Sunday, December 16, 2012

The True Meaning of Christmas

I have a collection of Christmas picture books that has been growing since we had our first baby a month before Christmas fourteen years ago. Starting in December I put them all in a basket and set them on the hearth. Each night the boys choose one or two apiece (depending on the lateness of the hour and how rapidly bedtime is approaching). Last night after an exhausting day (Christmas parade in the morning, raking leaves for a widow we know for nearly five hours, and a lengthy band concert) we arrived home exhausted and well past bedtime--and we hadn't even had dinner yet. After a quick supper of french toast I told the boys  they could choose ONE book. Squabbling ensued. Nate wanted All You Need for a Snowman and Danny wanted one called There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve (both are great books). After a little discussion we decided on the latter because as Danny so wisely pointed out, "Christmas isn't about snowmen. Christmas is about Jesus."

Yes. Yes it is. Thank you for the reminder, sweet boy.

I've shared this quote from Jeffrey R. Holland before, but it is one of my favorites. Speaking of the birth of our Savior he said:

At this focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen.
Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph—and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began. ("Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come from a Store", Jeffrey R. Holland)

Kindergarten Children at Danny's Holiday Celebration program last week. He's in the back row in the middle. White shirt and glasses.

I've been busy. Busy with projects, presents, parties, programs and appointments. It's that time of year. You know how it is.

Friday's shooting in Connecticut has given me pause and caused me to reflect on what is really important. The loss of so many innocent children--not much more than babies themselves really--has weighed me down. I have hugged my kids pretty tightly several times this weekend. I have cried a lot as I read news stories and tried to explain to my own children. Although I do not know the agony of losing a child personally, I think because I am a mom and have a child close to the same age as those who lost their lives that this tragedy has hit close to home for me. In my mind's eye I keep picturing these bereaved families on Christmas morning with unopened presents lovingly chosen for their sweet children. I ache for the families who are hurting so much right now. But at the same time I have hope.

How grateful I am for my Savior, Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement and His promise of a resurrection!

Declared the prophet Isaiah:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …
“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).
This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is preface. The three-year ministry of the Master is prologue. The magnificent substance of the story is His sacrifice, the totally selfless act of dying in pain on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all of us.
The epilogue is the miracle of the Resurrection, bringing the assurance that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). ("The Wondrous and True Story of Christmas", Gordon B. Hinckley)

Is it any wonder that angels sang with joy at the announcement of  Christ's birth? 

So while I will mourn and continue to pray for those affected by this terrible tragedy, I will celebrate Christmas with a grateful heart because Christmas is about Jesus.

God be thanked for the gift of His son.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Why We Had Pizza for Dinner

I've had better days. To be fair, I've had worse days too. Though at the moment not too many worse ones come to mind. We've all been feeling a little ick lately. I'm on day three of a headache that won't quit and we've had our fair share of sore throats and general malaise around here for the past week or so.

Seth seemed much worse today though so I decided we should take him to the doctor for a look-see. I made an appointment for 3:20 then tried to go about my day. I called David to ask him about some internet issues we've been having and while I was on the phone the dog decided to be sick. It was just too much and I had a little break down on the phone. David said he'd clean it up if I came to pick him up. So I did. He dealt with the mess while I went to wait for Danny's bus. Then I dropped him off at the bus stop to head back to work on our way to the doctor's office.

We went to the doctor's office and he decided to send us for more tests. I called home to make sure Joel arrived home on the school bus safely and that he knew he could go to the neighbors' house if he didn't want to wait alone for us to get home. While I was talking to him he told me, "Mom, Freeno just puked." Seriously?!

So, after a three hour ordeal which involved dragging one sick teenager and two naughty little boys to the doctor, the diagnostic imaging place (only to be turned away because they were closing in 20 minutes), the hospital (for a lengthy wait to get a chest x-ray) and the other branch of our doctor's office, we found out that poor Seth has pneumonia.

I dropped him at home where dog vomit and other evidence of our dog's upset stomach awaited us before going to the pharmacy to pick up Seth's prescription.

En route to the pharmacy I decided there was no way I could face making dinner tonight so I called David and asked him to order pizza. I figured I could pick him and the pizza up after I got the antibiotics. We arrived home with dinner and were welcomed by yet more of the dog's messes.

David has just finished running the carpet cleaner. Thank goodness for that. I'll have to mop later to clean up the residual stickiness from where I spilled the can of ginger ale I was getting for Seth.

