Our Chaotic But Very Fun Nelson Family Christmas

12.31.2013
^^All twelve Nelson grandchildren in their matching Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve.
With seven children age 3 and under, I should post the outrageous outtakes of all the crying and running around.  This picture is just short of a Christmas miracle.^^
 
I called it.  We partied too hard with the entire Nelson family and now we're sickies.  The snotty, achy, feverish kind of sickies.  But was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Our Christmas was five days buried to our eyeballs in food, noise, new presents, laughter, more food, late night games, more noise, and lots and lots of little kid smiles.  

So let's dive right in!

After a simple family program which included the re-enactment of the first Christmas on Christmas Eve, the kids woke before the sun on Christmas morning full of excitement.  Santa brought Jed just what he ordered: a movie and cars plus many more goodies like foam swords and Lincoln logs.  And I have to hand it to Santa; he's brilliant.  The homemade teepee was a total hit!  (Note: This is just a tiny handful of pictures I took that day.)
 
^^Could there be a better combination than a cowboy with a sword and shield?^^
^^What Levi's face looked like all morning: his cheeks stuffed full of candy.^^
^^Even the adults wore matching jammies!  Also, "I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can..."
^^By far, Jed's favorite gift is his Woody doll.  He hardly leaves Jed's sight.  It's the most endearing thing.^^

I love how little children are so delighted with just one new toy, they don't care to open anymore!  Jed and Levi preferred to sit in the corner and play instead of opening the mound of presents from under the tree with the rest of the family.  Thanks for that little piece of Christmas magic, boys!

^^Bron's happy face.  He got a GoPro!  Skiing and mountain biking adventure videos coming at you soon.  (Yeah, I'm totally excited about it too.  I'd like to strap the camera to Levi's head and see what happens...)^^
 
All in all, Christmas in a house full to the brim with people (mostly little ones) went smoother than I expected.  Yes, we got on each others' nerves a bit.  And yes, it was an imperfect week; things went awry.  (Isn't that inevitable?)  But Momma Nelson is an exceptional host.  Really, she's the family center.  I know it meant the world to her to have everyone there to celebrate.
 
We spent the rest of the week skiing, bowling, swimming in the big swim/spa, and just hanging out around the dairy.  However, I think all the adults looked forward to the late evenings best after the kids went to bed.  We all played games till we couldn't see straight anymore!  Sleep?  What's that?  (No wonder we're sick now. Haha)
 
Thanks for a memorable Christmas!!!  I couldn't have married into a better family.  We sure felt the love this week.

 
^^The boys addicted to their new game, Powergrid.^^

Bron's 30th Birthday Bash

12.22.2013

My burly protector and love of my life, Bron, turned 30 on Friday! 

Let me repeat that: Bron turned thirty.  It seems a little surreal--for me anyway.  I mean, I remember when thirty was old!  It certainly doesn't feel that way anymore.  At all.  I still feel about eighteen.  But then again, I still have thirteen months until I cross that thirty year old threshold... so who knows.  Thirty isn't old, is it?  I remember my mom turning thirty!  Very strange.  Where did the time go?   

Bron, on the other hand, is handling his new number with much more grace.  To him, age is just a number; he's determined to stay young at heart.  Bron sees his thirties as an extension of his twenties-or the last two years of it anyway.  He'll continue pursuing his career, raising young children, and squeezing in as much fun and adrenaline as possible (aka biking and skiing).  And I have to agree with him: it's going to be a busy but very fun blur of a decade.

So to celebrate my husband's milestone, I threw a party!  Woot!  Woot!  An all you can eat cookies and milk and friends kind of party.  Unfortunately, many of our friends have sick kids and were unable to make it, (Thanks for keeping your diseases to yourselves, by the way.  It's much appreciated.  But we missed you!) so it wasn't the crazy house full of people I'd envisioned, but it turned out anyhow: Bron and his buddies finally had a chance to catch up and plan this summer's big mountain bike ride in the White Mountains.  So I'm calling it a success. 

Also, a giant thank you to all those who took the time to write a quick favorite memory/favorite characteristic about Bron.  I printed them all out and taped each memory on every surface around the house.  I wish you all could have seen the smile on Bron's face.  He sure felt the love.  And it just reaffirmed to me what an all around great guy Bron is.

Happy Birthday Bron!  The boys and I are lucky to call you ours.  I am sure glad you were born! 

 ^^It was also supposed to be an ugly sweater party too... except I kind of like this thrift store find!^^
 ^^Trying on Bron's new ski helmet^^
 ^^Feeling a little embarrassed as we sang to him^^
 ^^Way to chug that milk, Levi!^^
^^Dani, myself, and Mindy wearing our "ugly" sweaters.^^

Now go have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
We are busting at the seems with excitement over here.  I may just cry when it's all over.  Maybe.  All I know is that with Jed and Levi around, it's going to be the best Christmas yet!  I don't want the magic of the season to end.

