Monday, December 31, 2007

The Blessing of Blogging

I'm new to the world of blogging... or should I say, "blogosphere"? Obviously I'm intrigued enough to join in, so here's some of my thoughts on it and why I think blogging is a blessing.
The reason I was attracted to reading blogs:


Kristi is an amazing and inspiring woman. I have never met her - I don't know her. I only know of her because I love her blog. I started reading it because she has SO MANY creative ideas- so many fun things she comes up with. That hooked me. If you're looking for a great creative idea for a teacher gift or starting a new tradition or a visiting teaching treat or how to send "good mail" or holiday idea or lesson idea or to find cute things to buy from other stay at home moms- you must check out her blog! So like I said, I was hooked. But then came one of the best Christmas stories I've ever experienced (in the virtual kind of way) You must go check it out. (Click above on her banner Everything Pink).


She is a mom who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She and her husband have been called to serve in an inner city branch (congregation) of the Church in downtown D.C. She's in the Primary (Children's group) Presidency and he's the Young Men (teenage boys group) President. They travel an hour to church every Sunday instead of the few minutes to their local building... and pick up many on their way. She talks about how much their family has grown and been blessed in the year they've worked with the members there. As Christmas time drew near, they began to make plans on how to get gifts for all of the families who so desperately needed things. Their local ward made many donations to help out with that. As the month went on she began to receive many many donations and gifts intended for their downtown branch... people that she doesn't even know, who just read her blog, sent generous donations. I can't do it justice- you'll have to visit her site when you have time. Read as many posts as you can! It is truly inspiring- She is truly inspiring. You'll see how her taking the time to blog has blessed SO many lives.

The reason I began to contemplate blogging:

Holly's blog, Sunny's blog, and the blogs of many others

Reading my sister's blogs is so fun. Not only do I get to keep up on the latest funny stories, happenings and pictures of their families, but I've learned a lot about Holly & Sunny. They are great & entertaining writers. They have interesting thoughts. They provoke me to think as well. As a stay at home mom I feel like I don't think much- I just go and do and do and go. Reading their blogs and the blogs of others where I've lurked (like the many names listed on Kristi's site) has helped me to see my world differently. I started thinking in blogs. I began to observe and treasure things in my life more. I began to capture more moments with my camera. I began to ponder topics I hadn't in a long time. I began to evaluate myself more and get some ideas of simple things I could do to improve myself and my family. In a lot of the blogs I've read, I've found a whole world of other girls a lot like me. I've found out that maybe I can "stretch" (Kristi's word) myself to do and be a little more. Reading blogs has blessed my life.


The reason I gave in and started my own blog:
All of the above and
Angie

Well, of course Angie tagged me at a time when I was really starting to get tempted to start blogging. Answering the tag was fun and fairly easy, so I guess I kind of got a gentle start to the process. And then came the clincher... COMMENTS! People read what I wrote and they seem to care because they commented and I was VALIDATED! :D Silly I know, but strange how good it makes you feel. I feel blessed to have friends and family who care.

Why I intend to stick to blogging:

All of the above again and my need to "remember"

Ever since I was young I've been taught to keep a journal. I did that as a child, I did better as a teenager, and then I didn't at all. While I may not disclose every thought and worry and struggle and blessing in a blog, atleast it's a start. Better than the nothing that has been for a long time. Hopefully this is a way to journal some of our family experiences. I love being able to tell a story with pictures and video. So much better to see it! So this blog is for me and my family- and for anyone else who is interested or cares.

In our Church's General Conference last October there was a talk given called "O,Remember, Remember". It is a must read. President Eyring encourages us to look for, acknowledge, remember- and hopefully record- the blessings we get from God.... every single day. As we do this we will be blessed with a stronger testimony of Him and His love for us. Forgetting God only brings sadness. There's more- like I said- a must read (or re-read). Blogging seems as good a place as any to record those moments. Kristi certainly has and it has uplifted her family and all of her readers! Remembering is important to me since I worry about forgetting (see Angie's tag). This should be a great place to remind myself of what we've experienced.

