Thursday, December 29, 2011

Craft - o - Rama

I heart kid crafts.  And luckily I have a kid or two who will do crafts with me.  (Thank you, Emily!)  Christmas time is prime crafting time here at our house.  First there are all the decorating projects, and then there's gift projects.

Thanks to my sister, Mary, I joined Pinterest this Thanksgiving and we were able to make make make all December long.  I printed out several pages of pictures and craft instructions, and set up a table with craft supplies.  Then I rented Christmas movies and we got to work.  I hope you don't mind if I indulge in a teeny bit of bragging here....

Ribbon Trees with wire, beads and ribbon.
By Emily.
Paper ornaments by Emily and me with paper and brads.

Pom Pom Ball with foam ball, small pom poms and pins.
By Emily.

A little gift for my Primary Class.

Tick Tack Snowmen with paper, ribbon, tape, and a 1 inch hole punch.
By Sydney.

Lunch Boxes with a placemat and ribbon.  Crochet washcloth.
By me for Mom and Sarah.

Chenille Owls by Emily.  So cute!  and a little ladder Christmas Tree for the basement.

After we made decorations and gifts for our friends, we started making gifts for each other.  Last year we made a rule in our family that everyone had to make a gift for everyone.  We made some fun things last year - hair flowers and marshmallow guns and stilts, but this year we really out did ourselves!  

It was like Santa's workshop around here with everyone sneaking around trying to finish gifts for each other.  It was my favorite part of Christmas, even though there was a moment when I thought I might go crazy, trying to help everyone at the same time.

John carved bows and arrows for everyone.

They really work!

Hannah made tents for Emily and John.  They slept in them all week!

Emily made an S for Sydney

She also made made swords for John!  Fun! 

Emily made a couple of holders for Hannah's hot hair tools.  Sydney made a couple of little pouches for earphones for Hannah and me, and she made a bag for Emily's violin music.  She also made a duck tape wallet for John.  

I made PJ pants for everyone!

I took the Christmas lights down from the house today, and the garbage man already took our tree, so I guess Christmas is over until next year...  Time to think about Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Do List 2012

The year is winding down, and deployment #4 (or maybe 5. I lost count...) is nearly over.  It's time for some goals!  I love a To-Do List, and I want to be more deliberate about my time.


Done consciously and intentionally

intentional - wilful - studied - willful - purposeful

I think I'll try to keep it trackable and just start with the month of January:

Cook at least 3 good dinners a week

Not including Sundays.  Sundays are easy. All the other days have been really hard for me this fall.   A real dinner does not include Mac n Cheese, frozen pizza, or corn dogs...

Just tonight, I was telling my friend Megan about my cooking problem and Sydney piped up and said "But we have really good breakfasts!"  Which made me feel great. Thank you, Sydney, you are my favorite!  I have been fixing really great breakfasts this school year - egg sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, smoothies.  And I fix lunches nearly every day for everyone.  Yay me!  (to make me feel a little less guilty about my dinner problem)

Dinner is just hard.  We are busy several evenings every week - wrestling, violin, church night - but I will PLAN meals and USE the crockpot.

With Nathan coming home in about a month, I should probably get back in the habit of real food....

Run 5 days a week
3 days @ 3 miles
1 day @ something different - stairs or hills or intervals
1 long run

I have had fun running with my friend Amy this fall.  But we have both been busy most of December and have done a bad job of getting our morning run to happen.  Time to get back to work.

On the other hand, it could get really cold here in South Dakota.  I am amazed at how much I have acclimated to the cold.  A couple years ago I would never have run on cold days.  Now I know that 20 degrees F is just fine for running with a fleece and some gloves and a hat.  Temps in the teens require a muff for my nose and maybe another jacket.  But anything colder than that is just too cold for me.  I have a Y membership.  As part of my goal, I will plan to use the Y if temps are below 20 degrees F.

