Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Reflections

Every December I strive to have a Christmas that is organized and low stress, just sitting back eating bonbons on the last few days before Christmas.  Every year I am running around crazy needing every last minute to accomplish what I want done before the big day.  This year I decided that is not remotely feasible for me to do a low stress holiday.  It is just not in the genes or something.  Though I did feel a different focus on Christmas this year.  I'm usually excited about some spectacular gift we are giving to the kids or to Jeff, but this time gifts were not in my thoughts.  My gifts I had chosen to give were nice but practical instead of fun.  I knew that they would be appreciated but would not bring oohs and ahhs.  This year I wanted to spend time with dear friends and family members.  I planned extended family get togethers (some worked some didn't), dinners with couple friends, and lunch with my friends.  It became a joke with Jeff that the first question he would ask me in the morning was "Who are you having lunch with today?"  After gaining I'm sure several pounds, (I haven't stepped on the scales yet) I was quite successful in this feat and it made for a wonderful December.  My house wasn't clean for the big day, not all the extras were done, not many Christmas movies were watched or Christmas books read, but overall I believe it was very successful.  We had some great times and we ate great food.  Isn't that really what it is all about --Food and Family.

One of our 12 Days of Christmas has traditionally been to have a Donut Party at our house, complete with dinner and homemade donuts.  This year I decided we needed to go together and see the Layton City Lights also.  They are incredible for children because they have a myriad of lit animals.  It was cold but the kids loved it.  So did the Grandma.

                                            Lucy and Blake standing near this ferocious dinosaur!!

Our entire group for the evening

                                                                    Donuts in the making!!

                      Blake helping me make sugar cookies on Christmas Eve morning.  What's the rush?

 It was our off year for Christmas Eve so Kevin, Jessi, Jeff and I were on our own.  We went to Taggart's Grill for dinner and then to the movie.  We saw "We Bought A Zoo"  and loved it.

                                                                     Christmas Morning

About 9:30 a.m. everyone showed up for scones.  (If you feed them they will come)  We had a wonderful rest of the day, exchanging presents, attending church together, and eating, eating, eating.  Ben and Carrie were in Oklahoma so we Skyped them and had them join us for a few minutes.  If they would of been with us the day would of been entirely complete.

                          Grandma LaRae spent the day with us, which was a pleasant surprise.

The kids surprised us with this beautiful picture collage.  It is matted ready to hang on our wall.  It is amazing to me the many fun items that can be made digitally.  Unfortunately the cellophane was still on it when I took the picture but you can get the idea.  It is so fun to really spend some time examining each photo.  It is priceless.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pinocchio, Jingle, Frosty, and Dobby

A couple of years ago I started a Christmas Tradition that is maybe more work than it is worth, but all the families seem to enjoy it so I continue each year.  We do the 12 Days of Christmas for each of the kids and their families and also one for the kids still living at home.  I decide on a theme and all the gifts and messages tie into the theme.  The first year our theme was "Family", last year it was "The Magic of Christmas is not in the Presents but in His Presence", and this year I really changed direction and did "Imagination".  I always give them their 12 Days all at once with the instruction to open one each day.  Of course, I have to mail Ben and Carrie's and then usually have to tweak the  one for Kevin and Jessi because they are single and live at home.  Not to complain, but it is a great deal of work, but even as I write this I have to smile because it really has been so fun.  This year I introduced an elf with Day #1.  They were to decide the elf's name as a family.  Then each evening before they go to bed they sprinkle the elf with magic snowflakes and he comes alive at night.  Sometimes he can be a real nuisance and some nights he is very kind.  (Yes this is a lot like the Elf on the Shelf that you can buy at the store, but of course, I didn't think that elf was very cute so I had to spend days searching for the perfect elf.  I will never understand why I make my life so difficult.)  Pinocchio, Jingle, Frosty and Dobby are the names that have been bestowed upon these elves.  It has been reported that in each house they have each been incredibly busy turning the milk green, decorating the kitchen with snowflakes, building towers, bringing paper to write notes to Santa and the list goes on and on.  Unfortunately Kevin and Jessi have gotten a lazy elf.  Dobby has not moved from his original perch and yesterday they requested to switch elves with Tyler or Amy because their elves seem to be much more fun.  Obviously I am really being a slacker.  I seem to be enjoying hearing the stories from the grandkids on the escapades of their elves much more that I am being original to help poor Dobby out.  Maybe tonight he will surface with a surprise!!

Dobby sitting where he was first placed.  That Lazy Elf!!
Just had to throw this picture in.  Jessi on her way to the Christmas Dance. Notice - Dobby is making sure she is all right.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let Us Help Them Learn For Themselves

I finished reading the Oct 2011 Conference talks this morning and I just feel like I need to share a bit from one of them.  They are all filled with incredible wisdom and insights but occasionally something really moves me because it is what I personally need to learn.  I'm sure that is what this is, just for me, but here it is for you to read and ponder.  Matthew O. Richardson, who is Second Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency said  "The Spirit leads, guides and shows us what to do. He will not, however do for us what only we can do for ourselves.  You see, the Holy Ghost cannot learn for us, feel for us, or act for us because this would be contrary to the doctrine of agency.  He can facilitate opportunities and invite us to learn, feel, and act.  Those who teach after this manner of the Spirit help others by inventing, encouraging, and providing them opportunities to use their agency.  Parents...realize they cannot feel for, learn for, or even repent for the family.  Rather than asking, "What can I do for my children...?' they ask, 'How do I invite and help those around me to learn for themselves?'.  Parents who mirror the workings of the Holy Ghost create homes where families learn to value rather than just learn about values."  

