Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making A Change

Here it is, the last day of November. I read many blogs the last few days, hearing about the wonderful Thanksgiving each had, with the focus of all being on their gratitude. I had a wonderful meal, with wonderful people. My family...except for my daughter, son in law, and grandbabies...were all their. I also got to share the wonderful meal with the dear family of my daughter in law, Cameo. Both her parents, and her sister and husband are such good, kind, wonderful people. I was blessed to be there and be with them all. However, I did not take any time to spend just feeling the good things the day brings. I was so busy getting food ready...roasting the turkey, peeling the potatoes, making the salads, getting all the stuff ready to load and transport, that I didn't stop to be thankful. Now, this was all my fault, but it really left me feeling empty after the day was finished.
So, I decided that Christmas would be a little different, at least for me. I am an "ahead" kind of ornaments are ready to mail, I am almost ready to get the Christmas card ordered (next year, my photo request will go out in June!), almost all the gifts are finished (those of my children who do not let me know this week what they want are getting money!), stockings are almost all wrapped (Nathan is always the toughest one to shop for! He and Ethan!!) I try to get all done ahead so there is little last minute and more time to enjoy. But, to make sure I do get todo this, starting tonight, at 9:45 P.M. we are having a Christmas devotional. Each night, at that time, one person is assigned to share a Christmas story or a scripture about the birth of the Savior. We will see if this keeps going. Hopefully, it will help me feel the good things of Christmas and enjoy what we are celebrating.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All I Wanted For Christmas Was...

You know, every year I have included a picture of our family with our Christmas card. We would take a pic when we were traveling, or many times, when we were up cutting down our Christmas tree. When that had to end, I tried to get all to stop what they were doing on July 4th, stand next to one another, wherever they were,wear the Old Navy shirts I got as my birthday gift and sent to them, and take a picture. That worked for a few years, but the results became less that easy as people were far apart and traveling. Then I just tried to take a pic when we were all at the family campout. Again, worked for a couple, then kids got bigger and more separated and ... well, I tried one this year...Instructions: wear jeans, any shirt your family has and take a pic together. Seemed like not a problem. I even took Allison's family, and it looked really good, even with Grace having fun while we were doing it.

Came out pretty good, I think. So, things were going okay. Then, when Allison and family were in town we tried dinner, and then it poured rain! Trying to schedule time for Doran to take it, Kayty to not be at work or at school, and ...well. And then there was "What color shirt to wear?" With Kayty, the ONLY color she would even consider was black. So, we agreed. We thought to try on Thanksgiving again. Again, rain! I was crazy, so I pulled my immediate family, not the married ones, and put them in Ethan and Cameo's front yard and hoped for the best. Here is what I got:

The only way Doran got us all to look decent was to switch Nathan's head (sounds really crazy, I know, but Nate just isn't the most cooperative photo subject!) Well, I wanted green grass and a beautiful pose, but this will suffice.
Now, I need one from Doran and Danyel and Ethan and Cameo. I was about to give up, but Danyel assured me that they would do their part and Cameo was trying to take one while they are visiting some of her relatives today. Hopefully...
Now, I just wanted a Christmas card picture. I said "jeans"...a relatively painless article of clothing. I said ties or stiff poses. So what am I doing wrong?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Trees Are Up (and have been for over two weeks!!)

My aunt in Arkansas mentioned to my mom in an email that she had not seen any pictures of our Christmas decorations. So, here you go...Aunt Paula!

This is our "big" Christmas tree in our living room. We used to always go up near Flagstaff and chop down a huge tree the day after Thanksgiving, but that was before the bark beetle and drought conditions changed all that. It does not hold all my ornaments, but it does hold all our special ones.

This is my red, white and blue tree. I got it at a huge discount awhile back. It has all my patriotic ornaments on it. (me being born on the 4th of July gives me lots of gifts to hang on it.)

This is my hubby's hunting/fishing tree. He had been given so many ornaments as gifts that were various incarnations of hunters, fishermen, ducks, hunting dogs, etc. That I got him a small tree, again on sale, to fill with his special treasures. (Now, mind you, he does not participate in any decorating, though he did put one ornament on the hunting tree this year.)

