Friday, January 20, 2012

Flyin' Solo

Jemma spent 12 days away from home at the beginning of January and at the end of her homeschool swap out in Albuquerque with the Gariety's, flew home unaccompanied. I was so nervous the whole day she was scheduled to fly home...but I shouldn't have been, cuz it was Jemma.

Her Aunt Sharee (my sister) made sure she was all set and boarded on the airplane and Brandon had the privilege of picking her up in Oakland. I wish I could get him to type up this story, but for some reason, he has NOT done it. I even uploaded the pics he took at the airport for him, but alas, no commentary from Brandon. I have waited long enough, and although it would be better told in his words, (since he was actually there), I will do my best to relate it.

Brandon was waiting at the gate for Jemma. The passengers were already coming off the plane, and while he waited, a lady came off the plane, walked his way, then turned and stood beside him. He didn't think a whole lot of it...just that perhaps she was waiting for someone as well. Turns out she was...after not to long, she turned to him and said, "You must be Brandon. I'm waiting for Jemma too. My name's Kristina and I sat by Jemma on the plane". She went on to say that it was the most enjoyable and interesting flight she had ever been on. Jemma had colored princess pictures for her and filled her in on all the nitty-gritty details of the Reed household, and Kristina, in turn, had taught her to draw stars. Leave it to Jemma talk her ear off the entire flight. Why was I not surprised.

Here's Jem comin' off the plane.

Jemma and Kristina.

Although I will probably never have an opportunity to thank this woman in person, I just want to say that I am OH-SO-GRATEFUL that this woman sat next to my daughter and allowed her to just be "Jemma" for the duration of the 2 hour flight. :)

When she got home, I asked her what she missed most. Without hesitation, she responded, "My brothers!"...Mom and Dad were a close 2nd though. :)
We sure missed our Jemma-Lou (No, that's not her middle name, just a nickname we can't seem to let go of). I still can't believe she was gone for 12 days and that she flew home solo. What a big girl she is! Love you big and are so glad you're home again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas in Tahoe

I realize Christmas was almost 3 weeks ago, but it would be a sin not to blog about it, so here goes.

This year we spent Christmas up at my grandparents cabin in Northstar at Tahoe. We always go up just before or after Christmas, but this year we spent the actual holiday there and it was WONDERFUL...aside from the fact that we did not have snow. Sad. So much for a white Christmas. And, about half of the family caught a nasty flu bug...wouldn't be an official family get-together without a little sickness I guess. (Darn it.)

Sharee, I bet you are loving me for posting this picture of you...especially as my first picture. You are adorable, and it's the only picture I got that shows the adorable V-day runner we all made! Mom had a genius idea to have us all make matching runners and introduce the rest of the girls to free-motion quilting. I think we have some new addicts! :)

Doesn't Sharee's look fabulous? All my sisters are naturals, but if I had to give an award out for the one who can quilt at super-sonic speeds, it would be Jewel. Those little fingers can whip out some serious stippling! :)
Jewel and Mel.

Like I said, we spent Christmas up there and my amazing parents brought a tree all the way up there, cuz, let's face it, it just wouldn't feel the same without a tree! The kids worked hard one afternoon painting, gluing, and folding to create ornaments for the tree.

Here it is. All decorated and all with homemade ornaments. It turned out SO CUTE. I may never buy an ornament again!

We also celebrated Brandon's 29th birthday up there. (Oh my goodness! I just realized I didn't do a birthday post for him! I am a terrible wife. SORRY HONEY!) Natalie made these cream filled cupcakes and let Jemma help her decorate them. They were DeLiSh!

Brandon prepping to blow his candles out.

Christmas Eve was a busy night. After celebrating Brandon's birthday, the kids put on the Nativity for us. Jemma was Mary this year (boy was she excited about that) and Carter was a donkey. Aren't all those costumes cute? A lady in our ward let us borrow it all and bring it up here. It made me want to start making my own stash of Nativity costumes. It's goin' on the list. ;)

(Jemma in her hiding place and Carter and Hayden in theirs.)

After the nativity, the kids built their forts to hide from Santa.

For those of you who don't know, one of our family traditions is to hide from and watch Santa deliver our presents on Christmas morning. He always tells us in a letter the approximate time he'll be arriving and reminds us to be sound asleep in our beds. So, we set our alarm clocks for 15 min. before he arrives so we can quickly climb into our hiding places and spy on him when he arrives. For some reason, he always uses our front door, and he always falls asleep on the couch for a few minutes, but never has he caught us. I've been doing it for 28 Christmas' now, and he's yet to find us out. ;)

Christmas morning:

Poor Jemma threw up about 20 minutes before Santa arrived, but somehow we had her bathed and clean before he came through the door. She hid with her daddy at the top of the stairs instead of behind her stack of presents so they would have quick access to the bathroom.

Carter with his new playmobile police helicopter. (Thanks Kristina for introducing those to kids are HOOKED.)

Our family had my sister Jewel's family this year for Christmas and I made my first quilt to give away. I know, that's pathetic that it's taken me so long to give one away, but those babies are a lot of work, and I seem to always need more blankets. ;) This is the best picture I got of it that morning. So, you can go here to see a better picture of it. (This is a blog my long distance friends and I use so we can still see each others projects.)

We gave Mom and Dad the start of a Mission Fund this year. Mom & Dad cried. Not our intent, but a good sign they liked it.

All the brothers-in-law got together this year and planned a gift for all their wives; a trip to Vegas to see Celine Dion in concert!!! We were freaking out! They were so creative and gave us a letter bank and hangman blanks to figure out what the gift was. Probably the funnest way I have EVER figured out what my gift was. Thanks again guys! And, ladies, I can't wait to see you all January 21st on the Strip. :)

Gavin slept through most of the early morning festivities. (There was NO WAY we were getting him up to watch Santa. He would have scared him away for sure!) But he sure enjoyed opening his gifts. :)

After church, we attempted to take a picture of the whole family. This top one is about the best we could get, of us being serious that is.

