Posted in Blessings Corner, Family Corner

Christmas Highlights 2018

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On Christmas Eve we celebrated this guy’s birthday. My baby is 16! We are in our final years of homeschooling, his last years of childhood. I want to savor every day and create lots of memories together.

We always end Christmas Eve by reading the Christmas Story out of the scriptures, but this year my husband decided to change things up. He had us each randomly select a nativity piece from a set he placed inside a box. We then took turns sharing what we know about that person (or animal) and guessed what he or she might have felt. It was a great discussion.

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We simplified our gift giving this year and I’m glad we did. Everyone got a few select gifts under the tree and some fun stocking stuffers. Our main gift was a surprise to the kids: we booked an Alaskan cruise for the end of next summer, after our missionary returns home. 🙂

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As much fun as it was to open gifts together on Christmas morning, it was delightful to watch this little fellow. He was curious about all that was going on and loved playing in the wrapping paper and boxes.

I took this video of Casper playing.

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The highlight of Christmas Day was Skyping with our missionary. She looked great! She was bubbly and happy and told us some funny stories. For example, because she is American and white, Peruvians often assume she doesn’t speak Spanish. Or English? They will start “talking” to her in sign language! She doesn’t even think it’s real sign language. Then when she speaks Spanish they are in awe!

I took video of her singing a Christmas carol in Spanish with her cute companion.

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David’s mom spent Christmas with us (she is in her eighties), and my friend, Steph, and her daughter (pictured below with Darcie), joined us in our Skype session with Marissa.

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Darcie and Steph’s daughter act like sisters.

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Two days after Christmas we headed towards Salt Lake City for our annual family fun. This year we walked through Thanksgiving Point’s Luminaria.

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It was freezing that night! But we layered up and took advantage of the hand warmers and hot cocoa that came with our tickets.

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The next day we visited Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art where this fascinating exhibit was on display. My kids are so funny!

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Have you ever seen any of Patrick Dougherty’s work? Pretty cool.

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We were supposed to see a hockey game, but it got postponed to another day due to bad weather for the opposing team (from Texas). So we got a refund and went to dinner at Rodizio Grill instead. Yum!

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♥ And that was our Christmas. A few days before Christmas, these three lovely ladies surprised me at my door. They sang, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and gave me a spa gift to thank me for all I’ve done for their girls (some of my craft club girls) this year. Their thoughtfulness made me cry. I had to crop out a cute craft girl from this photo. I also received treats and gifts from some of craft girls, which was very sweet.

Wishing all of my readers a Happy New Year. Thank you so much for following my blog, for your likes and your kind comments. It means a lot to me! I’ll try to catch up to your blogs in the new year. Let’s make it a great one! ♥

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Posted in Family Corner

Our Family’s Christmas Traditions

This is a sad confession, but when I was growing up there was only one Christmas tradition that I enjoyed and that was spending Christmas Eve at my Grandma’s house with aunts, uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. We always had a big turkey dinner with all the fixings, a talent show, and everyone got presents. My aunts and grandma often handmade gifts for each grandchild. One year we all received homemade Pound Puppies. Another year, the girls received sewing baskets. I remember a doll with fold-up legs and a wrap-around swaddling blanket. My favorite gift, and one I still snuggle up with today, was a Holly Hobbie blanket with green ties and trim.

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The first Christmas I spent with my husband was the Christmas we were engaged and I was thrilled because it was the first time I was allowed to stay in my pajamas for Christmas morning. So one of the traditions I started with my husband was opening a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve.

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Another tradition we started was reading a Christmas storybook every night from December 1st to December 23rd. This started with a binder of stories and then over the years I purchased storybooks until we had a collection of twenty three books which would be wrapped and randomly selected by a child each night. With my kids being grown or teenagers, we’ve sadly outgrown this tradition, although it half worked last Christmas. I’m sure we will pick it up again when there are grandchildren. This year my friend borrowed our collection of books to start the tradition with her children.

Some years, in place of the 23 stories, we’ve read one book for several nights in a row, such as A Christmas Carol. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story out of the scriptures. We have a special binder just for that which includes carols and my husband takes charge and divides the readings among us.

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My girls and I started a tradition several years ago where we invite younger neighbor girls over for a Christmas craft party. That has been a lot of fun and has brought us a lot of joy. 

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Every Christmas we plan a special trip to Salt Lake City or thereabouts where we dine out at a fancy restaurant and take in a Christmas play or concert or something else. We also walk Temple Square to see the lights and displays there. This year we are going to a hockey game and to a light festival.