These are all the stockings hung on the fireplace. I bought a few kits to make the denim embroidered stockings for Allison, Ethan and Doran. Then I made copies of the kits for Morgan, Katelyn, Nathan, Mike, Cameo, Danyel, Adam, and Grace. The small pure white one is for sweet little Charles.

Mom and I choose a theme every year, and we create our ornaments according to that theme. This year, it is nutcrackers/soldiers/drummer boys (I painted a drummer boy ornament) and I celebrate the theme here in the entryway.

I also have been blessed with a treasured collection of nativities, but they don't look as good in pics as the do in reality. Plus, I have many wonderful things I have accumulated over the years at 75% off sales as well as yard sales. I love to decorate and enjoy the wonderful memories they bring.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trek

I tried to run this morning, but everytime I went out the door, it began to rain...and not just sprinkle, it just poured! So, when the sun was up, I wanted a hike, and so I drug my sweet hubby up that mountain. We used to all hike on Thanksgiving morning, but then kids and Dad got busy and it turned into me hiking alone. I was even going to get commemorative tshirts, calling it the "Thunderbird Hills Turkey Trek". (So much for ideas...the minute I come up with something cute, it just scares everyone away.) Anyway, Dee was such a good sport and we had fun hiking in the moist air. We even stayed long enough on top of the mountain to be "in a cloud" which was just great. Thanks, Dee, for coming with me. I had so much fun!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday...and on Thanksgiving, no less. I am so thankful to live in a country that has so many dedicated to keeping us safe and protected. We have been watching events unfold in India, and, though it is far away from Bangalore - where Dee has traveled - it is very frightening. I am so thankful that we have many who spend days and nights keeping us safe.

I have just finished washing five crock pots, dishes, counters, stove, and put away the left overs from our bounteous Thanksgiving feast at Cameo and Ethan's house, and I am so thankful that, though all have struggled financially through the past year, we had a plentiful meal, with good food and wonderful friends and family to share it with.

I am so thankful for refrigerators, stoves, crock pots, ovens, bread machines, food processors, and all the other wonderful conveniences that we have, that the pilgrims did not have. I don't know how they did it!!!

And, most of all, I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves all of us, and who wants only the best for us. I am thankful He has blessed me with so very much: with the most wonderful husband in the world, with an amazing famiy, with dear friends, with good health, with happiness, with peace, with things to work for, with a wonderful church to be a member of, and with His never ending love that helps me get through anything and everything. I am truly, truly blessed!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful Tuesday, or What A Blessing He Is!

I am married to the most amazing man! He is off work...has to "use up" vacation days before the year ends...days that they would not let him take earlier in the year. (Didn't matter anyway-we are missing both real estate and disc jockey incomes, so we could not go anywhere). So, he wakes up, turns on his computer and does a morning meeting (happens every day at 7 am.) Then he goes outside to work on the many projects we have going. We began a yard remodel and upkeep a few years ago, and, had we hired others to complete the work, we would have run out of money many moons and many projects ago. However, due to his willingness and resourcefullness (plus the able assistance of young Doran and Danyel collecting rocks, Ethan loaning valuable tools and hooking us up with his wonderful father in law, and Nathan just being the go to guy to lift, pull, push, mix, tote, install, remove, shovel...well, you get the picture)we have many, many things we would not have ever had, for very little money, but many many hours of time. He has built us an outdoor fireplace and is now working on river rocking the top of the wall around that courtyard area. We will stucco between now and Christmas. He has built me an outdoor kitchen, complete with sink, running water, and lovely grill and an oven...just needs some electrical work and he is going to finish the granite countertops that he made out of some junk granite from Master Marble Co. He paid someone else to put in the pool, but he has poured and cool decked cement borders, pads, and sidewalks, mixing over 500 bags of cement by hand in a wheelbarrow. He has made my grandbabies the most tremendous playground, for little money. He copied the design of a Rainbow Playground Set, adding his own special touches, and poured a sandbox with a racetrack border. He has made the kids a sand volleyball court, finding the nets and poles on Craigslist for little money. He even today wired an old light fixture and made it so the outside old fridge can be plugged in right by it, not via extension cord.(That thing was always coming unplugged and we wouldn't notice until the freezer ice was melting...not a good situation for Kayty's insulin!) Now, some would call this guy "handy" and that may be part, but I feel so blessed to be married to a man who never lets things stop him. When others wanted to charge us 1500 dollars for a small block wall out in the front yard, he said he could do it...he bought the block, poured the footings, and we did it. He is willing to try and do anything...he can put down stone floors and polish granite. He can pour concrete and stucco walls. And, during all this, he has worked on a 1960 panel truck restoration...again, saving money by doing it himself: grit blasting, sanding, bondo-ing, polishing, painting (We started this about five years ago, and he has dreamed of this for so long. So, our small savings account is being used to make his dream vehicle come true.) He is just the most amazing blessing, and I am truly, truly thankful for him!

