Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Christmas

I never got around to posting our Christmas card for posterity, so here it is.  A bit late, but better than never!

We had a little help from DiAnna to get this photo taken.  
Since we are down to the three of us, we just had to do something funny!

And here's our Christmas Update.  Definitely not a letter.

Of course, by now we all know that the knee surgery count is woefully inaccurate since Reed blew out his other knee on December 15. . . yeah. . . the same day he had an x-ray to see if he could be cleared to wrestle on account of his broken hand.  The answer to that was, "Ah. . .you aren't quite ready yet,"  which of course, Reed totally ignored.  For the record, Reed broke the knee AT wrestling practice, but he was not wrestling.  He was running ladders.  I always said running was dangerous.

We had a very nice Christmas.  Ed's sister Judy came out from Maine and stayed for 13 days.  I felt bad that we had a pretty low key visit since Reed was firmly implanted into the couch.  She did become well acquainted with Doug and Brenda Wilcox because Brenda came over to work on Reed's leg to decrease the pain.  She taught me a new crochet pattern and I have started a baby afghan.  We also played a LOT of Hand and Foot.   We all love that game.  The dogs laid around and loved all the attention that they could wrangle.

Reed received a Playstation 4 and a couple of games.  For his birthday we gave him an iPhone 6 because we just did not feel that giving him the golf stuff we had bought would be a good fit for a kid who had surgery that day and was missing a golf trip to St. George.  He got the golf stuff for Christmas along with an iPad Mini that we got for a song as a gift with purchase kind of thing.

I received a beautiful chestnut Coach purse that was stocked with a couple of gift cards and a $100 bill!  I got ink cartridges for my photo printer.  That might not sound like a great gift, but it was.  That printer takes NINE cartridges (4 that are shades of black!) and they are expensive critters.  I also got a frying pan with a non-stick diamond coating.   
Ed got a surveillance camera for down at the cabin.  I think my skinny dipping days are over because I am afraid that someone will hack our feed!  I'm pretty sure they would get more than they bargained for. . .much more.  He also got a WiFi music system that he is installing down at the cabin so we have some good music when we are there.  

It was a beautiful day with the snow falling continuously.  I had two favorite moments.

1.  Around 10:30 I got a call from Sister Clausen who is a Senior Missionary at Camp Pendleton.  She told me that she had spoken with Parker that morning and that he seemed happy and well. SHe also gave us some idea of what was going on there that day. That made my whole day.

2.  In the afternoon Colby and Danaca came over.  What do you give a married couple who has no space for stuff? A trip.  They were happy with the plane tickets because they thought they would cover the trip to Parker's graduation.  They looked a little stumped about the hotel nights, but Danaca just about exploded with joy when they opened the gift cards for 3 day Disney passes.  It was a riot!  We are sad that we did not video her reaction because it was so out of character!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Despair

It's late on December 23rd.  I have been hustling and bustling for the past few days with Christmas events, projects, and tasks.  I stayed up after everyone else went to bed to wrap a few presents that showed up tonight courtesy of Amazon and Brown (UPS).  And then, before I went to bed, I decided that I would jump on FB for a minute to see what everyone was doing to prepare for the holiday.  I truly expected it to be a feed full of happy faces and holiday cheer.

But no.  It is filled with posts that are disagreeable and hateful.  The message is always the same.  This is MY OPINION and if you don't share it, you are WRONG and STUPID.  I was called a jerk for carrying a gun.  I was assaulted with rude images about Christmas by someone who professes to be all about love.  I saw someone who expressed an honest concern about a situation be skewered by his "friends."  It happens all the time.

All I can think about is the third verse of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

So, I have taken action. I just realized that I can unfollow people and still stay friends with them.  That way I can go check on them when I feel prompted to, but I don't have to be assaulted by their negative posts.  The funny thing is, it is not usually
THEIR words.  It is the crappy, hateful memes that they share.  I feel bad about this, because I want to know what is going on in the world and to understand all the different facets of the problem.  I want to hear opinions that make me uncomfortable and challenge my view of the world.  But I am no longer willing to let those people pretend that they are acting out of love and concern when they are really just being hateful.

