Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Saying goodbye to the old year...

and looking forward to the new.

I can truly look back at the past year with peace and great joy. We had our downs, to be sure. The fire that started the year was the scariest thing I've ever experienced in my life. Michael's shoulder didn't heal properly and he had to have surgery, again. Leaving our beloved Minnesota was very, very hard. But we've had so many ups this year, far outweighing the downs. Great friends, finishing up Michael's education, moving close to home, spending lots of precious hours with family, good health and so much, much more.

I love to sit under the Christmas tree in a darkened room, with just the colored bulbs shimmering and reflect on the blessings of the past year. And I take a little time to look forward to the next year. A little planning, a few resolutions and intentions in mind. A great peace settles over me as I contemplate the next phase of our life, with a new job in a new place and so many opportunities.

A final thank you to Sherry for her challenge this month and last. Hopefully, a good habit has been formed and I can continue preserving some of my thoughts and precious memories and sharing with...well, whoever happens to stop by.

Happy New Year! Peace and joy to you in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I hate to admit it...

Because I hate to admit I'm wrong. And most likely, we would have been just fine without it. But video games, especially the Wii, do add an element of peace to our house. Really.

(Max likes the added challenge of playing on bicycle.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who knew?! Star Wars Monopoly = hours of (relative) peace

Our last word of the month. Peace. is not ever very peaceful in a house with six children, but there's peaceful and then there is peace. Peace can actually be a little raucous, a little loud, a whole lot of fun.

Which is exactly what was happening during the 5 hour Monopoly marathon going on in my dining room. There were more than a few upper decibel level moments. Even some dirty looks when landing on someone's property-loaded space, but overall, definitely a feeling of peace and joy as I watched my children play and laugh together.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My family, gathered in my home = JOY!

For far too long, there was not a family gathering at my home. One would fly out here and there to visit, but never the whole family. And I lived in several houses over the years that not one family member saw or visited.

I'm still getting used to Walla Walla. I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. But one thing I know is that I LOVE being close enough to my family to have get-togethers in my own home. I love to invite them in and see them all sitting around my tables or my living room.

This is true JOY!

Friday, December 26, 2008

And she cried...

She might cry after seeing that I posted that first picture. I didn't get a good shot of her opening the gift, so this is it.

Have you ever found the PERFECT thing to give someone? Absolute perfection in every way? My sister-in-law is hard to shop for. She has impeccable taste and is so far beyond me with her fashion and design sense. I struggle a bit when I have her name for Christmas.

But this year. THIS year, I found the perfect thing. Actually, she pointed it out to me and my mind started whirling and twirling, and I soon came up with what I thought would be just the right thing. In the fall Pottery Barn catalog was a piece of art, unfortunately not for sale. Heather wanted it. Wanted it BAD. Badly enough to call Pottery Barn to see where she might buy such a thing. But it was an original. Something that was in the home where they did the photo shoot. Not available.

Heather showed it to me while we were perusing the catalog in search of ideas for my house. And I knew immediately, if I could find the right supplies, I could recreate it or something very much like it.

I searched locally and in the Tri-Cities for vintage furniture catalogs. No luck. I turned to eBay and there wasn't much, but I found the perfect thing. I really hoped it would have a Buy it Now option so I could just buy it and be done with it, but again, no luck. I watched the auction for 5 days and bid with about 1 minute left. Outbid! And I bid again. Outbid again. I bid. They bid and it's over. They win and dreams of a perfect gift fade. I guess I should have read up on sniping!

But, all is not lost and I found a couple of other options with Buy it Now options and place my order. The catalogs arrive, I purchase the canvas and the creation begins. I was so excited about this gift, I could hardly keep it to myself. When Heather was cutting my hair mid-December, I wanted to blurt out the whole surprise.

Heather and Trev went to Wenatchee for Christmas, so they were not there for Christmas Eve at Mom's. Instead, we had everyone over for a taco bar on Saturday and I could not wait for Heather to open the gift.

Well, she cried. And I cried, too, of course. I think it was an amazing surprise. I love it when things work out, when you pick just the right thing. I love to be the author of a little joy in someone else's life. I was blessed to be able to do that for Heather this year.

Christmas crackers

No, not Ritz or Triskets, lol.

One of Michael's family Christmas traditions is the very English Christmas crackers. A cracker is set at each place. Each person grabs his own and crosses his arms to grab the one next to him, forming a complete circle. Everybody pulls and the crackers...CRACK!

