Archive for December 2007

Gingerbread Houses

Before Christmas I was doing my regular grocery shopping when I saw that they had on sale the gingerbread houses that come in a box and you just have to put together and decorate. I thought at the time that the kids could make them the night of the W. Christmas party at our house. I soon came to the realization that there would not be time to do it that night and that we would have to do it some other time. Meanwhile Christmas came and went and we still didn’t have our gingerbread houses up and decorated. The kids finally bugged me so much that we finally made them right before New Year’s Day. I put the houses together and the kids had fun decorating them. It got a little bit messy but they turned out pretty well and they looked good enough to eat. Actually the kids in the end did try to eat the candy and the houses, but the boxed gingerbread and candy are not as good as home made.

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Christmas

Christmas is the one day of the year that all of the kids look forward to. Inevitably mom and dad stay up late on Christmas eve and are woken up way too early by the kids excited to open all the presents that Santa brought. That is what hapened to us this year.

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In these two pictures all the kids look worse than mom and dad did. When there is no school or on the weekend Emily usually sleeps in and on school days I have to pull her out of bed. You can definitely see that she that she would rather be in bed and have Christmas a little later. The younger kids look more excited.

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By the end of the morning all the kids had opened there presents and were busy playing with their toys. In the background you see Emily playing Guitar Hero and in the front is our little Diana with the remnants of the chocolate candy that came out of her stocking and out of any other stocking she could find. You can also tell that her favorite gift was a princess dress up. She is just so darn cute!!!!!!!!!!!

W. Family Party

The W. Family Party is the annual Christmas party with all of my aunts and uncles, cousins, cousins kids, etc. The party has grown so big that it hasn’t been held at anyone’s house for the past few years and likely never will be again. I’m not sure what kind of politics were involved in deciding what to do for this year’s party but I know that each year there is some debate about whether to even have the party at all. At any rate, this year Grandpa Kent organized the party at Chuck-a-Rama in Salt Lake.

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I haven’t been to Chuck-a-Rama in years. For some reason I had the impression as a teenager that Chuck-a-Rama was a nasty place to eat but in reality it was great. The place was packed but fortunately Grandpa Kent had reserved a private room. In addition to a private room, Grandpa Kent had arranged for a magician/comedian to come and do the entertainment in lieu of the traditional talent show and gifts. The magician was the highlight of the night. He didn’t do quite enough magic for me but what little magic he did was great – he had a live rabbit that he made appear out of nowhere and then he had a balloon that popped and out came a live bird. The kids seemed to like the jokes/comedy routines as they giggled themselves silly. Diana laughed so hard that she had to be taken out to go potty right when she was onstage with the magician.

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One interesting aspect of the W. Family party is that the families all sit in their own groups for dinner. I think this is partly because parents need to help their children but also partly because people are more interested in talking to their sibilings/parents than they are in talking to their cousins or aunts/uncles. I only see my cousins once a year at the party so it’s pretty hard to generate more conversation than the perfunctory “How’s it going? Good to see you!” I can’t name the names of my cousins’ kids other than the oldest two or three great-grandchildren. Heck, sometimes I can’t even remember the names of my cousins’ spouses. If we’re going to continue to have these extended family parties in the future, it might be worth trying something to spur a bit more interaction amongst cousins. I liked the service project thing (making health kits or something like that) we did a few years back. Maybe do a service project type thing, have an entertainer, and continue to ditch the talent show and gifts.

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Thanks to Grandpa Kent for organizing the party. I know it’s a tough political nut to have to deal with; however, the party this year definitely exceeded my expectations.

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A Party is a Party, But a Christmas Party…

I was in charge of the company Christmas party this year. It was actually fun to plan and organize the thing (albeit a lot of work) and I think I do a pretty good job of it. Maybe I share some of my sister’s knack for planning a party. This year I twisted a few arms and got the company to splurge for a party at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Salt Lake City and catered by Bambara restaurant.

The fact that we were having an upscale party gave Nancy a good excuse to go out and buy a new dress and get her hair done. I was really happy with the results of both endeavors. I’ve been pestering Nancy to experiment with the brunette look for a while now and she finally obliged and got her hair dyed dark. I don’t think she really likes the dark color but I like it a lot and Nancy likes any color over the gray that is quickly starting to dominate her natural hair color. Nancy looked so cute in her new dress and hairdo that I had her stand next to the Christmas tree so I could take her picture. The classic Tom Petty lyrics come to mind: “Oh my my! Oh [heck] yes! Time to put on your party dress!

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By all accounts the party was a resounding success. Nancy and I arrived first to get set up. The Vice President of Sales showed up next, looked around at the table settings, and said, “This is already the best Christmas party we’ve ever had”. Hopefully we’ll be able to do something equally good next year and hopefully someone else will be assigned the responsibility for it.

Houston, We Have A Young Woman

Emily’s really looked forward to her 12th birthday because she finally would graduate from Primary and join the Young Women’s organization. It’s been quite interesting thinking about her being in Young Women’s. She definitely isn’t a little girl any more. She had her interview with the Bishop and worked on Faith in God tasks right up until the last minute but was able to complete everything in time. I’m a bit disappointed in the Faith in God program for Primary girls – not the program itself but the fact that there really is no award at the end. Just a signature by the Bishop and Primary President in the back of the booklet – not even a certificate or anything else to hang on the wall. The cub scouts get beads and badges and I even had that cool looking torch where you could stick a little button on each article of faith you memorized. But the girls get nothing. Just an “atta girl” and that’s all. Nancy thinks chapels should be built with a Priesthood Room because they all have Relief Society rooms. I think primary girls should get some type of little trinket or something when they complete their Faith in God.

