Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Wyoming. Pt. 2, Christmas Eve

Two posts in one day! Didn't think I could do it, did you? We now continue with the "Christmas in Wyoming" series. This time, we will focus on Christmas Eve.

A little background info ...

Christmas Eve, in the past, was a huge event for the Jones family. It included my grandparents, aunt and uncle (yes, singular ... my dad only has 1 sister) and cousins. A grand total of 2 grandparents, 4 parents, and 11 kids ... and a partridge in a pear tree. As I got older I realized this was not a large family gathering (especially by Mormon standards), but it felt like the biggest party ever when I was little.

Christmas Eve was always hosted by the Harris family (our cousins). It consisted of a large, traditional meal, lots of talking by the adults and playing by the children, followed by a talent show. Over the years we have added a few more traditions: English crackers, a white elephant gift game, and non-serious talents. I think these came about out of necessity because as kids grew up and got married and moved away, Christmas Eve became slightly boring. And short. With the addition of the new traditions, the night is a long, exciting laugh-fest, much like the Christmas Eves I remember fondly as a kid.

This year there was an amazing turnout (apparently) for Christmas Eve. Mom and dad (they hosted), Aunt Marsha, Cousin John and wife Jona, 2/3 of my sisters--Emily and Kate, and the 4 of us. (We were also joined for dinner by a friend and her dad.) Holy cow! That's quite the party! (Okay, yes, you detect a little sarcasm, but it really did seem like a huge crowd when I was little.) Here we are watching old videos of past Christmas Eves (dad and Marsha in their cracker crowns). Ah, the good old days. Good times! Seriously.

I had to put this picture in because it shows Emily (on TV) as the talent show director for one Christmas Eve a good number of years ago. Oh, how I wish you could see the shoulder pads better!

Owen, cheesing away, as usual.

Owen, on Mama Jones' rocking horse. He would crawl up on thing all by himself, rock away, and get back down. So cute.

Here we are getting ready for Round 1 of the white elephant game. Owen knows how it's done. He just grabbed a present and ...

ripped away! We had to repair a few wrapping jobs.

One of Evan's "white elephants." (He got special "good" presents so as to keep him happy and not upset that he was getting something like an old walkman or a jellybean-pooping reindeer or some horrible thing like that. Oh wait, he would have loved those, I'm sure.)

Dad, Frodo and Mom, mid-game. This is serious business, folks.

Emily and Kate, waiting to perform Emily's talent, opera singing. (I'm still a little unclear on this one. I can't quite figure out if it's her "real" talent and she's just no Pavarotti (very close, though!), or if it's her non-serious talent.) Either way, it was hilarious as she sang (er, tried to--she laughed a lot!) "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with her flashing nose.

John, Jona and Marsha, anxiously awaiting the song. Do you see the excitement???

This is me, trying REALLY hard not to wet my pants!

Emily, mid-song. (I'm pretty sure this is the part where she sang, "shouted out with glee ... whoopee!")

Kate, the piano-accompanying reindeer.

Here is Jona, looking so cute before her clogging routine. I think it was by far the best serious talent of the evening.

Ah, yes. A blast from the past. See, back in the day, a young John would carry a much younger Kate in on his shoulders, wearing a trench coat, so she looked like a tall, strange, dancing girl. They recreated this incredible talent of John's this year with a 21-year-old, 5' 11"(?)-tall Kate on a 29-year-old John's shoulders. It's a good thing he's a Marine or this probably never could have happened. Way to go, guys!

Look at those glasses! Those have been in the costume box for years! Classic!

One talent you didn't see was a video of "Oh Cristmas Tree" played by Kate, Kate, Kate, Myself, Myself, and Myself on Wii Music. Seriously awesome. Casey also did a great job with his annual Xactware Christmas video, a parody of "The Office." Did I miss anything?

The evening ended, as did every Christmas Eve in the past, with Dad's Nativity video. It has evolved from a slideshow of photos of mom's nativities with a live narrator and music on a CD player to a DVD of photos of mom's nativities, complete with narration and music, but it is the same great scriptural story of the birth of the baby Jesus as it has always been. This was 11:00 at night, or so, and Evan is trying so hard to stay awake. He actually asked to take a nap after this.

It was such a fun night. I'm glad so many people came and that we were able to be a part of it. Thanks for the good times, everyone!

Tomorrow, the "Christmas in Wyoming" series continues with Christmas Day. (No, I am not doing another post tonight!)

