Friday, December 26, 2014

My Top 14 for 2014

Before I start my year review, I want to say something. . . I know it can be painful to read about all the awesome things happening in someone's else life when your life is going really badly. Not all years have been terrific for me. One year, the most positive thing I could say about it was that no one tried to sue us. After my third son was born, I spent his first year really, really sick and was eventually diagnosed with lupus. So in sharing my successes and happiness from this year, I do not wish to demean or hurt those of you who have had a really bad year. Sometimes the most that can be said about a year is that you survived and it is over. My own life experience has shown me that good things ebb and flow and that surviving hard years should be appreciated as much as those blessings. Those hard years and really difficult times do make the good years sweeter and more appreciated. If this has been an awful year for you, hugs to you. I hope you keep pressing on and that 2015 will be a much better year for you.

In no particular order, here are the blessings and things that happened to us that I am most grateful.

1) After a labor that the only good thing I can say about was that it was short (see not everything is awesome), our second daughter and sixth child was born. She was/is perfect. In less than a year she has gone from a sleepy, swaddled baby to a tiny little thing determinedly walking, climbing, and moving independently. We adore her. She brings tremendous happiness and peace to our home.

2) After a year of much suffering and difficulty, seeing my second son transform from a homework shirker/procrastinator to a dedicated, serious student. I can't even begin to describe the struggles we've had in the last year, his transformation is nothing short of a miracle. This kid has also joined two different sports and is thriving with his participation.

3) Enjoying the wonders of our yard and our garden. It has been so satisfying to work in our yard and pull weeds. Pulling weeds is surprisingly therapeutic. Eating the bounty from our garden was delightful.

4) Watching my youngest son start kindergarten as a very young student and blossom and grow.

5) My eight-year old daughter was baptized this summer. She is such a gift to me. Her kindness, intellect, personality, and loveliness bring me great happiness and delight.

6) My oldest son is doing well in school, has friends, and is active in sports. He is an incredible baker, has a wicked sense of humor, and is super fun. No one told me how fun teenagers can be. And this kid is a lot of fun. He is also kind, responsible, and hard-working.

7) Scrapbooking continues to be fun and inspiring to me. I don't craft as much as I would like, but I still continue to be engaged and happy with scrapbooking.

8) Hugs from this boy. I love spending time with him. I appreciated his desire to spend time with me. He is still making his way, trying to figure out where he fits in. He doesn't make much of a fuss about stuff preferring to think and act quietly.

9) Seriously experiencing one of my best summers in New York. The key to enjoying a New York summer? Air Conditioning--seriously has changed my whole life!

10)  This man, seriously. I won't gush. But he is awesome.

11) Getting to spend time with my in-laws. They are some of the best people I know and I adore them.

12) Spending an afternoon with our some dear friends with Sweden. They brought back a flavor of our beloved Swedish home.

13) Getting to travel, see family, and explore different places. I went to Las Vegas for my niece's wedding and saw many of my family members. We had a fabulous weekend at a friend's compound in the Adirondacks. We traveled to Ohio to enjoy spending time with my sisters and to celebrate the birth of a new niece. 

14) Exploring New York and enjoying the wonderful state in which I live.

Happy 2014!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Husband

I don't often post about my husband. He doesn't always like the publicity or attention. However, tomorrow is his birthday and I want to share why I love him and why he is so important to me.

I have known this man for most of my life. We grew up together in a small town, were friends for many years, and then fell in love in college after he served his mission in Sweden. I have always admired and respected him. I still can't believe my incredible luck in being his wife.

I still get chills when he kisses me. Being with him makes me happiest. When he was traveling back and forth to Saudi Arabia and was gone all the time, I was so unhappy and stressed. Even with all the stress of moving, when we were finally together again, I felt like I could face any challenge or storm.

His touch calms my stress and nerves. When I went to the hospital for my induction for my last baby, he had to drop me off at the hospital first and then get the children to school and to the babysitter. I felt pretty calm, but when he walked into my room, sat down beside me, and took my hand, the nurse remarked that my heart rate slowed and all my vitals became calm.

He has beamed with joy each time he has held our six newborn children, just minutes after they were born. 

He has also held me and wept with me as we have faced hard things such as my lupus diagnosis, job uncertainty, a devastating and very difficult miscarriage, financial hardships, illness, and loss of family members. He is a rock to me and I know that when our hard times come, we'll make it through together. 

He is one heck of a dad. All his kids adore him and love spending time with him. He plays board games with them, takes them sledding, builds snow forts and leaf houses for them. My boys have always wanted to grow up and be fathers because of his tremendous example to them. 

He is my best friend. We often stay up too late, talking--sometimes arguing, but most often talking though. He is a fabulous dancer. He loves singing. He is a tremendous and creative chef.