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Marcus’ birthday is on Christmas Eve so our tradition is to dedicate most of that day to him and do activities he chooses to do. One year we went ice skating. It’s also tradition to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol as part of his birthday celebration. We eat a big dinner on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. We usually have Prime Rib. On Christmas Day, we have my husband’s amazing waffles for breakfast and then snack all day long.

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I love this photo of my baby girl who is currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has been in Peru since January and we will miss her this Christmas, but we do get to Skype with her on Christmas Day so we are looking forward to that.

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Here is a recent photo of her in her Christmas dress (on the very right), with her companion (on the very left) and an elder. They are spending this Christmas season spreading the light of Christ by teaching His gospel and serving God’s children in Juliaca, Peru.

♥ Other traditions we have are making goodie plates for neighbors, caroling with youth groups in our church, watching Christmas movies (Hallmark!) all month long, including the classics such as Miracle on 34th Street, The Santa Clause, Christmas Vacation, The Grinch, and A Christmas Story. My personal favorite that I have to watch every Christmas is White Christmas. I play Christmas music all month long as well, and I love to decorate my house from top to bottom, inside and out. We have many nativity sets, most from Peru since we lived there. On the Sunday before Christmas Day we attend the Christmas Sacrament program at church. We also give to charities at this time of year, and we often find a family in need to secretly give to or we buy gifts for the sub for Santa program. ♥ I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas traditions! Please leave a comment below to share. Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas! ♥

 

Posted in Family Corner

My First Walk MS

Two years ago, at the age of 23, my oldest baby was diagnosed with MS (Multiple sclerosis). I will never forget the array of emotions that swept over me upon his diagnosis: Fear; Anger; Overwhelming Sadness; More Fear; Complete Helplessness; Wishing it were me instead; Did I mention fear?

I would start weeping around friends and family as I shared the news and sometimes in their efforts to comfort me they would say something hurtful. That wasn’t their intention of course, but it stung to be given the advice: “You mustn’t cry! You have to be strong for him.” Why is crying perceived as a weakness? First of all, I’m his mom! What mom would not weep at their child’s diagnosis? Second of all, I am naturally an emotional person. Ask my kids to tell you about the time we watched Toy Story 3 at the drive in. I didn’t stop crying until halfway through the second feature. 😛

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My amazing first born and me.

So naturally I was emotional today at my first Walk MS event. You can tell in my smile. Shortly after we arrived we picked up our t-shirts and wrist bands and prepared for the three mile walk. This took place at a lovely park in Ogden, Utah.

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When the call came to begin the walk, we were some of the first ones to cross under the big orange inflatable arch, which I didn’t take a photo of because I was too busy weeping with a smile on my face. I couldn’t help it. I guess it was hitting me why we were all there. We were all walking for someone we love who has a disease which attacks their central nervous system; a disease which has no cure. YET.

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There were painted rocks along the Walk MS path.

This walk was dedicated to the memory of Alex Hatch. I never knew Alex. I bet he was a wonderful person who gave MS a good fight.

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Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

By the way, did you know that this weekend (September 7th-9th) is National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life? We all know someone who is struggling with mental illness or suicidal tendencies so let’s pray for them now and every day. Along with prayer, reach out to them and give them unconditional love and support. We all need one another. I’m a big believer that we are not meant to go through the challenges of this life alone. We are all God’s children and we are His hands here on earth.

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MS often causes a whole host of symptoms from fatigue to balance issues to numbness and tingling to memory issues to speech issues to you name it really. It affects each person differently. There is no known cause and often times symptoms were present months to years before the diagnosis. It was a relief, although a bittersweet one for sure, to find out why Zach had been struggling at college with his reading and memorization when he had always been a strong, avid reader before who could remember what he read long afterwards.

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♥ Besides our family, with two members missing, we were joined by one family on my husband’s side, and I am so thankful for their support. Next year I am determined to advertise early in hopes that friends and other extended family will come out to this event. We even plan to make up our own Team Zach t-shirts. Because “Together We are Stronger”. ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Spring in the Air

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The weather has been so lovely lately. Marcus and I have been getting out in the mornings and going for a walk. Today we drove to a nearby park and discovered it has a nature trail we didn’t even know existed. That was a fun exploration. There was even a bridge over water to cross.

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My tulips have finally made an appearance along with the other flowers in my little flower garden. More are preparing to bloom soon. It just makes me happy to look out my craft room window or walk outside and see them. I keep thinking I need to get my fairy garden set up, but I haven’t made time for that yet.

