Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmastime at the Villa

This month we got together with a group of homeschoolers and went caroling to the residents at our local rehab unit, The Villa. We came armed with a slew of homemade Christmas cards to give out.

My girls and I are volunteers at The Villa. We go visit some residents a few times per month. We visit a lady that is 103 years old and she treats us like family.  We also make it a point to see our friend Nicki. She is 30 something- like me- and she has such an infectious happy spirit! 

The Villa was decked out for Christmas with beautiful trees.  We took pictures by our favorite one. Next we took Nicki to her room and helped her put up some decorations and straighten her desk area to make room for all her new Christmas cards. She loved it and it made us happy to be with her.

On our way home we took pictures of some really cool ice formations on the bushes outside.

It was a perfect visit and field trip.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had a small gathering at my house this year for Thanksgiving.  Mom and Tom joined us.  Geoff wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home.  Earlier that morning, Lily, Amara, and I bundled up and braved the cold to snip some tall grass sheaves for our centerpiece.  Our table was set so beautifully.

Our gathering may have been small, but the feast was PLENTIFUL!  The star of the meal was the bird!  Mom made a super-delicious, moist, 19-pound turkey and yummy gravy!  We also had baked yams, mashed potatoes, stovetop stuffing, brussel sprouts, string beans, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, cracked wheat rolls, maple butter, veggie tray, krab potato salad, crackers w/ cracked pepper-ranch-cheese-green onion-cheesebrick, spinach dip, and macaroni salad.  Phew!  We ate this feast for days- and froze some for another day! :)
Did I forget anything???

Ah, yes!  The pie.  Steve's favorite part of the meal.  We had a peanut butter creme pie, and a pumpkin dessert with whip cream.  I even got a taste of each of them and I must say- mm-mm-good!  The peanut butter pie was so rich it was like eating a stick of butter, except tasty, and probably 100 calories per bite.

We had dinner around 3:30 and then we talked and played ping pong.  Then we came in for pie before Tom had to leave to get to bed early for the impending Black Friday shoppers.
We had such a lovely Thanksgiving.  I sure love that holiday.  Thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale for campaigning for the creation of the holiday (and for the well-loved nursery rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb).  And more importantly thanks be to our Father in Heaven for the blessings of family and for sustaining our lives with hope and happiness!

Christmas Greetings!

I'm so thankful for all our family has been blessed with.  Reflecting back on this year has really allowed me to see just how gracious God has been to us.

Here is our family Christmas e-letter.  If you click on the smilebox you'll get the interactive version.  I'll be sending it out via email and facebook.  And to my 2 grandparents that don't regularly use their computers, they'll be getting a snail mail version.  Merry Christmas everyone!  May your days be merry and bright just as ours have been!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Offering My Gifts

During this Christmas season, the Christian world remembers the birth of Jesus Christ.  I’ve always loved this time of year when I can see people about doing good to others, just as Jesus would do.  I’ve always loved the way that people sacrifice time and money to be with their families and spend time together.  Christmas has a warm place in my heart. 

Recently I was reading in Ensign Magazine and I came across a picture that made me stop and read on.  The picture was of a wrapped plate of Christmas cookies, The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ nestled alongside, and a textured tag that read in curly cursive, “Merry Christmas!  To Our Dear Friends!”  

 My attention?  Grabbed.  Curious, I read on, but I didn’t expect what happened next.  As I read the article, I found myself searching for a pen and then underlining phrases and circling words that seemed to speak directly to me.  Needless to say, that article sparked a prompting that I felt I couldn’t ignore.    

The article was called “Family and Friends Forever” by President Henry B. Eyring.  The first phrase I underlined started with, “The blessings you have been given…”  I read it like, “The blessings I have been given…,” and when I read that, my mind was FILLED with all the blessings that I have been given: 
I’ve been blessed to be able to have peace and happiness in my home and family life when these days so many homes are broken, relationships everywhere are severed, and families are torn apart.

 My family is blessed because my husband has a job in this unstable economy and an income that is sufficient to provide for our family’s needs. 

I’ve been blessed to be educated and have the ability to teach my children.

I’ve been blessed the past 2 years having dysautonomia, yet by the grace of God, being able to function and have a mostly normal life (I still miss the chocolate and sugar though J).   

