Thursday, December 22, 2011

Making Family a Tradition

Last Saturday we embarked on one of our favorite holiday traditions. Like every favorite custom of mine it included food. A few years ago we began a tradition of meeting my sister, Karley and other family members (typically all women) that are in the area in Salt Lake for lunch or dinner some time in December. Our favorite place to meet is The Garden Restaurant in the Joseph Smith Memorial building. We mostly love this restaurant for the dessert...amazing!!  We are especially fond of their chocolate cinnamon cake and the infamous creme brulee.  Ok, so aside from the fact that we love to eat, we really love most of all getting together and catching up.  Nothing really fantastic or out of the ordinary happens when we meet. It usually isn't the only time we get together throughout the year.  But for some reason knowing that every year around Christmas we will be together again makes this occasion so much fun to look forward to.
So, our waiter really liked us and gave us two loads like this of mints! (Maybe it was the garlic?)

The Hansen group

This year our lunch included Karley and her girls Aimee and Kami, my nieces from Spokane who are living here Kelsey and Emily Hansen and the girls and me. I forget when we aren't together how much I love being with my sis and my nieces.  There's nothing like being with a sibling you grew up with who knows you inside and out.  Just being together for this short time made it feel more like Christmas. No matter how old we get we always treasure and reflect on those few Christmas' that we spent in our childhood home with our brothers and sisters. It is really there that we begin to define Christmas and those are the times that determine just what really makes Christmas come to life for us.  So for an hour or so every year I get to take a glimpse back on those years together and how they are permanently a part of my soul.  I can almost imagine me sitting next to my sis on the family sofa with a stack of gifts (one from every brother and sister) with my too short and outgrown nightie on and my dad holding that awful light that was bright as the sun so he could film another classic Hansen Christmas.  I can see my mother sitting there with her housecoat on and my brothers and sisters gathered around with our gnarly hair.  Mother always made Christmas special for us because she grew up in the Depression with next to nothing for Christmas.  The house was always decorated to the nines and the gifts were purchased with every detail in mind. All of these memories come so easily when I am with Karley and my other siblings around the holidays.
Christmas traditions are important as are our Christmas memories.  The best is when our traditions and our memories are intertwined.  Hopefully what we are doing is helping our own kids appreciate and form their own treasures and someday just as we do they will reflect with fondness and join with love and that is the greatest tradition of all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Amazing Kitchen

When we built our house one of the things I was adamant about was having a large kitchen, to the extent that I probably overlooked the need for space in a couple other rooms, but my reasoning was solid.  I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home and that the best conversations happen over food, whether it be the preparation or the eating it brings out the best talks. I have spent many hours on the edge with my kids in the kitchen. So many times when I wanted the recipe to come out perfect and they wanted to help--I know that most moms know exactly what I am saying. I have persevered however and now I have four pretty great cooks at my house.  I am so grateful I have taken the time to be patient and deliberate in teaching the girls in the kitchen and I got such a great reward again the other night.  Morgan and I stood together toe to toe, arm to arm, stirring our first batches of Christmas toffee.  The other girls were in and out and my sweet Morgan and I had the loveliest chat together as we were stuck there stirring our own batches of goodness.  She told me about school, things that she has been thinking and we even had time to strategize a plan to do a good deed for someone in her class that she has been concerned about.  I got precious time to see into this amazing girl's soul and be reminded of how tender her heart is.  Not only did we make a delicious perfect treat for our friends but we made a connection we have been missing lately.  So all of you young mothers, persevere!!! It is so worth it to engage your children in the kitchen and your frustration will be matched in joy not too far into the future.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Heart Bulgaria Concert

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Last Monday we were invited to participate as a family in the "One Heart Bulgaria" Children's Christmas Concert arranged by Saren Eyre Loosli and her family. This is a tradition dating back 5 years in the Loosli family and even more in the Eyre family.  The idea is that children are invited to participate with talents and the money that is raised that night from donations (and generously matched by the Eyrealm foundation) goes straight to funding orphanages in Bulgaria. This is such an amazing idea with the kids feeling empowered to actually do something personally to help these orphans. We brought our little quartet of Linzie, Maddie, Taylor and cousin Kelsie to perform.  They sounded beautiful.

