Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm two years behind blogging... but here's this year's Christmas card!

Merry Christmas 2015 from the Larsens!

While looking back over my pictures of 2015 to create this card, I was overwhelmed with the many wonderful things that we’ve experienced this year.  Seriously, Maui and France in one year!?!? How cool is that? We’ve definitely had some curve balls thrown at us as well, but realize in retrospect that, as always, even those challenges help us grow in important (though sometimes painful) ways. 2015 highlights include:

·    Spencer’s special baptism day in January, in Salt Lake City with most of our families around. What a gift!
·    Maui in January – seriously, we are so lucky! Even if Spencer did totally throw up all over the rental car in Maui as we were driving down the volcano almost out of gas on our way to the airport. Good times. J
·    Major surgery (and a near death experience) for me in February, with a long, slow recovery. Mom out of order meant the kids took on new responsibilities – lots of personal growth for everyone!
·    Watching my wise, kind, talented husband grow in his position as Department Chair of Theater and Dance at BYU-Idaho
·    Teaching Princess camp with Maggie and Sophie’s help, playing with cousins (bridge jumping!) and grandparents, and 4-wheeler driving lessons in the summer
·    A heart-stoppingly wonderful 3-week tour in France with our American dance Festival team, returning to Paris, Rodez and Confolens to see greatly beloved friends, and to make new ones!  There are some amazing people out there in the world, and we love them so much. Including our dance kids!
·    Maggie getting braces and discovering that boys make really good friends. Much less drama.
·    Del Mar, CA in October, with the Grand del Mar, golf lessons, beach time, romping with seals, great food and a tour of an aircraft carrier
·    The opportunity Sophie and Spencer had to play Jane and Michael Banks in MHS’s  magical musical Mary Poppins this fall. The growth they experienced and the friends they made fill my heart with joy and gratitude for such wonderful opportunities!

Lots of highs, enough lows to keep us learning. At this time of year, we are especially grateful for the birth of our Savior, and for the love and hope his gospel brings to our lives. We are grateful to live in America and for our wonderful families and friends. Merry Christmas to you all!
Mindy, Gary, Maggie (14), Sophie (11), Spencer (almost 9), and Bella our beloved doggie

And for a truly Larsen holiday greeting, follow this link. Yes, we sing and dance as elves. :-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Self Defining Statements - an email fad to which I succumbed

Okay, I got 17. I'll try to make them brief, but you are now going to learn way more about me than you ever wanted to know. IF you actually read this novel of a post!

1. The only kind of exercise I like is dancing. And yoga, but only after I've danced. I walk my dogs every day, sometimes with friends, and that has its charms, but if I go too far or too long my knees ache. Am I getting old??? I can still Zumba with the best of them, but...
2. I'm not a car person, or much of a house person (though I like a nice, clean, pretty house). If we ever win a million dollars, Gary and I will TRAVEL!
3. I don't like salmon, donuts, or even chocolate very much. Crazy, you say? Well, yes, I agree, but at least it saves me some calories. I'm more of a caramel/fruit girl.
4. I LOVE being married to someone who makes me feel funny. We laugh a lot together and I can't wait for his PhD to be done (a few months more!!!) so I can see my hub more often! Nobody else gets my jokes...
5. I love that my husband loves his job (Prof of dance at BYUI) and that he changes lives with it every day. We do the same thing with our dance studio, particularly our Festival team that travels the world. Overall, I think we have abnormally high job satisfaction.
6. On the flip side, being a stay-at-home mom is so hard for me. I'm a chronically overachieving pleaser who likes validation... and moms don't always get it. School and work were so much more immediately gratifying. But I've learned to find joy and fulfillment in different ways, and I'm 100% committed to the fact that there is nothing more important for me to do as a person on this earth than to be a full-time mom to my kids. If only they came with manuals so I knew if what I was doing was right... but I sure do love them with all my heart!
7. I'm a small-town kind of girl. I like open space, no traffic, easy access. 7 minutes to our temple, and we can walk to church. Going to Salt Lake now sometimes makes me feel claustrophobic... though I do miss the good restaurants.
8. I am a person of faith. It has always been easy for me to believe, but I've also invested considerable time and effort to test and strengthen my faith. I believe it makes me a better person who tries hard to help people and do what is right. And isn't that the important thing, in the end?
9. My favorite thing to do is getting a massage.
10.  My second favorite thing to do is "reating" - reading and eating while the house is quiet and I have a minute to myself! Jane Austen is my fav, of course - I envy living at a time where good was good and bad was bad. And they all have a happy ending! I don't envy the chamber pots and the mud; I just like the manners, romance and the witty banter. Elizabeth Gaskell is right up there too, though I'm rather bitter about the fact that she died before finishing the last chapter of Wives and Daughters.  And Charlotte Bronte was inspired in writing Jane Eyre. It always makes me want to be a better person - nobody sticks to her principles like Jane.
11. I am totally Team Peeta. But I think the movies make him look weak, which drives me crazy.
11. I have a Lord of the Rings streak too, of course. I love the themes of loyalty, struggle, mercy, perseverance and victory of the small but good over the strong and evil. I prefer character development over action sequences, but it has a good balance of both. Sam is my favorite character.
13. My favorite places in the world are Maui (Ka'anapali) and France (Paris, the Loire Valley, and the Aveyron region especially). And I cherish the four months that we lived in Castletroy, Ireland.
14. I like living where we get all the seasons. And I'd rather be cold than hot so Rexburg is a good fit for me.
15. I love my black lab Bella. Like, ADORE her. She has brought so much joy and love into my life, and into the lives of my kids. She's the perfect dog, even if she does like to lick pants for some reason.
16. I still have anxiety dreams about forgetting my high school locker combination, or being in college and having to take a final for a class I didn't know I was registered for.
17. if I don't have an orange every morning my day is completely thrown off. Ta da! Finished. If you want a number then I'll give you one. That's how I got suckered in to this lovely little flight of self definition. It was kind of fun, actually, so let me know if you want to join the party!

