Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year In Review

I love it when the news shows review all the good stuff that's happened in the last year.  I love thinking about how the world is so big and so many amazing things have happened.  I think the highs for me (news-wise) was the royal wedding.  It wasn't a great time in my life and having that fantasy to think about made me really happy.  The low has probably been our political system.  I hate that they can't do their jobs and we've hired them.  We are all fired.

I think about what was going on in my life last year at this time.  I think about all that has happened this year.  I know I had resolutions at the beginning of the year, but I'm not sure what they were or if I care.... life gets in the way of goals, and that's OK, although I'm determined to make some personal goals this year.

The hope that I can be better is a pretty big hope.  But it's what makes the new year so great.  The hope that life goes on.... and improves.

Because it does.

Ok, wait -- I just realized my resolutions are on the side of my blog... how quaint.  Let's see how I did. :)

1. Read one book/month -- EPIC FAIL.
2. Go to the temple 6 times -- did pretty good on this.  Drew and I try to go every 4 months together and separately the other 3 times/year.  It seems to work.
3. Do something crafty weekly -- HUGE FAIL.  Although, I do think I was craftier then I was read-y.
4. No yelling -- Giggling.... what's a word that's bigger then epic to put in front of fail?
5. Write a compliment note daily -- I tried to do pretty good on this.  It makes me feel happy when I do it though, I should try to do it more often.

Anyway, a bit of time to mull over my resolutions now.  Weight loss is going to be on it though, plan on it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

The stockings are hung on the bookshelf with care
the monkey bread is rising in the warm AZ air

the cards are all sent, if you didn't get one it's sad
but I can't lick another, it makes me feel bad

But horray for blogs
and singing frogs....

For the christmas cheer is all here!
Heartwarming viewing pleasure
So difficult to measure.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The "good" photos are from the amazing Shannon Montez

