Monday, 26 December 2011

Another Christmas Slideshow

(Because it is too many pictures for a regular post.)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Dear Friends and Family,
I am trying to get a head start on Christmas, so as I write this letter my Halloween decorations are still up (though the holiday itself is over). It's challenging to put myself in the right mood, and I am wondering how magazine editors do it - focus on the next season, always working somewhere in the future. In many ways that sums up the lessons life has taught me this year. How to plan for the future and live in the moment? How to grieve and move forward? How savour the end of something and at the same time embrace the beginning of something new? It seems we have had a year of transitions, which maybe makes it the same as any other year. Robert Frost said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on." For us this has meant celebrating the life of Ken's sister Christy and missing her particularly during special times as an extended family. Progressing through this year has also meant realizing that Ken and I can take a vacation and leave the kids to care for themselves. We marked Jaclyn's graduation from high school and Steven's graduation from junior high school. With those celebrations came the new beginnings of Jaclyn now away at college attending BYU, Steven moving up to high school academics and athletics, Carmen attacking junior high school with a dedication to homework like we've never seen, and Chloe getting the 5th grade teacher she was hoping for and seemingly ALL her best friends in the same class. Living in the moment, we spent a week skiing together in Montana, and a weekend as a family at the Columbia Icefield. We played more board games together on Sunday afternoons. We took bike rides and went for hikes. Ken and I saw Ireland with his parents, and spent a couple of days alone in London. We did a backpack trip in August with Steven. We had a girls trip to Edmonton to see Taylor Swift, and after we dropped Jaclyn off in Provo we took Carmen and Chloe to Disneyland. Planning for the future, we work and we save. We eat healthy and work out. We hold a short devotional together in the mornings before we go our separate ways. We do homework. We dream. And I hope that the time we spend preparing for the future provides happiness and satisfaction in the moment as well. Christmas is a model for that: the baking and shopping and decorating prepare us for the holiday, and in other ways are the very holiday itself. As we celebrate Christ's birth we are reminded of our hope to see Him one day, as well as how to live every day.
Our love to you now at Christmas and in all the moments to come.
Love: Ken, Barb, Jaclyn, Steven, Carmen, and Chloe

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Lets do a random sewing project just a couple of days before Christmas

Why sure, that doesn't seem crazy at all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Lights

We took a drive through Spruce Meadows tonight.

I thought it was beautiful, though it broke one of Carmen's Rules for Christmas Lights (no solid colours except for white).

I wish I had trees like this lining my driveway up to my house - and I don't usually wish for things like long driveways.

We also toured some neighbourhoods, and voted on worst . . . 

. . . and best lights.

Carmen has become very opinionated when it comes to Christmas lights. Even better: some of Carmen's opinions are in direct opposition to Jaclyn's taste in Christmas lights. Chloe video interviewed each of them on our drive, but I'm not allowed to put it up on the blog!

The best I can do is give you Carmen's rules for Christmas lights:

No spinning or flashing
No rainbow
No solids except for white
Christmas colours only
Not on garage or windows - rooflines only
Not on deciduous trees
Must be even and straight
No lawn ornaments
No inflatables
No dangly lights
All bulbs pointing the same direction

Carmen got Ken singing, "I'm dreaming of an OCPD Christmas, just like the ones I used to know."

Our Last Elementary School Christmas Concert

Choral numbers:

And hand bells:

It's all band concerts after this!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


A few weeks ago Carmen told me she was feeling "un-busy".

Problem solved! Congratulations on making the school team Carmen!

Monday, 19 December 2011


I had some thoughts when I uploaded these pictures yesterday. 
(Besides "here's a bunch of pictures", I mean.)

But here's a bunch of pictures. First, dipping chocolates with cousins:

In the morning it was Erica, Chloe, Carmen, and Emma. They are getting so good at this skill!
I did a bit of bussing finished trays to the table, and getting more warm chocolate when they ran low, but that was it. They were moving so fast, we took a break and went over to the church to play basketball for awhile (both Emma and Carmen are playing for school teams this year). We didn't want to get it all done before Marissa had a chance to join us! (She was at Driver's Ed.)

