The weather has finally turned cold and we've gotten a couple snowy days. Our chickens decided to molt and loose all their feathers right when they need them. I hope they grow back fast! They've hardly been laying with the cold weather. We've also had deer everywhere. I see them along the road every night after dark.
We were blessed to have many friends around us this Thanksgiving. I'm trying to be anti-social, but it seems to be backfiring. Pat and Sam got to play football with several people from the ward. Our family got to eat and play games with the Haslers and the Tuckers, and the food was so delicious! Plus they made this cranberry ice thing that is like a palette cleanser, that was so good and something I had never thought of before. We brought pies, and mashed potatoes and spinach dip. My only regrets about Thanksgiving is that I gained a thousand pounds.
Then the following day we got to have dinner with the Bucks. They came over and we made chicken and gravy shepherds pie (to use up our leftover mashed potatoes) and tortellini soup, with leftover pies and rolls. We also did lots of Michael Jackson dancing. Dallas was extra crazy. He had been since piano on Tuesday. His teacher Miss Diane yelled out the window, "I don't know what's wrong with him, but I'm not responsible!" I think he's loving getting to play whatever songs he chooses now that he's finished all his piano books. Sam and Evan are doing great too. Evan's teacher said they'd have to stop his books until his hands grew bigger since it's not easy music!
We also had the missionaries over a couple days before Thanksgiving, and have visited with our neighbors a lot as there is a lot of discussion about improving our road. Pat had some people over for games and I got to go to my friend Amy's house for a Favorite Things party. You decide on something that you love and would love to share that is about $10 and, then you bring three of them to the party, and you end up going home with three gifts from other people's favorite things. Well, my mind went right to the book, The Hiding Place, since I love to read it each Christmas season. It was a fun party; fun to see what other people like. I hope the people who got my book like it.
We had tithing settlement and I took in some plates of Indian food for the bishopric and clerks which they really appreciated. I had meant to just make cookies, but near the center of town someone was giving out day-old Panera Bakery treats so I got bags of cookies, bagels, pastries, and loaves of bread for free and most of it was still perfect. There was this white sugar cookie that was so soft and absolutely to die for, along with about 6 other varieties that were also good. So, since I didn't have to make cookies, I made the Indian food, and they got a full meal instead of just a treat! I love how that worked out. The bishopric give so much of their time helping us all.
Sam was speaking on gratitude in Sacrament meeting at church this same day. He did a great job, and didn't even seem nervous or freak out before hand, which surprised me. My favorite part was after he had written his talk and showed it to us, I told him it needed a story. I gave him lots of ideas from his own life, Christmas books, and experiences in the books of his ancestors that showed gratitude. He chose to share some things from the early chapters of The Hiding Place (which I am reading out loud to them right now), which is one of my most favorite books. I was really impressed that he didn't get annoyed at me as I gave him advice about how to remain calm, like I remember my mother giving me. And he spoke so loud and clear (though a bit fast), that I think people actually understood him, which, if you know Sam, isn't his usual manner of speaking. He knew what he needed to do without me telling him, and I was really happy for him.
Many new and wonderful people have been moving into our ward and a new couple spoke right after Sam. I just feel so overwhelmed with gratitude at the blessings of the gospel in my life. I can see the magnitude of how it affects everything... it's hard to put into words...
I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to go to church each Sunday and worship the Lord with so many other people who also believe. I love these people. I am so inspired by them. I love how much they help my family grow and the great examples they are to us. I love their strengths that I can't even comprehend at times, and their weaknesses that make me feel that we're all okay. I love their testimonies and their stories. Their lives are ones of great faith and therefore great experiences. Could I be happy without the gospel? I don't know. I know that I would probably be miserable trying to live the ways of the world, but others might be happy and just fine. But living the gospel takes us from wherever we are and adds things that make us better, little by little. That's why President Hinckley said bring all the good you have in your lives, and let us add to it!
As a side note, Sam's school class was having a Socratic discussion on whether or not it was racist to do missionary work. I was like What????!? I guess it could be seen as one group of people saying 'we're better than you, so learn our way, and follow us', but I told Sam, that shouldn't be true. The gospel should only add to the good already in their culture. It's like saying, "Wow! You figured out Algebra?! Awesome! We've figured out Geometry and Calculus and we can teach you! Then you'll be able to do so much more and understand so much more. Wouldn't we want more knowledge? We would feel it wasn't fair if someone made a new discovery and refused to share.
I've also been thankful to be reading The Hiding Place at night to the older kids, and the important topics it introduces and the talks we have. Then I get to enjoy hugging and singing to Charles and Leia and Charles saying, "I love you Mom", with so much feeling. Is there any better time? These are the days I will look back on with so much joy for ever and ever. I've been practicing a song called Count on Me by Bruno Mars on my guitar, and Charles sings it with me. He always acts like a baby (maybe because he is the baby), but he is so smart. I recently took him to the zoo, and he hadn't remembered ever going before, so he kept asking me, "Mom, are the animals in a cage?" He was really worried about that. I assured him that they were.
He really enjoys making his own peanut butter sandwiches too, and reluctantly helps me clean during the day. Yesterday he helped me sweep the bathroom floor as I cleaned the sinks, toilet, and shower. We had to hastily leave the house though, since I somehow made a dangerous chemical mixture in the shower. It was horribly strong and once I noticed it, we ran out of the bathroom, opened the windows (it was snowing) and then I covered my face and quickly rinsed it all down. Then we left fast hoping it would dissipate while we were gone.
Pat has now been at his place of employment for 10 years. He's doing really well, and a couple weeks ago had what seemed to me as three straight days of partying. Appreciation lunches, and a party for finishing up a project that took years. It had something to do with satellites, but of course I'll never know! He got to pick out a gift and gave the choice to me. I couldn't find anything; the jewelry wasn't my colors, the kitchen gadgets subpar, so we got walkie talkies. Yay. They'll come in handy.
Leia has opened up the world of reading. She is reading really well now and reads everything she sees. Food packages, the songs at church, books at night. She is so grown up. She even showed me card tricks tonight that she learned from her brothers. She still has her distinct high-pitched voice and you should hear her say Amelia Bedelia. It's so funny! I'm still wondering if I should take her out of school. It zaps all the fun out of life, as it is very rigorous, and she spends the majority of every day having to be there and be serious. She's so young.
Dallas is turning 14 this week and we'll get to explore the fun world of getting him to and from church dances down in Albuquerque soon.
We were all arguing one night about which holiday is best and Pat swears it's Halloween, and I, knowing better, told the kids it was Christmas, and Sam said his favorite was Canada's Boxing Day. These kids kill me with their sense of humor.
With so much going on, my math class, music, and volunteering in Leia's class, testing recipes for my cookbook, I haven't hardly been going to workout with my friends at all :(