The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas, In Three Chunks

Looking back on our holiday I believe I can pretty easily divide it into three chunks, each quite separate from the others.

Chunk the First - School let out a full week before Christmas, which is just how I like it.  I'd rather have more time with the kids before Christmas rather than after, even though it forces me to have more things accomplished earlier since I won't have hardly any alone time once the kids are out of school.  Fine by me - I like to have a few days together to really enjoy the holiday spirit.  We had a lovely week before Christmas - not only did we attend Star Wars, but we went to the annual Christmas singing party our friends the Bucherts throw every year.  It's so divine - signing has got to be just about my favorite part of Christmas and I don't get much of a chance to do it.  This was our fourth year going and I really look forward to gathering around the piano while we sing together, no matter how I struggle to hang on to that alto part. I also got to go see my friend Becky play in her neighborhood's performance of the Messiah.  I was grateful to sneak out on a Sunday night and do that.  And we had lots of other fun with friends, going on Christmas light scavenger hunts, watching every Christmas movie we could think of....well, that's not quite true.  We draw the line at Ernest Saves Christmas.  The youth in our church had a caroling night that was a lot of fun - although I spent most of it hosting a viewing of Home Alone for the younger siblings who didn't want to brave the cold.

Finally Christmas Eve arrived. We were lucky enough to enjoy a formal breakfast with the Bucherts for the second year running - once again we made heaps of delicious food, gathered in the Buchert's beautiful home and listened to the King's College Christmas Eve Broadcast.  Those boys make it sound like the very angels are accompanying our meal.  I just love this time we get to spend together.  After breakfast when we left we fell into a bit of a lull - most years we try to spend the day doing something active, especially sledding or something.  However, as we left the Buchert's, we found that no one really wanted to go - it was quite sunny and we suspected that many of our favorite sledding hills would be quite icy or perhaps even grassy.  Instead we headed home and the girls played in the back yard for a while.  



The day even began to drag until I decided that I had to be very brave and do one of those things that you just HAVE to do at Christmas, no matter how big of a mess it makes.  Yes, it's true.  I called the girls in and we made sugar cookies.  Not my favorite.  But I can't deny that putting on new Christmas aprons, playing some happy sing-along Christmas Carols and making cookies with my daughters was a great way to spend Christmas Eve.  We had a lot of fun, and finished up just in time for my parents to come over and join our quiet evening.







We had decided to hold our annual Waffles and Wassail evening on Christmas Eve itself - there wasn't another good night to do it, and we couldn't think of anything else we'd rather do on Christmas Eve.  So we whipped up our waffles, plus I had made an egg casserole just so there was something with protein on the menu.  Mom and Dad came over and we made a few more cookies, enjoyed our breakfasty-feast, and watched the wonderful Muppets do A Christmas Carol in that special way that only the Muppets can.  And then it was off to bed.




Luckily I had managed to get all the wrapping done a few days before Christmas - there is, for some reason, almost nothing more depressing to me about my Christmas preparations than wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, knowing that they will have less than 24 hours to stay wrapped up in their beautiful paper. It exhausts me to even think about it.  So happily, the wrapping was all done, and Troy and I were able to enjoy a calm Christmas Eve with a movie and some egg nog.  


On Christmas morning, as Troy and I were snuggled lazily in bed and the kids, one by one, made their way upstairs to begin the pestering process we were horrified to learn that Cap had been awake since 2 am.  I guess being an official teenager hasn't put a dent in his Christmas excitement.  Happily he didn't start bugging us until 6 and I think he may have even stayed out of the living room, though I kind of like the image of him sneaking in for a peek in the wee hours of the night.



There were many wonderful surprises this year - an over-abundance of legos and action figures for Cap, lots of clothing and new clogs for Bitty and Skippidy was thrilled by her little pile of Shopkins and baking equipment.  I can't deny, however, that the gift of the year was this purple fleece kitty cat that Skippidy had made in her sewing class for Skippidy.  Bitty was really nervous about giving it to her, and was really hoping that she'd love it.  She was not disappointed.  Skippidy not only went totally berserk with adoration but she even started crying she was so happy.  She named her new kitty Hope, and snuggles with her every night.  I also received a gift from Bitty's sewing classes - this darling little pouch for all of my purple pens.  It was made all of purple fabric and has a snap-shut top made by inserting measuring tape (the metal kind) into the seam.  She was so thoughtful and was absolutely glowing after seeing how happy her gifts made us.  Great morning.








This is Skippidy right after she opened a cookbook by her favorite YouTuber, Ro of Nerdy Nummies.
She went insane with joy!  

And here is Skippidy in tears because she was so moved by Bitty's gift to her
I gave Troy a book of our blog - just year 2....I have a long way to go to catch up!




