Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year in Words

2008 ends tomorrow, and so today's blog post is a moment of introspection on some very important moments in my life.

December of 2007 we found out I was pregnant again, which defined a goodly chunk of this year. My pregnancy, the labor and delivery, the week-plus I went overdue, and just the aches and pains, and joyous occasion of bringing a baby into the world, all were very important this year. September 11, 2008, our beautiful baby daughter, Annalisa Karin, was born. From those first few moments with her, I could see in her face that she had been sent to earth for a very specific, very important mission. The day she was born, I held her up to Cody and started talking in a silly Annalisa-voice: "My name is Annalisa! And I am here in this world to stay! And I have something to say to you all. And that is..." I paused to think of some clever thing for Anna to say, when she very suddenly, and very nosily, filled her diaper. But in all seriousnes, Annalisa has this very observant, very precious look on her face, that she knows something more than I know, and she wishes she could say it. She has brough much joy into our lives.

We had several important experiences with extended family this year--both our parents moved hundreds of miles. This brought Lisa's parents much, much closer (from a 16 hour drive to a 2 minute drive), but unfortunately sent Cody's parents farther away (from a 2 hour drive to a 6 hour drive). Also this year was the great miracle of our nephew, Parker, as he spent 6 months in the hospital, mostly waiting for a heart transplant. Watching him, as he has been through every extreme this year, has brought us closer to our kind and merciful Father in Heaven, and reassured to us that He knows us each personally and hears and answers prayer.

Cody began a new career this year, in April. He had no clue that Finances would turn out to be his passion, but he loves his job now and will soon be starting a Master's degree in this profession.

We spent many hours staying as up-to-date as possible on the world around us. With the financial crisis, the presidential elections, the war in Iraq, gay marriage issues, and the hundreds of other things going on this year, it was all we could do just to find out what was going on. We did try our best, though, to carefully and prayerfully think out the issues at hand, and participate any way we could to better our community.

Amid these "big" things, there were countless smiles, laughter, and tears, and that is what truly defines a year. Did we make it a good one? Did we make this year special, or memorable? Did we help others? As one of my favorite hymns reminds: "Has anyone's burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way, when they needed my help was I there?"

This is my new Year's resolution: To make 2009 even better; to find more opportunities to help, to cherish the smiles a little more, to be a happier person, and to fill this year with good memories. Tall order, I know. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!

A Year in Pictures

Starting in December, going backwards to January. Because that's how Blogger uploaded them. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Report (A Tremendous Post)

Happy Boxing Day! That's what the Canadians call the day after Christmas. We had a most terrific Christmas day yesterday.

We woke up to see what Santa brought. I never sleep well on Christmas. I thought this year I would be just fine, because there weren't many big surprises coming for me. But I had a nightmare that I'd got snowed in at a scrapbooking store and missed the kids waking up for Christmas morning, and after that I couldn't sleep any more. Annalisa woke up and ate, then promptly fell asleep again, so I took a long shower and then Cody and I went and got Lee at about 6 am.

Santa brought some great stuff! Lee got a Marbleworks Castle, Cody got USU sweats, I got a torte pan set, and Annalisa got a bunch of clothes and new binkies. When Lee pulled a candy cane out of his stocking, he exclamed "Ooh, Candy Cane! Thank you, Santa Claus!" Also, the first thing Lee grabbed was a little box of toy cars and trains. They were still in the packaging, and Cody said, "Hm, we'll have to get some scissors to open that." Then, Lee couldn't do another thing until he found the scissors. "Scissors? Where are you? Scissors!"

After we'd ripped through all the stockings and opened everything that Santa had brought, and Lee had spent plenty of time putting the marbles down the castle, it was time to open the gifts under the tree. Our tree was pulled forward slightly (not a big tree) and so there was a large space next to the couch, confined by the tree from the front, where we'd been storing all the gifts to keep them out of little finger's way. Lee climbed over the couch and jumped back there, would pop up with a gift, climb back over the couch, and into the middle of the living room to open his gifts. So funny!

Big exciting gifts were: an external harddrive for me, 1 TB!!, a beautiful purple baby quilt from Mom S. for Annalisa, a 6 generation photo frame from Dad S., of COURSE the dishwasher from Mom and Dad F., and a Wii Fit from the kids to the parents. Wahoo! Lee liked trying on all of his clothes when he opened them, and ended up with 3 shirts on. Cody played the Wii Fit for a total of 2 hours yesterday.

