Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemaking Tip - When the Microwave Blows a Magnetron

When you don't have a microwave to soften cold butter, but the chocolate-coconut truffle cupcakes need frosted now, grating it really does work.  Grace and I know this for certain now.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

14+ pictures for the 14th of December 2014

Ty: making crepes for a special Sunday breakfast.

Michelle:  Family selfie on the way to church

Eliza: the backpack and my sippy cup kept ALL of us sane at church today.
2 more weeks of 1pm church!

Afton: Singing "Flying in an Airplane" with a quail hairdo.
(Jane speaking here:  Ty tried to do Afton's hair using the vacuum as a blowdryer.)

Michelle: The best belly picture I could get!

Zeph:  Levin "Wevy" and Atlas "Ah-Ah" and Cali and Ray left this morning.
Zeph is going to go through a lot of withdrawals this week
(he loves those little boys and loved that they got to watch extra
Curious George while Cali and I did projects).
I think I'll go through withdrawals too.
Our house is too quiet and lonely.

Ande: After a great Sunday at church.
Joe forgot he was supposed to speak, 

but gave a wonderful talk about the Savior and the Atonement. 
I got to teach Young Women's. 
Zeph sat through all of Sacrament Meeting 
with the help of marshmallows and looked at books of Jesus (who he calls "JeJe"),
 and got to play with balls in nursery. A very good Sunday.

Joe:  Ande wants to remind Cali of another great reason to come back soon . . .
the fact we forgot to light a fire while they were here.

Cali:  Leaving Joe, Ande, and Zeph

Ray:  Who wants to sit by us on the flight home?

Atlas and Levin:  Trying to keep from crying on the plane.

Abe and Grace and Henry:  post Church photo

Grace:  Henry's new curtains courtesy of me and Mom

Abe:  Reading and singing to Henry before nap time.

Henry:  my healthy legs

Calvin and Jane:  post Church picture with Henry

It was another successful year of 14 on 14.  It's fun to look back at the growth, opportunities, challenges, and changes in our family month by month through the last four years of this photo project. Good thing next year is 15 on 15, because we keep growing.

Thanks to family for sending pictures in each month, and thanks to you readers for viewing each month.

I hope your 2014 was a good year too.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Life in Our World - "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Community Nativity.

There was a Community Nativity held at one of the LDS churches here in town.  Our stake Relief Society presidency was in charge of decorating the foyers of the church.  Chris, our Stake Relief Society President, has talent and vision and she drafted and created the scenes with a lot of help from her husband and a little bit of help from the rest of the presidency.  The finished project was really beautiful.

The whole Nativity event was incredible.  Carrie Welty and her committee had over 300 creches artfully displayed, a nativity photo booth, and beautiful musical numbers that played continuously.  It was a wonderful and energetic way to celebrate The Season.

Beautiful Chaos.

Our house is still in the chaos of being painted.  But there is always beauty, even in chaos, and two of the beautiful things are:

I found clue #12 from the blue team's Thanksgiving scavenger hunt.  It was on the back of the giant star that hangs on the wall. 

Calvin's closet is clean and organized and so is every other closet and cupboard in the house. De-junking makes me happy. Order is beautiful.

Army-Navy Game.

It was the annual Army-Navy game on Saturday and we went to Abe and Grace's to watch it. They had prepared fun game food - buffalo wings in four flavors, truffle cupcakes (complete with black and white cups and a yellow cupcake stand), mozzarella cheese sticks, and other game foods.  

Wings prepped and ready for the oven

Wing sauce choices

We watched the march-on and pregame shows. A fellow cadet of Abe’s walked a kilometer for each fallen soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He walked the last kilometer with the widow of his good friend, fellow teammate and quarterback of the Army team. The soldier and the widow finished the walk and entered the stadium just before game time.  It was a touching tribute to the fallen soldiers and reminded us of Abe’s fallen buddies that were part of those kilometers.

Army lost the game, but it was a respectable loss.  Next year.  There is always next year.

After the game, Grace and I worked on curtains for Henry's room while Calvin and Abe did house projects.  Henry watched and played with the balls on the Christmas tree.  We had such a great weekend.

Albert Einstein is smart, right?  He said, "Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Calvin and I must have been very balanced this week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Homemaking Tip - Thinkin'

Sometimes country music says it all.

 “What was I thinkin’?” has come into my mind more than once today. 

You see, we’re painting the whole house, even the ceilings  . . .

. . . in December.  

Granted, someone is doing it for us, but still . . .

 "What was I thinkin?"

And then, tonight I logged onto Facebook and saw a slew of comments and “likes” to a post on our wall that I don’t even know how it got there. It was one of those requests asking for confirmation that you read our wall. All I could think was, “Caaaalllvvviiiiiin! what buttons did you push?" (You should have seen his Instagram account a month ago. Good grief. He had unknowingly pushed “follow” to 50 random people – most of them souls he doesn't know and others were celebrities he has no desire to know.  He was cursing Instagram until I explained what he'd done and fixed his contacts.)  If only they’d write a song, “What was Calvin thinkin’?” we’d be covered.

But every now and then we think of good ideas.  Like at Thanksgiving.  Calvin grilled everyone a Cornish game hen that each person had seasoned individually (great idea), and then after dinner everyone had a tin to put his leftovers in.  It was a custom TV dinner if ever there was one.  

It was slick.

Back to more thinkin' . . . 

and sniffing paint fumes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Tried It - The Power of Christmas

Here are two of my favorite finds that can be found on Pinterest:

Behold the power of Christmas:

And because of this      h     then things like this       can happen in a fallen world.

I hope you have a month of merriness as we celebrate the first great gift.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Memories - Preserves

If someone would have told me that my husband would become a scrapbooker some day, I'd have said, "No gonna happen.  No sir, not gonna happen."  And, I'd have been dead wrong.

