Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ward Christmas Party

This year our ward activities committee did another awesome job with the Christmas Party. They had a sort of "Night at Bethlehem" theme to it, and had the gym organized and decorated into a street market. We were all supposed to dress in sheets and towels and bathrobes to fit the part, and bring our families to be taxed.

Cute little shepherd Matthew
We brought baskets, and went around the market "buying" the food we would eat for our dinner and then found a place in the middle to sit and eat it. It was really great.

After dinner they read the nativity story from the scriptures...and Andy and I were asked to play Mary and Joseph. (hmm...they said it was because I was already dressed for the part...could they be referring to my protruding tummy? Oh, and it is a known fact in the t.v. world that the camera adds about 10 pounds...well...sheets and head covers and shawls add about 40 at least! It felt good to take all that stuff off!). Anyway, Taylor and Brooklynn also came onto the stage with us as shepherds...and Matthew was a fuzzy little lamb that was so wiggly that at one point Joseph had him dangling by his back feet. Brooklynn let us use her baby doll for baby Jesus, and Rachey was too shy and just decided to stay sitting with her friends.

They also had the primary room set up with fun crafts for the kids to work on, and with cookies to frost. Brooklynn and Matthew especially enjoyed the cookie part.

Then Santa showed up! So of course the kids had to wait in line to go see him! Matthew was okay for the first few seconds...but then he decided that Santa was a very scary man!

It was a fun night for all of us, we really enjoyed the creativity that went into it and think we have an AWESOME activities committee!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rachel Turns Seven!

I am way behind on some of these posts...but December becomes a blur right around the 15th...Rachel's birthday!

Rachey wanted an ice cream cake this year for her birthday...and thanks to an awesome and talented friend of mine (thanks Sarah!) I was able to make her one. It's a chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream and chopped up M&Ms for filling, then frosted with softened strawberry ice cream. Then I used the canned whipped cream for the borders and the hard shell topping for the writing. Yummy. We all loved it, I think it will become a tradition.

Rachey is seven years old now, and we all love her so much. She constantly amazes me with her talents and abilities. Just when I think I really realize how amazing she is...she comes up with a new way to surprise me. I'm thankful that she is one of my little girls.

Rachel has been busy this year...she started spring baseball in April, and had an awesome season. She played first base a lot, and with her purple bat and pink helmet...she really showed the boys who was the boss of the diamond. Of course, she was all decked out with her bracelets, braids and ribbons as well. She is so spunky.

She loved our trip out to Idaho this summer, where she tried to spend every moment possible on top of grandma and grandpa's horses. She got so good at riding, that grandpa let her go out into the pasture alone. She is so brave.

She started the 1st grade this year at Noble Elementary School with Ms. Shramo as her teacher. Our family loves Ms. Shramo (she was Taylor's 1st grade teacher too) and Rachey was SO excited to get her. Rachey is in the gifted program, is the top reader in her class, reading well above grade level, and continues to earn an "Outstanding" in gym class. She is so bright and fun!

I also started teaching her piano lessons in September, and she is already nearly finished with the first level of her method books. She is very talented musically, and is very careful and methodical about her practicing. I predict that she will go far with it.

But most of all, she continues to be kind and caring...sort of a little mother figure to her younger siblings. Although Brooklynn knows just how to get under her skin...she is wonderful with little Matthew and I'm looking forward to watching her with her new baby sister who will arrive in just a few weeks! She is such a sweetheart!

Happy 7th Birthday Rachey!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Andy and I have been married for 10 years, and over the years our Christmas trees have changed quite a bit! Here's a bit of Andy and Sherrie Thuernagle Christmas Tree History...

Our first Christmas, we went and found the cutest little tree up above Kelly's Canyon. We hiked through deep snow and powder for forever, passing up tree after tree until we found one that we both liked and that would fit into our tiny one bedroom apartment. That year, we decorated our tree with strings of popcorn, and two handmade ornaments.

The next Christmas, I was pregnant with Taylor, and was so sick that I was pretty much bed-ridden, so Andy just brought home a tree from the tree lot that he was working at for some extra holiday cash. I had gone out to the after Christmas sales the year before, and so this year our tree was all coordinated with maroon and gold ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Funny...I remember our first tree so much better.

Over the years, we've always had a real tree from the mountains. The year that Rachel was born (on December 15th) my older brother and his little family got our tree for us...and the year that Brooklynn was born and Andy had his ankle surgery, we went up with my older brother and his family yet again and went tree hunting together. Trever and Emily and I trudged through snow forever, and I finally had to carry little 2 year old Rachel on my back. Why is it that the perfect trees are always so near the summit? I remember thinking with each step that going to Home Depot and buying a silly tree would be so much easier. But I wouldn't have seen the beautiful sparkling mountain snow at Home Depot, nor would I have had the pleasure of seeing my nephew Samuel, and my little boy Taylor have a blast sledding back down the mountain to the truck. Andy with his ankle in a full cast, and baby Brooklynn stayed back at the trucks and fixed hot cocoa for us over a camp stove. What a fun memory!

When we moved to Cleveland, we finally broke down and bought a fake tree. It took me forever to choose it! You'd think I was hiking through snow drifts all over again! But now I love it, and if I burn a pine-scented candle it's almost as good as the real deal. (laughing).