At one point I honestly couldn't decide if I should laugh about the ridiculousness of the day or cry. I settled on feeling grumpy instead of doing either. I won't be sad when this day is over and gone.

The up side of all this is that I feel reasonably certain that tomorrow will be a better day. I sure hope so, anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


It hasn't been easy: hours of practices in 90+ degree heat, sore shoulders from marching with a Sousaphone for the first time, battling dehydration and fatigue, memorizing music, trying to figure out all the drills after missing almost all of band camp while we were on vacation. Still, Seth did great and we had a fantastic time watching his first marching band performance at Band-O-Rama this past Friday night.

Auburn High's band did a field show featuring Beatles hits. A lot of other area bands came to march, and we were treated to a couple of performances by Auburn University's band as well.

Some of the schools were really small but you could tell that everyone--large and small school alike--had put in a lot of hard work. Seeing some of the local small town bands took me back to the good old days marching with our little high school band in Ohio. Good times.
There he is in the middle--the tall skinny one.
And again on the left in the back with the dark blue shorts.
It was so fun to see him play. I thought he did great despite missing all those practices.

I'm looking forward to a great marching band season this year. And many more.

View AHS's performance at Band-O-Rama above or HERE.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quarterly Recap

A bunch of stuff has happened in the last few months but I haven't taken the time to sit down and record it all. Here are a few of the highlights. They aren't in chronological order but here they are nonetheless. 

There are a lot of pictures. You have been warned.

In April Seth had his last track meet. He ran the 4x800 relay and the 1600 meter run and did a pretty decent job at both.

We were proud of Seth's hard work and determination. Only a little over half of the kids that tried out made the team. We loved cheering him on--and reliving the glory days of our own track meets. ;)

Spring Break was in March. We stayed close to home and didn't do much this year other than a short day trip to Seale, AL to visit the Museum of Wonder.

It rained quite a bit but the boys still convinced me to take them to the elementary school playground. They love playing around at the basketball court there. Several of the hoops are low enough for the older boys to dunk on and they were only too happy to have their pictures taken.

Last week we went to a Cinco de Mayo party at church. David gave the opening prayer in Spanish and was applauded. It made us laugh. He prayed in Spanish every day for two years when he was on his mission in Chile and I'm pretty sure no one applauded him then.

My kids loved the piƱatas. We loved the churros and horchata.
Photo courtesy of Linda Lee
Photo courtesy of Linda Lee
Photo courtesy of Linda Lee
Photo courtesy of Linda Lee

Yesterday was the end-of-the-year junior high band concert. I thought Seth looked pretty grown up in his concert attire decked out with all his medals.

Last week David and I attended a book signing for our friend Jamie's first novel, "The Goddess's Choice" at a local used book store. It was fun to hear the book read in the voice of the author. Of course we had to buy our own copy for her to sign for us. David has finished it already and I'm a little more than halfway through. Exciting stuff!

Today I went to a Mother's Day Tea that Nate's class was having.

Danny had to tag along but he actually behaved himself pretty well.

At the end of April we had the Cub Scout blue and gold banquet. Joel's days as a Cub Scout are numbered and Nate will be joining their ranks soon. We had a nice time despite the mosquitoes and I ate my hot dog for the year. Good times.

In the last three months we also celebrated Easter, Star Wars Day and my birthday and got a new (to us) car. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. Maybe I ought to record them more often so I don't forget.

You may have noticed that Danny wasn't wearing his glasses in about half the pictures. They were lost for a month and finally found under the couch (where we had looked several times before). That is pretty typical of life around here.

I'm really glad that the school year is almost over. I'm looking forward to having my boys home a little more. Danny has had his last speech therapy session for this school year and there are only seven days of school left so it's a sprint to the finish now.

Here's to enduring!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Proud Parent Moments

Seth's spring band concert was on St. Patrick's Day. We loved it. He is in the Honors Band and they recently participated in the regional Music Performance Assessment (Festival). They received "STRAIGHT SUPERIORS WITH DISTINCTION" which means a perfect score by all four judges. Only two bands over the entire three days of MPA judging received that score. We are proud of him and his hard work.
Joel participated in the Pinewood Derby this past Saturday. His car came in last in every heat but just look at how awesome it is! He did an excellent job of designing and building his car with very little help from anyone. I told him that his uncles always had the coolest cars at the Pinewood Derby and they never won either. We are proud of him too and all the hard work he put into his car but we are especially proud of his great attitude and sportsmanlike conduct.

Here's one of the pieces that Seth's band played for the benefit of Grandparents and any other interested parties.