Holiday Happenings

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This post should probably be separated in to multiple posts, but I am trying so hard to get caught up on my blog and it’s just not going to happen any time soon if I don’t throw down a few big posts. So here are just some of our fun Christmas season activities.

The first Monday in December we put up the tree and put out our Christmas décor. I have so many lovely Christmas treasures but my home is just too small to put it all out. So I pick just a handful of items each year. One day I will have a home with enough space to showcase all my Christmas prizes. One day…

The children love decorating the tree. As per our tradition, our main Christmas tree only has star and angel ornaments (in memory of our sweet Jack.) The children had a “kid’s tree” downstairs that they decorated however they wanted.

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We put out a couple advent calendars this year with candy. We will be changing this next year as the candy didn’t last more than a week. Little Alec snuck candy every chance he got.

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Jass, our shelf elf, returned on December 1st. In our family Jass is very beloved. She symbolizes Santa’s love for our family and Santa symbolizes Christ’s love for all of us. Jass was pretty silly this year. She had a cold and was captured by villians and made snow angels in flour and many other fun things. But each Sunday morning she could be found kneeling at the Savior’s manger.

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We sent out Christmas cards. I love sending out cards. My rule is usually to only send a card to those who send a card to me, and then most family gets a card as well. But I do send out a few to some friends who don’t send them to me. FYI, we love getting Christmas Cards.

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The children helped me with a big Christmas present project. We made cousin memory games for all of Adam’s siblings and their families. It took a lot of time and was a lot of work but the children loved the project and it turned out great.

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Adam’s cousin got married early December. December weddings are so sweet and it was fun to dress the children up in Christmas-y outfits for the reception. Adam’s parents are serving a mission in Salt Lake right now so we see them fairly often.

We discovered that Alec really, really, REALLY likes Nutcrackers. He loves holidays so much. But he really LOVES Nutcrackers.

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Of course there has been lots of snow play this winter. We got ZERO snow last year. I mean I think it snowed like twice. This year had more than made up for it!

Megan even went skiing for her first time. She went with her school so I didn’t get any pictures of her in action but she had a BLAST!!!

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One day we busted out some gingerbread men. This was definitely a favorite activity.


Simple holiday pleasures are matching holiday jammies and getting dressed up for Christmas Sunday.

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We had a great experience visiting Santa this year. A dear friend directed me to the perfect location. There was no wait and no photographer selling pictures. We could take all the time we wanted and all the photos we wanted. Megan asked for “something beautiful and musical.” Jane asked for a Wii game, Super Mario Maker. Alec didn’t ask for anything, but he LOVED seeing and sitting with Santa. And Santa asked if he could keep Charlotte. Nice try big guy!

 

Our ward threw a great Christmas party. Megan and Jane were part of an angel choir and Megan was part of a hand bell performance. There was yummy food and fun activities and a great program.

Megan also had a school choir concert. She loves being a part of her school choir and this year she was in concert choir. We enjoyed going to listen to her perform as well as watching her feel the music through her dance moves…

 

We had a Christmas party and gift exchange with my sister and family. The children had a ton of fun with their cousins and loved dressing up for the nativity. The bigger kids also went ice skating which is a favorite of Megan’s.

Before we headed down to Vegas for Christmas, Adam took the older kids up to Salt Lake. He met up with his brother Josh and his family as well as his parents. They saw the lights at temple square and visited where Grandpa and Grandma are serving their mission.

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This was just a taste of all our pre Christmas vacation fun! We had a really wonderful holiday season.

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Thanksgiving 2015

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We had a great Thanksgiving in Vegas! There was…

football

capture the flag

a hike

lots and lots of yummy food

soccer

a museum

a cookie competition

games at the church

a birthday party

a visit to Jack

and lots and lots of fun with family.

I told the children that I wasn’t making extra food the entire trip and they had to eat what was available. It wasn’t easy for them (especially Megan) but she was SUCH A TROOPER and she even enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in her life. I love that girl and how hard she tries to overcome her challenges.

At the end of the vacation, we all watched a slideshow of the Thanksgiving fun that Tyler put together for us. All the children LOVED watching a video of all the fun we had together. We are already looking to next Thanksgiving ;)!

 

Jack’s 7th Birthday

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I didn’t even want to acknowledge Jack’s birthday this year. I just wanted to let it pass by without messages to heaven tied to balloons. Without “we miss him but know families are forever.” Because even though that is so so so true and even though most days aren’t so heavy with sorrow, this birthday fell on a time when I don’t feel so strong.

