Sunday, April 3, 2016

Big Christmas Blog

I realize I have some big catch up to do with this blog. Today is March 30th and I have to make up for lost time! A lot has happened, of course. Let's see how well my memory bank can retrieve the info. (I may depend on my smart 9 year-old, who is currently sitting beside me in the office as I type. She giggles.) Micah loves style. Button up shirts, hair "just so," skinny-ish jeans, etc. I think he sneaked a pic with my phone here.

 Grandpa Miller loves to pick out unique gifts. He didn't falter this year. He surprised each family with a 3-D pen. It has sparked a lot of creativity in our house. Micah made a Dr. Who police box with it. Colin worked long and hard on a cube with a roof. It takes time!

 Amidst the business of Christmas preparations, President and Sister Jury and their son Michael, came for a visit from Tasmania. We were able to spend time with them and other missionaries during our reunion. Scott Daw, Hillary Clegg Christensen, another elder, and I were responsible for heading it up. (Self-appointed.) It turned out really great. Pot luck, slide show, chatting with former missionaries and the's been years since we've seen most of these people. Neat to see their families and how they've changed. I enjoyed the association I had with missionaries while preparing for this. So many good people!

 Because I was there several hours early, Chad came over later with the kids. I know they didn't know anyone (besides the Gunderson and Hincks kids), but I wish they would have stayed the whole time. This happened to fall on the night of our ward Christmas party and they were anxious to get over there. I would have liked for them to see the slideshow and mingle a little with me. Colin did enjoy listening to Michael (in his Tasmanian accent) tell what it was like being the son of a mission president, living in Ireland, attending school, and making new friends.

  Pretty Ella looking more grown up these days--especially with bling on!

  Annual Barnett Christmas party! And the beloved piƱata, naturally.
  Fox Hollow put on a sing-along for parents. I got to record each of them. Lots of fun. As I recall, Mira was actually sick this day. She stayed home from school and went up just long enough to sing with her class. Come to think of it, she is home sick again today. In fact, she missed two days of school last week because of a cough/sore throat. And she missed Monday and Tuesday this week because of the same thing. She seems to get this recurring sore throat. I wish she didn't. I know she does, too.

  Cute little Matthew!
 Christmas morning! Chad and I started out thinking this would be a smaller Christmas. Somehow it grew. The kids got a lot of nice things.
  The Miller grandparents were thinking along the same lines I was because we both got them Spirographs.
 I like our tradition of taking turns to open gifts. I tell this kids that when I was growing up, we just tore into them and didn't bother to notice what siblings got. It seemed to be over in a matter of minutes. I laugh to myself because it really does remind me of the movie A Christmas Story where they're tearing into their gifts and not much is thought of the necessities as gifts: socks, clothes.

 Mom came for a visit close to Christmas. It was great to have her. She is so easy to have!

  The kids' wish (especially Matthew's--he'd been begging) was to go sledding. We chose a little hill over by Smiths. It was dang cold so we didn't last too long.

  Micah had his Christmas band concert. They are sounding good. Mr. Neves is his favorite teacher. He makes class fun by visiting with the kids, telling stories, and helping them out.

  While Grandma was here she planned some fun treat-making with the kids. They made Rolo-pretzel treats (which were awesome) and made and decorated sugar cookies.

  This is one of my favorite hairstyles for Ella's long hair. She didn't request it but a couple of times, though. We enjoyed trying out different styles. Thank goodness for great online tutorials.

  Ooh, sugary goodness. Even Colin got in on the action. I think we must have told him in order to eat one, he had to decorate it.

 Grandma bought a bunch of crafts to play around with, too.

 Chad coached Matthew's basketball team. Nothing more entertaining than a bunch of kindergarteners running around on the court! We saw some nice improvement from each player over the season. Dribbling especially.
  I was fortunate enough to get 2 tickets for a special Christmas performance at the Conference Center. Perfect for Mom and me! We went to the first part of the Barnett Christmas party, which was fun. There was a craft to work on (a wooden snowman for the front porch), and delicious food. Then we bugged out of there.
  Just as the concert began, I got a phone call from Chad letting me know that I'd taken the only set of keys for the van with me in Mom's car. Grr! But that hassle could be sorted out later--they got a ride to the Barnett's house with Amber and grandparents. Mom and I so enjoyed the beautiful concert featuring Laura Osnes as soloist. Handel's Messaiah was played here and there, which was wonderful.
 Mom took some family photos of us in our Santa hats, made by Grandpa.

 Handsome boys! I love that they get all dressed up and Micah makes sure Matthew is fixed up just right. Micah looks so handsome in his bow tie and suspenders.
  The kids each went shopping for each other using their own money. They loved carefully choosing items for each person. And the wrapping is fun. Mira just loves to help me do so many things. She asked to help wrap other gifts. I swore her to secrecy, and she did such a great job. I really appreciated having her help!
  Ella, pretty in pink, at her Christmas song performance.
  Our sweet neighbor, Linda Blankenship, passed away from cancer. She is a lovely, kind, sweet person who is missed terribly by her adorable husband, Jerry. We were privileged to have been able to visit with her several times over that last couple of months. And her funeral was a great celebration of her life.
 At Doug and Rachel's house we had dinner and then decorated gingerbread houses.
 Grandma always buys lots of extra treats for the houses. And mouths.

 We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Barnett's.
 We played games and visited. We three enjoyed Quirkle.
 Some tickling happened.
 And handstands by our handstand queen.
 Grandma and Grandpa got creative with their gifts. Each grandchild got money in varied ways. Colin got his in a pizza box, Matthew got a gumball machine full of coins (which he thought was really cool), etc.
 We returned home on Christmas Eve with plenty of time left for necessary preparations. The kids got into bed with excitement running through them. I set a beautiful table for Christmas breakfast.
 Then Santa went to work!
 One big highlight of this month was the opportunity our ward's youth had to visit the Provo City Center Temple for a private open house. Because our bishop, Richie Sutton, works for the church's temple committee, he was able to secure an evening for us to go through. It's a beautiful building. I'd never been inside it before it had been burned. They did a wonderful job of keeping the old pioneer feel. There were many touches that made it unique--from customized door hinges to the rug that wound up the staircase. We just participated in the dedication two weeks ago. Perhaps sometime we could go inside to do baptisms with the boys.

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