Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: Christmas (page 1 of 6)

New Beginnings (part 2 of the bell choir story)

As I prepared myself for my retirement from the Bells on Temple Square, I decided that I would like to start a community bell choir of my own. I asked the Highland City Arts Council if that was something I could do under their umbrella, and my contact agreed. I had already been doing a teen chimes group at the arts center building, so this would just replace that. My optimism was bright and shiny as I started writing grants and requests for donations. My friend on the arts council assured me that she would help me apply for funding, and that they had received several grants, and in fact had recently purchased a $30,000 piano with grant money. Wow!

After applying to over 50 businesses, and spending SO many hours writing grants and filling out paperwork, I was just done. All I got back were NO’s, or just no response at all. I came to the conclusion that I suck at grant writing, and that no one believes in or wants to support this project. But I was still determined, so I decided to just beg for money from regular people. I set up a crowd funding project and really just got to begging. Even though I did get about $1000 from friends, it was a bit humiliating to beg, and of course, I took it personally, and instead of just realizing that not everyone has money to give to support my dreams, I internalized it that people don’t like or support me. I KNOW that’s not the case, but discouragement is a tricky tool of the adversary, and if he can get me to doubt my worth in any way, he will certainly do that. I’m working on not taking rejection so personally, but it’s a process.

I did receive word that Wal-mart would donate $500. Hooray! With the money I had raised, along with money from teaching my chime choir last year, I started looking for used bells, since brand new is out of the question. I found a 2 octave set of Malmark bells on ebay that was at around $3000. There was 30 minutes left in the auction, and I quickly looked at the pictures, and just started bidding. Reckless. I was very nervous, but kept on bidding until the very last minute, and I ended up winning that auction with a bid for $3450. Then I got really nervous. What if they were in terrible shape? What if I had just wasted ALL my money? I beat myself up mentally for taking such a risk, while at the same time, I was nervously excited that I had taken the leap and made a purchase! When the bells arrived, they seemed to be in good working order. I started polishing, and was pleased that my money hadn’t been totally wasted. I did have a professional look at one of the bells, and he agreed that they were in good shape. I have discovered that two of the handles are wrong, and one of bells has already needed repair ($70), but I am relieved that they are playable and sound good.

Soon after, I found another box of bells on ebay and I bought those, as well.

So we are now 4 bells short of 3 octaves. Unfortunately, they are the c4,c#4,d4, and d#4, and they are around $500 each. I also haven’t seen any of these bells on ebay, so I’m not very optimistic about finding them used. So, I haven’t forked out the $2000 to buy them. I did receive another $500 in donation from Rocky Mt. Power, so that’s encouraging, but not it’s not enough to justify buying those 4 bells yet.

Sadly, there is much more to starting a bell choir than just acquiring the bells. I realized I needed foam pads, and foam pad covers. That was another $200 and a week of my life spent measuring and sewing the muslin covers for the foam I had bought. I started advertising in on the Highland Arts Council website that we were forming a new handbell choir. I decided on a name and made a facebook page for the Timpanogos Ringers. I started talking up this choir and inviting people to come and “audition”. I had met some people in the play I was doing, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, who expressed interest in trying handbells, and a few people that I know also seemed interested. I started getting emails asking about the choir, and I had a list of about 10 people who had said they were going to come and try handbells. Things were starting to come together.

The beginning of September came, and I was excited to get started. However, only 4 people came to the first week.
Recruit, recruit!
The next week a couple more people came, but some of the first ones didn’t come. I emailed all the people who had been interested, and I heard back reasons why they couldn’t commit to a once a week activity at this time. It seems that my enthusiasm for something is not enough to compel others to commit. My Wednesday nights were not looked forward to with enthusiasm, but with dread. Discouragement raised it’s ugly head, and I thought about just giving up. Directing a choir is SO different than just showing up each week to play. A friend said to me, “why are you doing this? If it’s for you, and it’s not bringing you joy, then maybe it’s not worth it. If it’s for the community, then it’s a service you are doing.” Another friend said, “you could quit, but you aren’t a quitter, are you?” I wasn’t to the point of quitting, because I had 4 dedicated members who were excited about bells. One of them even asked if he could arrange a song for bells from a piano piece and if we could play it! I couldn’t give up yet. But I did tell myself that I only had to do this until Christmas, and then if I didn’t have enough interest, I would take a break for a while.

I came home and told my family that I needed their support. I needed 2 or 3 more people to come to bells and play bells, because I can’t direct AND play, even though I’d much rather play than direct. I also asked my sister if she would be willing to try. That night, Ryan came, Amy came, and Jenna and her friend Ryan came. It was awesome (even though I didn’t have enough bells for that many people)! Ryan and Amy actually had fun and have agreed to keep coming. Yay! And Ryan helps me carry the bell boxes to the car and back into the house each week, so that’s also a bonus.

