Wednesday, December 31, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Completed! (Weeks # 47- 52)

Some more things I feel blessed to have in my life:

#47 Visiting Teaching
I've been thinking about what a great program Visiting Teaching is- obviously an inspired idea. At Church we ladies are paired up and assigned a list of other ladies from Church to visit once a month. We (ideally) visit, build friendships, share a spiritual message, and basically just check up on each other. Since we are all daughters of God, we are sisters, and sisters take care of each other. I love the fact that over the years I've been blessed to visit with people I don't know very well, and may have never gotten to know, but have come to love them. I have especially enjoyed visiting with elderly women who have shared the stories of their lives and given advice to me about motherhood. It is a blessing to be a visiting teacher and to be visit taught.

#48 Sisters
I hope it is obvious in my blog posts how much I love my sisters. They are the best and I am blessed to be so close to them. I only wish we lived much closer to each other. :) They love me despite my flaws. They understand me. We share a history that no one else fully knows but us. That's special. (I really should be grouping my aunt Tami into that whole description too since we grew up together more as sisters than as aunt and niece!!!) I have also been blessed to have 4 great sisters-in-law. While we don't share a lifetime of memories, I still feel like they are my sisters- and I hope that over the years we can become closer even though we don't live near them.
"In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips."

#49 My Education

I have a degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. While I really haven't had too much time to use it professionally, I have certainly used it in my life- within our family, in my kids schools, and in my church responsibilities. I'm glad to have the knowledge I have acquired, the satisfaction that I accomplished that goal, and the security that I could use it professionally if the need arises.

#50The ability to cook and clean

I don't like doing them-although I probably prefer the cleaning to the cooking- but I am glad I know how. I am no expert... especially with the cooking. I feel blessed to know how to do these things though so that I can in turn bless my family.

#51 Lotion

This is my hand after a day of cooking and cleaning, etc.,etc., etc. Especially during the winter months not much is more appreciated than a good lotion for my dry, itchy, cracking-open-and-bleeding skin. (Sorry about the nastiness of the picture!) My kids have pretty dry skin too. How miserable would life be if I couldn't soothe this simple pain for them and me. A blessing in my life? Yes.

#52 52 Blessings Project

This project has been a good experience for me. I looked for the blessings around me in my daily life- and there are truly so many. Certainly more than 52! I appreciate more the simple things I'd taken for granted. I thought more about how blessed I am. I appreciate whoever's brain child this was. (I learned of through Cara's blog) And I'm glad I did all 52, even if it took me couple of extra weeks to get them all recorded! ;)

52 Blessings Project: Weeks # 41-46

As keeper of this blog I reserve the right to keep my posts dated 2008 until I wrap up some unfinished business. I started keeping track of a blessing a week back in January. Somewhere around the end of the summer and beginning of the school year I started falling behind in my 52 Blessings posts, not that I didn't have things in mind though. I just didn't get them posted. So I don't feel like I failed, I'm going to wrap it all up in a couple of posts. :)

#41 Girls Camp
Going to Girls Camp this year was full of blessings.
Mommy/daughter bonding time for Jillie and I.
Daddy/child bonding time for Greg and the rest of the kids.
Even a little bonding for Nikki and quiet time . :)
I was so excited to go to camp as a leader for the first time. So nice to get away from the rigors of everyday life, get out in nature, get spiritually uplifted, and have some introspective time. It was a great experience and I hope to be able to go again next year.

#42 Sump Pump
Who'd have thought a little machine in a hole in the corner of my basement would be so important to me. Our sump pump started having problems this fall. It would just not shut off and started making a noise you could hear throughout the house. Sometimes I would just unplug it for a while to free myself from the noise. One night I unplugged it and forgot to plug it back in. Luckily Reagan went to the hardly-used-because-it's-such-a mess basement and reported back that it was flooded. It would have been a much easier mess to clean up had the floors not been covered with miscellaneous toys. Not a fun day. We finally gave in and bought a new one. What a blessing to not have our home filling with water on a daily basis.

#43 Traditions

Whether the big holiday traditions like Christmas Family Home Evening with friends, decorating the Christmas tree together, big Thanksgiving dinners, Easter Egg hunts, designing birthday cakes & planning birthday parties, Disney trips... or the small ones like playing basketball, Family Home Evenings, going to church, attending school events... these are the the things that help to strengthen our family. This is where many of our memories of good times together are made. This is what helps us want to be a Forever Family.