Organ pipe backdrop--gorgeous!
The concert was held in this quaint old church in downtown Ogden which is in the process of being converted to a community center and other than not having a real piano (much to my chagrin as I was the pianist trying to perform an already difficult accompaniment on a keyboard), the place had so much charm and was such a great location for this event.

Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds, Becky, Uncle Richard Eyre and two cute kids.

Beautiful ceiling
Many little kids performed everything from lip sync to their favorite chiristmas song, to piano solos to poems and skits. The big finale was a nativity play where whoever wanted to be involved could find a part.  All in all it was a great event to remind our kids that there are ways that they can help others.  Thank you so much for the invitation Saren and team!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Going broke.....literally

It has been one of those weeks that try men's souls. Or at least one man that I know's soul. It started with the garage door not opening for me the other morning (broken spring), continued onto the tv downstairs going awol(an ongoing issue),  the showerhead fell off broken into pieces, then yesterday a pump to the radiant heat was diagnosed as dead and (hopefully lastly) the washing machine called it quits. I didn't mention that the dog had to go the doggy E.R., I guess he was broken too.

I was blessed to marry a man that is not only handsome, but also an amazing fix-it guy.  I haven't met anything he can't fix.  But the issue has seemed, in our midlife years, to turn from one of can he fix it to how will he find time to fix it? Doug not only works a full time job which he commutes to, but also serves in the bishopric of our ward and is working anxiously to develop a prototype for what he hopes to be his "Get out of Corporate America" card.  Along with that he is a dad to four girls who need math help on a regular basis and a wife who likes to see him occasionally. This amazing guy has kept our washer and dryer going for 15 years now and is doing his best to make it 20. (Pretty unbelievable with a family like ours). So this week he will continue the fight between time and money and once again I will thank Heaven for such a gifted man and that the things that are currently "broken" in our lives are ones that money and time CAN fix.  As for Doug, I think he might be allowed a little mumbling under his breath because when it gets right down to it THIS BITES!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Mother's Lament

The other day we had the freakiest windiest day in a long time in Northern Utah.  Maybe you experienced it or saw it on the news. Luckily, we were skipped out here in Clinton for the most part. As I hurried home from work that night, however, it dawned on my husband that the generator we were getting for Christmas from our in-laws that was on sale at Costco just might be sold out if we waited.  There were hundreds of people in the area without power and surely they would be racing to buy the few remaining generators in the area. Now,  I have to admit that I questioned the morality of buying the remaining generators when there were people who really needed them, but we'll save that for another discussion. In my haste when I arrived home, I hurried in with a box of frozen french bread dough that I had purchased with a friend to have in the freezer for gifts and for our storage.  I quickly asked one of my kids to take it down and put it in the freezer, reiterating the importance of freezing the dough and ran out the door to purchase two of four remaining generators left.  So, are you with me?  My first mistake was not doing the errand of dough myself, the second, asking a preteen to do it.  Sure enough today when I was driving I had visions of that box sitting by the freezer with dough busting out in all directions because I had never followed up with my daughter. This evening my fears were confirmed, sure enough, just as I had envisioned it. Dough everywhere.  After a week of a broken baking pan and a history of kids breaking stuff  and me just taking it and chalking it up to motherhood, I just have to lament for a moment.  But then I have to remind myself, it is just stuff. Stuff that lessons are learned from.  I'm sure my Heavenly Father feels the same way when we don't listen or mess things up.  That is how we learn, that is the point.  After all, don't our kids learn the most from their mistakes?  Meanwhile, french bread anyone?