Ok I was going to wait to post the rest of December until I got Boston posted (which happened back then), but Boston’s taking a while, so here we go with the rest of that wild month.

These pictures are in no particular order, so bear with me as I document over here.

In December this girl did a lot of this:

…and this:

…getting ready for her driving permit.  Too bad she was so sad about that…

We got random pics. of Elle off in paradise…

…and our family room looked like this:

Which makes me long for that comfy room now that we had to take all our rugs out to help train Bo…

Grace also got to go to an awesome Christmas concert:

And Elle worked her guts out in her sculpture class over in Hawaii.  This is not hers, but it makes me think about how cool it is people can make shapes by knowing the human anatomy so well and sculpt and make clay look human.

And while that girl of ours was out hitting all the professional surfing championships between classes…
…we were greeting this fellow:

And hanging with these good people who took us on a date to see Jim Gaffigan when he came to town:

Meanwhile Max found some awesome Japanese curry over in Taiwan:

Claire ran her guts out in soccer practices and soccer games:

And Lucy worked her tail off studying the three branches of American government and making a game about it to go with her project.
She asked if we would test it out with her for FHE so we did.  
And let me tell you, she came up with some pretty stinking good questions that stumped us all except for Dave:
Some mystery admirer dropped off a little gift for Grace….

…which she refused to be in the picture for.

And more of Elle’s friends gathered to scatter all over the world on missions:

The majority of those kids up there are off.  Miss having them all around here.

Max was meeting all kinds of new people in Taiwan…

…and filling up that shirt pocket with all sorts of handy stuff 🙂

Here’s Elle’s guy:

More happiness in Taiwan:

We got haircuts:

We tried on dresses …trying to find perfect fits for this girl.

Obviously she was in love with that one.  HA!

Dates with their dad to do their sports…

Lucy offers to give talks in Primary whenever she can.  And she usually whips them up all by herself.  This is what she whipped up for her talk on Reverence one Sunday in December.

Not an ounce of that came from anyone else.  Just from her own little (BIG) heart and her spirit that seems to understand spiritual things better than the rest of us.

We had a big YW Christmas party:

(…which I talked about back HERE)…right before we headed out on the red-eye to BOSTON, which is coming!

Dave held down the fort with Lucy who had her piano recital while we were gone.  She did a great job…here’s the picture I got along with a great video of that girl just concentrating her heart out on that piano.

Loved it.

We tried to switch up scriptures a little:

(back HERE)

The leaves were all glorious in December.  I couldn’t stop taking pics. at every stop sign in our neighborhood.

Found this note by my bed when we got home from Boston:

Why do I just love things like that so much??

Max got our Thankful Tree a little late, but got it!

I worked on the art of home-made crusty bread:

(recipe back HERE)

I took Lucy to the eye doctor.  This is the only picture I got but I think it depicts quite well how I felt about that appointment.

The eyesight thing is tough.

Luckily this girl is quite a go-getter.  I had to take a picture this day as I was dropping her off at the bus stop.  She had closed the door, then opened it again and said, “Mom, remember to say a prayer for me and say good luck to me for my math test today.”

Ok Lucy, I sure will.

We had the coolest youth activity at the church in December.  This is unfortunately the only picture I got, the kids cleaning up, but I’m so glad I got it so it can spur my memory of that great night.

It was this amazing way to remember Christ’s life.  They gym was dark and we wore blindfolds and there was beautiful music and they brought around things we could touch as it narrated through His life (i.e. a palm branch, a nail, a crown of thorns, a new baby for when it talked about His birth…all kinds of things).  It is difficult to describe, but it was so good.

We sent out stacks and stacks of Christmas cards:

More games:

…and one of Elle’s modes of transportation in Hawaii:

Parents vs. kids night for soccer left our friend limping and Dave with a separated shoulder.


Now that’s some tough soccer!

Our friends took us out to dinner partly to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little late:

We came back to help Grace who was hosting a get-together to send off her friend who is moving back East.  The friend who she met in China a few years ago and their family moved here by us.

Love this great family and we sure miss them!

Then we got ready for our Elle Belle to come home:

All the Christmas-prep-festivities including Elle’s arrival home, gingerbread-house-making, various church and family parties, etc. are in this post back HERE.
She went straight hiking with the cousins:

And I whisked her off first thing the next morning to drive the soccer game carpool with me:

This little sister of hers was head-over-heels excited to have her there on the sidelines:

…All these girls were for that matter!

Sunday night emailing to Max…for once we got to email back and forth a little and the air was thick surrounding us on this couch with so much love for that boy of ours.
Who was happily biking around this place on the other side of the planet:

My parents arrived for all the Christmas festivities:

Lots more about what we did with them back HERE and also HERE but I don’t think I included our gathering with this great family back there:

I thought this was a cool idea my friend had out on her front porch.  Pretty thoughtful for all those people working overtime at Christmas!

