Christmas Morning with the Joneses

Remarkably, just prior to one of the most important picture-taking days of the year, I managed to lose my camera. As a result, Christmas Eve photos were taken with my Dad's camera. I don't have the files yet but I will try to post some later. I did take some pictures on Christmas morning with our dinosaur Olympus camera- I knew I was holding on to it for SOME reason!!

Apparently unwilling to depart from tradition, George and I stayed up until approximately 3:30 am getting everything ready for Christmas morning. Zack went nuts, following me up and down the stairs with his tail all bushed out. He kept skidding on the wood floor and diving into open gift boxes which would occasionally take him for a ride across my bathroom floor or the downstairs hallway. In spite of his antics, we pressed on until (almost) dawn to finish up. Here is our finished product-

The girls actually slept in until about 8:30 am, which was pretty amazing. I went in to see if Juliette was awake before we all went downstairs. She was not, but quickly woke up crying before I could get back out of her room. She calmed down after see saw all of the new stuff to get into.

Everyone had a good time opening their gifts. Sarah was especially thrilled with her new Nintendo DS, as you can see. Kate was similarly excited about her cupcake set. Juliette was just excited in general.

Zack the kitten pretty much took it all in stride. He seemed to enjoy acting all crazy, diving into the piles of discarded wrapping paper and wreaking havoc. I, on the other hand, will require some time to recover!


Christmas Sacrament meeting

When I decorated our Christmas tree this year, I put shatter-proof ornaments on the lower portion. Juliette is 16 months old and is right at the prime "baby destructo" age, especially when it comes to new, sparkly, toy-like objects hanging within her reach. I was a little sad to resign myself to the fact that at least the bottom portion of my tree would not be perfect this year. I am a Christmas tree perfectionist. Fortunately, I am also a realist. I know that baby+decorated tree = ornaments all over the house. I was ok with that. Then I brought home a darling little lynx point siamese kitty. He was so mellow, so gentle, yet playful, so perfect for a family pet. Until, of course, he started knocking all of the ornaments off of the tree. How am I supposed to experience the joy of Christmas with the kitty playing ornament hockey in my kitchen with George snickering in the background?

Our ward choir director was due to have a baby the week before the Christmas sacrament program, so back in September, she asked if anyone would be willing to be in charge of and direct the musical program for this year. I volunteered. We always devote the entire meeting to music on the Sunday before Christmas- this is a tradition that I really enjoy and look forward to every year. Anyway, I have never directed a choir before. I have also never been in charge of an entire program like that before. I don't think I ever really gave much thought to the amount of effort it takes for someone to put a program like that together. I now feel so guilty for all of the days that I have blown off going to ward choir practice. I always thought that I didn't need to be there all of the time because I am good at sight reading the parts and following the director. I used to just start showing up a couple weeks before the program and call it good. What I never contemplated was that it wreaks havoc on the choir as a whole when people don't show up. Each and every voice is important. While in rehearsal for the Christmas program, there were a few stalwart singers who never failed to attend. Most people were not very consistent and it made me take a look at myself because when I would get frustrated at them for not showing up I could not help but realize that they were probably doing a better job at supporting the choir than I have in previous years.

When we started rehearsing this fall, I told Sarah that it was her and my duty to attend choir practice every Sunday. At first she was very unhappy with me for making her go to Choir, but she did what I required her to do with a smile (eventually). Other parents would see Sarah at choir, doing such a great job, and comment about how they wish that their kids would come with them to choir. My response- "So bring them!" As a result of her choir attendance, Sarah has progressed musically and gained confidence in herself.

The Christmas Sacrament program was today- I was nervous, which was strange for me. I directed the choir and I think they actually followed me, which was even stranger :) The funny thing is that directing a choir is not like leading congregational singing and certainly not at all like performing as a soloist. It requires an intimate knowledge of all parts of the music, SATB. It also requires that you find a way to use your hands, body language, etc. to not only keep everyone together and cue them, but to lead them in a dynamic performance. It makes me sweat. I wore short sleeves and I was still sweating. Anyway, I directed and we opened with "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". Other highlights were "Stars Were Gleaming" (the primary, sounding fantastic!!!! they even did an acapella verse!!), "What Child is This" (choir), Sarah and another cute little girl singing "When the Son of God Was Born" (this was great, Sarah actually sang with some good volume and did not get too shy!) and my solo, "O holy Night". I asked a couple of other good singers in the ward to sing the alto, tenor and bass parts during the chorus of O.H.N. and I think it really added to the performance. Things really came together this morning and the Christmas program was quite successful. It really helped me refocus upon just what exactly is important about Christmas. So, if between Juliette and our kitten the tree has no ornaments, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that we keep in mind that we are celebrating the birth of the Savior of us all, the beauty that matters comes from within and the only gift that matters is love.

