Saturday, December 25, 2010
"He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, the Creator of the earth, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace. . . .
" 'And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
" 'For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--
" 'That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.' (D& C 76:22-24)."
"This is our testimony to all mankind. It is our gift and blessing to the world. He is our joy and our salvation, and we will find Christmas of greater meaning in our own lives as we share these truths with others.
(Gordon B. Hinckley, "What Shall I Do Then with Jesus Which Is Called Christ?," Ensign, Dec. 1983, 5)
I have no doubt in my heart that these words are true. There is no joy like the joy that comes through the promises given by and through our Savior.
Merry Christmas from my home to yours, from my heart to yours. And may you feel the joy that comes only through Him.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
To share a favorite quote of mine with you:
"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life."
-Ezra Taft Benson
Wishing you all of these blessings and more this Christmas and in the New Year.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Christmas is a time where it is easy to get caught up in the material and forget about what it is about, but Christ is the reason for the season. Christ taught us how to serve others and so in the season especially it is important to serve others. I have loved it. It has made me really appreciate what I have and the community I live in. It has helped me relax for a bit and relieve some built up stress. It is so worth it. I highly recommend doing some service on your own and with you family around Christmas. I am totally adding them to my list of traditions. Check in our community. I am sure there is something going on. Seriously, all you have to do is look to find a great service opportunity.
You too can find joy in service. Try it!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
- the moment we began to play the Hallelujah chorus for a large sing-a-long audience and could hear the JOY coming from every voice.
- after creating my list of things to make for gifts and imagining their reaction.
- dropping off cookies to neighbors and friends.
- seeing the Young Women I love open up their Christmas gifts and love what had been made for them.
- spending an entire weekend with my family just playing in the water.
- dancing in the kitchen with my kiddos to their favorite Christmas tunes.
- making Santa cookies and caramels with my husband.
- decorating our tree and seeing it sparkle.
- finding Payton stuffing our stockings with love notes and secret messages.
- standing next to my husband and my sister while we caroled to our neighbors.
- sewing up over 300 stockings for those in need in a small room filled with women who love to serve.
- any time I sit in front of my fireplace and stop to think about what's really important.
- playing my violin in church.
- listening to our prophet speak.
- cooking for people I love.
- having guests stay in our home and seeing them be amazing with our kids.
- creating a Christmas card with my dad and seeing him work his magic.
- seeing a family who is hurting be uplifted by voices who love and pray for them.
- "White Christmas"
- finishing something for a new special member of the family.
- making plans to see family.
- shopping for our kids
- seeing magic happen every time a Ho Ho Ho fills the air.
- smelling a Christmas candle and wearing cozy socks while working on a gift.
- knowing what I believe and why we go through this craziness to make things so special.
- being still and seeing JOY just appear from everywhere.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
At dinner tonight, my husband said, "We don't have a tree with ornaments on it. We have a mass of ornaments with a tree somewhere underneath." Decorating the tree is probably my favorite part of "decking the halls." That and setting up my nativity on the fireplace mantel. I know I have a ton of ornaments, and I get more every year, and every year when I get them out I think I should leave some off. But how do I choose which ones to leave in the box when the rest of them get to come out and show off their cuteness/beauty/funniness/sweetness? I can't choose, so they all come out to play.
This poor tree has been around a long time...at least 10 years. What say we spring for a nice big one at a day-after-Christmas sale? Then I'll have to get more pretties so I can "have some ornaments with my tree."
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Here's the best I could do ... you get the idea, yes?
Things I did differently:
- I zig-zag-stitched the bottom of the skirt, because I love a raw edge but I don't love the thought of the whole thing unravelling.
- I used my sewing machine to make the gathering stitch - just set it to the biggest stitch, gently pull the ends of the thread, and voila!
- I also stitched the skirt together at the back, with right-sides together and then turned it right-side out. Then I stitched the top of the skirt closed, mostly to hold the gathers in place.
- I didn't use any beads, just embroidery stitches to embellish the top. I also just stitched a loop of yarn to the top for hanging, because I'm too impatient to spend time on fashioning a tiny hanger out of wire.
These can be made quickly and you can do many at a time - they're a great last-minute gift for a friend, teacher, hostess, or for an ornament exchange. Hooray for last-minute holiday crafting!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
On the list of things to do, washing the dishes is always present. I rarely write it on my list, along with folding the laundry, because what is the point, right? Once they are done, they must be done again! But I will let you in on one little secret--the trick to preventing dirty dishes from piling up is this: unload! Who would have thought that the biggest culprit in creating a messy kitchen is not actually your hungry children or your busy husband and all the dishes they dirty, it's the clean dishes sitting in the dishwasher preventing you from getting the dirty ones in it! Yes, it takes less than five minutes, but it is the most important step--finishing the job. I don't know why it is so hard for me to get those dishes from the rack and put them in the cupboard, but sometimes I just don't get it done... and that's when the piles start and the cluttered messiness of a well-fed family consumes my counters. But, at least I can look at those piles and know that we've eaten something yummy that day, right?