There are different versions and I ended up with a more adult version this year. The trinkets inside were not quite as kid-friendly as most we've had in the past. I'll have to do a better search next year. Each cracker has a paper or foil hat, a joke and a prize. The hats must be worn all through Christmas dinner, jokes are read in turn and prizes are tried out.

It is sometimes a bit difficult to find crackers in the US, but it is definitely a tradition we love in our family.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A humbug comes for Christmas

I recently posted about my dad being a bit of a humbug. Very much an understatement. I love my dad but Christmas seems to bring out the worst in him.

I understand some of it. Being alone during the holidays cannot be easy. But even when I was little, he was not even close to jolly. I wish he could understand the impact his mood has on the people around him.

So...I invited him to spend Christmas day with us. I figured the lure of grandkids would be too much and he would come and be good for their sakes. He gave me a lot of grief, though. I dropped by Christmas Eve with a few things I had helped him shop for and he said he wasn't coming. He knew I was headed to Mom's and that probably made it worse. I, of course, resorted to tears and a little drama and he finally promised to come. I was worried, though, that he would blame the weather, or his health and just not show up.

But he did! And I think he had a really good day. The kids brought him his stocking and he actually opened his gifts! If you know my father, you know that this is huge! When we were younger, as everyone else was opening presents, he would sit with his pile beside him and refuse to open until everyone begged him to do so. Grandkids work miracles! He spent the day playing with Mason, who thinks "Grampy" is the bomb. He put together his new big wheel, so he is definitely tops on Mason's list of favorite people.

I love my father dearly. He has his issues, but I experienced great joy watching him with my children this Christmas day. So very glad he decided to ditch the humbug...

Santa could have just brought a box...

Isn't it funny how we search and search for the perfect gift....and the child ends up playing with the box it came in?!

A couple of funnies from our Christmas break -

Max's Christmas list consisted of two items: a Spiderman skateboard and batteries. Yes, that's it. When asked if he would know how to use such a big present (the skateboard) he replied that he had learned how to ride one in his dreams.

A few days before Christmas, several presents appeared under the Christmas tree. The gold presents for Christmas Eve (jammies,) presents from Granny and Boppy and from Grandpa. Max discovered all the presents and went methodically through them to find his name. When he had them piled in front of them and realized he had three presents, he quipped "why are there three? I only asked for a skateboard and batteries?" A little later, quite perplexed, he came and said "I don't think any of those presents is the size of a skateboard."

When I told Max we were going to meet some new cousins in our travel to BC, I told him that Aunt Kim's boys' names were Zach and Cody. "My cousins are on TV?" asked Max. And Mason, after meeting Uncle Josh, started calling him DrakenJosh, kind of all run together. Clearly, despite stringent rules on how much the TV is on in our house, it is probably too much.

While climbing in the car after one of our pit stops in the trip, Mason jumped into my seat instead of getting into the back in his car seat. As I was moving him to his proper place, he looked at me and said "When you get little and I get bigger, can I sit in that seat?"

And finally, a funny on me. Obviously, the new year needs a recommitment to healthy eating and exercise. Mason commented that "you look like an apple" when I was wearing my pretty new red sweater. Max shook his head and said "Mom looks like a hippopotamus."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve jammies

Because they are my greatest joy (and pretty darn cute, too!)

Christmas Eve traditions

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Roads were good again. Drove between two bad storms on mostly clear pavement. Definitely feeling blessed for our travel safety.

My mother traditionally hosts Christmas Eve. We have only made it one other time in our married life. I was very excited to be there this year. Nyla and Jed weren't coming up (due to their trip to the Philippines in February) and Trev and Heather went to Wenatchee, but Mom and Chick and Giana, AJ and Macy were all there to share the fun and joy.

Chick cooked prime rib on the Trager. OH MY GOSH!!! So very, very good. Best I've ever had. And of course, cheese fondue, which is the tradition from our childhood. Two of my favorites!

Presents from and to Grandma. The boys got Laser Tag, which has been a huge hit. Max and Mason received some Leap Frog paraphenalia and a doctor kit. Many shots and blood pressure readings later, I think that was a good choice. McKelle got some fuzzy slippers and a gorgeous sweater. And Michael and I got some Wusthof knives! Mom loved the photo book and the framed picture of the kids.

