all is calm, all is bright

I've failed to carry my camera around lately and have just been snapping photos with my phone,
but I've decided that's okay.
Sometimes when I have my camera around the actual event becomes secondary while I try to get the perfect picture.  Then I've missed what I really wanted to experience- the experience itself, minus the stress of picture taking.  We can't forget to make the memory in the process of documenting it.

And, with the horrible happenings of this past week, I'm just grateful that I've been able to make so many precious memories with my loved ones.  This time of year is especially busy with shopping, parties and the advent activities, and I hate to say it- but this tragedy has been another great reminder for me to make the most of the day-to-day moments.  You just never know how long they will last.

So here's a few of the moments I've loved lately, even though I don't have the perfect picture to back it up.

Santa rang our doorbell last Sunday night.  The kids were ecstatic, minus Stella who clung to me and kept saying "NO!"...she didn't want anywhere near him.  The minute he walked in Henry yelled out, "Hey, that's our Home Teacher!  See, Mom....look at his eyebrows! They are gray!".
Truth be told, he was right!  But we just brushed him off and smiled.  The kids giggled the entire time he was here- as they always do when our Home Teacher comes over- he's quite the character and very good with kids!

I'm always amazed and grateful for my husband.  He's honestly the best thing that ever happened to me!  I can be whiney and needy and lazy, and he just keeps on trucking with the best attitude and energy.  He's a total family man and is never too busy or too tired to play with our kids.
For example, I hate making Gingerbread houses.  My patience is zero with these types of activities.
He rocks it and loves it...

Example 2, he cooks for us often and it's always delicious!
I love the towel thrown over his shoulder!

Example 3, he's always himself and no one can change that- he carried a 44 oz. Maverick Coke into his formal work Christmas party! Who does that?!
That's what happens when you try to serve the Ponds Pepsi!  We bring our own Coke.

Our kids have been loving our elf, Oliver, this year.  They all run around like crazy animals in the morning searching for him.  One morning they found him smooshed into the pretzel jar on top of the fridge!  I'm thinking this real-life elf would be much more effective at keeping them obedient though...
It could yell out when they were acting up.  That picture cracks me up!

The boys wrote letters to Santa...
Too bad James will never get a tramp (his daddy is anti)!  I love that James asked for a key for his brother and that Henry wished Santa a Happy New Year- pretty thoughtful.

Speaking of memories...
I had the most amazing salad at Biaggi's last week and can't wait to recreate it at home
The Roasted Beet Salad!

I'm so happy we haven't seen much of this...

Sorry for the random post, but I wanted to document a few things my family may want to remember down the road.

I'm grateful for this time of year- the happy people, the festive decor, the reminder of the Savior's birth and life,
and when the bad things happen, I'm grateful that I have the knowledge of the gospel, the calm of the Spirit and the bright hope of my children!

Lastly, I had to share this.  I think she said it perfectly.

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