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Showing posts from December, 2011

Reviewing the Past Year; Looking Ahead to the New

In thinking about goals for the new year, I have to think about how practical each goal is.  Will I really find the time to do whatever it is I dream of doing?  The answer, of course, is that I have just as much time as anyone else, and I just have to establish patterns or routines which allow me to meet my goals. Trying to do too much all at once is a recipe for disaster, but assuming that I can be patient with myself and set realistic expectations, I should be able to achieve my top priorities.

So, the real question is, what are my top priorities?

I love this quote by Elder Ian S. Ardern:

"I know our greatest happiness comes as we tune in to the Lord and to those things which bring a lasting reward, rather than mindlessly tuning in to countless hours of status updates, Internet farming, and catapulting angry birds at concrete walls. I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addi…

January 2012 Visiting Teaching Handout

Every month, I have the opportunity to go visit several other women from church, as part of the visiting teaching program.  It's a great chance to sit and chat and develop friendships.   There is also a message for each month.  January's message is about the visiting teaching program itself.  I decided to try to be creative and design a handout that visually captures the idea of visiting teaching.   And unlike last time I created a handout, I think I have figured out how to share it with you!



If you would like a copy, click here. Please let me know if that isn't working.  I'm still learning!

Update:  I think it is easiest to just right click on the image, "save picture as", and then open to print in whatever format you wish. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for those who share their knowledge to help me (and others!) learn new skills.

I'm Thinking This Must Be a Misprint

We dropped the car off at the shop yesterday for new brakes.  One of the parts wasn't in stock, so we had to wait until this morning to pick up the car.  When I looked at the receipt, I realized:

1.  The car is probably due for another oil change now.
2.  A 1999 Ford Escort can go a LOT faster than I realized!




Thankful thought:  Thanks for honest auto repairmen, even if they sometimes mess up the paperwork!

Blog Construction Zone

As you've probably noticed, I'm in the process of a blog remodel.  Bear with me as things change around a bit, and please feel free to leave any suggestions or comments.  I'm particularly trying to decide which tab categories to feature.  Thanks!

Wordless Wednesday: Siblings

Loving the Change of Pace

I've decided that one reason we set new year's resolutions is because we have about a week between Christmas and New Year's Day when we have a change of pace, a chance to slow down and reflect.  I love to plan, but I don't like to be rushed, so having a week to have ideas percolate in my brain is refreshing. The thoughts are still rattling around up there, so I'm not ready to take a leap and publicly declare change--don't rush me, remember?--but I am enjoying quiet time.

In some ways, though, my house is noisier.  My brother and his wife and kids are staying with us for a few days.  His oldest child is years younger than my youngest, so we are enjoying having young children in the house.  One of their favorite games is guessing which cousin will wake up first.  We just laughed when we were told that my brother's oldest woke my oldest up by saying, "It's 8:30!! Why aren't you up? Are you sick????"  After a week of college finals, I think it…

A Perfect Family: Another Myth Dispelled

This afternoon, one of our neighbors stopped by to deliver goodies to us.  She gushed about how much she loves having us carol to her each December.  She said that she wished her (grown) kids could be there when we sing on her doorstep, so they "could know how perfect families are." Um, thanks for the compliment, but we aren't perfect.

We do have family traditions that I am pleased with.  We have family home evening (FHE) every week, for instance.  I would be lying if I said that every FHE is a model of domestic living, though.  We are human, and sometimes the lesson or activity doesn't quite go over the way we would hope.  One joke in the Mormon community is that family home evening is the only argument that begins and ends with prayer. 

Another less-than-stellar moment occurred on vacation.  We had taken a red-eye flight to Boston.  We arrived in the morning, and in an attempt to adjust to eastern time, we stayed awake and started walking along the Boston Trail.  …

Missionaries and Christmas

The missionaries came over for dinner at our house a couple of nights ago.  My oldest served a mission to Japan, so one of the missionaries was asking him about what it was like in Japan, what foods he ate, etc.  The other missionary was fairly quiet, which was completely understandable, as he is from Cambodia and still getting acquainted with English.  (He speaks very well, however, considering how new he is.)  He did laugh, though, when we pointed out that he will be having similar conversations when he returns to Cambodia:  "What strange things did you eat in the United States?" 

I don't know Cambodian cuisine, but I made a guess that rice and curry wouldn't be completely foreign to him, and served that.  Dessert, however, was probably a bit strange.  I found an idea for Snowmen Sundaes here, and thought it was a cute, quick dessert.  We used pretzel sticks instead of licorice for the arms, though..

The missionaries try to keep themselves busy and focused on the …

Wordless Wednesday: Caroling Captured on Camera (Thanks, Cindy!)

Caroling Without a Camera

Christmastime means caroling (or carolling, if you prefer the British spelling.  I might.  I can't make up my mind.)  Anyway, each year we crazy parents insist that our children accompany us down our street to sing songs and deliver goodies to our neighbors.  And each year, there is the inevitable jockeying for position on each front porch, and discussion about whose turn it is to hand over the treats. 

I think we have caroled every December, with the exception of the year of pregnancy bed rest (OK, it was only 20 weeks, but it felt like a year--and it was definitely over the holidays!) Even then, though, John might have taken the other kids caroling.  I honestly don't remember.  But I digress again.  My point is that though caroling is such a big tradition for us, I have not once thought to document the tradition with a photograph.  I did notice, however, that one of our friends snapped a picture of us last night.  I'm going to ask if I can get a copy of it.

