Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recap of Goals

This was my list of goals for 2015:
  • Schedule every day
  • Set monthly goals
  • Buy a home
  • Fence in Backyard
  • Help Grig get his Welding Certificate
  • Exercise 5x a week
  • Read scriptures daily
  • Memorize The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  • Finish and publish one novel
    • January: Finish 1st draft
    • February: Edit
    • March-April: Re-write
    • May: Edit
    • June: submit to publisher
Ha ha. I didn't do so well.

On the positive side, I did accomplish some goals. 

We did buy a home, and Grig got his necessary welding certificates. I read scriptures most days, and finished the first draft of the novel. I didn't finish it by my goal time, but I've nearly finished my second draft, and once that's done, I'll be asking some people to read and edit it for me. Grig advised me to re-write it before I handed it out, and he was right. It was a good idea. I have exercised more this year, but not always consistently. 

On the negative side, I left a lot undone. 

I didn't memorize "The Living Christ" or "The Family." We didn't fence in our backyard (it is already fenced in, but we were going to redo it with a more permanent fence. Hopefully we'll be able to afford that next year. I didn't schedule every day, though I did do it often, and I forgot to set monthly goals. As you can see from my blog yesterday, the year was pretty busy. 

So, I accomplished about half of my goals. I accomplished some that I didn't know I was going to have, like help Grig find a new job, but on the whole, I can do better next year. I'll be setting new goals soon, and some of them may be repeats, but if you don't accomplish a goal, you might need to set it again. 

I've now looked at my year's goals. It gives me some ideas for what I want to accomplish next year. 

That's good, right?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The End of a Year

I saw my cousin's blog post today, which reminded me that 2015 is nearly over.

Am I the only one who thinks that's crazy?

It has been one hectic year, and it's hard to believe it's almost over. A few really neat things have happened this year, and a few really scary things. Mostly though, it's been a fantastic year with a lot of blessings.

Here is my year in review:

January: We were closing on buying our home. Most of my thoughts and energy were aimed toward that, and getting our taxes in. Once we'd finalized everything on the house, January was pretty much over.

February: We moved into our new house. It's hard to believe that this was over 10 months ago. In some ways, it feels like we've always lived here, and in other ways, it feels like we just moved in. Most of February was spent packing/unpacking and cleaning.
I still love my kitchen!
March: Honestly, I didn't remember what happened in March until I just went and looked at my pictures. It turns out that this was the month that Grig's sister came to live with us. We had our one good snowstorm of last winter, and Kevin built his first snowman. We were still adjusting to our new surroundings, and enjoying our backyard. We got a fish, and killed it.

April: We got another fish. We spent time at Baby Animal Days, and cleaned up a lot of our property. We were hoping that this fish would last longer, but unfortunately, it too died a few months later. No more fish for us for a while.

 May: Nothing too exciting happened in May. Just a lot of enjoying having a backyard and spending time with (relatively) old and new friends. Dakota was still doing pretty well at this point, and she loved laying in our long grass. (We hadn't purchased a lawn mower yet.)

June: We had our first family camping trip! We also nearly got a kitten, but decided at the last minute not too. Only a few days after we made that decision, we found out that Grig was going to lose his job by the end of October. That made us really glad that we'd listened to answers that we'd received when we prayed about bringing the kitten home with us.

The dogs loved camping. It makes me so happy to think about Dakota on that trip. She wasn't moving the best, but she was so happy! We nearly didn't bring her, because we didn't know how well she'd feel, but I am so glad that we brought her. She loved every minute of it. I hadn't seen her so joyful in a long time!

 July: July was a busy month that started with a family reunion. We had a great time with my Mom's side of the family and enjoyed hiking in the woods and playing in the lake. Arkhon also turned 1. He is officially an adult! We also took Kevin to the zoo where they had animatronic dinosaurs. He love that!
 August: We had a family reunion with my dad's side of the family, and afterward I went to live in Idaho for the rest of August and half of September while I helped to work on apartments. It's always difficult to spend time away from my husband, but with his impending joblessness, we were grateful for the extra income.