It is interesting that in our family and I'm certain in other families as well that most of our children developed our values.  They became their values also.  They were internalized by them and they would defend them as readily or more so that I would.  Then another who definitely knows about values, has no question in his mind what I value, but has not internalized all of those himself.  I have to ask, did he not experience the same opportunities to develop those? Did he purposely choose not to embrace them?  I'm not sure what the answer is to that, but I know my prayers have changed for him as I read this article.  Now I pray 'that the Holy Ghost will facilitate those opportunities in his life that he can learn for himself to value those principles that will bring true happiness to his life'.  I need to be more aware so that I can provide opportunities in our home that those values can be reinforced and learned and relearned by all of our family members often.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Magic Is In The Air

To experience true magic at Christmas time I believe you just need to visit Temple Square in Salt Lake.  Last evening we went to the Tabernacle Choir's Christmas Concert with Jane Seymour and Nathan Gunn.  It was my favorite Christmas Concert that I have seen.  The pomp and pageantry of the entire evening was exquisite.  It was so touching as Jane Seymour, dressed in a beautiful golden gown, read the Christmas Story from Luke 2.  Nathan Gunn sang many classical as well as familiar carols.    What a beautiful production.  As we walked back to our car we strolled through the plaza and the tiny lights became ethereal.  To me it seems almost unreal as the bright red, deep purple and green lights fill the air around you.  The Nativity floating in the reflection pool was amazing.  What an incredibly romantic atmosphere, no wonder so many people go there to propose.  I love the magic of Christmas!!

The floating bubbles add so much to the pond.

                                                     The red lights are definitely my favorite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Its Beginning To Look....

A lot like Christmas.  Our first snow storm arrived today which is good and bad news.  The good news is it finally looks and feels like Christmas!!  The bad news is that our roof is still not repaired from the wind storm so I'm hoping there is no seepage in our attic.

The interior of our home has been decorated for a couple of weeks.  Honestly, decorating for Christmas is not my favorite activity, but I do it because I love it when it is finished.  Walking into the room and seeing the sparkle of the lights on the tree and feeling the spirit of having my many nativities surrounding us is incredibly uplifting to me.  These are a couple of nativities that I bought in Peru, showing different cultures of the country.  One is Incan and the other represents the peasant population.  

Several years ago we received some very disturbing news on Christmas Eve which has truly put a damper on my feelings surrounding Christmas for sometime.  This year with my heightened understanding of the Atonement and Agency I have been able to put it behind me.  I have been so excited to celebrate the season this year.  Today was spent wrapping presents which was a delightful experience instead of a chore.  My hope is that my outlook towards all that needs be accomplished during this time can be enjoyed rather than dreaded.  My greatest desire is that we can have a peaceful holiday with memories to be cherished.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

No Middle Ground

After each General Conference when we get the Ensign issue of conference I read a talk or two each morning before I get up.  They are easily read in bed which is my favorite place to read.  I have found it is difficult to study the scriptures for me in bed so I postpone the inevitable of getting up by still doing something productive and inspiring before I start my day.  (A disclaimer:  I do study my scriptures later after I am up)  Occasionally I do something good but it is usually borrowed from someone else and so is this-----my cousin once told me that in her family growing up they all were expected to read an article in the New Era or Ensign each day and then they initialed the article they finished reading.  Their dad, my uncle, would then know who had been reading them and if he didn't see initials of one of the children for a while he would know they needed an interview.  Now unfortunately I did not initiate this with my children, but I do it myself with my conference talks.  I initial each talk after I finish it and it does give a sense of accomplishment as I refer to the conference issue often I can see my initials on each talk of the conference. OK I'm thrilled by small things, but whatever works.
Now to the point of this entry.  I was reading the other morning the talk given in October Conference by Elder Tad R. Callister, and he quoted CS Lewis from Mere Christianity.  This thought has resonated in my mind many times throughout the next few days.  I will share it with you.

C. S. Lewis spoke of a similar dilemma faced by someone who must choose whether to accept or reject the Savior’s divinity—where there is likewise no middle ground: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. … You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. … But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”2 

I associate with dear friends who don't believe in the Divinity of God and my heart breaks for them and the comfort they are missing in their lives.  One friend told me that growing up  Jesus was never even mentioned with the Christmas Season.  She had no idea it was even remotely a religious holiday until she moved away from home and noticed what others were saying about Christmas and that Nativities were being displayed.  How thankful I am, especially during this Christmas Season, that I do know that Jesus is the Son of God.  I love the magic of the season, but it is magical because of Whom it represents.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Virtue Candy!!

Jeff always likes to do a little something special for tithing settlement.  This year I ordered Utah Truffles (If you've never tried them, they are sinfully delicious) in gold paper without their Logo on them.  We did little labels on them that just simply say "Virtue".   The kids in the ward have now named them "Virtue Candy"

He also did this beautiful handout that he gives them with the candy with quotes on "Return to Virtue" and also a schedule for a Book of Mormon reading blitz.  The Virtue Value Project in the Personal Progress for Young Women's is to read the entire Book of Mormon.  Jeff came up with a reading schedule of reading 5 pages a day and you can finish the Book of Mormon in 3 months.  We have done this in our previous wards and there have been miracles taken place with those who take the challenge seriously.  This time the reading starts on Jan 1.  What a great way to start the year.  I wanted to copy the handout on the blog but I guess I'm not smart enough to do it.  If I ever figure it out I will include it later because it is quite impressive.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday Service

Remember the story of Brigham Young telling the early members of the church one Sunday to go home and get ready to go and rescue the Martin and Willey Handcart Companies.  It was more important to serve at that time than it was to attend their meetings on the Sabbath.  I felt a little like that as we were asked to cancel church and go and help those who needed the remnants of the windstorm cut, gathered and removed before another predicted storm came.  How amazing it was to drive down the streets and see them lined with vehicles and trailers surrounded with men, women and children as the community came together to help each other.   How thankful I am I got to witness it and be a small part of it.  Our singles ward met and divided into groups to go to those whose families in our ward needed extra assistance.   An awesome turnout and incredible workers were on hand.  It was cold and miserable but nothing daunted these amazing kids as they went forward to serve.  Mid afternoon we met for sweet rolls and soup at the church and off they were once again.  Laughing and enjoying every minute of it.  How impressive.  At 8:00 that evening we met in the chapel dressed for church this time and we were able to partake of the sacrament and have a short testimony meeting.  The spirit was so strong as members spoke of the day, of the blessings they received and as we sang Christmas Hymns.  It couldn't of been a more appropriate December Sabbath Day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Peterson Pie Party

