Sunday, January 15, 2017

End of the Year Clean Up

After a week of relaxing and mess making, we decided New Year's Eve was the perfect time to clean up and freshen up, just in time for the New Year. It took the entire morning and most of the afternoon, but our home is now spick and span (or at least as good as it gets with our messy bunch living in it)! It always feels so refreshing to put away the Christmas decorations and wipe down perfectly empty surfaces. I almost don't want to put anything back on them. I think I feel the same way about myself this time of year. It's a chance to clean myself up, take a deep breath, and start a fresh new year. Whatever messes may have happened over the last 365 days don't matter. 2017 is a blank slate and I can't wait to work hard and turn it into something amazing.

But on a less philosophical note, a clean house is pretty darn amazing, too.

Except for this room, which was too pretty to take down just yet.

Sledding with Grandpa

With all the glorious snow that came on Christmas, we decided to spend an afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Pendleton's sledding on their golf course. We have a nice little hill in our backyard that had seen a lot of sledding that week, but it was nice to get out to a bigger, more open hill and let loose! Isabelle was not so sure at first...

... but quickly warmed up and loved it!

Even Sawyer tried some independent sledding and was as daring as anyone come the end of the day!

It was one of those perfect memories that I will treasure forever. Just an afternoon spent with my favorite people, doing something we all love and enjoy in the beautiful world we live in.

Don't let this picture fool you, Logan loved it as much as anyone. He also loved waiting at the bottom to throw snowballs at anyone coming down the hill. Sigh. Boys.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Friends Day

The week after Christmas was pure bliss. Jeff's office was closed, which means he took real time off for the first time in a year! Every morning we slept in, stayed in pjs till the afternoon, and did whatever we wanted. The snow made it hard to get out, so we used it as an excuse to stay in. It was wonderful.

By the end of the week, though, I had some work I wanted to get done and thought it might be nice to have some friends over to entertain the kids while I did it. We started making phone calls and before I knew it, we had six friends over in addition to our four. Ten kids can make quite a racket! Needless to say, I didn't get a lick of work done, but I really didn't care. Everyone was so happy and my house was already a wreck, so none of their creative play bothered me. At one point I couldn't even hold a conversation over the talking, singing, background music, and laughter. It was a turning point for me. It was the first time I have had a houseful of kids where I genuinely loved it. I am looking forward to the next several years when playdates are less work and more fun!

The White Christmas of 2016

Christmas morning dawned cold and snowy. It was the first big snowfall of a record-breaking winter, and the perfect exclamation point to start our morning.

I think the minutes right before coming down the stairs are my very favorite part of Christmas. The anticipation, the excitement, the faith that something magical is waiting just around the corner... I can't get enough of it! Most years I make them wait there just a little longer than is necessary so I can soak it in.

Santa spoiled us big time this year. I think he felt bad that we weren't on a cruise with our family like we had thought we might be and overcompensated in gifts. Everyone was ecstatic as they opened their loot.

This is my favorite face of Christmas and it's all over... wait for it... nail polish.

Santa got extra sneaky with Logan, and wrapped his Nintendo 2DS in an oversized box stuffed with toilet paper. Logan immediately started thinking of ways to use the toilet paper, but I confiscated it before things got out of hand. We have long told Logan that we will not buy him a DS, so he went the only route he could think of and asked Santa. That rascal.

Isabelle had asked Santa for a Frozen castle for her Barbies. He must have had a shortage of Frozen castles and brought her a Cinderella castle instead, which Izzy loved just as much. Once it was built it was a good 2 feet taller than she is!

Sawyer scored a set of remote control "Caterpillars." These have been a fun toy for everybody in the days since. Savannah's Santa gift is in the foreground- a hospital set for her American Girls dolls, just what she asked for.

By the time we got through Santa gifts and stockings, it was time for church. We quickly ate breakfast and cleaned up and barely made it in time, thanks to the snow making for terrible road conditions. Jeff and I sang in the choir, so our kids spent the whole time on the bench with our neighbors, the Binghams. Merry Christmas, friends! The program was 90% music, with a short talk at the end by a counselor in our bishopric, comparing the Nephites' anticipation of the Savior's birth to our anticipation of his second coming. It was a beautiful program.