December 2011
We have truly been the recipients of great education.  BYU, great high school and elementary teachers and we have loved our children's school, but this year taught us a lot of lessons.  Come, learn with us.
Never think you're out of the woods.  Hilary received a layoff notice just before Christmas in 2010.  She ultimately re-signed for that same job and felt a small sense of relief.  She was sorely mistaken.
Doing a good job doesn't mean anything to the union.  Frankly, I think this one is self explanatory, but for any of you who didn't follow this year's drama on Hilary's blog -- Drew was laid off in mid March 2011, the day before he took his band to Ireland.  Quite a going away party, no?  His job was ultimately given to a Jr. High teacher who refuses to do marching band.  Oh unions.  You're lucky I've decided to stay off that soapbox during this letter.  Really lucky....
Sometimes the hard parts are easy.  Sure we're in a recession, but that doesn't stop us from thinking we can get a job within a couple of months of when we receive layoff notice!  And the funny part is, we both did.  Within 3 months of Drew's layoff notice, we both had jobs that seemed like home.
People are wishy washy.  We went through 3 full offers of our home before one finally stuck.  I wish the world was like Ebay where we could've given them all poor reviews.
Sometimes the easy parts are the hardest.  Sure, Arizona has 4 million billion houses for sale.  Did Hilary want any of them in the 2 months she looked for houses?  No.  We bought the house and signed within 15 days.  We like to cut things close.  Especially Hilary she LOVES that kind of stuff.  Loves it.
Sometimes everything is perfect, even if it's different and it sometimes makes you cry.  We love our home, our ward and our schools are great.  We can't imagine being more blessed.  Well, we could -- but then Demi and Ashton got divorced and well... maybe nothing's perfect. :)
But enough about us.  Let's talk about the real trials in our lives, our kids!
Conner, age 11 has started Junior High this year.  It's been a serious reality check of responsibility and that perhaps he's not the smartest human that God has ever made.  We've lost "our" flash drive at least 20 times, and the fact that he actually needs to put his name on papers, in order for him to receive credit,  is slowly sinking in.  He's loving being in the jazz band and being a boy scout.  He's recently added babysitter to his resume and his parents couldn't be happier (ok, we could be, but what are the chances Conner could be Mr. Clean without shaving his head, and getting his ear pierced?).
Spencer, age 7 was pretty sad to leave his sweet gig in California.  He seemed to be the most bothered by the move.  He has slowly made his mark on the new school here by announcing quite frequently that he is a genius.  Yay.  Everyone loves that kid.  So glad we could bring him here.  He is really liking the new school and the fact that he gets to ride the bus and doesn't have to share a room with Paige anymore.
Paige, age 2 decided to accompany Hilary's layoff with a bout of severe separation anxiety which gave Hilary companionship anxiety.  The people of Tempe have already taken a shine to our little curly headed wonder.  She love purses, princesses, and cuddling and drinking milk on the couch.  She's moderately likeable when not performing a tantrum.  We like her alright.  Ok, she's downright adorable.  I, most of the time, vacillate between wanting to squish and kiss her and wanting to sell her.
Drew and Hilary are both loving the new jobs.  Drew was insanely busy during marching band season with the new addition of him getting his masters at ASU, but we're done with that part.  Frankly, after the first of the year Hilary has slowly come around to the idea that there are worse things then Drew not being home.  We love our new home and it comes complete with a Guest Room!  As you're freezing your tukhus off while reading my jaunty little letter, you could be here basking in our 80 degrees backyard completed by winter grass.  It's a shame that you're not here, isn't it?  We're taking reservations for the winter months already at  1-800-hot-life.  Catchy, right?
There are times you realize that god puts people in specific spots to do specific things.  In essence, Drew is the Mary Poppins of the band world, and we are just tagalongs.  But, God has watched out for each of us and our needs.  Our kids have great schools, Hilary has a kitchen in which she and Drew can just make wistful glances at each other across it instead of full body contact while trying to get drinks of water.  Which is good, because hydration is key here. :)
So grateful for the blessings we have come bounding our way this year.  Many friends have crowded around us with their love, some we miss and some we have welcomed into our hearts.  So grateful for the little babe who was born so long ago which will ultimately bring us all together.  Here's to hoping that your family is feeling the peace of the season and enjoying being together.  We miss you and we hope you'll come visit!
I must admit I get a little sad thinking about all the traditions I've left in California.  But, there's new ones here, and I'm trying to keep excited for the new chapters of our life.  I hope you're enjoying your new chapters too. :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Goin' to the temple....

Yesterday we went to the temple.  We haven't been at all since we moved here.  The temple is a place where you are out of human contact for a good 1.5-2 hours (of course, our temple here is only 15-20 minutes away, in CA it was almost an hour, depending on traffic).  I just don't trust any of our babysitters to that point yet, so we haven't gone.  Shame on us.  BUT, my parents are here for Christmas so we took an early morning opportunity to go, go go! 

I couldn't help but think of the last times we had gone.

As I saw in my seat or roamed the temple I BEGGED our Heavenly Father to watch out for our family.  I pleaded my case that we needed stability and I tried to build my own faith.

I am not sure my faith knew He could fix it.  I'm not sure my faith was strong enough.

In the temple there's something called a "witness couple" and we were that yesterday...

As I sat there thinking I knew that we are to do more then just be that in the temple.  I knew that our lives are a witness to a lot of people.  I've had a lot of peeople in uncertain situations email me wanting to know how I got through last year, and if things will be alright.

And I am here to tell you that God cares so much about you.  Your faith doesn't compare to His love.  He has angels that are sent to comfort you and He knows what's going to happen, and it is absolutely perfect.  Even when you're not sure why to trust or you feel like your friend are failing you, they aren't.  He is there.  That isn't to say that it won't hurt.  That isn't to say that it will always be perfect, or that everything will be perfect (did I mention the heat was 120 the week we moved in here!), but you WILL have your happily ever after.

And what better gift is there? To know that things will always turn out alright, because God is on your side.  None.  Well, maybe besides good friends. :)

The temple gives us an opportunity to quietly sit with God.  To take some time with the "big picture" and even if you're not of my faith I know you know you can do that in other places.  You can even go to the LDS temple grounds.  They're quiet and beuatiful.  I'm grateful for the time I had, before we moved, to "sit with God" to think about how much he loves me, and how much the angels of my ancestors love me.

