Monday, December 31, 2012

Post-Christmas Fun

Two main things: we partied with Heather, and Tyce's friend Allison came to stay for a few days.

We went to the Bellagio and to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. We played Quelf with Allison and Heather and it was a a blast. Allison went with Tyce, Bryce, and Mary to the Venetian and rode the gondolas. The two teens went to the mega stake New Years Eve dance and had a great time.


Posing can be painful.

Beautiful Bella joined us.

Cute girls.

Chocolate fountain at the sweets shop.

My oldest boy and I.

Cam and his gelato.

Stylish Harrison and his fedora...and gelato.
Watching the dancing fountains at the Bellagio to the song "I'm Proud to Be an American".

Pretty Mare.

Aquarium at Caesar's Palace (by the Cheesecake Factory).

Playing Quelf with the big kids--Mary had to wrap her hand in foil for the rest of the game!

Allison had to construct a mask out of kitchen stuff. She was a great sport.

Bryce and Mary had to splash water on their faces and sing sea shanties.

Allison and Tyce; Tyce sang with the gondolier and "Peppi" was super impressed.

Chillin' at home.

Before the dance.

Double date with Nick and Jess.
It was so fun to have visitors. When Heather left I was seriously sad--we had fun I now I miss her big time. Allison was the easiest houseguest and a very sweet girl. Tyce is fortunate to meet really wonderful people throughout the world and to keep in touch with them.

Now we have a few days, just us, and I'm wondering how to fill the time! What a nice break we've had. At least I have Mary's birthday to look forward to on Friday...if you can believe it, she will be 13! She is in party-planning mode, for sure.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Day

Tyce and Harrison woke up first and made sure to rouse Cam and Mary before pouncing on our bed at the magical hour of 7:00 a.m. I think the first two had been watching the clock for a long time before. Someone got Heather and we all gathered on our bed for family prayer.

With Heather.

With me.
After that the kids lined up by age (the one time Harrison does not mind being the younger twin) and headed downstairs to see what Santa brought.

How cute are these kids?

Flying downstairs!

The stockings always hold exciting treasures.

The big kids got video games (Assasin's Creed for Tyce; Pikmin 2 for Mare) and the twins got Legos (a Lego City garbage truck for Harrison {his #1 choice, btw}; and a Lego Creator 3-in-1 airplane/boat/truck for Cam).

They didn't have the Lego City set Cam wanted but he said he liked this one better anyway. Rock on, Santa.

Mary got Christmas socks. You can tell she is nearly always barefoot by the confusion and struggle that donning knit footwear causes her.

Katie was like, "Um, is this it?" Just kidding, she was a very grateful dog. She got a squeaky football too.
After the Santa gifts we moved to the front rooms for the rest of the gifts.

My parents got these musical, dancing hats for the kids and Bryce!

They also got these cool glasses.

Those are some scary elves.

Mary got an organizer called a Caboodle, which I filled with lip gloss and other cosmetics.

This was after I explained, "You have your own makeup now so you don't have to steal mine!"

Both boys really, really wanted messenger bags for Christmas. These were on mega sale from Lands End! Cam's was a space theme; Harrison's has wolves.

Tyce got a gift card.

Work it Cammy.

Tyce got a rugby ball and a South African flag.

Harrison opened a great surprise--a MythBusters experiment kit. He opened it and exclaimed, "Adam and Jamie!"

Bracelet and earrings for Mare.

Heather got new gloves from the Prices.

Bryce enjoyed stroking his beard while reading his new Mark Helprin book.
After the present-opening Bryce and Tyce dashed off to the airport to greet a friend flying in from Mexico, Allison. She is a super sweet girl Tyce met this summer in Utah and has remained a good friend. She was meeting family and driving to Arizona to spend the holiday with her grandparents and so Tyce enjoyed an hour with her.

Later that evening we saw the movie "Les Miserables" and it was, no hyperbole, one of the best movies I have ever seen.

I suspected I would need a tissue and boy, was I right. By the ending scene I was practically sobbing and so were Tyce and Mary! The entire theater was sniffling at least a little--except for Cameron who was asleep and Harrison who asked a million questions.

The car ride home was miserable, I won't lie, but I also won't dwell on it. Some people do not handle transitions well, as you know.

But it was a great day and I was glad to spend it with my family.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all the night long,
Christmas traditions were ringing with feasting and song.

That's the poetic way of saying that we had dinner and a devotional (with the one-and-only Heather, auntie extraordinaire).

Everyone before dinner.

This year's dinner was pork roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

And a Jell-o-y homage to the Mexican flag, apparently.

We have a few Christmas dinner traditions: we eat by candlelight and we pop Christmas crackers with the person next to us (and tell the joke and wear the paper crown contained therein).

Cam and his crown.
This year Heather introduced us to a new tradition: the peppermint pig. From an article on the subject:

As the candy pig is passed around the dinner table, each person uses the hammer to break a piece off, and then shares a bit of good fortune from the year just passed, with hopes of good luck and prosperity for the new year ahead. 

Heather read the tradition to us and took the first pound of the mallet.

Mary said that seeing everyone at Thanksgiving was a good thing that happened this year.

Cameron said that he made a lot of new friends.

The reason I write things down is because when I'm put on the spot I can hardly put my brain in gear. I know I have plenty of good fortune but I basically copied Mary's answer. Heather said, "I thought you would have mentioned going to Cambria's baptism" to which I enthusiastically replied, "Yes! That!" Oy. And a hundred other things.

Harrison did an experiment with the sparkling cider bottle.

After dinner we cleaned up a bit and had our candlelight devotional. This is a highlight of the entire Christmas season, for sure. Bryce always does such a good job of weaving scriptures and real life examples to really bring home the true meaning of Christmas.

Everyone with lit candles.

Sharing the light. Check out Mary in her cape.

"Ye are the light of the world" Matthew 5:14

At the end of the spiritual lesson we move on to our final Christmas Eve tradition: new pajamas and a new book. We are a family of readers and so the big kids usually race right up to their rooms to devour their new literature. We got Harrison a novel called "Wonder" by R. J. Palacio, which was daunting to read on his own. Cameron got two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books which was at the top of his wish list. Aunt Heather was a gem to read the books to both boys all week.

Not Christmas Eve, but I forgot to take a "new pjs" photo.

Heather reading to Cam.
And you will probably hardly believe this, but Bryce and I finished wrapping the gifts this year on December 22nd! So we were able to go to bed like normal people; I'm not sure that has ever happened before. Of course we three adults stayed up talking way too late instead but it was worth it.