Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cleaning up Christmas

Well Christmas was almost a week ago and it is snowing like a crazy white-out scene here.

Looking out the front door...
Looking out the back deck...
And our backyard terraces...all covered in snow!
 So I am thinking about putting all my 14 bins of Christmas crap away today. But I don't really want to. I want to go out to lunch and shopping to add more crap to my Christmas bin pile! EEK! I better lock the front door from the inside and keep myself locked up. Too many good sales out there today to tempt me!

part of the nutcracker collection.

I loved the gifts I got from my friends and relatives. I have a friend who bakes a special pie each year for her favorite people. We have been the recipient of one of her special Razzleberry pies for several years. It is an out of this world homegrown berry pie that is so mouth watering you never forget it if you get to taste it. I dream about this pie for months after.

Lots of junk to put away...

One summer Barbara and I went up to North Salt Lake to "thin out" her mom's raspberry bushes (orchard really)and the weather did not want to cooperate with us. It started to rain really hard. So here we were doing a Martha Stewart digging with shovels and hoes in the garden scene, and I remember getting seriously cold and chilled! But we dug up a tuft of good, wet dirt with each Bear Lake raspberry bush we gathered, and all in one day, we potted them back at our own homes to hopefully grow lush and full by summer.

Monday night dinner w/ family b4 Dev and Cait flew out to St. Louis 

That summer I got tired of all my weeds and a nice boy across the street needed mission money, so 2 problems were solved at the same time. He pulled all the weeds in my rock garden and along the walled pathway leading to my garage...the pathway was filled with those wonderful raspberry bushes and they had little buds on them. He must have thought they were really weird looking, tall and gangly weeds! What a bummer that day was. All that effort down the drain. So Barbara has pity on me and shares her harvest once a year with me. She is a lovely person and a very talented cook and I love her and her family.

Christmas morning brunch w/ everybody

This year I sent her a 1/2 gallon  of apple juice and cinnamon wassail mix in a tiny little carton decorated by a giant Santa tin pail. It was very cute! Another favorite neighbor with little kids I got a selection of gingerbread men already made up and packaged from Smiths. I added white icing mix and a collection of tiny candies for them to decorate with. She is my favorite photographer. All these cute items were inside a cute Santa bucket. I love those and they have them every year at Smiths. And hey, it is easier than wrapping or even tissue bagging! I'm all for easy folks! (actually I'm kind of lazy to be truthful!)

For my kids I got them the obligatory jeans (returnable from Costco if they don't fit) and a shirt or sweater from Kohls, (also very returnable if they don't fit) for the boys. For the girls I got Bath & Body stuff,  a cute jacket and scarf and kitchen things like a new spice rack or Christmas servingware. We got Gary a giant popcorn machine he really liked.

Tiff and Gary

We got Jeff some Cabella stuff like an elk caller...He's gonna get an elk for sure this year with that great caller hehe!

But I think the funest gift I came up with was actually restaurant giftcards to their favorite place. I wrapped up a bottle of Famous Dave's BBQ sauce with a ribbon and a giftcard for my son that I happened to know LOVES BBQ. It is his favorite place to eat! He also liked his electronic toys. 
Marisa sure liked her fairy outfit from Uncle Dev and Aunt Cait

My daughter has always liked IHOP. So her giftcard was to there.  I know her girls love pancakes too. I think my granddaughters (3 of them) got the brunt of the gifts this year.

Megan got a fairy costume too...the wings were so pretty!

Marisa LOVED opening her presents!
 And I hope my kids weren't too tired having to open yet another gift for one of their own kids. (one of them is only 6 months so she eats the packages rather than rip them open herself)

Josie's not really into it yet...wait till next year though...!
I don't know if Brucie enjoyed Devin dressing him up  like doggie Santa...but we enjoyed laughing at him!
He wouldn't keep his hat on...that silly dog!

My youngest son got a bunch of BBQ tools to go with his outdoor grill we got him last month for his Birthday. And we got them all some games. They are avid board gamers. I'll let you know the ones we deem the most fun in a later post.

