Heirs of the Magi News Flash!

***Heirs of the Magi News Flash!***

The annual Smashwords Summer-Winter sale is on for the month of July 2018! Magi Ascension and Magi Master are both on sale this month for 50% off, so click on the links to the left and get your copies at a great price while you can!

Happy summer - or winter - reading everyone!

Cassie's Journals have now come to an end with the start of the Magi Ascension storyline on June 15, 2018! Ethan and Ehlana will now be taking over the Heirs of the Magi daily updates as Cassie prepares to move on to college - and you can read all about her story by picking up a copy of Magi Ascension - Part One! Ethan's and Ehlana's roles in the Ascension of the Light is just beginning now too; so their journals will offer a different perspective on the events going on at home while Cassie is away at college!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cassie's Journal - December 30, 2013

I know that we don’t exactly live in the best area for downhill skiing or snowboarding, and our chauffeurs for the only two trips we’ve been on will soon be away at college for the rest of the winter; but Michael, Rowen, Tim, and I really need to find a way to go snowboarding more often than once a year!

I was easily the most fired-up traveler this morning when we met up at Michael’s house by shortly before six.  Several teens, including Tim, tried to suggest that they were sleepwalking; and didn’t plan on waking up until we got to the ski center.  While Dawn went home to Woodvale with Violet, Dillon, and her brothers tonight; she came in the minivan with Jake, Stephanie, Michael, Tim, Rowen, and me for the trip to Blue Ridge.  That was as much for Jonathan as Dawn; and he went with Chris and Martin this morning while Josiah and Christina had Caleb, Erica, Anna-Marie, Calvin, and Rebecca with them.

We’d ended up with two more groups of teens going along by this morning, which had been a fun surprise for me; though Michael, Rowen, Tim, and I didn’t end up spending much time with any of them – not even Jenny and Garth.  They were with Jenny’s brother, Doug, and Alicia Jennings; while Michael’s cousin, Mitch Bassett, had another minivan load that included Tim’s cousins and all three of their respective girlfriends or boyfriend.

The three-hour road cruise was fairly quiet and uneventful.  We made one pit stop in Crystal Springs for washroom breaks and breakfast to go; and were at the ski center by shortly after nine.  Thanks to extended holiday hours, we’d missed the early rush; and it really didn’t take all that long to buy our lift tickets and get set up with rental snowboards and gear.  Dawn, Rebecca, and a few others were either taking a first snowboarding lesson or a refresher; but Michael, Rowen, Tim, and I just hit the slopes and started playing right away.

Rowen and I definitely found that snowboarding with Michael and Tim this time was more fun than it had been on our first trip.  I’m sure that they felt that way too; though it was obviously different for them than us.  One thing that was exactly the same was the daredevil, thrill-seeking streak the four of us share.  Even at a small ski center, there are enough opportunities for that; and we took advantage of all of them.  I’ve really discovered in the last year that I really love getting airborne – whether on a snowboard or a bike.  Rowen loves doing jumps too, but she probably leans a bit more toward Tim’s love of flat-out speed.  Michael loves both too, but what was really amazing for us today was how great it was whenever we were snowboarding together.

That felt exactly the same as Tai Chi together with the added adrenaline rush from the speed and jumps.  Tim and Rowen looked good together too, but it wasn’t the same because they were having the most fun when they were competing against each other – our Michael and me.  All of that competition was fun too, but my favorite moments were when we were creating something really cool together – speeding down the hills in perfect synchronicity or doing side-by-side tricks and jumps.  We weren’t the only teens in our Witch Falls group to show some real talent for the sport; but we were the best – and that isn’t just my opinion; since we were told that at least a couple-dozen times by our cousins and friends.

I’m going to add a comment here about the snowboarding talent of just one member of our group because I can’t resist recording this for posterity.  The MVP winning leader of our Championship High School football team will not also be having a future career as a professional snowboarder.  He would agree with that, and had fun today anyway; but not because of his skill at the sport.  During the handful of times we were nearby when he was lumbering down the hill, the entertainment came as much from watching the skiers and snowboarders around him as it did from observing his efforts to stay on his snowboard and not run into anything – or anyone.

Tim thought that we should have gotten Kyle dressed up in a white snowsuit because that’s all he would have needed to look like an abominable snowman on the slopes; though that didn’t keep young kids from watching him with wide, astonished eyes.  It really was a sight to see; and Kyle was definitely the only guy I’ve ever seen on a ski hill who looked like he needed one snowboard for each foot.  Okay, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with that, but there probably aren’t that many guys as big as Kyle or his Dad who are even willing to try snowboarding; and even fewer with any major talent for it – regardless of how talented they might be at other sports more suited to their size and abilities – like bench-pressing farm equipment. ;^)

While I spent most of the day playing with Michael, Rowen, and Tim; we had some fun with Jake, Stephanie, Violet, Dillon, Rebecca, and Dawn too.  That included some snow time; our afternoon break; and having dinner together.  I wasn’t sure this morning how much fun Rebecca or Dawn were going to have today; so it was great to see and hear that they were both having a blast.  Dawn had found a new friend during her lesson; and Rebecca spent a lot of the day snowboarding with Chris, Martin, and Jonathan – and a couple of sisters that hooked up with them.  Since my cousins were the primary targets of the girls, that left Rebecca with Jonathan.  That actually worked for them, though not in a romantic way – they’ve just re-discovered that they like each other as friends.

That’s why it didn’t feel weird being around them; though I can’t say the same for anytime we saw Jenny and Martin anywhere together while she was with her boyfriend and he had another girl doing her very best to charm him.  That definitely was strange, but I’ll leave that there since that was barely a blip in an otherwise really great day.

We pretty much had a perfect weather day for snowboarding, and it was easy to stay warm while we played.  Some of the others took longer breaks, but Michael, Tim, Rowen, and I didn’t even stop for long at lunchtime; making dinner the only time we were off the slopes for more than a continual half-hour.  That allowed us to get a lot of runs in before we needed to turn in our gear and meet up with Jake, Stephanie, and the rest of the gang.

