Sunday, December 30, 2012

christmas: a month long travelogue

christmas is pretty much the greatest and we all know it. there are always a bajillion things we MUST do and even more things we MUST EAT and we run around like crazies and if we don't do it, christmas is ruined. and if we do all this with our kids, EVEN BETTER!

since everyone loves a travelogue, here's a travelogue! it's my gift to posterity!

scarlett was in a christmas parade for her cheerleading class. she was by FAR the best. naturally. she is so funny and sweet and very serious about doing the moves properly.

we saw the requisite amateur yet nearly professional incredible light show.

and it cooled off enough that i was able to bust out my fur trimmed sweater! hurray! low 50s!

thomas surprised me with my present early. i told him that for my gift from him, i wanted to go a on a bunch of dates. so, for the first date we went to red robin as a family whilst my new car stereo was installed. double whammy surprise!!! my CD player in my car has been dead for a while so i have been stuck listening to the radio and radio music is 95% terrible with the occasional styx song thrown in. i inhaled my bleu ribbon burger whilst thinking of all the great albums i could start listening to again instead of punching the radio tuning buttons until my fingers bleed.

since we decided to go to georgia for christmas day, we wrote letters to santa and asked him to visit our house on the 21st. he obliged. 

reagan had 1 doable request(and plenty of absolutely ridiculous requests): epic mickey 2. also, he has a fascination with neon signs and memorizing the opening and closing times for stores so we surprised him with his own neon sign. 

he also loves to put on puppets shows, so grandma sandy surprised him with his own puppets.
*note the gross old t-shirt he decided to wear as pajamas this night. i asked reagan to help me pack his bag for our trip and he ended up with one shirt and 5 sets of pajamas. go figure. we had to buy another shirt in georgia and rotate while the other was in the wash.

it's nice when you can actually guess properly on a gift.

scarlett mostly wanted repeats of what she already had. dolls and art supplies. but we were able to guess correctly with a barbie pool.

*scarlett eschewed traditional warm pajamas and wore a gross, stinky workout top of mine. 

athena blythe was the only one in actual pajamas and she liked ripping paper. 

on actual christmas eve in georgia we read the nativity story and wore actual pajamas.

and we opened a few more presents the next morning.

and this cute baby mastered hand to mouth feeding.

christmas dinner was spent at huddle house in middle of nowhere georgia on our way back home.

thomas and i had yet another date and saw jack reacher. thomas is a big michael connelly fan and a big tom cruise fan plus he got to sit next to me so this was his best night ever.

and when the fun was over, the laundry hag showed up. she's a little known and completely unappreciated member of the santa's crew. she trails behind santa a few days and spends an entire day griping and picking up laundry and shoving it in a black garbage bag because every single other laundry receptacle was full to bursting. 
merry christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

fresh courage take

scarlett's kindergarten class had their class christmas party today and i was there helping out the room mother with the treats and crafts. it wasn't until i left the school after the party that i heard the terrible news about the tragic school shooting in connecticut this morning. i spent the rest of day reflecting upon the wonderful and safe setting that my dear daughter was able to enjoy in her class and contrasting it with the horrors those poor children at sandy hook elementary school had to experience. and by reflecting, i mean putting on a brave face for my kids whilst i surreptitiously wiped tears from my face because every time i thought about it, i felt like i was falling apart. 

because of the terror and the evil was displayed today, i am reminded of how much i still need to learn. strengthening our families is the only thing that will combat this evil. we have to hold our families even closer and tighter. we must make educating and protecting our children from physical and spiritual dangers an even greater priority. we must take advantage of every opportunity to speak kind and loving words to one another. we must put aside grudges and forgive actual and perceived slights. when i think of how short so many innocent lives were cut today, i can't imagine wasting any more time dwelling on insignificant things when there is so much service that needs to be rendered and relationships to be strengthened. 

i thought thomas' facebook post from today was especially poignant:

"Today I outlined the words to a personal Facebook post. I wanted to post about my experiences as a high school football player, how the sport transformed me from a chubby, picked-on, sarcastic, know-it-all (why did I get picked on?) into a believer. A believer in the power of hard work, discipline, teammates and, ultimately, myself. I wanted to post about how proud I am that the institution that allowed me to become a believer is competing for the highest football honor (a state championship) tonight in Atlanta and how my undying loyalty to that institution compels me to drive three hours one-way to cheer that institution on to victory. Pretty self-indulgent stuff. But given the tragedy of today, such a post just doesn't seem that important right now. My faith and my love of my family keep pulling my emotions and thoughts back to people I don't know who today suffered immeasurable losses to an unspeakable horror. So in lieu of my thoughts, I instead invite all of you reading this post to offer a sincere prayer to your Father in Heaven, a prayer of gratitude for what you have and of comfort for those who have suffered such terrible losses today. Then, follow those prayers up with actions, Christ-like actions that make the world better. And, I'll leave you with a quote from fictional Coach Eric Taylor of the Friday Night Lights TV Show (my fave), since its seems to apply to both high school football and to all of us as we reflect upon the tragic events of today: "God, give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives... fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts... that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves.""

