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Thursday, June 16, 2016

#janasjollyjanuary


Once upon a time, I took it upon myself to dedicate an entire month to me and my birthday and getting together with friends and family because, let's face it, January is depressing as all get out! So here is a lengthy recap STOLEN PRETTY MUCH WORD FOR WORD FROM MY INSTAGRAM/FB:

Official caption: Happy New Year! And of equal importance, happy first day of #janasjollyjanuary - that's right, my month-long quest to meet up with friends (both of the long-lost and current varieties) has an official hashtag now! 😎 If I haven't heard from you yet, let me know if you'd like to get together sometime! Happy birth month to me!


It was only fitting to kick off the festivities with my dad, whose birthday is the day after mine (thus another jolly January baby) and also without whom I wouldn't have a birthday ;). One of our favorite haunts is the BK by his house and the little kiddos had a blast!
Official caption: Lunch today with my handsome dad! One highlight: the awesome snowsuit he found for me (that yes I did try on over my clothes in the middle of Burger KingπŸ˜‚) that might double as a ghostbusters costume in a future Halloween!! My dad is caring and interesting and giving and I'm grateful to spend time with him! #janasjollyjanuary


Next up was Janell, who is one of the coolest people I know. When I explained that I couldn't choose a place to eat because I rarely stray from McDonald's, she upped my cool factor by taking me to a trendy pizza place downtown and even reluctantly took a picture with me - which I told her would get a bazillion likes on fb because everyone loves her and it did!
Official caption: Delicious lunch today with the incomparable Janell. One time soon after we moved into 2nd ward, Janell was offering hugs to a group she described as "her young women" - some past, some present. I jokingly asked if I could be one of her young women and she unjokingly said yes and hugged me and has amazed me ever since with her incredible, God-given capacity to love and care for others. Thanks again for lunch, Janell!! You are GREAT!! πŸ˜‰❤️#janasjollyjanuary 

 
Not every reunion was scripted:
Official caption: My original plans for #janasjollyjanuary fell through today, so imagine my surprise a couple hours later when I heard my name at Costco and my sweet Jacob, who moved back to Nampa over the summer, ran up to me! And also he's grown like six inches since I saw him in March - I can't handle all my old Cub Scouts now being taller than me!! Yay for impromptu Costco-facilitated reunions!


Maren was one of the people I thought of immediately for this month, because she moved back in... July? August? and we had only seen each other a couple times since then which is RIDICULOUS because I love her. And it was perfect timing because Karlina had just been ruthlessly stolen from me (or just taken off my visiting teaching list...) so we made her come over too!
Original caption: Ack, I'm already behind on posts! 😳 I could had posted this yesterday but I waited to see if my head looked smaller when I pulled the picture up today πŸ˜‚. Anyways, yesterday's #janasjollyjanuary was a fun visiting teaching reunion with Maren and Karlina! We sat and drank hot chocolate and I juggled my yahoo kids while attempting to maintain a conversation so it was just like old times!! Love you ladies!



Oh man, for three people that love each other as much as we do, we are TERRIBLE at getting together, i.e. right now we're attempting to see Andrew's new house and it hasn't happened yet haha.
original caption: Ahhh and here we have the inspiration for #janasjollyjanuary : three high school best friends who hadn't gotten together since before Carma was born, despite the fact that we all live around here 😬😳. Emily and Andrew gave me light and fun and friendship when I needed it 13 years ago and I love that we always pick up right where we left off!


Girls' night! Emily, Nycole, Kara and I are ALL January babies so marked the extra special occasion by crossing the street and going to Applebee's where the food was good, the desserts were discounted, and the entire restaurant staff hid in the kitchen so they wouldn't have to take our picture hahaha. Luckily Kara stepped up and got us all in the shot:
official caption: Honestly, this crew makes every month jollier... But I'm still counting them for #janasjollyjanuary because I need the numbers πŸ˜‚πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ˜


Cassandra and Grace are both awesome, and I loved just sitting on my living room couches and catching up with them one night! They both live within walking distance of me... like very short walking distance... so I'm not sure why we don't do this more often!
official caption: Had a way cool 'girls night in' with these two earlier this week and it was just perfect: comfy clothes, snacks, and girl talk. Grace and I go from seeing each other all the time in my front yard during the summer to hardly EVER during the cold/sick winter months so it was fun to catch up haha! #janasjollyjanuary continues to be such a fun endeavor and I'm genuinely excited and grateful to everyone who's indulged my randomness! (I'm still setting stuff up, so don't worry if you haven't heard from me yet!!)


