Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Highlights 2017 (back-dated)


As per our children's request, we skipped some of the Christmas festivities with our extended families to enjoy Christmas in our own beds and at our own home this year.  We did miss out on some things, but there really is nothing like a quiet Christmas morning with your own little family, something we haven't really done very much of.  It was absolutely wonderful. 

Christmas Eve was on a Sunday, and church services consisted of just sacrament meeting.  One awesome thing was we had our Christmas Eve dinner provided for us by Jason Phelps.  At our last ward auction, my mom bought a smoked turkey from him, and he figured this would be a good day to deliver on that.  It sure did not disappoint!  There was flavor all throughout it!  I think he may have actually injected it or brined it.  Anyway, we threw together a few sides to accompany that giant turkey he made.  We had so many leftovers, we decided to freeze half the turkey for later.

Amara and I planned what sounded like a fun Christmas Eve.  After dinner, we played some board games as a family at the table while enjoying a hot cocoa bar. 

The girls then opened their pajama gift and got showered up so they could be all ready for bed.  This year they got matching hogwarts pajamas.

 Then we piled in the car barefooted and with blankets and headed out to look at Christmas lights.  We ended up driving to a Christmas house that you can walk through their yard and enjoy their setups.  Since the kids were barefoot, my mom gave Lily her boots, she took my slip on shoes, and since Steve was still recovering from his appendectomy, my mom gave Amara a piggyback ride.  I stayed in the car because I had already seen all those lights a few days previous when Amara and I went there for a fundraiser for a family that had lost their baby girl to an accidental shooting.  It was so tragic and I'm glad Amara and I got to go and give a little money to help them at this time.

When we got home it was time for scriptures and prayers, and then the kids and grandma went to bed while Steve and I snuggled on the couch and watched an old movie with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire called, Holiday Inn.  It was a cute movie, and we showed it to the girls the next day.

Santa came and brought some fun things including a cat bed for Smokey!

It was a pleasure to witness the joy of giving as Amara had Lily open the gift she had carefully selected and purchased online for her.  Both of them were absolutely beaming and they gave eachother the sweetest hug afterward.

Amara also made Steve a Christmas tree out of tape and money!

Steve and I surprised the girls by purchasing something VERY amazing in the game, Star Stables.  They both love that game and look forward to playing it almost everyday.  We got them 5000 star coins and a silver mist fox that runs beside their horse.  Before they could only get 100 star coins per week and you need those coins in order to buy tack and other horses, so we basically gave them a pony for Christmas, albeit virtual.  They really did end up purchasing a pony!

Our Christmas at home was magical and I'm so glad we stayed and did that.  We did have time in the following days to go spend time with family, which was also very nice. 

Something fun we got for Steve's mom was a lap blanket customized with a picture Steve took of one of her cherished peace roses she grows in the front yard and little poems he wrote.

We also gave my dad and my brother a cookbook of Lauret Christmas Food (not pictured).  Steve took the photos from last year's Christmas dinner and I compiled the recipes into smilebox .jpgs and created the photo book using Google photos.

We've been abundantly blessed to be able to carry on such fun and memorable traditions.  I loved the glitter and giving of the season, and I loved the peace and joy of remembering our Savior and all He has done for us.  Christmas is still in my heart today (Jan. 19, 2018) and my tree is still up and I haven't felt like taking it down quite yet.  I'm still enjoying it and the glow of the lights. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Jesus Forgives Sins

Merry Christmas!  It is only 3 days until we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and in an effort to remember Him this season, our family has been trying to #LIGHTtheWORLD, just as Jesus would have done if he were on this earth.

Today I share my favorite teaching of Jesus.  Jesus forgives sins.  This is a truth that if humankind embraced, there could be so much more hope and healing in this world.  Sin is a real thing and it has real consequences, and there is not one person on this earth who is without sin.  I like the quote by David A. Bednar that says, "Guilt is to the soul as pain is to the body."  Because we all make wrong choices, we all have carried the burdens of guilt, heartache, loneliness, regret, and shame.  Untrue are the misconceptions that time will forgive sins.  Suppressing our feelings doesn't heal our wounded soul.  Only Jesus has the power to do that, and he is ready and willing to take our sins and all the burdens that come with them as soon as we are willing repent, ask and change.  What a beautiful teaching and life-altering truth.