We now have 9 ringers, which is perfect! If all of them would just keep coming every week, that would be great! They sight read very well, they are all good musicians who understand counting and notes because they have all had music lessons of some kind (even if they were kids, it helps!). I do not dread Wednesday nights! I’m having fun, and I think that they are having fun. I took a week off the week of fall break because I wanted to attend the wedding reception of a dear friend, and we are taking off Halloween. But I’ve scheduled us for a concert on December 12 at the community center, plus a couple of parties and the festival of trees. We will not be perfect, but I hope that everyone has fun. I’m hoping to get 9-10 songs ready, but if we don’t have that many songs ready, that’s ok, too.

I will still look for funding options so that we can get those bells we need, but it’s not urgent. I feel like my efforts of the past 10 months are finally starting to pay off and this crazy venture of mine might actually work. Will it replace the choir I’ve loved for the last decade? No. But this will allow me to express my love of bells and music in a new way, while hopefully instilling that love with new people. I hope that as we perform this Christmas and into next year, we will become more confident, and ready for new challenges. I also hope that we will grow as friends in the group and that it can be a safe and happy place for all who come, and that we can have joy in making music.

Change of plans–My, what a clean freezer you have

20160722_171645I had the day planned, including picking the Chinese girls up quicklyso we could go up to the Conference center for the King’s Singers concert. I have loved them for a while, especially after they were guests at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. They were so nice, and even talked to us backstage. And their voices….AMAZING. But even before that concert, I fell in love with this song from a PBS commercial.

I didn’t know who was singing this song, but I loved it. My sweet husband found out that it was the King’s Singers, and he bought me a CD with that song on it. The rest of the songs are kind of hokey, but THAT one..that ONE song is worth it.

Don’t believe me?
Listen to one of my all time favorite Christmas song arrangements. Hearing this one just takes me back to waiting in the stairwell keeping our bells quiet for our entrance in the next song. Every night, I just thought it sounded like angels. I’m listening to it right now and it’s such a calming song! I should make it my ring-tone.

Anyway, they are here with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir again for the Pioneer Day concert. Tonight. Right now.

Rewind a bit to about lunch time. One of the kids mentioned that some things in the freezer were mushy. I didn’t do anything right away, except to say to make sure they CLOSE THE DOOR! Jenna had a group coming over to go to space camp, and we were trying to make sure everyone was here, etc. Once we got that mess figured out, I had forgotten about the freezer. Later, when it was time for me to leave to go and pick up the Chinese girls, I remembered to check the freezer in the garage. Ugh. No WHOOSH should when I open or close it, which tells me the seal is not properly sealing, and things are all mushy and there’s a lot of goo on the floor. But I don’t have time to deal with it.

So, from the car, I called my daughters and asked them to
a-go and get some ice from the grocery store
b-start taking the meat out and putting it in the coolers
c-throw away stuff that is dripping
And I texted Ryan to see if he could come home a little early and assess the situation.

As I got onto the freeway, I got a text from the exchange group telling me that the buses from park city were late, and the students should be about 15 minutes late. Since I was driving to Orem, I decided to run into Costco quickly with those 15 extra minutes. I couldn’t get anything that needed to be frozen or even refrigerated right away, since I still had to wait for the girls.

Then I got to the school by 4:45 to pick up the girls. No Chinese kids. Listen to music, text a few people in my ward, trying to be productive. At about 5:20, they arrived. They had been to the outlet mall in park city, and every single student had at least one bag.

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I had already given up hope that we would be going to the concert, which was good. At least I wasn’t super stressed trying to get home in time. I knew it was a lost cause.

By the time I got four girls dropped off and our two girls home, it was almost 6. Ryan was almost finished cleaning out the freezer. Three coolers full of food were on our counter, with lots of food that didn’t fit in the coolers. Time to start cooking. For dinner, we had cream puffs, taquitos, mozzarella sticks, and fried rice (all from the freezer). Everyone seemed to enjoy our hodge podge dinner.

After dinner, I had the pleasure of putting the food BACK into the freezer.20160722_191442

The funny thing is, that LAST night at book club, Susan, Tess and Melinda were commiserating about their respective freezer thaw disasters. Ugh. I had to text them and thank them for jinxing me.

So, here we are…tired, sticky, a little bit grumpy, and NOT at the Kings’ Singers concert. Maybe I can scrounge up ticket for tomorrow night. If not, I’ll survive. I’ll just listen to my favorite song about 10 times.

