Thursday, December 31, 2009

Very Thankful

This post started out in my mind several weeks ago.   Jadon has been singing all over the place.    The more I heard him sing the song, “Thankful,” the more I could not get my mind off it.  “There’s so much to be thankful for.”  It’s true.  I began pondering and thinking.

Then I participated in a chat with Mark Effinger and his mom.  I watched these two express love and hope even though they had been through some tough stuff.  I became more thankful....for my own family and for others who move past difficulty into something more peaceful.

Then I read an article by my friend, Julie, at Digital Marketing Diva.  She talked about believing and beautifully brought the story of Christ together with the goodness of Santa.  Then the song, “Believe,” kept coming to my mind. Jadon sings that one, too, and I hadn’t readily listened to those words until I began listening to him sing over and over, “Believe in what your heart is saying.  Hear the melody that’s playing.  There’s no time to wait.  There’s so much to celebrate.  Believe in what you feel inside you.  Give those dreams the wings to fly.  You have everything you need, if you just believe.”  Powerful.  True.  I could do a whole article on this (and may).  These, again, deepened my gratitude.

Then just yesterday while looking for recipes, I came across The Pioneer Woman.  While browsing around in the recipes, I started reading about her.  I became enraptured with her story and family.  I guess growing up around farmers and ranchers, this story had a tender spot in my heart.  I began to think about my husband and the good man that he was and our relationship and story, and gratitude came oozing out again.

Then I woke up this morning to this beautiful winter day.  I truly have so much to be thankful for, so I am sharing a video with you– music compliments of my son– and pictures of all I am thankful for!

PS.  Turn off the music on my blog page so you can hear this video without confusion

Winter Days & Misty Mornings

Yesterday driving home from the store, I looked down the road into the little beautiful valley I live in.  It was an overcast day–a wintery, gray/white sky kind of day.  I LOVE these days.  That break from the constant sunshine days, but more importantly, that warm nostalgic feeling kind of day.  When you drive down the tree-lined street that in the summer it provides a beautiful umbrella of green leafy shade, but in the winter you see bare trees with dried orange leaves still hanging from them.  You see leaves dancing in the street with the breeze. You can see through the trees into the surrounding hills and homes.  You can see the old pioneer homes, the smoke coming from chimneys, the dirt in the garden tilled and waiting for planting, and somehow you can see calm and peace.   There is so much beauty and comfort for me on those days.  I am overwhelmed by the gratitude I feel for this beautiful little valley, the people who live here, and the ones who sacrificed for me to have it all.

Just when you think you have seen it all and experienced that beauty, you wake up to a misty morning.  Or as my 14 year old said, “are we sitting in a cloud?”  Yes, we are.  We are sitting in a Norman Rockwell painting.  So being the pansy to cold that I am, I grabbed my daughter’s pink snuggie (courtesty of fore-mentioned 14 year old brother), and ran outside with my camera.  It was so beautiful and serene.

I wished I had grabbed my camera when I took the 14 year old to basketball practice, because it was the most beautiful scene down main street.  With limited visibility, you could just see bare trees silhouetted against this misty gray/white backdrop.  It was breathtaking.  Of course, by the time I got back home to grab my camera, the sun had come up and chased most of it away.

But I just had to share a taste of the beauty of my home!

Christmas Day

Christmas Day is just always so fun!  Especially when you have a little one who is experiencing their first Christmas.  It was a very relaxing Christmas.  In spite of economic conditions, we were blessed to have salsa money pay for our Christmas this year.  Although scaled down, we still felt very blessed.  Here are some pictures of our day.

Aside from Paul dropping a blender full of pancake batter, then dropping an egg on the floor, then dropping his pancake off the fork; and mom dumping hot bacon grease down her hand and burning it terribly....we had a GREAT Christmas Day!

Christmas Eve

It's amazing how you can leave practicing for the Christmas Eve Program with your kids saying, "it just doesn't feel like Christmas Eve," and you think the same thing, too.

Then magically something happens.  You show up at the Christmas Eve program, and see little angels, wooden soldiers with red circle cheeks, reindeer, and frosty's.  You feel this excitement and buzz in the air.

Then the program begins.  The excitement builds to see your own child.  And the giggles and laughter from the crowd watching that one performer who tends to "add a little something extra" to their performance.

Pretty soon, the program is over and you get all jittery, just knowing that soon Santa will come a jing-a-linging through the doorway to the gasps, shrieks and wide eyes of the little ones.

Waiting your turn for Santa can be almost excruciating-- especially if you're one of the older ones.

 But there is nothing like watching that little one's first time on Santa's knee.  It's a magical night and when the programs all over, THEN it feels like Christmas.

This year Kameron was a wooden soldier and did a great job.

 Britton got to "dance with girls," so he was even more excited.  I was in charge of their group and those boys really stepped up to the plate and did an awesome job!

Even Jadon got to sing a number between scene changes.

I was wondering how Palo would do on Santa's lap this year, but she actually did really good.  I thought she might scream and bawl.

Following the presents, we headed to Grandma & Grandpa Frei's for our dinner and visit with the family while the little ones played with their toys.  It's always such a fun time!

We came home and opened our pj's.  While we got this cute shot of the boys, the rest of us didn't quite get gathered for a photo.  You'll just have to observe them in the Christmas photos.

One of my kid's favorite things to do on Christmas Eve is to all sleep together in the same room..  When they started this, they wanted us to booby trap them in.  Booby traps get pretty lame when you are tired and trying to set traps after midnight.  But we usually get them pretty good.  I'm guessing this will be the last year they stay together.  Here's a cute picture of them getting settled.