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I’ve come up with this crazy idea to host a meet ‘n greet between a few homeschool moms and any curious parents who want to know more about homeschooling. I’m hoping this will take place next month. So far I’ve started typing up a little informational packet with Utah’s homeschool laws, and a short list of curriculum and resources, plus I’ve contacted two co-ops to see if they would join us and present their offerings. One declined, saying they are full, but the other agreed to participate as they will have openings. I’ve got more planning and inviting to do, but suddenly this idea out-of-nowhere seems possible.

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The Sweetest Missionary Ever has been touring Cusco and learning some of its history. I can’t believe she’s been out for 15 weeks now. She is struggling a bit with the language (Spanish), but otherwise she loves it. I’ve told her to give herself time to get the language down. I have a feeling she’s being a little too hard on herself. She’s always had an aptitude for languages and she’s lived in Peru, twice before.

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I’m busy preparing for my little girl spring craft party this coming Saturday. I will be hosting 10 darling neighbor girls in my craft room and they will be making their own tulip gardens and a Mother’s day gift for their mamas (sugar scrubs). One of the moms (of three of the girls who are in this group) has sweetly offered to provide lunch. I usually provide a lunch or dinner, depending on the time we hold our party. These parties are a lot of fun!

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My oldest daughter, Darcie, finishes her semester this week, and then starts three summer courses in a couple of weeks. One of the courses will qualify her to teach English in another country. She will then have one final semester left (this coming fall) before she graduates as an English major. She will be our second college graduate (her dad being our first) in our family.

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This was taken last May at a tulip festival. I’m dreaming of going again, but we will see. It’s a three hour drive away and we’re so busy!

My oldest son, Zach, recently went through his regular MRI check for his MS. It’s a long MRI for him, nearly two hours! I know because I waited for him and in that time I finished a book, started another, and watched some HGTV on the waiting room TV. Then he had a follow up appointment shortly afterwards with his neurologist, so it felt like I was in waiting rooms all day, but the people-watching was interesting. There was this one lanky guy who mumbled aloud as he filled out a questionnaire. He couldn’t stop moving and talking his entire wait time. He talked to me (I was sitting next to him), the receptionist, and made several quick calls to friends and, I’m guessing, his mom, to chat about horses and feeding the dogs. He seemed like a nice guy. I’m not sure why he was in for an MRI that day. He mumbled something about his condition being “terminal, but not really”. (I wonder what that means?) Anyway, everything looks good for my son at this time- no lesion activity. Breathing a sigh of relief. You just never know with MS. He will stay on his current medication (Copaxone).

♥ Thank you so much for stopping by! I try to get to all your blogs as my time allows. My next post will be about the craft party so stay tuned. Hope you’re having a beautiful spring (or whatever season it is where you live) day. ♥

Posted in Family Corner

One Spring Day (an update on my life)

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It seems as though this valley I call home is still waking up from winter. There are a few signs of spring, but most are only visible when you look up close.

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Almost every day I check my tulip/crocus bed for new developments. I just need to be patient a little longer!

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My first wreath I’ve ever made. I like how it turned out.

I am enjoying warmer weather here this week. The sun is hiding today, but the skies are blue and the grass lush and green.

I am wondering if any of my readers have experienced KP (keratosis pilaris) and if so, what products and/or diet recommendations work for you? I’d appreciate any advice! Mine is on my face so it’s particularly bothersome to me. It showed up last fall and has plagued me ever since. I went completely off dairy for most of March, but didn’t notice any difference. That was disappointing, but I’m still proud of my efforts.

Here is another question for my readers- Have any of you ever been a county delegate? I was voted in as a county delegate and my first convention to attend is this Saturday evening. I’d love any advice! I feel like the little packet of info. given me was not very informative. I guess I’ll roll with it on Saturday and go from there. I think I’ll be meeting potential candidates for state senate and our state school board. Should be interesting.

I’ve been babysitting a lot for a friend in my neighborhood and church. I work with her four-year old son at church, as well. He has some special needs and I am his one-on-one teacher. It’s a lot of fun and I think watching him at home once or twice a week has increased his progress with me. Plus, his little sister is adorable! She loves to watercolor at my house.

Last night, my husband and I supported our son, who is 15, by attending a service auction fundraising dinner. The youth in our ward (church congregation) were raising money to pay for camps and other activities. I got a little carried away on the bidding! I ended up with three heaping plates of brownies (they were all one bid; I gave two plates away in the parking lot), an expensive plate of chocolate covered strawberries ($35), one jug of fresh apple cider, five dog walks, and window washing for our entire house. All, but the window washing was on a silent auction. I just couldn’t put my paddle down bidding for the window washing! I have to say though, the strawberries are delicious!

