Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, James

To let James know we were thinking of him--while he is on his mission in California--on December 28 we made brownies, sang for his birthday, and we all helped blow out his 20 candles.

We also sent him some things to open--hoping it didn't blend in too much with his Christmas package which probably arrived at the same time.
Happy Birthday, Elder Meiners!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Bowling Team

Dave and I went bowling with Kara, Erika and Dan, Julia, Andrea during our vacation. We're pretty good bowlers--yup, we didn't even have the bumpers up. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

The hardest present to find was the "soda hat" Andrea had wanted. I made Erika's hat.

I also made Kara's slippers--to wear to the hospital for her baby.

Kara and Luke. Kara is 6 months in her pregnancy.

Christmas brunch.
We had a great time being together.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


One Monday night in December we made cookies for our Family Home Evening--some of which found their way into plates for friends and neighbors.

Yay! Erika returned from her semester in Idaho. What an angel.

Making gingerbread houses has become one of our traditions so we made those on another Monday night when Kara and Luke had arrived.

Good enough to eat!

What other traditions did we continue this year?

Christmas Eve--We discontinued our live pageant last year, but we read the Christmas story and Luke and Kara shared a true story of his ancestor who rode 8 hours in freezing Canadian weather in a horse and carriage to bring supplies to a needy family for Christmas.

We had something like a Danish dinner with the red cabbage that we have purely because it's tradition.
We had our rice pudding with the almond. The winner no longer gets the Danish marzipan (almond paste) pig, but a large almond chocolate bar. We further bend the rules and let everyone else split a second bar.

Another tradition is to help a family or two who are in need. It is always wonderful to see how much it is appreciated--though sometimes we do it anonymously. This year our family was also on the receiving end of a special gift.

On Dec. 19, Luke's birthday, Kara came home to their apartment to find it robbed and ransacked. All of Luke's wrapped presents and their Christmas presents were taken from under their tree--along with their two computers and other electronics and items. That was pretty "Grinchy", but we also saw the Christian compassion of people in their ward who made a collection a couple days later of several hundred dollars that they presented to them--as well as a new computer! That was so kind of those people who mostly anonymously gave to them because they consider them part of their ward family.

Of course we hung our stockings. This year James' stocking was out but unfilled--although Santa did find him in California. We got to talk with James for about an hour on Christmas day. We were surprised by his Spanish accent, but it was great to hear his voice! We are very proud of the work he is doing to tell others the glad tidings of Jesus.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ward Christmas Party

Our ward congregation has a Christmas party each year.

Andrea was one of the older children this year in the nativity and singing.

I was recently released as our ward Relief Society (women's group) President after serving 4 1/2 years. This party was the first time I directed in my new calling as choir director.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Decorating the Tree

This is about the 24th year we have gone to the same nursery to get our tree. Sometimes Santa is there with candy canes, and a firepit to stand by and get warm and bags of popcorn, but this year we went in the daytime--just two days after Thanksgiving. That is a bit early for us, but I wanted to have the house decorated in time for a Christmas party we held.

Andrea got to put on the star this time. Again, it's tradition to have this plastic star--although we got it at a yard sale the year we got married, so we don't even know how old it is.

Julia was disappointed because we had to cut off a couple limbs on the bottom for it to fit in our stand--thus making it seem too high off the ground for her taste.

Daniel was with us--though we missed James, Erika and Kara. We usually listen to Christmas music and once the lights are on everyone helps with the ornaments. I thought back to our decorating session a few years ago when the whole family danced together to, "All I want for Christmas is you."

Friday, December 5, 2008

RS Party

I hosted our Relief Society Christmas party at our house. That's one way to get our decorations up at the beginning of the season. :)
It was lots of fun. I played my guitar for a sing-a-long of a couple carols, and Julia and I did a family favorite duet--'Baby, What you going to be?' with Deborah Hirschi accompanying us--among other music and stories.

Winter Concerts

Our winter concerts started this year with Andrea performing on the flute in her middle school band. They are very good! and performed a nice concert at the high school.

Daniel and Julia--leaving the house one night of their 2-part concert.

On their first night Daniel performed on the trombone with the orchestra,

and Daniel and Julia performed in Concert Choir.

Daniel played with the Jazz Band where he is first chair trombone.

Daniel sang with the Men's Chorus.

Dan is part of the Men's Quartet.

Then Daniel performed with the Madrigals where he is the Student Director.

One song about food ended with a hilarious burp from the basses. For some reason everyone seemed to think it was all the great work of Daniel . :)

Julia did a nice job singing with the Womens' Chorus.

To cap off the evening, Daniel and Julia performed with their fantastic Symphonic Band. Daniel is first trombone and section leader.
Julia is also section leader, just bumping up (several bumps!) to first chair clarinet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Trip to New Jersey

My friend Claudia is certified to teach Creative Journaling--which uses the expressive arts and journaling for self-discovery. She invited me to a training workshop in New Jersey the first week of December.

I could only attend on Friday and Saturday, so I drove up with her Friday morning (a 3 1/2 hour drive).

We arrived at Lisa's. She is an artist with an amazing home.

Our first art project was to make a hat.

Another project I enjoyed was cutting/pasting a landscape picture with tissue paper. Claudia holds hers, and Lisa holds mine on the right.

We also did a collage--cutting pictures from a magazine that represent our life timeline, and explaining it to the group. It's a fun process that I can get lost in.

We also did a group clay project where we, without talking, connected our ideas. It turned into a very interesting village.

This is Lisa's art gallery in her hallway.

Friday night we were all invited to an interesting event in this 200-year old house. It was a fundraiser for a project in Haiti. We were all served Haitian food. This fireplace mantle was decorated with pineapples and exotic fruit. We heard about the project from two people who had recently been to Haiti. The non-profit had made simple water purifiers. The people only had to put their stream water into it and the water sifted into layers of sand and gravel and within a few hours was purified.

Haiti, very close to us geographically (a 4-hour flight) is a 4th world country. Teaching children about hygiene and giving them these simple tools has produced results that the local people can replicate even when the organization leaves. They had brought back art objects made by children and people of Haiti and I participated in the silent auction. I bought a painted planter.

The other participants of the workshop were very friendly and I had a great, relaxing time. I was happy that Claudia drove and I could just visit with her on the way home.