December 26, 2013

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

On Christmas Eve (Tuesday) we hosted all of the DeWitt Family (Jay's parents and siblings and their families) for dinner.  Everyone helped with the food and it was all fabulous. 

Afterward we had a program with a few musical numbers by the grand kids and Jay sang and played the guitar performing his "Christmas Gifts" song. 

Then the kids did the Nativity with some audience participation (sing along) and I introduced the DeWitts to the Nielson tradition of "The Story of the Other Wiseman."  It was fun to see the children with wide eyes because they weren't familiar with the story.  I could tell they were concerned and eager to find out what would happen.  It was cute. 

Santa (Grandpa Collin) made a visit and then everyone headed home to await the real Santa Claus.

I hoped our kids would sleep in late on Christmas morning now that they are getting older, but no such luck.  We were up by 7:30.... but I guess it could have been worse.
Collin got a ukelele
Mary got mostly "Dr. Who" related gifts

It wouldn't be Christmas without a new Lego set!

After we opened gifts I made breakfast (aebelskivers with buttermilk syrup) and we enjoyed playing with gifts and looking at the family photos Grandma Wendy scanned (thousands and thousands.... what a treasure!).   Then we took the kids to see the movie "Frozen," which was cute.

Later on Christmas night we watched the "Dr. Who" Christmas special because our kid are nuts about it.  I have to admit it's pretty entertaining.  This was an important episode because a "new" doctor was introduced.  (He regenerates periodically so a new actor comes on board.  Brilliant way to extend the life of a TV show.... for 50 years!) 

Jay was back at work today so it was pretty low-key.  Mary and I went for a bike ride (the weather is gorgeous) and talked about our many blessings.  And I finally finished cleaning up the Christmas Eve/Christmas morning mess.  Maybe now I can relax?

December 23, 2013

Almost there!

Tuesday night was Collin and Mary's school choir concert.  They both did great.  Mary had a solo as part of the song "Gesu Bambino."  She was awesome but I can't get the video to load. 

Friday night was the Thomas Family party (my mom's side of the family).  It was fun but there are getting to be too many people so you end up only talking to a few.  I'm thinking next year we need to do the socializing like speed dating so that everyone gets a chance to talk to everyone else.  I think it's worth trying.  :)

Now school is out and we scramble to get everything ready for Christmas! 

On Sunday I sang a solo in sacrament meeting as part of the Christmas program.  I sang the song "Weepin' Mary" which most people aren't familiar with.  It's an old traditional Christmas spiritual and it's lovely. 

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we are hosting all of Jay's family for dinner and a program.  It should be fun but there is lots to do to get ready!  Whew!

December 16, 2013

More performances and other stuff

We finally got our tree and decorated for Christmas!

Thursday night was Mary's school dance concert and she did great. 

It was also Collin's Eagle Board of Review that night.  They really grilled him but he did great.  It's now official! 

His cousin, Tate, was having his Board of Review that night too.  

We took Collin to a late dinner at Texas Roadhouse (his choice) to celebrate.  Woo hoo!

Saturday was our ward party.  It is a tradition for the bishopric to perform something silly, so Jay put together a "human bagpipes" skit for them.  It was funny. 

Later that day we took the kids to see the next installment of "The Hobbit" movie trilogy, which was good.  I am the only one in our family who hasn't read the book.  Someone had trucked in some snow for kids to play in outside the theater so Jack enjoyed that for a few minutes.

Sunday was Mary's violin recital.  She played two songs and though she was super nervous she did great. 
In other news.... for some reason Jack was feeling left out as the only child in our family who didn't need glasses so he felt the need to get some just for show (with his own money).  He is a nut.

December 11, 2013


December is off to a busy start!  It's that time of year!  Whew!

I don't know what's wrong with me.  My kids performed in several amazing concerts this week and I took exactly ZERO photos!  Ugh. 

Anyway, they were part of the EVMCO performances at the Mesa Arts Center.  They looked and sounded fantastic.  There were 2 performances on Thursday, and two on Saturday.  Collin performed in all 4 concerts, but Mary and Jack were only in 2 (one each on Thursday and Saturday).  They did a great job.

We had stake conference this weekend and got a new stake presidency.... Tim Lines, Greg Slater and Tom Curtis.  They will be great.  Our outgoing stake president, Lothaire Bluth, was called to be a mission president.  (Collin and I both sang in the stake choir.)

Monday night was Jack's Christmas concert at school.  He was one of a few who auditioned and was chosen to play the recorder and he did well.  He practiced a lot and took it very seriously. 

Tuesday night was our ward Relief Society Christmas dinner.  I sang in a trio (with MaryAnn Wells and Chelsea Jones) as part of the program after the dinner.  It was a nice evening as usual.

December 03, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend was busy and fun but I'm notorious for forgetting to take photos.... darn it.

My brother, Peter, and his wife and kids stayed at our house... our first house guests!  It was fun to have them. 

Our Thanksgiving feast was amazing, of course, with too many pies.... I didn't think that possible, but apparently I was wrong. 

Afterward we changed gears and had our Christmas program/talent show.... at my mom's request, since they will be in England (as missionaries) for Christmas.

Friday was the Nielson Family football game at the park followed by a BBQ at our house.  We also celebrated my brother, Christian's birthday. 