Wow, that was an intense ramble, coming from me. To lighten it up, here is a pic of Juilette looking grown up and some of us with our new kitten, Zack. Sarah, Kate and Juliette all just love him and my Dad was nice enough to drive all the way to Vacaville to adopt him for us. Oh, and for more comic relief, there is a pic of Kate doing her Sarah Palin impersonation.



On Friday night, like pretty much everyone else, George and I went to go see Twilight. Overall, I enjoyed the film. I am always a bit skeptical when it comes to adapting a novel to the big screen. I know that it is impossible to capture every nuance and detail without having a five hour behemoth instead of a feature film. It is (in my opinion) a job well done when the spirit and essence of the book is preserved and the characters stay on the paths intended for them by the author. The Hardwicke adaptation of Twilight did an adequate job (with moments of greatness interspersed throughout) of preserving the dreary splendor of Meyer's book. The acting was pretty good and most of the casting was very well done (Rosalie??). I had only one major beef with the Twilight film, regarding Edward's pivotal moment when he removes James' venom from Bella's hand. This is supposed to be a metamorphic moment for Edward, when he realizes that there is no physical compulsion that can overcome his love for Bella. This was lost in the film, with Carlisle nearly having to pull Edward's fangs out himself to stop Bella from being killed. My displeasure with this one part of the film did little to detract from my overall entertainment, especially when compared to the obnoxious teenage girls who kept laughing hysterically every time Bella and Edward had a serious/romantic moment. I was somewhat annoyed by that. It was all worth it, though, because about half way through the movie, I heard the words "Stawp Laughing" -the nasal intonation of a 40-something Team Edward member who was tired of having her fantasy disrupted by giggling. The comic relief of that moment alone was worth the price of admission.

Taggie Blaggie Slaggie.....

Natasha tagged me. Here goes.

1) Post rules on your blog
2)Answer the six "8" items
3)Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving them a comment

8 Favorite TV shows
1-Big Bang Theory
3-24 (Jack Bauer is my boyfriend)
4-CSI (except NY)
6-Desperate Housewives (ugh, I know!)
7-Myth Busters
8-How It's Made

8 Things I did yesterday
1-flu shots
2-played with the kids in the McDonalds play place
3-shopped online at Gymboree (addicted!)
4-ate ice cream
5-curled my hair
6- stopped in at the mall
7-made dinner
8-Discussed pathogenesis of influenza H5N1 with Kate and Sarah

8 Things I look forward to
1-Girls Weekend end of April (ditto Tasha!)
2-Twilight the movie (OMG EDWARD!!!!!!!!)
3-George finishing school
4-Juliette turning 18 months so I can actually go to sunday school and not sit in the hallway
5-George and my 11th anniversary on 12/6/08- he always surprises me with something really nice. Lately he has taken to making me use cryptography to unlock my gifts.
7-Starting a new research project (still finishing up with the HIV one, ready for something new!)
8-Starting grad school (can't until after #3 above!)

8 Favorite Restaurants
2-Macaroni Grill
3-Fats Asia Bistro
5-Plaza Hof Brau
8-The Fish Hopper (Monterey, CA)

8 Things on my wishlist
1-New Louis Vuitton bag (just fulfilled!)
2-Juicy Couture boots
3-Twilight soundtrack
4-Edward Cullen (ha ha)
5-New 52 inch LCD TV (so I can move the 42 inch into my bedroom)
6-Vacation with George (anywhere!) without kids
7-Someone to do the laundry for me. I detest laundry. Love clothes, hate laundry.
8-Time to get my hair done

8 people to tag
3-Amy E

Cal Homecoming 2008

Last weekend I had the opportunity to dance with the beautiful women of the 2008 Cal Dance Team as part of the Cal Alumni Dance Team. Thanks to the very beautiful and talented jovauna Currey, the CADT was able to be a part of all game day festivities- March to Victory, Sproul rally, halftime show and all!

