Thursday, December 30, 2010

Untraditionally Christmas...

For many years, Christmas has been the same.  We all wake up early to see what was left when Santa's sleigh visited our homes.  By mid-morning, my Mom and Dad would be making the rounds, visiting all their kids and grandkids.  I would serve breakfast at my house and anyone interested in eating with us was invited.  Jeanna, her kids, and grandkids always came for breakfast.  Mom and Dad would stop by for a few minutes, Lorena would usually be the one driving them so we would get to see her too.  Then, bit by bit, I would get to see about half of my family as they came to visit.
With Mom's death this year, I couldn't bear to do the same thing again.  I imagined my dad waking up Christmas morning in the same bed where he woke up next to Mom for 53 Christmases before.  This time, she wouldn't be there.  He would travel around to see his kids and grandkids without her.  The whole thing seemed wrong (at least to me.)
So, I decided to try something new.
I invited all of my brothers, sisters, their kids and grandchildren, and of course Dad, to come to a very nice hotel downtown.  We rented 13 rooms to hold about 53 people.  It's the first time that the bulk of the Osborn family has slept under one roof in ages.  The rooms were huge, the amenities fabulous, and the staff wonderful.  After checking in, we all decided to find dinner.  Some of us wound up at the hotel restaurant, others at McDonalds and still others went to Applebees (those were the only three options since it was Christmas Eve and everything closed early.) Me and my crew were in the McDonalds group (shocking, I know) with my sister Sandy, who kept us singing Christmas Carols for the entire time it took us to walk the block to the restaurant.  After dinner, those who wanted to, met at the light rail station (right outside the hotel) and went down to Temple Square to see the lights....
Sandy and her granddaughter Audrey hanging on!
Amanda's not too excited...

Note to self...Bring warmer jackets next time.  The kids got cold walking around Temple Square so we went across the street to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building...

Where we could see many of the lights from the top floor.

Mike shows his baby girl, Kamryn, the sights of Salt Lake City.
The kids quickly tired of the downtown life soooooo back on the train to the hotel we went!

Where we found their favorite activity of all...
Thank heavens for the pool!

Amanda, Ileah and Jeff

The quads...Carson, Jaxon, Mason, and Amanda enjoying the heated indoor/outdoor pool.

My nieces Kamryn and Kelley

Amanda was excited to learn how to swim on her back!

Amanda and Jaxon took a dip in the hot tub...

 Brad & Cathy spoiled us with homemade goodies of every kind.  You would want to join us just for the snacks if you knew how good they were!  (hmmmm, maybe that should be kept our secret.)

After getting dried off and dressed, Mason decided to ask Uncle Tim where his hair went.  Tim tried to explain.  Later that night, Sandy came up with the best explanation...She said Tim was "hairing impaired"...Which got a big laugh especially given the fact that we have 3 members of the family who are deaf ;o)
We went up to our rooms and spent time chatting, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. The kids ran from room to room, visiting cousins that they don't see nearly enough.  My apologies to anyone who was put in a room on the same floor.  Next year, we'll be adamant that we get the entire floor all to our noisy selves!
Then off to bed to wait for Santa...

WaHoooo!  Santa found us at Little America!  How smart is that jolly old elf?

Amanda is now a Pet Vet!

Carson got Lego's and Mazin' Hamsters.  Sweet little Carson got a hamster that he already has (Santa has a tough time keeping all the kid's toys straight.)  I told him that we could exchange it for one he didn't have and he said "No, Amanda doesn't have this hamster so I want to give it to her."  Brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. 

More Lego's Jaxon????

Amanda is happy about something!

Soon all the gifts were opened and the kids were hungry.  Fortunately for us, the hotel serves a terrific Christmas Brunch.  I wish I would have taken pictures of the food.  They had everything.  Fruits of all kinds, cheese, bagels, cereals, oatmeal, grits, eggs (scrambled, fried, Benedict, and even an omelet station), waffles, pancakes, fried potatoes, bacon, sausage and smoked salmon.  It was fabulous!
They even had a room set up just for us!!  It was so awesome to have everyone (minus one brother, two nephews and their families) all in one place for breakfast.  I could never have fit them all in my home!

Kourtni and Audrey need food!!

Ummm, Tyler, what's with the finger?

All these people are family.   Aren't we lucky?

Londyn, Kelley, Allie, Brennon and Jennifer.

When breakfast was over, my kids wanted to go home.  Some families stayed and played in the pool, others played with toys and chatted.  We said good-bye and went home, where the kids found...



And MORE Lego's...Santa needs his head examined!
The kids played with their new toys all day...

And a tired Mommy....

And a tired Daddy, finally got some rest!

