Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Will you come for us?

Gram & Kate Aug. 2008/as a young lady in 1938

Dear Grandma,

As we gathered around your bedside on Friday night I felt the most calm yet joyful reverence I ever remember feeling.  There must have been a glorious reunion in the room that was beyond our sight.  It was a privilege to be there.  Grandma, will you come for us when it is our turn to go?  

Did you hear Danny that night when he asked you to watch over us and our little girls?  They love you.  Sophie has mentioned you in every prayer since you left.  Ellie found the dress you were making for her doll.  She wants to finish it for you.  I have been going through the pictures I have of your life, and I found a series with you and Kate playing in your guest bedroom...I am going to frame it for her room.  

After you left that night we were all still there- Papa, Michel, Jimmy, Paul, Amanda, Randy, Sharon, Jason, Danny and I- already your home seemed empty.  All of your earthly possessions were there in front of us, yet we could feel that your presence was missing.  All of a sudden the things of this world seem a lot less important and we are reminded that our love and memories are our real treasures.

Thank you Grandma for all that you have taught us.
We hold you in our hearts always.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas bells are ringing...

I promised a friend nearly a month ago that I would post my Christmas music favorites!  I finished my list.  I tried to create the list on itunes but couldn't figure it out.  If what I tried works I will post it bellow.  Some of these are favorites because my girls love them so much (Santa Baby).  They all make us happy and we have been listening to Christmas music almost exclusivly since Thanksgiving!  We love it!

Jingle Bells  
Barbra Streisand A Christmas Album
Must Be Santa  Bob Dylan Christmas In the Heart
Adeste Fideles (O Come, All Ye Faithful) Liberian Children's Choir, Luciano Pavarotti & Trisha Yearwood Pavarotti & Friends: For the Children of Liberia
Christmas Song  Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds  A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3
Christmas Day Dido  A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 5
We Three Kings of Orient Are/O Little Town of Bethlehem Ella Fitzgerald Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem Emmylou Harris Light of the Stable
Winter Wonderland  Eurythmics A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1
Were You There On that Christmas Night? Hue & Hum - Hue & Hum Christmas
Someday At Christmas Jack Johnson This Warm December: Brushfire Holiday's, Vol. 1
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen  Jars of Clay Christmas Songs 
Sleep Well Little Children/What a Wonderful World  Kristin Chenoweth  A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas
Angels We Have Heard On High The Lower Lights Come Let Us Adore Him
Santa Baby  Macy Gray Sounds Of The Season: The NBC R & B Holiday Collection
It Snowed   Meaghan Smith iTunes Holiday Sampler
The Christmas Song  Mindy Gledhill Winter Moon
Children Go Where I Send Thee Natalie Merchant A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3
My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)  Regina Spektor Gift Wrapped - 20 Songs That Keep On Giving!
A Cradle In Bethlehem Sara  Groves O Holy Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem Sarah McLachlan Wintersong
There Is a Star That Shines Tonight  Sheryl Crow Home for Christmas
Silent Night Stevie Nicks A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 1
I Saw Three Ships Sting A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3
The Friendly Beasts   Sufjan Stevens  Songs for Christmas
O Holy Night Tracy Chapman  A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3

Another two favorite albums:

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite
Charlie Brown Christmas (just bought it this year...delightful!)

My favorite Christmas video:

This song makes us happy so I thought I would see if there is a video-
Must Be Santa (see above):

I would love to see Barbra Streisand singing Jingle Bells but I couldn't find it.
We LOVE that version!
She is amazing!

What songs am I missing??
What are your favorites??


our Christmas card this year- most of the elements from three paper peonies

Christmas is in full swing!
We have Annie home!
The girls are finished with school for the year!!!!!!!
We are wrapping presents today and just excited to be home together.

We wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


  photos taken November 2011

Courage is the word that came to mind when I first met Nikki and Callahan.  They are fighting a battle against childhood neurological diseases.  They have been fighting this battle since they learned of Eliza's diagnosis of MLD.  The organizations that they have founded in Eliza's honor are: Eliza's Wish and TeamGive.

This year they have displayed courage in fighting for Callahan's recovery.  He broke his neck during a relay bike race 6 months ago.  Read more here.  As I read Nikki's posts just after the accident, I was again amazed by her, "If I have learned one thing in the past four years it is whether we have a smile or a frown on our face our situation is still the same. Sometimes my attitude is the only thing I have control over. I am a strong believer that we are given challenges to refine us and help us become more charitable and compassionate people. There are always things to be learned. Callahan has mentioned time and time again that he now knows what Eliza goes through each day. She knows what it is like to be trapped in a body that does not do what her brain would like it to do. She knows the frustrations of not being able to itch her nose when she wants to or manipulate objects in her hands. My father-in-law and I were just discussing tonight how maybe this is a very big part of what we are supposed to learn. Callahan has been out raising awareness for neurological diseases for teamgive and now he can empathize with these individuals on a whole new level. Reality continues to sink in and I am understanding more and more what a difficult road this is going to be for us but I hope that we can look back later and see that we grew and hopefully became better people because of it."   