I do sometimes feel silly about things big "thing" in our loves because it, in a sense, has resolved.  No one is dying, there isn't an ongoing illness -- because I think with those you have to learn that the new reality is perfect, which is another journey then I had to take. 

Your happily ever after is all God wants for you. :)  And me too.

And if you want a little more info about the LDS temple, here's a bit more.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Best Gift of All

Last night, I got to thinking.  Thinking about all of the AMAZING people that I totally adore in my life.  People I genuinely love, people who do so much good in the world.  And they know ME!

Sometimes I feel kind of friendless.  I was actually surprised at how quickly I felt like I had friends here, but I think most people feel friendless sometimes.

Maybe I should make a list all the amazing people that are in my life, or have gone through my life that I am so blessed by.

People are such an amazing creation, they are truly God's greatest gifts to us.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Photo Fridays: Happy Holidays!

Finally got some pictures of the kids in front of the tree...

Mr. Middle's kind of in the "ugly smile" phase... my apologies, but I really tried to make him smile like a normal person. :)  He is much cuter in person, although he is mildly cute here...


Here they all are, a miracle they all looked at the camera....


Princess P, adorable with the Christmas charm bracelet my mom made her that she ADORES.  I'm talking ADORES.  Awh, my little girly girl.  Did I mention that she has 3 Christmas dresses this year.  I think I may have to take a photo of the other 2 also... because I love them each. :)


And finally El Presidante whom I adore, but wanted to throw out a winter this morning.  Trying to revel in the happy times. :)


And with remorse that I didn't get it edited soon enough, Spencer's first lost tooth photo.  He's already lost #2, and is enjoying the influx of money from the tooth fairy. 


Is there a brain fairy that comes when I lose my mind.  :)
Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's up Wednesday: Holiday edition

Mr. Middle had his holiday party this morning.  Yes, we still have 2 days left of school, but she said that she likes to do it on early out day so she can send them to specials and then home (Specials are our "extra" classes -- library, music, PE and art).  It is nice to have it "over" with.  I loved this little craft where you use doughnuts to make a snowman.  Super easy!  And, it doesn't involve frosting. :D  Me likey.  Mr Middle has also lost his 2 front teeth (bottom, he's lost those first-- is that normal?).  However, the other 2 teeth were in at least 1/4 before he finally lost them.  It's a pretty big deal around this house.

El Presidante has had a few good days, I must admit.  I'm trying to remind myself to REVEL in the good days with him.  He and I have started watching One Upon a Time together at night.  So far nothing's been too racy, and C really likes fantasy so it's right up his ally.  I was thinking of something we could do together, but I'm SO tired after the other 2 go to bed, this one fit the bill perfectly.

Princess P is starting to read!  It's pretty minimal, but she can read cat, rat, hat, and sat.  Just sounding it out.  She's a crazy little thing.  She and I just spent some quality time doing "trains" together.  I am really enjoying our time together in the mornings, especially as she gets more and more into imaginative play.  Love that.

I'm really trying to focus on quality time with each one.  I'm trying to read with Spencer and work on times tables together.  I really think it makes a difference, and I can slyly slip in a few things I wish they'd work on better.  Who knows, but I feel like it's working.  Does it happen every day?  No.  Especially when I work, but 3 or 4 times a week is enough....  I also wore my super festive and awesome holiday shirt to the class party.  It's amazing, no?  I need to get on the holiday train and get on the wrapping, etc.  I'll get right on that.

Drew had some really great concerts last week and is feeling the joy of the semester winding down right now.  I think we need to figure out our outside Christmas lights asap.  He's ready for that challenge, I think.

Hope everyone's enjoying their family this time of year.  I know I am!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pain the Shoulder

I've had this crazy shoulder pain for about 3 weeks. 

Mostly when I lift my arm, it's not pretty.  Sometimes I have to use my other arm to shove it up so I can get dressed, etc.