I need to give a huge shout out to Little America for being so great!  And, to give notice that we'll probably be back next year...If they'll take us!!
I want to thank my family for being so willing to support my idea for a different kind of Christmas.  It was hard for all of us to not have Mom around, but we had each other to lean on.  The whole trip was worth it to see my dad laughing to the point of tears when I became the victim of my own stupidity.  Thank you Harris and Christopher (my nephews) for realizing that I didn't know that the hotel rooms had doorbells.  They had a great time confusing me by ringing the bell and making me look for the source of the noise.  So then, I thought the buzzing (which I found in my closet) was a faulty smoke detector.  It wasn't until that "smoke detector" started buzzing in known tempos that I realized it was a doorbell...
Yup, everyone got a good laugh at my expense...Even me!
Thanks for playing along Dad...
Merry Christmas Mom.  We missed you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Sea of Red

Yesterday, I grabbed my red purse...

Put on a red bling necklace...

And a cuff bracelet with large red stones...

I applied my favorite red lipstick...

And I cried just a little as I put on this locket.  My mom had given to my Aunt Carol for Christmas one year, Carol gave it to me before she died.  Inside are pictures of my mother and her three sisters. Mom had made one for each of her sisters and they had worn them to Mom's funeral. 
Even Amanda put on her favorite red shoes.
We went and paid tribute, and thanked God, for the life of my Aunt Carol.  Her favorite color just happened to!
Red is the color of courage so it seemed quite fitting to find a sea of red at Carol's funeral.  Anybody who is courageously living life after the loss of loved ones deserves to wear red.
Since red also represents strength and love, I find it no coincidence that it was my aunt's favorite.  She lived much of her life with harsh challenges and a lot of pain.  She did it with strength and love. 
 A few months ago, I helped her move from one apartment to another.  We packed up a red toaster, red microwave, red stand mixer, red trivets.  I found some beautiful red drinking glasses in her cupboard.  She was so excited about them, she had just purchased them the day we had gone to lunch with her sisters, my Aunt Nonie and Aunt Lynette.  It was the day after my mom's funeral.  I took great care to make sure that these glasses arrived at her new home undamaged.  They were beautiful.
I'm grateful to have had the last five months to spend with her since my mother's death.  She loved my mom more than anything in this world and talking to Carol always made me feel better. My children loved going to her house, she always had some chocolate for them to eat.  She was always so happy to entertain my kids even though I'm sure they wore her out!
Although I am sad for the loss of my dear aunt, I can't help but feel like all is right with the world.  The five months that she and my mom were separated from each other must have felt like forever.  They truly were two halves of a whole.  I'm so grateful to her for being my mom's big sister and best friend.  The world now has two fewer examples of unconditional love.  But, they left a lot of posterity to carry on.  My prayer is that I will be able to take that love, perfect it in myself, and pass it on to my children.  What a great way to honor such beautiful women...women who set the bar quite high.  What a legacy they leave behind.
Merry Christmas Mom and Aunt Carol. 
I love you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Eternal BFF's

A short time before my mom died, I wrote this post about the two orignial BFF's.
Tonight, I'll finish this chapter. 

My aunt Carol (left) has always been a second mother to me.  She and my own mom were so close that they loved each other's children as thier own.  I remember many days stopping by her house after school just to get a hug, or staying in her home while we waited for our own home to vacate after a move.  How those two women handled 11 kids in what must have been less than a 2000sf house, is beyond me!
I really love this picture because it shows what a calming influence they have always been in each other's lives. It was taken about a week before my mom's death.
Carol wrote in a book of memories that she and Gayle could finish each other's sentences, cook each other's meals, or knit on each other's projects and no one but them knew where one began and the other one ended.
 Kindred spirits like that don't stay separated long. 
Tonight, just 5 months after Mom's death,  my beautiful aunt met her on the other side. While I am sad for the loss, I am so glad that she is no longer in pain.   I am smiling because I know that Gayle wasn't going to do heaven without Carol, and Carol wasn't going to do earth without Gayle.  Both deserve every happiness after enduring this life so well. 
So, if you make it up to heaven, and find a lot of angels wearing really gorgeous sweaters...Look around...I'm sure you'll find Carol and Gayle perched in a soft chair laughing and knitting!

Friday, December 3, 2010

40 People, 4 Cats, 3 Dogs

A fellow quad-mom made the kid's cute T-day shirts.

My goofy quads!

Just the boys now!  Where's your pants Carson?

Allie, Sarah, Faith, and Ileah.  Amanda is soooooo glad she has girl cousins to play with!

Not enough noise for you Parker so you need music too??



Computers and bubbles.  What else does a kid need?


Jeff, AKA quaddaddy!



Cathy taking pics with her new camera!  I hope she isn't taking a photo of Jen's leg...

Food, Food, Food...

People, People, People!!!!

Miss Malia

I know they look bored but...we were actually playing a game...Makes you want to join right in eh?

Once again, we had a wonderful time welcoming family and friends into our home.   We're busting at the seams now so hopefully we'll be able to get into a bigger home sometime in the future...Just for the holiday parties!

We really missed Grandma Gayle (my mom).  Thanksgiving was the first major holiday we've had to get through since her death.  A few tears were shed.  Now we just have to get through Christmas and her birthday.   She would have been 73 on Jan 2, 2011.  We miss you Mom!