Monday, December 29, 2008

My Christmas

Here's our Christmas Eve Chaos. To give you an idea of how this works, we eat, the kids leave to play video games or with the toys downstairs, and when the adults have the meal straightened up, someone just yells "presents!" It's the only time they come the first time you call them.
This is Sam, Holly (Erin's kids), and Lizzie (Scott's daughter) tearing into Christmas jammies. Erin is 8 1/2 months pregnant in back, opening Max's jammies with Valeri. Max is due January 3rd.

This is Valeri with all her boys: Raiden, Draken, Seth, and Orion. Mary's in the chair. She is Kathi's youngest daughter.
This is Sammy. He doesn't know the meaning of personal space, especially when he's around a camera.This is Holly and Lizzie. They are a year apart. Holly is 6 and Lizzie is 7. Here they are sporting new jammies and matching stuffed animals.

This is Draken, Valeri's youngest. He has the funniest little face, and the sweetest smile! He loves to give hugs.

Here are Kathi's kids showing off their jammies. Sorry the flash didn't work. I played with this picture in Photosmart because the flash didn't work but it is still a little grainy. But check out how gorgeous these kids are! And look how tall they all are! Brittanie is in blue in back. She's 17. Katelynn is in pink. She's 19. Jake is next. He's 13. And then Mary in green. She's 15. This is everyone. There are three of them who are taller than me: Katelynn, Orion, and Rainden. I love that some of them managed to look so teenage bored and excited at the same time. They love Christmas Eve Chaos (really, it's not anything like the parties normal families have with games and order).
As we were taking this picture, we asked if it was time for the older ones to give up the Christmas jammies . . .

. . . They all yelled "NO!" The boys in back, left to right, are Raiden, Seth, Jake, and Orion. Draken and Sammy are in front. The girls in back, left to right, are Brittanie, Katelynn, and Mary. Lizzie and Holly are in front. Notice how mad Sammy is in both pictures? He didn't want to get in his jammies.

Christmas Day, I went to Mom's and opened up my presents but no one else could make it in. So we did our little family Christmas on the 26th. The weather wasn't much better. Here is the before picture of my car:
And then after I shoveled and scraped it off (It doesn't look much better):

And then after I managed to pull out. Look how deep the snow is around where my car was.

Despite the weather, a wonderful Christmas. Now, what are we doing for New Years?

I vote we go to bed early.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It's Christmas Eve and I have been thinking a lot about Christmas traditions. I noticed that for the past three blogs I griped about Christmas. So today I want to share some traditions we have that I love.

Christmas Eve is very special to my brother and sisters and me. My dad was married once before he married my mom and I have two sisters and a brother from that marriage. Through the divorce agreement, Dad got the kids on Christmas Eve, so a long time ago, this became our family's big night. And we still get together every year. Kathi goes all out and buys toys for all the little ones, like she's a skinny, female, Mormon, Santa. And someone reads the Christmas story from Dad's bible before we eat. While we do have ham, it is supposed to be potluck, which means we end up having Doritos instead of potatoes sometimes, but that's okay. Every year, the kids put on their new pajamas and open their new books.
But Christmas Eve is more than a party for us. It is a time for the five of us to get together. We don't keep in touch all year like we should because we are so busy. But on Christmas Eve, when Scott walks in and hugs me and I know that this is my brother no matter what. Every year someone tries to change the day we get together. The individual families are getting bigger and that makes it a little harder. But eventually, we all seem to reach the same conclusion that this night is special to us for more than one reason.
It is a night when we don't have to be husbands or wives or moms or dads or a nurse or an architect or teachers or a student
It is our night to just be Dad's kids.

My second favorite tradition is singing. We are a musical family. We aren't necessarily great, but we're good enough. My cousins Autumn and Emily and my sister Erin and I get together and sing Christmas carols every year. We were in choir together in high school and learned to love singing together. I play the piano. We always finish up with "O Holy Night." Autumn served her mission in France, so she sings a verse in French, and by the end we're all in tears. Then we exchange some small gifts. Nothing says Christmas to me like music. Especially when it's my family singing

Finally, I wanted to share my Christmas Tree ornament's tradition. I started getting an ornament every year when I was 18. I made some, and I bought others. Some were given to me. The idea was that by the time I had my own tree, I would have enough ornaments to fill it. And I do. But I definitely have my favorites.
A few years ago, after my Grandpa Baxter died, we were going through his things and cleaning stuff out. Mom brought home the Christmas ornaments from their tree. These ornaments had been on their tree for years, since my mom was a kid. They are the old hand painted glass ornaments you can't get any more and I asked if I could have them to add to my collection. I have a little horn that wraps around a tree branch. It used to actually make noise, but it has long since worn out. I have a little teapot, and I have a glass bulb. All were my grandparents. I remember putting them on their tree, and my mom remembers putting them on her tree when she was little. I absolutely love these ornaments.

My Grandpa Pettit was a carpenter but an artist at heart. He loved to whittle, and years ago, mom gave me this little truck that had been on our tree. Grandpa made it as a Christmas gift and I remember loving the fact that it was a Christmas tree truck. I love the fact that I have something he made on my tree.