Of course, we have a high deductible HSA and I really don't want to pay to go to a doctor just to hear to take pain relievers and see how it goes.  So, I'm taking some alieve.  There's not weird popping, it's not swollen and I don't have a fever..

Anyway, from what I see it looks like a rotator cuff tear.  Anyone else had one of those?  Do anything that helped?  Should I be trying to rest it {snort}... although, if I should I am willing to give some chores to my husband... :)

I know, the nurse is asking questions, but I figure it can't hurt -- and what's going on right now... well, it does hurt. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

How's that Workin' For Ya'?: Wheat grinder



Anyone remember way back in the day when I had the inner turmoil on whether to buy a wheat grinder, or NOT to buy a wheat grinder?  I've had it for just over 2 years and I now make about 90% of the bread we eat in this house.  The other 10% is probably gourmet breads, as I haven't had a lot of luck with the french bread variety...  I make 4 loaves at a time from the Deals to Meals recipe.  I probably do it every two weeks, or so.  We often take a loaf to a friend, when needed. :)

Would I do it again?

Honestly, I think I would.  But, I'm probably only at about 80% on this one.  I love the bread, it's super yummy and I like that we're saving money now, but it was a lot of money to start with and hauling the wheat with us was less then fun.... negative amounts of fun, in fact. :)



I also would've bought a Bosch mixer instead of a kitchenaid.  Well, actually if I still lived in CA I'd still prefer Kitchenaid, as they take up less room on the counter, but now that we actually HAVE counter space I would rather have a Bosch.  I have to add about 1/4 white flour as to not spark out my mixer's core, and if I had a bosch, I wouldn't have to do that.

I do love my Nutrimill -- I'm glad I bought that one, as it comes with a lifetime warranty, and I plan on living a LONG time -- and possibly even passing this baby onto my own little baby P. :)

Anyway, if you're on the fence and you have the funds, I say do it.  I do think that the flour fresh from the mill is pretty unbeatable.

And heavens knows I love a good carb. :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What's up Wednesday: Gettin' My Craft On

First off, guess who got her craft on.  I KNOW.  It's been totally missing for quite some time, but I really liked this project, and I thought of a few more while I was there.  I made a greeting card holder, mostly because I want to see all my friends smiling faces staring at me.... I love them all so much. :)

Anywhere, here it is completed.



I just took a wreath wire, and bought fabric, ripped it into strips and covered it.  Then, I wrapped it with some crystal-y garland I found at the Hobby Lobby.  I was going to go all Christmas, but I'd actually like to keep it up year round, so I just bought this black and white stuff.  I think it's pretty classy (honestly, I don't know if it fits into the rest of my house).  BUT, I also wanted it to be Christmasy, so I tucked in some small picks to make it a bit more festive, which you can see here:


Then, after Valentines (because, frankly -- I think these will be able to stick until then) I will change them out for something more spring-y... if I get around to it.  And cover some other clothespins with some more pastel-y colors. :)

Then, for the top I wanted it to be pretty stable, so I used some thick gauged wire, and covered it with the fabric to make a holder for it.  Then, I just hot glued a ribbon on top (it's actually just 2 bows hot glued together).

You can see it here:


It's SUPER big so I had better get a lot of cards... people.  Here it is with the cards we have received so far.


See, it works for weddings, and graduation announcements too.  I hate having all that stuff up on my fridge, but I love remembering all the exciting things going on in the lives of our friends.  Adorable, no?  Pretty excited to fill it up.

In other news, El Presidante has been less presidential as the winter weather comes.  He's not doing so hot in school (just forgetting to turn stuff in, not like not understanding things) and the real cherry came when he left for school yesterday with the door wide open.  Normally, I'd come around to fix it afterwards but I was 20 miles away at work.  I had a class to attend yesterday (which was fascinating, maybe I'll put some of the info I got from that into a blog entry)... so Drew was greeted with an open door.  I'm pretty sure he was thrilled.  Needless to say we needed an intervention after that.  When Conner got home we made him think the wii, the games and the laptop got stolen (which, frankly would probably be what they would steal first).  We even made him tell mr. Middle what'd happened.  Let's just say there was a lot of crying, but I'm DONE.  I'm done picking up after him.  Maybe I have helicopter parented too long, but I'm giving a hands off attitude towards him now (which is surprisingly a lot more hands on, how does that happen?).  He needs to do his own life, and I need to stop picking up his pieces.  The guny bag is making a triumphant return in the morning, and currently he only has like 2 pair of pants.

