For a Quick Reference

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Glimpses of Christmas (a bit late, I know)

We enjoyed making Christmas candy with Peter and Katy. This year we made peanut brittle, marbled mint chocolate, and fudge (well, Katy made the fudge, not me. It was DELICIOUS!). We made the traditional bags of goodies to deliver on Christmas Eve. It was fun to take the children around delivering treats to friends from our ward. It even started SNOWING! IT was so fun to sing Christmas songs as we drove from house to house. Unfortunately the wind picked up and gusts were up to 40 mph that afternoon! Our deliveries quickly changed from a caroling, joyful gift to a shivering dash from the van, knock on the door and a quick "Merry Christmas! Goodbye!" before dashing back to the warmth and safety of the van. :) So we cut things short and didn't deliver the last 2/3 of the goodies. Result: we ate WAY too much candy this holiday season, since we didn't give most of it away. We were practically begging visitors to take plates of treats home with them. :)

We had so much fun preparing for Christmas with our visiting relatives! We made the Christmas Eve Bethlehem dinner that is traditional for our family: roasted fish, wild rice, flat breads, fruits, yogurt sauces, and olives (Peter was daring and convinced us to buy a tray of exotic flavored varieties....I think he was the only one that liked them, but it was fun to try something new). We eat by candlight with wooden platters and talk about how daily life would have been different if we lived in the time of Christ.

After dinner we dressed everyone up and acted out the Nativity. Katy made a beautiful angel, dressed in my graduation robe. Sarah was Mary, Matthew was Joseph (in a Turkish robe), Daniel was a Shepard (wearing the ever-popular brown tablecloth), and Kelso was the baby Jesus (who tried very valiantly to escape the manger). It was pretty fun!

Oddly enough, Nathan convinced us to try a movie on Christmas Eve. You may ask: What wondrous movie did we watch on such a special night? I'm not sure how to put this....we watched the worst movie ever made. EVER.Have you ever seen "The Star Wars Holiday Special"? If you haven't, don't. Even a RiffTrack couldn't save it. George Lucas officially issued an apology for even making it. It's that bad. It was great for making fun of it and laughing....but that's the only redeeming factor. It definately made for a memorable Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was so fun. A few highlights would be-
Nathan constructed me an artist's light-box! So cool! I've want3ed one for years! This one can penetrate 3 sheets of paper!

Matthew was given a rock tumbler...which was a BIG deal. He's been saving his money for 9 months so he could buy one, and he's only reached the halfway point for the price tag. When he opened it he was SO delighted. For FHE tonight we put it together and filled it with his first batch of rocks. His other favorite gift was some glow-in-the-dark stars for his bedroom. When he saw them glowing the first night, he jumped up and down yelling, "Yay! Yay! Yay!"

Sarah's favorites were a porcelain doll and a stuffed elephant from her great-grandma Nelson. She's carried the elephant with her everywhere this week!

Daniel's favorite was a melody harp (it's actually a fmaily gift from grandma Kingsley) with sheet music. He LOVES to sit and play this harp over and over and carried it with him all over the house until we taught him that it had to stay in the music room. Now he lays on the floor on his tummy and plucks out music contentedly.

We had a large box left over from a new dishwasher we purchased (Merry Christmas to me....the old one broke!) The children have played in the box every day and slept in it several nights. What fun!

On Christmas Day we feasted on the traditional turkey, potatoes, yams, rolls, etc. A friend of mine gave me her top-secret roll recipe (she had to be able to bake this family recipe before she was allowed to marry her husband). The recipe was SOO yummy! I could have eaten just rolls for dinner! We didn't make any pies or desserts...we still were overloaded with fudges and candies...and gingerbread houses. Nathan put lights in the houses so they glowed like night lights. We left the lights on all day and night for the week of Christmas. It looked pretty neat!

A big highlight of the season for me was just spending time with Peter and Katy each night after our children were asleep. We'd eat fun cheeses and crackers, candies, fruit salsas with chips, and drink sparkling fruit juices while we played games and talked. It was like a party every night, and I really enjoyed having them here. They left for Georgia this morning, so it's quiet and lonely at night. We were so blessed to have them with us for Christmas!

