Lots of favorite memories from this activity. I thought it would be FUN to have my cute little Sunbeams over to the house for a PARTY DAY! I sent them all invitations, and I had many cute little voice messages from 3 year olds on my answering machine telling me they could come!
Thankgoodness my two "Santa Helpers" were home that day from their other Christmas Adventures. I recruited Karianne and Kelsie to come give me a hand. Who knew it would take that many hands to put together Gingerbread houses!
I love how Barak brought his big sister Cayenne to help help him!
I love howJaden wore his coat all the time and kept peeking out the door
to see if his Grandma Ginger was waiting for him.
I love how Dylan just wanted to eat candy - he said "it's a party so you're just supposed to EAT CANDY!" and wanted to take his pizza home in a zip baggy!
I love how Charlottekept asking where "Grandpa Klein" was :)
I love how Kayla stayed and finished her house and ate pizza and talked and talked after everyone else was gone!
Just a few scenes from home - I love the quietness and the lights of Christmas at our house this year. Even though it seems like we've had a houseful of people throughout the season - at night and in the early mornings it is so beautiful and quiet.
I love the sights and sounds of Christmas.
Kelsie was my holiday decorator this year.
I think she did a wonderful job!
I love how at Christmas time, the generosity of friends and neighbors becomes apparent on my kitchen counter. The yummy treats, snacks, chocolates, homemade ornaments, precious gifts from precious friends - all adorn my kitchen and make it my favorite room in the house.
There's nothing like visiting Hawaii in the winter time when it really begins to get freezing cold here and you step off the plane in Hawaii and feel that tropical air, no parkas, boots, mittens, gloves . . . it's the most wonderful feeling.
That's what we experienced this last week when my sister, Kim and I traveled to the Big Island with our girls. We were so grateful for each one of them that could make the trip. With these busy girls, jobs, college, LIFE, it's just so hard to get them together anymore - and it's their favorite thing in the world to spend time with each other!
We feel kinda spoiled because we used mom and dad's time share week for our accomodations and it was gorgeous, flew standby on dad's Delta passes (which we were all lucky enough to be placed in first class because apparently no one else is traveling right now - a wonderful opportunity!) so who could pass up Hawaii in December?
Probably, my very favorite activities were visiting Hapuna beach - the waves there were fantastic and the kids had a blast playing in them. It's up north on the Kona Kahala coast. About a 30 minutes drive from our condo. Also, kayaking to the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua bay and snorkeling there. The snorkeling at the monument is some of the best and my favorite snorkeling to be found anywhere in the world.
The most beautiful Kona Hawaii Temple - we attended church on Sunday at a little LDS chapel located right next to the temple. It was so beautiful! I love fast and testimony meeting in Hawaii. You can always feel the spirit so strong. I love how each members gets up and greets everyone with an "Aloha".
It was pretty sad to come home to a blizzard, snowy roads and freezing temps in Salt Lake City again. Made me want to get back on the plane!
Kayaking Adventure Story -
We actually had quite an adventure on our kayaking trip. We had beautiful weather our whole trip except the day we kayaked. We started out early in the morning, that's when snorkeling is the best, and the weather was fine. It's about a one mile kayak trip across the bay from where you put in the kayaks to the monument and the snorkeling location. While we were at the Cook monument the wind picked up and the rain clouds began to roll in. In my experience, rain on the islands is not uncommon, it usually comes frequently and goes as fast as it comes. So we weren't too concerned. As the clouds began to get blacker and blacker and the wind was picking up we thought we better head back across the bay and get the kayaks out of the water.
Just as we started paddling back, the rain began to pour down in buckets. We almost turned back to wait out the storm in the shelter of some trees, but three of the girls had gone ahead of us in a three person kayak and we were having trouble seeing them since the swells were now about 15 feet high. So we thought we better try to keep up with them and be sure they were okay. It was pretty trecherous crossing the bay, wind blowing, rain pouring, riding the swells up and down and up and down. But we all made it back safe and sound. The girls thought it was the coolest thing ever. Good for them! Grandma and Grandpa were waiting on the other side to take our pictures in the pouring rain when we arrived. Good thing we didn't turn back to wait . . . in an very uncommon occurence, the rain continued to pour down for the whole rest of the day. Most of the islanders we talked to said they had never seen it rain like that EVER on that part of the island. There was reports on the news that night of flooding on Oahu, and in Hilo. Roads were closed and washed out everywhere. We'd still be sitting under that tree in the pouring rain probably if we'd waited!