After gifts were opened, kids were dressed, and the wrapping paper was all put in the recycling outside, we packed up and went up to Mom and Dad's for the day. There we had more gifts to open, traditional Eggs Benedict for Christmas, lots of playing and lots of naps, and for dinner we did Cody's family's traditional "Jerusalem Dinner." We made traditional ancient-Jerusalem foods, then ate on the floor by candelight, eating with our fingers from communal dishes. It may not have been very authentic, but it definitely inspires introspection and wonder about the time of Christ, and who the people were like, what things they pondered, and what they thought of this baby sent to save mankind. It was lots of fun, but also a special moment.

It had been snowing all day (White Christmas!) but it was 35 degrees outside, so it wasn't sticking to the roads. Of course we waited until 7 to leave, and when we went out to the car, a real blizzard had picked up and it took us 15 minutes of revving, shoveling sand, fishtailing, and praying to get up the hill outside mom and dad's house. From there it was smooth sailing, though the roads were a mess and visibility was next to none. Crazyness! But we live in a dry area, and the winter snow is so crucial to our ecosystem, that we can't complain. This morning dawned bright blue skies and sunshine on a gorgeous snow encrusted valley, that sparkles and shines like a world made Clean.

We enjoyed our Christmas celebrations, especially the moments that help us remember Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. We express our gratitude to you, our friends and family, as we remember the humble birth of a baby that changed the world forever, for Good.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

See how silly we are?

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. We love you!


Cody, Lisa, Lee, and Annalisa

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Claus + Lee = funnies

We, of course have been teaching our little 2 1/2 year old son about Santa Claus this year. At Thanksgiving he was a bit nervous about this large man in a bright red suit with way more than normal hair. But he slowly warmed up to the idea as we practiced sitting on Santa's lap and asking for what he would like.

Uncle Matthew taught Lee to say "I want a Baby Brother!" We fortunately got that straightened out. Sort of.

As was exemplified by this morning's movie, we are singing lots of Christmas Carols, and Lee often exclaims "Santa Claus is coming to town!"

According to the grand tradition of many parents, whenever Lee starts acting up, we remind him that Santa is watching and that he needs to be a good boy. I remember this being so effective for me when I was a kid. Maybe it wasn't. But Lee hasn't quite grasped the concept yet.

The funniest things happened this morning. Lee woke up and looked out the window, and "What to his wondering eyes should appear," but 5 deer walking around and grazing in our back yard! He said "Hi Reindeer! Good morning!" He was certain that Santa had come, and that the Reindeer had got loose. He's been checking out the window all day for Santa (currently he's knocking on the window saying "Santa Claus! Where'd Santa Claus go, mommy? Need a hug?") and the Reindeer to come back.

Cody, trying to get Lee even more excited for Christmas, decided to look up some pictures online for him to look at. Poor Cody has never been the best speller, though, and looked up Google images of "Santa Claus Slay". Let's just say it was a tad inappropriate for 2 year old boys.

And lastly, Lee was playing with his toy cell phone and I...um...well, he got a hold of Santa! I had him talk on Cody's cell while I "Doodled around upstairs" and Lee had a fantastic conversation with Santa, telling him he'd been a good boy, that he wanted presents, and that he would make cookies. He became very distraught when Santa had to go feed his Reindeer. (Thank heavens we have unlimited minutes on our cell phone, because Lee's been using them today!) The only way I could console him was to leave a long message on Santa's answering machine, and then to make him cookies. Imaginary cookies, that is, and Lee's been adding lots of things to his bowl like salt and pepper, cheese, cabop, and then he stirs it up and we taste. Even Annalisa has got to try it.

Today is Christmas Adam, Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and then finally Santa will come!

He's coming!

Nah, we're not at all excited around here... (that was dripping with sarcasm, of course.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You can't stop it

My kids are growing up too quickly. Annalisa has started rolling belly-to-back, and holds her head up high to look around. Lee has become very purposeful in his play, and is such a good helper. When a parent figures out a way to slow time down to watch their children more carefully, that parent is gonna be rich, because all kids grow up just way too fast.

Friday, December 19, 2008

For my Parents

Happy 30th Anniversary today, Mom and Dad! We love you so much.

30 years ago you started your marriage, and look what has come from it: 4 children, 3 children in law, 3 (almost 4) grand children, and that's just people. There's been countless smiles, laughter, a few heartaches (none from me of course... :D ) and so much good. So very much good.

