Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Lights

Why do we buy them, put them up, pay to electrify them and then take them down again?  What's in it for us?

I love living in a community filled with decorations and lights.  Every year we enjoy driving around to see the lights and we want to be a part of it.   We want to contribute, and to be noticed too.

This year we took almost forty kids from our youth group to see the Christmas lights at our temple.  There are over 500,000 lights!  500,000!  Can you imagine having to put those lights up?  I am so thankful for the people that take the time each year to place each and every light on the temple grounds.  It is beautiful and worth the trip.  There are also nightly musical performances, international exhibits and a life-sized outdoor nativity.  The real Christmas spirit is felt as soon as you enter the parking lot.

Shawn with Wayne and Cory...three teenage boys actually letting me take their picture! Wow!

Cory was less excited about getting a picture taken with his mom.  Becky had to hold him in place for a few seconds while I snapped this shot.
That's okay.  We didn't even get a picture with Shawn...Sign me up for the Mother-of-the-Year Award!

These pictures don't do the lights justice.  They are amazing in person. The lights sparkling against the dark winter sky are a symbol of warmth and friendship.  They bring people of all walks of life together at a time when our hearts are full.  To truly enjoy the season, one needs to be engaged in selfless service.  I am grateful for the selfless service of those who lovingly placed all of these lights in their place.  All 500,000 of them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

I did it!

I love finding that perfect Christmas gift.  Sometimes I have to go out in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday.  Sometimes I have to look and look (and look).  Sometimes I'm not even looking for it and just stumble across it.  And sometimes I have to make it.

This year my favorite gift to give was homemade...sort of.

My sister, Kerry, was remodeling her living room/dining room area and she wanted a new table.  She wanted one that was smaller than the mammoth antique cherry table they were currently letting reside in the middle of the dining room.  He got an eviction notice and had to be out by Christmas Eve.  I wasn't sure exactly what she was looking for, but I mentioned that I bought a table at a yard sale over the summer that I could refinish (remember this make over) for her if that's what she wanted. I had already sanded the top and started to prime the base.  Here's what it looked like at that moment.

Kerry said she would love to buy that table from me.  So we talked about stain colors and base colors.  She decided she wanted the base white and the stain a little lighter than the stain on my first table.

**Let me insert here that this conversation took place on Thanksgiving, giving me a month to get it done because she wanted it for her annual Christmas Eve party**

So I painted the base and resanded the top.

Notice that it was dark outside.  Hope my neighbors didn't mind the noise after 9:00 :)

The first coat of stain is always my favorite.  It's at that point that the table really starts to take shape for me.  So I lovingly added that coat of stain around 10:00 one night.  It was quite a sight, I'm sure.  It was cold (we even had a few snow flurries earlier that evening) so I was bundled up with sweatshirts, a coat and gloves.  Sorry I don't have a picture of that babe for you!  But I do have pictures of my table after one coat of stain...

Lovely isn't it???  I almost had a heart attack!  You know how aliens create crop circles...I think they create stain madness as well.  Seriously...I didn't have time for this.  After some research, I think I figured it out.  Remember those few snow flurries I mentioned?  Well, I think the moisture caused the strange blotchy outcome.


I sanded it AGAIN (two rounds with 60 grit, 2 rounds with 100 grit and 2 rounds with 150 grit).

I was very nervous about putting stain on it again.  I didn't know what I would do if those "hidden" marks were still there.

Not bad, huh?  Then I stressed about how many coats of stain to put on.  I put three on my first table so I was originally thinking two for this one.  But I really liked the color after one coat.  I decided to leave it with just one.  It was time for polycrylic and polyurethane. I wanted the table to be durable so I added three coats of each.

I kept Kerry informed on all of the problems that I was having.  We had several days of rain.  Rodney and I moved the table in and out of the house about three times in the last week.  I knew she wanted it for Saturday night, so I told her I would try to have it done.  I also knew she had to work Saturday morning.  I made arrangements to take it to her house while she was at work, so that she would be surprised when she got home.

She was!

I love the little glass knobs on the drawers.  I found them at an antique store and thought they would be perfect.

Merry Christmas Sis!

Friday, December 9, 2011


You all know that Shawn loves, soccer, skiing, hunting, backyard football, kickball, volleyball...really if it's a sport, he'll play. But there is something else that defines who he is as well.  He is a Boy Scout.  He probably won't come right out and tell you that, but he works very hard to accomplish things in Boy Scouts.  Wednesday he had a Court of Honor.  Not his first one by any means, but one that really made me start thinking about who he is.
He served as MC for the evening.  Shawn did not inherit my love-to-be-in-front-of-a-crowd genes and would much rather sit in the background than talk in front of a group of people.  But he did it.  And he did a great job.

He earned four merit badges - three of which are required ones.  I knew he was getting me, we do our fair share of merit badge earning as parents.  But as I pondered the hard work that goes into each of these, I realized what a hard worker Shawn really is.  Don't get me wrong.  There were times when we had to fuss with him about completing a merit badge task, but I guess that's what parents are for.  He earned Shotgun Shooting (are you surprised?), Citizenship in the Nation, Family Life and Personal Fitness.  All of these merit badges require research, commitment and actively participating in a related activity.  Way to go Buddy!

In Boy Scouts there are different "ranks"  or advancements.  With each rank advancement the boy earns his badge and the mother receives a pin.  For all of you that don't follow Boy Scouts, ranks are as follows: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle.  Of course every boy's goal is to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Award.  But the road to Eagle Scout is not easy.