For breakfast I made Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls....they were wickedly delicious.  Absolutely sinful.
Can I have more?

Once the presents were opened, the kids set to playing while I set to cooking and cleaning because Christmas Chunk the First was over, and it was time for....

Chunk the Second - Bring on the relatives!  I spent much of Christmas day preparing for family get togethers.  I was so happy because not only had Peter and Sheri and kids decided to come up north on Christmas Day itself, but Adam and Whitley had made the treacherous journey from Bainbridge Island to Whit's parents' home in Woodland, Utah.  They thought it would be fun to have a snowy mountain Christmas, and I'm sure there was a lot that was fun about it, despite the fact that they had multiple driving delays due to weather, they couldn't drive to the house due to no snowplows...and basically seemed to face serious obstacles all along the way.  I'm still really glad they came.  And on Christmas Evening every single member of our Romney family met up at Margaret's house to enjoy a feast of Mexican food - all the favorite traditional stuff we have loved eating together in years past, like posole, pulled pork, great salsas and guac, and of course fried sopes.  We weren't sure we were all going to fit into Margaret's house (and all I could think of was better your house than mine!) but somehow we were comfortable and cozy.  (I'm sure it was the Ghost of Christmas Present showering us with his blessings.)  We ate, we talked and laughed, and we had one MASSIVE gift exchange that was just really really fun.  I made Margaret a hat I'm really proud of, Whitley gave me a really neat framed piece of art that looks like a quilt square - and it just so happened that it matched perfectly a quilt of my great-grandmother's that Margaret had but couldn't find a place for, so I came away with an antique quilt as well as art to go with it.  Troy got an awesome UofU sweatshirt and Cap got a Star Wars t-shirt that he pretty much hasn't taken off since he got it.  Bitty got a great movie, Totoro, with a stuffy to go with it, and all of Skippidy's dreams came true when she opened up a chocolate pen. Yes, that's right.  A pen that writes with chocolate.  









  

I was so grateful for that evening, and it kicked off several days of family time, mostly with Peter and Sheri.  My parents joined us for as many outings and meals and activities as they could.  It was a hard week for my dad since mom's care centers were closed for the holidays.  It kind of wore him out.  We were happy to have lots of Oma and Apa time.  The Romneys and the Preslars had lots of fun outings - our favorite probably being a big excursion downtown to see the new Church History Museum, visit the candy windows at Macy's and see the lights at Temple Square.  I have some advice.  The lights at Temple Square are AMAZING and should not be missed at Christmas time. But go AFTER Christmas.  That way you won't feel like you're in some type of holiday mosh-pit about to get trampled by hoards of families out for both shopping and blood.  Seriously.  It was so peaceful and beautiful.  And very very cold.  So we didn't stay long, just enough to take in the sights, snap some pictures and get out of there.  Fun evening.  

  








Oh the piles of coats - they were intimidating and numerous!  



 We also enjoyed a family party with Troy's family, which doubled with cousin Lucy's baptism.  It was a seriously full weekend.  We just crowded together in our tiny house and enjoyed being together for a few days.  We wrapped it up and packed off the relatives so we could be ready for....

Chunk the Third....

Which involved puking. Much puking. We were all sick for days.  (Kids with the pukes, Troy and I both were fighting off colds.) Even over New Years and our anniversary.  I'm not going to include many details.  I'll just say that for our anniversary, we left our somewhat miserable kids home for an hour to go grab a quick dinner at Porcupine Grill and marvel that 18 years have gone by.  We don't feel old enough to have been married for that long, but I suppose that feeling will only intensify as the years go by.  EIGHTEEN??  Our marriage has reached adulthood!  


I love you, Troy.  

New Year's Eve was very quiet - Troy stayed home with a sick Bitty (she was the tail-end of the puking train) and they watched Lord of the Rings while Cap, Skippidy and I went to the ward building to hang out and chat and eat appetizers with other families from the neighborhood.  It was really fun, but pretty mellow, which was just what we needed after that marathon.  Cap stayed up late with friends to ring in the New Year while I sat at home, alone at the couch, everyone else tucked in and sound asleep, enjoying the Christmas lights for a few more hours before the holidays really came to a close.

















Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Forgotten Favorite Things

I need to mention a couple of additional highlights at this point - one highlight is something I forgot to include from our Tree Hunt and one was an event that I hope becomes an annual tradition and was perhaps the most spiritual moment of my entire holiday.

First off, I can't believe I forgot to include two of my very favorite details from my account of our Bear Lake trip.  For one thing, I was at my sister's house the week before our trip and was browsing her bookshelves. My eye fell upon a tattered little book that I hadn't seen in years but had very strong memories of reading.  It's called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I asked if I could borrow it and brought it with us to Bear Lake.  During one of our lazy mornings (or, let's face it, it could have been the afternoon but I couldn't actually tell...) the kids were getting restless and so I pulled it out and began to read.

