Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow Fun

Finally, our "Christmas" snowstorm showed up. Better late than never, I guess. Some of us have been doing our best to enjoy it. Shawn went up to Brighton to teach yesterday, but wasn't needed, so he spent the day skiing fresh powder and testing out his new helmet camera. I think he'll be posting something from that so I won't steal his thunder. But, here's his car at the end of the day. Thank goodness for good 4 wheel drive. He was headed back up to day. I'm sure he won't be heartbroken if he doesn't end up with students again. After all, it would be a shame to waste all that great powder.

By 8:30 this morning, all the kids were outside ready to make a snowman. (Well, everyone except Jonas who was out there only under duress because he was shoveling the neighbor's driveway. Fortunately for him, he has an especially kind mother who was willing to help him.)

The younger kids were all very disappointed that the snow was so powdery. They couldn't get it to hold together to make a snowman.
They manged to have fun anyway.
When your first idea doesn't work out, you can always try another one. Peter was thrilled with this one, but the bigger kids got tired of it pretty quickly.
He was not happy when it was time to come in. But everything can be made better with some made-from-scratch hot chocolate and marshmallows.
I think we will have to have a family outing up the canyon very soon. Skiing, snowshoeing or sledding. Hmm, which will it be?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Family Pictures

Since this is the first time in literally, years that (almost) all my family has been together, we decided to try for a family photo. (Five of my 6 brothers were here. I think we all decided getting Joe here and back was going to prove to be too difficult. Maybe we can photoshop him in.) Unfortunately, when you don't decide this until the last minute, finding a photographer or a studio willing to take a group of over 25 proves to be difficult, so we had Michelle's sister be photographer and chose an outside setting (Memory Grove) for the - hopefully - good light. Only problem was, it was FREEZING. The little kids were all done pretty quickly. (Amelia didn't smile in a single picture -the little stinker. Her blue lips show up, though.) Everyone had to hold their breaths so the steam wouldn't cover our faces. I guess it was an experience if nothing else.This is at the very end when we were trying to get a picture of my parents with all of their grandchildren. Pretty funny watching all of the adults trying to get the kids to be happy and smile.

Afterward, we went to see my parent's new apartment downtown. I was too busy trying to keep my kids from running wild all over the place to think through actually getting some good pictures of the place. These were taken as an afterthought.
From here, most of the group trekked over to the Lion House for lunch. Good times having everyone together. (Although I'm sure most of those around us would think differently.) I wish all of the cousins could see each other more often. My younger kids have to have reminders of who Uncle Rich and Aunt Sandra are - but they are aware of their cousins.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Celebration #5

And finally, the last (I promise) installment of Christmas celebrating. (No need to read this if you've had enough. Documenting this purely for my own journaling purposes.) In the afternoon on Christmas we went to my Grandpa and Grandma Backman's house for dinner and presents. Everyone spreads all around the house to eat because it's such a big crowd. But it's fun to see some of my cousins and aunts and uncles that I don't see very often.Before presents, the kids dress up to play parts in the nativity. Samantha was happy to finally get a chance to be Mary. (She's been wanting that part for years.) However, Baby Jesus proved to be a little uncooperative, and needed some comforting from his real mother, but she still played the part. Jonas was a wiseman and the little girls were angels. Peter wanted nothing to do with dressing up. (Unusual since he generally wants to do whatever the big kids are doing. But with all the kids it was probably a little overwhelming.)

A little more chaos and mayhem with the opening of presents. The kids always get books, which I drop off early for my grandparents to write a note to each child. It's fun to pull out the books and read the messages as time passes.

After all the celebrating was over, we headed home for baths and bedtime - since we have 9:00 church and Samantha was playing the harp in sacrament meeting. A long, but enjoyable Christmas day!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning

This could also be titled "Christmas Celebration #4." It just never seems to end, but this is, of course, the biggest, most important celebration of them all. It was about 6:15 when I heard the first 2 whispering earnestly downstairs. It wasn't too much longer before their whispers woke up the other kids. But we weren't ready to start yet. We made the kids make their beds and pick up their rooms. Once that was done, they were allowed upstairs into our room. But then to torture them further, we made them all brush their teeth. Then Shawn went out and got the paper and read them the headlines. As you can see, they weren't all that interested in the day's news. Although Jonas decided to read the comics and this is where he got the idea of opening our presents with our feet in order to make Christmas last longer.Finally, we couldn't think of anything else to make them do. The fire was lit, the camera was ready, so we let them line up and head in to see the loot.And yes, we did open our presents with our feet. That was fairly entertaining and sometimes a little difficult.

