Monday, November 29, 2010

Decking the halls

We've spent the last four days with Christmas boxes and holiday decor spread out here and there all over the house. It's amazing how long it takes. It probably didn't help that it was a fairly busy four days with a party, the BYU/Utah football game, two concerts, two rehearsals, church meetings and then back to school today. Add to that just trying to keep up on the normal, daily activities such as dishes, laundry and general straightening. But really what dragged me down both in time spent but also in holiday spirits...was lighting issues. My pre-lit tree did not want to light in various sections throughout the tree. Hours were spent checking each and every light, fixing a few, and then, after finding absolutely nothing visibly wrong with the darkened top 1/8th of the tree, completely removing the strand and stringing my own lights. Sigh.

The basement tree. That would be cake after my frustrations with the main tree upstairs...despite the fact that it was not a pre-lit tree and I had to string all the lights myself...right? Well, no. Not the case. Four of my seven strings of lights for that tree would not light. Are you kidding me??? Off to Target I went for more lights. And a chocolate orange to help sugar coat my frustration.

But as of tonight all lights are working. The trees are both decorated. The garlands are strung around the house, the nativities are set up, and the boxes are all put away. There are a few little odds and ends to do but it is mostly done and ready to be enjoyed. And thankfully my holiday spirit and excitement came back this afternoon as I puttered around in my slippers and pajamas arranging poinsettias and berries.'s Christmas time again.
This is Max, our parakeet. He lives in our kitchen where he chatters and chirps at me all day. I love's such a happy, cheerful sound. We open his cage often and give him the option of climbing out and flying around a bit. Friday he perched himself happily on one of the branches of the Christmas tree we had just hauled up from the storage room. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it but I love this little bird!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We spent Thanksgiving this year with my side of the family at Katie and Jeremy's house.


*The FEAST (of course)...especially the sweet potato casserole and the cranberry set salad.
*Sorting through all the newspaper ads with Melissa and my dad next to the warm fire.
*Watching the Saints vs. Cowboys football game. (Saints won...just in case you weren't watching or even care...)
*Pumpkin and chocolate pie
*Feeling very comfortable, content and happy spending hours with my family on my favorite day of the year. (Miss you Rachel and Spencer!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting crafty...

Been on a craft kick the past week or so....

These wood letters are wrapped in yarn. And let me tell you, it's a lot harder to do than it looks. And time consuming too.
While I was working on them Bryan walked in, watched me for a minute and then said, "Are you sure Brandon will even want to hang those in his room?" Well, shoot. Hadn't really thought about that. What if he didn't like them?
I finished them anyhow but instead of doing a big "Ta-Da!!" reveal, I just put them up in his room and didn't say anything. He walked in while I was making his bed, noticed them immediately and said, "Mom!! Wow! Those look SO cool! Thank you!!"

When Lilian was a baby I bought, painted, distressed and then hung wooden letters in her room spelling out her name. This past week I took those same letters and jazzed them up a bit by putting them in a frame lined with coordinating patterned paper. This project, unlike Brandon's letters, took me only about a half hour. Maybe because I already had the letters done...

Years and years ago I started a Thanksgiving tradition where my kids and I would make little crafty place settings for the big feast. We've made turkeys out of pinecones, mini leaf collages from leaves we've collected up the canyon, Pilgrims out of foam get the idea. This year we made little Pilgrim hats out of upside down terra cotta pots, some ribbon and felt. We painted them with chalkboard paint so we could write the names right on the hat. It was fun to put these together. (Thanks, Mary, for your help!)

And while making the Pilgrim hats, Julianne also went to town on these beauties. Cloves in oranges...what a great, holiday smell. But Julianne also decided to jazz them up with ribbon and buttons as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blizzard of 2010

The "Blizzard of 2010" hit yesterday. All day long reports came in forecasting weather related doom and gloom. This storm, it was predicted, was to be the worst the state had seen in many years. Schools were closing early or canceling after school activities, motorists were encouraged to leave work early, evening events across the state were canceling right and left. I had some concerns myself because I was supposed to perform "Harriet" at the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake. ("Harriet" is a musical about Harriet Tubman...this performance was to be a Readers Theater/Workshop sort of performance.) As of late afternoon the director was still of the mind set that "the show must go on." I was starting to plan for extra supplies in my car in case I got stuck on the freeway somewhere on the way home or even renting a hotel room if things were as bad as forecasted. I was pretty certain that we wouldn't get any kind of an audience to even attend our performance...and after awile that was the conclusion that the director came to as well. We got notice that the show was postponed less than an hour before I was to leave.
The blizzard rolled in about 5:00. Gusting winds, snow and low visibility within minutes. Once relieved of the idea of having to be out driving in the snowy mess, I put on my cozy pajamas, started up some Christmas music and made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Snow is one of my all time favorite things if I don't have to drive in it. But we didn't get a ton of snow like I was hoping. A fact that made a lot of people say, "Blizzard? What blizzard?" I think everyone was expecting a huge dumping and felt a little let down...that all of the scare tactics and preparations weren't needed. But the forecast was only for 1-4 inches on the valley floor. A blizzard isn't just snow. It's crazy wind and arctic temperatures along with that snow which make for slick roads and no visibility. All of which this storm delivered. I don't think it was as bad as they predicted or expected. But all the warning and pleading did keep everyone off the roads which was the objective. And I have no doubt it led to less accidents and chaos out there last night.
The winds and snow had calmed by 9:00 so Lilian and I went out to shovel. Peaceful and beautiful, if cold. I rewarded myself (and got warmed back up) with a hot bath in my big tub when I was done. It ended up being an unexpectedly cozy evening which was quite a treat.

