Saturday, December 31, 2011

hiking in a winter wonderland

I love going hiking! Mountains and fresh air and flora and fauna really appeal to me. I love the time to be alone and really ponder. Plus, it's good exercise while still being lots of fun. Unfortunately, it has been a summer pastime - until now. I tried snowshoeing and loved it! Look what a beautiful world I live in:

Of course, it didn't hurt that the outside temp was in the 50's. Who wouldn't love snowshoeing in that kind of weather?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Festival of Lights in D.C.

Christmas night I decided to go see my parents so McKayla, Shanley, and I got up early on the 26th and flew to Washington, D.C. It was a quick trip but so much fun! We played lots of games - Zilch, Pandemic, SkipBo, and Ripple. We ate way too much! We went to see the Festival of Lights at the temple. We looked at the creche display in the Visitor's Center. We went to the temple. I even got to see an old friend of mine from Cody. We watched a couple of heartwarming videos. Early Wednesday morning we were on a flight home.

Here's the beautiful lights at the temple. Wow!

The Washington, D.C. Temple is one of my favorite temples (along with the one in San Diego).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas recap

This was probably the best Christmas I can remember! I am glad about that because I didn't go into it with much Christmas spirit. I felt like Scrooge on the 24th. I really missed having Brakston with us! It was hard because he'd been gone the previous 2 years on his mission and I had really looked forward to having Christmas with him once again. But, alas, he's married now and spent Christmas with his wife's family. It is something I will have to get used to but it was really hard on me this year and I shed a lot of tears. Also, I was a little frustrated with a couple of my children who had put off making their homemade gift. Also, there was no snow which didn't exactly help put me in the proper Christmas mode. So, Christmas didn't get off to the most promising start.

I arose really early and took care of a few things. I also made homemade eggnog and started the Swedish Tea Ring which is our traditional breakfast. We went to church before opening anything. The music and prayers at church gave me the peace and joy I was seeking. We came home and baked our tea ring, ate breakfast, and did the dishes. Finally, when the kids were ready to burst in anticipation, we went in around the tree for another family tradition - the finding of the pickle. Based on a supposed German myth (most Germans have never heard of it), we have a pickle ornament which is hidden on Christmas Eve. The first child to find the pickle receives an extra present.

Chandler was the lucky pickle-finder this year and got a jar filled with gumballs.

Santa does not wrap our gifts but leaves the gifts and stockings on the couch covered with a tablecloth.

The kids line up by age for the unveiling.

I guess what really made this a great Christmas was that Kevin and I managed to surprise every child with something they really wanted. Some didn't know that was what they wanted and some didn't expect to get what they wanted. Shanley got this peacoat which she absolutely loves and didn't ask for.

McKayla was shocked to receive an acoustic guitar. She has really wanted one for a while but didn't actually expect to get it.

Chandler needed a new bike but thought he'd have to wait until his birthday. We also surprised him with a Legos watch. He didn't even know there was such a thing and he LOVES it!

Shanley and Alec show off their matching pajama pants.

Alec wanted a light saber. He was sure every present he opened would be that so, of course, I saved it to the very last. He was pretty excited about it. He likes that it makes lights and sounds.

I am so glad we were able to surprise our kids! I threw the budget out the window this year which wasn't smart (and is so unlike me) but it was worth every penny seeing every child so happy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


One of our favorite family traditions is Christmas Eve bowling and pizza. We love bowling because it is something the entire family can do! Even Alec bowls a pretty mean game!

Kevin and Chandler
Alec, Shanley, and Whitney
Scores from our first game. McKayla got a 66, Kevin a 95, me a 76, and Chandler a 77 (hate it when your 10-year-old bowls better than you do!)
More scores from our first game. Brakston scored a 74, Whitney a 79, Shanley a 111, and Alec an 85. You can see from our scores that we're practically pro. heehee!
Brakston and Whitney.
Alec with his usual enthusiasm.
Scores from our 2nd game. McKayla a 74, Kevin a 139, me a whopping 54, Chandler a 71.
More 2nd game scores. Brakston a 96, Whitney a 100, Shanley an 83, and Alec a 119.
After bowling we had pizza at The Pie (another tradition). Yummy! We also enjoyed their new drink machine. It is electronic and gives you so many options - Fanta in grape, cherry, strawberry, peach, etc; lemonade in strawberry, raspberry, cherry, etc; even vanilla root beer. We used one of these machines in the Atlanta airport earlier this year but this is the first one I've seen in Utah (course I don't eat out much either and almost never buy a drink when I do - I'm kind of a water gal).