This year has been a difficult one for me emotionally. I have such a certain knowledge that Heavenly Father is mindful of my family and have a deep trust that he has a plan for us. But it seems like this year a lot of hopes and plans aren’t working out for us. And as much as I would happily move on to new hopes and plans, the future is so clouded that I don’t even know what to hope for. I keep telling myself, faith and fear can’t coexist. And so as the very faithful person that I am, I am finding myself also so fearful and am struggling to reconcile those two feelings. And it has me spread so thin. Like too little butter on a piece of toast. And so I just didn’t have it in me to “celebrate” the birthday of my deceased child.

But I have children who love their angel brother and who only know how to acknowledge his existence by sending balloons heavenward and grabbing dinner “somewhere he would have liked to go.” So like mothers do, I knew I had to put aside my sorrow and hurt and do what they needed to do. As much as I wanted to crawl into my bed and turn out the lights and lay there all dark and twisty, I knew it just couldn’t be done.

The children love their brother. Even Alec speaks of Jack. They had a great time sending him his balloons and I am grateful that they love him and have this connection with him. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is mindful of me. I know He knew this day would be a difficult one for me so he sent angels to uplift and carry me through. My in-laws had the balloons delivered to us. I didn’t even have to make any effort to go buy them. I didn’t have to have a sales clerk ask, “so whose birthday is it today?!” I had other friends drop off treats and goodies so they knew I was remembered. I got texts and messages. Jack and I weren’t forgotten.

I love my children so much. I love and miss my Jack so much. We’ve made it another trip around the sun without our boy. “Happy Birthday” sweet Jack.

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Halloween 2015

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I didn’t think I would be able to coordinate the children’s costumes this Halloween. Last year Megan and Jane had very specific and very non-coordinating requests. I LOVE coordinating them. But I’ve learned to let go of those hopes and dreams.

This year, however, Megan told me all she wanted to be was “a villain.” And Jane told me she wanted to be Glinda from The Wizard of Oz (and Wicked. She LOVES Wicked!) I asked Megan if the Wicked Witch of the West was a good enough villain and she said yes. Just like that my dreams of coordination were alive again!

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Megan is far too beautiful to be a wicked witch, but somehow she pulled it off.

Jane is so so so gorgeous and sweet. She was the perfect Glinda.

Alec LOVED his scarecrow costume. He love love LOVED it! He has only watched the movie once or twice but we have some Wizard of Oz dolls so he was familiar with it. He was the cutest scarecrow EVER. He couldn’t scare a soul!

And sweet Charlotte. She was the belle of the ball in her handmade Dorothy costume. She is so so so sweet and happy. There is NO PLACE LIKE HOME and when I with her, no matter where we are, I am HOME.

 

Megan wore her costume to school one day and we had a big ward Halloween party. On Halloween we went up to my sister’s house and the kids went trick or treating with their cousins. We had SUCH A GOOD TIME!

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I really don’t care much for Halloween, but dressing these kids up in costume has turned out to be one of my most favorite things ever. Happy Halloween from the Johos!

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BYU Football

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Adam was able to attend a handful of football games this season. For the first time in years we all went as a family. We had so.much.fun.

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The children all LOVE BYU football. They were so excited to get to experience the action in person.

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They did pretty good for the most part but we brought activities for when they got antsy.
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The games are long and are hard on those of us who have bad backs, but totally fun and totally worth it! This game was an intense one but the Cougars pulled it off. It was so exciting!
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BYU Football and General Conference

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My sister and her children and my mom came up to Utah the first weekend in October. Sarah’s family are huge BYU fans so they wanted to go to a BYU football game. Adam and Megan were more than happy to tag along! They had a great game and the Cougars pulled off a great victory!

 

Thanks to my sister who was able to get conference tickets, Megan was able to attend a session of General Conference in the conference center in Salt Lake the next day. She LOVED it. I am so glad she was able to go and experience conference so personally. She went with Adam, Sarah, my mom, Jamison (her first time too!) Bradley and Marshall (his first time too!!!)

I love love LOVED conference. I was totally unfamiliar with the three newly called apostles (Adam met Elder Rasband while on his mission) but I loved and sustained them immediately and whole-heartedly. I know the leaders of our church are called by God. Without a doubt.

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I love general conference weekend. This one was extra special because Megan was able to attend. Thanks for taking her Adam and thanks for making it happen Sarah!

First Day of the Fourth Grade

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Megan started 4th grade on August 19th. We went to back to school night the evening before and met her teachers. I knew immediately that they were going to be wonderful teachers for Megan.

She is continuing the Chinese Immersion program. Her best friend is in her class. She’ll be in choir again this year as well as PALS (the gifted program.) This is going to be a WONDERFUL year for her.

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