Saturday, December 9, 2017

Three significant things happened in the last week.  We had our ward Christmas party, and Winter Ball, and Dallas turned 15!!!

I did food and the music/program for our ward party and thankfully it all went great!  People brought small veggie plates to put at each table for snacking, and others brought au gratin potatoes.  We provided ham, salad, rolls, and dessert.  We successfully fed 200 people and had a terrific program!  Bobbie took care of the decorations and table settings.  And so many people volunteered to perform musically and help in other ways that it turned out really fun and spiritually uplifting and just wonderful!

Our six kids were half on their own and half watched over by other ward members during the night.  Thankfully they all got fed and didn't mind helping or being neglected too much.  Sam wasn't able to watch them because he was in the program, and Dallas wasn't able to watch them because he was at the piano all night playing background Christmas music (as you can see in the above photo I snapped before the party started), so Evan bore the brunt of handling Charles, Stacy and Leia.  Poor Evan!

I am so amazed by how much Dallas has progressed in piano.  He's really good and has so much fun with his piano teacher Miss Diane.  He cracked me up by putting a Tip Jar on the piano to be funny.  (He got $3, some butter, and cough drops).  He even played for Pat and I to sing, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"!  It was so fun!!!  (We felt the Bishop and Bishop's wife should wish everyone a Merry Christmas in a special way, but performing first, and not performing perfectly since Pat can't sing in tune, also hopefully made those to come after us feel more comfortable and have fun too). Anyways, Dal did a fantastic job.

I missed almost a full week of homeschool to organize all that, and said I couldn't do it next year because the Relief Society hopefully has enough sisters to handle it in the future, but I volunteered to help this year since we had a brand new RS presidency who were all very busy, and my husband being a fairly new bishop and never having done this before, we weren't prepared as we should be and I wanted it to go well and would rather take the stress myself than hand it off to those who are already over-burdened.  I love planning parties and menus and stuff anyway.

The music was my favorite. The primary sang with bells.  There was a beautiful father-son number on the guitar and violin "Oh Come, O Come Immanuel", a family who performed "Do You Hear What I Hear?" on piano, drums, voice and triangle, the priests all sang We Three Kings... and so many more!  All together there were about 12 musical numbers, but it was just comfortable like a family home evening.  Sam and his fellow deacons decided to so something, and they worked for hours on it and it sounded like some kind of bad rock concert with electric guitar, flute, and piano, and a bell being rung anything BUT on beat.  Imagine my surprise when, after leaving them alone to figure it out, they pulled off a beautiful version of Carol of the Bells

The final number was four of us adults singing with Bro. Whetton, the High Priest leader playing guitar.  We sang Silent Night in German, then had Bishop (Pat) read the same thing John Denver does about the origin of that song while the guitar continued, and then the congregation all joined in to sing it in English.  It was sweet.  I used a lot of poems and songs from the John Denver and The Muppets Christmas album, and people not knowing where it came from, asked me afterward, "Can I get a copy of that song?", or "Can I get a copy of that poem?" Ha ha.  I'll convert the world!

They also really seemed to like the sundaes for dessert.  I thought that was pretty nice for what was just an ice-cream sundae.  I layered vanilla ice-cream, homemade Hot Fudge, whip cream, sprinkling of crushed candy canes, and a wafer stick or cookie sticking out on the side.  Pretty elegant for a church dessert, and pretty delicious too!  The Young Women, their leaders, and our former Bishop, made them in the assembly line I set up and took them out to people on trays, and I think they enjoyed waitressing.  At least if anyone had complaints they kept it to themselves and all the feedback we had was great.  We just need better lighting for the performers.

Now, I find myself trying to catch up with the rest of my life.  Personal scriptures, Stacy, homeschool, Christmas preparations, and I haven't exercised in a couple of weeks which always makes me cranky.  Thankful that it went well though, and there seemed to me a happy and unified spirit in the ward at fast and testimony meeting the next day, which is what I prayed for most.