Help!  Nathan is coming home in a month and my storage spots are a mess!  Here are the danger zones:

Christmas Stuff
Goodwill Stuff
Basement Storage Room 
Nathan's Wood Shop

Christmas stuff needs no explanation.  Goodwill is on the list because that place is hard for me to get to, and I know after the basement storage area gets cleaned out I will need to go there.  Or maybe I can have someone come here?

The Basement Storage Room is the worst - it contains my sewing stuff which has blown up all over the place with all of our Christmas crafts.   Lots of other hazardous items are also stored there like Nathan's abundance of uniforms and boots and bags, craft supplies, too-big and too-small clothes for kids, camping stuff, baby clothes, SCUBA gear, boxes - lots of empty boxes, and more... SOS!

The wood shop is really Nathan's zone, but I promised to clean it out while he was gone and I never did... It's not too late!

I think my goal for organizing will be one area each week:
This week = Christmas stuff
Next week = Basement Storage Area
Then = Goodwill
Then the Wood Shop.  Though I should maybe watch the weather and work on the wood shop while we it is warm.
That doesn't seem so bad!

This is scary.... I enjoy writing.  Or I used to love writing.  I think.  This blog used to be my favorite thing, right?  But I got busy and let it go.

I am going to set some writing goals and join A Round of Words in 80 days.  Here are the rules:  Decide on a goal, write it up on your blog, check in twice a week by writing about your writing on your blog.  I'm not making big plans like write the Great American Novel, but just wanting to start some actual daily habits.  Here are my goals for the next month to 80 days:

Write daily.
Read a book about writing.

I wish I could say: Write 500 words a day, but I don't actually know what 500 words a day looks like.
So for now, let's just go with Sit Down and Write.  Each Day.  34+ dedicated and deliberate minutes a day with no internet or phone calls or washing dishes.  Just writing.  Even  just a little.

Anyone want to join me?

Checking Back:
blog twice a week about goals - Wednesday and Sunday
FOOD - 3 good meals a week
RUNNING - 5 days a week
ORGANIZING - 1 area a week
WRITING - daily.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

O Christmas Tree

It's a tradition, we have to cut down our own Christmas Tree. We have cut down our own Christmas Tree each year that we have lived here in Rapid City.  This is our 5th Christmas in Rapid City and our 5th tree from the Black Hills.  We move around a lot, so having a tradition that we can claim is kind of a big thing.

Here's John and Sydney, ready to cut down our first Christmas Tree in Rapid City back in 2004.

This year I wasn't sure about cutting down a tree without Nathan, so we were thrilled when our friends the Policky's invited us to go with them.  And that's just what we did.  We went up the road a ways and hiked around in the snow looking for just the right tree.  It was very cold!

It's strange how in the woods you lose all sense of how tall the trees actually are.  Here's a little tip for making sure you don't end up with a tree that is taller than your house.  Use your saw to measure the height of your ceiling.  If I have the saw in my hand, and raise my arm straight up, the saw just touches the ceiling.  Any tree taller than the top of the saw would be toooooo tall!

All the trees are a little scrawny and Charlie Brown like, but we found a tree we all liked.

Hannah did all the chopping.  She is very strong!

Then we carried it back to the car.  We were glad to have some friends with us to help tie it to the roof of the car!  I still have your nice rope, Don.  Sorry!

When we got it home and into the house we noticed that it is even scrawnier than we thought, with a major bald spot or three!

But we think it's lovely!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Let it Snow

It's Christmas time in South Dakota. Brrr! 

 We have had some good snow already this year, which makes me so happy. I love the snow in December! (not so much in March and April....and May....) But right now I love it.

I went out early this morning to start the car for Hannah, and I was completely surprised by a fresh coat of snow. I was so excited that I almost fell down the stairs - but that wasn't the snow's fault - that was because I couldn't see very well, it was still night time at 6:07am and the porch light only comes on after you take a few steps, and I wasn't wearing my glasses because I broke my glasses on our trip to Utah, twice, and I was looking at the snow falling and not paying attention to where I was walking... but I didn't fall, I only almost fell...