The Messages from Friends and Family to Celebrate Bron:

Heidi Thurgood -- BIGGEST smile ever as a baby, also his adorable red hair. Grandpa used to sneak a few m&m's to Bron from his secret stash, I was convinced it was because of his hair, and knowing how much grandpa loved red hair.


Trudy Kelley -- What I appreciate most about Bron is that he loves you, Jessie! He is a devoted husband and father and would do anything for you and his boys, Jed & Levi. That means the world to me.


Tyson Coles -- Bron and I had great times together in high school. From football to golf, we hung out quite a bit and had a lot of good times. I cant remember anything from high school without him or my other friends being there. Good times all around, we all grew up on farms and worked hard, but we played just as hard. Happy birthday man.


Mari Fotheringham -- Bron is the best spent the 4th of July watching the Tour de France & a hot dog eating contest & made it seem like the best time he's ever had


Heather Gauthier -- I remember that Bron was on the A team doing catheters...maybe he just had a good nurse, Roxanne Clark , but either way I was jealous...I wanted to be on that team! Happy 30th Bron!


Jay Larsen -- Random water fights in our apt and letting me help feed cows. I've always been amazed at your firmness in life and the gospel and your compassion for others. Happy bday!!


Kim Rhodes -- Travis says he is always late!! I'm sure he has more he just has to think for a bit.


Chelsea Whitehouse -- How hard Bron works, but always keeps a smile on his face and jokes around with those around him. Happy Birthday!!!


Neal Georgia -- His shoes used to never be tied, He had every reference to milk underlined in his scriptures, He loved to sleep in when given the chance, and was always a pretty good friend.


Nick Raiger  -- He always has a brown line across his teeth after a long mountain bike ride from grinning. watching him dance around after rubbing purel into a big scrape in his leg was pretty funny too. Over all he is one of my best friends and is always there when needed.


Roxanne Clark -- I remember a lot of Saturday's in the barn feeding cows (or just a lot of barn work together since we both lived so close!). We were always able to joke around but still get the work done. I also remember the cook outs, holiday meals, game nights, trips to creamie's, etc that we used to all do as a group. We always had a great time! I miss those times!


Dustin Nelson -- One of the happiest babies I've ever seen. I did have to change a few diapers though.....that's when I realized that Bron was full of ..........! Don't know if that's changed.


Cassie Lovell -- when he brought me pizza at college for lunch just to chat, and milking cows haha... I think he just like to laugh at how rediculous I was. love you guys!


Hailie Fife Day -- I had a lot of fun with Bron when we were in the branch! Planning crazy activities or just hanging out with everyone! He was always good for a laugh and has such a kind heart!!!


Lauren Thompson -- Well of course our most memorable time together was being lost for 5 hours in 120 degree weather!! I love how Bron is active and is always up for an adventure! Also, he's very loving and he's easy to talk to


Elizabeth Wade -- He doesn't look like it but he is a true athlete. He is amazing and continues to impress me. He is very family oriented and is a good husband and father. Moreover, I think he is my favorite son in law because he has never sent me a photo of a rat like the other one Don Thompson!!!!


Tyrel Nelson -- One night, he was asleep and i told my buddies that I could go in jump airborne on top of him and he wouldn't wake up. I did it and sure enough. No change in his sleep pattern.


Tyrel Nelson -- 5 years and he was at our family reunion and wanted to be big and tell a story. A duck and a skunk lost their moms and didn't know what they were. So the duck says to the skunk, what am I. The duck says you are yellow and have a bill, you must be a duck. The skunk then says what am I and the duck says you are not black and you are not white. You must be a Mexican. He laughed but nobody else did. I am sure that he heard it on the playground and had no idea it was racist. Great memory.


Tyrel Nelson -- He was trying to get 2 bales of straw down that were frozen to a shed with the tractor fork, in the process of doing this he did get the bales and ripped part of the tin off the shed as well. Classic. I could go on and on and never stop laughing. He is a great brother and a great friend. I hope we can always get along and become 2 old men sitting our porches wit tiling wood and drinking lemonade. And if there is time eating all the pistachio nuts that we could get cracked open. Another great memory.


Flint – Remembers when Bron was little and was to spray the navel of a newborn calf with iodine. He must have had the handle turned around because he ended up spraying himself in the face. Ouch! He also remembers how Bron would like to hide out and listen (easedrop) to the grownups talk instead of hanging out with the little kids. It was funny, we would catch him sitting on the stairs where we couldn’t see him, listening. It must be where he got his gift of gab.


