Archive for December, 2008

Ryanism

December 31, 2008

This one is a little too long for the sidebar, but it’s too cute not to share!

Yesterday Ryan said to me “Two loves for a kiss” and leaned over to give me two hugs and a kiss on the cheek. I thought it was so cute and asked him where he learned it. “Shrek”, he said, “the one with the dragon”.

Later, after Joseph had come home, I told Ryan to show Daddy what he learned from Shrek. Once again he said “two loves for a kiss”, and gave Daddy two hugs and a kiss on the cheek. Neither Joseph nor I remembered that part of Shrek, so after Ryan was in bed we hopped online to search for the quote….we came up empty-handed.

This morning while Ryan was snuggling with me in bed I asked him for two loves for a kiss, and he went through the little ritual. It suddenly dawned on me where he had picked it up. The line he was quoting was not “two loves for a kiss” but “true love’s first kiss”. I like Ryan’s version better. I think we’ll keep it around 🙂 .

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The Obligatory Christmas Post

December 30, 2008

I’m sure that somehwere in the fine print when you become a blogger is the requisite that you will make a big ‘ol holiday post when all of the festivities have died down. Being the obedient blogger that I am, here is my Christmas post. I don’t expect anyone to do anything more than I did when I visited your blog, which is quickly scan through the pictures. But since the fine print also includes a clause that gives permission to post anything you want on your blog under the guise of “I’m writing this here because my blog is basically my journal, and I want to have this experience written down for my personal records”, I’m going to include a whole bunch of descriptions that will mean little to most of you, but a lot to me. Here goes!

We’ve had lots of snow in the last week or so, and Ryan has been loving it! With Joseph off work, we were able to take all three kids outside to play (I just can’t do all three by myself…maybe next year the babies will be able to walk through snow by themselves and I’ll dare to brave it). Ryan had a blast, Owen was OK for a while, and Emmy was happy as long as no snow got on her face.

Grandpa and Dedee came up the night before Christmas Eve for a visit and to exchange gifts. The gifts they got for the kids were a big hit! They gave us a beautiful picture of the temple with our wedding date on it. We had to laugh because when they were here for Thanksgiving, Dedee noticed my new picture on the wall–a picture of the temple that was distressed to look like a really old picture. Little did I know that she was in the process of making our picture for Christmas, wich has the same distressed look. The new one will fit in really well!

Owen’s ears had started draining earlier in the afternoon, so after they left I took him to the doctor. By the time I filled his prescription at the pharmacy, it was nearly 11:00 and we were both beat.  This was his second infection in about a month.  I wonder how many the poor boy had before he got tubes….he never complains about them, so the only clue I have is when they start to drain.

We spent Christmas Eve with the Z’s. Stephanie was able to call home from her mission in Australia. She sounded great and made the announcement that she’ll be coming home on May 5th! We ate lots of GOOD food, pulled together a little Nativity scene with the kids, and had a visit from Santa! The kids had a lot of fun playing with their cousins and their new toys. We headed home later that afternoon for our own little family Christmas Eve traditions.

I promise that the second Owen got the gift in his hands, he was totally fine.

After getting home, we let the kids open their Christmas jammies and then sent them to bed.  Ryan came in early Christmas morning. The babies were still sleeping, so we made him snuggle up and wait a while. When we finally heard stirrings in the next room, we sent Ryan to get them, with strict instructions that they were all to come directly back to our room. Emmy slipped by him, and when he went to get her he saw all of the gifts in the living room. He ran back and said “You’ve got to come see!!”. I had to run to the living room to grab Emmy and saw that she was happily playing with some of the things Santa had brought her.

Much to Joseph’s dimsay, I had to do Emmy’s hair before letting the kids go out. He thought that was quite silly, and I did too when my mom did it when I was a kid, but it’s different now that I’m the mom. See how cute she looks? Totally worth the few extra minutes it took!

The kids were really cute this year. Ryan was so excited, and Owen and Emmy had quite a bit of interest as well. They had a lot of fun opening presents and taking some time to play with each of the things they received. The kitchen was a big hit, and I know that it will get tons of use over the next few years! Ryan also loved his camera and has taken lots of….interesting….pictures.