Thankful Turkey

See this turkey? He's our "thankful turkey" and he's been a part of our Thanksgiving traditions for a good 10 years now. We bring him out for Family Home Evening the Monday before the big day and gather together to fill his feathers full of things we are thankful for. There are some constants that the kids always tend to name...things like family, house, food, school, Jesus, and temples. Almost always books and music make it onto the list. This year gymnastics and growth hormone were listed as things to be thankful for as well as computers, friends, holidays and snow.

Some of my favorites from when the kids were little: airplanes that bring Daddy home, Josh's house, PSP, nursery, hair, eyes that see. We always keep the feathers from past years and read over them before we start naming new blessings. It's interesting to see what stays constant and what new blessings they become aware of as they get older. It's a fun tradition and I'm really happy that they kids enjoy it and look forward to it as much as they do.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Bedroom Shuffle

We spent the great majority of last weekend making some bedroom changes. If I had realized beforehand how much time and effort it would take, maybe I would've said no when Brandon broached the subject. I am pleased with how it all turned out, but after the craziness of last weekend and then a full week of fine tuning, tweaking and de-junking it all, I'm glad to be done! (Hanging pictures and blinds in Brandon's room got finished up this evening.)
Here's what we did:

This room in the basement has been a craft/excersize/junk room. Brandon, desperate for a change, decided he wanted to take over that room. I told him I needed to talk to his older sisters first. For the past few years that wing of the house has been dubbed "Estrogen Alley." Would they be okay with Brandon encroaching on their domain? After extracting a promise from him that he would wash his hands each and every time he used the common bathroom so as to not spread boy germs on handles and doorknobs, they agreed to welcome Brandon to the basement.Moving out all the "stuff" to make room for Brandon's furniture. Find a new home for it all was arguably the hardest part of the move.

Brandon's new room:

We quickly decided that Brandon's vacated upstairs room would actually be better for Lilian than the bedroom she was currently in. So the day after moving Brandon down, we started moving Lilian over. Her move was easier, obviously. Moving furniture next door was much easier than hauling it down the stairs.

Lilian's new room:

All that other "stuff?" The treadmill went in the basement family room. Some things got boxed up and put in the storage room. Other things went in the garbage can. And all those scrapbook/craft supplies that used to just sit out and available...they got organized into containers and stashed into the closet of the now empty room that used to belong to Lilian:
And the rest of this room? I thought about taking it over and making it into a "Mom Cave." But I don't need a craft room, really. I don't scrapbook anymore. (Thank you Blogger.) And I don't really need my own den....we already have a computer room/den/library that has more than enough room for Bryan and me to each have our own work space and I really love that room. What I really want is a little TV/sitting room. We have one TV in the house. Just one. I can't count how many times I've wanted to watch something but couldn't because the kids were down there playing playstation 3 or hanging out with friends or watching some teeny bopper Disney channel show. My parents turned my old bedroom into a TV/sitting room a few years ago. And it is the coziest, neatest little room. I love to spend time there when I am visiting. So I am hoping to create a room like that in this empty space. It may have to stay empty for a few months while we get through the holidays. But then...oh, I am so excited and anxious to get to work on it! Stay tuned....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Family Pictures

Our good friends, Lori and Jon Woodbury, run a wedding planning company called Weddings By Woodbury. If you or someone you know is getting married, they've got everything you need from invitations and cake to flowers and photography... and they do it all elegantly, beautifully and professionally. But more than just weddings, Jon is your ultimate photographer. He's got the gear, the know how, the passion and the talent to shoot anything. I've been following his blogs and website for quite awhile so when it came time to get our family pictures done, I knew without a doubt that I wanted Jon to do them.

Over dinner at our house, Jon explained his philosophy with family pictures. Sitting all together and smiling for the camera is something any family can do. What made our family different? What was uniquely us? For example, he said, he did a sitting with a family that owned and worked the Nightmare on 13th Street haunted house. Pictures taken with the haunted house as a background would be perfect for their family. Another family enjoyed watching videos together. Their sitting ended up being at the Salt Flats where they re-created a family room of sorts with a TV, a side table and a bunch of DVD's spread everywhere. What was our "thing"?

