Thursday, December 29, 2011

Temple Square Adventures

We made our annual trek to Temple Square about a week before Christmas. As long as we are in Utah or have family to visit over the holiday season, we want to hit Temple Square to see the lights and boost our Christmas Spirit!

This year, we went up with Ben's mother and her husband. It was nice to share the experience with people that had never been.

The tree in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. (I managed to post this picture AFTER those of my own tree this year... definitely a better choice!)

Just a few of the decorations on the tree... It looked somewhat familiar. My Christmas tree last year had flowers tucked in the boughs.

The tree was stunning!

Ben, with his BY beard. You can see the inspiration of that beard in the far right and center of the picture. (Behind the tree of lights.)

I loved these stone faces that we ran into while we explored the area around Temple Square.

When the sun finally got close to setting, we made our way back to the Square and snapped a few pictures.

We did make one real shopping trip: To Edinburgh Castle where Ben admired the kilts and other Scottish accessories. The kilts for little boys were completely adorable, but there was nothing in Hank's size. ;)

Trying on a tam.

Grandfather trying on a fantastic Top Hat. Doesn't he look straight out of Dickens?

Little Miss A had to show off her modeling skills and her new Union Jack flag. (A girl after her mother's heart.)

Hank wanted to show off his St. Andrew's Cross (Scottish flag).

There's his face...

Happy Christmas from the Thompsons!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Cheer!

The kids slept in on Christmas morning, which ended up being perfect for us. So, instead of having them take a bath before going upstairs and fixing them up pretty for opening presents and pictures, we let them stay in their new pajamas.
Hank was still trying to wake up.

This picture of Audrey was the third we took because she kept giving us fake smiles. I told her to think about how she would feel seeing the tree with all the gifts under it and this is what she gave me. ;)

Mom and Dad were in PJs too.

The great thing about kids this age is that they give the perfect response of oohs and aahs upon seeing the Christmas surprises. 

This was a classic moment. Audrey put her little fingers in the Chinese finger trap and couldn't figure out how to get them out. I eventually helped her.

Stocking goodies.

Most of Hank's pictures these days look like this. When we tell him to show us what he got, he will put it right up to his face.

Audrey's better at displaying her gifts, but funnily enough, she still manages to hide her face.

Hank is multitasking: Opening presents and Pilates.

Though it may look like they are fighting over the gift, they are actually trying to open it together. I guess it seemed a reasonable way to try to open the gift to them.

Trying out the new reading system. (She has been using it almost non-stop!)

Gifts from Grandpa T & Grandma Linda: Hooded blankets. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

There is something magical about the Christmas season, when you let that magic creep it's way into your heart. I was so busy this year and overwhelmed with the expectations I had of myself, the Christmas Spirit didn't really hit me until it was almost too late.

Luckily, by the time Christmas Eve came, I was feeling anticipatory and happy for the upcoming day. I quietly padded upstairs to make the final preparations and assist Santa in filling the stockings and getting gifts under the tree.

The Advent House was empty and the children's mini nativity, found one by one behind the advent doors the last eleven days before Christmas, huddled under the small tree.

The Book Advent was slowly unwrapped and read all December long. We had finished with the last book read by my dear sister, Melissa who engaged the children with her insight and attentiveness. She was careful to point out the details in the pictures and, even Henry stayed still for almost half of the story.

The stillness and peace of Christmas Eve was calming and I found myself contemplating the Past, Present and Future Christmases of my life.

The very first ornament Ben and I got after we were married was this stag. The glitter on his antlers is slowly flaking off, but he is still one of my favorites.

This ornament came with the advent of children in our lives. The magic and mystery of Santa started all over for me again when I shared the tradition with my own family.

A new ornament that Ben's mother, Jacqueline, gave me for Christmas this year. Quite similar to my dream of a charming country home for my family.

Another ornament from Jacqueline, given to Ben. A slightly bigger country home...

Santa brings us a new ornament every year.

I was reminded of the wee hours of Christmas morn when I would wake up and sneak down the stairs to stare at the glory of the Christmas tree and the gifts. The tree was different then, the lights colorful and twinkling, most of the ornaments hand-made by my mother as well as by all of us children.

I imagine that as my children age and start to craft ornaments and other decorations, Christmas around my house will become more colorful, homespun and cozy. Until then, the frosty silver glow of my tree will warm my heart at Christmastime.

My best friend in grade school gave me this bear one year for Christmas. It was "accidentally" tossed into the coals in the fireplace the day I got it and has a tiny burnt spot on the bottom of one foot. I have been understandably protective of it ever since. I never properly named it. It has seen over twenty Christmases.

He has not complained once.

Everything was bigger and more magical when I was young. It seemed that I was forever looking up at everything with curiosity, wonder and excitement. At some point I stopped, perhaps when I foolishly thought most everything had reached eye-level. My children have helped me to remember the joy of those innocent days and try to regain those qualities that are natural and inborn to all humanity. 

While Christmas helps me to remember these things I want for myself and my family, it also reminds me that the new year is coming and with it, new promises to myself and a fresh start. These are feelings and experiences that I don't just want at Christmastime, but all the year through.

And we should never stop looking up in curiosity, wonder and excitement.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wooden Doll Pendants, or Part Two of The Dastardly Craft

You may remember this blog post. Of course, I only posted it last Thursday, so....

I hinted at a craft I was working on. I also hinted that I was so frustrated with the craft that I'd become rather silly about it. I found pictures of doll pendants online a few months ago and fell completely in love with them. I choked a bit when I saw that they cost nearly $30 a piece! I figured I could make them myself!

Well, here is the final result of all that, including some pictures along the way.

Stage 1 of the painting project. I had already put down a base coat which you can see on the two dolls that appear to be wearing tan dresses. You can also see, in all it's glory, the doll that I started to paint orange until I realized that it looked truly horrific and needed a change.

Stage 2 of the project. All the dresses were finished and I had yet to paint their little faces. The faces proved to be especially difficult and I had to run out to the store to get a stylus set. The hair was tricky too and I don't appear to have taken pictures of them before the next stage.

Stages 3 (faces/hair) and 4 (clear coat) were undocumented due to my extreme frustration and angst over these little pendants. We shall not speak of it again.

Stage 5 was all Ben. He made pilot holes in the tops of their heads, with a pushpin of all things. Then he screwed in the little eye screws.

What a wonderful husband!

And, finally, a trip to Joann for necklaces! I felt immediate satisfaction upon stringing these little babies and hanging them up!

Perfect little gifts for Christmas this year for some special little ladies in my life!
A ton of detailed, painstaking work but well worth it!

And much better than nearly $30 to just buy one....


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