Thank you for wedding, for loving each other, and for loving me. Thank you for setting a beautiful example of the marriage partnership. Here's to you, and to another 30 years, and then an eternity of wedded bliss!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am the champion, my friend

You probably will not believe this, but I did the dishes today while holding Anna the whole time!

So Cool, this gets 2 posts

Finishing my story from yesterday:

The dishwasher installer came late yesterday afternoon. Cody had removed the cabinet shelf that was in the spot because it had been mounted too low. The installer came in, looked at the empty spot and under the sink at our 50 year old plumbing. He was a nice man, so please take everything else I'm about to say with a grain of salt, or maybe a large rock of salt. Anyway, he had to call up his buddy and get another opinion, so he spends about 10 minutes on the webcam conference with him, looking at it and scheming the most difficult way to install this dishwasher. He tells me he's going to need to install a new outlet, run a new drain line which includes cutting into our stainless steel pipes, and hook up a new hot water faucet. Also, he'll have to remount an entire cabinet, and that none of this work can be done today. He said he would work up a bid because of the custom install and get back to me in a few days. He didn't want to haul the dishwasher around, so he left it on my front porch.

Cody comes home a few hours later, excited to see if the new dishwasher is working. I let him know that we're in for a tricky installation, and Cody climbs under the sink and shows me the drain hookup that's already there, the hot water tap, and the electric plug. Why the installer tried to pull the wool over my eyes is still a question, but he lost himself $100 by trying to do it! Cody went to Lowe's, bought $20 worth of parts, and cancelled the installer's return. He spent about half an hour last night working on it and an hour or so this morning--the hardest part was remounting the cabinet 2 inches higher, but the actual installation was a snap.

Now, my new dishwasher (thanks again, mom and dad!) is running its first load of dirty dishes. I'm so excited about it! We'll save my commentary on servicemen who try to take advantage of young, inexperienced women for a later day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas came early!

So, the funniest thing happened this morning...

I'm taking care of Lee and Annalisa and the phone rings. Cody was on his cell, working on school stuff, so I picked it up. "Hi, this is Jill from Lowe's, I need to schedule a time to install your dishwasher." Me: "Um, I didn't order a dishwasher..." "Well, it has your name on it?" "Hang on, let me go talk to my husband." "Cody, did we order a dishwasher?" And he gets this look of shock, surprise, excitement, and "I cannot lie!" on his face. The poor Lowe's worker was very apologetic when I informed her that it was supposed to be a surprise.

Merry Christmas! Thank you, mom and dad F, for the most exciting gift, and phone call, I've had in a very long time. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

We called my mom to let her know what happened, and when we came back from the bedroom where we were talking, Lee had opened some of the Christmas presents, one for me, one for him, and one for Cody. So, we accidentally saw those too. I guess Christmas just couldn't stay contained any longer, it was bound to happen. Oh well, we can start celebrating early. AND, washing our dishes, wahoo!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Announcement

Starting next semester, Cody will be starting a Master's degree at Utah State University. He has several prerequisites (because his Bachelor's was in biology, not finance) to do before the actual program begins, and we're assuming the entire thing will take 3-4 years. He will be going part time, about 6 credits a semester and will continue to work full time. The degree is a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance.

Cody is really excited about this. It will give him better credentials and training in his field. After working for 8 months for Prudential, he's found he is really interested in finances. Who'd of guessed? I thought I married a veterinarian! I continue to have mixed feelings regarding his MBA--both excitement and worry. I suppose it's natural. I want Cody to be successful in his career and this is a big and important step. It means more time away from the children and me, and it is a lot of hard work. But I vow to be with him through this new adventure, and to help him as much as I can.

Wish us, especially Cody, good luck. Here we go again!

Monday, December 15, 2008

More thoughts from me about Christmas

I just thought this movie exemplified the feeling of every mom with young children at this time of year. There's this desire to make things nice, you know, Norman Rockwell eat your heart out nice--like a magazine or something. We want nice music playing, nice decorations, perfect food, as if this will make our holidays all the better. But really we should try to just relax and enjoy our time together.

