Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Excitement Part Two (Before it's Over)

And so we continue with the pre-Christmas fun...

Haven and Bentley's pre-school class performed holiday songs at an assisted care center. I wish I had some better pictures, but I did get a lot of good video. They looked so cute in their elves hats and did such a great job singing.

These are some photos that Eric took a couple of days after our big snowstorm.

We had a really fun visit with the Clark family. They were going to come to our house, but poor Calvin broke his collarbone the night before. Poor little thing. The kids all ate pizza while Eric, Tina, Dan and I went out for lunch. When we got back we had fun exchanging gifts.

We always have fun with the Clarks and look forward to every chance we get to see them.

Our ward party was a great success. They had a lovely program in the chapel before we all sat down to eat. The cultural hall was amazingly decorated like a log cabin. None of our pictures do it justice. Every square inch of the walls was covered and lights hung from the ceiling. It was so well done. The kids also had a little visit with Santa.

Partly because we have annual passes for Springs Preserve, I wanted to make sure we made it there for the Christmas display. It was really fun. We began by listening to a string quartet, and then went to a little craft room where the kids made ornaments from recycled CDs.

We saw Santa from a distance, but decided that the kids had sat on his lap enough this season. But Haven and Ryder did take a little rest in his sleigh.

The met a snowman and a reindeer.

There are some very amazing cactuses in the garden section that we have never made it to in the daylight.
We had a lot of fun walking around and checking everything out. Ryder, of course, had one of his signature tantrums while we were there, but mostly we had an enjoyable evening.

And here you have it--the (condensed) list of dumb things Jennifer did during the month of December. (I may have to ammend it as people remind me of dumb things I missed.)

1. I left my purse in a shopping cart in the Kohl's parking lot. Luckily I realized it before reaching home, turned around and sped back, found my purse in the same cart in the same spot where I had left it.

2. I ordered my Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving. I received them 5 days later. It took me quite a while to re-type everyone's address into my computer (so I can lazily put labels on envelopes). I then realized, upon printing out the labels, I had not ordered enough cards. So I ordered more cards. I FINALLY began labeling and stamping envelopes the week of Christmas. Then lost about 50 stamps half-way through. I mailed many cards the Monday before Christmas, but I didn't want to buy MORE stamps so I kept looking. I finally gave in the day after Christmas and bought more stamps and sent the rest. Almost. I still have several that Savannah ruined when she put the label on the envelope that I need to hand write. And by the way, Eric found the rest of the stamps while packing the car for Utah. (So this one contains many stupid things--what can I say?)

3. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to make pull-taffy for our neighbors for Christmas. That was really dumb. Instead we gave out yummy popcorn (thank you, Tawnya!).

4. My poor planning was in full force as I bought, returned, and the re-purchased several items.

5. I forgot to give or do or show up for several things or people. You know who you are and I'm so sorry.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Let's begin with Christmas Eve:

We have many Christmas traditions. Some are keepers and others come and go. Many years ago we began watching the Church's film version of Luke II. The simplicity and beauty of this production is an impressive way to begin the festivities. We are reminded of the Savior's humble birth and the reason we are celebrating.

Here we have the traditional opening of the Christmas Eve jammies. Haven and Sage were excited to find that they received matching jammies. Ryder wasn't too sure about what we were doing. He got the hang of it quickly enough. (I think he was a bit torn by the fact that I'd been telling him to stay away from the presents for the better part of a month and now suddenly said it was okay to open one.)

We also open one other present that is under the tree. It is usually from a sibling. Haven opened her gift from Ryder: some Fancy Nancy shoes and a stuffed Lil' Pet Shop Butterfly. Ryder opened a gift from Savannah: Legos. Savannah opened a gift from Ryder and Haven: a remote control car. And Sage (no picture--I don't know what I was thinking, Sage!) opened a gift of clothes from Ryder.

