This month Ashley got to meet Grace VanderWaal with her cousins!
Ashley got to sit on Santa's lap at the LPA Christmas party (against her wishes)
Jeff played with the kids.
And Ashley made a new friend. Jeff showed a few families Ashley's extensions on the car too.
Ashley's Science project has been looming over our heads. I finally got her to start on it.
She is investigating the best way to decontaminate water.
She collected a bunch of untreated water in Sycamore Canyon. I'll tell you I know why they tell you to boil your water before you drink it when it's untreated! The next best thing was to use iodine tablets.
This is how much bacteria grew on the untreated water...
and the water that was boiled!
We decided to put lights up on the house this year!
Ashley at her mutual Christmas Party.
They had to make the best Christmas tree...guess which one is Ashley.
After working hard for Justserve.org and seeing limited success I got a payday.
I was invited to a lunch where the Family Service Association was honoring The Moreno Valley and Riverside Stake for all the service the missionaries gave last year.
It was a great luncheon/luau and it was nice to be part of it.
It was even nicer for the elders to see how their service has influenced and helped the community.
One day Ashley and her friends decided that they wanted to make Gingerbread men.
So they did.
Ashley got "invited" to make these snowman dolls for a Young Women Value project and teach the other girls how to make them so they could pass them out when they caroled for Christmas.
The payoff was delivering them. Charlie seemed to like it as well as the dozen or so other people they brought them to.
The Bagley's hosted a Christmas Party /White Elephant gift exchange. The food was awesome and the games and the gift exchange was lots of fun.
We got a bag of chips and a fish...."fish and chips"
Some were funny and some were practical but all of it was fun.
The weekend before Christmas we went up to Camarillo to celebrate Paisley's birthday and do our Hovey family Christmas gift exchange.
We sang to Paisley and watched her eat her cupcake with blueberry whip cream frosting.
For our outing that day we went to a local teaching zoo at a college.
It wasn't too expensive and we even paid some more money to get a behind the scenes tour of the animals.
The boys favorite part was the snow they brought in.
Jeff's favorite part was teasing the lion....I wouldn't want to have him get out of his cage to meet us.
Ashley and Taylor
We went to dinner and then came back to the house to open gifts.
Our white elephant gift exchange might be our new tradition. Taylor got vintage mickey
And I got a roll with Joel t-shirt and picture of Joel. (Ashley was excited about it). We had real gifts too.
Since Paisley fell asleep early the night before we had her open her presents that next morning.
We had to help her a bit to open them but then she liked them.
We went to church with the family for sacrament meeting which was also a Christmas program and then drove into LA to visit Jeff's mom who was in the ICU. Cheri had been with her the last 3 days and she was glad that some family had come to visit with her.
Jeff's mom has had quite the time recovering from her hip replacement surgery. We all took turns being with her at the hospital. The morning after we got back from Angela and Roberts I drove out to LA to be with Sharon. I spent the night and stayed with her the next day until the evening too. I helped where I could and just visited with her. While I was there she was told that her hip had popped out of socket and they were going to have to do surgery again. Not a fun thing to hear!
The family has really stepped up to help her this month.
The morning after I got back I had to come up with an elf costume for Ashley's mascot suit for the Winter show that night. I got my sewing and craft skills flowing and figured it out with what I had around the house.
Ashley said it was better than the outfit she had to wear last year so thats a good thing.
Jeff came with me to watch her 3 performances that night. They did great.
Ashley at her cheer Holiday Breakfast with the other mascots.
Christmas Day finally arrived!
Since we were going to call Jacob so early in the morning and Taylor wanted to have Taylor Rose there she came for Christmas Eve and spent the night for Christmas Day celebrations. We had Joel and Virginia over for dinner and games and then the kids opened their traditional Christmas Eve jammies.
The next morning we got up at 7 to start opening gifts before it was time to call Jacob.
We had some gifts for Taylor Rose too.
We didn't finish in time before it was time to call Jacob. It was a great Christmas present to talk to him. He's mellowed and seems to have matured in the last year. We are proud of him and the growth we've seen and the effort he's put into his mission.
Later in the afternoon we had the family come over for our big family Christmas. We were sad to be missing Sarah, Perry and Jeff's mom but they were all helping with her since she was still in the hospital recovering from her hip replacement surgery.
We all took turns sitting with her or visiting her as she's had a much more complicated and longer recovery than anyone anticipated.
We moved to the front room to open all the presents from the family gift exchange
Games were a big hit and Taylor even got his girlfriend to play signs (not everyone likes being on the spot for that game, ha ha) she was a good sport.
I had to add some pictures from Angela and Robert's trip to see our parents and Michelle and Reese. Wish we could've been there with them. I'm glad they got to go for a visit.
Paisley adorable in her vintage snowsuit and the hat I gave her for Christmas.
Grandparents and the Zook kids!
Two days after Christmas I had an attack of pain. I had something similar when I was back visiting my parents. This time is seemed worse and it got to the point that everything was going black like I was going to faint and I had to lay on the ground and call Jeff and tell him to come home and take me to the hospital. Once I got loaded up on enough pain medicine to get there they did tests and more tests and determined that I have endometriosis and chocolate cysts (they are filled with blood). Most likely a cyst burst both times causing the intense pain. They seemed like they were more worried that it was more than just that and I realized that they were suspecting it might be cancer.
The next day I went to my OBGYN had more bloodwork done and an MRI. Long story short they are scheduling a hysterectomy in the next month or so and there is a chance it's ovarian cancer (about 20%) but they really won't know until they go in and see.
Life has had to be put on hold and my student teaching was cancelled. Graduation and everything is being postponed until next year (I was 4 months away!) It's been an emotional roller coaster but I'm happy we have a plan of action and I'm learning patience and how to ask for help when I need it.
I was so glad that while all this was happening multiple friends were in town visiting.
We got to go to a giant dinner with 60 or so people at Spaghetti Factory there to see the Stubbs family that was visiting from Texas. It was great to see all the friends that have moved away.
Cindy Pendelton was in town and she came over for an impromptu visit with Penny Smith on the day of my multiple doctor's appointments and then scheduled lunch the next day with Sharla. It was just what I needed!
Then Sunday it was great to go to Rachel Hales homecoming and see more friends.
I've been humbled by people that have offered support and prayers for me and I've definitely felt their effects and am grateful for them.