Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Magic revisited

Jess -- finishing breakfast before all the candy!
 I do believe that Christmas is made more magical with little ones around.
That anticipation and fluttery feelings in your stomach, the feeling that you just can't wait to open that certain present are enhanced by the presence of children.
I DO have children, but the youngest is going on 16.

Jess & Rachel - getting into their stockings
So, in my own complicated mind, I re-focused this year.
No longer expecting those feelings mentioned above, I eagerly anticipated the gathering of loved ones for a day. 
I planned, I prepared, I really looked forward to it - avoiding any stress or "gift" hassles as much as possilbe.
And it worked!
Danny & Mary - checking out their stockings
Loren & Daniel - waiting for the fun to begin!
Jessica - "what did Santa bring me???"
Rachel - "What did Santa bring ME??  (Jess is wondering about the size differences....)

Mary - "What could it be??
Still going on that stocking candy!
Christmas was really wonderful this year!!
Rachel - STILL opening that BIG gift!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

When some of your kids become adults and are living away from home, 
it is good to be flexible.
So, whether we have to have 2 Christmases, or delay this or that tradition -
it doesn't really matter -
just so long as we get to be together!
As Christmas Eve arrived we found ourselves anticipating the arrival of Daniel - the eldest!
He lives in Phoenix now and is very busy working 60 hour weeks as a 1st year resident at a hospital there.
We felt lucky to have him come home at all! 

We saved one of our most favorite holiday traditions for when he was here...
The Gingerbread extravaganza!!
All day long Jessica and I baked super-size gingerbread men and women.
We laid them out on foil-covered cardboard.
We mixed up the frostings.
We gathered all the candy and put it in bowls.

 So, when Loren got home from work and Danny arrived from AZ, (and they ate their dinner first) we were ready to begin!!
 There was a lot of  "candy-eating" going on....
 Lots of good conversation...
 And plenty of good 'ol silliness too!!
 Plus, everyone LOVED to tease the Rachel the youngest!
And here are the final results!!
Dad's candy man.
Danny went minimal this year -  yeah, I know....
Jessica's roller derby cutie!
Loren's hillbilly Harry?
Mary's  "Tarzan Jane"!
Mom's one-legged snowman drummer.
And Rachel's -  cute girl with red hair?
After we finished and cleaned up, everyone hurried off to bed so that Santa could come!!
That's right!
We still Believe at our house!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 - 1st Installment

Ahhhh...Christmas is over and  I can now blog sans guilt.
Actually, Christmas this year was quite wonderful.
We simplified.  Big time.
We didn't go overboard and we didn't go 
 into debt.
I made about 75% of my gifts.  Dan made about 35%.
Yeah, the kids got less, but no one complained. 
They were happy and appreciative.
For that I am grateful.

So, to get this post going.
Amelia and Jon visited the week before Christmas before heading on up to 
Washington state to be with his family.  
So, we hung out and played.  
We did their yearly photo shoot. 
It rained all week, but we still had a good time.
Then, on their last evening with us (a week ago today) we had our 
first installment of Christmas - for them.
Amelia is trying to eat the ornament!!  Oh NoOOO!!!
First, we had them open their yearly ornament.  
This year we gave them a Christmas Pickle ornament!
New tradition for the Stone household.
Every Christmas Eve, "Santa" hides a pickle ornament somewhere on the tree.
The first one to find it on Christmas morning gets the honor of handing out presents!  
(Some families have the pickle designate who gets the first present of the day.)

Then the present opening began in earnest!!
The girl LOVES chocolate!!
Jon with his BYU hat, apron & cookbook!  He was a happy camper!
Meli & Jon in their homemade beanies - ready for the cold north!
She asked for books - and she got 'em!
 Next, since Jon had drawn Rachel's name (and vice versa), we let Rachel open her present from Jon that night. 
What could it be????
Whoa!!!  It's Jon's old laptop computer!!  WooHoo!!
Another VERY happy camper!!
 So, although it was sad to see them leave before Danny got here, 
we had a great time with the Brame's.  
It was a great visit with great family, and that's a big part of 
what Christmas is all about, right??

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Past

This is a REALLY long post!  I take no responsibility for anyone hitting their head on the computer when they fall asleep!

