Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Lights at Temple Square

As seen on December 28th, 2008.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Day 2008

Snuggling in bed before opening presents.

Spending the morning with Grandma and Grandpa.

Opening presents!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and evening at the Dalton's this Christmas eve.

These night-before Christmas festivities felt complete. We loved being with baby Annabel and baby Jonah to celebrate their first Christmas', and we anxiously await the arrival of Chad and Lizzie's baby girl (whose expected arrival is imminent!).
The nativity re-enacted: complete with angels (Ella and Louisa),
Mary (Caroline) and Joseph (Zach) and a sweet baby lamb (Annabel).
Not pictured: the cutest baby cow ever (Jonah).

Present opening: each of the girls received a talking Marie doll.
(Don't mind my 2 second sigh in the video... it is so fun to have girls!)

They love the dolls, and the packaging too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Service Breakfast

Ella and Louisa with
"someone dressed up as Santa"
Saturday, Dec. 29th, 2008

A wonderful tradition in the Parley's 5th Ward again occurred last Saturday. Each year our Ward gathers prior to Christmas to celebrate with breakfast, a visit from Santa, and most importantly, a gathering of gifts purchased for families in need. Through these unified efforts, Christmas was provided for 8 families. This year, we also donated items to complete 100 school kits for children in impoverished areas. This is a testament to me of the good we can do when we unify our efforts and gather together with great love.

The Nativity

by Louisa

Louisa's drawing of the nativity scene, complete with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, 2 wise men (each with their own prominent features: one a nose, the other ears), a shepherd and lamb, the hills surrounding Bethlehem and an angel.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visiting with the Real Santa

Ella: "I was a little afraid, and a little excited to meet Santa. I knew he was real because he has a map of the stars inside of his cape to guide him on his journey. I told him that my classmates saw his sleigh flying during recess. He said his sleigh was parked with his reindeer in Park City! I sat on his lap and told him I want the Corolle Marie doll."

Louisa: "It was so cool, because I didn't know that Santa was really real. It was very fun to see him. If we didn't see him I would think that Santa was not real. I knew that he was real because sometimes there are people that dress up as Santa and they say "ho, ho, ho" but really they are not Santa. I see their faces and they are almost like a bee (that goes buzz). He was at the Children's Hour. It is a place where Lizzie is. She works. She comes at night. I told him I want a baby pony pinkie-pie (I will name her Abby) for Christmas."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Proof of my Mullet

Morning hair (and face):

Some serious bang height. Good thing I live in Utah.

Warning: This post will self-destruct if I don't receive a record number of comments.

P.S. I'm putting myself out there on this one.
P.P.S. Yes, sometimes I drop Ella off at school looking like this.

Note to Self

Ideas for next year's white elephant exchange:

* Return the huge can of beans (serves 40) with some Beano to accompany
* Live Goldfish
* Summer Sausage - a huge one!
* Partially eaten chocolates with a picture of the eater
* A toilet-seat (perhaps new)
* Box of crickets
* Return this year's autographed picture of Steve (brought by friends, not by us!)
* Menopause detector test
* Jar of pickles, ice cream, pregnancy test
* Adult diapers
* Live worms
* A collection of drug-rep pens & paraphenalia

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She's Moved On...

...to bigger and better things!

Goodbye binkies,
hello super-sized bottles!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Silver Bell

Today a sweet Christmas memory from my mom's life is featured in the LDS Church News.
She tells of a cherished gift received in her teen years by her father (my grandpa Melvin Leo Schwartz): the gift of a silver bell on a necklace.
Mom relates this story to the lasting gifts of example given by her father. She reaffirms the grand message of Christmas: that the Savior's matchless life is the greatest gift given.

I remember my mom wearing this necklace, especially at Christmastime. I love hearing this story, and others, of my grandpa, who I never met. Though there is great power in the spoken word, I cherish that this experience is now a written record in our family history.

If you would like, you can read more here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spikey Hands

Occasionally, we have a visitor at our home. Of the worst kind. She came today: we call her Mean Mom.

She warned that she was coming. She asked repeatedly for the girls to stop playing with the shapeable foam soap (now noted: a ridiculous request). She endured the bathroom messes, the facial foam mustaches, even foamy falling snowmen. However, when the green foam was spread over the (just cleaned-by-professionals) carpet Mean Mom started raising her voice and without warning spanking (the score: Ella 3, Louisa 1).

