Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Randolph-Sengs

 Our Christmas Tree

 Our gingerbread house. 

Below: Pictures taken at Luke's Christmas Piano Recital.

 Christmas lights at our house.

 Merry Christmas! No cards this year. We didn't get pictures made and I imagined you opening the card and saying, "No picture? Lame." So maybe next year. Until then...

 Showing the loot from stockings with Daddy. 

Two of the videos we made for family on Christmas morning.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Spirit...NOT

In line today at Walmart, I somewhat-yelled at Luke, "NO. We are not getting anything for you today!"

Another exemplary moment:
Luke and Brandon were arguing about something yesterday morning while getting ready to go do one of our Christmas traditions. I went out there and yelled, "I am tired of this! I am tired of dragging your butts to Christmas cheer!"

{Just this week I was telling Luke and Petey not to say butt. Or, in Petey's case, not to say bott.
"Honey, say bum instead."
Petey: "No, bott."}

Anyway, Luke and Brandon actually made up right away and were sweet and cheery while I simmered for a little while longer. (eyes rolling.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Poem

I found a new blog- Chronicles of a Country GirlI haven't had time to explore it, but she has really beautiful photography. She lives in Maryland (I almost typed Virginia, because that's how I felt looking at the photos.) The above photo of the cardinal was copied from her site. There were others I loved, but this one is good to accompany this poem (which I found at, a sister site to Simple Homeschool, a site I like.)

I Heard a Bird Sing
by Oliver Herford
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember
‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

We are nearer to Spring than we were in September. That can apply to certain seasons of our lives, I think.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I need to learn how to stand in the puke when there is no puke, or what I learned this week from the scriptures.

Recognizing that my mothering does not always align with my feelings of love for my boys, I asked Heavenly Father to help me to love Luke more like He loves him. Tuesday night as I prayed, I had a nudging thought that to love him more like that, I'd need to serve him and it might be hard, but I knew I really needed this blessing.

Wednesday morning, I read from Matthew, chapter 14 where Jesus learned of the beheading of John the Baptist, and he "departed then by ship into a desert place apart." But the people thronged to him. He couldn't mourn immediately, or privately. Or at least he chose not to. "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick." I stopped reading at “compassion,” and I repeated to myself, “Jesus had compassion.”

At breakfast, Luke didn't eat very much and he said his tummy felt bad. By mid-day, he was throwing up. Twice, he made it to the toilet. Once, I wasn't so lucky. He almost made it. Having reached the tiled bathroom floor, he vomited again and again, a substance more like water than puke, clear and orange-y smelling. His small frame, made smaller in his extremity.

He sat in the tub while I cleaned. Quietly he said, “I’m sorry Momma.” 
“Why are you sorry?” 
“I’m sorry I didn’t make it to the toilet.”
“That’s okay, you couldn’t help it.” 
I said it kindly, and honestly. I really meant it. I had rolled my jeans up like a pirate, and was standing in puke. And I loved him more than I loved myself. 

I cleaned and disinfected. (I washed my feet.) I carried a bundle to the laundry. By six o'clock, Luke had fallen asleep on the bed in our "art room." (Yes, a bed in the art room. Disaster lurks around every corner at our house.) 

When his father came home, he gave him a blessing.

The next morning, Thursday, Luke was better. He was chipper and playful and totally fine.
That morning I read the remainder of Matthew 14. Jesus feeds the five thousand, and then sends the multitude away and sends his disciples to get into a ship. And, "...he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone."

I don't know why this moved me so much, but finally Jesus gets to be alone. I guess I felt a little bit of compassion for Jesus.

"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary."

"And in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea."

When I've read this passage before (and what follows), I’ve always been struck by Peter’s impetuous nature, going to the Savior on the water. I've always been struck by the need to keep my eyes on the Savior lest I sink into the water. I've always been struck by the Savior who immediately rescues Peter. But this time, as I read this passage, I noted the footnote of verse 25, which explains that the fourth watch is between three and six in the morning. That is so late. I've needed the Savior to come to me in the literal late hours. 

He did not come immediately, but he came. And I think He knew He would come. And so when he asks Peter, “wherefore didst thou doubt?” I think He’s saying: I am the Savior. I am a sure thing, surer than the water that sucks you under, surer than any inky depths. How can you doubt me?

