I did it! I caught up on our family’s life all the way up until Christmas on our blog. That was my goal and I did not think it could be done.
Life has had a lot of beautiful moments, fun things to do, and places to go. Life has also been stressful, at times sad, and tiring. This holiday season I had a very hard two weeks. That were full of a lot of physical pain, sad news, stressful work situations, and bad flare ups of my depression.
Having the last 7 days where I have had some time to slow down and recoup has helped me a lot.
My uncle took my grandmother’s cactus and split it into parts for some of her granddaughters. I know she misses being around for baptisms, holidays, and birthdays. Little things tell me that she is there and make it so she can show she is there and is participating.
This holiday season her cactus flowers bloomed for me.
I love her and that she still looks out for me.
Merry Christmas, we love you all, here is a snapshot of our Christmas card.
I hope to be back with some blog plans I have. My blog is a journal to my girls, so it is just little projects for them I want to share on here. I hope I get some time to work on it a bit. We will see, have a great last of the holiday break.
We always rush home from Christmas Eve at my parents to get ready for Santa…
#1 We open our new pjs and ornaments
#2 Leave food out for the reindeer & elves
#3 Leave out cookies & chocolate milk for Mrs. Claus
#4 Leave out cookies & pink milk for Santa
#5 Go to sleep as fast as we can
The magic of Christmas Eve happens and we wake up to THE BEST DAY EVER!!!
Abby’s highlights were: getting a comfy chair for her room and Iwako erasers.
Cameron’s highlights were: getting a comfy chair for her room and root beer candies.
Shae’s highlights were: getting a little stuffed bunny and a Sophia car.
Reagan’s highlights were: getting a backpack and playdough.
Tyler’s highlights were: getting a gift card to go get a new suit and getting his bathtub supply basket from the girls.
Vanessa’s highlights were: opening Tyler’s gifts! He ALWAYS gets me the best gifts that he really puts time into. I get excited every year. Two years ago he wrote me a book, a year ago he had a painting done for me. This year he was going to get my Grandmother’s chairs upholstered for me. But last minute it didn’t end up working out so he was in a jam. He bought me a soda stream, gift cards for going away, and the coolest gadgets. I also love that the girls’ make gifts and give them to me.
I had fun buying them some themed presents for the girls:
#1 Little Critter pots and seeds to grow their own birthday flowers in year round.
#2 Baking Sets with an apron, baking glove, cookbook, baking mix, and new baking mold.
#3 I made them a necklace to remind them of the adventures we have gone on as a family. Then a note with an adventure they will go on with their Dad really soon. Abby gets to go snowboarding for the first time, Cameron gets to go feed some penguins, Shae gets to go to a cooking class, and Reagan gets to go to Color Me Mine. All with just their Daddy.
We ended the day with our special Christmas dinner. We have continued a tradition from Tyler’s side where under your plate is the end of a string. You have to pull on the string to find your gift. Usually the strings are all tangled (tangled beautifully of course) and it is fun to get the little box finally. Abby set up this year’s tradition and even bought the gifts. Although when she came to set it up and saw that I had put candles everywhere she ending up putting them in the little reindeer pouch behind people’s chairs. They were mixed up and when you finally found yours at someone else’s seat you had to tell them a reason you loved them. She chose a little plant for everyone to grow. She did a wonderful job and next year I will remember not to do candles.
Christmas morning video here
Christmas Eve is always spent with my side of the family. For as long as I can remember we have done Mexican food, acted out the nativity, and ate the same cookies. I will love tamales till the day I die! I’ll always have my Christmas Eve’s like this when I have grandkids as well.
Lots of times family traditions can just make you feel safe and at home. Those are my favorite ones.
This post is out of order, I will move it to the right order in a week or so.
Cameron waited two months to be baptized so Tyler’s parents would only have to travel out to Utah once ***AND*** so she could be baptized with her best friend and cousin Lydia. Lydibug who is really probably the 3rd most important person in Cameron’s life is she is being honest. Lydia cuts in line in front of some of Cameron’s sisters I think.