Book club lunch/going away party for my friend that I caught the very tail end of.

Here’s Lucy ready to deliver her thought-out Christmas notes and gift cards for her teachers:

Elle got a chance to get together for a lunch reunion with the “1st grade girls” (which name we came up with for them way back when they were all in 1st grade).  Love these girls so much!

Four of them are out on missions…or heading there shortly.

Our Children for Children which turned out to be pretty awesome (read about that back HERE).

The view from our parking garage after the Nutcracker (back here)…

…pretty artistic buildings I have to say!

Elle and her friend who also lives in Hawaii with their little sisters who are friends:

…and want to go to Hawaii some day…

Claire’s antics to help our old elf out this Christmas season:

Our neighborhood went from this:

To this:

To this in December:

And I thought it was the most beautiful thing.

Then it was off to Christmas Eve festivities:

(All about what happened Christmas Eve back HERE.)

Then Christmas Day is back HERE.
Then it was off to Utah to pick out our new puppy:

(all about that back HERE)

Max must have been feeling the “pet” thing because he randomly sent this pic. from over in Taiwan:

We hung out with these guys:


And played in this winder wonderland:

(More about that back HERE and HERE.)

Then it was back home to soak up the last of the vacation days.  Lucy got to work on building all her Christmas legos:

…and Grace got to work at the DMV to get her driving permit (just to practice, not official yet…)

(more about that back HERE)

Perfect parallel parking first time:

More exciting Legos:

A non-exciting family bike ride where we were all freezing and everyone was annoyed at each other:

Gotta keep it real, right?

I wrote about wrapping up December on New Year’s Eve back HERE.

But let’s just end with this video that wraps up a lot of what we did in December since we had a lot of family time:

Yeah, that girl’s a born card-shark 🙂

And that’s December in a wrap (except for Boston that is still coming tomorrow!)

2016 all wrapped up and put away.  Good times.

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  1. Couple of things I noticed. (1) Grace and her friends are wearing those torn up leggings/pants. Is that the style? It didn't seem appropriate that she wore them to a Christmas concert where everyone else seemed to be dressed up. (2) Elle went to the soccer game and on the bike ride (where everyone was "freezing" BAREFOOT?! Really? With a coat on and barefoot. Is that t "thing" where you live, because most adults I know wear shoes or at least sandals in public. That is all.

    1. Oh Maria you sure make me smile sometimes. Maybe you should come on over and give my 18-year-old Hawaiian girl a little pep talk about wearing shoes, because she doesn't seem to listen to me 🙂

    2. Ha! Glad to have entertained you all. I see I'm not the only one who noticed the bare feet – see the comment below.

      First off, she's not Hawaiian.

      Second – gladly. "Hey Elle, this is your mother speaking. We do not leave the house without shoes. Get some shoes on or you can't go with us. I know I should have enforced this a long time ago, and since I didn't, you think it's ok. Well – it's not. You are not 2. You are a grown woman and grown ups wear shoes when they go to a public place…"

    3. We moved to Pittsburgh seven years ago and met a grown man (late forties) who I to this day have never seen in shoes. I'm sure he wears them to work and such, but on the football fields, where I see him most, never. He's a great man, coach, dad, and also a grown up. I guess maybe being a "grown up" has more to do with making your own decisions, and being respectful of other people decisions than wearing shoes to an outdoor soccer game.

    4. Maybe so. But it just looks so silly to me. And I wouldn't want my children (especially my ADULT children) to appear silly – or like they didn't care enough to put on shoes.

    5. Maria, cut the cord. An adult is an adult.

      Hundreds of millions of people don't even have shoes. Those folks aren't silly.

      It is entirely possible to have cold hands and arms and warm feet. She wasn't entering a store demanding that customers wear shoes. There wasn't snow on the ground. She wasn't using power tools.

      It was a forced bike ride. She may have been one of the group not wanting to go for a bike ride at that particular moment in time.

    6. Oh, yes. Elle has no shoes – of course. A store should not have to demand that people wear shoes. Civilized people in developed countries wear shoes to public places except the beach or pool. Just because you are an "adult" and "can" go without shoes if you feel like it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. People only make proper choices as adults if they are made to do so as children.

    7. Are buddhists uncivilized? Best take off shoes to enter the temple. There are lots of public places where shoes are removed among the civilized. A poor person in a developing country isn't uncivilized for not wearing shoes. In a persons home in Hawaii guests are typically expected to remove outside shoes. Not just your own home. Many restaurants in north east Asia require shoes to be removed to eat there.