i am grateful for my family and the gospel of Jesus Christ. His gospel is perfect. it is the only thing that will give us peace and understanding in a world of turmoil. i know that though difficult times may arise, there are brighter days ahead. 

"My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith." -Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, December 02, 2012

dia de gordo y gracias

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie

for thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to have a TON of people visit us for the holiday. this is the first time this has actually happened. no one visits us(except you NATALIE that one time). which has it's perks. our garage never has to be that organized. 

grandma sandy was our first visitor and she was able to attend stake conference with us the next morning. 
unfortunately, we arrived an hour late for the service and it wasn't even our stake's meeting. somehow we missed the memo about the accurate starting time. but it totally explains how we scored such a sweet parking spot. plus, since my mom was in town we got to feel extra stupid. fortunately, we still got to hear a great, but somewhat abbreviated message. my favorite quote was, "we are like a block of marble becoming a beautiful sculpture. we must chip away the things that are not us to find who we really are."

grandma had m&ms for each kid and they sat as far away from us as possible. it was like a mini-date for thomas and me.

we got to spend several days with just grandma sandy. it is such a treat to be with her. she is one of those people who loves to serve. she just simply does. she finds things to do and does them. we put together almost all of our thanksgiving dinner the day before. there was no panicky screaming(related to thanksgiving prepartions)!

next to arrive was aunt heather, uncle daniel and baby cousin june. 

heather was quite the funster. my favorite activity was the cheerleading lesson scarlett gave heather and me on the tramp. heather was put in time out several times. and i won't even mention the set of keys that got misplaced and as soon as we got back from the dealership to pick up a replacement set, the original set turned up. no need to say anything about that here. 

ebony and ivory. 2 generations.

my brother mark rode a bus from NYC to south carolina. it was such a great experience that he bought a plane ticket for the return trip. i am so glad that he came. i don't know if i would have ridden a bus down my street, let alone 12+ hours to just sleep on my couch.

we also had my uncle sherm and aunt susan and their kids came for thanksgiving too.
i look at my darling cousin cami and i think, if i could have been half as put together as she is i wouldn't have spent so much of my high school years locked in my room writing poems about unicorns and working on not breathing exclusively through my mouth. 

plus, thomas' mother, my sister-in-law lauren and her two kids came too and round the group out to a nice even 17. they were good sports to put up with the chaos.

then we ate. and ATE!
instead of a traditional thanksgiving dinner we had mexican food, which is pretty much my all-time favorite. at least i was happy and that is what is important. it was the dia de gordo y gracias(the day of fat and thanks)!

and then wackiness ensued.

and manners flew out the window!

i am grateful for family!

and  naps!

and more naps!

later that night, reagan performed a thanksgiving-themed puppet show slash musical.

then we tortured extended family members with beck family home movies from the mid-90s. and they were ugly. being a perpetual nerd kept us from all the hazards and perils of popularity. thank goodness.

but my personal highlight was when the group sing along commenced. seriously. this is a beck family tradition. we can't walk by a person playing the piano without the hankering to bust out in a disney themed sing a long. if only we had the phantom of the opera songbook!!! regrets!

mark and i created a day after thanksgiving 5k. we found the biggest hills in my neighborhood and ran up them at full speed. which was about 2 steps above a slow walk on a stomach full of mexican food.

i'm a gazelle.

we both came in first place.

and then after all the the "real" adults went home, i felt like we were just a bunch of kids hanging out in a really messy house. 

my new favorite picture:
mark thought he was being funny by kicking scarlett's doll out of her stroller. scarlett made him rectify the situation.

fake adults masquerading as real adults. after this picture, reagan threw up all over my car.

poor marky was the best help around my house. i don't think he realized that his vacation would include running errands and helping out with my kids. 

we even gave him the flu. i got a text the morning after he got back home asking if i was barfing too. affirmative good buddy. (athena is playing with industrial size bag of wipes and a string of broken christmas lights. i was encouraging creativity.) 

then scarlett was lucky enough to get it too. and also threw up in my car.

and that was the thrilling conclusion to our holiday.