New Blog . . . Again . . .

Soooo, this is awkward, but I am starting a new blog.  Again.  🙂 

I just didn’t get in the groove of wordpress, and was missing blogspot.  Probably just because I was already used to their set up.  Anyway, I copied the 8 entries I made to this new web page over, so I will be deleting this one completely soon-ish.  Then we’ll just have the original blogspot blog (ethanandangela) and the new blog (the five rayhorns).  Ok.  That is all.    

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Sunshine On My Shoulder . . .

Well, I was almost wrong.  (From my last entry about being excited it was March, and thinking we’d see a little glimpse of spring this month.)  Luckily, this week has finally, finally been in the 40s and things are starting to melt.  Ugh.  March can be a hard month in the U.P.  But along with the 40s, we’ve had a lot of sunshine this week, and things are starting to feel hopeful!  Woo hoo!

I had a real lull in picture-taking this month, but managed to capture a few fun things.  I didn’t “capture” any of the fun we had around St. Patty’s day, and the mischief the leprechauns caused around here.  I also didn’t “capture” Anna’s gymnastics lessons she is taking at the Y, but still have a few more classes to do so.  (She loves it!)  I didn’t “capture” the long weekend Ethan was gone this month to Chicago.  Oh, I miss him so much when he’s gone – the help he gives and the friendship.  But, I think I’ll be better prepared for next time (since this was the first weekend of 4 that he’ll need to take classes to become certified in a specific physical therapy method).  And, finally, I didn’t “capture” the fun little day-to-day stuff around here that is often so amusing when you have an entertaining 7-year-old, an active 4-year-old, and a (finally) talkative 2-year-old.

But I did capture these two fun, little happenings –

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A little weekend getaway with family at the beginning of March.  Just what we needed to escape the weather, and have some fun.  All the kids had a blast, but Caleb was the most amazed by it all.  (He’s never swam in anything besides Lake Superior before . . . not that he probably has a memory of that, and just LOVED the “water room” as he liked to call it.  And  Caleb thought it was funny sleeping somewhere besides his own house.)  Anna and Ben went down the waterslide 50 times to join the Mile Slide Club…certificate and picture on the wall, so it was official.  🙂

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Also around the beginning of March, I volunteered to go on Anna’s field trip to Presque Isle.  Ben was in school that morning, and Caleb hung out with my parents and a couple of his cousins.  Anna was so excited I could be there – the only parent “helper” for her class.   It was a nature walk where the kids were encouraged to use their 5 senses, and they would go back to school and write about it.  We’ve spent lots of time at Presque Isle as a family – picnics, the park, hiking, cliff jumping, etc.  But, we never really went there in the winter, so it was still a cool, new experience.  The kids saw animal tracks, which was the super exciting for them.  The scenery was just beautiful.

Well, it was just a short (for me) post today.  I’m sure next time I’ll have all things Easter and Spring to share…and I’ll even share some things I’m getting super excited about!

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March. March. March. March. Maaaaaaarch!!!

Well, happy March to all!  I know we’ll have plenty more snow and winter here in the good ol’ U.P., but I’m excited it’s March because we always get a few glimpses of spring this month.  And heck, last year it felt like summer in March, so who knows.  🙂  But before I dwell too much on warmer weather, here are a few pics of some of the fun we had in February…you know, once we finally got some decent snow around here.  February was a dooooozy as far as snow fall goes, and now we’re all caught up.  It’s good though, so many businesses and events depend on snow around here, like . . .

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The U.P. 200 Dog Sled Races!  Always fun to see.  The attendance was sparse this year, but I think it was because for the first time, they started another (shorter) race an hour after this one.  It was Caleb’s first time going downtown to see the start of the race…and I think we’ll wait a few more years before we take him again.  hehe.  Ohhh, and for the first time this year we walked by a church giving out free hot chocolate and cookies.  Who knew?  And yay!  (It was like 8 degrees…so hot cocoa was great.)

