Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Books

Each December we open our box of Christmas decorations to delight in finding our collection of Christmas books. I wrap them all and each day the kids get to open one of the books to read. The focus of many of the books is the story of the birth of Christ as well as books that portray the service oriented spirit of Christ during the holiday season. Our favorites this year have been:

A Christmas Dress for Ellen by Thomas S. Monson

The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer

Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri

The Christmas Day Kitten by James Harriot

The spirit of Christ this Christmas

Getting up to the Oakland temple with the family is a wonderful opportunity to focus on the true meaning of Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This year, Abe's sister Wendi and her husband, Brian joined us to see the Christmas lights and tour the visitor's center. We were able to view a presentation on families and see an exhibit of a wonderful bronze collection by talented sculptor, Angela Johnson. Amazing!
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All I want for Christmas...

Santa came to our annual ward Christmas party and asked the kids what they wanted this year.

Natalie, completely at ease with Santa, went first. Being an arts and crafts fan, this year she is asking Santa for an Easy Bake Oven, "Green Art" set, a potter's wheel, and a gift card to Michael's or Target.

Max hasn't been particularly comfortable with Santa ever since his first Christmas, so we didn't get a picture with Santa, but he is requesting a jackhammer, power saw, Star Wars Helmet, marshmallow gun or bow & arrow, and a gift card to Target.

Madeline is obsessed with being a "mommy," cooking, and shopping. She asked Santa for a present and he told her he thought he could find her a couple of those. She would also love a baby doll, wooden play food, shopping cart, and a gift card to Target.

Janine is also giving the kids a nice selection of new books and games to play as a family. As always, the children are perfectly happy with the toys they already have and just love the company of their friends and family at Christmas time.

Thank you, Santa!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Letter 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

Ahhh. 2008 is quickly coming to an end. If we could sum up this year in one word, it would be homework. Collectively, our family has done more homework this year than ever before!

Abe has been immersed in various calculus and statistics courses as he makes progress toward a master's in statistics at Cal State East Bay with a future graduation date of June 2010. Abe continues his employment at Checkpoint where he can creatively incorporate statistical concepts he learns at school. He runs several days per week, does yoga, and walks with his family on the weekends to stay fit. He delights in listening to fine literature on audiobooks and watching movies that stimulate the mind. On top of it all, Abe finds time to help around the house by washing the dishes and doing the laundry.

Janine is only one semester away from completing her Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State and has spent countless hours at the computer reading, writing, and creating projects for school. Janine is still sitting at the computer doing homework, NOT cleaning the house, walking the dogs, serving as Webelos Cub Scout Den Leader for the Central Park Ward, volunteering at the Fremont Main Library as a Baby Bounce leader, working part-time for her business, Weston Photography, caring for her children, cooking healthy meals, and exercising at Curves. She is also very tired.

Natalie (age 6.9) diligently pushes through her Saxon math curriculum, reads for hours each day, writes in her journal, and continually engages herself in many artistic endeavors. Natalie is homeschooling again for first grade through Connecting Waters Charter School and has joined the Bayside 4-H Club as a primary member. This year, she is in the Primaries and Beading/Jewelry Making projects. Creative and careful, she has made several bracelets and necklaces with beautiful colors and patterns. Natalie enjoys cooking, playing Polly Pockets, interacting with her puppy, Sam, meeting friends at the park, and visiting the library.

Max (age 4.75), the future engineer, is always building, building, building with Legos, Tinker Toys, Magnetix, blocks, Playdough, mud, and anything else he can get his hands on. Max is also a musical guy, and can be found clapping, tapping, and bee-bopping to the beat whenever a song comes on. All three kids attend class at Country Kids two days per week where they do crafts, make snacks, care for the chickens, play with friends, climb trees, build forts, and run around crazy on Miss Lisa's quarter acre backyard--Max appreciates his time there most of all! Max and Natalie also took some science and math classes at Math Science Nucleus where they experimented with magnets, shape sorting, fossils, and measurement. Their favorite part of class was visiting the gift shop so they could purchase rocks and minerals for their growing collection.

