Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Favorite Christmas Gift

As a man, Dale was quite interested this year in receiving a Blu-ray disc player to play the latest and greatest high-definition discs. As a loving son, Daniel was anxious to give his father something he wanted - he just didn't spell very well. And so it is that on Christmas morning, Daniel gave Dale a Blue Ray Disc Player instead of a Blu-ray Disc Player.

The instructions were simple. Connect the first wire to the battery and the blue Christmas light shines a blue ray. Connect the second wire to its battery and the disc spins (by a motor mounted to an old light socket). It has a blue ray and Dale can watch his discs. Isn't that what he wanted?? And who knew it could all be accomplished with leftovers and a hot glue gun? I recommend clicking on the picture to see it in greater detail!
This fine invention also made me think of another of Daniel's finer creations. At the end of the summer, he had saved enough money to purchase an iPod Touch for himself. Once he received it, he felt it needed a name and so he dubbed it Ichapod. Once it was named, he felt it needed a home. The picture below shows his home with beds, shelves, a door, a window, a hook for his headphones, and a bearskin rug for a nice touch! This Christmas also brought a gift of a stereo system with a docking station so Ichapod has a new home now, but none will ever be as nice as that original home sweet home! Ah, to live inside Daniel's head for but a moment...........

Backblogging about Tea

This year I had the chance to practice the fine art of afternoon tea. I got to share a fun, fancy tea experience with Cheyenne, my sister Cathy, and her twins, Madelyn and Marissa. We found the funnest place called Protea Cottage at Gardner Historic Village. There Cheyenne developed a love for egg salad sandwiches. Who knew?

That was so fun, we had to enjoy a Witches' Tea at Cathy's house. She called it a real Brew-ha-ha! The spider cider and hamster and cheese sand-witches were to die for!!

Then we capped off the year with a big girls' tea back at Protea Cottage with my sisters and my mom. Sometimes it's darn fun to have a little culture and a little peace in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe I'll tea even more in 2009!

A Little End of Year Backblogging

My niece taught me the term "backblog." Just as I made sure I finalized all my charitable giving, my medical expenses, etc. before December 31, I wanted to make sure I included a few more memories from this past year. This time tomorrow I will have already started making new memories for a new year. Until then, please join me for a little retrospective look at a few missed moments.

I discovered I never shared a few of my favorite summer activities. They were favorites because they involved sharing time with family. In July, I made a bit of crazy trip in which I drove to Mountain Home, Idaho with Cheyenne where we spent a couple of days with my cousin's family and my aunt. Then I left Cheyenne there while I traveled to Arizona to participate with my sisters in a memorial service for Mabel Hart, my stepmother Carol's mother. It was a great visit with lots of great bonding. Then back to Idaho to get Cheyenne where she had spent a couple of days hanging out at the county fair with the family. A good time was had by all, family bonds were strengthened, and I took a few of my favorite pictures of the summer.

Cheyenne in heaven with her best friend "Conker Spaniel" and my cousin's chocolate lab.

Colleen, Carol, Cheryl, Vickie Stoddard (Carol's best friend), and Cathy at the funeral.

A little bonding over toe rings took place during our visit to Arizona. Oh, and check out the glitter toes I have that lasted all summer long!

Back in Idaho, a little snuggle with Cheyenne and Aunt Mary.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's a Christmas Miracle!!

There we were enjoying our Christmas Eve when the doorbell rang. Cheyenne and I went to the door where we saw the following scene - a horse head peering out of a black garbage bag. My first thoughts turned to The Godfather, and I wondered who had it in for us. A closer inspection revealed a tag addressed to Cheyenne with no name after the From part. So, we yelled a thank you and carried in the bag. Inside was a cute, stuffed, standing horse. Cheyenne fell in love instantly. She named it Horsey until later when it was renamed to "Miracle" to honor the Christmas miracle. It will probably still be called Horsey more often, but she loves it! She put a ponytail in her hair, a blanket on its back, and scarf around its neck to keep it warm.

