Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Christmas that Keeps Giving

On our way home from visiting family, I told John I was so excited to get home, take down Christmas, and deep clean.  However, this morning as I walked in the living room to make a Christmas decor demolition plan: I looked at our tree with William's lollipop ornament (covered with teeth marks) and the other memorabilia of our life the last eight years and beyond. I got a warm-all-over feeling that calmed my over-zealous determination and just made me feel a calm content. That tree made me happy. And clearly, it made the kids happy. And when I told John I was postponing its removal, he was happy too.  I know, this isn't that big of a deal, but I mostly wanted to remember how good it felt to live in this moment. Today was spent playing with Christmas gifts that were left behind while we vacationed. I blasted Christmas music while I cooked ham and corn chowder from left overs, and I just about died as I heard Johnny singing "mele kalikimaka" under his breath while he colored at the kitchen table. The kids watched Santa Claus 2 while they dug through their stocking treats. My lunch was accompanied by peppermint hot cocoa and while the kids napped I watched While You Were Sleeping instead of cleaning the house and unpacking bags. I can only watch that movie this time of year- weird, I know. Christmas was five days ago, but it still felt very much present today at our house, and I liked it.  I like where I am at right now.  With such limited space it will be nice to take down the Christmas decor eventually, but I'm glad I'm letting the love and joy I feel this time year linger a couple more days, because as depressing as it is- this Christmas will never happen again. That said, I want to make sure I cherish William lining up his newly multiplied car collection, or Caity setting up her American Girl dolls to play Frozen Chutes and Ladders, or Johnny color code his 96 crayons with help from his transformer and Leonardo Ninja Turtle piggy bank. I want to kiss those sweet baby cheeks and read a few more Christmas stories before they are packed away. And perhaps kiss that husband of mine under the mistle toe, or at least make peppermint shakes together!
Merry (Late) Christmas.
This boy was particularly happy today!

Santa always brings gummy life savers for our stockings.

We got a package of sunshine from the McFarlenes (our old neighbors) it was the cutes package later and we had a blast opening it today!
(William's face.)
NeeNee making sugar cookies with the kids on Sunday

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

This year, we went a huntin' for a Christmas tree in the Palasades. The pickings were scarce, but after many hikes through shin deep snow, a few thrown snowballs, and one lengthy crisis of getting stuck: we found our perfect tree. 
Oh! We were so excited!

John got the axe from Marc, his supervising attorney at the US Attorney's office in Boise as a graduation gift, it was so fun to be able to use it!

Matthew stayed happy in the car.

William....not so happy, but he also was upset in the cold- so there was no winning! haha. 

The kids had a blast trimming the tree

We could only use our very favorites because our tree just didn't have the strength to handle all the Christmas spirit we have gathered over the years. 

Then we watched some good, old fashioned, Home Alone.

At least it photographed well! Ha!
Here is the ornament we chose out for this year in commemoration of all our fun memories cutting down trees and strapping them to our cars through the years.  They are some of my favorite memories and we can't help but laugh when John and I talk about them

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When Caity Played Mary

Again, another lousy picture brought to you by me. Caity was Mary in our church Nativity pageant. She was thrilled. She had her part memorized within about five minutes of receiving the script. She made sure to remind me every day for two weeks that we needed to have a costume ready. She told everyone at church that although most of the primary children were angels, she was going to be Mary, the most important girl of Christmas. She had her brothers re-enact the nativity at home (Matthew was Jesus, Johnny was Joseph and William was the angel/shepherd/dinosaur.) She was excited, to say the least.
Caity walked with an air of elegance from the time we picked her up from school until the time we left for our church party. 
She told Johnny he could be angel Gabriel to make him feel like he was important too. 
As they all filed onto the stage and a beaming Johnny smiled and waved while Caity stood serene and contemplative, smiling up at Joseph while he gave his lines...I couldn't help but get emotional... Because that's what I do now a days. 
I just love those kids. I love Christmas. I love that God sent Christ to redeem us, and all over the world there are similar pageants happening. 
We didn't make a big deal of Caity's role as Mary, because heaven knows her head wouldn't have fit through our front door and we would've been late. :)
But...later that night when the boys were asleep, I sat on Caity's floor and we read scriptures about Mary together and I was able to bear my testimony of Mary's role in Christ's birth and what a magnificent and wonderful woman she was and how Mary was one of my heroes and I hope Caity can have Mary's same faith throughout her own life.  
It was a special moment for me and one of my favorite experiences as a mother to date. 
I am so grateful to have that daughter of mine.