I am proud to say that Shawn, at 13 years old, is well on his way to earning his Eagle Scout.  Wednesday night, Shawn earned and received his Life advancement.  I hadn't really thought about it before, but as he was pinning my Life pin on me, I realized that the next time he pins an award on me, it will be the Eagle Award.

He will be embarrassed that I posted this picture, but I don't care (it's my blog, not his)!  I am SO proud of him. 

Here is my "Mother's Pride" necklace that I bought while Shawn was a Cub Scout.  There's just something about an eight year old boy pinning a pin on his mother's shirt that frightens me...this option seemed a little safer.  Plus, I love having all of my pins together and wearing them to all of the banquets.

Yes, I know...I am missing the Tenderfoot pin.  But no worries - this proud mamma will get her a new one!
I love this Life pin.  It's the prettiest one yet!  But most of all, I love my Boy Scout.
May we always remember the things in life that define us for who we really are.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Becky's Family

Becky is one of my close friends.  I am not sure I have ever told her, but I admire her.  She knows how to get things done.  She is dependable.  She would do anything for you.  And... she is a breast cancer survivor.  She is strong and brave.

It was my honor to take family photos for her this year.  The weather did not cooperate, but the kids (and the dog) did.  Here's a sneak peak...

And just for fun...

Doesn't this look like it should be on a Hollister advertisement?

Thankful Tree

Before I was married I used to say I wanted six kids.  I'm passed that thought now - but there are still times when I wish I had a bigger family.  Certain activities would be easier and a lot more fun.  But I must say I was a bit surprised with my "thankful tree" idea tonight.  The idea was to write things we are thankful for on leaves and tape them to a tree.  Then each morning add a few more leaves.  I envisioned this being a lot more fun and satisfying with a large family - or at least more than one kid.  But we came up with some great ideas and our tree is already drooping with all of our blessings!

Don't they look SO happy!  They are craft enthusiasts, as you can tell!

Now let's get a closer look at the things we are blessed with:

I have it stuck to our refrigerator so that we can see it every day between now and Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fire Hazard!

Have you ever wondered what you would do if there was a fire?  Well, you know from this post that I have thought about it a time or two!  Some people like to sit facing an exit door. Some people like to know exactly where they are in case they need to call for help.  Some people would never go into certain situations for fear of the unknown.  Would you ever lock yourself in the far corner of a large room filled with tables, chairs and tons of paper?  For 3 days?  Who does that???

Scrapbookers...that's who.  Are we crazy?  Never mind...don't answer that.  If you have never been to a scrapbooking retreat, you don't know what you are missing.  Not only are we preserving memories - we are making more memories!

We sit with our friends and family...this year I was lucky enough to have Kerry and Tammy with me.  And Becky and her sister, Rachel, sat across from us.

We work hard...

We share tools, ideas and snacks!

Most of all we have fun!  This year a monkey showed up to visit Kerry.  He was cute and made funny noises, so we kept him around.
We didn't realize that he would attract trouble...

This little guy showed up one evening while we were at dinner.  He was WILD!  Sure, he made us laugh.  But he was a bad influence on our quiet, shy little fella.  So we had to find his original home (the end of the table behind us).  And do you know that after this wild monkey was gone, our little man started mocking us?  I told you he was a bad influence!

I LOVE getting away for the weekend.  I LOVE creating memories.  I LOVE scrapping them!

 Rachel - Thanks for letting your creative juices flow across the table!
Becky - I am sorry I am not the friend you thought I was...By the way - do you know where your punches are? Of course I don't have them.  What would make you say that?

Kerry - Thanks for skipping a poker game to be with us (nice shirt).  You definitely have your priorities in order!
Tammy - How many pages did you get done?  Aww heck!  It doesn't matter.  I am glad you came all the way here to spend the weekend with us!

Can't wait to do it all over again!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Take Two!

Well let's just say that the first round wasn't as good as we had hoped for.  For many reasons...there were disagreements, lost balloons, tears, messed up camera settings, just to name a few.  So I volunteered to redo Holly's family photos.  At first she declined, saying she was sure there was at least one good one.  She finally accepted and decided to plop her family in front of a building and let me take just ONE picture.  Her girls are so spunky...I just love them.  Ellie shared with me that the rule is when you are having your picture taken you have to smile.  I wonder where she heard that?!?!

It was Kate's idea to hold flowers.  She is our nature-loving girl!

The whole family is so dag-gone cute...

Love you guys!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Warning:  there are a lot of pictures in this post.  My mind is not allowing me to narrow them down!

Did you know that at campgrounds nationwide, Halloween is a HUGE holiday?  And I do mean HUGE!  As in if you don't book your site 6 months in advance, you probably will not get one!  For the past six years we have been going to the same local campground on Halloween weekend.  We love it.  There are a ton of activities.  Campers decorate their sites - some are really elaborate.  There is a haunted trail.  And talk about great trick-or-treating...there are hundreds of campers, tents and cabins super close together.  You don't even have to walk that far to fill up your candy bag.  It's every child's dream!

In the past six years we have encountered all sorts of weather - rain, wind, super cold, really warm, thunderstorms.  But this year was a first.  Mother Nature decided not to give us a treat this year.  Instead we all got tricked.
Yes, we had a snowstorm.  All day Saturday it snowed.  The campground was forced to cancel most of the activities (arts & crafts activities still took place, but three 13 year old boys were not interested in that!).  So we just had to bundle up and make the most of it.

There was a lot of texting, movie watching, card games, hot chocolate and snowballs.  But it did stop snowing and we emerged from our campers.

Good-bye Yogi and Boo Boo!  We'll see you again next year!

And then we came home...more on that story later!