First off: the pickle ornament search. Sage found it this year! I actually believe she went into it half-hearted this year because Savannah usually finds it. But once she got serious, she spotted it. The $10.00 prize was finally hers! I'm sure Ryder was wondering why they girls were studying the tree when there were presents to be opened. And poor Haven really thought she stood a chance! Next year we might have to add a second pickle for the little people only to search for.

Some Rydster info:
- He loved his new bike (which was really an afterthought!).
- The Word World toys were a big hit.
- He rode his new bike around the house almost the whole day (when he wasn't sleeping or watching Wall-E), and piled his toys into the bin on the back of his bike.
- He mainly ate candy for every meal.
- Wanted to watch Wall-E constantly.

Stuff about Haven bo baven:
- She was very "helpful" and willing to open everyone's presents whether they needed the help or not.
- She loved all her presents and named almost all of them as her "favorite" at different times during the day.
- Told Uncle MRK (after he gave her a gift of a dress--which he usually does), "It's beautiful. But I already have a Christmas dress."
- Still refuses to try Eggs Benedict and told me that eggs make our house smell rotten.
- Was so happy to finally own a copy of Wall-E. (Which we watched no less than four times on Christmas day.)
- Only threw one really big tantrum when told she had to get in her jammies that night.
- She played with her toys ALL DAY. She didn't stop for a nap or meals, and she stayed up until almost 1:00 in the morning STILL playing.

Notes on Sagie:
- She's been saving and saving for a laptop. Santa kicked in the rest of the money and surprised her for Christmas.
- She spent the entire day in front of her computer.
- The biggest bonus? The computer camera. She played with photo manipulating software for hours.

- If she wasn't surprised about her iTouch, she is a good faker. She had a perm-a-grin all day long.
- She didn't waste anytime loading it up with music, movies and games.
- Her Zune got kicked to the curb (actually, given to Sage) without a second thought.
- She left for Utah Christmas night with Natalie and MRK (the roads were so bad that the roads were closed at Beaver and they had to get a motel room).

A few of my very favorite photos of the day:

The Christmas Day nap.

Exhausted after a fun-filled day.

Can you just feel the happiness?

I love that Savannah is so obviously excited for Sage.

Savannah and Sage begin each Christmas morning by unwrapping all the items in their stocking first. It's fun to watch that anticipation build as they calmly unwrap candy and chapstick and other semi-boring stuff.

This is one of my favorite pictures taken on Christmas night. Why? We took down the Christmas tree!!! I am so excited. I always dread going home after a week in Utah knowing that we have to take down that tree. It's so nice to know that--other messes aside--we don't have to worry about putting away Christmas stuff.

A few other comments on Christmas:

- I got a new lens for my camera! I'm so excited. Thank you Eric.
- After receiving my new lens, I took very few pictures that day. I was too busy with other stuff. (I have since taken hundreds.)
- Eric got a surround sound system for our television. Thank you again, Eric, for wanting a gift that benefits the whole family.
- I forgot to take pictures once Natalie, MRK and kids and Ryan arrived for breakfast. Probably because I was busy making Eggs Benedict.
- The Eggs Benedict was pretty darn good--even though I have no pictures documenting the yummy stuff.
- In Young Womens the girls had to state what their favorite Christmas tradition is. Sage said Eggs Benedict. Savannah said that she loves that Santa leaves a wrapped book at the end of their bed that they can read until everyone is awake Christmas morning. (Santa almost abandoned this tradition this year!)
- It was a wonderful, wonderful day. I'm quoting Eric here.

