Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. We have experienced the gracious giving of so many friends and family. A few days before Christmas, we found an anonymous gift bag full of candy and $200 on our doorstep. On one occasion while gathered together at my mom's for our weekly Sunday meal, someone had slipped $100 into my coat pocket. At another time, I discovered another wad of anonymous cash, this time $200, as we were getting our coats on to go home. On Christmas eve, after spending the evening with my siblings and their families as well as my parents, we pulled into our driveway only to discover that 'Santa' had left gift bags for each of us and a shiny gently used bike for James. I immediately knew that 'Santa' was our next door neighbors who are very poor monetarily but very rich in generosity and kindness. I was very touched as we brought our gifts inside as the beautiful snow silently fell. They who had so little to give to their own children, still found a way to sacrifice and give to our little family. We are so thankful for the spirit of charity-the pure love of Christ. We have been blessed abundently by family and friends this Christmas season. It really has been the best Christmas ever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Book of Mormon Goal

When I was about eleven (sixth grade), I made a promise to Heavenly Father that I would read the Book of Mormon every day. Since then, I've managed to finish the book by the end of December and start over back at Nephi in January. This year, I've fallen a bit behind and I'm still about 100 pages from the end. I've been reading like crazy (7-10 pages a day) so that I can complete the Book of Mormon for another year. I'm only posting this for accountability purposes. That reminds me, I haven't read yet today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

'Tis the Season

This has been a really crazy month. Adam was laid off and then was in a flurry trying to complete end-of-semester projects and papers and, of course, finals. We've been so blessed financially by anonymous and no-so-anonymous gifts of money and food. We even received ten dollars from my sweet widowed visiting teachers. How nice is that? It's very humbling to be on the receiving end of such generous service especially when some of the money has come from people that have very little themselves. (How do you argue with an 80 year old grandma and her twin sister?) Needless to say, our lack of funds has forced me to focus more this year on the true meaning of Christmas. I've caught the spirit of Christ as we have been served so graciously and taken care of.
It's neat to watch James' reaction to Christmas this year. He gets so excited whenever he sees Christmas lights or trees or lawn ornaments, etc. The thrill and joy of the season is evident on his little face and in his twinkling eyes whenever he catches a glimpse of holiday lights or snowmen. It makes the season even more enjoyable now that he sings 'I am a Child of God' all day long. I never thought that Christmas would be as fun as it was when I was a kid, but having children really brings the magic and wonder back to Christmas. I love it! It's also really fun to have a baby this time of year. I can hold Ruby and imagine Mary as she held the infant Christ. She must have been a pure and valiant soul to be given the overwhelming responsibility to nurture and care for Heavenly Father's Son, her Messiah and Savior--knowing exactly what His fate would be. She was there on Calvary, enduring every mother's nightmare, unable to leave her Son when He needed her most. She loved Him from infancy--nursed Him, taught Him to walk and talk, dressed His wounds, and taught Him the gospel. She was one of the few that did not forsake Him. She had faith in Him and trusted in His divine mission. I can't begin to imagine all that she witnessed in her life. "And Mary kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart."

James burned his hand last week on my mom's curling iron. He just grabbed hold of the hot end and burned all five fingers and most of his palm. He screamed in agony for nearly an hour and a half while we went to the doctor's office and waited for the Tylenol with coedine to kick in. I'm so thankful for modern-day drugs. I felt so helpless holding him while he writhed in pain. There was nothing I could do to alleviate it. Nothing hurts like a burn. Thankfully, today was his last check-up and the doctor said everything looked good and he wouldn't have any scarring or permanent damage. Poor little guy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Favorite Ornaments

I look forward to putting up the Christmas tree every year. Over the years, I've collected ornaments from my various travels so for me, decorating the tree recalls pleasant and wonderful memories and whisks me away into quiet reverie. I wanted to share a few of my favorites. I collected the above ornament during my last trip to Nauvoo. It is a replica of one of the star windows which graces the top of the Nauvoo temple. Nauvoo is one of my favorite places in the world.
I found the little guy below in a small Christmas shop in Berlin around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie. He's traveled thousands of miles in my backpack with me. He makes me smile and radiates German tradition.
I found this little bird at an outdoor Christmas market during my first trip to Germany on the streets of Frankfurt. She's such a pretty little bird and, it's hard to tell, but her wings are made of wood.

