nutty nativity

I'm not sure why I felt so strongly about reenacting the Nativity on Christmas Eve.  Maybe because we were away from family, who would also be doing it.  We were frightfully under-casted, (is that a word?), but I still insisted.  Maybe it was because, for once in my life, I could be Mary. (uh oh, childhood complexes arising to haunt me??) 
Sweet shepherd Hovering angel Mommy: Mary (default), Lincoln: Joseph/shepherd/sheep, Isaac: angel/wiseman, and Jed is narrator/donkey.  Baby Jesus was graciously played by Leopard.

gifts received

You will all be terribly jealous.  Of my incredibly talented sister-in-law, Bekah, who sketched and watercolored these amazing paintings of my boys.  I can't get over how exquisitely she captured the essence of them!  (Of course, my scanner doesn't do justice to the actual thing.)  And I'm so blessed to have her artwork adorn my home.  Now here's crossing our fingers the kids get the artistic gift from Jed's side of the family!  

gifts given

So I expended a lot of creative energy this year, trying to come up with homemade gifts.  If you are female you will most likely get jewelry from me--not very original, I'm afraid.  But Isaac and Lincoln made some paintings for Grandmas and the like.
And I had a lot of fun making some little finger puppets for my niece, Avery, and nephew, Blake, along with a nursery rhyme book.  Here are a few.

here's to 5

We can't even remember what it was ever like having a 4-year-old running around our place, now that we are graced with the presence of a precocious 5-year-old.  "Five-year-olds dress themselves, Mom."  But of course.  "Five-year-olds can chew gum, Mom."  You don't say?  The goal was to make his day, the 23rd, as special as possible (though grateful we had already celebrated with party and presents a few months ago).  But no matter how hard we tried to make it a Christmas-free day, it was awfully hard.  We did manage to turn off the holiday music, visit a Dinosaur Museum, eat out at Panda Express, (Isaac's choice) then gorge on cake.  At day's end when I asked what his favorite part of the day was, he chimed, "I love being five."  Not to go back to 4 ever, ever again. :) 
Homemade superhero birthday hats.  What, can't you tell that's Spider-man perched precariously on Ikey's head? Great-Grandma Smith's famous hot water sponge cake with brown sugar frosting.  Num. (So technically, thanks to generous Omas, he did have one present to open, which was allowable).
We love our little--ahem--BIG Ike-bug!  Happy five!

ikey's preschool program

Our Kangaroo Kids preschool has been a hit!  Kids and families gathered for an end-of-the-term program.  The kids were so cute.  (Lincoln even tried to get in the action)
Isaac, Wyatt, Hailey, Makadie, and Matthew


our own perfect christmas tree

Following Rogers family tradition, the day after Thanksgiving we trekked up to the beautiful Rocky Mountains to scout out our own perfect Christmas tree.  A snowstorm or even slick roads would have most certainly banned the excursion—our little ‘97 Honda Civic would not have made it far.  So we were giddy about the warm, snow-free day—just crossing our fingers that we would somehow fit the tree in our trunk.

During the drive we reviewed what we deemed the “perfect” tree.  We had our choice among firs, spruces, pines, and junipers.  When we arrived in the cutting area, the sky was clean and the sun was just right, warming our cheeks.  We had needlessly bundled the boys and so abandoned some unnecessary layers before setting out.  Isaac and I couldn’t resist running ahead to scope out possibilities.  “That a good one!” I’d tease Isaac, pointing to a small, skimpy bush.  “Yeah, it is!” he’d nod, his indiscriminate childish eye making him oblivious to the joke.  He would recommend others of similar quality, for every tree in the forest was charming to him.  Lincoln, too, seemed caught up in our excitement, jabbering in baby talk and pointing to rocks, trees, sky, his little stuffed elephant scrunched protectively under his arm.

Reverberating in my mind was Jed and my first Christmas together in 2002, when we had ventured with his family west of Salt Lake in a snowy juniper grove.  We were the only ones there, and at the time I could see why.  Who would want this type of tree, I wondered, a bit put out by its untraditional spiky-smooth needles, gnarling trunk, milky blue berries, and pungent aroma.  My only familiarity with junipers were the spindly, scraggly, overgrown shrub varieties in front yards—nothing knew I about its rich history in the West.  These weren’t quite the same as the shrubs—they were at least trees—but still.  I was somewhat annoyed with my new husband for insisting on this type of tree, which was nothing like the stately, shapely pines in my home growing up. 