September: After arriving home after being gone for several weeks, we had one exciting event after the other. Grig's two brothers moved in to live in our basement, so we had three of Grig's siblings in the house. A couple weeks after I got back, Grig's sister's health suddenly went downhill and she ended up in the hospital. They were able to stabilize her, but found that she had a brain tumor. She then flew home to recover and prepare for surgery with her parents.

The day she got back to Viginia, Dakota took a turn for the worse. Only a couple of days later, my fifteen-year-old dog passed away. She's missed, but I know she's much happier now.
 October: Things quieted down as October started, but we were also looking unemployment in the face, and it was fairly stressful. Grig was frantically applying for jobs, but we had felt a great deal of peace, and knew that things were going to be okay. We just didn't know when. Grig's final day of work was October 31st, and as we celebrated Halloween, we still didn't have any offers, though Grig was able to volunteer to work one extra week in a different department. He quickly asked to do so.
 November: As Grig worked the first week in November, he received a call asking him to come in for an interview. Before the week was over, he had a job offer, and he started the new job the following Monday. Our prayers had been answered! We were very grateful on Thanksgiving. We had a lot to be thankful for.
 December: The new job is going well, and we were able to have a fantastic Christmas. It truly has been a wonderful year, and we're excited to see what next year will bring! We've lost one member of our little family, but hopefully the Lord will see fit to increase our numbers in the coming year.
Happy New Year, everyone! May you set attainable goals that will bring you happiness and joy!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Celebrations

We had a wonderful Christmas weekend.

It was super nice, because Christmas landed on Friday, so Grig ended up with a four day weekend after they decided to take Thursday off too.

We had a very busy day Thursday. We finished making and sending off our Christmas cards, and then we went around and delivered Christmas treats to our neighbors. We had a great time doing that. Grig pulled Kevin in a sled on top of the snow, and they both really enjoyed that.

Then, after we got home from that, Grig went and picked up Havelock from work. Once they returned, we packed a sleeping Kevin into the car (which promptly woke him up) and traveled to my grandmother's home for dinner and Christmas Eve celebrations.

After a wonderful concert from my cousins, we ate dinner and then acted out the nativity. We had a great time, though half-way through the concert we realized that we forgot to eat lunch. Kevin was being pretty grumpy, and once we fed him a little bit, I realized why I was feeling so hungry too.


After the party, we went home and got Kevin ready for bed. We took a stocking picture with all the younger people in the house.
I love this picture
Then, Arkhon helped Kevin to fall asleep so that Santa could come. 

Grig's sister and brother-in-law came and joined us around 10:00 p.m., and we hung out with them for a while before bed. 

The next morning (around 7:30 a.m.), Kevin was kicking me in the face, so I decided it was time to wake up. I said, "Kevin, Santa brought you presents."

He had been laying there half-awake, but as soon as I said that, his bright blue eyes popped open and he said, "What?!"

It was pretty cute. He helped me wake his daddy up, and then we went and looked at presents. 

Everyone was excited by their Santa gifts. After we'd looked at them all, we opened one present and then made and ate breakfast. 

I also got to skype with my younger brother who is on a mission. That was a lot of fun, but it took a while for my sound to cut on, so I couldn't hear what was going on for a while. They could hear me though, so I'm sure they had a great time listening to me say, "I can't hear you!"

After we'd finished talking to my family and eating, we finished opening presents. It took a while, because we had some very generous people, and one particular friend from Texas, send us some wonderful gifts. 

We also skyped with Grig's parents, other siblings, and grandmother in Virginia. It was good to see everyone from there as well. 

Kevin may have been a little spoiled this Christmas. :)
He sure was excited about all his gifts
He was the most excited about gummy worms that Santa brought him, a little swimming fish that he received from my Texas friend, and a shield he got from his grandma.

Grig and I were also very spoiled this holiday. I got a number of things that I am quite excited about, including all three Lion King movies and a blender. I also got some really cute sweaters from my Texan friend. She's the sweetest lady ever!

