Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 12th Anniversary

Went out with Chad and bought a few new things, went out to eat, and then to the first Jazz game at ESA of the season (finally, after all the negotiating).

Mom and Dad graciously came down to watch the kids. We left at 3pm and didn't get back until after 10:00. As we walked in the door, Dad said something about us needing a curfew. (A little worn out, are we?) It was so nice to get out. Thanks to Mom and Dad for doing that for us. Thanks, Dad, for fixing our car's door handle. I don't know how much longer it would've held out for us!

Don and Cassie Visit

My cousin, Don Rentz, and his wife Cassie, and their kids came to Utah from Casper, Wyoming for a holiday visit. They made time to come down to see us Thursday, which was really nice. We had dinner and then Mom and Dad brought over all the yummy fixings for big banana splits. Here is everyone serving up:
I never did get a proper picture of them.

Pictured here are Kevin, Mira, Ethan, and Colin. (Kevin's in 2nd grade, Ethan's in 7th.)

Hannah's 14 and Sidney's 21 months. You can tell Hannah's a wonderful big sister and just loves little Sidney to bits. As does the whole family. She's pretty cute!

Visiting over ice cream. If you have Miller blood coursing through your veins, this is just part of who you are!

If I ever start to feel like I have a lot expected of me in church, I can easily think of a couple of people. First person is my sis-in-law, Rachel, who serves in several different capacities in her ward in Germany. She is the organist every other month (learning as she goes!), nursery leader, and Activity Day leader. Then Cassie just informed us that she was called to be the early morning seminary teacher in her area. When she explained what this meant to her family's morning schedule, I could hardly believe it. But she's up for the challenge. It requires help from Ethan (getting the two little ones up and going each school morning), and someone to take Hannah across town to high school each morning. Plus, Cassie has to prepare lessons for Monday through Friday. Does she get paid? No. I am amazed at the sacrifices people are willing to make for the gospel. Though it's a different sacrifice than the pioneers made, for me, it is reminiscent. I hope I will be that faithful.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Some Favorite Gifts

Well this is a toughie, naming favorite gifts. They still have some they haven't really explored. They received some lovely books and activities that are waiting for them. But I asked them to name a few of their (so far) favorites.

Micah: DSi XL (pictured below) and his penguin pillow pet.
The boys had made up their lists about a month before Christmas and I was hesitant about the handheld game systems. I've seen other kids get lost in them, and I can see how they lose hours at a time playing games. But, I must say, they can be pretty wonderful. We took them in our car driving to Grandma's and Grandpa's and we hardly heard a peep out of them. Chad and I could actually visit. It makes the 11 hour drive to Washington (and other trips) seem within our reach.

Since the boys were getting that, we wanted the girls to have something that could keep them entertained in the same way. After some research, we decided on the Leap Frog Explorer. It was a great buy. For the past 2 days, we've pretty much let them bury their noses in their systems and figure it all out. It's been a quieter couple of days than any other Christmastime I've ever known with kids.

It made it on Ella's "favorites" list.

Mira is also enjoying her Explorer. Her dragon Pillow Pet and her sparkly red shoes are also a couple of favorites.

Ella got a zebra Pillow Pet. These things are so adorable and snuggly. The girls have decided they no longer want regular pillows to lay their heads on. Here Ella is sharing her sandwich with her zebra.

The girls got these awesome framed pictures they help create. They peel off sparkly stickers to add to the picture. Once they're completed, they can be displayed in their room. Very girly they love them!

Yes, our children are becoming zombies. Here they are playing a new Wii game. If you want a zombie child, simply add one electronic device. I am sure it works for adults as well.

Can you spot the toddler?

Bubble bath was tucked into stockings. Here the girls are, with literally half the bottle in their bath. But did they have fun!

Micah, the proud owner of a black DSi XL. He has spent much time playing Super Scribblenauts. He'll pellet us with questions like, "Mom and Dad, if a jaguar is hungry and likes spots, what should I give him?" or "What do I give a leprechaun to make him happy?" I have no idea what these questions mean and I my best answer and I get a look like I just said the most ridiculous thing.

Last night, after the kids went to bed, I turned on their DSi's and gave them a whirl. I had no idea what I was doing, or how the game works. I lasted about 3 minutes and gave up. I guess I need my 8 year-old to walk me through it.

And our little freshly-bathed Matthew. Then we buckled him into his high chair, gave him some "Snow Balls" (strange, cheddar flavored puffs), and he went to town. Shoulda thought twice about that. No longer a freshly-bathed boy.

