Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!  Ours was really nice.  Here is how our Christmas went:

We started the day with gathering around the Christmas tree and nativity and singing a couple of carols.  Then we wrote down our gift to Jesus that year.  Gifts included things such as, "No teasing", "Be obedient", "Help others when I see they need help", "Say kind things", "Don't pull out Tico's whiskers", and others. 
(Writing down our gifts - the camping chairs were from Santa, we don't usually have them in the front room).

We then talked about the significance of the gifts that the wise men took to baby Jesus and why they chose the three gifts they chose.  Each of the children also got three gifts.  They were really happy with their presents. 

Spice's favorite gift was a watch.  She squealed with delight when I told her that she could set alarms on for reminders.  Funny girl. 

Spice pulling out her new wrap-around skirt that Little Miss made for her.  She wore it to church yesterday and she looked very pretty.
Bud told his primary teacher that his favorite gift was his pajama pants and shirt (Bazinks made the pants - with a lot of help from me).  His teacher replied, "Really?!  What kind of pants and shirt were they?"  He described them and then he told her he liked his new basketball hoop and basketball a lot too. 
Bud with his new pants.  He loves them because he says he feels like he can really move in them and do Kung Fu.
Little Miss' favorite present was a hamster cage.  We'll be picking out a hamster for it today.  Getting her a hamster was a last minute decision.  She had been asking for one, and this little girl rarely asks for anything, but we had told them that we wouldn't buy them any pets until they were 8 years old and could be responsible for them.  As I thought about it, though, I realized that Little Miss is a very responsible 6 (almost 7) year old.  She does all her jobs almost always without a complaint (unless I spring something on her that she wasn't expecting).  So I talked to Rock about it and we decided to go ahead and get her one.  She is so exited and she can't stop talking about going to the store and picking out a hamster.
Little Miss with the scripture bag that Spice made for her.  Spice is the only one that I didn't have to help at all with the project (except for answering a few measurement questions).  It turned out really cute and, even though you can't tell from the picture, Little Miss was really excited about it.  She also made her a hair flower and a bracelet.

Bazinks' favorite present was probably his binoculars.  He thinks it's pretty cool to see things closer up or further away.  All of the kids were really exited about their binoculars.  We'll have to get out soon, maybe to the duck pond, to use them.

Ray's favorite present was his Skittles.  He got Skittles and warm booties, but he did seem quite a bit more exited about the Skittles.

I got the complete Jane Austen Illustrated Classic set.  I'm very exited about it.  Rock got his present months ago (a trainer for his bike), but he also got a candy bar so that he could have something to open on Christmas :-)

After opening presents, Rock and Bud went to the garage to put the basketball hoop together.  I made Christmas dinner with the other kids helping on and off.  We got to listen to Spice on the Mormon Channel from their Temple Square performance.  That was really neat for her to hear herself on the radio.  Our family in Florida listened to her too.

In the afternoon, we went sledding with some friends.  That was really fun except our tubes from Santa did not hold the air very well and we kept having to blow more air into them.  Santa must have gotten us cheap tubes.  I'm going to try to exchange them today, or to call the company since the tubes say not to return them to the store.   The kids loved tubing down the hill though and they were a lot braver and went a lot higher than I thought they would.  Even Little Miss was jumping off ramps in her tube.  They can't wait to go again.  Several of them said it was the highlight of the day.

When we got home, my little brother and his girlfriend were here.  We ate dinner together and then Rock took them to the airport so they could head to Florida.  It was nice to have some of our extended family with us on Christmas, even if for just a little while.  The kids and I cleaned up while he was gone and played Apples to Apples, they also performed the Nativity for our family in Florida as they watched on my mom's iphone.  When Rock got home, we got some hot cocoa and went downstairs to watch The Nativity Story.  I really liked it, but the kids thought it was too scary.  I think since the producers knew that everyone already knew the story, they had to add little surprises here and there to keep people on the edge of their seats.  There were just some sad images here and there and the kids kept closing their eyes because the scary music would warn them.  The movie starts with the killing of the children so that kind of set a scary tone for them for the rest of the movie as well.  When it was over, they all agreed that they liked the version in the scriptures better.  Too cute.

