Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Connor Christmas

This year was my family's year for Christmas, and even though it was like 90% different from past Christmases, it was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped it would be. 

The fambam flew into Fabulous Las Vegas bright and early on the 23rd. After a perfect day at school - filled with presents, parties, and singalongs - and a horrific afternoon that was completely filled up with a 2 1/2 hr oil change (seriously, what the freak, that should never happen) that I am not proud to say kind of turned me into the Grinch....after all that, Stephen and I finally left Provo. So, needless to say, that day wasn't very eventful for us on the Vegas front. We pulled in a little after midnight and had just enough time to jump on the sleeping people (Jew and Sue, party poo-pers), hug the awake ones (Jacob who is now 6' thankyouverymuch and my dad who is still a pleasant 5'9"), and robe up with the ridiculous robes left in all the closets.

The rest of the trip went like this:

Highlight - Red Rock Canyon. We had so much fun exploring and scrambling around, and even fit in a little climbing!
Lowlight - It was a balmy 40* at Red Rock. Aka, not balmy at all. My fingers probably need to be amputated.
Higherlight - Even though it was some of my more pathetic climbing, the parents were very impressed.

Highlight - The house we stayed at had a pool table! 
Lowlight - I suck at pool, and now errbody knows it. 
Higherlight - But it was still super-fun! And I invented a new game that you can play with no cues to mess things up. 
Highlight - the Strip is known for it's impressive light displays year-round, and during the Christmas season it definitely didn't disappoint. 
Lowlight - It was, once again, freezing cold and windy. The Splash Zone at the Bellagio fountains was bigger than usual.
Higherlight - There was a ton of stuff inside to look at! Those Vegans know how to accommodate errbody's needs. 
Highlight - My friend Kayla works at Mandalay Bay, and I got to go see her! We were fellow FGIT's years ago at Disney World, and I haven't seen any of my FGIT's since I left.
Lowlight - While waiting for her to stop ignoring us doing her job, Stephen and I decided to gamble our $5 we always do. We have developed a system where I walk around, pick the slot machine that I feel drawn to, and then we play. We never lose. We always win and go and buy Earl of Sandwich. But this time, we lost. We lost two whole dollars! And we got a bad taste in our mouths and decided we hated gambling and we weren't even willing to put in the rest of our $5. 
Another Lowlight - We didn't get a picture, so all I have is this one:
I miss them :( Kayla is the one right behind me.
 And this one:
Why is a head on my lap? I don't even know....
Higherlight - It was fun to talk to her! And reminisce! And drink water from official Mandalay Bay water bottles instead of the fancy wedding reception fruit-floating-in-water tank things they had in the lobby. 

Highlight - Santa still came and gave us a treasure hunt!
Lowlight - We didn't wake up as early as usual for our treasure hunt, so by the time we finished, we had to go to the movies. And then we somehow went the whole day (until 8:30pm) without giving out and opening the rest of our presents. Um??
Higherlight - Santa gave a lot of gift cards this year, which you know are my favorite!

Highlight - Skyping with the missionaries!! I am so obsessed with those people. We arranged it so Nicole and Joseph would see each other for about a 15-minute overlap, and then Joseph would leave and we would talk to Nicole the rest of the time.

Lowlight - Pretty sure they are the only missionaries of ever who actually stick with their 1-hr time limit.....
Higherlight - It was great! We sang a minions song to them, talked about our rose / bud / thorn for the year, and smiled at their real live faces. 