Christmas in Wyoming. Pt. 1, Miscellaneous

I know, I know. It's been FOREVER since I've posted anything. What can I say? Life got busy. Blogging fell to the bottom of the priority list. I should make some sort of New Year's Resolution to blog at least once a week in 2009, but I'll probably just break it so I won't even bother. I can only commit to doing the best I can. There you go.

We were crazy enough to head up to Cody, WY for Christmas this year. Most of you reading this can be grateful for the warm winter weather you enjoy on a daily basis. When we arrived, it was 23 degrees BELOW zero. 23 BELOW, friends! Can you even breathe when it's that cold? Hardly. But my sisters and I had a few good laughs as we were unpacking the car. We would pause, take a deep breath in through our noses, and marvel at how everything in there (if you get my drift) would freeze to the walls of your nostrils. I think our brains were already frozen. That is what 23 degrees below zero (yes, I said it again) will do to you.

Moving on ...

Here are the boys on Sunday in their matching shirts--Evan's too big, Owen's too small. Oh well. This is the best picture we got so it doesn't matter anyway. They were cute for a couple hours and that's all you need to know.

One of the highlights(?) of our trip was visiting Santa at the Cody, WY Santa Shack. Let me say, they have one of the best Santas I have ever seen and heard. Well, I guess they would. He is THE Santa. Right? Great Santa or not, Evan and Owen were not thrilled. Here is Owen after I shoved him onto Santa's lap. Evan didn't even get that close. Even after all the prep work and Evan telling us how he was going to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what he wanted for Christmas, he could barely squeak anything out as I gently coached, "black dinosaur guys and a blue ..."
"Flashlight," Evan whispers.

It really was too bad because we got some pretty decent family pictures out of the whole event--minus the frightened looks on the kids' faces. I suspect this will go on for a few more years. The Children (all 4 of us) are not boldy social people so I really can't blame the young ones. Still, I feel this horrible, parental satisfaction forcing my offspring to sit on some large, red, bearded stranger's lap. I'm sure it's frightening, no matter how jolly and merry he is. We'll try again next year.

Stay tuned for more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Snow Day

Last week was our first big snow storm of the year. Evan was so excited to go outside and play in the snow. He lasted a good 20 minutes or so.

Owen enjoyed watching Evan play in the snow ...

and playing with the snow that Evan brought in the house.


Owen really performs for the camera these days.


I'm finally posting Halloween pictures. The kids turned out pretty darn cute this year.

Owen was a little devil (nothing other than his usual self). The horns, cape, bag, tail, and pitchfork on his chest are old--I wore them twenty-some years ago!

Evan was a mummy. For the longest time he wanted to be a witch. One day I said, "Don't you want to be something else? Like, I don't know, a mummy or something?" (That was the first thing that popped into my head.) So a mummy he was. This costume was not old. Brand new sheets, half price at Target, ripped into strips. (Good job wrapping him, honey!) Economical, fairly easy, and so dang cute. I wanted to eat him ... and the little devil, too!

And then there's T'Em. By far the noisiest and smelliest fright that night.

How is it that kids know what candy is and how delicious it is before they've even tasted any?

Our mummy was a little more ragged by the time we came back from trick-or-treating.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pre-Halloween Festivities. Pt. 2, Carving Pumpkins

We started Thursday evening with a yummy dinner of White Chicken Chili, salad, and raspberry lemonade. Delish!

Owen likes craisins.

Oh, and T'Em taught Evan what a whoopie cushion is. You'll see why.

Evan wanted his pumpkin to be just like the one in his very favorite scary Halloween book that glows in the dark, "A very scary jack o' lantern."

The artist begins his masterpiece.

T'Em's 25+ pound pumpkin was VERY hard and thick.

Auntie Kake begins carving her cute little Jack.

Everyone hard at work.

Evan's finished masterpiece.

Casey's finished masterpiece, Dwight K. Schrute. (If you don't know who that is, I feel very sorry for you.)

Attacking T'Em's mega-pumpkin with a jig saw.

Owen's jack-o-lantern. He's a devil, just like Owen. (I mean, what Owen will be for Halloween.)

T'Em cutting through her mega-pumpkin with a drywall knife. (By the way, a GREAT pumpkin carving tool if you have one handy!)

The Childs family jack-0-lanterns.

Evan is super excited about Halloween. All the time.

Evan with T'Em's little jack-0-lantern.

T'Em's and Auntie Kake's jack-o-lanterns.

The carvers.

All the jack-o-lanterns.

The aftermath!
(It actually wasn't that bad because of the dollar store tablecloth. We just gathered it all up and threw it away. I'll have to remember that for years to come.)