December 20, 2007

Christmas Books

One of my favorite Christmas books for children is "Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear." If you are familiar with the original "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear" then you will appreciate this one all the more. It is a very sweet story that will take you by surprise.

We all know the old poem "The Night Before Christmas" but I especially love this version with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. [I grew up with a fascination for her lovely book, "A Time to Keep."] She was well into her 80's when she illustrated this one, and it shows, but it's still lovely.
My sister gave us this delightful book a few years ago, and it's been a hit. It's a fun imaginary tale of the adventures of the neighborhood snowmen when no one is looking.

And of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without "The Grinch," as it is usually referred to around our house. I hated the live-action film with Jim Carrey (who I usually like), but I thoroughly enjoy the old animated version. However, nothing can compare to reading the wonderful words from the book!

So, grab your kids and snuggle up on the couch with a few good books.

December 12, 2007

Photo Session

Here are a few photos from the photo session we had on Saturday with Jay's family.

December 11, 2007

Mary was chosen as "Student of the Month" at school. Each teacher selects one exemplary student from their class each month. She is such a good student and takes school very seriously. We are very proud of her. video

Remembrance

Today is the 6th anniversary of the death of my sweet sister, Charity. My mom and some of my sisters and I got together and read letters that family and friends wrote to Jonah about the mother who he will not know in mortality. It was a nice remembrance, but also very emotional. We visited the cemetery and left some beautiful red roses from my mother's garden.

Today is the also the 6th anniversary of the birth of my niece, Isabel. Happy Birthday cute girl!

December 10, 2007

Justice

So, I had JURY DUTY today.... M--- County Superior Court. It was quite an experience. Honestly, I wouldn't mind serving on a jury.... as long as it didn't conflict with the rest of my life. So I was hoping to be excused when I proclaimed that I am the mother of 3 young children and it would be a hardship for me to serve for more than one day... today.

It was nothing like you see on TV, which makes it seem very solemn. Everyone, from the woman handing out paper work and doing the orientation, to the Bailiff and court reporter, to the Judge, was cracking jokes right and left. They all seemed to really enjoy their job.

So, 55 of us sat in the court room answering lots of questions while the attorneys took tons of notes. The defendant, an African American man accused of transporting and selling drugs, looked respectable in his suit.

By lunch time, we still had a ways to go, and I hadn't been dismissed yet, even though I had made my case. I should have just answered yes to the question, "Do you think drugs should be legal for personal recreational use." The handful who did answer yes, were dismissed right after lunch.

When we got back into the courtroom after lunch, the attorneys all took a really long time coming back into the room, so the judge entertained us with stories and answering questions. (Seriously, he loves his job. He took the mandatory retirement at 70, and came back to work the next day at $15/hr. because he loves it!)

Then the attorneys came back into the court room and asked for a side-bar. They all left the room for another 5 minutes, after which the judge came back in and said, "Well, he plead guilty. You can all go home." Whew!

So, I got my "proof of service" paperwork and got on the shuttle to go back to the parking garage, along with the other people from my group.... and the public defender, who was excited to get to go home early too.

During the short ride, he told us that after the lunch break he asked his client if he still wanted to go through with it, and he said, "No way!" The reason? There was not one African American among the prospective jurors.

The judge also told us that the defendant will be sentenced to 5-9 years. He had prior convictions.

December 05, 2007

Wedding Weekend

Jay and I spent the weekend in Seattle for my brother's wedding in the Seattle Temple.The wedding was wonderful, of course, and I couldn't be more pleased with my new sister-in-law, Leone. My brother, Stephen, did well. But then so did she.

We flew to Seattle on Friday morning... my parents, all my siblings (except my youngest brother who is in Germany/Austria on a mission), and their spouses. It was SO much fun to be all together... without any kids! (Eating at non-kid-friendly restaurants, going to late movies, sleeping in, staying up late talking and laughing with my family, no cooking or cleaning, shopping without hearing any whining... can you say "heavenly?")

We stayed at the lovely Hyatt Regency in downtown Bellevue, which was very comfortable! Stephen had arranged for a friend to take us into Seattle in his... "bus" (for lack of a better word). (See photo below)

We visited famous Pike Place Market, which was amazing. I wish we had been able to spend more time there. I'm determined to visit again... in the summer. (It was freezing!)

That evening there was a dinner for the families (and a few close friends) of the bride and groom. At my mother's request, Jay and I wrote a skit which we performed after dinner. That "we" does not include Jay, who refuses to perform, even though he is totally good at it. So, my other brothers and a brother-in-law got roped into it. They did a great job, and it turned out pretty good. It was a lot of fun. [Most of the jokes are about the bride and groom, so unless you know them, you won't get it.... but it's still pretty funny anyway, especially if you are a fan of SNL.]

Saturday morning we slept in, had a leisurely (and delicious!) breakfast, and then hit the mall across the street for a while, since the wedding wasn't until 1:00. The wedding was lovely and my brother was absolutely beaming. So was his bride, of course.

It had started snowing during the wedding, so we came out to find a winter wonderland. It was quite beautiful.


It was so much fun to be with all my family. Here are all the gals in front of the Temple... except my new sister-in-law, who was busy being photographed by a professional... and trying not to freeze to death in her wedding gown.

I admit it was kind of fun to feel like it was actually winter. I got to wear a real coat, gloves, and scarf for heaven sake... borrowed, of course. I have no need for such things living in the desert.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take any pictures of the reception that evening, but trust me, it was beautiful! It was a very fun trip, and I was reluctant to leave. But as always, we were happy to get back to our kids, who were in the capable hands of Jay's mother... being spoiled. :)

December 04, 2007

Simple

Whenever I go to someone's house during December and see how cute their house is decorated with Christmas stuff, I always lament my extreme lack of Christmas decor. I'm pretty cheap about it too.

Around our house, we put up a Noble fir purchased from Home Depot, and decorate it very simply with white lights, ornaments given to us as gifts or passed down, and cheap candy canes (you know the boxes of 12 for $0.88 at Wal-Mart) that are easily broken.... and replaced.

The first Christmas we were married, my sister-in-law gave me a lovely wreath that was custom-made by her neighbor. We hang it on our door every year... though it's now missing several of it's decorations.

My sister, Charity, bought me an olivewood Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus when she spent a semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center. That goes on my entry table, and always reminds me of my dear sister who I miss so much.

We hang the same stockings that I ordered from a catalog year ago.... from our built-in bookcases because we don't even have a fireplace in our house (who needs a fire in the desert?). Some people get new ones every year... what's up with that?

Jay hangs a row of simple white lights along the roof line of our house, and that's about it. This year I did buy one new item... a snowglobe/music box from Target, for $12.

Our house feels under-dressed compared to most others.... not even worth posting pictures or even taking them. And from my description, you have probably begun to feel some pity for me. But don't! I love it!

I have always preferred simple. Number 1, I don't have to store a ton of junk; #2, I don't have to spend days putting it all up and taking it down; and #3, we keep it simple.

And though we say we are going to do so every year, this year we finally did it.... we kept the gifts simple. Now I'm excited to enjoy the season.... Christmas music, baking, taking goodies to elderly neighbors, and teaching my children the true meaning of Christmas.