Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blog love

I love blogs.  They inspire me.  I have fun with mine.  I like doing it, but blogs are not real life.  No one is ever as perfect as you think they are.  I remember a quote I heard at church once, "If you think someone is perfect, you just don't know them well enough."  Amen.  I am so not perfect, and if you think I am, you just don't know me well enough.  My blog doesn't let you see the fights my kids have with each other, or their mom yelling at them, or the disagreements my husband and I have.  It doesn't let you see the times life takes us and wrings us dry or makes us cry our eyes out or collapse with exhaustion at the end of the day.  That is real life.  Sometimes it is very hard, sometimes it is joy beyond compare, sometimes it just makes you cry, and others it makes you laugh and smile until it hurts.  You just never know.

I read several blogs regularly, and I enjoy them, but sometimes I think, "Man, she has it so good" or "I wish. . ." and then I stop and remember that quote, "If you think someone is perfect, you just don't know them well enough."  I don't know my blog friends or just the blog people I read well enough.  I know they have trials and challenges that I wouldn't want.  Everyone does.  I have my set and you have yours, and we probably wouldn't want to trade :)  but I am grateful for my life.  I am grateful for the family that I have.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves us and trusts us to do this life thing.  I am grateful for a Savior who is my friend and is there for me and loves me.  I am grateful for my life whatever challenges it may bring.  As we are doing our year of gratitude in our family (more about that here), I am trying so much more to see the good in the world--my world, and each day I am amazed at how many blessing I have and how many things I have to be grateful for.  We are all so very blessed even when we feel down or don't think we are, if we will stop and take the time to really look for our blessings, we will see them in abundance and it will help us along our journey called Life because that journey isn't always easy, but our Heavenly Father gives us so many things to lift us, bless us, and make us grateful along the way.

Happy journey today, and see the good in your world.

Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 4

We had a pretty good week this week.  It was nice to have a longer weekend with Martin Luther King day off.  We are all still staying healthy for which I am extremely glad.  Life is good, and we are grateful for each beautiful day we have.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Sunday:  This afternoon Ben and Mr J worked very hard on making a "cool" train track in the living room.  It has this stellar hill to begin with.  I think that boy needs to be an engineer.

Monday:  No school, so the girls went to the church to play basketball with some friends and the sister missionaries from our church.  They had a great time.

Miss E and I worked hard on making these cinnamon roll sugar cookies for a treat today.  The recipe is from  no other than Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and can be found here.  They were divine!

Wednesday:  This is our microwave that my parents gave to us when we got married over 17 years ago.  It has seen better days, and is, sadly, about to die, so we ordered a new one this week.  It is coming tomorrow, but I wanted to document our old microwave that has been with our family since it began.  We will miss you :)  If it could only tell us how many bags of microwave popcorn it has popped in its lifetime, I think we would be amazed.

Thursday:  School bingo night.  Our kids' school does a free family fun bingo night every January.  There are books for the kids' prizes and donated baskets for the adults.  Dinner is $1.  It is just a fun family night at the school.  Ben, Miss E, Mr J and my mom work on their bingo cards tonight.

Friday:  We went exploring by the river today after school.  I needed some smooth river rocks for a project, and my kids were very happy to help me find some.  Our weather has been so crazy for January.  One day it is 65 and the next 32.  Today was one of the warm days.

Saturday:  My older girls and I were up in the city all day today playing volleyball from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  We had a church volleyball tournament.  I was the coach of these amazing girls.  We won every single game we played the whole day long.  We won the tournament and got this awesome Barbie trophy and starbursts.  It was a fun but very long day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 3

We had our share of the yucky sickness that has been going around this last week.  Luckily (so far) it has only been Mr J.  We hope it stays that way.  In my kids' school of 200 they had 30 kids out in one day.  We sure use our hand sanitizer a lot!!   Here is a look at our week. . . 
Sunday:  Mr J woke up at 2 a.m. and threw up until 9 a.m.  Poor kid!  He set up shop in the bathroom.  Bless his heart!