Monday, March 16, 2015

2013 Christmas Break and New Years

The day after Christmas we drove immediately down to Utah for Christmases #2 (at Nana and Papa's house in Salt Lake) and #3 (at Gram's in Richfield). At Shady Oaks (Nana and Papa's house) we opened presents, went ice skating, watched movies, played games, and had a talent show. Several, actually. My kids discovered a love of ice skating and wanted to go every day!

 It's all about the Avengers, and legos, for Spencer!
 Bella got to come this time... though Papa is terribly allergic to her.
 Nana and Papa's house backs right up to the Bonneville Golf Course - we sled right in their back yard on the 14th hole. So convenient!

We got to go to the Tabernacle Choire live Sunday morning broadcast, and sat four rows away from President Monson! Then we had a little visit to the Church History Museum...
 ... then drove down to Gram's House!!!

 More presents
 Dad got a new suit from Uncles Mike and Rob :-)

 We love the dogs Kenzie and Liesl!

For New Year's we went for the second year in a row to our friends the Knights' house for a New Year's sleepover, food and game fest.
 Spencer Knight always buys about 25 cans of silly string and we have a midnight silly string battle in their cul-de-sac.
 The kids put on skits or dance to the Wii...while the adults talk, play Carcassonne, and sit in their awesome massage chair!
 On our way back home to Idaho we stopped for one more party with the Hunter cousins, this time bowling at Olympus Cove.

 Then we finish off the first day of the new year with lunch at Olive Garden, before driving back home. And the holidays are done!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2013 Larsen Family Song Favorites

Every year I make a mix of our family's favorite songs of the year and give cds to my family and friends. This is what made the cut for 2013:

Larsen Family Favs 2013
  1. Brave (Josh Groban)
  2. Disco Medley (From Gary’s Canada Show)
  3. Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
  4. Roar (Katy Perry)
  5. Love is an Open Door (Frozen soundtrack)
  6. I Know It’s Today (Shrek the Musical Soundtrack)
  7. Cups (Anna Kendrick)
  8. Just Give Me a Reason (Pink)
  9. Stuck In a Moment (U2)
  10. Dream (Priscilla Ahn)
  11. Stay Stay Stay (Taylor Swift)
  12. Home (Phillip Phillips)
  13. It’s a Beautiful Day (Michael Buble)
  14. Snow White Hip Hop (from Gary’s show)
  15. Foux du Fafa (French)
  16. Let it Go (Frozen)
  17. Can’t Go Back Now (the Weepies)
  18. Two Households/C’est La Mort (Romeo and Juliet, from Gary’s show)
  19. The Call (Regina Spektor – Prince Caspian Soundtrack)
  20. Finale from Gary’s Show – Creation, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emp.
  21. Precious Moments (John Williams, Home Alone Soundtrack)
22.   Bonus Track: Corner of the Sky (a walk down Clayton memory lane!)

Larsen Family Christmas Card 2013

Catching Up: Christmas Eve and Day 2013

For christmas Eve 2013, we went to Uncle Roger and Aunt Mary Kay Tall's house for dinner. Usually we spend this night at Nanny's but the DaBells (who usually arrange the whole thing) were spending Christmas break up at a Montana cabin. So the Talls had their own dinner and invited us, since we were in town. We like to have Christmas day at our own house, then travel south afterwards.

There is no more beautiful place to spend a special occasion, and Aunt Mary Kay goes all out! Uncle Rog made his famous enchiladas, and even Mitt Romney (their life-sized paper cutout - yes they are fans!) was in attendance!
The adults table, above, and the kids table, below.
We love our Nanny!
 I made the cheesy rolls.
And then we had the talent show/nativity part of the evening. We played Christmas carols on the pipes (and Nanny pounded away at the piano), and we favored the company with our special rendition of "the Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big." Then came the Nativity, and even Mitt got in on the action!

 Spencer's the star, there, and Sophie's an angel. Maggie's the shepherd with the green headdress.
 Sophie played a song on her little lap harp. And Nanny's still got it, folks!

And then... it was home for bed! In our Christmas jammies!

 All set up... but the biggest surprise was their new bedrooms I arranged overnight! They had to sleep in the floor of our bedroom on this particular Christmas Eve. We were up until 3 AM, hanging curtains and pictures, changing around bedspreads, and arranging accessories.

 I made each kid a letter like this one, about 15 inches high, for their rooms, with special pictures on them to match their decor. Yes, I pulled a Martha Stewart this year!

Let the fun begin!

 Spencer and Gary both were super hero themed. I don't think Spence took off his Captain America outfit for three weeks straight over the break!

 When they were done with their "upstairs" presents, I told them to go take their booty to their rooms. They had no idea that their spaces had been transformed to their own personal little areas! Fun to see their faces and hear their cries of delight.

On Christmas day we stay in our jammies all day, play with our new stuff, do Christmas pedicures, watch a movie, play games and puzzles, nap, and no chores or nagging. Dinner is usually of Chateaubriand, cheesy potatoes, poppyseed/pomegranate salad, and homemade crescent rolls. And sparkling apple cider. YUM!

 And of course, our version of Hula pie (graham cracker crust, Haagen Daas dulce de leche ice cream, Mrs. Richardson's fudge topping, whipped cream, and macadamia nuts)