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Caleb loves playing outside in the snow (like above in our backyard), but it’s just so hard for his little legs, now that we actually have some deep snow.  He spends a lot of the time frustrated.  Next year will be better.  I hope…cause he is really way too heavy to carry around.  The second pic above is a family activity making snow flakes.  Love how they turned out…Ethan’s were super cool, and unique.  (He did Caleb’s too.)  We made them in January before we had any snow.  I kept them up for a whole month because they made me so happy.

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Sledding with cousins!  (These hills at Cherry Creek are soooo intense!  There are ramps and steep parts, and bumps and I was just a wreck the whole time.  ha.  We all survived though…barely.)

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Babysitting Lily again.  I love that she’s sitting on Caleb’s lap in this pic.  So sweet.  And I love having her around ’cause she’s just so sweet and cute, and also so Caleb gets the idea that he is not “The Baby” of the whole wide world.  His smile just melts my heart though.

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So, we eat out once a week (and try really hard to keep it to just one time…we do pretty well).  However, we usually split up, just ’cause it’s easier and works for us.  It’s also an easy way to frequently get alone time with one of the kiddos.  Well, a few weeks ago it was my turn to have Ben and we went to Vango’s (his first time).  The waffle fries bring back memories of highschool for me. 🙂  And the rudolphi gyro is sooo good. Ben-Ben really liked it and said loudly, “Mama, Bango’s is so good!  Tamaki & Tea is still my favorite, but I like this place next.”  (It’s a Japanese restaurant in town and Ben always orders the shrimp tempura bowl…he’s got good taste in food.)  Love spending alone time with Ben (and all the kiddos).  With Benjamin, who is our wildest and most mischievous, it’s an awesome reminder that he is such a kind, sweetie too…and has the FUNNIEST stuff to say.  And he’s so easy when he doesn’t have siblings around to pester.

Ok, and the second pic above is just us having some cereal for breakfast.  I’ve been trying to actually sit down with the kids and eat with them in the morning….because I’m usually running around getting stuff done/ready for school once I do get up.  (For this to happen, it also means that our early riser – Ben-ben – has to come snuggle with me in the morning even though he wants breakfast “straight away”.)  One morning Anna said, “I like when you have breakfast with us, Mama.”  So sweet.  I feel like I barely see her anymore (and am so anxious for summer break with her!), that it IS really nice to sit down and chat and eat in the morning.  Anyway . . . moving on.

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So, a few times Caleb has shown interest in going potty…usually when he sees me or Ethan going….um, well, potty.  But when I would try to set him on and let him try, he would get really scared and just hold on tight.  Well, last week he acted like he wanted to go, and Ethan helped him do it.  He didn’t get scared, and actually went!  So we brought up the Elmo potty from the basement and he had a TON of fun sitting on it and pretending to go, and then he actually went again.  Yay for Caleb.  I’m not officially potty training him right now – I tend to wait until the kiddos are closer to 3 – but at least he’s interested, and I’ll certainly let him try it out when we have the time.  (It’s quite the process for him to try going potty…Caleb pretends he’s going, he hits Elmo’s hand to make him talk over and over, he gets up to check if he actually went, then gets back on, etc.)  This did remind me that as soon as I do decide to officially potty train Caleb, we will be ALL DONE WITH DIAPERS in our family.  That will be awesome.  So maybe I’ll shoot more for this summer instead of waiting til he’s 3.

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These pictures are of Ben and Anna playing on the Kindle Fire on Ben’s top bunk.  This was a present from GraMelissa and Grampa Chuck for Christmas, and the kiddos love it!  Even Caleb has a few things he likes to do on it.  (And Ethan and I love it too!  🙂  It really is such a family friendly computer-like option.  Since we only have one lap top, we very, very rarely let the kiddos use it…since we want it to last!  (We’re going on 2 1/2 years…which is pretty good for a laptop.)  The touch screen on the Kindle is just great for kids.  We put some fun games on it, and more educational type games, and some books too.  AND, I realized that since they like it so much, it’s really great leverage.  hehe.  We only allow up to 1/2 hour a day on it, and also declare some days at a time Kindle/Wii free.  I usually have the kids do 3 chores to earn three 10 minute increments on the kindle.  And I’ve actually thought of some good chores that are really helpful to me, and quick enough for them.

