Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sing Sweet Silent Night

I would like to start this post by saying...MY SEMESTER IS FINALLY OVER!!! I feel like I can truly enjoy the Christmas season now (at least for a week.) The last few weeks have been a real struggle, but now Jon and I are done, the kids are out of school, and Jon will be starting this week with two days off - hooray! Time to get the Christmas shopping done, the rooms cleaned up, and get set to enjoy the holiday. In celebration, I would like to share with you a list of my favorite Christmas songs. I am not the kind of person who can just turn on the Christmas station and let it play - I can't take all the Celine Dion, Jessica Simpson, Michael Bolton, etc. So I started making my own Christmas mixes years ago, and over the years I have refined them. Each year I may take one or two off, or add one or two more, depending on how I am feeling. So this list is not in any specific order, it is not by favorite to least favorite or anything like that. These are just songs that I love this time of year, and without which it just doesn't seem like Christmas. Some are conventional, some are really not, which I think really is a good way to describe me :)

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
Christmas - Blues Traveler
Christmas Song - Dave Matthews (not the same as the next one)
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Donde Esta Santa Clause - Guster
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
The First Noel - Nat King Cole
The Gift - Aselin Debison
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Lou Rawls
Here Comes Santa Claus - Elvis (he shows up a few times - my Dad used to play him)
Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
It's Christmastime - Barenaked Ladies
It's Christmastime Pretty Baby - Elvis
(It Must Have Been Ol') Santa Clause - Harry Connick Jr.
Sleigh Ride (Instrumental) - The Ventures
Jingle Bells (Instrumental) - it is an old 40's version
Last Christmas - Wham (which my children ALL know and sing)
Let It Snow - Dean Martin
Little St. Nick - The Beach Boys (although to be honest, I think Electric Mayhem does it best)
O Holy Night - Nat King Cole
Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me - Elvis
Santa Clause is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
Sleigh Ride (Instrumental) - Lee Anderson and his Pops Concert Orchestra
This Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
Up On the Housetop - Jackson 5 (total guilty pleasure)
What Christmas Means to Me - Stevie Wonder
White Christmas - The Drifters
Winter Wonderland - Louis Armstrong
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Baby It's Cold Outside - I am really picky about this one - there are a lot of versions that I don't like - my favorite is Petula Clark and and Rod McKuen, and second is Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer

Then there are full albums that I like the way they are:
John Denver and the Muppets- A Christmas Together
The Elf soundtrack (thank you Erin)
Lewis Ross - A Collection of Favourite Christmas Carols (all instrumental guitar)
Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Maybe there are some on the list that you haven't heard, or that you had forgotten about. They are just my standard Christmas fare - if you have favorites that aren't on here, let me know! I will check them out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Are Santa's Elves

This year we have had a very special visitor. I think that the letter that he brought us from Santa says it best:

Dear Anna, Hailey, Adam, and Jonathan,

I am trying to keep my “Naughty” and “Nice” lists up to date, but I find that during the month of December I am just too busy to keep an eye on all the children of the world myself. So I have enlisted the help of one of my elves in keeping an eye on the four of you. He will watch you all day long, and then report back to me each night while you are sleeping with what he has seen. In the morning when you wake up, he will be back in your house. He is not allowed to talk to you, but you can talk to him all you want. If you have anything you would like to tell me, just tell him and he will make sure that I know all about it. You can even send your Christmas letters to me by giving them to him. He is not allowed to play with you, either, because he is there to work! Please take good care of him while he is living with you make sure he is warm and toasty and he will be happy. He will be in your home until Christmas Eve, when he has to come home to the North Pole to make sure I have all the correct information on you and also to help load the sleigh. I hope that you all will be good children so that he can tell me to put you on the “Nice” list and so I can bring you some great presents for Christmas!

Santa Clause

P.S. His elfen name is impossible for human children to pronounce, so you can name him whatever you would like. He is partial to the name Steven, but it is up to you.

Every once in a while, Steven and I have to have a little chat about how the kids haven't really been listening, or how they have been fighting with one another, and then the kids straighten right up and try to show him how good they can be. In the mornings when he returns from the North Pole, he is waiting for them in a different place. We LOVE Steven, and hope he will come to visit for Christmas for many years to come!