Jonas and Peter playing with their nanobugs. It's not often you can find something that both a 12 year old and a 1 year old can enjoy together, but this is one of them. I just love this photo.
Everyone taking some time to check out their gifts.
Santa clearly made a stop at the joke shop. But who doesn't need a rubber chicken, after all?
Or a talking flyswatter? (Jonas already can't wait for the summer days when we leave the doors open and there are flies all over the house to be hunted.)
The pillow pets that Santa brought were also a favorite. ( I distinctly recall asking Santa not to bring any pillow pets - or video games. I really didn't want either of them in my house. He clearly ignored my requests. I guess that's the magic of Christmas - all the surprises. )

And of course, once all the gift opening was done, it was time for beignets. MMMM.
Samantha was on sugar duty. One of her favorite parts. (Sorry, no matter how many times I flipped this in iphoto, it still stays sideways here.)
After cleaning up the kitchen, we all headed downstairs to play Just Dance 2. I wish I had pictures. It was an ultimate dance off with the wii keeping score. We were all red-faced and sweaty and laughing hysterically. It will definitely be a repeat performance!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Eve 2010

We found ourselves in the unusual position of having nothing scheduled on Christmas Eve. It's the first time in years that that has happened. Rob and Michelle had asked us if we wanted to go downtown to see the lights with them. So we met up at the Trax station and headed to Temple Square.Peter was thrilled to be riding on the train and didn't stop smiling most of the way. He also periodically called out, "CHOO CHOOOOOOO!"

The lights were, of course, beautiful - as they always are. And it was, of course, cold - as it always is.
I had kind of hoped that it wouldn't be that crowded on Christmas Eve. But it was. I guess not as many people were home spending Christmas eve with their families as I had expected. Next year, we may have to try going after Christmas and see how the crowds are then.

The kids all waited somewhat patiently for their turn to see the nativity. Posing for the camera:
Goofy faces:
The Stringham Clan:

We stopped in at the Nauvoo Cafe at the Joseph Smith building so everyone could eat and warm up. We ate downstairs all by ourselves. The ambience wasn't exactly fancy, but at least we weren't disturbing anyone else. And all 13 of us could sit at one table. Then we were ready to go home.
The ride back to the car:
Then it was time to open the Christmas Eve present. (Yep, that's Samantha dressed fashionably as always.)
The fun thing about Peter and presents is he gets excited even when it's just pajamas.
The sleepy crew:
And one last Christmas Eve pajama photo before sending everyone off to bed for the night.
Presents waiting under the tree to be opened in the morning.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Celebration #3

Finally, the kids are out of school, and it's time for the next Christmas celebration. The girls started out the day by creating their own nativity. I think that Samantha was Mary and Peter was clearly baby Jesus and Duffy must have been Joseph.Then Amelia was either playing the part of a shepherd, or wiseman or angel. I'm not really sure. I couldn't believe how willingly Peter played his part. They rolled him up in a blanket and he just stayed there very calmly. Even after they were done, and set him down on the floor, he just stayed in the blanket. It was pretty funny. (They had secured him pretty tightly, but still, he didn't even try to escape. I think all this Christmas celebrating has worn him out!)
For 2 or 3 days the girls had been asking if we could decorate the gingerbread house. I just didn't see how we were going to have time because I still had some errands to run, so I finally let go of some of my OCD and told them they could decorate it while Shawn and I were gone. (Seriously, that took some effort. Not only did I give up control of decorating it just the way I wanted it, but I also left them knowing I would come home to a big mess.)

As we left, it looked like things were somewhat under control. (I had asked Jonas to take some photos for me, but apparently once we were gone, he no longer felt obligated, so I didn't get to see how it looked before things went wrong.)
Apparently, they got it all together and in the final decorating stages, it collapsed. Shawn tried to fix it, but there wasn't any frosting left so it had to be altered a bit. Oh well, maybe next year.
Then in the evening we were off to the Marsh Family Christmas celebration which is always on December 23rd. We had a nice dinner with everyone, opened presents and read the story of Christ's birth and sang carols. Then a little talk from my Dad which I always look forward to. It's quite a bit more chaotic than when we're together with Shawn's family just purely form a numbers standpoint, but I enjoy being with everyone.
Peter got to open his present first because he was the youngest in attendance. Which was great, until it was time for Clara to open hers and Peter thought it shouldn't be her turn yet. He was pretty angry - but he got over it.
He is in a huge train phase so this was a perfect gift for him.
Always fun to see all of the similarly aged cousins looking on to see what the gift is.

A photo of me opening my gift:
A headlamp and a pair of highly reflective arm warmers. (Just what I asked for for those cold, dark early morning runs.)
Peter spotted Charlie lying on the top of the stairs and went over to join him. I love watching the little cousins imitate the bigger ones.
A late night with lots of noise and chaos, presents, music and a good reminder of what Christmas is about. Next is Christmas Eve!