Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

This year we spent Christmas Eve with Mike's family. The girls had a blast! It is so nice to be able to go to his sister's home. It is the home Mike grew up in, and even though it is quite different now, there are so many memories. It is difficult to not have Mike's parents at Christmas, but we know they are watching over us.
Christmas morning the girls slept in! That's right, they woke us up at 8:30. It was wonderful to enjoy a lazy morning at home. Amanda came over to see the girls. She was also able to take lots of pictures for us. (thanks Manda!) I am so grateful to have my sisters close. I made a breakfast feast, and our friend Kakra joined us. I made an African dish, Jollof, which was rather tasty.
We loaded up and went to my Mom's, Mike's Grandma's, my Grandma Kit's, and my other Grandma and Grandpa's. It was a full day! We are blessed to have family so close, I can't imagine Christmas without them all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Cori did a super job at her Christmas program. Oh...excuse me...Meguela did a super job at her Christmas program. I really do not like that name, it is so weird to hear people call her that. (She received her Spanish name at the beginning of the school year) I have to remember that her teacher only knows her as Meguela. I will see her teacher at school and start asking questions about Cori's progress, she always gives me funny look, then I correct myself and say "How is MEGUELA doing in class?" Sorry! I just love the name I gave her, and even if I were Hispanic, I wouldn't have named her that. Maybe Corrina or Katina, oh well! I still find it interesting that the teacher gave them all new names.

(*a peek into my craziness*) As my sisters know, I re-name everyone too!(but in English) I generally have two names for most people...that's right, I'm weird like that. I have the name I think they should have, and their real name. It makes it difficult to remember names, but I do pretty well. When my sister moved next door to me I had to introduce her to people in the neighborhood. One lady in particular, I always confused which was actually her real name. So I told my sister her name was Heather, then I quickly said "no, it's Jamie...but she looks like a Heather doesn't she?" My sister just laughed at me, then she said "Your right! She does look like a Heather!" Now we laugh because she wants to call her Heather too! (and she really does NOT look like a Jamie) People are surprised at how well I remember peoples names and faces, I hardly ever forget a face. I also remember all my in-laws, their in-laws etc. I remember my friends' in-laws and families. What people don't know is that I remember two names for every face! Anyways... out of Sherian's crazyland...

Cori has been singing her Spanish Christmas songs around the house now for two months. I must admit, it is hilarious to listen to her speak and sing so quickly. Maybe it's because I have no idea what she's saying. (I'm not sure she knows what she's singing about half the time.) A couple weeks ago I asked her to translate a song for me. Her reply was "Um...something about a special night...seeing a other stuff." So there ya go!

This Spanish program has been so intense this year. I was happy to see her enjoying what she's worked so hard to learn. She was so excited to dress up she even let me do her hair! (that's like pulling teeth) She looked and sang beautifully! Muy Bien Meguela! (What a cute pu-toot)

Here are some pictures from our home this month. While I ha-ha-hate the cold weather, I find such beauty in the way it looks! For some reason the colder it looks, the prettier I find it. I'm thankful I can enjoy it from the comfort of my warm home!

Mike is driving back from Vegas tonight. He decided to go to the bowl game Friday at 6:00pm. I am so totally supportive of his football needs, but he was cutting it close this year. Our weekend plans flew out the window, and I juggled last minute shopping, Missionaries for dinner, and a bowl party at MY HOUSE. How 'bout them Cougars! I am so glad they won...but next time I could use a much larger spread! I do not like peeing my pant like that in the final seconds. Whew! A Division Championship and a Bowl win, now THAT is what I call a Merry Christmas, and my hubby will come home such a happy man. Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Almost 2008!

