Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas presents early!

Christmas presents began early this year with gifts from Debbie. She spoiled every child with a snuggly outfit. This pic is of Debbie with the three little girls in the outfits they love.

All the Christmas concerts!

We had so much fun attending Christmas choir, band, orchestra, high school, middle school, and just for fun concerts all December long. This is a quick pic of Mikela, Esther, Kate, Clara and Emily waiting for Isaac's choir concert to begin. Loads of fun! (and a great challenge to keep 3 under 5 busy during these events, but they are getting better!)

Oh, love from Puppy too.

Clara, Emily, and Zoie with Missy the Dog.

Happy Holidays from the Barn!

Zoie Grace and her pet chicken! Esther and Zoie with bunnyfoofoo. Candy atop her perch with Trixie and the other chickens looking on.

a little exhausted from the holiday rush?

They didn't make it through their goodnight snack.

What a girl can't do! (After and Before)

Emily wanted record of her deed. She's done this too many times not to get it on film (I mean digital). What 10 people in a house can't do (in the way of making a mess I mean)! And what one 13 year old girl can - way to clean up the office/library/hang-out spot Em! P.S. Just to justify my embarassment at such messy pictures - I always heard a parent should have so many books children are tripping over them!

Merry Makeovers!

Just before Stake conference we revamped the Bungalo above the garage with some of the new/old furniture we've collected for the new home. It was fun for us to have the mission president and his wife stay there, since then a man moving into the ward has used it as he finds a home for his family here, and Clark and Becky are staying there this week! We'll miss having an apartment ;).

My Merry Little Helpers!

Christmas could have never happened with such joy, delight and success without my Merry Little Helpers! This is us getting the house ready for the high council party here (or was it before the sing-along here - SO FUN!) We did the same thing just before Grandpa and Grandma and Clark and Becky showed up. A special thanks to Debbie who put in extra hours cleaning and wrapping this year, - thanks to her I got more sleep than I would have! (and kept my sanity as well...i think!)

The Children with Grandma Great!

Monday, December 21, 2009

FHE delayed!

Oh, the trouble one gets into as the Holiday rush reaches an impossible pace. Including school work and holiday events Emily and Anna have taken the heat of the exhaustion. At thirteen, really tired and then really hungry as dinner was delayed because I was stuck at the store in holiday lines, is a threatening combination. Things exploded JUST before we said the blessing on the food, an hour or two late. Short tempers and pouty faces made Mom send the tired twins out. Neither of them had eaten. After waiting approximately twenty minutes with neither girl returning Mom and Dad had mercy and brought them their food. Tired tears and "sorry" all around made things a little better. Regretting we had delayed the most important event of the season, FHE, Daddy shared with them (just the 2 of them in their own private 1/2 family home evening upstairs in their rooms) the message he had planned for this evening. I thought it was so very worth sharing. He said, "Has anybody asked you if you are ready for Christmas? Many people asked me that today and this week. What is it to be ready for Christmas? Many things, of course, in order to fully celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Christmas is celebrating Christ. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for us in this time of rushed present buying to consider, "Am I ready for Christ?" I, CaMarie, thought it was worthwhile consideration. Especially on a night that we'd lost perspective of what is most important - delayed our family and love and remembering Him too long! Have the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS - it's ALMOST HERE!

Esther SANG!

Our family was asked to sing for the Christmas sacrament meeting program. All of us. We wanted a song that could include the littler ones, even let them have a little solo line or two. A simple, sweet message song, we chose "Picture Christmas" from the Primary songbook. We wanted Esther, age 5, to sing the opening line. It would be perfect, everyone's lines seemed to match them. The chorus together. We practiced as a family and it went as most family rehearsals go(at least in my experience). Some kids on the floor, others in and out getting a snack, some goofing off with the music, but overall, I thought it worked and so did my sister, who was playing for us. We'd go with it, and hope for the best. HOPE was a big word here, for Esther has a wonderful voice and LOVES to sing, but to contrast that she can be about the grumpiest kid in town sometimes. If she feels like singing it's GREAT (even surprising how happy and joyful a noise she makes), but if she gets bugged about something or another, oh no, it's the end of it. There's no turning back.