I found this little Waterford crystal angel while perusing the multi-tiered Harrod's of London. She was one of the few items I could actually afford. When I look at her, I can almost smell the fresh-roasted nuts that wafted through the streets of London, warm and delicious.

This is my favorite and most cherished ornament. When Adam I were still dating, (I guess technically we were broken up) he decided to backpack around Europe. He bought this for me in Venice- all hand-blown glass. It is so beautifully delicate and intricate. It amazes me every time I look at it and hold it. It is a wonderful momento of our courtship.

I would love to see some of your favorite ornaments and stories behind them!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I love this book! For those of you that are unfamiliar with the above book, it is the new nursery manual. We decided to use this for our family home evening lessons. Until this little book came along, we rarely held family home evening because we just didn't know how with such little children. These lessons are so great and don't require a lot of preparation. You can easily adapt them for older children as well. We finally feel like FHE is some-what effective. James loves the songs and the pictures that accompany the lessons and calls it his 'Jesus book.' I know many of you have small children and need new ideas for family night. This has worked for us and at a steal of a deal for $5.50 (and FREE shipping) on you can't go wrong.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Heading out for the Turkey Bowl at the church.

I'm thankful for many things this Thanksgiving, but one of the things I'm most thankful for this year is tithing. I'm grateful for this sacred principle and for the many ways we've been blessed this year because of our faithfulness in paying our tithes and offerings. Adam was laid off this week and, yes, we've been feeling stressed and a little nervous, but overall we feel peace in knowing that the Lord will provide for us if we continue to pay our tithing. We don't know what will happen but we do know that we'll always have food for our babies and a warm home for them to sleep in.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More pics

Didn't realize some of these were blurry and haven't figured out how to delete yet.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cheap, but not that Cheap

Little Ruby Rube is getting so big! I wish I could slow down her growth just a little. She's already in 3-6 month clothes.
Here are some pictures of James' home haircut courtesy of Dad. Yeah, we'll never do that again. Poor kid.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Last week for Young Women's we had our annual Young Women in Excellence night. It was very successful and I think the young women really enjoyed it. Many of the parents came as well as two members of our stake presidency and all of the YW stake presidency. We had the girls vote beforehand what they wanted the theme for the evening to be and half of them wanted a temple theme and the other half wanted a garden/flower theme. We decided to compromise and do them both- a temple garden. Besides, what goes together better than temples and flowers? It was held in the RS room and we filled the room with various pictures of temples and flowers and a few fresh flowers. Our special guest speaker was a sister who does landscaping at the temple. I think the girls enjoyed hearing from her and not from their boring leaders AGAIN. I had each of the girls tell me their favorite temple and then I ordered 5x7 pictures from LDS distribution and bought some frames from the dollar store. Unfortunately, the pictures did not arrive in time for our special evening. I finally got them just the other day. The YW were really excited when I told them I had a picture of their favorite temple to hang in their room. There was a nice spirit at our meeting and it helped reenforce Sister Dalton's emphasis on temples. Her talk in the last General Conference "A Return to Virtue" was powerful and went along with our theme perfectly. My young women are strong and steadfast. Most of them have strong testimonies and try their best to live virtuously in the face of so much sleaze and filth that encompasses them on a daily basis. It's comforting to know that, in spite of the world becoming increasingly more wicked, if I teach my children correct principles and point them towards the temple then I don't need to worry or live in fear.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Last week I took the kids in to get some shots. I had butterflies in my stomach the entire drive to the doctor. Ruby was first. I held her on my lap while James watched the two nurses inject Ruby's thighs with needles. He didn't seem too bothered by her screaming. James was next. I thought he would resist but he just calmly climbed onto my lap and watched the nurses give him three shots. I was expecting him to flip out especially since he's been extra sensitive lately. His little lip turned downward into a frown for a second and then he was fine. No crying, no screaming, no wimpering. I almost started crying for him because he was such a brave, strong boy. As I put his pants back on he said, "I'm ready to go home now. I had fun at the doctor." Who is this kid? Who says they had fun at the doctor after getting three shots in the leg? That's my boy for ya.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

