Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Stroll

The lights in Central Park

Tonight was another Christmas celebration downtown: Holiday Stroll. The High School Dance Team (Starsteppers), Drill Team (Rising Stars) and the Wee Steppers (elementary students who are learning dance routines each week from the Starsteppers) performed dances in the street for the city. The dance team splits up each week and go to most of the area elementary schools to teach dances and techniques to the Wee Steppers. One of those Wee Steppers is our friends' daughter Maggie.

We watched the performances then Marty, Heather and I took a carriage ride. It was a beautiful evening and not cold at all. After our ride we strolled around downtown looking at the lights and just enjoying the evening. We stopped at the coffee shop for coffee and hot chocolate. Thank you Marty and Heather for such and enjoyable evening!

The lights of the fountain in Central Park:

Heather's group of Starsteppers and Wee Steppers

Heather dancing with the Wee Steppers. Throughout the evening as we strolled around, any Wee Steppers who saw Heather came running over to say hi or give her a hug. Two little girls stopped her to get their picture taken with her.


Katie's wish came true. She saw Santa Clause.

Bill and Denise waiting for the dances to begin.

Maggie with Starstepper Tessa.

Katie adores Mr. Marty!

Bethany and me. In addition to being a close friend of our family, she is one of my Sunday School students.

Marty, Heather, and me at the end of our carriage ride.

Marty and me aboard the carriage.

Heather and me waiting....and waiting for the carriage ride.

Heather looked so festive in her red dance costume!

Me and all the girls, Bethany, Katie, Heather and Maggie.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

Tonight kicked off the Christmas season downtown with the Christmas Parade and the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Heather marched in the parade with the band and as soon as the parade was over the bands headed over to Central Park to play Christmas carols. After the first song, there was a countdown and then the mayor turned on all the Christmas lights in the park and the band continued to play several more carols. We have participated in this event every year since Heather joined the band in 6th grade. And every year, including this one, we watch with our friends Bill and Denise and their girls Bethany, Maggie and Katie. This year we watched with a large group of friends and family. We were also joined by Erica, Jason and their kiddos; my friend Krystal; our friend Paula (Jimmy had to sell hot chocolate in one of the booths so he couldn't watch with us!); and my mother in law and father in law. I love Christmas and love sharing events like this with friends!

Heather playing with the band.

Here we are with a big group of our friends. Paula and Jimmy were busy selling hot chocolate and missed this picture!

The lights in Central Park

Me, Marty and Heather after the parade and lighting ceremony.

What a good sport Bill was "babysitting" for Riley!

Heather gets a hug from her Granny after the band finishes playing.

My friend Krystal with her daughter Niki (Heather's friend).

Just what is it with these teenage girls when I try to take their picture??? Put your tongue back in your mouth, girls!!!

Marty and me, strolling downtown and looking at lights and Christmas trees.

Erica and Jason

Bill and Denise

Jimmy selling Marty hot chocolate for all of us. Yum!

Erica and me.

The fellas: Mathew, Bill, Marty and Jason.

The gals: Me, Paula, Denise and Erica.

The kiddos: Maggie, Katie, Bethany, Cameron and Riley.

Katie and me. I love watching the parade with you every year Katie!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas in the Valley of the Sun

The years I lived in Arizona were bittersweet. I loved Arizona: the mild winters, the heat, the apartment swimming pool, the beautiful sunsets, the friends I made there...but I also hated some of it too: being away from home (especially at Christmas), missing my friends back in Missouri, etc.

Christmas in Arizona was like nothing I'd ever experienced. Much of the landscaping there is rock, gravel, and cactus. No lush lawns in the desert! My room mate Dar and I would go walking a lot late at night to the park a few blocks from our apartment. At Christmas we'd always pause in front of a house nearby that was all lit up outside with Christmas lights. We got such a kick out of all the lights on the cactus in the yard instead of on Christmas trees! And some of the lights played Christmas music! We'd stop and listen to the music and enjoy the lights and then mosey on to the park to swing. (Yes, swing. I STILL like to swing !)

Heather was born when we lived in Arizona. Her first Christmas (1991) was spent in this house.
In fact, this house is the only one I've lived in which there was a fireplace mantle on which to hang our stockings! We were still moving into the house on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I still love this house and miss living in it. Although I was told several years ago that I really wouldn't want to live in it again. Marty worked on a dairy farm and the house came with the job. After we left, new barns were the field next to this house! I'm told the stench there is unbearable now. I decided to check out how much of the area has changed with satellite images at google maps. My friend was right...the new barn is huge and is right next to the house! Almost all of the beautiful green lush grass appears to be gone too. The backyard where Heather used to play now appears to be the new parking spot for someone's car.

One Christmas, our friends Jim and Joyce took us driving to see Christmas lights. Somewhere in North Phoenix, not far off I-17, we came across the most spectacular Christmas lights display I had ever seen. You couldn't park anywhere near this house. You parked blocks and blocks away and walked to get a closer view. We paid $1 for this picture from the owner and we paid $1 for a tour of the inside of the home and backyard. It was all the most amazing lights display I'd ever seen. I'd be curious to know if the owners are still there and if they still create displays such as this each year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Lights

I'm still waiting for Marty and Heather to find the time to hang the outside Christmas lights. This year's schedule seems to be even busier than previous years! So....while we wait, here are pictures of Christmas lights from Christmases past, taken with my old digital camera. I'm anxious to see what the pictures of Chrismtas lights will look like this year with the new camera. Until then....

Christmas lights reflected in the Guadalupe River.

I love the light posts downtown.

How our outside lights have looked in the past. Marty built the cross on the roof for me out of rebar.

The tree lighting ceremony downtown in Central Park. The town's school bands all play Christmas songs together as the lights come on. It's beautiful every year.

Deck the Halls...Part 2

I've finished...well mostly. All that's left of decorating is to hang the wreaths and add a little greenery and poinsettias here and there.

Marty and Heather have made so much fun of me for buying this tree. It's tall and scrawny and the branches aren't full at all, but perfect for my country dining room!

More of my santas. The snowman on the wall is one I painted on one of my grandfather's old windows.

The life size santa was a gift from my mom last year. She couldn't wait to see Marty's reaction when she gave me this! When I brought him out of the closet a few nights ago, Missy (our puppy) had a fit! She doesn't like him at all!!!

Christmas Tour of Homes


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