And finally, some other advice was given from our Church leaders that encourages me to continue... Elder Ballard gave a talk giving this counsel.

“We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches,” he said. “While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.” He said we should consider sharing our views on blogs, responding to online news reports and using the “new media” in other ways.

So maybe in some small ways I can do this too... and that blogging can be a blessing to others and to me.

OK- so finally I got my thoughts out. Sorry no pictures with this post- pictures make it so much better.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

4:20am


Every couple of nights this month, this is what the clock in my kitchen looked like as I was ready to head off to bed. I've always been a night owl, but this is a bit later than usual for me!

I've been thinking about why the Christmas season gets so exhausting sometimes. I think it has to do with wanting to give. Christmas is a celebration of our Savior's birth. We know the significance of his life and His example. Christmas time fills me with a special need to follow His example - to give to others and do for others. (Not that we don't try to follow his example year round! :D ) There are so many people in our lives that we love and are grateful for-I guess I'm willing to sacrifice some of my sleep toward that end. While I try to "simplify", I still must do what I can this time of the year.

So what's keeping me up late at night this month? Well, there's the usual year round culprits: cleaning, dishes, laundry, preparing kids stuff for school, etc. But there's also the extras...
decorating the house,
cleaning out the food storage a bit to donate to food drives, shopping online for just the "perfect" thing- or atleast something that will be liked or needed. (Then there's searching the internet the night before to see which store has that and which has the best price! :D)
Then there's Christmas cards to be ordered and mailed out later,
making dozens of sugar cookies for school parties,
(and then recleaning the now flour covered kitchen- and myself!)
putting together teacher gifts,
wrapping presents, cleaning up the extra messes from winter fun like playing in the snow

and decorating the gingerbread house. (I still find little ball shapes candies around the kitchen from that night! Kobe kept throwing the candies at the roof & hope that they would stick- some did- some ended up on the floor!),


planning and preparing our holiday parties, and on and on...



We had a really fun holiday party early on in the month. It was our Christmas Family Home Evening. We invited a few families and a couple sets of missionaries. We had dinner and then watched our family's favorite Christmas movie- Mr. Krueger's Christmas.
(You can click there to watch it on YouTube!)
("Mr Krueger"-Jimmy Stewart and "Clarissa" -Greg's first love!)
This movie is more than 25 years old, and although it is a bit dated, we just love the story!


Then we played the White Elephant gift exchange. Very fun & I think everyone went home with something they actually liked! Yea!
(Angie) ( Connor and Cole) (Elder Ricks, Elder Jerez, & Blake)
(Brian & Owen) (Kobe, Jillie, & Dave)
I ended up with a beautiful hand drawn nativity picture- drawn by our very own Elder Jerez.

I made him take a picture with it just before he was transferred. He's so talented. (the sledding hill beat up his chin earlier on this day!)

Our Family Home Evening was a great way to start Christmas for me!

Anyhow, I think overall the 4:20 am bedtimes were worth it, if that's what had to be done to make all of the Christmastime-fun a reality. Maybe in the future there will be more free daytime hours where I can accomplish some of this uninterrupted. For now, I'm OK with it. I am thankful that Jackson still takes naps so I could snuggle down with him on the days I need it. I am also thankful for a restful end of the year week with no school, no work, and plenty of sleeping in :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Christmas... what a wonderful (and exhausting) holiday it is.
This morning capped it off nicely. I was pretty tired when the kids came in around 8am... due to my 5am bedtime. (Will I ever get organized enough to be able to go to bed by midnight on Christmas Eve?!) But that didn't matter and we were on our way down the stairs by 8:30am.


Now when I was little we had the tradition of having to wait at the top of the stairs while my Dad went down, turned on the lights and Christmas music and got the camera ready to go. We'd get the signal and take off running down the stairs to see what Santa had brought in the night. This same tradition holds true for my kids now, although I'm the one filming the rush to the bottom of the stairs.