My personal favorite is this close up shot of Mom & Dad though. :)

What a wonderful Christmas we had! It was so fun to be all together up there. I have to admit, when everyone went back home, I was a little depressed for a day or two...things were just too quiet.

Love & miss you guys!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Picture (attempt)

A few days before Christmas (and before our tree turned completely brown) I tried to get some pictures of the kids in front of the tree...had I been successful, there would only be 4 pictures on this post. (One for each child, and a group shot.) Gavin, however, was less than cooperative, so there are 6 pictures - and not one of them has all three children. Whatever.

It took .5 seconds to get a good smile from Jemma...

a minute (that may have included bribery) for Carter...see that hand? It's itching for the m&m's I promised him...

...silly boys....

...Gavin was originally sitting on Jemma's lap here...
...and when it was all said and done, this little guy still did not give me a real smile...just his, "I've got you in the palm of my little hand," look.

What a little stinker.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Home School Swap

A few months back I had had a particularly challenging week of homeschooling and was at my wits end. Poor Jemma was discouraged - and I really couldn't blame her. She was missing her slew of Oregon friends and was, frankly, tired of playing/putting up with little brothers and sick of me sitting her down to do school. Enough said, it was then that I felt prompted to call my amazing big sister, Sharee and ask her if she would be interested in doing a home school swap. She is homeschooling her 2nd grade daughter, Daphne, this year and Jemma ADORES her. She agreed to it and our girls were SUPER excited about it. :)

Daphne spent December 12th-19th with our family and we LOVED having her.
I am ashamed to say that of the 6 Christmas crafts I had planned, we only got around to 3 - and I only took pictures of 2 of them. Lame. (In my defense, we did the other 3 up at the cabin later over Christmas with ALL the nieces and nephews.)
Here they are painting little Christmas house ornaments - here's the tutorial for making the houses out of cereal/jello/cracker boxes. Again, I'm a loser and forgot to take pictures of the finished houses. They were ADORABLE. Daphne is an especially good painter.

We also did borax crystal snowflakes. SO COOL! I am going to make these every year! Tutorial here. (You'll have to scroll down a ways to see it.)
We also went to see the new Muppet Movie - very cute - read LOTS of Christmas books, fed the ducks (and were almost eaten by the aggressive and ginormous geese!), played at Nona's house and played lots of games while the girls weren't playing dress-up, barbies, polly-pockets, princesses or make-believe.

Yes, there was a bit of home sickness, but I think that should be expected from someone comin' from a family as fun and fantastic and Daphne's. :)

Daphne was also a good sport and participated in our ward Nativity as a "shepherdess" ;) with Jemma, also a shepherdess, and Carter, the donkey.

We loved having you Daph!

So, like I said, this was/is a swap, so that means, Jemma is in New Mexico right now soakin' in the Gariety Family until next Monday night when she flies home SOLO to Cali. I'll be nervous about that until she walks off that plane.

My first goal for this swap was for Jemma to have an opportunity to strengthen her relationship with her cousin Daphne. We've bounced around a lot in her short life, and she's had to say goodbye to a lot of friends. Daphne, however, is family and there's always a reunion or something around the corner. :)

My second goal was for Jemma to see how other families function - my sister Sharee and her husband, Arthur are raising a stellar family, so hopefully they don't put us to shame. ;) I think one of the greatest blessings of home school is that you can teach outside the box - Jem is basically on an extended Social Studies field trip. :)

Thanks Sharee for letting us have Daphne as part of our family for a week and for taking such great care of Jemma!

Jemma's birthday

We celebrated Jemma's birthday at home. With all the relatives we have close by, we decided to make it a "family only" party. This was probably the most people any of us have ever had come to a birthday party and miss Jemma ended up with a crazy number of presents. I am pleased to report, however, that she did not get spoiled and was quick to share all of her new stuff. :)

I have to admit, having so much family around cut my work in half. Brandon's Grandma Jean supplied all the balloons and she and Brandon's Aunt Jill made an adorable birthday banner they hung infront of the house. (I'm kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture of it before Brandon took it down.) My mom decorated Jemma's cake and she and my sister, Jewel, made all the cupcakes. Thanks guys! You're the best.

The birthday girl right before the guests arrived.
The set-up.

Blowin' out the candles. She got to do it twice cuz the first time I didn't have the camera ready.

Opening presents - her cousin, Daphne (visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico) helped her read her cards. Aren't they cute with their matching hair? :)

It sure was a fun night. Thanks to all the of the loving family that came by to help us celebrate this gem of a girl! :)

Temple Trip

I realize I should have blogged about this back in November when it happened, but, as I am sure you can all relate, life has been a little crazy, and my blogging has been sporadic and sparse. So, better late than never. :)

Brandon's father, Mike, step mom, Debbie and brother, Austin all were baptized and became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints November 18th, 2010. Exactly one year later, November 18th 2011, Brandon and I were privileged to go with his dad and step mom through the temple for their first time. It was a WONDERFUL experience. I was unable to attend their baptism, so it was a truly sweet opportunity for both Brandon and I to be here for this occasion. Mike and Debbie received their endowments and were sealed to one another for time and all eternity. The four of us.

Mike & Debbie.
This sweet little blond gal was one of the sister missionaries who taught Mike & Debbie the gospel. She and her husband were able to come out to be a part of this incredible day.
I am so grateful for the blessing of temples - for the opportunities they allow for continued spiritual growth and understanding and, perhaps most of all, for the sealing power therein that provides a way for families to be eternal.
We love you guys! Thanks for letting us be a part of this special day.