I hadn't read the book since I was a kid but I remembered it so well.  Only this time, as so many childhood things go when you revisit them as an adult, it was just so much more poignant.  We weren't able to finish the book while we were still at the cabin, but as we were starting our drive home I pulled it out and finished it up.  It was so fun to have everyone's attention captured even if it freaked them out slightly at the end when I got emotional and cried through the last few paragraphs.  It's a really great book and everyone agreed that reading it should become part of our Christmas every year.



My other great memory from the trip also happened in the car on the way home. After we finished up our story and I dried my eyes and wiped my nose, we realized that we were in need of some Christmas music due to the fact that Inigo is sadly lacking in a stereo.  That will happen some day.  But for this day, we needed some Christmas music, stat!  What else was there to do but start singing? One of us began to sing the first of the approximately 7 Christmas Carols we know all the words to, and miracle of miracles, everyone started singing along...even the 7th grade boy.  At the top of his lungs with the rest of us.  Probably the best of the bunch was The Twelve Days of Christmas, which we sang all the verses of, although we altered the "Five Golden Rings!" to "Five Argyle Socks!" in our best Bert voices.  (If you are unfamiliar with the Sesame Street version of this carol, you may want to check it out.) This led to Troy teaching the kids all about Bob and Doug McKenzie and their equally heartfelt version of the the 12 Days.  Which then led to me having some concerns and thus talking to the kids about not singing this song in school, especially the part about how on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me....a beer.  No matter how funny they thought that was and how many times they repeated that one line.

On another and completely different note, I have to share the brightest moment of my holiday.  My heart was absolutely filled.

Our Mormon church building is right exactly next to a Catholic...parish?  Is that the right word? It's a Catholic church building and our front doors are just yards away from one another, but never once have I interacted with a single member there.  We just don't really cross paths that much.  However, a very close friend of ours by the name of Rick used to live in Washington  D.C. and while he was there, his ward held an annual joint meeting with their Catholic neighbors and he did the footwork here to do the same thing.  He just went over and met with the priests there and thus began preparations for a joint meeting for Christmas.

The details of how it all was put together don't really matter, just that Sunday before Christmas, the 20th, our congregations each met separately at first to hold our own mass and sacrament meetings, and then our big gang walked out our front doors and trooped on over into their building, where they made room for us in their beautiful meeting room.  We squished in together.  We actually mingled - there was not a Mormon side and a Catholic side.  The program began with everyone singing O Come O Come Emmanuel together and I'm going to tell you, the feeling in that room filled me with absolute joy.  What a manifestation of brotherly love, of kindness and true Christlike actions.  Our choir sang In the Bleak Midwinter, and they have a band (yes, a band! With drums and electric guitars!) that did a really fun song as well.  Bitty was especially enthused about the band and requested that we also consider getting a band at church.  We each had a youth speaker and we each had our clergy leader speak.  Our bishop and their Father spoke - very wise messages that really included everyone listening.  Funny and sweet and joyful and just lovely.

Then, oh then, that entire bunch of 300 people marched right back over to the LDS church where we filed down into our basement cultural hall (aka gymnasium) and lined up for soup and bread and filled every seat and every standing corner with people talking and eating.  Everyone, it seemed, was anxious to reach out and make a connection.  I had envisioned something awful like all of the members of each congregation just sitting in tight and uncomfortable and separate little groups, not talking.  But it totally wasn't like that.  People tried hard to get to know each other, to try each other's soups, and we Mormons even very bravely served coffee to make sure everyone felt at home. What a sight that was - a big percolator of coffee right in our Mormon gym!  And that to me was really the true meaning of Christmas - that loving one another and serving our neighbors was the most important thing.  I'll never forget it, and hope it becomes an annual tradition.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Force Awakens

I know I know, my last post has a glaring absence.  How could I blog about all the joy and festivity of the season without even mentioning Star Wars?  Well, I guess I was just deciding that the new Star Wars movie and our viewing of said masterpiece deserved its own entry.

So here it is.  An entry totally dedicated to Star Wars.  And.....let's see.  What do I actually say?

We watched it!! We loved it!