Colin wanted to stack up his stash for the picture. His #1 favorite gift was, of course, the DSi XL. He also loves his new tennis racquet and juggling balls.

Now the boys are in bed, reading the Guinness Book of World Records and the 3-D I Spy book. The girls are listening to books on CD from the library, and Matthew's long gone. Chad heads back to work bright and early tomorrow. We sure enjoyed these few days of indulgence and relaxation!

Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Miller's

After the hullabaloo at our house, we trekked over to Mom and Dad's for a delicious meal of ham, Dad's homemade scalloped potatos, stuffing, Jell-o salad, rolls, Martinelli's sparkling cider, and corn. And how lovely it was when kids went off, playing their individual games, and we could sit around the table and visit uninterrupted.
Once things in the kitchen were in order, we headed into the living room for the real deal.
Everyone was eager to "help" Matthew open his gifts. He didn't mind help up to a certain point. Then he let it be known that he no longer required your assistance.

Matthew went up to both Grandma and Grandpa to give them loves, saying "thank you."

Ella got a pogo stick. She's tried the old one we have at home. She begged someone to go outside with her and try it out. After all the gift-opening, Chad went out and cheered her on. She's up to 10 jumps in a row, now. Go, Ella! Colin got a Jazz hat. Chad says he's always wanting to wear his when it's game night. Now he has one of his own.

The girls will have fun making some jewelry together.

Mr. Matthew got a cute little train set. He was into that from the get-go.

The first thing he did was plop himself down in the middle of it and check out everything.

Colin got a cookbook. We'll have to get him in the kitchen again soon. (Don't let the look on his face fool you--he loved it.)

We got Mom and Dad (and everyone else in the Miller/Barnett family) a photo calendar. I hope that helps keep track of all the birthdays!

And Matthew's doing a stand-on-the-head-for-joy pose.

I think it will be many years before our kids recognize how lucky they are. Not only do they get to have a Christmas at their own home, but they have two wonderful sets of grandparents who love them to pieces and spoil them rotten. (We do need to have a Family Home Evening lesson on gratitude soon, I do believe.)

We loved spending time at Mom and Dad Barnett's with Amber in North Ogden, and then at Mom and Dad's in Mountain Green. We certainly missed Blake and Maren, Braden and Brody; Chris and Gabby; Doug and Rachel and Theron, Grant, Kate, Paige, and Juliette. We loved watching the video Doug and Rachel posted of their Christmas morning in Germany. We felt as though we were part of it. And we loved talking on the phone to everyone. Merry Christmas! Some of our most treasured gifts are each of you.

Christmas Morning

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we prepped the kids by letting them know we'd be going to an hour of church before we could dig in to presents. They did great without any real complaints. Church was perfect and I wouldn't mind doing that every year. I got to lead the Primary in singing a few Christmas songs because I'm the Primary Chorister (which I love).

Here are the sweethearts:

Micah overjoyed with anticipation!

Matthew and Mira

Micah opened this at Grandma and Grandpa Barnett's. He'd had this Penguin Pillow Pet on his wish list for some time and was ecstatic when his grandparents came through for him. Can you tell?

After all the gifts were opened, the candy from the stockings was enjoyed: chocolate oranges, clementines, gold coin chocolates, etc.

And Matthew was just happy to open something and then go around and eat other people's half-eaten candies (much to the chagrin of some).

Christmas Eve with the Barnetts

We spent the night at Mom and Dad Barnett's so we could enjoy Christmas Eve with them. I was in charge of breakfast and made baked french toast with blueberry sauce (which I must say was scrumptious!), sausages, fresh oranges, and hot chocolate.
Matthew loves Grandpa!
Amber is apparently cleaning out her place and brought over a few Jazz items to hand down to the boys, who were happy recipients. I think one of them took this picture:

Mira and me...just because.

Cutie pie!

And then she wanted to get one of me.

We sat around in the play room and watched the kids do their thing. (Kids here includes Chad.)

Micah loves him a stuffed animal.

Since the kids had to wait until afternoon to open gifts, Mom had a game set up where the kids answered questions about Christmas and got to open a few little gifts. We had fun with that. Thanks, Mom!

Matthew got right into gift-opening. He figured that one out quickly!

Mom took us all out to the movies to see "Tin Tin" and Dad stayed home to take care of Matthew for us. Thanks to both of them for making that time so relaxing! When we got back, we had lunch and then opened gifts. We had a really nice time in North Ogden and thank Mom and Dad Barnett for everything.