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Or at least one of her front teeth. Hailey has had a loose front tooth for over a month, through Thanksgiving, and various people have been wiggling it all that time and trying to make it fall out, to no avail. There is a tooth coming in behind it, and so the tooth has been pushed further and further forward out of her mouth until she looked like Nanny McPhee. Finally about a week ago, Jon reached in and yanked the tooth out, much to Hailey's delight. It has been sold to the tooth fairy, and now the other front tooth is loose...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

This year marked the first time EVER that our Christmas tree went up before it was even December. Some of Santa's elves brought us a beautiful fresh-cut tree on November 28, and the night of the 29th was the only night Jon was going to be home for over a week so we had to act fast. Anna helped me get the Christmas tubs out of storage while Jon was at work, and Sunday night we all decorated. Well, Jon and I put up the lights, and then the kids took over. With three kids working, (Jonathan was more interested in Lilo and Stitch) that tree was done within 20 minutes. It has been nice to have the tree up all this time, especially since it smells terrific. I love to sit in the living room at night with the rest of the lights off and just watch the twinkling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

I stated in a previous post that I wasn't going to post the pictures of our family from Thanksgiving because they would be the ones I would use for Christmas cards if I did them this year. Well...there will be no Christmas cards this year, because instead I spent that money on a new sweater, pair of pants, and skirt for myself. I figured that I could post the pictures here and if you guys wanted to see them you would. So just consider this your Christmas card from me this year ;)

I love you all, am thinking of you, and send you warm holiday wishes! From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Turkey for Me, Turkey for You...

I am totally working my way to being caught up on blogging and getting to blogging about what has been going on at our house in preparation for Christmas, which is what I really want to blog about. Hoorah! So I am up to Thanksgiving now...the week before Thanksgiving we were treated to class parties in both Adam's and Hailey's classes, though unfortunately I left the camera in the car when we went to Hailey's, and since it had decided to spontaneously downpour at that exact point in time and I was wearing my red flats (super cute but NOT made for running through the rain to the car), there is no photographic evidence that we saw her in her cute pilgrim hat. Oh well.
Adam's class wore headbands with drumsticks on either side of their heads - funny. We ate turkey sandwiches with fruit and cheese puffs (just like the pilgrims) and then listened to them recite a poem and sing a song. It's always a good time to see all the parents trying not to fall off of the tiny kindergarten chairs while they hunch over their plates.

What is he doing?

Hailey's class had stew and cornbread, and they sang a song and performed a play about the first Thanksgiving (actually it was more of a recitation - there was no acting out the parts.) I was happy to see some of the kids with feathers on their headbands - small schools like ours are not concerned with political correctness to the point of insanity. It is something I remember from being in elementary school and having our class Thanksgiving parties (to which parents weren't invited, let alone did they come - parents were not nearly as involved then as they are now. Gotta say as a kid I kind of liked it that way - you were free from the critical eye of your parent when you were at school.) I was an Indian at least one year, and I remember doing war cries by clapping my hand over my mouth repeatedly - what child didn't think this was truly what Indians did? Ah, stereotypes...

For Thanksgiving, we went to my parent's house in Alta. It was a relatively low turnout this year, with just my family, my sister and her husband and two kids plus her daughter's boyfriend, my step-brother and his girlfriend, and my uncle and his roommate. (I realize that may not sound like a low turnout, but Christmas will be insane with all of those mentioned plus my step-mom's father, brother and his girlfriend, and daughter with her new husband and step-daughter.) The Thanksgiving tradition of my step-mom Paula is to take a family photo of whoever comes for Thanksgiving, and that is the picture she includes in her Christmas cards. Over the years she has gotten more and more creative in how she sets up for these pictures, utilizing the natural beauty of the area they live in. I also got some pictures of just my family, but I will not be sharing them at this time due to the fact that if I actually get Christmas cards out this year, those will be the pictures we use. It was a very nice Thanksgiving with all the typical foods, and this year I made my Grandma's cinnamon apples, which no one has made since she died 7 years ago. The recipe was somewhat bare-boned - it only said "red hots, apples, boil in water" - so I had to play with it, and will definitely do it a little different next year, but they turned out yummy anyway.

Failed Christmas picture...that's my husband for you...

My dad, Anna, and me

Bad Moon Rising

Actually, it was not a bad moon at all, but rather a New Moon...there really needs to be a rimshot after that comment. Anyways, after swearing that I would not be one of those crazy people who went to see New Moon at midnight the night it opened, I had to eat my words. And you know what? They tasted pretty good. A little background for you: I enjoy the Twilight series of books - I don't think that they are the best thing ever written, but the stories do capture me and give me that fluttery romantic feeling and I like them. I have spent some time being ashamed of that fact, but anyone who knows me well knows that I read a wide variety of books, some really challenging and thoughtful ones, and some that are just fluff. These books fill the cotton-candy need for me. That being said, I really didn't care for the first movie. I think I blogged about it as well if you want to check that out. So while I wanted to see New Moon, I wasn't getting my hopes up, and I figured I could wait a bit to see it. Well, my good friend Brandi came into town just to go and see the movie the night it opened with her in-laws, and they were kind enough to include me in the plan, so I bought my ticket on Fandango, wondering all the while if I would regret it. I DIDN'T. Not at all.

