Monday, December 31, 2007

Some Best-Of's in 2007

The Wii tournament of champions is about to begin in the bonus room, while us ladies all have some sort of electronic device at our laps. I had to tear my kiddos away from the Webkinz website, but they'll be done crying soon enough =)!

So, I've had some thoughts lately on some things I've really enjoyed this year - many of them holiday related. Here's some of my BEST OF's:

BEST CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL: "Remember the Reason - Focusing on Christ at Christmas" by Honor Books. Individual devotionals per day separated into Scripture, Prayer, reflecting on the name of Jesus, and a relatable story. The best I've read so far in terms of Christmas devotionals

BEST COMPLETION OF A BOOK TRILOGY: "Echoes" by Kristin Heitzmann, the third of her series which began with "Secrets", then "Unforgotten". She's such a great writer and does a fantastic job exploring the complexities of emotional bondage that we have all faced to some degree.

BEST MAKE-UP DISCOVERY: Bare Minerals - or something like it. I suffer from a very poor complexion 90% of the time. It gets better in the summer, but even then I struggle. What has begun as simple whiteheads at one point has now progressed into a face full of cyst-like issues, with "owies" that never heal unless the offending problem has been completely removed, which can often take over a month. I know, too much information. I'm quite sure it has everything to do with hormones as I (and Michele who suffers the same way) have tried virtually every kind of topical treatment plan. So, the next best thing besides wearing a mask has been the discovery of mineral-based make-up. When we were in Lake Tahoe, I stopped at Merle Norman and got their version of Bare Minerals. They tested some different colors and set me up very well. I love the way the stuff works on may face compared to conventional foundations. Long story short, if you are a foundation user, you should really consider trying a mineral version -

BEST SMOOTH LISTENING CHRISTMAS ALBUM: James Taylor- ahhh, he has such a voice!

BEST MADE-FOR-TV CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF THE YEAR: "Holiday in Handcuffs" - Granted it is a classic ABC FAMILY show that incorporates way too much crude stuff into something that is supposed to be family-friendly (the title of that network is way wrong....)- but I found it very romantic and sweet - and a good representation of many families that co-exist at Christmas time.

BEST BLIZZARD FROM DQ DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON: Yule Flip Peppermint Chip - made with chocolate cone dip instead of conventional chocolate chips.....


BEST ARTICLES OF CLOTHING TO WEAR WHEN YOU'RE HEAVIER THAN YOU ARE ALL YEAR LONG: long, long sleeve t-shirts or turtlenecks and down vests that are really puffy- been living in them lately.

I'm getting goofy now, so I'll stop- I'm sure I'll think of plenty of things later on - any 2007 discoveries you'd like to throw in the mix?

Oh Happy Day-

Wait, was that me, the classic "I'm blue after Christmas...." person expressing that I'm having a happy day on New Year's Eve day? I don't even see sunshine outside (although drive about a mile and the sky is crystal blue) and, while the Ducks are looking strong and alive at the Sun Bowl, we are currently tied...... yet, still - it's a happy day. It's a good feeling.

Part of what is contributing to this is that my house is clean - thanks in huge part to Lisa who came over and gave it some much needed TLC this weekend - WHAT A FRIEND! The Christmas decor will be up until after the Rileys have their family get together this weekend, so I don't have to feel the pressure to take everything down. And, finally, as the pictures show, I'm finally getting to creating my "Daytimer" calendar for the year.

This is and has always been a VERY big deal for me. I see the year ahead in my brain in the form of a calendar - I'm EXTREMELY seasonal (I currently have Nicole Nordemann's "Every Season" as my ring tone - I thought it was appropriate), and tackle the sad endings of very-fun-times by planning ahead for when the next will occur. So, the calendar that I have to write on is huge - and needs to be colorful and fun. For the past couple of years, I've decorated them with the etching "stickers" vs. the real stickers used in the past. It takes a while, but it's a fun project, and helps me (YEAH - TOUCHDOWN DUCKS!!!!! 72 YARD RUN - AND, OMG - NO FLAGS!!!) really get a good grasp of the year ahead.

So, here are some pics of how I am spending my last day of 2007. It seemed quite fitting.....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our SIX Year Old's Rite of Passage

I'm having a really hard time with the reality that my YOUNGEST child is now SIX years old. That is just way TOO old, I CAN'T be the mom of a 6 and 8 year old. YIKES!

Alright, now that I've gotten that out of the way - as you can tell by the pictures, Mikayla had something very special in mind as to how she wanted to honor the actual date of her birth - getting holes put in her body.