And the entertainment! Oh my. Check out my sweet niece Macy and her musical talent at only 4!

There was definitely joy in my heart sharing Christmas with my family once again.

(Bummer - the video won't upload. I'll have to try again later.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All these cousins...

19 Wilwand cousins. Quite a full house. Full of fun, full of noise, full of joy. We met new cousins this trip - Ali and Brynlee, Cassidy and Taylor, Zach and Cody. And renewed relationships with the older cousins who we hadn't seen in awhile.

Lots of gaming for the boys, lots of baby loving for the girls. And Max! He loves baby Brynlee and his cousin Zach. He spent quite a lot of time entertaining them. Mason and Ali were darling doing the dishes together and sharing an M&M. What fun! Wish we were all closer so we could see each other more often.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I love my in-laws!!

My in-laws are awesome! I am always sad when I hear someone talk about the trouble they have with their in-laws. Mine have always been wonderful. From the day I met them in their hotel room in Provo, trying to get them to notice my engagement ring, they have welcomed me into their family and their lives.

It was a bit shocking to see Barry this trip. The illness and recent surgery took a huge toll on him and the post-surgical infection has caused him to shrink away. For the first time in his life, Michael is actually heavier than his dad. It is hard to see him like this, but I think his spirits were good and he enjoyed the visit with family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three whole rows at church!

The entire family went to church Sunday morning. Boppy was going to bless Lee's baby Cassidy and we were determined to get there despite snowy, icy roads. We all arrived safely and I think the Bishop was glad - attendance was pretty sparse.

It was truly a joy to be with the family for this special day. We have missed so many important events like this while living so far away. All of the Wilwands were there - I love this family!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My first ferry ride!

After following some crazy directions off of Yahoo maps through residential neighborhoods, over a bridge and driving in what seemed like a very large circle, we made it to the BC Ferries docking point. Good - we made it in plenty of time to book passage. Bad - getting there in plenty of time meant we had a very long wait for the next ferry.

It was an interesting experience, but we were unable to make the most of it because of the weather. The lookout level (where I desperately wanted to go to take some photos) was closed due to ice, so I had to settle for some indoor pictures. It was exciting to begin with for the kids, but quickly got old. It was a pretty gray day. Too bad we didn't see any whales or something exciting. Mason and I did see a float plane fly by when we went down to the car to get diapers.

We made it to Chemainus about 3:30 and checked into our hotel. I definitely miss Barry and 'Neen living in the big house in Ontario where we all crowded in and stayed together. The island was beautiful, though, and you can see both mountain and ocean from Kim's front yard.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Headed to the True North...

I had some daily blogs set up to post...or so I thought...while we were gone, but it didn't happen so I'll share a little bit of our trip here.

We spent Friday waiting anxiously for Michael's brother Josh and his family to arrive. They left Rexburg around 5am and we prayed that the roads would not be terrible - the whole country seemed to be getting a huge dump of snow and there are some treacherous passes between here and Idaho. We were so glad when they arrived safely around 4pm...and then they got stuck in our driveway!

Ali was shy and baby Brynlee was adorable. After a little potty/nursing/get-the-wiggles-out break at our house, we set off on our trek north. We wanted to make it across Snoqualmie pass before we stopped for the night - it had been closed earlier and storms were threatening. Chains were required yesterday, so Michael picked some up and made sure Josh got some for his van.

We stopped at the famed Miner Burger in Yakima for dinner. I think every sports team in the state of Washington has stopped by here on their team bus at some time or another. The hamburgers were huge (and yummy!) and the fries came in copious amounts (the cashier warned us and even though we cut down our order, we had waaaaaaay too many fries.)

After dinner, we made it through the pass, and it actually wasn't too bad. We stayed in Issiquah for the night, ready to head out first thing in the morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good intentions...

I had big plans. I always seem to have big plans. Things, however, don't always go according to said plans.

I started a December Daily album, a la Ali Edwards. I started late and had to order a couple of things that I wanted which didn't arrive until the first week of December. However, I was determined and put together my cover and pages, just knowing I could catch up.

