Friday, December 16, 2016


 I walked into the lunch room with the class I was subbing one day and this is the beautiful girl I saw working in the lunch room: 

She was hard at work scraping those trays.
 For YW combined mutual, we went to the Humanitarian Center for a tour and to do a service project. For the project, we filled hygiene kits. It was a lot of fun being with this first group:
 And the other lovely ladies hard at work:

 Last year we didn't ever turn on our fireplace. I was sure not to make that mistake this year. Plus, I knew how much it would be enjoyed. I could picture in my mind's eye Ella cozying up by the fire with a book, just in heaven. And that's pretty much how it's been for Ella, Mira, and Matthew. What a lovely scene:
 Ella had some money she'd earned from babysitting. She really wanted an ugly Christmas sweater to wear to school and for parties.
She spent $24 on this cute sweater:
 Mira and Matthew wanted to wear their own ugly Christmas sweaters to school, too. Their funds were more--ahem--limited. So I pulled out some little Christmas crafts and they picked out sweaters to decorate. They looked pretty cute!
We are less than two weeks away from Christmas! I'm almost finished shopping (except for parents because they're the hardest!). Matthew and Mira have gone shopping. Ella, Micah, and Colin still need to buy things for their siblings. The tree was admittedly kind of pathetic-looking until I added a few more strands of bright red and white lights and also some red ribbon to the tree. Then Ella declared it Christmas-worthy.

Holiday Prep and Thanksgiving

 Over the years, our family has participated in various service projects for Christmas. We've always rung the bell for the Salvation Army, we have donated boxes to Samaritan's Purse: Operation Christmas Child, we do sub for Santa. This year we tried something new. Rachel told us about this organization called "Feed My Starving Children" that has mobile pack sites that come to Utah. They pack food for children who are malnourished in different parts of the world. We met up with the Millers in Ogden at Washington Heights Church. We were given hair nets (Ella's very favorite part, haha), and were assigned to different tables to various spots on the assembly line.
 It was an electric atmosphere! They had music playing (loudly!), people who would speak to everyone and encourage cheering, singing, and dancing. Micah was home feeling pretty miserable, so he missed out. But he would have loved it. Look at that smile on Colin's face. Serving feels good!
 Grant and Theron having fun:
 Ella, Matthew, and Chad were at a table together. Matthew was working hard with Chad on the contraption that seals the filled bags. Ella had a system down to load up the boxes with 36 food bags.
 Outside once we finished. It only took just over an hour to get it all done. There were a couple thousand people there volunteering. It was a massive effort and I've never had so much fun packing food. I'd love to do it again next year--this time with Micah!
 On Thanksgiving day, we were greeted by this sight at our front door.
 Thanksgiving was lovely and not too stressful. Mom and Dad came up a day early so Mom could help me with all the preparations. Rachel brought her sweet potato dish, mashed potatoes, and Martinelli's. Mom made stuffing (enough for an army) and pies. The turkey was scrumptious. There was plenty. I cooked a second turkey that afternoon so we would have plenty for the rest of the time.

 Rachel read some passages out of her Thanksgiving book, which made the day special. Then we went around the table and said what we were thankful for.

 Everyone spent the night. We had eggs, orange rolls, bacon, and hot chocolate for breakfast. An intense game of dodge ball ensued at the gym of the church. The Bells, Agueros, and Badgers joined us. After we returned, we pulled out all of the gingerbread houses. Mom had bought tons of extra candy for decorating. Colin and Micah's strategy was to pile on as much candy as possible for eating later-ha!
 Our ward had a nice Christmas dinner was yummy. The ward missionaries (the Molises and Leshes) were in charge. They had Santa and Mrs. Claus come, which was exciting! Colin got these two cute pictures of Matthew when he was talking to Santa.

 These three cuties: Beth Nicholls, Himaya Brandley, and Matthew were such awesome helpers at the end of the party. They cleaned the floor like crazy.

 Kyle Harris and Matthew got their bball on:
My father is quite literally a picture-taking fiend. It's his unsolicited, self-assigned, full-time job when he comes to family gatherings. He sends a bunch of them to me. These are ones he took of each of the kids:

Mira Turns 10

 This sweet cheeks turned 10. She's growing up! She double-checked with me before bedtime to remind me about breakfast in bed the next day. Can't forget that! I love seeing her first thing in the morning with pink cheeks, tousled hair, puffy eyes, and anticipation for the day.
 Once she had her breakfast and came to the kitchen, she had presents to open. She received a grown-up coloring book, gel pens, a blending pen (which she'd been begging for), a couple of leggings, and a couple of items from Bath and Body Works. She was a happy girl!
 Because he birthday fell on a Sunday, the next day I took her to Boondocks. We didn't stay too long. Her favorite thing there was the Go-Kart. She was the only one on the track (it was freezing outside!) and she rode it for quite a while until her hands became numb.
 Mira had been planning her birthday party for weeks. She knew she wanted a pajama party. We had hot dogs for dinner, played a couple of games, and watched Napoleon Dynamite. At the end, we served mini donuts and sprite shakes.
 The whole gang which included a few neighbors, friends from school, and soccer buddies. Colin was so generous when he went around setting up lights and even his fog machine for the basement so the girls could enjoy the ambiance. He just offered and went to work. It impressed me.
 Mira and Katerina:
 Mikell (they get called twins as a joke quite often):
 Mira these days:
*Just went to her well child Dr. appointment with Dr. Wonnacott (whom I think is terrific!) She was dreading that appointment because she knew the word "puberty" would be discussed, and that that "makes me feel weird!" She is in the 81st percentile for height.
*Mira is thoughtful and kind. She looks for ways to help me, and is sweet to Matthew.
*She loves to read, especially books about girls like her. She's currently reading Meg Cabot's books and loves them.
*She shares a room with Ella and likes to keep her things reasonably organized.
*She sometimes has trouble getting out of bed first thing in the morning. I try to put on music to get Mira, Ella, and Matthew enthused about the day. I'll play music such as Les Mis, Wicked, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, David Archuleta, Christmas music, etc. 
*Mira does really well in school. She knows her multiplication table well, she tries to speak only French in French class, she does her homework, and she takes her studies seriously. She doesn't abide silliness of some of her male classmates. She lets me know that. Ha!
*When I discovered that Mira had forgotten how to identify piano notes, we resolved to work hard to get them back. And she did! She went over flashcards over and over. She has been really good about practicing piano.
*I think we could put Mira into any sport and she would do well. She's an awesome defender in soccer. She just came home from tumbling this week, so excited that she was able to do a round-off with 5 back handsprings and a tuck at the end! That was a first and she was thrilled.
*Mira and Ella are both into the series "Once Upon a Time," which I've been checking out from the library, one season at a time. They love how the fairy tale stories are made modern.
*Mira loves to have her muscles massaged, her back scratched, and 'X' marks the spot at bedtime.