The girls had friends over for dinner on 12/30, and then for games and celebrating on New Year's Eve We've had a few New Year's Eves with family or friends here, and it's so fun to ring in the new year with people we love. Here comes 2015!
Kevin and Beth arrived Christmas day and spent a few days with us. We had fun hanging out with them. We played games and shopped for paint for Jenna's new room color (Uncle Kevin works for a paint manufacturer). We love every minute we can get with our Auntie and Uncle, and their visit at Christmas has been a fun Christmas tradition since before the girls were born. Aunts and Uncles are such a blessing to their nieces and nephews, and they hold a special place in our hearts.
Stillness of the morning, the anticipation (we still make them wait to come down the hallway so we can get a photo), puppy's interest in everything, big gifts from Santa, Grandpa, cute tag ideas provided by Jenna for dad's presents to mom, excitement (kids) and relief (parents) over choosing the right gifts, Aunt Beth and Uncle Kevin, realizing you were up way too late (Santa) and way too early (kids) which calls for a nap in the middle of the floor, traditional family photo that mom kept accidentally setting on not only timer but rapid shutter clicks affording some funny family poses, and a beautiful dinner with the help from the hub. Another blessed Christmas for our home and as always, although the photos don't show it, an increased focus, appreciation and reverence for our Savior whose birth, life and death will always be the reason for these celebrations.
We had tacos for dinner with some cute little bottles of Martinelli's. That seemed to make it festive. Ever since our extended family exited CA, we've been sort of floundering with Christmas Eve traditions. We manage a dinner, but it's not always the same food. I guess it's good that we make it a little festive no matter what. We miss our Christmas Eve with family so much; I still think about our gatherings every year.
One thing I still do, late at night (or early in the morning, depending on my level of organization from year-to-year), is to turn off all the lights and sit on the sofa to gaze at the tree before going to bed. It's always such a beautiful sight no matter how we've decorated, real tree or fake. At once I remember my childhood anticipation of Christmas morning as well as marvel at the presents around the tree and how blessed we are. I sit in the stillness, and my heart is full of gratitude not only for the sight in front of me, but for my Savior and His birth.
This happened in the morning, and it was a very happy occasion (3.5 years!)
And then this happened in the evening. We love looking at the lights and walking around with all the festive music and neighbors. Grandpa joined us. There was even an animated Santa. Heather was freaked out, which you can't tell because she laughs after being startled. Our walk was short, but beautiful as always.
Jenna wanted a hamster so badly that she didn't wait for Christmas. Kelly took her to the pet store armed with her own money, and they purchased a new hamster, cage, food, bedding and all the rest of the trimmings. The hamster is really, really cute. No name for the cutie pie, fluff ball yet, but she's working on it.
Jenna had so much fun picking out her hamster and is so in love with it that she couldn't stand for her best friend not to have the same experience. She combined Christmas and birthday presents into one, and she took Sarah hamster shopping. Jenna bought Sarah a hamster and a cage along with some starter bedding. It was cute to watch Sarah's face as she realized Jenna brought her along to choose a hamster and a cage for herself. The girls took the new hammy friends to Sarah's house to get her all set up. Jenna had a blast surprising her friend, and the surprise was a whopping success.
A few weeks ago Heather participated in some filming for the 2015 LDS Youth theme, "Embark." For anyone who doesn't know, the LDS church has chosen a theme for the youth each year, and they create a video using original music submitted to the project. The film crews go all over the world to include youth from all backgrounds and locations making the videos relative to any youth anywhere in the world who sees it. The videos and music have been amazing. Our favorite featured my friend's son singing on a cliff near the beach in 2010 for the, "Be Strong and of Good Courage," theme.
Anyway, the church requested youth from the Huntington Beach area to participate this year. So exciting! The scene we were asked to film was at a skate park in Costa Mesa. Heather was still having headaches, but this was such a fun opportunity that we drove her over. Heather was a trooper and became one of the background park goers for the skateboard segment of the video. The background knew that if they weren't seen in the final video, at least they helped make it. How exciting to participate in the making of a video that will been seen around the world!
News came later that one of the other segments in the video had been cut, and many of the background cast from the skateboarding scene were invited to film a new segment to replace the other one. Once again Heather ignored her headache, and we drove her to the filming. She cheerfully participated knowing that she may never be on camera in the final product. She had fun being with girlfriends in the stake and doing what she was asked to do for the filming.