Leaving the comfort zone

Even though I’m an outgoing person, I don’t really enjoy going to visit people I have never met. Especially older, somewhat crotchety people who might be mean to me. (Crotchety? Is that even a word? I don’t mean people who crochet, but grumpy people). But because of my calling, I have to step out of my comfort zone and go and visit people sometimes. And it’s hard. I really have to psych myself up and do a little pep talk each time I make a visit. Today was no exception. We had cute little favors for each of the women in the ward for a little Christmas gift from the Relief Society. We handed them out on Sunday after our special Christmas lesson. But there were many who were not there that day, and we had to deliver them. I took 5. Three of them were easy. I had a nice chat with a friend I don’t see often enough when I delivered hers, another one wasn’t available when I went by, but I gave it to her son, and a third, I knew I would not catch her at home, so I put it in the mailbox (that’s not a cop-out, really!). But now it’s Wednesday, and I should have delivered the last two by now. One is a sister I have never met. I don’t think her husband is member, and she’s recently had some healthy problems. I really SHOULD have met her by now. But I was scared. The other is a new sister, and even though I’ve met her already, I knew she wouldn’t be home during the day, and I won’t have time to go by tonight, so I just left it at her house for her.

There is the bag with the little packages in the front seat of my car, so that every time I get in the car, I see them. And I feel guilty that I haven’t already gone and delivered.

Today, after another visit, I thought, “I need to go and deliver that package to Sister F.” I was right there, it’s day time (you can’t go visit old people at night), and I had no excuse.
Buck up!
I pulled into the driveway, went up to the door, still afraid of what they would say. No doorbell. That’s not a good sign. So I knocked. Mr. F came to the door. I don’t remember what I said, but he let me in to see his wife, and we talked a little bit. They were both nice, although not super friendly. But who can blame them, I am am literally a stranger coming into their house. I was blessed with courage to talk to them, and after asking about her health I noticed a case of trophy belt buckles. Wow! This old guy used to Rodeo and has won a TON of belt buckles. Who knew? We were able to talk about that for a minute and I realized that these are fascinating people and I would probably really enjoy learning more about them. I left them with the offer of help, and it was genuine.

As I was leaving, I was proud of myself. I had done it, and it wasn’t scary. No one yelled at me to “get off their lawn”, and no one was rude to me. I need to keep this feeling of courage for the next time I have to do this. And I’m sure there will be a next time.

My missionary Christmas disaster story

When I was a missionary in Germany for my first Christmas, I had only been in the country about a month, and I was trying to be the best missionary I could be. I decided that calling home on Christmas might make me too homesick, so I wrote to my parents and told them my decision to not call home for Christmas. Selfish, stupid girl.

That Christmas was the worst Christmas of my life. Not only was I far from home for the first time ever, but my companion and I were living in a small trailer parked at a member’s home. There had been such a large influx of missionaries all at once that they had trouble finding enough apartments, so this was the best they could do for a time.
(I’m glad I found this picture. In my memories, it was a silver trailer. Funny.)

It was cold and damp. We had to go inside the members’ house to use the bathroom and kitchen. We would cook our little rice and sauce and maybe corn and eat there in the kitchen when the family wasn’t using the kitchen, and then go back to the cold trailer. We tried to stay out of the way of the family.

Here I am in my area, trying to get warm by the “fire”. You can see my “dresser” or my blue suitcase in the background. We tried to make light of our situation. We were both new in the area, so neither of us knew anyone. My sweet companion, Sister Thunell, was great. When our situation looked bleak, she would say, “Things will be SO much better when we get an apartment and have a real area. It’s not always like this, I promise.”


(All six of the missionaries at the church)

I was excited to be in Germany for Christmas, so I tried to keep a good attitude.


On Christmas eve, which is the big holiday in Germany, we didn’t have any appointments. No one from the ward had invited us over for dinner, and the host family didn’t invite us to join them. We tracted and street contacted for as long as we could on Christmas eve, but when all the shops closed and the people went home, there was not much more we could do. We went to the bus stop to go home. Oh, busses don’t run on the regular schedule on Christmas eve. When we finally got home, we were tired and dejected. We went inside the house and cooked our little packaged meal, it was probably rice and Maagi sauce, and my companion asked if she could use the phone to call her family. I sat by as she talked to her family and tried not to cry. The family had all gathered in the living room and they did not invite us to join them. We walked by and said Merry Christmas to them and tried to stay out of their way.

They were not trying to be hurtful, but they did not want us there. They had offered to let the missionaries stay in their trailer, but had assumed that it would only be for a few weeks. They wanted their married daughter and son to be able to stay in the trailer for Christmas, and were therefore not pleased that we were still there. I was very sorry that I had told my parents I would not call. And I didn’t think I could just call them without having it arranged and having not bought a phone card or anything. Oh, I was so stupid.

Never once did I think how much that phone call meant to my mom. I was only thinking of myself at the time, trying to be a good missionary. And since our communication took about 10-12 days for a letter to get home, they didn’t have the time to dispute my decision. How stupid I was. Yes, I survived without that phone call home, but at what cost? My family didn’t get to hear from me, and I didn’t get the boost of calling and hearing that they loved me. Instead, I went back to that silly trailer and cried. As the mother of a missionary, I now realize how important that phone call is. We want to make sure our child is happy and healthy and being treated right for Christmas.