I’ve been the recipient of miracles.  Specifically, I remember a time a few months ago when I laid awake with piercing pain in my head.  I felt ill. I wanted sleep.  I quietly prayed to have the pain relieved so I could sleep, and immediately the pain was taken from me.  Immediately.   
In the middle of my prayer.  I was surprised a little at the abrupt answer, but I was more grateful than anything else and my prayer turned into one of gratitude.  I know God hears and answers prayers in His time and in His own way. This experience testified to me that God is aware of us, loves us, and cares.

I’ve been blessed to have money to spend on gifts for my family and friends this Christmas.

I’ve been blessed with a warm home in a freezing city.  Clean running water, electricity, warm showers, warm meals, warm hugs.  Comfortable transportation, working appliances, technology, medicine…

A moment of pondering brought a flood of blessings to my mind.  I read those words from the magazine article and realized just how good I have it.  God has blessed me abundantly, and I’m not boasting, just realizing that Heavenly Father has given me so much, and I’m grateful.

The sentence continued, “The blessings you have been given have created obligations and wonderful opportunities for you.  Well, that sounds a little like a fortune cookie.  But what the heck does that mean?  What obligations?  What opportunities?  Pausing to think I assumed it meant that because I’ve been blessed, it’s my duty to be a blessing to others.  In that sense, the opportunities are wonderful.  Being in a position to help another person is wonderful and rewarding.

Reading on.  The article then mentioned, “…you are obligated to extend to others an opportunity to find increased happiness, especially to your friends and members of your family.”   All my happiness and all my blessings have come from God and trying to follow Him to the best of my understanding.  I recognize that, but how do I fulfill my obligation of extending to my friends and family the opportunity to find increased happiness?  Share my faith?  Now, I consider myself a responsible person and if I have an obligation, I can be depended on to fulfill my obligations!  But this obligation is new to me.  Different.  It’s daunting for a somewhat shy personality as myself to break out of my comfortable shell and approach subjects that I’d usually avoid.  It involves me sharing my faith with friends, family, and neighbors, one of those subjects most people, including myself, tend to not bring up because of possible difference of opinion.  Something about this obligation makes me nauseous with fear because I’m a non-confrontational-type person.  Yet something about this obligation to share my faith is very driving.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  Perhaps it’s because I truly love my family and I do desire each of them to have the same happiness that I’ve experienced because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

My family is precious to me.  Many of them share my love of the Christ's gospel.  Yet many, to my knowledge, do not even know much about it.  The gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that come with it are meant for everyone and it’s meant to be shared.  It is precious to me.  And to keep it to myself would be selfish.  What if when we all have gone the way of the grave and meet each other on the other side, I’m approached by a cousin and asked, “I found out about Jesus’ gospel, but not through you.  Why didn’t you say something?  Didn’t I mean anything to you?  You had it all along, and you didn’t share it.”  Boy, I feel guilty already just thinking about it.  I need to share what I have because it is valuable and my family means the world to me.

There is much hope and happiness in this life that comes in choosing to follow the plan that Jesus set forth.  We choose to follow Him first by learning about Him.  This Christmas season, I am opening my scriptures and learning more about Jesus and His life and plan for me as an individual and I'm going to SHARE it.   

I invite you to join me in welcoming His gospel into your life. 

Merry Christmas!  To My Dear Family!

May God's blessings and inspiration move us to action always.  Offer the gifts you have.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Miracle!

This was a news story that spoke to me of God's grace. A modern miracle for sure! 

Here's the link.  Man survives 3 days at bottom of Atlantic http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=27884138&nid=235

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pajama Day

It's Saturday and the sun never came out, so the girls stayed in pajamas all day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Favorite Basketball Player

Amara said she would like to participate in the city's Jr. Jazz league, so on a whim, I paid the $30 and signed her up.  She's never played basketball.  Never ever.  So, I really hoped she would have a fun time with it.  The teams are coed and when we got her team's roster I found out she was the only girl on her team.  I was feeling a little anxious for her and the season hadn't even begun.  I hoped the boys would pass to her.  I hoped she wouldn't hate it. 

Well, she's had a couple games and it turns out that she loves it.  Whew!

The first time she played I discovered that the kids hardly ever pass.  There are very few "rules" for their league (thank goodness).  Kids can travel, double dribble, and there are no fouls or free throws.  There is a 10 minute practice at the beginning of each game and the game is two 15-minute halves.  They are encouraged the whole game by their coach that spends his time on the court with his team directing them and refereeing.  It's so fun (and sometimes funny to watch- Steve especially laughs when a kid passes the ball to another teammate that is literally 3 feet away by passing it directly into the other teammate's face, which has happened every game so far).  