THEN!!!  Dallas turned 15 and we got him the class to get on the road and driving in about 3 weeks.  That's scary, but I am so looking forward to not having to drive him everywhere.  Seminary. every. morning.  Sports.  Music lessons.  Activities.  On the flip side there's a whole host of worries and expenses that go along with having a driving teenager.  We'll see what happens...

We took the kids out to eat at a restaurant (which we hardly ever do) to thank them for their patience with us during the ward Christmas party week, and we let Dallas pick.  He picked Saigon!  It's Vietnamese food.  Crunchy egg rolls rolled up in fresh lettuce, basil leaves, and cilantro dipped in a sweet and spicy fish sauce and their wonderful pho soup.  He ate so much food!  Then he wanted Chicken Sopa (like chicken enchiladas) for dinner but by the time I made it he was too sick to eat.  He caught a fever from somewhere and was sick in bed for days.  Sad birthday!

So I'll probably make chicken sopa again on Sunday and have his dessert he wanted which was ice-cream sundaes.  

He felt well enough to go to the Winter Ball with Sam a couple days later and they had a great time.   Dallas always gets compliments from people and gets the dancing started by going out first.  He always ends up with his tie around his head, and always asks as many girls to dance as possible.  Some of the girls he's grown up with all came up and sang Happy Birthday to him.  They did it while he was dancing with another girl.  On purpose.  To make it as awkward as possible.  I think he said they were mad because he told them the wrong date for his birthday or something.  Who knows.  I thought it was hilarious.  Sam ran with a pack of deacons all night and if you think that sounds scary, it is.  But they danced their brains out just like their mother taught them. Work hard. Dance hard.  That my motto.

Truthfully, if I had a motto it would be:  Always Remember Him  (In case anyone needs to know what to put on my headstone).  I've been thinking a lot about that phrase and how it encompasses everything and says everything, and I love it.

Here's some pictures of a youth activity service project Dal and Sam got to go to where they mapped a huge cemetary in Albuquerque and photographed each headstone and had it logged with its GPS coordinates.  I think it was for Find a or something like that.  It was well organized and the youth did great work.  Pat went with them since it required computer knowledge and you know me.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

We got rid of our old ripped up orange couch, but we liked the pillows so much we cut them off and use them as bean bags on the floor now!  It's great for extra seating; especially since we don't have enough seats with the Christmas tree in the living room.

found an "oldies" ice-cream shop with 60's, 70's and 80's stuff galore

I walked outside one morning and the view in every direction was absolutely stunning.  So I took pictures of everything!  From this cobweb on my front porch, to rotating in a complete circle (shown below).  No matter what part of the sky I looked at- North, South, East, West, it was truly beautiful!  This was just with my cell phone.  Imagine if I were a photographer!!!

This was a great bowl of oatmeal.  Oatmeal is not one of our family favorites, but it's nutritious so we try to eat it once a week.  This one has no sugar, finely diced dates to sweeten, and lots of almond milk because I don't like it thick.  Sometimes we call it porridge for fun like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I found these stickers that I need to put in books, but snapped a picture in case I lose them!

I snap pictures of everything in case I lose them.  Like these pictures Leia did.

And this picture by Charlie:

The Christmas Wish - song by Danny Allen Wheetman

from the Muppets Christmas album with John Denver
I don't know if you believe in Christmas,

Ori if you have presents underneath the Christmas tree,

But if you believe in love, that will be more than enough,

For you to come and celebrate with me.

For I have held the precious gift that love brings,

Even though I never saw a Christmas star.

I know there is a light, I have felt it burn inside,

And I have seen it shining from afar.

Christmas is the time to come together,

A time to put all differences aside.

And I reach out my hand to the family of man,

To share the joy I feel at Christmastime

For the truth that binds us all together,

I would like to say a simple prayer;

That at this special time, you will have true peace of mind,

And love to last throughout the coming year.

