Friday, December 25, 2015

Here Comes Santa Claus...

We saw Santa at Burger Stop in Layton before our wagon ride.
We saw Santa about 20 times this year, and the kids were great, mostly. By great, I mean Mark went up to Santa bobbing his head sheepishly like he was too old for this. Dax went with a serious grimace and whispered so quietly that Santa's old ears had to strain to get a word out of him. Seth was definitely the happiest to see Santa. He is at the perfect age for seeing Santa....not scared, and so excited! We got some really great pictures. The captions tell the details of each visit to Santa.

Santa at the Polar Express...Seth was excited this time!
Mark was pretty happy, too since this was the first time we saw Santa.
Wow, these are all good pictures of the boys with Santa!
This Santa at Petersen Family Farms was the best Santa EVER!
He had all the boys laughing!
....even Mark....
This is Father Christmas at the Provo Pioneer Village.
He was really nice to the kids, but not the best at looking for pictures!
Here's a great picture of Santa though!
When Santa showed up at the Ockey family party,
Seth was the most excited of any of the 30 kids there!
Mark does think he's too old, but he's a good sport!
Uh oh, Santa's being silly.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Private Nativity

The librarian at my school invited me to a private Nativity that she and her family put on every year. I felt lucky to have our family be one of the 3,000 or so people that were invited. The Nativity was really cool, and each of the actors wrote their own parts. After free hot chocolate, we started with a visit to the shepherds who were seeking the Christ child. We gathered around the fire and sat on haybales as they played a violin solo and sent us off in the right direction toward Bethlehem.

Our next stop was at the Inn, where we met the inn keeper's wife. She told us she'd take us to the stable. On the way there, we heard the testimonies of the wise men and the experience of the shepherds who had actually seen the Child. As we neared the stable, a host of angels high in the air (on a haystack) burst into song. We stopped and listened for a few minutes and then entered the stable.
They truly looked like angels in the sky!
Mary and Joseph quoted from the First Presidency's message on the Savior, and their tiny sweet baby was quiet and beautiful through the whole performance.

Mary and Joseph were so sincere in what they said. It touched our hearts.
It was really nice, and we liked it every bit as much as the Alpine Nativity. Maybe we'll get invited again!
There were sheep, horses, and a donkey to see.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

O Christmas Tree!

It was a beautiful day and not very cold.
On of our favorite things to do each year is go cut a fresh Christmas tree down in my home town of Ephraim. With the huge storm that rolled in the day before Thanksgiving, we didn't know how far up the mountain we'd get-- we hoped we didn't have to settle on a cedar tree from the mouth of the canyon!

The adventure actually started two weeks before Thanksgiving. Natalie had to drive with Laurie, Seth, and Grandpa all the way to Ephraim to get the tags. They were hoping to go just to Nephi, but they were sold out by the time they got there, even though the tags had only been on sale for a few hours. It was snowing all through Salt Creek Canyon and over into Fountain Green, but Natalie is a Utahn now, so she made the drive easily.

Seth and I had to make the drive to Ranger Station in Ephraim...
...And the drive there wasn't pretty!
I didn't have any trouble getting up the mountain to get the trees despite the snow, though everyone in our group ended up parking somewhere along the canyon road when they started to slip. We made it to our usually spot before getting stuck.

We needed to head back early for the Polar Express train ride in Lindon, so we set out for a tree right away. Due to my ankle, I saw the first tree-- probably an oak, and was ready to cut it and toss it in the truck, and Seth wasn't doing much better. He'd had enough and wanted to sit in the truck with Aunt Laurie before we got 25 yards off the road.

Finally, I talked Natalie into a tree that had no back. It is literally a 180 degree tree, and I hoped it would fit back against the wall, and it would be great if it would roll itself down to the truck, too. We found a second tree for the basement, and declared ourselves "done" within a half-hour.
The snow was pretty heavy, so Dad had to shake snow off the potential picks.
It's hard to get a picture of Dax without snow in his mouth.
Of course, we did four-wheeler rides, hot chocolate, and sledding, too. I got to take all the boys and Natalie for a ride. Dax really liked driving, Seth's face got too cold, and Mark and Nat never want me to do much other than go straight and not too fast. The sledding must have been okay, too, because we managed to crack two brand new sleds in half! It was another great trip to cut Christmas trees.

There was plenty of fresh powder, but the bottom of the hill was not sloped very nicely.
Seth liked the first and middle parts of the sled ride, but not the harsh stop at the end.
Mark is a trooper when it comes to Christmas tree cutting.
Ty's Chique de Jour is Savannah. I think she liked sledding with Seth.
That road doesn't look to bad, but only trucks (and Dad) were making it up the steep parts.
Four-wheeler rides are one of the most exciting parts of the trip.
And though hot chocolate is a newer part of the tradition, it is one of the best parts.
Dad tried to take a picture of Mom and Seth. Mom thinks it's a terrible attempt,
but Dad thinks it's one of his best efforts.
You know it's been a good day when Mark falls asleep.
(Dax and Seth sleep in the car all the time.)
Even after stopping for pizza and penny candy,
we made it back in time for our appointment to ride the Polar Express in Lindon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dax's Basketball

Everyone gets excited for Jr. Jazz basketball!

