Tuesday, December 27, 2011


 I was so grateful for preschool this year, because it forced me to put up my tree and a few decorations early.

I alway feel a little disloyal putting up a fake tree.  It was nice to see my ornaments after taking a year off last year.  My cute tree topper wouldn't fit.  I love my tree skirt.
It was fun to put up a small tree in the preschool room and decorate with my gingerbread ABC ornament.

I bought this cute gingerbread nativity when we were in Idaho in October.  I got the candy trees on sale at Penney's last year, and the little trees are ornaments from Kohl's.  I love the story of "The Three Trees" so I try to put sets of three trees near each nativity. The snow globe was a gift years ago.  It was fun to have something new this year and it really brightened up the kitchen.

Ruthie surprised me with this beautiful bouquet.
She is the best BFF ever!
On Christmas Eve, there was a knock at the door, and three little boys in pj's greeted us with Merry
Christmas!  They were so excited!  I didn't take a picture, but this is one Melissa took before they came over.
Greg's family tradition is to spend Christmas Eve with his Dad's side of the family and Christmas day with his Mom.  We also celebrate on Christmas Day, so now we share them part of the day.  We got to watch them open their presents from Santa on Christmas morning, then later that evening we went back for dinner.
Craig's favorite gift - Barnes and Noble gift cards so he can order more e-books for his Nook. 
The boys decorated this cute ornament for us.
Even though we have become traveling grandparents, I think it will be awhile before we stop missing having our family together for the holidays.  We were able to skype and phone the other kids in Utah, Idaho and Louisiana.  Next year we will be in Idaho for Christmas and Paige's baptism.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Busy Season for the Tooth Fairy

Paige lost one of her front teeth the end of October and the other one  was really loose.
Then Luke lost one of his front teeth last week and the other one is really loose!  Paige gave him a pep talk about how it didn't hurt that much. 
Then Paige lost her other front tooth a few days ago!!!!  Apparently she had forgotten her words of wisdom to her cousin.  It had been dangling for days and Mark finally held her down so Rebecca could pull it out.  Rebecca is hoping she was not traumatized by the experience.  Luke's other tooth could come out any day now. . .  

So cute and so grown up!  It doesn't seem like all that long ago they were getting their very first teeth and they are already falling out!

Another soldier in the family. . .

Josh enlisted in the Army yesterday!   He reports to basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina on January 30th for 9 weeks, then he will train for a year in Monterey, California.  Here is his post from facebook:

 "Im going into the army doing cryptologic linguistics . So I'll learn arabic or chinese or some crazy language"

Josh has been looking into this for the past month.  He is excited to have found a career path and plans to do the "green to gold" program like Ben did.  (The Army pays for him to finish his degree and then he gives them another 4 years as an officer).  When we spoke to him yesterday, he sounds really happy.  He is so glad it all worked out so he can begin sooner than later.    Krista should be able to join him in Monterey after a month or two. Everything has fallen into place, so we all feel really good about his choice.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmastime is Here

I don't know if it's because we are empty nesters and will see only 1 of our 5 children (and 3 of our 9 grandchildren) for Christmas this year---or because we were packing and moving last year so we diidn't send cards or decorate at all. . . here are a few thoughts:

I have always loved Christmas.  For most of my life, we spent Christmas Eve with my Dad's side of the family.  We'd get dressed up in our new Christmas outfits and it was so much fun to spend time with our cousins.  Grandmommy and Grandaddy always made Christmas Eve so special for us.  We were really blessed to live so close to them so that we could celebrate together for so many years.  Once we started having families of our own, we still had a family party a week or so before Christmas.  The fun thing about that was that it stretched Christmas out a little longer.

My Mom's parents lived in Parowan, Utah, so every other year they would take turns spending Christmas with us in southern California or my cousins in North Ogden, Utah.  During the years they had Christmas with our cousins, Grama would send the most amazing packages, with the perfect presents.  And there were always other treats.  Her specialty was home made turtles and peanut butter cookies.  She would stack the cookies in a roll and then roll them up in wax paper and foil.  It's the best peanut butter cookie recipe on the planet.

Last year, we spent Christmas with Jamie in Louisiana while Ben was in Afghanistan.  And then we moved on January 14.  Needless to say, for the first time in many years we did not send out Christmas Cards.  We did nothing Christmassy except hang wreaths on the front doors and I changed my blog background.  I really missed decorating my house, making caramels, and putting up my Christmas Tree.
This year it has been fun to become reacquainted with my Christmas decorations.  It has been such a treat to open up the boxes of ornaments and my nativity collection.  I still have a little more to do, but I'm almost there.  The most important thing for me this year was to make sure I sent out cards early so that we wouldn't lose touch with people we love.

