07 January 2019

Christmas 2018






























Christmas Eve! We enjoyed such a lovely day, a bit of fun, some relaxation, and lots of traditions. The Chandler Calls invited us to join them for early morning rappelling. Dr Auxier has a large collection of helmets, harnesses, ropes, and other climbing gear needed for rock climbing and rappelling. We met at Papago Park around 10 am. Lots of homeless folks were using the tables and benches as lodging. A bit further from the park was a large rock formation where the Auxiers set up the rappelling courses, one short and one long course. Josie and Evelyn amused themselves climbing up the steep rock face. Phillip and Anson skipped about the top of the rocks like normal exuberant boys. Everett stayed right near Aunt Laura (she manned the short course) and "helped" give instructions to those waiting for their turn. He was even more verbose after he took his own turn, by then he was an expert. Sorry Laura for my know-it-all kid. We quite enjoyed all the funny faces the kids had while concentrating on their way down the rock face. Ranae took the little girls to play at the park once they got tired of playing mountain goat. Amelia ripped her pants on the rock face much to her chagrin. Phillip surprised us all with a near perfect descent twice in a row. We completely enjoyed learning how to rappell.

We came home to clean up our house, well, Justin and the kids cleaned up. I went to complete some last moment food shopping for our clam chowder! We had to have some freshly made sourdough from Winco. The James family joined us for Christmas Eve. As always, Christmas clam chowder is magical. I made a double recipe that vanished quickly. We ate by candlelight serenaded by excited kid voices. Amelia was tasked to collect costumes for the nativity play, she had a checklist to keep her on track. After dinner cleanup we had our play, this year we repeated the play 3 times so everyone got to play their favorite parts. Everett made quite the serious Joseph, his adoring faces with Mary (Evelyn) were quite convincing. My favorite costume was the sheep with the pink hat and sheepskin tied to Amelia's waist. Our nelves delivered Christmas candy and PJs right during the reading of "The Night Before Christmas." Josie was thrilled she got two PJs!! Phillip made us all laugh with his rather obnoxious stegosaurus impressions. We tired out the James family with all our noise and chaos, even I felt tired. The kids went to sleep anxious for the magic of Santa to transform our tree.

The kids slept until 6:30 am! They spent 30 minutes enjoying their stockings in our room. The boys were thrilled to get beyblades to battle each other with. We woke up Josie at 7, gave her some time to open her stocking before we let the kids line up. Whoops and hollers soon filled our house for the next hour as wrapping paper filled the air. Santa went crazy and got Phillip a drum set, maybe he thought Phillip really could be the next Muppet Animal. Some favorite highlights: Josie wearing her helmet for hours, Evelyn sporting makeup for days, Everett's reaction after opening a large magician's set, Phillip and Everett racing each other with radio controlled cars, zipping down the driveway on the long board, Evelyn surrounded with a pile of LOL wrappers, Amelia contentedly giving makeovers to herself and I with real make up, Amelia squishing slime for days, and a code 4 level mess. We enjoyed the mess for several days, wading through paper and losing toys under mounds of paper clutter. Towards evening the Calls and James families came over for dinner. We ate tamales, rice, beans, guacamole, chips, and fresh salsa. Evelyn saved one of her LOL balls to show Aunt Charity how they work. Reagan got an Evelyn makeover. The drums are residing in the garage.

Wednesday I was going stir crazy, needing to get away from the clutter and mess. While Justin napped away the afternoon I took the kids for some exercise at the park. We brought along bikes and the long board. The kids took turns riding the long board down the hill! Even Josie took her trike down the hill much to my surprise. The weather turned chilly so we headed home once the sunset. It felt amazing to get outside and play for hours.

Thursday we toured the Phoenix zoo with family. I love that we have cousins close. Evelyn decided that Reagan is her favorite person, she rather got attached to her. Reagan was not so sure how to handle our pestering little nerd bonker. I'd say the highlight of our visit was the goat petting area. Evelyn loved it until a goat pooped as she watched. Her expressions! Gracious. The cheetah's were on the prowl this time. Amelia totally loved watching them on the move.  Josie only wanted to visit the zebras. She spent a good amount of time examining the zoo map in search of the zebras. We visited Evelyn's favorite bird, the bustard. I hardly caught sight of Phillip, Anson, Everett, and Gary. Those boys were extra busy zipping about. We enjoyed a delicious ham dinner at the Calls. We had to say goodbye to the favorite Aunt Chi-chi. Everett was especially lovey dovey, dolling out hugs and kisses. We loved their visit.

I don't remember what we did on Friday. Ha ha ha. Most likely the TV was on all day while I worked on editing the bridal session from the prior week. Saturday was about the same. I did sort and pack a suitcase for my short jaunt to Utah. Justin went ahead and booked me a ticket since I was too hesitant to get one, none of the dates I showed him worked. We payed a bit extra to fly me out over the holidays but he wanted me to go while he was on vacation. My case was stuffed with baby props, just enough room to stuff in a change of undies, a shirt, leggings and some sundry items.

I drove myself to the Mesa airport at 4:15 am. It is a really small airport, but I was through security in less than 20 minutes. Soon I was in the air headed towards Utah. The hour flight was totally worth the trade of the 14 hour drive. Amelia lent me her fox to document my short trip. Jeremy and Melissa picked me up at 9 am from the Provo airport. That airport was even smaller than the Mesa one. We attended church at Mom and Dad's building, just a random ward holding sacrament at a convenient time.  Justin survived sacrament meeting alone for the first time with all 5 kids. The afternoon I spent taking photos of Pasha then Rachel (and Hannah). I scrounged props from around Mom's house using what she had on hand. Uncle Scott lent me some strobes, light stands, modifiers, and a trigger. It was a very overcast day so natural light was out of the question. Borrowing Scott's equipment was quite the weird experience for me. I would rather rent next time than borrow from Scott. We both hurt each other's feelings (thought I'm still confused about what I did wrong). Both babies were so sweet and lovely to snuggle. I did not get much time with Rachel, Jana was anxious to get back home. Jana had surgery the next morning so needed to get back home. Dad regaled me with his awesome plans to create a foldable handcart he is designing with Uncle Matt. Next morning Mom and I went to visit Grandma B at a care facility. Seeing her there, all swollen and near death about broke my heart. Getting old seems to be the worst part of life, losing control over all the things you used to do, turning back into a baby while your mind is still conscious. Mom was in a flurry arranging the pieces so Grandma's stuff could be moved into a new apartment with better care. Mom let me stop by Walmart to grab a couple ballerina dolls for Hannah. We got her a happy meal from McDonalds before we stopped by for a short visit. I missed seeing Jana again, when she got out of surgery I was already headed down to Eagle Mountain with Miekka and Courtenay. They were up north enjoying a day of shopping, we had lunch before a spot of shopping at DI. Penny was quite upset that I left Evelyn at home. She told me to never visit again without my kids! We spent a quiet evening at the Lances playing a couple games and snacking on food until the ball fell in NY at 10 pm Utah time. Miekka took me to the airport early the next morning. By 11 am on New Years I was back home with the kids. Justin took the kids bouncing at Uptown Jungle for a fun activity one New Years Eve. I quite enjoyed being alone for the first time since Amelia was born. Hannah joined me in the bathroom on Sunday, I was feeling rather lonely since I rarely get to potty alone.