Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve 2009

Since we moved into this home in 2003, we have had a New Years shin-dig. It usually involves kids with families, freezing cold temperatures, pinatas, bubble wrap, yummy food, resolutions, and tons of highly dangerous explosives and burning things (usually heavily mixed with aforemetioned kids). Oh what fun we had! We missed last year as we were in Utah, but we decided a couple of nights ago that we needed a little more firey danger in our lives. So in our typical last minute manner, we invited over some brave souls (mostly some families of our kid's friends) to ring in the New Year. (Note: We are getting old, and many of our kids are still young. This can present a problem when you are celebrating an occasion that requires you to stay awake into the wee hours. We therefore have made it our habit to celebrate the East Coast New Year at 10:00p CO time.)

While the friends and food are pleasant at a NY get together, our most colorful and sparkly part of the night is the awesome firework show that John puts on each year. Grandma Kristine manages to keep us flush in fireworks at ALL times, and we pull out the best ones to mark the start of a new year. I did not get any pics of the fireworks as I was comforting our dog, Daisy. She is terrified of fireworks, but everyone reported that they were the best yet. :) The finale was super-duper.

After John's little show, it really heated up as we passed out roman candles and lighted sparklers to small children. It's crazy, but soooo fun! Luckily there were no accidents and good clean, burning fun was had by all.

I tried to take a picture of the crowd around the fire pit, but it was really smoky from all of the sparklers, so I tried to turn off the flash. Of course the shutter opened for like 14 seconds and I cannot hold very still, so this is the best I got. :)

We made it back inside in time to turn on the TV for a count down. At the New Year we traditionally blow horns, yell a lot, and jump on bubble wrap that had been placed all around the room (thanks Lanae!). It's always quite loud and exciting.

And of course I always try my best to get a New Years Smooch (love that tradition!) from my number one guy--he's not just hot while exploding things. XOXO My blazin' babe!

We do this each year because our kids love it (well, shoot, so do we) and although you never know what the new year will bring, it's sure fun to welcome it with a bang surrounded by friends and family.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 The Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? One thing I did was create Blurb Books from my Blog. It really inspired me to be more diligent in chronicling our family life. I know this is boring for others reading my blog, but it was hugely thrilling for me to review. Other than that, I haven't been too outside of the box this year.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I guess I am a little outside of the box in the fact that I have never been one to make resolutions each New Year. I definately like to reflect and ponder on where to step it up, but I am not a goal setter. This is not something I particularly like about myself either, but it must not bother me too much, because I haven't made any crazy resolutions this year. I have decided to get fit this year though, I am not getting any younger...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No one that I am really close to gave birth this year. This is another point that has added to the realization that I am not getting any younger. I sat with a girl in her early 20's at a dinner and heard her talking about how there weren't a lot of 'young' girls in our ward and I realized I had crossed the line from 'young mom' to 'older lady with kids'...a while ago. :)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully, no one close to me. I did attend 2 funerals that happened close together and it really gave me pause and made me think about the whole 'What are we here on Earth to do?' thing. I decided that Family really matters. A lot.

5. What countries did you visit? In Feb. this year we had an amazing trip to visit my parents on the island of Tobago. We did a lot of extra stuff in connection with the trip that made it really fulfilling. We earned money, collected clothing, and worked together with the idea that we would 'help out' the people my parents grew to know there. It was travel with a purpose and I SO enjoyed that part of it. The beaches weren't too bad either. Great family trip.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? I would like to have better general health.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Etched seems like such a dramatic word. I don't know that any etching took place, but I did enjoy some memorable moments. See my blog.

8. What was your biggest personal achievement of the year? Hmm. That is a tough one. Personal Achievement. I gave up soda for a while.

9. What was your biggest failure? I drank soda again. Dr Pepper.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? This year I have been so sickly. It has been down right maddening. The worst was getting pneumonia at the beginning of the summer. Yuck. I would be such a grumpy chronically ill person! No big injuries to speak of. Seth broke an arm this year in football.