A Beautiful Sight!

I was out running early, in the dark, and what do you think that I saw? A beautiful Christmas Tree lit in the front window of someone's house! Now, I am not odd...just a trend setter!

Monday, November 24, 2008

For My Friends, From My Friend

I was greeted this morning by something in my email from my dear friend, Wanda. Now, she always sends just the best emails, but this stood out. I could not just forward it to one or two, because, as I read, I thought of so many...too many to name. So, for Allison, for Danyel, for Starleen, for Jannicke, for Annie, for Catherine, for Kathy, for Paige, for Megan, for Karla, and for too many to name, this is for you...

The Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands,nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've
baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nathan Learns A Lesson...

When your kids are small, you watch them like a watch electrical outlets, you turn pan handles away from the edge of the stove, you lock up cleaning products. You try to teach them about dangerous things, and then you hope they remember. Well, my son, almost 16 years of age, forgot something he was taught: don't put your fingers into the fan! And, this is the result...(you don't want to see what is under the bandage. It's not pretty!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I am thankful for warm weather. I know that it seems to be tiring that our local temps are in the upper 80's these days, but I go running very early in the morning, and I am so thankful that I can run with just sweat pants and a t shirt on. When it gets colder here, I am dressed in layer after layer...I sometimes feel like that Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters" when I go down the street! And I am thankful that I can run and hike. When I was younger, it was so hard for me to run, and I just never imagined that I would ever even be able to run 3-5 miles a day...and then to like to do it too! I am thankful for my neighborhood that is safe, so I can be out and enjoy those peaceful early hours as the world is waking up and beginning their day. I am thankful for police officers, for fire fighters, for our military and all those who give of their time, and work less than safely, so we can enjoy the things we love to do, the things we want to do and the things we need to do.
I am also thankful for family...for children who love each other and care for each other (even, sometimes, Kayty and Nathan), for a sister and brother who are good, kind, loving and caring people, for good parents who raised me well, and for a mom who continues to always be there to help me. I am also thankful for dear friends who are like family to me. I am thankful for prayers from those who love us. I can feel their strength, and it gives me courage every day. And, I am thankful that I have dear, wonderful people to pray for each day. I hope that they know that the adversities they are enduring do not go unnoticed and that we care and we love them and we want them to be able to endure the hard times they are facing and to remain steadfast, for the blessings truly will come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Placemat Crafts For Kids

I wonder if Kayty and Nathan would do this for us? Fat chance!!!
Thanksgiving Placemat Crafts For Kids

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 17, 2008

It Just Got Out of Hand!!

I haven't written as frequently as I have been...and I have an excuse...a poor one, albeit, but an excuse. It began with me just "puttin' up the Winter Village". Then, since I had two Nativity Scenes already displayed, I just was going to put the rest up, so I could enjoy them. Well, I put them in a different place, so I had to remove stuff to put them there. Then, when I needed to put that stuff away, I had to get other boxes down. "I'll just put a few things up here and there to make room for the stuff I am putting away," I convinced myself. Boxes in the closet, boxes up to the attic, stuffed animals and pillows down from the attic...Up and down...up and down. I was a gonner...I couldn't stop myself. And now, though my kitchen table has a lovely brown Thankgsiving tablecloth, pumpkins, pilgrims, and turkeys, the rest of my house - including the beach bathroom, the patriotic tree in the family room, the smaller hunting tree in the living room, the nutcrackers in the entry, and our big tree in the living ready for Christmas! Music is playing, stockings are hung, and it is 85 degrees outside. Maybe I am just wishing winter here...Anyway, the excuse sounds better than the fact that I just go nuts at Christmas!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday

What a week it has been! I can hardly believe it's already Thursday again! I was reading my daughter's blog this morning. Her sweet hubby had written for her...about her birthday yesterday. What love he expressed! So, I got to thinking this morning as I was driving kids (or corpses - sleeping all the way!) about just how blessed I am to have the most wonderful kids-in-law. I love them each so dearly! Michael is the best: a wonderful husband, a great provider, a super support, and a down right awesome daddy to my grandbabies. I knew he was special from the first time I saw him, and when he sat up all night when Allison had her wisdom teeth pulled before they married, I knew he was just...well, he loves my daughter; he makes her happy...and that makes him the most special person ever! Then there is Cameo. She loves Ethan so much! I remember before they were married when she threw him a surprise party for his birthday (not an easy task less than two weeks before Christmas!)He had always looked kind of sad when others had parties, and he had no girlfriend that loved him enough to make that effort...that is, until Cameo. She does so much to be with him. She camps (and still looks just gorgeous...what goes on in that tent while we eat?)She is a super fisher-person (for awhile, Nathan would not let her bring a pole with her when they all went fishing...the fish just jumped on her line!!)She is a great cook (makes the most decadent sour cream enchiladas!) and, again, she loves my son; she makes him happy...and that makes her the most special person ever. Now, sweet Danyel. I may be selfish about her, for she does so much for my Doran, but she also does so much for me!!! She is so patient with my son. She supports him in EVERYTHING! She is there for his photography events, his dances, as they yard sale, and even in Harbor Freight(and we know Doran could spend his entire life there and never notice!!)She also helps me. I had a rough Saturday, and there she was...anticipating my needs...getting paper towels, washing and drying dishes, and she stayed when I had to leave to make sure Allison's birthday cake didn't burn. Again, she loves my son; she makes him happy. And that makes her the most special person ever. I only pray that my other children are blessed with spouses as wonderful as my children have been blessed with. They all have been raised by great parents. They taught them honesty, hard work, and trust. I thank them for giving me and my family their children. We all are blessed for each one of them!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Birthday Surprise for US!

Our sweet Allison has a birthday this week...November 12, 1981, at 1:02 A.M., she made her grand entrance into this world, and she has been just a pure joy ever since. We had taken her gifts to her in Vegas a few weeks ago, so we didn't even imagine that they would be able to come here...but come they did! A phone call on Friday let us know they were on their way! Though we had to share them with the Wilkins, it was just the best time ever. Thank you, Allison, for celebrating your special day with us and sharing those sweet grandbabies!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Wow! Did the week just fly by!! I am already at Thursday...Thanksgiving will be here in no time!! I want the world to slow down.

I was thinking about how blessed I am that I can wake up early and exercise and run or hike every day (except Sunday). And I am so thankful that our weather is nice and cool now. It was sure getting to be a pain out sweatin' while I was running. I actually wore sweat pants, a long sleeved band shirt and a sweat shirt this morning! So nice...except for the wind.

I am also thankful that the elections are over. Though all things did not turn out the way I wanted them to, I am thankful my congressman was re-elected, and that proposition 102 passed. Those were of high importance to me. I am so thankful that we can vote our conscience in this country. We can put things on the ballot. We can write and voice our opinion. That is such a great, great blessing.

I am thankful my hubby has a job. Today, there are meetings about layoffs, and we are concerned, but I am not worried. We have a years' supply of food staples, a three month supply of food, and he has many talents, so things will be okay, either way. I am thankful that he works so hard at his job, at his dj business, around our house and yard, on the cars, on the roof, on the refrigerator, on the plumbing, and at his church calling. His many skills and his ingenuity have saved us many problems and oodles of money just in service calls.