Now hanging out at the church for a couple of hours while the girls played seriously cut into other things I needed to get done (Saturday is a special day), and the girls had proven their abilities, so I left them on their own for the afternoon dipping. I think it went well, besides a chocolate-drip-on-the-cellphone miss-hap, which Marissa dealt with immediately.

Funny enough, I think this dog-pile was Marissa's idea! I'm noticing the cell phone is ever in danger's way . . . 
(But I'm not saying this is a young person's problem: Yesterday my parents were here for dinner and my dad was checking his iphone at the table after dessert. Jaclyn started to tease him about her not being allowed to check her phone at family functions, but he was so engrossed he didn't even hear her. We had a laugh at his expense, though he claims he wasn't tuning us out - just going deaf.)

Steven's favourite 'advent activities' are the food activities. Again, not necessarily something unique to young people. 

Chloe with her planning talents helped me realize I had made a bad choice of one activity last week, and that the better thing to do would be to go sledding. I really need Ken to teach that girl Excel, and then she will really whip me into shape!

We arrived at Carmen and Chloe's choir concert very early to find good seats. Luckily Ken and Steven had their *quiet books* with them as my friend Rebecca calls her husband's cell phone.

Carmen and Chloe after the concert.

We started a new tradition yesterday in that we visited Christy's grave and left some flowers on her birthday. We are nearing the anniversary of her passing, but I think we will continue to prefer to take time to reflect on her life and what we miss about having her near on the 18th as a celebration of her life.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

California meets Canada

I'd like to tell you a cautionary tale about a girl from California who went to BYU and married someone from far away, eventually settling near her husband's family in Canada. But I can't, because it has a happy ending: an outdoor pool in her yard just like she always wanted!

With a Canadian twist.

Our friends just finished their pool a month ago - it's wonderful until it's time to get out! Yesterday instead of swimming I huddled in a blanket beside the pool and watched the kids have a crazy snowball fight (until someone took it in the eye).

Carmen took it as well as she gave it.

She changes the meaning of 'throw like a girl'.

Chloe was right in there to.
(I think this snowball melted a little while she was waiting for a target to surface.)

I don't know why the craziest things are always the most fun!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas work & play

I realized last week that if I wore the dress I was planning on for Ken's office Christmas party that it would be 11 years-in-a-row in the same dress. Which felt like one too many. So on Thursday night I scoured the mall for something new - I really could have used some girlfriend/daughterly company to weigh in on the decision! I ended up with a black sequin pencil skirt and a white silk blouse. It was lovely, but I don't think I'll get 10 years out of it.

Here's a project I'm working on for a friend: (Who I don't think reads my blog!)

I saw this idea for a table runner made from vintage doilies. My friend has a very farmhouse-styled home, and I found a bunch of doilies at Value Village, so I am attempting to make her birthday present. It's supposed to look like snowflakes, what do you think? Steven thinks I'd better include a Starbucks gift card just in case.

We started chocolates! Chloe was happy to help flavour fondant she can't eat (lactose intolerant),

And roll fondant she can't eat, 

But luckily we came up with a flavour that works for her: peanut butter dipped in dairy-free semisweet chocolate.

Chocolate mint for the rest of us.

These ones are just for Chloe.

It was Service Saturday at the school this weekend. The junior high students all volunteer for either a morning shift or an afternoon shift working to make the day a success. Carmen rolled coins collected in the Change for Change campaign in the morning, and helped in the concession in the afternoon. That's right: 2 shifts, but that's just Carmen!

Chloe and Carmen had their first choir Christmas concert on the weekend as well. Each of them are standing just to the right and up from their choristers.

I love Christmas, it's just too bad we can't suspend homework and other obligations in December to lighten our evenings!