So I didn't get my hopes up. I'd just plan on the song with no beginning singer so as not to be disappointed when she got upset about her shoes or ribbon or coat not being the one she wanted, or maybe getting hungry and no snack in sight. The song would still work out somehow, just less and wanting, but you know, life goes on.

At church all went well. Even when I had to get up and leave the bench for choir and then for accompanying, everything was happy and under control. All was well. Then suddenly Esther got it in her head she wanted to go sit by Anika (her friend on another bench), and I've made it a habit always that our family sits together at church and needed her to be ready to sing, so I denied her request - about 4 times. She started to get frustrated and I thought, 'this is it - here comes the too bugged to sing part.' But she recovered, pretty much only myself knowing about her disappointment in the quiet of the meeting. I had to play for the song number just before ours, so I was on the stand when it was our turn.

I hoped it wasn't like the Primary program, where I had been playing for the children's singing. When they began their speaking parts the primary leaders were suddenly looking all around asking for Esther. Esther? Where was she? Oh NO! I was horrified when I realized that in the transition Primary coming up after the sacrament Esther had been left behind, coloring. And then I knew she was still there, on the floor in the very back of the chapel (more like into the gymn) coloring away, oblivious to the meeting. And, of course, caught off guard like that she DID NOT say her lines, pretty much missed the whole primary program she was so upset and made an awful scene with her big sister who was trying to help her out while I kept playing piano for the hour.

But now I watched carefully to see ALL my children come up and yes, Esther was in the group. There was no step stool and the little ones couldn't be seen overtop, so I picked up Zoie and Mike picked up Est (I really have NO IDEA who had Clara in the congregation but I didn't hear any screaming goin' on). We shuttled Katey up front, Isaac and Mikela on one side of us, Anna and Emily on the other and everyone seemed ready and the music began. Mike leaned Esther over, into the mic for her opening solo line (we KNEW how good she could do it, we just didn't know WOULD she do it?!) I thought I saw her crouch into Mike's shoulder, too shy. ugh.

But no, she leaned up and closer to the mic. And sing? Sing she did! The MOST BEAUTIFUL I've EVER heard her. And that did it, I looked out on an audience full of tears. From that simple little primary song, led by a child, they were immediately touched. She did it. She sang. And because of it the whole song was wonderful.

I taught my Sunday school class about what it means to be a star today (to have the light of Christ within), how you MUST shine and share it (serve, be the best you, follow the spirit, reach your fullest potential!). As hard as it is to be a star (takes SO MUCH courage to stand up and stand out), the blessings are worth it.
and LOOK at what a difference one can make. What if Esther had hidden her light in fear? It really would have ruined it all, been so much less of a song.

What I'm saying is, it IS hard to be a star sometimes (truly painful to have others looking on, to stand alone, to have to stay steady and bright under pressure - like Esther had to today), but I've been reminded this week, just HOW IMPORTANT it for ME to step up and do my part, let my voice, my part of the song, be heard. It is IMPORTANT for you too. SO SING!!! ;)

Love, C.

P.S. Talk about singing, we had the GREATEST evening here singing carols with about 50 friends in our home, a tradition that started for us in NH at Judy Loftus's home. I LOVED it so. (3rd time doing it here in PA already) Thank you Judy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finally, a new post!