Merri Sue - My favorite memory is waiting for him to get off the plane from his mission to Russia. I kept waiting and watching for my “boy”, when low and behold a big ole Russian Bear appeared (my Bron). I was never so happy. It still brings tears to my eyes. I will never forget the big bear hug I got from my handsome son. You were the cutest little boy. I loved your red hair and big long long eyelashes. You are always so thoughtful and kind to me. I Notice! Thanks for loving me so. Happy 30th! I love you Bron. Mom


Garret and Talon remember sitting at the kitchen table and looking out the window seeing Bron driving down the lane. Then he slowly started driving off the road and into the ditch, tipping his truck into the ditch, all because he was reading the mail (a letter from his girl).


Talon also remembers Bron going with Tyrel to get farm supplies in town. Tyrel waited in the truck while Bron went into the store. Out Bron came with the supplies & “Peach Rings”. Bron just said “well they are farm supplies too!”


Kaleb remembers the long talks with Bron until 2 a.m. when he would come home to visit. Kaleb still looks back on them and reflects. He learned a lot from Bron. He also will always remember and cherish the times Bron would pull them around on sleds behind his snowmobile. Good times.

Call enjoyed it so much when Bron would take him to Brouliums & they would get bread sticks and pop. Yum!. No reason, Bron just wanted to be nice to his little bro. Also Bron made a great jungle gym. Call loved climbing on him when he was little.

Snapshots of Life Lately: December

12.20.2013
Now that cold temperatures are settling in, we've been spending much more time inside the house.  Call me a wuss, but I don't like bundling the kids up to play outside when it's 20 degrees or less, especially when there's not much snow.  That's just cold.  And doesn't sound like much fun.  So Jed has had a lot of play dates with little friends.  However, I have chased the kids around the backyard on the afternoons the temperature peeks above 40 degrees.  It feels great to get a little fresh air. 
 
Here's a little peek at what has been going on inside the Nelson home so far this winter:
 
^^A family of penguins moved in!  They even took a nap in Jed's bed with him.  Jed has had a lot of fun with a variety of these festive sticker projects I nabbed from the dollar corner at Target.^^
^^Levi prefers to just taste the stickers^^
^^I couldn't leave out this look of full concentration!  Too cute.^^
^^Oh, Christmas Tree--the sparse skinny thing that came from the woods--we love you anyway because you're REAL and the adventure we had finding you was just downright awesome.  Also, nose on the wall discipline.  It was a rough morning.^^
^^Where did Levi go?  Peekaboo!^^
^^Old popcorn for breakfast.  It was Jed's idea.  And Levi is officially trouble; he can reach the water dispenser.  Thank goodness for locks.^^
^^Jed quietly reading in front of our tree we put up before our trip to the woods.  He loves books.  And I love that he loves them.^^
^^Playing under the fort that took over my living room for a few days.^^
^^More sticker projects and snuggling on the couch with games.^^
^^I remember playing with paper bags like this with my brother when we were little.  Just paying the fun forward.  Also, Jed playing with the nativity sets.^^
^^Jed helped me frost some sugar cookies.  It was hilarious!  And very messy.  It required an outfit change afterward.  But I love Jed's liberal use of sprinkles.  It makes a little spot inside me happy.^^
^^Early morning cuddles in bed with my boys.  Please ignore my third day post-bun hair, but this is the best way to start the day and I want to remember.^^
 
 
And let's not forget the most important detail of our lives right now, today is
Bron's 30th Birthday!!!
So please excuse me, I've got a cake to bake and a party to set up.
The man who makes my world turn deserves an extra special day.

The Nativity Story

12.18.2013
"As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always." --Thomas S. Monson
 

A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to participate in our little community's Nativity Festival.  I played my violin one night (It seems I only play my violin at Christmas-time anymore.) and acted as the "official photographer" the next night.  The church house was filled with hundreds of nativities on display from all over the world.  There was live music playing constantly and cookies and milk served in the back. 

However, my favorite part by far was the live nativity of mamas with their sweet little babies rotating through.  Coming from home where chaos seems to reign supreme these days (I don't want to count how many times Levi has purposely dumped the dog's water bowl.  All I know is that I'm out of dry towels!) these precious little babies brought a little perspective and peace.  I wonder how Mary must have felt that night, passing through that valley of the shadow of death to bring the Son of God into the world... in a lowly stinky stable.  The irony brings tears to my eyes if I think about it too much.

But that's the story of our Savior's birth.  And I want my boys to know Him.  I've been trying to think up ways--traditions--to remember Christ during this busy and exciting season, to teach my children that Christmas is really centered around Christ.  There's nothing wrong with sparkling ornaments and Santa and a pile of gifts under the tree, but I also just want to invite a little more of that special spirit into our home. 

