Monday, December 04, 2017

El Día de los Muertos 2017

Every year, just after Halloween, Emerson Elementary sponsors a fabulous Día de los Muertos celebration.  The fun starts a couple of weeks before the actual party when everyone gathers to prep crafts and learn how to paint faces.  Here's Talia practicing with her good friend Nora.

These goofballs are adorable.

And now for the actual Día de los Muertos.  We brought another good friend Kate to join in the fun since she already had a fantastic costume left over from Halloween.

Honoring Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter.

Annika and Frosting battle head to head as she decorates her sugar skull.

Annika for the victory.

Talia's skull was a bit more restrained, but that's not saying much.

Here's Brooklyn checking out all of the nichos, or decorative boxes honoring the deceased.

Talia created hers for Uncle Jay.


We enjoyed some great performances, plus free burritos courtesy of Ricos.

Last but not least, face painting round two.

Eli and his pal Mia, all decked out.

It's taken a while to feel integrated into Emerson Elementary.  Great events like this one are invaluable in creating a sense of school community.  Thanks to all who work so hard to make it happen!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

#LightTheWorld at Home

The Christmas season is wonderful, but sometimes it's hard too.  Coming into Christmas, it's easy to get carried away by grand dreams and expectations.  Social media bombards us with cutesy projects, crafts, and treats, all begging to become new traditions.  Elf on the Shelf, Advent Calendars, Secret Santas, 12 Days of Christmas, Angel Trees--the list goes on and on.  I was particularly drawn to the #LightTheWorld campaign that our church is hosting.  I love the idea and was really excited to participate.  Yet instead of feeling inspired, today I found myself cranky and irritable.  Here it was December 3rd, and I'd already failed.  Forget about giving to the needy and providing clean water.  I was completely overwhelmed by getting our house decorated, presents purchased and wrapped, neighbor and teacher gifts figured out, Christmas letters written and mailed.  Our schedule is already jam-packed with holiday concerts, parties, caroling, and service projects.  Toss in Brooklyn's birthday, my new job, and Jason's demanding schedule and I wanted to curl up and cry.   Instead of spending our afternoon listening to holiday music and making cinnamon applesauce ornaments, we were all at each other's throats bickering and hollering.

Finally, just before bed, we gathered together for a family devotional.  Let's keep it real.  Annika was still out of control running around kicking the decorative paper boxes Talia had just made.  Our advent wreath was squashed and missing its candles.  Still, we started a fire, turned on the Christmas tree, and lit an old pumpkin spice candle that never got put away after Thanksgiving.  With lights dimmed, we sang, prayed, shared scriptures, and read a story.  A spirit of love swept away the feelings of contention as we shared stories of answered prayers, told what we liked about one another, and discussed The Living Christ.  In that moment, I realized that for me, #LightTheWorld may mean simply striving harder to be kind to my family.  If the only light I kindle is within my own home, that's okay.  It is enough.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Halloween and Thanksgiving, all in a weekend

On Halloween weekend this year, our house was invaded by a Jedi and a  princess.  Here are Eli and Talia heading off to school for their Halloween parade.


After school, we hit the Main Library downtown to make some seriously cool concoctions.


Any Halloween celebration that gives away more books than candy is a winner in my view.

Brooklyn didn't make the library Halloween party because she was having a Halloween celebration of her own with the West High ELPers (7th and 8th grade.)  My mom messed up the other day and called them lepers instead.  Tee hee!  Brooklyn also got to go to Pumpkin Nights at the fairgrounds for mutual.

That's Pumpkin carving taken to a whole new level.

Annika had a little Halloween parade at her school too.  For this occasion she picked out this really odd little wizard dress that I got at Kid2Kid for a buck.

Later that night, Annika decided to be a cat for the real deal trick-or-treating.

We met up with friends to invade the neighborhood en masse.

Ruby came in her ruby red slippers, flanked by an older princess with shorter hair.  (Talia had switched to Hermione.)

Hey Dorothy, we're twinners!  I loved how Ruby took my hand as we went from door to door asking for candy: two, because she wanted one to share with Annie.  So sweet!

Crunching all the leaves was the very best part.

Back at home, we decided that Annie wasn't a cat after all.

She was actually Max from Where the Wild Things Are.  Fits perfectly!
Our little Max waited adorably by the door, jumping up each time the trick-or-treaters came.  When our own treats started to run low, she explained that it was okay because she could give away hers.  Aw!


It wouldn't be Halloween without chili and yummy cinnamon rolls (courtesy of Aunt Brianna.)  One more round of trick-or-treating across the street in Federal Heights for the big kids (they got full-sized candy bars!), a quick warm by the fire, and then it was off to bed.  What a fun day.

But wait!  We can't forget Halloween Phase 1, celebrated in Hyde Park with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles.  These pumpkin-launching trebuchets were pretty awesome.

Ruby snuggles in grandma's lap while we enjoy the action.

For the second year in a row, the weather was absolutely perfect for outdoor pumpkin carving.

Annie got some help making the cutest little owl.

Eli's hard at work designing a jack-o-lantern face to match his own.

Great job with your cat, Talia!


And Brooklyn?  Well, she made pumpkin pi.

Our final creations.



With the entire family gathered from California and Chicago, we headed to Lions Park for some family photos.

Posing so many people is never an easy task.  Well-done, Jason!

And a fun one on the slide.

Saturday we celebrated Halloween, but on Sunday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving since Charles and Susie would be in New Zealand for our actual turkey day.  Lucky kiwis!  Naturally, the day began with meat pie.

Here's Jason modelling an appropriate cranberry to pie ratio.  If you can see the pie, you've apparently done it wrong.

Susie gave Annika and Ruby some cute sticker books where you add stickers to make faces.

Looks like Annie got a bit mixed up and put all Grandma's piano stickers on her own face.

Most importantly, the Thanksgiving spread.
It was a decadent meal worth repeating, which is exactly what I hope to do tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Hogle Halloween

As our Thanksgiving guests are arriving tomorrow (happy squee), I'd really like to post Halloween.  No better place to start than at the Hogle Zoo.  While we didn't see the BooLights at night, we certainly enjoyed all of the decorations by day.

More accurately, we enjoyed most of the decorations.

The dragon's pretty fun.

Eli wanted to impersonate the black spook behind him.

In true big sister fashion, Talia said he wasn't doing it right and insisted on doing an impersonation of her own.

Earlier that day, she had quite a bit of fun with her hair chalk.

While I wouldn't want it to be permanent, as a temporary adornment I find it really pretty.


And, since we are talking about a zoo, how about a few animal pictures.

We were really excited to meet the zoo's two new polar bears.  This two year-old is named Nora.

Not everybody gets such an exciting lunchdate, Annika.

Now for dry land.


With divers preparing to clean their habitat, the day was pretty exciting for the sea lions as well.

If you look closely, you can see a sea lion checking out the diver from below.

Scuba with a twist!  Nice to know that aquatic skills are valued even in the desert of Utah.  Maybe if I dress up as a Mermaid next Halloween they will let me swim too.