And if you believe in love,

That will be more than enough,

For peace to last throughout the coming year,

And peace on earth will last throughout the year.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my friend Tera and her family.  I deeply admire them!  They are so comfortable and fun and we had a great time.  Added bonus: Tera and Sean are great cooks so we had a fantastic dinner!  All I had to do was bring appetizers (below) with crackers, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a couple of pies.  We did a Banofee pie and Apple-Raspberry.  They did Pumpkin-Cheesecake, Apple, and French Silk.  Really the best part, aside from the company, was the dinner though.  Dessert always feels like too much after a great dinner.  I want to start a movement that puts the pies for lunch or something.  Then the real dinner at 2pm.  Sign below if you'll join! 

The kids played in their huge, old, New Mexican adobe home jumping off walls and rolling around what used to be the pool room that they filled in with cement.  What a great place to play in the long winter!  I fell in love with this house.  So much character!  It was a big fixer-upper, but it not only looks livable now, it is the envy of my being.  Ha ha.   Amazing kitchen with real brick floor and Spanish tile, overhead beams, a sunk-in U couch and adobe wall, something like five fireplaces or kivas, real hand-crafted wood doors that look right out of Old Spain  (or old Santa Fe).   Those doors are built into those old THICK walls and it is enchanting!  I'm so glad they found this gem for a great price!  So much space!!!  I'm so happy for them.  They need it with just having their 8th baby!!!  I wish I had a place like that for when we have the youth over and for our kids to invite friends over.

Earlier in the day we visited Abby and Ryan's house for game of flag football!  I love the people in our ward.  The missionaries are not only incredibly hard workers, but they proved today that they are also amazing at football.  Sam did really well too!

I have this gorgeous pair of high heels that are so pretty but SO uncomfortable.  So I finally put them in the donation box we have in our entry way.  (There is a constant purging going on and whenever the box is full we drop it off at the thrift store).  This has lead to all the kids finding them and taking turns walking in them.  One day I walked into the kitchen and found Evan sweeping while wearing them!  I laughed and said, "Are you trying to get a feel for what your wife will go through?" and he said, "Yes, I'm going to make her sweep in high heels."  You had to be there- the way he says things- he is so funny!

Not wanting to be left out, Charles has now joined the rest of his siblings in needing a little speech therapy.  Sigh.  (If I could write that Sigh in 1000 font I would).  So twice a week I'm driving into Albuquerque AGAIN, waiting in this waiting room AGAIN.  At least we know a great therapist already and she thinks it'll only be three months or so. 

On a happier note, Charles finished his first school books and we just got the Kindergarten ones in the mail!  He's doing great! 
I still love using for beginning readers.  I took all the words from the first set of stories for each vowel (Zac the Rat, Peg the Hen, etc..), and made them into flashcards.  Charlie has finally made the transition from knowing what sounds each letter makes into reading words by putting the sounds together.  It's so exciting!  Then when we read the stories on Starfall, he'll be so excited to see he can read them!  Once they get through all the stories on Starfall, we do some easy books like Frog and Toad, and then they're off!

Charlie's been drawing pictures of people lately, and they sure are interesting!

Next weekend we have the ward Christmas dinner.  Decorations and set up for 22 tables with 9 seats at each table makes over 200 people to feed and entertain.  Pat being a new bishop and having many other new leaders in the ward, we were not prepared for this!  So I am helping A LOT this year with the food and the program.  Luckily I love the sisters I am working with.  But it could turn out awful!  Next year we'll start in July!

To not get too much anxiety I keep telling myself, "It's just like a large family home evening", because our ward is a family after all.  It will be what it is, and hopefully people can be happy and not complain.  There are always those who complain though...  I wish we had more time to do things better but this snuck up on us.  It so incredibly early because of all the Stake and school things that fill up the later weekends, and then after that, people go out of town.  Ah, the stress!

I've been watching a Netflicks show (Agents of Shield) that Pat got me onto.  Stress really builds up and its nice to escape at night after the kids are finally in bed (and often Pat is gone) *and I love Coulson.  But whenever this happens and I get sucked into a show, I always find things falling apart even more, life is more stressful during the day or my patience lessens, and I lose the spirit some.  It's not a bad show, it just takes up time.  Time that would be better spent in other ways.  Pat is good at watching a show a week and not needing it, but I have a more addictive personality; with food and everything I guess!  So now I have to cut it off.  It's good to do that periodically and soon (after the withdrawals cease) you realize you don't even care anymore and you return to being joyful.  This is what I've noticed in my life.