We took this movie last year on Christmas Eve. My Aunt Karin (Old Auntie Bones) pulled out her cello and my sister Sara was on the violin, and I on the piano. Of course we do things a little differently in our family and just play out of the good ol' hymn book, and say "Ok, you play the first verse, I'll do the second, and we'll doodle on the third, and that sounds pretty good, right?" and then we go. Wait for the end, when little Lee age 18 months here sneaks away from whoever was holding him captive.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel this innate need to have a beautiful "White Christmas", but what I really want is to watch my children be children. And if that means having a messed up song, or the needles pulled off the tree, or a few broken ornaments, or even a headache at the end of the day, I'll do it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Yesterday morning we woke up to 4 inches of new snow, with more coming down hard. Through the whole day we got about 8 inches. We braved the snowy roads and went up to Mom and Dad's, and had a fantastic time making goodies and playing outside in the snow. It was a bit of an adventure getting up the hill to go home, but well worth it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"I want, Sing-song, please!"

Lee just loves singing. He especially likes being sung to. Now whenever we're driving in the car, we hear from the back seat "I want, sing-song, please!" and we'll say "Sure, Lee! What song do you want to sing?" and he'll choose one. "Twinkle, Star!" or "ABCDE!" or "Jingle Bells!", perhaps "Snowman!" or "Santa Claus!" If you ask him what a Snowman says, he'll say "Tall, tall, tall." Just now as I was posting, he started singing nonsense syllables, ended with a great exclamation of "All through the TOWN!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas through the eyes of a Child

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I'd tell you a bit about my preparations. This year, they include teaching a 2 1/2 year old little boy about Christmas. He is learning about snow, Santa Claus, donkeys, and baby Jesus all at the same time. Sometimes his new discoveries get overlapped a bit, and we end up with Wise Men taking naps in Santa's sleigh being pulled by a camel on the Christmas Tree. Meanwhile, Annalisa is transfixed by the lights and ornaments. She loves lying under the tree and looking up into the branches to see the bright colors and sparkles.

These moments are so precious to me. It has been many years since Christmas held so much wonder and amazement for me--not that I've lost the "Spirit of Christmas," but simply that I've grown older. Things like reading the scriptures and watching the opening of gifts has brought me the most joy during the past Christmases. Not a bad thing at all. But now, with these beautiful spirits I care for in my home, I am brought again to the thrill and the wonder and the hope and the awe that I remember from my own childhood. No wonder "Christmas through the eyes of a Child" is the stuff of poetry and song.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My favorite cup of Hot Chocolate

Just had to say this:

It had been so long since I'd had cheap hot cocoa that I'd forgotten how bland it is. My personal favorite kind of Hot Chocolate is Stephen's Gourmet (based here in Utah!) Hazelnut, although all the Stephen's Gourmet is really good. It's so rich and actually tastes like chocolate, not water. Then I whip up some real whipping cream and put that on the top. The hot drink underneath the cold, rich, foamy cream; the slightly bitter hazelnut blend with the sweet topping; the way it feels warm all the way down the throat and into my stomach...mmmm, nothing quite like it.

Ps-I'm missing my BLT's. :)


Although the snow finally melted off in the middle of last April, I'm still happy to see it return this morning. I, being raised in cold and snowy North Dakota, have always loved the peaceful, white, and frosty mornings like this one. Lee was pretty transfixed by the snow out the window. We went outside to get in the car to go walking. Lee saw the Civic covered in snow and started laughing. "Oh no!" he giggled, "Snow car!" Then, of course, we had to laugh about all the things covered in snow today: Snow trees, snow flags, snow horses, and even a snow "john" (there was a port-a-potty.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm laughing hysterically

I was doing some blog surfing a second ago and found this poem. It is my life right now, so I had to share.

Toddler Rules
Author Unknown

If it is on, I must turn it off.
If it is off, I must turn it on.
If it is folded, I must unfold it.
If it is a liquid, it must be shaken, then spilled.
If it a solid, it must be crumbled, chewed or smeared.
If it is high, it must be reached.
If it is shelved, it must be unshelved.
If it is pointed, it must be run with at top speed.
If it has leaves, they must be picked.
If it is plugged, it must be unplugged.
If it is not trash, it must be thrown away.
If it is in the trash, it must be removed, inspected, and thrown on the floor.
If it is closed, it must be opened.
If it does not open, it must be screamed at.
If it has drawers, they must be rifled.
If it is a pencil, it must be written with
If it is full, it will be more interesting emptied.
If it is empty, it will be more interesting full.
If it is a pile of dirt, it must be laid upon.
If it is stroller, it must under no circumstances be ridden in without protest. It must be pushed by me instead.
If it has a flat surface, it must be banged upon.
If Mommy's hands are full, I must be carried.
If Mommy is in a hurry and wants to carry me, I must walk alone.
If it is paper, it must be torn.
If it has buttons, they must be pressed.
If the volume is low, it must go high.
If it is toilet paper, it must be unrolled on the floor.
If it is a drawer, it must be pulled upon.
If it is a toothbrush, it must be inserted into my mouth.
If it has a faucet, it must be turned on at full force.
If it is a phone, I must talk to it.
If it is a bug, it must be swallowed.
If it doesn't stay on my spoon, it must be dropped on the floor.
If it is not food, it must be tasted.
If it IS food, it must not be tasted.
If it is dry, it must be made wet with drool, milk, or toilet water.
If it is a car seat, it must be protested with arched back.