I decided early on to use my kids for the jolly shenanigans in case not enough people wanted to hang out with me haha! And if it meant that I got some one-on-one time with this rapidly-growing-up mini-me, so be it ;).
official caption: #janasjollyjanuary with Clyde yesterday - errands (I gave him my ATM pin so hopefully that doesn't backfire), a random chess game at the library (I'll let you guess who won) and cashing in his free sundae for earning a Teamwork award at school (ironically he ate it by himself while I watched πŸ‘€). Such a cute, sassy little fellow!


And here's Will!
official caption: #janasjollyjanuary with my sweetheart Will last night- he's been asking for a while about his turn ❤️. We went to swimming lessons and Taco Bell and practiced beatboxing and when he kissed my cheek (completely unprompted, hence me trying not to laugh) I realized again that the future Mrs. Will.i.am is a lucky lucky girl 😍☺️πŸ’•


I'd had good intentions of visiting my dear Sister Walker for a while but hadn't followed through (possibly a recurring theme in my life, working on that...) Now I need to get over there again!
official caption: Possibly the sweetest/most emotional #janasjollyjanuary reunion today with Sister Walker (left and top at my wedding and bridal shower) who was the epitome of light and love and good cheer as one of my Young Women's leaders - she was also the first person to notice and validate orange as my favorite colorπŸ”Ά! (As a bonus I got to see Brother Walker too, who greeted me with "Who let YOU in?" accompanied by the best hug ever ☺️πŸ˜‚) Stephany's example of offering a kind word (and a story!) to those around her impacted me greatly as a teenager and I was grateful for the reminder today πŸ’•.


Star! Another friend that I'm trying to reconnect with again, but life keeps thwarting us. Soon!!!
official caption: Ohhhh I was so overdue for a visit with this cute girlie!! Once upon a time (like 14/15 years ago...) I was Star's homework tutor and we've stayed in touch and she faithfully visited me (with gifts!!) in the hospital every time I've had a baby and now we've graduated to Starbucks dates where I show up late and she has my hot chocolate and brownie waiting for me 😍 and then we sit for almost two hours and talk and talk and talk. #janasjollyjanuary continues to be so fun and humbling as I realize how many beautiful friendships I've been blessed with throughout my life. Love you Star!!


Oh Jayna! Despite our best resolve, we don't see each other very often... but when we do, we make it count ;).
official caption: #janasjollyjanuary with my ebff Jayna - she introduced me to delicious PaneraπŸ΄πŸ‘πŸΌ, I taught her how to up her selfie gameπŸ˜‰πŸ“², two darling toddlers merrily ran circles around us πŸ‘«, I marveled at her adorable chunk of a baby EJπŸ‘ΆπŸΌ, and we resolved to bring our primarily virtual friendship into the real world more often πŸ’»➡️πŸ‘―. Thanks so much Jayna, love you! 😘


Ohh I just love Wendy! Our temple date was really wonderful :).
official caption: Lovely morning at the temple with my dear, forced-to-be-my-friend Wendy πŸ˜‰ (and Charlotte was there too, in a happy coincidence/tender mercy). Wendy is thoughtful and generous and patient and we had such a great discussion about how the Lord uses each of us to bless others, and so often we don't really know how we've helped but it's humbling and gratifying to know that we serve a purpose. And also Wendy showed up on my bday last week with Shaynie and hot chocolate so she's clearly amazing!! 😍😘#janasjollyjanuary



This picture makes me happy because I've seen both of these girls in the last two days!
official caption: Sometimes I show up for #janasjollyjanuary and Paulina gives me a selfie stick and Kautri treats me to dinner and I'm so touched that my friends know my two main interests: myself and food that I have no part in preparing. And as a bonus I got to talk and laugh and bond with two amazing girls!! It alllllmost makes me miss running with them multiple times a week haha- not quite enough to start again though πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚πŸ’ƒ


Ohhh this was so fun:
official caption: Once upon a time I went to BYU freshman year and stumbled upon the coolest group of friends and I love that I'm still in touch with so many of them (I ❤️ fb/blogs/Instagram). I FaceTimed yesterday with Jaime for #janasjollyjanuary and it was soooo fun to catch up and laugh and simultaneously nurse babies while we talked. My favorite memory of Jaime is how I used to make her pluck my eyebrows for me πŸ˜‚. Those six girls were the closest I came to a stereotypical college/roommate experience and they made it the best! Love you Jaime!



