Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving '08 (52 Blessings #40)

We had a great day on Thanksgiving!
A holiday centered on feeling gratitude for all we have, a day to share those blessings with family and friends. The holiday of counting our blessings is a blessing in itself. Good friends, Good food, Good times. We enjoyed the day with the Lewis', the Brandt's and the elders serving in our ward. Guests arrived around 2pm and fun and feasting ensued until nearly 11pm! Here's some pictures of the day- thanks Angie B for grabbing my camera and getting some action shots!

The only sad part of the day was Jillie. She LOVES Thanksgiving food. The meal includes all of her favorites. But this year she hardly got to taste any of it. On Monday she got an orthodontic expander placed in her mouth. She really struggles to get food down since it gets stuck on the expander. She is pretty much on a liquid diet right now. Hopefully it'll be off before Christmas! We've already promised to make another Thanksgiving meal for her when the piece is finally removed. So she ate very little... and played in the chocolate fountain... and dreamed of a day when she can eat the things she loves.

It's a Dog's Life

OP Middle School Musical '08- It's a Dog's Life
Jillie........... a Golden Retriever in the City Dogs chorus.
Once again Jillie had a great time being a part of the middle school musical. She was disappointed to not get a speaking part, but there were so few available for girls in this show. She did a great job in her part though. She sang well and stayed in character. The super long rehearsals every day during the last week coupled with our entire family being sick for weeks with an awful head and chest cold caused Jillie to completely lose her voice by the 2nd show. She ended up lip syncing during that performance!
On the way to the show in stage make up...
On stage...

Looking very sad as the City Dogs are told of the death of another dog...

I am so proud of Jillie for hanging in there, taking her commitment to the show seriously and doing her very best. It was an unusual choice for a show I think, although I did understand the story line better on the 2nd performance. Still it was a little dark. Anyhow, here's hoping for a really upbeat musical next year with a speaking part for Jillie Beans!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good Mail recieved (52 Blessings #39)

4. One of my 52 Blessings this year!

I've gotten some good mail lately- much due to my birthday earlier this month, but I needed to document it still.

I got a nice birthday card in the mail from my friend Angie B- it was a nice surprise! So thoughtful of her!

My parents sent me a certificate for a weeks worth of babysitting when Greg and I are 'forced' to go on another all expenses paid trip care of his work next spring. ;) and one of these too... WooHoo!I got so many seriously nice birthday messages this year via the internet. Those kinds of Good Mail warm my heart and make me feel loved too.

Hand-delivered and handmade Good Mail came from Holly. She gave me the green bracelet as a gift, but then I stole the blue one from her as well. Is there anything Holly can't do?

When Jill noticed it was my birthday from reading my blog, she went out of her way to create and send me some personalized note cards. Totally cute and unexpected! No wonder she is the Good Mail Queen!

Another unexpected Good Mail delivery came from Beth. She is our unofficial guide to Walt Disney World. (Holly's family and mine are planning a WDW trip this winter- we will overlap for a few days.) Beth has been advising us along the way and helping us get some great deals. She even went so far as to create a whole blog devoted to WDW. And then, as if we didn't already owe her enough she sends this...

So thoughtful... everyone was so thoughtful and for that I feel grateful and blessed.

Oh! More good mail recently- Jillie's report card, all A's and Jackson got a progress report that says he's doing great in preschool. Can't beat that! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Going Hunting

**(My apologies to anyone who has read Holly's post already. Here's my {very long} story- with many of her pictures)**

Last weekend was the opening of hunting season in Michigan. This of course means Deer Hunter Widows Weekend at the Birch Run outlets. My dad, husband, uncle, brother in law are not hunters, but did this stop my mom, sister, aunt and I from going to the big event?! Not a chance! It was our hunting day- hunting for Christmas presents. I did get a few presents but I also did some bargain hunting on things we could use right now. It was an exhausting but fun weekend.