My favorite part about the tree is how our ornaments each tell a story. Over the years, the pretty glass baubles get broken and the tinsel gets ragged...but the special ornaments, the ones that were given as gifts or that were carefully painted by chubby little fingers are the ones that I cherish. Here are a few of my favorites...
This is the first ornament I made for our first Christmas together. I made two that year...they matched the new stockings that I made for us.

Here is one of my after-Christmas treasures that I found at the ZCMI that was going out of business. It was our first store-bought ornament.

This ornament was a gift from my piano teacher, Vonnie Lue Broulim. She gave it to me my Sophomore year of high school, after I had learned and performed the Kabalevsky Concerto at Ricks College.

Here is Rachel's "Self-Portrait" sculpture ornament she made last year in Kindergarten.

Taylor's Santa ornament from last year (2nd grade).

Brooklynn's beautiful color collage from last year (3 years old).

Rachel's "Rainbow Snowman" from last year (Kindergarten).

Sweet little baby Matthew's reindeer ornament from last year.My Rudolf ornament that I painted this year.

Matthew's cute smiling face from this year. See the dark green smudge on the picture frame? That is authentic Matthew artistry. I just kind of went along with his theme.

Brooklynn's color collage from this year (preschool).

Rachel's Christmas tree from this year (1st grade).

Taylor's Christmas tree from this year (3rd grade). I love that he's missing his two front teeth in this picture. It's just perfect. He told me that he smiled big just for me on picture day. He usually does his smiles without showing teeth. What a little ham.

And last, but not least is Andy's '08 ornament. I love how he'll just sit right down and join in...his ornaments are always awesome.

Here is our Christmas tree in the day...

And here it is in the magic of the night...

I woke up last night at around 3:00 am, and couldn't go back to sleep (I blame it on pregnancy induced insomnia) so I decided I would take my pillows and blanket and snuggle up on the couch with the Christmas tree lights on. Well, I wasn't the only one with that idea. When I came sneaking down the stairs,the sofa was already occupied...Rachel had beat me to it. So, I quietly moved her to the loveseat, snuggled her up, and we both fell back asleep under those soft shimmery lights. At around 6:00 am, little Matthew woke up and found me on the sofa. I gathered him up with me and snuggled him under the blanket and we got in another hour of sleep.

What a funny night...yet another memory that our Christmas tree will hold for me throughout the years.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck The Halls...

Since this will be our last Christmas in our little Cleveland house...I thought I'd take some pictures of how it looked at Christmas. Matthew was my big decorations helper this year, since the other three were at school. He would get so excited with each box that I opened. He especially likes my little snowman village, and I'm having a hard time keeping his curious little fingers away!

Also, this year I decided not to donate my nativities to the Kirtland exhibit...I just couldn't when I learned that we wouldn't be getting them back until after Christmas! So, I decided that the most important place for my nativities was in my own home for my children to look at everyday...and that's where they stayed. I am so glad I did keep them here. Matthew loves the little wooden set from Jerusalem, and will bring baby Jesus to me and say "baby Jeje." The first night I had it up, I thought I had Matthew down in bed, when I heard the little pitter patter of his feet booking it at mock 10 from his room to the living room...a short pause, and then mock 10 back to his bedroom. I went in to check on him and see what he had been up to, and found him curled up with baby Jesus. It was so sweet and funny.

One of my favorite displays is the nativity on the piano. I love Willow Tree figurines, and started collecting them a few years ago. I was so excited to get these first pieces to the nativity set last year for Christmas! The piano is also where I display all of the Christmas cards from family and friends...when I first put up the decorations it was empty...but it's already starting to fill up!
I made these funny little rustic Santas the 2nd year that Andy and I were married. I still think they're hilarious for some reason. My favorite is the skier Santa. He reminds me of myself during my first season of skiing.

And, I have to get pictures of Brooklynn and Matthew taken so that I can display them along with this little sign. Every time I pass this sign and see Rachel and Taylor's unsmiling faces it just cracks me up.

Two years ago, I painted these little angels to display on the piano. I had a lot of fun in the evenings doing this little project...after I was all done with the painting, I sprayed them with a gold shimmery glitter paint so now when we have the lights dimmed with the tree lights on, these little angels just glimmer. I love it.


Ahh...there's something magical about decorating your home for Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just a Little Tradition...

Three years ago, I started a little tradition with our kids...Each year, I buy them these little wooden picture ornaments for them to paint. It's been really fun for them. It's a bit messy, but I love decorating our tree and pulling these ornaments out of the box. This year it took us two nights to finish them because we did a few extra for gifts. Andy and I get to paint an ornament too...except ours aren't picture ornaments. :)

It's little traditions like this one that make the Holidays special for me. I remember begging my mom every year to make and decorate sugar cookies. She was so good to make huge batches of them and frosting and then let my brothers and I just frost, frost, frost. Decorating those cookies was something I looked forward to each year.

I am the object of ridicule nearly everywhere I go these days. I have people in stores, people in the schools, and even people at church (yes, our church) tell me very bluntly that I'm crazy for having "so many children" and that my house "must be so noisy and busy." I can see their judgement of me written all over their faces...especially now that I'm expecting yet "another one."

Well. Yes, my house is noisy, and is very busy a lot of the time. But look at this picture. Here we are, as a family, enjoying time together. If this is what "being crazy" is...then I'm really very thankful that I'm not entirely sane. And...I'll take my noisy busy children over anyone's possessions, pets, vacations, expensive clothes, or any other worldly counterfeit thing anyday. This is what life is all about.