And I think He is saying that to me:  I am the Savior, and I am a sure thing, surer than any water, or devil, or trial, or inherited personality trait. I will save you and I will save yours; my promises and our covenants are sure.

I had asked Heavenly Father to help me to love Luke more like He loves Luke. First, I need to serve him, and maybe not in a fluffy, “I made you cookies!” kind of way. I need to serve him when he needs it. And I need to feel his need in a personal, not removed, kind of way --standing in the puke, so to speak.

And I need to love him from a faithful place, not from a place of fear, knowing that Jesus will walk on the water to me or to Luke, and even if it isn't until the fourth watch, it will still be okay. 

(By the way, I do not believe that Luke was struck with a stomach bug just so I could have an obvious object lesson.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Brandon's bike got stolen--again. Yes, yes, I know he should lock it up or put it in the garage. But he forgot. He probably forgot because when he got home around seven last night, he came in, immediately had dinner with us, did some dishes, then went to work applying for a few new jobs.

He was up this morning at six, and by seven, he was ready to go. It's really dark when he gets up in the morning.

I have been thinking about being thankful even when things don't go the way I hope. For example, Brandon has an interview coming up!!! For a few days, in my mind, he already had the job. And I felt thankful. But, I'm going to try to remember to be thankful even if it doesn't pan out.

I know Heavenly Father has a plan for us. In the past, the plan has consistently not followed what I think should happen. But we have felt the Lord's hand over us and seen Him make a way when there was no way. And I'm going to try to remember that, even while a teensy part of me trembles at the thought that He's only just begun to work on us.

Worth five minutes of your time, even if you've already seen it. (Click twice to see it better.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boys and Broomsticks

Today, I pretended to be a witch and carried the boys on my broom (Literally. And it wasn't easy.) to my gingerbread house where I wanted to fatten them up. "What can I tempt you with, my pretty? Will you eat icecream, chocolate chip cookies, a juicy steak?" It didn't matter what I said, Luke said, "No." He understood that I was trying to make him plump for eating. But each time Luke said, "No" or "Uh-uh," Pete quietly and resolutely said, "Yes."

(I'm feeling my first rush of excitement that Christmas is coming!)

Click on the pictures for sources.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two love letters

I do not keep a regular journal. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I am very embarrassed by my teenage self when every entry, every entry! was about a boy. Not always the same boy, but you get the picture. Oh the angst, then and the angst now, remembering. Then there's the undeniable fact that sometimes I'm crazy. So when I'm crazy and I just have to let the dam bust, I write by hand on random loose-leaf paper. And I write quickly and sometimes I cross out paragraphs with large x's. And the handwriting is not neat. The letters are small and kind of spiky. And the lines scratch my unhappiness or anger across the paper. Then I fold those papers into quarters and stuff them in my dresser drawers. And I feel a lot better. But I don't want them bound into a journal! Hello, posterity, your great great granny sends you her love and...tempests. (yyeck-I don't want to be called Granny.) So, I begin journals when I am well and happy and spiritually on. But I'm only human and I don't always stay that way. And it's just too real.

But I do this instead: I blog, irregularly. And I write love letters and save them on my computer. (Sometimes a tad bit of the crazy seeps in, just in case you're worried that I'll only pass that down in my genes and parenting practices.)
Mostly, they are intensely personal and I feel like a traitor publishing them, so they stay private. But here are two I wrote tonight:

October 22, 2010 (wee hours of the morning.)

Dear Luke and Pete,

Tonight I made 2 fresh raspberry pies. I am very proud of myself. I put them in the freezer and we will bake them later. Raspberries were on sale for 50 cents a half-pint and that is a tremendous deal. Your father and I picked through them and tossed the moldy ones—they went bad quickly! That was frustrating. But, oh well. I told your Dad that if he didn’t help me do that, then he couldn’t have any raspberry pie (like the story of The Little Red Hen) because I did NOT want to do it by myself and he did NOT want to help. I won. He helped. Then he took out the garbage. Bless that man. I gave him packages I thought would be extra moldy so I wouldn’t have to deal with them. My selfish plan didn’t always work though; I got some really gross ones. Anyway, this is supposed to be a note about how I’m going to bake wonderful and delicious raspberry pies. Maybe we should call them Moldy Raspberry Pies because you guys always seem to think that gross-ness is hilarious.

Love, Mommy

Dear Brandon,

Tonight I slipped you the packages of raspberries I didn’t want to pick through. Thank you for helping me. I think you’ll like the pie.