I left home Friday ALL BY MYSELF for the 5 hour drive to Michigan. I felt so free. Yes, sitting in a car by myself for 5 hours, eating a cheeseburger, drinking a root beer ( I know, 'I only drink water!'), and singing really loud to any song on the Canadian radio stations that I knew is what freedom feels like. Isn't Greg great? I know he wasn't too excited about being alone with the kids the whole weekend-especially since he was sick, but he was so encouraging and supportive. So nice.
I met Mom, Tami, and Holly at the hotel and we giggled hysterically for the evening until mom declared it was bedtime and turned off the lights. She had a plan as usual. We needed to arrive by 7am to get in line for special deals before the stores opened at 8am. Mom was the first one up, adrenaline pumping at 6am! She is the most energetic shopper I know.

We got to stand in the freezing cold drizzling rain so we could get our scratch off card.

{The line in front of us and behind us}

Mom won a $10 gift card to Adidas. The rest of us "won" lame coupon books. I was really hoping for the $500 gift card! While we were in line a local DJ came through doing games and handing out prizes. Mom and Holly were further in line than Tami and I. The DJ didn't notice that Holly and I look almost like twins because she chose Holly for a little quiz game, and then chose Tami and I to make up the trivia questions. Holly won $10 to Nike by answering our question: "Who played the mother on the Brady Bunch?"

Yea, Holly! Did she split that $10 with us? No. ;)

Finally the stores opened and we got to work. By the 2nd store, the adrenaline was gone (not Mom's though).

That's Holly crashing in the store, just before she found the most amazing purchase for her newly decorated bedroom.

She promises to post that soon! Stay tuned. Adrenaline returned. Then oh happy day, another one of my most favorite people showed up- Angie! It was so great to see her and spend the day with her. She's so easy to get along with- and so willing to be dragged around by us. :) She fit in perfectly.

I loved having time to catch up some with Tami, since we have been pretty awful at keeping in touch and I miss her so much. Girls days out are pretty special- laughing together, supporting each other ("You have to buy it! Who cares if you don't need it. You'll never find such a good price again!"), and strengthening our relationships.

So we shopped and shopped and shopped til we nearly dropped...

It was a succesful day of shopping. Every store had super deals. Angie and I have great plans for the Christmas Countdown calendars we found at Pottery Barn Outlet. Who could resist these at such big discounts?

My prized possession of the day was found at the Restoration Hardware outlet. Remember the ugly/expensive-light bulb-using bathroom light fixture I debated getting rid of? Well I finally replaced it. Who could resist a $170 light now priced around $40?! Not me!



Better? And it takes regular light bulbs. Hallelujah! (still don't like the wall color, but that will have to wait for now.)
We closed down the stores at 9pm. I was exhausted!! My back hurt, my legs hurt, my throat was sore, I was cold, but yet it was so worth it. We ended our day with dinner and then sadly parted ways at 11pm.

{Mom told me I was required to wear something Christmas-y, so I grabbed Reagan's jingle bell necklace on the way out the door. It's not something I typically wear. :)}

I got to my hotel on the MI/Canada border alive. (Stayed awake listening to episodes of The Office.) I lay down on the bed and called Greg to let him know I was safe and sound. After hanging up, I thought I need to get up and get ready for bed. But that's all I remember til about 9:45am the next day when Jackson accidentally called my phone.
More bargains on the way home... check out how CHEAP gas was in Port Huron, MI! WOW! The cheapest around home is $2.48/gallon.

I eventually made it back to New York, glad for the break, but glad to be home again too. I received such a nice welcome home from a family who missed me much. Great weekend! Let's do it again next year!!