The rest of our Christmas Eve tradition consists of reading the Nativity story from the Bible and giving our gifts to Jesus (usually a spiritual goal for the upcoming year). Then we watch "A Christmas Story".

pics - FINALLY

I'm a little behind on getting pictures posted. Here's the gorgeous anniversary flowers from Kevin. I just wish the photo could do justice to the amazing color of the bouquet.
Here is Alec's birthday cake. He picked it out since he told me for weeks before his birthday that he wanted a Star Wars cake with Luke Skywalker on it.
I went to the Denver Temple on the 23rd. This is the view from the entrance.
This is the view from the street (the opposite side from the entrance).

Monday, December 26, 2011


The Christmas present opening was a LOT of fun this year! We managed to surprise every one of our children with at least one of their gifts. And, in every case, the surprise gift was something that really made them happy.

For Alec, it was a light saver (yes, he's a Star Wars fan).

For McKayla, it was a guitar.

For Shanley, it was a peacoat.

For Chandler, it was a Legos watch.

Seeing them so excited made my Christmas a lot cheerier.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

the case of the missing Christmas present

As a youth I devoured mysteries. I loved Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys. I read them all!

You'd think I would have picked up a hint or two on how to solve my own mystery but alas...what I really need is my own personal Encyclopedia Brown.

I helped Alec buy a Christmas present for McKayla. I remember that much. I even remember exactly what it was. What I don't remember is where I hid it. It is a small item and I have looked in all my usual hiding spots - dresser drawers, closet, under my bed...Nothing. Zip. Nada. I even went so far as to clean out my closet. Still zilch. Closet looks good though.

I've never experienced a completely lost present before. I'm not liking the sensation. Where is Nancy when I need her?

Friday, December 23, 2011

my anniversary flowers

Kevin is great about giving me flowers! He does it really well. I especially loved the color of these ones that he gave me for our 24th anniversary!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today will be my final day of 4 days substitute teaching seminary at the local middle school.

thank goodness.

Normally, I love teaching seminary. I love it a little less when it's at a middle school rather than a high school.

I love it a LOT less when it is merely a few days before Christmas! Students are insanely hyper - I am going to need a lot of luck and a huge amount of prayer to get through today. Pray for me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

anniversary and birthday

Yesterday was the 24th anniversary for Kevin and me! Yep - 24 years!

I went to bed early Saturday night feeling a bit queasy. I awoke yesterday to gorgeous flowers (roses and lilies in a wondrous shade of orange), a mint truffle and a wrapped gift. Sweet!

Unfortunately, I was still a bit queasy.

Last night, Chandler and Shanley were sick all night. They stayed home from school today.

Today is Alec's 19th birthday. He requested eggs for breakfast and coffee cake for dinner. He also wanted a Star Wars cake with Luke Skywalker.

The celebration went great! It was quick because we had to get to Shanley's dance recital. She was barely feeling good enough to dance. About halfway through the recital, Alec got really sick and I had to get him out of there. We barely made it home in time for him to get super sick. Poor guy!

Do we know how to celebrate or what?

Friday, December 16, 2011

best nativity EVER!

Last night the Special Needs Mutual performed the nativity. Alec was a shepherd and was very serious about the role. One of the sheep insisted on wearing tinsel in her hair like the angels. One of the wisemen had on a Utes beanie. There were more angels than anything since almost every young woman wanted to be an angel. One shepherd on the stage enthusiastically waved his arms in leading every song. One man, who played the part of a cow, made us all laugh when he bore his testimony and said the whole thing was "udderly" fantastic. T

My personal favorite was the narrator reading about King "HE-Rod". I'm not sure I'll ever read the nativity the same again.

It has also never touched my heart as much before.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adult Truths

A friend of mine has been posting these on Facebook (a truth a day). It's from an email that's been circulating (probably forever). Some really do make me laugh!

Adult Truths
1.I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die. (you know who you are!)
2.Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
3.I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
4.There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5.How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? (I just roll and roll and roll!)
6.Was learning cursive really necessary?
7.MapQuest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. (LOL)
8.Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9.I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
10.Bad decisions make good stories.
11.You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. (YES!)
12.Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my Collection…again. (thank you!)
13.I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. (this applies to other apps too)
14.I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15.I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
16.I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.
17.I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
18.How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?
19.I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
20.Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever. (don't totally agree)
21.Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. (LOL!)
22.Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey, but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time. (totally disagree with this one. I've never hit a snooze button in my life and my current alarm doesn't even have one!)
23.The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.
24.Has anyone figured out why there’s an eject button on the DVD remote? Don’t you still have to get up and take out the DVD???