    8. FYI…

      On bare feet: When we first arrived, I was shocked to see so many people running around barefoot. Both kids and adults would be without shoes in restaurants, while shopping, at the doctor’s office, everywhere. Yesterday, I saw a man barefoot at the grocery store, and it’s the middle of winter here! Children are required to arrive and leave school with shoes, but they don’t have to wear them at school. I used to think it was so surprising, but now half the time my own girls aren’t wearing shoes either. The other day, I ran out of the house to go to the store and I looked down and I was like, ‘I guess I’m a Kiwi because neither my children nor myself have shoes on and I am not going back to get them.’


    9. I guess it's just a cultural thing. Buddhists? Yeah. New Zealand… well, ok. But in the US, particularly the suburbs of Arizona… it's not a cultural thing to go without shoes.

      It's maybe a teen (although an OLD teen) trying to act cool or bohemian by going barefoot IN PUBLIC. Not at someone's house, or at a party or whatever. Getting in a car and going somewhere barefoot.

      And a Mom who is so ditsy that she's lucky to be fully dressed in public as well.

    10. There are no Asian's, Buddhist's temples or Kiwi's in the US? Really? Hawaii is part of the US. Take off your shoes at the door. Don't bring dirt into the house. It would make a lot of sense in a desert to do the same.

    11. If you would actually READ the comments before you rant…. the issue is IN PUBLIC. NOT INDOORS, NOT IN THE HOUSE. That is NORMAL. On the soccer field, at the store, OUT OF THE HOUSE. That is what is being discussed here. Do you get it now?

    12. Being in a public place means being where many gather. Not just outdoors. If there are non family members in my home for an event it becomes a public space. A Buddhist temple is a public place and indoors. It's not normal to criticize an adult for not yelling at their adult child for not wearing shoes while riding a bike in the southwestern part of the US.

    13. But they wore shoes to your party, right, then you asked them to remove them. They didn't show up barefooted like Ma and Pa Kettle from down on the farm.

    14. Going barefoot has some great benefits for your health! I live in Australia and am happy for my kids to be barefoot all the time. They wear shoes when its appropriate (to school, in shops, when doing sport that requires it or if the ground is hot) but walking on grass, why not take your shoes off?! Send Elle to Australia, she'd be right at home here!


    15. Late to this thing but I live in California (the desert, just like they live in a desert town) and quite a few people do that here.

      How do you walk with that stick wedged so far up there?

  2. What I notice is a sweet family with a whole lot of love to share! I love reading your posts. I feel like you help me to be a better mom. I love that a sweet friend told me about your blog! What a wonderful family you have!!

  3. Funny, I noticed how Elle never seems to be wearing shoes either and cringed thinking how cold my feet get! Have I missed you talking about her plans of doing a mission? It seems that a lot of her friends are, but I'm unfamiliar with the rules for girls doing them, or her specific plans

    1. It makes me cringe too, not only from cold but from dirt. Even before Hawaii she was never much of a shoe girl no matter what I say. I guess you pick your battles 🙂 And good question on the mission. Girls have to be nineteen to serve and she won't be that old until August (she's pretty young for her grade). Girls are invited to serve as missionaries, some choose to go and some don't. It's a tough decision, one I remember praying my guts out about way back when I decided to go. I think the most important thing is that they get an answer for themselves, because it can be tough stuff at times, and you have to be all-in. For some there is a different plan in store that they just feel right about and that is great too. We'll see what Elle decides and support her either way.

    2. Libby, I hated wearing shoes when I was a teenager too. I wore them only in places where it was required. And yes, my feet were so dirty! Now that I'm an adult, I still hate wearing shoes, but do it a bit more often. (I live in a much hotter climate now, so I'd burn my feet if I didn't at least wear flip-flops outside in the summer.) Any shoes come off as soon as I get in my house. Not necessarily to keep the dirt out, but because it's more comfortable for me. Shoes make my feet sweat and then I get cold and can't warm up. 🙂

  4. Being barefoot a lot is very healthy! It's good for her feet and her whole body. I also love walking around barefoot as much as the temperature allows. I feel I'm in touch with the earth more, more grounded and rooted ….

  5. We're looking at moving to the Chandler/Gilbert area from the SF Bay area. We have several kids in or about to go into high school. Do you like your school? It looks nice in the photos.

  6. Shawni, I have been looking for the program to have a "Walk with Christ" activity like you had with the youth you mentioned above. Is there any way you could put me in contact with the person who has that info? I would appreciate it so much!

    1. Emily I bet shanon was able to help you, thank you Shanon! Sorry I'm late…email me if you still have questions at sepphotography at gmail

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