Calvin made himself a recipe book, using the paper cutter and adhesives.  He didn't want any pointers, so I stopped short of offering him my stash of embellishments and washi tape.  His recipe book has one section -- meats -- and as he carefully compiled it he said to himself, "Someday my kids are gonna fight for this book."  I chuckled and reminded him Xerox has kept hundreds of families out of brawls.  

Recently Grace and I finished Abe's book.  

A few weeks before that I finished Ty's book.  

I am now caught-up on our children's scrapbooks.  I never thought I'd see this day.  When our family was growing, we couldn't afford a nice camera.  I used a little 110, but didn't take many pictures because it was expensive to buy the film and back then you developed each picture on the roll --the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Years later we got a digital camera, but it was poor quality and many pictures were grainy.  Even though I kept journals so the kids would at least have word memories, journals are not as fun and colorful as photo memories.  Several years ago, I told Deb Keeley my lack-of-pictures problem and she gave me an idea of how to capture each child's childhood using fewer pictures.  She suggested an A-Z book with each letter of the alphabet describing a quality of the child with a picture or two illustrating it. For example, the letter "P" in Ty's book is "Persistent." On that page there are three pictures:  Ty learning to ride a bike, learning to roller blade, and wrestling. The journal entry gives details about that part of Ty's personality or stories that illustrate it.  Even though the pictures are taken years apart on the page, they effectively capture the memory that Ty doesn't quit; and in the end, that entry tells a lot more about Ty than if I'd have had a picture of him every Christmas in front of the tree with a new toy.   

The A-Z books were fun to do, but a weight feels lifted now that they're done.  I also did mission and Academy books for Abe and Ty, but Cali and Ande were scrapbooking their own lives by then so I didn't do any post-high school books for them.  

Now it's on to scrapbooking family memories and putting pictures with Calvin's personal history.  I love this kind of stuff.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

52 Blessings - The Family Process

Ty met an airman at Fairchild Air Force Base who lives far away from family.  He has only been in the area for a few weeks and has no established friends yet.  He's a devout Christian, but has not yet found a congregation with which he identifies.  In short, he's alone.  Ty told this airman that Calvin and I would love to have him come for Thanksgiving.  He explained that his brother and sister and their families and two cousins would also be at our home so he'd have lots of people with whom to share Thanksgiving.

We made contact with the airman, he got the required approval, and he came - sight unseen - to spend the holiday with us.  During one of the many prayers offered throughout the weekend (we are a praying family that formally prays over meals as well as kneels in family prayer morning and evening), the airman thanked God for "this family that helps me to see what a family is meant to look like."

Calvin and I were humbled by his prayer and have thought about it several times.  We do have a beautiful family, and we also have (and have had) challenges and struggles to keep it in-tact, harmonious, thriving, and growing. A lot of worry, wonder, effort, and miracles go into a family. The airman's prayer quietly reminded me to be grateful for the progress and the process of making a family rather than the worry that we're still so far from perfect.

Today I'm grateful for the role that holidays, celebrations, and wholesome family activities play in growing a family.

Wednesday morning, Ray and Cali's family as well as Ray's sister Tracy arrived from Seattle. While Atlas and Levin stayed home with me the rest of them went to Spokane and look around and to bring Ty's friend home.    

While they were gone, I made pies and par-boiled the sweet potatoes as Thanksgiving music played in the background. Levin brought a bucket of little cars into the kitchen and revved and drove them at my feet while I worked. Knowing that family was on their way home (Abe, Grace, Henry, and niece and nephew Jesse and Cache), and that our family far away had other family to join, it was a serene moment that felt a wee bit like I imagine heaven feels like.  "Over the river and through the wood to grandmother's house we go" was a reality, not a scene from Currier and Ives, and I got to play the role of grandmother.     

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  Here are a few pictures documenting it:

Grace and Jesse

Abe and Ray

Thanksgiving Day also happened to be Calvin's birthday.  While he's a full-fledged meat eater, turkey does not even make his list.  Instead, he suggested we have cornish game hens and that each person season their own before he grilled them.  He set up a cupboard in the kitchen with all of the spices and each person prepared theirs according to taste.  Not only were the hens really good, it was a fun activity prepping and comparing flavors.  

While Thanksgiving Dinner tasted really good, it wasn't the only good food of the week:

Abe and Calvin

Henry and Atlas pretty much lived on yogurt and rolls

We celebrated all week with food.  One morning Calvin and Abe fried up lots of homemade bacon and sausage and made omelets to order.  I liked that it was all cooked outside on the grill and greatly minimized the mess.

We also played many games:

Nephew Cache, niece Jesse, Ray's sister Tracy, Cali, and Grace

Ray hobbled Atlas with rubber bands

Henry and Levin

Atlas and Dan

Ray running from one clue to another

Team Artsy-Fartsy trying to figure out their next clue (Cali, Abe, and Jesse)

Jesse, Abe, Cali taking required treasure hunt portrait

We split the 13 of us up into teams for the weekend.  Competitions included rubber-band gun and blow-dart shooting contests, as well as a treasure hunt and charades.  

We not only ate and played, we worked.  Everyone chipped in Friday morning and helped Calvin and me cut, pile, and burn some trees that had blown over in the pasture.  They also hauled and burned loads of leaves and branches.  

Cali, Jesse, our new airman friend, Tracy



Abe and Levin  

We built a big bonfire to burn everything. It looks so much better and the help was greatly appreciated.

We also had some great conversations.  

Abe and Henry going on a walk

Whether it took place around the dinner table, game table, on a walk, around a fire, or in the living room, I loved the conversation and discussions.    

Elder Robert D. Hales said, "When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality . . . Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family . . ."  This week I'm grateful for the process of growing a family.