 When Pat's cherry pie failed big-time, we turned it into a lesson about the continents and the plates shifting on lava and pangaea or how the continents used to all be together in one.  Pat was just sad about his pie.

The day after Thanksgiving we went and played games with the Bucks and other friends.  What fun!  Now to get my life organized again...
Somebody is officially an Eagle Scout!  Party and recognition to come probably in February when Leia is baptized so family can be here.  Proud of him!

I was busy and asked Evan to take some pictures of him and Evan got at least 30 of him brushing his teeth.  Thanks Evan.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cross Country 2017 is in the books

It was a great team and D had fun!  Everyone said Dallas had good form he just needs to get faster.  I think his best time was 21:50.  The coaches have big hopes for him through since he's just a Freshman.  I don't know if he'll choose to continue with cross country but I'm glad he got the opportunity and had fun.  He has a friend who loves it and wants him to continue but another friend who wants him to quit and do soccer there.  It is pretty killer to run a 5k in the blazing hot desert!  But he got to go all over New Mexico for meets and see a lot.  But the bus always leaves at 5am-ish which means we have to get up at 4am-ish and then he doesn't even run until hours later.  Sometimes these meets take all day!  He did it though, and I'm incredibly proud of him!  Going to cross country races for the first time was an education in the sport...  I felt like dying just watching those kids run.  Sam and Evan loved telling me how many people threw up at the finish line!
He lettered for JV whatever that means.

We didn't make it to all the weekly team dinners, but when we did I always brought rolls.  They're easy for me and everyone loves them so we got a reputation. On this night I made three giant pans of rolls like these plus a casserole pan on the side! 

 Awards Banquet
I'm glad he did it, but perhaps equally glad it's over and I don't have to drive him to Moriarty everyday after school! 

Friday, November 3, 2017

California Trip

Our chickens had stopped laying months ago and were starting to kill each other so since we were going out of town we had Pat kill them.  This was a creepy activity befitting of Halloween. Other than that we just had to set out a lot of food for Martha the cat and pack for 8 people.  No biggie! J/k.  It is two full days of work getting ready to leave and makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.  So much laundry and so much cleaning!  But I remembered the 652 things we needed.  I should have taken a picture of our packing lists and toiletries bag so I don't have to think as much next time.  Whew!  I didn't even wear all my clothes because I hate ironing so much!  Instead of 6 outfits I only needed one dress up and 2-3 regular.

This trip was filled with family and fun and we all had a great time.  One of my kids even cried upon returning home saying he wanted to move to California.  It IS pretty neat there.  We started off our trip by dropping off our foster daughter S at the home of some other foster parents for the week.  Then we parked our car and rode the shuttle to the airport.  Charles was happy that there were no seatbelts!  We got some food and went to this beautiful observation deck.  There were people sleeping on these comfy couches and chairs so we were quietly watching the sunset and the planes. 

Then we flew to Oakland California.  Here we are waiting for Pat to get back with our rental van.  The kids were crackin' me up!

Pat stopped at In and Out for a burger and fries.  Most everyone was asleep, but I was having to smell it not wanting to eat that late!  When we got to his parents house, only Grandma was awake.  We went to bed!  Long day.

The next day, Saturday, Pat made Swedish pancakes for everyone for breakfast and Andi and Taylor were there and eventually Beth and Casey and Amanda who came dressed as a Sea Witch for work.  Saying hi to everyone!

Then we went to spend the day at my mom's house where Steph and T are also.  We tried to go to Fairy Tale Town with all the cousins but they were too busy so we just went to a park with Jeremy's kids too.  Then we went back to Steph's house for lunch and ice-cream.  Holy traffic.  We hung out all day until about 6-ish.  June, Elle, Emme, and Eila are all beautiful girls who are growing way so fast.  Kinda sad.  My brother always makes me laugh.  I wish we could always hang out.  Here's the cousins together, but Eila wasn't having it!

