Tuesday, December 29, 2015

October 2015 Review

Falling Leaves

Fall has descended upon our house. With hundreds of trees encircling our property, we have a lot of leaves and acorns to deal with. The leaves cover the lawn, the driveway, and just about every surface they encounter. I spent a lot of time on my own raking leaves. I hired someone to also rake for a few days. And then the Elders came out and raked some more. (As of December, there are still a few patches, but they aren't bad.) Just when we raked a patch, more leaves would come down. Despite the massive amount of work that it requires to deal with the leaves- and they must be dealt with or they kill the grass, I love this season. It smells nice and it is simply beautiful!

Walter's Birthday

Walter turned 16 this month. I don't even have the words to deal with this big change. He is changing. I see it everyday. He has had a rough few months, dealing with headaches and stress. He has been running cross-country but has been challenged with painful migraines. He also got several teeth pulled for his braces. Poor kid. Because he had so much on his plate, he opted for a family dinner to celebrate his special day. I made him kebsa.

Jonathan's Birthday

Jonathan turned 6 at the end of the month. He was so cute and happy about his special day. We had a fun birthday party for him. He is still super sweet and very snuggly.


Halloween was halloween. The kids wore costumes and went trick or treating. I was cranky and tired and ended up staying home.


November 2015 Review


Walter studied and then took his driver's permit exam. He passed and now has his permit. Unfortunately, he hasn't gotten much practice of late. I need to take him out to drive around the parking lot at the town park. I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I have a teenager old enough to drive. In my mind, I still see him as my baby. I suppose this is the problem every parent faces as their children grow up.

Local Election

I worked the local election at the high school this year. This time I was a chairperson at our table, which gave me extra responsibilities, but also came with a small pay increase. It was a good day--kind of a respite from my normal family and church responsibilities. I got to read some, but we were also pretty busy. 

Church Stuff

Once again responsibilities at church ate up my time and days. We have several people in the ward with some serious needs. Three women have cancer and are undergoing treatments. Some of them have great support while others needed more help. I also had to plan and organize the Ward Thanksgiving Dinner for around 250 people. I didn't do all the cooking--but I had to make assignments and then make sure people fulfilled them. On the big day, I barely left the kitchen. It was a successful event, but I am more than glad to say it is over.

The other thing that took a lot of time was fulfilling a stake assignment to make sure all the families in the ward had a decent Thanksgiving. With the PEC, we identified families in need. I helped coordinate the delivery of boxes of food to these families. The pickup and delivery was kind of disastrous. But in the end it all worked out.

Winter vs. Eris

Eris and Winter had yet another skirmish and Winter came out the loser, again. Winter loves the kitty and is pretty gentle with her. However, sometimes the cat just can't stand the extra attention or "love" and she lashes out. This last time, Winter ended up with a Harry Potter type scratch on her forehead.

Toddler Antics

Winter is pretty sweet, but as all toddlers must, she is testing her boundaries and my limits. This means she gets in the bottom freezer a lot (whoever thought that was a good idea???). One time she pulled out a package of butter, unwrapped each stick, and then stuffed the sticks back in the butter box. She often pulls the stool or chairs up to the counter and then plays with whatever she can get her hands on. I am much more patient with her than I was with her siblings because it really is just a phase, an annoying phase for sure, but it will end.

The Vance Family Visits Us

While living in Sweden, we became close friends with another American family who moved to the area shortly after we did. We went to church together, our children went to school together, and we spent a lot of time together. When we moved, the Vance family stayed in Sweden. They have been there for ten years now. I got an email from Amy a few months ago saying that she and their four girls were going to be in Pennsylvania for the semester so her girls could experience American schools. I was thrilled for the chance to see her. We've been calling and messaging each other. Finally, in November, we talked and Amy said they could come that weekend. 

At first, it was a bit awkward because the older kids really didn't remember one another. I showed them pictures and they visited. Brooke immediately made friends with the two younger girls. We stayed up pretty late talking on Friday. On Saturday, Amy and her four girls, and Trent, Josef, Brooke, Jonathan, and I went to the city on the train. We took them around to favorite sites. We saw the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry. We walked around the city and saw the Empire State building. We enjoyed wandering around Times Square which was crowded. 

Their family went with us to church to the next day. It was so nice to spend time with them. They really are good friends. Amy and I were able to just pick up where we left off!

Thanksgiving in Kentucky

We visited my sister in Kentucky for Thanksgiving this year. Our drive was smooth and easy. The kids are such great travelers. They don't complain and we are able to drive with few stops. It was nice to see Nicole and her two girls. Her older daughter is close to Winter's age and they mostly get along.

Her baby is also just a bundle of chubby deliciousness. She is sweet and fun to hold. My other sister, Trisha was there as well. She is wrapping up her job and had to be in Cincinnati to do it. It was fun to see her two boys. I had a really great time hanging out with my sisters. We watched Little Women and spent a lot of time just visiting. We even went shopping for a bit.

Brent and I took all the kids out to the zoo for the light show which was fun. We drove home to New York on Sunday. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating visit.


Monday, December 28, 2015

December 2015 Review

It has been a whirlwind year, so I'm trying to summarize the months with pictures.