Dax played basketball at the Legacy Center again, and Dad was his coach again. The lady in charge of basketball at the Legacy Center actually said, "Hi, Randy! Which age do you have this year?" so apparently Dad is becoming a well-known figure there.

It was a pretty rough year, because we had Dax, who is clearly the best player-- he scored at least three-quarters of the points, three players who were able to score maybe a bucket a game, two players who couldn't throw the ball high enough to score, but liked to run around a bit, and four players who couldn't catch or shoot, or really even run around. They mostly just stood there with a finger or two in their mouth until they heard coach's third or fourth yell to run to the other end of the court.

It was pretty frustrating for everyone but Dax, who relished his role as superstar. Still, the unofficial scoring (by Mark) had us winning every game but one.
Dax loved having his dad as his coach!

Dax is a great defender. He also is amazing at rebounds!

Dax definitely takes a lot of shots.

He got pretty good at his layups!

Monday, December 21, 2015


We take a picture every year in front of my mom's fireplace!
Thanksgiving this year was definitely an adventure. We left Tuesday after school and stopped to pick up Grandma Betty in Ogden. We dealt with a lot of sickness on this trip. Dax threw up three times on the way to Ogden, so he couldn't eat anything at dinner, but he really wanted a few fries. We tried to dissuade him, but we felt bad with him watching us eat, so we let him try a few. That was a mistake. Luckily, Randy is a super genius, and we stopped and bought some Ziploc baggies for barf bags. Dax was 100 percent accurate with the bags, and we made it all the way to Idaho without too many stops. We were glad because we really wanted to beat the big snow storm that hit the next day!

Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick in the middle of the night, so I spent most of Wednesday sleeping and lying around my mom's house. I did do all of my throwing up before anyone woke up, so no one had to actually witness that! It had snowed around 6 inches that day so the boys went outside to play in the snow and built a fort near Grandma's sidewalk, which I've heard is still standing.

That night, my youngest sister Brittany, left from work in SLC around 5:00 pm and drove like a grandma through a big snow storm until she decided around 11:00 she couldn't go any further. She was about 50 miles away from my parents' house. I was dead asleep still recovering from sickness, but Randy came in and told me that he and my dad were going on Operation Ice Queen Rescue to pick up my sister and drive her and her car home. They returned a little after 1:00 am, but all were safe and well.

Luckily, I felt lots better for Thanksgiving so I could help my mom cook and eat Thanksgiving dinner. My sister, Stephanie, and her two kids also came for dinner. We had a perfect meal, and it was fun being with family. And no one else got sick, which was a big concern of mine.
My mom helped the boys make these feather headbands.
They wore them around her house the entire time!
Here is the whole gang for Thanksgiving dinner.
These boys love going outside ANY DAY!
Dax shoveled the snow--very helpful!
A snowball fight was the main event.
Seth loves playing in the snow.
Randy snuck up on Dax and got him good!
Mark is getting so BIG!
Seth loves to throw snow at his dad. Randy was such a good sport.
His ankle was definitely not feeling that well.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Reflections 2015

Oh Reflections! It's funny to look back at life after a month of not being swamped with Reflections. I was in charge of this program at my boy's elementary school along with my close friend. Together, we had to promote Reflections, get the info out, collect the entries, get them judged, order awards, hold an awards night, and pass the winning entries on to the next level. No big deal, right?

Well, I did survive, and I actually had a lot of fun! But I am glad that it is over. We had 81 entries and almost all of those children and their families came to our awards night. We handed out 29 different medals and luckily, Mark and Dax each got a medal. I didn't judge any entries, but I had to find all the judges, so there wasn't any cheating involved. Mark won for his literature entry and Dax won for his music entry. They also both entered a Visual Arts picture and received participation ribbons for those entries.

Randy says that I am not allowed to be in charge of Reflections next year because I'm doing the School Community Council and District Community Council, but I think that I might do it anyway. My friend and I had fun working together and now we know what we're doing, so it makes sense that we should give it another go, don't you think?
I was the Emcee...luckily I got this awesome new shirt for my birthday.
I asked all the winners to read their Artist Statements, so here's Mark reading his.
Dax read his so well that Principal Rencher said, "You are a great reader!"as he gave him his medal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pie Month

We had another great pie month for two months in October and November! I insisted on trying honey pie this year. It was okay. Of course, we did lemon cream (twice), which is the favorite of both of us. Snickerdoodle pie was new to us, and it was pretty good. We also gave coconut chocolate pecan a whirl, and it was quite good. There was even pear pie, which is no peach pie, but a lot like apple! Finally, we tried strawberry pie, which was delicious! Below are pictures of the new pies, plus a few old standbys.

Lemon Cream...SOOOOOO good!
Salted Honey Pie...I used about 1/6 of the amount of salt suggested in the recipe and I still thought it was too salty.
Snickerdoodle pie tasted a lot like a cookie.
Coconut Chocolate Pecan Pie--super rich!
Apple pie is one of our all time favorites!
Pear Pie was a lot like apple, which means amazingly good.
Chocolate Cream Pie...a repeat from last year!
Strawberry pie. I chose the baked version, and it was the right choice.

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