When we had a few opportunities to spend time with them at the beginning of Callahan's recovery he talked about the miracles.  The miracles of people in the right place at the right time...bringing equipment (neck brace) to the race and not knowing why...and answers to prayer.  They were focusing on the blessings and not the hardship.  He is doing amazingly well and has come so far.  Their determination and and optimism have been so inspiring to all who know them.  They wouldn't say this about themselves...but they are truly heros.  Nikki made this video- Callahan's road to recovery:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Grandparent Party

We are so blessed to live so close to so many of our relatives.  My girls have all of their grandparents within 45 miles...and even a great-grandmother (one great-grandma lives in a different state).  We see them often.  Usually it is in large groups with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles around.  The kids tend to run off and play and don't sit and visit as much as they do in small groups.  So we invited all of our local grandparents to a Christmas dinner party at our house.

We served:
roast beef
mashed potatoes
homemade rolls 
(the first time I can ever remember making them!)
a green salad
(with pomegranate, pistachios, grapefruit, and shredded carrots and a lemon dressing)

carrot cake for dessert

It was a busy afternoon...but worth every minute to have them with us at our table.  It felt good to serve them just a little bit.  They have done and continue to do so much for us.  After dinner we performed the Christmas songs we have been learning and asked them to sing a long with us.

Sophie-  Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Kate-   Jingle Bells
Ellie-  Oh Come All Ye Faithful
me...with Kate accompanying-  Sleep Well Little Children
group-  Away In A Manger

After the music we gave them each a gift.  The grandfather's received the Lower Lights Christmas CD.  The grandmother's received books that reminded us of them.  Great-grandma received a dvd- My Fair Lady (she is a fair lady).  My sweet friend also made Christmas holly pins for each of the grandmothers.

It was such a sweet evening for us.  We asked each of them as we visited what their favorite Christmas memory was--

Nana Miller-  She said that as a young girl, she worried herself sick every Christmas about whether she would not receive what she hoped for Christmas morning.  One year in particular...she felt ill from worry on Christmas Eve.  She woke up that next morning with all that she hoped for...and a special doll with a beautiful coral dress handmade my her mother.

Papa Miller-  "besides turkey & stuffing?"

Great-grandma-  She remembered last Christmas.  She had beautiful quilts made for each of us...grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She loved seeing them in her living room rolling up and cozy each in their own quilt.

Grandma Sally-  She remembered receiving a beautiful doll from her sister, who was quite a bit older than her, with beautiful outfits for the doll.  She also remembered an ice skating outfit.  It had a beautiful full skirt with pom-poms along the bottom.  She remembers ice skating with cousins on the lake that Christmas.

Grandpa Davis- He remembered the year that he and his brother received skis.  He was so surprised.  He remembers finding a hill and skiing that day.  He loved skiing and eventually worked on ski patrol at what is now Sundance.

After the party was over I asked the girls what their favorite part of the day was.
Ellie- playing our songs and watching them open their presents
Kate- Carrot cake
(her first time trying it!)
Sophie-receiving Christmas treat bags filled with tiny toys and stickers from Grandma Sally

We are so grateful for these special people in our lives.  We hope they will come every year to celebrate this beautiful holiday with us.  My plan was to take their pictures with the girls in front of the Christmas tree.  When the house was quiet and our guests had returned to their houses...and I looked at the lights of the tree I realized that I didn't take one picture.  I was enjoying the evening so much, I completely forgot.  I will do better next year...and leave my camera out...and ask Danny...actually the girls (they always remember) to remind me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

time and eternity

There are two time pieces draped on the bouquet.  Early in their engagement Sharon decided to give Jason a pocket watch as her wedding gift to him.  It was a beautiful time piece with a thoughtful inscription.  The night before their wedding, as she was saying "goodnight" he handed her a box.  She opened it to find a beautiful vintage necklace that is a sort of mini pocket watch.  She smiled and asked him to stay right there.  She ran to her car and gave him his gift.  The pocket watch.  Not only did they give each other the same gift...they also chose the same font.  They are meant to be together.

j + s
for time and all eternity

Monday, December 5, 2011

something bigger than us....

