Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 37th Birthday!

We enjoyed the last week of the year with Lois and her family.  They came Christmas Eve and stayed till the morning of the 28th.  One afternoon we invited some families to meet us at the church to run around and play games. 
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Our friends, the Mayfields, met us there and brought lots of fun outdoor toys.  We played outside till the sun went down.
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I finally did the first coat of white paint!  Need to do another coat and paint the door.  And then paint against the trim with the gray color.
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We had fun hanging out, watching movies, and eating treats--a perfect way to enjoy the last week of the year!

The Heits left for Mississippi on Wednesday with Clark and then we took off the next day at 2:41 am! We spent the New Year holiday with my sister Lena and her family.  Deb and her family also met us there. I woke up originally at 1:25, and actually felt fine, but decided that a little more sleep would be good.  So we finally got up at 2:15.
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We made great time and arrived just before 3pm.  We met everyone at the Mississippi River museum.
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Their downtown is so cute!
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That night we drove over to someone's house that has awesome Christmas lights synced to Christmas music.  We really enjoyed that.
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When we arrived back at Lena's we enjoyed a hot chocolate bar! I did a hot chocolate bar and did not bring enough hot chocolate for the whole weekend.  I was really surprised that whenever hot chocolate was made, people rushed the station and it was quickly gone!  It was really fun to have one.
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You can't tell, but Elden lost a tooth at Lena's!
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I turned 37 while down South!  I had a nice birthday.  I love having my birthday in between holidays.  Usually I'm with lots of family and there is a natural break in the everyday schedule.  I loved getting many birthday wishes from family and friends.  I felt very loved.  I feel so blessed for this wonderful life.
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And bunny ears for good luck! On my way to 40!
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We forgot to bring my presents so Lee and the kids drew pictures and wrapped them up.  I unwrapped the drawings to see what they got for me.  Deb and Lois were helping Lena organize a craft/play room and found this massage book.  It was kind of funny.  And funny that the lady is duct taped.  They also found some old notes and letters I had written when I was in middle school. Crazy!
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Some of the kids received a face paint job, if you hadn't noticed!
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Shanna's was a bit creepy.  But she loved it.
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After my birthday celebration we headed to the nearby military park and saw an old battleship from the Cival War, the U.S.S. Cairo.
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Cal was able to visit General Pemberton's headquarter's for his Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.
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One of the kids took this picture.  It looks kind of fake with the lighting.
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That night the married adults all went out to eat at the Walnut Hills Restaurant. They had a fun family style menu.  All the food was put on a lazy Susan, so we could pick and choose what we wanted.
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The catfish was really good, and so were the beans and the rolls.  There was fried okra, collard greens, coleslaw, and green beans.  For dessert we received a small serving of yummy pudding and cake.  Too bad the picture is fuzzy..... Later that night we watched another movie and had ice cream.
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Another year gone, and another one to look forward to! 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Well, Christmas arrived!  I'm sure the kids must have wondered it if would ever come.  Since Christmas day fell on a Sunday this year we decided to do our traditional Christmas day things on Christmas Eve.  First up, wait for mom to get "ready", then pumpkin pie for breakfast.  The kids were up around 6am, and we finally ate around 8 or so.  After breakfast we did scripture reading.
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The traditional line-up waiting to see their stockings.  Shanna got to go first this year.  Next year it will be Haley's turn.
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They were pretty excited!
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The height difference between Clark and Elden is amazing!
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Going in one by one.
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Thankfully Haley was healthy and well this Christmas!  Everyone was healthy, which was a blessing.
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We've replaced the can of olives with "beef bites". 
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We of course had already been in the room with presents, but we led each other in.
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Shanna did the honors with Lee.
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After looking at stockings and other items for a little while we called my mom and she watched as we opened presents.  She and my dad have just a few months left on their mission in Salt Lake City.
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We could not figure out Haley's fake firepit.  The instructions told us what to do!
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Lee hands out the gifts one by one.  Once the person has opened it (and thrown away the wrapping) the next gift is handed out.
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Lee took this picture on his mission, though took three separate pictures and taped them together to make a panoramic photo. He's always wanted it as one photo.  Not sure if he envisioned a huge canvas, but I did.  I love it!  From what I could tell he loves it too. It's fun too because when we visited Nicaragua in 2010 Lee took me to this exact same spot!
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We finished opening presents around 11:40.  Next up was building Legos!
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And drone flying.
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And car racing.
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The traditional sitting-on-the-couch-with-matching-pjs-wearing-Santa-hats picture.
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That night the Heits joined us.  They also opened presents Christmas Eve morning.  We had fun eating, visiting and playing.  We also watched a movie.
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After the kids were in bed Lois and I set the table for Christmas dinner the next day. It was fun planning and thinking up a way to decorate the table.  I have never done this before.  I am going to have to think of something different next year!  But it was sooo fun having a decorated table.  Decorating and accessorizing are not my strong points so it takes me awhile to pull out a finished product.  
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I bought the chargers in 2013, got the water goblets at Dollar Tree, bought the napkins on Amazon, and purchased the tablecloth at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  The candles and candle holders are from Dollar Tree and Michael's. I bought the center bowl last year at Hobby Lobby and filled it with ornaments from there too.  The pine cones my kids gathered from our neighbor's yard (with permission) and the pine branches are from a bush from my friend's house.  When I started to decorate the table initially the night before Christmas Eve, I pulled out the branches to set them on the table and some smelled bad.  My friend has a couple of cats and they must have marked their territory on the lower branches?  Or?  Anyway, I'm sure an on looker would have laughed as I pulled out each branch and smelled it one by one.  I found some good ones, which was great!
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Lois did the oh so awesome name cards and menus!  I had some twine so we wrapped that around each napkin for added texture.  It was really fun setting the table!
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Christmas Eve we had the kids put their Christmas mugs under the tree.  Even though they had already opened presents I thought it would be fun to wake up to a little surprise Christmas morning.  When they put their mugs under the tree Lois told them a story about the original Saint Nicholas. We put a Christmas tree treat and a pack of gum in each mug.
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Church was so great on Sunday.  We heard songs from the choir, a sister duet, the primary kids, and we as a congregation sang a beautiful "O Come All Ye Faithful" among other songs.  The bishop of the other local congregation gave a wonderful talk about eagles.  He told us how eagle get strength from flying into a storm and how they can go higher and higher when they do so. Relating that to us, we are strengthened when we turn to Christ in our trials and seek to learn and grow in the midst of them...not just complain and wait till they're over.  He also told his favorite Christmas story which was pretty funny about a teacher guessing the presents each child gave her.  And then his comments to the stake patriarch after wondering if it would be appropriate to share and how that maybe if he told the story with a member of the stake presidency there he could get released early.  Anyway, it was funny.