Something that kind of goes along with this, and I realize is old news for almost everyone else out there, is that we just got wireless at the house.  Talk about life changing.  hehe.  Before this, we only had a USB adaptor from NMU that we’d put in the laptop for internet.  We liked the idea that it was a one time purchase, and since we don’t need a land line or cable, we just skipped over charter as a source for enternet.  Well, the connection was hit and miss, and we were getting more electronic devices that would benefit from some internet connection.  🙂  In one day we had charter hook it up (and try as they might, we stood firm and did not let them sell us cable or a landline), we borrowed an old router from Chuck and Melissa to get wireless, and signed up for Netflix streaming (so it almost feels like we have cable on our TV now…just no commercials and more choices, so that’s nice), and we’re able to use the wii internet option, kindle, and have a great wireless connection anywhere in the house.

So yeah, we’re slowly joining the 21st century…but pride ourselves in the fact that we still don’t have smart phones.  I guess I don’t really have anything against them, they’re just not necessary for us right now…and I kind of like being “unconnected” for big chunks of my day.  Plus, I’d rather put more money in OUR TRAVEL FUND !!! we recently started, than put money in a smart phone data plan, or having cable, or lots of other things we’re “behind the times” on.  Because, boy oh boy, do I have some plans to travel!  Oh the places I want to go!  But I’ll have to write about that another day …. this entry got real long, real fast.  I swear I just sat down 20 minutes ago!

Alright, cutting myself off now.  Have a beautiful week!

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Well, well, well . . . it’s been over a month since my last journal entry, and I’ve got plenty to share that we’ve been up to.  Not all of it was photo documented, but some of it was (see above).  I think I’ll just make a list of the things that have made me happy lately…and see how long I last.

