Friday, January 27, 2017

38 Flavors

And instantly, I'm craving ice cream.

Oh well. I have vanilla in my freezer, but I'm wanting more of a Caramel Cone right now. Heavenly. You can guess what I'm picking up at the store on my next trip.

Don't distract me. I'm trying to get a birthday post on here. You only get older one day a year (unless you count those other 364 days that you technically get older as well). Today is my day to shine and ignore all those wrinkles and white hairs and bask in the glory of living another year. I'm happy to be on this earth and be living my life. It is pretty fantastic.

Plus, I have a phenomenal group of people who love me and remind me all the time. I did get a shower first thing in the morning, but second up was a gaggle of girls with clues and quests for me.

The girls had made a delightful present hunt for me. It included clues to locations and also song riddles. It began thus:

Around the house, your gifts we've hid
To get them, guess the artist or title of the lyric we give.
"Don't be stingy; be prepared to pay."

Any takers on that first song? It is a hard one if you've never heard it.

It comes from Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Listen here. (I'm actually impressed they remember this song. I love that movie.)

Clue 1:

Where the water is blue & the seahorses swim,
Go down to the sea, for the gift is within.
"I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden in the shade."

It took me a minute, but I figured out it was Pearl's room. (She still has a bit of a sea theme from when it was a guest room for half a year.) Down there I found a gift and unwrapped some bling for my kitchen.

 Clue 2:

Paper & glue all mixed together
Make the clouds for birthday weather.
"Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes."

This led me to our computer lab, which doubles as storage for all things crafty. 

Looks like some more kitchen goodness.

Clue 3:

A bright green sun smiles so bright
For butterflies in a colorful flight.
"We wash our clothes, & we shine our shoes, & we call it the get-the-work-done day."

That was a no brainer. Laundry room, here we come. I scored a pot in that room. I sense a theme. (See the green sun back there?)

Clue 4:

In a flower room lives a flower girl
With her flower walls in her own flower world
"Flower gleam & glow, let your power shine."

(Are you getting all these song references?) Of course I was headed to Daisy's room. She had been holding my bows for me. How kind.

You guessed it. I was given another lovely pan. They are hard to wrap, but the kids did a great job.

Clue 5:

After a hard day, the kids drop their loads
From walking down the streets and roads.
"Run, run, run, jump! I can be your backpack while you run!"

Of course the kids had to include that song. It is their latest obsession. If you haven't seen it, you probably should. (I shouldn't be the only one with the tune stuck in my head all day.) Listen and watch here. But I was led to the coat closet for this cute mini addition. (I've already found great uses for it.)

 Clue 6:

Sadly, I lost this last clue, but I remember the song.
"With a dreamy far off look, and her nose stuck in a book."

What would I possibly find in the library?

I'm a pretty lucky momma. I believe we all win in this scenario. I love cooking and I believe my family loves to eat.

Also, with each gift, I found a chapstick. I don't plan on running out anytime soon. (Like my Blue Steel look?)

Love this crew more than words can express. They are my life!

There wasn't much to the day. We had Stake Conference and I got my awesome calling. In the afternoon, June helped me make a cake and we ate it later that night. 

Yep, 38! Rockin it.

Hahaha. Hasn't anyone told June that you can't lick your elbow? Actually, she got it later. That is skilz.

I also put together a birthday luncheon for myself. (On a different day.) Tricia helped me. We have gone out to lunch before, but this time I wanted to enjoy having friends over with no tip at the end. It was a wonderful afternoon.

I meant to take some extra pictures and forgot of course. But here is Deanne and Tricia. People can't asked for better friends.

I'm pretty content with another good year under my belt. Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

There's an Art to Window Art

I am so busy right now. (heh heh...stressed laughter) My eyes are starting to twitch. I think it is from the lack of sleep and the constant go, go, go. That is one of the reasons I haven't visited the blogosphere recently.

Work is great, but it is throwing off my morning groove. The kids are busier than ever, which translates into one busy momma. Oh, and I got a new calling. But I'm not even complaining, because it is my dream calling.

I was called as a Stake Young Women's Assistant Camp Director. Sweetness. I have been secretly wishing to be in the Young Women's program for a while. Don't get me wrong...I adore my primary children. It is so sad to leave them, and the lovely sisters I work with. But I am also terribly excited to work with the youth. I had no ambitions to be on the Stake level, but I feel like it is the perfect spot for me.