**I just had an epiphany- I am NOT the long-story-short type of story teller. Congrats to you if you hung on til the end!**


I've been tagged by my sister in law Abby.  Even though I have a list of posts to do, I choose to do this tag first.  Then I can feel like I got something done today! Besides, this will go much faster than the posts I need to do. :)  Enjoy... or not... ;)

8 TV Shows I watch (always from DVR when the kids are in bed!)
1. The Office
2. ER
3. Desperate Housewives
4. Boston Legal
5. My Name is Earl
6. Biggest Loser
7. Supernanny
8. Heroes

8 Things that happened yesterday
 1. Showered
2. Installed a new light fixture in the bathroom
3. Played whatever Jackson wanted me to play
4. Fed kids fast food for dinner (bad mom)
5. Greg took Kobe to his basketball game while I picked up Jillie from musical rehearsal
6. Took Jillie, Reagan and Reagan's school friend to their activities at church.
7. Said hello and goodbye to Greg as he left for his basketball game
8. Talked online with Charlie 

8 Favorite Places to Eat 
1. Hogi Yogi
2. Olive Garden
3. Burger Supreme
4. David's Grill
5. Panera
6. Cheesecake Factory
7. Shanghai Red's
8. Applebees (not that the food is that great, but atleast I know what how many WW points I'm eating)

8 Things to look forward to
1. Jillie's musical this weekend
2. Thanksgiving
3. Grammie G's visit
4, Our (mine and Greg's) trip to see Harry Connick Jr in concert
5. Our trip to Michigan for Saroya's baptism
6. Our Christmas Family Home Evening/Party
7. Christmas
8. Christmas vacation

8 Things on my WISH list
1. That my kids grow up to be independent and spiritually strong
2. To love exercising
3. To lose the weight that's hanging on
4. That my family will all live long, healthy, happy lives.
5. To go to BYU Women's Conference with my sisters, mom, aunts, friends, etc...
6. To take a sister trip to NYC to see a Broadway show.
7.  That my life stays at least as happy as it is now.
8. To serve a mission with Greg

Done!  Now I can feel good that I got a new post up here, even if it's not the one I thought I'd do today.  Thanks Abby.:) 
Hey, which of my lucky friends should I tag now????  Hmmmm.. 
I tag:  Angie B, Beth, Caity, Leanne,  Jillie and anyone else who wants to do it.  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks

Recently Jillie read an O. Henry story at school and it reminded me how much I like O. Henry.  One of his stories,  The Last Leaf,  was made into a movie by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. I picked it up at the ward library to show for Family Home Evening. 
Did you know it stars Art Carney, Jane Kaczmarek, and Sydney Penny??  I'd forgotten that.  It's only on VHS and was made in 1983, so I wasn't sure how well the kids would like it.  I think they enjoyed it very much- although they thought it was a little sad.  

Then we talked about what kinds of service have others done for us, what service have we done for others and what great act of service did our Savior do for us.  We discussed how these things bless our lives.  

I encouraged everyone to think often about the blessings we have in our lives and to write them down.  We have a little tradition each November thanks to some inspiration from my good friend in Michigan Sarah R.   She does this with her family and I liked it so much, we do it now too.  Each year we have a poster up to record the things we're thankful for... everything from the gospel and our family to wii and grocery stores that are open 24 hours a day.

Since we've been away from family, I've also asked them to email us the things they are thankful for so we can print theirs up and add theirs to ours.  (And I'm asking you family members to do this again this year- leave your thankful lists in my comments if you don't mind) 
I like this tradition so much I keep the posters up in the basement stairwell all year.  Thanks Sarah!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Snow of the Season

You'd think that this would be my first official sign that Christmas is on the way... but really it was this:
This is just from the last 2 days of mail. I think we've gotten at least 3 catalogues in the mail every day for the last couple of weeks. The kids are busily circling and initialing!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My 100

It seems there is a tradition out there in the blogosphere. When you have your first birthday as a blogger or the 1st anniversary as a blogger, you write a list of 100 things about yourself. Well, it's my birthday today and my blogger-versary tomorrow. Take it or leave it, interesting or lame... I give you my 100 list:

1. My favorite colors are blue and green.
2. I have 2 sisters and they are my closest friends. I always wished I had an older brother.
3. My sister Holly and I have been asked if we were twins, or if she is the older sister.
4. My sister Sunny looks just like us too just in a different color scheme (blond hair, blue eyed)- and she the skinny one.
(Me, Holly, Sunny)