Yeah, right. Life got in the way. That and the fact that I don't have a way to print pictures at home. So, I still have that cover (with all the sparkly bling!) and a bunch of empty pages, just waiting for my order of pictures from Costco. Guess it will just have to be a mini-album about December instead of a December daily. Having joy in anticipating the creative process.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lighting up the night

One of my favorite memories from childhood Christmases was driving up to Carol Lane to see all the Christmas lights. Every house on the block was lit up, with scenes from various Christmas carols depicted. We always had to beg and plead with my dad to go (see my last entry) but I certainly remember being thrilled by it every year.

A few years ago, I was mesmerized by a Youtube video of a house decorated all out for the holidays. The lights were set on some kind of circuitry to go on and off to the beat of TSO's Wizards in Winter. I watched it over and over and over again. Now, I understand you can buy specialized sets of lights with all the equipment necessary to do this, but I think this original house was one of the first and he did it all on his own. Anyway, I pull it up every year and watch it with the kids.

Imagine our delight when we noticed a house not far from ours this year that had done something similar. We can see it from our front porch, all the lights blinking in time. After doing some Christmas ding-dong-ditch the other night, we drove by with the kids. The house had some kind of broadcaster and we tuned in. We sat and watched the light display for about 15 minutes and the kids thought it was very cool.

I haven't seen a Carol Lane in our little town, but hopefully, the kids will have some good memories of driving around to see Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The sparkle in his eye...

Ok, I'm stretching it a bit to come up with something glittery. Its probably bad camera work rather than a true sparkle, but I'm going with it...

They say (whoever they are) that a woman tends to marry someone like her father. Although Michael does have some qualities that are similar to my dad's, there are so many things that are different. And one that is very different and brings me great joy during this season is the fact that Michael loves the holidays.

My dad is a bit of a humbug. More than a bit. Michael is anything but. He loves Christmas. He loves to go out and get a tree (dad said his isn't even going up this year.) And this year, we were able to get some nice lights for the house. Michael (and I) were like kids in a candy store while shopping at Home Depot to trim the outside of our house.

I love that he loves Christmas just as much as I do.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All that glitters...

The word for finding joy this week is glitter. Honestly, I could just take you on a tour of my scraproom and there would be all sorts of glittery things that bring me great joy. You'll probably get a post later this week on that very subject, lol!

For today, my joy is found in the glittery new Christmas ornaments I picked up this year for Christmas. I LOVE to decorate for Christmas. I love the festive colors. I love the lights. I love seeing the Nativity (and setting it up over and over again after Mason "rearranges" it.) I've made things for our home over the years, but now that we're somewhat settled, I decided to buy a few fun things to decorate with. When I saw these shiny balls, I knew they would look perfect in the hurricane glasses I had on the mantle. They look gorgeous and so twinkly with just the Christmas tree lights on in the room, but I don't know how to get a good shot of that with my little camera.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow wonder

We were at the church cleaning yesterday morning (members take turns with the upkeep of the building) when it started to snow. By the time we finished vacuuming, there was about half an inch on the ground and it was still falling, fast and furious. A few snowballs were lobbed in the parking lot and the kids were excitedly planning some sledding. We got in the car and headed home, anticipating boots and mittens and sleds and hot chocolate. Imagine the disappointment as we drove the barely three miles to home and discovered not one flake of the white stuff at our house! We were just to the south of the storm!

I drove McKelle back into town a little later and was amazed at all the snowmen and snow forts we saw. Still just a little rain at our house but at least 4 inches of snow downtown. She was supposed to go from a birthday party to the high school basketball game to play in the pep band, but I received a robo-call from the school notification system saying all games were cancelled because of bad roads!

This morning, a very loud little voice woke me up. "How did all that snow get here?" from a very excited Mason. Max answered with "I have no idea!"

We were all missing the snow we had in Minnesota, so we're definitely finding joy in the winter wonderland outside this morning.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holidays by Dreyers

We wait with great anticipation every year for the limited edition holiday flavors to hit the grocery stores. Peppermint and Eggnog are our favorites, though we usually by a carton or two of Pumpkin Pie and Gingerbread.

One year in Michigan, we had no luck finding the Eggnog flavor at any of our regular grocery stores. Then I spotted some in the very small freezer of one of the local pharmacies. Michael sent me back again and again to buy every carton they put out for sale! We love our Christmas icecream.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Joy from the hands of the giver...

It is almost 12 years old and very few of the stitches are left, evidence of daily use and much love. The red blanket, hand-stitched on tricot by my mother for Micah when he was born in 1997.