Back to the story in Germany, that night we had to call in to our District leader and check in, as we did each evening. I guess he asked how our Christmas Eve was and my companion told him it was pretty bleak. The next day, on Christmas day, I think we might have had a lunch appointment. When we saw the Elders they told us that they had had two appointments the night before and two for Christmas day. They were so stuffed and full, they could barely move. We felt very sorry for ourselves. I guess everyone in the ward had assumed we would be spending the holidays with the family where we were staying, and so they hadn’t bothered to invite us. Since we were new and didn’t know very many members, we didn’t invite ourselves anywhere.


(Christmas pageant at the church. I honestly do not remember this, but I have a picture, so I must have been there.)

In our letters to the president that week we probably both sounded pitiful. Christmas for us had not been a joyous experience. We celebrated our Saviour’s birth in private, with scripture reading and prayer. But a few days later, we got a call from the mission president. He said, “Sisters, pack your things. You’ll be staying with us in the mission home until we can get this sorted out.” We felt like we were being sent to the principal’s office. We had no idea what was going on, why we were being pulled out of the trailer. We did not know that the family had called the president in anger and asked why the sister missionaries were still there. No wonder we weren’t invited in to the family celebration. They wanted that space for their family.

I try to not harbor ill feelings toward that family. They tried to offer up a space for the missionaries, but it didn’t work for them. I don’t think they were trying to make us feel unwanted. But, no, we don’t send Christmas cards or keep in touch or anything.

For the next three weeks, the two of us lived in the president’s home. We still traveled to our area to try to do missionary work, but at the end of the day we would take the train back to Duessldorf to stay with the president and his family. Even though it was a bit awkward, we felt welcome there. We even were allowed to use the kitchen and bake.

Even when I nearly burned down the house, and at the very least, nearly burned my suitcase by setting it to close to the heater at night,

we still felt loved. We forged a special friendship with our mission president and his family, and got to experience living in the mission home, which not very many missionaries get to do.

In January, they found us an apartment in Essen. A nice apartment, by missionary standards. It had previously housed a missionary couple, above a member’s house.
I finally felt like my mission had begun. We had our own kitchen and bathroom! What a blessing! (The president did tell us that we had nearly been transferred OUT of the mission, that they really wanted sisters in a neighboring mission, and if they hadn’t found us an apartment, that might have been our fate. I hope he was kidding.)

I was only there about three weeks before being transferred.

That Christmas was one of those “builds character” experiences for me. When I had my second Christmas in Germany, it was SO much more fun, with member appointments and presents AND a phone call home. I’m glad I got to experience it both ways.

As I get to skype with my son this Christmas, I feel so lucky. So blessed to know that he is taken care of, that his ward gave all the missionaries a big box of food and presents. I know that he is working hard on his mission and that I get to call him and tell him how much I love him.

Merry Christmas to all of you missionary families out there.

Thank you 2013

What a year it’s been for us!

2013 was the year we finished our basement. It’s so lovely to have that space finished, now.
. I love how it turned out, and look forward to when we can do the tile in the bathroom. No, it’s not totally done, but it’s mostly there, and we love it.

2013 was the year we took Larissa to Disneyland, and she got to go to California for the first time ever. What a fun family vacation that was, and how blessed we were that ALL the kids got to go.
In February we found out where Cole would be serving his mission, in West Virginia.
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In March, my little chime choir got to play at the spring ring, and it was a big boost to my program. After that performance, the parents really got behind my effort to purchase my own set of chimes, and the kickstarter fundraiser was a success. We got enough pledges to buy a 3 octave set of chimes. We also took family pictures and proceeded to get Cole ready for his mission.

Spring was a time of many birthdays. Cole turned 19, Larissa turned 16, and Megan turned 17. We hosted our share of parties. We didn’t go anywhere exciting for Spring break, but we still had some fun around here.
Natalie sang in a special choir for the YW broadcast and we all went to the conference center to hear her sing.

May was a BIG month for us. Cole went through the temple, and got ready for his mission. He entered the MTC on May 22, and it was heartwrenching, yet happy and exciting to take him to the MTC.

They also started work on the development that is going in behind our house, took out the trees, and started cleaning things up back there.

It was busy with the end of the school year and all the parties, awards, concerts, etc.

In June, Larissa prepared to leave us. Her Mom came over from Germany, and the two of them got to do some traveling through the west before they flew back to Germany.

It was hard for her to pack up all her stuff from the whole year, and it was harder to say goodbye. We all had such a wonderful experience with her here, it was difficult to see her go.
New chickens joined the family, and Cole left the MTC for his mission.
Since it was summer, that meant rehearsals started, as Natalie did one play and I did another one.