Before I get to the trip home part of the report, I should mention that Michael and I had a bit of alone time after dinner; though I guarantee that we weren’t doing the same thing that Rowen and Tim were when they found someplace to hide while Michael and I continued our snowboarding.  The reason I bring that up is because we found a little trail through the woods with a little jump that was only dimly lit and not being used by anyone else because of the comparative darkness to the main runs; and that allowed us an opportunity for some bonus play time.  We were good while out in public, but couldn’t resist trying a few aerial flips when we had the chance.  I would have loved trying that with a little Magi power too; but I couldn’t be far enough away from Mom anywhere in the world to do that without her knowing – and she’d definitely have a problem with Magi-powered snowboarding tricks.

We’ll just have to save up that kind of fun until after we’re adults too!

For the trip home, since Dawn was heading back to Woodvale with Violet, Dillon, Chris, and Martin; we had Rebecca in the minivan with us while Jonathan went with Josiah and Christina.  Michael was in the back seat with Rowen and Tim while Rebecca and I had the middle seats, and though I would have liked to have that cuddle time with him; that worked out better for Rebecca, and I was still able to recline my seat and hold hands while we talked with everyone.

I skipped the football news of the day to this point because Michael and Tim had settled for checking on the scores and catching some highlights during our breaks and dinner.  Rowen, Rebecca, and I weren’t quite that lucky during the long drive home because the boys had access to a radio station and a smart phone so they were able to listen to most of the Holiday Bowl between Arizona State and Texas Tech while getting the game data and some replay videos online.  Maybe I should have included Stephanie with the rest of us girls, but then Jake didn’t really care about the game; and they’d turned the sound off on the front speakers so they could talk without the game play-by-play getting in the way.

The football action didn’t keep Rebecca, Rowen, and I from chatting anyway; but Michael and Tim still made sure that sports-talk was included in our conversations; and we didn’t get into any girl-talk that might have embarrassed them – like Rebecca’s day with Jonathan or about the girls who happily chased my cousins right up until they left for Woodvale.  New Year’s Eve and Day were hot topics; partly because Rowen and I are going to the party at the Inn this year for the first time since I moved to Witch Falls – along with our parents and sibs.  My Mom and Dad are hosting a New Year’s Day Football Bowl game party; and Michael’s and Rowen’s families will be at our house.  Tim’s coming to that too; but he and Rowen may split their day between my house and his Uncle and Aunt’s house because of the party going on there too.

We made another stop in Crystal Springs for washroom breaks and to pick up food and drinks to go; and then continued to entertain ourselves during the last half of the trip.  It was past-midnight by the time Jake dropped Tim off at his house; and close to half-past by the time we had the van unloaded and Michael walked me home so we could have a bit of privacy for our goodnight kisses.  That was nice, but after a bit more than six hours of travel time and a full day of snowboarding; we were both tired enough not to be interested in any extended play time.

Mom and Dad had gone to bed sometime earlier, but Mom came up to my room to check in with me shortly after I was changed and getting into bed with Mandy and my computer.  We had a short chat; exchanged condensed versions of our daily reports; and then she headed back to bed while I got started on the short version of my nightly computer checks.  That included confirmation that Dillon and my cousins got home safely to Woodvale; answering some messages from around our collective families; and dealing with a quick and fairly easy family business issue.  It’s coming up on one-thirty very fast, and I’m in for two more late nights in a row now; so it’s time to wrap this up and get some sleep.

I definitely do not want to fall asleep before midnight tomorrow night and miss out on my first-ever New Year’s kiss with Michael!

And on that note; I really gotta go, so...

...Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cassie's Journal - December 29, 2013

We’re going to be up early to hit the road for the Blue Ridge Ski Center; so this is going to be a micro-report that doesn’t nearly cover everything that happened today.

I didn’t get much sleep between the time I actually fell asleep and needed to be up for Tai Chi; and it was pretty much non-stop action between then and when I crawled into bed with Dawn and Mandy a little while ago.  We fed our gang; took turns getting ready for church; helped our cousins pack and get vehicles loaded up; went to church; and then the action during the service and Sunday school almost seemed like a break by comparison until we were off and running again.

Since our four departing guests were pretty much ready to head for home after lunch, I went to the Inn with Michael straight from church and helped out in the kitchen until the first buffet was ready and out in the dining room.  We both took a break then so we could have lunch with my family; though Michael ate quickly and went right back to work again while I stayed with Ethan, Ehlana, and Dawn until we’d all seen all of our traveling relatives on their way out of town.  That didn’t include Chris, Martin, Dawn, or Jonathan because they’re all going snowboarding with us tomorrow.

Since I’m on that topic, let’s quickly mention that Josiah and Christina will be taking his brother, sister, Erica Bassett, and Cal Jennings.  Jake, Michael, and I added Rebecca, Rowen, and Tim to our group this morning too; so we’re going to have two full minivans and Violet’s car heading out in the morning, but Violet and Dillon will go on to Woodvale with her brothers and sister so they can all be there for New Year’s Eve and Day – and probably through the weekend before coming home again.

Moving along, I went back to work in the kitchen at the Inn for the rest of the day.  Michael and I still had a shortened afternoon break after the third buffet went out; but then we were back at it again until Miranda set us free once the last of the cooking was done for the night.  That left us with time to play with Dawn, Ethan, and Ehlana before the twins needed to get ready for bed, though Chris, Martin, and Jonathan were there too; so Michael did a bit of video gaming with them too.  Violet and Dillon were at his house for dinner and the evening before coming here for the rest of the night.  Their arrival was Michael’s cue to head home since most of us wanted to at least start getting ready for bed a lot earlier than we have the past few nights.

