Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hyde Park Christmas 2016

It's not that often that I blog begrudgingly, but I'm actually in the middle of a great book.  I forced myself to put it down because I want to have Christmas blogged before I fly home tomorrow, plus I'll need something to read on the plane.

Christmas 2016!  While we may be spread out for most of the year, the Wheeler clan gathered in Salt Lake from many distant corners.  Ben and Christy drove up from California, Justin, Brianna, and Ruby flew in from Cincinnati, Lance came in from DC, Charles and Susie came down from Logan, and our crew migrated a full mile to see the lights on Temple Square.  Sorry about the terrible pic--it's the best I have.

For dinner, we tried out a local Thai place, Sawadee.  As testament to the amazing food, we've been back twice since.

The next morning we hosted breakfast at our place before parting ways since our kids had school right up through December 23rd.  Annika sure enjoyed giving Ruby a tour of our home.  Hopefully Ruby wasn't too traumatized!

Most of the family headed up to Rupert to see Grandma and Grandpa Hansen.

Justin, the photo bomb.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn, Talia, Eli and I held down the fort in Salt Lake.  Or more accurately, they held the fort while I lay like a lump on the couch with an absolutely miserable respiratory bug.  (Which I subsequently passed on to Jason and possibly Charles.  I'm so sorry!)  My Christmas memories from here on out are pretty tainted with coughs and achy bones, but I'll do my best.

Hardware Ranch in Hyrum.  The entire family bundled up and enjoyed a wagon ride to see the elk.

While northern Utah may be a tad chillier than Phoenix, Brianna, Ruby, and Justin are still all smiles.

With a lens like his, Lance always gets the best photos.

As you can see, there were plenty of elk for the viewing.

Annie's certainly impressed.  What a fun day!

Hanging out in Hyde Park.  Back at Charles and Susie's home, Jason and Justin were back to their brotherly antics.

Annika is always thrilled to be Grandma Susie's kitchen helper.

Meanwhile, Christy brought some fantastically intricate patterns to make masks with the big kids.

Don't mess with Eli Bunny!.

I think our munchkins may have worn out Uncle Justin.  What do you think, Brianna?

With the table beautifully set, Eli looks excited for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Chef Christy's putting the finishing touches on her tasty crisp.

Bon appetit and Feliz Nochebuena!

Brooklyn wrote an elaborate script for our reenactment of the Nativity.  I struggled to suppress my horrified giggles when it included a rabbit, a bear, and a disturbing reference to the Hunger Games.

Christmas Day:
We awoke Christmas morning to a thick blanket of snow--not that the kids really noticed with such a delightful Christmas tree to enjoy.

Since Christmas fell on a Sunday, our first objective was to get to church.  These troopers were up for the challenge.

Back at home, it was time to open presents.  Ruby seems pretty excited about this box.

Look, a tutu!

Many thanks to Aunt Christy for making our littlest gals even more adorable.

Forget the ski socks--Annie preferred the lollipop in her stocking.

Of course, she liked this second-hand snake even better, having selected it herself a week prior.  The serpent has been dragged all over town ever since, even doubling as a scarf.  Annika literally loved the cotton guts right out of him..  Luckily for her, Talia sewed him up.  Good thing she didn't bring her snake to me first.  My solution might have involved the rubbish bin.

That looks like some major fun, Eli Jameson!

Even better, Daddy Jason shared his new Star Wars Millennium Falcon.

One is never too old for Legos, right boys?

Continuing the Star Wars craze.

Kara's special gift was a vintage Fisher Price set, including her namesake squirrel Milkweed. Thank you, Papa Kay!

Perhaps best of all, Santa splurged on season ski rentals for our munchkins.  The extended ski rental from Utah Ski 'n Golf will last all the way until they outgrow Junior sizes.  (Just for the record, I haven't gotten there yet.)  Yay for the gift that keeps on giving!

Despite all the new toys, Annie Mae was quite content playing Hungry, Hungry Hippo.

Meanwhile, Ruby Sue entertained us as the cutest candy cane ever.

Before we knew it, it was time for our finger foods dinner.  Delicious!