July was a blur of rehearsals, trek, exchange students from China, parties and barbeques, and family reunions. Natalie was in Peter Pan! We worked on our garden, the weather was hot, and the chickens grew up. It ended with saying goodbye to a dear friend who passed away, and the Scarlet Pimpernel opened.

August was wonderful. A whole month of Pimpernel.

Somewhere in there we finished summer and school started. Megan did a HUGE project with floppy disks
, and we ate a LOT of peaches. Oh, the peach harvest was so wonderful! We put up 50 quarts of our own peaches, and could have done many more, had we the time and energy. It’s ok to share some of the harvest, too.
Ryan was so supportive and helpful, I don’t know if I could have done that show without him. It was really a special experience for me. I met so many new and wonderful people, and it changed my attitude about a lot of things.

September my chimes choir started up again, and it was wonderful to not have to be trying to get a grant. I could just concentrate on teaching. The art projects started to take over much of the table and counter space. I just love this fish.

We had a small party for John’s birthday, followed immediately by a BIG cast party for the Scarlet Pimpernel. Even though the weather did not cooperate, things worked out, as they always do.

Ryan’s niece got married–the first of the kids’ cousins to get married, and we are so proud of her.
I also got to spend a weekend with Ryan in Denver. He was working, me not so much. Loved it!

In October, we enjoyed the beautiful fall. Not too hot, and not too cold. The Adventures of Merlin opened, and I learned that doing a show that performs EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKDAY. is really quite hard.
But what a great experience it was.
Halloween was great, the kids had fun with their costumes and candy, and we hosted a big costume party.

November really kicks off the Christmas concert season around here, and so it was good that all plays were over by November 1st. The Bells on Temple Square concert was SO much fun. Thanksgiving was a smallish affair, with only 16 of us at Ryan’s sister Julene’s house. We missed Cole, but were glad that he had plenty of warm Kentucky hospitality.

December was a whirlwind of snow, concerts, presents, and family.

Meeting John Rhys-Davis was a highlight of the concert week, and it was a wonderful experience.
I love all the Christmas decorating, wrapping, gift giving, baking…I love everything about Christmas! It’s sad to let it go and say goodbye to December, but I must say it was really a GREAT year.

I am SO thankful for the HUGE blessings and MANY opportunities I had to expand my vision and friendships this year. I can only imagine what wonders 2014 has in store for us.

Christmas!

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Christmas day dawned bright and sunny. I LOVE sunny days when there’s snow on the ground and it’s NOT snowing. The kids agreed to wait until 8:00 am to go down, and we were grateful. Here’s Jenna discovering the BIG inflatable remote control fish. Oh, yes, and there’s our lovely Christmas tree.
Funny story about that fish. Since this Christmas we were trying to stick to a budget, I discovered quite a few presents hidden around my office, bedroom closet, and other places. I had ordered this fish blimp last year with the intent to give it to Cole for his birthday. It didn’t come in time so it’s been sitting in the pile of unused gifts, and I thought it would be fun for John. I felt quite silly going to the local grocery store to have this huge fish filled, and of course it was windy as I walked to my car, but it was worth it. What a hit!

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First of all they had to build it. That took Ryan and John a good hour of working together. When it was done, we found it was a bit heavy and would only float just off the floor. Kind of like a shark. But then they experimented and took off a few fins so that it would float. Lots of fun!

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Natalie liked the scarf I knit for her. I learned how to do these ruffle scarves from a friend at bells, and I worked on my first one all during the concert week. I’m almost done with my third one.

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The big hit of the day was the tablet, which we got for the kids. They can play games on it, and not fight so much over borrowing mom’s Kindle Fire. Yes, there have been some disputes already, but hopefully they won’t fight TOO much over it, and learn to take turns and share.

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The highlight for me was talking to my other kids who are far away. We skyped with Larissa on Christmas eve, and then skyped with Cole on Christmas. Larissa is her usual fun, bubbly self, and it was so fun to talk to her. I’ve missed her! She is doing well. She’ll be coming to visit this summer, so that will be fun.
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I didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to talking to Cole until the arranged time had come. He said he would call between 11 and 12 our time. At 11, we emailed him our skype password and kind of just waited. At noon he still hadn’t called. I realized I had no phone number for him, no skype Id for him, and I couldn’t contact him. He had to contact us. AT about 12:10, he sent a text and asked for our skype id. Horray! Then we tried the skype thing, and got disconnected after about a minute. WHAT? Not fair! But it’s just technology and we can deal with these things, so we restarted and dialed him up again. We got to talk to him for about an hour, and it was great! We asked about the work, what he was doing for Christmas, who he was teaching, his companion, etc. We told him everything we could think of. When I asked what mas the biggest challenge he faced as a missionary, he said it was drugs. Not for him personally, but for the people he is teaching. Many of them have drug problems, and it’s a big obstacle to feeling the spirit and wanting to change their lives. How thankful I am for the word of wisdom that teaches us not to use alcohol and drugs.