He doesn't like paying for other people to do jobs he knows he can do. For example, he figured out how to clean our chimney. He installed our wood stove insert into our fireplace. He studied the town codes and made sure the installation would pass inspection. When something needs fixing, my first instinct is to call someone, but he usually knows how to fix it, and if he doesn't, he studies it and figures out how to do it. 

The man is wicked smart and has the ability to learn and diversify his skills. He got his PhD in Nanotechnology. Now he works on improving the materials for solar cells. His efforts and talents are making our planet a better place. He is a published scientist, with many, many published journal articles to his name. Even better, he genuinely enjoys his work and loves understanding how and why things work at their most fundamental level. He also creams me at Words with Friends--which makes me mad and oddly proud at the same time.

He is a faithful and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He honors his priesthood and keeps his covenants. He tries very hard to lead our family with righteousness and love. 

He volunteers his time and talents. He loves working with the scouts. This past summer, he spent an entire week at camp with the boy scouts. He does demonstrations at my children's schools about science and presents the wonders of science in an enthusiastic and exciting manner. 

He shares and understands my passion for travel. He keeps fulfilling my dreams. I can't wait to see where he'll take me next!

He holds my heart and soul in his hands--treating me like a queen. I love him. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An Advent Calendar: Selections from Handel's Messiah and some Artwork

December 1

The first recitative in the Messiah is a tenor piece, based on the text from Isaiah 40:1-3, which reads, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." 

This performance from Youtube is quite nice.

And I loved this painting with Isaiah and Ezekiel flanking Mary and the Christ child. I like the softness and sensitivity of this piece. 



Sunday, November 16, 2014

On a Sunday

Sometimes I feel that Sundays are so full that I don't really get to rest or rejuvenate as much as I would like. This morning I was awake by 7 am and the day was jammed full. . . Somehow, it was rejuvenating. These are some moments that I hope to remember.

My oldest son dressed the baby in her very frilly dress. He talked and soothed her as he wrestled with the dress. He is going to be a great father one day.

My third son brought his knitting to church. He has been diligently working on a scarf. The knitting kept his hands busy, which left his ears open to listen. He was much more reverent today. I'm going to make sure that he has something to keep his hands busy in the future because it made the meeting go much smoother for everyone in the family.

My two daughters wore matching dresses. They both looked so pretty and sweet.

Two of the speakers in Sacrament Meeting were particularly good. One sister, whose English is halting, gave a wonderful talk in Spanish filled with wisdom about families. Her husband then delivered his speech in English, which was surely a great challenge. I was touched by their efforts and their dedication to do hard things.

We discussed Elder Holland's talk about the cost and blessings of discipleship. I was touched by the stories of converts in our ward shared the cost and challenges they had faced by joining the church. I haven't sacrificed so much and yet have been so blessed.

My daughter's friends were baptized today in a beautiful ceremony. The room was full of happy people.

Our wood stove is warm and makes our home feel cozy. My husband is handsome and loves me.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pictures from a Las Vegas Wedding

My niece got married at the Las Vegas Temple over the weekend. It was a beautiful wedding. We took some wonderful pictures there. Here are some of my favorites.
 My darling nieces, Hallie and Leslie. 
 Hunter, my nephew.
My sister, Shelly, and Winter. 
My nieces, Ashelly and Jessica, with their friend, Becca.
 Two of my nephews, Riley and Spencer.
 My sister, Stephanie and Winter.
 My sister, Nicole, with her husband, Morgan, and their daughter, Leslie.
 Nicole and Leslie.
 My niece, Katie, and her new husband, Rick.
 My niece, Lindsey and her son, Grayson. My niece, Kylie and Cami, the wife of my nephew, Matthew.
 My beautiful mama and me.
 My mom, my sister, Lori, and her children, Hallie and Hunter.
 Nicole and I with our babies, Leslie and Winter.
 The babies, Leslie and Winter, were not impressed with their pretty dresses. They griped and complained to one another, which was completely adorable.
 Pretty Winter and me. 
 My sister, Lori, and Winter.
 My sisters, Lori and Nicole, holding Winter.
 Nicole and Winter
 My nieces, Hallie, Hattie, and Sophie
 Nicole and me holding our babies. Leslie and Winter were not impressed with being swapped. Neither baby liked that their mamas were holding the other one.
 Me holding Leslie. She was not happy. She just wanted her mama, not her aunt!
 My dear dad.
 Dad and Nicole
 Dad and Shelly
 Dad and Stephanie
 Mom and Dad with seven of the eight girls: Amy, Nicole, Mom, Dad, Stephanie, Shelly, Lori, Trisha, and me.
 My sister, Amy with her husband, Greg, and their daughter, Katie with her new husband, Rick.
 My sisters, Shelly and Amy.
 My three older sisters, Shelly, Amy, and Stephanie. I am number four in our family.
 Driving down the strip in Las Vegas after the wedding.
 Leslie was so tired after the wedding.
 Winter was also grumpy.
My niece, Katie with her husband, Rick, and me.