Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections On 2009

Reflection Questions for 2009
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
I have a brand new healthy grandson, Joshua, and Allison made it through the pregnancy and birth with absolute flying colors.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
This was a definite: living on a greatly diminished income...Dee got no raise, pay was cut, had furlough days with no pay, had only 1 disc jockey event, and sold no homes, plus, we had to add an adult to our household for almost 7 months until he could get back on his feet.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Again, Joshua was totally unexpected!
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
The Church is trying to build a temple in our neighborhood. They are beautiful, sacred, holy places...always an asset to an area. However, the neighbors have been very negative...protests, petitions, and very one sided commentary (they were even out protesting today). I think it is so sad that these well meaning, otherwise kind people could misinform and mislead, omit other neighborhood feelings, etc. for something they really have made little effort to truly find out about. I run by that property almost every day, and now I wonder if it ever will be. So very sad for all.
5. Pick three words to describe 2009.
Worry, fear, prayer
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2009 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). work, lists, Grammy
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2009 (again, without asking).work, fear, work
8. What were the best books you read this year?
Thousand Year Leap, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Book of Mormon
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My dear sweet husband, my mom, my sister
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
Sitting in a line every Thursday for surplus food. At first, it was humbling. Then, it was a challenge to use all this unique food...odd sizes, often near spoiling. The best surprise, though, was the genuinely wonderful people I have met. Phyllis is a very loud lady from Chicago. She gets double the food allotted (you pay for a card...she pays for 2) and makes food for the veterans and the homeless. She also distributes sleeping bags she collects for the homeless. One older gentleman always brings me clothing. One gentleman, who rarely talks to anyone, got me a huge jar of mayo one day...just reached over so I could have it as one of my card items. And Mary...she is a dear hispanic lady...I miss her when I cannot talk to her...She was going to teach me to make tamales this year...but I didn't get the time. I'm gonna still get the stuff and have her show me...She is just a gem. She was married for 47 yrs. before her sweet Louie died...and she can tell you down to the almost moment how long ago he died. I hope I can love Dee as much as she loves Louie! The little lady that wears a mask because she can't stand perfume...she comes so early so she can get the best bread. All of these sweet people...they are the best part of a hard time.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I am trying so hard to just keep things in perspective. I am trying not to let the little things bug me so much. I am trying to just clean it up rather than complain about it.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I have witnessed true miracles, oddly enough, by blogging. I have prayed for illnesses, sicknesses, etc. I have prayed for healing for those I will never ever know or meet. I have seen a little boy miraculously healed (Stellan). I have seen a family lose a precious triplet. I have learned to pray for the needs of others more, and I have seen and felt that power.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I still run, still hike, still exercise, but I am trying not to be such a fanatic about it.
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I really don't know...the adult we tried to help for months and months has gone out on his own, but as far as improving his circumstances, he is not any further along, so all our sacrifice, prayer, and money was, basically, for nothing.
15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?
I have really learned that I LOVE cooking and baking and meal planning and creating something out of what I have.
16. What was your most challenging area of home management?
Making sure expenses were less than income. We really had to watch! And I learned that fixing your teeth can be a great birthday present.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Bejeweled Blitz!
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
I try so hard to improve my organizational skills every day, and this year I made sure I wasn't just cleaning for the sake of cleaning! I allowed creative time.
19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
We did live on less. Now, next week, we will have to live on nothing...but I have tried hard to allow for the "rainy day" or week, per se, so I am not worried.
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2009 for you.
Come what may and love it. - Joseph B. Worthlin ( I got this from the blog I found this on...and I cannot think of anything better.)

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Spend Week...or Two???

I follow quite a few blogs. I just love all the things I have learned from such talented people. Today, I was following a blog called Frugality in the Making and she talked about having No Spend Days when the budget fell a little short. Well, next week, Doran does not get paid at all...another new innovation by his, do I have a No Spend Week? Or does it have to be two, since we don't feel the effects until the paycheck comes? Now, I have faithfully squirreled away staples, I get surplus food that cannot be sold in grocery stores on Thursday, and we have meat, both commercially produced and much of a whitetail deer, so I am not worried at all...except for my love for salad, but if I get heads of lettuce, that would last. Anyway, one goal of mine is to be very very positive this next year, so this will truly be an adventure!!!So, I guess that will mean the only spend I will have will be spending time with those I love, spending time following blogs, spending time putting away my decorations and getting my house clean and back in order...sounds like no spend weeks will be just wonderful!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Un-Grammy Day