Love you always,


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yellow, Green, Bwue: an education

I'm starting a new blog:

I need a spot to log my homeschooling brainstorms, links, reading lists, and travails.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To all the girls I've loved before

Dear Friends,
I love this and want to share it with you. Enjoy!
Love, Carrie

Monday, September 6, 2010

An update, a diagnosis, and a poster child

We've started homeschooling, sort of. We've started in that I'm not sending him to school and we read everyday. We're settling into other things gradually. We joined a co-op, which I think will be good for Luke, but feels like a great sacrifice on my part because there are so many people I don't know, so I feel nervous just thinking about it. I'm only extroverted with people I already know and like, ya know? Or if there's no committment, like at the grocery store.

Then we're starting a homeschool playgroup and piano lessons and some kind of sports activity (karate and/or flag football, swimming later in the fall). On paper, it all sounds wonderful. But putting it into practice might give me hives. I think I might be committment-phobic or co-dependent, probably both.

We ran into a couple from our ward, Bishop and Sis. Cr. at the grocery store. Luke interrupted the conversation to say, "I like science." She asked him, "Have you started school now?" He answered while bobbing his head from shoulder to shoulder, "I homeschool!"  At checkout a little while later, he was smacking himself in the head for fun. I whispered in his ear, "Stop hitting yourself in the head." "Why?" "Because it looks like there's something wrong with you."


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

He's still alive.

And it's a miracle.

Pete surrounded by a least a dozen broken eggs. The mess was all over him, all over the floor, inside the refrigerator, under the refrigerator. I cleaned it up all by myself. It's official; I'm an adult.

And just to seal the deal, later that day:
same kitchen, different boy.


Why every boy needs a backyard and a beningly negligent parent.

Friday, July 2, 2010

In the Rain with Pete

To be in love Is to touch with a lighter hand. In yourself you stretch, you are well.
-Gwendolyn Brooks

Pete and I had an impromptu walk in the rain today. I was supposed to be putting him down for a nap. Instead, we sloshed our flip-flop clad feet through the rivers of water in our neighborhood streets and gutters.

A man in the passenger side of a pickup truck gave me a thumb's up as he passed.

When we got home, we stood on the front porch and held our hands out to catch the water spilling from the roof. I wish I could transmit my memory of his wet skin, his hair plastered down, his laugh when he bent his head down to suck the shirt on my shoulder for a drink, how it felt to hold him on my hip in perfect health and happiness.

Also Gwendolyn Brooks : Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies. And be it gash or gold it will not come Again in this identical guise.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mama, snap out of it!

I do not handle most stress well. I am a delightful person when it's easy. But when it's hard, and especially when surrounded by those who should be able to trust me the most, I fall to pieces. I make what's hard harder for everybody. I forget that I set the tone of our home and that I am responsible for more than just myself. So, I've been like that a lot lately.  And today after being a truly terrible mother, it dawned on me: I'm responsible for this. I can choose to get it together and be happy and not out of control. Even if...certain small boys did what they did.

So after a disastrous morning, we left the house and headed for Idalou to the Apple Orchard. It was like the scales peeled away as we passed cows and hay bales. It was sunny and you could see and see and see.

Pete had a walking stick. Oh, Pete. You are the most adorable, kissable thing in this green and blue world. You walked with your stick, avoiding fire ants and cooing at butterflies until you got tired. And then I carried your sweaty body and you were heavy and needy and it was good. And Luke. Luke, we followed you hither and yon, up and down orchard rows and on the tractor rutted road. You and I discussed the best places to build anthills (if we were ants) and how the King Ant has wings. (You corrected your own self about that one--queen ants...) We ate watermelon and cantaloupe, and apple salad, and corn chips and pinto beans. And while we ate, we watched mud martins swoop in to their nests under the eaves of the covered patio. Mr. Cal remembered you, Luke, from the last time you followed him around came home with the trophies of walking sticks made of apple tree branches. I think he remembered you because you were interested in everything he had to say. You still remembered about how he doesn't kill the ants because he likes horn toads and horn toads need the ants for food.

We brought home local honey and german apple cake. Luke and I ate most of it this afternoon, but saved some for Daddy. We might all be a little sunburnt and mosquito bitten. And I feel a little bit more like myself.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Land Desolation-I know exactly where that is.