 On Saturday we had a Peterson Pie Party at our home.  I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to have a family party.  We do not see our extended family often and I think that is wrong is so many ways.  We have good friends who have parties and activities with their siblings and sometimes with their entire families all the time.  I'm always feeling a little bit gypped when it comes to family ties so I decided to be proactive and plan something.  How glad I am that I did it.  We had a great turn out.  How sad that we had to do introductions because I do not know all of my nieces and nephews children.  We were cozy in our home, but that makes it even better because then there's lots more interaction between each other.  My darling niece Niki gave us a copy of my sisters journal who passed away several years ago.  It is haunting to read.  She wrote for many years and I had no idea she even kept a journal.  She had a stroke many years before she passed away.  She wrote on the month of her stroke.  "I had a stroke"  that was all -- just one sentence.  Then the rest of her entries were written with child like hand writing and her spelling was completely phonetic which in the English language is usually not how it is actually spelled.  Her last entry was seven years before she died.  It was about our father and his passing.  She wrote "Dad dide 5:30 am  he rilly fot for life.  he had a wodeful funeil."  She never wrote again.  The haunting thing about this is that strokes run in my family.  That could very well be me in a few years.  A very humbling thought.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And The Wind Did Blow

This morning we awoke to howling winds.  Honestly, I guess Jeff was up all night listening to the winds but I slept through it.  Back to my story, about 6:30 a.m. I heard the most terrible noise and our entire bedroom shook, I grabbed Jeff to ask him what what was happening.  We opened our bedroom door to see our awning over our deck had blown up over our house.  

Then a few hours later I was sitting in our family room right beside the window, and I heard that terrible rumbling noise and felt the shaking once again and the awning came back down.  You can see several of the pieces smooshed against the window.  I can't believe it didn't come right through.

          Here Jeff and Kevin are finally able to dismantle it so that it cannot continue to move back and forth.

When the awning left, the poles supporting it were ripped up with the wood planks from the deck.

Here is the disaster in our front yard.  Notice the tramp in the far right corner.  It was our neighbors tramp.  Since it was on top of ours, ours did not move.  We also have no idea who the red chair belongs to.

Here is the side of our house.  Unfortunately that tree limb also took out the front passenger side corner of Jeff's new truck as it was emptying our garbage cans.

The miracle about the entire day was that in the spring I insisted on having 6 trees removed that had huge limbs overhanging our home right behind that shed.  Jeff thought I was being a little extreme having them removed because in the fall I had insisted on having 5 other trees removed that were close to our house.  In the past year we had 11 trees taken out.  With the severity of the winds and damage that was done, I have NO doubt that having those trees gone literally saved our house.  Thank heavens I listened to those promptings when I didn't even know I was being prompted.  Obviously we have a Heavenly Father who knew that in December we would have Hurricane 2 winds hit our little neighborhood and the damage could of been severe to our house if those low lying branches would of still been overhanging the roof of our home.  The home on the left did have a tree go through its roof.  Tonight I am feeling incredible grateful and have a renewed desire to live so that I can always be worthy to receive promptings through the Holy Ghost and wise enough to follow them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Great Example

I've been pondering the idea of "It's not about me" since I wrote my post last night.  Obviously you can tell it has been on my mind often if I need to write about it two nights in a row.  As I thought of people who seemed to be encompassed by the thoughts of "It's all about me" I realized how unhappy they seem to be.  Life never measures up to their expectations.  They always want more or something different because nothing is ever quite right.
Those people who seem to be thinking "It's not about me, It's about someone else"  are incredibly happy.  No matter their circumstances they are satisfied and peaceful in their demeanor.  A good aura radiates from them and I can feel their concern for me and for other people in their lives.  They are refreshing to be around where in contrast the unhappy people are draining on my mind and energy.
My life is filled with people from both genres and I do love them both, but given a choice I would rather be with those who seem happy.  I hope most of the time I can return the favor and bring contentment into others lives.  I have a dear friend whom I spent the day with today who is the happiest person I know.  She is eccentric and lives her life to a different drummer but she is happy.  I love being with her.  She is the kindest most giving person.  She gives too much, if there is such a thing.  Material possessions mean absolutely nothing to her.  She has downsized so much that she rents one room in a home and loves it !!  She has no financial obligations besides the couple hundred dollars a month she pays in rent and she gives and gives and gives to every one she meets.  If you are ever the recipient of one of her gifts you can rest assured that an incredible amount of thought and time has gone into her gift.   Whether it is money, gift card or something she has purchased you know she gives it to you with love with no thought of getting anything in return.  She has mentioned to me before: "I am so happy, I know I shouldn't be.  I'm a widow, my kids live far away, I own nothing but my car, but I am so happy."  Sandy, you are happy because you know "It's not about me,  it's about others".  Thanks for your example, hopefully I can learn from you.

                                        Sandy in Lake Powell this summer.  Look at that smile.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Mean It Isn't About Me?

Jeff and I were visiting with some friends a few nights ago and they were mentioning how their son was disappointed in his singles ward because it was made up of those he had attended high school with and so there was nothing for him there.  (We hear that daily being in the single's ward loop)  Jeff made a profound comment that has reverberated in my mind since.  His thoughts were that it really wasn't about this person.  Everyone is so concerned about what is in it for them and that is not the point.  It's not about ME, it's about what can I do to help someone else in this ward.