Lexi's class party was yesterday...whew! It actually went quite well, despite my lack of volunteers. I have a hard time asking for help (shocker!) Only one mother volunteered to come in, but another Mom showed up unexpectedly. I did receive an interesting comment from a parent as they picked up their child from class. She touched my arm as she said "Boy I am glad you are willing to do all of this with the kids...I could go girl!" I just smiled, I didn't know how to respond to that statement. I had a quick thought of pointing at my 2 kids in the corner (one with a smelly bum), the powdered sugar on my pants, not a drop of make-up on my face, and start to cry. I had just spent my morning running around like a 'chicken-with-my-head-cut-off'. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with my children, and I love to be as involved as possible in their education and activities. But I must admit, there are days when I think to myself "Why did I think I could pull this off?" or "What am I doing?" The Lord always blesses me to make it through those particular days, and I remind myself of the rewards when I am finished.
Each of the 27 kids were given a bag of 30 sugar cubes, and small bag of Royal Icing. (p.s. never attempt counting out 27 bags of sugar cubes, and making and filling 27 bags of decorating icing without a babysitter, or some help!) They were instructed to make any type of structure they desired. They were then given Graham Crackers for roofs, and a assortment of candy for decorating. It was so awesome to see their creations. As adults, we give ourselves boundaries and limitations on every creative project we pursue. These kids made amazing things like skateboard ramps, igloos, tower's, houses, people standing, and much much more. Of course my 'piece-of-crap' camera wasn't working, so the other Mom took pictures. (thank goodness for others preparations)
They really enjoyed the creative freedom, and were so proud of their delicious masterpieces. "Look! Look at what I made!" seemed to be the phrase of the hour. I loved being reminded that some of those creative limitations we put on ourselves are stupid, and thinking out-of-the-box can be fun and educational. (ex: How do know a single sugar tower cannot support 30 gummy bear soldiers until you try? right?)
So, despite the 1.messiest house in town 2.dried Royal Icing on my counters, sink and dishes 3. not finding a babysitter for my 2 and 3-year-olds and 4.a broken camera was a major success!

I have taken today off! Literally, I am sitting here at 12:30pm in my robe! My kids are all home today (which I love, love love) so we snuggled in my bed until 11am. We snacked on our wonderful neighbor's treats for breakfast, and now they are watching a movie. This is the life!
I have had time today to reflect on the past year, and the new one to come. A very dear friend of mine shared a holiday tradition that I have implemented in my life. She bases her 'New Year Resolutions' on a scripture found in Luke.
When Jesus was 12, Mary and Joseph went on their yearly trip to Jerusalem. This year Jesus stayed behind, while Mary and Joseph started the journey home. Being typical parents, they became concerned and went back searching for him. They found Jesus at the temple, discussing with the most prominent men of Jerusalem. At 12 years old, they were astonished with his understanding and questions. Mary and Joseph were also so impressed with Jesus.
I have often thought to myself what Jesus was like growing up, and how he grew into the man we read of doing his 'father's work'. In Luke 2:52 we read:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

This scripture is now my basis for my resolutions, with the goal to become more Christ-like. Making improvements to myself, and to my life for the year of 2008.

To increase my wisdom:
1. organize and simplify each room
2. organize hobbies, and finish all projects
3. create a daily/weekly schedule for myself

This will take some major simplifying. I have no problem taking on something new, in fact, I love a good challenge. I love to learn how to make things, instead of just buying them. I start many things, only to have my interest fade and move to something else. Most rooms in my home are started, but not finished. I think these will not only increase my wisdom of things I 'kind-of' know about, but open the doors for future knowledge. After all, it is what we take with us when our turn here is done. I realized that since moving into this house, I have not had the time or energy to work on any hobbies. I haven't allowed myself to start anything because I know how much there is to finish.