I've been thinking alot lately.  A dangerous occupation, I know, but there it is.
And, like most Christians, I've been thinking about Christmas.
And here's the BIG QUESTION:

 I remember a simple time...
Me & my big sister Karen in Sembach, Germany at Christmastime.
 ...when Christmas was about hanging out with your family - going sledding down the hill across the road.
Me again - in Germany with St. Nicholas.
 It was about seeing the "big guy" and telling him what you wanted and getting a bag of roasted peanuts in the shell.  Pure magic!
My big sister, Joyce, even got a bag of peanuts!
 It was about a tree decorated by us kids - no fancy, shmancy "decorator trees", but a tree cut down from the forest down the road - and each ornament had meaning to us.
Me & my sister Karen - Christmas morning
 It was about giving and receiving gifts that were lovingly thought out.  We NEVER dreamed of expecting our parents to give us everything from a list of demands.  I don't remember even making a list!  The world didn't end if we didn't get what we wanted.  Gifts were given from the heart.  (I still have that stuffed Panda - he was a wonderful surprise!)

Then...somehow, it was my turn to provide Christmas for my children!!
Christmas 1984 with Mary & Danny in Virginia
 While the kids were small, it was still easy.  I made my own decorations for the live tree, and we'd give the kids a few gifts.  We'd read the Christmas story and enjoyed the twinkly lights.  It was still magical!
Christmas 1986 - still in Virginia
Insert one of my favorite Christmas memories 
Living in Virginia and Danny was almost 4 years old.  We put the kids to bed on Christmas Eve after reading the Christmas story - and they were so full of excitement!  Finishing our "duties" and turning off all the lights, we also went to bed.  We woke before dawn on Christmas morning to a faint light coming from the living room and a soft little voice singing. I woke Dan (who sleeps like the dead) and we tiptoed down the hall to peek into the living room.  There was little Danny, sitting on the floor in front of the fully lit Christmas tree, singing "O Christmas Tree" with a look of pure wonderment in his bright eyes.  That memory captures the magic of Christmas for me!!
Living in Arizona - 1989
  Things stayed pretty much the same for those first several years.  We added the tradition of baking till our ears popped off and then delivering goodies and making visits the week before Christmas. We'd take the little ones to see Santa, ride around and see the lights, have a modest Christmas and our greatest joy was seeing the kids excitement.
Christmas morning 1992- Grandpa, Dan and Danny assembling the Foosball game.
 Then, as the kids started getting older, "the list" was introduced.  I don't remember whose idea it was, but it became customary after this for the kids to put together a "wish list" for Christmas.  The gifts were starting to get a bit more technical, as we now had cable TV and they could all watch and understand all the ads, DUH!
Visiting family - December 1992
 Our next Christmas we had a foreign exchange student living with us.  Trying to make things outstanding for her, we overdid it, and things have never been the same. 
Christmas 1993 - delivering goodies to a neighbor.
  (I look like death because I am VERY pregnant and VERY tired from all the baking!)
Christmas 1994 with Grandma Tyler and the top of Loren's head in front-oops.
 Here is where my memory gets fuzzy.  It seems like all of a sudden things got high tech and expensive.  Christmas wasn't so much about giving and surprising, but about getting what you wanted and trying to make sure all the kids gifts were even.
This is where Christmas started to feel like a chore.
Christmas 1996 in Southern Utah
 We were so busy running around to this concert or that party, to all the stores on the morning after Thanksgiving, and maxing out the credit cards, that I wasn't feeling "it" anymore.  I had more warm fuzzies the night Amelia and I got hot cocoa after voting in November than I did on Christmas morning.  I chalked it up to getting old.  Hmph.
Christmas 1997 - in our newly built house.
 Now, we had a fake Christmas tree because we didn't have time to go cut one down.  We still had Christmas devotionals each evening with a Christmas story, we still did too much baking, we still rode around to see the lights, and we still spent time with each other.  We also added decorating huge gingerbread men each year as a new tradition.
But, it was just so hectic and exhausting now!! 
Christmas 1999
 My father passed away shortly after Christmas in 1980, which always makes the Christmas season a little difficult for me.  So, I naturally attributed my apathy to that. (plus the age factor)  I had less children "believing" and I thought that was taking the magic out of Christmas too.  I loved all the family time - that felt sooo good.  But, I was having a hard time enjoying the holidays.  And, I was refusing to take part in Black Friday - cuz it made me crazy.