Highlight - We were able to keep one of our Christmas traditions - kind of. Every year, we listen to a tape recording of "The Little Shepherd." I know it's old-school, but I love that tape because every year, I notice something different in the story. It's one of those stories that grows with you and takes on different meanings as you pass through different phases of life. 
Lowlight - It wasn't exactly the same. We lost the tape a few years ago, so my mom found a video to replace it. It was nice, but just not the same. 
Higherlight - I personally got a little caught up in the busyness of Christmas this year, and I'm glad that we took a little time to remember why we even have Christmas, and what it's really about. 
"Happy birthday, Jesus!"
Highlight - We were able to squeeze in some service at the Shade Tree Organization! Basically we just helped serve dinner to homeless / poor people. They had so many helpers that there wasn't a whole lot for us to do, but we did do a little singing while two guys played guitars. Then this lady eating dinner jumped up and joined in with a part she made up for "I'm Your's," and it was so awesome that I just want her to sing it and become a YouTube sensation and go on Ellen and get some money.
The lady who sang loved Julie and wanted to get a picture with her.
Here are the words! Nobody take them and do anything cool with them because she's homeless and if you steal from her then you're really a bad person. 
Lowlight - I have never seen so many homeless people concentrated in one area in my life, seriously. I'm aware that I've had a pretty cushy life, and there are lots of problems I am blind to, but it was just very eye-opening to see literally 60 homeless people setting up their makeshift tents on every inch of the sidewalk as the sun started to go down - and then to turn the corner and see the exact same thing again. It was crazy to think that this is life for so many people, for so many different reasons. Also, I was pretty much positive our car was going to get broken into when we parked and went inside to help.

I didn't take this picture, and I don't even know if it's the same place we were at. But it is in Vegas, and our place did look similar. I got this picture from here.
Higherlight - There was a part of me that felt like being there really did nothing. I kind of felt like a fake, just standing there and smiling and giving people sandwiches that I didn't even help buy. I wasn't really doing anything - I had just been given the opportunity to be a face of kindness, and I accepted. But I learned something from the people who walked through the line and smiled back and said some of the most heartfelt thanks I've ever heard: that I want to help. Even saying that is a little scary because I don't know what I could possibly do to help. The problem just seems so big and so foreign to me that I wouldn't know where to begin, but at least now I've looked into the eyes of people who need help, and I feel like that's a start. 
PS - Carbaby did not get broken into. 

Highlight - the husband totally understands the true meaning of Christmas - spoil your girl! Just kidding, that's not the true meaning. But he did anyway.

This was actually a post-Christmas present that we got for ourselves, but still. 
Obviously I had to take the obligatory blogger camera-in-my-face pic to show it off. It didn't exactly work because our camera is so leetle, but whate'er. 
Stopit. I'm in love. 
I spoiled him, too. The boy got an airsoft gun and a bunch of random little gifts, and will be cashing in soon on a real-live massage :)

Highlight - I made Christmas jammies for errbody! Red for the boys and green for the girls. It wasn't my first time making PJ pants, but it was my first time without a pattern or adult supervision, unless you want to count Kailyn, who was kind enough to let me use her sewing machine. And they turned out darling. 

Exhibit A. As you can see, the pants fit great!
Lowlight - But then.....disaster struck. {Disguised as hilarity.}Everyone grabbed a pair of pants and tried them on. Some survived the next few minutes, but none survived for longer than an hour of wear. They split and frayed and ripped with every step or slight wiggle. Sitting down was not an option. Neither was standing still, really. There was no way to move without legs and butts exploding out of the fragile seams. 
Higherlight - Everyone liked the pants better this way! We had a whole photo shoot and dance party with them. It was kind of like our very own Trash the Dress, besides Stephen and my pants actually fit just fine.

We left Vegas on the 27th and spent the rest of our time with the family (minus Dad) in Utah.  This post is getting a little long, so I'll just post some pictures and be done:

At the Jazz game that night!

It was fun going with both of my families! We spent that night in Provo, went to our ward the next morning, and then headed back over to the Shimps. All the kids stayed up until like 3, playing cards and wrestling and watching movies, and finally passing out in a heap on the couch. Stephen tried to climb in bed with Julie, which could have been awkward but was okay, and everyone else eventually made their way to the right bed. And if they didn't, they just slept facedown and buttup on the couch (lookin at you, Michael.)

The next day, we went sledding!

You really can't tell from these pictures just how steep the hill was, but it was literally like a 70* cliff-ish kind of slope down, for at least 50 ft. Then it flattened out a little bit, although by that point it didn't matter, because you'd picked up enough speed on your way down the initial drop. I don't think I've ever gone that fast on a sled ever. We were the only ones going down the hill at that spot, because everyone else was too afraid. It was SO fun!

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