If it is Mommy, it must be hugged.

Must be Santa

Lee was so excited yesterday to meet Santa Claus. We've been practicing saying what we'd like for Christmas and then saying Thank-you. We had our ward party yesterday and Santa came! Shayden was scared stiff, but Lee ended up mostly fascinated. Of course he froze up when it came to actually saying anything, but he did get out a meager "Thank-you" before we left. Then he talked about Santa the rest of the day, sometimes spontaneously breaking out in "Ho Ho Ho!"

To catch you all up on recent news, Raychel had her baby, Gavon Cuyler, on Wednesday (December 3) at 8:29 pm. We got to go visit him yesterday--what a sweetie! He has long black hair. I mean, I thought Annalisa was hairy, and she holds nothing on Gavon! (I mean that in a very kind way. I adore hairy babies.) It's also stunning to be reminded of how quickly babies grow. Annalisa has only been in this world 3 months, and they have flown by; and yet she is way bigger than Gavon. And, she started out considerably smaller than him. Amazing.

Also yesterday we hung up our Christmas lights, finally. Thanks mom and dad, for all your help!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Singing with my mom

Something I didn't think about very much when my parents moved here, but something I have loved nonetheless, is the chance to sing with my mom. My family has a lot of musical talent, and we simply adore using that talent together. On Sunday, Sara, mom and I did our violin-voice-piano trio "Gesu Bambino" for a fireside. And yesterday mom and I sang 3 duets for a Daughters of the Utah Pioneers luncheon. It is one more reason why I love living in the same place as my parents.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I love it

Lee in all of his goofydom. Poor Annalisa sounds really angry in here--she's just tired and wanted her binky.

Meanwhile, we're thinking about Raychel and Paul tonight. Raychel is in labor as I write this, and I hope all is going well for her and that she is having her wishes fulfilled.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Playin' with Shayden

Shayden just came over to our house while her mom and dad go over to the hospital for their checkup. Raychel's doctor is going to strip her membranes, and we're pretty sure that will result in labor. We have Shay's supplies for the evening, and are planning on keeping her unless something doesn't happen. By the way, Lee and Shayden are like best friends. They adore playing with each other, and can keep themselves entertained for hours.

Wahoo! We're playin' with Shayden!

ps- a few hours later: Dr. sent Raychel home for the night. Chances of going into labor are increased, so we're still on alert. But the more time she can be home, the more comfortable for her.

Christmas Card

I saw this great idea for a Christmas Card, so I'm going to blog it.

Our Family's Top 10 things from 2008:

10. Cody turned 27 and Lisa turned 23.
9. Lisa was released as Education counselor in the Relief Society.
8. Cody was called as the Elder's Quorum President.
7. Our garden was a huge success. It took lots more work than we've ever done on it before, including fertilizing, laying black plastic, and extra weeding, but we had boatloads of Zucchini, we bottled tomatoes, and even carved our own pumpkins. Lee loved the cherry tomatoes best of all.
6. Cody Graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's in Biology and minor in Japanese. True, this was December of 2007, but oh well.
5. Cody started a new job with Prudential Financial as a Financial Adviser.
4. Our nephew Parker miraculously received a heart transplant on June 10, after 4 months on the heart transplant list. He was able to come home at the end of July, totaling 6 months in the hospital, since January.
3. Lisa's parents moved to our town, where we like to do Projects together on Saturdays. Lisa and her mom go walking 3 times a week.
2. Lee turned 2, and is talking up a storm. Recently we've started the first minor steps toward potty training, but we're in no rush.
1. The birth of our baby girl, Annalisa Karin, on September 11. She was 7 lbs 1 oz, 19" long, and healthy as can be. She is very cute and growing rapidly. Her favorite thing is milk.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy December!

Lee wants to watch movies. So here are some recent ones.