11. What was the best thing you bought? I got an awesome chair with down cushions for a crazy good price. It has made me consider getting into the furniture business. 2010 will have to see how that all turns out.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I have had a super soft spot in my heart this year for my husband as I have seen him juggle so many things with grace and charm. He is teaching Early Morning Seminary again this year and I wish he had a dollar for everyone that tells him they would never have time to do that. He is so busy. He is going from 5:30 every morning until late each night. Of course he manages to balance his job (super stressful this year, by the way), his family, and his church stuff in a way that just blows my mind. He manages to squeeze in all kinds of service to others in the free moments as well. And he does it all with a smile. Amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? This is where I would write a political rant, but I won't. I find most things about our enormous government appalling and depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go? Most of my money goes to Uncle Sam. Big Jerk. Waaaay too much of our cash went to service our debt. Lovely. Real Estate was so fun in 2009. I am hoping 2010 will find much more of our resources going to exotic vacations, or at least have CDOT deciding on the future of said Real Estate.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I LOVED hearing my kids play in orchestras this year. It is so great to see them make music. I also enjoy watching them in sports. Any time your kids learn new skills it is super fun.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Hmmm. This is a tough one. Either '911' or 'I Gotta Feelin' I have heard Jackson singing both of these songs in the shower and it is freakin' adorable!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer? a) I think I am sadder. This time last year we were preparing to travel to Tobago and it made me so, so happy to see our family getting really into that. I think traveling with a purpose is like a big fat happy pill. b) I am thinner, but mostly because of illness. That's no way to get thinner! I hope this year to be thinner because I am healthier. c) poorer in financial ways (see 14), but richer in a lot of ways that matter to me.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Service. Visiting with family and friends-it makes me happy!

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I have been a lazy daisy this year. I wish I were more 'sturdy.' There were so many days I didn't get many of my things done because I just ran out of steam. That bugs!

20. Did you fall in love in 2009? Yes. See #12. I just am really digging my husband this year!!!

21. What was your favorite TV program? Hmm. I don't watch anything regularly. John and I got the DVD's for 'Lost-Season 5' that we are planning to watch together. We like doing late night marathons when the whole season comes out.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No. I can't think of anyone I hate. Oh wait, see #13.

23. What was the best book you read? I really enjoyed 'The Hiding Place' and 'These Is My Words,' but the best book I read was 'Atlas Shrugged.' I think everyone should read that book.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? I enjoyed picking up my flute again this year. I can still remember most of the notes. ;)

25. What did you want and get? I wanted an iPod for my birthday and I got an iTouch. My husband spoils me for sure.

26. What did you want and not get? I wanted to sell all of our lots and have many new and fun neighbors. A little neighborhood of new, funness.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I really liked seeing 'Avatar' in 3D. I went in with super low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I really liked the 3D, and the whole 10 ft. tall blue natives thing. This is the only film of 2009 I can actually remember seeing as my movie memory is exceptionally short. OK, I also liked 'Star Trek' and 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox.' Oh, and I always enjoy the 'Harry Potter' movies too. Nothing really grabbed me and shook me around, but I found many movies enjoyable.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 38 this year and I had an OUTSTANDING birthday. My friends surprised me at lunch and it was a ball!! I loved it!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I feel pretty satisfied with the year, so I am not sure about the whole 'immeasurably' thing. But I certainly would have had more fun with robust health. I love the summer and all of the outdoor fun that goes with it, I felt kinda like a big fat wet blanket was over all of that this year. Stupid pneumonia.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Fashion concept. Fashion concept. Hmm. I am super lame when it comes to fashion. Durango living has only amplified my lack of fashionista-ness. I am pretty boring. Jeans in winter. Capris and flip-flops all summer. Interchange t-shirts at will.

31. What kept you sane? No question about this one. My faith. I am so grateful to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. Going to church to worship each Sunday is like the glue that holds everything else together. Especially on those weeks when I don't want to go to church. I am so glad I have John as a partner in my faith. It makes everything worthwhile and puts everything into perspective. My family is my center-I do let the whole Motherhood thing get me a little crazy, but overall I am amazed each day that I have the life I do. I am excited for the New Year and the adventures awaiting my Big G Life!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And So It Goes

I love to leave the Christmas Tree up until New Years because it just seems to stretch the Holidays out a little longer. This year we had a huge, beautiful tree which proceeded to dry out at an alarming pace. By Christmas Eve it had become a serious fire hazard and a spark within 15 feet would have surely set it ablaze. But I just wasn't ready to part with it and it's cheery white lights and red ornaments. So we have kept it up....until today.

Last night our boiler went on the fritz (which means no in-floor heat, which means a COLD upstairs). I went to light a fire in the fireplace and darn it, we were almost out of newpaper and kindling to get it going. I had a flash of inspiration and snapped a few small branches from our tree (it is never a good sign if the branches 'snap'). Ta Da! Those babies went up like Roman Candles! They were perfect little fire starters. So this morning....