Grammy Day...or G-Day is special for me. I bake gingerbread houses for my grandbabies and buy candy all year long (thus, the child can use Valentine hearts, jelly beans and pastel lifesavers, red white and blue candy, halloween creatures, and candy canes...sooo much fun!) This year, with our family being blessed with a new little grandbaby, sweet little Joshua, our tradition had to adjust to a December 1st birthday. So, I bought gingerbread houses the day after Halloween and Christmas, I drove "Grammy Day" up to Vegas for them to celebrate when Josh got home from the NICU and mommy felt better...and Adam didn't have any school ( I send LOTS of candy!!). So, I didn't bake, I loved seeing the pictures of them eating their Goulash, and Grapes. And my kids here didn't want to be left out, so with some family (Ethan was not feeling very awake...long day at work!) and a friend coming, we had our Un Grammy day...Goulash, salad and Doritos...and made our version of houses. Here are the pics of some of the fun!

Nathan and his friend, Keely, made this one. It was just a Haunted House kit...normally Nate designs his own mansion, and Danyel patiently helps him bake it...maybe next year! But I think he and Keely did a fantastic job!!Of course, it wouldn't be Nate's house without a "salute to the Civil War" though this year it was just a Confederate Flag rather than gingerbread armies with blood and pretzel guns!

Kayty's friend couldn't come at the last minute, so her creation was pretty good, for her having to do it on her own. The fun of Gingerbread is not just in the making, but in the eating. To my son in law, Mike...she discovered the yumminess of "Take 5" candy bars!!! So, don't leave any astray if she comes to visit!

Cameo has come quite a long way. Her first time, she just had graham crackers...but she was such a pro at it that she quickly "graduated" to her own house. This year seemed to go more easily for her...probably because sweet Ethan was at home exhausted, and she did not have to "contend" with his "artistic handicaps"! (Ethan does many things well, but things that require painstaking detail work, like puzzles and gingerbread houses...well, let's just say that he is not the patient type! But, we all love him!) Here is Cameo's masterpiece!

Doran and Danyel always do so well, though, it seemed that this year Doran wanted to make our gathering more "Ethan-esque" and so he was sometimes less than enthusiastic about the house, though he did stay with it till it was done! Danyel has a super talented mom who taught her so much, and Danyel has taken that learning to even greater heights! Here is their creation!

I already have it on my calendar to bake gingerbread in November...right now, putting up my Village is scheduled for November 6th,2010 and baking gingerbread is scheduled for November 12th (happy birthday Allison), so those who want something special in design need to start looking now, and then be here then! (Remember, this is only if all stays the same as it is now...If I have to get a job, then all may be changed). And, to my sweet grandbabies in Vegas...Grammy will bring Grammy Day there to you all on Joshua's birthday if you cannot come to Phoenix, so be thinking about your next year's houses!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day

Finally, the main event...the day I work for beginning the day after Christmas the year before. Christmas morning. While Nate was waiting for Kayty to quit grinching, he at the traditional unofficial Christmas morning breakfast: leftovers from Nano's house!

Once everyone gets ready, we do the "line up"...this year, it was supposed to be youngest to oldest, but, again, with our little Grinchette, Nate opted to let her have her way!
Stockings are opened, and then we go to our gifts from Santa. Now, Santa was very, very nice, because, due to Grinchette being very tired, we neglected to read the Christmas story from the scriptures, and they forgot to leave treats for Santa!!! Kayty got some books from Santa that she really wanted, and Nathan got a shotput and discus for track.

They opened gifts from Mom and Dad next...Kayty got some dvd's, Nate got the rest of his discus and shotput, and carriers. It was a wonderful morning. Later, we have all the other kids come. We eat monkey bread, open stockings and a small gift from Mom and Dad, and then open small gifts that the kids draw each others' names for.

The afternoon of Christmas day was spent eating yummy Chicken Parmesan and Lasagna, playing games and having fun at Dorrie's house with Cameo's parents.

The best part was being with my kids here, hearing from my dear family in Vegas and hearing about the magic of Santa visiting there, and enjoying happy hearts and happy faces. Thank you, family, for the kind things you said and did, the help you give each of us all the time, the wonderful gifts, and the thoughts that go into pleasing all of us every day!

Christmas Eve at Our House

After Nano's fun, we make our way home. The neighborhood north of us always decorates their neighborhood with luminariosThen, we were going to read scriptures, leave out treats for Santa, but Kayty had spent waaaaay too much time in the middle of the night watching old episodes of "Friends" that she had been loaned, and then she worked at Party City all day, so she was beat. Needless to say, Santa was stiffed on his goodies, but all were in bed early so he could come!