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Here Marissa is with her companion and a little boy named, Miguel, with a Cusco village in the background

Here is a recent snapshot of my missionary daughter in Cusco. She has been out for three months now (her mission is for eighteen months). She told me that when Peruvians hear her singing in English, they ask her to continue. They will also ask her to translate songs on the radio that are in English. She sometimes volunteers in a pizzeria and bakery. You can read more of her mission adventures at Our Inspired Quest.

♥  I just counted and we have 49 windows. Thanks for spending some time visiting my blog today. ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Welcome 2018 (Sending My Missionary Off)

On Tuesday morning, dark and early (haha), we drove the two hours to the airport, listening to Piano Guys the whole way while the kids slept in the car. It was drizzling rain. As soon as we walked into terminal 2, we saw at least three sets of families, encircled about their young missionaries. We knew they were missionaries, even though they didn’t have their name tags yet (they receive those in the MTC), because they were all young men or women, dressed in their Sunday best and their moms were weepy. And we were in the Salt Lake airport where LDS missionaries fly in and out all the time. (It’s fun to watch the reunions- welcome home posters, cameras out, lots of hugging and laughter.)

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After checking in her suitcases, we gave Marissa our last hugs for eighteen months. Darcie, her big sister, and I, became emotional at that point. We then watched her go through security, losing sight of her from time to time as she wove back and forth. She’s such a tiny person. Finally, we couldn’t see her any longer and had to assume she’d made it through. On the way home, we stopped at IHOP for breakfast. It was a good morning for Red Velvet pancakes. Marissa then phoned us from the airport, using a calling card, and told us she had met three more sister missionaries, also going to Peru. That was very comforting to know.

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She sent me a brief e-mail today letting me know she’d made it and was safe. She told me she directed the other missionaries through the Atlanta airport, which she was familiar with, thanks to all our travels by plane. She also was the only one who expected the humidity of Lima. She said the MTC (missionary training center) was “nice” and that she might get lost. I wonder how big it is? She will be there learning Spanish and being trained in all-things-missionary for the next six to eight weeks. Her p-days (preparation days) are Wednesdays so that will be the day each week when she can write me and others. The sweet thing about being a missionary mom is that we take priority. So if she only has time for one e-mail, I get it! Also, missionaries are only allowed to phone home on Mother’s Day and Christmas Day.

♥ On Monday night, Marissa was set apart by our stake president, with her dad and her big brother in the Priesthood circle. She was given a beautiful blessing and the spirit was so strong in our home. I have a testimony of missionary work and of this gospel. I know my baby girl is going to bless many lives in the next eighteen months as she serves the Lord full time. Thanks for reading! ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Welcome 2018 (Christmas Recap & A Missionary Farewell)

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I hope each and every one of my readers enjoyed a beautiful Christmas. On the 22nd, my family and I spent the evening on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. We ate dinner at The Roof (a fabulous restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith building), walked around Temple Square to see the lights and nativities, and then we ended the night at a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert, which was spectacular. My mother and her husband joined us for the night as that was our Christmas gift to them.

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent at home, with Grandma joining us (my husband’s mom). The day after Christmas, a very special package arrived from my dearest friend, Audria. She spoiled us! My favorite gift from her was a little teapot and teacup set. She even sent a sweet gift to my daughter for her mission. Such a thoughtful and amazing friend; I feel so blessed. For the rest of the week, we were busy preparing our home for Marissa’s mission farewell. We send her off to Peru next week!

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Kevin, Marissa, Kristine & Kelsey (I snapped their photo in our theater room just before we watched the movie, RED)

Her farewell was on New Year’s Eve Day. She gave a delightful talk in our Sacrament meeting and afterwards, friends, extended family, and neighbors joined us in our home for an open house. We offered a baked potato bar and a variety of desserts which everyone seemed to enjoy. I took a picture of Marissa with each family who came out to support her and plan to send them a copy with a thank you card. One of our favorite group of guests were our long-time friends, Kevin and Kristine, and their daughter, Kelsey (they also have two sons who could not make it). We’ve known this family for twenty years now and have stayed in touch as we’ve moved around. We have even vacationed together. It was so much fun to spend the day with them, celebrating Marissa’s choice to serve the Lord on a mission for our church, and ringing in the New Year together.

♥ On this first day of January, 2018, I have a nasty head cold. Bah! Besides sneezing a few times yesterday, I felt pretty good throughout our festivities for Marissa, so at least it waited a day to hit me full on. Marcus was sweet enough to heat me up some broth to sip and I’ve been resting up as I edit the photos from Christmas and Marissa’s farewell. This week should be pretty relaxed, focused on helping Marissa finish up her packing and enjoying our last week together before she embarks on what I hope will be an amazing adventure for her. I wish all of my readers a Happy New Year. ♥