We kept right on celebrating yesterday and listened to Christmas music and read Christmas stories by the fire.  Today, we shall have to spend the morning cleaning.  I think they'll do it pretty quickly though, in their anticipation for going to the store and picking out Little Miss' new hamster.

I hope you are all enjoying the holidays!  I never got around to emailing Christmas cards... maybe I'll do some New Years cards?  We'll see...  Any recommendations for a good type of hamster, by the way?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Joseph!

Taken from the Joseph Smith the Prophet CD by Rob Gardner:
Throughout the history of mankind, God has called prophets to lead His people and teach them His great Plan of Salvation. However, after the death of Christ’s apostles, due to the great wickedness upon the Earth and the perversion of many plain and simple truths of the Gospel, God took His priesthood from the Earth, and, as prophesied by Paul, the dark cloud of apostasy covered the Earth for centuries.

In the spring of 1820 there was in the area of Palmyra, New York an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. Indeed, the whole region seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created quite a division among the people. Joseph Smith, at this time, was fourteen years old.

Joseph: 'During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did, for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know…

At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God' 

Today is Joseph Smith's birthday so I wanted to write a quick post in remembrance of such a great man. I have read a lot about him and have come to greatly love and respect him as a man who sincerely tried to do God's will despite the many hardships that he and his family had to endure. I know he was not perfect. In two days, we'll be celebrating the birth of the only perfect being ever to walk the earth. People often like to point out his perceived faults. The following prophesy spoken by Joseph has come to be very true:

He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." Joseph Smith History 1:33

I have come to greatly admire and to dearly love the prophet Joseph Smith. I have come to know that he was truly a prophet of God. I feel the Spirit filling my heart with peace and love whenever I read of him. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. It is a real book written by ancient prophets for their brothers and sisters in our day. I feel the love they had for God and for us in their writing. I feel a great joy as I read from it and as I read it to my children. I know, without a doubt, that it is true. I have felt this witness again and again in my life.

I'll end my thoughts with Joseph's beautiful words:
"However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation."

And in case you haven't seen it, here is a video account of Joseph's fist vision:

or you can read it here in Joseph's own words:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dulling our Children's Senses

My friend, Greg, sent me a link to this video.  I needed the reminder.  I easily start slipping into a "conveyor belt" form of education by default because it's what I grew up with.  It was nice to be reminded that each of my children has the same potential, but different talents, interests and specific missions with those gifts.

I actually went to the RSA sight and watched the entire talk.  It was good and funny, but he does go into several tangents so if you don't have an hour to watch the talk (I watched it on my Iphone as I made eggplant lasagna last night), the above video has the most important highlights anyway.

I had several thoughts as I watched it, but one thing that struck me is when he mentioned that in education (especially in the arts) we need to use our senses - to be completely aware and awake to experience the moment.  He mentions ADHD drugs and how sad it is that their overperscription is putting the senses to sleep when we ought to be waking them up in education.

I thought about the fact that there are many other things that we are doing to our children to put their senses to sleep.  They are surrounded by things that overstimulate and dull their senses. We are surrounding them with loud toys with lights and buttons, coarse music, constantly changing images on the television, movies that stimulate their feelings, busy schedules, endless information on the internet, etc.  Children need time to think, to ponder, to feel real things!

Something that has been such a concern to me lately is video games.  We had one little boy over the other day that seemed really at a loss when I told him Bud couldn't play the Wii or computer games.  He didn't know what else to do with himself and he wondered aimlessly through the house.  I remember reading Elder Bednar's talk about Things are They Really Are, and understanding how incredibly damaging this vicarious world of video gaming is.   Children spend their time in a pretend world that overstimulates and drowns out their real senses.  How are they supposed to feel the beauty of a symphony, for instance, if their ears are still ringing (figuratively) from the noise of their environment?  More importantly, how can they hear the subtle whispering of the Spirit when the instrument of their spirit is being bombarded with the exciting and sensational?