Monday, December 12, 2011


One of the ironies of living in an area completely surrounded by mountains is that you find yourself hoping for a big winter storm.

No, that's not a joke. You see, the drawback to living in a valley is that the air gets trapped in the valley (inversion) and the air quality gets really bad. The only way to clean the air is to have a good storm.

Currently the air quality is so bad that it's rated as a "red" day meaning you are not supposed to be outside. The schools keep the students in for recess and they encourage you to exercise indoors. That brings the second catch-22. Do I stay indoors and suffer the ill-health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle or do I go running and inhale lots of poor, gunky, dangerous air?

I guess you could say "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2 fabulous concerts

Every year FM100 hosts Christmas mini-concerts on Tuesdays and Thursday at noon at the mall. These concerts feature 2 artists for 30 minutes each.

It has become my tradition to try to attend a few of them. Relaxing and listening to Christmas music by wonderful performers is such a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

This past week brought 2 of the best concerts! On Tuesday there was Eclipse (a local acapella group who actually performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter 2002 Olympics). They were highly entertaining! They were followed by Jon Schmidt who is Chandler's favorite piano player. Therefore, I even pulled Chandler out of school to attend.

Thursday was David Tolk (another amazing pianist) and Peter Breinholt (a folk singer whom I personally enjoy very much).

Definitely feeling the Christmas spirit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Lately I have had the oddest sensation in my left leg. It's a bit of a vibration.

I often set my person at my feet and over the course of several days I kept picking up my purse to check my cell phone. I was always surprised to find nothing there because I had clearly felt it vibrate.

Being the extremely quick-minded person that I am, it only took me several days to realize that it was not my phone vibrating but MY FOOT!

An electric pulse, a vibration, something was starting in my left foot and working it's way partly up my leg - very odd.

I'm sure it's just my electric presence!

Friday, December 9, 2011

candy land

My home is beginning to look like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Yum!

Every year we host an open house for our neighbors.

So far this week I've made:
English Toffee
White Chocolate Pretzels
Peanut Butter Balls
Cake Batter Truffles
Milk Chocolate Balls

Unfortunately, that is only about halfway there. I still need to make:
Peanut Brittle
Coconut Orange Balls
Oreo Truffles
Mint Truffles
Chocolate Truffles
Another Batch of Fudge

We don't even want to think about how much sugar I go through in December but I love having my neighbors and friends over! It is so much fun to visit! Last year about 60 people came and I loved all of them! I always stress about having enough candy and I always have tons of leftovers - luckily, I never have a problem finding people to give it to.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

what do you do?

What do you do at 3:30 am? Sleep? Nah. Highly overrated. Personally, I can't sleep so I just get going on my never-ended to-do list.

Monday morning at 3:30 am you could find me downstairs in the basement organizing my seasonal decor into storage bins. I will confess. My storage has probably been what can best be described as "a disaster". It is now organized, labeled, and stored in an accessible fashion.

Tuesday morning at 3:30 am you could find me in the kitchen. I made coffee cake for the kids' breakfast, stuffed mushrooms, cordon bleu lasagna, and tortilla dessert cups.

Wednesday morning at 3:30 am you could find me in the living room on my laptop. I answered emails, typed our Christmas letter, and caught up on facebook.

Thursday morning at 3:30 am you could find me still in bed. That's right. I slept in and didn't get up until 4 am at which time you could find me back in the kitchen. I made fudge and dipped pretzels.

Sometimes I actually amaze myself with all that I can get done before 7 am.

Now, if only I could stay alert enough to get something done after 6 pm.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You might be...

You might not be a shopper if:

*You take your almost 11-year-old son to the mall for a free mini-concert and he informs you he's never been inside before (only been there to drop off his sisters a couple of times). You don't believe that's possible, and on further review, it's not. You brought him once before to do a photo scavenger hunt. Yep, he's been once in almost 11 years - I am not much of a shopper!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Thanksgiving was great! 25 people at my home - everyone helped with food. We ate, visited, did a puzzle, and the kids played. Here's the boats I made as place cards. I thought they were pretty cute. Too bad I don't remember where I stole the idea so I can give credit where due. Just know I didn't originate the idea.