The coach is a good coach.  He encourages his team to "Pass to Amara!"  And he'll even catch the ball and give it to Amara so she can go try to make a basket.  The first game Amara felt pretty confused and she definitely looked lost out there, as she would follow around the person she was supposed to be guarding like a puppy and it's mother.  It was okay though because the other kid was just as lost following the crowd.  We kept shouting from the sidelines for Amara to watch the ball (for fear she may get face-passed to while not watching).  We are happy that she's having a good experience and she enjoys going out there- plus she's figuring things out and improving in only 2 games time.  You should've seen her guard her guy this last game.  When he was trying to make his shot, she jumped up and down with her arms up and moving- and she was between him and the basket.  Improvement!  Even more awesome than that was after the game when she came up to us and said, "Did you see me guarding that guy?  My hands were up and I did a really good job!"  She was so proud of herself and it made me happy to see her having so much fun.

Amara "practicing" with her team.

Half-time practice

Not bad, Amara!  See Grandma's face in the background?

Amara's coach had forgotten her jersey at home for the first game, so she got one at her next game.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Joe's Family Came Over!

 This past October, Joe, Missy, Malia, JJ, Maizie, and Jayden came for a visit.  I have so many great memories of their stay with us!  We visited Monson Farms in Bluebell one day and did nearly every activity there was to do.  It was a perfect day to spend with family!

Steve actually hit a target so he won a stick of candy.

New this year was the airguns.  Those were pretty fun.  They shot lightweight foam balls.
 Every time Joe is here I get the hankering to get the grill going.  Kalbi was on the menu and it did NOT disappoint!!!
Kalbi marinating.
Cooks in a minute and smells SO GOOD!
 We loved seeing and spending time with everyone.  Come again soon!

JJ loved this bear.  I think he got it at McDonalds or something.

A Visit From Steve's Parents

"Funny Face!"
 We always love having people journey to the faraway land of Ballard to visit us, especially our families!  In October, we had a visit from Steve's parents.  We enjoyed spending time with them.  My favorite thing we did while they were here was go on a walk down our street.  It was a short walk, a perfect walk in lovely weather, and we took our time, stopping to look around us and enjoy nature a bit.  There was a whole bunch of butterflies in a field near us, and it was fun to watch them for a time. 

Lily snapped these 2 pictures when they were on their way back home and I'm glad she thought to do that because I hadn't taken any other photos. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lucky Lily

 Our city sponsored a family fun night and they had a BBQ and games and a raffle for prizes.  Well, our little Lily just happens to be a lucky girl and she won the raffle for the disc golf set, pack of 7-up, graham crackers, marshmallows, and hershey's bars.  Yay for Lily!  And yay for us!

Sounds like sticky smores...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hot Chocolate for Sale!

 Lily asked if she could sell hot chocolate one afternoon, and it happened to be a good time, so I agreed.  I remembered selling things with my brothers or my friends to other neighborhood kids when I was a little girl and I think every kid should have that opportunity.  So, I boiled some water and helped Lily set up shop.  She made the sign and set the price for 50 cents.

 I did tell her not to expect many visitors because we don't exactly have many neighbor kids to sell to.  And sure enough, no neighborhood kids showed up.  But that doesn't mean they didn't make a sell.  Grandma came over and bought their first cup of chocolate (actually she chose the last packet of apple cider) for $10- keep the change.  The girls were thrilled.

Amara dumped in the packet.

Lily stirred.
 And grandma got her warm cup of apple cider.
Steve came out a little later and paid 50 cents for some hot chocolate.

The girls sat out there for a couple more hours until it started getting dark (sometimes manning their station and other times playing with the neighbor's kitties).  Amara's job was to smile and wave at all the cars and trucks passing by.

Just as I came out to help put things away for the night I saw a black pickup truck parked in front of the girl's table and he was handing them 50 cents for a cup of chocolate.  I was so touched that some stranger would take the time to stop for them.  They were thrilled again.

After he drove off, I took the hot water in the house, and I came out to get more things when another truck pulled over and asked the girls for some hot chocolate.  It was our new neighbor 2 doors down and his brother-in-law.  I told them that I'd go get the hot water- and I rushed in the house to get it.  He paid the girls all the change he had- $7.50.  They gave him 4 cups of chocolate, since that's all the water we had left. 

What a hauling for a few cups of cocoa!  Lucky girls.  Business doesn't always go that good, but for them that day, it did.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  It made 2 sweet girls very happy.