I was sustained on my birthday. Heavenly Father gives the best gifts, but He always has.

Speaking of birthdays, we had a couple already this month, but I'll save those for another day. Today, we are going to brag about Robyn.

In a stroke of genius, I came up with a gift idea for Robyn at Christmastime. I didn't have her name, but I passed along the info to the appropriate people and they filled my order nicely. They got her some new brushes. (An artist is always happy to see brushes.)

And she received a box full of Tempera paints.

Robyn wasn't quite sure what she was supposed to do with those paints, but we told her. Please paint the windows!

So we threw her outside on a cold day (they are all cold) and she went to work.

I suggested something for the New Year, but besides that, she has her own creative license. I don't like to influence her too much, because she has such great ideas.

For her first window painting, I think it turned out great. I love it. It makes me happy every time I drive up to the house.

I'm guessing you will see many window designs this year. I'm already excited for Valentine's day...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Snowy Days

I thought for a while that I had already done this post because I edited the pictures. But they never made it on here. So I'm officially getting some snow pictures on here.

Utah is funny when it comes to winter. You can count on it being cold, but you can't always count on snow. Some years it has been terribly dry, with only a couple days of snow. Other years it dumps on us like the sky is having a righteous pillow fight.

Most years are something in between.

This year we got our first snow in November. You can tell whether it was a good amount of snow by whether you see snowmen in people's yards. This must have been a great amount because there was a snowman on someone's roof. (Points for creativity.)

My girls went out and played in the snow. You have to get out in the first snow if you can. I didn't go out or take any pictures, but later the girls told me to check out their snow wall. Ivory (who was gone at gymnastics during the playtime) and I went out to see what we could see. First we found this snowman. (More points for creativity.)

He was built on a tabletop, but he sure looks happy to be there. Heading down to the sport court, I was greeted by this gentleman.

This guy was already better than any snowman I have ever built.

We found the snow wall and Ivory demonstrated how one might crouch behind and throw a snowball. (I wouldn't recommend the flip flops though.)

Coming back I spied one more little guy. He probably was the harbinger of the snowman hide-and-seek game in Idaho.

That snow melted, but we have had many other great snow days. (I really should take my kids sledding.) One snowfall was unbelievably treacherous. Cars were sliding out all over the place. I know this because I went to pick up Ivory from gymnastics and it took me an hour and a half to get there. I avoided the freeway in fear, but it turns out those were the best roads. Our return trip was much better (via freeway) and I was very grateful to get us both home in one piece.

We had a white Christmas, and even as the snow melts, the weather brings us another blanket of white. These are from the other day. I love how snow builds up on the trees.

I'm trying to be better about shoveling the driveway. Usually Tyler does it for me, but sometimes it decides to snow while he is at work. (How dare it?) Depending on the day, I sometimes have help.

Although I don't love snow for the danger and cold, I love it for the crisp whiteness and the soft hush when it is falling. It can be lovely indeed. Here are a few pictures of Pearl last winter that I never got on here either. Back then she was in Kindergarten, so she had time to play in the snow by herself while sisters slaved away at school.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review 2016

This year I updated my Goodreads account. That sparked my interest in reading and I went hog wild this year. HOG WILD! Between my three book clubs and the books I read in between, I ended up reading 58 books. That is 19 more than the 39 I read last year which was a personal record for me. I don't even know where I found the time to read so much. And I've had to rework this post, because I don't want to put pictures of 58 books. Instead, I will list my top ten favorites with pics to follow and then all the books I read for the year.

But first some fun statistics from Goodreads. (I really do love that site.) And a couple of my own.

Books: 58

Pages: 19,414

Shortest Book: Interference - 178 pages

Longest Book: Echo - 587 pages

Average Length: 335 pages

Most Popular: The Hobbit

Highest Rating on Goodreads: Cress

Most Read Month: February - 9 books

Least Read Month: November and December - 2 books (Darn those holidays)

Two Stars: The Royal We, The Sisters Brothers, The Neverending Story, Crimson Bound (I don't recommend any of these books.)

Fun huh? It is kind of cool to look back and realize how much time I have ignored my children and lived in another world. (I jest, but only slightly.)

Now for my top 10 eleven.

Seriously, this is hard.