Random thoughts- Take 3

1- I LOVE Nathan! Last night he made a crackling fire, pulled up the oversized chair right in front of the fire place, and brought me a big cup of cocoa with freshly whipped cream. I felt like I was in a ski lodge somewhere in the mountains.

2- I sold 6 hens this week for $125. They have a happy home in South Austin with a nice owner. I'm glad for them!

3- For Christmas my mom gave us the Safety Kids audio series. Have you ever heard of them? I love them! It's a bunch of songs to help kids learn how to be safe in a variety of situations (what to do when lost in public, what to do if someone tries to kidnap you, how to remember your telephone number, how to stay saf from drugs, how to keep our minds pure, etc.) I think they are clever and I remember them from my childhood. Our kids are in bed listening to the stories right now.

4- The Round Rock Area Arts Council exteneded a call for art work to be submitted for their annual art show. I have two unfinished paintings that I started this year. Can I finish them before the end of January? I feel a bit torn. I want to set my house in order some more before my classes start next week. Which is better?

5- I get kind of anxious when I work on some of my art projects. It's not relaxing for me at all. I get pretty worked up just trying to mix the right colors. I try modifying my color over and over and then worry about doing the brush strokes correctly and over analyze the angles. Usually I get so stressed about the painting that I reach a point where I don't care anymore and I jsut paint whatever feels fun, so it doesn't match the original concept very much. Whatever works, I guess.

6- On my first painting this year, the background mountains looked all wrong. I tried reworking the painting several times and finally white-washed it in frustration so I could start over with the blank canvas. After painting the mountains for several hours, I analyzed the new attempt, and realized soem cruel humor was afoot. The painting matched my first attemp EXACTLY. The colors were all wrong exactly like before. I laughed at it and decided not to care any more. I hung it up anyway, and I kind of feel liket hat painitng has a character of it's own. A sarcastic one.

7- My second painting is an attempt at Impressionism. It's a palace garden in France. I'll see if I can get a picture sometime soon and post the beginning stages of it here.

8- I've decided that the next home improvement project for my 'face-painting play money' will be a library. I've wanted to rip out our horrible carpets ever since we moved in, but a library has precedence over reflooring the house. My bookshelves are so full that books are precariously leaned on top of each other and balanced in towers on my dresser. I've already gone through the collections and thinned out the books that we don't really want to keep. The problem is that I love books too much to get rid of them (usually). They are some of life's best companions and I think reading is one of the best pasttimes a person could engage in. Honestly, what would you pick if you had to choose to downsize either the classics of Jane Austen or the collections of Shakespeare, or the intriguing Anatomy textbooks (I remember fondly perusing my dad's Anatomy textbooks and looking at dissected cadavers...SO cool!). They are all too life-enriching to get rid of them.

9- It will be a LONG time before I complete the library project....I have no bookings lined up for face painting since it's the slow season. The shelving will cost a couple thousand dollars......I'll be surprised if it gets built before next Christmas. Ah well, it would be a very exciting Christmas present! Until then, my books are safely perched in my room. We have all of our mismatched college bookshelves in our room....4 completely different shapes and styles. All full of books. (I feel like there should be some greedy villainous laugh here. Insert laugh now.)

10- Did you know Freemasonry is only open to men? I feel a bit cheated.

11- My classes start next week and I have mixed feelings. I'm excited to learn more about our bodies and feel my mind stretch. I'm not excited about the commute. I have a one hour drive EACH WAY to class, and it's on a Friday (again) so the traffic is especially bad, even if I leave class early. I'm not looking forward to that. Ont he other hand, the long commute is perfect for studying. I have a previous professor again, and she tests with primarily long essays. I record the essay material to a CD and listen to it while I drive, so there's a good study session. It is a bit over-stimulating to be driving in Friday's rush hour traffic in downtown Austin while listening to Nusring lectures, so I come home a little crazy, like I have ADD on hyperdrive. It's fun to make jokes about it. If you've ever called my house right when I get home, you know what I'm talking about. I talk a hundred words a second and I can't slow down.

