Friday, December 26, 2008

In A Manger

"In a Manger" was my theme for this year's Ward Christmas Party. This was the 3rd party that I've been in charge of since January, when I was called as the Ward Activities Chairman. I was on the committees for last year's Halloween and Christmas parties before being given the position. (NOTE TO SELF: If you don't want to be in charge, don't do a good job "helping".) *wink wink*
These are some of the highlights from the evening...

The outdoor railing was lighted, welcoming all who joined us for the occasion. The entrance through the overflow area into the gym was set up with tables filled with various beautiful nativity scenes.
The gym had enough seating for 200, and the tables were set up in a symmetrical diagonal pattern, so that everyone would be able to see the stage. The centerpieces for the tables were colorful nativity gift boxes filled with goodies for the children in the ward.A delicious traditional dinner was served by some of the men in the ward, consisting of: ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls, and jello salad. For dessert, we had my grandmother's recipe of Easy Chocolate Eclair, yum yum! After dinner, the primary performed a play I wrote, titled "In A Manger". It began with the older boys in the primary dressed up as Bible and Book of Mormon prophets who prophecied of the Lord's coming: Moses, Isaiah, Micah, Lehi, Nephi, Alma, and Samuel the Lamanite.
The older girls in the primary were the angel choir, singing joyous songs such as "Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus" and "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" and "Away in a Manger" in between narratives.
Then Joseph and Mary spoke of when the Angel Gabriel appeared to them, and what He said. Joseph took Mary on the donkey through the gym on his way to Bethlehem. (My homemade donkey was the hit of the evening. After the play was over, everyone wanted a ride! NOTE TO SELF: next time you make a wagon into an animal at a ward party, remember to charge a fee for all the children to ride and you'll make a fortune!!!) *wink wink*
The final scene in the play was acted out as the narrator read from Luke 2. There were angels, shepherds, sheep, oxen, a donkey, and a star, with Joseph and Mary in the stable. Then at the end, the prophets and angel choir joined the scene, and all the primary children sang "Shepherd's Carol" which just so happens to be Ammon's favorite Christmas song. "Mary, Mary, hush, see the child. Joseph, Joseph, look, see how mild. This is Jesus, this is our King, this is our Savior, His praises we sing!"

I chose the theme "In a Manger" for this ward party, because I feel that this simple phrase really speaks of Christ. He is a man who was born in humble surroundings and raised in a lowly environment, and yet He is our Master, our Redeemer. When He came to this earth, He had nothing except the love that surrounded Him. LOVE. Love from Mary, Love from Joseph, Love from all who came to adore Him. He was born in a humble abode, and yet He has the greatest power: He made it possible for us to have immortality and eternal life through His atonement. We are instructed to be more Christ-like. And we can do it: we can simplify our lives, we can fill our hearts with love, we can be people of integrity, we can choose to become like Him. He wants us to follow Him. He wants us to return to our Father, and He made it possible for us to do so, even from His very birth when his mother laid Him IN A MANGER.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Card

The Tolman Family
Christmas Countdown in...

10. Kala & Josh celebrated TEN years of marriage with a TEN day vacation to England & Scotland.

9. Josh coached NINE kids in Little League Baseball (Ammon included), Ammon got baptized on the NINTH of February by his dad, Kala made NINE bottles of a freezer jam, Kanyon played miniature golf on NINE holes, Jonah and Micah both checked out NINE books during the Library Summer Reading Program.

8. Ammon turned EIGHT in January, Josh has worked at the golf course for EIGHT years, Jonah and Micah were good in the hot car traveling for EIGHT hours during Summer Vacation, Kanyon stayed at Grandma P.'s house for EIGHT days, Kala has been blogging for EIGHT months, We have lived in Salmon for EIGHT years!

7. SEVEN places the boys like to play on a daily basis: the shop, the fort, the yard, the dirt pile, the mud, the ditch, the driveway (notice how they're ALL OUTSIDE?!!)

6. Kala has already directed SIX activities as PTO President, We went camping SIX times, Ammon got braces and then went to the Orthodontist SIX times, Jonah and Micah are just one of SIX sets of twins in our ward, Josh built SIX new fence panels for our yard, sometimes Kanyon sleeps SIX straight hours at night!

5. Jonah and Micah turned FIVE in September, We visited FIVE lakes this summer, Josh traveled to Boise FIVE times, Kala has been to group scrapbooking FIVE times, Ammon completed his FIFTH year of swimming lessons, Kanyon learned how to give High-FIVE!