Brandi and me waiting

New Moon was so much better than Twilight was, and it turns out that seeing it in the middle of the night with other teens and women who love the story as much as you do makes it really fun. There was a lot of sighing and whooping and whatnot - especially the first time we all saw Jacob without his shirt...I'm pretty sure I gasped. (Brandi tells me this is ok since the actor is 19, even if the character he is playing is not.) There were still things about the movie that I wish they hadn't changed from the book, and a couple of things that I wish they had put in that they didn't, but overall it was really a good adaptation. (I tend to be more of a book purist - I would rather read something than watch it any day.) It was good enough that I went back and saw it Saturday morning (making it two times in little more than 24 hours.)

Vanessa, Brandi, and me

So thank you Brandi and the Hunts (sounds like a band) for letting me tag along - and thank you to Mama Hunt for standing in line for us in the cold cold cold!

Stephanie, Brandi, me, and Sahara after the movie - don't we look happy? Stephanie took her baby girl, and Sahara was two days away from her due date - those are some die hard girls!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On The Road Again

Ah Utah. Land of bland food, bad drivers, and hard nasty water. Add in the fact that the only way to get there from here is through Nevada, and you've got a place that I don't really ever feel the need to visit. If it weren't for the fact that people I love live there, I would never go back. (Maybe one day they will get with it and move out here to California.) About two weeks ago, one of Jon's best friends from high school, Heber Beddes, was getting married, and so we loaded up the car and headed across the desert to be there.

We drove out on a Wednesday and stayed until Sunday and were going going going pretty much every minute. We stayed with Jon's sister Jen in Layton. Thursday we did some light shopping, had a free lunch at the Noodles & Company in Layton (Jon works at the one here as a manager in training, and wanted to check out what another one looked like, and they fed us for free,) visited Uncle Jared at hair school and had the girl's hair cut, and then later I went and had hot chocolate and some great conversation with my sister-in-law Lindsey.

Friday was the sealing in the Jordan River Temple. It was beautiful and we were so glad that we were able to be there to witness this momentous occasion in Heber's life. Afterwards, we had a really good lunch with the Beddes family and friends before heading back to Layton to have dinner at Famous Dave's with Jared and Lindsey.
Saturday morning we went down to Lindon to visit with Jon's Aunt Terri and cousins Ashley and Mitchell. We went to lunch at Los Hermanos and had a great time talking and laughing.
This is my Ashley - I LOVE her. Someday we will live closer together and I will be very happy.
This is Jon and Mitchell, who were feeling left out of the love-fest.
Saturday night we were all the way in Ogden for the wedding reception, after which we went back to Layton and stayed up talking with Lindsey some more (it was a good time.) Sunday morning, Jon's cousin Kyle had his missionary farewell, so we went to that in Lehi and then to Uncle Brent's house to visit with that part of the family before driving back home. We has a hard time leaving since we hadn't had much time to sit with them and talk, and so by the time we left to start our drive back to California, it was 3:30 in the afternoon. That made for a VERY long and late drive, but it was worth it.
Jared, Uncle Brent, and Jon

On the drive home, Anna spent some time in the passenger seat so that Jon and I could take turns sleeping in the back. It made me look forward to the days when she can help with the driving too. She also practiced her photography skills while she was there. I think that the highlight of the drive home was having to help Hailey pee on the side of the road in the dark and freezing night because we were nowhere near a bathroom, and of course she couldn't hold it. Thankfully for all of you, there are no pictures of that adventure in the sage brush.
Overall, it was a nice weekend, but very fast and low on sleep. It was great to see everyone and have some great conversations, but as I told Jon, someone will have to die before I go back again, and then it will depend on who it is.

Monster Mash Redux

This year for Halloween, things were pretty low-key. I didn't have the time to focus on what everyone was going to be, or to make their costumes like I do some years, so we ended up with a lack of creativity in the outfits. However, the end result was the same: candy candy candy. Jon helped the kids carve pumpkins, and they did a great job. In case you can't tell, the pumpkin with one eye is B.O.B. from Monster's vs. Aliens - Hailey carved him.
Anna wanted to be the bride of Frankenstein, and the main challenge there was how to get her hair to stand up. In the end, I used a Gatorade bottle, Aqua Net hairspray, some bobby pins, and a headband to do the job. Then I did her makeup and put her in a dress/sheath I made from an old sheet, and she was good to go.

