31 December 2016

Christmas in Oregon and Washington with Our Parents

On the 15th of December I flew out to Oregon to visit my parents. Unfortunately, there were snowstorms in other parts of the country, causing both of my flights to be delayed. It ended up taking me almost twelve hours to get from DC to Portland. Oh well, such are the joys of traveling in the winter time!
Mom and Dad were very happy to see me. They had waited for me to arrive so that I could help them put up their Christmas decorations. The picture below was taken on Sunday after church.
Mom liked having this nativity set from Mexico up so much she decided to keep it out year-round.
Here's Mom posing with the lovely Christmas flower arrangement that Lissa sent her.
 We spent several evenings over with Reed and Myra. One evening we acted out the Christmas story. Mom was the narrator and read from Luke,
 And these were the three wisemen.
 Here we are ready to have Christmas dinner. Kent arrived on Christmas eve.
 After dinner we posed in front of Reed and Myra's Christmas tree.
 Jill and her girls came in on the 27th of December.
This picture was taken when Kent was over with his family in Vancouver.
 One day Mom and Jill were sick, so Myra and I entertained Zoey and Anna. We played board games, baked a cake and had a pretty good time.
 The three original Christensen women.
 Dad with Zoey and Anna.
 Dad was doing an amazing job of taking care of Mom and helping her with everything she needed.
 Here's Kent's mom posing with the lovely Christmas flower arrangement Lissa sent to her.
I guess Linda was at work when this picture of the Carson's was taken.
 Kent and his mother. He did some projects for her while he was there.
 She's doing pretty well for an 88-year-old widow!
Kent and I flew back to DC on December 31st.  We're glad we were able to spend Christmas with our parents. It's nice that they only live 45 minutes apart from each other!

19 December 2016

My Christmas Piano Recital, Kent's Christmas Lights Display, and Sewing Projects

Sunday evening, December 11th, was the date of my annual Christmas recital.
This year's theme was snowflakes.
I did something I've never done before--I divided my students into two groups. It ended up that I had thirteen students play at the 5:30pm recital and only nine at the 6:30 recital. It worked out much nicer for everyone to not have such a looooong recital.
I had two problems with the recital this year. The first was that the piano was locked when we got to the main library meeting room in Fredericksburg I'd reserved. No one seemed to know where the key was. So instead of using the half an hour I had before the recital started to set up, I was wondering if I'd even be able to have the recital, or if we'd have to head back to Stafford and have it at the church.
The librarians found a key at about 5:15pm, so we were able to hold the recital there after all. I usually perform a solo number and had planned to do one this year. But I just didn't have time to practice, so I made life easier on myself and only played about 15 duets with my students.
About the only decorating I had time to do was to set up the centerpiece on the refreshment table. I didn't have time to hang snowflakes on the stage curtain and put snowflake lights along the front of the stage like I'd planned, but it wasn't the end of the world.                           
These are the ornaments I gave the students. I usually make them, but this year Kent made them for me.
I had the idea, bought the materials, and painted the pre-cut rectangles white, but Kent did the rest. 
It was very helpful to me so I could work on other projects, and I was very appreciative. I was pleased with how they turned out.
The piano playing snowman was a little too tacky to use as a decoration at the recital, but I asked Kent to get it for me and he had to go to three different Home Depots to find it, so I thought I'd include a picture of it.
It was on display in the piano room, and the kids get a kick out of it.
Every year we see the Christmas lights at the DC Temple when we go to work in the Temple during the month of December. We've brought non-members and family members to see the display, too.
The lights leading up to the Temple are all celestial white, 
  but the other lights near the Visitor's Center are numerous with lots of variety in color.
 It's amazing how many lights are wrapped around each branch on the trees and bushes!
We love this view of the Temple floating above the colorful lights.
I posted some of Kent's Christmas lights last year, but didn't explain that Kent was inspired by the amazing lights at the Temple. 
 This year Kent put up most of the lights on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving day. The lights were turned on the day after Thanksgiving. Kent puts all the lights on timers so they come on automatically every day at 5pm.
 This is the side closest to the main road with the sign to our neighborhood.
This is the view from across the street.
The neighbors and church members tell us how much they enjoy the lights around our house. Each year the display gets a little bigger and more elaborate. Maybe someday there will be as many as there are at the Temple!!

I made sewed some gifts for the grandchildren and for my ETSY store. Here's a pillowcase I made for an order.
 I made three of these piano bags for orders.
 I made this for our grandson Andrew so he can carry it with him to Sunbeams.
 I used some fleece scraps to make these little doll blankets for the younger granddaughters.
 I made our grandson Carson a snuggly fleece BYU blanket.
 And of course I sewed stockings for the two grandchildren who joined our family this year!

09 December 2016

Antietam and Christmas Open House at the Nattional Headquarters of the DAR

Six years ago we went up to Antietam National Battlefield to see the illuminations. It's held on the first Saturday in December every year. This year it was on December 3rd, so Kent and I left shortly after noon to drive to Maryland. Our friends, the Burketts, followed in their car. 

Traffic wasn't too bad so we made it up to the Marriott we were staying at in Hagerstown by around 3pm. We checked in and rested a bit, then drove to Antietam.  The illumination was scheduled to start at 6pm but we knew from past experience to get in the line early, so shortly after 4pm we got in the line.
Our place in line was near the house pictured below, which is a small visitor's center for the battlefield. We left the car parked on the side of the road and went into the house to look around.
This information board about the battle was inside the visitor's center. 
 The luminaries below spell out: Antietam  154 years.
 They had more impact after it got darker.
At 6pm the cars start driving through the battlefield. Cars are supposed to have their headlights off and aren't allowed to stop. That made taking any good pictures impossible. There are 23,000 luminaries, the number of men killed in a single day at the Battle of Antietam.
 In a few places there were Civil War reenactors gathered around campfires.
 This is the Maryland Monument, a photo I got off the National Park Service website.
After the illumination we went out to eat in Hagerstown and then went back to our hotel and played one round of a game with the Burketts before we called it a night. We didn't have a stressful schedule, which was nice. Kent and I got up early the next morning and drove back on clear roads to Stafford.

Just a few days later I gathered a few friends to go to the Christmas open house at the National Headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
It's an imposing looking building very near to the White House in downtown DC.
 I drove us in to DC and picked up Kent at Arlington Cemetery. He drove us over to the DAR and dropped us off. Here's our group--Karen Smith, me, Becky Reger and Teri Ross.
This was the patriotically decorated tree set up in the entrance.
The first thing we did was to go into the library and research center.
 It was an imposing space!
In another room there was a refreshment table and a jolly visitor to greet any children who had come.
We spent over an hour going through the building, that had "period rooms"--rooms set up to represent different states and eras in the United States. Several of them were set up with Christmas decorations.
 I also liked seeing the different types of pianos.
 I wish I'd taken a photo of the states and years of these rooms.

 Some of the rooms also had clothing on display to represent the era.
 This was a children's play room.
 We asked someone to take our picture in front of the tree in the foyer just before we left. We would have happily stayed longer, but the open house ended at 8pm and they started closing things down promptly at 8pm!
Kent had found a parking space a block away and had come into the open house for a little while, but we didn't see him much. He picked us up at the front of the building as we came out. It was a fun and interesting evening, and something I hadn't done before in DC at Christmas time.