  • When we left off, it was almost my birthday.  I spent the week leading up to my birthday saying things like, “I can’t do laundry, it’s my birthday week.”  Or, “You kids need to stop fighting with each other, it’s my birthday week.”  Kinda silly, but kinda fun.  There were fun little things that happened throughout the week, and sweet cards, gifts and phone calls.  For my actual birthday celebration, Ethan had arranged for the kids to be watched from 1pm til bedtime on Saturday.  Woo hoo!  So fun, so relaxing, so needed in this stage of life.  🙂  Oh, and the time included a pedicure and shopping for new shoes for both of us, yay!
  • We hosted our first ever game night (kid free) with some friends here at our house and we had a blast!  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a regular thing we do.  It was so much fun, and we both wondered why we’d never done that before.
  • Anna planned and led a Family Night (song, prayer, announcements, lesson, activity, treat is the general format for us) in January that was the sweetest thing ever.  (You can see the note she made for her lesson above.)  Ethan and I both teared up during it… she was just too grown up!  Anna was so patient with the boys, explained her lesson and answered questions so well, and just surprised us with how well she prepared.  Ah, it was such a sweet moment.
  • Benjamin has been in to legos lately and I just love it.  Anna sometimes gets in on the action, but it can occupy Ben-Ben for hours.  And I quickly learned to lay out a blanket for him to play legos on…then just pick it up and funnel it back into the container, ’cause MAN those can take forever to pick up.  (And hurt to step on!)  hehe.  I love that he gets so creative with them, and here’s a shout out to cousin James for making it possible!  (I love that Beth’s kids are ready to part with certain toys right when my kids are ready to start playing with them!!)
  • We’ve had some fun getting through the winter months.  (I’m fine with winter until February…then it’s lost the excitement until next year.)  Well, we finally got some real snow, so that’s been awesome – sledding, playing around in the backyard, going to the park (we love bundle up and go to parks covered in snow!), hot cocoa because we’ve earned it, hehe.  We’ve also enjoyed some fun indoor activities like the bounce house extravaganza at the Superior Dome (pics above), the library has some awesome programs we’re taking advantage of (have I mentioned how much I love our library?!  I love it so much!!), a fun “Summer Party” Anna’s class had at school that she was so excited to dress up for in January!, and some fun playdates with friends (for the kids and me!).  🙂
  • Caleb is a talking machine!  He is still extremely hard to understand, but that’s just super adorable anyway.  hehe.  He’s on to phrases now too, like, “Hep! Stuh!”  (Help, stuck!)  He buries himself in the pillows on the couch and calls out for us, see above.  Caleb refers to himself as Bebee (baby) and I just love it.  “Bebee eat.”  (If he’s hungry.)  “Bebee bye-bye.”  (He wants to go bye-bye.)  “Bebee wahyer.”  (He wants a drink of water.)  Ah, it’s just too adorable!  Especially since he is just monstrous compared to other kiddos his age…he is not the size of a baby!  (The picture of him stuffed into Lily’s carseat while she crawls up behind shows this perfectly. 🙂  And he gets so proud of himself for communicating with words…and sometimes embarrassed too.  Cuteness!
  • Besides some fun friend time we’ve all been working in lately, we’ve had lots of family time too.  One evening, Beth (sister), Sabrina (sis-in-law) and I went to a chocolate tasting at NMU from local sweet shops in the area…but we ended up tasting sweets at Coco’s.  Regardless, the conversation was great – a chance to catch up on each other’s busy lives, and all the hubbsters watched the kiddos…perfect!  Also, I had an impromptu “date night” with my mamacita a few weeks ago.  I see her frequently, of course, but I rarely, rarely spend alone time with her, and it was so fun!  Border Grill, a little shopping with both of us finding some awesome deals (the kids are set for next winter gear!), and renting a fun movie.  All while Ethan was hanging out with the kiddos.  Love her.
  • I’ve been playing the piano a lot more lately, and I LOVE IT!  I performed at this music night a friend put together (so fun! – sang and played Perhaps Love by John Denver), and that kinda lit the fire.  I’ve always thought it’s just so hard to play with the kids around, but I think I do it enough now the mostly ignore me.  Caleb only comes over occasionally now to pound on the keys, try to push me off the bench and say, “Bebee mee-o (piano).”  (Meaning it’s the baby’s turn to play the piano.)  hehe.  I love filling our home with all kinds of music, from classical to old school to musicals to current musicians.  I’m currently trying to get a song down by an artist I love – Adelle…among a few other things.  Oh, and now that I’m playing more, I find the kids are more interested in trying it out too (see pics of Ben-Ben and Caleb above).  Yay!

Well, there were some other things I wanted to write about, and some things I know I’m forgetting, but it will have to wait until next time.  Hope you’re all surviving the winter, and finding fun things to do in your lives!

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Ring In The New . . .

A new year; a new journal entry . . . a little late.  I couldn’t wait one more day because, as we all know, it’s my birthday on Sunday, and after that I’ll have all kinds of things I’ll want to post about my birthday week.  Ok. I kid, I kid.  But seriously . . . The first few photos are from the weekend before New Year’s, but we’ll let it slide.

The whole family was going to go to Chicago for the weekend after Christmas to see Lily be sealed to her new family, see some Jones family, and just have a little “get away” together.  With the sickness going through our house, it ended up just being me, Anna and Ben.  Since we were smaller in number, my parents ended up driving with us, and we shared a hotel suite, so it was still fun and special for the kids, and helpful to me (especially since I ended up being pretty sick on the trip, so we cut it a day short).   

