Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time.

According to Andy Williams, this season is the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I would have to agree with him for many many reasons. Christmas brings out the best in everyone (and maybe sometimes the worst when it comes to shopping?). But overall, I would say that Christmas is a joyous and delightful time filled with family and friends and lots of food. What is better than that?

So here is a little re-cap of my week leading up to Christmas as well as the big day.

The Birthday Bash

One week before Christmas, Sunday the 18th, my family had a big birthday bash. It was my little brother Aaron, my cousin McKenzie, and my brother's friend Brynnly's birthdays. So triple the cake, triple the candles, and triple the wishes, right? We had a party at my parent's house and had a delightful time. Aaron wanted a few things for his b-day, one of those being this gaggy BYU cougar beanie. Now, even though I am a true-blue Aggie, I don't hate BYU at all. In fact, I quite like the school. But this hat is pretty ugly. Let's be honest. That did not seem to phase Aaron though. He wanted it so bad and so being the good sister I am, I got it for him. I'm pretty sure I have seen him wear it once a day since then. HE LOVES IT! So happy 14th birthday to my not-so-little-any-more-brother Aaron!

The birthday boy with the lovely cougar beanie.

A little sibling love.

Aaron and McKenzie blowing out their candles.

Christmas Piano Recital

I have been teaching piano for the past five years. Wow, five years! That sounds like forever, yet it has gone by so quickly. Ever since my first year teaching, I have had a Spring Recital. Then during the year I have had group lessons/parties for both Christmas and Halloween. Well, this year I decided to do a formal Christmas Recital for my students. I love Christmas music so what better way to celebrate the season than have a recital for the kids to perform what they have been working on. It turned out lovely and some wonderful songs were shared that afternoon. I wish I had a picture or two of the event but when you are the one hosting the recital, it's a little difficult to snap some pics. Maybe next time!

Roommate Christmas Card

I live with the coolest girls. Ever. And this year we decided that we wanted to spread the Christmas cheer by sending our friends, families, missionaries, etc. a little Christmas card. From our home to theirs. And now to yours! Here is a peek to the photo shoot we had for this card.

Pickleville Christmas Show, "12.25"

Another successful season with Pickleville has come and gone. This was my second Christmas show and it was probably one of my favorite shows I have ever been in. T.J. Davis did a brilliant job of writing and directing the show. Sharli King put some killer choreography in it and then with some great lights and costumes, the show was a success. In fact, it was the most successful Christmas show that Pickleville has had thus far. Pretty cool that I was able to be a part of that. I have an especially special place in my heart for this one because of all the spiritual ties that were interwoven throughout the show. I truly felt the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of Christ on a daily basis as we performed for many sold out audiences. What a wonderful experience to cap off my Pickleville adventures over the past few years. I love Pickleville and the wonderful people that have influenced my life through being a part of it.

The cast of "12.25. A Merry Musical Comedy."

Whit, myself and Sharli. These two are basically my sisters. I love them!

The cast, crew, and even Santa Claus. What a special group of people.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Christmas Eve is almost better than Christmas Day in many ways. This is the day when the anticipation is so high that you almost want to burst! This is the day that the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, Christmas traditions are in full swing, and the Christmas story is told, helping us to remember the true meaning of Christmas. One of my family's traditions is to hear my grandpa tell "The Candle Story." This story has nothing to do with Christmas really, other than he tells it every year on Christmas Eve. This year, just my family and my grandparents were together to tell the story. Once again, it was delightful. Afterward, we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and sang Christmas carols. Then we finished with unwrapping our p.j.'s at home and going to bed...dreaming of sugar plums and Santa Clause. :)

Grandpa Mecham telling the Candle Story.

My mom and pops snuggling up on the couch. :)

I love my brothers.

This video is dark and slightly hard to see. But it is the tail end of the infamous Candle Story told by my grandpa. It won't mean much to those other than my family, but it gives you a snip-it of our funny and memorable Christmas Eve tradition.