The kids spent the majority of Christmas morning playing with their toys while we contemplated whether we should travel to my mom’s that day or wait until the next. The weather forecast was not in our favor either day, and Joseph decided that we should pack up and take off Thursday rather than Friday. The roads weren’t great, but we’ve been through worse. Thank goodness for 4WD! We enjoyed 4 days with my family, just relaxing. We watched lots of movies, and I was able to find some time to make a few bracelets for Emmy with all of the new beading supplies that my mom got me for Christmas.

We headed home Sunday afternoon, with a stop in Mapleton to see Grandpa and Dedee. Owen screamed most of the way home, which is always fun. In spite of the fun we’d been having, we were all really glad to be home. Joseph was still off work yesterday, and we spent the day catching up on laundry, cleaning out old toys to make room for the new ones, and just trying to get back into a routine.

During Joseph’s week off, Owen was his little buddy. He wanted little to do with me or anyone else. Joseph headed back to work today, and Owen spent a good 1/2 hour at the front door crying for him…poor kid:

 

With all of the fun we’ve been having in the last week, I’m in no mood to get back to real life. My house looks like it was hit by a tornado, and as long as the kids are having fun with their toys, I think I’ll leave it that way and face reality after the new year!

Book Review: Dear John

December 26, 2008

Dear John
By Nicholas Sparks
276 Pages
Finished 12/26/08

Summary:

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life–until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who has captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. “Dear John,” the letter read…and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love—and face the hardest decision of his life.

There’s not much to say about this one….if you’ve read one Nicholas Sparks novel, you’ve read them all. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable, but they are somewhat predictable and generally cheesy. Dear John was the same. While not my favorite Sparks novel to date, it was an easy read and good enough to get my recommendation.

2008 Page Count: 10,898

Book Review: Grace

December 21, 2008

Grace
By Richard Paul Evans
311 Pages
Finished 12/20/08

Summary:

Grace is the story of a young runaway girl and the boy who hides her from a frightening world too large and unfathomable for him to comprehend. It is also about two brothers and the love that binds them together through difficult times. In some ways this is the most autobiographical of all my novels. When I was eight-years-old my father lost his job and we moved from our beautiful home in California to a rundown, rat-infested home in a poor neighborhood, like the one I describe in the story. Most of all, Grace is a story of a young couple learning to love.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Richard Paul Evans is one of my favorite authors. He really knows how to tell a good story! His newest novel, Grace, was another great read. I’ve heard many reviews that label Grace as Evans’ best novel to date. While it doesn’t quite reach that status for me, I did enjoy it a lot and devoured it in just over one day.

2008 Page Count: 10,622

Book Review: The Christmas Sweater

December 18, 2008

The Christmas Sweater
By Glenn Beck
273 Pages
Finished 12/18/08

Summary:

When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike. Although his life had gotten harder—and money tighter—since his father died and the family bakery closed…Eddie dreamed that somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning.

What he got from her instead was a sweater. “A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater” that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room.

Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don’t always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life’s most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning was the beginning of Eddie’s dark and painful journey on the road to manhood. It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family—and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell—to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart.

Based on a deeply personal true story, The Christmas Sweater is a warm and poignant tale of family, faith and forgiveness that offers us a glimpse of our own lives—while also making us question if we really know what’s most important in them.

I put this book on hold at the library several weeks ago, and the line was long enough that I was sure I wouldn’t have a chance to read it until after Christmas. But, it came in a couple of days ago–lucky me! I enjoy holiday books and The Christmas Sweater was no exception. The based-on-a-true-story element gives the message being taught an even deeper meaning. I related to Eddie as I remembered the stubborn days of my youth….I’m sure my mom can recount more than one instance when I was acting selfishly and stubbornly stood my “I’m right, you’re wrong” ground. Hopefully I’ve grown up some since then 😉 . No matter the season, The Christmas Sweater is a book worth picking up and reading!

2008 Page Count: 10,311

How busy are we? It took me three days to finish this post. That’s how busy.

December 16, 2008

My mother-in-law told me that things must be very busy around here because I haven’t updated my blog in a while…and she was right! We’ve had a lot of craziness going on, and I’ve got a lot to catch up on. I’ll try to keep it as short and sweet as possible….and in trying to keep our lives looking as perfect as can be, I’ll leave all the bad parts out (you don’t want to hear about it anyway…Joseph’s expensive car repairs, followed by his car accident and the extra money it will cost us in insurance surcharges, the awful color correction that our Christmas cards came back with, or the day that Joseph’s phone was destroyed when the car door knocked against his pocket and obliterated the screen…and no, it isn’t covered by the warranty).

