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[Comments] (1) : Maggie and I made our usual visit to Grandma June this morning. She was very glad to see us. Our ward is doing Relief Society for the Care Center this month and I am playing a Christmas piano solo. I meant to bring my music and practice for Grandma but I forgot so I played all the Christmas songs in the hymn book instead. Her favorite is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." And her favorite color is red.

I also helped her with her December birthday cards ($10 for grandkids, $5 for great-grand-kids, $0 for Susies-in-law). She wishes she could give more (at least to some people!) but wants to be fair. So remember that when you receive $10 for your 38th birthday - or $5 for your 15th. I offered to help her do cards for all of 2009 but she thought that was ridiculous.

[Comments] (1) Losing My Identity: I keep accidentally trying to use Jamie's password for things.

I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small.

[Comments] (1) Heh: PAF won't let me add Jeff as a male.

[Comments] (5) Home and Healing: Busy day today. Maggie spent most of the day with her grandparents and Aunt Jodi. I spent most of the day at the hospital. John spent most of the day on drugs.

John's surgery went very well. In 7 days he'll be back to normal. Maggie counts as heavy lifting, unfortunately. He slept it off while I went to Chadwick GNO at Erin's house. I was 15 minutes late, having dropped John into bed with his jell-o (smart girl: I made it this morning) and I was the first person there. When Jodi arrived with Maggie, she didn't even care to see me. "Jazzy! oh, hi mom. Here, doggie!"

We made peanut brittle, exchanged cookies (I made Grandma Lorna's Swedish Pepparkokar), and planned fun things to do next year.

Excited for Christmas: I'm making a really awesome present right now that is turning out really awesome-y. I'm excited for Christmas because I have lots of pictures of things I've made not-to-be-shared until the gifts have been opened.

Our tree looks a bit naked underneath, with only a few presents and I don't feel up to making a tree skirt this year. I suppose we'll be using our boring old stockings from a few years ago too. Maybe next year I won't be doing as much gift making and I can do more decoration making.

[Comments] (2) Enjoy the View: Now that the trees have lost all their leaves, the view from our backyard has become even more beautiful. At night we can see all the lights from the southwest part of the valley, plus Christmas lights from the street behind us.

Tonight is John's work Christmas party and I'm so excited! It's nice to get out on a date once in a while, and last year they gave away tons of prizes, so maybe we'll come home with something free.

Maggie's fancy new word I'm making her tell everyone (including Aunt Rachel on video chat!) is "walrus".

Also, apparently one of my library books is overdue. Ack! My first fine.

[Comments] (1) : Last night Maggie went to play at Grandma and Grandpa's and John and I went to the EY party at the U. They gave us two movie passes again and John won a $35 Gap gift card. Somehow I ended up sitting next to the managing partner, but since he had to give out dozens and dozens of prizes, I didn't have to make too much small talk. And dinner was delicious.

Also, we got a package from Aunt Pat and Uncle Alan with presents!. Maggie's pile under the tree is growing. She has 5 presents now, plus one she already opened: a 12 Dogs of Christmas touchy-feely book from Erin and Ember. She loves it.

A snow storm has begun in earnest here so we will be sitting tight at home for the weekend.

: I had to pay my first library fine today. I could have returned the book earlier, but I figured it was worth it to wait until today when I could take Maggie and enjoy the trip. We bought a pair of mittens for Maggie to hang on the mitten tree at the library. The Festival of Trees donated a Mickey Mouse tree and everyone that donates a pair of mittens has a chance to win one of the Mickeys. Maggie also found a little bell on the toddler bookshelf and turned it in for a sucker. No storytime for a few weeks, so we're taking the fun where we can get it.

We also went to visit Grandma June (who turns 91 tomorrow) and had lunch at IHOP. Maggie was excited to see a bottle of ketchup on the table and proceeded to "dip!" her eggs and pancakes and was a great eater and very well-behaved.

: We had a fun time in the snow today. I went outside this morning to shovel the driveway before John went to work. It seemed like half of our neighbors were outside, heading off to work or who knows what. It was very cheery. Our next door neighbor even rolled down her window to call "Merry Christmas!" to me and I could hear Christmas music blasting from her car.

After we went to the store, Maggie and I played in the snow a little bit. We drew pictures and letters and shapes in the snow that was on the driveway. We also went for a walk today to deliver treats to my visiting teachees. Don't worry, the sun was out by then.

[Comments] (2) : We went to a gathering tonight with four other couples from our ward in Costa Mesa (3 others now living in Utah and one visiting from Washington). Between us there were 9.5 kids. I was relieved when the last couple arrived and they still only had one kid.

It was a lot of fun and we kept Maggie up well past her bedtime. She enjoyed running around with all the other kids, rolling cars back and forth. The adults played a "Celestial Newlywed" game, which John and I lost miserably at, but it was fun.

Maggie and I also had a playdate where she and Colette exchanged presents. Also, it's been a few days and I am still hating my haircut. I guess I won't be waiting my usual 6 months in between. As soon as it grows out a little I'll go in and have them cut the layers off.

