Wednesday, January 1, 2014

As I type I am sitting in the dark on a hard chair in a corner of a very small and variably hot/cold motel room.  I shift positions so as to rotate between my rear end falling asleep and my tail bone aching.  (I am an old woman.)  Abby and Reid have already conked out.  James is singing "Angels we have heard on high" in his pack n' play, Grace and Eliza have collectively used the bathroom 5 times since we "put them to bed" an hour ago.  There's no one to talk to, no TV shows to veg in front of, and no projects to work on. This is apparently what it takes for me to sit down and blog.

We are on our way home from a wonderful Christmas and New Year's trip spent with both of our families.  (We'd hoped to get home today, but between the snow and the traffic, we decided not to push our luck.) We spent eight days with my family in Provo, then 3 days with Reid's in Salt Lake. Yet the highlight might just be the few hours we spent at this little motel.

Hopefully I'll get around to blogging about our trip--I no longer make such promises.   But for now I have at least enough wherewithall to cut and paste a letter that we gave to Reid's parents as part of our gift this year. It's a summary of the year's events, written largely by Reid (I take credit for anything clever).  I've deleted photos that are already on this blog, and added more than was necessary.


2013 will forever be remembered as the year of the budget and the home search.  In an effort to payoff our student loans and because we're not crazy enough, we lived off an extremely tight budget this year.  Despite this belt tightening, we spent much of the year looking for a new house. Makes sense, right?  Alas, our dream (well Emily's dream) of starting a hobby farm was not to come true this year. Fifty-three showings and two offers later, we’re still at our same house.  Luckily it is a wonderful house with amazing neighbors. If only it had more sunlight, garden space, ditch rights, a pasture, a chicken coop, fruit trees and a barn we'd stay there forever.  Even with the budget cuts and the rejected offers, we still had a wonderful and eventful year.
January.  Abby turned six and celebrated her birthday with her friend Maya at Chucky Cheese.  Emily rose to the challenge of the budget and started couponing (which she despises) and mastered frugal fun.  Our favorite date was playing racquet ball at the rec center.  All the girls did gymnastics at a local gym (at different times throughout the year) and really enjoyed it.  Emily cooked beans from scratch and took on a piano student to pay for their classes.     
February.  We welcomed our first family pet--Blue Jay the Beta fish. Emily hosted book club and made the most decadent chocolate coconut scones. Emily also made it to the post office to mail two 10" ponytails to Locks of Love.  Fortunately hair does not go bad, as these ponytails were lopped off of Grace and Emily's heads in late 2011. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Reid went to Washington, D.C. for the annual LDS lawyers conference.   Emily did not attend.  Justice Clarence Thomas and Elder Jeffery Holland spoke.  How romantic.  

March.  Reid turned 34.  When Emily gave him a birthday kiss, the girls surely said, “Let me be the first to say: Eeewww!”  (This is one of their favorite responses to their parents kissing.)  In March we were moved into a different ward/congregation thanks to a boundary change.  We've met some wonderful people and made new friends. Also this month Abby and Grace were coerced volunteered to perform at their school talent show.  Practice apparently does not always make perfect.  Someday they’ll be able to talk about it without crying.
April.  Grace turned eight!  For her birthday, we had someone come over and manicure her and her friends’ nails and make cotton candy.  Days later we traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend Aunt Karen and (new) Uncle Tommy G.’s wedding.  It was awesome and the temple grounds were beautiful.  The girls were thrilled to announce, “now we have three uncle Toms.”  While there, we had lots of fun with the Staceys and spent some time at Gettysburg and  the D.C.  monuments and museums.
May.  Grace was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Grandpa Ashworth, Aunt Julia, Uncle Nathan, Grandma and Grandpa Allred and Karen and Tom Gadberry were all there.  As were a lot of Grace’s friends, including her school teacher.  It was a wonderful day.  We are so proud of Grace.
June.  Emily and the kids went to Boise, ID to help Aunt Jana and Uncle Tom with their new twin babies.  They had fun, but Emily still has not recovered  from the 12-hour drive.  Reid stayed home and worked.  He biked to and from work (12 miles) all summer and enjoyed being fit (and was a little mortified to look back at pictures of himself during law school).  James turned 2.  He requested an "Elmo happy cake."  I invited a few little boy his age over, and he cried the whole time.  It was his party, afterall.  We also took lots of family bike rides and enjoyed trips to the zoo during the summer.
July.  Emily turned 35.  We celebrated her birthday with friends and BBQ, after we walked as Mormon pioneers in the Fourth of July parade.  We also went on a family campout with friends, hoping for a relaxing mountain getaway.  Instead we got a visit from the police and fire departments, had to run to town to buy propane, and were up all night in a wind storm—the tent blew over, pack ‘n play and all, in the middle of the night.  In spite of this, the dutch-oven food (courtesy of Reid) was amazing and will keep us coming back for more sleepless campouts.

