Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Memoir (i.e. Annual Brag) 2015

Merry Christmas! Season’s greetings! Joyous Festivus for the rest-of…. well you get the idea.

Before you get too far into this thing, I'll mention if you're just here for the kid's quoteables, you can find them here and here. (Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled post). 

2015 has been an interesting year. Winter is really party time for us – it seems like once we’ve finished giving thanks we move straight in to Birthday Mode. Zoë’s birthday in early December, Christmas, and then Holden and Danny celebrate a year older the beginning of February.

So last winter is basically a white blur – that could also be because we spent more time than ever up at Snowbasin – skiing and eating really expensive French fries (we liked the fries so much we’ve got season’s passes for 2016).

Last January the kids also started ice-skating lessons. It’s the ONLY activity we’ve put Z in (besides school) that she actually has stuck with and enjoyed. Soccer and t-ball mostly ended in frustration and tears (for me and Zoë.)

Once the birthday rush was over, I had a mid-life-crisis of sorts where my brain completely lost its ability to function properly and I volunteered to plan my 20-year high school reunion. So basically, most of 2015 was spent planning a party for people I haven’t seen in years, but had some odd desire to reconnect with two decades later. (It turned out to be a blast, just in case you were wondering – but glad it’s over).

We settled into our new house in Holladay and enjoyed having close neighborhood friends the kids can play with.

Holden (almost 7) and Zoë (who turned 4 on December 7th) are both in school full time. Holden is five full days a week, and Z is attending four days a week. I upped my Public Relations and Communications consulting hours to help offset the cost of private schooling… and was a little nervous about a full-day pre-school. But I should’ve known better. Zoë has loved going to school since she was two years old. She’s thriving, and we’re thrilled.

Both kids are also learning a little Spanish at school – so at least someone in our family will be able to speak the language of our heritage (ok genetics. My biological grandmother is a native from Central Mexico, as you can almost tell from my kids.)

Holden has landed himself in a class with a teacher that is especially interested in Science and hands-on projects… in addition to math, science, art, dance, geography and practical life, he’s also learning German. It’s his favorite language….just ask him.

Both kids are ‘taking’ piano lessons. We try to have the teacher come in twice a week because I refuse to practice with them… or make them practice (they’re barely four and six!) Besides, I’m not trying to raise virtuosos – just kids with a little music theory and a background where they can jam at a jazz club someday, serenade a significant other if need-be, or accompany a few hymns at church.

Holden caught the coding bug this year. We got all excited about the international “Hour of Code” initiative ( and after seeing the possibilities at Neumont University (where I spend most of my public relations consulting efforts), Holden says his number one focus is learning computer programming “so I can make my own video game and learn robotics.” I’m pretty sure when I was six my #1 goal was figuring out how many different shades of pink I could get into my bedroom – but to each their own.

Holden's other passion is his new love for sewing … he’s made a couple of “ugly dolls” (one of him and one for Z’s birthday present); and most recently created an orange demon with black buttons for nipples. His teachers say he’s super creative – which I'm sure is sincere, and is also code for “doesn’t love to use patterns.”

He also enjoyed playing coach-pitch baseball this Fall – so he’ll probably play in the majors in a couple of years. #sogifted #almostcancatchtheball

Zoë’s biggest news is that she invented a new superhero called “Pink Cake Girl.” We don’t know a lot about her, except that she saves the day, has to wear gloves because she has lava hands and she has pink hair… and sometimes a cape…and sometimes a mask…and sometimes is a villain. She’s very free-form.

Another one of Z’s passions is fashion. I started a hashtag on Instagram #stylebyZoë because she’s been really interested in picking out her own clothes and dressing herself lately. #somanyshadesofpink #somanypatterns

We remain active participants in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I say that with an understanding that so many of the friends we send Holiday cards to are not members of the LDS faith (and admittedly it's been an interesting year in Mormondom to say the least). Danny and I are doing our best to teach our children the golden rule. We try to focus on the “fruits of the Spirit”--peace and patience and tolerance. And when we come in contact with a dogma or procedure that seems like it doesn’t quite fit into that vein, we do our best to help our children understand the higher law of Love and focus on what’s working.

So within our Faith, the real key component is our family unit as a focus -- and from that starting point, being a collective force for good on this planet. We’re not perfect, but I think our hearts are in the right place – and we’re trying.

I really love that Danny and I are growing closer in a different way. While I reflect fondly on our time as newlyweds (the giddy joy and wonder that comes with the newness of just being married to your best friend)  I am grateful for the transformation in our marriage that has made us so much stronger. I’m so thankful we’ve made “us” a priority. While we try to do weekly date-nights, our real commitment to one another has been a get-away a quarter. Whether for a night or a few, we’ve taken trips to Vegas, Park City, New Orleans and just downtown Salt Lake. It’s been so great to date without a curfew again. 

Danny is the most caring and tender husband and father. Since he finished his masters last year, we’ve all been trying to figure out what to do with all the extra time on our hands. Wait, what? Unfortunately we all know that life rarely works that way – the time seems to fill itself. But we’re grateful he’s home early most evenings and is also a part of our morning routine. We’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage in August; and I’m looking forward to seeing what this next decade holds for us together.

We hope you and yours are doing well. We are thankful for friendship – those close to us and those we keep in our hearts (i.e. on Instagram and Facebook).

Loves –
Sabrena Suite-Mangum (for)
Daniel “Danny” Mangum
Holden Daniel Mangum
Zoë Suite Mangum

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