And this year, my new ornament was given to me. Indiana Jones was a gift from my roommate. He isn't traditional, but how fun is that!

As I was writing I noticed that everyone of these traditions was rooted in family. Even my ornaments are meant to be shared with others. So that's my most favorite tradition of Christmas. Being with family.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have my room back!

I have this pet peeve that has to do with folding laundry. I hate it. I like washing clothes. Yes, I like it. But I hate folding them. That's when I wish for a house elf. Maybe Mr. May from our calendar.
The avoidance of this particular chore goes WAAAAY back. My mom used to separate our clean clothes and put them in baskets for us to take to our rooms. I generally left mine sitting on the washer and pulled out the clothes I needed.
Then mom yelled at me, and I would put them away.
I don't live with anyone who will yell at me anymore (mom tries, but it doesn't have the same effect over the phone) so I have had a laundry basket full of clothes I have needed to fold. I am proud to say that I recently put away. It took me an hour. Think about that. I am one person. The reason it looks so full is because I kept adding to it and than taking stuff from it. Not to worry though. I have now learned my lesson . . . for a few months at least. And then I will fall back into my slothful ways.


The other half of my room has been taken up with Christmas presents since before Thanksgiving. I just haven't got around to wrapping them until this weekend. So that cleared out the other half of my room. And now my room is my own.


Can you imagine the clothes and the presents if I had kids?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 1/2 days

I only have 1 1/2 days until Christmas break begins. Which is great. But do you know how NOT prepared I have been all week? Last Friday, while all good teachers were preparing for this week in their classrooms during lunch, so we could party after school, I was busy getting ready for the party. Then we partied like we were tired school teachers (we are some party people).
I never got lessons planned.
I'll admit it.
I've been faking it all week. But to be fair, so have the kids.
And tomorrow we have two assemblies. The dress rehearsal for our concert and the orchestra and band concert (always a crowd pleaser), and Friday we have two assemblies (our school concert and the Olympus High Madrigal Choir).
Then I will fill in my planner saying what I DID this week, and no one will ever know the difference. In case someone asks.
Like on a standardized test.
Maybe tomorrow I should teach some math.

See. Your kids aren't the only ones going a little crazy at school.

Merry Christmas! I'm off to get more caffeine.

Days of Christmas . . .

First of all, kudos to Sarah and Sharlon who are both doing Twelve Days of Christmas blogs to keep them in the spirit. I can't tell you how much I needed that yesterday. And since my comments are WAY too long for the comment section, you guys will just have to read my blog:)

Yesterday I had to deal with the one thing I hate the very most about the holidays. I absolutely abhor the traffic. It is a deep loathing that I can't seem to get out of my system. Utah drivers are crappy anyway. I feel I can safely say this because I am one of them and I am a crappy driver. But at Christmas, we're all out on the road at the same time and it drives me absolutely insane. Maybe this is because all the Driver's Ed teachers were the football coaches. Honestly, what do you remember about Driver's Ed?

Yesterday, when it was still snowing terribly, we had a field trip to go on. The bus was supposed to pick us up at 9:00 but it wasn't there until 9:15. We had to drive from Holladay to the U of U, a drive of about 15 to 20 minutes. It took us an hour because of the other idiots on the road. (And the idiot driver?) Not an accident, just stupid people going too fast or too slow and inevitably causing me pain. An hour on a bus with 70 Christmas-hyper kids. Your head would hurt too.

And we were an hour late for our field trip.

After school I had to go to the pharmacy and finish up some Christmas shopping, and people were ignoring my blinker, my car, basic rules of the road, etc.

I got home and crawled into bed.

No Christmas spirit for me. No Red Ryder BB gun, or a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, or Zu-Zu's petals. It was me grouchy (should I say Grinchy?) So if any of you have some Christmas tips, (Sarah, Sharlon, anybody?) I could use them.

Something besides stay off the roads. I think I learned that one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Beginning to Look . . .

I am so sorry I didn't get a picture of our living room BEFORE we decorated for Christmas, but I'm fairly certain with a good imagination, you can picture it.

There are three girls living here. We have each collected Christmas stuff our entire adult life. Jennie has been married, so she has stuff from that. Jessica used to be an interior decorator, so she has a lot of stuff too. And then there's me, the collector. I have tried to buy a Nativity set every Christmas for the past ten years or so. So when we get out Christmas decorations, we have to be very selective. We have on apartment that will only fit one person's Christmas junk . . . barely.

Amazingly, not one of us owns a tree.

For a week we had Jessica's Christmas bins, and my Christmas bins in the living room. There were four Rubbermaid storage bins in our living room. All of them were opened in various stages of unpacking and packing.

Sunday, we got it all together and Monday, Jessica deep cleaned everything. And here are the results.

I only unpacked 8 of my 12 Nativities. And we borrowed my cousin's tree. But with the snow today everything looks so nice and Christmas-y.