Since its arrival, Christmas Miracle has been no more than a couple of feet from Cheyenne's side. She is clearly a part of the family. I say "she" because Cheyenne was quick to lift its tail and confirm for all in the room that it was unmistakably a "she."

The only reason I really want to know who brought this sweet gift to her is that I'd love to share Cheyenne's joy. Pretty much, she got a best friend out of the deal. So, if the giver is reading this blog, I thank you. If a reader of this blog knows the giver, please tell them thank you. If the giver has never heard of my blog, someday in heaven, he or she will see the video review and know that they did a kind and wonderful thing. Thanks for thinking of my daughter 'cause she loves the horse, it made her feel very special to receive something special, and the surprise was a delightful moment in our Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early Christmas gift

I've never been the type to shop for myself at Christmas. I like the surprise of someone else picking gifts. However, this year, I did buy some cross country skis on a good sale and I told Dale to put them under the tree for Christmas. They were there until last Thursday when we got about 7 inches of snow. I felt compelled to try out my new "backcountry" skis in the "backyard." So, I handed Daniel the camera to document the moment for my blog. I stepped out of the garage onto the concrete pad for the maiden voyage of the skis. [Note: In the past couple of years of skiing, I think I've fallen twice or so. I've done okay.] I stepped to the top of the ramp (made of concrete, I might add) that goes to the backyard, and I went about 3 feet and fell hard! Daniel just snapped and laughed. My whole right side still knows I fell! After regaining my composure, if not my dignity, I continued skiing around the yard. After warming up, I went down the offending ramp two more times without incident. I've broken in my skis and my pride, so let the cross country season begin!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

Last night I got to witness an evidence of the true spirit of Christmas. Let me start with a little background. Last year Cheyenne had the chance to go with her Activity Days group of girls to sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home. They were joining a group of high school students who sing there regularly. Actually it's the swim team whose coach takes them there every Sunday night to sing. Well, when they arrive, they first go to the rooms and get the residents who are more severely handicapped and need pushed in wheelchairs and such. The other 8 year old girls just wanted to wait, but Cheyenne wanted to go get the residents so a couple of high school boys invited her to join them. She happily went in and met a man who is not elderly, but is quite disabled. She chatted with him and pushed his wheelchair down the hall. She was so excited to tell me all about her new friend when she came home.

Fast forward to this year. She's now in a different group for Activity Days because she is a year older, but her old leader invited her to join them again this year. I decided to go along this time. She was so excited. When we got there, the leader invited her to be the only one to go again to get the residents. This time she got another person, but she was disappointed because she didn't see her friend. Soon after, he was pushed in. She ran up and grabbed his hand and said, "Hi, do you remember me?" He smiled and gave her a high five. I describe her as being like a therapy dog. She just bounds around in groups like that trying to spread joy. Then she came and stood by the swim coach to sing.

As I stood there singing with this group, I saw the following: I saw a group of about 12 teenage swimmers and a coach who come to this home every single week during the year to bring joy to these people. I saw a teenage boy at the piano who could and would play whatever song was requested. He was sharing a talent he'd worked hard to develop. I saw about 12-14 residents, mostly in wheelchairs, smiling and sometimes tapping to the beat. I saw a few of them who had family members sitting by their side as they had come to visit. I saw a swim coach who doesn't know Cheyenne, stand by her with her arm around her trying to help her read the words to the songs even though Cheyenne can't really do that. With each new song, she'd point out where to start and she'd try to help her along. I saw a leader of 8 year old girls who had made the arrangements to join the group, arranged rides for the girls, and made it possible for them to learn at a young age how to serve and be around people that are different. At the end of the singing, I saw those sweet little 8 year old girls go around and say hi and "Merry Christmas" to all the residents. Finally, I saw another group of people come in who were there to provide some music.

Everything about the experience touched my heart because I saw people reaching out to other people in whatever way they could. I guess it's because I could stand there and see such a broad range of mental and physical capacities among those present that I could recognize how lives were being touched. I think the Savior would have been happy had He been there -- in reality, He probably was there. I'm glad I was too.

