Monday, December 5, 2016

I love the holidays!

I love everything about Christmas.  I love the month of November and how our thoughts turn to all we have to be grateful for.  Then we head into the holiday season and its many celebrations.  I love the holiday parties (Relief Society, ward, Alfredo's company, our street, book club).  I love the decorations.  I love the songs and music.  I love the gift giving.  I love giving and receiving Christmas cards.  I love how our thoughts turn so readily to the Savior and to the precious gift of His birth.  I love how our thoughts turn to others and acts of love and service are performed.

This year the Church's Christmas theme is #LIGHTtheWORLD.  Thursday, December 1 was a Worldwide Day of Service and everyone is encouraged to serve for 25 days in 25 ways. There are calendars of ideas of how to serve.  My family is participating by doing small things each day to bless others' lives and to show love to our friends, neighbors and hopefully some strangers as well.  Most of the things we are doing are small, but think of the combined impact and the additional light and love and joy that will be shared with the world if we each do something small to help or brighten another's day.

A few traditions we have:

*One that I love is that I wrap 25 Christmas books up.  Each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, we open and read a Christmas book.  Some are silly and fun, some are true stories, and some are about the birth of our Savior.  I love reading these books with my children.  We have quite a collection and we reread some of them each year...but I also check out several (this year many) books from the public library so that we have a mix of old and new books to read.

*Each year we decorate gingerbread houses.  This year we are doing gingerbread trains.  Honestly, I detest this.  I find it frustrating because I must be the worst gingerbread house maker in the world.  But my kids love it and I try to hold my frustration in so that it is an enjoyable experience for them.

*I love decorating the house during the Thanksgiving weekend.  I love pulling out our nativities and Christmas trees and spending time together as we listen to Christmas music and decorate.  I especially love our nativities and that they help remind us of Christ!

Gabby made this cute snowman at her friend Gracie's birthday party!  And doesn't she look pretty in her Christmas dress in front of the tree!

*Most years we pick a family to give small gifts for the 12 Days of Christmas.  We have been the blessed recipients of this fun act of service several years ago...and we happily enjoy the opportunity to "pay it forward."  We also try to find other ways to serve throughout the season.

*On Christmas Eve, we light luminaries and read Luke 2.  Then we spend time with Alfredo's family and participate in traditions with them.

*Most years we go to Temple Square to see the lights.  It's cold but beautiful.  We also usually drive around to see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods.

I love this time of year!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Monte L. Bean Museum with Grandparents

While my parents were here visiting for Thanksgiving, we went down to BYU to the Monte L. Bean Museum.  We've been before a couple of years ago, but it is a very cool (and FREE!) museum.  There were a couple of displays that I didn't see or don't remember from last time.  And mostly it was great to be with my sister Suzy, my Mom and Mike and with my grandpa.

I don't remember seeing this last time we went although my girls said they did.  It's pretty amazing...that large butterfly is made up of hundreds of smaller butterflies.  

Lots of beetles...some are huge.

Gabby's writing

Gabby enjoys writing.  My third graders have pen pals this year.  We are pen pals with my friend Brenda's class in Japan and Gabby is a pen pal with one of them also.  She has been asking daily when her letter would come, so when it came on Wednesday night, she was so, so excited.  She couldn't wait to read it, write back and take it to school to show her teacher.

She brought home several pieces of writing in the past week.

Here are two of them. The first one is a darling story about Frankenstein.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I absolutely love Thanksgiving!  We had a couple of friends that went to Disneyland over Thanksgiving. And I know they had a fabulous time.  I'm glad they did something they loved...but that is not what I would want for my Thanksgiving.  I love traditions and Thanksgiving is all about traditions for me.  I love gathering with family.  I love the food.  (Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit salad,  pecan mouth waters just typing those words!!)  I LOVE the food.  I love spending the month giving thanks for my blessings.  There are so many.  And counting blessings, naming them one by one, brings peace and joy and happiness and contentment.  It's a perfect way to kickoff the holiday season.

I love quotes.  I love inspiration.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes about gratitude that help explain, better than I can, why I love giving thanks so much:

"We do not give thanks because we are happy.  We are happy because we give thanks."  --Douglas Wood

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." --Cicero

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.  ...It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."  --Melodie Beattie

"To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  --President Monson

"Gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living.  The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us."  --James E. Faust

"When was the last time you thanked the Lord for a trial or tribulation?  Adversity compels us to go to our knees; does gratitude for adversity do that as well?"  --Bonnie Parkin

"Showing gratitude to the Lord helps us better see our worth in His sight."  --Sister Sharon G. Samuelson

"Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace and understanding."  --President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This year I feel especially blessed on Thanksgiving. My parents are here visiting for the weekend. It's wonderful to spend the holiday with them.  I love my job  and one of the most darling classes I've ever taught.  My children are healthy and happy and good children. I have food to eat and a warm home to live in.  I have friends and so many people that touch and bless my lives.  My children have great teachers.  I love the school I work at.  I have access to a public library and can read and learn and find relaxation in books.  I live in a time when we have so many modern conveniences (tvs, phones, dishwashers, running water, toilets and toilet paper, washing machines, ovens and stoves, showers/tubs, cars, and countless other conveniences).  I have the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have a small but beautiful home and a husband that works hard and loves us.  I can study and ponder the scriptures.  I am blessed to work with the young women at church.  We have temples dotting the land, so many near us.  And on and on and on.  I can see and hear and taste and speak.  I am healthy and can walk and run.

Ignore Alfredo and Michelle's faces...they just didn't want me interrupting their eating...but they really were happy.

It was  such a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving meal and I loved being surrounded by many of the people that mean the most to me!

I also loved seeing Gabby's writing she did at school about Thanksgiving.