I have felt the joy that comes from the forgiveness of sins.  I hope you too will find time this holiday season to remember Jesus and his teachings and implement them into your life.  I know that doing so will bring you joy as it has for me!

I love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Lily's 1st YW in Excellence

We started November off with Lily's first Young Women in Excellence!  She showcased our garden for her choice and accountability project. Her project had to be something that was 10 hours or more, and the garden for sure took more!
The girls set up their displays around the gym and their families and other ward members got to go around and talk to them about their projects.
The young women were also supposed to bring a pie for dessert. Lily got to bake her first pie from scratch! She made an apple pie with a pecan crumble topping. She made her own pie crust and filled it with canned apple pie filling and then she made the streusel topping. (In the picture below, her pie is the one under the pumpkin pie)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving 2018- 2 Feasts!

Steve schools his mom at Chess on Thanksgiving morning
 Over Thanksgiving break, our family traveled out to be with our extended family for not one, but TWO delicious feasts!  Luckily those feasts were not planned for the same day, so we could spread out the abundance and calories over a couple days.

First Feast

We stayed at Steve's parents' house during the break and traveled 15 minutes over to my dad's house for our first Thanksgiving dinner. I didn't take many pictures of people it appears, but there were many there!  Everyone brought food to the feast and made it quite the event!

Spencer smoked a turkey, my dad baked a ham, my cousin Ben and Erika brought sweet potato casserole, I brought corn casserole, brussell sprouts, and pumpkin dessert, my mom brought Krab potato salad, Grandma Blad made her 7 layer jello, April brought an olive-garden-style salad, Micah brought green bean casserole, rolls (I think?), and a pumpkin cake roll, I think my dad made the potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, too (?).  This post has been back-dated and I'm actually writing it on January 19, 2018, so it's been a couple months since that blessed day thus making it a little hard to remember details, but I do remember that everything was delicious.  Oh!  There were several pies, too.  Trent and Lyndsi brought several she had made with her family the day before: pumpkin, triple berry, pecan, and apple with warm butter-caramel sauce.
my plate

Lily smiling with her food

Lily's plate
Amara and her meal

Alexa's first Thanksgiving!
 Desserts were 4 different pies, Mandy's homemade pumpkin cake roll, my pumpkin streusel dessert, carrot cake, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  So much YUM on one plate.  I took mini pieces of almost everything and had a full plate of dessert!
 The Thanksgiving didn't end with dessert.  God gave us a feast for our eyes with the sunset that evening. My dad has a spectacular view of the mountains, the city, and the lake from his front deck, and as the sky began to change, we all went out there to partake of the majesty.  It was absolutely stunning!

Next Feast 

 It was a beautiful day to help with the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner #2 with Steve's side of the family.  We helped with shelling pomegranates.  That was fun.  I got to sit outside and enjoy the lovely weather while doing that.  Those fruits were plump, juicy, and beautiful with seeds like rubies!

Steve was a good helper and heaved the huge, thawed turkey into the sink to rinse it off. That may have been his first time ever doing that.  It was kinda funny watching him squirm a little as he manhandled that bird.

 Luckily, when dinner time rolled around, I remembered to take a picture of the plate of goodness!  So much bounty!  So much warmth!  So much to be thankful for!
Those who were at this feast were Steve's parents, Matt, Laurel, Ryan, Tamsin, Hannah and Jake, and our family.

Also that day, there were lots of fun leaves for the girls to jump into at Grandma and Grandpa Christensen's!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

October Happenings

 PHEW!  October went fast without even one post from me.  So, here's a post to show you what we have been busy doing- in addition to our usual homeschooling, chores, and work. 

