Christmas 2015: My only regret is that I was busy sorting


Christmas is about music.

My favorite Christmas traditions include–evolve around, really–music. And one Christmas carol in particular, the peaceful lullaby, Silent Night. Over and over again, year after year, I’ve asked my Mom to come and play an arrangement at church during the month of December. She’s played with me in a Relief Society meeting and in Sacrament meetings. I feel like ward members are unsuspecting suspects of the incredible calm and spirit of peace that are about to float down on them and envelope them in Christmas warmth. Listening to my mom play the violin is therapeutic.

I remember many times, growing up, listening to her play with her own mom, Grandma DeeDee, accompanying her. This was my childhood: listening to mom and grandma play beautiful arrangements. I loved listening to them, and I took their incredible talents for granted. I just didn’t know. But sitting in the living room, listening to them practice Dvorak’s Songs my Mother Taught Me has become a part of my heart.

Grandma DeeDee also plays Silent Night. Her arrangement is a piano solo. Years ago, she sat with me at the piano, with my own copy of the music, and wrote her secrets on it. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I love this particular Christmas carol the most. Both my mom and my grandma have taken arrangements and made their own additions, writing additional notes in, cutting and pasting even, to make them their very own.

Mom played with me in my ward this year. When I sat down at the piano in the chapel, I realized that grand piano keys are not the same size as the little, skinny keys of my piano at home. I think I held my breath for the first half of the piece while my fingers tried to adjust their muscle memory to the new width. Nobody really noticed, though. They were all listening to the beautiful violin. So was I.

Grandma DeeDee played at the family Christmas party. She plays it almost every year (arthritic fingers allowing). I loved it when we were kids, crowded into her living room, dim lights, listening to her chiming the bells, chromatically playing Silent Night, and sending us out the door into the snow with her love. This year, I wasn’t sitting in the living room, I was behind the curtains on the stage, cleaning up costumes. I regret it. I should have left the mess.

We had the party at a ward because there are so many of us now. We ate corn dogs and salads, we saw family in town for the holidays, and then it was time for the little pageant with her great grandchildren. Grandma put me in charge of this every year and every year, I am sure that it will be a flop, but every year, the kids are adorable in their makeshift costumes, sitting on stage for a short script reminding us of the story from the Bible.


After the kids were done, they all ran backstage, we closed the curtains, and their costumes landed in heaps as they ran off to play. I started sorting through them, putting them in the box or the bag. I didn’t want to lose things so I had to get it done right then, right? For some reason, I felt some immediacy to sorting the mess so when I heard the piano sounds of Grandma playing, when they came slightly muffled through the thick curtains, I only half listened.

Grandma is 98. Did I mention that?

Last year, one of my mom’s cousins took a video of her playing at their family party. He shared it on YouTube so I can embed it and share it here. Listening through the computer isn’t the same as listening while curled up in her warm living room, but I can’t invite you to the family parties of my past.

Next year, I’m going to drop everything to sit at Grandma’s feet and listen to her play.

Celebrating Independence


WARNING: I am about to inundate you with animated gifs. Brace yourself, my friend.

We played with family on the 4th.

Leading up to the holiday, folks would ask me if we had plans. I figured that we would, eventually. And we did. Family came through and it turned into an all day party (broken up with a little bit of napping).

In the morning, Nathan, Dom and I crashed the breakfast put on by our old ward. They didn’t even know we were coming so they were, obviously, pleasantly surprised. It’s been about 9 months since we moved out so, as expected, many people were surprised by how big Dom is now. I had to ditch out for a while to go and meet up with an HVAC guy at our home (which didn’t actually fix our a/c, but that’s a whole other story, entirely), so I’m not sure how many of the old women Dom flirted it up with.

After that, we moved on to Grumma’s house for a delicious brunch. We picked up Mern and Campbie Joe on the way, which was fun for Dom to ride in the back seat with other people. At Grumma’s, we also met up with my parents and Thane’s family for eating then swimming. Dom loved swimming. He wanted to sit on the side and push himself in, over and over and over.

Campbie Joe had a blast jumping in to his mom’s or his dad’s arms. See?


All the kids had a darn good time and the grandparents enjoyed relaxing in the shade.

At first, we couldn’t get a table, chairs, umbrella when we got to the pool because several families were already there. Then one family left and told us that we could move our stuff to their table. Nice gestures are always appreciated and it was such a contrast to the three younger women that piled their towels on several chairs, put their tanning oils on the table, but then laid on the lounge chairs in the sun. When we first showed up, those women even made a point of putting a towel on another chair as if to mark their territory against this family with their noisy, splashing kids. But, they were very tan.

More pictures of Dom relaxing after swimming, happy and steady Teddy, Mern and Campbie Joe’s smiles, the floating babes, Hobbes rocking the floaties, Campbie Joe’s pointy-toe, Alice swimming with her daddy, and the grandparents all shaded up.


After swimming, it was nap time. Then after nap time, we loaded up on fireworks from the big tent in the Rancho Markets parking lot and meandered up to Opa and Grandmere’s for some dinner and more family time.

Dom’s figuring out how to jump and spent some time learning from his cousin:


And to animate that bad boy, here ya go:


We had cupcakes after dinner. When Dom saw them, he started to sing his rendition of Happy Birthday.


And Opa had a great time singing Beach Boys with the babes in his arms.


I didn’t get any pictures of fireworks, but we lit those off in the street after desserts. Some of the kids loved it, others were scared of the noise. We bought some parachute fireworks and were excited to get those as they floated to the ground. Only, there was wind.

Thane even tried running around the block to catch the last one that we shot up.

But the parachute failed and it plummeted to the earth somewhere in the neighbor’s yard.

Maybe next year, we’ll get a parachute or two.