Holly was not given an option re: participating in jolly January, but luckily she was on board anyways!
official caption: #janasjollyjanuary FaceTime with Holly the other night = two hours of awesomeness. Holly and I became friends four years ago when we both overlooked our first impressions of each other (I thought she was a pregnant teenager, she thought I was a crazy lady who wears Halloween striped tights to church... OH wAIT) and she moved away like four months later but our friendship has blessedly endured and I'm so glad bc I don't know what I would do without her πŸ‘­❤️


My mama! Love her.
official caption: Super behind on #janasjollyjanuary posts but never fear, I'll keep going until I catch up ... Starting with the amazing woman who went to the edge of death to give me life, my mom!! We spent my birthday afternoon together at DI and Savers (where else?) and she helped me buy jeans and we both bought books and possibly other things we didn't need πŸ˜‰. My mom is spunky and fun and kind and friendly and devout and I don't tell her enough but I really really love her! πŸ’—πŸ’šπŸ’—πŸ’šπŸ’—πŸ’šπŸ’—


More fun:
official caption: A collection of #janasjollyjanuary with super cool girls from church! Emilie (top left) surprised me one night with a beautiful orange bag (from DI - I don't know how I missed it!!), Sharon (top right) and I finally got together to chat one morning and had a great time and three of us January birthdays combined forces and generously shared our fries with some friends for a girls night (bottom, Dee, Tasha, Tawny, Esther, me, Shelly). These ladies all brighten my Sundays and seeing them during the week is always an awesome bonus!


I always pick my favorite brother based on who contacts me first on my birthday, and this year Quinner won when he facetimed me that morning:
official caption: My dedicated little brother took my birthday off work so he could FaceTime me that morning... or maybe there was no school because of a federal holiday- we may never know for sure. Either way, I'm the best sister Quinn could ever ask for and I'm glad he knows it πŸ˜‰. Quinner is thoughtful and a good listener and fun and practical and a stellar friend and seeing his cute family was an excellent/jolly way to start being 31! #janasjollyjanuary


Courtney. Aka the reason I'm blogging right now. Girl is PERSUASIVE. I should have remembered this based on the time our families celebrated her (June) birthday in April. Complete with cake.
official caption: I've known Courtney since the early 90's and I'm so, so lucky to count her as one of my best friends(/sister/cousinsπŸ˜‰). Like, we're texting as I post this haha. Courtney is smart and resourceful and an excellent sounding board and gorgeous and loyal and a convincing liar- no matter how boring and rambling my emails/texts/blogs are, she assures me she was captivated. I saw Court at the end of December in person (joined by my niece Courtney too! I ❤️ Courtneys!!) and then we FaceTimed for our official #janasjollyjanuary date and the other picture is circa 2003 in our young, carefree days πŸ˜πŸ‘―. Love you Court!!


This was such a fun morning! Charlene and I have been in the same ward forever but never really spent time like this together - I'm so glad we finally did!
official caption: One of my last #janasjollyjanuary was a way fun date with Charlene to watch our ward Young Women in one of their volleyball games- we set aside our personal complete lack of understanding of the game and yelled random, supportive-sounding cheers at the girls and we must have not been a total distraction because the Red Pandas played amazingly well and won! Then we crashed their post-game team meeting/mini-devotional and the whole thing was just awesome! Charlene and I had a great time talking and discovering random things in common πŸ˜‰. Also I may have developed an addiction to salted caramel peanuts πŸ˜³πŸ˜¬πŸ˜‚.