I am thankful that there were great sales on Halloween candy at all the stores. Our family is celebrating G-Day after Christmas, when Allison and Mike and the sweet grandbabies will be in town. (G-day is Grammy Day. At first, it was going to be a day for my grandkids to come over, eat, decorate gingerbread houses, etc. But, my kids joined in, and now it is just the best day for all of us.We eat goulash, grapes, goldfish crackers, and gummy bears. Then we decorate gingerbread houses...each with its own holiday theme - whatever each family decides. The Grandkids get their own house as well.) I got tons of candy -regular, and Halloween. Plus, I got four ready baked smaller gingerbread houses on now Adam and Grace won't have to use graham crackers. I will bake the other ones, unless someone wants a "creation" of their own. It will be so much fun with the Grandmas and Nanos, the kids, the grandkids, and maybe even cousin Curtis. (Believe me, we have plenty of decorations - from Easter, Valentines Day, Halloween, and some from Christmas, too) I am so thankful my kids love to be here and celebrate G-Day. It makes me so very, very happy!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nathan has never, ever liked his portrait being taken. I got a few when he was very small (and could not speak!) but, since he was around two or three, he would just throw a fit every time I even suggested a picture...That is why we don't have as many of him as we do the other five kids. I wanted a picture in his football jersey, before we had to turn it it. I researched and researched, trying to find sports photos that did not look "gay" as he calls it. Finally, I found some that I liked, and Dee helped by "encouraging" Nathan to cooperate with me...or else! Thus, I took the opportunity and tried my hand. Now, the lighting isn't that great (I would have preferred waiting a little while until the sun was down, but when Nathan is ready and cooperative, I have to go!) and my flash didn't work like I wanted it to. I have a lot to learn, but, with a guy, posing is the first battle. (See, I even got one of him smiling...that does NOT happen!)

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Morning Not Soon To Be Forgotten!!

I was thinking the other day that the rides to school have been rather boring lately... Both Nathan and Katelyn fall asleep and I waken them when I arrive at their various stops. Not so, however, this morning. Things began very well...all woke up on time, no fights for the shower. There was a little problem with an ant invasion in the pantry, right where Nathan had "cleaned up" the olive oil he spilled last night (what is this with the ants...olive oil? Never knew they were even attracted to that! Maybe these were health conscious ants.) We got out the door a few minutes late, but no harm done. Seminary was great for Nathan...Sister Jill Fuller is his substitute all week. So, we started on our way...and the fun began. First, Nathan sniffed something, and, upon investigation, discovered Kayty was applying nail polish. Nathan yelled and complained, grabbed his neck, worried over his lung capacity, and then opened the window all the way. Cold air rushed in. Kayty hollered, assuring him that she was finished. Nathan still went on and on about the noxious chemicals in the jeep. Meanwhile, I was getting a little cold, so I turned on the heater. Boy, what a mistake I made!! Nathan then turned his attention from the polluted air to the blazing heat that was "melting his face off". He compared the heater and the warm air to the heat of the Sun. Now, at this point, I am laughing hysterically...almost crying. He checks to make sure I am alright and then continues his diatribe...something about cold fusion, radiation, all of us being get the picture! Kayty is still assuring him that her nail polishing is over, and goes to show him her finished nails...she touches his arm and wet, black nail polish gets on him. "What is this?" he asks. He then readdresses the cold fusion and the excessive radiant heat that my little jeep heater is emitting from the vents. This "hearty exchange" continued until Kayty fell asleep (good ol' Kate...she doesn't "do" mornings!) and we arrived, thankfully, in the North Pointe Preparatory parking lot!
Now, I guess this is partly my fault. Yesterday, we watched a broadcast from Salt Lake City for our stake conference. The talks were great, and we were discussing them later in the afternoon. I pointed out that, in his first talk as prophet, President Thomas S. Monson gave us counsel. I have it at the top of our blog. On our front door, it says "The Storm Stops At The Door". I said that we need to keep our home a refuge. If they have loud voices, gripes, complaints, etc., they need to take them outside, for they were not to be discussed in our home. I guess I should have included the vehicles as well!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's Winter at the Rices!

I just had to try to do something to make it feel like November, so, with the help of two elves, we set up my Winter Village on Saturday. (It's actually a Dept. 56 North Pole Village, but Kayty throws a fit when she loses the piano for a Christmas set up, so if I call it a Winter set up, she can't yell as loudly!) I usually dread setting it up, but Mom really wanted to help (she actually felt honored to be asked... let's say that I will "honor" her every year with helping me!!!) and Danyel made the "mistake" of coming over, so she was drafted. Let me tell you, with the help of these two "village set up machines", I got all the pieces set up, the lighting wires run, the "snow" added, the the trees "treed"...and I did it in ONE day...not 3 or 4. They are my not-so-secret weapons now...and they have no choice but to help me every year. They made my work sooooo much fun. Now, I am going to start sneaking the nativity scenes up on the living room shelves...