On our way home from visiting family, we stopped at the rest area on I-70, just before the turn off to get to Moab. This area is desolate. We were in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, through a series of unfortunate events and thanks to Pete's curiosity and handiness, we managed to lock ourselves out of the car. In the middle of nowhere. With no cell phones in our pockets. With no shoes on our child's feet. In the middle of nowhere.

Pete locked us out of the car in the middle of nowhere with the car still running and none of us--not even Petey--was inside.

Earlier, Brandon and I had had this conversation:

Brandon: "Gas here in Lehi is the cheapest I've seen in in Utah."
Carrie: "Stop and get some."
Brandon: "No, I always stop in Moab."
Carrie: "You should stop and get some."
Brandon: "No, I've worked it all out. I always stop at the same places on our trip."
Carrie: "What if something bad happens?"
Brandon: "Nothing's going to happen."
Carrie: "You don't know that. A semi could overturn and we could be waiting for hours. It happened to the Kimballs." (It didn't exactly happen to the Kimballs--their catastrophe was a blizzard.)
Brandon: "We're not going to run out of gas."
Carrie, voice rising: "You don't know everything!"
Brandon: "We're not going to run out of gas. Trust me."
Carrie, voice rising more with a tinge of hysteria: "Why can't you just stop and get gas for me?!"
Brandon: "Oh! You want me to get gas? I'd be happy to."

Back to the middle of nowhere:
A couple from Germany was stopping at the same rest area. They let us use their cell phone. I called 911. "911, where's your emergency?" "Um, normally I wouldn't consider this an emergency, but we're in the middle of nowhere..."

Eighty-five dollars for the locksmith, and 3 hours later, we stopped to fill up at our usual stop.

The above line could also be read like this: I'm such a blessing to him and I didn't hesitate to tell him so.

P.S. That couple from Germany also invited us to stay in their RV for the 2 hours spent waiting for help to arrive. They gave us cokes and cookies. And in thick accents said, "It is no trouble." They lied. I'm glad they lied.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I have something to say.

And I've decided to say it.

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On Sunday a friend of mine bore her testimony of the Savior, that He is God's son, that we are God's children, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet on the earth today, and that the Book of Mormon is true scripture. As I sat in the congregation and listened, I felt the heavens were open.

And I bear my own testimony--born of a witness from the Holy Ghost and my own faith and obedience, that Jesus is the Christ. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Style

My friend (and roommate), Katri, posted this link on her blog. She wrote:

It's a quiz at that defines your decorating style. I like it because it uses pictures instead of descriptions to help you decide what you like.

I say, "Ditto."

I loved it! My results: 33% Cottage Chic, 33 % Classic, and 34% Nantucket.

So, basically, undecided. That's appropriate.

Upon looking at all the photos in each category, I realized I'm in love (in love!) with Cottage Chic and Nantucket.

And you?

Above Cottage Chic Below, Nantucket.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A disjointed post

Today we went to the library.  We were there to return books, to avoid accruing more late fines on Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to check out Book #3 in the Magic Treehouse series, and to get a few books for preschool. Well. I had forgotten all about the library's Easter Extravaganza even though Kaylyn sent out an announcement.
(Kaylyn heads up playgroup now. I feel blissfully happy about that.)

When we were depositing our library books, someone mentioned it to us in passing, "Are you guys going to the Easter thing? They'll have bouncers and stuff." Luke said, "Can we go?!" I couldn't say no, but I wanted to. I don't know why I'm like that. I like the mundane day to day stuff, not the crazy, this is SO fun stuff. But, I'm glad I didn't say no.

At first, Pete was afraid to try out the big blow-up slide. Right before they closed up shop, he did it though, and he loved it. The first time, I had to go in after him and help over the second hurdle (it had two different slides, one after the other.)but, then he figured it out and didn't need any help. He had the hugest grin on his face and his hair was all wild. He would still be sliding if he could.

Luke had so much fun too. After receiving plastic eggs with chocolates inside, he played, "Which egg-shell is the chocolate egg under?" with me. We just sat on the carpet and played. I love that he thought of that. I love that I wanted me to play. I love...well, you know.

So because of all the candy to be had, and bouncers to jump in and slide down, and friends to play with,

We were at the library from 10:45-ish until 2-ish.
As always, they cheered when we left.