4. Micah and Jonah go to preschool FOUR days a week, Kanyon uses the FOURTH controller to play Nintendo with his big brothers, We spent the FOURTH of July weekend with the Tolman Family in Salmon, Kala lived at the fair for FOUR days as Crafts Superintendent, Josh went to his FOURTH concert, Ammon got a new FOUR-wheeler.

3. We had a THREE day vacation at Fish Lake with the Perkins Family, Ammon started the THIRD grade, Jonah and Micah began their THIRD year of preschool, Kanyon said his first THREE word sentence: "here kitty kitty", Josh had golf meetings in Oregon for THREE days, We went swimming in THREE hot springs, Kala organized THREE ward parties.

2. Josh hunted a Buck with TWO antlers, Kala sang in the Salmon Idol Competition for the SECOND year, Jonah's TWO front teeth were removed, Micah ran away TWO times to visit Grandpa T. at the milk barn, Kanyon spent TWO nights in the hospital with c. dif., Ammon began his SECOND year of piano lessons.

1. Kanyon turned ONE in February, Josh started his FIRST year (of 3) on the School District Board, Kala took her FIRST airplane ride, Ammon met the Fisher cousins for the FIRST time, Jonah and Micah got their FIRST fishing poles from Grandpa P. and caught their FIRST fish with them!

from the Salmon Tolman Family

*Can you believe this is the first year that I've actually made my own Christmas cards? I made 48 of them, and it took me about seven hours-not including the time I spent coming up with the newsletter part. WHEW! Who knew making cards was so time-consuming? I'm just glad I completed them. I'm quite proud of my work, even if they weren't exactly what I had envisioned in my brain!*

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Hunt in the White December

Ever since we moved to Salmon 8 years ago, we've gone "hunting" for our Christmas tree. We usually go the day after Thanksgiving to a mountain that's about a mile from our house. We hike up a trail, then venture off onto the hillside searching for the "perfect" tree. This year our hunt was a bit delayed, and we didn't go until last Sunday. We took our whole crew, and were joined by Josh's two brothers Gideon & Malachi, Grandpa Tolman, and 2 of Malachi's friends.
When we were leaving the house, Jonah asked dad "Where is your chainsaw? We need a chainsaw to cut the tree down." Dad explained to him that the tree will be small enough to cut with a handsaw, not a giant tree like the ones that we cut up for wood with a chainsaw. This was the first year I've actually had the opportunity to hike up the snowy hillside--usually I'm on the trail with the youngest child, watching and waiting to see the cut tree that comes rolling down the hill reaching the ground before the boys.
This year I especially enjoyed spending time with Josh looking for our own skinny tree, while the boys hiked on with Grandpa and Uncle Gideon for theirs. We don't have much room in our small house this year for a big tree, so we chose one that was pretty lopsided, because we knew we could shove the naked side up against the wall to conserve space.
I absolutely love it, even with its imperfections. I am so grateful for this annual tradition of ours. And although we went later than I had originally desired, and even though it was very cold and snowy, we had a great time! Now we are finally ready for Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree Tree Tree

For our first Christmas together, Josh and I lived in Tremonton. We didn't have access to the forest like we do now to get our own tree, and we couldn't afford to buy one either (artificial or real). So instead I bought a 3-foot artificial tree, decorated it, put it on a pedestal, and placed the gifts under it on the floor. It was a pretty humble sight. Ever since then, we have had a real tree in our home for Christmas, but I came up with a plan for the small artificial tree. I let Ammon decorate it with his own ornaments when he was big enough to do so. A couple years after Jonah and Micah were born, I bought them little artificial trees to decorate with their own ornaments too. Next year, Kanyon will have a tree to decorate as well. They love to have their own personal tree to decorate; it makes them so happy! It also makes me happy because then I enjoy decorating MY big tree just the way I like it too!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You know you're a blogger when....

...on the first snowfall day of the year, you're taking pictures of your children and your son says to you "Call it 'Sledding'"!!!
"Call what sledding?" I asked.
"Your BLOG about us sledding" says Ammon.
So apparently, all our day-to-day activities that I photograph are being noted in my children's heads as future blogs!!!

We enjoyed the first snow day of the year last Saturday.
With creations of snow angels...

With dressing up head-to-toe in snow apparel...

With sledding on the hill and having dad pull the sled behind the 4-wheeler...

And topped off with a nice hot cup of cocoa to heat the soul from the inside out!
Hip Hip Hooray! Snow is finally here!
Now the kids are happy, for a white Christmas is near!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

5-Star Song

There is a song I've had in my head for a week now. It's a Christmas song that I heard a lot when I was younger, but I never hear anymore. It just entered my mind out of nowhere; I remembered a lot of the lyrics, and the entire tune. I can't stop singing it, so I wanted to share it with you. It's my favorite Christmas song other than O Holy Night.