5. I went to an "accelerated" school 7th- 9th grade... and a "normal" high school 10th-12th.
6. I was more prepared for college after 9th grade than I was after 12th grade.
7. I graduated from Brigham Young University in Elementary Education.
8. I met my husband during my 2nd year of college and married him after my 3rd year.
9. I married Greg for time and all eternity in the LDS Los Angeles Temple in May 1992. 10. My husband is a hottie.
11. I have lived in Michigan, Utah, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, and New York.
12. I moved twice before college. Once when I was 6 months old and then about 5 miles away from that home when I was 14.
13. Since we got married and moved into our first apartment together, we've moved 10 times.
14. I don't like moving, but I'm getting used to it.
15. I always mistype the words and, the, and for- they usually end up like this: adn, teh & fro.
16. I love most types of music...especially songs I can sing along with.
17. My favorite singer is Harry Connick, Jr. and I have all of his albums.
18. I got engaged to the song "Unforgettable" by Natalie Cole
19. I like watching musicals.
20. Directing music is fun, but I've only lead congregations, never a choir.
21. I like being the member of a choir.
22. I often feel intimidated by people who are very tall- regardless of who they are or how old they are.
23. I wish perms would come back in style because it was so much easier to do my hair in the 80's.
24. I want everyone to like me.
25. I thinks it is great to catch up with old friends and see where life has taken them.
26. I really don't like cooking.
27. I really, really don't like planning meals.
28. I enjoy decorating birthday cakes for my kids.
29. I am on the internet multiple times every day.
30. I do not like clothes shopping for myself.
31. When I do buy clothes they are usually from Old Navy or Ann Taylor Loft.
32. I wear jeans pretty much every day.
33. I do not wear jewelry- except for my wedding ring (and occasionally a necklace or bracelet on a Sunday)
34. I love the smell of lilacs.
35. I enjoy taking pictures and videos to document our lives.
36. I enjoy blogging to put the story together with the pictures.
37. I wish I knew how to maintain our computers and fix them when they are slow or give me error messages.
38. I wish I craved fruits and vegetables like I do sugars and breads. (I like fruits and vegetables- I just don't think of them first when I want a quick snack.)
39. I wish I was naturally thin.
40. I've struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember.
41. I wish there were some form of exercise that I enjoyed and craved.
42. I married into a family of beautiful people- and have felt insecure in the past due to everyone's good looks and style. (I should clarify that this is self imposed insecurity)
43. I'm getting better at feeling OK about me and as a result feeling less insecure.
44. I had oral surgery when I was 15 to correct an under bite and was wired shut for a month
45. I had plastic surgery on my chin as a part of that oral surgery.

(look at how secure I am now- posting these pictures of me the day after surgery and a week after surgery)

46. I am a night person. I've been known to stay up til 5am to get stuff done- cleaning, packing, projects... whatever needs to get done in an uninterrupted chunk of time.
47. I am not very coordinated in the morning.
48. I used to read A LOT when I was a kid. I don't find that much undisturbed time for it now... and if I do I get too sleepy while reading.
49. I like to create and do things with my hands and my computer.
50. I am a copier/borrower/idea stealer, but usually can put my own personal twist on it.
51. I love a clean and organized home. Someday mine will be that way for more than a half a day. I'm resigned to the fact that for now, just getting the main floor picked up each day has to be enough.
52. I am awful at getting our bathrooms cleaned very often.
53. I enjoy TV and watch most shows on DVR, not when they are actually on.
54. I have seriously burned my face and back by sitting in front of my mom's old sunlamp for way too long.
55. Someday I want to serve a mission with Greg for our church.
56. My faith is the most important part of my life. My testimony of Jesus Christ brings me joy, peace, understanding and knowledge. I love my religion.57. I don't understand how some people do not think that their eternal salvation is a priority-more important than whatever else is going on in their lives and in the world...especially those who believe in God.
58. I want to do all I can to help our kids have a personal relationship with their Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ... so they don't have to rely on our testimonies but have their own.
59. I like having a calling (responsibility that we are asked to do) at church- even when it's a challenge (like my calling now as Relief Society Enrichment Counselor).
60. I can't be a flake with a calling and don't understand how other people can. That's just not acceptable.
61. I am very practical and low maintenance.
62. I'd rather get a practical gift like a kitchen gadget or cleaning tool than something frivolous like jewelry.
63. I do like getting a pedicure every once in a great while though. (my feet NEED it)
64. I haven't met a cake yet that I can resist (except maybe a tres leches cake).
65. I could eat goulash or homemade spaghetti sauce for every meal, every day for a week at least.
66. I love peanuts/peanut butter with chocolate.
67. In 2006 we took some family pictures that made me realize I needed to do something about my weight. I went to Weight Watchers and lost 40 lbs.
68. It's not easy keeping it off especially because of #41, #64, #65 and #66
69. I eat much lower fat foods now, the problem is that I still can eat a lot of it!
70. My favorite snacks now are Kashi Dark Chocolate Chip cookies or Healthy Pop popcorn.
71. I am a procrastinator. (see #46)
72. I'm hardly ever on time for anything.
73. I love children's literature.
74. I have my own collection of Children's literature that I'd love to grow -especially with books I remember reading like the Happy Hollisters. My mom gave away most of our books after we grew up. :(
75. My favorite children's author/illustrator is Chris Van Allsburg.
76. I hate that I use acne products AND anti aging products. Sheesh!
77. I have happy childhood memories of singing to ABBA and Bolero in the back of Dad's Capri with my sisters on our way up north.
78. I have happy childhood memories of singing and acting out Snoopy's Christmas with my aunt Tami.