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Emily’s birthday party was just a low-key family affair and with the YW presidency coming over to visit, and meeith with the Bishop, and getting ready for Young Women’s, I don’t think Emily minded a bit that she didn’t have a friend party. Happy Birthday to Emily and here’s hoping that the soon-to-be-upon-us teenage years can go relatively smoothly.

Annual Christmas Pilgrimage

Today we took our annual pilgrimage downtown to see the lights at temple square. I can’t remember how many years we’ve been doing this for but it’s probably around 6 or 7 years now. Lori’s family has gamely joined us each year and I know my kids look forward to riding on the train with her kids. In past years, the trip was major affair involving several strollers, baby carriers, multiple potty stops, etc. This year Lori and I commented on how nice it was to not have any kids in strollers and to be able to get through the night with only one major potty stop for everyone.

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Riding Trax the Train is about the same each year. Now that we have seven people in our family it’s actually more cost-effective to take a car downtown but the train is fun, the kids like it, and we don’t have to worry about parking. Now that we live in South Jordan, we definitely get our money’s worth because we ride the train from one end the line to the other. The tricky part is timing it so that we arrive at Lori’s stop at the same time as Lori so that she doesn’t have to wait to long for us and we don’t have to get off and wait for her. Each year we manage the feat with lots of coordination by cell phone and lots of patience by Lori and her crew.

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The lights on Temple Square probably haven’t changed in 30 years but I still can’t help feeling each year that somehow there aren’t as many lights and it just isn’t as awe-inspiring as I remember it being when I was a kid. As a kid it seemed like the whole world sparkled and every tree was lit. As a grownup I just notice which trees aren’t lit and wonder why they didn’t light them.

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After doing this pilgrimage for the past few years we’ve developed a pretty good routine: potty stop on the bathroom on the west side. Stroll around by the Assembly Hall, try to avoid the couple and sister missionaries, try to herd the kids away from the nativity scene (we learned our lesson a few years ago when the kids were running around and making noise while people were reverently trying to listen to the program) stroll over to the main street plaza, find a place for a picture, take a picture that doesn’t look very good, look at the water pond, tell the kids not to get their hands wet and cold in the water pond, get mad at the kids for getting their hands wet and cold in the pond, and head back to the train station to go to Training Table for dinner. This year, however, we decided to change the routine. Nancy campaigned to go somewhere beside Training Table. The kids weren’t really happy about it but Nancy was campaigning fairly strongly so we decided to walk to the downtown Macaroni Grill.

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As soon as we walked into the Macaroni grill with 7 glowing and energetic kids I wished we would have gone to training table instead. Macaroni Grill wasn’t too crowded but the people that were there were all businessmen and couples on dates. One of the arguments for Macaroni Grill over Training Table was that Macaroni grill was closer – we wouldn’t have to catch the University line train. Unfortunately, even though they weren’t crowded it took a while to set a table for 7 kids and four adults, it took a while to order, it took a while to be served, it took a while to eat, and it took a while to pay and leave. In hindsight Training Table would have probably been faster because it the kids know exactly what they want, we order as soon as we get there, and we get up and leave when we’re done without waiting for the check. Training Table also has the added benefit of not worrying too much about disturbing businessmen and couples on dates.

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After Macaroni Grill we walked back to the train station and were lucky enough to run and catch the train just as it was about to leave so we didn’t have to wait. The kids weren’t nearly as boisterous on the ride home with a full belly as they were on the trip downtown. In fact, most of them were asleep in the car by the time we pulled into the garage.

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Thanks to Lori and her family for putting up with us and gamely carrying out the tradition with us each year!

Blee’s first sewing project

I have been helping Emily finish her faith in God award for Primary. One of the things she had to do was to make something and display it. So I helped her make an apron for her first ever foray into sewing. She did a great job for her first try.

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Guess Who’s Twelve?

I have always told my girls that they had to wait until they are twelve before they could get their ears pierced. Even though Emily won’t be twelve for a few more days, Saturday is the best day to go because there is no school and Anne can stay home and babysit. Earlier in the week I searched on the internet for places to get your ears pierced. I was definitely not going to go to a shady place in SLC so I decided on a store in the mall. So we were off to Claire’s, but what I didn’t realize was that it would be really busy because of all the Christmas shoppers. There was only one clerk in the store so we had to wait a little while until another showed up. Finally the time came to get it done. Emily was slightly nervous, but she did a great job,she only flinched a little bit when the earrings went in.

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Emily is happy but nervous

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Emily is happy and grateful it’s over.

Christmas Stockings

Nancy put up the Christmas Stockings today. We took Kelly’s great advice and got some of those stick-on hangers. They seem to be holding well. Hopefully they’ll come off without leaving a resideu and as easy as advertised.

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It’s nice to be able to actually hang our stockings over the fireplace instead of hanging them on the stair railing like we did in our old house. Our house is really starting to have a traditional Christmas look and feel. Of course, the traditional Christmas look and feel ends at the fake Christmas tree. Nancy and the kids’ desire for a picture-postcard Christmas is dwarfed by my aversion to vacuuming needles, disposing of the dead tree, getting sap on my hands and clothes, scratching up the car, etc. As far as I’m concerned, it will be a fake tree for the indefinite future.

Seafood Cobb Salad

One of our favorite restaurants is the Market Street Grill (one recently opened up in South Jordan) and one of my favorite menu items there is the seafood cobb salad. When we planned our menu for this week, I decided to have Nancy try and recreate Market Street’s seafood cobb salad.

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Nancy’s version of the seafood cobb salad

It’s fun to try and recreate things that we eat in restaurants. The seafood cobb salad has bacon, tomato, egg, bleu cheese, shrimp, and crab. Nancy’s version had all of those things and it tasted just as good as the Market Street version. Now if only I could get Nancy to make the sushi rolls at my favorite sushi restaurant.