Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, from the Kelly Family 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

With grateful hearts we review the past year:

Joseph still works as a regional purchasing agent for Ferguson Enterprises. Despite the recession's effects on the company, we are still thankful for his job. He also continues to serve faithfully as the Elder's Quorum President in our ward. This past year, he finished building a beautiful bunk bed for the boys, and is currently building a bunk bed for the girls. Joseph is also very fond of the 2nd amendment, and purchased Annalee a handgun for her birthday. He has been teaching her everything she needs to know about gun safety and shooting techniques.

Annalee continues to enjoy mothering four wonderful children who have endless energy. She has expanded her teaching studio to 37 students, which she miraculously teaches every school morning from 5:30-7:30 a.m. while the children sleep, as well as during the day before the oldest children get home from school. She also completed a life-long goal this fall by playing the famous Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Idaho Falls Symphony. She has also accepted invitations to play first violin with the Teton Chamber Orchestra in Idaho Falls as well, and enjoyed playing with the well-known violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, and CMA winner Collin Raye.

Josh will be 10 years old on Christmas Day, and continues to be the 'gift that keeps on giving.' He does well in school and loves science. He also enjoys scouts and going shooting with his Dad out on the desert. His favorite memory this past year was camping with his family in Missoula, Montana while visiting his great -grandparents. He endures his piano studies with his mother as his teacher, but hopes to move on to more exciting musical venues by someday learning the trombone.

Emma is 7 and thrives in her 2nd grade class. She was placed in a gifted reading program at school and can often be found with her nose in a Harry Potter book. Her parents recently caught her reading The Ensign in a corner, for some light, recreational reading. She loves soccer, and despite being very small for her age, was the quickest runner on her team. She is excelling in her violin studies and has been asked to perform at the Zions Bank 'Lights On' celebration.

Caleb is...well, Caleb. His mother's theory is that her sole purpose in this life is to keep this boy alive. He is energetic and naughty, although gratefully this year, we have had no arson incidents involving the toaster or matches. His prayers give us humor and joy. Here are a couple of recent examples: "Thank you that we could have blessings; thank you that we could get created. And thank you for potty treats." "...and thank you that I can say 'oopsies' after I spit on someone."

Elizabeth will be 3 in January and has been a patient, beautiful daughter. Unfortunately, she has been reluctant to get potty trained, but loves playing her 1/64th size violin whenever it's not hidden away. She loves playing with her babies and snuggling Mom and Dad.

May your families be blessed with an abundance of joy and love this coming year because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Traditions, Part 2

Every night in December, as a family, we read a Christmas-related scripture and Christmas story (most are from The Friend magazines.) This mega white 3-ring binder contains a scripture for every day of the year, centered around a specific theme for each month. For November and December, there are also stories for each day of the month related to the month's theme. Here is Emma choosing which story we will read tonight. Lizzie's just along for the ride.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Traditions, by definition are practices that create positive feelings and are repeated at regular intervals. The purpose of family traditions is to help foster family closeness. It helps our family have something to look forward to, giving us a sense of reassurance in an ever changing, hectic world.

Christmastime is an excellent time of year to create or carry forth traditions. Hearts are naturally more inclined this time of year to serve others; and more importantly, we celebrate the birth of the central figure of our Faith, Jesus Christ.

I don't profess to be an expert on the subject of creating family cohesiveness. In fact, this looks really good on the screen right now, but we have managed over the years, to really ENJOY Christmas as a family.

Here's one of our sweet and meaningful traditions:

The Journey Dinner

When I was serving a full-time mission for our Church, one of the member families invited us over Christmas Eve for my first ever Journey Dinner. I have carried the idea on every year that we have had children.

For Christmas Eve, we had a dinner consisting of food items that Mary and Joseph might possibly have eaten on their journey to Bethlehem. We eat bread or baguettes, smoked or cured meat, cheeses, olives, dates/raisins, fruit and cookies. (I don't know how authentic we are, but hey, work with me.) We eat this by candlelight and then we read Luke 2, if possible, by candlelight. ~if the small people are cooperating and not blowing out the candles, recreating bodily function sounds, etc. Afterwards, the Mister and I bear simple testimony of the Savior and his purpose in our lives.

We look forward to this every year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lessons from Collin Raye

I had the opportunity to play with the Teton Chamber Orchestra Friday and Saturday night for a private concert sponsored for Melaleuca employees. The guest artist was country music star Collin Raye. It is a lot of fun paying in the backup orchestra for such a famous artist. I truly had a blast!

I love his voice and his music, and his gracious demeanor. He is very down-to-earth and humble. Also, his band was awesome. I sat right behind the drummer and loved every loud minute of it. Possibly the best part of the show for me was the fact that Collin did lots of Christ-themed traditional Christmas carols. By that I mean, he opened with "The First Noel" and closed with "O Holy Night", both of which convey the divinity of the Savior. Don't get me wrong, I love the other music about Santa Claus and White Christmas, etc., but loved that he did a bit of everything. This is refreshing considering many of these Christ-centered songs are being avoided all in the name of political correctness. (My kids' elementary school won't allow the kids to sing any religious Christmas songs...only Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas and the like.)

Collin shared an experience about writing a more recent song entitled, "She's With Me": He has a 9-year old granddaughter with a serious neurological condition that has been difficult for their family. He talked about how God inspired him to write that song; it took him 20 minutes to write the song down while he was on a plane traveling. He emphasized that it had to come from 'above' because he is normally a slow songwriter. I thought it was wonderful that he acknowledges God's hand in his life and in his music. (Not the Hollywood way, now is it?)

Anyhoo, for Collin's encore number, he sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down". Note to self: Don't sing along at full volume WHILE playing my instrument. Stupid and embarrassing, self. I need to get out more.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Cheer

This is the Mister putting up Christmas lights. He was very frustrated. He said some special words. Who would think that putting up a strand of lights on a straight roof line could be so difficult? Who am I to judge. I'm afraid of ladders.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Challenge

November was gratitude month. The gratitude jar experiment was a sweet success. I thought that many of the older kid's contributions were insightful. I love what they teach us.

December is service month. Last night, we challenged the kids to pray for the Savior to show them people that they can serve this month--at school or in our family or neighborhood. I will try and post what the kids come up with and how it blesses our December.

Emma has a classmate who is autistic. He has significant behavioral & social issues, and as a result, doesn't have any friends at recess. Yesterday, Emma noticed this boy trying to swing by himself, but not being able to without a starter shove. Other kids find this classmate 'annoying.' We asked Emma what she says when they say that, and she responded, "He has troubles, so he can't control himself sometimes, but he still needs friends." She stood up for him and took a leadership role as she left the social comfort of her own friends, and pushed him on the swing for the remainder of recess.

We promised the kids that if they would pray for opportunities to see needs, the Lord will show them.

On a lighter note, this past week, Emma asked me if Santa brings any gifts to the President of the United States.

"Probably not this year."