But, I'm glad we went because Pete spent lots of time experimenting with the drinking fountain. It was very enriching for him. He learned:

Yes, it really does arc water everytime you push the button! And, you can squirt water in lots of directions!  (I didn't want the library to get sued, so I mopped up the mess.)

And, I did check out a few books for preschool. Twenty-two, to be exact. (Oh, dear.)

And, has anyone seen a stuffed frog? And, thank you to those friends who: helped me track down my stroller, find my toddler, and watched my boys while I checked out all those books. I'm a mess. But I'm a hot mess. Hey, that reminds me, the bumps on my face are pretty much cleared up. (Sonja, it's not cancer.)
Here are pictures to show how I'm feeling about the arrival of Spring.

I love baby animals! I love blossoms!
image courtesy of flickr, by thatsanotherdory

Happy, happy, happy, happy Spring. It's another most wonderful time of the year.

And, more importantly:

(The Easter button above is from Shabby Blogs.)

I guess that's it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I hope it sticks.

Lately, I've thought, okay at least twice, maybe three times, I've thought this:

I can do it.

This thought is foreign and it comes unbidden. And it's wonderful.

A sampling of my thoughts:

"The kitchen and the bathrooms really need to be cleaned. That's okay. I can do it."

"If I get pregnant again, I might have a baby girl. It'll be okay; I can do it."

"If we stay in Lubbock next year, Brandon will be looking for a job again."

Before I finish this thought, I need to interject. This is our second year looking for a job. He has a job, it's just not permanent, tenure-track, and solidly stable and therefore, we are not settled. I have repeatedly and irreverently expressed to God that we just can't do this anymore. But, maybe instead of letting me have my way right this second, Heavenly Father has given me something else. Because,

"If Brandon is looking for a job again, I'll need to smile through it and make a home anyway and anywhere. And I can do it."

I'm still praying though, but asking, not demanding.

P.S. My children's cheeks KILL me. Tonight, I kissed and kissed and kissed my baby's face before letting him doze off.  He's so precious to me.

P.S.S. A glass lid shattered in the dishwasher and so now the dishwasher doesn't drain completely. Today I realized that it's really stupid to continue using a dishwasher that's not draining completely, so I did all the dishes by hand. It took a long time. But it smelled good. And I scoured the kitchen sink first, which made me feel successful.

I washed all the dishes except for the oatmeal pot.  It's soaking. I didn't dry the dishes and they are leaning hodgepodge against one another across two countertops.

And I only cleaned one bathroom. But, Luke worked alongside me. Which is so great! And I'm an amazing mother for not bribing him and for trusting him with ajax and windex. It was rather fun to kneel side by side and scrub the tub.

And the point is, I thought I could do it. And I couldn't, not exactly. The oatmeal pot is still dirty. The dishes are not put away. The upstairs bathroom is still filthy. But, really, what does it matter when one baby was kissed and kissed and the other was read to and scrubbed a sink all by himself?

I'd love to hear about how you were...enough. But, I'll understand if you don't follow suit and blog all about it. I hope you'll at least go and be successful quietly and then think, "Oh my! I did pretty well today. I wasn't perfect and it doesn't even matter!"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"I'm a workhorse, Baby."

That's what he told me while shovelling sod when everyone else was taking a break (including myself.) We were dating, maybe engaged. I don't remember. But I do remember sitting on the grass looking up at him framed by the blue sky with the Bountiful Temple in the background.

And it's true: That boy's never gonna let us starve.

My husband. He helped Luke clean his room. He let Luke help him do the dishes. He cleaned all the countertops and even the stove. (That right there is cause for a big, slobbery french kiss.) (Ew, gross, Carrie!) (Sorry, too much information.) Then he cleared away the dumping place (the "high countertop." It's higher than the other countertops.) He put the slipcover back on the junked-loveseat. He straightened the family room. He cleaned our room. He fixed the broken chair. He fixed the broken bed. He took the boys outside to play. He set the table. He cleaned up the baby. He gathered us together for family prayer. He put the baby to bed. He did dinner dishes. He would have vacuumed, but I had 6 piles of laundry on the floor, equalling 9+ loads of laundry.

I did laundry. I ran a couple of errands. I didn't finish either job completely. He's going to the grocery store for me tonight and I'm still working on the laundry.

He just came in to see what I was up to. He said, "I was going to take the garbage out before I go."