I did sweep the snow off of Hannah's car and start it up for her, because I am nice like that, and I don't want her to have an excuse to miss early morning seminary. I also made her some french toast. I think I'm turning in to my dad! yikes!

Back to the snow:

I think that's one of my favorite things - snowflakes on John's eyelashes!

And another of my favorite things: Sydney taking a break from sledding. We were at the Policky's house in those photos. The Policky's have the best sledding hill around. These photos were from before Thanksgiving when we had a huge snow storm and invited ourselves up to sled at the Policky's and were fed the best toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ever! Yeah for good friends!

I was actually wanting to write about our Christmas tree (which we chopped down in the woods, with some good friends - the Policky's! again!) but blogger can't see those photos for some reason. And you never know when I'm going to want to open up blogger again, so I thought it would be better to write something than to write nothing, which is what I usually do: nothing.

Though I cancelled Netflix last week, so maybe my computer time will not all be wasted watching Dr. Martin episodes...

and maybe if I just tell myself to just write something, not everything, I'll be able to come back to this thing.

The problem with getting behind by a couple of years, is that I feel like I need to go back and write about that one time we went to the fair, or if I'm going to post about Christmas,

then I really should post up a Halloween picture,

and maybe a back to school photo....

(blogger is obviously holding a grudge as it won't let me rotate that photo to save my life no matter how many times I've rotated and saved and uploaded it's still sideways. sorry!)

and then it just gets out of hand....

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mini Muffin Advent Calendar

We made these Advent Calendars at a Relief Society Activity earlier this fall. Mary asked for directions, and I thought I'd post them here for her.

Supplies Needed:

1 Mini Muffin Pan. Wally World carries these for less than $5.

2 pieces of colored paper as your background color.

6 more pieces of colored paper for the fancier front of the squares.

1 piece of vellum paper to print numbers on. You could just write on your squares if you want to.

Stickers, buttons, brads, etc.

Magnet strips

1. Let's just get the scariest part of this project over with first: drilling holes in the mini muffin pan. When I first tried, I was sure it was too hard for me to do, but then I put on my heavy gardening gloves and a pair of Nathan’s safety glasses and drilled all the holes all by myself. I used a 3/8” bit, and centered the holes at the top of the muffin pan about 3 inches apart. Be careful, those metal shards are scary! Then you can string a ribbon through the holes and hang your advent calendar on the wall.

2. Cut 24 2 ¼ inch squares for the background. 2 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper = exactly 24 squares. Using a paper slicer made this really fast and easy.

3. Cut 24 2 inch squares. Six 2 inch strips cut into 2 inch squares = exactly 24 squares. Choose six different paper colors and patterns for these squares.

4. Round corners if you wanna. Rounding all those corners took forever!

5. Glue 2” squares to larger background squares.

6. Cut out number circle and glue on each square. I printed the numbers 1 – 24 on vellum paper using a font that I liked, then cut out each number using a 1” hole punch. I have seen others use vinyl stickers or print numbers directly on the paper or just write the numbers with a marker.

7. Embellish squares with stickers, cut outs, buttons, and brads.

8. Attach magnets to the back of each square. I used a roll of magnet and cut it into small squares. The magnet I used had a sticky side that I attached to each corner of the square. If I were to do it again, I would have cut a long thin strip about 2 inches long by ¼ inch wide and attached to the top and bottom of each square.

9. Slice apart daily thoughts, fold, and put inside each muffin cup, then cover with decorated square. I used an article from the December 2000 Friend Magazine for a daily spiritual thought and activity. You can just write a little something to put in each cup if you want, like: bake cookies, drive around and look at the lights, go ice skating, make snowflakes, etc.

10. You can add a treat, too. A mini Reeces cup fits perfectly. For our family, I put in 4 tic-tacs for each day, so each kid can have a treat.

A couple of other good countdowns:

New Era Magazine, Dec. 1999 - simple daily service ideas.