To increase stature (physical goals):
1. incorporate more fruits and veggies DAILY
2. cut out all refined sugars (exception of special occasions)
3. drink more water

Do you think I can go a year without sugar? yes? Haha, that's funny! I love to exercise, but nutrition is a different story. I have wanted to switch to healthier options for while now. (I just haven't had the motivation) Organic and natural...yep! Mike will not enjoy this change AT ALL! But he will learn to love it! He doesn't cook, so I guess he doesn't have a choice :) My favorite kitchen quote: Today's menu is two choices, take it or leave it. I also think this will greatly benefit my kids! I want to be a good example to my girls, so I try not to focus on appearance, but I imagine healthy eating will result in a slimmer figure! Wa-hoo!

To increase favour with God (spiritual goals):
1. record my thoughts and feelings on my scripture study
2. attend the temple monthly

I am ashamed to admit Mike and I struggle to get to the temple. It is just a matter of priorities, and mine have not been in the right place. It seems so hard to get time alone together, but if we cannot go together, I need to go alone. I would prefer to go with Mike, but I am making a personal goal to get there each month, regardless! I also want to record my thoughts when I study the scriptures. (don't' worry, I won't share it on a blog) Hopefully, this will help me really study, rather than read. (although reading is a wonderful accomplishment for me!)

Whew! That's all! I think by writing down my goals, they are always easier to accomplish. There is always something so exciting about the start of a new year. Like a fresh beginning, and 365 days to improve myself and my life! I am so thankful for the life I have been given, and the opportunities and talents I have been blessed with. I feel so fortunate to have a close relationship with my Father in heaven, and hope to improve by bettering myself and being beautiful in his eyes. Because when all is said and done, that will be all that matters!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Bird's and Bee's (that's right, it's what you think)

(disclaimer: I rate this entry PG maybe even PG-13. This blog is also our family record/journal. I'm not one to be reserved, so if you're the shy type, I'm saying "sorry" in advance.)

I finally broke down and had the 'birds' and bee's' talk with Cori. This is where Mike and I are so incredibly different. Mike is so funny about telling her the right things, in the right way, and concerned that she might tell her friends things. Yet, HE doesn't want to tell her anything! His parents never discussed anything on the topic, and that was O.K. with him. I just think back to the awkwardness of the pictures that were drawn for me, and how grossed-out I was. I don't want her to feel awkward or grossed-out about it! Is that even possible? My sister has been on my case about this for the last year. She'd say "have you had 'the talk' yet? She gave me so much helpful ideas about how to approach everything. Yes, Cori is turning 8, but honestly the subject has never come up, and the right opportunity has never presented itself.

So, aside from Mike's expectations, here were my main objectives: 1. to keep all the information accurate 2. I want her to think her body is a beautiful and wonderful gift from a loving Heavenly Father 3. I want her to be comfortable asking Mike or I any questions she may have now, or in the future. 4. I don't want her to feel grossed-out!

How do you sort out the beautiful blessings God has given us in today's warped, media-driven, trashy society? I think parents today have a huge responsibility to teach the truth to their kids! I get so upset with the things my kids are exposed to through television, magazines, and just people they see everyday. I want them to love and respect themselves. I want them to love their bodies, regardless of what shape or size they are. If I could give my girls anything in life, it would be self-worth... and yet, that's the one thing I cannot give them. They have to give that to themselves. I want them to know how much their Heavenly Father loves them, how much Mike and I love them, and I want them to love themselves. I want them to respect themselves, and expect that respect from others. Knowing those things would have so greatly changed my life as a child and adolescent. I want them to recognize the talents and beauty they have been given. I don't want them to be conceited, in a worldly way. I want them to have spiritual self-worth. I want them to see their bodies as an amazing gift, to care for and treat as a gift. A blessing for us to enjoy and I want them to view procreative powers as incredible, and the ability to have children the miracle it is.

I didn't want to have a formal sit-down, face-to-face discussion. (because I don't do 'serious') I was doing her hair for church and she was talking to me about how grown-up she was getting, and I was telling her how smart she was. I just casually asked " you know how babies are made?" She thought about it for a second and said "no, I guess not." I was able to finish doing her hair, and she asked a million questions. She was so sweet about everything. I felt like it went really well, Whew!