The entire 2008 CDT with the CADT.

Some pics of me on the sidelines during the game....

CADT with Oksi!!

It was really great to have the chance to be a part of the Cal-ASU game and to show some Cal spirit! The only thing that bothered me was that I could not see the game very well from the sidelines. I was used to being up on the "boards" in front of the student section, where you can get a very good view of things. Oh, well, that is why we have a DVR. The band was fantastic as usual...."CAL BAND GREAT!!!"

Go Bears! Beat the Sun Devils!!


Sarah's Baptism

Yesterday George had the opportunity to baptize our oldest daughter, Sarah. I am so proud of the beautiful, talented and kind young lady she is growing up to be.

I can't believe that Sarah is eight years old. Not that she does not seem mature (she seems very mature) but that the time has flown by so fast. I know that virtually all parents say this, but she has grown up so fast!! (sniff sniff)

Above is a picture of her on her baptism day. Compare that to the pictures below- the first one was taken when she was four years old.

This one was taken when she was six years old.

This is Sarah when she was three years old on the day little baby Kate was blessed. Sarah has been such a wonderful big sister to Kate and now to Juliette. They both look up to her and watch everything she does.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Sarah, taken when she was two years old. She has such a glowing spirit, I always liked the way the light falls on her in this shot because it reminds me of the light she shines on others by the power of her testimony and her pure love. I am honored to have the opportunity to be her mom and to watch her amazing transformation from a cute little baby into a young lady who can set such a great example for others.

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The Big Read

I saw this list on Staci's blog. I have only read 23 out of the 100 books. Maybe someday I will have time to read a few more.

The Big Read is a National Endowment for the Arts program designed to encourage community reading initiatives and of this list of 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six.

Here’s what you are supposed to do:
*Look at the list and bold those we have read.
*Italicize those we intend to read.
*Underline the books we LOVE .Share this list in your blog, too, if you like.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


Gideon and Becky

Gideon and Becky got married last Saturday- don't they look great together?
I think this is a look into the future......................................ha ha ha
Here are all the Jones sisters and sisters-in law. From left to right, Andrea, Amy E, Becky, Rebekah, Amy and Staci. Now Nathan will have to marry someone named Andrea to keep the trend alive.
Here are all the Jones brothers and brothers-in-law. From the left, George (isn't he dreamy....), Nathan, Gideon, Jason, Jethro and Matt.
Kate, Sarah and Nya were hanging out and being Silly with uncle Nathan. I just love this shot. Nathan, we miss having you around!
Later at the reception, Sarah caught Becky's bouquet- needless to say, she was quite pleased.



Well, Gideon got married and I got some great pics of the kids out of it. I have been putting off getting a family picture taken for quite a while now, but now it is taken care of! George's sister Andrea is a whiz with her camera- Thanks, Andrea!
Sarah, Kate and Juliette did not mind posing for pictures while we were all waiting for Gideon and Becky to come outside.

Wow, here we are. Everyone is even looking at the camera!

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Many of my friends have had fun lately with this:

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I have together. It doesn't matter if you know me a lot anything you remember...

2. Next, re post these directions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty cool(and funny) to see the responses. If you leave a memory, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave a memory for you.


We Ate Eight Eights at Eight on 8-8-08

Last Friday presented a once (maybe twice) in a lifetime opportunity- we ate 8 eights at 8 on 8-8-08. Juliette was ready for breakfast, as you can see, and probably wondered what all the fuss was about.
Sarah and Kate thought the whole thing was fun and we hope that they will always remember it. You know, it is the sum of so many small and seemingly insignificant things that can amount to the memory of a great childhood. Thank you to George for being such a great dad. He always has great ideas (he was the one who remembered about 8-8-08) and takes great pains to create memories for our family.
Juliette did not actually eat 8 eights, just one was enough for her.
Here is George perfecting his 8-shaped pancake technique.

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