Monday, January 9, 2012

All I Want For Christmas

When I was a child, Christmas was a magical time for me.  I recall going to the tire store each year with my dad to buy their new Christmas music album.  Back then music came on LPs (long playing vinyl).  All I wanted for Christmas was toys.  When I got clothing, I was usually disappointed.  Christmas has changed dramatically for me over the years.  There was, of course, the times when we tried to make Christmas super magical for our children, only to be told recently by one of my boys that we really stunk at hiding their gifts. Oh well.

As a young stay at home homeschooling mother, I often wondered if the boys would ever grow up and move on.  Now I face the reality that they are starting to do that.  We haven't celebrated Christmas much ever since our oldest one left to be a Marine.  Then there was the Christmas a year or so later that we chose not to celebrate because Jack (Dad) was away in Iraq.  Then the boys just got too old for all the fluff and I began to have to work on Christmas Day.  Just give them a gift card and they're good.  For the past several Christmases its been all about longing for the husband or sons who weren't there.  Christmas 2011 was the 5th Christmas in a row that I've had one of my sons on a mission and gotten that ever important missionary call.  Missionaries are only allowed to call twice a year.  Once at Christmas and once on Mother's day. 

But Christmas 2011 brought longing on a whole new level.  I have a grandson!  

In January 2011, Jack and I were able to visit with Andy and his very pregnant wife, Anthrea in their home in North Carolina.  First I need to say that we live in Anchorage, Alaska and North Carolina is way on the other side of the US.  Not only that...Alaska Airlines doesn't fly there.  We are able to fly out of Alaska once a year because we have airline miles.  But you can't fly where the airline doesn't go...well, not without severe penalties that we just can't afford.   So, to get to North Carolina we flew to Orlando, Florida on airline miles.  We then rented a car, stayed the night in a hotel near Orlando and drove for 12+ hours up the coast to mid NC near Camp Lejeune. I gotta tell ya...that's plenty hard on 50+ old bodies.  Then after a few days, we drove back to Orlando, played a bit with Mickey Mouse and flew home.  It takes an entire day to fly home to Alaska. 

Trivia:  Baltimore MD is closer to Disneyland in California than Anchorage AK...and we share the same Pacific Coastline!  Just sayin'. Oh yeah...I checked!

One year,  BC (before children) Jack and I drove to Denver from Wasilla, may have heard of Wasilla.  Sarah Palin, who my youngest sister in law went to school with, lived there.  The trip took us 6 days.  I know people who have driven to Salt Lake City in about 3 days but that's non stop driving, usually with 2 drivers, one drives, one sleeps.  I have no idea how long it would take to drive to North Carolina from Anchorage but all I can say is those 12 hours trapped in a car from Orlando to NC are too much for me.  Jack and I hobble out of the car whining about all our aches and pains. 
In March, 2011, we were blessed with a very healthy and beautiful grandson, Elijah!  Oh how I love this little boy and I've deeply wanted to go see him, hold him and kiss him!  But Jack was working long hours and as a union carpenter, you work when there's work.  After describing what it takes to get to North Carolina, you probably won't be surprised that I wasn't up to making that trip alone and Jack would have been deeply hurt had I made that trip without him. 

So, when can we hold our grandson??? 

We asked asked ourselves this question many times.  With this and that and other stuff, it seemed like we never could get out there to hold this bundle of least not until 2013.  In September I was seated in our Anchorage Alaska temple and I did something I hadn't done before...  I prayed and begged Heavenly Father to allow me to hold my grandson.  I was done waiting and had faith that Heavenly Father could make the impossible happen.  I wanted to hold Eli so badly!  I also asked if I could please have this blessing before 2011 was over.  My prayer was heard and answered!

First, Andy and his family moved back up to Washington DC and guess what???  Alaska Airlines flies there!!!  Then in November, the project Jack had been on for nearly a year and a half ended.  We stared at each other one day and Jack said it wouldn't be any more expensive to sit around in DC at Andy's home as to sit around here.  He asked me to see if there were any airline miles seats available.  What???  Was he kidding?  Airline miles up for grabs during the holidays????  Well guess what????  I found airline miles seats AND with the new Club 49, we got our baggage FREE!  Gotta love FREE!

So on Thanksgiving Day, we ditched our 2 sons and all of Jack's family and headed to the airport.  It was weird being in an almost empty airport on Thanksgiving Day.  I got a nasty, dry turkey sandwhich at one of the few places that was open.  It was food.  We flew to Seattle where we had to stay the night.  I had gotten a good deal on a room near the airport.  The next morning Jack and I utilized the exercise room, walked to the near by Subway and got some better food for our flight to DC.  We got on a plane and spent 10 wonderful days enjoying our grandson, Eli.  I can't say enough wonderful things about this boy!  I knew this was a special gift and blessing from Heavenly Father.  I am so grateful for the time we got to spend with Andy, Anthrea and Eli!  We flew home on December 6, 2011.

Debbi T and me!
CSI: Color, Stories and Inspiration!
So here's the whole point of this particular post.  Another wonderful gift that I was blessed with during our Washington DC trip was to be able to meet Scrapbooker EXTRAORDINAIRE Debbi Tehrani.  Debbi just launched a brand new scrapbooking challenge site.  The colors were perfect to scrap this (below) photo of Eli.  After reading my story, I hope you will realize how precious this Christmas gift is to me.  All I really wanted for Christmas was to hold Eli!  

On Christmas Eve we got to Skype with Eli who now knows us when he sees us on his Dad's computer screen.  It is SO much fun to watch this little boy laugh!  Grandchildren are THE BEST!

So this is my layout for our first CSI challenge:

We had a color challenge, I used all 5 colors.  I also journaled in rhyme.  I'm not clever enough to make up my own rhyme so I picked some lyrics from the Christmas song, All I Want For Christmas Is You. It seemed perfect for this layout.  I used bows and journaled on tags, all as part of the challenge.  Most of the paper is by Close To My Heart, though its several years old.  All the paper is from my extensive stash. I really could open up a store!  The die cuts are all QuicKutz.  I loosely followed sketch 189 from Creative Scrappers.

Eli had so much fun with this box! I have enough photos to make a companion page. 

Elder Ben Mitchell 
On Christmas Day, we got to talk to our missionary for 3 and a quarter hours!  He's serving in the West Virginia Charleston Mission.  Currently he's in Ashland, Kentucky.  Part of his ward or congregation is across the river in Ohio so he continued to talk to us on the cell phone even as they were driving across the river.  He and his companion thought that was pretty cool.  We were just so happy to hear his voice.  Only one more Christmas to go!  

Please excuse any typos I make.  I'm trying to hustle this up so I can Skype with Eli! 


  1.'re so sweet. YOu're going to make me have a big head with all that talk, Wendy! LOVE your CSI page. Eli looks so darling!

    I still haven't had a spare moment to read your last part of your weight-loss story, but I promise it's on my list of things to do soon!

  2. Aww, what a sweet story. My grandbaby lives in Denver, so I can sort of relate. I have only seen her twice in her 16 months.