Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jared's Thoughts on Santa

(First attempt, apparently created with his friend Connor)
If you ask me "Christmas" is the best time of the year.  When else do we get to sing songs about a big fat guy, open presents around a dead tree, and eat candy out of a big sock. Merry Christmas

(Second attempt)
What about Santa?
There's not a lot to write about Santa. I mean Christmas is fun and all, but how did we get from the birth of Christ. To a big commercial racket. I mean, we can only celebrate one thing at a time. It's like the scripture "you can only serve one master." I just get confused. Where do the lights come in? Who came up with giving presents to each other? And why do we celebrate Santa and Jesus at the same time.

(Mother's note: He does actually know the answer to all these questions, he is just being a 13 year old, as if that wasn't obvious from his first attempt, and I love it!)

Clarissa's Thoughts on Santa

Hi, Santa
I think you are pretty cool, you come every year, you eat milk and cookies, and you bring gifts to every one, you are jolly, you have reindeer!! I don't know many people with reindeer, you are smart, and I like you but the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus Christ but I love both of you a lot, and you can fly!!
P.S. I love my family too.
From Clarissa

(I love the picture of Santa and Jesus checking each other out, hehe)

Jen's Thoughts on Santa

Being that my birthday is in December, I have always loved Christmas.  It is by far my favorite holiday.  There are other people with December birthdays who don't like getting their gifts close together or having the house decorated for Christmas on their birthday, or dread the combined Christmas/birthday gift, but honestly, I don't mind any of it.  So as I get older each year I find myself wondering why I am so stressed about Christmas and why I seem to like it less and less each year.  Well, this morning in the shower (which is where I do all my pondering on life as it is the only place where I am alone), I had an epiphany that hit me like a cup of hot chocolate on a really snowy day, it warmed me from head to toe, or maybe that was just the hot shower.  Anyway, here it goes...the things I love about Christmas are that it is a time of loving and giving, of focusing on making others happy and of surprising them with secret acts of kindness.  I don't know why it has taken me 36 years to realize this, (I know it's almost 37, but that is still 10 days away and I haven't come to terms with that yet) but two of our countries most treasured Christmas traditions, namely the Letter to Santa or Christmas Wish List and sitting on Santa's lap are the culprits of what is ruining the Spirit of Christmas.  If Christmas is supposed to be about giving then why do we train our children from birth to focus on asking for gifts instead.  The whole purpose of the Letter to Santa and waiting in lines at department stores (that should have been the clue right there) to sit on Santa's lap is to tell him what we want.  I mean, have you ever heard Santa ask a child what they are going to give this year?  And yes, we do take our kids to see Santa (as evidenced by the picture above), but only because I feel it's my parental duty as it makes the kids happy, but I sit there cringing the whole time wondering what they are going to ask for that they might not get.  So, I am going to say it...I don't like Santa; or at least not the Santa that he is today.  I love the St. Nick of old who gave freely to those who would otherwise go without on Christmas Day. 

In my opinion the best gifts are those that we don't ask for, but are given as a surprise from someone who knows us and has put some thought into what we might like.  The two best Christmas gifts I have ever received were a keyboard from my parents and a clarinet from my children (see picture above, and yes, those are happy tears), neither of which were gifts I had asked for.  Both gifts were ones that were given with thought and love.  As a child, I was raised not to ask for gifts, but to always be grateful when they were given and the idea of returning a gift was not one I even knew existed.  In the beginning of our marriage when the kids were young, it was easy to just give them something we knew they would like and then Christmas was about giving.  However, as they got older, fell into the commercialism trap and in response to family members that would ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" they got the idea of making a Christmas Wish List.  And it's not all the kids' fault, I've noticed that in the last couple of years that we have actually sat them down and said, "Ok, what do you want for Christmas?" and then we have been surprised when they weren't focused on giving to others, but on what they wanted.  In our family, one way we have tried to lessen the commercialism is to say that they are getting 3 gifts, one from Santa, one from mom and one from dad and that these 3 gifts represent the 3 gifts the wise men gave to Baby Jesus.  After all, that is the reason we give gifts at Christmas, is it not?  When did we go from getting a couple simple gifts like a doll or a rocking horse to each child having a long Christmas list and the pressure to buy them everything on the list, not to mention that the gifts seem to be getting more and more expensive and complicated (aka. electronic) as the years progress.  This practice is either setting our children up for disappointment when they don't get everything they want or creating overindulged brats who do get everything they want.  I believe that one's birthday is the one day of the year when you can expect to be showered with gifts and focus on oneself, but that is just not what Christmas should be about.