I took her out Christmas shopping and we were driving in the car just singing to the radio. She all-of-a-sudden asks me if some close friends of ours "do sex?" I looked at her face in my rear-view mirror. She just had a thoughtful look, watching out the window. I answered with "um...yes...I would imagine they do. Why?" She said "well, they are married and don't have any kids." I tried to explain that sometimes our bodies don't work the way we want them to, and it can be really hard for some people to make a baby. I started to feel really proud of myself for making infertility such a comprehensible subject. I looked at her face, and she looked satisfied with my answers. After a pause, she announces " they don't 'do sex' right!"

I quickly explained that 'doing it right' would not be the issue. Oh my heavens! It was so hard not to laugh out loud. I am so glad she is asking me questions, but now I'm a little afraid to be alone with her. She cracks me up with how logical she is. (that comes from Mike) I just can't believe what an awesome kid she is! I must also admit I'm surprised how well I can handle adult topics. I'm not good at being serious, and I avoid anything logical, so I was glad that I could act like an adult when I needed to.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Traditions

I love December! The girls and I have started our candy making festivities. They have named these activities "Candy Factory". Like the beginning of the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.

Each year I have to make the previous years favorites, and then I always search and experiment to find a new Christmas treat. Last year we make truffles for the first time, and oh goodness, it has started a frenzy! This year we make the following truffles. Chocolate, Almond, Lemon, Mint, and Raspberry. I get a little crazy with sweets. We also made mint creams, chocolate pretzels, and caramels. I am so happy to report my new finds this year.

Microwave Caramels-That's right, MICROWAVE. Anyone who has stood at their stove trying to get that candy thermometer at just the right spot will be as excited as me. I love homemade caramels, but hated making them! I got this recipe from one of my 'Activity Days' girls. I really doubted that the microwave could produce good caramels. Oh was I wrong! They are phenomenal, and easy to boot. I made them one evening and cut and wrapped them the next morning. Yummy!

Soft Gingersnaps-Mike told me last night that these were the best cookies he has ever tasted. I must agree. I don't like to bake near as much as I like to cook at my stove. But these are totally worth it! They are fantastic tasting, and make the house smell wonderful! I iced mine with a little powdered sugar/milk/vanilla glaze.

I really hope my girls continue to enjoy this tradition as much as I do. They love to dip and decorate, and I love to see their little fingers covered in chocolate! The first year Mike and I were married, I burnt the caramel and my fudge was goopy and gritty. I debated whether or not I would ever attempt holiday candy again. This year, when I overcooked my first batch of cookies, Cori said "That's OK Mom, just dip them in milk and they will taste great!" I am so glad I stuck with it, and every year I still ruin something, but now I get to enjoy my mistakes with my sweet girls!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our new christmas pics!

Wa-hoo! I got the girls pictures back! This picture will be our christmas card this year. Are they not the cutest darn things in the world? I am a bit afraid of our lives in 10 years when the boys are beating down the door. I guess that's when Mike will have his gun collection on display;) Each year my sisters and I get our kids together for a picture. It is our Christmas present to my Mom, and grandparents. I love that my girls have their cousins so close. They are more like siblings than cousins.

We had our annual Nielson Family 'White Christmas' party last night. Whew! A table full of homemade goodies and gallons of milk. Now that's what I call a party! Although I wish I could indulge without my hips reminding me they need more time on that elliptical. Oh how I long to be seventeen again. My hips never told me anything back then.