After church, we finished assembling the Santa toys and then resumed gift opening. I don't ever try to speed up this part of Christmas, and we managed to drag it out well into the afternoon. Spoiling kids is so much fun!

Mixed into the afternoon gifts were the presents the kids bought for each other. I loved how excited they were to see their secret person open their carefully purchased and wrapped gift. And the thank you hugs afterwards... priceless.

Note: Logan is mysteriously absent from all these afternoon pictures. The explanation is actually pretty straightforward: once he had his DS in his hands, it did not leave them for several days. Not even Santa's family gift of an Xbox drew him away until later in the week.

Christmas Card 2016 - From Our Screens to Yours

TO: Our friends and family
SUBJECT: Christmas letter

Dearest loved ones,

Although modern technology has put instant communication at our fingertips, we sometimes struggle to feel connected in this big and crazy world. We hope this card brings us a little closer and helps you know how much we love and cherish you.

2016 was a year of changes for our family. We began with a big move back to Utah in January, our 4th move in 4 years. We are happily situated in Springville, and hope to stay put for a while (relatively speaking;)!

Jeff took a new position at Imagine Learning (hence the move) and is busier than ever as part of the executive team. He just hit platinum levels once again for Delta and Marriott thanks to almost weekly business trips. Carly began teaching statistics at BYU again this fall, and is thrilled to be back at her old stomping grounds. Logan has discovered martial arts, robotics, and Pokemon Go this year, making him one happy 10-year-old. Savannah (8) was baptized in July and is our social butterfly, making friends faster than we can keep track of them. Isabelle (5) started Kindergarten and adores everything about it, especially Science Wednesday and center time. Sawyer is growing like a weed and towers over all the other 3-year-olds at nursery and day care. His accomplishments this year include making us a crib- and diaper-free house. #fistbump

This season always causes us to reflect on how blessed we are to call you our friends, even though we are far from many of you. We miss you dearly and wish you all the best. May the spirit of Christ be with you this Christmas!

the Pendletons

Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter Concerts

December means Christmas music, and Christmas music means Christmas concerts. We started off the month with a double date (Jeff and I and Logan and Savannah) to Salt Lake to see the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert. I was so excited to experience this favorite of mine with my eldest children, but it was sadly a disappointment for all. We hit terrible traffic driving up causing us to miss out on our floor seats. We barely made it into the balcony, but were made to wait outside until after the opening number had finished and missed the dancers big number. The kids were bored silly, Jeff and I were unimpressed by the soloist (although he had a great personality!), and there was a spotlight shining right in our eyes the whole time. All that could have been redeemed if the song selection had been on par with previous years, but even that fell short. It was a bummer, but even unfortunate experiences make for good memories!

Two days later, we took the whole family down to Ephraim to hear Sam sing with her institute choir at Snow College. Smaller venue, smaller choir, but everyone agreed it was a much better experience than Salt Lake had been! I loved their song choices, and some were even pretty funny, which were all the kids' favorites. Sam did a great job and I am so glad we got to go see her. Afterwards we went to dinner with her and her roommates at one of the 10 restaurants in Ephraim. It was a treat of an evening and we couldn't ask for better company or entertainment!

The next week was full of our children's choirs performances. Logan has been participating in a chime choir at school, and they put on a Christmas performance that was impressive for such a young bunch after such a short amount of time. He has really enjoyed chime choir and I love that it reinforces the music theory he has been learning on the piano.

To finish off our holiday concert series, Savannah's children's choir, Hobble Creek Singers, performed at the Springville Art Museum. They were a small group, but pulled off several two part songs with conflicting parts. Next year she will graduate to the older choir, but this year it was all about having fun. Singing should always be fun, if you ask me.