Later that afternoon we converged upon my parents’ house for an early dinner. Even though it was only my sister Amy and her family, us, my aunt and uncle and my parents (which is only 9 of the 28 grandchildren), it was still pretty loud. We ate, played Bingo and exchanged gifts. Such a lovely day.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of expensive gifts, our tree remained broken the whole season, and Cole wasn’t here, it was a nice Christmas. It was a peaceful Christmas. I hope we can keep that peace and joy of our Savior all year.

I hope you also had a Merry Christmas with your loved ones!

Family parties

It was a weekend full of Family parties. ‘Cause that’s what Christmas is all about, right? Right.

Saturday night we went to my cousin’s church in Riverton for the Coleman clan’s Christmas party. But first we had to stop at my sister’s house and deliver her family their Christmas present from us, and to see their brand new baby Packer. They now have 8 boys and 6 girls–crazy, right? I didn’t take any pictures of him. Forgot to bring my camera in. But when we got there we saw that my brother-in-law, Tom, had built his world famous snow slide.
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We had to give it a try. It was dark by the time we slid, so the pictures are not great, but you get the idea. Imagine a 10 foot slide that starts at the driveway and goes across the entire front yard to the fence line. There are steps carved into the side so you can climb up, and then Tom holds the sled for you and gives you a push.
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We all gave it a try, even though the kids were reluctant. Of course, after they did it one time, they all wanted to go again. We’ll have to go over again during the day and with better coats and ride again.
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Tom is crazy.

After our little snow slide, we arrived at the family party. Our family is so big that we don’t see all the cousins and aunts and uncles very often, so I really look forward to parties like this, where we can catch up, let the kids get to know their second cousins a bit, and enjoy the family.
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Ryan usually scopes out the new babies and holds as many as he can.

On Sunday we had a busy day. I had to be up at the conference center EARLY in the morning for the Music and the Spoken word broadcast. That means getting up before 6, but it’s worth it. And the roads were clear on the way up, at least. When I got home, our church had just started. I was starving, so I thought I would just go home and grab a snack, then go. Not so. I fell asleep for a much needed nap. Good thing, because we had much to do to get ready for another family party just a few hours after church; this time for Ryan’s family.

026 After dinner, we played a game involving paper plates and drawing. Fun.

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The kids are getting older and there aren’t as many who are willing to act out the nativity, but we always manage to find a few willing participants.

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We don’t exchange gifts with cousins anymore, rather we do a gift exchange game, where each person gets to pick a present from the pile, and there are opportunities to steal.
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It’s always fun when a boy gets an obvious girl present, or vice versa.
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Jenna was happy when she got the packages of gum. She had to steal from someone, but she got them.

It was a fun night.
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When most everyone had left, Ryan’s sweet niece Camille gave our family haircuts. We had asked if she would bring her scissors and help us out with haircuts, and she did 5 haircuts. Only John did not need a trim, as he had it buzzed pretty short for Halloween.
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We are so lucky that we live close enough to party with BOTH sides of the family, that our kids can get to know their cousins, and that we have so many people to share the love with at the holidays.

Weekend of fun, music and bells

It was an amazing weekend of concerts with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! As members of the Bells on Temple Square, we like to put the sparkle in the concert. Sadly, it seems like we are leaving some of our sparkle wherever we go. We found sequins from our dresses on bells, on the carpet in the crows nest, even at the sink in my hotel room where I was staying for the weekend. It’s not like we are trying to get those sequins to come off.

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Speaking of dresses, Wednesday night’s rehearsal was fun. WE were to be dressed and ready to rehearse by 6:15. So, we got there, got dressed in our “raspberry” dresses, and walked from the Tabernacle dressing room over to the conference center. Our director was there, and when she saw the choir ladies in turquoise, she said, “Oh, this will not do! They told me they would be in Blue, not turquoise! We will clash terribly! Go back and change to black. Be back in 15 minutes.” So, we ran back through the parking garage, back up the ramp to the tabernacle, back down the stairs to the dressing room, ripped off our sparkly dresses, and put our black dresses on, telling other choir members along the way. No sooner was I dressed in black when Jenn, one of our bell ringers, said, “I just got a text. Raspberry is right. The CHOIR was wrong. Change back.” Really? Is this some kind of joke? No, it wasn’t. Sure enough, just then we saw choir members coming in to change from the turquoise dresses to the Royal Blue dresses. And we changed back to our raspberry dresses.
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It does look nice with the blue and raspberry.