Hailey wanted to be a cat for Halloween, which was really easy. I got her some black leggings, a black shirt, some cat ears, made a tail, and drew on some whiskers and voila. With her black Chuck Taylor's, she was one cool cat.

Adam borrowed an outfit from his cousin and went as Mr. Incredible.

I really wanted Jonathan to be a vampire, because I thought he would be so stinkin' cute with the pointed hairdo and a cape and bow tie, but couldn't find a cape for him. Instead, I found an elephant costume for $6 at Goodwill. He loved it when we bought it, but then on Halloween didn't want to wear it, until Aby showed him the elephant scene from The Jungle Book, one of his favoritre movies. (When you ask him what the elephant says, he answers "Hup two three four.")

At the last minute, Jon decided he wanted to dress up. With 5 minutes to go before we left the house, he found an old orange jumpsuit in Jake's closet, we printed out the Dharma Initiative symbol and sewed it on, and he had an awesome costume. Not everyone knew what he was, but it was worth it when we ran into someone who does watch Lost, because they thought it was totally awesome.

Next year, I hope to be back into the Halloween spirit in time to get together some great costumes for the whole family.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sugar, Sugar

Just about everyday I have a minute where I think "I should go and blog," and then life keeps going and things are just too busy. I looked at the date of my last entry, and realized why it was my last. It was dated September 8. September 14, Anna was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Our lives were thrown completely off kilter, and we still haven't quite gotten them back on track.

Diabetes was not something I had ever considered with my kids. Type 1 doesn't run in our families, and when I think of diabetes I think of chunky kids, which everyone knows my girls are not. Once we were informed of the signs and symptoms, though, I could look back for months and see it. Hindsight is 20/20.

What led to the diagnosis was that Anna had been feeling pretty sick throughout the weekend, running a fever, listless, and really pale with sunken cheeks. Of course all this started Friday night, so we couldn't get to a doctor until Monday morning. When Jon told the doctor her symptoms, (which also included peeing A LOT) they pretty much knew what it was. (She had also lost 10 pounds in the past few months.) They did a urine sample and blood test, and immediately reserved a spot for her in the pediatric special care unit at Sutter Memorial in Sacramento. From there it was a blur.

Anna's blood sugar level upon arrival at the hospital was near 750, which, for those of you who don't know (as I didn't) is incredibly high. Normally it is in the 100's. She was admitted and hooked up to an IV and we spent four days there, learning everything we never wanted to know about Juvenile Diabetes and trying to bring her sugars down before they sent us home. We were admitted around 3:30 in the afternoon, and the next morning the nurse asked me "Are you ready to give a shot, Mom?" Before I could even blink, let alone say the "no" that would surely have been my response, she said "Yeah, you're ready," and handed me the vial and needle. Anna was very brave as I very hesitantly gave that first shot.

Those first couple of weeks at home were ROUGH. I was emotional, none of us were getting enough sleep, and everything was turned upside down. I can remember cutting chicken for dinner the second night we were home, and breaking down in tears, to which my husband kindly and sensitively replied "Oh, does chicken make you sad?" "Yes, it does." I told him.

Since then, things have improved. Anna gives herself almost all of her own shots, drawing the insulin into the syringe like a pro. She counts all her carbs and keeps track of her blood sugars. Not once has she complained about having the disease, or about what all it entails. She is an amazing kid, who amazes me more and more every day. If I had one one-hundredth of the resolve, patience, determination, and courage that she does, my life would already have righted itself.

Anna shortly after being admitted to the hospital. She tried to smile, but she just wasn't feeling well. She looks so much better now!

Pa (my dad) practicing giving shots to a roll of gauze.

Anna practicing

Aby (Jon's mom) practicing drawing liquid into a syringe

Pa giving his first shot. Anna is focusing on not paying attention to what he is doing - it was a defense mechanism of hers for the first week or so. Now, when she doesn't give the shot herself, she barely notices the needle.

Max the monkey, a gift from Aby

Visiting with Hazel and reading Tiger Beat - does it get any better? Hazel is one of three dogs at the hospital that go around visiting the pediatric patients. Grandma provided the magazine.

Watching Prince Caspian

Watching Anna. I have decided that seeing my child in the hospital is my new least favorite thing in the world.

Getting some much needed sleep.

Leaving - finally!!!

I have to give a huge thank you to all of my friends and family who expressed their love, concern, and support, not only while we were in the hospital, but since. I am so grateful to have such a great network of support and love.