Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter wonderland

When it snowed on Christmas, it was sort of exciting.  White Christmas!  Perfect!

Then yesterday, the same day as Braeden's Eagle Scout Project (which has been a huge pain and I haven't even been involved or very helpful so imagine how much of a pain it would be if I had been involved and helpful!  I shudder to think!), it snowed.

A lot.

I made my boys shovel the driveway and it turns out they aren't very good at shoveling the driveway.  They argued that they have never lived anywhere where it snowed much. 

I argued they are reasonably intelligent and don't need to have lived somewhere where it snows to recognize that they should start close to the house and move snow away from it instead of the other way around.

Anyway.

I drove Emma to a planning breakfast for her church Young Women group and nearly got stuck and nearly didn't make it up the hill.

And Braeden, who knows nothing about driving in snow (or shoveling it) was going to have to drive around the neighborhood for his project.

So I kind of freaked out and Adam, who is almost always the voice of reason when I'm panicking, suggested over the phone that Braeden delay the project a day and that seemed like a good idea.

Especially since there was a whole lot more shoveling to do.  The snow kept coming and coming and I have a sneaky suspicion the boys will get good at clearing the driveway. Braeden told me he's tired of snow. Good thing spring is right around the corner.

Wait.

Here's the view out our bedroom this morning.  Makes you want to put an extra pair of socks on, doesn't it?



I created a wintry white vignette on our mantle in honor of the wintry white world outside.


The rest of the house is somewhat wrecked and still halfway Christmasy (Adam said Christmas is melting), but I didn't show you the rest of the house, did I?

My blog, my version of reality.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Why you should be impressed

Here's the table, set for Christmas Eve:


That's not the impressive part though.

Look at this close up:


On every plate I placed one of the chocolate covered cherries Janet sent us.  This shows real personal growth, people.  There have been years when I hid the cherries and didn't share them with my family (even though they are intended for all of us).

When our kids came to the table, their faces were my reward for my great sacrifice sharing the cherries.  "Are these from Janet?" they asked, with their eyes full of wonder.  "She sent us chocolate covered cherries?"

What they were really recognizing is that Janet loves us.

And that's worth sharing.

(Although I still sort of wish I'd kept the cherries to myself.  They're that good.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

A merry little Christmas

There were several times on Christmas Eve that I felt melancholy.  I know that's no way to be on Christmas Eve, but I was.

I kept thinking that next year Braeden will be gone and I am not sure how I will be very happy.  I am pretty sure I'll adjust and get used to it.  I just don't know how.

So there was that. (Last night when I finally got to talk to my parents--it's hard to have such popular parents--I told them they needed to tell me that I'd be OK and they did.  No wonder they're so popular...)

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve we took a walk up into the canyon by our house.


This is a misleading picture because that's Mark and me walking back towards home so it should really be at a later point in the post.  But here it is.  It amazes me how close we are to beautiful places to walk and pretty vistas to see.

What a lovely world.



We walked along the creek and admired all the icicles we found on rocks.


Some of us pretended to be unicorns.

Then she built a little icicle forest.


As Emma's go, she's a pretty good one.


I think in the above picture she was watching her goofball brothers.

They decided to get up on a rock and jump across the water.  Just because they could.


First, they would pontificate:


Then leap:


I think Braeden was feeling young and vital because then he picked me up.


It doesn't seem that long ago that our relationship was more like this.


I still like him, even though he's man-size, and fortunately he did not throw me in the creek.

(He's not dumb.)

Adam was mostly the photographer of the adventure but I think Emma took this picture:


We came home to put the finishing touches on everything and to enjoy an evening together.

We woke up to snow falling which is a nice way to wake up on Christmas morning.


Unfortunately, Braeden, who looks healthy enough in this photo, got sick as the day progressed.  We usually have illness every other Christmas.  You've got to give us credit for consistency.    We otherwise had a nice day and a wonderful dinner at Ammon and Melanee's.