Each of my children received one of her beautiful blankets at birth. I begged her to continue the tradition my paternal grandmother had started. 51 out of 52 grandchildren had a handmade tricot baby blanket, stitched lovingly by Grandma Stott. Only the youngest, born a few years after her death, did not have one made by her hand. The blankets were amazing evidence of a grandma's love. I still have and sleep with mine - softened even further with age, missing many stitches, but much loved.

Handmade gifts are some of my favorite holiday presents. I love to give them. Every year, I spend weeks coming up with just the perfect handmade gifts for my sisters/sister-in-law and my mom and mother-in-law. Crafting little gifts for friends is such a joy. And I treasure things that are given to me that the giver thought enough to make for me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Target amore...

Is it really bad that this store brings me joy?? I miss it!

I have moved to the land of no Target. Walmart is 3 minutes away, but really, I just don't like that place. Hate that I have to shop there now. Every time I make the hour drive to the Tri-Cities, I must stop by Target...just because. It makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus...

Santa brings me great joy. Not for what he leaves in my stocking, but for his spirit of giving. Not for the gifts under the tree, but for the joy that fills my children's faces during the Christmas season. Not for the North Pole, the reindeer or his jingling sleigh, but for his shining example of the true meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

(Red) Sprinkles make everything better!

I use sprinkles all year. Orange and black for Halloween. Green for leprechaun cookies. White, yellow, pink, blue.

But is used only for Christmas. Red sprinkles for the shortbread. Red sprinkles for the sugar cookies cut in Christmas shapes. I buy red sprinkles in bulk - little hands tend to leave a bit on the counter, the floor, the pan and pretty heavy piles on the cookies, so having extra is always a good thing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Joy in the true meaning of Christmas

I am so grateful for reminders of the reason for the season. I do find myself getting a little caught up in the commercialism of Christmas on occasion (I love to shop for people!) The gentle reminders come from many places - my scripture reading, the Nativity sets in our home, a sweet conversation with a child.

I took the boys to a wonderful event on Friday that helped us all focus on our Savior. Our church had an amazing display of creches throughout the building. Individual members allowed the church to borrow their Nativities for the weekend and there were hundreds of them on display. Beautiful olive wood from the Holy Land, little childrens' favorites like the Veggie Tales Nativity and every sort you can think of in between. There was also a beautiful program with lovely Christmas music and a Nativity play.

The focus last week for the month of Choosing Joy was love. This week, the focus is red. I struggled a bit with how to include that in my posts, but inspiration hit for a perfect choice for today. My absolute favorite picture of the Savior is this one -

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.

Quoting Thomas Carlyle.

I cannot imagine life without music. I know for sure that there is music in heaven - so much of music is heavenly in nature.

My taste in music is all over the place. I love a good song from the Cure. The haunting sounds of Adagio for Strings sends shivers throughout my soul. I like blues and rock. Broadway and big band. The Beatles and Maroon 5. Yo Yo Ma's cello is one of the most beautiful sounds on earth. Classical, Celtic, alternative, Christmas, even country. There are songs in almost every genre that reach the very depths of my being. Music can touch me and move me like nothing else. My heart practically beats right out of my chest listening to the sound track from The Mission.

I love that my children are musical. I am sad that Matthew chose to end his violin playing, but I keep encouraging McKelle with her flute and Micah with his percussion/drums. I hope one of the younger children chooses to play the cello. That would definitely make my day!

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." Victor Hugo

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cookie Monster!

I love cookies! And I love Christmas cookies even more. I own (and use!) probably 50 different cookie-only cook books. More than half of those are dedicated to Christmas cookies. I buy the little Pillsbury mini-magazines in the checkout aisle when they feature holiday cookies. I'm addicted! I collect recipes from friends and family. I have a huge box of cookie cutters and all sorts of cookie presses and fun decorating tools.

Shortbread, sugar cookies and birds' nests (pictured) have to be made every Christmas. They are standard Wilwand fare. I treasure my recipe cards written in my mother-in-law's hand. I love to add a few new and experimental treats every year. Pfefferneuse usually makes an appearance as do some sort of soft ginger cookies. A favorite from last year was a peppermint sandy. If I can remember where I got the recipe, it will definitely be gracing our cookie plates this year.

My all-time, hands-down favorite cookie is Toffee Almond Sandies. I could eat the entire bowl of cookie dough or every baked treat on the cookie sheet.