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1st pic:  It was so beautiful being in the Chicago Temple and seeing Lily joined to her family for eternity.  I am so happy for my sister’s family, and admire and love them all so much!  I am so happy that Lily is part of the family, and love her so much!  It took place in the same sealing room that Ethan and I were married in almost 9 years ago, and I hadn’t been back in there since.  So that was a nice added bonus to the morning in the Temple – to be able to reminisce on the promises and covenants Ethan and I made, and the feelings I had that day.  Ahhhh… 

2nd pic:  On Friday night we all (us, Beth’s fam, some of Stuart’s fam) went out to a DELISH restaurant I’d never been to before, Sweet Tomatoes.  It was buffet style, but all so yummy and flavorful.  The kids had fun picking out all kinds of yummy things to try . . .  and I did too.  🙂   

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Then it was time for swimming!  The cousins had fun taking a dip (first pic shows Anna, Ben Rebecca holding Lily), although not for long since it was LATE our time.  I love the pic of Beth and Stuart lounging poolside . . . in all their normal clothes, boots too!  hehe.  But seriously, they’re so cute. 

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On Saturday after the temple, we went to my cousin’s house.  They were hosting the Harry Jones family “Saturday after Christmas get together”, and were kind enough to let us join.  Part of the time was set aside for a talent show, and it was so fun to watch . . . and even Anna decided to get up and sing.  Sweetie.  The pic above shows Rebecca (my niece) playing a beautiful song on the piano, and the other pic shows part of the Jones clan.   

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Anna and Ben love this side of the family, and were just in heaven all day surrounded by little cousins, and having fun.  Love the pic of Anna giving Natalie a squeeze . . . they’re such cuties together.  Oh, and I really, really wanted to get a pic of the three cousins who were born soooo close together in 2008 – Seth, Benjamin, and Griffin.  But for some reason, none of those 4 year old boys were interested.  Go figure.  🙂  I had tons of fun chatting with Griff though – such a social little guy.  And oh my goodness, I could just squeeze my cousin Pat’s baby, Collin, alllll day.       

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Love these sleeping pics of the kids.  After a long Friday of driving down to Chicago, running around the hotel (visiting all the rooms with friends and family, etc.), late dinner out, and swimming, they were just exhausted!  And the second one shows the two of them FINALLY asleep on the late drive home to Marquette on Saturday.  So peaceful…at last.

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We loved seeing Auntie KC while she was in town for the holidays, and besides the usual get togethers, she made sure to have an alone date with each of the kids.  (She’s such a sweetie!)  The pic above shows Anna and KC after their date of getting their nails done professionally, and going out to dinner…WITH Anna’s new American Girl doll.  And the second pic I threw on here because Anna is just a little obsessed, and it kind of cracks me up.  She’s reading an American Girl Doll magazine while sitting next to her A.G. Doll, Caroline.  Geesh, I was never like that with dolls growing up (I owned some Barbies, and had some baby dolls, and I think they were ok….but never a real obsession, or true love :), so this is kinda interesting to watch. 

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This is one of the shirts KC picked out for Cabers, and I. LOVE. IT.  It’s just so perfect for him.  He’s also playing with the Mario characters that Santa brought for Benjamin . . . because Ben was at school.  Ben-Ben doesn’t usually share them with Caleb when he’s home, so I let him sneak in some time while Ben’s away. 

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After all the sickness, and festivities, and travel of the holidays, we were ready to have a PJ/movie/popcorn night for New Year’s Eve . . . and we didn’t even have the kiddos stay up any later than normal.  So the pics above are fresh out of their baths and into their pjs to get ready to watch Brave…such a good movie!   (And I love these matching pjs on the boys that GraMelissa got for them!)

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Cute, little snuggle bugs!  It was a fun, low-key night.  We plopped them in bed, and watched a movie just the two of us.  I think we technically made it to midnight . . . but just barely.  And New Year’s Day, our last day of vacation, was relaxed, but fun.  Anna had a playdate in the morning with a friend, then Beth had Anna and Ben out to her house to play with M and M.  (And she and I got to chat and hang out . . . love!)  Then, we farmed out the kids, and Ethan and I had an early afternoon date alone, until the kid’s bedtime.  Ahhh, it was perfect, and so needed after the busy-ness of the holidays . . . and all the sickness.  Then, Ethan went back to work on the 2nd, and the kids went back to school (not enough break if you ask me!).   And life was back to “normal” . . .        