Emma and I each got a ukelele, so now I have two goals:  learn to play it and try to get my house straightened up after yesterday.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas


First a little update.  Emma and her friends--there was a revolving door of them but never more than ten at a time--watched the first five Harry Potter movies.  The first girls arrived around 8:00 and they were done at 9:30 last night.    They ate a lot of popcorn and treats and sandwiches and pizza and drank butter beer that Adam bought them on a late night Winco run the night before..  They also talked the entire time they were watching.  Every time I ventured downstairs to refill food or do laundry, I would shake my head at the sheer wonder of it all.  Five movies back to back in one day?

Braeden was a little overwhelmed by the volume of silly girls in our basement all day, I think.  He stayed upstairs as much as possible.  (Mark watched the movies...he has no problem with silly girls.)  At one point, Braeden said, "It always amazes me when Emma is the least weird of her friends.  I mean, how is that possible?"

It is sort of hard to believe.  But I like those weird friends.  They are kind and funny and good and oh so quirky.

Here's another update:  Adam sent me this picture after he read my text about Mark's cat burglar outfit.


I love the smug look in Mark's eyes because he knows he's responsible for Braeden's laughter. 

Spending Christmas with these people is the best gift I could have. 
   


It hit me full force on Sunday when I was at church.  The whole Christmas thing.  I'd felt glimmers of it all along in the season, at concerts, seeing Temple Square aglow with lights, and hearing scriptures read.

Sunday though, a few things really gave me pause.  For one thing, Mary.  Poor Mary.  Wonderful, dear Mary.  She was asked to do something very hard.  Not only did she give birth in a stable, but then she had a bunch of visitors the same night.  And how terrifying was it, to give birth to the Son of God?  Did she feel adequate to the task?  Did she flinch?  I don't think so.  And things didn't necessarily get easier as His life progressed.  I want to be like Mary.  I want to step up when I'm asked, no matter how hard or scary.

I have a ways to go.

I also was thinking about the shepherds.  They were nothing fancy, yet they were the ones who received angelic visitors.

I'm nothing fancy either.  And the Gospel is for me as well as for the fancy people.

It's for everyone.

I wrote this on my chalkboard, because sometimes I'm weary, but right now, I feel like rejoicing.


Christmas.

It's pretty wonderful.



I hope your holiday is happy.  And full of good things.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Calm and bright


This is my favorite.

I love when the busy-ness subsides, the kids are home from school and it is time to enjoy the season.

Whoever wrote the Christmas song with the words, "Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again..." was not talking about me.

Braeden often has had gatherings of his friends at our house.  Emma, rarely.  I've told her she can, but she has different social needs than her brother.  Mostly she wants to read.  Today though, she is having friends over for part of a Harry Potter movie marathon.  They're finishing tomorrow at another girl's house.  They are starting early and going late.

She doesn't do things halfway.

And I'm happy. I like a houseful of teenagers. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weirdness and cuteness

First, this weird kid.



We banded together with several of our neighbors and did a secret Twelve Days of Christmas for a family.  Their dad is away in the military.  When it was our turn to sneak something onto their front porch, Mark got dressed in his base layers Adam bought him for winter camping.


Mark has the same genetic disorder that Braeden does.  It's called, "I'll-Do-Anything-For-A-Laugh."

And it worked.  We laughed.

Now for the cuteness.

Friday Braeden and Emma and I went to Cormac's school Christmas program.  (Mark was home trying to decide if he was sick or not.  It's hard to know.  He is the child most likely to be deathly ill when it's time for school and have miracle recoveries when Braeden is home.)

Cormac was Santa and he was adorable.




After the program, I was telling him what a fabulous job he did while he was munching on a cookie.  He said, "Hey, Aunt Thelma?  When I am done with this cookie, can I give you a hug?"

Little Santa melted my heart!  I told him yes, of course.  Then the scamp forgot and ran off before I got my hug.

(I made him pay up later.)

Later that night, Jennifer texted me a picture of Savannah, the most angelic angel in the history of Christmas pageants.


How am I related to such attractive children?  I guess that is what comes of handsome brothers marrying beautiful wives.