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the front rail on Emmy’s crib had a loose screw that needed to be tightened. The rail had to come off in order tighten the screw, so I decided that we might as well take the rails of and give it a shot with letting the babies sleep in their cribs-turned-toddler-beds. I had no idea what to expect. Two toddlers in the same room, behind a closed door, with freedom to get out of bed whenever they want was a little nervewracking! The first night was a bit of a challenge, and we had to put Owen back in bed several times. Naptime the first few days was a disaster. But, we’ve worked them into a nice routine. Bedtime is a breeze and naptime, while not as long as it used to be, has worked itself out as well. I think we’ll definately be ready for big beds come summertime!

It’s not uncommon to find them having fun together in the morning!

Thanksgiving was fun this year as well. We had a small gathering at our house and dinner was yummy! Joseph braved the crowds early the next morning to get a few items he had his eye on, and stayed warm and snuggled up in bed. Owen got a nasty ear infection and we had to take him to urgent care. We helped our friends, the Browns, move into their new home. I didn’t take a single picture all weekend long. Thankfully my sister did, so these are stolen off of her blog!

 

 

On December 4th we took the kids for a ride on the Polar Express. The movie was one of the first the Ryan ever latched on to and we took him last year and had a great time (after I recovered from the adventure of getting there). Since kids under 3 are free, we decided take the whole family this year. Owen was a stinker for most of the ride, but everyone else had a lot of fun. My mom, sister, and nephew came as well.  I have a ton of pictures from the train ride, so these are just a handful of the highlights.

 

We had our first big snowfall of the year this weekend, and Ryan has had so much fun playing outside in it. It brings back many memories of the hours and hours we spent outside during my childhood, trudging up the awesome sledding hill just beyond our backyard. I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t have a white Christmas this year, but we definately will!

We also saw Santa for the second time this season at our ward Christmas breakfast.  Ryan was excited to sit on his lap this year.  We’ve managed to miss any opportunities to visit Santa until this year, so I made sure the twins had a chance as well.  Every child needs a picture of themselves screaming on his lap, right?

The next couple of weeks promise to be super busy as well, but we’re excited for the extra time we’ll have to spend with our families!  This time of year is so much fun, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to some lazy days after the new year arrives!

Book Review: Tara Road

December 14, 2008

Tara Road
By Maeve Binchy
502 pages
Finished 12/14/08

Summary:

Ria Lynch and Marilyn Vine have never met. Their lives have almost nothing in common. Ria lives in a big ramshackle house in Tara Road, Dublin, which is filled day and night with the family and friends on whom she depends. Marilyn lives in a college town in Connecticut, New England, absorbed in her career, an independent and private woman who is very much her own person.

Two more unlikely friends would be hard to find. Yet a chance phone call brings them together and they decide to exchange homes for the summer. Ria goes to America in the hope that the change will give her space and courage to sort out the huge crisis in her life that is threatening to destroy her. Marilyn goes to Ireland to recover in peace and quiet from the tragedy which she keeps secret from the world, little realising that Tara Road will prove to be the least quiet place on earth.

They borrow each other’s houses, and during the course of that magical summer they find themselves borrowing something of each other’s lives, until a story which began with loss and suffering grows into a story of discovery, unexpected friendship and new hope. By the time Ria and Marilyn eventually meet, they find that they have altered the course of each other’s lives for ever.

I read Tara Road several years ago while I was in college. I remembered liking it quite a bit, so I thought I’d try it again. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed the second time around. I do like Maeve Binchy as an author. She generally takes you through a long period of time in her books, and you build up quite a bit of history with the characters. For that reason, I often feel a bit sad when I come to the end of her books because it feels like I’m leaving friends behind. I felt that way the first time I read Tara Road, and while I felt it again this time, it wasn’t nearly as strong. The premise of this story is a good one…two strangers exchanging homes to get away from some of their troubles for a short time….but I had forgotten how much adultery this book contained (nothing graphic, but very prevalent) and that’s what ruined it for me this time. I enjoyed the characters and the majority of the storyline, but overall I just don’t feel the same about Tara Road as I did back in my college years. I feel like events in the book could have been accomplished without involving so much unfaithfulness, and for that reason, I’m not putting it on my keep list.