We are grateful for any opportunity to ponder the blessings we enjoy and the example and sacrifice the Savior has been in our lives. We love and appreciate our family and friends and hope that we express that. We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December Excitement Part One

It is hard to believe that we've arrived on the doorstep of another Christmas. Wasn't Christmas 2007 just a few days ago? We've had a crazily busy December. It seems that in years past most activities were concentrated in the first couple of weeks in December, and that the latter part was relatively relaxing. Not this year! And we still didn't get to do several things we had planned. And so, Part One of this Christmas Season's (previously unblogged) activities:

Savannah's orchestra concert was enjoyable--mostly. Don't worry. Savannah agrees. She is in an easy (and unchallenging) class. This fact puts her in first chair (although at the concert people just sat wherever they wanted), but is not motivating at all. But her class needs some good musicians and it is helpful for them to have her in there. She will stay in there for the remainder of the year, but will also participate with another more advanced class as well. Savannah did an amazing job at her concert. I love to listen to her playing the cello.

Haven had such a great time at her dance recital. The Christmas recital is a little more laid back that the summer recital. She just had to wear something festive and didn't have to worry about a costume. She is a great little dancer and we had a fun time.

Sage's orchestra concert was excellent. Her director puts on a very professional concert. The advanced orchestra (Sage's group) was really amazing. Both concerts had an extra bonus--no little kids! We had a babysitter both nights and it was well worth it.

My nephew Tanner turned three this month. We had a great time at his Wall-E themed party. He is such a fun kid.

Well, we didn't win the contest, but we had a great time building the house. It was a lot of fun. I don't believe Eric and I have ever attempted anything like this before. I think we worked quite well together (he would probably say that I was bossy). Maybe next year we'll be winners.

Haven was more than a little upset that her mom and dad were putting a gingerbread house together and she wasn't. We compromised with some (pre-made and boxed) gingerbread cookies. The kids had a blast decorating the cookies. The big girls supervised and took pictures for us.

Stay tuned for the remainder of Elison Christmas activities worth documenting. It might even include a list of "Stupid Things Jennifer did During December." (But keep in mind that there are several doubly stupid things that won't make the list.)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Elison Christmas Tree

We have had such a busy December. It seems that there has rarely been a night where we didn't have to be somewhere or do something. In an effort to catch up, I'll report on one of our first activities of the month: decorating the tree.

Here we are getting ready to decorate the tree. Before we do, the kids get to open up a gift containing two new ornaments.

Each child is working on a Hallmark series. Ryder's series is Santa in different vehicles made from candy. Haven has a fairy series. Sage is about 10 years into the Madam Alexander doll ornaments. And Savannah finished off her second series this year with a bear and mouse participating in various winter activities. They also get an ornament that represents their interests during the past year. Savannah: a cello; Sage: Tinkerbell; Haven: Sleeping Beauty; and Ryder: Thomas the Train--they didn't have any Word World ornaments. The past two years Eric has received ornaments from A Christmas Story. It was the leg lamp this year. I sort of participate by picking up the Winnie the Pooh book ornament each year. My mom also sent me a new Hallmark series with Santa as a nutcracker. Very cute! But our tree is mostly comprised of ornaments from a family ornament exchange that we did with Eric's family for years. And we typically pick up an ornament when we go on vacations. We love our tree!

The semi-finished product. I still needed to make a few adjustments once the little kids went to bed--not every ornament can go on the bottom branch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And More Snow

The snow excitement continued throughout last night. When the big girls got home from school we stayed outside as long as we could stand it. Sage gave up first and headed inside. Haven and Ryder refused to go in until after Savannah finished building her snowman. She has some sort of snowman building gene. When we she sees snow, she can't rest until she has built a snowman. Haven finally approached me, visibly shivering, and asked if she could go in. Ryder was taken in kicking and screaming, partly because he was loving the snow, and partly because he thought that Savannah had used his hat for the snowman. The best part, for Savannah and Sage, came when Clark County announced that schools would be closed the next day. We are ill-prepared for snowy roads here.

All the trees were starting to sag under the weight of the very wet snow.

They all smiled all afternoon.

Larry's progress (Haven named him).

Larry is a happy guy too.

Haven helped with the snowman. She also pulled a chunk of snow off the bottom of her boot. She thought that was pretty weird.