Dawn borrowed my Jacuzzi when we came up here, and Chris, Martin, and Jonathan were still gaming in the lounge then; but everyone in the house is in bed now.  Dawn and Mandy are both sleeping already; so I need to wrap this up and head off to dreamland too if I want to be ready for our big snow play day and five o’clock wake-up plans.  There really was a lot going on today that I haven’t covered – especially the work and fun at the Inn, but this is one of those rare nights when I’m actually running on low-power; and really need the down time.  That should give you an idea of just how much fun this weekend has been – I’m too tired to even write about the fun let alone try for any more special holiday moments.

The good news is that I will be fully-charged and ready to play by morning, so, until then...

...Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Cassie's Journal - December 28, 2013

This has been a day full of contrasts; starting with having our family Christmas while the weather practically felt more like early spring and had our Christmas snow melting fast.  It’s colder again now as I write this, and is supposed to stay cold for the rest of the weekend; which is a good thing considering some winter fun plans we should have finalized by tomorrow morning sometime.  I’ll get to that news in a bit; but let’s back up and keep this update in order.

Michael came over for Tai Chi this morning, but went home again and then on to the Inn to help out with the breakfast rush there while I was busy at home with the work involved for making breakfast; cleaning up; and helping with Ethan, Ehlana, and Jayden.  The warmer weather made playing outdoors quite a bit messier; but we – the kids – spent most of the morning doing some tobogganing and playing around in the quickly dwindling supply of snow around the yards at my house; Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s; and Uncle Mark and Aunt Grace’s.  Rowen only stayed for a bit of that fun before going on to the computer store to help out there; but Dawn and I had some help from the older teen cousins; and some of the parents joined in to either go sledding too or while we played in the back yards and had a couple of snowball fights.

Having the temperature warm enough for spring jackets instead of snow suits had a lot to do with us staying out longer than we probably should have; and we were all fairly cold and very wet by the time we were ordered indoors for hot chocolate and a lunchtime snack.  We did that at two houses, and Dawn and I had most of the younger girls while most of the boys, including Ethan and Jayden, did that at Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s.  That worked for all of us – especially since it meant not having video games going on in the lounge for the entire afternoon.  There was still football bowl games being watched in the living room, but about half of our collective families are guys; so that’s hardly a surprise when a big family day lands on a big football day.

I’m not going to write about all of the football chatter or news from today, but for those of you who have a warm place in your hearts for Notre Dame; congratulations – your team won their bowl game today!

We were only snacking for lunch because we had our Christmas dinners at mid-afternoon.  At our house, that meant we sat down to eat right about the same time that Notre Dame game ended.  That was partially because Mom wouldn’t have been able to drag some of the guys away from the game anyway; though we also didn’t finish rounding up our dinner guests and sending some of the Johnson-McEwan clan over to Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s until then.  Both dining rooms at our house and theirs were full, but I still missed having Uncle Adam, Aunt Leanne, and Zack with us for the meal while they were busy with the other half of their family.  Michael was here to help me out with that, though; and we had fun while he was on an extended break from the Inn so he could do that – and the gift exchange – with me.

Michael, Dawn, and I were not given kid control duty during dinner tonight; and we got to spend that time with Violet, Dillon, Chris, and Martin instead.  That meant a lot of football and video game talk with the guys, but that was also when we started talking about a potential teen snowboarding day for next week.  Considering the weather today, that seemed a bit strange, but it wasn’t as warm up at the Blue Ridge Ski Center; they had more snow to start with; and will be making more tonight and tomorrow.  I checked a little while ago, and all runs are expected to be open tomorrow; so once we have full parental approval the trip should be on.

Making those plans really was my favorite part of our dinner chat, but the food was awesome too; and most of us managed to somehow eat too much again.  While we didn’t have kid duty during dinner; we were all on the clean-up crew.  The grandparents were in charge of the younger kids while we did that, but since opening gifts needed to wait until we were finished the work; we had regular visits from my brother, sister, and cousins urging us to hurry up so we could get back to the fun.

It’s a good thing that we’re drawing names now for everyone or we’d need a full day just to open gifts.  That was a fun hour or so of holiday entertainment, but I can’t help but think that our collective gift exchange ends up being too much.  I know my perspective on that is different than most because of the years when Christmases were just with Mom and me; but I think it seemed like a lot more this year because of the added gift exchanges with Michael and his family in addition to mine.  It’s all wonderful and amazing too, and more than my little-girl dreams ever imagined; so I’ll just leave those thoughts there and be very grateful for all of my blessings.

Michael needed to go back to the Inn as we wrapped up the gift exchange, so I walked there with him so we could have a few moments alone before returning to the family fun.  A group of us did a visit to Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s house; and ended up exchanging some kids, teens, and adults again for part of the evening.  There were kid and chick flick movies going on in the lounge, and after getting home again; I stayed there with most of the younger girls and we split our time between watching movies and playing with new toys and games until Michael came over again after the Inn closed for the night.

The rest of my evening was pretty much all football, cuddle time with Michael, and chat time with everyone else watching the games in the living room.  Jake and Stephanie came over with Michael to hang out with Violet, Dillon, Josiah, and Christina; and we continued the dinnertime snowboarding chat with all of them.  As I mentioned, we still need some parental approvals, and there will be some other teens invited to go with us; but as long as all of that is worked out; we’ll be going snowboarding for the day on Monday!

While I really don’t want to write about the football games, I should mention that there were four games today, and the last one started late; which is why the teens and a few parents stayed up late again tonight.  The bonus time with Michael definitely works for me; and with college or pro football going on pretty much every day for the next week and change; we might even get some chances for alone time where we can pretend to watch football while finding more interesting entertainment for ourselves.

I might be thinking about that a lot now because we sure didn’t have any opportunities for that tonight with a house full of family.  We didn’t really even get a chance for much of a goodnight kiss when Michael had Jake and Stephanie waiting for him when all of the last group of guests headed home after the game ended.  Dawn didn’t want to hang out with us in the living room, and she’s sleeping in the lounge right now after passing out there while trying to watch another movie after the other girls had either gone home or off to bed.  Mandy’s with her, so I have my bed all to myself – something I definitely shouldn’t think about too much right now.