79. My aunt Tami has been my best friend since I was born as she is 2 years and 11 months older than me. We used to spend countless hours- even days and weeks together.

(Tami and I)
80. My favorite church calling was serving as Primary President because Tami was one of my counselors and I learned so much from her.
81. My parents are amazing examples of how to live my life right.
82. I am a good listener.
83. I hate confrontation.
84. When I am alone in my car I either listen to talk radio or music if I can find songs I can sing along with.
85. If I'm going to sing along it has to pretty much be from the 70s, 80s or something currently playing on Radio Disney. (I'm not up on the latest popular music.)
86. I didn't grow up going to Disneyland like Greg did, but it's growing on me now that we go every year or two.
87. If I could have a super power it would be mind reading.
88. I am shy until I get to know someone. Then, if I feel like someone actually wants to hear what I have to say, look out because I'll talk their ear off.
89. I love thunderstorms, but not as much as I did when I was a kid. Now that I have kids, if the weather is really threatening, I spend much of the time watching the news to see where the storm is and when it will pass.
90. I have never been in an earthquake.
91. I fight crying around anyone anymore.
92. Once Holly made me laugh so hard while we were in a restaurant that I ended up bawling and had to run to the restroom to try to get control of the tears. It was so bizarre... and embarrassing.
93. I like to be in control of my emotions.
94. I never want to let anyone down and want to help anyone if there's any way I possibly can.
95. When I mentioned to Greg's family that I'd worked at McDonald's through high school, I was stunned at their expressions. I can still see Rick's jaw on the floor and look of horror on his face. Apparently white kids in LA don't work at McDonald's like they do in Michigan.
96. I only drink water.
97. I love living in a place that has 4 seasons because I love the beginning of each season. I'd be depressed to live somewhere that is warm year round.
98. I wish I could do math in my head like Greg can.
99. I like well lit rooms. It bugs me when room is too dark (although a couple of mine still are.)
100. I'm so lucky to have Greg as my husband- he loves me so much. He took me out last night for my birthday to a very nice restaurant on the lake. We laughed that our dinner last night cost as much as the dinner we had at Sundance the night we got engaged. Back then it was the same dollar amount as a weeks worth of groceries. Now- not even close! We easily spend 5 times that on groceries now. We've been together along time & it gets better all the time.

Today I could tell that my kids love me so much too.

(Jackson climbing up on my lap to help me blow out the candle.)

At bedtime Kobe came to me with out being prompted. He gave me a hug and said, "Happy Birthday Mommy."

Look what sweet Reagan spent her time making for me today.

Jillie made this amazing blog for me today...
Happy Birthday to me!