Megan was always fascinated by all my nativity sets...She loved all those cute wise men... she must think they are a new, cool kind of action figure...:)

more crap to put away....

Well I happen to know my daughter-in-law likes burgers at Red Robin. So the Red Robin giftcard was for Cait and Dev. They are very busy and it's a good takeout place I've heard. He also got silly things that I know he'll play with like: 3 colored syrups to go with his summer snow cone machine. And a big yellow tool box with tools that we put some vinyl letters "Devin's Tools".  It looked like a kindergarten lunch pail. I hope he wasn't embarrased for all his friends to see! hehe...

What can I say...we are all....KIDS at heart! They will have fun playing with those. When they aren't watching themselves dance on the TV. Have you seen that Kinnect electronic game? They always look  kinda geeky dancing around on camera to me.  Maybe that is the point, I don't know...

My favorite gift was a silver punchbowl from my daughter. She knows me so well and knows I love serving pieces of all kind. I love to entertain and cook. And having pretty things gives me a  reason to have a party. It is hammered silver and has a silver pedestal and it matches one of my favorite silver platters.
Merlene....jam making queen and Grandpa Don...nicest guy on the planet!  

OOPS! Weren't these jellies all for me?  

Relax you guys, I'll give you your jam next time you come over...Sheesh!
 My mother-in-law brought us a selection of homemade jams. ( I think maybe she mean't these to be for each of my kids? ...oh well...) She is a wonderful 87 year old lady who still gardens, cans and does wonderful jellies and jams. She could run circles around me. She skied circles around me for years, up until she was 74! She probably still can ski better than me....:)

Motorcycle mamas... riding our quads
Playin' with the dogs...

Candyland and her new BUG board game...Marisa likes games too..
.(I'm taking pics from my recliner perch & the dog is
 between my feet.  He goes where mommy goes :)

Heather and Mike I think...hard to tell...
could be Becky and Brandon...
After Christmas Day we went down to Bear Lake for a few days. We had such a fun time hanging out at our cabin, riding quads, eating turkey dinner and playing Loaded Questions and Wii.  It was a belly-laugh-fest. Everybody was in such a fun mood, it was too bad the weather turned so fierce and scared everybody back home a day early. But we had fun anyway with my little granddaughters, and several of the extended families who came.

Megan reclining like Grandma...we both know how to relax!

My daughter Tiff and her 2 girls going sledding...
Come on guys! Let's go have fun in the snow!

Samantha, Pattie, Robin, Becky, Dallas, Brandon, Heather and Michael....John's taking pictures of us all...

I love having time off to go out in nature and remember all the beautiful things of this earth. It is so serene there. We saw many tracks of animals all around our property but only saw one set of brother and sister, young deer that came right up to our basement, sliding glass door. Then they just got bored and sauntered off down the road in single file. Too funny. They aren't afraid of any humans, that's for sure.

Tiff and I and John all got in some good reading time...Tiff's got her Kindle...Megan's playing ipad games...

I love you grandma....

Ah darn it! It started snowing again!
Our family Christmas 2010

Have fun packing up all your holiday stuff and don't forget to "ring" in and enjoy a great new year! (or you could just honk the horn and clash pans together like we do) Cheers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hallelujah! It's Christmas

I love these funny videos of one of my favorite songs, the Hallelujah Chorus by Mendelsohn. I remember first learning it as a sophmore in high school by our women's chorus teacher Mr. Fenn. He was my all time favorite teacher.

He taught us how to live a good life, not just how to sing chorally. I loved that guy. He would have the yearly Christmas choral concert and anybody from previous years that was in the audience was always invited to stand up, and along with the present concert choir, boys chorus, women's chorus and the elite Acapella group, would sing along with us.

I remember years after graduating, going to watch my brothers sing in the West Torrance High School Christmas Concert. My sister Debbie and I (past members of the chorus) would stand together with half the audience and have this wonderful shared experience of a fine piece of music sung in 4 part harmony. I bet anybody who's ever learned this piece, never ever forgets their part. I can still sing the alto part perfectly to this day. Here are a few of my favorite renditions: Here is the first one: It was courtesy of Sarah Palin, from my facebook page!