She first brought this idea up a couple of months ago - to John and I individually. Unbeknownst to each other, we both responded the same way when asked when she could get her ear's pierced, "I don't know, ask your _______ (Daddy or Mommy)" After getting this response on multiple occasions from both of us, she finally nailed us down together and we decided that if she was a good girl and showed responsibility, she could get her ears' pierced when she turned 6. Honestly, I don't have that strong of feelings about it one way or another. My mom and dad let us get our ears' pierced when we were in 7th grade, which was a big deal, but I RARELY wear earrings these days because they tend to irritate my ears so much. Some of Mikayla's friends already have had their ears' pierced and I think they look sweet. So, there you go - lot of thought put into this one!

Despite it being her idea, I thought Mikayla would probably cry. I remember it smarting way back when, and didn't think Mikayla would appreciate that much. Nope. She was a CHAMP! There were two little girls that walked in, ready to get their ears' pierced after her, so I think that gave her more courage to not make it look painful for them. We are very proud of her and think her little crystal daisies look adorable in her ears......


P.S. - By the way, here's a picture of the newest addition to Mikayla's "bedroom family". This is Samantha, an American Girl Doll. We're hoping she will be a hit for Mikayla as the cost sure demands that she be! Hopefully, through Samantha, Mikayla will get a glimpse into what life was like at the turn of the century.....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Couple of Questions 94

Happy Day After Christmas.....

We had a great Christmas, both at our house and at Mom and Dad's. Saw some snow fall this morning, that was fun. One of these days we'll get that white Christmas that virtually NEVER happens here in our neck of the woods.

I think this was one of the most satisfying and delightful Christmases we've had in a long time - everyone was tickled with what they got which made the gift-givers even more tickled. Spirits were high, but energy was a bit low, so I'm afraid the Wii tournament never happened - we'll have to do that with Mom and Dad another time.

Alrighty - on to the seasonally themed questions -

1. What were some of your most memorable moments of Christmas 2007?

2. What are some things you'd like to do differently next year?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at Mom and Dad's

At around 11, we converged with the Schillings at Mom and Dad's to see what Santa had left there. Indeed, it was quite a magnificant sight:

We decided a couple years ago, that things are much less stressful if we plan to eat prior to opening presents. Otherwise, there's just too many interruptions to take care of the food prep as well as tension to hurry the kids along. This year, we decided to try Prime Rib. Not sure if we'll be doing that again. It was tasty enough, but not very many folks ate it, and it was a bear to get "done". Scrumptious food, though-

Finally, present opening got underway. Either Mom and Dad have to expand on their living room, or we have to be very precise as to where to place presents so that everyone has a spot opening them. As embarrassing as it is to admit, Michele even drew a map after the event so next year we'll all know where to sit and place the bow boxes, etc...... Yes, this is a family that does Christmas big-time.

A few highlights were the presents that were saved last for each of the kids - that they had hoped for most. Brayden's was actually his coveted "Pokemon Revolution" game, but Santa tried to fool him by putting in a very big box and put a box of Cascade in with it to make it even heavier. I had to give him credit for being thankful and a good sport when he thought he had a received a box of ornamental lawn reindeer. Traig was ecstatic about his final Legos set, and the girls with their "Grow Up Puppies" were adorable to behold. Finally, it was a joy to John and I watch Michele and Michael's gift of a romantic adventure away to the coast, with horseback riding and an indoor hot-tub hotel room.

We are so blessed to have such a great family that makes Christmas not only memorable, but a whole lot of fun.....

Christmas Morning 2007

Christmas morning at our house went just exactly as hoped. Santa had come and seemed to appreciate the gifts we left for him based on all of the gifts left under our tree. The kids were in exceptional moods once they woke up, and were patient enough to wait for mom to get breakfast going so it would be ready once opening was over.

We delighted in our stockings presents - particularly Sydney with her "duck bone" who once again walked around the house with it in her mouth, unsure what to do with it, but unwilling to put it down. The kids loved their Webkinz-

We admired their courteousness in opening the presents - and graciousness with even the smaller gifts. It made us very proud.

Breakfast was cinnamon rolls, orange shake, brown sugar bacon, and pineapple - very good, however, next year, I say we just stick with the carmel rolls. Prior to eating, we all expressed our gratitude in prayer to God for such an amazing day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Captured in Pictures

Following church, we came home and opened the presents under the tree (prior to Santa's arrival). Mikayla opened her first pair of earrings from some dear friends, and opened some cards that had cash in it (always earning a smile....)

Here's a pic of me with Brayden, having opened the paperchain he made in Sunriver for me:

And, this is a pic of Mikayla and Daddy after opening the ornament she made in kindergarten for us:

Shortly after, the Whites came over and brought a few more presents for our kids (can you say "spoiled"?)

Finally, Bogey got into the giving spirit and gave me lots of kissy presents.....

The evening ended with "The Nativity Story" and "Holiday in Handcuffs" - cozy indeed.

Preparing for Santa...