Monday:  Monday night is family night, and we always play some kind of a game.  We take turns choosing.  Miss E chose the 'flour' game tonight.  Have you ever played it?  You pack a cup of flour and then carefully place it on a plate and stick a clean penny on top.  Everyone takes turns cutting some of the flour way, and the one that makes the penny fall loses and has to dig the penny out of the flour with their nose/mouth.  Fun game--my kids think it is hilarious!!!  I think it is one I played in college :)

Tuesday:  We have this bird feeder by our kitchen window, and we have had so many visitors lately.  This was our bunch this morning.  We had a male and female cardinal also, but they flew away before I got a shot.  Love to watch the birds.

Wednesday:  Miss E is in the DARE program at school which is a Drug education program.  She had her graduation from DARE today and got this cool shirt.

Thursday:  We had my dad over for dinner tonight.  My mom is out of town.  The kids always enjoy spending time with grandpa. 

Friday:  Mr J has to read stories for his homework tonight.  It is fun to listen to him read.

Saturday:  Ben's work had their holiday party tonight.  It is nice to have it in January instead of the crazy of December.  He works with some great people!

Thanks for visiting and hope you have a great week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

2012 Reading List

I love to read.  Being an English/Humanities major and having a mother who is a librarian might have something to do with that.  I love it.  Several years ago I decided that I was going to read as many books a  year as I would have candles on my birthday cake.  Some years I go way over.  Some years I barely make it.  This year I went over a little bit.  I don't put any qualifications on my books--adult or juvenile, fiction or non,  I just read.  This year I wanted to read more non-fiction, so I made my goal to read 10 non-fiction, and the rest whatever caught my fancy.  Sometimes I have huge "to-read" lists, and others I just find randomly and check out.  I love my library.  Libraries are great things.  So, here is my list from last year.  I think I can safely recommend all of them except one which I noted.  As to favorites, hum, that is hard.  I had several and will highlight them in the list.  These are not in any particular order, just the order I read them in during the year.  Enjoy and happy reading!

1.  Halt's Peril:  Ranger's Apprentice series #9 by John Flanagan **this series is one of my all-time favorites, and all my family's too, love it!
2.  The Amaranth Enchangement by Julie Berry
3.  Stone Tables by Orson Scott Card
4.  Secret of the Sea by Richard Peck
5.  Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore *non-fiction
6.  The Emperor of Nijon-La:  Ranger's Apprentice series #10 by John Flanagan
7.  Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale * love Shannon Hales stuff!
8.  A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz * non-fiction
9.  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua * non-fiction, very interesting
10.  Jane Austen:  A Life by Claire Tomalin * non-fiction, biography
11.  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adrianna Trigiani
12.  Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruba * loved this adult mystery, there is a whole series I need to get to with this one, set in Afria in the 1920's
13.  Clockwork Prince  by Cassandra Clare
14.  The Forgotten Tales of The Ranger's Apprentice Series by John Flanagan * after loving this series sooooo much it was fun to find this collection of short stories about the series
15.  The Grey Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima
16.  A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson * not my favorite of hers, the one I would least likely recommend
17.  The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
18.  Inheritance by Christopher Paolini * loved this series, but did not think it ended well.
19.  A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
20.  Candy Bomber:  The story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell * non-fiction, this was one of my absolute favorites of the year, a kids non-fiction, and the true story was amazing!  I had all my kids read it too, and they were very impressed!
21.  A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
22.  When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Orsuka
23.  The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
24.  The Confession by Beverly Lewis
25.  The Reckoning by Beverly Lewis
26.  Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery * another kids non-fiction that I loved, I had seen the movie before I read the book, and loved both
27.  A Prince among Frogs  by E.D. Baker * love her Frog Princess series, this is #8
28.  The Invisible Wall by Harry Berstein * non-fiction and one of my favorites.  It was written by a 95 year old about his youth in England after World War I and how an invisible wall existed down their street dividing the Jews from the Christians.
29.  Recovering Charles by Jason Wright
30.  The Tale of Hill Top Farm:  The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series #1 by Susan Albert * I love the movie Miss Potter, and if you watch that and then start reading this series right after it continues the story.  The movie should be required viewing before reading the books.  It is fiction/mystery, and a new series I really have enjoyed a lot.  I have always been a fan of Beatrix Potter, and it has been fun to learn more about her 'real' life.
31.  Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool * the Newbery award winner for 2012 which author I got to meet and have lunch with
32.  The Tale of Holly How:  The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #2 by Susan Albert
33.  Feed the Children First:  Irish Memories of the Great Hunger by Mary E. Lyons * non-fiction kids book about the potato famines in Ireland
34.  The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ * non-fiction, scripture which I try to read every year
35.  Pearl Harbor Warriors:  The Bugler, the Pilot, the Friendship by Dorinda Nicholson * non-fiction about how an American and a Japanese soldier become friends after fighting against each other at Pearl Harbor
36.  The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #3 by Susan Albert
37. Across American on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy * love Jim Murphy's kids non-fiction books, many are award winners, this one tells of the story of how Robert Louis Stevenson came to America
38. The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens * non-fiction written by Dickens for his children to be read at Christmas time, not published until after his death, a great Christmastime read