Although we always try to find ways to make the Christmas season special by making cookies for our friends, making homemade gifts, and providing gifts for children in need, it just isn't enough.  Therefore, although I cannot completely undo all the damage done over the years for this Christmas, I can take the liberty to make a few resolutions before the new year.  I resolve that next year our children will make a What Gifts Will I Give This Year list, instead of a Christmas Wish List.  I resolve to teach them that when they sit on Santa's lap and he asks them what they want for Christmas to respond, "A surprise would be nice and what kind of cookies do you like?"  I resolve that when family members ask what the kids want for Christmas, I will give them some ideas of what I think the kids might like, but not a list that needs to be filled.  I hope that our older children will notice a difference as we focus more on giving and that our younger children will grow up really believing that selflessness and a love for all mankind really are, in the words of Linus, "what Christmas is all about."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Six Months

 November 6, Playing on the floor with Sissy.  Seth really enjoys all his siblings and loves to be near them.
 October 30, We started using cloth diapers.  We have 10 of these green Coolababy diapers, we'll see how it goes.
 November 7, Enjoying a nice warm fall day outside while mom reads Calico Bush to all the kids.
 November 13, Seth's first time with a babysitter.  Of course, it had to be Auntie Heather.  He did great, he slept most of the time.
 We think it is funny how many camo clothes this kid has, especially considering we didn't buy any of them.
 November 16, Hanging out with his siblings while they play the Wii.  There have been so many times this month where I put Seth down with his toys and then when I go to check on him, he isn't there! Instead I find him hanging out with his siblings, he loves it.
 November 17, Some Daddy time! Seth doesn't seem to mind too much that Daddy is growing out his beard. 
 November 20, Twins! Everyone comments about how much these two look alike.
 November 21, Seth has started making this silly sound where he stretches out his neck and sounds kinda like a wookie. I think he does it because it makes us laugh.  He has also started fake coughing because it gets our attention, that makes us laugh too.
 November 22, First Thanksgiving.  Seth is spending more time in his high chair playing with toys as he likes to be where we are when we are eating.  On Thanksgiving we let him try some new foods like potatoes, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.  Some fun we have with Seth at the table is that we come up with a reason to clap our hands ( made us this great meal today) or anything silly and then on the count of three we all clap loudly and it startles Seth and he gets big huge eyes until we stop.  We think it's hilarious and we usually do it several times at dinner just for fun.
 November 25, This is his newest silly face.  He scrunches up his eyes and shows his gums while smiling.  We just love it!
 November 25, Jared pulled out his old Santa suit from when he was a baby and put it on Seth and it fits!  We got all the Christmas decorations put up before dad left for China.  Isn't he just too cute for words?
 November 29, Seth is 6 months and loves to eat mashed food (except for pea soup), so we thought we would give him some Cheerios.  It took him a little to get used to them, but after just a couple he got the hang of it and loves them.
After a month of cloth diapering, we love it, so we are trying out some other brands of diapers, aren't these cute?  Oh, and there's that silly face again!  Seth likes to play on the floor either sitting up or lying on his tummy, which is also how he sleeps.  Sometimes he pushes up so high like this that he falls over on his back, but he doesn't know how to roll back over yet so he just kicks around and yells like an upside down turtle.  I keep finding him like that in his bed after a nap or in the middle of the night when he wakes up.  So, it's been a great month.  He still isn't sleeping well at night (we started sleep training to help him fall asleep on his own, but it's a slow process), but nursing is starting to go better and he is really happy a lot of the time now, so that's good.  He even recognizes the camera and knows to start smiling when he sees it. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Many Faces of Halloween

 Clarissa is a colorful witch.
 Instead of a family theme this year, we focused on faces. Jared designed and painted everyone's eyes. Clarissa has spider webs.
 Krystal, the jazz dancer.
 She wanted something flowery.
 Amber is a peacock.
 We all had fun painting her peacock tail.
 Seth is a monkey and I am his tree.
 Jared has known since last year that he wanted to be a ninja and he designed and made his whole costume.
 Complete with weapons and everything.
 Here we are at the ward Trunk or Treat.
 The girls with their friends.

