I wasn’t kidding when I proclaimed this as “catch up” week, and whoever is still along for the ride deserves a gold star.

But I’m so happy to get at least a few extra things documented before life as we know it changes and we get our boy home, so thanks for bearing with me!
On to December…
When you drive into our neighborhood it looks like this in December:
And because this street isn’t too busy, I can hardly help but stop and take a picture every time I drive in.   I love it because it’s so beautiful but also because it changes SO MUCH!  Every day it’s changing.  By the end of December those trees are brilliant yellow…along with piles of that gold starting to grow under them.  I’m sure there will be more of these pictures showing up soon…
I’d like to introduce you to my shadow.  

That girl is waiting right there just like that (or wagging her whole body with every bit of excitement she can muster up) when I walk in the door from the garage (she can hear the garage opening and sits and waits).  It’s endearing I have to say, to have someone THAT excited for you to walk in the door 😉

Sunset at one of Claire’s soccer games.

The picture can’t do it justice…it was incredible…but the picture is more for me to remember how I drove around that parking lot, and SO many just like it, for so long to await that one parking spot to slip into.  Man, there are a LOT of soccer parents out there all vying for those precious spots so they can watch their kids kick those balls all over creation…

We had our traditional ward congregation “Breakfast with Santa.”  Turned out that Lu and I were the only ones who got to go, (Dave was at a soccer game with Claire and Grace was decorating the school for winter formal).
So Lu and I got all situated on the tandem bike:

…until we realized it needed a little fix-up so we had to end up driving, dang it!

But we were happy we got to be at that fun party with so many people we love.

Lucy’s getting a little big for Santa’s lap but boy oh boy she sure loves that guy and is still fully invested in him.  For some reason that just makes me happy.

Sent my last package off to my boy over in Taiwan:

I mentioned this before, but for some reason I always have to take a picture of the post office when I leave it…somehow it’ just helps ease the tension of putting those packages together.  I didn’t send too many of them, but it always gave me a little anxiety to put them all together.

Elle’s Christmas tree over in Hawaii:

Back on the mainland, Elle’s friend got Grace all gussied up for Winter Formal…

And it was a fun night for these kids 🙂

Lots more pictures and details about that back HERE.

Lucy, inspired by her Grammie, decided she wanted to read the scriptures intently during the sacrament portion of Sacrament Meeting each week at church and once that girl decides on something she holds onto that idea with a vice grip.

…even if those words are microscopic.  (One of her teachers gave her those teeny scriptures engraved with her name on the front years ago and she adores them but we really need to get her some bigger ones.)

We fully participated in our church’s “Light the World” initiative and loved watching the little video and scriptures each morning for our devotional.

This chalk board was supposed to help us with the new “service” inspiration each day but really, in all actuality we only changed it a couple times.  I personally just love Lucy’s spelling sometimes…

We held our third annual cul-de-sac “Children-for-Children” concert to raise money for the orphanage we were heading to visit in Ecuador for Christmas:

Much more about that back HERE.

I took this picture when I dropped off Lucy at school late for some reason or another…dentist??  Eye doctor?  I cannot remember.  But I wanted to remember the way she skipped into her beloved school wearing a green shirt because it was a Friday, and that’s what you do for school spirit.  And I wanted to remember how the sun looked coming through the trees:

There’s my little shadow again:

I decided it was time to bake some more home-made bread:

(recipe back HERE.)

Lucy gave a talk in our Primary Program.  It was a really great one.  Here she is practicing in front of the family:

In other Lucy news, she wasn’t overly thrilled that we weren’t doing many Christmas gifts this year.  So the fact that Grammie still sent her a gift made her pretty giddy:

One of Lucy’s golden friends walking with us to school one day:

Grace got to go on a road trip with a friend to visit another friend:

They had the time of their lives, but this is the only picture I have…

I talked about this a little before, but we decided we better get walking (especially Lucy) to prepare for all the walking we’d need to do in Ecuador.  So we made this chart…

…and set off on our first mile…which took us here:


You can’t tell from that picture, but Bo was overjoyed with that little idea because that meant she got to walk a lot.  And in her mind, that deserves all kinds of celebrations.