Today was a little different though. Jack Jack was pretty tired, and not really sure what all the fuss was about yet. I thought the older kids would leave him in the dust. A spirit of kindness was there though as they gently helped him down the stairs. Very sweet- here's some footage (ignore my extremely sleepy voice!)
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So went the morning, everyone sharing, taking turns, opening one present at a time til we got through them all. Everyone was excited about what they got and even more excited about what they gave.
Some favorite "gets": Jillie- tan shearling boots,Reagan - skateboard,
Kobe- bell from Santa's sleigh,
Jackson- his own digital camera (and a ton of cars and Mickey Mouse stuff too.)
While I got some amazing presents this year, especially from Greg, my favorite was one from Sunny & Derek. They burned to a CD an audio tape my Grandma Nellie made for us as kids- probably over 25 years ago. Grandpa and Grandma were serving as missionaries in New York City. She would send us little books that she'd read on tape. Today we got this story... Not only did she read the book, but added her own commentary about being kind and sang "I'll be loving you, always." It brought tears to my eyes to hear her voice again. Thank you so much Sun & Derek! I sure miss her.


After present time, finishing off the traditional "raspberry roll" breakfast, and getting everyone's new things out of packaging and ready to play, I needed to lay down. Luckily Jackson was ready for a nap and off we went for a couple of hours!! SO nice and so needed. The rest of the day was relaxing and peaceful. It's been a while that no one had to do anything or had to go anywhere. The rush and busy-ness of December, the lack of sleep & the rushed not-so-healthy meals has given us some tense & uncooperative moments at home. Even this cute picture taken after church Sunday was taken under some duress. It's nice to have everyone feeling love for each other- even while spending the entire day in the house together- and without the help of the TV!


Oh! I almost forgot to mention our Christmas Eve! Last night we spent the evening with our friends the Lewis' and the Christensen's. The missionaries from our ward came over too. We had a nice time. (Thanks so much Angela and Dave for hosting us all!) It was a casual and relaxing evening. Tons of food of course...

... and visiting


... and playing

... and presents of course!
Then there was one more very special gift...
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Congratulations Molly & Shawn on Baby #4! :D


A very Merry Christmas!!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Music Part 2




The Christmas season in full swing.
SO many thoughts, so little time to record them.
For now I'll just post the highlight of our week...
especially for the grandparents.

Three Christmas choir concerts!

Now picture me standing in the back of the room with a video camera in one hand and a digital camera in the other taping the same song with both.
(Recording the whole concert on the video camera so the kids can rewatch later. The digital camera in the other hand to take some video clips for blogging. I guess I should learn if I can put video from the recorder on the computer.)


Reagan's Concerto Singers concert was first...
(She's the cute blond in the front row with her hair pulled back .)
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Then Jillie's 6th grade chorus class concert... Not great footage. I had Jack Jack hanging over my arm to see through the screen too. (Jillie is the smiley one on the end of the row)

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And finally today Jillie's B-Sharp Singers concert... (in red, behind the Santa hat!)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Music

Christmas is coming! I'm not ready. There is so much to do with shopping and decorating and preparing special foods and going to special events. There wasn't enough time in the day before, and now adding Christmas preparations to the schedule... Some days I feel like I just can't do it all anymore!
The best thing I can do to keep going though is to crank up the Christmas song list on the iPod and get to it. Christmas music- all music really- is a great motivator. I couldn't live without it! I'm so glad Greg and the kids love music too. I love the fact that quite often through the day I hear someone singing in this house.

Jillie's choir- The B-Sharp Singers- did some caroling at the village Christmas party. Here's a sample...

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We got the trees up on Sunday.


When Jack Jack helped me open the box, he started singing the Happy Birthday song for some reason- and still does whenever he sees that tree. I have no idea why. Just glad he's singing. :)

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Merry Christmas Preparations to all, and to all a good night!

(except for me- I'll be up all night, each night trying to get it all done!)