Christmas Snow

The beautiful thing about living in Santa Clara is that it snows just enough to enjoy it, but not live in it.  And it snows so much around you that you can drive to it and have some fun, then come back to your toasty fire!

Christmas Eve morning, after the program practice, we headed to Pine Valley with all the warm gear we could find.  Did you know that it 250 lbs of clothing and 3-4 vehicles to transport you and your warm winter gear??!!  You also feel like the Pilsbury Dough Boy after you have enough layers on to think you can get out of the car and keep warm for 5 minutes-- IF the sun is shining.  If the wind is blowing, you only get 30 seconds.  By the way, it takes 2-3 hours to pack, 45 minutes to get there, 20 minutes to get dressed when you get there, and 10 minutes of sledding before you are freezing and ready to go home and spend another hour unpacking and two days washing clothes and drying out things.

Well, the sun was shining, but there was a nice cold breeze blowing, so Palo didn't last very long outside.  I took her back to the car, but was able to snap some good pictures first.  Then left my camera to whomever to get some more shots.

Lorenzo (Misi's brother) crashed into the tree first thing.  Then Britton crashed into the nice girl trying to help him out.  (Turns out is was our cousin, Courtney Jones.)  I'm still wondering if Lorenzo broke his foot.

According to reports, Whitnee had a nice wipeout and retired her sled after the fact.

Kallan still has a nice scrap on his shin.

 I'm sure Britton and Kameron both need chiropractic appointments.  You can see them airborne a couple of times.

All in all, it was a fun hour in the snow!

Christmas Gifts

I had the privilege of watching a tremendous group of young men participate in the real spirit of Christmas.

Kallan has a teammate who moved in from Kansas City this year.  He is on the basketball team with him.  According to one of our sources, he hasn't had Christmas for 2 years.  I believe he's come from the inner city life.  These young men have really stepped up to the plate to become his friend and invite him over.  When finding out that he hadn't had a Christmas, the boys pulled together and decided to do Christmas for him.

I got to take them shopping and laughed so hard, yet cried.  They were so excited to get stuff for him and to make him happy!!

Then I brought them to my house to wrap.  Oh boy!  Was that ever comical!  Mykelle and I couldn't stop laughing.  Clearly, learning how to wrap presents has not been high on their list.  You have to have A LOT of wrapping paper and tape and wrapping paper.  Any random large size of paper should usually work when wrapping.  We got such a kick out of it that we had to take pictures of the wrapping party.

Lots of wrapping paper.....

Sadly, when we went to drop the gifts off, he wasn't home.  That was okay.  What it did for the boys to bring them together and the spirit they felt will probably remain with them a lot longer!

It was truly another great gift for me to witness at Christmas.

Christmas Music

One of the best things about being a Mom is following your kids around watching everything they are involved in.    For me, there is nothing more fun that sitting at a ballgame or watching my kids perform.  Christmas was a wonderful time this year because I got to listen to Jadon sing quite a bit.  He had some great songs with great messages that brought the spirit wherever he went.

He loves feeling the spirit of giving so much.  Ever since those Madrigal trips to SLC, he longs to have that same feeling over and over.  This year, being out of Madrigals, he had to create his own opportunities.  He got with a group of his friends on Monday the 21st and they spent the day singing all over-- rest homes, individual people, and the hospital.  He had a neat experience at the hospital, especially up in ICU.  He said that several people starting crying and they were turning their computer webcams to capture them.

In the evening, they went to the Visitors Center to sing.  We took the family over to listen and to view the "Reflections of Christ" display and the temple lights.  The kids were very welcomed by those there.

As they had Jadon sing, "Mary Did You Know,"  I looked at him standing there in front of the Christus and heard him sing, "the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.  The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the Lamb."  Here was the Savior with His arms outstretched as if He were beckoning my song.  And my son singing, no testifying, of His very life.  It was so incredible.  The only camera we had was Sue's iphone, so they aren't the most professional pictures, but at least we captured it.

I wondered as I watched if Jadon could see the reflection of the Savior looking at him in the windows he was facing.  It was pretty incredible!

The Sister working there stopped Paul and I at least 3 times and asked him to come back and sing.

Christmas Booby Traps

As I left off from my Christmas Eve post, I was explaining about this Booby Trap thing.  Sometimes we are a little more creative, but the fact is that after midnight, we are just plain tired.  I had great ideas for this years booby trap thinking it would probably be the last, so I bought a bunch of stuff.  Paul was too tired, so he made the final decision.  Turns out that it was still successful.

Paul hung a sheet in the hall way then hid in the closet just behind the sheet with an air horn.  I had a bottle of sill string just around the corner.

We could hear the kids coming out and trying to decide who would go first.  It was finally voted that the youngest should go first.  I'm sure that's because it is like 8 votes to 1 that way.  So Kameron was chosen.  All he did was stick his hand on the sheet and begin to pull it back when Paul laid on the horn.

With a great scream, Kameron fell to the ground and quickly moved himself away from the front of the line.  As the others began to make their way through, I showered them with silly string.

I would have pictures, but since my closer up lens was dropped and broken in Puerto Rico, I would have had to stand in Ivins to get the shot of them coming out Christmas morning.  Also, it was too dark, and since I don't know how to run my camera well.....I just decided to man the silly string can.

Still proved to be entertaining!