I can't put these in order of liking, so I will just list them all, with pictures to follow.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - If I had a favorite, it would probably be this one. I love historical narrative. This story was so amazing and well told that even though I knew how it ended, I was still biting my nails as they came to the finish line!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - This was a story of the Lithuania people and the tragedies they suffered during WWII. I knew little of their story and was appalled at the cruelty while being awed by the endurance of people.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - This is simply one of those books that makes you consider at the end. Would you have done the same? Set in modern times with flash backs to war times. Surprise ending which I sort of guessed.

Left to Tell by Ilibagiza Immaculee - I guess many of my picks are books that show the indomitable spirit of man (or woman in this case). This is the true story of a woman who lived in a closet for months as her people were killed around her. Inspiring and hard to read.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - This is another thinking book. A boy grows up only to find he is a clone. Is he his own person? Does he have his own soul? I loved the character development in this one.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins - Before she wrote Hunger Games, she wrote this series. The whole thing was fantastic. I loved every book, although some more than others of course. The characters were great. I loved the world underneath ours. I especially loved the bats. Not the rats, although one rat was my favorite character. Highly recommend for kids as well.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan - This book was beautiful. Three war stories brought together with a single Harmonica. It was hard to leave one character's story to enter another, but I loved each narrative. Possibly my second favorite of the year.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - This book was eye opening and frightening. It really gave you a clear picture of what Alzheimer's patients endure. It was frightening because when you start reading, you feel like you exhibit all the symptoms. At least I did with my swiss cheese memory.

Interference by Amelie Antoine - Shortest read, but so intriguing. It was like a mini soap opera with twists in it. Strange, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. (Maybe I shouldn't have.) This was a free book off my Kindle.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - This was a series June got me hooked on. I had to read all three to feel complete. They were highly dramatic in places, but the overall story was enticing and I totally called the ending. Loved them.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - Had to make room for this last one. This is such a feel good book, with lovable characters and allusions to Shakespeare that keep you laughing and sighing all at once. I want to read this one again.

Phew. And now for the complete list. It was a great year of reading and I am already looking forward to lots of new books in my 3 groups. (We did lose Tim and Ivory in our family group, but both are rejoining in 2017. Woot!)

Go Set a WatchmanHarper Lee
The Adventures of a South Pole PigChris Kurtz
CressMarissa Meyer
Master Toni Sorenson
Spell for ChameleonPiers Anthony
The Vanishing Act of Esme LennoxMaggie O'Farrell
ScarletMarissa Meyer
A Gift of MagicLois Duncan
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown
Daring Greatly Brene Brown
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost StoriesRoald Dahl
The Tale of Emily WindsnapLiz Kessler
The Time Travelers (Gideon the Cutpurse)Linda Buckley-Archer
The Winner's KissMarie Rutkoski
Auggie & MeR. J. Palacio
The Winner's CrimeMarie Rutkoski
Cinder Marissa Meyer
The Winner's CurseMarie Rutkoski
InterferenceAmelie Antoine
A Desperate FortuneSusanna Kearsley
The Bronze BowElizabeth George Speare
The Magician's NephewC.S. Lewis
Help! I'm a Classroom GamblerPete Johnson
Mrs. MikeBenedict Freedman
El DeafoCece Bell
The Royal WeHeather Cocks, Jessica Morgan
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)Brandon Mull
Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins
NogginJohn Corey Whaley
Numbers IgniteRebecca Rode
Gregor and the Marks of SecretSuzanne Collins
Masterminds: Criminal DestinyGordon Korman
Gregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsSuzanne Collins
Still AliceLisa Genova
The Wednesday WarsGary Schmidt
Gregor and the Prophecy of BaneSuzanne Collins
EchoPam Munoz Ryan
The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkins
Gregor the OverlanderSuzanne Collins
The Neverending StoryMichael Ende
The House of the ScorpionNancy Farmer
Renegade Magic Stephanie Burgis
The Sisters BrothersPatrick deWitt
AlienatedMelissa Landers
Left to TellImmaculee Ilibagiza
Be a Genie in Six Easy StepsLinda Chapman and Steve Cole
The BFGRoald Dahl
JackpotGordon Korman
The StorytellerJodi Picoult
Crimson BoundRosamund Hodge
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?Mindy Kaling
The HobbitJ.R.R.Tolkien
HideoutGordon Korman
Between Shades of GrayRuta Sepetys
Confessions of a Molly MormonElona K. Shelley
My Very Own FairyMegan Dargan
A Single ShardLinda Sue Park
Counting by 7sHolly Goldberg Sloan

December Flotsam and Jetsom

Christmas is well behind us and I've almost got the decorations put away. (Yes, it has been a slow year for that.) But there are still a few photos tucked away in the archives that bring back all the Christmas glory. Today, we'll get all that on the blog and be able to officially move into the New Year.