Last night Kate played in her first concert.  She has only been playing cello for a few months, since May. The concert was an evening of cooperation and team work.  Each level of ability played their part.  Kate participated in Jingle Bells, Wintertime in Russia, Allegro, Twinklebell Canon in D (Pachelbel), and Clock Tower Bells.  In Jingle Bells she played the melody---but in the other pieces  she played a repetitive harmony, or a surprise strum, and in one just a loud stomp of her foot.  As I sat and enjoyed the beautiful sounds I was so grateful that she could have this experience and be a part of something that is bigger than she is.   SO GRATEFUL.

I believe it is true...we are so influenced by what is around us.  Our perspective of what is possible is altered by what we see others around us doing.  As Kate participated last night...her eyes were alert and continually watching.  She was mesmerized by the other performers.  She watched their expressions, their hands, and their music.  She was taking it all in.  I think we both could have stayed all night.  I wanted her to soak in the influence of so many who have worked so hard and who are striving for their best.

We have the same influence from our friends and neighbors.  What amazing examples we had around us this weekend.  Our little city experienced a big storm this week.  The winds were strong on Thursday.  Many houses and trees suffered great damage.  We were fortunate to have only lost some wreaths and window well coverings.  Trees and fences were most effected in our immediate neighborhood.  As we sat in church (Stake Conference) on Sunday morning we were excused a half an hour early and asked to go out and help our neighbors.  They announced that another storm was predicted to come in with snow and wind.  We needed to get all of the loose debris up and covered or taken to the land fill before the storm came in.  Danny got dressed and headed out with his chain saw.  They gathered at the houses that needed the most help.  Neighbors were helping neighbors all over the city---hauling, cutting, gathering, cleaning, and providing hot chocolate.  It was amazing.  As I think about my neighbors and watch their good works and the service they give to the community...I take it all in and feel inspired.  Again, I am left feeling grateful to be a small part of something bigger than us---and by our association with these neighbors we are better people for it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

our advent

I read the Happiness Project last month and I loved something she brought to my attention.  Enjoy the process...enjoy the preparation and anticipation of events---they are often more fun than the event itself. Isn't that true!!!  The days leading up to Christmas are so much more exciting for me than the actual day.  The traditions we have bring so much joy in the holiday!

I decided to combine two traditions into one...and I can hardly contain my excitement.  We have had numerous advent calendars- the chocolate window advent, a felt Santa with numbered pockets, last year we tried this (so cute...right!?).  I wanted something new this year.  Nothing has seemed like the perfect fit.  I scoured Pintrest: see here.  I loved so much of what I saw but I couldn't decide on anything.

Then I thought about our Christmas book basket.  Many years ago, when Ellie was a baby, my friend Liza came up with beautiful baskets we would line for Christmas books.  We were going to make them at a Relief Society activity.  If that wasn't great enough she wrote a poem to go with them.  

Come children, come folks, come grandparents, too,

And hear of a tradition that I'll share with you.
Each year when the snow first begins to fall-
Up from the basement this basket you'll haul.

Grab some hot cocoa and cookies with sprinkles,
By the light of the fire or Christmas tree twinkles,
Snuggle up with the family, babe on mom's lap
And share a Christmas story before your long winter's nap.

There are stories of reindeer and noses that glow
Of a grinch watching Whoville celebrate down below.
There's a train and a boy who hears Santa's bells
And of course, there is Scrooge with his tale to tell.

But the best Christmas story is saved for the last 
And we think of it often when the holidays are past.
Tell the story of the Christ child and the first Christmas Eve,
Of the Babe in the manger who taught us to believe.
by Liza Richards

We have had a Christmas Book "basket" since then.  I still have the tag she printed with the poem tied to my basket.  (I gave the lined baskets away as gifts and I have kept this metal "basket" and have been too lazy to line it.)  I love bringing it up from the basement each Christmas.  I love that our books are tucked away all year and the girls have a pile of books that feel new and intriguing for the holidays---even though many of them I have had since they have been born.    I decided to choose 25 of our favorite Christmas books to wrap and number.  (The rest are hiding under my bed.)  We will open a new one each night to count down for Christmas!    The girls are SO excited to see what is behind the simple brown paper.  (Sophie woke up asking about it this morning.)  Some of them will have activities with them too.  Here is my book list for this year...shhhh, don't tell the girls:

this is my very favorite Christmas book--I LOVE the way it turns my thoughts toward the true reason for Christmas
plan what they will give each other this night
7.  Sally's Christmas Miracle (Peanuts)
We will try to watch the movie that week
bring out their stocking bells
secretly deliver a box of oranges to someone's front steps
this isn't the one I have but I wish I did- love the illustrations
why do so many of our books have mice in them?
this isn't a Christmas story...but it is beautiful.  my girls have never read it.  they are going to make their own paper crowns this night.
22.  The First Night
make cookies this night and deliver it to neighbors

What are your favorite Christmas books?  What is your favorite advent calendar!?