There was a point this year, that we didn't think we were going to be able to have any Christmas at all. Not only were we blessed with a wonderful Christmas, but we were able to help some other people with Christmas as well. It's been a pretty wonderful holiday.

We spent the rest of the morning/afternoon spending time with family. Around 3ish, Grig's sister and husband left and we began to pack. Our goal was to leave for Idaho by 5, but we didn't get finished loading until after 6. We had a nice ride up though, and we spent the rest of the weekend with my family. 

Kevin received "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" from his cousin, and all of the little kids really enjoyed that.

Saturday, we went to my father's school and played in the gym. Here a purposefully blurry picture I took. (I try not to show clear pictures without permission). 

We had a lot of fun. We ate and spent time together, and then, at 7:00, we went and watched the new Star Wars movie. 

It was amazing. That's all I'm going to say about it.

When we got home, Kevin was pretty tired and beginning to act sick. He coughed a lot during the night, and by the next morning, we decided he should stay home from church. Grig and I traded off staying home with him, so that we were both able to go to part of church. 

Then, after a wonderful lunch, some games, and some baby-cuddling, we headed back to Utah. 

We got home at around 8 last night. We'd had a great time, but it was good to be home. Kevin has a bit of a fever today, but he's sleeping in, so I think he'll be just fine. 

I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas! It was really good to spend time with our family. That's really what makes the holiday season wonderful!

Monday, December 21, 2015

MM: Season of Giving

We've been focusing a lot recently on why we give gifts at Christmas.

It's been really important to Grig and I that Kevin understands the purpose of Christmas. We really want him to know that it is supposed to be about Christ.
A portrait of Christ in a red robe against a gray background, looking out toward the viewer.
Don't get me wrong, I love Santa Claus. I think the whole tradition is a lot of fun and it's one of the things that I really look forward to at Christmas. I even dreamed that it was Christmas Eve last night and we were getting ready for everything.

However, I have also been realizing that it's up to us to make Christmas non-commercialized in our home. I never really felt like Christmas was all that commercialized. My parents didn't focus on Santa that much, and when Christmas came we were excited about our presents, but there were a lot of Christ-centered traditions that we also looked forward to and loved.

Christmas was about family and about the birth of our Savior. Each Christmas Eve we acted out the Nativity and read the story from the Bible. I loved playing the donkey and letting Mary ride on my back. (Usually a younger sibling played Mary.)

We would also read the story and place the pieces of my parents' olive wood Nativity set up on a shelf as we talked about each character. It was beautiful, and we always waited to put baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas Eve.

Grig and I are still new at this whole marriage business, and we're still figuring out our own traditions. This year has been especially exciting for me, because Kevin is really starting to understand what Christmas is all about and what is going to happen.

With that increased understanding, have come increased opportunities for teaching. We've been trying really hard to explain the reason that Santa Claus brings gifts on Christmas. We've tried to stress that we give and receive gifts on Christmas because the wise men gave gifts to the Savior, and the Savior himself was the greatest gift that we've ever received.

I don't know how much Kevin understands, but I know as we keep trying to help him understand that Santa is a symbol of Christ, that our home will be filled with the right kind of spirit each Christmas.

Speaking of the man in the red suit, Kevin went to visit him tonight. He was so excited to see him...until he actually saw him. Suddenly, he didn't want to let go of my leg. We did make him take a picture, but he wasn't very happy about it.
Poor Kevin. We've probably traumatized him for life. 

Santa was a good sport, and afterwards, Kevin thanked him and wished him a Merry Christmas. It ended up being a good experience.

It did make me think a bit however. I was thinking about how Kevin would have reacted if Christ had been sitting there instead of Santa. I really think that if it had been Christ sitting there, that Kevin wouldn't have been scared. I think he would have ran right up to him and climbed on his knee. I hope that I would also not be frightened or guilt-ridden, but that I would want to run up to him and hug him, or even just sit next to him and listen to him.