I'm so proud of the older girls. They have reached an age where they can have callings in the Young Women's organization. June was the Beehive President all summer and did such a great job. Robyn was her secretary. When June turned 14, she was moved up into the next age level, but it didn't take long for both the girls to have callings again. They were both called as secretaries for their presidencies. They are really good, organized girls. I like to think they got a little of that from their mother.

When we went in to visit with the Bishopric, we amused ourselves taking 'weirdies'. I won't torture you with all of them, but this one of my head on June's body makes me laugh, because the hair matches up enough to be believable.

I really love my tree in the front room. Last year some of the lights burned out. When I assembled it this year, I considered buying a new tree. However, upon hitting the stores, I came home with more lights instead of a new tree. (Ouch, pricey trees.) I got the whole tree looking good. And the next morning, the top section burned out. Oh well, I wasn't adjusting any more ornaments or lights. It was good enough.

These goody plates below are the only evidence that we went caroling this year. We even drove really far out to see our friends the Mason's. They gave us hot chocolate and cookies and still no pictures. But we had a great time and learned the harmony 'Peace Peace' that goes with 'Silent Night'. I thought we sounded really good. Next year...'Carol of the Bells'. The kids have been dying to learn it.

I ran into Robyn's sixth grade teacher at the store. If you recall, she stopped teaching early because she was having a baby. It was so great to see her, and her baby...adorable.

Lunches still happen around here. I did the kids' first initial in lights and Pearl wanted to take a picture. I let her, but we need to work on focus. (It takes some practice.)

Ivory continues to have the same projects that June had three years ago. It is fun to see the differences in how they complete them. I'm not sure I ever got a picture of June's bottle person. Ivory did such a great job on hers. She read a Historical Fiction book called The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. She really enjoyed the story and made her bottle into Emma, one of the main characters.

Our ward Christmas Party was very nice, made even sweeter by the fact that I was not involved in planning it one iota. My neighbor did ask to use my oven for potatoes which led to an awkward situation in which she dropped off potatoes and I didn't cook them. I honestly did not know she wanted me to. But it worked out in the end, and there were more than plenty potatoes for everyone, with extra to spare. I took a selfie with the girls.

There was also a photo booth. We got a family picture but I don't know where it ended up. But I caught these hooligans after.

Tyler and I also went to the Scoresby's party, one of my favorite events of the year. We dressed in our 'ugly' sweaters, chugged egg nog in a contest, made a fabulous sausage dip, almost won the Oldy Wed Game (we didn't get any of round one's questions correct, but we came back to get every single one in round two. It was close) and scored the game SPEAK OUT in the white elephant exchange. (Watching Jonny play that was worth it all.)

Tyler's DHI Christmas card was Trumpendous! this year. Some people were offended, but I thought it was one of the best ones yet.

Tyler caught this photo in ID. It is quite funny mainly because Kolby would like nothing to do with the Pipster. I believe they put her on him because he was sleeping.

Speaking of canines, our resident Moxy decided to leave me a late Christmas present. I don't think I appreciated it the way she wanted me to. (On the tree skirt too? Really Moxy?)

We got a puzzle done in the nick of time. We didn't start it until after Christmas, so I thought a New Year's one would be fitting. And when I say 'we', I mean me and June. We didn't give anyone else much of a chance. I think Robyn did part of the torch and the moon, but June and I finished off the rest in a day.

June got a trim right before the new year. In hindsight, we were doing something wrong because moments after this photo was taken, June almost passed out. I was evening her hair in front and she suddenly lost all color and slumped over. Even her vision blacked out momentarily. I have no idea what happened and she was okay a minute or so later. We kept her lying down most of the morning, and in the evening, she was right as rain.

Finally, we had mini Martinelli's on hand for the new year, so we took them outside and sabered them. The girls did their own. They loved it and everyone did a great job. Mark was over, so he did one too, and we even got Matt Warner, next door, to pop a top off a bottle. (He was a natural as well.)

And so 2016 slips into the past. Another folder closed in my photography file. It has been a good year for us. I'm already excited to see what 2017 has in store.