My husband used to be really great about helping wash the dishes. But then I made a huge mistake--one of many marital mistakes I must admit--and I criticized his dish-washing abilities. I think I said something like, "I'm grateful that you help with the dishes but I think you are the slowest dishwasher I know." He doesn't do the dishes nearly as much now. Lesson learned.
Even though I often dread doing the dishes, I often find myself grateful for the time it gives me to think. I feel similarly about folding the laundry. When my hands are busy, so is my mind, and when I get into a rhythm, I find my thoughts are more focused and come more clearly. This is, however, not always the case when little children are present. So I do a lot of dishes and folding at night, after they are in bed.
I have plenty of plastic dishes--they are a must with young kids, aren't they? I don't know...I grew up drinking from real glasses, glass glasses. And now I must be spoiled, but I really don't like drinking from anything else. Jason and I received four crystal classes as a wedding gift and we don't save them for special occasions, we use them every day. And my mom always has nice, heavy, ceramic dishes. I have tried using Correlle Ware for about a year now, and it's just not the same. It might be practical, but it doesn't give the same satisfaction to a meal as a beautiful ceramic plate does. Feed me macaroni and cheese on a Correlle plate and it's just mac 'n cheese. Put it on a solid ceramic dish and that simple meal is transformed into something gourmet! As someone who enjoys cooking and loves to feed people, the satisfaction of a meal is so much more complete when it looks as good as it tastes. Beautiful dishes can add a lot to the presentation of a meal. And cleaning them is so much more enjoyable too!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
All of the dishes sat atop linen doilies with a crocheted border out of thread so tiny it made my eyes hurt to try and pick out what stitches she used. We removed them from the cabinets, washed them, starched them and layed them out on old pillowcases and pinned around the edges to keep their shape. The "play room" as we called it looked like a snow storm had come through with all of those doilies resting on the floor like giant snowflakes. Granny always told us to stay out of there so as not to disturb them before they were dry, but when she wasn't looking I'd tiptoe in between them just to get a closer look or touch.
Each dish was hand washed, dried and put back to rest in its cabinet until they made their appearance at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My Granny treated everything she had as if it were a prized possession. Living through the Great Depression I'm sure had much to do with her conservationist approach to living.
We loved drinking out of her special little fancy glasses, later realizing that they were these glass bottles that once contained various cheese spreads used to make her holiday cheese balls.
I could go on and on, but what I take from these experiences is how she saw the good in something that to others seemed unusable. That's how she was with her family too. This month marks the eighth anniversary of her passing. I was a newlywed of less than a month when she died, and I've always been afraid of forgetting her. Thankfully, the memory of her is kept alive in the few dishes of hers that I now have, an occasional dream, and I think in the way I approach my own life, and how I'd like to do so even more.
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
Cook all ingredients except flavoring in double boiler seven minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add flavoring and frost cake.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I don't remember if my mother received china for her wedding. But I do know this is the china we kids grew up with. It came out every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and most of it survived 8 children and 30-something moving vans. The pattern is not one that I would have chosen, but it still comes out at my house on special occasions, because my dad bought it for my mom when they were newly married and he was overseas, and that makes it Important.
Of the rest of them, some might have similar stories that I don't know about since I bought them second-hand. Some of them are reminders that plastic can be pretty. One of them is my egg-dish, which I just love because ... well, because I do. And that makes it Important, too.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I adore all things white. I have it in every room. I remember looking at pottery barn catalogs when I was in high school and dreaming about how my home would one day look. * Little did I know that those prices would keep their simple white furniture out of my home. That is not the point. To me the perfect room has a whole lot of white and a little bit of some other color. I think it's fresh and inviting and clean and so easy to change for the season or for my mood. I have started to collect white serving ware to help whiten up my kitchen. I paint just about anything I can get my hands on white. One of these days I'll get pictures up of Sadie's room and our bedroom. I'm pretty sure I am obsessed! It's in my Christmas tree and is a big part of all of my quilts. I love when it snows because it brightens and cleans up a icky looking winter mess. I can be really fickle when it comes to favorite colors and because it changes so often I like having that white canvas in most of my rooms to do small adjustments to. Some think that white is boring. I think it's...to be cheesy...magical! Among the many white things in my home I have a particular favorite, especially at this time of year.
Enter my prettiest tiny collection of dishes...
I believe that giving china as a wedding gift use to be a big tradition and I wonder why it's fizzled out. Was it a fad? Did it become a pain to find? I guess if you are a practical thinking person, like my cute husband, these types of things just don't really matter. Thank goodness I am not a very practical person. I love that they came from my mom. I love that they are me and that I picked them out to last forever. I really love that they are white. I can't wait to bring them out again this Christmas.