Out went the tree. After removing all the ornaments and boxing them up for next year, Gabe and John made a quick exit. It was too wide for the door frame and bringing it in was easier than taking it out.

I decided I'd better put all of the Holiday decorations away and get ready for the New Year. But before I did, I wanted to remember this Nativity. I asked the kids to take out the Nativity sets this year (we have several....I heart them!) and after they were carefully unboxed, I let the kids set them up. Selfish-Mom that I am, I usually save this task for myself, I love arranging each piece so it can be seen as our family passes by. But when I let the kids arrange them, they all looked very similar to this one. All the pieces were in neat little circles with all eyes on the Baby Jesus. Pushy-Mom that I am, I was tempted to 'correct' the kids and encourage them to turn the pieces out so we could see their faces. But Starting-To-Learn-From-My-Kids-Mom that I am, I instead smiled and left them just like they were. It seems perfect that all eyes would be on the Baby! Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Heaven, I'm in Heaven

Those who know John and I know that for the most part, we get along quite well.

But we have a dark side to our coupledom.

If you have known us for any length of time, you would notice that our relationship has a gaping hole in our togetherness. Yes, it's true that while I am one who loves playing games, my husband does not share my enthusiasm in this aspect of our social lives. I know, I know, it is most amazing that we have managed to stay together all these 14+ years with this obvious mismatch. Good thing he the best kisser ever, or we might not have gotten off the ground all those years ago. Oops sorry, TMI. ;)

So today after church I experienced a little piece of heaven right at my own kitchen table. That's right, today we played a GAME!! And not just any game, but a BOARD GAME. And not just any board game, but THE FARMING GAME!! For those unfamiliar with the Farming Game, it is a board game that takes HOURS and HOURS to play! I LOVED IT!!!

John, Gabe, Seth, Elise, and I farmed for over 4 hours before Gabe accumulated the $250K required to win the game. I have to say though, it was a close game. We were all wealthy orchard owners by the end and it was a race to bring in the big harvest. The thing that made it so sweet was that all of us stayed happy and engaged throughout the entire game. I think it was a farming miracle. Yipee! :) So near the end of the game when John leaned over and asked if I was 'in heaven' playing this game, after I caught my breathe and dried the little tear that squeaked out of my eye, I just nodded, smiled, and embraced the warm, fuzzy moment.

Heaven? Ya, I think it will feel a little bit like this. :)

Sad Sidenote: To those familiar with the Farming Game, you will be saddened to see how the game has changed over the years. It used to have these super cool vinyl game pieces to represent portions of your farm, but they now have puzzle-like pieces instead. I was so sad to see that! I loved the vinyl pieces! Oh well, it was still oober fun to play!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

As is our tradition on Christmas Eve Morning (this is the second year running...), we got up early this morning to head to our local WalMart. Each kid is given a $5 budget to buy gifts for their siblings. We all take a cart and split up to find our gifts. It is fun and exciting to hunt for our treasures. I loaded Jebb in my cart and we headed for the toy deptartment. Grandma waited at the door to hang with the kids who finished up their shopping. After each kid finds their gifts, we check out and double bag the goods.
After our shopping is done we head to Denny's for breakfast, then it's home to wrap! It is so fun to see the excitement each kid has thinking about their gifts. Every one pays close attention when their gifts are opened. It's a great way to inject a little 'giving' before all of the 'getting' begins.

Our Christmas Eve traditions are a little more established. After reading Luke 2, we get to open one present before bed. And ya, it is always pajamas.

I thought I was pretty clever this year when I got Gabe and Seth's PJ's. They were fuzzy and footed. The boys were super good sports. Gabe said he thought the PJ's made them look like giant babies. We cracked up because it was true and I made them let me hold them as we laughed. :) The rest of us enjoyed our PJ's as well--we had to pose for a few photos.

