Sunday, January 15, 2017

November/December/New Year's

 This is a throwback to Mira's birthday. These pictures were on Chad's phone and I missed adding them to the post about her birthday. But they make me so happy I don't want to miss them! This was the morning of her birthday, which was on a Sunday. Everyone was dressed and ready for church. Oh, the anticipation!
 I like to have the table decorated and a Happy Birthday sign up on her special day.
 Ella had gone with me to the Gap at the mall to help me pick out a couple of leggings for Mira. She was happy with what she got.

 My beautiful, sweet, helpful (now) 10 year-old!
 Lots of love for Mira!
For Thanksgiving, when the Miller side of the family came to stay, I loved how all the girls took over the play room. They were all lined up and looked so sweet, I had to get a picture.
 Grandma Miller took it on herself to get all the gingerbread houses and toppings. We were spoiled! Colin and Micah worked on theirs together. Their plan was to load up as much candy as possible onto theirs so they could enjoy it for days afterwards. It was more functionality over aesthetics for these two.
 We were so relieved when we opened up the gingerbread house box to discover the house was pre-assembled! What joy was heard in the Barnett household! All we had to do was concern ourselves with decorating--whew!
 I loved that two kids worked on a gingerbread house together. It seemed more manageable. There was some serious cool creativity!
 I got to work with my sweet Matthew.
 Ella and Mira split up sides so that they could each express their creativity in their own way.
 Chad and Colin back-to-back. Gone are the days of little children. It goes so quickly.
 The annual Barnett Christmas party was fun. We enjoyed the food, music (listening to Great-Grandma Barnett's old Christmas albums on Aunt Pat's record player), chimes, gift exchange, and pinata. I got to know Michelle Pugmire a little more (pictured seated on far left below). It's nice to see everyone and catch up a little.
 Those kids are growing up! Not long ago they were so little.
 Waiting for the pinata!

 Uncle Kerry and Aunt Elaine headed up the party this year. All the boys (including big boys!) got to whack at the truck while wearing a construction hat. What a good sport Colin is!

 Preston and his cute little foster daughter taking a turn at the pinata.
 Go get 'em, Matthew!
 The girls had a princess castle while wearing a crown. So fun.

 Get it, Ella!
 We love Uncle Dale. He is such a kind man. I so enjoy being able to see him at family get togethers.

 Looks like Micah's on his way up!
 For one FHE before Christmas, we took a drive to temple square. We must have picked one of the coldest nights, but we still had a wonderful time. I absolutely love this picture!
 Group shot!
 Warming up inside the visitor center and looking at a few displays:
 Matthew was on one this night. He gets to where he just has to move his body. That means running, jumping, laughing, chasing, and being silly. He was having so much fun. We tried to make sure he didn't run into someone or fall down.
 We took Trax from Temple Square to the Grand America Hotel to see some displays. Because we first went in the wrong direction, we got to see people come and go. We met a young man who was homeless and saw quite a number of others who were, too. The kids noticed a woman trying to sleep on the train. We talked about what it must be like for them and why they might be here and how we can look for ways to be kind and serve.
 The window displays in the Grand America were great, and the life-size gingerbread house did not disappoint! All the kids were wishing they could step in there and help themselves--especially Micah when he noticed part of the house was made out of Rice Krispy treats...his favorite!
 We made a point of stopping by the restrooms because I'd heard they were impressive. And they were! I loved the reaction from the girls.
 We made a fun little Christmas-themed treat one night for dessert: Grinch kebabs. On a toothpick, stack a grape, banana, strawberry, and marshmallow. Matthew thought that was terrific!
For a while, Ella had been asking when we would get to have a date night ice skating. Finally, her wish came true!
 It was wonderful to be there, just the two of us. Ella is such a wonderful girl. I loved being able to skate around with her, holding her hand, then stopping for a little rest and hot chocolate. I know she loved it, too.
 Micah had a Christmas band concert which we all attended. I love that he plays the tuba. He has become quite the music-loving kid. He just told me he wants to learn the guitar and bass.
 I worked with a few ladies on the Copper Hills PTA to assemble and deliver little gifts for teachers and staff. Judy Binns and I were at the school together, filling teachers' boxes and hand-delivering to staff. I really like Judy and would love to have some of her wonderful qualities.
 I was grateful to Melinda Gardner, who took this picture of Mira at the school-wide Christmas sing-along. Mira had a special role in leading a section of her grade in the song they sang.
 It makes me so happy to see these adorable girls get along as friends. Mira has had such nice girls in her classes, and I am grateful!
 Aunt Geri had this picture taken at Hannah Rentz's reception. I was glad we were able to be there. Chad, the girls, Matthew and I partied hard on the dance floor. There were lots of fun songs and we boogied away. Colin and Micah played the "observational" role. To my surprise, as we were getting ready to leave, Micah protested saying it was such a fun night and he wanted to stay. Go figure!
 On Christmas Eve, Grandma Barnett had a fun afternoon/evening planned for us. She gave us the first clue which led us to a bowling alley where we played a couple of games. It was fun and Matthew absolutely loved it. Especially because (after Chad) he had the highest score. It made me realize we need to go bowling more!
The next clue took us to Pizza Pie Cafe, which the kids were stoked about! Then on to Aunt Amber's where she'd planned some fun games. The kids hunted all over the house for 90 hidden candy canes.
 For one game, we were each given several pipe cleaners which we had to use to create a Christmas-themed sculpture. It was neat to see what everyone came up with. This picture has each creation (which included a bell, Christmas tree, manger, angel, etc.)
 There was some good belly-laughing when we did this game. I don't even remember what it's called. You put a daub of vaseline on your nose and try to transfer as many puffballs into another bowl as you can. There was a lot of head-shaking, blowing, and bobbing trying to accomplish this!
 I got to see last year's gift from Blake and Maren to Mom and Dad Barnett. I fell in love with these adorable painted pegs of our family. These are a year old, so Micah made it clear that he is no longer into Dr. Who. Nevertheless, these are great!
 We made it back home on Christmas Eve night before the snowstorm rolled in, thankfully. Boy, these kids were spoiled this year.
 I had prepared a delicious breakfast casserole that was waiting in the fridge for Christmas morning. The beautiful table was ready to greet the family in the morning.
 And did anyone sleep in? 5:30 was the wake-up time this year. I love that mischievous look on Micah's face. Boy, were they excited. 
 The gift Matthew wanted most for Christmas was a basketball. He got it even better with a basketball standard. We went out and played a game of tornado--until the ground got too icy and we had to call it quits.
 Over the break Chad and Ella started working on her science fair project, which was actually a repeat of the one Micah did in 6th grade. But the point of the project is to help the student learn and understand the scientific process. And because Chad has already gone through this, it takes a lot of pressure off him. He gets to focus on helping Ella understand each step. She is gung-ho about it!
 Ella tells me the penguin she received for Christmas was her favorite gift. Her reaction upon opening it was priceless. Squeals of delight. She didn't anticipate getting anything other than practical items. And this penguin is so soft and sweet, she was pleased. And when she added Matthew's bow tie, she fell even more in love and had to take this picture:
 The three younger kids invited friends over to go sledding a couple days after Christmas. (Matthew and his friend Gray are behind me.)
 Mira and Aria:
 Ella and Ryo:
 This was an exciting night: Star Wars, Rogue One! Everyone was anxious to see this. And it was a fantastic movie! I must say, these new luxury loungers at Cinemark are worth the couple extra bucks.
 Micah is my organizer. He gets a bug in him to start organizing things, and he just goes to town! This particular day, he wanted to do something to help me. He cleaned out and organized several cabinets and drawers which hadn't been cleaned in a very long time. And then he tackled the drawer under the stove--even took it out and vacuumed out underneath!
 Ella and Mira inherited some cute clothes from Denise Matthew's daughter, Sierra. I took a picture and sent it to Denise to let her know we appreciated the gift. The girls loved the clothes.
 Over New Years, Mom and Dad were in Texas with Chris and Gabby, but we had some time off so we made plans to head to St. George. It truly was a vacation. There was a lot of TV/movie watching, junk food eating, sleeping in, and staying up late. The kids thought it was pretty great.
 They asked if there was going to be hiking. But of course! Can't go to St. George and not get out and do some hiking!
 We went to Johnson's Arch and Scout Cave. Micah, unfortunately, was pretty sick. He wasn't able to join us on these outings. He stayed back at Mom and Dad's and slept or relaxed. I love that we can drive four hours and be in warmer weather and can get outdoors.