Friday, December 3, 2010
I remember on my 26th birthday thinking to myself "This feels good! I am enjoying getting older and I am finally comfortable in my own skin!"
Almost a year later I can say that I don't feel that way all the time, but more than any other time in my life, I am comfortable with who I am. There are times when I wish I could be more...more...well, more of something else. But wanting to be different is usually wanting to be better, and that is good.
Lately I have realized that I not only want to be better, but I need to be better at giving comfort. My husband was sick a couple weeks ago, and I found that my way of dealing with it (and when I mean dealing with it, I mean taking care of the kids by myself for a week as he required us to be extra quiet while he worked from home, slept every other hour of the day, and occupied our normal living space while doing it), was to just leave him alone. Did I offer to bring him anything he might need--cough drops, tea, ibuprofen? Nope. Did I hug him or scratch his back or rub his throbbing head? Nope. I was no source of comfort whatsoever! Yikes!
When my kids start to cry, often my first reaction is to say, "Oh, come on! Toughen up a little and stop crying!" I think this has developed over time as the result of parenting a whiny, over-dramatic little girl. But then again, maybe I'm just not sensitive to the kind of comforting she needs.
Yesterday we were in the car on our way to a music lesson for my four-year-old. I had several other errands to stop and do along the way. Somewhere between the post office and the bank she began to cry about the clothes she was wearing. They were making her uncomfortable and she could not be consoled. I tried reasoning with her--I reminded her that I had warned her about her clothing choice before leaving the house. I was kind of glad to see the realization of my words coming to light--but the reasoning power of a four-year-old is not quite strong enough to override the power of physical discomfort. Her cries were clear, "I'm uncomfortable, mommy! I don't want this!"
So while I was initially bent on making this a learning experience for her, I realized that what she might learn was not what I intended. Rather than learning that she should listen to her mother, in her state of discomfort what she might learn is that mom just doesn't care.
But I do care. So I pulled the car over and did what I could to make her comfortable. The crying stopped, driving resumed, and comfort was found in a few moments time.
I am sure that those few moments will prove to be a more significant learning experience for me than for my little girl. And I'm sure it has to do with the fact that I've been thinking about the idea of comfort all week, but in those few moments I realized that I need to be better at giving comfort. I need to be better at physically comforting--if my children are physically uncomfortable, they will be able to find the emotional comfort that I want them to feel. I want to teach them to be comfortable with me, to be comfortable with who they are, and to be comfortable being exactly that person when they are with me.
It doesn't matter how comfortable I am with myself, my example will be lost if my children are not able to feel comfort with and from me.
Maybe it's not just a matter of being comfortable with who I am, but what I am--and I am forever a mom.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The most frightened shepherd that night was little Ladius, just ten years old. He cowered behind his three older brothers when the blinding star lit the hillside. When the angel appeared, he hid behind a huge rock. Yet after Ladius heard the glad news, fear left him, and he limped back to his brothers, who were planning to set out for Bethlehem.
"Who will tend the sheep?" asked Samuel, the oldest at sixteen. Ladius, leaning against his shepherd's crook to support a crippled foot, volunteered, "I'd only slow you down. Let me stay with the sheep." He wet his lip as he talked. The brothers weakly protested at first, then made plans to go.
"We must each take a gift," said Samuel. One brother chose his flint to start a fire for the Christ child. Another picked meadow lilies to make a garland for the king. Samuel decided on his most precious possession - his gold ring.
"Here - take my blanket to him," said Ladius. It was badly worn, a faded blue with patches. "No, Ladius," said Samuel, tenderly. "The blanket is too tattered to give even a beggar, let along a king. Besides, you will need it tonight."
The brothers departed, leaving Ladius alone by the fire. He laid his head upon the blanket and buried his face in his hands. Tears forced their way between his fingers, but soon the hush of night soothed the boy's heartbreak. The world in silent stillness lay.
"Are you coming, Ladius?" called a voice. Standing nearby was the same angel who had brought the news. "You wanted to see the child, didn't you?"
"Yes," nodded Ladius," but I must stay here."
"My name is Gabriel," said the angel. "Your sheep will be watched. Take my hand, and bring your blanket. The child many need it." Suddenly, Ladius was outside a stable. Kneeling by a manger were his brothers. Ladius started to call out, but the angel lifted a finger to his lips.
"Give me the blanket," Gabriel whispered. The angel took it and quietly covered the baby. But the blanket was no longer faded. Now it glistened like dew in the brilliance of a new day. Returning, Gabriel squeezed Ladius's hand. "Your gift was best, because you gave all that you had.
"Wake up, Ladius, wake up!" The boy rubbed his eyes and tried to shield them from the glaring sun. Hovering over him was Samuel.
"Did you find him?" asked Ladius.
"Yes," replied Samuel, "but first tell me why you were sleeping without your blanket."
Ladius looked about with wonder. The faded blue blanket was nowhere to be found.