Teachers at school are trying to compete with this stimulating home environment.  This is a hard task!  They are trying to make their lessons more entertaining, their books more exciting.  Gone are the days when children could sit at their desk and memorize a passage.  One of my son's friends is required to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid for his class at school.  My daughter's friends came over the other day and started singing the Christmas songs they had learned at school.  They weren't even real Christmas songs.  They were silly songs sung to Christmas tunes to make them more funny and exciting.  It worries me, frankly, and I wonder what will come of it all.

Let's give our children a simple, real environment where they can use their imaginations, where they can sit and think, where they can dream and wonder.  Let's make our home a restful place where the Spirit can whisper to their soul.  They might think they are bored at first, but they will fill the void with real thoughts, real creativity and real sensibility.

To quote Keri Tibbets,
"I am trying to make their lives so real that they can actually recognize and appreciate things of real value when they find them.  I want refine their tastes so that they can tell just how lovely reading great books can be, instead of providing them with activities that dull the senses so that they need perpetually more sensation all the time in order to feel any thrill in their minds and hearts.  I want them to know and enjoy great art when they see it...One of the saddest things that I can imagine is to waste these enlightening opportunities ---to grow up with them all around us and not really taste them because of numbness.  The most beautiful reward that I have reaped along this journey is discovering that my own children have ears that hear and eyes that see and hearts that feel."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Changes

You may have noticed that my blog posts are coming less frequently.  The biggest reason for this is that I am tired.  I just don't get up early enough to blog.  Lately, I sleep as much as I can before my baby wakes me up (between 6:30 and 7), by the time I give him his breakfast and read my scriptures, it's time to get started on our day.

I suppose I could try blogging during my free time, but I don't seem to have much of that lately either (plus, I kind of like to model what I would like my kids to be doing during their free time).  I think I'm lacking free time because I take too long getting things done these days.  I'm dragging a little.  I stall when it's time to fold laundry or clean the kitchen and instead I sit and talk with the kids or play with the baby.  These are good things, of course, but I could always talk with the kids as we work or play with the baby after the kitchen is clean :-)

Anyway, if this keeps up and I don't find some way to get some energy soon, and some brain power to write something interesting, I'll have to keep neglecting my blog somewhat.

I've written a little about how I'm trying to make the holidays more meaningful and more simple.  I've gotten some great ideas and book recommendations from people.  I think it is a process and we'll keep figuring things out each year that will work best for our family.
Spice at Dennys after her Temple Square performance.  She did so great.
I didn't get any of it on film or any pictures because they are not allowed at the Assembly Hall.

So far, I've decided to get rid of a few things I didn't love about the holidays and I've added a few that are more meaningful.

Here's what I got rid of:

-Stockings (I never liked trying to find "stocking stuffers" at the last minute and buying things and treats that I didn't want to buy).

-Making lists of wants or "Christmas lists" (It seems rather selfish, doesn't it, to sit and make a list of wants for someone to fulfill for you?  It definitely doesn't foster a spirit of thinking of others).  I will never again ask my children what they want for Christmas.  All it does is put selfish, entitlement thoughts in their mind that were not there before.

-Mailing Christmas Cards (except to a few people who don't use computers).  This one is a hard one because I love getting Christmas cards in the mail so it seems like I ought to also send some, but I have always been AWFUL about mailing things and this one was a really big burden on me because I didn't enjoy it.  Instead, we'll print some pictures for family and e-mail Christmas cards to everyone.

-Buying toys (we don't need any more, the kids don't want any more). See this thought-provoking post for even more reasons to stop splurging on toys.

(Sorry about the crazy camera moves on the following video, I was experimenting with how I could see Spice best). This was taken at the Prove Tabernacle's performance of The Messiah. In the front row, to the right, you'll see two girls in black.  The second girl from the right is Spice.

Here's what we have added:

-We've been reading stories and singing songs every night from a Christmas Advent Book that I read about in a couple of blogs.  I think talked about it (but I can't find where) and Chocolate on my Cranium posted a link here.