My gift to myself this Christmas?  A more peaceful and kind FB feed.  Unfortunately, I will miss out on some information from family and friends.  Oh, well.  Hopefully I can get back to the last two verses in the next couple of days.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I have always adhered to this statement.  Thinking otherwise is just too darn depressing, but in reality it isn't necessarily so.  We meet adversity on a daily basis, but usually in small doses.  Sitting in a traffic jam may help teach us patience.  Having a reprimand from a boss helps keeps us humble and may well point out a weakness that needs to be strengthened.  These things help us grow.

We often hear that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle."

I'm sorry, but that is just not true.  Not all adversity comes in small doses.  Sometimes is is massive and terrible and overwhelming.

If we could handle everything that happens, we would never ask for His help.
If we could handle everything that happens, we would never be stretched and wouldn't grow.
If we could handle everything that happens, our faith would never be tested.

We came here to be tested.  To learn.  To grow.  To develop faith.  To learn to give and serve and to learn to be humble and receive.

None of these lessons come easily, but we do "handle" them.  Sometimes we accept the challenges with grace and sometimes we react in anger and hurt.  Sometimes we stretch and meet the challenge head-on and sometimes we withdraw into ourselves and hide from the problem.

Some people get stronger and then reach out to others.
Some people get angry and bitter at the unfairness of the challenge.
Sometimes people decide that they are not willing to be challenged anymore and remove themselves from the situation.

None of us particularly enjoy adversity.  But the worst is watching other people that we love have to deal with adversity.

I have a friend who seems to have a never ending stream of unbelievable challenges in her life.  A few she has brought upon herself, but most have been the result of situations far beyond her control.  I don't think she feels strong, but I see a totally different woman now than I knew just a few years ago.

Right now I am watching Reed be challenged with injuries.  I don't know why he is dealing with this.  He had surgery on his right knee in January after it dislocated during wrestling practice..  It was painful and difficult.  It tested his patience, his obedience, and his attitude.  Apparently he didn't learn enough because last month he broke his right hand.  And then yesterday he dislocated his left knee.  Here he is facing another missed season.  And yet, he has chosen to have surgery.

Last night he was mad and frustrated.  There were some tears and raw emotions.  He was asking, "Why me?  Why me again?"  It is a horrible thing to watch as a parent.  Because it is all true and all too real.  As the hours ticked by he began to understand the challenge before him.  His humor began to haltingly return.  He was willing to accept a Priesthood Blessing on his behalf and expressed gratitude and love to his dad and his brother, Colby.  This morning was as whole different story.  A few hours of sleep had allowed him to fully accept the challenge.  All traces of anger were gone.  There was no mention of how unfair it is that he is once again missing an activity he enjoys.  When given a choice to let things go or to have surgery, he decided to accept the additional pain of surgery in hopes of more complete healing.  I have to admit that I am stunned by his positive attitude.

I worry why he needs these lessons.  What will he face in the future?  Who will he need to help?  What is the purpose of these specific challenges?  I may never know the answers to these questions.  But if he is willing to walk by faith, so am I.

In the words of Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come what may and love it."

Photo from

Friday, December 12, 2014

National Hot Cocoa Day

I have it on good authority (that would be Facebook) that Saturday, December 13 is National Hot Cocoa Day.  I had some of the most amazing hot cocoa ever made at our Relief Society activity on Wednesday night.  Jenette Burr made it and was willing to share her recipe, which actually came from the blog  It is to die for good.  My friend Nicole HATES chocolate (I know. . .she's crazy) and even SHE LIKED IT!!!!!

If you make this and love it, go give some love on the original post.  

Creamy Crockpot Hot Cocoa {Best Ever!}
  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet depending on how sweet you like it. I have a heck of a sweet tooth, and I love the milk chocolate, but others prefer the semi-sweet)
  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crockpot.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish as desired.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12 Days of Christmas- Dollar Store Version

Ever thought that you would like to do the 12 Days from someone, but it just seemed overwhelming?  This is going to be easy.  And it will only cost $12-$15!  You are going to need to make a trip to the dollar store, print some tags on your computer, wrap the gifts, and decide whether you will deliver the gifts one at a time or drop off a bag of gifts and let the recipient open them one at a time.