So this year, I made sure to set a nativity out at Jed's eye level to play with.  We've acted out the story together several times.  And there's nothing sweeter than overhearing Jed say, "Knock ,knock.  No room here.  You stay in the barn."

He gets it.  And that's all I could ever hope for.   

Weekend Notes

12.16.2013

It's pretty obvious that Christmas is less than 12 days away...

:: We kicked off the weekend with a short trip to see the lights at Rock Creek Station on Friday night.  We bundled the kids up, but they didn't seem to notice the biting cold.  Instead, they excitedly pointed and declared all the dazzling colors and the endless assortment of Christmas characters littered throughout the acreage.  But I think their favorite part--and mine too--was the camel.  Yes, the boys got to feed a real live camel with two humps some carrots.  The looks on their faces were priceless!

:: I played my violin and the boys met Santa at our church breakfast on Saturday morning.  Jed was disappointed when Santa didn't give him the movie and cars he asked for right then.  I had to explain to Jed that Santa would come down the chimney and deliver his presents in his stocking on Christmas day.  He seemed okay with that.  Jed is really catching on to how Christmas works this year.  "Halloween over and now it's Christmas?" he asks.  Yes, it's Christmas time!

:: Bron and I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson together aloud.  We couldn't help laughing!  That story is so well written.  Definitely a Christmas classic. 

:: We began a new Christmas tradition at our home this year.  I wrapped twelve books and placed each of them under the tree with a number.  It's our Christmas countdown!  I've never seen Jed dress in his pajamas so fast; he is thrilled to open a present and read a story each night.  And I'm eating up his excitement too.  I'm looking forward to collecting more illustrated classics and Christ-centered books to read as a family over the coming years to welcome in that special Christmas spirit.

:: All calorie-counting has officially gone out the window!  (Not that I do much of that anyway.)  Bron made two batches of his grandpa's famous peanut butter fudge and I baked over 200 sugar cookies.  (Yes, I'll have lots of help from my Achievement Day girls frosting those this week.)  I'm stoked because for the first time in my life, my sugar cookies turned out perfectly!

:: I rocked Levi to sleep in his dark bedroom two nights in a row.  I love holding him close, feeling the weight of his head on my chest, and listening to him breathe.  It's a priceless feeling.  I am such a lucky mama; he likes to snuggle! 

Oh, Christmas Tree

12.11.2013

Saturday morning we woke up to snow!  It was going to be the perfect day for a trip up into the South Hills to find Christmas trees--I could just feel it in my bones. 

Our ward's Elders' Quorum hosted the activity.  They bought tree permits, brought up sleds and saws, and even stoked a fire complete with chili and peppermint hot chocolate for lunch.  Unfortunately, the storm kept a lot of folks away, which meant the guys had the duty of finding trees for those who spoke for one and to bring them on home--as a sort of Christmas service, I suppose.  But I would rather think of our morning as a thrilling outdoor adventure because it truly was!

The little boys and I accompanied Bron and several other friends deep into the hills on snowmobiles--except for Jed and me.  We cruised in a sled attached behind a snowmobile.  It made for a very cold and bumpy ride, but Jed was a brave trooper.  He simply buried his face into my arm.  It was a lot of fun!  Levi, on the other hand, got to feel the rumble of the engine beneath his tiny frame next to Dad.  It didn't take him long to find the gas button; it was pretty obvious he was hooked.  Jed and Levi are both 100% boy!  I love it.

The snow just kept coming down all day long.  Every pine was covered in a thick blanket of white.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  And downright magical.  We stopped several times to march through the trees and pick the very best ones. 

Both Bron and I couldn't wipe the childish grins off our faces when we were done.  Nothing puts a person in the Christmas spirit quite like fresh powder and Christmas tree hunting.

I sure hope this is one of Jed's first memories.  It was a wonderful morning.

And now, for a picture overload:

*I switched my camera to auto and handed it to our neighbor and babysitter, Kamri.  I should do that more often!  She had a ton of fun clicking away and I now have a hundred pictures of our day together.  Many of these pictures are ones she took.  Thanks, Kamri! 

^^Jed sledding^^
^^Even in the freezing cold, Levi is still happy^^
^^Romping through the woods^^
^^Family picture in the snow!  Now if only Jed were smiling...^^
^^Levi tasting some fresh powder^^
 ^^This is how we roll^^
^^We couldn't peel this kid away from the machine^^
^^Kamri making some winter magic^^
^^The boys did really well until the very end when they suddenly decided they were freezing.  They were quite dramatic about it.  But some food in front of the fire fixed that.^^
^^Sweet sleepy hot chocolate mouth on our way home^^
 
There's something special about those hills.  We had a blast.  I can't wait to go back.