As I have pondered this thought many times in the last few days I  have been aware of how often the world, the media, every where we turn we are bombarded with "What's in it for me?" I find myself often worrying about Me instead of worrying about others.  It is definitely natural to think, but it is not Christlike.   Unfortunately I sometimes feel like those around me are so concerned about clothes, accessories, hairdo's, what they don't have, that we are missing the reason why we are here.  Our purpose in coming to earth was not to accumulate possessions or to be the most beautiful. We came here to build the Kingdom and to help and serve others.  How easy it is to forget that fact when we seem to constantly be judged on how much we have and how we look.  My goal is to worry less about Me and to strive harder to think of others.  I want to know what the Lord wants me to do and whom he needs me to help.  Obviously He is truly the only one I need to please.

Here are the words to a familiar hymn that we sing in church.  Hopefully I can read them often and take them to heart.

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
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?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.1

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude Attitude

Thanksgiving Day was awesome.  For once I was incredibly organized and the meal seemed to go together well.  There was a lot of help and that definitely made for a wonderful experience.  How nice to have everyone working together instead of one doing all the work and everyone else watching.  It made for a very pleasant day.  Around the table we talked about having a "gratitude attitude", making the best of every situation.   It was fun to hear what everyone was grateful for that day.  I know I was especially grateful to have so many of our family with us.  It was so fun to have Kevin there.  Blake and Lucy adore him!!  My sister Cheryl and her husband Stan were there and she is certainly close to all of my kids and grandkids.  That made the day extra special.  She is a cancer survivor and she spoke on how she was thankful for life itself.  Jeff's mom, LaRae was with us also.  The only way it could of been better is if Ben, Carrie and the kids were here but they couldn't come from Oklahoma.  Fortunately Carrie's parents were able to go to Oklahoma so they were not alone for the holiday.  Amy designed a darling turkey which we put on the window and everyone wrote something they were thankful for on a feather and placed it on the turkey.  It was adorable.  How delightful to have someone else plan an activity ford the day.  Our annual tradition of attending a movie on Thanksgiving Day was kept in tact as we went to see Puss 'n Boots.  With grandkids now we have reverted back to animation for the family.  We all loved it though.  What a great day.  Now on to Christmas preparations.  Hopefully we can remember to have a "Gratitude Attitude" throughout this holiday season also.

                                                                   Cheryl and Stan at the table.

                  Blake and Lucy had their own table.  Lucy would like Blake to share her dinner!!

                                                            Kevin and Grandma LaRae

                                                                       Our Gratitude Turkey

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving--From Devils to Divinity

Today I did my grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, at least most of it because who knows how many times I will have to return to the store to purchase something else.  I wanted some Thanksgiving type candy to put in some candy dishes to have around this weekend.  I couldn't find any!!  The only assortment of candies I could find were green and red.  I certainly don't want Christmas candy out for the Thanksgiving holiday.  In my frustration it reminded me of an article in Mormon Times I read recently written by Linda and Richard Eyre about how overlooked Thanksgiving has become and why we need to give it more thought and consideration.  I quote from them "I love to view Thanksgiving as the transition, the transformer and the transfer from the stress exhaustion of the first 11 months and from the darkness of Halloween to the peace and light of Christmas and the fresh start of another year."   I found the notion of it being the go between between Hell (Halloween) and Heaven (Christmas) very interesting.  It is definitely the beginning to a  wonderful time of year.   I'll admit I've listened to a small(?) amount of Christmas music this month, but today I even felt a little guilty doing that.  I want to remember Thanksgiving and make it memorable.    Our home teacher called tonight and he mentioned that he loved Thanksgiving because there are no gifts involved, it is an opportunity to just enjoy good food and each others company.   I loved that thought.  Hopefully starting the holiday season with a note of gratitude will help us remember Christmas for what it truly represents instead of worrying about what we might find under the tree.  So tonight I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.  Let's all embrace it and enjoy the transfer from devils to divinity!!

Oh just a side note--Kevin is doing great.  It has been delightful having him home.  Keep praying for us.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Prayer For Today

Today is the day that Kevin comes home.  After 18 months of incarceration today he is free!!  I can't even imagine the feelings he must have this morning.  He admits he is scared to death but also so incredibly excited.  If this was happening 6 months ago like it was originally planned I would be more than a basket case.  I think we both needed the extra six months.  I have changed and Kevin has changed.  There is definitely Hope that this could be a good thing.

My Prayer for me today is:
That I can love Kevin without enabling him.
That I can be patient and kind in my dealings with him.
That I can be fair to both of us as we set boundaries and rules.
That I can be an example of happiness as I strive to live a righteous life.
That I can do what ever it takes to always have the spirit in our home.
That I can be truly happy in my path in life.

My Prayer for Kevin is:
That he can have the strength to overcome the demons that plague him
That he can be respectful of our home and rules
That he can find uplifting activities to fill his time
That he will continue to grow as he has in the past few months
That he can understand the promises that were given him in his Patriarchal Blessing and know that the Lord expects so much more of him.
That he will remember that he is a son of His Heavenly Father and know that He loves him
That he can be truly happy as he discovers his path in life.

We would appreciate your prayers for us today also.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Out For Women

Friday night and Saturday I attended Time Out For Women in Salt Lake City.  It was amazing.  This was the fifth one I have been to and they are incredible.  This year I loved every talk that was given.  No sleeping for me, which I have been known to do during meetings.  If you have never been to one they are so worth it.  Check out their website here.  This year I did something different and went with a large group of sisters from my family ward.  I'm usually not a big group person.  It was fun, interesting and at times a little claustrophobic.  Since I have not been attending the family ward for over three years I felt a little like an outsider but it was good for me to get reacquainted because we will probably soon be back in this ward.

The messages seem to be getting deeper and more concerned with our spiritual strength.  Times are here when we are not going to be able to depend on others testimonies, we each need to be firmly grounded ourselves to withstand the trials ahead.  I also loved how they strive to help us realize we each have a different path to follow and we need to find the path we are supposed to be taking and pursue it.  This is not a time for mediocrity and idleness.  Trusting in the Lord to help us enjoy and endure His plan is sometimes overwhelming.