Then we returned to Pat's parents house and hung out with Casey and Beth.  I was getting impatient to see Eric and Mechaela as they had arrived from Alaska during the day and we still hadn't seen them!!!  I realized I hadn't seen Eric in 6-7 years and now they were out suit shopping for the wedding.  How dare they!  Finally they got there and I love this girl he picked!  I'm so excited for them to get married!  Eric brought up the past where when I was dating Pat he used to shoot rubber bands at me and hit me and stuff.  I didn't remember half of it!  He reminded me.  I told him what bugged me most was Pat's oblivious state when I would nicely try to ask for help and he was too involved in something to come rescue me.  Clues people.  Clues that had I picked up on them would have told me a lot about our married future!  Finally he told his mom, "If Eric hits Karisa one more time...", and Eric got his butt whooped.   Anyway we laughed about it.  That dorky annoying boy has turned into a smart and handsome man. 

I'm proud of him for moving to Alaska, proud of him for serving a mission in Russia, and proud of his choice of bride and so happy to have her for a sister someday.  I'd like her for a best friend, but alas, I'm an in-law, almost twice her age, and live no where near them, so I doubt that'll happen.  But one can dream...  She's so funny and interesting.  

We might have played games that night... I don't remember.  I usually try to avoid most games anyway.

The next day we got up early to go to 9am church with my mom (who didn't show) and Eric and Mechaela went to 9am church with Char's family.  I was so happy to see a Tongan bishopric member conducting that day and just so many different people there.  The talks were okay, the musical number was beautiful! and I had a fun time saying hello to people of yore.  The bishop finally came up to me and said, "You seem to know everyone, how is that?", and introduced himself.  I had to laugh and told him it's my old ward and all.  The best part about visiting my old ward is my favorite college roomie Sandra is in it!  She came over to Steph's house after church and we ate sandwiches and talked and Jeremy came over again too.  My mom wasn't feeling good that day so we never saw her.  Pat actually left and went to 1pm church with his family also.  Here's the kids after church.

That night we had a big dinner like Pat's parents do and Aunt Char and Uncle Kent and Aunt Priscilla and Elizabeth and her daughter and boyfriend came too.  I think there were games that night but I think I fell asleep on the couch.  The kids might have played video games and watched Thor.

Monday- Mechaela made French toast, Pat bacon, and Beth strawberries and whip cream.  We hung out until lunch.  Beth and Casey then went to the Sqeeze Inn with Eric and Mechaela and Pat and I took Jared and Amanda to lunch.  It was a Mexican place (Plaza del Sol in Elk Grove) and the food was fantastic!  We had a really fun time talking to them.

Then back at home Pat Sr. was smoking a lot of meat and prepping dinner when I finally heard back from one of my oldest dearest friends Lynda!  I hadn't seen her in 18 long years!  I immediately went to visit her and stayed from 5pm until 10:30!  She said, "When are you moving back to California?"  This is a question we get a lot and it hurts my heart!!!  It's so beautiful there, but there's so much traffic.  There are so many opportunities and nationalities or races of people, but there are awful taxes and everything's so expensive.  What's a girl to do?  Anyway we bonded over life's experiences and the sparkling blue shirts of Barry Manilow (needless to say).  I've always loved this girl since I met her and her wonderful family.  They are amazing!

Tuesday morning we left really early for the Oakland Temple.  I had a wonderful experience there.  I had not been able to get in the Bay area for around 15 years and I was so happy to see my favorite temple after so long!  Dallas and Sam got to do family baptisms with Grandma and Grandpa, Eric and Mechaela got to do initiatories, and Pat and I got to do a session and it was very sweet and absolutely wonderful!  One of my favorite things about this trip, easily.

Then we walked the grounds including around the top of the temple.  The kids had gotten out about an hour before us and had been exploring the grounds and the visitors center, and I was so happy they had that opportunity just like I used to do when I was young and my mom and grandparents were in the temple.  It was so special and so wonderful for our family.  They came running to me and we all hugged when Pat and I got out and they all said, "Mom, you're right.  This IS the best temple!" 