Unbelievable that the last blog was the middle of October! Life is SUCH a RUSH! I'll post pics later but let you know through journaling - we had the MOST AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL trip home to Utah for Thanksgiving. After leaving our PA home at 3 am (after pretty much no sleep) we drove to Baltimore. Due to traffic troubles we made it just in time to hurry through the airport and board the plane. We landed to a WONDERFUL HOFFMAN family welcome in SLC, hugged and loved everyone and enjoyed the amazing feast Mom Hoffman prepared, then loaded in again for the long trek to Canada! (12 hr. drive - we made it as far as our exhausted selves could that night, found a motel, and finished the trip up in the morning.) Once we arrived at Grandma's (Grandma Great to the children!)the pain of travel was immediately worth it! What an incredibly priceless weekend we enjoyed with our precious Grandma!! It was a TREASURE to be with her. She LOVED the children with hugs, loves, naming each of them immediately (how many great grandma's could do that - without most their sight!?), spoiled them with the candy bowl on the counter, their favorite sugar cereals, and all the attention a grandma can give. I loved perusing pictures of gorgeous Grandma and Grandpa young and at the beginning of it all, and filling the children in on stories. Grandma reminded them of the intense, incomprehendable now, work of tagging and preparing Christmas trees in the cold northern winter of B.C. for shipping all over the north. She also reminded us, in her voice as quiet as a whisper now, of some of the greatest miracles and testimonies she has experienced to KNOW GOD LIVES and sent us THE SAVIOR. Our two days with Grandma filled us up with joy! We couldn't believe, when we arose early to leave Monday morning, that she was getting on her little jacket to follow us outside, down the ramp, with the walker, to the car. We'd seen the neighbors cats being blown off their porch that morning. But like the Grandma I know, full of love stronger than wind (or stroke, or a bad heart, or cancer)she HAD to come - she wanted to see the kids smashed in with all that luggage in the back seat ;)! I couldn't help but cry in great gratitude for that tiny woman, wind whipping all around her, as we backed out of the driveway with the kids yelling "I LOVE YOU, GRANDMA!" out the windows. We made the drive back in one full day; I could not BELIEVE how good the children were. Really, REALLY good. WOW. I had kind of expected WWIII to break out in the backseat, being smashed in and traveling so long. I didn't have to climb into the back seat one time! (That's what four older, helpful children will do for you when you have 4 younger ones on a long trip!) We spent a very fun night and day with Heather and family in Perry - loved the new addition to their home, BABY DAVIS!! (we loved the cool new basement too, Heath). How we wished we had even longer. We drove to Hoffman's and LOVED a FULL and FANTASTIC Thanksgiving with EVERYONE!!! (well, except the family missionaries). Talking about missionaries, two of the most FORTUNATE happenings occured right after we left: Karie's miracle baby girl arrived!! and Mom and Dad Hoffman received their mission call to OUR MISSION!!!!!!!! How AMAZING is THAT!?! We are incredibly grateful for this TENDER MERCY. After a special Sunday meal and FHE with all the Hoffmans we headed to Springville to spend a night and day with my brother, Spenc and his sweet Steph and Maylee (Hope Lindsey soon to come!). They showed us Romania, and we toured the castles of Europe (via computer pics from their 3 months there last year! LOVED IT!) and Isaac got his first tour of BYU campus. Thanks for the really FUN time Spenc and Steph - loved being with you! We stopped and saw temple square lights coming home and couldn't stop marveling over seeing seven temples lit up in the valley as we drove from Provo to Bountiful that night. How tremendously remarkable. The whole trip was full, fast and FANTASTIC!!!!!! What a JOY!
Upon arriving home we landed just in time for the girls (Anna, Emily,and Mikela's)orchestra concert - I will never get over the school symphony here - really tremendous. The girls love the opportunity to also play together in chamber orchestra which meets twice a week before school (all 3); then piano recital and Knights music (Isaac) singing at Loyalsock lighting ceremony; then we packed and hit the road again, this time just 3 hrs down it to Kari's for new Baby's blessing. I couldn't resist the temptation of staying with Mom and all 3 of my sisters there for a few days. Needless to say, nearly a month later, I just barely unpacked the suitcases as Christmas was in full force upon my return. And I am glad to say I am LOVING IT! We are rejoicing in time with friends here and the GATHERING of the SEASON!