I love my two little jolly friends:
official caption: Sooo I didn't specifically spend time with Jack or Carma for #janasjollyjanuary ... Mostly because the three of us already spend every waking moment and 95% of our sleeping moments together πŸ˜¬πŸ‘€πŸ˜©. They really are the cutest little yahoos and between Jack's current why?how?why?how? phase and Carmas's current "ain't nothin' gonna break my stride" (aka run away from mom constantly) phase, they keep me busy and I wouldn't have it any other way ☺️ UNLESS THEY WANTED TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIgHT IN tHEIR OWN BEDs; I could get on board with that πŸ˜‰πŸ˜œπŸ˜΄πŸ™‹πŸ»πŸ‘€πŸ‘πŸΌ


Oh my heck I love the Murphys! Miss you Kiska!
official caption: Kiska!! I was so thrilled when I found out Kiska was coming to town for her parents' 50th anniversary party and could therefore participate in #janasjollyjanuary - I've yet to meet a member of the Murphy family who isn't kind and generous and funny and Kiska is no exception, plus her name is fun to say and she gives me cookies πŸ˜πŸ˜‚. AND I'm so in love with the picture of Rich and Dee from their wedding day so I obviously had to include it as well πŸ˜‰. See you again someday Kiska!! 😘


Just found out I will be in the same state as this girl in two weeks and suddenly all is right in the world...
official caption: I have known Heidi lit'rally (pronunciation courtesy of Chris Traeger) her entire life and the joy she has brought to my life is hard to explain. We probably spend 97% of our time together laughing (the other 3% is her doing my makeup and baking me cookies). Heidi is witty and smart and generous and aware and gorgeous and either supports me unconditionally or has the best poker face ever because regardless of what I say/do/confide in her, she still loves me and I am so so grateful to have her as a best friend(/sister/cousin) and FaceTiming with her was the perfect send-off to #janasjollyjanuary πŸ’ƒπŸ‘―πŸ˜πŸͺπŸ’•☺️😎


Ohhh my sweet husband! And what do you know, I'm going to the temple with him tomorrow!
official caption: Saved the best #janasjollyjanuary for last: going to the temple with Chuck! We are living proof that a marriage can survive/thrive! on dates solely to the temple and Costco πŸ‘©πŸ»❤️πŸ‘¨πŸ». Chuck is my hero, he's the perfect calm, logical balance to my crazy, emotional self and when I say to him, "Hey, I'm devoting an entire month to gadding about with friends!" he sweetly responds, "Awesome, have fun!" and sends me on my wayπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ’ƒ. AND THUS CONCLUDES my jolly month! I actually didn't do a complete count but I know I surpassed my goal and had so much fun with all y'all! Thanks for making my 31st birthday so memorable πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™…πŸ»πŸ’•.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What I wore to church in 2015


So a million years ago I made a goal to wear a different outfit to church every week for a year. And then I kept doing it. Thanks to thrift stores, keeping things since high school, and gifts I have lotssss of skirts and dresses, and it's pretty fun and easy to mix in different shirts and accessories. That being said, I've kind of been over it the last few weeks - probably due to 9am church and the ridiculousness of getting four kids and me ready to leave by 840. (spoiler alert: we're almost half way through the year and we've been early probably five times... on time probably five times... and definitely late the rest). Plus I got a dress at DI a few weeks ago for $5 that is my favorite and I wear it as much as possible. Like I've debated about a new goal where I wear the same outfit every week for a year hahaha.

But it is fun to look back and remember my favorite random combinations. And even though I feel like the most narcissistic person ever when I post this many pictures of myself, I'll do it anyways. For the greater good. Aka providing some entertainment for my friends! So here we go...

JANUARY:
My birthday month, so obviously I went with my favorite colors, orange and silver/grey, every week including the third Sunday which was my actual 30th birthday and I wore my traditional outfit and orange belt. As always you can tell which pictures Chuck took (1 & 3) and which pictures Clyde took (2 & 4) based on the angle ;). Also that grey striped skirt was pretty new (Savers!) and clearly I was excited to wear it often.