There's a Clumsy Lover in all of Us

Last Saturday night, we put the kids to bed and headed downtown for some fiddlin', bluegrass, and celtic-rockin' good time. The Clumsy Lovers is one of my favorite bands. Their music is fun and upbeat and you can't keep yourself from dancing to it. The guy on the left can really wail on the banjo and mandolin. The crowd was lively and everyone was dancing and having so much fun. My brother and his wife met us at the show and they were hooked! They loved it and can't wait for them to come back. I've turned many friends into fans since their music appeals to all types. I must be getting old because I was exhausted by the time we got home at midnight. We haven't stayed out that late since before we got married I think. Anyway, you can check out some of their music at or you can check them out on facebook. I highly recommend them. It's definitely feel-good music and who can't use a little of that these days?

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I love Halloween! It was so fun this year and James was THE cutest little Dumbo I've ever seen. Ok, he was the only Dumbo. He had a blast trick or treating and stayed out almost as long as his older cousins. He took a couple of spills due to his very large ears blocking his vision. The magic of Halloween was recaptured watching James run from house to house and saying "Thank you! Halloween!" It was a great night.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Little pioneers. My parents went to Nauvoo this summer and brought back pioneer hats for all of the grand kids.

Great grandma and grandpa.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Delish Banana Bread

This is the best banana bread... ever! It is so moist and soft and easy to make. So, if you're on the hunt for a great banana bread recipe then look no further.
1 cup butter (it tastes better with butter rather than margerine)
1 1/2c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1/4c buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2c flour
1/2 tsp salt

1.Cream butter and sugar together
2. Add mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and mix well. Batter will be curdley.
3. In another bowl, wisk flour, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and combine. Add buttermilk and mix until combined.
4. Grease and flour two 8 1/2"x4 1/2" bread pans.
5.Bake @ 350 45-50 min or until bread pulls away from sides and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Visiting Teaching

My visiting teachers came yesterday for their monthly visit. They are two of the oldest women in the ward and both have been widows for a number of years. They are sweet and gracious and caring. When they were first assigned to me, I couldn't help but wonder if there had been some mistake. However, it's been more than two years since they first started coming to my home and they have rarely missed a month. They are so kind and loving to my children and genuinely care about my family. They never seem like they're in a rush (well, they honestly have no other obligations) and they always sit next to each other on the couch and they hold hands as they laugh and reminisce about all of the years they've spent serving together in our ward. They always tell me to cherish the time I have with my children because it goes by so fast. It isn't unusual for one of them to get a little misty eyed when talking about the gospel and what it means to them and to their children and grandchildren. They both express such joy whenenever they talk about their families. They are happy and optimistic and encouraging and fun! I hope I have a full head of beautiful white hair when I'm old just like one of these sisters- a crown and symbol of all of her years of experience and wisdom. It makes me think of this quote by Elder Maxwell from my favorite book of his "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience:"

Are not the real heroes and heroines of today those who are givers rather than demanders, those who are selfless rather than selfish, those who share rather than grab, those who care about tomorrow as well as today, and those who do their duty quietly without the accompaniment of crashing cymbals and trumpets? The faithful but perhaps plump woman whose nails are worn but who is a giving mother, wife, and neighbor has a queenly beauty and a regal way, if we would but see her as she really is; her beauty will not be taken from her by the passing years."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Did She Say What I Think She Said?

I have another gem of a story from my darling sister, the same sister who supplied me with the cat stories. This story also comes from her quirky in-laws. It is a true story.

I believe it was my sister's sister-in-law who decided to share her testimony one fast Sunday about her husband's recent surgery on his scrotum. She went on and on about his scrotum surgery. When she was done her husband immediately got up and said, "I had surgery on my sternum."
I love that story.

The Darndest

Me: (Pointing to a picture of Pres. Monson) "Who is that?"
James: "Uuuuuh, President Monster."