Since it is late, I should probably skip writing or thinking about anything else and just get what sleep I can before we’ll be up and starting another of those wild and crazy Sunday church and family travel days.  As long as the snowboarding trip gets approved, we’ll still have cousins staying here tomorrow night, but that really won’t change the workload much; and I’m also planning on spending as much time as I can helping out with the extra buffets at the Inn tomorrow too, so it’s going to be busy pretty much all day.  All of that can wait until morning, and I’ll just shoot for some unconscious time for now that will hopefully have a dash or two of happy dreams that include Michael in a starring role; and us alone somewhere for some uninterrupted play time.

Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cassie's Journal - December 27, 2013

I was on the housework clean-up crew of three this morning, and helped out at lunch and dinnertime too; but the rest of my day has pretty much been all play and fun time with my friends, brother, sister, and cousins.

The family news of the day is probably the addition of Michelle McEwan’s college boyfriend to the weekend guest list.  Neil Ryan is a classmate of Michelle’s and wants to be a future teacher too; though he wants to teach computers and Phys-Ed while she’s focused on maths and sciences.  They’ve been dating for a while now, and the decision to do family Christmases together was a big step for them – especially since that meant even more travel time for both of them to make that happen with both her family and his.  Jonathan got teased about being next now that all of his sisters have serious boyfriends or a fiancĂ©e in Tory’s case, but he’s growing up fast too; and doesn’t get embarrassed by those jokes or comments anymore.

While I’m thinking about the McEwans, Tory and Kyle are now just about six months away from their big wedding day; and that was one of the top chat stories of the day too – along with babies; boyfriends; college; and Christmas recaps.  Mom, Dad, Ethan, Ehlana, and I won’t be going to it; but it was fun hearing about some of their plans for the big day.  Since they’re getting married the day before Ethan and Ehlana’s third birthday, it’ll be an easy date to remember – even without a photographic memory.

Getting back to the events of the day, we started our morning with Tai Chi after some of us took two days off from that; and Michael and I went to his house to have breakfast with his grandparents before they packed up and left for home.  He and Rebecca helped them with that, but I only stayed until the kitchen was cleaned up before going home again to help with the housework.  Mom and I cheated a bit with that work while Dad was dealing with his one appointment of the day; and mixed that with a little Magi lesson for Ethan and Ehlana.

The first members of our collective families to make it home for the weekend were here in time for lunch; though we didn’t have any of our weekend guests at our house until mid-afternoon.  Tory, Michelle, and their guys brought Jonathan, Kara, Eddie, and Nicole with them while their collective parents were mostly working half or full days before making the drive to Witch Falls.  Uncle Blaine had some work to do this morning the same as Dad did, but they were still on the road by mid-morning; and at Uncle Mark and Aunt Grace’s house before Violet’s family got to our house.

As I mentioned, I was on kid control for most of the day, and that started with having Kara, Eddie, and Nicole come over to play with Ethan, Ehlana, and me while their cousins were busy unpacking cars and hauling luggage and boxes of gifts up to bedrooms after having lunch with Aunt Leanne.  We played outside and went sledding for a while once I had some support from Michael, Rowen, and Tim while Michael was on an extended afternoon break.  Jaimie, Kaitlyn, and Jayden were home in time to catch the tail end of the tobogganing; and Blaine dropped them off with us so they could do that while he and Aunt Alison were busy with their round of arrival work.

Our house was afternoon break central, and after having hot chocolate and Olde Bakery treats; we played video games in the lounge - or some of us did.  Chris and Martin went to hang out with Jonathan and play video games with him at Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s – along with Kyle, Neil, and Josiah when they weren’t busy with their girls.  Dawn joined Rowen and me on the junior babysitting crew; and the three of us were kept especially busy once Michael and Tim left when Michael needed to be back at the Inn to help with the dinner rush.

We didn’t try to get everyone together for dinner tonight, so we only added Grandma and Grandpa to our dinner guest list along with the Rice family and Rowen.  Mom used up some of the pre-cooked food; so making dinner wasn’t really much work.  Rowen, Dawn, and I were actually glad to be on the clean-up crew for a change from the non-stop kid action; though we’d had fun this afternoon – and did again all evening while playing with our family.

Just consider yourself unofficially adopted for weekends like this, Rowen – you are family to me!

We’ve had a movie night after dinner, and though we spent some time with the parents and grandparents too; they watched movies in the living room while the kid-rated movies were going on in the lounge.  Jaimie, Kaitlyn, and Jayden were at Uncle Mark and Aunt Grace’s for dinner; but they all stopped in for visits after dinner, and Jayden stayed for a sleepover with Ethan.  Dawn and I might end up having Jaimie and Kaitlyn with us tomorrow night, though they also want to spend as much time with their aunt as possible too; so they may change their minds about wanting to do that with us by tomorrow night.

Michael and Tim came over again for a while after Michael was done at the Inn for the night.  They were in time to catch the end of the toddler-rated movie we were watching in the lounge; did the bedtime snack with us before Ethan, Ehlana, and Jayden were put to bed; and we had a little football and chat intermission with the remaining adults, Violet, and Dillon before coming up to the lounge again for another movie before they headed out at the same time that Dillon left for home.

Violet joined Dawn, Rowen, and me for some girl chat time when the parents and grandparents were ready to go to bed; and Dawn ended up being Violet’s cuddle buddy instead of spending the night in her own room or the lounge.  Rowen and I have been surfing the net and having our own extended chat time since Violet and Dawn moved next door.  We’re both pretty much ready to sleep now, and I guess that’s about all of the news I have for today; so it’s time to put our computers away and head off to sleep.  If today is any indication of what’s ahead for the rest of the weekend; we’re going to need all the rest we can get to keep up with the ongoing holiday action.

Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cassie's Journal - December 26, 2013

The bad news is that our movie night turned into college football night instead.  The good news is that Rowen and I discovered a nice benefit of watching sports with our boyfriends – curfews are automatically adjusted to allow for watching the end of the game; post-game action where necessary; and a reasonable allowance for the goodnight hugs and kisses.

Michael and I may need to be watching football from now on – even when we’re not; if you know what I mean!

While we ended up having a pretty good night even with the football action; my morning started out with non-stop fun too.  On a whim, I decided to skip Tai Chi; got ready for the day early; and headed over to the Inn to surprise Michael and his family with a bonus set of hands to help with getting the first wave of the breakfast buffet cooked and out to the dining room.  The good morning hugs and kisses were worth the effort; and working with Michael and Rebecca made that part of the morning more fun for all of us.

Rebecca was also set free early to have breakfast before going shopping too; though she did both with Jenny instead of with my family, Rowen, and me.  Michael opted to work more in the morning and get most of the afternoon off so that he could hang out with me while we were playing instead of shopping.  I worked until Miranda let me know that Mom, Dad, Ethan, and Ehlana had made it to the Inn.  I ended up at a table with Rowen, Patrick, Scott, Lindsay, Jessica, and the twins; and mostly collected the middle four kids because their parents were either having breakfast in the dining room too or busy getting their stores ready for the big sale.

Rowen helped out at the store a couple of times today too, including before she came to the Inn with Patrick; but she was also set free to shop with me this morning; have some afternoon snow play time; and hang out at my house for the evening after the store closed for the night and she and Patrick had a late dinner at the Inn with their parents and some of the other store owner families.  The Boxing Day shopping is a bit less exciting for me now than it was the first year Mom and I were here; but it’s still fun – and a lot more special to share with our family, friends, and neighbors than the big city sales events are.  Rowen and I actually talked about that a bit this morning, and since she doesn’t have any personal experience with the madness that can happen in the malls and big box stores on Boxing Day; we may need to do that some year soon so she can find out for herself – and then we can just go back to enjoying our own home town version of the third most popular shopping day of the season.

I guess it’s time to make the most surprising personal admission of the day.  I only bought three things all morning!  There wasn’t really anything I needed to get, and there really isn’t any point in buying clothes to put away for later when nothing that fits now is going to in six months or a year.  Even Ethan out-shopped me today, which is one of the reasons I’m writing this down; since there’s a good chance that won’t happen again anytime soon!

We pretty much shopped until lunchtime, and then Rowen went to the computer store to do some lunch break relief for her parents while I went home with Mom, Dad, and the twins to have turkey sandwiches and soup for our own noon meal.  Dad spends time with Ethan, Ehlana, and me every day – even if it’s just a phone call when he’s in the city; but the no-work play days seem rare sometimes.  That’s why today was special for all of us – though Dad and Ethan weren’t quite as excited about the shopping despite buying more than I did.  With most parents off work today, we weren’t the only family out playing in the snow; but we did end up with one of the biggest groups on the hills when we went tobogganing.  That’s because we attracted Patrick and Scott to our group when they saw us there with Michael and Tim; and Michael ended up with his cousins, Jessica, Ryan, and Sophia.  Philip and Naomi met us at the hill; and Aiden was dropped off by his Grandma and Grandpa Draper.  Add in a few friends of the younger kids; and Mom, Dad, and Philip had quite a group to keep up with.  That hour and a half of non-stop action was also when we made some of the best memories of the day too.

There was time for a bit more snow fun at home after coming back from the hill; but then Michael and I both needed to get cleaned up and ready to work the dinner shift at the Inn.  It wasn’t really a busy night there, but as I mentioned; there were quite a few store owners and their families having dinner at the Inn instead of even trying to make up a leftovers meal after a crazy work day.  It was certainly a lot easier than the breakfast buffet had been – especially since that had gone on for hours before the switch to the lunch menu.

Michael, Rebecca, and I were set free at seven-thirty; and we all went back to their house to have a little visit with his grandparents; mostly because they’re heading home in the morning so they’ll be back in time for their own weekend family Christmas plans with Michael’s aunt, uncle, and the rest of their families.  We stayed until Miranda, Jacob, Jake, and Stephanie got home; and then Michael and I moved on to my house.  We called ahead to set things up with Rowen and Tim; so they met up with us before we’d even had time to do the dinner recap with Mom, Dad, and the twins.  We ended up doing Ethan and Ehlana’s bedtime story and snack then, and had them tucked in for the night before it was teen time in the lounge; and Mom and Dad opted for some quiet cuddle time and a movie in the living room.

I didn’t find the football game all that interesting, but then there were probably a lot of football fans feeling the same way watching either of the games today.  The Utah State team and fans might take exception to that assertion, but let’s be honest and admit that was a game that only the winners could love.  The only thing that amazed me tonight was that Northern Illinois managed to have an undefeated regular season before losing their division championship and then their bowl game tonight.

The hours of cuddle time with Michael and Mandy was worth putting up with the sporting boredom; though even the boys were thinking that video gaming or movies would have been better as the tedium dragged on.  Michael and I are still in need of some holiday alone time; but maybe we’ll have more luck with that next week.  We loved getting to have that time with Rowen and Tim, and we had no problem filling up the time in between football plays with little chats about everything from favorite Christmas moments to suggestions for what we can do with the few free days we’ll have during the rest of our holiday break.

There weren’t any major make-out opportunities for Michael and I or Rowen and Tim; but we did do the usual work split right before Michael, Rowen, and Tim headed home that allowed us some privacy for our respective goodnight hugs and kisses.  Mom and Dad had already gone up to bed by then, but we didn’t try pushing our luck with the already-extended curfews – even though Tim did joke about it.