Then it was off to bed to await the arrival of Christmas Day! I can't believe Christmas is here already! December was a blur!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas FHE

With tonight being the FHE before Chirstmas, I wanted to do something a little special. Last year when I tried to do this, it was a total and utter fiasco. So this year I waited until the very last minute to make sure the weather would be on my side. Then I invited over some super cool families (i.e. families that are nice enough not to tell me where to stick my last-minute Christmas ideas). FHE luck must have been on my side because not only did the weather hold, but John had to go to Farmington for a work thingy and was able to pick me up some Costa Vida yumminess--a.k.a. the sweet pork they use. ;)

After I heated up a storm, we fed the masses with Christmas Burritos (I have named them that only because it is the week of Christmas, not because they were red or green, although I should have gotten some fun colored tortillas....maybe next year). But as usual, I digress. John did get one lousy pic of me in the kitchen warming away while my friend Lori whipped up her famous salsa (I love her salsa so much that I did not hesitate to beg her to leave the leftovers behind for me to enjoy tomorrow--and true to her cool ways, she obliged). Oops, more digressing. BTW, did I mention how yummy sweet pork from Costa Vida is? OK, moving on.

Every family had participants in the Nativity Play. (find it here) The script requires over 2 dozen people, so it was fun to see so many of the kids anxious to participate.
Greg is not only a good dentist, but a great Narrator (he actually pulled 2 of Gabe's teeth this morning (digress)).
Our three wisemen looking for the star, and a hotel.
Our sweet Innkeeper's Wife helps Mary and Joseph settle in to the manger.
Our Angel encouraged us to Fear Not!
We had lots of adorable Shepherds that made their way to the Christ Child.

Once everyone arrived at the Stable, they all sang Silent Night and were joined by the audience as well. Everyone did such a great job! Our kids are at such a great age for things like this--old enough to read, but young enough not to think it's ridiculous. ;)

At the end of the night, we got a special treat. Lanae's little bro was in town with his wife and they both happen to be true-blue musicians. Natalie played her violin and Ross accompanied her, then they played a piano duet, 'Dance of the Sugar Plumb Faries.' It was amazing and our music room was filled with beautiful music.

Overall, it was a really nice FHE and although I didn't get pics of all the families that were here (I was warming food), I am so glad they were able to come! I felt so happy when I hopped into bed, it was the perfect FHE before Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Sunday

I love the Sunday before Christmas. You always know it is going to be wonderful and this week did not disappoint!

After some great talks full of heart warming Christmas stories, I got to participate in a musical number. I played 'I Heard the Bells of Christmas Day' on my flute along with Pam R on her flute and Patty J on piano. My legs were shaking so bad I thought I was going to fall over, right after I either threw up of passed out because I couldn't breathe. But once that was over, I was able to enjoy the last talk, again with the warm fuzzy Christmas stories.

I was super excited for Sharing Time. It is the program I posted last week, and I had recruited all kind of cool people to help out with it. Our guide was Diane F and she happens to be the grandma to several of our Primary kids. She did such a great job in her white dress and tinsel halo. :) Our Samuel the Lamanite is a great young man that is working toward his mission. The kids were pretty impressed when he cut the apple in half revealing the star. Our 'non-believer' was Brad B and he actually played his guitar and sang to us-amazing. I got a little tear in my eye! My oldest son Gabe teamed up with Kathy W as the 'believers' and they too did a great job-Kathy played a blind grandma and she had her part memorized-so good! Our angels were Callie B and one of her Young Women, Nicole G. They sang just like the angels they were dressed as. It was terrific!

The kids always enjoy dressing up and going on a 'journey.' It was fun to put a little Book of Mormon twist on it this year. I had to laugh when I ran into a lady I served with in Primary probably 10 years ago. She commented that she knew I must be in Primary when she saw my trademark container of fabric for dress up. :) I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the dollar fabric I cut up to use as costumes all those years ago. Our family used them every Christmas as well- I think every family should have some fabric in a box for times like that. :)

After church our friend Lindsay came over. She is a sweet girl that has developmental issues. She is a 24 year old that is like an 8 or 9 year old. I love having her over because she helps me remember how important it is to be 'childlike.' She is a great example to me. She says what she wants and has no guile. You never have to wonder what she would like because she will just tell or ask you. If you tell her no, she is never offended. She just smiles and moves on, not taking anything personally. I just love her and I have pondered a lot lately how I should be more humble and childlike. Elise loves her to come over because she will sit and play barbies, or style hair, or paint nails for hours on end.

This afternoon we loaded up the whole gang (Grandma Kristine is staying with us now) and went to an Old Folks Home to sing Christmas Carols. It was organized by our Scoutmaster and I am so glad we went. The ladies there really seemed to enjoy the kids. The home is actually only a few minutes from our house and I think we should visit there more often-that would be a great New Years goal.