Christmas Eve

We have wonderful family and great traditions we share all through the holidays. On Christmas Eve, we go to my mom's (Nano's) house. Dee smokes pork roasts for pulled pork sandwiches, and we have Ed's Beans, stuffing, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, and lots of fun. I brought gingerbread cookies for dessert, too. We spent the evening playing games. We tried Yatzee, and then played our bingo game, with M&M's and Skittles as game markers. It was so much fun! Thanks Nano, for all you do!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

My final pan of sugar cookies is in the oven. Presents are wrapped (except for Dorrie's). Stockings are hung ready to fill. Packages are mailed (except for the diabetes supplies for Aunt Bonnie, and they will go to the post office, maybe today!) Monkey bread dough goes in the bread machine tonight. Tonight, the magic begins. It seems we work so hard...and then it's all over. I love the lights, the music, the happy smiles, the laughter, the wishes and dreams. I love running early in the morning and enjoying the homes of those who kindly leave their lights on all night! I want it to last forever, but I guess it wouldn't be as special, as wonderful if it were every day. So, to all you moms and dads, aunts and uncles, papas and grammys...sit back, watch, listen, and if you are far away, imagine the sights and sounds that make this time of year so special. I know that tonight, and tomorrow, I will be smiling and imagining: my grandchildren as they "open the doorway package" to see what Santa has brought them! I will listen for Kayty squealing in delight at everything! I will watch Nate as he tries to act nonchalant. I will even smile as my sweet hubby opens his stocking...a lot smaller than in years past...and guess each and every gift! I will love the hugs from Doran and Danyel, from Ethan and Cameo. I will feel so good as they open the gifts they get for the person whose name they drew. I will eat yummy things...and play fun games...and just enjoy the wonder of it all! And then I will sit in my living room, and remember...

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silver Bells

One of the many wonderful things about the holiday season is the special memories of celebrations in years past. I was watching the news this morning, as I exercised, and they were asking each other about memorable childhood Christmas gifts...what they got, etc. Now, I don't really remember a gift, per se, though there are many wonderful things that I got that do come to mind, if I think about them...most involving quite a bit of work on the part of the giver, i.e. sewing doll clothes, building, putting together, etc. This thought of Christmas time also came to me, the day before, as I had my beloved Christmas music blaring while I did my cleaning. I heard the song "Silver Bells" playing, and it brought back a flood of memories. Silver Bells was my grandmother, we called her "Tutu", favorite song. I remember learning the words in school chorus, and feeling so very proud that I knew it all, by heart, even though I doubt that I ever sang the song to her. She was a very proper person, and a very busy person, but I remember going to her house at Christmas. She had the biggest real tree, with huge multi-colored Christmas lights on it...the big ones. I remember sitting at the table in the evening and playing a game..."Huusker Du" I think it was called. It was so fun, and not something we did any other time of year. "Silver Bells" brought back such fond memories, such wonderful times. I think that, at this time of year, it's not always what we GET that we remember, but what we GIVE. I remember working so hard to memorize those words to that song. I remember the first Christmas I had a job and being able to go crazy getting my mom gifts, like a blender and a robe. I remember Dee and my first Christmas together and how I just couldn't sleep because I had gotten him a new backpack with the money I had earned. I remember working hard on playground equipment, Barbie houses, Thundertanks, toy kitchens, bicycles, stickers on zillions of plastic toys...the giving, the doing, that is what we remember. So, as I rode my bike around the neighborhood with my sweetheart to look at lights, I saw a big bush, lit with big outdoor Christmas lights, the same that Tutu used to have on her tree. Silver's Christmas time in the city...Thank you Tutu, for the wonderful times every Christmas...and for Mom and Dad staying up late to see if Santa needed anything. The particulars may not always fresh, but the feelings are forever! Thank you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Testament of Christ

I want to share this wonderful presentation with all of my friends. These photos were prayerfully taken, and with great sensitivity, depict the beauty of the message in The Book Of Mormon,

“…that Jesus is the Christ,the Eternal God,manifesting himself unto all nations–”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Home Tour...Such As It Is

I love to look at the lovely things others adorn their homes with, all year, but especially now. Since I love to yard sale with Dee, it gives me things to look for... Now, my house is NOTHING like the ones I look at and admire, but I have a sweet, wonderful relative who asked to see what I here it is...such as it is!

Family Room


Living Room

Nativity Collection

Holiday North Pole Village

Kitchen (Please excuse the drying dishes, and the hanging laundry...Pics were taken as I was cleaning!)

Sorry, Kayty was in the shower...and she objected to pics of my decorations while she was, maybe later.