Brent turned 40 this month. He is not quite happy about it. I still have a couple years to go before I turn 40, so I'm not feeling as sympathetic as I should. We gifted him with an electric hedge trimmer. He loves getting tools for birthdays and holidays. For his birthday, we visited The Aladdin Cafe in Hopewell Junction. It is a restaurant we have been wanting to try because it features middle-eastern food. The people who own and operate it are Jordanian, so the food had a different spin on it. The food tasted homemade and very, very fresh. We all enjoyed it!

In other news, work continues to move forward for him. He submitted a couple of patent disclosures. I'm hoping that he will able to transition to a new group soon. 


This was an intense month for me with church work. We planned a wonderful Christmas music celebration which went very well. The music and performances were absolutely beautiful. I put together a Christmas dinner for 225 missionaries. It absolutely exhausted me! I also worked to help 12 families who are struggling financially to receive a special Christmas. 

The highlight of this month has to be singing Christmas music. I was able to sing in two trios. In one group, we sang, "What Sweeter Music" by John Rutter. In the other group, we sang, "My Gift, My Offering" by Sally Deford. Both pieces were so beautiful. I also sang with our ward choir and with a couple of small groups. Singing Christmas music brings me tremendous joy and happiness. During this frenetically busy and intense season, music celebrating the Savior's birth helped me focus on the essential things and allowed me to feel the Spirit.


Walter continues to work really hard on his Science Research Class. He has identified a potential mentor. He is working really hard to refine his verbal presentation. I'm so proud of his effort and hard work. He is working to improve natural language processing for a robot. He also received his patriarchal blessing on December 14th, which was really special.


Trent started wrestling again. It is a sport that he really enjoys and takes into account size and adjusts for that. I think he could be more diligent at school, but my current policy of letting it be, means I'm not worrying or nagging about it. 


Josef is playing basketball for a town league. He practices once a week and then plays on Saturday. His team has won every game so far. He is a good player, focused and skilled at handling the ball. He needs more practice shooting and making baskets. He is an asset to his team and they use and appreciate him. In this picture, Josef is the one with the ball making his way down the court.

Josef plays bass clarinet in his band. They had a concert this month. It was short and sweet. Brent had to go to the church so I was the only one who attended the concert. After he played, I took him out for frozen yogurt at Peachwave, where we had a fun time chatting about the music and basketball.


Brooke's big news for the month is that she auditioned and was cast in the role of Annie in her elementary school musical. All the leads are shared between two and three kids. Brooke will share her part with two other girls. She will sing "Tomorrow" as a solo though. She has been practicing religiously and will do great in March!


Jonathan had his First Grade Christmas Singalong performance this month. All the first graders sang several holiday songs, recited poems, and then led a singalong with favorite Christmas songs. Jonathan also played a special role as a snowman in one of the songs. The children were so darling as they sang with energy and enthusiasm. 

Jonathan's teacher organized a family ice skating party. Brent took some of the kids and they all had a great time.


Winter is my sweet girl and constant companion. She is growing so quickly. Now she is starting to say more words. She definitely understands almost everything I say to her. She likes to keep things tidy and organized and is happiest when helping me. She can dress herself and will often tell me she needs her diaper changed. I will start potty training her soon. 


I taught the younger kids how to shape lussekatter, the yummy Lucia buns we ate in Sweden. I used this recipe, which is excellent and worth trying.


In honor of Lucia Day, I brought lussekatter to Brooke's and Jonathan's classrooms. I had so much fun sharing my favorite Swedish holiday with the children. Brooke and Jonathan loved it!

December Weather

Usually in New York, December weather is blustery, cold, and snowy. We've enjoyed an unseasonably warm December. Guess what, a green Christmas in New York is actually green! (As opposed to a "brown" Green Christmas in Wyoming!) My rose plants still have leaves, but I'm sure that will change soon as colder weather is on the horizon.


We had a lovely Christmas this year. Believe it or not, even with all my extra responsibilities, we managed to keep things under control and on schedule. The kids enjoyed their gifts and we reveled in the peace and quiet of the day. 


Christmas afternoon, Brent took all the kids except Winter to a friend's house to camp. Our friend lives close to the Appalachian trail. The weather was perfect for a campout. Winter and I stayed home to relax. I cleaned up the house and then took a long bath and read a novel. It was mostly blissful, except Winter wouldn't go down very well to bed. I was also up quite a few times checking on Maia, the dog, and worrying that she would have an accident. She didn't, but I sure wasted a lot of time stressing about her. The next morning they took turns riding the zipline.

Dog Sitting

We are dog sitting Maia for our friends. Maia is a sweet, calm dog who seems to enjoy our family. She doesn't make much trouble and likes to be cuddled. Our cat, Eris, is very upset about this guest. She sometimes holds Maia hostage in one part of the house until we rescue her. 

Temple Sealing

We were invited to attend the sealing of a little boy to his family. He was a foster baby who has lived with his family for three years. They were finally able to adopt him in November. It was a lovely ceremony--with all of his siblings attending. I recommend going to the temple before Christmas. It was just what I needed to keep the Spirit of the season in my heart.


My heart has been so full of gratitude and joy this month as I have reflected on the Savior's birth and what that has meant to me personally. I feel overwhelmed with happiness at the good things in my life. I have a loving, kind, and good husband who brings me joy. My children are healthy and capable. My needs and many of wants are fulfilled. I'm grateful for a warm and comfortable home, for the ability to prepare and eat delicious food. I'm grateful for the comfort and peace found in the scriptures. I'm grateful for the joy I feel in my life.