The tree we chose that day was certainly less-than-traditional: lanky and lop-sided and skimpy and—to some—perhaps even unsightly.  It was precariously propped in that first tiny apartment, scantily adorned with mostly homemade ornaments.  In fact, once when my little sister and niece were spending the night, it toppled on top of them, scaring them out of their wits! 

Today, the memory whisked wistfully back to me, with incisive fondness.  And I have learned a bit more about juniper trees since then, and why they have special meaning for Jed and his family.  Junipers grow abundantly along the Colorado Plateau, more than any other tree, and in these parts it is even named the Utah Juniper.  Many see it as a symbol of Deseret and the hardy pioneers who settled the land—thriving in a place no one would have conceived possible. And to the ancient native peoples who inhabited this land the juniper was essential to life.  Every part of the tree was used: the bark for mats, roofs, toys, sandals, and bedding; the berries and gum for food and medicine.  Its connection to Christmas, though, comes in the image of a Fremont mother tenderly swaddling her newborn child in juniper bark—rubbed very soft—and placed in a juniper cradle.

And for me, during the six interim years from that first Christmas with Jed, I now see the tree, in a way, as a symbol of what I admire in him: that he unabashedly shirks convention, how he is unafraid to be who he is, that he can unlock deeper meaning from the ordinary.  And he has this knack for discerning beauty everywhere, for what it is, not what we think it should be.

So I found myself—although flocked by the traditional and beautiful fir and pine—drawn instinctively to the lowly juniper.  And I knew it was what I wanted this year. 

How soon, however, we became dismayed at their scarcity.  I would finally spot a juniper from afar, race toward it, only to note the needles too dry, one side too skimpy.   The search continued.  They were so few.

At length I spotted a cluster of junipers at the base of a sloping hill.  With Isaac tuckered, Jed volunteered to stay with the boys while I scouted it out.  I loped toward them, inspecting each one.  But then.  I knew it was our tree the moment I saw it.  There she was, a sweet little blue-green juniper, slightly taller than me but lively and full and, well, perfect.  I called Jed and the boys down—that this was it!—and we encircled her.  For a moment we hesitated—she was in such a lovely spot in the forest, probably in a place where she received adequate water and plenty of sunshine.  And suddenly it seemed sad to take the tree away from this beautiful forest grove, where she was thriving, right where she was.  But we reasoned that the tree would now bring light and love and Christ into our home, and that we would in turn plant more trees.  We whispered a simple prayer of thanks for the life of this little tree, for all the trees of the forest, and the good, bounteous earth. 

She certainly wasn’t the largest tree removed from the forest that day.  It was rather easy for Jed to haul the tree himself, with one hand.  She easily fit into our trunk, just the top barely sticking out.  On our drive home we hummed Christmas hymns and shared our schemes for homemade gifts and plans to make this Christmas meaningful.

Later that night, in perfect silence, it snowed.

dear santa


need a little Christmas now

Thanks, Margaret, for the kind gift!  It brings such joy to our home.

happy 30!


4-year-old reciting 44 presidents in 40+ seconds

Isaac's latest passion: US presidents.  Once he initially learned their names from Dad, he used a timeline to teach himself their names in order.

a visit from oma

In November we reveled in a wonderful visit from Oma (Jed's mom).   We had a blast hiking along Dinosaur Ridge, singing and playing the guitar, reading and writing stories, and taking a fantastic walk in downtown Denver to see the sights.  
Playing in a cool hollow tree at Chatfield while Dad ran a 10-miler.
Yum.  Homemade cheesy bread.  Doesn't get better than this.
We adore you, Oma! (and Gpa Eddie, too!)



In November, Lincoln, Ikey, and I suffered with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, an ailment typically affecting children.  Like chicken pox, you'd rather get it when you're a kid, and get it over with, than when you're an adult.  At least that was our experience--the boys had it just a few days and bounced back fast, while I wasn't normal again for nearly 2 weeks.  I had horrible aches and fever, and my mouth was covered with painful sores so I could barely eat or swallow.  Thankfully, Jed took mighty good care of us!