My sweet sister Jessica made me a leather journal. It is so beautiful! She even burned my name in it, it is gorgeous! Homemade gifts are my favorite. They mean so much! Thanks Jay, I will treasure it forever. (I might even write something in it one day:)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Santa's Lap

Yes, it is kinda late (or early)...on a positive note, at least I can be productive. A couple days like this and I'll sleep for a week. The joys of being crazy! I get as much done as other people, just not at the same times as other people :)

We attended Mike's Family Christmas Party. It was good to see all the family. Since Mike's parents have died we hardly ever see his family. You never realize how much your parents hold your family together. Kim took pictures for me. (because I forgot my camera again...that's 7 of the 9 last years) I will put together a slideshow with all the pictures of the kids with Santa. Maybe?
Every year Santa Claus comes to the family party, and every year the kids take turns sitting on this strange man's lap. He always begins with the same songs, tells the same jokes, and freaks out any child under 2. As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this ritual. It's a strange man! He looks like he's about 45-ish, but he paints his eyebrows a bluish-white. He wears a big fake beard (not the color of his eyebrows) and he appears rather skinny, with a pillow under his costume. Does that not sound creepy to anyone else? It's like Lexi asked last year, "so...Santa sneaks into our house at night while everyone is sleeping?" I'm just looking at her concerned face thinking "Wow...that's a scary thought! How do I answer that question?" Anyways, as always, the kids took turns sitting on this guys lap.

Cori asked Santa for a 'surprise'. As her letter to him stated "I want something different...I know you can do it!" She is such a sweetheart! When Santa pushed the issue, she finally same up with "a sled", which I would have believed, except she has a sled! Which she used to go sledding with for two hours prior to the party, but hey! Santa stopped asking!

Lexi also asked for a sled. Amazing! She too was sledding on her sled right before the party. I'm just glad they have not discovered the concept of asking for expensive gifts!

Addi asked for a locket. She watched 'Annie' on the drive to the party. And Sophie just kept smiling and saying 'Yes'. Then he asked her if she wanted candy. Her eyes lit up like the fourth-of-July! She then gave a slow and meaningful 'YES!'

My sister-in-law asked me a few years back if I brainwashed my children. Why?, I thought. Then it hit me...most kids ask for a specific item for Christmas. It is usually what they want from mid-November to Christmas morning. They ask, keep asking, and even write it in a letter. (and it is usually a bit expensive) My kids, on the other hand, have never really done that . Cori is now almost 8 years old and her desires have included: 2004- a prism (Polyanna), 2005- a jack-in-the-box, 2006- a gold star, 2007-a 'surprise'. (In case you are wondering, yes, last year I bought a 99 cent star and spray painted it gold) Lexi wanted a bell from Santa's sleigh (polar express) She was thrilled with the silver bell she opened on Christmas morning.

Maybe they are a little weird...but look at who their parents are! The year I graduated High School I wanted a 'chia pet' and a lava lamp. You should have seen the look on my boyfriend's face. It took me 10 minutes to convince him I wasn't kidding. I personally find my kids requests hilarious! You should see the looks I get every year when people ask them what they want from Santa. Too funny!

Mike's work party was at the Grand America. What a beautiful building! It was fun to get dressed up and go out with adults. The company has doubled this past year, so I met lots of new people. It's always wonderful to see how much Mike is respected by his co-workers. Everyone loves him! The guy does not have an enemy in the world. I guess I balance that out for us :) Mike was so handsome and professional, I was so proud.

I went to lunch today with my good friend. I've known her since Jr. High. She is such an example to me. Her life has not been what she expected, and she has been through some really hard times. We have very similar challenges and have had similar struggles. She is such a beautiful person! I love to spend time with her and catch up. It makes me think about how aware our Heavenly Father is of each of us. He gives us trials, but he's always there to help us through them. We both joked today about where we would be without the gospel in our lives. And how in our darkest moments, we were so blessed to have our beliefs as our foundation. I don't think I realized how important it was until I hit the bottom and had to completely start over. I wondered for years why I had to get to that point, but I think it was the only way for me to learn some of those things.

Another 'funny' from Addi...