"Beneath the Christmas Star" sung by Judy Collins

Children sleeping, Santa's keeping
Promises through the night,
Snow is falling, sleighbells calling,
Carols sung by candlelight,
Wrap the gifts, trim the tree,
Share love with family.

Open hearts, beneath the Christmas star,
There is love, beneath the Christmas star,
There is room for all to share in the joy,
Beneath the Christmas star.

People listen, snowmen glisten
In the light, the light of love,
Strangers meeting, friendly greeting,
Dollar in a needy glove,
Light the lights, trim the tree,
Share love with family

Open hearts, beneath the Christmas star,
There is love, beneath the Christmas star,
There is room for all to share in the joy,
Beneath the Christmas star.

There's nothing that makes my mood more alive than music. It's so powerful. I thought that if I put the lyrics on my blog then I would read them and sing them more often, and thus influence my mood to feel the Spirit of Christmas more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stuffed Thursday, Black Friday, Long Saturday

Every year, Josh and I rotate spending Thanksgivings between my family and his. This year it was my turn, which I was very excited for! We drove to Tremonton on Wednesday. That night when the kids were going to bed, we told my parents that we were going to see a late show in Brigham, but actually we drove to SLC and picked up my sister Tawna from the airport. It was a surprise visit from her, and since we got back to the house around 12:30am, she waited to surprise my parents until the next morning. My mom's facial expressions and response was hilarious!!! I was so glad Tawna came!!!
My contribution to the feast this year was home-baked Rhodes rolls, homemade freezer jam, and spaghetti noodle salad. The turkey was fabulous, the mashed potatoes and gravy done perfectly, and the array of stuffing, yams, salads, and finger foods were simply scrumptious. I love Thanksgiving! Mick & Jen and their girls and Cody & BreAnne also came over, and we enjoyed the day together with Katrina and Mom & Dad. Our tradition at Thanksgiving dinner is to go around the table and name one thing that we are thankful for. There were some colorful responses this year, which I won't go into, but the children's answers were priceless: Aspen said she was thankful for animals, Jonah said flowers, Micah said bikes, and Ammon said he was thankful for friends and family.
After dinner, we played card games, ate delicious pie, and then watched home videos for hours and laughed and laughed. It was truly delightful!!! We had such a lovely day, and I was thankful that my mom and dad were able to host us all, and especially glad to see my dad doing so well! I had a great day with my family, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Friday morning, Josh and Tawna and I were up early and headed to WalMart in Brigham at 4:15am. I saw several people I knew from my high school days--how ironic is it that the only day a year I see people I know from my past also happens to be the morning I don't shower and am without a ballcap to wear?!!! I actually enjoy participating in Black Friday every other year when we go to Utah; it's so nice to have my mom home with the children, and have the opportunity to spend a few hours to do kid-less shopping, regardless of the amount of people that are out. I think it's fun! This year, the Wal-Mart employees were numerous and nice. It was a pleasant experience, and we got everything on our list. We headed over to Logan after that for more stores, more shopping, and some breakfast, and we were back home by 9:30am. The day was spent relaxing and hanging out in the quiet house. Well, at least it seems quiet after everyone else leaves! I love that my parents have a basement, because my boys play downstairs and the main floor is so calm. It's so nice--unlike my own one-level house! My mom got a gingerbread house kit and she helped the twins put it together. I thought it turned out so cute!!! My mom is always so great at coming up with activities to do together with the children, and I really appreciate that about her.
That night, we had a girls night out (we missed you Tabbi). The sisters and sils and my mom went to dinner and then we saw Twilight. And I LOVED it!!! I thought Edward was portrayed a little more stand-offish in the movie than the book, but other than that, I thought it was pretty accurate and done well. I loved Bella, and I loved the Cullen Clan, and I absolutely loved Bella's dad whom I didn't like in the book. I can't wait for the next one!!! We had a real laughter-bonding evening together!
On Saturday, we headed back to Salmon, with a stop in Pocatello at Tiffany's house (Josh's sister). Josh's family was meeting us there after moving his grandmother. We had a great time with Tiffany's family. Ammon played the wii with his cousins, and the twins loved playing with the cousins' giant castle toy, and Kanyon was thrilled to be out of his carseat.
I enjoyed being with Scott and Tiffany and their kids for a little bit before Kathy and Edward, Gideon, and Malachi and his friend Lacey joined us for dinner. We had a nice dinner together and were treated to dessert as well. I was so grateful for Tiffany for coordinating it all and for letting us have such a nice long stop at their home.
We got home to Salmon that night around 9:00. It was a long day, a long trip, and a long week, but we are so happy that we visited our families and also happy to sleep in our own beds once again!