Another one of my favorites is the Monk one. It is even funnier and probably was a lot harder to put together in sychronization! If Mr. Fenn were still around, I bet he'd have put something this creative together!

But my all time favorite Hallelujah song is this one: I love the 4 part harmony sung to steel string guitar, just so pure and beautiful. I don't know what the heck the song really means, but I love the chorus. It's Hallelujah from Shrek sung on utube by: Kirt Nilson and Espin Lind et al
For some reason it's been disabled, but check it out...google it, it is beautiful.



Merry Christmas 2010 everybody! I hope you get everything you want, but more importantly, you remember to give love to all those friends and family around you. It makes life worth living!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Polar Express in Lindon, Utah

Cute Uncle Dennis....a very happy conductor of the Polar Express! 
My husband's brother is one of the train engineers for the Lindon, Utah, Polar Express.  It is a mini riding train that travels around his neighbor's property. This neighbor must be a very lovely person and he must have an exceptional family. They decorate the whole acreage with lights on all the trees, big blow-ups of Santa and his reindeer, large lighted posters of  Jesus, angels,  and scenes from the bible as you ride by, and a lighted up, life-sized creche with the animals and baby Jesus.  All this you see as you are riding along listening to Celine Dion or Josh Grobin singing Christmas carols with the music piped in along the way.

Here we all are waiting for our train ride....so fun!
As we were waiting for our ride we were ushered into a giant room with a regular movie screen in this big movie house which was playing none other than... you guessed it...  The Polar Express! (Tom Hanks version).  I almost wanted to just stay and watch the movie. It was cool. Lucky kids that get to watch movies on THAT big screen!

The property itself is a very large 4 acre plot or so where the owner had his own home and several for his kids' built on the lot corners. In the middle is a mini Disneyland with every kind of activity you can imagine, besides just the train. There is a pool with lots of giant slides, a baseball field, golf, batting cages, all kinds of fun! Here is a link to get an appointment to ride. It is free but they ask a small donation. Stringtown USA Polar Express.

Just a few of the things we saw as we rode past...

His family decorates it it all up kind of scary for Halloween and then all beautiful and colorful for Christmas so kids in the community can come ride and have a fun outing with their families.  There are stops along the way to Santa's workshop to visit Santa Claus and his elves.  My little granddaughter Megan (2 years) was afraid of Santa but was mesmerized by his giant "toy" train that ran all around the inside of the room filled with every kind of toy imagineable. They really did it up nice!

Visiting Santa's Workshop...at the Polar Express in Linden Utah.

They had lots of trees, lights, toys and decorations inside Santa's Workshop. Lots of fun things to see. 

Megan is watching the large Lionel train coming toward her on the track...
Santa passed them out a little card with the story of the baby Jesus on it and a candy cane taped to the back, so cute! I got to snap a few shots of my older granddaughter Marisa who isn't afraid of Santa anymore. The elves dressed up really cute too. I wonder how much time they donate to this activity?

The Moss brothers, Dennis and John (my husband is on the right)
 I know Uncle Dennis is there quite a few nights for his "shift" in December.  They have several trains running at once and they take turns being the train conductor. Here he is with my husband John who took video of us riding the train. He was too tough to actually get in with us and ride. :)

After the ride was over we saw some other relatives on Grandma Merlene's side who had come later and were waiting for their ride. Just outside the train area there is a community service project writing to missionaries serving all over the world. It had cards to sign that looked like this. What a great idea!

Tiff and the girls and Aunt Danielle and cousin Casey and Jeff with their girls. It was fun to ride the train with everybody. 
I think people that do these kinds of things for the community, all for free, should recieve gold stars. They are wonderful to do this. My family had such a good time. I think I'd like to make that a yearly tradition, as long as it lasts.  We feel lucky that we were invited to go ride the Polar Express.  What fun it was for us!  Thanks Uncle Dennis!

Megan and mama....
Marisa and her candy cane treat. 


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