We're still trying to determine exactly what our Christmas Eve traditions are. They include Christmas Eve service, but beyond that, it's a toss-up. Today, John worked for half the day, so the kids and I hung out, made goodies and food for tomorrow, and the kids wrote notes to leave with the goodies for Santa. Cozy enough. After church, while standing in the lobby, John and I were at a loss as to what to do for dinner - we ended up with none other than KFC. Works for us!

Currently, we're watching "The Nativity Story" - which I WOULD like to make a recurring tradition- with our extended family, The Whites. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE EVERYONE - wherever you are, and whatever you are up to this blessed evening..... and MERRY CHRISTMAS tomorrow!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nutcracker

It was a special date day for Mikayla and I. We went to the Hult Center and watched "The Nutcracker" for the first time. Actually, I should say it was perhaps my third time, but the first time for Mikayla - and since it's been at least 20 years for me, it might as well have been. (Mom, when DID we do that?)

I planned the event so I could have something festive and fun to return to after Sunriver. However, after the fact, I've kind of regretted the idea, wondering if it would be more of a hassle than it was worth. This afternoon, though, I was glad we had an excuse to dress up, to get ourselves out of the house - and escape into the magic of live theater. Mikayla was enchanted, however, she kept commenting, "this is nothing like the other one (that would be the Barbie movie version...)" and, "why don't they ever talk?". Based on those words, I wondered if she would ever want to go back, but once we were in the car (having raced out of the place so we wouldn't spend two hours trying to get down from the 4th floor of the parkade) Mikayla exclaimed how fun it was - both racing to the car, and watching the performance. She said, "it's not something I want to do every day, but I WOULD like to do it once a year". Alrighty then, mission accomplished. And, for the record, I LOVED it - I was swept away by the beauty of it all, not to mention the beauty of the little 5 year old with wide eyes sitting next to me......

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Home, Sweet, Home

Farewell, sweet little Sunriver home!

So, we're back safe and sound. I'm always thankful when I've taken the effort to clean up the house before we leave, it makes for such a better homecoming. Nice to see the trees are both still green and not starving for water. As we have a Riley-side Christmas get-together on January 5th, we will try to get both trees to last an extra long time. Also fun to come home to a week's worth of Christmas cards - I'm savoring them until I sit down to read through them (yours included, Heather!)

I'm feeling a little down. Going from blue skies and tons of snow to totally overcast and rain is not my favorite thing. However, the fact that it is hard to come home only conveys just how great the trip was. Next year, I am thankful we will be doing the vacation the day after Christmas through New Years. As the timing is now, I find myself letting down before Christmas has actually come, which isn't fair to myself, the kids, or the whole family. At least next year, when the thrill-ride is eventually over, it will be all over - the next day will be January 2nd, and it will indeed be a new year, a new time to kick myself going again. For now, I feel like I'm in kind of an in-between stage, which, like I said, isn't so good.

Aren't our emotions nutty things? I really appreciated the honesty and transparency of Heather's blog: as I think it is something we all deal with at one time or another. I think it is especially great when we can wrap our minds around a possible reason for feeling the way we do, and I am thankful Heather's doctor was able to "find something" and therefore proceed with plans to make it better. If you have ever struggled with depression or living with someone who struggles with it - the links that Heather gives in the beginning of her post are phenomenal. You know that a blog post has struck a chord with folks when there are over 1100 comments - I read for a while and didn't come up with any that had negative words to say. The second link is from her husband's perspective - maybe even more worthwhile to read. Depression is a force to be dealt with, that's for sure.

I'm thankful, that at this point, I am not at that place. Simply feeling down after all of the excitement. There's something to be said for recognizing that our emotions can't constantly stay at a high place and must ebb and flow, valley and peak...... Hopefully, I'll find a restful plateau for a while......

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wrapping It Up...

Here's the collage that John didn't want left out of the blog - I'll add a little commentaries here and there:

Nati just loves to cuddle in bed - her future husband will love that....

Michele reading a book to Ellie-

Wasn't going to put this one in, but John insisted - me in my Mrs. Claus apron-

Mikayla with her "sassy look"-

Nati, on the sledding hill-

Thanks Leona, for all of the awesome treats (almost all gone), including this yummy pumpkin bread-

Sydney, in motion - isn't this a fun pic?

Michele and I - happy twins-

A rare image, me actually doing some family videotaping (I should be WAY BETTER at that...)

Michele in her ultimate "happy place" - reading her novel at the relaxation room at Sage Springs Spa-

Part of the Wii has you set up your own characters - we had a lot of fun creating each of our "Mii's", it would be interesting if you could guess who is who-

The girls huddled around the laptop-

Me, making apple pies-

The dogs - very happy-

Double trouble-

Travis and Steph's Dux Box - indicating just how much snow we got here-

Little Ellie-

Apparently, it's supposed to rain tomorrow so perhaps it's good that we are leaving. We have already set up reservations for next year, so that makes leaving a little bit easier.... Hope the few days before Christmas are wonderfully festive for everyone!