Here are a few of my favorite thoughts from the conference:

 Jesus came to earth to be our Savior, but He also came to be our Redeemer.  It's not just about His ability to save but also about His ability to transform.  -----  Brad Wilcox

Speaking of a bridge climb in Sydney, Austrailia and the view that is exquisite at the top:  If you want to see the spectacular view you have to make the climb.  In life if we want to see what it feels like to be closer to our Heavenly Father we also have to make the climb.  To make the bridge climb people are tethered to the bridge for safety.  In our life we need to be tethered to Jesus to not fall.  -------  Sheri Dew

Eve in the Garden of Eden taught us that it is better to "pass through sorrow that we may know"even at the expense of difficult things.  The key here being 'pass through'.  Whatever trial we are experiencing at the time we are passing through it, there is an end to it.  We will not be experiencing it forever.  Every night at sunset we can know that we are one day closer to being through it or to the end of it.  He spoke of the death of his wife and every night at sunset he knew he was one day closer to being reunited with her.
--------Michael Wilcox

Learn to think of yourself as a person.  How would you treat a friend that was staying with you.  You need to take as good of care of yourself as you would your visitor.  Your children deserve a mother who is a person.  ------------  Emily Watts

Stop worrying about your weaknesses and worry more about your strengths.  We will become much more happy as we work to develop our strengths.  What are new and creative ways to use your strengths to help others?  Do not wait for the Lord to save us from our circumstances instead ask Him to give us strength to learn from them and find joy in them.  ------------    Wendy Ulrich

We need to Pray with Faith, Think with Faith, and Live with Faith.  We are all exactly where the Lord knew we would be.  We might be surprised with where life has taken us but He is not.  Just as Joseph of the Old Testament did (Genesis 37,39-40), we need to embrace and make the best of where ever we are.  "Don't you dare be the one thing that stands in your way."   ------------    Laurel Christensen

Today I am thankful for the opportunities that we have to listen to inspirational and spiritual speakers who can help us become the best that we can be.  With todays technology there are so many places we can listen to addresses that will help us be stronger each day, even if you can't physically attend conferences like this one.  We are so blessed to have so much available to us on our computers, smartphones, iPods, and even KBYU on our televisions.

                                              Amy told me I need more pictures in my blog!!
                                                               Notes from the TOFW.


The Theme of This Years TOFW --Choose To Become--

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pizza, Princesses and Turkeys

Yesterday we had a Grandma's Day.  Amy and Carly brought their beautiful little girls to our home for lunch and activities.  Amy picked up Papa Murphy's pizza on her way and we put them in the oven to bake. My beautiful granddaughters and their beautiful mothers all gathered around the table to visit and eat.  Once lunch was over Blake and Lucy were transformed into exquisite princesses.  Thanks to Costco for having a darling trunk filled with not one, not two, but three princess dresses!!  (A great purchase if you want to be the FUN Grandma, which is my goal)  The girls twirled, danced and giggled until they both toppled over.  What a wonderful sight to see them getting along.  When they finished dancing our little princesses sat up to the counter and made darling magnet turkeys to put on their fridges.  (Of course I forgot to take a picture of the turkeys because I am such a novice at blogging)  It was an incredible afternoon with very few preparations.  I need to remember to "Keep it Simple' so it is not so daunting to spend time together making memories.  I had sent turkey packets to Oklahoma so Cody and Macey could also make these cute turkeys.  As soon as we finished with our turkeys, Carrie called and mentioned that they had received their package that day and they had just finished making their turkeys.  How fun to think we made the turkeys the same day at the same time, but oh how missed they were at Grandma's house.
 I am so thankful for seven healthy and strong grandchildren.  How wonderful they make me feel because they seem to love me so much  They are certainly my reward for all the years of parenting.

                                                       Princess Lucy and Princess Blake

Friday, November 18, 2011

Understanding Who You are

Davis High's production of Fiddler On The Roof is charming.  Jessi and I went last night and it was a long but very delightful evening.  I'm amazed at the quality of performances from high school students.  The setting of the stage was amazing.  Tevye, the star of the show, was perfectly cast.  I felt as he was an older man not just a senior in high school.  His emotion was phenomenal.  In the beginning of the play there is a quote by Tevye that should resonate as much truth now as it did then.  Tevye was speaking of his beloved town Anetevaka:  "In Anetevka, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."  Unfortunately for Tevye and Golde they had children who opposed the teachings of their parents and made choices contrary to them just as many of us do today.  But they had been taught.  As I have gotten older I have realized that until anyone truly embraces the truth of who they are, A Child of God, they have a difficult time making positive choices and following the path that would lead them to happiness.  If we really understand 'who we are' then it is not as difficult to dress modestly, speak differently, and lead clean and virtuous lives.   As the world becomes more and more corrupt it becomes more urgent for us to instill that knowledge of divinity in ourselves and in our children.  We all need extra strength to withstand thoughts and ideas that would pull us down to a much lower level than what 'we know God expects of us..'  In Jessi's bedroom covering one entire wall, we put vinyl  letters that say "I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him."  My hopes were when we placed that there that if she read everyday who she was and that God did love her that it would help guide her decisions in all aspects of her life.   I know many times I need to stop and remember who I am and it gives me strength to stand firm in what I believe and not be embarrassed by decisions I know He expects me to make.  Today I am so grateful that I do know that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him.  May I always have the strength to do what He expects me to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Today my step mom, Mary, celebrated her 87th birthday.  She is in spending the winter in Arizona so we did not see her but my thoughts have been of her and how thankful I am that she has been a part of my life.  Our family was incredibly fortunate when my dad remarried because he married the second most wonderful woman in the world.  (My mom was obviously the first)  She is an incredible example to me of how I want to pattern my life.  Mary's first husband had died nine years before she met my father.  Dad and Mary were only married six years before my dad passed away, but the memories they made in those years were remarkable.  I've heard her say often, "Darwin and I had so much fun!"  During the six years she endeared herself to me and my family.  She loves to play games of all kinds, even now she occasionally plays tennis.  Her home is always welcoming and clean.  One of my favorite things about Mary is that she is so accepting and non judgmental.  I remember when we were blessing Jessi I had bought a new dress and I was feeling guilty because money was very tight.  I mentioned it to Mary and she quickly responded "Every new mother needs a new dress".  Immediately I felt better and was proud to wear it.  She was a great replacement for a grandma for our kids.  She loved them as if they were her own.  Mary loves life, never misses an opportunity to experience new things, and always has a home remedy for whatever ailment you might have.  Unfortunate for us, but fortunate for Mary she remarried nine months after my dad passed away.  She had no desire to be alone again.  Because she has seven children of her own and David, her present husband, has six she is busy with those families and we don't get to see her often.  We still keep in touch and have lunch occasionally.  At times it is difficult when I do see her because my heart aches for a mom.  She filled a void in my life when I needed it the most.  Thank you Mary for being the best second mom in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Books, Books, and More Books

