipe and the ingredients (uncooked.) We brought onion rings, someone else brought twice baked potatoes, another brought brownies and our hosts had some glamorous chicken dish to make. It was a lot of fun. We all cooked together in their big kitchen and enjoyed it. We laughed about the wine we were cooking with and whether it might make us drunk... but then we made sure to cook the sauce for an extra long time so we didn't have to worry. We ate all the onion rings while waiting for the rest of the meal to be prepared.

We sat down to a wonderfully decorated table in our assigned seats... not next to our spouses but next to someone else. Ironically all the men were on lower chairs than the women and they were shorter than us... it was funny.

We also played a game. We said one word to describe our spouse and then one word to describe ourselves. It was a great party game and we found some interesting things out. Cameron surprised me and said he thought I was efficient. I thought that was quite the compliment. I said that Cameron was capable. He is capable of anything and that is what I like about him. I was very greatful for a wonderful grandma who came to our house so the kids wouldn't be cold and who stayed late because we were having too much fun to come home. It was a great day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A long ride home

The fourth tradition for the Thanksgiving Holiday is one I remember from being a child. I remember throwing up on the side of the road while driving, coughing and feeling sick while driving and generally being in a sick mood. On Saturday after our hike I realized that Annika felt warm (should have thought about this before when she was screaming don't you think?) and that she had a fever of 103 degrees. On Sunday she was still feeling sick and screamed, cried and whined the whole way home. I didn't even go home but went straight to urgent care. At urgent care Annika made a fool of me by smiling and laughing and not even having a fever. I took her home and once again she had a fever of 102 degrees. But it went away on its own and so I don't know what was wrong with her. She didn't have a cold, she didn't have a cough, or any other symptoms.
In addition to Annika being sick Ali cut herself and was bleeding everywhere. Sierra (our dog,) got sick and pooped in the back of the car, (as well as everywhere else once she got out.) The traffic was horrible and it took two hours to drive what should have been an hour or less. It wasn't the best end to a vacation and it doesn't make us that excited to pack up the family and do it again, but we probably will.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Camelback Mountain

The second tradition for Thanksgiving weekend is going shopping on black Friday. Stacey and I started our morning at Target where the line was so long I thought we would never get inside. I got the deals that I wanted and my 10 dollar gift card and felt pretty good. Then we went to Kohls where I bought a dress for Ali for her Christmas program on clearance and got it for a great deal. We picked up everyone else and went to the mall where we went shopping and got some more good deals for each other. It wasn't so bad to take the kids because Stacey took Ashling and Cameron took Ali shopping and I just had to shop with Annika who managed to take a nap admist all the noise.

The Third tradition is going on a hike. We chose to hike to the top of Camelback mountain. I knew it was not going to be my favorite hike when we got close to the mountain and most of downtown Phoenix was also there. We had to park very far away from the trailhead because there were too many people in their tiny area where they allowed cars to park. The houses there were amazing in size. I bet they cost a fortune to air condition!

Annika began the hike in a good mood and I expected her to fall asleep like she always does in the backpack carrier. But she didn't. After a while she was protesting and whining quite a bit and I stopped to nurse her. Nursing her didn't help and by the time we were a little ways up the trail she was screaming in protest. I finally couldn't take it anymore and had Cameron stop and I got her out of the backpack and decided just to wait on the trail. (At this point I was very close to the saddle that you can see in the picture below but I didn't know it so I stopped.)

Tony and Stacey had to stop at the saddle because dogs can't go up to the summit. But Cameron, Ali and Ashling continued to the top. Cameron said it was a trail more rugged that most sierra trail at the top and that there were placed it was 5.1 climbing. Here are some pictures of their climb up and down.

I am very bitter that I didn't make it to the top too. Instead I put the backpack on and hiked down and then hiked all the way to the car and drove up to the trailhead to pick them up when they were finished. This whole time Annika was screaming!