What a Christmas! It's been a wonderful, laid back, eventful and warm holiday for us! We'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
We had a group of 18 over to celebrate Christmas Eve with us. It was AWESOME to share our home with others, and having dear friends over made us miss our families a little less! For some reason, we never got a picture of everyone together. Maybe it was because I was kind of running around like crazy trying to get everyone what they needed! The meal turned out pretty good, and I really enjoyed attempting Chicken Noodle from scratch. But, I think it was my corn chowder that was the hit! You just never know what will be the favorite when our group was coming from 5 different countries (someone asked, "you don't eat rice?" when he saw that you just eat the soup plain, not over something). But, it was fun to see what people brought with them. We had a variety; from British biscuits to Sri Lankan fried fish balls!
Jane with Ashley (and George smiling on the couch). He and his brother call Jeff and I "Uncle and Auntie", and we love it. I honestly don't know if they know our real names, but it hasn't seemed to ever matter.
We love these sweet brothers, and were SO glad we got them for Christmas Eve! I even got to talk with their father on the phone while they were here, but unfortunately couldn't understand him very well with all the commotion!
After dinner, we pulled out the chimes and made a little music together. It was fun to try and put it together, and we did actually get pretty good by the last song!
Jeff has been working up a piece on his guitar that he and his dad used to play together years ago. It has been fun to have him practicing each evening, and it's brought a wonderful feeling of "home" to have live music in the house. He was a good sport and let me show him off a bit while everyone was here.
Elders Zufelt and Owens had to take off a bit early because of an appointment, but we were so happy they could fit us in!
George, Mary, and Diran. We could hardly get Jack and Diran to stand still long enough for this one. They really just wanted to be off on their own playing! It's amazing how language just doesn't seem to matter much with kids!
It was fun to watch who really got into the chimes and who sat back to watch. I think Manu and Rajesh really had fun playing all together.
Jane wanted to try Jack's Spiderman costume on first, and luckily, Jack was okay with this. She ran around the house shooting webs at everything. She's got the sound effects and everything.
Of course, Jack wouldn't share forever, he wanted a turn! Jack loved having Ben to rough house with, and we loved how exhausted Jack was when it was bedtime!
After most everyone left, our friends Ben, Sally, and Diana stuck around for more visiting and to help tidy up some. It was fun to have some one-on-one time with each of them.
Christmas morning. Check out those tired eyes! Jane was so stuffy in the night that Jeff watched half of Cinderella with her around midnight while her nose drained. It was a late night for us!
Christmas day, we intended to just drop by George and Mary's for a bit on our way to meet some friends for dinner, but because Jane had vomited all over us in the taxi on the way there, we ended up staying for a visit as well as to clean up before heading right back home! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that we got our kids in bed earlier than originally planned. I think we were all happier that way!
Getting a taxi (to George and Mary's) was taking so long this day, that the kids went in the office to watch cartoons. They did look super cute, but the events of the next 30 minutes changed that pretty fast.
It made our Christmas to visit with this sweet family. They were thrilled to have us, and rushed right out to buy ice cream, muffins, and drinks to serve us. It is so humbling to see them have so little, but give so willingly. The Elders showed up soon after we got there, and I'm sure by now, they are SO sick of us! I feel like we are constantly calling them for one reason or another!
Jack and Diran playing with Diran's new toys! Elders Mortensen and Olsen in the background.
Another tent using umbrellas, blankets, and our bedroom vanity. Even with new toys, it comes back to this!
Little girls wear high heels here all over the city! I've always been amazed how well they can walk, run, and play in them. Jane LOVES shoes, so I thought it would be fun for her to have some for her "dress ups" basket. She hasn't taken them off, and I'm sure she walks better in them than I would! She LOVED showing them off with her beautiful Tinkerbell dress! (Those are stickers on her head.)
Is she cheesy or what? I love those big, brown, eyes!
I don't know who was enjoying the new Legos more! Jeff's childhood dream of becoming a Lego engineer might still be in our future!
Jack was loving the idea of playing "shooters" with Daddy Christmas morning, although they were a little harder to work than I would have liked! That didn't seem to stop the enjoyment too much!
Also, if anyone was wondering, Jack DID get his bow and arrows from Santa. As shown previously in Jack's letter to Santa, he asked specifically for 13 arrows. Unfortunately, one of the reindeer got the munchies on the way over, so Santa could only deliver 12, but Jack seemed satisfied nonetheless.
We spent so much down time at home, we were aching to get out today, so we went bowling! Jane got SO excited each time the ball was rolled, even when it wasn't her doing it!
Heather and I had been planning to have Christmas dinner together for months, but everything changed when Heather called to say that Scarlett was in the hospital. She was extremely sick, and would probably be there for a while, and couldn't have visitors. Poor kid, as if this family hasn't been through enough already! We decided to come by for a visit when Scarlett was well enough to come home. This lucky girl came home from the hospital to find that Santa had left her a huge trampoline in her back yard!
In the tuk-tuk on the way to Scarlett's home.
Jim, Heather, and Scarlett (and Lola). What a great family. We have felt so blessed to have them as such dear friends.
Scarlett was the only one who would stand by the Christmas tree for me. She was a trooper tonight with all of us there. You'd never know she'd been in the hospital for the last 3 days!
We enjoyed breaking the trampoline in, playing "pass the parcel", exchanging gifts, and just a good visit. Jack was also loving this big fan that made him look like an extra buff Spiderman.
It's been another wonderful Holiday for us. It is fun to think of how our family has changed in just the last year. Jane is SO much older now, Jack is more mature (although still requesting the same thing from Santa!), and Jeff and I are realizing more and more what really matters to us this time of year. We have LOVED this extra time together, and are off tomorrow to enjoy what WE requested for Christmas: A trip to the Hong Kong temple.
It just hit me yesterday that we are actually going to be in a different country, with a new language, foods, and streets we have yet to navigate. This will be a fun and new experience for all of us, and I'm excited to do it with my favorite traveling companions! Wish us luck, and we wish you all a Happy New Year!