First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I, for one, cannot believe it’s already another new year.

And I’m excited about that little fact. Because I love new beginnings. I even have my 2012 “one word” all figured out (more about that later).

And I’m happy that Christmas is over for one more year.

Oh wait, did I really just say that out loud??

We really did have a great Christmas, but wow, that holiday is crazy for a mother. The spirit seeped in through little openings here and there almost despite all the things we had going on instead of us being still enough to let it pour in and drape us in peace and love and joy as I always envision will happen each year.

We had a few things swirling on around here that made Christmas a little more hectic than usual, including the serious possibilities of two different moves (one of which would have taken us half-way around the world). I have to say, discussions of all those mile-long lists of pros and cons can add a titch of stress and can certainly throw your Christmas spirit into a loop. Much more on that later…

But quite honestly, I realized once again that life is not going to miraculously slow down at some magical point.

Life is what we make it.

And our attitude is what makes the biggest difference. As the mother, being the “eye of the storm” is the key. And I’ve tried to be the “eye” a whole bunch lately.

Anyway, I have a bazillion pictures of Christmas but I wanted to finish the lead-up stuff first so here you go:

From the looks of Claire, we apparently had a pretty funny Family Home Evening. Not quite sure what she and Grace were doing there, but it sure looked fun 🙂

Lucy “helped” address Christmas cards:

We made sugar cookies for a bunch of our neighbors:
…when we ran out, we gave out cinnamon-swirl bread. And when we ran out of that, we were too inundated with other “stuff” that we never finished our deliveries. I sure hope those people survived without that extra kick of sugar, because I know many people around here were just really wanting more sugar.

Grace and I were able to finagle a couple good reading sessions:
(of course with some good hair-dos in the process…)

Lucy had her little “Christmas pajama dance recital.”

I would post a video but this picture pretty much sums up Lucy’s moves the entire dance:
Yeah, pretty much the pose with the arms up in the air ruled in her mind so she decided to roll with it and just do it through the whole dance. Forget those other moves her teacher painstakingly taught her to do. Much more comfy to just throw your arms up and stand there.

Her teachers says she does more in class, and I sure hope that’s true!
(Love that teacher of hers.)

We went with some friends to serve at the Food Bank.
(Above we’re getting a little lesson about how the food bank works from Denny.)

We made snack packs for at-risk kids to take home with them on the weekends.

Lucy was the sticker girl and took her job very seriously.

The teenagers did a pretty good job too:

This was an attempt at a family portrait (minus Dave who had to work) when we were done at the Food Bank and rushing off to Grace & Claire’s dance recital:
Yeah, we’re good.

Lucy finally named one of her stuffed animals. The reason I bring this up is because we named everything growing up. Our houses had names. Our cars had names. And certainly every single doll or toy that we played make-believe with had a name. So I think it’s strange that as much as I sometimes prod, my kids mostly like to just call things the name they came with.
So for some reason it makes me happy Lu decided to name her Care Bear. She named her “Love,” ‘because she has so many hearts on her’ according to Lu.

“Love” is the very first thing Lucy is grateful for in every single prayer.

And she sleeps with her every night.

We had a family talent show with Dave’s side of the family.Claire and Lu sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
That’s Lucy’s favorite song these days and I think it’s sticking for a while. She sings it all the time.

The last day of school before Christmas break was pajama day, followed by an impromptu party at our house with the second-graders.
I realized we’re in for a little bit of future drama with this crew.
They sure are cute, but can sure get their feelings hurt in a jiffy. Let’s hope it was just Christmas excitement to blame…

Grace worked for me a bunch trying to earn money to buy Christmas gifts. She cleaned every baseboard in our house, washed windows, taught Joy School, made dinner, uploaded a boatload of pictures for this blog (including these ones).
Wow I really like having a little helper. I could get used to having her attached to my hip asking what she can do to help.

Max is our pancake guy all at random times of the day.And man, he can put down a LOT of those things.

Elle sure stays busy with her friends.
I’m still surprised at how little drama they have.

Like zilch.

I’m so grateful for that.

We went and saw the temple lights.Inside the visitor’s center the kids always like looking through the Book of Mormons in so many different languages.

My personal favorite:
They only had sections of that thing translated into Romanian when I was on my mission there so I love seeing the whole thing.

After ten years of living in the desert I still haven’t gotten used to Christmas lights on palm trees.

I think the guy taking this picture may have had his finger over the flash on my little point-and-shoot, but you get the idea.
Lucy found a new “mode of transportation” for her squinkies:
She carried them around in that thing pretty much all season.

And yes, it is quite big to carry around the grocery store, but she didn’t seem to mind.

She had fun introducing her princesses to the nativity people as well:They are all fond friends at this point.

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  1. Maybe this is a silly questions, but where did you get your stocking hangers for your fireplace? We had more kids and don't have the option to get more of the same and I like how simple yours are. Thanks!

  2. Hi! I love your blog. Here's FRIDAY Q & A:

    You mentioned you got your Christmas cards prepped and to the printer. I liked it very much! I would love to do my own. Do you use a certain pre-planned generic card where you plop your photos in. OR do you design them yourself. Finally — where on earth do you print a two-sided card. If this is proprietary information for your own photography business, please forgive my nosey question!


  3. I found this blog today while on Pinterest and I just wanted to say that you are EXACTLY the kind of mom I want to be. I'm only 18, but I've always known that I wanted my children to have a loving, safe, nurturing life – something I never had. As I'm looking through different sections of your blog, I find myself saying, "Oh my gosh, yes! I want to do exactly that!" or "I feel JUST the same way!" I am so very glad for the happy accident of finding '71 Toes' and I definitely think it's a God thing, because He knows that I needed some ideas and some advice.

  4. I served as a missionary at the temple grounds there in Arizona during Christmas time (many years ago). Those pictures brought back so many wonderful memories. I love reading your blog- it is inspiring. Thank you!

  5. With all those activities, December needs to be 2 months long! So glad we were able to see you multiple times and share in the festivities!

    BTW- Amy is our good friend who lives around the corner from you and went to high school with Steve

  6. I am currently living in Manila (Philippines) and came accross your blog quite by accident; but then again I don't believe in accidents! Though the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, I had the joy of driving home from work and passing by the Mormon temple which had the most fantastic Christmas lights. They made me smile each day. Your blog is both witty and honest and I'm really enjoying it. As I recently received the most wonderful gift of a Nikon D7000, I am also really enjoying your comments/tips/tricks on photography.

    May God continue to bless your journey!

    Corinna Dooley

  7. Those stocking holders are from Target and I do my Christmas cards in Photoshop and get them printed through White House Custom Color. Hope that helps!

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