Thank you so much, Charles and Susie, for hosting such a delightful Christmas.  Santa's elves were so generous, the food was unparalleled, but the best part was being with family.

Now back to my book... ;)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Brooklyn's 12th Birthday--Quite the Young Woman

While we may be a bit slow in celebrating it on this blog, our beautiful Brooklyn McCall turned twelve mid-December.  Twelve!  I can't even tell you how grown-up that seems.  And of course, being around twelve day old Anders reminds me of how quickly the time goes.

We started our celebrations a bit early by going as a family to check out the ZooLights at Hogle Zoo.  Despite the chilly weather, the lights really were beautiful.  The kids' only complaint was that most of the animals were tucked away for the night.  Can't blame 'em for escaping the cold!

At church, they also did a marvelous job welcoming Brooklyn to Young Women's by inviting her to go snowtubing with them near Park City.  What a fun adventure!  Then, on the morning of Brooklyn's birthday, we started off the day right with some banana cream pie.  Eggs, milk, bananas--totally a breakfast food.

At school, her classmates sang to her, then after school her Girl Scout troop sang to her again while they were caroling at a Senior center.

After caroling, we grabbed a quick birthday dinner of macaroni and cheese  at Noodles and Company before heading to the temple with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles.

Of all the places to be on her special day, Brooklyn chose to spend her twelfth birthday serving others by doing proxy baptisms for those who didn't have the chance while they were alive.

We couldn't be prouder of you, sweetheart.  Thank you for setting a great example and inspiring us all to get to the temple more often.

Back at home, it was time to open presents--everything ranging from a new backpacking pack to these cool antlers slippers which Mom kind of commandeered to keep her feet warm during the cold winter months.  Lucky girl, she even received the chance to take Friday afternoon ski lessons!

Excellent baker that she is, Brooklyn made her own birthday cupcakes!  Make a wish, and may your dreams come true, sweet thing.

The next day, Brooklyn had a special chance to attend the wedding of her Mormon godmother, Brooke Wright to an awesome man, Nick Pettegrew.  It was an absolutely gorgeous winter wedding with a wonderful luncheon at Log Haven restaurant up Millcreek Canyon.

Being there to celebrate Brooke, I couldn't help but realize that with time passing so quickly, we could be celebrating Brooklyn's wedding day before I know it.  (But please, no rush!  You can kiss once you're thirty.)

Sweet, sweet Brooklyn, you are a blessing to our family in so many ways.  I have to confess, I feel almost guilty now that you are twelve and happily babysitting for our family.  Any time Dad and I need to slip out, you are so cheerful about staying home to help.  You do a great job caring for all of your siblings, most especially Annika who shares a very treasured bond with you.
We are so proud of your commitment and hard work, whether at school, choir,  piano, cello, Girl Scouts, or Young Women's.  Yet as grateful as we are for all these wonderful things you do, we are even more proud of the wonderful person you are--loving, creative, insightful, spiritual, intelligent, compassionate, and much more.  We are so excited for all the new adventures you will have as an ELPer at West next year.  (For those in need of translation, Brooklyn is planning to join a small cohort of middle schoolers in the Extended Learning Program at West High School for seventh and eighth grades.)  Great things await.

Happy, happy birthday, Brooklyn.
You are quite the Young Woman.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Galaxy Slime

A fun post for the day: Galaxy Slime!  I know we shared this glop with you on Talia's birthday, but it was so much fun that we pulled it out again with preschool.  Turns out that it keeps remarkably well and is just as much fun after a month as on the day it was made.

Some of the slime was a little sticky, so we added more liquid starch until the consistency was back to where we wanted it.

The picture of four year-old delight.

One of my favorite parts about teaching preschool is that it motivates me to be courageous and make a mess.

A born sniffer, Annika naturally started out by smelling her slime.  Perhaps I should be concerned?  The main ingredient is, after all, glue.

What a handful!

After a bit of experimentation, we figured out how to blow expert bubbles.

When the big kids got home from school, they got a chance to play as well.

Talia's taking the mustache craze to an all new extreme.

Pop!  What a sticky mess.

Talia, you're one of a kind.  Thanks for introducing our family to Galaxy Slime!