I was reading the New Era on Sunday and came across a gratitude challenge and thought I should do it. Then I saw the same gratitude challenge when I was reading The Ensign. I take that to mean I really should do it so here goes:

10 Living People I'm Grateful For:
Jesus Christ
my husband
my mom
my dad
Brakston (and Whitney)
Pres. Thomas S. Monson
(super hard category to only name 10)

10 Dead People I'm Grateful For:
Joseph Smith
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Jane Austen
my grandpa Searle
Benjamin Franklin
Mother Theresa

10 Physical Abilities I'm Grateful For:
able to run long distances
sense of hearing
I'm flexible
my body's ability to heal
sense of smell
able to smile
able to take 10-minute naps and feel refreshed
ability to read

10 Material Possessions I'm Grateful For:
sewing machine
Bosch mixer
quilted advent calendar and stockings that Vicki and my mom made for me
cell phone

10 Things in Nature for Which I'm Grateful:
the majestic mountains which surround me (especially the Wasatch Range)
leafy trees in summer that give shade
sweet-smelling flowers
the colors of the trees in autumn
juicy, ripe tomatoes in late summer
fruit trees
sparkly white snow when I can stay indoors
water in which to swim and play
clean, pure water to drink
beautiful, clear-blue skies with a golden sun

10 Things About Today I'm Grateful For:
my to-do list is do-able
I awoke at 3:30 am and already have a dozen things done
I get to help a couple girls with a project for SilverRush
I get to go listen to a mini-concert of Voicemale and Jon Schmidt
my Christmas decorations are up and I can enjoy them
I have the house to myself for a few hours
I have time to think about what I'm grateful for (count my blessings)
my family is all healthy
I get to go for a run soon
I have a positive attitude

10 Places on Earth I am Grateful For:
my home
the temples
our church building
the Wasatch Mountains
Yellowstone National Park
Cody, WY

10 Modern-day Inventions I'm Grateful For:
cell phones
DVD players
iPods/MP3 players
modern medicine

10 Foods I'm Grateful For:
warm rolls
peanut butter

10 Things About the Gospel I'm Grateful For:
the Atonement
the Plan of Salvation
that it's the same no matter where you are
it's well-organized
the Primary
the Young Women's program
it's constant and sure (doesn't change with the world)
living it makes me happy
living it is a protection
it gives me direction and purpose

Monday, December 5, 2011

books I've read in the past month

Here's my list of books I read in November. I put a * buy the ones I recommend.

"A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs, #8)" by Jacqueline Winspear

**"Tuesdays at the Castle" by Jessica Day George

"Sullivan's Woman" by Nora Roberts

"Breaking Night: A Memoir" by Liz Murray

"Irish Hearts #3" by Nora Roberts

"The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise" by Julia Stuart

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Resolution Check-Up

Better late than never. I just didn't have time to blog at the end of November so here is my monthly accounting of how I'm doing on my goals.

Lose Weight - Yikes! Gained weight again. Pretty frustrating. I ran long miles surrounding Thanksgiving, tried to not badly overeat, and still gained a ton. The only bright spot is that I did lose some weight after Thanksgiving.

Read Jesus the Christ - COMPLETE! Yea!

Go snowshoeing - nope

Run Ragnar - COMPLETE!

Write My Grandma's Life History - No progress this month.

Do family search indexing - I did do quite a bit of indexing.

Attend 5 Temples that I've Never Been to Before - I made it to the Denver Temple. It was nice.

Overall - failure on losing weight and my grandma's life history but good progress or complete in other areas.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

in which I brag that I survived


Insane might best describe this past week but I'm still standing. I survived.

Threw a scavenger hunt-type FHE for my family and a friend's. Hosted book club at my home complete with refreshments. Sold flags at the RHS basketball game. Did countless hours of PTA work. Attended a PTA meeting. Volunteered at Festival of Trees. Delivered (on foot) 90+ invitations. Attended Shanley's dance performance as well as my niece's. Fielded 13 calls per day regarding subbing, PTA bylaws, RHS SilverRush,Battle of the Bands etc. Got McKayla ready and off to California. Had the Suburban break down on me and walked home to get another car. Went to a doctor's appointment and underwent allergy testing. Taught Special Needs Mutual.

And in my spare time, I was in charge of the Ward Christmas party. You know. A little thing like feeding 350 people dinner, arranging for Santa, organizing entertainment, shopping, cooking, helping to decorate...

Anyhow, it was the week in which I didn't get to do much running but still lost 4 pounds because I didn't even have time to eat. Ever.

Didn't have time to sleep either.

So, I am going to go take a nap because although I did survive, I don't want to be "still standing".