-In addition to the Advent Book stories, we read from a Christmas book.  So far in December we have read A Christmas Carol, The Mansion, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and I'm sure there was one more, but I can't think what it was right now.  I think we might try Cricket on the Hearth next.  Does anyone have other Christmas classics they love?

-We've been reading the gospels where they talk about Christ's birth and early life and some prophesies from the Old Testament about Christ's birth for our morning devotionals.  We only read a few verses and discuss them.  The love that they have a lot of those verses memorized already from their choir songs.

-We've been memorizing The Living Christ.  We won't have it done by Christmas.  We had several weeks where we were too busy to get to it and a few in which I forgot, but we do have the first 3 paragraphs down so far :-)  We should, at least, have it all memorized by Easter!

-One of my friends from Heralders Choir gave me a candle with dots going down the side.  She said one of their favorite traditions is to light a candle every night in December and sing and read stories until the candle melted to the next dot.  The kids like lighting the candle every night, but we so usually keep reading after the candle reaches the dot.  It's a fun way to set the Christmas mood for the night.

-We'll be baking one kind of cookie and giving it to our neighbors (in the past I felt I had to have several different types on their plates, but since I don't enjoy baking, I'm going to go with one type so I'll actually enjoy doing it with the kids and I won't feel stressed out.)

-I've been looking for opportunities to serve in my circle of influence.  We've found a couple, but I would still like to do something that would get the kids more involved.

-The kids are making presents for each other.  We drew names.  Little Miss is making Spice a white skirt from this pattern that I think we might be able to handle.  Spice is making Little Miss a scripture bag and some hair accessories.  Bud and Bazinks are making BYU pajama pants for each other.  Of course, all of these projects will require quite a bit of my help so I'm still trying to decide if it was such a good idea.  I wanted to find someway that they would get into the feeling of giving away something that they worked hard for.  They are exited so we'll see how it goes.

-I did decide to get the kids some presents, but they are all things we would be buying in the near future anyway.  Spice is getting a bike, Bud is getting a basketball hoop (he sold his Geotrax train set to help pay for it), Little Miss and Bazinks are getting a scooter, and Ray is getting some booties.  I also bought two books for each child that can read.  Bazinks got a little basketball. I found some snow tubes at Target for $10 and since we don't have any sleds, I thought this would be a fun present so we could all go sledding on Christmas.  This might be their Santa present (if I decide to do Santa...I still don't know what to do about him - see below).  If it hasn't snowed by Christmas time, we might have to play basketball on Christmas instead :-)

-My mom gave me some money to buy the kids a present from her since she'll be in Naples on Christmas and she doesn't know what to get them.  I bought them some binoculars with it.  It will be so fun to explore nature together in this new way!

-In the past, we've spent Christmas day mostly ignoring the children because thy are playing with their new mindless toys.  This year, I want to spend Christmas doing things together, like sledding, as I mentioned above, or playing games and drinking apple cider.

-We'll be at Rock's family's Christmas party during Christmas Eve so we won't do much else that night.  The kids want to act out the nativity and we'll have a Christmas program with singing on Christmas Day.

-I might go rent the movie The Nativity.  I've never seen it, but it might be a fun way to wrap up Christmas day.   My friend, Tricia, recommended it.  She has other great ideas in this post.

I do want to do somethings next year that I didn't get around to preparing for in time for this year.

-I like the idea of the Advent Sundays (you can read more about them on the Advent Christmas Book), but I didn't find an advent candle holder so I'll keep a look out for one for next year or make one myself.

-I love this idea from a friends blog.  I'd love to incorporate it in some way.

-Tricia also mentioned doing a manger for baby Jesus and having the kids put straw in it when they do something kind for another.  By Christmas it should be ready for baby Jesus.  I couldn't find a manger this year, but I'll keep looking for one or find some way to make one for next year.