As I have taken some time this month to ponder what I am truly thankful for I feel my gratitude list has changed over the years.  So many items on my list are no longer possessions, but more along the lines of thoughts, gifts of the spirit or friendships.  It is amazing that as I grow older worldly goods mean less and less and are almost bothersome to me because I have to store them or take care of them.  One possession though that I love and will always love are books.  How nerdy is that?  Whenever  I answer the question, If you had an afternoon to do anything you wanted what would you do?  My answer would always be READ.  I have been cleaning my bedroom tonight and I have two stacks of books each about 3 feet high by my bed.  These are books I still need to read.  It is almost an obsession to buy books.  It is very rare that I can check out at Costco without buying at least one book.  Amazon is my favorite web site and Deseret Book is my favorite store.  The ironic thing about my stacks of books by my bed is that Jeff bought me a Kindle last year for Christmas because we have no where to put anymore books.  It is full of books also.  I love my books and am so grateful for the ability to read.
This morning I finished an incredible book I would like to share with you.  It is A Return to Virtue by Elaine Dalton.  Wow, It is incredible and inspiring.  During the past few years in our singles wards we have focused much on Virtue, and I have had the opportunity to teach about it and speak on it often.  I have studied many of Sis Daltons talks extensively and she certainly has a personal mission to return the world to virtue.  Because of our service at the University of Utah wards, we have personally met her a few times.  Jeff actually has spent time in her office and she presented him a gold tie because of his work with the Virtue Value.  This book is a MUST read for any woman or man.  It can change your life for the better.  The back cover  has this quote printed on it.
"I truly believe that one virtuous woman or man, led by the Spirit, can change the world!  We need to stand for virtue in a world that is so rapidly departing from it."
--------Elaine S. Dalton

                                                                  Jeff with Sis Dalton

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Young Adult Friends

Tonight I want to write a quick post and mention how thankful I am for all of my 'young adult' friends!! We have served in 4 different Young Adult  Wards in the past 3 1/2 years, which means that we have known probably 1000 young adults.  So many of these incredible young people have become some of my dearest and closest friends.  What remarkable individuals they are.  My respect and admiration for them is so great.   I love it when I get visits, emails, comments on my blog, phone calls and lunch and dinner invitations from many of them.  It makes my heart so happy.  I love each of them and want to continue our friendships forever.  Thank you for including me in your lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Gift From My Mom

Our youngest daughter Jessi continually asks me when I am going to blog about her. She often refers to herself as the "favorite child". I can honestly say that she is one of the top five of my favorite children!! (Mother's don't have favorites) So Jessi, this blog is for you.
Twenty years ago this past July my mother passed away. We had four children, three sons and a daughter, and we were so comfortable knowing our family was complete. Not long after mom's passing I kept having the distinct impression that my mother had a baby for me. I felt I was through having children, freedom from having a child at home during the day was so close, and so I ignored the thought for quite some time. I do recall asking my sister that IF mom had a baby for me she would certainly send a girl wouldn't she? The impressions would not stop and so with great reluctance I finally consented to have another baby. We had no maternity insurance because being self employed our insurance was questionable anyway and the waiting period they required was so long that I couldn't wait since I was already 36. We had donated all of our baby items to others so we had nothing. I felt like a young college student having a baby once again.
Yes my mom did have a little girl saved for me and yes it was Jessi! How grateful I have been everyday since then that I listened and followed those promptings. She has been my Balm of Gilead through many years and trials. When life would feel so out of control with the many incredibly poor decisions that Kevin was making and I felt like I wanted to runaway and leave everything behind, I would think-- wait I can't runaway I have Jessi I need to stay and be responsible. She would pull me back to reality and cheer me as I would realize I wanted to be a good mom for her. The thought has occurred to me that my Heavenly Father and my own mother knew 20 years ago that I would need Jessi's love and support now as I went through these trials so they planned a reason for me to stay strong. Jessi and I have spent so much time together. Jeff spends so much time with being Bishop of the singles ward that it is just she and I so much of the time. When I have wanted to travel it was easier to take Jess with me than to find someone to care for her, so we have traveled together extensively. She has seen the pain we have suffered with Kevin and has become strong in her testimony and desire to choose the right. She is outgoing and friendly to all, a beautiful breath of fresh air. Today I am thankful for Jessi and also I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows all and prepares a way for us to meet the challenges that we face.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Temple Blessings

While Jeff has been serving as Bishop in the singles wards he has asked me to teach Temple Prep to many of the couples who are being married in the temple and also to many wonderful sisters who have chosen to take this step forward of going to the temple. What an incredible experience it has been. I love the temple and I love teaching, especially one on one or close to it, so it has been ideal. The great thing is I have lost count on how many there have been because it has been so numerous, but it shows that many women of this generation are making awesome decisions. There are six lessons in the manual and one of them is about the Blessings of the Temple. The blessings are numerous and sometimes vary from individual to individual, but so many are promised to all of us in D&C 109 and also by Modern Day Prophets. The blessing that means the most to me is the eternal sealing of families. There is an additional benefit of this sealing which has been taught to us and deals with promises given parents of wayward children. I wanted to share these quotes with those who need them now or may someday need them. Today I am grateful for Temple Blessings.