Another shot of Amber's peacock face painting.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Five Months

 October 4, He won't take a pacifier, but every once in a while he finds his fingers.
 October 9, Tired and enjoying some Daddy cuddle time while Dad is home for lunch.
 October 12, Dressed for fall in plaid shirt and overalls.
 October 12, Hanging out with Bubby at the campfire party for his 13th birthday and trying to figure out how to play with this toy.
 October 14, Seth often tries to get his whole fist into his mouth.
 October 14, As Seth and mom struggle through some breastfeeding issues, there are several opportunities for Dad to give Seth a breastmilk bottle.  He had no problems taking a bottle the first time.
 October 16, Seth has been trying to eat our food for a couple weeks now, so we finally gave him some rice cereal.  He loved it and had no problems eating it all. He was even trying to grab the spoon to feed himself.
 October 16, Ready for bed after hanging out with Dad while he works on the computer. At this point, we are still rocking him to sleep every night.
 October 18, Um...So Cute!
 October 18, Talking to the camera. :)
 October 23, Well...there comes a time in every baby's life when you have to cut the apron strings a little shorter.  Today was that day for Seth as he moved from the bassinet in our bedroom to the crib in Jared's room.  (On a side note: I looked long and hard for a crib set that would match his favorite "magic" blanket that he always sleeps with.)
 October 24, Sitting up! Seth has reached so many milestones in his short life and today is just another one as he masters sitting up all by himself.  He looks surprised at his own accomplishments.
 October 25, Everyone always asks us if he is teething because he often has these two fingers hooked in his mouth.  We don't think he is, it's just his style!
 October 29, 5 Months old and getting love from Sissy.
October 29, 5 months old has brought many new adventures (like lots of drool :)) We look forward to the many more adventures yet to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Creative Juices Are Flowing

     October 9, Self portraits as we listen to baroque music as part of a unit study about the 1600s.
 October 12, Homemade campfire pizza (the best pizza ever) for Jared's 13th birthday party.
 October 12, A Jared and Clarissa original performance of a Punch and Judy puppet show.
 October 18, Making clay pots while Mom reads, "The Courage of Sarah Noble."
 October 18, Celebrating "National Chocolate Cupcake Day" by dipping chocolate cupcakes into chocolate ganache.
 I have been using coconut oil in all my cooking lately, in everything from this to-die-for ganache to popcorn to homemade barley bread to super-good-for-you carrot muffins. Yum!
 October 23, Creative clothing layers and cute jack-o-lantern pizzas make this lunch a hit!
 October 24, Sprouted lentils are the main ingredient in this vitamin packed stir fry that also includes mixed greens from the garden, fresh garlic, cabbage and chicken all fried in coconut oil and seasoned with homemade curry seasoning.
 Everyone loved this dish, once I reassured them that the lentils wouldn't keep growing in their tummies.
 October 22, Finished clay pots, with lids!
 October 22, the kids and I made these braided "rug" pot holders out of old T-shirts.
 October 24, A preview of Amber's Halloween costume, we painted this peacock cape.
 An experiment in fall gardening: some beds are covered in straw, others in oak leaves, and in others we planted cover crops to maximize the earth's resources and possibly extend our growing season while providing food for our chickens.
 October 24, Krystal learned how to embroider on Monday and has been working on her designs every day since. These are her butterflies.
 October 24, Clarissa continues with her talent of embroidering.
October 24, We have been working on puzzles (like this one of the Salt Lake Temple) while Chris reads "Percy Jackson" in the evenings before bed.

It has been a difficult month of many breastfeeding issues and a baby that isn't sleeping well, but as we look back on some of the fun things we have done, we remember the good times.