Some of the things Cameron had to do to prepare for her baptism really stressed her out and brought on some added anxiety and acting out. Poor girl was stressed. She holds it in and won’t say things out loud so it took a little while for me to figure out what was going on.
Leading up to the baptism I worked on her baptism binder. I got some relatives to send in letters to put in there for her to read. We had some special FHE lessons on baptism and she had all her little meetings and interviews.
That day she ALSO had a dance recital in the morning. I was stuck in a hard place after the recital and ended up having to get her ready at Chickfila and in the back of my minivan. Which I felt awful about, I really wanted the day to be super calm and smooth but it was not turning out that way.
Luckily we got to the church early. Made sure things were set up, found the heater, and gave ourselves a little tour. I was worried if the baptism was even going to happen or not because we were the only ones there for awhile! Thankfully everyone started to come. And even more thankfully Cameron was SO excited to be there and be there with Lydia.
They were really lucky to live in Utah and get to have the whole program to themselves. Both of them got to have all their grandparents involved in a part of the program. Her Grandma Brown gave a beautiful talk on baptism and her Grandma Willden gave a beautiful talk on the Holy Ghost. Which by the way I really want copies of those talks you two! I was in a lot of pain and holding onto a lot of stress and can’t remember too much. Other than just trying to stay calm for Cameron so she could have a beautiful time.
It was time to baptized and she went right in without being nervous. Her Dad of course dunked her REALLY hard so nothing would pop up. The first words out of her mouth were, “I’m so cold!” It was really so cold, our efforts to turn the heaters on to heat up the bathroom were not done in time. BUT the next words were, “AND HAPPY!”
She was given the gift of the Holy Ghost by her dad who I think gave a beautiful blessing but Reagan was not being quiet so I wish I had asked someone to take notes for me.
Cameron got to pick the closing song and boy was she excited that it was the appropriate season to sing Silent Night, her very favorite song of all time. Those little things mean a lot to her.
The baptism and Cameron & Lydia’s experience seemed like it was perfect for them. Which is what matters. Cameron had her Grandparents Brown and Willden, Great Grandparents Willden, Wrights, Behles, JB & Bryan, and her family there. I don’t think she noticed or cared that no familiar faces from the neighborhood or her ward were there. SHE GOT TO BE WITH LYDIA, NOTHING ELSE MATTERED!
With knowing how stressed Cameron was I did really try to focus on fun things that would happen in the day. Which I know that some people might think that it took away from the important ordinance they were completing. But there is a reason I did it the way I did, for Cameron. Lydia and Cameron told me the colors they wanted things to be, what food they wanted, and what treat they wanted. I really wanted to be helpful and feed all the out of towners for the baptism. But as the time got closer I knew it was going to be really hard for me to handle. So we had Costa Vida come cater the “nacho bar” they wanted so badly. I had a candy bar like they requested BUT my announcement of the parents having to help the kids I don’t think was listened to. I think the kids gorged themselves, the bags were so full, I am still picking out the candy from my carpet, and our poor dog got into a leftover bag left somewhere and was so so sick. I decorated with snowflakes one of my YW made me, pictures of the girls, and a beautiful cake. I priced out how I could feed everyone dessert without baking anything and surprisingly getting this cake was the cheapest option. Even though I did feel really silly because it looked like a wedding cake. Oh well! All these things made Cameron even more excited about her special day.
It was a good good day for those two, I was so happy for them.
I might have lost it that night, but sometimes that is what we moms do for making sure our kids have a calm important time on important days like these.
This post is out of order, I’m going to move it down to September after a week or two.
Abby decided to try a new class this year at her dance studio, BALLROOM! It is always surprising to see (and I’m just entering this world) what your kids end up enjoying and gravitating towards. She has a ball during the entire class and talks about it during the week. It is a class with a lot of different ages, most of them older. Her ballroom partner is a friend she has had since she was 4 or 5. She talked one of her best friends into also joining the class. She also just has the sweetest and best teacher. I’m so pleased of how it is turning out and I would put money on this is something she sticks with for at least a few years.