Joseph Smith (1805–44) First President of the Church
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

Brigham Young (1801–77) Second President of the Church
“Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang” (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:90–91).

Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901) Fifth President of the Church
“If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity” (in Collected Discourses, comp. Brian H. Stuy, 5 vols. [1987–92], 3:364).

Boyd K. Packer
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“The measure of our success as parents … will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.
“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.
“It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. …
“We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them” (“Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992, 68).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A House of Order? Maybe Someday

In my quest to get my home in order I decided today to tackle the kitchen. Huge undertaking. I won't even mention how long it has been since I have cleaned out all my cupboards and drawers. The amount of dust, crumbs, and gunk I have cleaned today could be a serious health issue in our lives. Cleaning has never really been my thing, but it is always so rejuvenating to open a clean cupboard or drawer. I should definitely do it more often. In D&C 109:8 we are taught to organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish...a house of order. That is my goal and at times it seems so far beyond my reach. If I was isolated by myself with no interruptions for a week I would make incredible progress, but since that is not my life nor do I see it happening in the near future I will continue prodding along until I have dejunked and shined all of it. And then--it will be time to start over. Oh Well. Today I am incredibly thankful for my home. After several remodelings I love it. I love the feel, the layout and especially the spirit that is here. It is small but it is ours!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parents Empowered?

Several years ago our local grocery store had their sacks printed with a logo that said something about the family that ate dinner together would not have children who drank alcohol or something to that effect. The timing for me was terrible to be getting these sacks because I thought we have had family dinner almost every night, we always required our kids to be home for it, and we had a son who drank and more. How dare they put that on my sacks!
Still today as I watch the parents empowered commercials or see their billboards I have to smile that yes I was involved, I did most of the items they recommend and I still had a son who rebelled. For years I struggled over the thought that I must of failed somewhere. We had Family Home Evening, family scripture study and family prayer most of the time. Maybe if we would of never missed Kevin wouldn't of taken that path. Isn't that what we are promised? As I would encounter families who had all 12(?) of their children serve missions and marry in the temple, I would wonder what did I do wrong? Stories were told about parents of wayward children praying and fasting and miraculously their children straightened up their lives. Why weren't my prayers being answered? Slowly and surely I have learned the true meaning of Agency. I thought I understood it, but not until now have I truly embraced it. Yes our chances are increased to have all of our children follow our teachings if we are involved in their lives, eat dinner together, read scriptures and pray as a family, BUT we all have to choose for ourselves. We fought for that right in the preexistence and we have to respect that right here. Heavenly Father has to recognize our agency so he cannot force His will on us either. Sometimes I just have to hate agency. Then I realize what an incredible gift it is. Tonight I am thankful for agency. How grateful I am that I can choose my path for myself. How healing it is to know that I taught my children the right way to live and now it is their time to choose. They know what is right and wrong. I don't have to feel guilty. I made mistakes, numerous of them, but I did the best I could. For those of you who have all your children following the gospel path, I commend you. For those of you who join me and do not, I pray for you and hope that you can realize that each and every one of us has the right to choose. No matter how faithful anyone is they cannot remove or reduce someone else's agency. They are not choosing a contrary path because of something you did or did not do. Understanding agency is a gift, it was part of the plan, a necessary part. Embrace it.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today I want to write about Jeff and how thankful I am for him. He is and has always been the light of my life. He is not perfect but we are perfect for each other. We complete each other in various ways. Sometimes when I am whiny and complaining he gently calls me on it and it makes me angry and then I realize he is right and I try to do better. I am a much finer person because of him. How grateful I am that he has provided for our family so well that I have been able to stay home and raise the children. He spoils me and would let me have whatever I wanted. When I hear from wives that they never hear from their husbands during the day I count my many blessings that Jeff checks in with me regularly. He is a romantic, better than I am at that. His plans are fun, incredible and personal. Back rubs are his specialty. He has a gift of making me feel beautiful and I am always shocked when I look in the mirror. From the first minute I met Jeff He became my best friend. We were soul mates from the beginning. How thankful I am for our temple marriage that we can be together eternally. I love you Jeff.

Jeff, Mackayla and Me on Her Blessing Day

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Happy Ending

On Friday I went to a Mothers without Borders Boutique and lunch with two dear friends, Sandy and Sandy. Besides sharing the same name they are unfortunately both widows. What an incredible example they both are to all of us in how to handle adversity. During lunch one of the Sandy's asked me to share an update on Kevin and she expressed her concern on how difficult it would be to have a prodigal. As we were discussing life and trials, setbacks and disappointments I shared the thought that I bet not one of us would of imagined twenty years ago that they would be without husbands at such a young age or that I would have a son who had just spent a year and a half in jail. We never know what life is going to hand to us. After discussing those thoughts for a minute the humbling realization was mentioned that we wondered about our children and grandchildren and where each of them would be in twenty years and what adversity or unplanned events would they have experienced. Then Saturday night as Jeff and I were enjoying a Bar J Wranglers Concert in Heber City my cell phone vibrated. Pulling it out of my pocket I saw that Carrie Crosland was calling. The odd thing about this was it was 10:00 p.m. our time which made it 11:00 p.m. their time in Oklahoma. Carrie doesn't usually call to chat at 11:00. I didn't answer the call because we were in the concert and I was beginning to text her when Jeff's phone rang and it was Carrie. Then I panicked and my thoughts of our conversation the day before returned. Jeff jumped up and left the concert to answer the phone. Ben was in Chicago at a CE Conference and we knew Carrie was alone. Luckily by the time I followed him out he mouthed to me that everything was OK. Relief flooded over me, I wasn't ready for the unexpected to begin. But bless poor Carrie's heart. There was a second earthquake in Oklahoma City. There had been a smaller one earlier that morning. This one was the largest earthquake in Oklahoma history and Carrie was home alone with three little children in a new neighborhood. How frightening!! I am so grateful that she felt comfortable enough to call and express her concerns with us. Thankfully they were safe and there was no damage to their home or belongings, just frayed nerves. What a helpless feeling it was to know that we were so far away and we couldn't help. All I could say was "We'll pray for you" which I fervently did. My gratitude thought tonight is that all is well in Oklahoma, Ben is home and the aftershocks have hopefully ended.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Serendipity Day