Tonight Mike and I were dancing in the kitchen. Addi came in and got very upset! "No!" she said. "I am going to marry Daddy!" We giggled and I told her "Sorry sweetie, but I already married Daddy." She looked really mad. She ran over and grabbed Mike. She pushed me out of the way. Mike said "Remember...Mom and Dad got married before you were the temple...remember?" (there are only like 5 or 6 pictures on the wall!) With her arms tight around Mike's neck she got this big smile and said "OK, you guys can pretend to be married." I said "Addi, Daddy is my husband. I already married him! We're not pretending." She got the saddest look on her face so I quickly added "...but you can marry him too!" She smiled and gave Mike a big hug and kiss. I looked at Mike and shrugged...I guess that kind of lie can't hurt. I have a feeling she'll change her mind someday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thankful that things have settled...I have to express my gratitude. This is such an amazing season, and I feel that our lives get so crazy busy! I need to slow down and remember "the reason for the season".
I am so thankful for Mike. He is such a wonderful husband and an incredible father. He works so hard, and makes so many sacrifices for our family. I often watch him with his girls, and how they adore him. I am so thankful that when they are looking for husbands, he will have set the bar so high.
I am thankful for my girls. Each one is so unique and such a blessing in my life. They keep me grounded, and remind me of the simple things in life. They are examples of true kindness, charity, and unconditional love.
I am thankful for my family. My sisters are my best friends, and I am so lucky to have them close. (Because I couldn't afford the phone bills if they weren't)I am blessed to come from such a history of strong men and women.
I am thankful for friends. Especially because they understand how much I love them even if I don't keep in touch very well.
And mostly...I am thankful for a loving Father in Heaven, and for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the life I have been blessed with.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

This picture? Cori created this in the playroom tonight! This is every VHS tape we own. She said she had a surprise to show me, but I had no idea. I had to take a picture. She was so proud she didn't even mind how long it took to put each video back!...too funny!

It has been a typically busy November. I was able to go with the Second Graders on their field trip to the zoo last week. I don't think I've ever experienced a bus ride that loud. My ears were ringing all day long. But I learned some awesome new 'hand games'. I was also able to show off my 'say-say-oh-playmate' and my 'down by the banks'. Funny...most of them had not heard 'down by the banks'. Does that mean I'm old? Dang it!

Cori was so excited I could come. She sat with me on the bus. (by-the-way...not only are buses louder than they used to be..the bus seats have shrunk, considerably! Like half the size they used to be!) Cori was so proud of me, and I loved it! Half way through the day I was calling her, and I said "Sweetie, come on." She walked up to me and pulled me aside. She said "Mom!...that's embarrassing!" I didn't know what she was talking about, so I said "What?" Then she said, "Sweetie?" I was shocked! I informed her next time I will call out "Booger" or "Monkey". She let me know she would prefer just Cori. "Sorry." I said sheepishly. I can't believe she's getting that old.

Oh! Funny story, from Addi of course.

We had a friend and co-worker of Mike's over for dinner last week. He is from Ghana, Africa. She comes walking down the stairs and pauses on a step as soon as she sees him. Then she says, "Mmmmm.....You look like chocolate, to me!" I didn't know what to say! I glance at Mike and I knew he felt like me because it was like looking in the mirror. Our friend just busted up laughing. He said "Wow! I think that is the nicest thing I've ever heard."

I love three-year-old's!

Every odd year we get to spend Thanksgiving with my family. This year, however, was the full Fife Reunion (my Mom's family). It was so much fun to see everyone. I believe I now have something like 23 first cousins on my Mom's side. Some of them are younger than my own kids, crazy! It was a seriously packed event. Dinner with 60 people was a race. If you had your eye on a certain piece of pie, or a particular kind of stuffing, you better run hard and fast! No really, it was a lot of fun! And my Grandma was one amazing hostess, she is my hero.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

First Blog I will give this try. It seems like a fantastic way to keep friends and family updated. And anyone who knows us knows how awful we are at correspondence. My goal is to get my kids pics up often. Since Nov/Dec is such a crazy time...I will do my best.