Christmas Day was just as joyous. I had to play the piano for my roommate Hillary at our student ward's sacrament meeting. She sang "Breath of Heaven" and did a fabulous job. As always. I was a little bummed that I had to miss going to church with my family, but there was such a strong spirit in my ward that I ended up being pleased as punch that I went there. After church, my family opened gifts and we were truly blessed and spoiled. Santa found our little home this year, that's for sure! A few of the highlights for me were new running shoes, a new phone (which was desperately needed!), a book, a watch and my personal favorite...tickets to WICKED this summer! After we opened gifts, we headed up to my grandparent's house for a delicious Christmas feast with some extended family. It was the perfect Christmas. I am so blessed. The Lord has not ceased to pour out those blessings into my life.

Christmas Day

One of the most important things that I heard this Christmas was in my sacrament meeting. A bishop in my stake spoke about the talk in this month's Ensign by Elder Russel M. Nelson. He said that the "best gift we can give our Savior for Christmas is keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, worth to attend His holy temple. And His gift to us will be the peace of knowing that we will be prepared to meet Him, whenever that time comes."

The Christmas Season continues on...

One of the hardest things about this season is saying goodbye. This year especially I feel like it came so quickly and now it's over. So I don't let the Christmas season end until New Years arrives. Then I guess it is time to move on and take down the tree, the lights, the decorations. But not until January 1. So what better way to continue feeling the Christmas spirit after the big day then going to Salt Lake and doing Christmas-y things? Yesterday I went on a fun date with my friend Travis to Salt Lake. I have always wanted to go ice skating downtown at the Gallivan Center and yesterday that wish came true! It was the perfect post-Christmas activity. We went to dinner and then even went to Temple Square to see the lights. Twice in one month. Yeah baby! We finished by sneaking into the cemetery where President Hinckley, President McKay, President Hunter, and many other prophets and general authorities are buried. It was awesome!

Ice skating at the Gallivan Center.

Travis and myself.

There are just a few more days to hang onto this, the most wonderful time. But that doesn't mean that we can't strive to have the Christmas spirit in our hearts all year long. Giving gifts is something unique to this season, but we can give gifts of love and service to others continually. And most importantly, we can give of ourselves, with an open and willing heart, to our Savior. All year long.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Picture a Christmas

I have had this crazy love for singing all of my life. Starting as a young, curly-haired girl. This is just a short little 30-second clip of me singing "Picture a Christmas" back when I was about 4. Kudo's to my uncle Mark for filming this and keeping it on file. I wish I had a copy of the whole thing...because it gets pretty dramatic towards the end haha. I guess even as a little kid I had a hint of acting in me.

This song reminds me of what Christmas can be like for a child: magical! I am so grateful for the music of this holiday season. It is my very favorite. What better way to praise the Savior and His glorious birth than through music? Hmmm...yep, can't think of one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let the fun begin...

This is the week that every college students loves so much. Yep, you guessed it. Finals week! The late night cram sessions at the library, bags under the eyes, frazzled minds and hair (because whoops, you slept through the alarm!)....the whole enchilada. So why in the world am I taking the time to blog during finals week? Well, that's because I am DONE as of 5:00 pm today. All of my finals, which mostly consisted of projects/papers/lesson plans, were due last week. So this week is pretty smooth sailing, leaving plenty of time to sketch my thoughts on this computer screen.

Five semesters down and only two more to go until this girl is a certified teacher! Boom baby. That feels so good. And yet it's pretty scary too. I am only 20 years old and I am now a senior in college. Weird. I am excited to begin my teaching journey however. I have a feeling that I will have a lot of ups and downs, but that's the beauty of any career. So, with finals wrapping up...let the fun begin! It's Christmastime and time to LIVE. IT. UP. Except actually, who needs finals to be over to have fun? The last week or so has been quite exciting. Scratch that...extremely exciting. Let me expound.

Two Sundays ago, on December 4, the First Presidency had their annual Christmas Devotional held at the Conference Center in SLC. I had a few friends that wanted to go down to Salt Lake to attend, but we didn't have tickets. So we packed up in Holden's car, "Pocahontas" and hit the road hoping to get a few standby tickets and sit somewhere in the back.

When we got there, the workers on Temple Square were trying this new little "system" of getting standby folks into the Conference Center. We had to take a number card and wait in the Tabernacle. So at 5:55 pm, we were still sitting there (being number 250-254) waiting to get a ticket. My hope was completely gone at this point and I decided that I would be completely content watching it from the coziness of the Tabernacle.