Mom and Dad weren’t sleeping once I was on my own; so I filled my Jacuzzi and hopped in for a soak.  No, I don’t need to comment on why they weren’t sleeping yet; so use your imagination if you must and let me move on with the report.  I’ve been multi-tasking while relaxing in the hot, soothing water; and even took care of a bit of family business that popped up through my email while doing my usual nightly checks.  I’m going to get out of the tub soon and be off to sleep not long after I have my hair done and finish getting ready for bed; but let’s cover a few news tidbits before wrapping this up for the night.

Violet and Dillon are at his house again tonight; but probably not there yet because they’re hanging out with Jake and Stephanie.  They’re still working out their plans for next week; and haven’t decided for sure when they’ll head up to Woodvale – other than that they’ll be there for New Year’s Eve; and probably through the rest of the week and weekend.  They’ll be split up for the next few days while the rest of the Rice family is here, though I won’t know for sure until tomorrow how much that decision has to do with Violet’s parents, brothers, and sister.  It could just be that they don’t want to add one more person to the morning crazy we’ll have around here on Saturday and Sunday.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

I’ll be spending some time helping Mom and Dad around the house in the morning; and then be on kid control for a lot of the afternoon and evening.  Rowen’s going to help me out with the kid play time, and stay for a sleepover with Dawn and me.  Saturday will be the big family Christmases and meals; with Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne hosting the one for the Carrington-Johnson clan while Mom and Dad host their second big meal of the week.  Michael’s going to be busy a lot of the time at the Inn, but he’ll be with me for the most important parts of the weekend; and I’m going to help out at the Inn on Sunday after going to the first bonus buffet with my family before our guests head home again.

That’s all going to make for a wild and wonderful few days of action and family fun; so I really should go and get some sleep while I can.  Until next time...

...Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cassie's Journal - December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

It’s been a really busy, sometimes crazy, and always wonderful, best-ever-so-far kind of Christmas.  Michael and I were both on the go from very early this morning until he went home a little while ago; though his early morning was because he was helping his father and Jake with work in the kitchen while mine was thanks to Ethan and Ehlana having everyone in our house up and finding out what Santa brought us by five o’clock.

Our favorite ‘in public’ gift this year is the new Playstation 4 that Santa brought for the twins and me; and we’re sure that it was just a coincidence that so many members of our family knew to get us new games for the system.  Those games are already getting a lot of play time in the lounge, and we’ll have years of fun with our friends; but video games aren’t really all that challenging when you can memorize the entire game the first time through and play perfectly after that if we tried our best.  I was just as happy with the clothes that Mom, Aunt Leanne, and Grandma picked out for me; music books; and some new movies.  Michael really loved the soft, cuddly and beautiful sweater that I wore all day after getting it from Mom and Dad – though probably not as much as Uncle Adam enjoyed what Aunt Leanne bought; and had him unwrap last night.

Feel free to use your imagination so that I don’t have to include the details.  I’m really glad that Michael wasn’t in the room for that bit of girl talk, and while I’m also glad that all of my favorite people have been having an awesome Christmas too; there are some things that a daughter or niece don’t need to know.  I’m certainly not going to talk with them about anything along those lines that I picked up to share with Michael over the holidays.

Oh, did I write that out loud? ;^)

Let’s keep the story moving along.  After checking out our stockings and opening gifts, Violet and Dillon got ready for the day and headed over to his house for breakfast and gifts with his family.  The rest of us got ready to go over to Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanne’s house for brunch and the first part of our family Christmas that pretty much everyone in our collective, home-town families were there for.  Mom and Dad needed to get the turkey for dinner in the oven before we left too; but they had nearly everything ready to go for that last night, and didn’t really have much work to do this morning.  Michael came over while that bit of action was still going on; and he came with us for the brunch and family fun.  We collectively had boxes of gifts to take with us; including the gifts that Michael had brought with him for me and my family.  He gave me a beautiful, delicate gold locket with a blue sapphire stone and our pictures inside that I’m still wearing now; and Mandy and I have a new stuffed piano cat to cuddle with.  My family didn’t come up with any particularly good jokes about the new stuffie; but they were happy to drag out the old sax kitten jokes and remind Michael and me of that gift again.  Michael liked the gifts I had for him, though video games for his new X-Box One, a sports watch, and some music gear wasn’t as personal as the locket was for me.  Picking out something too sentimental would have gotten him in trouble with the guys, and while that other purchase I mentioned will require some very up-close and personal time and attention, we didn’t have a chance for that today; and by the time anyone in the future reads this journal, we’ll all be old enough that Michael won’t care what the guys think about that part of our holiday fun.

Michael and I needed to go over to his house right after having brunch; and we both needed to pace ourselves on the food offerings.  For my family, the brunch was one of only two meals; with the second being Christmas dinner at my house.  Jacob and Miranda were hosting their big family dinner this year, and Michael and I weren’t the only people in town juggling too many meals.  I will suggest that it was at least a little tougher for those of us who had the Jacob and Jake masterpiece dinner experience as one of those meals; but that was a sacrifice we were very happy to make.

Our schedule juggling kept us off the cooking crews all day, but that was more than offset by being on the clean-up crews for both family dinners.  There was also a lot of play time, so let’s skip over the work parts of the day; and focus on the fun.  There were new snow-fun gifts for kids to try out; so Michael and I spent some time outdoors with our siblings and cousins – more than an hour and a half of sledding and play time between our brunch and the Stone-Bassett family dinner; and another hour or so between the end of that clean-up job and when Michael and I needed to go over to my house for the Proctor-Carrington dinner.

There was a fair bit of video gaming going on too; we watched Christmas parades on television; and Michael and I even caught parts of two Christmas movies during breaks in the rest of our play and work time.  While the food was amazing and we ate way too much; the best parts of the day for me were all family-time moments.  I loved getting to know Michael’s Grandma and Grandpa Stone; growing closer to everyone else in his family; all of the play time with all of the kids and teens; and the bits of cuddle time we managed to share here and there when we were able to sit down and relax for a while.