FEBRUARY:
The first week was the Super Bowl and I couldn't get behind the Patriots (ever) or the Seahawks (again) so I wore my Packers colors in silent protest... although clearly those yellow tights are anything but quiet haha. The next week was red for Valentine's day and the third week was red and blue for President's day. Seriously, when you're trying to come up with inspiration for a different outfit every week, you're grateful for any color/themed holiday! The last week was the Academy Awards so Carma and I picked a fun color combo and dressed accordingly:

MARCH:
Okay, well randomly dark and dreary for a spring month, whoops! And man did I love the right arm down, left hand on hip pose haha. Okay, the third week was St. Patrick's day... and I think that's the only specific week.

APRIL:
Only three weeks because of General Conference. I do a lot of blue in April because for April Showers... and also because I love blue, especially blue and brown together. Those are the colors I'm (slowly but surely) turning our bedroom into. Also these are two of my favorite necklaces: the brown one my mom got in Hawaii when she did a semester at BYU-H; I stole it when she moved, and I thiiink the blue one was a Kohl's clearance find a few years ago.

MAY:
Well, May got random! Legit don't even know what's going on for most of this. I ended up D.I.'ing that orange dress a few months ago. I loved it but it also was getting tight and made me look pregnant (I mean, it was definitely the dress. Not any cookie binges I indulge in regularly). The fourth week was red and blue again, this time for Memorial Day. I probably wore shoes that day, but really with me, who knows?

JUNE:
Apparently I was super into turquoise for a couple weeks there... the third week was blue and grey for Father's Day! and the last week was red and blue... again... for Independence Day and Carma matched too! 

JULY:
Well that black shirt clearly pulled its weight; I kind of wish I'd worn it that last week too! The third week I'm impressed I'm dressed at all; we'd driven home from Utah that morning. And the fourth week I busted out my mom's supercool patchwork-y skirt again for Pioneer Day!

 AUGUST:
 Again, who knows what's going on here? I think the pink cardigan was a nod to my mom for her bday that week. And the third week was blue and yellow... aka Scout colors... because we had a Court of Honor that night. The fourth week I spoke in sacrament meeting and I needed something that wouldn't show sweat ;) so the purple shirt won out. And the last week was orange and blue to mark the start of the college football season! 

SEPTEMBER:
Again, I see no rhyme or reason here... I do love that black dress - reminder that my mom and I bought it at JC Penney when I was 14 and it has dutifully put up with me every since. Clearly the third week Jack was quick at peeling off his shoes and polo shirt and grabbing a weapon after church.

OCTOBER:
Let's all be thankful that there are only three October pictures (first week was Gen Conf) because it clearly was not my most photogenic month, yiiiikes. I did get to bust out all my Halloween outfits though!

NOVEMBER:
November is probably my favorite month because I love orange and brown and actually really don't like red, but that's okay.

DECEMBER:
Yay for my Christmas necklace! Stolen from.... that's right, my mom! :) She's a good sport... hopefully I'll follow in her forgiving footsteps when Carma's old enough to swipe my awesome stuff.

 Okay the third week Chuck was taking my picture before I went home and he went back into the church for the rest of the day (sucker!) and it was snowing and then Raquel was there so we clearly needed a picture and then Michael was there so we recruited him and then we obviously needed to try to catch snowflakes in our mouths. And then Will and I and Carma and I just needed pictures, you know.
 
 Oh, and the last Sunday Carma and I needed a picture all bundled up in our bright cheery coats and grey/silver boots. Carma was thrilled to stay outside longer in the coldness :).

So I just double checked and this all began January 2011... which means that 2015 was my fifth year doing it, no wonder I'm a little burned out. No guarantees about the rest of 2016. Unless I find an amazing skirt or dress at D.I. or Savers today and need to justify its purchase ;).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

December.

Carma, donning her finest red and green, would like to welcome all y'all to this post about everything else that happened in December!
There was much 'decking of halls' that randomly was dragged out over like four days. In the meantime it looked like a bag of the Grinch's stolen goods exploded in the living room. Everyone loved helping Chuck set up the train and Will and Jack meticulously hung up a majority of the ornaments on the tree. And Carma only broke like three over the holiday season so we're calling that a win!

My mom gave the kids each a little gel window cling decoration set and holy moly they entertained the kids so well as they hung them up. Jack played with his regularly throughout the month.
We always have good intentions of turning in our coloring pages to the library, but rarely follow through... but this time we managed it! And if you can find Will's, Jack's and Carma's in their respective age groups then you are a better mom than me; it took me forever haha.