As I thought about the whole process of giving and receiving Christmas Cards, it made me so grateful for the custom.  As I addressed each card, I found myself going down memory lane, remembering why the addressee was so important to our family.  I thought of family members who I have known all my life or all of their lives.  I thought of people we have been in the trenches with as we raised our children and served together in church callings.  It makes my heart sing to think of all the wonderful people who have blessed my life and the life of my family. 

I like scrappy quilts.  I don't like matchy-matchy as much as I like a variety.  That's how my Christmas tree is.  I have all different kinds of ornaments.  It's not very fancy or decorative or color coordinated with a theme.  My Christmas tree has become a family history.  But really, so many of the traditions we have at Christmas are parts of our family history that was added over the years.  I thought of all the things I've learned over the years that help make Christmas special.  The fun Christmas Groups and Family Home Evening Groups.  I still use many of the stories with my preschoolers and cherish many of the ornaments and decorations we shared.  Little things like how to string popcorn and cranberries, how to make a bow, or homemade caramels.  The tradition of leaving out a shoe for the elf during the month of December to help the children behave.  The ornaments and other decorations I've made in classes or at church with dear friends. All the wonderful Relief Society committees over the years.  Music that has been shared.  Recipes.  Stories like "Cracked Wheat for Christmas" or movies like "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" or "A Muppet Family Christmas".  Napkins folded like elf shoes.Then there are the gifts of ornaments or nativities that have been given by students and friends.  The list goes on and on.

Tonight I just feel really grateful for all the people and experiences in my life that have made me the 55 year old woman I am today. As I unpacked every ornament and nativity I was filled with joy at the memories associated with each one.  As I addressed each Christmas card it felt so good to see those names of people who are so dear to me.  Maybe that's part of the Christmas spirit. It seems to be for me this year. I love Christmas!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Autumn - at last!

It seemed like Autumn would never arrive. I was getting so weary of the heat (too hot to have recess, too hot to cook, too hot to have any energy, etc).   It has been tricky teaching preschoolers about leaves falling when they are still all green!  Then finally, last week, this is what I saw when I walked out my front door. . . . .
 This is the view from across the street 
It looks so pretty when you turn into our street because every house has one of these trees.
Today it was actually cloudy and cold all day.  It was such a treat.
  I really need to live in the mountains one day because I love the change of seasons and the cool weather. 

Craig and I are having fun teaching the CTR 5's in Primary.  We have 9 adorable 1st Graders and Kindergarteners in our class:
Back - Meredith, Abbey and Rebecca.  Front - Daxton, Davis, Preston, Daylen and Jacob. (Dylan had to leave early)
We had our feast at preschool with pilgrim stew, popcorn, cornbread and turkey cookies. We made our own butter by shaking cream in a jar with a few marbles.
Back- Dylan, Violet, Saphryn and Macey.  Front-  Sadie, Nathan, (Reese and Austin are visiting).  We missed Ethan!
Isn't my little class cute? The stew always turns out great, but the kids barely touched it even though they loved stirring in their ingredients. I'm beginning to think maybe I should try a feast Charlie Brown style with jelly beans, toast and popcorn.

We are flying to Louisiana next week to spend Thanksgiving with Ben's family.  We've spent the last two Thanksgivings in Idaho, so we'll miss our western states kids.  It seems we are always missing someone.  We are so excited to see Ben for the first time in 18 months.  Jamie and the kids were here to visit in July, but that's been too long.  Kaylee and Blake just won't stop growing! 
Skype and phone calls are wonderful,
but I can't wait to be with them in real life!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Happy Autumn!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ben's Homecoming

Ben arrived home to Ft. Polk, Louisiana this morning and at 5:30 a.m they were officially welcomed home on base.  Before then, the family was not allowed to see them. 
Lest anyone get the bright ideas to go around the ceremony and meet them at the airport, the Army promised a police escort back to the base. . .
Needless to say, this is one very,
very happy family!
Kaylee and Blake's expressions
in all these pictures are just priceless. 
Ben called briefly this morning
and I talked to Kaylee. I asked her
 how her day was going,
and she said," We got Daddy from
 the Army. There was a song. 
And Flags.  My Daddy's home".
Craig talked to Ben on the phone tonight, and he said Blake didn't take his hat off all day.  I think Ben looks great! But tomorrow first ont he agenda is a hair cut!  Jamie sounds wonderful.  You can hear the smile in her voice.  Jamie said Blake keeps saying, "Hi Daddy" or "Daddy home" and then he repeats it dozens of times. 