Now, about Santa Claus, I always enjoyed Santa as a child.  I like what he represents.  I'm just not sure what to do about him for a couple of reasons.  One is that our neighbors are getting a lot of presents from "Santa".  I don't want my kids to feel bad if they just get one tube!  Also, there are little things that just kind of rub me the wrong way.  Last Sunday, for example, someone gave a talk and she mentioned the Christmas cards her kids were writing to Santa at school.  She teaches at the elementary school for Hill Airforce Base.  One child asked Santa to help his mommy be happy while their dad was gone.  One asked him to keep his dad safe.  Another asked him to help him make friends when he moves to California.  They were sweet letters and they helped you remember those sacrifices that are being made for us at Christmas.  I just didn't like that children were asking Santa for such things when there is One who really listens, and who is really there and who will really answer their pleas.  I know that they were most likely praying to Him about these things as well, but does He really need a back-up?  And if they get their heart's desire - who will they think to thank?  It's just little things like that.  Or like the saying,"You better be good because Santa is watching you!" Or even worse " Santa will bring you presents".

I know that if our hearts are in the right place and we are focusing on Christ, and I don't make statements like the above, that Santa could just be a nice side note to the holidays and no big deal, but that doesn't solve the expensive presents dilemma and the disappointment they might feel if they  expect something from him that I don't want to give them or that I don't know about.  He's already not a big part of our holidays.  We haven't talked at all about him, so it probably wouldn't be a big deal if we just told them the truth about what he represents and why he is a symbol.  I can't quite bring myself to tell them though, so I don't know what I'll do yet :-)

So, anyway, that's what we have going for the holidays so far.  I better get going because we have some Christmas presents to make for one another and I'm already getting a late start on the day :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Updates and Performances

It's been a little busy lately as we've been going back and forth to Salt Lake for choir performances.  This week is pretty filled with them as well.  Spice will be performing The Messiah (abridged) at the Provo Tabernacle tomorrow and then at the Assembly Hall in Temple Square on Saturday at 7:30pm.  They got chosen out of all of the children's choirs that have performed at Temple Square to be recorded by the Mormon Channel so they'll be on the radio as well.  Pretty exiting.

It's funny how not being home can get you out of all your good habits.  The house is pretty messy this morning and there is a pile of laundry to fold in the living room.  We're home all day today (first day in quite a while!) so we'll be doing some catch up.  My friend, Lara, once told me that if her family is out of work practice because they've been on vacation or something else, they have a family work camp and all they focus on is work until they remember how to do it again.  I think that's what we'll have to do today.  We'll have our devotional and I'll be strict about how well and fast the work goes.  Maybe we'll even have some free time if everyone can manage to stay on task.

I wanted to write a quick update about what we've been up to and I'll dot it with some videos from the choir performances (since that's mostly what we've been up to).

Spice during the "Friends and Family Concert" singing Personet Hodie
(Spice is the third from the left in the front row)

Rock's been busy working and trying to figure out what to do with our house in Texas now that our tenant has moved out.  We can't find renters (it's that time of the year) and we would really like to sell it, but the market's not great.

Everyone singing Deck the Halls at the Festival of Trees
(I used my Iphone and it doesn't zoom :-( )
(Bud is the first little boy that walks in after they start singing - furthest to the right on the second row.
Little Miss is the third from the last little girl that walks in  - third from the right on the first row.)
I've been driving back and forth to Salt Lake, and eating pretty often to keep the nausea at bay (I have felt so good, by the way. I haven't thrown up at all and I actually feel good most of the time.  Maybe it's the nursing, maybe it's the healthier way I have been eating for the last year and a half - those daily spinach smoothies and more fruits and veggies may be paying off!)  I'm still working on Les Miserables.  I keep putting it down and reading my children's books when I need a break.  Lately, I've read Wind in the Willows, Pollyanna, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Diary of Piper Davis, Wizard of Oz, and Eight Cousins.  Right now I'm in the part in Les Miserables when Marius is wasting away in his love for Cossette and Eponine is taking him to her.  It's rather annoying and I'm hoping Marius redeems himself soon.