Shopping List- (if you can’t find these items, substitute something similar.)
Chap Stick/ Lip Balm Gloves
Notebook and Pen Dishwashing Gloves/ Dish Detergent
Crosswords/ Sudoku Book Candle
 Measuring Cups  Hand Soap
Candy Hand Lotion
Fuzzy Socks 4x6 or 5x7 Picture Frame Download here. 4x6 PRINTS
Any items can be used- be creative!


Print the “number” tags and cut out.
Download here.  NUMBER TAGS

Print the “labeling” gift tags and cut out. (optional)
Download here  LABELING TAGS

Wrap each gift with the labeling tag INSIDE the wrapping.  (No hints!)  Then securely attach a number tag on the outside of the gift.  You choose the order.

If you are going to make a one-time delivery, put all the gifts into a cute bag with a not of what they are supposed to do.  Our family likes to sneak up to the door, drop off the gift, ring the doorbell, and RUN! But, let’s face it, unless you have children who can run, that might not work for you!

Original 12 Days of Christmas with Tags and Poems

This was originally posted on my Evening Birdsong Blog in 2011.  Something has happened to that blog and I can no longer access it.  Thus, the reposting!

(***I know this may seem late for this year, but if you can get to a WalMart and a Dollar Store- you will have no problem putting it together!)

I love doing the 12 Days of Christmas for special people who benefit from knowing someone is thinking of them everyday.  But, I wanted to do something different this year!  I didn't want to base it on the song and go the whole pineapple slices for 5 golden rings kind of thing.  I know there are a lot of suggestions across the web, but none of them were what I wanted.  That is not that unusual for me-  I apparently love to re-create the wheel!!!  

This 12 days gift set can be put together for $20 or less. . . or you can add more expensive items.  Most of the items are available at a dollar store.  The first two items are for the first and last days.

Here's how to do it:

1.  Pick your gifts.  You can pick any 12 of the following items.  These items already have hokey poems written to go with them, so if you pick other items you may need to adjust the poems.  
  • Pear scented hand lotion
  • Amaryllis or Paperwhites ($5 at WalMart)
  • A homemade banner or small decoration for the home ($1 at WalMart)
  • Small can of nuts
  • Crossword puzzle or wordfind book
  • Packet of cocoa
  • Candy (Orange Sticks or Chocolate Covered Cherries)
  • Butter Cookies- small can
  • Note pad (I covered $.68 notebooks with scrapbook paper)
  • Scarf
  • Candle or Battery-Run Candle with Timer
  • Bookmark
  • Emery Boards
  • Sugar-Free Candy
  • Hand lotion (if you can't find pear. . .)
  • Sewing Kit
  • Gift cards
2.  Print the hokey poems*.  I have them in a larger font because I usually do this activity with older people.  Cut them out (cut the "This is for a Bookmark" off, too!) and use a small piece of tape to attach them to the item.

3.  Wrap your presents.  Wrap the poem inside the gift.  I love the look of presents wrapped with brown kraft paper (shipping paper) and tied with hemp string or any kind of string, but you can use any kind of paper.

4.  Print the tags*.  You can print them on cardstock and just cut them out or you can print on paper, glue onto cardstock, and add some glitter to dress them up.  I love glitter, so that's what I did.  Plus. . . my new printer can't handle cardstock.  I advise you to punch a hole in the tags and tie them on.  Taping them didn't work nearly as well.

5.  Print the introductory poem*.  There is one for "brown paper packages tied up with string" and one for other wrapping paper.

6.  Start delivery on December 13 and enjoy the fun!  Our family does the 24th as a family and we don't run away when we ring the doorbell.  Instead, we sing a carol and give hugs to our recipient.

PLEASE. . . do not re-post these on your website.  I am happy to have people use them, but I would like to have them come here to download them.  Feel free to share a link!

*To print these items you will be re-directed to  You will have to create a log-in, but it is a safe company.  If you have any problems, please leave a comment.  I make mistakes sometimes!