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I am currently serving as the Young Women's president in my ward and for the last six months or so we've been working on a HUGE quilting project. In early Spring, my stake YW's president told us that Sister Cook from the general YW presidency was going to speak at a regional YW conference in October and every young woman in every stake was asked to make a quilt to donate to the humanitarian fund and all of the quilts were going to be presented to Sister Cook at the conference. Do you know what kind of massive undertaking it is to have each girl make their own quilt and make sure it gets done right? Let's just say that I am soooo glad this project is over. It was a good experience and I'm glad we were able to donate nine quilts from our ward. That's pretty amazing considering we only have about 17 active girls, two of which joined YW's only a month ago. In total, there were over 300 quilts on display at the conference. It was wonderful to see so many beautiful quilts and to know that they would bring cheer and comfort to so many men, women and children. In my mind's eye, I can imagine a little child receiving one of those big warm blankets and I can almost see the excitement and joy in his or her face. I also think of the mother and how thankful she would be to know that her little child would be kept warm during the coming winter months. I'm grateful that I belong to a church that offers a variety of opportunities to serve.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin

I love this time of year and I especially love pumpkins. They're so friendly and colorful and cheery. I love the smell of fresh pumpkin as I'm scooping out its innards. Indeed, I'm kind of on a pumpkin kick this week. On Wednesday I made a batch of pumpkin spice cookies and I pretty much ate the entire batch by myself. I know Adam only had a few and James didn't really like them and yet they somehow magically disappeared by the next morning. Hello! The same day I also made casserole in a pumpkin. It was alright. I didn't eat the whole thing thankfully. I think I was too busy eating the cookies. I could go for some right now. My sister bought pumpkin chocolate bread from Great Harvest the other and I really had to restrain myself from eating more than one slice. I must be vitamin A deficient or something because I'm still craving more pumpkin delights!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


The father of one of my very good friends passed away last Friday and I attended the funeral on Wednesday. My friend and his dad were close and it was hard to see him hurting. Funerals always make me reflect on my own life and how I can improve my relationships with my loved ones. I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I had a conversation with my dad. I think it's been years, literally, and yet I see him every Sunday and a few times during the week. Either he's always asleep (I'm serious, he borders on narcolepsy) or I'm busy with the kids, etc, etc.
I also thought about my friends. I sat on a row next to several of my very close friends and I thought about how we hardly see each other anymore, perhaps only two or three times a year even though we all live in the same city. I always say that I'll host more social functions when we have the house fixed up or we have money or we move into a bigger house... And yet while I'm making these excuses time keeps slipping by. I need to live more in the moment and 'enjoy the journey' as Pres. Monson counseled last week. I need to make more of an effort in all of my relationships and spend less time doing things that really won't make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ah, Venice

I've been perusing one of my old journals for the last few days in an attempt to remember what my personality used to be like. I think I sometimes forget that I have a personality aside from being a milk machine. I've been reading about my European adventure when I backpacked around Europe during the summer of 2002. I'm so glad I kept a journal. It's brought back some great memories and feelings of adventure. Here's an entry about Venice:

Ah, Venice. City of love. The train shot us from Munich to Verona yesterday, coming to a final halt around 9:30pm. the Veronese air was thick and warm and moist as we leapt from the train with the reverie of Interlaken trailing behind us. We decided to take a taxi to our hostel rather than deal with the bus. To our delight, the taxi spit us out in front of a large Roman structure with a large garden splayed in back and dabbled with eroded statues.
We bid adieu to Verona this morning after only one night sojourn and arrived in Venice at midday. Venice's public transportation system consists primarily of boats. No wonder Venice is internationally known for its romantic and beautiful setting. We took boat number 82 which dropped us off directly in front of our hostel. We were able to secure beds after an hour wait. We sunk heavily into our squeaky bunk beds and allowed our eyes to give in to afternoon sleepiness. I awoke to the sound of the rhythmic squeaking of the dock below our window. I gazed out the window and across the sea channel at the other side of Venice. Dark clouds loomed overhead foreshadowing an afternoon storm. Fortunately, the stagnant hot air, which welcomed us, had retreated with the rising coastal wind and forthcomeing storm.
We walked around a bit, allowing our stomachs to guide. We eventually ended up back at the hostel for dinner. It was very good pasta. We took another short walk after dinner, stopping for gelati along the way. The rain began gradually and slowly increased in intesity and rapidity. It drove us back to the hostel. Now, as I lay writing in my room next to the sea, the romantic, senseual music of three flamanco guitarists is swept into the room with the wind, along with the sloshing of water, the scraping of the dock, and the occasional murmer of voices. Ah, Venice, city of love.