After singing, we went over to the Mann's house for an impromptu game of Farkle. I can say that I HATE the game of Farkle. Hate it. OK, OK, I actually loved playing the game, but HATED that I got KILLED....TWICE!! I lost so bad it was to the point of being hularious! I enjoy most games, but man oh man, I sure hate to lose! :) We were loading up the kids to head home and I was thinking what a great day it was when the doorbell rang at the Mann's house. Out on the porch was the whole Farley clan singing Christmas Carols to all of us!! Could the day get any better?!

I love Sunday and always look forward to getting my batteries recharged. What a perfect Sabbath to kick of the week of Christmas. I love this time of year and the extra measure of kindness and brotherhood that it brings out. I am ready for the week and all of the Christmas Craziness that will surely be coming!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kinda Crazy

This is a wonderful time of year. Going to the mailbox is such a treat. I love hearing from friends far and wide. I love seeing pictures and reading newsletters.

Sidenote: I know that those who send me Christmas cards are true blue friends. I know this because I have not sent out a Christmas card in 5 years! 5 years! That is terrible!! John shakes his head at me and says I shouldn't get ANY cards. :) So to all those who still send them-know that I LOVE them!!! :)

OK, back to my mailbox. I got several cards today, but 2 in particular caught my eye, and to me they were fascinating enough to document.

The first card comes from my older sister. She lives in Utah and has 4 beautiful children. Her only daughter married this year and it happens to be the picture she chose for her Christmas card. I looked at it and thought-'Ah, how cute. What a fun wedding that was.' And other such reminiscent thoughts of that wonderful June day.
Then I opened couple of other cards. A friend from high school, another from my mission. What a delight. It is fun to see the pictures and the personality of the different cards. Oh happy heart that I had.

Next in the stack was a card from my younger sister. She chose a picture of her family at Lake Powell-my favorite place on earth. How nice to see some of my favorite people in such a lovely, lovely place. The boys looked bigger since I have seen them last (OK, I saw them at Thanksgiving, but still...).
I was gazing and smiling when something struck me. I went back to my older sister's card and looked again. Then back to my younger sister's card. Was it my imagination? No, no. I think not. I set the cards side by side and, yes, it was the SAME background on both cards! My sisters had selected, from the myriad of Christmas cards available, cards that had identical black backgrounds. Same red bow. Same black on black lines. Same white 'Seasons Greetings' font and same white swirlies!
I know there are about a bazillion choices in Christmas cards out there because in an unusual departure from my Christmas card ways, I actually ordered cards this year!! I tried to order cards from a couple of different sights, but they all took too long to get printed and delivered to my house (I never said I ordered them early...). I was forced to go with the layouts. I found one that was similar to the one I liked on Shutterfly. Can you see where I am going with this? I originally chose the SAME layout as both of my sisters, but had to go with the Walmart knock off instead!!!
How crazy is that?! Three sisters in three different states without consulting one another, chose the same Christmas Card layout!! What are the odds? I am not sure, but I know it is definately odd!! The three of us like to think of ourselves as rugged individuals with our own unique taste and style, but after this year's Christmas Cards, I am not so sure.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Before Vacation

The Friday before Christmas vacation is often a busy and fun one. This year was no exception. I helped Gabe's orchestra transport instruments to two local elementary schools. They put on a Christmas Concert at both Florida Mesa Elem (our school) and Sunnyside Elem. (the school district we technically live in). I so enjoyed going to the concerts and loved seeing Gabe play in his Santa hat. Elise (4th grader) got to participate on a couple of the orchestra numbers with the Middle School group. She did great-I tried to zoom in on her, she is sitting by her BFF, Afton. After the orchestra numbers, the 4th & 5th graders sang two chorale numbers that were just fantastic. They sang in Latin and they were about Jesus--I loved it!! They sounded so beautiful. Oh, it happens to be pajama day at the school in case it looks strange. ;)

After the concert at Florida Mesa, I loaded the cellos in my car and headed out to Sunnyside. But before I left, I handed off the camera to John as he was staying to see Jackson read in his Author's Celebration. John reported that Jackson did really well and had the best, most creative story ever. :) Jackson was so excited for this event and I am so glad John was able to break away from work to attend it.

I am looking forward to vacation this year as are the kiddos. Grandma Kristine is coming to live with us for a few weeks and should be here tomorrow. The ward Christmas dinner is tomorrow as well. The Holidays are here!