When we saw the final cut of the video, we were amazed to see our cute girl in a couple of the beginning scenes. We've had friends out of state contact us and say, "Is that Heather we saw in the Youth video?!" She's a bit of a celeb now. Haha. The service clip they filmed that day became a focal point for the beginning of the video.
We have come to love the original song chosen to go with the theme, and it is amazing to watch over and over and see so many youth that we love in the beginning scenes. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we're so happy Heather could participate in this project.
We recently changed out furniture in our living room, and between that and the fact that our little girls are adult size now (as well as their friends), oh and we have a huge dog, our living room was becoming a little small. My mom's piano, which we've had for ten years, takes up about 1/3 of the room's space, and we ran out of places to position it to maximize remaining space. Additionally, Heather's progress is warranting a newer keyboard since the keys on our 1920's gem are sticking a bit. It seems to be time to sell the piano.
I had never wanted to put the piano in my home for a few of reasons. First, it was a purchase my mom made when I was a teen that meant very little to me because no one in our house played the piano. We also couldn't afford the purchase which at a young age I was well aware of. Fast forwarding to my adult years with two small children and my mom asking for a place to store the piano, and I told her it would no way fit in my small house. Lastly, there was no need at the time for me to have a piano because the girls were not ready to take lessons yet. But when a time crunch came and the piano needed a home, it came here because there was no other place for it.
We were surprised that it fit in the corner which is where we placed it hoping to retain some of our living space. It is a pretty piece of furniture, and our holiday decor has looked really nice on it. Then the girls started lessons not too long after it arrived, and it was very handy for practicing. My mom was able to see the girls begin lessons and learn songs before she passed away which had been important to her.
When my mom passed, we weren't just storing the piano anymore, it had become an inheritance piece. My sister did not have room for it, so it continued living here until we decided what to do with it. I didn't have brain space while raising my girls to investigate selling an antique piano at that time. It has been a perfect fit for these ten years, better than I had ever imagined.
Back to the present and after doing some research, I posted a listing on Craigslist for what the piano might be worth. Dusting it off and photographing it was an interesting experience--I knew it needed to go, but it meant the end of some great memories of our daughters learning how to play. The very day I posted the listing, I told my neighbor about it asking her to share with friends, and she popped over after work to see it. She promptly told me she has been wanting a grand and that this would be perfect. We made arrangements for her to buy it after the holidays. It has been nice not to have to wonder how long it will take to sell, and Heather was excited that it would only be moving down the street where she could pop in and play it if she missed it too much. Tender mercies.
So for the next few weeks, we will say goodbye to our old friend. Heather already has the top up and is playing and playing her pieces on it. It sounds wonderful. I'll miss that. Who knew that my mom's purchase that had irritated me in my youth would end up being something I would be grateful for later on? It has been a well-loved item.
It is time. We've had to come to terms with the fact that although beautiful, our play set has been sitting vacant in our back yard for quite some time. Gone are the years of activity when neighbors, family and sisters escaped to the swings or the fort. Gone are the hours of water play, swinging and climbing. The girls are adult-size now, and it's hard for them to even fit through the openings in and out of the structure. I've held onto it longer than I should because a little piece of my heart is out there in the backyard, tied to the play set. Thank goodness for pictures.
We invited our closest neighbors over to say good-bye. Here they are years ago and then now. Time has flown. No kidding.
The morning the new family was to come and remove it, I went outside to take pictures. I took pictures from every angle blinking through tears. I wanted to remember every moment, every giggle, every smile and squeal of joy. Oh my heart. I'm still teary typing this. After I said good-bye, we went off to church. When we came home, it was half gone. And then gone for good. The yard is empty now, but we will always have our memories. We hope the new family (cute little boy and girl whose mommy is from Scotland where the parents met) will enjoy it just as much as we have.
Jenna wanted to have a special party for the epic date 12•13•14, and I have to say I was excited to do that with her. Being the theme-mom that I am I started to think of a theme to guide our planning. The letters L, M and N are the 12th, 13th and 14th letters of the alphabet, so that is how we planned the food. The rest of the party had no particular theme. Simply friends and fun. The gang dressed up for pictures while waiting for guests to arrive, and then they all played some group games. We posed for a pic atop the playlet which will be going to a new home on Sunday, but that's another blog post. So glad Jenna got this ball rolling. The party was a huge success!
Licorice, Lasagna, Lays, Lemonade, Mints, M&M's, Mac & Cheese, Marshmallows, Milk and Mug Rootbeer, Nutella, Nacho Cheese Dorritos, Nuts and Nilla Wafers
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!