One of the best places on Earth. This is where I was married and I haven't been able to come to the Oakland temple in around 15 years. I also spent a lot of time here with my grandparents and I sure am thankful to them for all they taught me.

Then we rushed to a store to get a card for Brian and Steven and diapers for Charlie.  This kid and occasionally our girl kept having accidents!  It was just easier go get pull-ups and not have to worry anymore about ruined clothes.

The occasion that got us to the Bay area in the first place was Brian and Steven's wedding!  Yes they decided to get married on Halloween, ha ha.  We were happy we could be there to show our love for them.  Here's the guy photo. 

The everyone photo
And the girl photo
It was a simple wedding and a family friend Chad did a wonderful job with the words he spoke as he married them.  It was very emotional for Brian and Steven as they each talked of their feelings for each other.  We are happy that they have each other for support through the good and bad times of life.

We had a family luncheon at a restaurant after that which was really nice.  Rick and Sunny flew in and out fast just for the wedding and had to leave the luncheon pretty quick, but it was nice to see them.  Then when it was time for cocktails, we left and raced back to try to get some trick or treating in for the kids.  We started about and hour after dark so they only did it for an hour, but they got plenty of loot and had a good time.  That candy helped us through the rest of the trip, especially on the travel home.  We were so tired that night, but Dallas still stayed up and watched Iron Man 1.  Grandma has practically every movie so he was taking advantage while he could since his parents have hardly any.

Pretty fun costumes, but my favorite is the Aww Yeah lady from Studio C that Evan perfected.

The next morning everyone left to go home.  I felt kinda weird staying!  Pat went walking with his mom, and then made potatoes and eggs for everyone.  Then we met Steph and June at this indoor playground called Wacky Tacky.  June was scared at first and made Steph hold her everywhere but eventually ran around everywhere and didn't want to leave!  I went home with Steph from there and Pat took the kids back to his parents house where they watched Ella Enchanted.

Pat, his parents, and the kids all went to a park and a hike along Laguna creek.

My sister took my to buy fancy candy and the only good MacaRONS (not macaroons) in the world which are insanely good.  Salted caramel flavor.  Then went to lunch with Steph (where we both got sick) and then back to Mom's house.  It was just nice to hang out with my sister,  though I wish I'd seen my mom more; and brother too.  June and I sang and danced to the Wiggles and she helped me explore the things in my purse.  Mom was gone at therapy and met us later at Leatherbys.  So did T and so did Pat and the boys.  Jeremy couldn't make it.  We ate Leatherbys and then played outside and said goodbye.

The same fence I used to stand in front of in the same yard.

Then we went to Amanda and Jared's house to say goodbye to them.  We looked at her art pieces she sells and watched a bit of the final game of the World Series.  Pat and Jared took this picture for the family calendar since they both share the birthday month of October.

Thursday morning I gave Pat a lot of attitude when he tried to wake me early YET AGAIN.  He really wanted to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge before catching our flight home.  Well he won and it was noisy and there were rude bikers, but overall it was terrific!  We got to see a whale, seal, boats, and the road mover which seemed to un-zip the road as the lanes changed after rush hour.  It was great!  We had good conversations and said goodbye!  Pat and Brenda came along as they were heading out for their wedding anniversary.

this is a random picture of the water tower in Sacramento my brother painted.  He set me up an Instagram accounts so I can see his murals and work throughout town.

San Francisco is such a beautiful city!  We grabbed lunch, dropped off the rental car and caught our plane home from Oakland. Pat slipped his contraband (the toothpastes he was supposed to check) into MY bad so when I was flagged and they were about to search my bag and asked, "Is there any liquid, food, etc...", I confidently answered, "No", only to find out I did have those things.  He was in the doghouse for making me go through that!  Here's Charles in an airport window.

After we got to Albuquerque we picked up our foster daughter again and she and Charlie played like crazy.  They seemed to really miss each other.  Now comes the unpacking and getting back to the regular grind!