She had her first ballroom competition just a few weeks after starting ballroom for the first time. Her and sweet George (my friend Emily Hill’s son of IsThisReallyMyLife.com) had a lot of fun, and that is all that matters. I did tell her to shake it more and have more sass and when she did that they PLACED! She placed on her first competition. I’m so glad she decided to give this a try. I think its good that she learns to look people in the eye, can hold a boy’s hand normally, and learns to dance with boys!
You could celebrate Christmas with only attending your kids’ holiday performances and have a very full season. I do wish we could appoint another month as kid performance month so we could all enjoy it a bit more. How is February for everyone? Get us out of the winter blues?
Abby & Cameron have been taking piano lessons for eleven months in total now. We switched to a new studio and she put on such a beautiful recital. Abby was so embarrassed that she had to pick up her book. But I told her she did it so calmly and tried to hard that is still was great. Cameron is just the funniest little create. She can get so nervous for things but then its like this on and off switch in her body. If she switched it to on and just does it she is calm, PERFECT, and strong about it. If she keeps the switch to off she is very nervous and things don’t go so well. But it’s either on or off, no in-between!! And no leading up to it or doing things to help her. I just have to PUSH HER AND WALK AWAY. Man sometimes I wish I could help her more but it is just not how she works. I remember last year I picked her up, put her in a dance class, gave her one wave, and walked away. She stood there crying alone for a while with another mom looking at her so worried. But then she flipped the switch and decided to be brave. If I had stayed there, waved to her through the window, gave her encouraging words, it would not have helped. SO I was so proud of her when she did her piano recital so perfectly.
Abby’s Piano Video here
Cameron’s Piano Video here
Abby & Cameron are in a dance team called PEEPS. They have a piece they learn in the Fall to perform at 4 or 5 different things in the Winter. It was fun to go where they performed because then we could enjoy the arena as well. Dickens Festival (ok honestly that one isn’t my favorite expo), Festival of Trees (this is a beautiful thing to go to), a retirement home, and a high school holiday performance.
This semester of their dance team classes did a jazz piece. Cameron adores jazz and her spunkiness matches with it quite well. Abby really likes jazz but I think her body and energy level match perfectly with ballet.
They work so hard AND have a blast, going to PEEPS is always a happy thing.
Abby’s dance video here
Cameron’s dance video here
Preschool Christmas Program
Shae & Reagan go to a wonderful preschool that is at their dance studio. I’ve been so impressed. I wish Shae could just stay another few years and not go to grade school levels. It is just the most perfect and magical place filled with a lot of ladies who love the kids.
Preschool video here
In Class Demonstrations
I had a total of 20 in class demonstrations to go to, where the girls show off what they have learned so far in their classes. Sometimes they have a little christmas dance they have been working on. I forgot to go to 2, couldn’t make it to 6, and made it to 12. I give myself a C. Only because I had an inflamed face covered in inflamed sores and still went to see my girls. People are weird in their staring, and by people I mean adults. Abby had two with her assistant teaching classes to go to. Some of the kids came up to her and gave her a big hug and gave her gifts. IT MADE HER YEAR! And to hear her refered to as Miss Abby is really just the cutest thing ever.
A lot of videos are hosted on my vimeo account of their demos here
Abby & Cameron were part of a children’s choir, youth choir, and adult choir for the ward Christmas program. They went to extra practices and I caught them singing the songs at home. We have the most beautifully talented musicians in our ward so it was a beautiful program. And the girls sounded so wonderful!
See that is a crazy amount of things. Very very full December!!
I have a lot of guilt that I am not the most involved neighbor or friend. We moved to a new part of the neighborhood and I feel like I haven’t got to know anyone over here. We are gone every single afternoon that everyone is home. I can’t do birthday lunches with them or really anything. I always feel bad. So I wanted to invite my new neighbors over for a holiday dinner.