 This hike was a good one. Not too long (Ella would not agree).
 The kids were thrilled to be able to use their In-N-Out gift cards they got from Grandma and Grandpa Barnett. Heaven!
 We explored a couple of different parks while there: The fields and an all abilities playground. It felt wonderful to be out in the sunshine. We'd brought a volleyball, frisbee, and SpikeBall (new family Christmas gift), and put those to good use.
 As I watch these sweeties of mine run around the playground with abandon, I easily recall how I used to take Colin, then Micah, then Ella, then Mira to many different playgrounds when they were so small and we lived in South Ogden. They needed my help in jumping up to a bar, swinging, or climbing up a rock climbing wall. I'd pop my face or hands through holes in play tunnels to "scare" them and they'd scream in delight. I'd chase them around. Now they are the older kids at these playgrounds. It is not that distant in the future when they will be doing the same things with their own children. It's surprising how quickly childhood passes. (Not to say we are out of that stage completely.)
 Some of these activities become more difficult the older/bigger you are!
 We played a mean game of SpikeBall (following our own rules, of course, and then discovering we weren't playing entirely by the book). This was a lot of fun. If I had one wish, however, it would be that our family takes games such as this a little less seriously. I want to play for fun. Rules are good, but I don't want to die by them. After a little while, I sometimes just need to step away from the high-intensity competition happening. After all, we are not going for professional here.
 Matthew is the kissy-bug. Which reminds me of another funny name he made up for himself. Cuddle-fungus. I have no idea where he came up with this. But we all think it's hilarious, including him. I believe the other kids have other almost-equally ridiculous names. But Cuddle-Fungus beats them all. Anyway, he gets on this kissing kick and just doesn't let up. He really lets loose with Mira. I think it's because he gets his desired reaction. She tolerates the relentless kisses for a time and then starts to resist. This is when Matthew digs in and really goes for it. It's like a game of "how many kisses can I possibly get in?" I finally have to step in a break up all the loving happening. (Well, loving on Matthew's part--haha!) Poor Mira was trapped in the middle. She had a tough time of it with Matthew invading her personal space one side and Ella on the other.
 For our New Years Eve celebration, we watched several episodes of Brain Games, had pizza and treats, and rang in the New Year with toasts and Martinelli's Mom and Dad had in the fridge for us.
 Matthew made it almost all the way until midnight. But he crashed and couldn't do it anymore:
 We did a little hike at Red Cliffs Recreation:
 Matthew asked if we dared him to get into the water. Um, it's not that warm!

 Watching something entertaining. I love these people:
 Chad took Matthew one night to a Jazz player appearance. Matthew's face tells you what he thought of this one-on-one time with Dad and basketball!
 This boy loves basketball. He is so fun!

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