Ryder spent a lot of time that afternoon trying to throw snowballs at me. It didn't always work, but he had a good time.

And here is Ryder after a hard day of playing in the snow.

I took the time to scrape off the driveway (with a floor scraper). I'm not sure why I bothered. It was covered again by the time I finished.

As I write this, it sounds like it is raining outside. In actuality, the snow is melting and dripping off the roof. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. There is a chance we could get some more on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Now that would be super exciting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

Talk about excitement. We are all quite giddy here as we continue to watch the snowfall. It's amazing how happy this little bit (or a lot, for us) of snow affects us here. Since the snow began (and I abandoned the chore of decluttering the little people's bedroom) we played outside, drank hot chocolate and picked the big girls and their friends up from school. All of the kids are incredibly excited. It's fun to watch.

The first picture was taken more than two hours ago. The second and third were taken approximately one and then one and a half hours ago. And it has continued to snow steadily since then (I'm predicting a follow-up post).

While I was rounding up coats and boots, etc., Haven was instructing Ryder how to catch snowflakes in your mouth. It was really cute. Afterward she ran up to me and said, "Mom! I teached Ryder something!" And you can see that she did.

Half of the snowstorm fun is the hot chocolate afterward. Yum!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gingerbread Smack Down '08

I've never pictured myself participating in a Gingerbread House decorating competition. But let me tell you, it was good fun. And the better news is that the fun hasn't ended. And YOU can join in as well. Click here to vote for the best gingerbread house of the night. And you can only vote once so choose wisely. I can't reveal which one Eric and I made, although it's hard to hide our combined genius. (Sad but true: I just had to look up the word "genius" to make sure I was spelling it correctly. I was, but still.) Thanks for participating!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zoo Lights

Haven has some great ideas. She has been pleading for quite some time to go to a zoo. Because Vegas lacks what we might consider a "real" zoo, we decided to make Hogle Zoo a stop on our Thanksgiving visit to Utah. While investigating times, prices, etc., I discovered something called Zoo Lights. It opened the Saturday following Thanksgiving and sounded like a lot of fun. And it was! I think we saw a total of three animals (not counting some reptiles and a few smaller animals), but the lights and the carousel more than made up for it--especially in the little peoples' eyes.

They didn't skimp on the lights. They were really everywhere. A lot of them were mechanical and had moving parts. And we bought some fancy 3D type glasses that made the lights appear as if they were snowmen. It was a cool effect.

It was a bit chilly and we even had a little rain, but everyone was pretty agreeable. Did I say everyone? Okay, everyone except Ryder. You'll have to pardon me if every upcoming post mentions some sort of horrific tantrum(s) on Ryder's part. I mean, whoa! I'm shocked he didn't wake up all of those sleeping animals.

It was fun just to be together.

Haven asked if she could eat this gingerbread house. I told her she could if she wanted a big shock and to end up in the hospital. She decided against it. Smart girl.

Almost everyone loved the carousel. Even Ryder. Natalie, however, was a little stressed. She thought we had abandoned her purse in order to take pictures of the kids. It's very difficult to convey accurate messages to someone on a carousel. I think the zebra was Haven's third choice, but she took it well. We weren't willing to plunk down anymore money just so she could ride on the panda.

The small animal building was a hit because we could actually see the animals and many of them were awake. It smelled like a zoo in there, but the kids really enjoyed see the various smaller animals and reptiles.

It's amazing how brave kids can be when there is a sheet of glass between them and potentially deadly animals.

And here is the whole gang: Ryan; our family; Natalie, MRK and their family; mom and Jim; Jim and Amy and their kids, and Matt, Jessica and their kids. All in all I would say we had a pretty good time. We ended the night with a deep fried s'more. Yum! Of course Haven said she wants to go back again when the animals aren't asleep. And we left without making one of those waxy animals. So I'm guessing that we have another trip to the zoo in our future.