Pre-Christmas Spirit: Today John and I executed the most perfect Christmas gift purchase in the history of Saturday-before-Christmas-mall-shopping. As soon as we finally got into the parking lot, I hopped out of the car, ran across the parking lot and into the mall. I found what we were looking for, bought it, and hurried out a different door about 45 seconds before John made it to the door to pick me up. Seriously, it was awesome.

We also got a box of gifts from Leonard today. And we had a pre-Christmas get together with John's family so that those who won't be here on Christmas could open their gifts. Jodi also bought a little something for each of the cousins. Most of the little somethings were "Flurp" a gelatinous noise maker (can you guess which noise) that we spent the next 2 hours playing with. Maggie got a teeny plastic Piglet figure which she has not released her grip on yet. (Really - she still had it in her hand when I got her up from her nap.) Way to pick 'em.

For dinner we went to Jamba Juice, and then drove around a few streets to look at lights. We're looking forward to a low-key (and probably boring) Christmas morning - only 5 shapes on the tree away!.

[Comments] (2) Small Susie: I just finished reading a book called The Way of the Small: Why Less is Truly More. It's about diminishing yourself to become happy. I was greatly inspired by this Zen story which was included:

Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were journeying in the mountains on their way to a neighboring monastery. At a certain point they arrived at a stream and were greeted by a beautiful young woman who was attempting to cross to the other side. She asked if they could help her, for she did not wish to get her kimono wet. Tanzan picked her up and carried her across. The mountain paths diverged and the monks silently went on their way. Some hours later they came to a resting place.

Ponderously, Ekido spoke: "Our order strictly forbids bodily contact with women. How is it you disobeyed the rule and picked up that woman?"

Tanzan replied, "I left her back at the stream. Are you still carrying her?"

Believe it or not the moral of the story, at least as it is used in this book, is to let go and follow the fluidity of life. It made me laugh out loud.

: We went to Grandma June's house for a visit this afternoon. We took turns snuggling a sick Maggie and playing Christmas carols on the piano for her. Utah Valley got over a foot of snow last night, and Maggie was adorable snuggling on Grandma's lap; I wished I'd brought my camera.

I had two piano lessons today so Christmas Eve will be free. A 7-year-old student said, "Hmm, Maggie has the most presents. Well, don't be glum! Remember: Santa!"

[Comments] (1) Merry Christmas, Everyone: We will be spending Christmas (and probably the day after) at Primary Children's hospital. Maggie has RSV and is a poor thing all hooked up to "toobs" (as her Granny would have said). Hopefully she'll be good as new and can enjoy opening her gifties a few days late.

[Comments] (6) Christmas: Three Days Slow: We just got home from the hospital (pictures here) and apparently Santa came while we were gone (pictures here). He laid out our stockings and stuffed them with goodies, did the dishes and the laundry (John). He took out our trash and recycling bins (friend from the ward). He cleaned our driveway and steps of a foot of snow and left dinner in our fridge (Brook, Erin, Logan and Ember). Thanks everyone!

Maggie got a Snoopy toothbrush and some baby puffs in her stocking. She was thrilled. My stocking and John's were overflowing with sugary goodness and other fun stuff. He gave me running shoes, Breaking Dawn, two family DVDs and a Sudoku book. I gave him some new clothes for work (and an elliptical of course). Leonard and Sumana sent us $ for Maggie's college fund, a child carrier for hiking (woo hoo!) and a Meet the Letters DVD. Jodi and Franco got us a gift card for dinner and a movie (and free babysitting of course). Can't wait to use that! Maggie also got bath books, felt food, two accessory sets for Mr. Potato Head and a book and a darling outfit from Pat and Alan. Grandma and Grandpa got her a baby doll (Our first attempt to supplement the boy hand-me-down toys) and $10. Chad (ok, Jamie) gave Maggie jeans that light up and little patent leather church shoes. No more sneakers to church.

Maggie is downstairs playing with Mr. Potato Head and watching Meet the Letters. It's hard to say which of those is her new favorite (the doll went home from the hospital with Grandma and Grandpa). Put I think I'll put my money on mini-Piglet who hardly left her fist during the hospital stay.

[Comments] (1) Year End Fun: We took Maggie and Ember to the zoo yesterday. The zoo is great in the winter because it's practically empty. Maggie made friends with an orangutan and we spent 15 minutes watching the giraffes gnaw on Christmas trees. The only bad thing is that the elephants and rhinos hide inside when it's cold.

Logan and Ember spent the night last night, so we had a giggly evening. John and I got up at 5 to go to the temple. Maggie was perfectly happy to wake up and find her cousins there to play with her, and we were home before they were done eating breakfast.

We stopped by Pirate-O's on the way taking the kids home. We bought treats for the kids for babysitting, and dessert for tonight. Hopefully, it'll be a fun party with lots of games! I usually get a good game fix on New Year's Eve.

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