The only way to keep William quiet during the little performance was to take selfies together, haha- he must be a Partridge! :)

He also kept busy giving thumbs up to his new-found friend.

Johnny and Matthew...yes, Matthew is wearing camo santa jammies- that is just how we roll sometimes.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Johnny's talk in Primary

You have to zoom in, but that is Johnny sitting in the front of the Primary room, about to give a talk.  He sat up there, smug as can be in complete confidence.  When the primary president announced that after the song, Johnny would give his talk, he pumped his arms in the air with his hands in fists and mouth "Oh yeah!" and then nodded out of excitement.  When he got up to give his talk, he wiped his forehead and started to blow "nervous air" from his cheeks.  He gave an excellent talk about how he is named after four "John's" and how he wants to be a missionary of Jesus. Then he couldn't figure out how to close so he just kept blowing air from his cheeks until we were able to get him to say "Amen." Then he leaped from the podium and walked with a confident kick in step back to his seat. He turned around and looked at us and gave us a thumbs up and nodded his head in a way that said, "I'm the man!" 
I love that kid.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It Started with a Stable

The other day I was walking through a twilight Rexburg reflecting on the night of Christ's birth.  I thought about how before there was Mary, and before there was Joseph, and before there were shepards listening to Angels singing, and even before the animals residing within it: there was a stable.  
Whoever constructed that stable, built it with the intention of housing animals, feed, and supplies.If only he knew he was constructing a sancuary for a King. I think about the carpenter that fabricated the manger, imagine if he had known that Christ would one day rest therein. 
Have you ever been around farm animals? They smell. There are flies. There is filth.  I think about Mary as she entered the stable and took inventory of what was in front of her.  
I think many times I glorify the stable as something quaint and lovely, because how could a place that housed our Savior be anything less? Chances are it wasn't initially quaint, or lovely, or charming- but it was likely dirty and musky. There wasn't running water, and I don't imagine the stable was cleaned often. There was likely manure with accompanying flies. The manger was maybe dirty and rough.  
I don't know what Mary felt. I do know the feeling as I have entered certain apartments for the first time- they were run down, grimy, perhaps unsafe, and yet they were the only choice we had. I know the feeling of taking a deep breath and trying to count blessings before the disappoint takes over. I also know the feeling of expecting my first baby. I imagine every little detail of how special and wonderful it would be. I remember the responsibility I felt to make that spirit's transition into mortality sacred and peaceful. 
I picture Mary felt that same duty, but likely with a much larger burden as the woman responsible for caring for the Savior of the world.
The faith Mary and Joseph must have felt as they prepared that stable for Jesus' birth was nothing short of remarkable. I picture Joseph, the carpenter, sanding down the manger so it was smooth and fresh. I picture Mary laying blankets to make the stable more intimate.
It is interesting that a stable, a stable among hundreds of stables in Bethelehem, became such a special location in the history of the world. It makes me realize how through God, we can make the most mundane and average things, such as a stable, glorious.  
I pray that in my sloping floor, cinderblock apartment I can create something beautiful and uplifting. That, just as we associate a stable as a sacred shelter for our King, my children will someday view this old apartment as a sacred time of learning and bonding as a family.  I pray they remember our family prayers, our family home evenings, our long talks, our adventures and our love for eachother and the Lord.  I hope the life we lead will transform an ordinary apartment into a triumphant and sacred time in their life. I pray that when they think of heaven they think of the feeling they had while we lived in this home. And in every home we share hereafter.
I pray that when people enter our home, they feel something similar to what the shepherds felt that night because as they recognized Christ in the manger, others can recognize the presence of the Savior in our home.
This is the a nativity John and I bought our first Christmas together. 
I love it.
 Ironic it doesn't even have a stable when that was what I wrote about today. I actually like the accidental symbolism of this display. Christ birth was glourious and magnificent and wonderful because it was the fulfilled promise of a Savior to redeem us. We cherish the baby because the man he chose to become in our behalf.
I like to think that instead of a stable we have the shelter of Christ in our lives to protect us from the wind and elements of a fallen world. We must choose to live in Him.

It's remarkable what God was able to make of am ordinary stable, what will I allow him to make of my life?

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