Friday, December 19, 2014

My little guests

Tabor and Katie came for Emma's choir concert which was noble and generous of them.  Tabor and I nearly had a war over who would buy dinner but we reached a tentative peace.  He handed Adam a $100 bill and I handed Katie a stack of small bills.  (Nothing like getting unsuspecting spouses involved.)  Tabor finally said, "We'll say no more about this."

And we didn't.  Which is good because it turns out he was packing heat.  Right before I went to bed, Tabor showed me the handgun he had casually left in his coat pocket that was draped on a chair in my strictly peaceable living room.  He slid the cartridge out of it (it had not only been sitting there in my living room, it had been loaded) and handed it to me to admire.  "You brought this in my house?!?" I gasped.  Guns and me.  We are not on friendly terms and I don't like them.

He was as surprised as I was, except he was surprised that I wasn't excited about his new gun.

"Don't shoot your eye out." I told him, handing it back to him.

And we said no more about it.

The next morning, they went to the temple and Mark and I got to host the girls.

Charlotte showed Zephyr who was boss.


Mark showed the girls the wonder of his latest science/Lego creation.  (Pardon the school room/Christmas wrapping station clutter...)


They built a fort:


And let me take a peek:


Any time we have charming little guests in our house it is a good day.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter moon

One big benefit of living somewhere where the skies are clear is the moon.

The silvery mystical moon.  It's magical.

One morning, I saw it out the window.  I had seen it the night before too and it made me happy that it had been up there, watchful, while I slept.



I wanted to take a picture but I didn't want to go outside.  The Christmas tree was in the way but then I thought maybe it was a nice touch.

I don't know. This will be a shock to exactly no one, but I'm not really a very fancy photographer.

At Clarissa's concert a few weeks ago, all four choirs accompanied by the philharmonic orchestra performed Carol of Joy.  It was incredible and with tears streaming down my face, I decided it was my new favorite Christmas song.

Carol Of Joy
by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in...
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song--
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music--hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song--
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound--
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted--witness God's love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven's joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn--
Oh fallen world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

Pleasant Grove High School had their Christmas concert this week.  I loved it.  (And I saw it three times so I feel like I am qualified to have an opinion.)  They performed three times to packed houses. One of the choirs there sang Carol of Joy too.  The concert was a wonderful celebration of Christ's birth.  I learned that when you live in Pleasant Grove, Utah,  they don't have a generic "Winter Concert."  It's about Christmas.  The next time someone wonders if Mormons are Christian, send them to the Pleasant Grove High School Christmas concert.

Here's a far away shot of the Advanced Women's Choir.  Emma's there.  I promise.


Unfortunately Emma was sick but she rallied and still participated in her concerts.  It was terrific that Grandma Geri, Grandma and Grandpa Dahl, Ammon and Melanee, Clarissa and Tabor and Katie and their girls were all able to come to the concert.

We are lucky kids.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Big day

Sunday was a big day around here.  What kind of blogger am I?  I only took one picture and it was of the ugliest birthday cake in the world to text to Luke. (Everyone needs a nephew to text pictures of ugly cakes to.  Too late, I realized I texted him during his church time.  Oops.  Now I'm that aunt.)

Sometimes I get too busy living to document it but I guess that's OK.   I'll tell myself that's OK...and I'll try to get a picture or two from my parents.

Mark was ordained a deacon on Sunday.  I am proud of that kid and glad he's mine.  We were thrilled to have Geri, my parents, my grandma, and Ammon and Melanee and family all there for the occasion. 

After, Braeden drove to BYU to get Clarissa and we all had dinner at our house.  It was wonderful.  We set up a long table and it was elbow to elbow, people I love.  We introduced Cormac and Azure to our new Christmas bear.  Happily, Mark took a picture of Azure with Zephyr.  Because I didn't even think about a camera.


I think they like each other.

Cormac and Azure inspected our trees.

I was showing Cormac our straw goats, which in Finland are called pukkis.  "What are they called?" he asked.

"Pukki. Poo-key."

"Aunt Thelma?  Poo is not a nice word."

Ammon said, "Hey, try not to be a bad influence on my son."