Toffee Almond Sandies

1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
4-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
2 cups sliced almonds
1 package English toffee bits or almond brickle chips

In a bowl, cream butter, oil and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in almonds and toffee bits. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes about 9 dozen.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Who doesn't love shopping??!!

Ok, well, my husband for one. And my boys. And my dad. Basically all the men in my life. And my mother-in-law!

But I LOVE to shop. Shopping for gifts for other people is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I love the brainstorming, then the hunt, that search for the perfect something. Sometimes, it requires me to take home purchased items and create something altogether new, but I love that, too!

I love to shop in stores. I truly don't mind the crowds. I love to touch and feel what I'm buying. I used to go grocery shopping when Michael was in med school (and never home) at midnight so I could really spend time selecting the things that I wanted (wasn't too bad for some rare alone time either.)

I love to shop on-line. It is a bit addicting. The man in the big brown truck is a favorite visitor!

Here's a little sneak peak of some recent fun shopping...something for my ScrapShare Secret Santa. Ooooh, is it you??

Thursday, December 04, 2008

For the love of light!

Oh, how I love the sun! It does not necessarily love me (with my red-headed, freckled, fair skin) but a day full of sunshine cannot help but make me happy.

Southeastern Washington has lots of sunshine in the summer. It's nothing like Seattle, which I had to explain to almost everyone when we were living on the east coast. But late fall and winter are a different story. Fog, fog and more fog. So much fog that it doesn't even burn off throughout the whole day. Michael wondered if we had accidently moved to San Francisco!

I haven't seen the sun in what seems like weeks, so when the fog started disappearing this morning and the glorious rays of light began to show through, I grabbed my camera and went straight outside to enjoy. The sunset at the end of the day did not disappoint either!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Choosing joy...

I had to start with a tough one. Maybe that means it will just get easier the rest of the month. And maybe, I just really need a strong lesson on finding the good, every day.

I started the day sitting in the neurologist's waiting room. Waiting is definitely the key word here. Waiting and waiting and waiting. And at the end of the exam, the doc had some unusual findings behind my optic nerve and wants me to have an MRI. A scan of my brain to see what's causing the pressure on my eye and the headaches. I suppose the joy will be finding out what's wrong, so something can be done about it.

The school called and wondered why Mitchell's lunch $ balance was so far in the negative. Ummm, well, Mitchell brings a lunch from home everyday and I had no idea he HAD a lunch $ account. All of my children have brought a lunch every day of their lives. I don't buy school lunch. I have no idea why there is anything owed on a lunch account, let alone the amount the secretary told me. Holy cow! I suppose I should find joy in knowing my son is well fed. He will find joy in handing over his allowance to pay me back. For the next several months.

Mason found joy in dumping out the game closet today. All the games with hundreds of cards. Game pieces. Dice. More cards. We found joy cleaning it up together.

Mitchell dropped an entire stack of plates while unloading the dishwasher. Shattered Corel all over the counter, the floor, in the dishwasher, in the drawers. All the new plates I just bought because we had been using plates from our wedding for the last 17 years and didn't even have enough left for the whole family. I'm still working on finding the joy in that one....

I did however, find joy in my mail today. My Simple Scrapbooks and Scrapbooks, Etc. magazines arrived today. I LOVE magazine mail days and I LOVE my scrapbook mags. We just won't mention the gas bill that was also in the box, with the little note saying they've raised rates 29.97% for residential customers...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I could be mad....or just find the hilarity (joy!) in him.

Even if I did decide to be mad, how could I possibly look at that face and stay that way??!!

What, you may ask, did he do? In the five minutes between sending them upstairs and arriving there myself, this darling child of only two short years managed to coat the boys' bathroom in toothpaste. What probably started out as an innocent attempt to brush his teeth "my own self" resulted in some very minty-fresh artwork on the shower, the toilet, the wall, the floor, the counter. Not sure where all the brothers were during this creative escapade, but man, that kid works quickly.

Despite his penchant for creating super-sized messes, he does add a wonderful amount of laughter and fun to our family. Case in point: we were driving to the Tri-Cities yesterday to do some serious shopping (as Walla Walla has no Michaels, no Costco, not even a Target) and the boys didn't like my choice of radio stations. So we started reciting some of their favorite bedtime stories. One Fish, Two Fish, Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss's Alphabet book are some of our favorites, so we have no problem remembering them word for word. Mason's absolute favorite is Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear. We started in on that one and the silliness began.