 Christmas 2002 - Rachel & Jessica
And that's where I find myself this year 
- trying to sort through doing what is important, and what's not.
So, here's to simpler times and getting back to them!   
I want to remember the things that matter and do them, instead of filling up all the emptiness we feel with gadgets, technology and expensive gift-giving.

This quote says it all:
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."  
~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Merry Christmas everyone!  
And I mean that! 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Gift from Shutterfly!!

'Tis the season of giving right?  
Well, Shutterfly is giving away free Christmas Photo cards!!

Yep!  it's true!  And, at a time when everything costs so darn much, this is really appreciated!
I used Shutterfly to order some photo cards when my daughter got married a few years ago.  I was so happy with the quality and service of Shutterfly!  Quality was outstanding - photos were true to color.  And I received my order so quickly!  It was wonderful!!

I'm now looking forward to using Shutterfly to :
*Order some Christmas photo cards - featuring some family highlights of the past year.
*Make and order some photo calendars for the extended family!   Click here:
*Announce the birth of a future grandchild (whenever that happens!)  Click here: 
My first project will be to create some awesome photo Christmas cards.  I can hardly wait to get started.  Shutterfly has SO many designs to choose from with many photo layout options.  What a great way to showcase our family members!!
My second project is to create some incredible photo calendars for my family - as Christmas presents.  I made some of these in the past and everyone wants another one this year!  They are wonderful keepsakes.  Again, Shutterfly has some great designs - It's going to be hard to choose just one!!
So, I encourage all of you to take a good look at Shutterfly and their products.  There is definitely something for everyone! 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Look What I Made...!!

From this...

To this!!!
A few years back, I persuaded Rachel to move into one of the basement bedrooms so that Mary could be upstairs near us.   The cost to me?  She got to decorate her new bedroom any way she wanted - new comforter, curtains, rug, bulletin boards, bathroom stuff and wall decos - with my help, of course.  
Rachel's bedspread of choice.
Well, she's a real trooper, cuz I haven't been able to hold up my end of the bargain too well.  We got the comforter - so cute - blue and brown and green big dots.  We repainted the bookshelf turquoise and all her picture frames too. 
It took me a year to get the curtains and shelves up.  The curtains needed tabs sewn on, and the shelves - well - we had to wait for the DAD.  
She also had this cute lamp in her bedroom. (see above)  I bought it because it had a nice base, but the shade was plainer than vanilla ice cream.  
(I have no idea why the above sentence is blue and underlined.  Crazy Blogger.)

So, First, I gathered my materials.
I was shooting from the hip, but I have lots of this stuff on hand - inherited from my mom.
You will need (besides the plain lampshade):
3-4 coordinating trim - lace or ribbon or both
Craft glue - permanent bond.  NO HOT GLUE!
Ruler * Pins * Old scissors(cuz you might get glue on them)
Old paintbrush or popsicle stick
Step one:  Experiment with where you are going to place your trim.  Measure out trim and cut pieces with an inch or two to spare.  
For your first row:  Working quickly so the glue doesn't dry, lay down a line of glue near the edge of the shade.  Smooth it with paintbrush or popsicle stick.  Lay down lace section with a little overhang on corners.
Repeat for each side, trimming corners (with old scissors) at edge and gluing corners down well.
 Repeat the process with the top row of lace.  Remember to glue down corners again.
Yep!  Looking good!!
Middle Row and bow:
Repeat process to attach middle ribbon on 3 sides.
For the remaining side - measure the width of the area you'll be covering.
 Next, cut two lengths of ribbon 3x the length of the above measurement.
Pin the end of each piece on a secure surface the desired (lamp shade measurement) length apart.
 With pieces secure, tie your bow and trim any excess.
 Attach ribbon with bow to the remaining side of lampshade.  Hold bow in place until glue dries.
Secure trimmed corners again with glue.
You are done!!
 I can't wait to see Rachel's face when she discovers what I made for her!!

P.S.  I'm not very good at this "make it and teach you how" thing.  If you have any questions, just write to me.  I'll try to help you out of the mess I got you into.