We got to do a little Christmas dinner with these good friends:
In December we spent some pretty great time here:

Because these good friends went through the temple for the first time:

…and the week after that, they got to get sealed as a family in that beautiful place.

We felt so very happy we got to be there with them.

It was a pretty wonderful day.

Lots more about that back HERE.

There were a few traditional “Ugly Sweater” parties…here are Claire and her friends getting ready…

…I guess they translated the ugly sweater thing to mean shorts too…because they went to Good Will and got all outfitted.

Here’s Grace and her friends at another one of those parties:

Lots of soccer:

Lucy’s talk for the primary program:

…and then the piano recital that night:
Lucy was pleased with her performance but the other two were mad as hornets because they felt like they messed up so many times.
I personally was so proud of them, but they both shed a tear or two over that night.  Here they are trying to smile with Josh after they were done:

And let’s just pretend Lucy and Josh’s eyes are open.

I figured I could listen to the whole Book of Mormon by Christmas but I didn’t quite make it.

Still working on it but I’m getting close!

Lunch date:

Cute friends walking:

Bo’s contribution to our Christmas decor:

I took these pictures because I was going to do a post on making Instant Pot tomato soup if it turned out fabulous…which it didn’t.

But my sweet sisters gave me an Instant Pot after they came for Thanksgiving and I want to remember I have tried a bunch of recipes in that thing.

Some are SO good!

I’d love any recipes anyone may have for that I can try.

We decorated gingerbread houses:

(more on that back HERE.)

Lucy had a field trip right in the most stressful part of December (close to the end when I was trying my darnedest to get things done before we left for Ecuador).

And I didn’t realize I had been picked to chaperone until the day before when I got an email with all the information.

Oh boy.  I was stressed out.  I didn’t have time to be gone all day long!

But within minutes of being there I realized I sure did have time.  What could be more important than being there, really, with that girl I love, and her good friends who I think can pretty much walk on water.

We learned all kinds of things about our hearts and how important it was to exercise them.  (There is actually lots that goes into this field trip story that I don’t have time to tell but I’ll just say that I had been on this same field trip with Claire and knew it would be a good reference point to talk with Lucy about keeping our bodies healthy….so I did want to be here, it was just a little complicated how it worked out.)

Did you know that a giraffe’s heart is this huge?

Turned out to be such a good day, with this girl I sure love:

…and these ones too:

Max’s Christmas mission conference:

Christmas lights on our house…I love the glow of coming home to those puppies:

Handbell concerts…

 …these happened spaced out through the month but I’m putting these two right together here to remember them.

All about those concerts over HERE.

I may have posted this in one of those handbell posts, I can’t remember, but even if I did I think it deserves a re-post because I love it.

That dear handbell teacher really “helped her life out.”

I don’t have a picture of her note to her Braille teacher who was the mastermind to make that happen,  helping figure out the right way to work the music (and enlarge it) so Lucy could see it and play, but it was a sweet one too.

Speaking of notes, man alive my kids are probably going to need therapy some day from all the note-writing we do around here, but in my mind thank you notes are so beautiful.  I had them each write a few to their favorite teachers one afternoon.

That evening I found this note on my desk:

(You see, I’m her English teacher since we’re doing home school…I thought that was clever and nice of that girl of mine:)
We also wrote a bunch of notes to missionaries we love all over the globe.

Oh wait, what’s that?  Another picture walking home with Bo from walking Lu to school?

 Yeah, I have a lot of those.  Something about that morning light draws me to them and I can’t help it.

I sat in front of the computer for hours looking at this screen trying to put together my traditional family birthday calendar for my Mom for Christmas:

(I make one each year that has pictures of everyone who’s birthday will be coming up that particular month).