Besides that, I think there were a lot of good influences happening.  Mark was surrounded by grandparents that love him and has a lot of good men to look up to (literally and figuratively).  

I love the good and righteous man I'm married to.  I love the brother Mark has to follow.  He's pretty worthy of emulation.  I love the grandfathers Mark is so much like--whether they're on earth or in heaven.  I love the uncles Mark has.  They are examples of goodness.

Families are pretty great.

This cake is not.

It's a Minecraft cake, the idea was conceived by Mark and executed by us both.  I did the baking.  It would qualify for one of those Pinterest "Nailed It" pictures.


  For the record, Luke thought it looked good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The new Christmas bear

Saturday night, Adam gave the kids this year's Christmas bear.  They had to answer a bunch of trivia questions first.  In the beginning, they were trying with the questions but it disintegrated into everyone trying to make everyone laugh.  It was a lot of silliness.

Adam and I sneaked in the purchase of the new bear at Disneyland.  He was in the gift shop next to the Grizzly River Run.  We love him.

I've been a dismal photographer all week but luckily Geri took some pictures and shared them.


The fur coat no longer fits the long armed boy but he can still make it work at key moments, like posing with the new Christmas bear.

No pictures of Emma and bear because she got the sickness I had and wasn't in a photo mood.

After considerable debate, we named him Zephyr.  He's a good little bear.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pikkujoulu 2014

I was feeling under the weather and it all felt like more effort than I wanted to do, but it was Pikkujoulu and I mustered my energy and did the work.

I messed up one of the types of cookies which is nothing new.

I realized that morning that I didn't even have an idea in my head about what we were going to do as far as a program.  Our programs are low key at best but I had not even thought about it.

Everyone rose to the occasion and participated in the program.

I set a festive-ish table.  Not my best effort.

We ate and then Braeden played the piano.


It occurred to me that Braeden won't be here next year.  And this year felt so mediocre.  I wanted a do-over.  I wanted to make it nicer.  I want Braeden around forever, not just a few more months.

Braeden put on a sport coat because he likes to dress up.  Mark does too.


Mark had more of a pajama clad shepherd vibe going on.  What would I do for entertainment if I didn't have such weird kids?  It would be a dreary world.

Mark showed us a video on the laptop about Christmas which was nice.

Emma played the piano.  Well.  I told her I wanted her to sing too so she and Braeden sang their funny version of Baby It's Cold Outside.  He sings, "You really can't stay."

She answers, "But Baby, it's cold outside."

I like it.

Grandma Geri did a little presentation with M & Ms.  Anytime you involve M & Ms, it's a winner.

I read, A Wish for Wings that Work, a perennial favorite.

Adam did his contribution last.  It's reading the story of Christ's birth, both from the Book of Mormon and Bible, with Silent Night playing in the background.  It's beautiful.

Finally everything felt right.  Christmas washed over me.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
It was the best news ever given.  I felt the light of season that represents the Light of the World.


 Joy to the world.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mark's birthday

Emma left a trail of sticky notes for Mark to find when he woke up, leading to a gift from her and Braeden.


Sisters are nice.  Emma and Adam and I picked out the gift (Legos naturally) the night before.  When we got home from the store, Emma proudly showed Braeden the selection.  Braeden said, "Yeah, that's a great set.  It is put together downstairs.  Mark already has that."

So, brothers are nice too.  They can actually keep track of the Lego sets.  (We should have taken Braeden to the store with us.)

Mark didn't want to return the duplicate set though.  It has good parts.  And that's the whole point anyway.

In the late afternoon, we picked Grandma Geri up at the airport.  Mark thought that was the best birthday gift ever.  I think we all did.

We went to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to see the lights.

Lot's of pictures, but they're so pretty...









We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner, at Mark's suggestion.  French toast.  I can't sing it's praises enough.

When we got home, Mark got to open the rest of his birthday presents.  He was happy with a Leatherman tool from his Grandma and Grandpa Dahl...




 ...and some Tardis soap from Aunt Whitney and Uncle Kelly


 and I don't know...maybe he was happy with this gift from Grandma Geri?





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