I've been out of town with my two girls, sister, nieces, one nephew and my parents for the last 10 days. We had so many great experiences which I'll be blogging about soon. But I had a lot of catching up to do on the many wonderful posts I missed while I was gone. I was particularly inspired by this one from my friend Jackie, "I am Falling in Love" that contained a link to the Mother Letter Project. I feel like it's a site everyone should visit and hope you have time to get involved. It's a great way to experience some additional inspiration at this Christmasy time of year.
Anyway - it inspired me - and since I've put my Christmas preparations on hold for a little bit while watching 6 inches of snow pile up in my front yard - I added my experience to the Mother Letter Project with this letter:
I'm a Labor & Delivery nurse at one of the hospitals in my city. One of my favorite Christmas memories that I treasure was made while working one Christmas Eve, late when everything had calmed down, the patients and most of the new babies were sleeping. I was alone in the nursery with one brand new tiny little infant boy whose mother was exhausted from a difficult labor process and sleeping, just he and I and a rocking chair. And as I rocked the tiny infant, just so newly born, I was intimately reminded of Mary and the Christ child, born so long ago on that first Christmas Eve. And I couldn't help thinking if she had any idea of the greatness of the mission of her son, of the grand works he would accomplish, the love that he would create amongst mankind. Just as the sleeping mother of the little infant boy could never imagine the great joys and sorrows that perhaps awaited their family surrounding the birth of this little baby.
At that time of my life, I had four little ones at home ages 4 to 13 years of age. It occurred to me at that moment that I was like Mary, I had no idea what great and marvelous things were awaiting my family and specifically my little ones throughout their lives. I was certain that these experiences could contain great pain, yet knew that they would also be greatly blessed in so many ways, and that whatever trials and adversities might come their way, would be a gift in their lives to strengthen and teach them. In reality sent from a loving Heavenly Father who knows and loves each one of his earthly children.
In a way, I kind of made a resolution within myself that night, that I would never take motherhood for granted. That I would enjoy and bask in every minute of it from the adversities to the great joys. That I would be confident in my role as a mother, the importance of being there for their comings and goings, the importance of nurturing and example, regardless of what the current portrayal of women and mothers by the world may be. And now many years later, I still treasure that memory, still treasure each moment of motherhood, still try to find joy in adversity and hardship, and always faith and hope for the future. My wish is that all mothers everywhere might experience and realize their intrinsic value. What a great and noble role is motherhood. Merry Christmas to you!
Copy and paste this to your blog and BOLD the ones that you HAVE done.
1. Started your own blog (of course) 2. Slept under the stars (an occasional night on the tramp with the kids when they were little, most recently every night at Lake Powell!) 3. Played in a band 4. Visited Hawaii (one of my three favorite places on earth) 5. Watched a meteor shower (this summer at 3:00 am from the tramp) 6. Given more than you can afford to charity 7. Been to Disneyland (But not in a long long time) 8. Climbed a mountain (Timpanooke to the top of Timpanogus, a great hike and a new annual tradition) 9. Held a praying mantis (I admire them from a distance though) 10. Sang a solo 11. Bungee jumped 12. Visited Paris (another one of my three favorite places) 13. Watched a lightning storm at sea 14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (knitting – I read a book and made a total of one wash cloth, but I'm still trying when I have time that I don't know what to do with) 15. Adopted a child 16. Had food poisoning 17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty 18. Grown your own vegetables (ahhhh! Summer time – I love the garden - sigh!) 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (and I wasn't all that impressed but it is interesting) 20. Slept on an overnight train (Venice to Bern, the conductor forgot to wake us up in the morning and we almost missed our stop, had to throw all our backpacks out the window - ha!) 21. Had a pillow fight 22. Hitch hiked (sadly I must admit to this one in my ski bum college days) 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (yep, guilty again) 24. Built a snow fort (at our cabin in the winter time when I was much younger and warmer) 25. Held a lamb 26. Gone skinny dipping 27. Run a Marathon 28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (it was so fun, the gondolier let my kids wear their hats and they looked so cute) 29. Seen a total eclipse 30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (my favorite sunsets are in Hawaii) 31. Hit a home run (I wish!) 32. Been on a cruise (just a short 4 day one, and I'm longing for the Caribbean) 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Vienna Austria) 35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught yourself a new language (French actually) 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (are you kidding me – but I'm really really really happy!) 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person 39. Gone rock climbing 40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (I love Florence and the Accademia) 41. Sung karaoke 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (yep, waited around the park for that a couple of times in my life) 43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant 44. Visited Africa 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight 46. Been transported in an ambulance 47. Had your portrait painted 48. Gone deep sea fishing 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (an awesome experience, except we almost lost Karianne as they were closing the Vatican museum and she didn't quite make it in the door behind us – we had to dash back out and find her) 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (I love Paris in springtime, I love Paris in the Fall . . .) 