August.  By summer’s end, Emily had run three 5Ks.  We had fun as a family at the BYU-sponsored event she ran in August.  Grace started 3rd grade (with Ms. Mercer for the 3rd year out of the last four).  Abby started 1st grace (with Ms. Tash).  And Eliza is in pre-school (with Ms. Michelle).  Eliza turned five.  She had a small Rainbow party that she insisted take place "during school and James’ nap time." Clever girl had her mom all to herself for the whole party! Grace and Abby played soccer again this fall (in addition to playing during the spring).  They play well.  Reid coached Abby’s team—for the last season.  Reid’s cheerleading skills are no longer cutting it as the league becomes more competitive.  Tom and Karen, in all their newlywed splendor, visited us on their way back to Utah from St. Louis.

September.  Emily had a well-deserved and fairly frugal weekend get-a-way with some girl friends.  Reid also had a well-deserved get-a-way...though his was of the less thrifty variety.  He spent a weekend in Utah with the Darringtons playing in the Strainer Head golf tournament, which he won.  The day before, he rented a bike and rode all over Deer Valley ski resort with Emily’s brother, Nathan.  After the tournament, he went to the BYU’s vs Texas game, which BYU won!  Emily encouraged him to sell a golf club to pay for it all.  The kids survived his weekend away.  He almost did not.  

October.  The girls sang in the church primary program.  They are talented singers.  And Abby especially knew ALL the songs and kept the primary on track.  In fact, when Abby was in charge of Family Night activity before the program, she had us all practice the songs.  More than one person has referred to the primary choir as “Abby and her back-up singers.”  We visited a local pumpkin patch with some friends and went roller skating, which especially Grace loved.  Reid and Emily attended a western-themed fundraiser dressed in cowboy attire—a first for both.  We danced together as Lone Star performed live the very song we danced to at our wedding—Amazed.  Also amazing was borrowing ALL of our kids Halloween costumes.  Thank you Lindsay and Gina--the budget and Emily's broken sewing machine thank you.

November.  All the girls continue to excel in school  Grace’s favorite subject is reading.  Abby’s favorite subject is math.  And Eliza’s favorite subject is show and tell.  James had a verbal outburst this year.  He began the year with a vocabulary of about 20 words and is ending the year with about 2000 and a repertoire of more than 100 songs.  He also mastered the art of giving glares.  We cooked our Thanksgiving turkey in the smoker this year.  It was amazingly juicy. We also made our own butter.  It was amazingly buttery. Speaking of crazy culinary ideas, we didn’t buy sandwich bread once this year, thanks to Emily’s delicious homemade bread from freshly ground wheat.  (The budget says thank you.)

December.  It has been a month of crafts.  Emily finished James’ Christmas stocking—she has cross-stitched a stocking for each family member.  The girls have also started cross-stitching.  Eliza has enjoyed it the most. We wondered how to make Christmas special while on this crazy budget, but things just worked out.  Emily finished knitting a sweater her mom started years ago for her little brother Jared, (whose name she had this year) and crocheted and sewed stuffed animals for the kids.  She made reusable paper towels for sisters-in-law.  The girls gave most of their dress-ups to their two neices (one on each side).  Emily won an Amazon gift card by taking some surveys.  And multiple friends gave us some awesome toys they were getting rid of.  In other words, the season was filled with Christmas Miracles and is one we'll never forget.  

If 2014 is half as good to us as 2013 was, we'll be as happy as a pig in an orchard.  And if things go as we hope, we'll end this year actually owning a pig...and an orchard...and maybe a goat...and some chickens...and a huge garden...with ditch rights.  :)  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!