Louisa headed straight for the pad of paper and created art. Her masterpiece is featured here tonight. She calls it "Spikey Hands."

May this serve as a reminder for me to better show love and patience, to value people over things, and to teach obedience through positive parenting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

San Diego Zoo

We loved experiencing the San Diego Zoo! Ella found a new favorite animal, the klipspringer, a small African antelope known for it's rock climbing and jumping abilities.

Louisa thrilled at seeing the baby animals: both the panda and the 4 small New Guinea singing dogs.

Both girls were terribly scared of the bears (must be all our Teton training), and Steve and I were amazed by the activity levels and strength of the hippos.

Hangin' at the Hotel

While Steve was attending meetings, we enjoyed hanging out at our great hotel - both in the room and at the pool!

Across the street was a fabulous urban park that the girls begged to visit daily. They loved playing on the equipment, which really engaged their balancing skills as well as their creative minds.

Sand-Dollar Season

It is sand-dollar time on the beaches of Coronado!

Sea World

On the first full day of our vacation, we visited Sea World, one of my childhood favorites! The park was practically empty, so we enjoyed all the attractions up close (or as close as we wanted to be in the case of the water shows!).

One of our first stops was at the dolphin pools, just in time for their feeding!

Both girls loved visiting the tide pools, where our guide gave us a private tour (due to the lack of crowds) and allowed the girls to hold the sea stars out of the water (although posted signs said this was against the rules).

The girls loved the Sesame Street section of the park, where there were Disney-style rides and fun places to climb and play.

New Children's Museum

The highlight of our vacation was The New Children’s Museum in San Diego, a 50,000-square-foot facility devoted to visual arts. At a time when schools have cut back on arts education, the museum puts the visual arts front and center in a soaring, light-filled space.

On one gallery wall, there’s a quote from Andy Warhol, who declares, “Art is what you can get away with.” And here, kids get away with a lot!

Outside at this museum, kids can paint an old Volkswagen bug, get hands-on (a nice word for messy) with clay projects or create bubbles larger than their bodies.

Inside they can climb on a mural, engage in a crazy pillow fight, and ride around on Legways, scooter-like vehicles designed similarly to the Segway, but meant to be propelled by human power. This is a museum to engage bodies as well as imaginations.

Minute for minute, this was the kids favorite time of the vacation!

Monday, November 24, 2008

We've Been Playing...

We spent the past week playing (while Steve was in meetings for the PM&R Annual Convention) in San Diego.

No, this is not a repeat post. I was just in California - infact on Coronado - with girlfriends. Yes, I do feel spoiled. Very spoiled.

Our hotel was adjacent to the Convention Center and right on the Marina...

We enjoyed lots of quality time together, fun adventures, and eating out at great restaurants! More pictures to come in the days to follow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We've Got a Winner!

It was announced this evening that Ella won 2nd place in Literature for her Reflections Contest Entry titled "Sparkles"!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family Work

We gathered outside today, under blue skies, to work side by side together.

The kids played as they worked, and felt great satisfaction in their accomplishments. Steve and I raked leaves into piles, and the kids jumped into and ran through them. The girls helped place leaves into bags. They do this so well, perhaps because they are close to the ground! Louisa loved wearing one of her best skirts for the occasion. Ella was pleased to learn how to tie and stack the bags.

I seems that we learn best about how to be a happy family by working together. And with this kind of learning...there is always more to be done!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

California Dreamin'

A week ago Thursday, I awoke in the Gilbert's heavenly Seahaven beach house on Coronado Island with a group of my dear friends from Chicago.

As part of our annual gathering, we thoroughly enjoyed being together for an extended weekend of fun, shopping, gifts, and shared good things.

In the photo above, Krista is modeling the aprons Brooke and I brought as gifts.

We loved exploring San Diego (including Amanda's members-only wholesale club Shinoda, which is like Tai Pan on steroids). It is fun to explore anywhere in a car like this!

We slept nightly (although our nights were quite short due to fun-filled days extended with stories and jokes) all together in "Bunkport" the Gilbert Grandkid hangout - a fun room filled with 12 bunkbeds.

One of my favorite activities was our Saturday bike ride around the island.

And my soul was filled with walks along the beach, and time spent in the sand.

I feel so grateful to share lifelong bonds with these dear, sweet friends: Amanda, Brooke, Chris, Emily, Jen, Krista and Merrily. Thank you ladies for teaching and tutoring me.