And one other Christmas note, I must share that the Christmas tree picture at the top of this blog is the first Christmas tree I've ever actually decorated that was not just a tree with lights and all my old ornaments and my kids' ornaments. (Note: The picture didn't resize that well. Click on it to see a much better picture of it.) Each year, we do the same family tree because the ornaments have such sentimental meaning to me. This year, we put that tree in our new basement, and I wanted something festive upstairs. So, I channeled my inner Jessica to plan a tree and I used my outer Cheryl to buy everything inexpensively and I decorated a 4' tree for my living room. Thanks to my sisters and nieces for my inspiration. It makes me happy when I walk in the room!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My day

The other day my niece blogged about her schedule for the day.  As I was rushing through my day today, I just kept thinking that I should blog about my schedule for the day for purely selfish reasons so someday I can remember this time in my life.

My day started at about 6:45 a.m. to get Daniel to his 7:30 a.m. piano lessons.  Before I sat on the couch again tonight, I squeezed in the following:

His lessons and driving him to school, getting Cheyenne ready to go to school (thankfully Dale got her out the door), picking up Mom from my sister Cathy's house to take her part of the way home (to Cove Fort, total of 5 hour round trip), visit to the doctor for a flu shot, stop at the store to buy a few Christmas decorations I wanted, picking up the junior high carpool, tutoring for one student in Geometry, going to junior high parent/teacher conferences with both kids in tow, doing a couple loads of laundry, doing two rounds of dishes, getting the kids ready and attending their piano recital in Orem, eating pie with the family to celebrate the recital (there's always time for pie), helping with homework, reading a bedtime story, and finally - blogging.  I think I'm done now.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Festival of Trees 2008

In 2007, my sisters and I decorated our first tree for the annual Festival of Trees to benefit Primary Children's Hospital. As soon as we were done last year, we began planning for a bigger tree this year. Fortunately, Cathy hit some great clearance sales that got us started with a 7.5 foot tree and a killer collection of candy-themed ornaments. That was followed by little purchases here and there by everyone to gather the ornaments, ribbon, toys, additional decorations, etc. that became this year's "Visions of Sugarplums" tree. And so I present its life story.
"Hmm, we've each been gathering ornaments and stuff for a year. Maybe we should meet and see if they match and see if we have enough. Oh, and we should eat!" "This is great, they match! Let's make a list of everything we need to bring to the expo center...."

"We included lots of decorative stuff and a few tools, but did anyone's list include an extra radiator hose clamp? We have a situation...."

"It's a good thing Cathy and Colleen were so handy with that clamp. Now it's a good thing we have Jessica the decorator on staff. What should the rest of us do? We can watch, glue a few things, and maybe eat and visit."

"It took us all day, but doesn't it look great? And it's so fun that it was done by 3 generations with Grandma, Colleen, Cathy, Cheryl, Heather, Jessica, and Romney. I wish Romney were still here for the picture. She was here all day, but had to leave before we took this. Too bad Cheryl doesn't have mad Photoshop skills or we could insert her. That's okay, we'll just put in a separate picture of her."Here's a nice portrait of what the buying public got to see, minus the decorators. And a little closeup makes it look good too.
"So, who's starting the list for next year?" "I don't know, but make sure we don't choose a spot on Aisle G by the huge dock door that was open all day." "Oh, and maybe we should bring more chairs and a table to work on. That's what the 'professionals' seem to do." "And who's going to bring the food?"

Epilogue: The tree and all its decorations were donated by us along with our time. It sold at auction for $950 that will go straight to the children in need. Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Did anyone else have this for a home evening treat?

Yes, it's another family home evening moment. I'll just say I love whatever my kids are in charge of . Cheyenne taught us a great lesson about Family and Friends complete with stuffed cats and a dog playing the roles of the family and friends. Following the activity, we were each presented with our own Santa treat. Three guesses of who was in charge of the treat...

And I'll save you having to ask... The hat, face and arms were sugar cookies, the eyes were raisins, the fingers were Pocky sticks, the body was a frozen waffle (Dale bought them), the boots were Hershey bars, and the suit was jam, blueberries, and whipped cream. Yum!!!