New Era Magazing, Dec 1998 - a more elaborate countdown with a thought from a General Authority, a scripture, an activity or service idea, and a song. This is my favorite one.

We just hung our new Advent Calendar up today, so tonight we are catching up.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Here are a few quick pictures of Hannah and her Prom date, Thor. I just thought mi familia might want to see the pictures quick.

Thor arrived at about 12:30pm to pick Hannah up. He looked rather dashing in his tux!

It took a couple of tries to get the flowers on...

Details of the back of the dress. Hannah and I worked long and hard on this dress. And it turned out so cute! Isn't she adorable!

We were stalking them followed them to StavKirk to take pictures.

I thought that taking pictures at 1:30pm seemed a little early. But about a half hour later the place was packed and there were lines of people waiting to take pictures.

Cute looking bunch of kids!

Hannah and Becca

And it started to rain

Hannah and Molly

Have fun! Be safe! Don't make me stay up too late!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


We have been back in South Dakota for just over a year.

Last winter, when we first got here, I wore long john's under my jeans every day. I wore two or three pairs of socks. And I was still achy-cold in my bones.

This year, I find a fleece jacket can be worn almost all the time. This week with temperatures down below zero I have had to wear a real coat (and hat and mittens and scarf.) But just one pair of socks.

Yesterday the temperature stayed at around -3 degrees all day. It was really cold! This morning I headed out to take the kids to school and it felt warm. The temperature gage in my car said 12 degrees. It's funny how 12 degrees can feel nice! I am planning to go running outside a little later today...

I think I must be acclimated!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dancing in the Minefields

I found this sweet song today. It is about marriage and love and all that good stuff. After I watched this video three times, I bought it off Itunes. I never buy songs. You have to see it!

ps - can't you imagine Mom and Dad dancing at the end of the video?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Buckle your seat belt - Hannah is behind the wheel!

Yesterday Hannah took the South Dakota "driver's permit" test and passed! The only question she got wrong was: "How far ahead should you turn on your turn signal?" and she answered: "Several blocks ahead!"

No, actually, that is a question that Heather got wrong when she took the driver's permit test (20 years ago.) Why I remember that is a mystery. I lost my purse twice today, but I remember the question my big sister got wrong on her drive-test....

Back to Hannah - she passed the written test, and they printed up her new Instructional Permit, right then and there.

Hannah has 3 months to drive with me before she can be a solo driver. I'm not sure if I'll survive. Today I picked her up from school and she jumped into the driver's seat. I had her drive all around the parking lot at school to warm up. Then she practiced parking and backing up (while I gripped the door handle.) Then we headed out in to the wide world.

We drove through the quiet neighborhood behind our house and she did great. I only had to grab the wheel and swerve to miss a parked car once....

I have a feeling she's going to want to drive to school tomorrow.... Wish me luck!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Bald Eagle

When we headed out to the car for school this morning, big fat snowflakes were falling. It was beautiful. We don't seem to get the big snowflakes very often.

By the time we got to school (a couple blocks away) it had stopped snowing. I dropped off the kids at school and decided our neighborhood streets were too messy with the new snow and with the snow from the weekend to try to jog on, so I headed over to Sioux Park to run on the path by Rapid Creek.

As I expected, the walking path had been recently snowplowed! I love how I can count on the path to be clean, even when the roads are a mess! I wonder whose job it is to plow the path?

Just as I was getting warmed up, another walker on the path pointed up and said "An eagle".

It took me a minute to find it up high in the branches of a tree over-looking the river. But there it was. A real live bald eagle. With a white head, dark body, and a yellow beak. I had to stop and watch him a minute to make sure he was real. He turned his head. Real! Cool!

But no camera.

I jogged and walked and waded through some snow for about 30 minutes. And the eagle was still there when I headed back to the car. I think he looked at me.

The woman who pointed out the eagle to me said that he was there yesterday morning, too.

I hope he's there tomorrow.

I'll bring my camera.