Saturday’s recording session was, for us, a lot of hurry up and wait, as we never knew if we were going to be needed for a song or not. So we would get our bells, go upstairs and wait in the stairwell for our part in the song, only to hear that they had gotten everything they needed for that song. So, we would go back and wait for stage crew to let us know when they needed us again. We did that a couple of times, and only actually played twice. We weren’t bored, though, as we had the movie ELF to watch, and we of course had lots of snacks. 009
There always must be snacks at these things to “keep our energy up”. Of course, Friday night after we had put our snacks out, the men of the choir came by as they were lining up and nearly finished them all off.
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Seriously. The first couple guys said something like, “Wow, you have a lot of treats here!” and I think someone said, “Have a cookie,” or something like that. Soon, all the men are coming to take a donut or a cookie before they go on stage. Um, we brought those for our bell choir friends, but… We hadn’t planned on feeding half the choir, but we are happy to share. I guess. They can bring the snacks next time.

To avoid a rehearsal on Wed just to come to rehearse ONE song, we dragged all the bells back over to the tabernacle during our dinner break to rehearse. The stage crew had been so nice to set up our tables and pads, so we just had to set up the bells, mallets, and music. We are playing on the broadcast next Sunday so we’ll already have to rehearse with the choir on Thursday, and we have our Choir Christmas dinner party on Tuesday, so we really wanted to avoid coming downtown on Wednesday, too. Even though it was a pain to lug all those bells over, it was worth it to avoid a rehearsal. More of a pain for some of the guys, actually. They had to carry the big heavy boxes, I just carried a little box and my music.

The highlight of the weekend for us, though, was when we met John Rhys-Davies. A few of our group were posed for a picture when a cart came up. John jumped out of the cart to be included in the picture! Well, then we ALL wanted a picture with him, so we did an impromptu group shot. John was so friendly and personable, we even let him hold the biggest bell for the picture. He was so very warm and gracious! What an experience!

group laughing

I am in the back of this group, just trying to poke my head in close enough to get in the picture. But John actually shook my hand -TWICE- during the weekend.

I like to take pictures with as many different groups as I can, so here’s me with a bunch of random dancers.
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When I asked for pictures they were always so sweet. It’s fun talking to the dancers back stage.

For the most part things went pretty smoothly. There was that time Friday night when I was on the far side of the stage in our “bunker” when the cue came to go get in place for Ring those Christmas bells. I realized it was WAY too late for me to be on that side, and I had the privilege of RUNNING down two flights of stairs, grabbing my bells backstage and then RUNNING up two flights of stairs. I got there JUST before the applause for that song, which is our cue to go up the stairs behind the choir and go on and play that song. Oh, and I tripped once as I was running up the back stairs, causing me to stumble but not fall (not like my big splat last year, thank goodness), and that one time I started the song with the bells in the wrong hands and I had to quickly figure out what to play with the bells in that arrangement. But those are just minor things.

I am SO thankful I get to participate in such an amazing event every year! It’s really one of the highlights of the season for me, and even though it’s a ton of work and takes so much time, I thoroughly enjoy it!

Now, I’m off to clean up my house and wrap some presents! Got some catch up to do!

Share the Christmas joy!

It’s such a blessing and a privilege to be a part of the bells on temple square. I get to participate with wonderful people and we get to play fun songs like this:

Another perk is that I get to participate in the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert, and I get tickets to give out.

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Even before I had my tickets, they were almost all spoken for. One of my friends asked last year if she could possibly get tickets, since her family had never been. We made a little trade, and she gave me tickets to Thriller, I gave her ticket to the Choir Christmas concert. My bishop also asked for tickets, and well, he’s my bishop and he does a whole bunch to take care of my family and the rest of our ward, so of course I gave him and his wife tickets. And then a dear friend lost her husband to cancer this year, and I wanted to do something nice to cheer up their Christmas, so I had to give tickets to her and her boys. Then there was MY family, and my parents. Done. Tickets gone.

Then, on Monday night, as we were just leaving for my chime choir concert, my neighbor came over and returned her tickets, as her family couldn’t go on Thursday night because of family commitments. I asked her if she could go another night, or even Thursday morning, maybe I could trade with someone. There has been a LOT of trading tickets in our group. You should see our facebook page, it’s all about people asking if they tickets available for this night or that night. I thought I could trade for Sunday, as it’s usually the least popular of the concerts (although my family really likes going on Sunday morning). Luckily, I was able to trade all 5 for them, so they can go on Sunday, and I even ended up with two for another night in the deal. I offered those to another neighbor, and she was so thrilled. She also had been, and she told me that her husband is the biggest fan of Christmas music EVER, that he has something like 800 Christmas songs on his playlist. Wow! I love it when I give tickets to people and they really appreciate it. There’s nothing worse than an unused ticket or someone who says they are going to go and they don’t end up going. We each guard our tickets like gold and don’t give them away lightly to people who won’t treasure them as much as we do. I really wish we could invite everyone to watch the concert. But wait, I can! On PBS tonight at 11:00, you can watch last year’s amazing concert!

I didn’t mean to be Scrooge-like, but sometimes it happens

My decorating for the holidays weekend didn’t go quite as planned. Let me explain.