But fortune was in our favor that night, because we FINALLY got our hands on some tickets. We literally bolted from the Tabernacle and booked it across the street to the Conference Center. We did the whole security/bag check dealio and were figuring out which way to go to get to the balcony when a nice lady stopped us and asked us to please come with her. She opened a door on the ground level and told us that there were a few seats that they needed to fill.

I was completely under the impression that we would just tuck back into one of the back rows, which would have still been sweet because we were on the ground level. But nope. That wasn't her plan. She walked us up the right-center isle, removed the rope that separates everyone from the General Authorities and sat us on the FOURTH ROW. The 4th row. F.O.U.R.T.H. Oh did I mention we were on the 4th row?! We were among family members of the G.A.'s as well as sitting among them. President Packer was directly in front of us as well as the rest of the 12 and other emeritus General Authorities. Afterwards we were chatting with Elder Dellenbach, who Holden once met in Alaska a few years back. What a delightful couple the Dellenbachs are. I hope that my husband and I are as sharp and endearing as those two were.

So basically to make a long story short, we had the coolest experience. We went from being ticket-less to sitting with General Authorities. The devotional was incredible. The words were comforting and inspiring. The music was thrilling. My favorite Christmas song that the choir sings is The First Noel and they sang it that night. I admit that I shed a few tears. After the devotional, we walked around Temple Square and looked at the lights. I can't think of many things that I enjoy more about this time of year than seeing the lights on Temple Square. It was such a perfect evening!

Then to top off an already bomb.com night, we made a little pit stop in Hooper, Holden's home town. It reminded me of Newton or Benson...a small little farming community with homes spread pretty far apart. And let me tell you, they know how to put up some quality Christmas lights in that little town. Holy smokes! Check this out...

Seriously, this is something you would see in Who-ville.

Here are three more things that have added to my weeks of fun.

First: Roommate Date Night.

Every month we do a roommate date night. It's tradition. So for December, Whitney joined our group and got everyone tickets to our Christmas Show at Pickleville. After the show, we went back to the apartment, had hot chocolate and cinnamon cake and played some Disney charades. It was so much fun! I'm so glad that Whit got to be a part of the fun that we have as roomies every month.

My darling roommates

The whole group

Hillary's date. Wow. I'm still a little speechless.

A few of us sipping our hot cocoa.

Next: Ward Service Auction

My calling in my ward is the Service Activities Co-chair. Basically, this is the Activities Committee Chairman, but since the Church got rid of Activities Committees, they called it something else. And the focus of this calling is to reach out and get those who are a little less-active involved in the activities while performing service. So for December, we held a big service auction and it was a HUGE success! We had soup and bread bowls for dinner, had the service auction in the back and even had a special visit from Santa Claus (aka: the bishop). I was hoping we would raise maybe $200 dollars and we ended up with about $900. It was incredible! The money that we raised all went towards getting gifts for a Sub-For-Santa. I am so grateful for a great student ward with an incredible bishopric.

Finally: Dying my hair

I have been in serious need of a hair coloring. This summer I went blonde, then went dark again come school time. But the brown was beginning to fade, creating a bit of a reddish/auburn color. So it was time to get it done again. But I am a poor college student and especially around Christmas, I just didn't have money to get my hair done at the salon. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I am a firm believer that if you want something done, just do it yourself. So that's precisely what I did, with the help of Whitney. I went to Sally's, bought some color and tools and then Whit and I created our own little hair salon in my bathroom. It was pretty scary, I'm not going to lie. I was worried. But Whitney could make big bucks doing what she did for me last Friday. I was so incredibly pleased with the outcome.

I don't have any pictures of the final results yet. Pictures to come in the future.

I have learned that despite crazy schedules and stressful weeks, like finals week, there can still be many moments for fun. And half of it is just recognizing those fun and beautiful moments through the drab of every day life. I am definitely looking forward to no homework or school responsibilities for the next three weeks however. Christmas break has never sounded so nice!

So hasta la vista USU, finals week and homework.
Hello Christmas!