I also had no time to make anyone a holiday dinner. So I did the catering from Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods, I realized for the second time I do not love their catering. I made up for it by buying pastries from Gourmandise. And making yummy mocktails although I think that I live next to a bunch of very healthy women. So I don’t know if they normally drink sugary drinks.
I had everyone bring a gift with their favorite holiday item wrapped up in it. We played a game and based on how well you did you got to pick a gift first or last. Then we opened them and the person shared why that was one of their favorite things.
I’m trying to remember what game I did…I think I had everyone write on an index card the answers to these questions:
What is the laziest thing you do?
Where is the furthest you have traveled?
What states have you lived in?
What do you eat when you are stressed?
Eh I think some of those are wrong and I’m missing some, oh well.
They didn’t put their names on them, I mixed them up in a bowl, and everyone took the same number out. Then we went around and everyone had to guess on the cards they had, who they thought had wrote that.
It was fun, I wish I could see all these ladies more!
This season we did have a couple groups of visitors and we were also sick a lot. Which made it so I don’t know if they were the ideal situations. I felt bad, the weeks leading up to Christmas are a hard time to have visitors. That combined with going through so much sickness made it so we were not the best hosts or people to visit. Christmas week and the week after are magic and I vote for people to come then. I’m much more myself!
My in laws came for Cameron & Lydia’s baptism (more on that) and to have a Christmas dinner. That part went beautifully and I’m glad it did. Because after that everyone got sick and fell apart. Our poor visitors!
My mother in law planned some games and gave beautiful gifts (she is the best gift giver), my father in law worked hard at all his work meetings, and my sister in law fed us for the holiday dinner. Which is good because I don’t ever remember having such a bad flare up of my lifetime disease ever.
My sister came to visit as well when I wasn’t feeling very well. My sister and mom rented a bounce house and thought up all these fun activities. We took them to the movies and spent Christmas Eve with them.
Thank you visitors for coming, hopefully next time it goes better!!
Decorating the new home for Christmas was fun. Still trying to figure out where things would look the best. I bought fresh garland this year but bought it very early so it could be ready for early holiday celebrations. By the time I took pictures it was looking very dried out. Then when I took it down it was a bomb of little green dried pine.
I took awhile to buy a tree, Tyler asked if we could go buy one. I really wanted to cut one down in the mountains but the way they pass out permits is just silly. They need to put it online already. Can you tell someone was pretty peeved about the Christmas tree we got?
She felt better after she got to pick out a little one for downstairs. The littles ones had fun helping me decorate the big tree and the big ones had fun having me NOT HELP AT ALL decorating their tree.
I love doing neighbor gifts. Unfortunately (and fortunately…maybe) I have the fear of leaving anyone out. So I give neighbor gifts to everyone. Which makes it so I can’t do any homemade things. But I sure did love the homemade gifts that came our way. I hid three of them just for myself. The girls helped me pass them out to all of the neighbors with a wagon.
We did the same for teacher gifts. Oh my would you believe it…these homeschool kids have in total…29 TEACHERS! Really, they do.
I asked my mom if she could teach us how to make her famous holiday cookies. She has made the same types of cookies since I was little and I finally snapped pictures of the recipes and processes while we were there.
We went sledding. I would like to outsource sledding. It is fun once we get there for 10 minutes. I just don’t want to deal with the before and after.
Shae & Reagan helped me with tons of holiday cooking, they are so fun to cook with.
Abby & Cameron decorated some beautiful gingerbread houses late at night when we could fit it in!
Tyler had his company party, we took everyone to Alamexo. I feel so uncomfortable at these. Tyler has great people who work for him, I just feel so out of place!
We have the tradition of Genevieve the tiniest elf. She has a story to go with her that my mom wrote. You take her and do service for people and leave the little doll where you did the service for the person. Then it is their turn to do service. I was chosen one night and she left me a little spa! Too cute.
Lastly for this post, I love reading Christmas books to them at night. I love this tradition with them.