Madeline (age 2.5) spends her busy days writing, coloring, painting, and gluing--usually her medium of choice ends up all over her in the process, but she has lots of fun becoming one with her artwork! Madeline loves to play "mommy" as she carries her baby dolls around in her shirt (so she can nurse them on the go), pushes them in a stroller, and feeds them plastic foods. She is very independent and is constantly telling us she wants to do things herself. In an effort to free up space in the kids' room, we moved Madeline to a "big girl bed" only to find her at 4am curled up with Rosie (our Labrador) in her dog bed in the living room--she just adores her furry friends! Needless to say, we are postponing that move a little longer!

Been There, Done That in 2008
Here are a few of the shows we've seen, places we've visited, and exhibits we have attended over the past year:

  • Marine World USA in Vallejo

  • Pier 39 in San Francisco

  • Honk the Musical in Fremont

  • Gladys Knight concert in Fremont

  • Kids Discovery Museum in San Jose

  • Body Worlds @ Tech Museum in San Jose

  • Into the Woods in Stockton

  • Touch-a-Truck in Thousand Oaks

  • Blueberry picking in Somis

  • Serena's wedding in Sacramento

  • Niles Dog Show in Fremont

  • Lake Chabot in San Leandro

  • Jet Pack Demo @ Hiller Aviation Museum in Redwood City

  • Spookey Slough @ Don Edwards Park in Alviso

  • Llama Day Hike @ Redwood Regional Park in Oakland

  • Disney on Ice in Oakland

  • Plaza Suite the play @ Mission San Jose High School in Fremont

  • Thanksgiving with family in Shell Beach

  • Children's Museum in San Luis Obispo

  • Nutcracker @ Ohlone College in Fremont

  • LDS Temple lights in Oakland

  • Christmas with family in Tracy

  • Walking with Dinosaurs @ HP Pavillion in San Jose

All in all, our family is blessed to be happy, healthy, and well-educated.

We wish you the best for you and yours in 2009,

The Weston Family: Abe, Janine, Natalie, Max, & Madeline
(Also pictured: Uncle Brian, Grandma Laurie, Grandpa Dana, & Grandpa Tim)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Annual Neighborhood Gingerbread Building

This evening we got together with our neighbors to assemble the traditional gingerbread houses, trees, and men. The kids had a fantastic time spreading frosting, adding embellishments, eating candy, and drinking hot chocolate and tea. We always look forward to spending time together with our friends and family during the Christmas season.

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Getting into the Christmas spirit...

Only two weeks into December and we're finally getting into the Christmas spirit! This year, we ordered an electric stove to add a little winter ambiance to our condo. It has realistic-looking flames and even a heating element to keep us warm on frosty nights. This last week we went to Trader Joe's and picked out a small, foot-tall pine tree in a pot and decorated it with Aunt Les' adorable ornaments and lights. So far, the nutcracker and the snow globe are among the kids favorite toys that they parade around the room. Our growing Christmas book collection is also wildly popular and the kids have been hauling their favorite stories with them wherever they go!

Sam's New Coat

Not having owned a "little dog" before, we quickly realized that the little guy would need a jacket to keep him warm this winter. Here is Sam modeling his new reversible fleece coat. Of course, the kids just can't get enough of him!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Okay, okay, okay...the blog has begun.

I know it seems as though the Weston Family is behind the times on the blog thing...but let me tell you--we've been busy! It is not that we are behind the times, it is just that we were making things too difficult on ourselves by maintaining our own website. Janine is not new to the blog concept and you can view her Weston Photography blog at With this new and improved, streamlined process of online publishing, we're adopting the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy as we ditch our traditional family website ( and switch over to the wonderful world of blogging. This year, we will be posting our official Christmas newsletter on this very blog, as well as archived letters and photos from years past. They you will be able to subscribe or follow us as we make our journey through life! If you don't already have a blog, we highly recommend it!