That night my parents were set apart as missionaries for their departure the next morning.  It was very emotional (well, I was very emotional... I'm such a baby, but I'm really going to miss them).  But I'm super excited for them!  They will be serving as missionaries in southern England for 12 months.

On Monday night we went to pick out a Christmas tree, as is our usual tradition (for FHE on the Monday after Thanksgiving), but there were none to be found!  Sold out?  Craziness!  Bummer.  I guess we have to wait for the next shipment, but maybe at least this means we will get a super fresh one. 

November 23, 2013

Violinists and Cellists

Earlier this month I took Mary to see her violin teacher perform with a local symphony as the winner for a youth competition.  It was a great concert, and we got to meet her teacher's teacher, who happens to be the concert master for the Phoenix Symphony....and I happen to be a big admirer of his.  (You can see him in the background over her shoulder, wearing black.)

And last night Jay and I took Collin (our cellist) to see Zuill Bailey in a solo concert at the Mesa Arts Center.   We saw him perform with the Phoenix Symphony last year and loved him, so we couldn't resist getting tickets to his performance of the entire Bach Cello Suites... in one sitting!  It was simply amazing!  He is a fantastic performer.... talented, charming and witty... and a fabulous story-teller.  Everyone was spell bound!
This pose is because he told the story of how his left land is MUCH larger than his right.

November 15, 2013

I'm not an artist, and crafts and stuff like that really are NOT my thing, but I have a 4th grader who LOVES art, so I try.  Since his teacher this year is not really into art I volunteered to help with art projects.  What was I thinking???  Fortunately I have a husband who knows about art and he helped me put together a water color project.  It was probably a bit too ambitious for me but it was fun.


November 13, 2013

Handy Jay and the Back-splash

I'm lucky to have such a handy husband.  Jay installed this lovely back-splash in the kitchen over the weekend.  I love it!

November 12, 2013

A Decision that Took Two Years

It only took me about 2 years to finally get up the nerve, but I finally got my hair cut short... well, short to me, after having it quite long for a lot of years.   But it was time... it needed "thickening up."  I think I like it.

November 01, 2013

October in Review

October was busy and fun.  I made pickles for the first time ever.  My parents brought home bushels of cucumbers from the ranch and I didn't know what else to do with them.  They turned out great!  I gave most of them away but our family enjoyed lots of them.

Photo: They turned out great!

Collin was on a school trip the whole week of Fall Break.  He want to Northern California and had a great time.  They kept very busy and saw lots of stuff.  When I read through the itinerary I was really wishing I had been a chaperone! 

So, Mary and Jack and I try to keep from getting bored while Collin was gone.  We went on bike rides and played games, and they had friends over.  It was pretty low key. 

I celebrated my birthday.  Yippee.  Another year older.  You don't need to know how old.

My mom turned 70 so we planned a great surprised party and had it at our house.  She was COMPLETELY surprised.  It was great!
My sister, Heidi, came into town (from Georgia) for mom's birthday so we had to have a girls' lunch too, or course.

For Halloween, Jack dressed a ninja, and Mary dressed as a "Pompeii Seer" (from an episode of "Dr. Who".... she is s huge fan). 

Mary (left), Jack (right), and Mary's friend Madison (center)
Collin was going to dress as the "10th Doctor" but then decided he didn't want to go trick-or-treating (it's hard at that age.... too old?).  When some friends came by trick-or-treating he threw on half of his costume and went out to a few houses with them.  Then they came back here to watch a movie. 

September 30, 2013

September in Review

I guess September was all about Scouting.

The highlight of September was that Collin finished his Eagle project!  Hooray!  He worked hard and did a great job. 

and Jack received his Bear rank award in Cub Scouts.  He still has until February before he moves to the Webelos den so he is ahead of schedule.  He works hard and is dedicated to Cub Scouts.

August 31, 2013

August in Review

August is back to school time.  Collin started 9th grade, and Mary is in 7th grade, so they are now at the same school again (it's 7th-12th grades). 

Jack started 4th grade at the same school but a new campus. 

Enjoying having a "real" pool in our backyard!  (Extended family volleyball game for FHE.)

We've been busy getting settled into our new home and doing a few projects, including Jay refinishing the table and chairs we got for $50 on Craigslist! 

It turned out great.... I love it!

"After" (4 more chairs not pictured)

August 01, 2013

July in Review

We spent the first part of July moving into our new home and unpacking.  We sent our children to the cabin with family to enjoy the 4th of July festivities, and Jay and stayed home to do the dirty work. 
 Mary had a great time at "Time to Blossom" with her good friend, Macy.


Collin learned a new love of mowing the lawn at our new house after Grandpa gave us his old riding lawn mower.

My parents received a mission call to England, London South Mission!

Mary got braces.

I jumped into the swimming pool to save a drowning child.... with my brand new iPhone 5 in my pocket.  Fortunately, the nice people at the Apple Store gave me a new one!  Yay!

Mary turned 12 and had a bunch of friends over for a swimming party to celebrate.

And we finished off the month with our annual trip to our family's ranch in New Mexico for a week of fun with family.... riding horses and quads, talking, eating, swinging on the porch swings, dancing, singing, laughing, doing talent shows, singing around the camp fire, and watching fireworks.  Whew!