Monday, March 1, 2010


When you go looking for trouble, you will find it. (I found it.) A photo shouldn't make you cry. (typed with tears streaming down my face.) The above picture is of somewhere in the Redwoods.

All the places I love are too far away to renew me.

The photo below made me think about standing in front of my parents' home on clear nights and looking up at the star-filled sky. In the winter with the snow-silenced air between me and the universe, I can always find Orion.

This photo also made me think about the bridge over the Elizabeth River at Yorktown Virginia. The air is not snow-silenced, but warm and muggy. And waves calmly lap the beach. We've seen dolphins out there, a stingray, and one night we watched a crab swimming beside the boat dock. It's a great place. Below, I've written a snapshot of my memory.
image courtesy of flickr, by manyfires
Tidewater Virginia.
Under the bridge in Yorktown, right across the street from where Nick's used to be. If I'm very still, I can feel the warm, damp air and the feeling that we'll be on the Colonial Parkway soon, whipping past dark, dense woods on our way home. I peer out the passenger window.   

photo: flickr
Nick's Seafood Restaurant. Oooooh, man. Nick's had greek statues and silvery-blue ceilings.
Lobster, anyone?

Another snapshot of a different place I love, the one I've been really, really missing lately:
Oregon Coast.
Ecola State Park. The road through the moss drenched rain forest twists and turns. Up in the tall branches, an owl: silent, still, majestic. On a coastal trail, and the path through the woods is spongey with moss and the mulch of a thousand years' making. Ferns line the path. Old, giant trees protect from the elements. Thick December fog obscures the view of the seemingly-sheer dropoff to the Pacific and the migrating whales.

When you reach the end of that road through Ecola State Park, this is what you'll see.
image: flickr, by Major Clangor

Lately, I've been feeling parched and brittle and vulnerable. To the Universe: Whisk me away to someplace green!

Do you ever yearn for somewhere else, and if so, where?

P.S. I've begun the Book of Mormon again and I'm positive I should be listening to those verses about not murmuring and complaining. The verse that really struck me: 1 Nephi 18:16

P.S.S. This post was written in parts. The crying was only momentary. It's now Monday, a new week.

P.S.S. I will write about what's going on with us someday and even include anecdotes about my darling children.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Our primary children will be singing this song in Sacrament Meeting on February 28th. It will be a secret gift from me to our ward, but they don't know that. Our Bishop said it was his favorite, and it is one of mine. Here is a link to my very favorite, Jesus Is My Shepherd. (sheet music)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And a Happy New Year!

We had a New Year's Eve party. We invited some friends, had a potluck, played games. Luke had the best time playing with the other children. Sometime after 10, we put the children to bed upstairs. They actually went to sleep! We forgot to get out the sparklers before the kiddos went to bed, so our family lit them on the night of New Year's Day.   FYI: Brandon's favorite holiday is the Fourth of July. But his second-favorite is New Year's Eve.

Merry Christmas!

Luke and his preschool buddies singing "Jingle Bells" at their Christmas Program.

Our Christmas Tree. Our first year with a star on top because I finally found one I like.

Christmas Eve, after the boys were in bed, after all the wrapping and stacking. I love this moment just before Brandon and the boys unwrap their gifts. And I care only a little if you judge me for rampant consumerism. (Thank you family for the bounty!)

In the wee hours of Christmas morning, Luke came downstairs. We surveyed the presents and full stockings together and then Luke went back to sleep. Here he is sleeping under the Christmas tree.

Later, Luke was still sleeping soundly under the tree when Pete woke up. Petey was giving Luke loves in this picture to wake him up. For Brandon and I, it was a magical moment.

I don't have a picture of my favorite part of our Christmas morning.
The night before, we had been out and both boys fell asleep in the car. So, in the morning, we all climbed into our bed and read the Christmas Nativity story from the New Testament.
Then we opened our Thankful Box and read our lists we had been keeping through the month.
I think we're going to postpone the Christmas story from now on.
It was lovely to read it to fresh-cheeked little boys.

Pajama-striped Petey and his stocking on Christmas morning:

Brandon and I made wooden blocks for the boys. Here is Luke with a creation.

Our front door. Back at the beginning of December, I wanted Brandon to put the lights up and he did.
At one o'clock in the morning.
I hope our neighbors didn't mind the hammering! (Or, wouldn't you love to live next door to us?!)

Our Thankful Box.

Merry Christmas.