Okay, there's actually more to it than that.  We have been highly anticipating this movie for many many months.  We were among the folks who literally teared up just watching the previews, especially when You-Know-Who Solo said to You-Know-Who-Bacca...."Chewie....we're home."  We followed the news reports, we tracked every announcement.  We begged our friends the Moores to include us in their gang when they bought a pack of 40 tickets to opening day.  And we happily took part in our neighborhood's movie marathon the night before opening day as we gathered at our church, set up a screen, made popcorn and watched all three original films. Well, Cap was there for the whole night.  I slipped out for a quick concert at the Conference Center which I totally LOVED but I returned.  Troy was there with the girls for about a movie and a half and then graciously offered to take the girls home to bed so I could go to the concert.

And then Friday December 18th actually came.  It came!  Back when rumors started flying about en episode VII we felt like eternity itself was stretching out before us before it would eventually open.  But as time always seems to do, it passed, and there we were, sitting our seats, popping pop corn into our mouths and just....just....enjoying every moment.  What a great movie.  What a great night.  My expectations and even my hopes were met and exceeded.


Monday, December 28, 2015

The Delights of the Season

Bitty created this awesome angel to top the tree on our fridge.  


Oh  December...I always have the best intentions to keep up with you and every year I find myself a month behind on blogging with about a hundred entries I could make.  Perhaps I should just accept that part of my New Year's traditions are catching up on a very eventful month's worth of blog posts.

It's really a joyful thing that we have so much to celebrate at the end of each year that we're so busy doing stuff that I can't really get time to sit down and write about it.  It always flies by with such speed that everything feels just a little bit bittersweet, because I know that it will all be over before I can take it all in.  Perhaps that is what makes Christmas so anticipated and relished - I know I'll never get quite enough of it.

So here's an overview of some our favorite festivities from the Christmas 2015.

We were really hoping to get together with our gingerbread house friend for our annual first-Monday-of-December-gingerbread-house-extravaganza.  Sadly, I had to pick up Skippidy early from school due to a sick tummy, so I thought the best Christmas gift I could give them this year was to not come to their house and spread illness and disease.  We did gingerbread houses on our own this year, which was kind of a bummer but we tried to make the best of it.









Another evening which worked out much better was the snowy night I spent with the girls at temple square with Bitty's age-group from church, otherwise known as the Activity Days Girls.  It was packed shoulder to shoulder of course, but with the snow gently falling and such lovely sights to see we really had a good time.



The candy windows at Macy's this year were pretty darling - all Charlie Brown themed.  

















I know, that was way too many pictures.  But I went to the trouble of bringing our real camera down and felt like I caught some really fun shots.  Oh man.  Those lights are just spectacular.  I know the crowds are horrible but just look!  It's so lovely.

Another really fun thing Troy and I did this year was go to The Lower Lights Christmas Concert.  The Lower Lights is basically a huge gang of local (I think) musicians who all kind of do their own thing but have formed this group.  They kind of stick to Christian/LDS music, but give it this really fun sort of Southern revival sound.  I love them.  And their Christmas albums are some of my favorites.  The stage was decorated so beautifully and those musicians were just heartfelt.  Some songs were just jamming - we had to get up and dance.  Others were soulful and swinging.  There's always something about watching musicians just open up and sing their guts out that brings tears to my eyes. We had a great evening.




We always manage to hit Zoo Lights each year - this year I took the girls early in the month on a very warm night.  Both the girls dressed as if it were freezing outside in hopes that it would exhibit their faith in winter arriving, but honestly it was extremely warm.  Now that Christmas has passed and it was very snowy indeed I can look back on a warm night at the zoo with gratitude that we weren't freezing cold.  If the whole month had stayed warm I'm sure I couldn't remember that mild night quite so fondly.


                    

                                                   

Cap also made it to Zoo Lights this year - in his preferred method which is definitely with friends over sisters.  We were grateful the Moores were able to take him. I had to laugh that our oldest child was the only one to come near to seeing Santa or being in a picture with him.  The girls wouldn't even consider that - in fact, at our church Christmas party Santa came and not only did Skippidy refuse to see him, she ran to the kitchen and hid in a cupboard.  



Speaking of December getting snowy after all, we had this one Monday when the snow hit and hit us hard.  I haven't seen a storm like that in Salt Lake in ages.  It was...well, dangerous and I know a lot of people had some serious trouble getting around.  As for us, we sure appreciated Inigo's snow skills and we had so much fun watching the snow pile up all day long.  


                              


There were some fun daughter dates this year as well - I got a chance to take Bitty with me to a jewelry making night at a friend's house, and Troy brought Skippidy with him as his date to his work dinner, which she thoroughly enjoyed until she zonked out from pure exhaustion right at the table.







So, it was a busy month with even more fun packed in here and there. More Christmas concerts, lots of our favorite movies. Spirits were high and we never seemed to have a moment that was free of Christmas music, at least as far I as I could enforce.  Last of all, I'm including this AWESOME picture Skippidy did in class, of her catching snowflakes outside.  It makes me happy.