I'm won…

Not Perfection, But Satisfaction

As of about 8:30 last night, I am finished with accompanying choirs for the year.  Though I enjoy playing for them, it will be nice to have a bit of a break.  It will probably take a couple of weeks for various measures of songs to exit my brain anyway, after having stewed in there for the past few months. 

Of course, I made mistakes, but they were minor and hopefully unnoticed.  The choirs performed marvelously, under the direction of talented choristers.  There was a quiet stillness after the final strains of "Silent Night" concluded.  Choir and congregation alike felt the true spirit of Christmas. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for patient choristers and choir members, who not only ignore my (sometimes glaring) errors, but even thank me for playing for them.  It's wonderful to be around so many talented, gracious people.  Thanks also to my college kids who are home for the break, one of whom willingly acted as my page-turner yesterday.  I know I should be able to turn m…

December Garden Walk

I realize that I missed the November garden walk.  It crossed my mind sometime between the turkey and the pie, I think.  Anyway, here is a peek into my garden now.

One of the garden tasks that makes me chuckle is gathering the tumbleweeds.  I suppose if I had grown up here, I would not find the task so humorous.  Because the novelty has not worn off, I am still amused by this job.


It's starting to look like another season in the garden. The leaves are turning color and falling.  


 There are signs of life in the vegetable garden, though.  We've harvested some peas, and the cabbage is heading up nicely. 


Thankful thought:  Thanks for the seasons, which add variety to the year.

Wordless Wednesday: Reno Three Weeks Ago and Reno Today

Planning Around the Sour Cream Once Again

Since we moved into our house a couple of years ago, we've been trying to figure out what to do with the formal living room. It has served as a girl scout meeting spot, as the place where all the boy cousins sleep at Thanksgiving, as a greenhouse for tomato starts, and as a boxing ring.  It has been our very own "room of requirements."  As wonderful as all of that is, I occasionally find myself thinking of just what I want that room to be.  I envision a calm room (oops, there goes the boxing ring!), and perhaps something a little more formal than we've had in the past.  (None of us are terribly formal people, so I'm definitely not talking stuffy here!)  I've been keeping my eyes open, hoping that I would eventually find a piece of furniture, or something, that would help give direction to my idea. 

Well, last week in our local Goodwill thrift store, I found an oil painting that fills the bill:


Living in the desert, I sometimes miss the rain, so it is nice to…

Wordless Wednesday: Tomatoes, Part 2 (aka Spaghetti Sauce!)

Tomatoes, Part 1 (Yes, I Know it is December!)

Thanks to a generous somewhat-local farmer with a greenhouse, the church recently received a donation of tomatoes. While many of the boxes went to charities and those in need, there were boxes left over. Those boxes were available for church members who wanted them. I picked up one box last Friday, but there were still boxes available on Sunday, so I picked up two more, for a total of 60 pounds of tomatoes--enough for 2 batches of spaghetti sauce to can.

I wish I could say that I have finished canning jars upon jars of spaghetti sauce, but that is not the case. However, I can say that in addition to the more traditional December activities of cookie-baking and fudge-making, I have peeled 60 pounds of tomatoes. For the curious, that is around 24 quarts of tomatoes. Tomorrow I plan to saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms to add to the tomatoes, and then let the concoction simmer on the stove for hours. I think I should end up with 18 quarts of spaghetti sauce when all is said …

Candlelight Processional at Disneyland

Yesterday, we went to Disneyland.  I love to go to Disneyland, particularly when I can play tour guide, particularly on non-busy days.  Yesterday was a crowded Saturday, and I didn't bring any tourists along. But the first Saturday in December is my favorite day to visit Disneyland, because that is the day of the Candlelight Processional. 

Once a year, choirs from all over gather together at Disneyland.  Choir members walk down Main Street, carrying (battery-operated) candles and singing Christmas carols.  They start at Small World and end at the Main Street train station, where they join a full orchestra. 


A celebrity reads the account of the birth of Jesus from the book of Luke in the Bible.  Gary Sinise read this year.


After every few verses, the choir sings another musical number.  The audience joins for "Silent Night."

Literally thousands of individuals, most in standing-room-only roped-off partitions, make up the audience.  I generally don't like crowds, but …

Deck the Halls and Ignore the Mess

I love to get started with decorating for Christmas right after Thanksgiving.  I mean, if I'm going to go to the trouble to decorate, I might as well enjoy it for a while, right?  But if I were to leave the tree up until spring, I think it would whisper "procrastinator!" every time I would walk by.  Where's the joy in that?  So, I try for an early start.

I had every intention of sharing photos of my lovely, decorated house in a blog post yesterday.  The trouble is, I'm not Martha Stewart.  The trees are up, but my house is a mess.  I'm not done.  The boxes of lights for the outside are plopped unceremoniously in the entry.  Many of the empty boxes which held the ornaments are still waiting to be returned to the attic.  And the rest-of-the-year decorations which were removed to make way for the Christmas stuff have yet to be hidden from view.  (To be honest, even Martha Stewart has to get the boxes down from the attic or where ever she stores them.  I think.)