What good books did you read this year?  What were some of your favorites?  Please share in the comments so I can read them too!  Thanks!

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 2

It seemed like this week was a little more 'normal' since it was a full week of everyone back in school and back to routine.  I like routine.  That is my thing.  So, here is what we have been up to this week. . . 
Sunday:  Miss A got some new books for Christmas and her birthday.  It was nice she had some free time to enjoy them today. 

Monday:  Monday nights are family nights at our house.  The first Monday night of the new year we always make our personal goals for the year.  We focus on 4 different areas:  Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Temporal.  These were the results of our goal setting tonight.  They will be hung up in each person's room and then at the end of the year we review and put them in our scrapbooks.

Tuesday:  Mr J finally lost his first tooth today, and he is 7 1/2.  He was thinking this day would never come.  We kind of were too.  You can see the new tooth was already almost all the way in behind it.  The dentist wasn't concerned, but Mr J was sure excited when it came out and to finally be able to leave something under his pillow for the tooth fairy!  He even wrote her a note--so cute!

Awards assemblies this week.  These kids rock!

Thursday:  As I was finishing up my 2012 photo album I realized that we never got a picture of what Miss O got for Christmas.  She got an ipod.  She was so excited!  So today she got the cool green cover she ordered for it, so we finally officially have on record that Miss O is a proud owner of an ipod. 

Friday:  I was soooooo excited today to finish my 2012 Project Life scrapbook!!!!!  I did the Cobalt edition, and loved it!  I was working really hard this week to finish it off--meaning writing all the journaling cards.  So nice to close it and put it on the "look at" shelf instead of the "working on" shelf for all to see!

Saturday:  We get to clean our church every couple of months.  Today was our day.  Miss O is an excellent window washer :)

Thanks for visiting and hope you all have a great week!  I am planning on posting my 2012 reading list later this week, so be sure and check back!

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Blue Jeans Week 1

I am continuing my work of documenting our lives with one picture a day.  This starts my 5th year doing this.  I use Becky Higgins' products to help me do this.  This year I am using the Clementine edition of Project Life. I got it for Christmas :)  So these are my pictures from last week--the last two days of 2012 and the beginning of 2013--our year of Gratitude.

Sunday:  Mr J and Miss E got lots of cool Lego sets for Christmas.  They spent Sunday afternoon with Ben getting them built.  Legos are so awesome!

Monday:  Our rip-roaring New Year's Eve bash :)  We went to my parents' earlier for delicious homemade Chinese/Japanese food, and then came home, watched a movie, did a puzzle and tried to stay awake until midnight.  Miss A didn't make it.  She is asleep behind Ben on the couch.   Happy New Year!

Tuesday:  New Year's Day we spent putting all the Christmas stuff away.  What a chore!  Love getting it out, but by now I am sick of it and ready to have my house back to normal!

Wednesday:  We started our 2013 Blessings Books today because for our family 2013 is the year of Gratitude.  More about that here.

Thursday:  Mr J wanted his room rearranged.  He had a plan of exactly how he wanted it.  We weren't too sure about it, but it actually left him with more floor space which is what he wanted--more room for train tracks!

Friday:  Miss E enjoying her break and enjoying her book.  She is reading the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.

Saturday:  One thing Santa left us was a new basketball standard.  The kids were super excited, and despite the cold have used it quite a bit already.  Mr J loves that it is adjustable.  