Speaking of the library (when aren't we?) they have a cute monthly program where you can read to therapy dogs, so Will loves it when we make it over for that. The littler children love the play area in general.
Ohhh cute Alayna! She made me a birthday cake AND didn't blink an eye when I took pictures of her darling grey boots because someday I will find an identical pair in my size and all will be well in my life. And also Emily gave me a mint chocolate truffle bar because she speaks my love language ;).

Chuck's parents sent us a super cool 'Christmas Village' lego set and they boys all had the best time putting it together. Carma and I had the best time trying to thwart their progress ;). I awesomely don't have a picture of it all set up BUT good news it's a new tradition to rebuild every year soooo just sit tight for next year's shot!
They also sent along a box of fun extra pieces which turned out to be an excellent before-church activity one Sunday, thanks Grandma and Pops!

 Gathered the kids for a cousin happy birthday video and got these pictures in the meantime, little crazies!
 We enjoyed some nice family togetherness when we all piled in the truck to go look at some craigslist couches one night... during a snowstorm, yikes! Good news, we bought the couches even though they are definitely green NOT brown as the pictures made them look, whoops. But it was a good family bonding experience and we sang Christmas songs on the way home in the blinding snow. #memories

Clyde earned his whittling chip in Scouts! Brother Viehweg was super patient working with the boys. Clyde also got in touch with his inner artist, both at the library, and at school, and also he LOVES Carma, and also he got a basketball hoop as an early Christmas present because "someone" didn't want to move it multiple times to keep it hidden until Christmas morning haha.
 Some Willy Boy moments in December: he also LOVES Carma. One of them was at instant care that day with Chuck... I think Will? And the stapler shot is from when I was helping in his classroom one day, which, again, I legitimately love. My inner secretary is psyched every time I sit down to collate and staple homework packets.

Jack is the funniest kid to take into stores; our new thing is taking pictures next to things that he likes so that we can show Daddy later. It has honestly staved off loads of potential meltdowns over wanting to buy stuff. And he was obviously thrilled when old school Star Wars was playing at Costco one day! His favorite toys at Grandma Pam's house are Quinn's old Star Wars figurines.
Aaaand of course a million pictures of Carma. All pretty self-explanatory, although the bottom left is one I sent to Chuck one night because she was o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d with family pictures for a while there. Multiple times a day we had to hike her up so she could point as we labeled each family member. In all seven pictures on the wall. Ahhhh!

Oh one day our furnace went out, just the sorta thing you want to wake up to on a chilly December morning! Chuck did some troubleshooting before work (you know, at 5am) and then the wee bundled children and I ran errands most of the day to enjoy warmth haha. After realizing that Grover's needed the actual part to match I went home and took it out, using little more than a screwdriver and prayer, and then got the replacement... which I graciously allowed Chuck to put in. I'm not one to hog all the glory, you know?
Jack's been slightly more interested in writing letters lately, here are his renditions of Jack, Dad, Pam, and Mom.

Cookie rhyme, cookie time! (is the name of a highly obnoxious Cookie Monster book that we own) Usually we frown upon electronics at the table, but this was the day episode 7 came out and since we clearly were not taking the children to the midnight premiere, we sat around at dinner watching youtube videos of Star Wars conspiracies and plot predictions and such. Also we ate cookies.
This photoset is courtesy of an emotional mom realizing her baby is 9 and almost (possibly already...) too old to snuggle with. Luckily I'm still stronger than him and can hold him down for some sweet bonding moments that he loved - I could tell from the way he was trying to wiggle out of my grasp the entire time. #blessed

My mom had a little bit of a mouse problem at her place in December, so obviously I recruited Chuck to deal with the poison/sticky paper/etc... and then handle the follow-up as well - even when it required a quick detour when he was out home teaching haha:
But seriously, have I mentioned lately how much I love Chuck? He puts so much into his calling and I really respect that - even when date nights end at the church so he can make agendas (left) or consist entirely of stuffing envelopes with the Bishopric's Christmas letter (right... it's cool, we watched Parks & Rec at the same time)

And just because I really liked the Christmas letter, here's a close-up:

The Sunday before Christmas I had grand plans of taking a sweet picture of all four church clothes-clad children, gathered lovingly in front of the Christmas tree... and these are what I ended up with hahahahaha. Close enough!
This was an earlier Sunday in the month - yes, Jack does wear polo shirts and shorts to church when there's snow on the ground. It's cool, we don't meet outside ;).

