On Christmas Eve, it is a family tradition to have luminaries lighting the way for the Christ Child.

Our tree on its last day of glory. It has been a beautiful tree. There is a tree farm in Alpine so it was very fresh.

Jane post- unwrapping in the leftover Christmas carnage. She got Dora's backpack and it has hardly left her body.

Colin showing the new ax that Santa brought him from Poland (clever Santa!) Both Colin and Jane got their own tool sets along with many, many other things. We should have taken better advantage and not gone overboard on gifts. Our kids were totally delighted just by their stockings. We do have very large stockings however, big enough for Santa to give me a 2 liter of Coke Zero, over two pounds of yerba mate, a big bottle of salsa Lizano and at least two grapefruit. Very, very clever Santa, he knows me well.

We had a very fun day. We went to our church and Brian put together a little carol service. We think it is sad that Mormons do not have the tradition of going to church on Christmas, so we are doing what we can. (Mormon congregations have their Christmas service the Sunday before Christmas.) In England, the Mormon Church my parents attended additionally did a carol service on Christmas Day. It was nice to just get together for something simple. No refreshments, just simple worship through music. I totally cheated by sitting in a corner with my kids and letting Colin watch his new Christmas movie on the portable dvd player. It kept him in one place and I was able to sit in the service as a gift to myself.
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On Christmas Eve, my Mom tried to have a little live Nativity with the grand kids. She put together some very sweet costumes, but staging such an event with a 3, 2, and 1 year old got a little crazy. (There were some older kids too and they behaved very well). At one point, Jane, playing an angel, stole baby Jesus from the manger and ran away laughing. I wish we had video of it, but I did get the two photos above. Mary was not happy about it and started wailing. Jane is turning into a very big tease and loves to take things. I partially blame Jane's love of Dora and her exposure to Swiper the Fox.

Mary and Baby in happier times, pre-abduction.

At one point Mary had to add a stroller to the manger scene.

My mom was a little frazzled by the end, proclaiming "well, you all know the ending". When the Wise Man brought a gift, Mary and Joseph had a little struggle to control the offering. Colin played Joseph and was very sweet (before the Wise Man gift). He has very much gotten into the story of Christmas this month, thanks to all the great Christmas books we have been reading. A couple of times I have heard him playing on his own and making mangers for baby Jesus.
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For the benefit of family who have not seen baby Mia recently, she is pretty darling.

A recent tea party with Nana. Since this Curious George tea set has been so well loved by my kids, Nana is getting a new one for Christmas. It is a darling set, and we have had many, many lemonade tea parties. Colin was so funny when we got the new tea set. We ordered it on amazon (thank you amazon prime!) and Colin "helped" me open it. I told him it was a surprise for Christmas and not to tell Nana. The thought of not telling her was too much, he rushed to tell her he knew a surprise and at one point could not help himself and blurted out "Curious George Tea Set!". She did not hear him and with the initial excitement over, we may be safe. My mom does not look at the blog so I feel pretty safe here. We are getting very excited for Christmas this week.
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My Dad would have turned 74 today. We miss him a lot. Fairly soon after he died I was talking to the nurse who attended us when Jane was born and her consoling words about losing a parent were that it only gets harder. I understand that better now. It is sweet because Colin really talks about him a lot and has memories of sharing hot dogs and chocolate milk with Papa Mike. They were very sweet little friends. A happy toddler in the house made his last couple years a little brighter.

To celebrate his birthday, I had Brian restore this old photo and framed it for my mom. We like it because there is mischief in his eyes. Judging on the amount of hair, he was probably still a teenager, the teenager my mom fell in love with (they were high school sweethearts). We tried to take my mom out to dinner tonight but she was tired (she works at the Church Museum on Mondays) so the better gift was for us to leave and give her a quite house.

Brian was tipped off by our neighbors about the Utah Symphony's Here Comes Santa program today. I had noticed it in the program from when Brian sang with the Utah Symphony two weeks ago but did not really think about it. (Brian sang the tenor solos in Haydn's Creation. It was lovely, such a great piece. We liked having a job at home, very novel.)
I brought the wrong lens for low light, but above are Colin and Jane before the symphony started, Jane in motion, of course. It was great to take the kids to somewhere Daddy has worked to try and put it in context for Colin. For awhile when I was pregnant with Jane and Brian had a few concert gigs that we stayed home for, Colin thought Daddy's work was to sing on airplanes. He knew his job was singing but since we were always taking him to the airport, singing on airplanes made sense to his then 2 year old brain.

Colin's face does a good job at summarizing our experience. He was very thirsty about half way into the concert. It got a little crazy. Thankfully I had some Mentos in my purse that got us through. Thanks Mentos, the Freshmaker.

Probably the best part, Santa! A really good Santa! Colin was so excited and told him he wants a light saber. We told Santa we would leave him some cookies. I am much happier to take our kids to see Santa at the Symphony than at a mall, seems appropriate for children of the arts. (Not that we don't go to malls, we go to malls way too much when we are traveling as a source of entertainment, just happy to support the Symphony.)