After church we visited Mae Francis as our last service for the 25 days of service.  It was great to see her out of bed.  She broke her hip a few weeks back and hopefully that's healing.
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With bad lighting, we attempted some family photos.
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The kids enjoyed the treats in their mugs and a special surprise from my brother Sheldon and his wife Ciera.  They sent us a big bag of Lego Minifigures.  I separated them out, giving each kid 7 figures, and wrapped them in a box. I gave Lois and Jeff a goodie bag too.
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Dinner was really easy.  The table was all set, and we just had to warm things up!  Well, assemble a salad and steam some broccoli.  Everything else I made on the 23rd.  It was great!
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After dinner for scriptures that day Lee and Jeff read the Nativity story.  I need to write up a copy of this with parts and what not for the kids.  They get so silly (and argue) and it's not my favorite thing.  We do it every year, but maybe a script would help?  Or just reading it? 

Rhett was baby Jesus for a little while and during some Christmas movies that we watched he laid (?) there the whole time.  So funny.  We watched the classic movie "The Gift" before that.
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This is pretty much what the Nativity was like.  Guess I should have different expectations?
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King Herod had some somewhat tribal apparel on.
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Next up for the evening: pie, homemade ice cream and fresh whipped cream!
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Shanna loved taking everyone's orders and serving them.
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We had a fun night talking with family too.  What a great Christmas it was!  (Even despite the lack of professionalism with the Nativity.)  I hope you had a magical, wonderful Christmas also!