Thanks for visiting!  Hope your new year is going great!  Come back and visit often!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas 2012

So after visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads for a few hours, it was finally Christmas morning!  We told them they could wake us up at 7 a.m.--I think they came in at 6:55 :)
Stockings are always first, and they were sure excited about them.  Everyone got a cool BYU cup.

My kids exchange names and give to each other.  Mr J had Miss O, and she was thrilled with her Captain American shirt.  That boy has good taste.

Miss A got Miss E this cute bag--she was needing a new one for piano.

Mr J scored with some cool legos from Santa

The girls got these cute BYU hats--love the bling.

Mr J was trying to find that one present he knew was under that tree somewhere. . .

Then about lunchtime we went to my parents.  Mr J got a pocket watch from them.  He was soooo excited!  He has been wanting one the whole year long!  It is a super cool one with a train on the cover.

My sister made my kids these cute mitten pillows.

More cute hats.  My other sister and I also got one, but we didn't make it into the picture.

And after lots of food and presents it is nice to relax and just watch these cars go around the track.  Man, what a wonderful day!

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas Eve 2012

Soooo, wanted to fill you in on our Christmas activities.  Most of these are from Christmas Eve which we always host at our house.  We had about 20 family members and friends who we consider family there.  Lots of fun!  
Miss A had a birthday--not on Christmas Eve, but close.  She is 15--man, where does the time go????  She is a beautiful, talented, smart, and most of all kind, good young woman, and we are so blessed to have her in our family!!!!

Okay, so Christmas Eve--we always have soup--this year we had homemade hearty chicken noodle that my sister made and was amazing!  I did my DeeDee's chili, and my mom did potato cheese--yum!  After we eat we sing lots of Christmas songs.  Each of my kids play.  Mr J started us off.  

We also sing Christmas songs and play hand bells to go along.  Music is a big part of our Christmas Eve celebration.

We always re-in act the Nativity story from Luke 2.  Mr J was so excited to be Joseph this year, and we had some sweet, awesome sister missionaries with us from our church.  One of them played Mary.  

Miss A was the Angel of the Lord--and a very good star holder too.

My mom, Miss O, and my brother-in-law were the shepards--who were being afraid as the angel talked to them and told them to "fear not!"

The three wise men(women)--my nephew, Miss E, and the other sister missionary bearing their gifts to the new baby.

Then one of the sister missionaries shared with us one of her family traditions.  She recited the poem The Boy who Laughed at Santa Claus by Ogden Nash.  She said her sister recites it every Christmas Eve in her family.  It is a cute poem and easily found on the internet--google it, and you will find.

Finally we end with the kids opening one gift Christmas Eve--which is always new pajamas.

I think they loved them, or at least posing in them.  Then cookies and egg nog (non-alcoholic, Miss E was quick to point out in the note for Santa) were left for Mr. Claus and these kids went to bed, and we followed. . . several hours later :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013--The year of Gratitude

 I read in a book once that each year the mom picked a "theme" for the year.   Something to focus on for her family.  I decided to do that this year.  The theme for our family in 2013 is Gratitude.
We all have problems.  We all have challenges--no matter what our age, income, location, etc.  Everyone does, but we also have so much to be thankful for--so very much to be grateful for.  I think in our world with the news from everywhere that always seems to be negative it is very easy to forget our blessings and be positive.  I so want my family (and me) to remember our blessings and be positive and optimistic about our future.  To help us do this I bought each of us a little composition notebook.  They are 3" x 4.5" with 160 pages.   They were $1 at Wal-Mart.  We decorated them yesterday.  Everybody did their own expect for Ben.  He was going to leave his plain, but Miss E felt sorry for him and said, "Dad, do you want me to decorate yours for you?"  "Sure!"  So, he got an extra special one from Miss E.  Anyway, we read scriptures as a family each night around 8 p.m.  We have now made it the tradition that after we read scriptures together we are going to write in our little blessing books 5 things from that day we are thankful for, 5 things that were blessing to us that day, 5 blessings we have, and then we share one of our 5, have prayers, and everyone heads to bed.  Last night was the first time we did it.  I meant to start on Jan 1st, but didn't get them done.  Jan 2nd works just as well.  The kids were excited about it.  I hope the excitement continues and that as we do it they will think more about what they have to be grateful for and count their blessings, because we really do have a lot.   
 So, join me for 2013 and our year of Gratitude!