There's a high of 70 today.

So we hopped a train to the Dallas Zoo, which I like more every time I go.  Happy New Year!


Ella wrote a song.

I have to say, Paul and I were shocked at how accurately she reproduced notes.  I think I'll save teaching her about the staff later.


'Tis the Season.

I shouldn't have been, but was, surprised, as I was going through the last couple of months of pictures, at how many pictures we have of Charlotte naked.  In my defense, this particular one was taken when it was still quite warm outside.  You know, in October.  

But, let's be real, she was also naked when Richard and Jess showed up for dinner tonight.  And I didn't bother getting her dressed until bedtime either.  We were doing a paint craft, and her outfit was too cute to ruin.

We have been crazy busy this last week, and I don't know that it will let up until after Christmas.  Paul had last week off of work, which was so fun.  And we made the most of our family time.  And even fit a little 'stay-cation' into the week.  We headed to Great Wolf Lodge for a couple of days.  And then headed to my sister, Laurel's wedding.  The Lodge was very fun, and I think it will become a tradition.  And the wedding was lovely.  If I ever have to get married again (let's hope not), I'm going to elope, too.

I am the ward choir director, and music chair, so there are just a few last minute things to take care of for the Christmas program.  We had friends stay the night last night on their way to Amarillo.  And the night before we went Christmas Caroling with a big group from the ward.  Plus we're still recovering from the wedding.  It was a big weekend.  I don't think Ella's been asleep before 10pm in a week.  Tomorrow we have an evening rehearsal, Friday morning I have another rehearsal (different group), but the evening should calm down and Saturday will be nice and quiet.  Can't wait for Christmas.  It is such a wonderful season.

I read this amazing article about celebrating the material at Christmastime.  You can find it here.  It was beautifully written and thought provoking.

Hope your pre-Christmas week is going wonderfully!


Remember that day...

That we went out to a restaurant for dinner and they had computers on every table with computer games? 

You can also place your order and use them to pay. But that's obviously a secondary function. 


Play first, eat later.

Paul was home with the girls the other day for lunch and was busy in the kitchen, when he turned to find Ella spelling with her green beans. 

We think she's pretty cute.


Merry Christmas!

I've been doing a lot of soul searching on Christmas this year.  And last year actually.  And maybe the year before.  It all kind of blurs together.  It all began with a ward Christmas party where Santa made an appearance.  It was just after the Nativity performance, which was lovely, and left us feeling so peaceful and spiritual and wonderful.  Well, Santa came in, and the kids started going crazy.  And, there went the Spirit.

So, anyway, the girls (I think it was just Ella back then) were young enough that it didn't really matter if we talked about Santa or not.  So we just didn't.  This year I felt like I needed to decide one way or another if Santa was going to be part of our Christmas traditions.  And so we decided.

He's not.

Well, not really.  Obviously, they know who Santa is.  How can you not if you ever leave the house in December?  Or November.  Or October, incidentally. So I just recently informed Ella he was just a pretend part of Christmas.  Mostly just to clarify.  It didn't seem to really surprise her, probably because, all she knows about Santa consists in large dolls on display in stores.  And the Grinch book.  I really like that book.  We read it year round at our house.

On a related note, this year, while Paul was setting up the tree, she asked him, "Why are you taking our Christmas tree, why?"  Which is a direct quote from Cindy Lou Who in the Grinch.  We thought it was pretty funny.

Maybe I should have told her that some people pretend that Santa brings the presents.  Because the Grinch kind of gives the wrong idea on that vein. But I bet she'll figure it out eventually.

So, we just came home from this year's ward Christmas party, which had the same setup, and I have to say, they managed to keep the Santa line very calm.  So, I didn't feel like it was a huge detraction from the Nativity.  But I don't regret our decision.  Santa doesn't really add anything to Christmas for me.

The magic of Christmas is the birth of our Savior.  It just doesn't get more magical than that.  I don't need to make up stories for my kids to feel the awe-inspiring spirit surrounding Christmas.

In any case, I know all of you think that I am probably crazy.  But I'm sort of fine with that.  I also don't care if you do Santa at your house.  And you probably do.  We were the only family who left without seeing Santa tonight.  Which is also fine.  Santa is really fun.  And it's a fun tradition.  And I totally understand why you are doing Santa.  It took me at least two years to make this decision, remember?  So, no judging here.  I will also be sitting down with Ella next year and having a serious talk about not spilling the beans on Santa.  She's too little this year to be a risk, I think. :)

Anyhow, if you want to know the real reason I shared this new family tradition, it is in the hopes that it will eclipse the article I am about to post.  Which is about not buying gifts at Christmas.  I wouldn't usually post it on this blog, mostly because I have lots of strong opinions, and they don't need to be out in cyberspace offending people. But I want to keep track of the link, and this is the best place to do it.  So, if you want to know if I'm really crazy, just click here.  It is a link to a blog called  It is titled The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents.  (All that information is for me in case the link ever goes bad.)

But, if you're wondering.  It's too late this year.  The gifts have been purchased.  Although, we really tried to simplify.  I guess Paul doesn't have his gift yet, but he will.  And I imagine he will get me something, too.  But the extended family is covered.  The girls are covered.  So, there is no need to feel sorry for us on Christmas morning this year. :)