A fair bit of event juggling must go on while Christmas plans are being made so that most family members can be together for the big meals or other important events.  That’s different for my family; but everything worked out pretty well for Michael and me.  The family interactions were sometimes a little funny – like having brunch with Josiah and our first Christmas dinner with Caleb while they were each spending the day with their respective girlfriends.  Most of our teen time was while we were at Michael’s house – our outside playing with the younger kids.  We only managed a quick visit with Rowen and Tim this afternoon that barely gave us enough time to exchange gifts; and then we all needed to get back to our own family fun.

I wouldn’t say that our second dinner of the day was quiet, but it was quieter by comparison to the brunch and earlier meal at Michael’s house.  That was partly because everyone was getting tired by then; and also because there were only five kids and teens – excluding Violet and Dillon.  Zack slept through the meal too, so Michael and I sat with Ethan and Ehlana and mostly just enjoyed the meal while the adults took care of the dinner entertainment.  While I really did eat too much today, I didn’t have all that much room for more food by then; so I practically snacked on small amounts of everything; and had just a tiny little slice of pie for dessert.

The dinner conversations were fairly diverse tonight.  Kid talk from babies to college teens was fairly thoroughly covered, as was everything from charity trips and vacations to Boxing Day sales from the store owner perspective.  All grandparents, chefs, and the Mom who needed to nurse her baby were set free after dinner while the rest of us got to work; and spent an hour or so getting the kitchen and dining room clean again.  While I’m sure the family juggling had a lot to do with it too; that evening work probably had a lot to do with why Michael’s parents were happy to have the early meal  - especially when they’re going to be doing the boxing day breakfast buffet at the Inn first thing in the morning.

Michael’s going to be helping out with that too, and he’s going to be a tired puppy after hanging out here later than he probably should have.  We got into a bit of video gaming with Ethan and Ehlana after the work was done; and Violet and Dillon joined us for a bit of that before they went over to his house for the rest of the night when it was time for the twins to go to bed.  Most of our guests went home then too, and then Michael and I had a bit of quiet time and chat with Mom and Dad before they went up to bed and Michael and I were left alone to end our merriest Christmas in a mostly non-verbal sort of way.

I came straight up to my room after Michael left, and climbed into bed with Mandy as soon as I finished getting changed and ready for bed.  Rowen and I have had a little chat; there were email to read and answer; and I did a lite version of my usual nightly computer checks before starting this update.  I’m ready for a long winter’s nap now; and should get a little extra rest to be ready for another big day of holiday fun – starting with that breakfast buffet at the Inn and some Boxing Day shopping.  We going to have some afternoon family play time too that will probably include some sledding, and I’m going to help out at the Inn for the dinner rush.  We’re going to shoot for another movie night after that with Rowen and Tim if we get finished at the Inn early enough, and I hope that works out; since we probably won’t get to have much couples time this weekend while my family Christmas is going on and Michael and Rowen are both busy with work at the Inn and computer store.

This little report doesn’t come close to covering every happy moment from today, but even Magi Masters can hit information overload now and then; and there was just too much going on all day to include everything.  All that’s really important, though, is that this was a really special day; and I’m still feeling the warm fuzzies from getting to share most of those happiest moments with Michael and our families.

With that in mind, I’m off to what will definitely be some very happy dreams, so Merry Christmas again, and...

...Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!

Cassie's Journal - December 24, 2013

It’s late, and this little Santa’s helper needs to get a little sleep while I can; but it’s been a very busy day, and writing this will help me to wind down a bit so I can get into nap mode.

Michael enjoyed his wake-up call this morning, though that wasn’t too much fun for us; since Ehlana chaperoned while helping me out with that.  Tai Chi was the quiet before the storm, and then we were all on the go for the next couple of hours while taking turns getting ready for the day; helping out with the work; and having a big country breakfast.  Michael, Rowen, Tim, Naomi, and Aiden all went shopping with Mom, Ethan, Ehlana, and me; so we went to get that done at the same time that Dad went to work so that he could help with the transportation.  He had the boys with him while Mom took the girls in the minivan.

While Mom needed to pick up a few last-minute things at the grocery; the main stop for us this morning was the Olde Bakery so that we could pick up our first holiday order and enough Santa-approved cookies and reindeer treats for all of our families.  The boys weren’t interested in the stop at Palmer’s, so Michael and Tim took Ethan and Aiden over to the Fix-it Shoppe instead.  We’d mostly gone into Abby’s store to window shop, but I found a dress that wouldn’t let me go home without it – especially when Abby offered me the Boxing Day sale discount in case I wanted to wear it tonight instead of coming back for it in a couple of days.

We didn’t have the extra vehicle for the trip home, but Michael went to the Inn then to help out through the lunch break, and Tim and Rowen walked to the shop and computer store respectively; so Mom and I were on our own with Ethan, Ehlana, and their friends when we headed home again.  We made a pair of quick stops to drop off bakery orders with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Leanne; and then I unloaded the minivan while Mom did most of the work getting the four younger kids un-winterized and set up with hot chocolate and snacks.

Naomi was picked up before lunch to have a play afternoon with her Dad; but we kept Aiden with us while his parents were busy at the bakery.  Dad was home and finished work for the day in time to have lunch with us; and we all went outside to play in the snow for a while after cleaning up from a homemade mac and cheese with octopus side meal. (The octopus are hot dogs cut in half, with about half of those sections cut length-wise to make four legs that curl up when boiled in water so they look like four-legged octopus.)

We were still outside when Michael joined us while on his afternoon break, so he caught the tail-end of some back-yard sledding runs; and stayed for the hot chocolate and bakery treats snack.  The rest of my afternoon got really busy from there; starting with Michael and I going over to his house to welcome his grandparents and carry their luggage up to the room they used during their infrequent visits home.  This was their first visit since the Memorial Day weekend; which meant that it was also the first time they’d been here since Michael and I started dating.