Mommy - "Brown bear, brown bear. What do you see? I see a red bird looking at me."
Mason - "I see a ped pird looking at me." Giggle, giggle.
Mommy - "A ped pird? What's a ped pird?"
Mason - "Ped pird, ped pird. What do you see? I see a pellow puck looking at me."

And so on and so forth through the entire book. Pite pog, purple pat, pack peep, poldpish, preen prog, even peacher. He did the whole thing, changing the first letter to 'P'.

Is this normal two-year old behaviour? Since most of the two year olds we know (in the nursery, at church) don't even talk much yet, I'm thinking not. But it is pretty standard fare for my Mason.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I just want it to be peaceful...really.

How do they end up making it a big wrestling match, a war of pinches and smacks, every time we try to do something as a family. Having five boys (and one slightly bossy girl) is sometimes a challenge. I want calm and peace and family togetherness and they want to rough house.

And so, the lighting of the house for the Christmas holidays turned into a pinching war. Instead of everyone participating with joy and seasonal spirit, I had to send two of them to their rooms.

But the house is mostly done and looks wonderful. Perpetrators apologized to the pinchees and the mother. All is smoothed over and for now, it is peaceful (ok, cheating a bit since they're all in bed.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grateful for the Sabbath...

A day of peace. A day of rest. A wonderful day to finish off this month of gratitudes with devotion to and praise for Him who is responsible for every blessing I have.

And a very special thank you to Sherry, who was the motivation behind this incredible month.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I am grateful for my faith.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have been so all of my life. I am a Christian, a follower of Christ and He is the keystone of my life. I cannot imagine life without devotion and faith in Him. His teachings are those of love and service and charity, aspects I try always to incorporate into my daily life. My life is full of joy because of my knowledge of Him and knowing that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father.

I am grateful for my faith.

Friday, November 28, 2008


(Sing that like Tevye!)

I love traditions and I am so grateful for what they mean to our family. Traditions cultivate connections and provide a sense of identity and belonging. When you can say "Our family always does X on Thanksgiving" or "We always do Y during the summer", these rituals give the family a feeling continuity, a warmth and closeness with other family members. Family bonds that are often weakened by busy lifestyles are strengthened immensely by maintaining the family tradition.

We have so many traditions in our family. Some are God-centered: family prayers, reading scriptures together each morning as a family, first day of school blessings for the children, presenting the newly baptized child with his/her own set of scriptures, etc. Some are holiday or seasonally centered: themed costumes for Halloween, gingerbread houses made the weekend after Thanksgiving, our all-green St. Patty's Day feast. Others are just for fun: family movie nights, picnics in the living room, Big Hugs, Secret Pals, etc.

All of these have meaning and importance for our family. They strengthen the ties between us. They serve to cement our relationships for all time.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food, glorious food!

What could be more appropriate than being thankful for food on Thanksgiving day?!! I love food. I love to make food. I love to bake food. I love to have food made for me. The flavors, the texture, tangy, sweet, sour, savory. I am so grateful that a loving Heavenly Father provided us with sustenance that can truly be enjoyed. I do wish that broccoli and spinach tasted more like cheesecake and chocolate (or that there weren't quite so many calories in the latter) but I am truly grateful for food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grateful for the digital age and my camera...

I love how going digital has enabled the world to share. Photos of families and friends far away. Scrapbook pages. Decorating ideas. Projects. All so accessible with a simple upload to the computer and the click of the mouse.

I love the instant gratification of digital. No more waiting to finish the roll. No more sending it out to a developer and hoping you got some good shots. No more paying for film and processing. It's there. As soon as you take the picture, you know if you got it...or if you need to keep trying.

Love the digital world!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grateful for health

My family has been very, very blessed with good health.

Chronic ear infections for McKelle when she was little. The same for Max which resulted in tubes. Exercise-induced asthma for Michael and McKelle, but not severe and controlled well with their inhalers. Michael has his shoulder issue - two surgeries in the last year and a half, but it seems to be doing really well and responding to treatment and PT. Other than a few ER visits for Michael when he was playing rugby (broken ankle, broken clavicle, concussion,) that's it.

We are otherwise super healthy and so very thankful to have that good health!