#44 The ability to create
I had never thought about this until President Uchtdorf's talk at the Relief Society broadcast last fall.
He said, "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before."
I have had a few opportunities to create some things with my hands this year- and it was really nice to do that again. I suppose I have created many things over the years- most notably my children! This year I got a little crafty again doing things that 'd never really tried before like invitations for a Relief Society birthday party,
a vegetable garden, andsome Christmas presents. It feels good to be creative . Since President Uchtdorf's talk, I feel like creating is something I should try to set aside some time for, not something to feel guilty about spending time on.

#45 Reagan

This daughter of ours has blessed our lives, as have the other kids, but I haven't singled her out yet. She has a nice, easy going personality. Lately she's been a little more emotional (hormones kicking in already?) But overall, she's so even tempered. She is a great helper, has a natural talent entertaining small children, can do anything she sets out to do, and she tries many things- except foods! She blesses our lives as Jillie's best friend, as Kobe and Jackson's big sister, and as our sweet daughter. She's growing up fast. I can't believe she'll be going off to Middle School in the fall!

#46 Kobe And then there's Kobe. What a character! He can be so sweet and sensitive. He still sometimes asks if I can snuggle with him when he's going to sleep. Melts a mom's heart! He can be annoying little brother sometimes too though! He blesses our family by making us laugh, reminding us to say family prayers, making his artistic creations, and melting all of our hearts with those dimples!

52 Blessings Project 47-52 to follow soon (I hope!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Day '08

Christmas morning came awful early for me. Apparently Kobe was up at about 6:40am. (That's less than a half hour after I went to bed) The rest followed shortly after, but held off until 7:30am to start nagging me to get up. Finally at 8 I dragged my weary body out of bed and went downstairs to get my camera to record the traditional run down the stairs. I took a picture first, but even though Kobe's eyes were closed, there would be no retakes. I could hold them back no longer.
And they are off...

It was decided before hand that Kobe would get to open the first present. (We take turns opening one present at a time so everyone can ooh and aah.) I don't recall what happened for him to win that honor, but he did. Anyway he was so excited about the first one he chose.

Then it was Jack Jacks turn...

Jackson opened 2 gifts and he was done. He just wanted to sit in the corner and play with his little "Cars" race track. We had to slowly coerce him to open the rest after a while. Every time we'd offer another present to open he would just say, "No! I like Cars!" as if he'd have to trade the Cars for the new present. He finally opened some more, but I think this one remains his favorite with Mickey's Speedway as a close second.

Santa finally came through this year for Reagan. I think she's has had a pogo stick on her list for the last 4 years or so. This one is such a fancy, heavy duty one, we're not sure she'll ever be heavy enough to use it very well. :)

Jillie was shocked and thoroughly pleased that Santa came through for her this year ...with Uggs.Reagan too...The boys ended up with mostly toys, toys, toys and the girls got lots of clothes and girlie things

Greg got the a lot of the old standbys- basketball clothes and BYU items.

Greg and the kids got me many nice things as well. Sweater, mani-pedi-massage, laptop cover, etc... One of my gifts you will see in February. Greg got me a blog designer to create a personalized blog for me! Should be an interesting process. Now if I can just figure out what I like! I'm trying to choose colors and design elements. maybe even a new name? NIKBOK is a nick name I got from Greg long ago. I can't decide if I should try to think of something more creative, something more descriptive of me or of the family??? I'm not really coming up with much- and kind of like NIKBOK just fine. I just can't think of any good alternatives.
Suggestions welcomed!
Anyhow... needless to say the rest of the day was pretty much a wash for me since most of what I did was look at the inside of my eyelids. I went back to bed after present opening and didn't get up til the afternoon. I awoke to find that a toy store had exploded throughout the house! We had no where to go so it was pretty much a jammies day all around- except for the girls who wanted to wear some of their cool new outfits! All in all it was a good, relaxing, family Christmas day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve '08

Christmas Eve

If we couldn't be with our family, at least we could be with the Lewis' who are like family to us. Thank goodness they have a baby coming any day now so they couldn't leave town. :)

The girls got all festive before the party began...We ate Italian at Jillie's request- Angela's delicious lasagna and my homemade spaghetti. Jillie got her orthodontic expander out on Christmas Eve morning. We thought she would be getting braces on that morning too, but a Christmas miracle happened. :) He decided he didn't have time to do the braces and made her a retainer to hold everything in place til Jan 22 when she will start braces. So yea! She gets to eat again! We are relieved.
(Kobe, Blake, Reagan, Jillie, Connor, Jackson)
(Angela w/ 'Baby L', Cole, Dave, Greg)
After dinner Jillie lead the kids in some activities. I didn't want the kids to just play as usual, but to have some special Christmas activities. I planned 25 activities and used our countdown calendar to hold each one. As it turned out we rushed through some and skipped others (like a bunch of Christmas stories we were to read in between other activities) since we got a late start.
We played Christmas charades...
Wrote thank you cards to Santa...
Made reindeer food...
Played Pin the Nose on the Snowman...
A game of Holiday Bingo that I made years ago for a class party...
We also did a Christmas tree pinata, played "Santa Says", guessed how many candies were in the jar, sang Christmas songs, gave our best "Ho!Ho!Ho!", told what we wanted most for Christmas, and put the Baby Jesus in the manger.
The adults enjoyed watching some of A Christmas Story.
Then it was present time! Gifts for the kids including their Christmas Eve jammies.
I asked the girls to perform for us a Christmas Medley that Jillie composed earlier this month. It is so good I think and they do a great job! Take a look...