Lucy did a book report on one of her most favorite books:

Another lunch date:

Grace did a photo shoot for her friend who is starting a t-shirt business:

Claire played her heart out at her last rec. volleyball game:

(on to club after that!)

This girl came to sing for the young women in our ward:

…and I feel bad because I cannot for the life of me remember her name right now but I guess she’s been on “America’s Got Talent” and Claire was pretty star-struck.

Documentation of how the mirror sometimes looks after we use the waterpik at night.

I know, gross, but hey you have to document those things.  Braces on that cute girl up there are not easy-peasy I tell you!

It was weird this Christmas season not to have Dave’s parents in town.  They are in Africa serving as missionaries and we are so glad for them and for the people there but we do miss them!   Dave’s little sister is living in their home so we still gathered there for our traditional get-together and white-elephant exchange, which is always a favorite thing for the kids.

(We actually tried to slip it out of the plans this year and those kids were not about to put up with that idea!)

Loved how Kara helped Cannon get excited about something other than the giant pack of gum he started out with 🙂

Lucy got to play her recital piece on the piano which she was thrilled about.

…and always, at the end of a night with cousins, you can find her with this dear cousin-in-law playing a game.

He’s the best.

Another note written to Lucy’s friend who was moving:

Bo in a t-shirt for some reason Claire claimed was important:

Twin day:

Don’t even get me started on how sweet that thing was.  Some day maybe I’ll go into more detail…

More walking to school…

Some pictures from China I was using to make a Christmas chatbook for Grace:

(I did do that for the girls…more on that later)

One particularly stressful afternoon my friend brought this over for my Christmas gift:

Could not have been a better gift.  I think she saved me from an emotional breakdown that night.  And those enchiladas were SO GOOD!

This really deserves a post of it’s own, but Lucy got nominated as the “scholar of the month.”

Ok forget it, I don’t have enough heart-power (cheesy wording I know) to write about that right now…it will have to wait.  It really was such a sweet thing.

Then Elle got home:

We had our own “fake” Christmas Eve:

(Back HERE.)

We finished packing and weighing all the supplies we were taking to the orphanage in Ecuador:

…and then we were off to fly into the wild blue yonder.

…for the Christmas experience of a life time.

The beginning of that journey is over HERE.

Thank you for coming with me back to that crazy month!

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  1. I think Lucy's little thank you cards/note to friends are just about the sweetest thing in the world!! Are you home schooling just Clare? I really wish it was something I could do for my child, sadly, it's not in the cards for us 🙁 Lastly, your photography is amazing!! I would frame so many of them! Keep posting those photos, we love them!!

  2. Your singer's name is Evie Clair and yes she was on AGT. Such a sweet girl from a great family. She lost her dad a few months ago to cancer…maybe you already knew that. I had the privilage to photograph their family for an article about his service through his cancer. I later did a session of just them to capture the happier times…which is a blessing as he did spiral and pass less than a year later. They have been through so much and have such amazing faith.

    Just thought you might appreciate the additional info to that sweet girl!


  3. I would love to hear more about your approach to chatbooks. I know they are supposed to be the 'no work' photobook, but I just can't seem to make it that easy – ha! Between trying to make collages and write text about our family life and get it all just right….it takes a long time. Wondered about your thoughts with that as you are a hard core record keeper. I'm trying to at least get something done…

    1. I haven't done a lot with them aside from just picking out my favorite pictures of my kids each year for the last two years and uploading them into books. I know a lot of people print their instagram accounts but I haven't done that yet.

    1. Yes but just for English (which is last period). She comes home early and we just work together on reading and writing, it's awesome. I've just always wanted to try this and figured it's the last year I can experiment with it because high school is a different story…and Lucy will be a different story too. It's been a pretty cool experience…I'll write more about it some time.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Love following your family's life and have been enjoying your posts for awhile. Would love to see more of your house – any chance you could do a quick house post? 🙂 And where is that beautiful mudroom rug from? Thanks!

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