"Live each season as it passes; breath the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."
— Henry David Thoreau

This is a lesson I need to embrace. We have a dear friend, Cal, who lives each day to the fullest. He had a liver transplant 5 years ago and unfortunately he is facing another one in the next few years. We all could learn from him. Watching him enjoy each day is refreshing and inspiring. Last week he called and wanted us to go 4 wheeling on Saturday. I will have to admit I was very hesitant. It was supposed to be 40+ degrees and I hate being cold. Finally agreeing to go I secretly was hoping for rain or some reason that we really couldn't go. The day was beautiful but crisp, very crisp. We bundled up and headed north. After lunch at Maddox we continued to Mantua where we unloaded our machines. Best decision I made was to ride behind Jeff on his big 4 wheeler instead of bringing my own. Wow,What an incredible day. I could 'squishy' with Jeff and be warm. Amazing scenery and the air was clear and fresh. I wouldn't of missed it for anything. How grateful I am that we have good friends that are not daunted by weather and have a desire to enjoy the changing seasons and are willing to include their friends in their plans. I need to remember to live each day, no matter the weather, to the fullest. Thanks Cal and Cheryl.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Month

As the children were growing up we had a vey large bulletin board in our kitchen.  When we remodeled we took it out.  It is the only part of my old kitchen that I miss.  Every November I would cover the entire board with butcher paper.  I had each of the kids write one item on the board each day that they were thankful for.  Their friends thought it was so fun that they also began writing on it.  So by Thanksgiving Day our entire board was filled with comments and items.  The first few days it was easy but by the end we were all really having to think about something different to write.  It was a good exercise in gratitude.   I've decided that I need to be more aware of my blessings so I'm going to write something I'm grateful for at the end of each blog that I write during the month of November.  Yesterday I wrote how thankful I am that Kevin is progressing.  Today I am thankful to my daughter Amy who is picking Kevin up at work and bringing him back to Farmington.  She told me that she would take one day a week to pick him up at work so he could make it to his counseling on time.  Thanks Amy for the help.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Dream

Several months ago I had a dream.  Usually I don't remember my dreams and when I awoke I knew it had been a dream with a message for me.  I dreamed that we went to visit Kevin and he didn't have any legs.  He was walking around on these little tiny stumps which was so different from the 6'1" height that he is. My heart was so heavy as I watched him try to fulfill his duties in life but he just couldn't do it.   No matter how hard he tried there were just some things he couldn't do for himself.
As I pondered the meaning of this dream I decided that it was so difficult for him to accomplish the things that needed to be taken care of in his life while he was in jail that he in fact was helpless and needed my help.  Honestly I did try to help him arrange court dates and such but probably not as efficiently as I could.   I was still very angry with him.  Last week when he moved to the work release center I was embittered that I would have to give up some of my freedom to help him get to work, to court dates, to counseling and to his drug testing.  Then I remembered the dream.  I realized that if he was physically disabled I would very willingly give up my freedom to help him deal with problems until he could handle them on his own.  His disability now is probably more a mental disability, but nevertheless a disability.  If we had any hope of his being successful in living a clean and productive life, he needed help.  I would have to give up my time and freedom to help him get to the places he needs to be with the items he needs and the confidence that he can do it.  This is where those Boundaries come in and making sure that we are not enabling but helping him become independent and productive.  I have taken him to two appointments the last two days and it has been a positive experience.  I mentioned to him yesterday that 6 months ago when he went to the halfway house NUCC that I would not of been alone with him in a car.  He has changed since then and is in totally different frame of mind.  Obviously he needed those extra 6 months back in jail.  It takes him a little longer than most to learn from his experiences.  How grateful today I am for the progress that he has made and pray fervently that he will continue with his progress.  I pray also that I will know when to help and when to let go so he can learn the lessons he needs.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Grandma's Halloween Party

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday.  Dark, scary, and morbid have never been my thing, but I decided there were many fun and imaginative ways to celebrate the holiday so I decided to break the tradition and have a "Grandma's Halloween Party".  What a wonderful time we had.  I will have to admit I did wonder how fun a party for 2 and 3 year olds would be, but I think it was delightful.  Grandma LaRae and her husband Ed, Tyler and Carly and kids, Amy and Luke and kids, Jessi and her boyfriend Spjut, and Jeff and I were all on hand for a wonderful evening.  I had bought quite a few Halloween activities from Oriental Traders for the kids.  We did a sticker Halloween scene, decorated pumpkins, made the cutest Halloween necklaces, and the best was playing with SLIME.  Check out the recipe here.  They loved it and it is super easy.  We ate sloppy joes because when the children were young I always made them so they could eat quick before they went trick or treating.  We borrowed Carries idea of a green ice hand in our punch bowl filled with Sprite.  How glad I am that we did this.  The only way it could of turned out better if the other 3 grandchildren would of been with us.  We did SKYPE with them and that helps.  Remember Making Memories is what life is all about.

 Puppy Dog Blake and  Princess Lucy came to our party
Our Cabana Girl Clara
Callie the Cow

Witch Jessi dressed for the Halloween Dance