12- Sarah is reading the Book of Mormon by herself right now. She's set s agoal to read the entire book before her next birthday so she can pray about it and decide for herself if she has a testimony about it's truthfulness and she can choose whether to be baptized. This morning she read next to me in bed. It was nice. The house was quiet and we just cuddled and read our books together.

13- Nathan brought home an electric typewriter this week. It was beign discarded at work. Sarah LOVES it and has been typing for a few hours each day. She likes to copy the texts from books or songs or write letters. She started a story today about a fairy named Adele. She has always loved making miniature books for other people, so I'm interested to see if the typewriter sparks more creative writing.

14- I guess I should stop now and go work ona painting for an hour while the children are asleep and the house is quiet. The problem is this: it takes me about 30 minutes to really get into the process and feel my groove, but then it will be late at night and I'll geel guilty for staying up. Erg. Perhaps I'll have nothing to enter in the art show this year. -sigh-

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gingerbread houses!

For Family HOme Evening we made gingerbread homes with the children. We gave them each a bowl of royal icing to dip their candy in, and they each decorated their own homes. They had a lot of fun!
Matthew put some planning into his design, as he explained to Katy: "This gumdrop on the roof is for rainwater collection, and the lifesaver collects sun energy." I guess gingerbread houses are joining the green-movement.


Nathan designed gingerbread houses for Katy and I to decorate. He and Katy baked the gingerbread walls, and Nathan made molten sugar to pour into the windows for glass panes. He was so excited to put a flickering LED light inside the homes so the windows illuminated.

We waited until the children were asleep before we started our creations. Then we stayed up late for a couple nights decorating. It was really fun to talk and eat cheeseballs for a few hours.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time-lapse Christmas decorating

This is a very sloppy first attempt at time-lapse photography. The best part is the dunk kiss at :41 and Matthew in the box.

The song is by the group "Fiddlesticks".

Friday, December 4, 2009


It's snowing today! It's the big, wet, gently-falling kind...the stuff movies are made of. Katy calls it 'Kissing Snow', perfect for a romantic scene. I love it!

Daniel and Ella jumped on the trampoline singing, "It's snowing in Texas! It's snowing on my trampoline!" They had so much fun catching snowflakes in their mouths and dancing outside while snowflakes coated their hair and eyelashes.

We made hot cocoa with candy canes in the cups, and sipped it while we watched the snow fall outside the window. What a perfect wintry day!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fun with family

My sister-in-law, Katy, is living with us for a couple months while her husband, Peter, is in military training north of us. What fun!

It's been so fun to have her around! My kids love her kids, and it's great to watch them interact. Sarah and Matthew really love holding Kelso (who is 9 months old) and playing with him. They'll beg me to let them hold him and they love to do silly dances and make him smile.

Sarah loves having a 'little sister' around to play with. She's been teaching Ella all sorts of 'girlie' things and they're enjoyed playing dolls together. When Matthew and Sarah went to school the first day back from vacation, they asked me , "Are our cousins going to still be here when we come home? Are you sure they'll be here?" When I picked them up that afternoon, before they graces me with any kiss or hug or 'hello', they asked breathlessly, "Are Ella and Kelson still at home? Can we play?". I'm gald they love their little cousins so much!

As for me, it's been great fun having Katy around. Now I have a canvas to practice whenever we would like. Recently we decided to try henna art. There is a little Indian market near our house, so we purchased some tubes of henna paste (1.50 per tube, not bad at all!) to play with. Each tube will cover about 5 hands. It was pretty fun to browse popular henna patterns online and learn the symbolism of the patterns. Bridal henna was very amazing to look at, but way too intricate for me. We settled with a flowery piece on her arm.

We did this after the children were all asleep. It was pretty educational. Henna is applied from a tube very similar to a cake-decorating tube. It was a completely new experience for me to learn this. It is a dye that stains the skin for 10-14 days, so it's nice that it doesn't wash off right away like the face paints do.