These choir robes were the cutest, so I had to get some post concert pictures, but of course it wouldn't be Savannah if she didn't ham it up.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tree Shopping

A few years ago we replaced our artificial tree with a new one. At the same time, I bought myself a new set of decorations, and the tree officially became "Mom's tree." This left us a small problem in that we didn't have a tree for all the collected and crafted family ornaments we'd acquired over the years. Not so much of a problem to me, though. It just means we get a fake tree and a real tree every year!

Tree shopping had to be quick and simple this year. Jeff's travel schedule and my work schedule demanded that. But a trip to our local hardware store's parking lot was all it took. We found a cute little five foot tree that was perfect for our family room. I loved that Logan and Savannah could reach the very top so that the kids could decorate the whole thing themselves! Another perk of a small tree - it fit perfectly in our trunk with the back seat down and was easy to pick up and carry into the house. Not the case for our neighbors that put a 17-foot live tree in their living room!


While cleaning out my list app on my phone, I found this bucket list I wrote on a roadtrip in March 2014. It was fun to see how many of the things I had checked off without even realizing I was doing it. Some of them are not as important to me anymore, others I still really want to do, and there are at least 50 more I need to add. But I think accomplishing 27/51 in less than three years is not too bad.

1. Go to NYC with Jeff. ✓
2. See the Mona Lisa. ✓
3. Run a marathon. ✓
4. Run in a Ragnar (or other 12-man relay).
5. Read A Christmas Carol.
6. Read The Screwtape Letters.
7. Volunteer in the community.
8. Ice skate with the family. ✓
9. Go on a tour at Crystal Bridges.
10. Mine diamonds.
11. Reconnect with an old friend.
12. Read Isaiah.
13. Catch up on printing my blog.
14. Go to Niagara Falls. ✓
15. Be a room mom.
16. Go on a family bike ride. ✓
17. Get my concealed carry permit.
18. Try a new food. ✓
19. Bake soft pretzels. ✓
20. Update our will.
21. Finish backing up my pictures online. ✓
22. Read a bedtime story every night for a week.
23. Help Logan memorize at least 8 articles of faith before his baptism. ✓
24. Go paragliding or parasailing.
25. Finish a 5K in under 25 minutes. ✓
26. Join a book group. ✓
27. Plant a garden. ✓
28. Raise chickens. ✓
29. Start a business.
30. Read a series as a family.
31. Grind wheat. ✓
32. Make something from scratch that I normally buy. ✓
33. Read a non-fiction book. ✓
34. Give away a Book of Mormon.
35. Surprise Jeff. ✓
36. Have a no spend month.
37. Play an April Fool's joke. ✓
38. Frame pictures of my grandparents and parents. ✓
39. Take someone dinner for no special reason. ✓
40. Be 5 minutes early to everything for a week.
41. Take Savannah to get a pedicure. ✓
42. Drive 4-wheelers in sand dunes.
43. Vacation on a lake. ✓
44. Have a movie/tv show marathon.
45. Make sourdough bread.
46. Golf with Jeff.
47. Take an online class.
48. Have an unplugged weekend. ✓
49. Pick blueberries. ✓
50. Carve a pumpkin. ✓
51. Hike in Arches. ✓

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

The first big snowfall hit Utah in late November. It wasn't a lot - just a couple inches - but it was thick, wet snow. Perfect for snowmen.

The kids could not wait to go out and play in it after school. The neighbor girls joined them and before we knew it, they had three HUGE snowballs in the backyard. They were so big, we couldn't find a way to stack them, so they ended up with a sleeping snowman. I thought when winter hit, we'd spend more time inside, but snow is the best playground of all! Now I find myself excited when I see snow in the forecast. We also have a perfect small sledding hill right in our yard, so I can watch everyone playing happily without having to leave my kitchen window. It's a winter paradise.

Miniature snowmen are fun, too, and have the extra cuteness factor.

I was worried how the chickens would fare in the cold and snow, but they are doing great. I covered their run with a tarp, put a heated base under their water, and close their coop door at night to protect them from the elements. Everybody seems to be just peachy in their winter cabin. Just one more month until we should start seeing eggs!