The little guy next in line is really great too.

We will have to try and make this an annual tradition, depending on our travel schedules.
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Colin had his first school program this week. He was very cute and proud of himself. Above is a photo of Colin re-arranging the chairs upon arrival so he can have a blue one. Jane is on the far left. She went right to the front to sit with the kids. She probably would have stayed there but Brian brought her to sit with us when the program started. 18 month old Colin would not have stayed in one place like Jane does.

During the program, Colin needed his pants to become shorts. I am also amused by the 3 year old nose picking.

Colin and Mrs. Sarah. He was always very excited to talk in the microphone. He did a countdown from 10 for a blast off. He has easily been able to do this for months and months but when another kid yelled out 4 out of order, it got a little crazy. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 5, 3, 5, 2, 1, blast off!

Colin got to show us his science project about the planets. Pluto was his favorite. His teacher told us he was quite interested in how planets rotate but stay in the same orbit. She said he asked LOTS of questions about this detail. We have been happy with his first preschool experience, and they have been very nice and flexible with us. Go Colin!
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I found this hairless Playmobile guy paying his respects to baby Jesus. The nativity is by my very talented folk artist sister-in-law. Sorry to post this so late, I think she is doing a give-away on her blog and the end date was today. Her work is very great.

Colin saw me taking photos and re-posed the Playmobile guy so he could smile for the camera and brought some cars to the manger. Brian commented that it is a drive-in nativity. The whole scene reminded me of the Mr. Bean Christmas special, which I showed to Colin today (thank you you tube!). The Mr. Bean Special had Colin asking if there were dinosaurs when Jesus was born. I'm too tired to link to the video, but look it up when you get a chance. The first 5 minutes are all you need, then it is all about Mr. Bean getting a turkey on his head. Mr. Bean's Christmas has been one of my sister's family traditions. One year my young nephew, inspired by Mr. Bean's Christmas morning dance, knocked over the Christmas tree.

Colin is looking very rough these days, thanks to a very naughty child in the McDonalds Playland. Colin was very upset, and the grandparents of the child who did the scratching were horrified. (Naughty child did not want to share one of the cars that are part of the play structure.) We have been practicing with Colin to yell "no scratching!" and "no hitting!" to hopefully help him scare his attacker and get adult help in the future. Poor little guy! Hope he heals quickly.

Jane had some great bed head this morning. Here she is, in motion, attacking the tree.
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Our talented friend Leah is teaching art classes for kids. Sadly, Colin missed last week due to his bout with bronchitis (Brian was out of town on a gig, my kids almost always get sick when Brian is gone). Here was the first week's class of snow flake mobiles. It was a very cute class. I proudly hung his work in the kitchen window.

We have a total parental rite of passage this week: the preschool Christmas Program! He keeps coming home with (washable) blue paint on his clothes in preparation for the program but he is not telling me much. Should be fun.

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We were the recent lucky recipients of Brian's grandparent's high chair. They had offered it to us before and I tried to figure out how to take it apart to fit in our small car but to no avail. Brian's aunt and uncle traveled from Boise to SLC a few weeks back, had room for it and brought us this piece of family history. Brian's dad, the oldest of five kids was the first in this high chair, and I am sure countless grand kids and great grand kids have taken their meals here. I did not want it just given to good will, and it really is in great shape. We are happy to have it in our home.

Jane was eating Thanksgiving leftovers. A couple days after the big meal, Brian made turkey soup and I made sweet potato gnocchi to eat in the soup. It was very, very tasty. We almost liked our left overs more than the first meal.

Jane enjoys the noise the metal foot rest makes when she kicks her legs. Such a beautiful chair! How many high chairs bought today will look this good almost 60 years later?

Jane also slept in her Grandpa Hinckley's baby bassinet from 1935. She is growing up with a lot of her grandfathers' physical histories.
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I need to do a better job at writing down the cute things Colin says. He has some pretty good ones these days. A while back while we were in Poland, I noticed he needed some help cleaning up his bum. He asked why (of course, everything is why and what does it mean) and I told him I did not want him to get an itchy bum. He told me "but I want an itchy bum! I want an itchy bum for my birthday!"

When he bonked his head the other day, he came running in to tell me and was so upset because he hit his head right where his brain is.

We were having a music time the other morning and he asked about the ABCD player.

When we served him some egg nog the other day, he came running into the kitchen from the dinning room to tell us egg nog is delicious. It was funnier at the time, looses something in the re-telling.

When we had enchiladas a while back, he was excited they were served with sour cream. He wanted a big serving. When he tasted it, he declared it disgusting cream, as I think he was expecting the sweet kind.

Colin wanted to make a snow man but I told him there might not be enough snow. His answer to me was that maybe we could just make one without a head.

Anyway, just so I remember.

Jane is also a chatter box little parrot. She loves songs. She has quite a few she sings, not totally with all the words but she has the tunes down. She has such a cute and funny personality.

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My niece got a few quick shots of us the other day.

Jane's finger is not there yet, but her intentions are obvious.

Colin and I are preparing for "Mother Boy" with our green jackets.

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