So Merry Christmas in 11 more days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tight Spaces

We had a field trip to the Church History Museum today to learn about pioneers. They actually do a really good job of teaching Utah history. They walk the kids through the different parts of a pioneer's journey. They get to pull a real handcart, label parts on a real wagon, talk to a real blacksmith, and then they get to see a life sized reproduction of what the inside of the ships that many European pioneers took to cross the Atlantic, before they began the journey across the continent.

The inside is small, and the bunks that one family could sleep on measured 6 feet by 6 feet. So my small group was invited to climb in and see what it felt like to be all crowded in there. There were 6 kids in my group and they were wiggling around trying to find room when the guide (an older sister missionary) asked them what they thought the pioneers thought about this arrangement (she was looking for something like, they disliked the lack of privacy or they were homesick). But I think NAthan hit the nail on the head. As he was climbing out, he said very clearly and LOUDLY,

"I think they probably hated it when someone farted."

Sometimes the kids get it right whether we like it or not.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beware the Pinky Swear

I am the Book Aunt. I get all my nieces and nephews a book for Christmas. And I really try and research the books because I want the kids to love reading. When the girls started high school, I told them that if they wanted something cooler, to let me know (because to me, there is nothing cooler than a book, hence, my wardrobe and weekends). And every year, I am told that they all do two things Christmas Eve: wear their Christmas Pajamas from Nana and read Aunt Nina's book. So, I am also the Cool Aunt. I buy their love.

However, when I started this little tradition 19 Christmases ago, I forgot some things that might be considered important. I probably should have been keeping some lists. You know, a list of book ideas I had over the year, a list of books I already got for each kiddo, and a list of what books were asked for. I also buy a Christmas picture book for each family every year. Now, every year I wonder did I already give them this book?

Those of you who know me are laughing really hard right now. Because I have NEVER been that organized. But I think about being that organized all the time. I really want to be that organized. Mostly it just makes me a little depressed. Chocolate and Diet Pepsi usually help.

Stop laughing.

This year, I got all 12 books before Thanksgiving. I got the family books on sale after Christmas last year. (that's the first time I have ever shopped for Christmas, after Christmas, but it was a really good deal).

Then my sister Erin called me this week and said that I might need to reconsider what I got Holly, her daughter.

Apparently, when I was babysitting about a month ago, I promised to get her a book called "Pigeon Wants a Puppy." I guess we pinky swore and everything. Erin was concerned because Holly was blissfully sure that her Aunt Nina was going to come through for her.

I remember taking her and Sam to the bookstore to look at books, but I honestly have no recollection of this encounter or the book. But Holly doesn't lie, and I googled the book title. It exists.

Dang. Not only are my organizational skills crap, so is my memory.
And my Christmas isn't as done as I thought.

So tomorrow, I'm off to buy "Pigeon Wants a Puppy" by Mo Willems.

Because you never, ever, break a pinky sworn promise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

For Unto Us

For Christmas, I bought tickets for my mom, my sister and me to go to the Messiah sing-in at Abravanel Hall down town. I went last year and it really brought the Christmas spirit in. So I did it for Mom and Erin this year to see if they would enjoy it. And at first it was a frustrating affair.

This is what I forgot.
A-There's no parking down town and B- my mom and my sister are pretty much immobile. Mom because of bad knees and stuff and Erin because eight months of pregnancy will do that to you. My original plan, without thinking, because it's what we did last year, was to park at the Salt Lake Stake building and walk. That would have taken hours. and what would I do if one of them stumbled? Since mom uses Erin and I for support, who do I save? The old lady (sorry mom) or the pregnant lady?

At the last minute I got my Uncle Jim to drive us there and pick us up. Thanks Uncle Jim! You are Awesome!

But to back up about eight weeks ago, when I first told mom about these tickets she said that she didn't like the Messiah. Who says that about a gift?
Well, my mom.
I believe that we all have a filter between our brains and our mouths, so we don't say every thought that comes to mind. I think mom skipped that line in heaven. I told her she was going and she would like it, because I already bought the tickets. Mom and I have a special relationship.
Maybe I'm missing my filter too?

When we got there, she told the people who were helping how silly it was to have a steep hallway, or a step down, or how uncomfortable the seats were, etc. And the ushers were so sweet to her, because she does walk very slowly so she won't fall. They were patient and warned her about slight rises or little steps down. But I was getting pretty frustrated with her. I think I need a dose of Erin's patience. Or Job's.

During the sing-in, whenever the audience sings, they stand up. Mom couldn't see the music very well to read the words and notes, because her diabetes has made her eyesight pretty bad. And she couldn't stand up that long so she sat and enjoyed the music. And then we sang "For Unto Us A Child Is Born."

Mom's favorite scripture ever since I can remember has been that one. I remember her quoting it to me as a little girl and telling me all those names for the Saviour: Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. When the introduction started She stood up and braced herself on her daughters and sang her heart out. There were tears in her eyes, and she knew every word. And that's when I knew Christmas was here.

Forget the shopping and the cranky people and the traffic. I thought that those were the signs that Christmas was here. They are just unfortunate byproducts. But my mom feeling the spirit and rising to her feet to bear her testimony of the Saviour with that song . . . that was pretty extraordinary. Christmas is here.

Because unto us a child was born.