Everyone singing As I Sat on a Sunny Bank at Santa's Breakfast (auditorium performance).
(It was kind of noisy at this performance because there was a long line of families waiting to get their pictures with Santa)

Besides singing, Spice has been doing a lot of journal writing, some spelling (I've just been getting words from her writing lately.  It's easier than doing a program), she's been reading Wind in the Willows and several books in between (Wind in the Willows is taking her some time, it's not really a page turner, but she says it's cute and wants to finish it).  She also practices the piano quite a bit.  She has given up on math again for a while.  She wants me to find her a different program - maybe I'll try different books from the library until I find something that appeals to her.  Math programs are kind of expensive and I don't want to keep buying them.  For now, I think I'll give her a little break from it.

Spice singing "Unto us a Boy is Born" at Santa's Breakfast - gym performance
(sorry for the shakiness, Ray was on my lap)

Bud has been devouring The Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings series.  He started the first book a while back and then put it away for a while because it got kind of boring in the middle.  Then we went to see the play The Hobbit that some of out friends were performing in and he got exited about it again so he finished the first one pretty quickly and he is zooming through the second one.  If he has a spare moment you'll see him with his book in hand.   Or you'll see him playing that he's Legolas and he's shooting people with his bow and arrow (a hair band that I let him have). 

Bud and Little Miss singing "Fum Fum Fum" at Santa's Breakfast:

Little Miss is also playing the piano a lot.  She doesn't really "practice".  She likes to figure out all of the Christmas songs that they are singing.  She does really well.  She can figure them out pretty fast and then she remembers how to play them.  She's been starting to get more curious about reading music and she's starting to work on that.  She is also reading a lot.  She started The Wizard of Oz one night and finished it the following night.  She also started Alice in Wonderland one morning and finished it that afternoon.  When she gets into a book she doesn't put it down.  She's in between books right now, but plans to start Pollyanna today (which Spice read recently and highly recommended to her).

Spice in "What shall I Give?"

Bazinks is becoming a better worker these days and is a lot more willing to help out during family work.  He also just had an episode of throwing really angry tantrums, but he seems to be getting over it.   I do take blame for it, though, because we let him watch parts of the new The Karate Kid that Rock brought home one night (first movie he has brought home in a long time).  There was a lot of anger in the movie and I think Bazinks had a hard time knowing what to do with it.  It surprised me when the next day he started kicking walls and slamming doors and throwing things when he got mad.  We've been talking about how to deal with anger appropriately and he has calmed down a lot lately, although he stills yells at me rudely when he's mad and has to go to time-out quite a bit for that.  He is doing "reading lessons" and he loves them.  He doesn't like me to forget them.  He's doing pretty well with them and I think he'll be reading soon.

Everyone in "Here We Come A' Caroling"
Ray just started nursery at church.  He seemed to really like it.  He had no problem with me leaving.  I think he's specially enthralled with the battery powered toys in there.  Since we don't own any of them anymore, he's pretty fascinated with the buttons that make noises and things.  His teachers said he was a model student and participated in everything really well.  At home, he walks around and finds things to explore.  He sings and dances a lot and gets into the Christmas tree too much.

"As I Sat on a Sunny Bank" Columbus Senior Center Performance

Spice in "Three Kings" at the Festival of Trees
(they stop glowing after a few seconds)

Everyone in "Up on the Housetop" at the Festival of Trees

Other things we've been up to lately:
I got to take Spice and Bud to the Conference Center to watch the Christmas devotional with my friend, Calene, and her two oldest kids.  There was such a beautiful spirit there and the talks were lovely.  I love it when the prophet walks in and everything goes quiet and everyone stands until he is seated.   I hope the kids always remember what it feels like to be in the presence of the prophet of God.  There is such a power there.  

 Yesterday, we went to the State Capital after their Senior Center performance.  I wanted to take them to a museum, but for some reason they were intent on going to the Capital again.  We got our own personal tour and we all learned a lot.

That's all I better write for now.  I have more to say, but I better wait until later because now I am really behind in getting started on our day!