So, I often write out New Year’s goals on here, but decided to skip it this year, mostly for the sake of keeping this already too long entry from getting any longer.  Ethan and I have a couple of things we’re working on together, and I have a couple of things I want to try to renew that have been slipping.  Nothing too extreme or different . . . baby steps to more peaceful, healthful living hopefully.

Hope you all had a great start to your new year, and that your 2013 is filled with love, joy and peace!

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Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy . . .

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This is Ethan, Angela wrote an entire post that got deleted, and so here I am to write a quick note while she drowns her sorrows in caffiene free (its late) diet coke.  Christmas was fantastic.  As the pictures show: 1. Aunt KC was back in town, and the kids got some great christmas gifts (Thank you grandmas, grandpas, other relations).  2.  Caleb is still a pudgy cheeked muffin face, especially in fluffy christmas PJ’s.  3.  We spent christmas eve at my parents house: friends, wassail, christmas cheer, and jigsaw puzzles!.  4.  Anglea has a sister she is compelled to photograph with every christmas eve.  5.  Presents abounding under the tree, obtained with a bribe to santa of reindeer shaped doughnut based treats.  6.  Christmas tradition of tiny cereal boxes, in honor of the tiny cereal boxes that the Magi gave to the shepards in bethlehem.  7.  We decided to open the presents.  8.  Dewey and Susan came to visit, brought a delicious, tree shaped confection, and played with new christmas presents and cuddled on couches.  9. The pictures dont really capture it, but some of us were pretty sick during the holidays (this point is more of a “family journaling” one) 10.  To finish out the christmas holiday, Caleb donned his hard hat and drywalled the garage! 

Hope your holidays were special and memorable.

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Hallelujah!!! (For the Love of Music)

So much fun, and Christmas cheer around here.  We’ll start off with a few pics from Lily’s one year birthday party at the Children’s Museum on the 15th.  Such a precious sweet pea!  So grateful she is part of our family.  Anna and Ben had fun playing around with friends and cousins. . . and holding the snakes!!  (And sorry I’m still not getting this layout down . . . the pictures and text are kind of all over the place.)

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Next up, the Church Christmas Party that same evening.  The kids whispered their hopes to Santa (except Caleb just cried and tried to escape), they sang in the little primary program (Anna – angel, Ben – shepherd), Anna helped with the Compton 12 days of Christmas skit (she was a Lady Dancing), and we all enjoyed some yummy food and catching up with friends.   

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Just in time for a beautiful, white Christmas, we had a winter storm on Thursday and Friday.  This perfectly coincided with Anna getting sick (the flu), so there was lots of snuggling, movies, etc.  Although Ben had a fun, long party on Sat. at a friend’s house… including sledding.  It was good for him to get out and play.  Ethan took the pic of our backyard covered in freshly fallen snow.  The day after the snow storm it was clear and sunny, just gorgeous! 

We had our traditional Jones/LaJoice get together on Christmas Eve Eve today.  Such delish food, (seriously SO yummy!!) good conversation, presents, games, giving tree, lounging, music.  And my Aunt Jean brought all of her beautiful homemade jewerly for the girls to pick from.  It was fun, and I was sad Anna had to miss it.  Luckily, Auntie KC came over to hang out with her.  She just got back in town from a semester away in Utah, and we were all so excited to see her.  Even little Caleb warmed up to her right away after a few minutes of uncertainty.  (“Who are you, and why do you think I would give you kisses?!” 🙂  But he warmed up . . . as long as her hair didn’t tickle him. 

With two days until Christmas, and wrapping still to do, and some cooking and baking too, I’m going to have to cut this short.  The one thing I want to mention, that has been on my mind this past week, is how grateful I am for music, especially this time of year.  Putting on a beautiful Christmas CD to fill the house, practicing for musical numbers in church, caroling at the hospital with a group my brother got together, attending a few Christmas concerts, Anna and Ben caroling with my parents and the local Cub Scouts, playing the piano just for fun, singing the Christmas hymns at church.  I love it all.  It fills me with joy, and so quickly invites the Spirit of Christmas.    

Let the music ring!  And Merry Christmas to you all!!!

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