I don’t really know Michael’s grandparents very well yet, and they may have changed a bit in the years since they retired and moved away to be closer to Michael’s aunt and her family; but they are quite a bit different than their son and daughter-in-law.  They’re different than my grandparents too, but I don’t mean that in a good or bad way – they just have different personalities.  While we were the unofficial welcoming committee for his grandparents, we didn’t actually spend a lot of time with them before we headed over to the Inn so they could see the rest of their family – just long enough to get them settled in and have a chance to freshen up after a long drive.

Lloyd and Francis Stone may not miss the work at the Inn, the house they raised their kids in, or even the rest of their friends and family in Witch Falls; but they were genuinely happy to see Jacob, Miranda, and all of their grandkids.  Lloyd is also very proud of his son, and is happy that Jacob and Jake love working together in the kitchen – something that he couldn’t share with his own son because it was really just a job for him and not a passion.

For Michael, there had been more changes than a new girlfriend in the nearly seven months since he’d last seen his grandparents.  The most noticeable to them was that he was now an inch taller than his grandmother.  He’d officially hit the teen years; and that apparently changed how his grandparents treated him.  They’re very kind and easy-going with their grandchildren; but I was a bit surprised at how little they actually know about Jake, Stephanie, Rebecca, and Michael.  Only seeing them a couple of times a year is certainly part of that, but there were a few moments that were just a bit weird because they didn’t know some pretty basic things about their grandkids.

I helped out with the Christmas Eve day dinner rush, but before I did that, I had to leave for a little surprise hair appointment that Mom set up to have Liz do my hair so I’d look good when Michael and I were doing our duet at the church service.  That was a half-hour blast of fun and junior gossip time, and Michael’s reaction when he first saw me when I got back to the kitchen at the Inn proved that Liz did a great job.

It always seems a little surprising to me that there are actually quite a few customers for dinner on Christmas Eve, but the dining room was nearly full.  Our guests tonight included Michael’s grandparents and some of their hometown friends, along with the families of nearly every store-owner in town; everyone helping out to get everything ready for the service at the church; and some straggling, last-minute shoppers who didn’t have time to go home and still get back to the church on time.

I worked until I just had enough time to go home, get changed, and get a ride to church with Mom, Dad, and the twins.  The Christmas Eve service is one of the most magical of the year, and while my duet with Michael was my favorite part of the night; nearly everything was special and amazing tonight.  Having Pastor John, Stacey, and Rebekkah with us for their first Christmas since moving home was nice; and Pastor Martha’s Christmas message was really amazing.

That was especially true for those of us who know where she got the material for her imagining of the first Christmas.  This wasn’t the first time she’d used parts of the Magi Christmas story; but the beautiful, polished version she told tonight has some serious potential for being a Christmas classic – at least here in Witch Falls.  While all of the music and everything else was heart-warming, I thought that my duet with Michael was even more special than it was at the school concert; mostly because of the darkened, candle-lit sanctuary and the hushed, near-silence that seemed to blanket us in quiet joy and peace as Michael and I sang and played.  Our song ended the service, so there was no applause or anything because the recessional began right away; and the Pastors had wanted to end the evening on a silent night kind of moment.

I’m not going to suggest that I didn’t notice everything going on around us as always, but that didn’t keep me from getting as lost in the music as Michael did; and I am so glad that I’ll be able to perfectly remember those few minutes forever.  Since I was at the piano anyway, we continued to play softly during the recessional, and even in the dim candlelight; we were able to see that we’d again made a lot of Moms and Grandmothers cry with our song – our own included.  Just in case you, dear future reader, aren’t going through weeks or months worth of these journals in one sitting; here’s another YouTube video of our duet song – by the group we based the harmonies on for our version.

We were among the last to leave the sanctuary, and though there’s a chance that jokes are still going on in the future about it; we were not late because of the hug and kisses I shared with Michael once we’d finished playing.  He had to pack up his guitar; and we talked with several people, including Pastor John and Stacey, before meeting up with our families again.

Our plans after the service hadn’t really been settled earlier, but Miranda and Jacob needed to go back to the Inn for a while with some of their staff, and Michael’s grandparents pretty much just wanted to go home to bed by then; so Michael was set free and allowed to come home with me for a while.  We had Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Adam, Aunt Leanne, and Zack with us for a little snack break and visit too before they went home for the night; Violet and Dillon were staying with us for another sleepover; and Christina and Josiah only stopped in long enough to wish us all a Merry Christmas before they went to spend the night at his house so they’d be with his parents, brother, and sister first thing in the morning.

I think that my favorite part of that round of holiday fun was when Michael got to hear Aunt Leanne’s Magi Santa story for the first time.  He thought that it was very funny that I’d helped her out with understanding how Santa could do all of his ‘magic’ by seeing me doing phase-shifting and time-phases; but let’s skip over what we might have both been thinking when Aunt Leanne suggested how advantageous those particular talents would have been if she’d had them when she was a teen.

No, I don’t plan on a late-night visit with Michael; and that would be very tough to explain how I got into Michael’s bedroom if we were caught.

Moving along, we did the snack and hot chocolate or alternate hot drink thing; had a nice little visit; and then Michael and I helped with getting Ethan and Ehlana ready for bed once my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin left for home.  We had a little privacy for our first Christmas Eve goodnight kisses after the twins were tucked in for the night; and then it was time for Santa’s helpers to get to work after Michael went home.

Violet and Dillon helped with that too, so it really didn’t take all that long to haul gifts down to the living room; stuff stockings; and munch on the Olde Bakery cookies and reindeer treats.  I was back in my room by a bit after midnight; and have been in bed with Mandy for less than a half hour.  I’ve skipped most of the usual nightly computer checks, and the Christmas music I’ve been listening to while dealing with a few email and this update is lulling me to sleep.  Since I expect that Ethan and Ehlana are going to help Violet and Dillon with their family time juggling act by waking up early; I’m going to wrap this up with a digital bow and call it a night.

Live long and prosper, fellow Magi of the Light!