This morning when I woke up at 6 I was kind of hoping for a text with a picture  saying he'd arrived.  I just figured they were enjoying the reunion and we would hear at some point today. (I told Jamie last night just to enjoy him and worry about us later.) Then when I checked facebook and saw these pictures I lost it.  I couldn't stop smiling or bawling.  I just felt so competely overwhelemed with joy and gratitude for Ben's safe return and most especially for his safety this past year.  Needless to say, it took me awhile to regroup and focus on preschool.  Fortunately, only 4 kids were here today, so that made for a very easy morning.

I printed up a few of these pictures and put them on the reminder board to share with my preschool parents.  When Craig saw them when he came home, he returned to the kitchen where I was making dinner and I noticed him wiping away the tears.  It's been an emotional time for him as well.  We feel so grateful and so humbled that we have been  blessed with such dear children and grandchildren.  It makes "Thank You Heavenly Father" seem so very inadequate. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our Lovely Idaho Weekend

We took advantage of Craig's long weekend for Columbus Day and flew up to Idaho for a much needed visit.  It was such a treat to have cool, autumn weather, but even better than that was 4 days with 3/5 of our kids and grandkids!

We took an early flight out of Ontario and we arrived in Boise at 11:00 a.m. Rebecca and the girls picked us up from the airport, so Grampa had to spoil them a little and let them "ride" the train and plane in the little arcade. 
We were right in time for lunch and everyone's favorite, Red Robin.  They are always so happy to see the Bryant family there!  Rebecca can elaborate. 
After lunch we went home and all napped on a nice chilly afternoon.  It was such a treat to have genuine fall weather.  Paige and Claire both recently learned to ride their bikes without training wheels, so it was fun to see them in action.  Of course, Reese didn't want to be left out of the photo op.

While we were watching the girls ride bikes, a big grasshopper was on Rebecca's shoe and the girls thought that was so funny.
Since we hadn't seen Skye since March, we knew it would be a challenge to win her over in such a short time! She would flirt with us and then when we'd reach out to pick her up or hold her she would start to howl! Of course, she warmed up to Grampa first.
Skye is very  busy crawling and pulling herself up on everything.  She is way too big already, but so cute!
 Saturday morning we went to Paige's soccer game at a park just around th corner from Nick & Renee's.  Nick and Skye met us there, ( Renee worked that morning) and they surprised us by bringing Uncle Josh and Aunt Krista who had driven up from Provo!  Josh is on the left.  Skye is wearing Kaylee's "pinata" hat.  (Rebecca and Nick have more cute pictures of Josh and Krista I am hoping to find in an email soon).
It was great to see Shannon and Dave Grogan!  Their family is so dear to us.  Rebecca and Shannon have been friends since their girls camp days when they were in middle school, and I had Samantha in preschool.  Dave and Mark work together and  Dave is Jamie's cousin!  I love it that they are all together in Idaho.  Just one big happy family! 
Paige loves playing "defender".  The leauge has some weird rules, so she can't pick up the ball and actually be a goalie.  But she loves it.  I got to go down memory lane and french braid her hair that morning, just like I used to for her Mom and Aunt Melissa. 
Saturday afternoon we all went to the pumpkin patch in Boise.  We had a few extra minutes while we were waiting for everyone and since the girls were all dressed up, I took a few pictures.  Rebecca always fixes their hair so cute.  Mark's mom made the darling matching barrettes for the girls.  

Skye's first visit to the pumpkin patch

We all went through the corn maze, and ended up going in a big circle and exiting at the entrance!

Claire was so tickled to find this lady bug
Skye makes the cutest scrunchy face.

We spent Sunday afternoon at Nick and Renee's.  It is so fun to watch them as parents.  They are both so good with Skye.  I love her little baby hands in this sweet picture.
 Skye is definitely smitten with her Daddy.
 At last, the night before we went home Skye let me hold her. 
Here is proof that she actually let me snuggle with her and rock her to sleep - mission accomplished!
Sunday night Rebecca made homemade rolls and potato cheese soup, and Nick and Renee and Skye came over for the evening.  Josh and Krista left about 4:00 and spent the evening with her grandparents, who just relocated to Boise from California.  They had a long drive back to Provo that night and Josh still had a paper to do
The girls all adore Skye.  This picture pretty much says it all.
It was so great to be with our Idaho and Utah kids.  Rebecca said, "This is awesome, almost like Thanksgiving without all the work!"  We flew home Monday afternoon, much sooner than we were ready to leave. It was a lovely weekend.