Friday, December 31, 2010

It's New Year's Eve...Do You Know Where Your Shoes Are?

It's New Year's Eve...and at our house, that means a visit from the New Year's Elf. It's a tradition from my childhood that my mother passed down to us from her father.

Simply put your shoes under the Christmas tree (if it is still up---a fake ficus or large plant works too, we have discovered!) and the New Year's Elf will fill the shoes with treats, money, goodies, and trinkets to ring in the New Year.

So, it's New Year's you know where your shoes are?
Happy 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons....Sometimes They're Just Sour.

I hope that each of you has had a warm and wonderful Christmas season! I feel as though I have been in a cave for the entire month of December, and am looking forward to a new month and a new year!

Three weeks ago, I was looking forward to a month of endless hopes and wishes---crafts and goodies to make with my kids, Christmas-y places I wanted to take them, holiday parties to attend, shopping, wrapping, finding that just-right-gift, and on and on. However, I could sense that I wouldn't be able to do it all, and I wrote my post about slowing down, realizing I would have to pick and choose some things to avoid frantic overload. What I didn't realize at the time was that not only would I have to slow down a bit, but that I would be forced to come to a sudden halt.

Life handed me a big, fat, juicy lemon in the form of flu just days after that post---you know, with all the yuck that comes with it, and to make a long story, short, I didn't improve much after the first 4 or 5 days. After two different trips to the doctor, they finally took x-rays of my chest to discover that I had pneumonia. (Oh, what fun!)

So yes, crafts, cooking, parties, shopping, all the above, went out the window as we resorted to concentrating on survival to get through the holidays. Luckily, I have a husband who was willing to shop, kids who can clean (getting them to actually do it is another story!), a daughter who makes fabulous pancakes for dinner, and a six year old who simply loves me and shows me in the best ways she can. She wrote me this precious note: (I so love this little peek into her sweet and innocent heart.) Notice that "lamonya" is her phonetic-ish spelling of pneumonia.

I've decided that we don't always get to make lemonade out of lemons that life gives us, but sometimes I think that's ok. Those sour times make us appreciate the sweet, and we are filled with greater gratitude for the blessings we sometimes take for granted each day.

Dealing with lemons also humbles us and gets us on our knees in an effort to be nearer to our Savior...something that I sometimes tend to forget when all around me is sugary and blissful.

If we never experience the unpleasant or miserable on occasion, how do we possibly relate in any way to the suffering that our Savior went through to provide us with a remission of sins and to allow us eternal life? Certainly, our suffering will never come close to the agony he experienced on behalf of each of us. But in a small, human way, we can perhaps ponder upon his great love for us, with greater gratitude and humility....that He would be willing to suffer so deeply in order to save us.

And one final thought...the sourness of life's lemons helps small and simple things which follow seem especially sweet. A sweet neighbor called to check up on me after not seeing me at church for two weeks---a simple gesture, but so sweet for me to feel her concern. Another friend basically fed and raised my youngest at her home for an entire week, and made my daughter's holiday break a little brighter. Another neighbor spontaneously dropped by with a pot of soup---a true blessing for me and my family. Other sweet women offered and provided meals, even amidst my prideful objections. (We can handle it, I thought). But these women knew better, and just brought meals and freshly baked bread anyway, and I ended up so grateful that I could rest and not fret about meals for my family. And another sweet friend texted, emailed, and called from 1400 miles away to check up on me daily. All of those acts felt especially sweet to me!

So, this holiday season, as we have celebrated the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I find I am deeply grateful for his birth and the life he gave on my behalf. I am grateful in a strange way for life's lemons and what I am learning from dealing with them. And I'm learning that it's okay when, sometimes, those lemons are just sour.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Crazy Christmas Glee!

"The family. We are a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together." ~Erma Bombeck

I want to introduce you to some of my family that I absolutely adore. My sister Marva Lu and her hubby have 7 kids---all are now married but one, so with children in-law, they have a posterity of 13 children so far, 19 grandkids, and 3 more on the way, I believe.

This family is crazy. But in all the right ways. They are multi-talented, outgoing, bursting with personality, and completely uninhibited. Those 13 kids are comprised of successful businessmen, doctors, nurses, dance instructors, college athletes, teachers, college students, and the baby of the family---the brains behind this production you're about to see---was a performer at Walt Disney World. (I guess you could say I'm a pretty proud aunt--It's fun to see where they have ended up, and to realize I love the in-laws just as much as my sister's kids.)

They have more fun together than any family I've seen. It's just a party anytime any of them are around, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I love spending time with them. So here is a taste of their crazy Christmas Glee that they are spreading this holiday season. Enjoy!!!

And just in case that wasn't enough glee for's one more video they put together at a family reunion earlier this summer. I told you they were crazy. And I love 'em.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Slowing Down Through Turbulence

"When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be."

Have you ever felt this way? I do almost daily...with the rigors of raising a family, being a supportive spouse, trying to earn extra income, keeping up with all the home duties, helping with homework, running kids to and fro, keeping appointments...(SIGH). It makes us tired just thinking of it all, doesn't it?

I have had gobs and gobs that I have wanted to share on my blog, just in the last week! I have stacks of designs in their infant stages waiting in folders and boxes to emerge and become something beautiful. I have half-finished projects galore. But when to get to all of that? I'm not sure! As I have pondered this issue of mine, I have been reminded of what a very wise man has said recently:

"It's remarkable how much we can learn about life by studying nature. For example, scientists can look at the rings of trees and make educated guesses about climate and growing conditions hundreds and even thousands of years ago. One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.

Have you ever been in an airplane and experienced turbulence? The most common cause of turbulence is a sudden change in air movement causing the aircraft to pitch, yaw, and roll. While planes are built to withstand far greater turbulence than anything you would encounter on a regular flight, it still may be disconcerting to passengers.

What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

So, I guess as I post this today, I just want you all to know how much I truly appreciate you bothering to read and follow my little blog. I truly value you and am grateful for your support!! I also want you to know that if it goes a week or so and you haven't heard from me...I'm not ignoring you, or quitting, or being irresponsible in my blogging (is there such a thing? lol) or some other crazy thing. I'm just...well, being forced to slow down and take care of the essentials for survival in my little home. And at this time of year, especially, I want to focus on my family and making this a meaningful time full of warm memories.

So please forgive me if I slow down through the turbulence of everyday living now and then. I need to read to my kids. Or hang out with my hubby. Or mop my floor. Or head over to my son's last basketball game of the season. Or fold that mountain of laundry. Or decorate our tree with the kiddos. Or just ponder on my many blessings at this glorious time of year.

Hugs and Christmas Kisses to all!!
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