We finished preserving our garden goodness as is pictured above.  Canning is a big chore, but I am starting to teach my children how to do it so they will not have such apprehension and a giant learning curve to overcome when they grow up, (like I've had).  My kids and I canned salsa together.  We took a day of homeschool and did that as our schooling that day.  They got to harvest peppers and tomatoes, wash them, trim them, slice and dice and everything.  Then we talked about the importance of proper preservation techniques and we washed and sterilized jars, lids, and bands, then filled jars, wiped rims, and processed the salsa using a boiling water bath.  It took all our school day to do the 2 batches we did, and the girls were tired and got a true sense of the work that goes into a few jars of preserved food.  They also ended up with a sense of accomplishment as they got to see the finished products.  I think when all was said and done, we had 60 pints of salsa, but not just from that one day.  I ended up doing a few batches on my own later on.  This year we canned tomatoes, salsa, tomato juice and tomato-beet juice, green beans, pickled jalapenos, beets, pickled beets, strawberry-honey jam.  We froze aspabroc, diced beets, green beans, and peppers.  I left all the jars on the counter stacked in neat rows until I was completely done canning just so that we could all appreciate the bounty God blessed us with and see the fruits of our labors.  Yes, that meant that there were jars on my counter for 4-6 weeks during this entire process.  And when I put it all away, the counter looked so empty.

We also had the opportunity to go on a couple photoshoots, one of a family in our ward and one of my sister's family.  Both Steve and I shot and edited photos and our girls were our wonderful assistants.

We finished harvesting what was left in the garden which included all our potatoes, cabbages, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets. 
 Every year we have some funny shaped carrots, but this year we also had funny potatoes that grew like snomen and triads.

Over fall break, we went to Lagoon Amusement park.  Steve and Lily rode all the thrill rides while Amara and I rode the calmer rides like the train, carousel, bumper cars, etc.  There were only a few rides that our entire family did together, like the haunted mansion, the log flume, and the thunder raceway.

We stayed at Steve's parents the first night, on our way to Lagoon.

Amara loved this stone seat.  Can you guess why? 

After a fun day at Lagoon, we stayed at this AirBnB in Kaysville, 10 minutes away.  It was perfect.
 There was even this cool treehouse we discovered in the morning.

After Lagoon, we stayed with my sister in Payson so we could be there to take their family pictures.  We got to play with their family and enjoy the fall weather.
(We're still editing photos, but here's a sneak peak.  We took their family photos in an orchard by their home.)

Ok, and, amidst everything going on, Amara really wanted to decorate the house, so I got down decorations and let her have at it. 

Then the month was pretty much over and it was Halloween time!  We went to the trick or treat story and craft time at the library.

And, we also went to our ward trunk or treat, which is a lunch event on the Saturday before Halloween.  We had soups, rolls, and pies, then all the kids got to go trunk or treating around the parking lot. We decorated our trunk with Amara's lead and vision.  We had hanging paper bats, dripping paper blood, paper ghosts, and bloody handprints.

 I was Minnie Mouse, Lily was a cat, Steve was from Slytherin House, and Amara was a jester.  My mom was "the strange things you find at a beach."  Yes, and if you remember, last year she was "Queen I'm-A-Dollah."

Have you heard of mini mixie Q's?  Well, they are these tiny toys that Amara loves.  She loves tiny things and she's collecting these right now.

To finish off this post and our busy month of October, My mom and I took the girls trick or treating.

It being Hallloween, the kids chose their favorite candies, ate a few and saved a few more for sugar-day (which we do once a week, usually on the weekend).  The rest were sacked up and left for the candy fairy, which left them $7 each this year.

As I was turning out the lights to go to bed, I went to blow out the jack o lanterns on the porch and I could smell pumpkin cooking.  I took off the pumpkin from the candle and that candle was completely aflame.  I couldn't blow it out, every time I tried it just flamed up higher.  So, Steve extinguished it by flopping a folder over the top of it and it was out it in a jif!