As the Christmas season has been upon us, I've really been trying to focus my studies on Christ. I feel like I don't know Him as well as I want to. I believe in Him, and I know with all my heart that He lives, but I don't feel as close to Him as I want to. I'm trying to rectify that.

The other night, someone rang our doorbell. We went to answer it, and we found that no one was there, but someone had left of box of food on our porch.

I have no idea who did that, but I feel so grateful to them. We aren't starving, and we've been blessed abundantly this holiday, but it means the world that someone thought about our family and wanted to do something nice for us. It really made me grateful for the wonderful area that we live in, and for the incredible people we know.

I know that Christmas can be about our Savior. I know that as we try to emulate Him this holiday season, that the spirit of Christ was permeate our homes and bring peace to our souls. I know that as we look for ways to serve others, that we will become more like Christ, and will be able to help others find peace and joy in their hearts as well.

Merry Christmas!

May you each have the kind of holiday that will give you pleasant memories for years to come.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Adventures

Kevin sure loves to play with his uncles. We really enjoy having them around. He prays for them constantly, and gets super excited when they come home. When they're gone, he always asks me where they are. They get along really well with their nephew.

Arkhon was playing ball with us, and Grig started laughing. This is the face he showed me:
He's such a funny dog.

Last Saturday turned into quite the adventure.We had been planning for a few weeks to go see the temple lights with one of my mission companions and her family. However, the day before, we found out that one of Grig's friends had passed away. Her funeral was earlier Saturday morning, and so we decided to go down earlier and attend the funeral.

We were a little late, but we made it. They ended up feeding us lunch afterward, and it was really good to meet some of Grig's friends, even though it was for a sad reason.

Afterwards, we had a couple free hours, and we went shopping for a few more Christmas things. We had a pretty good time. We found a fun kid store and we had so much fun that we were a bit late meeting our friends.

Eventually, we managed to find them, and we had a great time. Here are some pictures from the Salt Lake Temple grounds.
Our family and the lights
I love this picture!
We were really impressed at the sheer number of lights. It would have taken forever to place them all!
This is a picture of the nativity and the temple. I really liked how this one turned out.
Afterward, we went up to the top of the Conference Center and saw the lights from above. Grig had never been on the roof of the Conference Center before, so it was really neat to look at the temple form that angle.

Monday, it snowed! Grig's brother helped us shovel, and then he played with Kevin in the snow for a bit. We have a bit of an incline in our front yard, and it makes a pretty good sledding hill for Kevin.

It was a lot of fun to finally have enough snow to play in.

Arkhon loves the snow! He likes to catch snowballs in his mouth and rip them apart. He had a great time playing outside with us too!

We are really blessed. I am so grateful for our home and our family. The picture below was taken last night. It reminded me of the dog poker painting.

Arkhon's a good sport.
Game time!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Decorating for Christmas

A week before Thanksgiving, I couldn't help myself.

I was too excited about Christmas, so I asked Grig if he would be alright if we set up our Christmas decorations the 23rd of November for Family Home Evening.

He's pretty cool, so he said yes.

So, we got out the decorations and had a great time. We listened to Christmas music and put up our tree and lights. Today's blog is going to be a little picture heavy, but it's been a long time since I've posted, so I think that's ok.

Kevin had a great time!

This year, Kevin could hang the ornaments on himself.

We added a new ornament this year, in memory of Dakota.
We bought a new Christmas star. Our one form last year broke.I think it looks pretty awesome!

Our family Christmas picture.
I know, it's a terrible thing to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. However, for some reason I've been especially excited this year. It's probably because it's our first Christmas in our new house, or maybe because Kevin is getting older and is really excited this year too. 

Maybe both.

We took some pictures with Arkhon and Kevin. Arkhon wasn't too excited about it, but he was pretty awesome about putting up with it anyway.

He was a good sport.
Kevin sure enjoyed himself

Arkhon wasn't too excited about it...until I brought out a hot dog for a treat! Then he was all smiles!
These two are awesome.

As you prepare for Christmas, enjoy yourselves. This is supposed to be a time of fun and joy and peace. We're trying to do the same!

Merry Christmas!