It didn't take too long to decide on books. We all love to read. Books line shelves in almost every room in the house. I read to my kids, even now as teenagers. Specifically Harry Potter. I read that whole series out loud to my girls when they were younger. And then again a few years later when Brandon was ready for them. So we packed the Harry Potter series and the books that we were all currently in the middle of (notice Bryan has an Amazon Kindle) and headed to the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City.

Jon did a fabulous job! Every single picture is amazing. But here are a few of my very favorites:

Go check out Jon's blogs and website:
(This is his official website which can then lead you to wedding stuff, his fine arts photography, his blog and Lori's flowers)
(This is a different blog project for the year of 2010 where he has been taking and posting one shot daily of just average things all around. It's amazing. I've been following it religiously this whole year.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Favorite Photo Friday

4th of July 2003. Cute Julianne.

"Flower Fairy"

Lilian turned me into a "Flower Fairy" this afternoon. The tricks of her trade? Alyssum from the front flower beds. Don't I look just lovely?
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Spy

Like those popular "I Spy" children's, my friends, we are playing I Spy with the contents of my purse.

In this picture see if you can find:

*A cell phone (Can't even tell that it was broken apart in 3 different pieces earlier this week when I unfortunately dropped it on the sidewalk, can you?)
*A paper bag from The Chocolate Factory (A yummy caramel apple is hiding inside...)
*A grocery list
*Lip gloss (Rebekah's)
*A necklace
*A set of keys (That overly large blue keychain? It was my "prize" for completing LOTOJA and it's really heavy...but I carry it around anyway.)
*A book (I ALWAYS have a book in my purse. As do all of my sisters. We get this from our mother.)
*Cover up
*A maroon colored, wooden, letter N (It's the N from Lilian's name that has been hanging in her bedroom. I'm contemplating getting all crafty and updating those letters into something neater...and I needed one of the letters with me at the craft store for sizing purposes.)
*A flash drive
*A black wallet
*3 pencils
*2 pens
*2 bra extenders (Um, yeah. Lilian found those in my dresser drawer the other day, clipped the two together and wore it like a bracelet while running errands. Eventually it found its way into my purse...)
*A cough drop
*A pair of hoop earrings
*A lip liner
*A notebook

I find it kind of interesting, the odd collection of things that make up a woman's purse. A couple of things that used to be a staple for my purse but are no longer there? Diapers and wipes. Yay! My purse doesn't double as a diaper bag anymore! Although it is not uncommon to find crayons, granola bars and Disney princess figurines in there...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

This little girl has been practically giddy about the snow this week. Moments after she woke up yesterday morning, she was already clamoring to go nothing but her feety pajamas, hat and gloves. This is a girl after my own heart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Feasts, Gingerbread Houses and College Football

We had a Thanksgiving dinner with Bryan's family last night. (Can I just say, YAMS...YUM!) After the big feast Bryan's mom brought out gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate. Although the thought was that this activity would be more for the younger kids (ie: Brandon and Lilian), Rebekah and Julianne were totally jazzed about supervising which meant I got to sit in the den and discuss college football with Treg. BYU won...Woohoo!!! U of U lost miserably to TCU...hahaha!
Okay, sorry. I am a proud U of U alumni. Really I am. But I was raised to be a True Blue BYU fan when it comes to football. And seriously, the Utes were getting so cocky. I think that piece of humble pie was well deserved.
But back to the original topic of my post...
TA-DA!! Don't you think the finished project turned out well?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Favorite Photo(s) Friday: High School Dances

If you are, like me, a child of the 80's, then you probably remember the funny, elaborate ways we used to get dates for the big school dances. (Do they still do this now-a-days? I guess I'll find out in a couple of years. Aack! Is Rebekah really almost that old???)

Despite the fact that he was already graduated, Bryan asked me to Homecoming my senior year. His sister Carolyn was tasked with the job of keeping me busy and away from home as he invaded my bedroom with pink toilet paper. In the center of my TP wrapped bed was a stuffed gorilla holding a note inviting me to the dance. I kept the gorilla AND all that toilet paper. The TP was used again in revenge later. :) The gorilla, "Mrs. Pit"...named by Bryan for her large armpits... was joined by "Mr. Pit" a few months later and have since entertained all four of our children in turn. Today they sit in Lilian's room, holding a place of honor on top of her book shelf.

A month and a half after Homecoming I invited Bryan to Sadie Hawkins by making a trail of paper footprints, each with a Hershey's Kiss on it, leading to his bedroom where he was met with a big paper heart saying, "Now that I've kissed the ground that you walk on, will you go with me to Sadies"....or something to that effect. He answered me by once again invading my bedroom. This time with balloons. There were so many I couldn't even wade into my bedroom without shoveling balloons out into the hallway first. The great majority of the balloons spent the rest of their life span in the dining room entertaining my younger sisters.

I'm glad that my mom thought to take pictures.... Fall 1990.