Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy

"Happy, happy, happy."  It's Jon's new catch phrase that he adopted from watching Duck Dynasty.  

December has had many happy moments, but I was not so happy, happy, happy when my refrigerator died just before Thanksgiving.  New appliances weren't exactly what I was planning to ask Santa for but it's what he brought as an early Christmas present.

Our dishwasher had been dying a slow death and the broiler was out in our range at the time of the refrigerator's passing, so we decided to replace all of the kitchen appliances.  The delivery and installation was a long, drawn-out and annoying process, but it's hard to complain when the end result means four new, beautiful appliances.

Early in December, Alyssa was happy to be invited to a teammate's "Ugly Sweater Christmas Party."  We found a sparkly red sweater at DI and hot glued some dollar store adornments to the front.  It was pretty hideous but she's cute in anything.

Lys really got creative with the decorating of her room this year.  She found a PVC pipe in the garage and covered it with construction paper and lights to make a Christmas tree.  Then she cut up some cereal boxes, spray painted them and folded them into boxes tied with ribbon to look like presents.  It made her bedroom feel happy, happy, happy.

Throwing a party makes me really happy.  This year's Girlfriends' Christmas Party was a great success.  Jon created a fabulous Family Feud game complete with music and sound effects.  It was a riot.  The food was great and the laughs plentiful.

I felt quite behind most of this Christmas season, (I'm blaming it on my new job) but by the time Christmas Eve arrived, it had all come together.  We had our usual panini dinner with other yummy stuff on the side.

We added a new tradition to our Christmas Eve buffet: Italian sodas.  My favorite was raspberry/vanilla.

Traditions certainly make me happy, happy, happy.  I like doing the same things the same way year after year.  Tradition says that once we've eaten beyond the capacity of our restrictive pants, we open our Christmas jammies and get a little more comfortable.  Then we light the candles and have our Nativity program.

Leading the songs makes Natty happy.

We watched the Drummer Boy then played a couple of new board games.  Then, it was time for Santa to come.

Santa hit the nail on the head and left the most perfect gifts for some happy, happy, happy kids.

Natty's been wanting a double doll stroller for years.  She's hardly taken her hands off of it since it arrived.

The big kids got phones.

We called them right away to try to them out.

I found Jon the most appropriate stocking stuffer:

We enjoyed our super yummy breakfast buffet before opening presents.  I like stretching things out as long as possible.

It's always fun to open presents.  We got lots of good stuff.

Such a happy mess:

I was happy about my new BYU hoodie but not so happy with how I look on Christmas morning.  Still, I need some proof that I was there.  This is the one and only picture to document my presence.

The girls were so happy, happy, happy that they couldn't wait to put on their new jackets and walk over to the McInelly's to share their new gifts with each other.  Natty pushed her stroller all the way there.

Christmas dinner is our last hurrah.  The grand finale to a wonderful holiday.

Dinner was followed by a chocolate fountain dessert.  Delicious!

Merry Christmas!  Here's to a happy, happy, happy new year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Big Boy

When I was a young mother of an infant son, I asked my aging grandfather if time continued to gather speed throughout a lifetime or if it ever slowed down.  I was already in awe at how quickly my baby boy was growing and changing.  He told me that the years seem to go by faster every year, no matter how old we get.

Oh boy was he right!  (And I'm not yet half as old as my grandfather was.)  This last year, as time was gathering speed, so was Caleb's rate of growth.  I'm struck by the change in just one year.  Look at this side-by-side comparison:

On left:  Caleb in September 2012 as a freshman.  On right:  Caleb in September 2013 as a sophomore.

Isn't that amazing?  He's not only taller but has a lot more bulk, a deep voice and curly hair!

Doesn't he look so big in these photos?

He left Grandma in the dust long ago.

But he's still trying to catch Grandpa.  At this rate, he just might.

As Caleb started this school year, it hit me hard how little time we have left.  Three more Christmases, three more birthdays, two more summers...

He's still young and naive, likes to watch Tom and Jerry and play with the little kids in the neighborhood, but time continues to pick up speed.

How it is possible that we're here already?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

We had a great Thanksgiving!  And I have the pictures to prove it.

We started with the Turkey Trot, of course.

Dinner was fabulous, as usual.

This year's Turkey Bowl had jerseys, flags, armband play books and a real ref!

We enjoyed spending time together.

This year we tried something new; we bundled up and ventured downtown for the lighting of the fire tower.  Everyone else in Helena went, too.  Seriously, I've never seen such a crowd in Helena before.

Look at these cute cousins:

And these cute siblings:

The parade was a funny mix of decorated RVs, ATVs and trucks.  Seems Montana-ish, right? We decided that we're going to enter next year.  We'll do some singing and maybe even a kick line like the Rockettes.    

The end of the parade brought Santa to town.

Then the crowd counted down from ten and we watched the fire tower illuminate on the hill.

We played around downtown for a bit before coming home.

We had lunch at the Staggering Ox--best sandwich ever!  So good that I went back again the next day.

I always get the clubhouse.  Ain't she a beauty?

There were lots of goofy faces and even goofier mustaches:

Erin and I shared shoes for just a bit.  She was anxious to get her pink Converse back.  This girl will be taller than me before I know it.

Most of this handsome crew has already passed me up:

It's a joy to watch these cousins spend time together.  They played football for hours!  Poor Owen endured a broken arm but that was the only mishap of the weekend.  In all other respects, it was a most wonderful holiday.

These are great Thanksgiving memories!