December = lots of parties, starting with the Ward Christmas Party! Good food, good company (we sat with the Silvas and our table boasted all but two of us spilling our water at some point hahaha) and good entertainment - Bishop read out loud to all the kids and members of the ward choir did some caroling.
Aaaand Santa was there! The kids... and okay, mostly me... were done by that point but I think we're mostly hiding it in our family picture, right ? ;) And clearly Chuck came straight from work which is why he was excused from wearing a Christmas shirt :).

The Swensons hosted all the Bishopric families one night and the only pictures I took were of Chuck corrupting Cameron, aka teaching him some trick where you have quarters on your elbow and then catch them before they hit the floor. I think Cam started with pennies but he was doing pretty well by the time we left!
We hit up the elementary school for the sing-along, which Jack loved and Carma refused to sit still for.  Also how cute are those little chalkboard ornaments the boys made for their teachers? That was a Jana Izatt original idea, fyi. Feel free to pin ;).

Girls' night! Shari's for pie shakes and then Emily's for pictures... like fifty. K wasn't messing around, thanks buddy!
And please enjoy the reindeer on my shoulder - we were testing out mascots! Little did we know at the time that a little doll named Lloydia was waiting for us on a McCall thrift store shelf to serve that very purpose...

Ward temple night was just me solo this month, we had sick kids and our go-to nanny (aka Grandma Pam) was busy so Chuck stayed home.
December was my last month with this group for Sunday School - I fit in an 'adventure' with Tiffany (bottom right) and Braenna and Kiki helpfully took some candid shots during a lesson one day, including me searching my Mary Poppins bag for... pens? the lesson? my phone? Who knows. The group shot of us was after a really beautiful testimony meeting - we slipped back into the chapel during class (Bishop raised his eyebrows but helpfully closed the doors for us haha) and those who wanted to were able to stand at the pulpit and share their testimonies with the rest of us. It was a privilege to hear from these kids' hearts.

Another privilege was getting to be a small part of Justus Kirkendall's life and witnessing his parents' faith and grace as they said a tender 'goodbye for now' to their sweet boy. Emily and K both spoke at his funeral service and even as we all sobbed through their words, I was so struck with their unwavering knowledge that Justus is waiting for them and although their time together was short in this setting, they have been promised unlimited time together as an eternal family.
(also, can we just appreciate how CUTE Justus is? I love the top right picture because of that smile and the bottom right picture because of how clear it is that he's a Kirkendall - such a sweet and perfect resemblance to Bailey and Alayna!)

A few hours after Justus passed away, the First Presidency Christmas Devotional was broadcast. Each of the four speakers gave incredible counsel and words of comfort and hope and peace.

 Elder Clayton: Because of the Savior born two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, there is hope—and so much more. There is redemption, release, victory, and triumph. “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail” (“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Hymns, no. 214). No wonder a choir of angels suddenly appeared as a heavenly exclamation point to the angel’s announcement of the Savior’s birth, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” No message could ever be more reassuring. No message was ever filled with more good will toward men.

Sister BurtonThere was a special spirit that hovered over our home that year, blessing us with peace and love for one another that I will never forget. It felt to me as if our children were given an exceptional sense of the sacred that Christmas... we seemed to more keenly feel spiritual impressions as we pondered and gave thanks for the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for our Heavenly Father’s glorious plan of salvation.

Elder Bednar: In every season of our lives, in all of the circumstances we may encounter, and in each challenge we may face, Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and engenders enduring peace and joy.

 President Uchtdorf: Isn’t that the message of Christmas? Even when the world may appear quite dark—when things aren’t going right, when our hearts are overflowing with disappointment and worry, even in the midst of sadness and sorrow—we sing about “joy to the world” and “good will toward men”2 because of Christ, who came “to give light to them that sit in darkness.”