Good luck El Presidante, your mom's on your trail.

Mr Middle is chugging along.  He had a GREAT weekend and was THRILLED to tell his friends about Legoland, to "make them jealous!" ... nice.  Sadly, he is also being affected by my new guny bag standards.  I hope it helps both of them.

Princess P had a haircut this AM.  It was getting too long and in her face so I chopped it off.  Not sure I love it.  Are mullets still in?  I am hoping this will spur a bit more growth as her scalp is still really visible... maybe I should've gone all Asian on her when she was a month old.  Oh well.  It's just hair, right (but it is adorably curly hair!).

Drew is finishing his first class tonight for his Masters.  Pretty fantastic, if you ask me.  We're like 10% done now.  Yay. 

As for me, I just sit around and look at my cute greeting card holder. :)  It's fun.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Miracle Monday

The miracle for this week happened over the weekend, because Santa reprieved my kids from a weekend of cleaning out grout (and we have a LOT of grout around here) to go to LEGOLAND and stay at the ever-beloved Shipley household.

And there was much rejoicing.

But perhaps the firmer miracle is that we have amazing friends.  I'm sure you do too, but I can't imagine having better friends.  We haven't ever lived near family so we have always counted on the family that we've chosen to "be" there for us, and now they can still "be" there for us a whole state away.

Wish she was closer though.  Love that Becky.  She is truly a soul sister.

In other news, while Legoland was crazy fun that place is INSANELY overpriced.  I think someone needs to tell them they're not Disneyland, but they think they can change Disney prices for it. 

In that same vein the park wasn't crowded at all.  The weather was great and the kids had an amazing time.  A perfect weekend. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Photo Friday

P and I just happened to be at the mall this week when I noticed there wasn't a single kid in line to see santa... after letting the girl kno I wasn't planning on purchasing a photo, she relented that we could get in the empty Santa line. P was super excited & waved to him with glee, jumped out of the stroller & sat right on his lap.

I couldn't believe it, but I did need to snap a picture. She had no desires o the jolly old man, but she did chomp happily on her candy cane for the next few minutes. Very cute. Crazy cute.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

How's that Workin' For Ya'?: No Cable

I love when Dr. Phil says, "How's that workin' for ya'?"  Because it's the truth.  So often we're doing things that aren't working.  But, sometimes some changes are amazing. 

And cutting cable was one of them.  We were paying nearly 75/month when we were in CA, we cut that to about 10 when we cut cable (but kept antennae channels).  When we moved here, we cut out cable completely, using just antennae.

Newsflash, these new digital antenna's work, about 98% of the time.  I rarely have a signal disruption with it.  And, it's free.  My antenna's all cost under 10 dollars.

We were using Hulu plus, and then decided it was a waste of money.  We now have a laptop that we hook to the TV, so we don't need the hulu plus to stream directly to it.

Honestly, find a cheap laptop with HDMI capability and cut the cable.  We're now paying about 8 bucks/month for netflix, and that's it.  I figure if we want a movie we can get it it on the Amazon on demand (2.99/video) or we can get it from Redbox. 

We just finally got our computer here set up with a TV tuner and antennae so we can record programs (free software with windows 7) and it can act as a DVR for what we can't get on hulu (stupid CBS, and I always forget to go to cbs.com to see the stuff there).  Windows 7 also connects to our TV so we can watch what we've recorded on the TV (or you could put it on your network, blah, blah...).  It's pretty amazing what technology has done for this process!

I'm really glad we did it, 100% glad, in fact.  I do miss a few things, but they're definitely not worth the 75 bucks we were paying (and it's likely to come through Hulu or Netflix at some point).

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