Their performance inspired the boys- to the surprise and SHOCK of the parents- to perform their own song.

Our party went well into the night, until the kids saw on that Santa had reached the East Coast of the US. That encouraged everyone to get to bed. Our kids were finally asleep at midnight! Midnight. Yes, midnight. Time to clean up the messes. And do you think I'd wrapped anything yet?! No. Greg tried to help and organized and wrapped with me as long as he could hold out. Eventually I was on my own...

And this is the clock as I finally went up to bed. Yes. 6:07am.

I was just glad to be done before the kids got up so they could wake up to this...

And they did... about an hour and a half later...

Concert after concert after concert after...

This year we had many, many choir concerts to attend. In one week Jillie had 3 concerts which we attended and a couple other choir caroling engagements. The next week Reagan had 2 concerts- one for Orchestra and one for Chorus. They all were good performances and I always come away impressed with how well the groups have performed. Our school district has some excellent music staff!

Here's a clip of one of Reagan's chorus songs...

... and a sample from her orchestra concert...

... and a song from one of Jillie's concerts...

One of Jillie's concerts was a performance with our community symphony orchestra and a choir from a local university. She really enjoyed that experience. (She's on the bottom row, middle)

They had a sing along at the end and invited the kids in the audience to come up. Reagan was at a sleep over with the Activity Day girls, Jackson didn't want to, but we got Kobe to go up. It was really fun since there were visits from Mrs. Claus and an Elf, Rudolph, Frosty and Santa himself!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pre- Christmas Exhaustion

This was a common occurrence this year (again). Going to bed at 4am, or later. Didn't even shock me this year. It almost seemed like I had permission to go to bed when I saw this on the clock. That'd give me 2-2.5 hours of sleep before the first kid gets up for school. Throw in a few bouts with a stomach bug and 2 snow days for good measure. No wonder I am tired all December. I had to laugh when I read this on fellow blogger Amanda's Facebook status:
"Amanda could've quite easily succumbed to that pre-Christmas tradition of falling asleep at the traffic lights today. " It's nice to know I'm not alone! :)

Greg says I like staying up that late. I probably do. I've decided that my adrenaline really gets pumping when the house is quiet and I can accomplish projects from start to finish- UNINTERRUPTED. Doesn't help when the quiet house part doesn't happen until late in the evening. Seems like none of the kids were in bed before 10pm most nights. With sports practices and games, Christmas concerts galore (post to follow soon),church activities, Christmas parties, and trying to fit in meals and homework... bedtimes were running behind schedule. I even scrapped any attempt at creative gifting. This is the best I could do for Reagan's teacher's gift. (I'm the room parent and collected money to get the teacher a gift. These are each gift cards to a few of her favorite places. I called her son who is Greg's friend to find out what she likes.)
The rest of the teachers just got a card with a gift card on it. Kind of lame.

I did get to feel a little creative and crafty making these nativity blocks for my Pink Christmas girl, Staci.

Other than that, I scrambled Monday night before Christmas to prepare for the kids last day of school. We had snow days on Friday, (Sunday), and Monday. Monday afternoon I realized that we had to get everything to school the next day. Got the kids friends gifts ready to go, teacher gifts, party supplies, crepes for Reagan's Heritage Festival...Then realized it was my last chance to go out child free on Tuesday while Jackson was at school so I needed to evaluate all the kids gifts for equality & see who needed to be bought for still, plan our Christmas Eve party, and prepare a shopping list for all of the last minute gifts and goodies I needed. Like all procrastinators, I work well under pressure- and I simplify better when there's no time for the perfectionist-wanna-be inside of my head.

Anyhow, the holiday has passed and overall it must have been worth it, because we had a very nice Christmas! More details of the holiday to post soon... For now I'm going to bed early. It's only 2:30am! ;)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Picture A Christmas

No time to write anything. I hope these pictures speak their thousand words for me.
Merry Christmas!!!