2008 Page Count:  10,038

Book Review: The Christmas Box Miracle

December 4, 2008

The Christmas Box Miracle
By Richard Paul Evans
261 Pages
Finished 12/4/08

Summary:

In The Christmas Box Miracle, Evans takes us back to his early days as the seventh of eight children, the sixth of seven boys, in an upper middle-class Mormon family living the American Dream in Arcadia, California. Undergoing a reversal of fortune when his father lost his job and was unemployed for nearly a year, Evans recalls the family’s moves to Idaho and ultimately, Salt Lake City. These relocations were to be the first of many, as the family’s finances ebbed and flowed through the years. The difficulties of these moves were compounded by his mother’s bouts with depression and severe PMS. A condition that was later treatable, but left Evans with a true sensitivity to the plights of others. Tracing his path from high school newspaper journalist, and missionary in Taiwan to entrepreneur, political campaign strategist, advertising executive, and first-time author, Evans recounts the challenges – financial, emotional, and spiritual – that he faced. But each of these undertakings were often motivated by his drive and passion of the time. He talks of his marriage to his wife, Keri, and of the birth of their daughters and how they inspired him to write The Christmas Box.

A couple of years after I began my yearly reading of The Christmas Box, I stumbled upon this little companion volume in the bargain section of the bookstore for just a couple of dollars. I thought perhaps that it was a continuation of the story, so I was surprised when I started reading to find that it was actually the telling of Richard Paul Evans’ experience of writing The Christmas Box. I LOVE this book…..almost as much as The Christmas Box itself, and I read it each year as well. I have to keep a box of tissues nearby because it evokes tears in nearly every chapter. It’s such an amazing story, and if you don’t believe in miracles after finishing this book, you probably never will. If you enjoyed The Christmas Box, I highly recommend that you get your hands on this book as well!

2008 Page Count: 9797

Book Review: The Christmas Box

December 3, 2008

The Christmas Box
By Richard Paul Evans
125 pages
Finished 12/2/08

As has been my personal tradition since 2003, I kick off the Christmas season by reading The Christmas Box. This book is one of my very favorites of all time. Each time I read it, I feel a renewed desire to bring my focus back home. I think every parent who has lost a child understands when I say that we have an extra dose of appreciation for the children we are privileged to raise in this life. We’d give anything to have that opportunity with our angels. When I lose my patience with my kids, it helps to remind myself what a blessing it is to even have a reason to lose my patience. Oh, how I’d love the chance to scold Zoey over doing something naughty! Reading The Christmas Box is one of those wonderful reminders for me.

It seems that each time I read this book, a line or two stands out to me. There were a couple this year. The first, “Sunday was not proclaimed the ‘day of rest’ by a mother with a family to ready for church, but such is the irony of piousness”, gave me a chuckle because I feel like it sums up my year of Sundays. We’ve had 9 am church this year and it’s a challenge to get everyone up and ready and still be on time. I have to admit that I have a smidge of pride over the fact that we’ve been late only a couple of times this year, and we usually get there with plenty of time to spare!

The second is one of the letters in the box:

December 6, 1916

My Beloved One,

Another Christmas season has come. The time of joy and peace. Yet how great a void still remains in my heart. They say that time heals all wounds. But even as wounds heal, they leave scars, token reminders of the pain. Remember me, my love. Remember my love.

My wounds are no longer raw and overwhelmingly painful. But, I notice my scars much more at times such as Christmas. There are 6 stockings hanging over the fireplace each year, but only 5 of them will ever be filled. The void in my heart will always remain, but I’m so grateful that time has made it easier to deal with.

At just 125 pages, The Christmas Box is an easy book to read in an evening. It’s inspirational and uplifting and is sure to bring a special spirit into your heart at a time when we sometimes forget what the first gift of Christmas was.

2008 Page Count: 9536

Blah, blah, blaaaahhhhggg

December 2, 2008

So, my blog is really BLAH right now. There are things I should post about, but I’m just not in the mood. Gotta get the rest of my 10,000 pages read and then maybe I can focus on sharing some of the good stuff! Stay tuned!