Last week I hauled out the fake tree and started setting it up in the basement. I knew there were some lights that were out last year and I wanted to get those taken care of, so I put up the bottom section and went through all the lights to make sure they worked, tweaking and adjusting as we went. I got the middle section up, but had to take off a whole string of lights and put on a new string because half the string just wouldn’t light up. I hadn’t gotten to the top section yet, and got distracted by Thanksgiving. So, Friday morning, I had the kids help me haul up the tree to the living room, moving the furniture out of the way so we could put the tree in the traditional spot in the bay window. When we got the top section on, things did not look right. About half of the top branches were just hanging there, sort of limp. I took off the top section to see that the tree was broken. The only thing holding those branches on were the lights. Probably from being dropped, shoved around, or handled by kids, the tree was broken.

NO!!! I don’t want to have to buy a new tree (budget things and all), and if I WERE to buy a new tree, 10:00 am on Black Friday isn’t the time to realize you need to buy a new tree. If there had been awesome black friday deals, they would be taken by now, and I hadn’t realized my tree was broken, or I would have been shopping around. Everyone knows you buy a new Christmas tree AFTER Christmas to get the best deal, right?

Full of despair, I went upstairs to ask Ryan if he could maybe help with our tree. I decided to look for the lights for the house. I hauled up the huge wreath, found a bunch of other Christmas decorations in our horribly unorganized storage area, but couldn’t find the lights. I found the OLD lights that we used to use, but not the new LED lights that I bought and we first used last year. Looking everywhere in the storage area, I could NOT find those lights. I did find a bunch of stuff that I decided we didn’t need (two non working drum sets for rock band? Really?) and started filling the truck with things to go to DI. While I felt good about getting some (just a tiny fraction, really, but it’s a start) of the junk out, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find the lights. Ryan wasn’t going to get the ladder out to put up the big wreath if he couldn’t just do the lights, too. Ugh. No tree, no lights! And to add insult to injury, I kept seeing ALL these Black FRiday amazing deals, but my budget was empty for the month, and I since we ARE really trying to stick to the budget, I didn’t want to buy anything we really didn’t need, just because it’s a great deal. My day is shot.

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I did get out my favorite nativity and set that up, and the kids took a load of stuff to DI, but the day was kind of discouraging.

In the afternoon, a friend from Scarlet Pimpernel messaged me that she had one free ticket to that night’s preview of A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theater, and did I want it? (I had previously asked her about attending a preview). Even though it was just one ticket, I said I would love it. I needed to get out of the house, get away from my Christmas frustrations, and go see some of my friends in a show.

As luck would have it, another of her friends cancelled, and she offered me another ticket at the last minute, so I invited Ryan to go with me. Free Date night!

Can you believe I had never seen A Christmas Carol? We did that SCrooge play in Jr High and all, and I’ve seen several tv adaptations and knew the story, but hadn’t seen the play, and I was excited to see it AND support several of my friends who were in the show.

I meant to take some pictures, but didn’t. So, here’s our selfie before the show started.

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What a great show! Six, no make that seven of my friends were in the show that night, and it was such fun to see all of them on stage again. Plus, there were several other friends and people I knew in the audience. Ryan got tired of me telling him who everyone was, but I was just excited for them.

It helped me realize that it’s not the end of the world if my lights don’t get up, and we can deal with our broken tree issues. So thankful that we got the opportunity to go before the season gets really busy.

Saturday dawned with new determination to find those lights. Ryan looked in the storage area, under beds, in our closet, in every closet we could think of. Still could not find them. However, we did start putting up some lights on a couple outside trees, and got a few house decorations up. He even worked on a way to fix our struggling tree.
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There’s 3/4 of the tree.

At noon, we were just about to leave to go to lunch with some old friends, and it hit me. I knew where those lights were. “I KNOW where the lights are!” I exclaimed. We went downstairs, and looked not in the storage area, but in the new closet under the stairs. BEHIND all the tables and chairs, were the lights. That closet area had just been finished when we took the lights off in the January or February, and I remember thinking, this will be a GREAT place to store our Christmas things. But then we bought extra tables and chairs for Cole’s mission farewell, and they found a home in that closet. Lights were buried and forgotten.

Hooray! We found the lights!

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Here we are at lunch with some of my childhood friends from my ward. That’s Ken Clayton, Chris Cooper, Carolyn Archer, and me and Ryan. Ken was in town and organized the little get together and it was so much fun to catch up with them!

After we got home from lunch, Ryan started on the lights. He didn’t actually get them up, however, because one of the strings was broken and he didn’t know we had two more boxes of lights. BUT, at least we HAVE the lights now, and can get them up soon.

So, no, the lights are not up, the tree is not fixed, the house is still in chaos. BUT, we have made progress.

And talking Santa? He needs to move. Right by the front stairs is NOT a good place for him. He startles us every time we walk by.

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