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Hawaii – my favorite place is the Cook Monument, Kealakekua Bay with a kayak) 52. Kissed in the rain 53. Played in the mud (I remember many time, gleefully tromping around in the mud after big rainstorms with my brothers and sisters) 54. Gone to a drive-in theater (I once saw “The Deep” in pouring pouring rain at a drive in – it was way too realistic) 55. Been in a movie/commercial 56. Visited the Great Wall of China 57. Started a business (Not me personally, but I did support my husband in starting a business) 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia 60. Served at a soup kitchen 61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I really like the 'thin mints' the best) 62. Gone whale watching (Maui) 63. Got flowers for no reason (Everyone needs flowers frequently) 64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (as often as I can, like this Thursday) 65. Gone sky diving 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp 67. Bounced a check (that was embarrassing) 68. Flown in a helicopter 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (handmade cradle set made for my by my Grandpa Morey, I'm saving it for my grandbabies) 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (1980, the summer before I got married) 71. Eaten Caviar 72. Pieced a quilt 73. Stood in Times Square (it's an awesome feeling about 1:00 am) 74. Toured the Everglades 75. Been fired from a job 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (kinda boring actually) 77. Broken a bone 78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Norm once took me all the way to Logan on a motorcycle, I thought my parents were gonna die when they found out) 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (fun family vacation) 80. Published a book 81. Visited the Vatican (the week before Easter, in 2000, it was awesome!) 82. Bought a brand new car (only twice, a little Mazda 626, and my little Subaru Outback, I felt sooo spoiled) 83. Walked in Jerusalem (no, but I really would love to do this one!) 84. Had your picture in the newspaper (wedding announcement) 85. Read the entire Bible (when I was a teenager) 86. Visited the White House (also, right before I got married) 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 88. Had chickenpox (those ones in your hair are the worst) 89. Saved someone’s life 90. Sat on a jury 91. Met someone famous (I worked for Orrin Hatch when I was in high school and once got to shake the hand of Governor Ronald Reagan, who later became President of the United States) 92. Joined a book club (reading Digging to America for next month, I love Book club!) 93. Lost a loved one (my grandparents on both sides) 94. Had a baby (4 times!) 95. Seen the Alamo in person 96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (when I was really little) 97. Been involved in a law suit 98. Owned a cell phone (yep, we had one of those early brick style ones) 99. Been stung by a bee (my dad was a beekeeper – I used to hate it, but loved the honey)
I get really excited about almost every holiday. I think that came from growing up in a household where my mom always went to a lot of work to make the holidays special days. I've been looking forward to Thanksgiving since about hmmmm . . . the day after Halloween, the most recent holiday we celebrated at our home. Every couple of years we host a family gathering at our home for Thanksgiving. That usually ranges anywhere from a dinner for 10-40 people depending on the year and the family. This year I think were expecting about 27 people, a mixture of our family, my husbands family (it's the Klein year), and many of our BYU student friends.
I'm thankful for the blessing of having everyone gather in our home.
We host many events and dinners at our home throughout the year and most of them are pretty casual affairs. But not Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving for me is an opportunity for a sit down dinner for everyone. Everyone gets to mix and mingle amongst family members and friends, complete with beautiful tables (that doesn't mean everything matches - quite the opposite in fact), real plates and silverware, real glasses - none of the paper stuff, although sometimes I dream about how much easier the clean up would be, but then it wouldn't be Thanksgiving!
I'm so thankful for all our family and friends!
Usually we haul out the living room sofa and rearrange to make room for the 4 or more tables needed to accommodate the holiday crowd. While a formal dinner for 27 could be overwhelming, it usually works out just beautiful by the time everyone brings something to contribute towards the meal. I always reserve my favorite food items for our family to prepare and let everyone else bring the rest. So far our menu looks about like this:
Roast Turkey with Sausage Craisin Stuffing
Spiral Honey glazed ham
Baked Potatoes with butter & sour cream
Sweet Potato Casserole
2 different salads by family members
Green Bean casserole
Fresh Cranberry / Orange Sauce
Pumpkin Cobbler with whip cream
Grandma Kleins famous pies
Vanilla Ice Cream
Wow, just seeing the whole list, that looks like a lot of food! Don't all of you wish you were coming to my house! :) Thankfully, everyone is so helpful with dinner and clean up - it will be a wonderful day. I just thought I'd share a few of my very favorite Thanksgiving recipes just in case anyone is looking for something new this year. Almost all of these recipes come to me from dear friends or family members that have inspired my cooking over the years.
Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole
(a favorite, wish I could remember who I got the recipe from!)
6 C. cooked / mashed sweet potatoes
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. milk
2/3 C. butter - melted
2 t. vanilla
4 eggs beaten
1 1/2 C. coconut
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
2/3 C. Flour
2/3 C. butter - softened
1 1/2 C. chopped pecans
Blend the first 6 ingredients with a mixer. Pour into 81/2 x 11 size baking dish. Briefly mix the topping with a fork and sprinkle on top of potato mix. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 min or until hot and bubbly, and topping starts to brown.
Crock pot Honey Glazed Spiral Ham (one of my friends gave me this great idea!) 1- Spiral cut ham 7-10 pounds Place ham in the crockpot with: 1/2 C. apple juice 1/2 C. orange juice 1/2 C. brown sugar 1/2 C. honey Heat on low for 6-8 hours, brushing with glaze occasionally. (See comments below for additional tips)
Cranberry Orange Sauce (thank you Dee Aullman I always thought canned cranberries were wonderful on Thanksgiving until you shared how easy this was to make!)
1/2 C. sugar 1 orange, zest and the juice 1/2 C water 12 oz fresh cranberries 1/4 t. salt
Shred zest from orange and then juice the orange. In a medium pan combine the zest, juice, water, sugar and salt, warming and stirring until dissolved. Stir in the cranberries, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst and sauce has thickened somewhat. Cool and serve. This can be made the day ahead and served cold from the refrigerator.
Sausage Craisin Stuffing (Thank you dad, I added the Craisins) 1/2 C. chopped onion 1 1/2 C. diced celery 1/2 lb sliced mushrooms 1/2 C. butter or margarine 1/2 lb. Jimmy Dean spicy hot bulk sausage (browned) 1/2 C. Craisins
2 t. poultry seasoning 1 t. sage 2 t. salt 1 t. pepper 3/4 C. chicken broth 8 C. dry unseasoned bread cubes.
Cook onion, and celery until almost tender in the butter or margarine. Add sliced mushrooms for the last 4 minutes and finish simmering until tender. Stir in the seasonings and craisins. In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs with the sauteed vegetable mix. Stir in the chicken broth just before stuffing the turkey. For convenience - the stuffing can me made the day before and stored in the fridge overnight covered in the large bowl. In the morning, just add the broth, mix and stuff the turkey. I always double the recipe and make extra that I cook at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes in a greased casserole dish.
Hopefully you all are down to your last preparations. Here's to a Happy Thanksgiving for all of you and yours!
Time to set the table - So many wonderful ideas for lovely Autumn table settings. I thought I'd share some of my favorites to get you started!
Guess what? It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go! I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but there's a few things that I always like to think about early when it comes to Christmas.
One of my favorite hymns has always been "Because I Have Been Given Much I too Must Give". It seems especially appropriate at Christmas time that our thoughts turn toward what we can do to share our many blessings at this time of year. Especially with the approaching holiday season - this starts to be in the forefront of my thoughts as we prepare for Christmas. One of our family's favorite Christmas traditions is to get involved in some way during the holidays and look for ways to be of service. Some of the things in which we've participated in the past have been Sub for Santa, a giving tree of some sort where you select individuals off of a Christmas Tree and then provide the Christmas item for that individual, Toys for Tots, or just adopting a family that we know has particular needs and doing what we can for them to brighten their Christmas season.
I've noticed with my family getting more spread out, married kids, college kids - we have to organize well in advance to be sure we can all get together to make it all happen. Dustin and Cami recently shared their thoughts and desires to be involved this year in this type of Christmas project. So I've been doing some research the last couple days to see what the community needs might be this year.
Maybe this list will provide some inspiration to all of you who have been looking, or deisre to get involved in a Christmas service project, but don't know where to look or where to start:
United Way of Utah County has several possibilities - Sub for Santa - adopt a family for the Holidays. You can find all the guidelines here.
Angel Tree - select an ornament off the tree, buy the appropriate items and return to the Angel Tree office at University Mall by mid December.
Also, United Way in general you can do a search for various Christmas volunteer related services.
Provide blankets for "Santa Flight" Operation Linus. The blanket can be knitted, crocheted, quilted, tied or fleece. Consult the sight for further information.
Chain Breaker Foundation - Dec 2, new coats, new toys to Joan Shippen, for abused women & children - this is for the annual Christmas party - they would like everyone to receive something for Christmas. Also Joan is in my ward - so let me know if you'd like to help, I'll get you involved!
Many opportunities in Salt Lake County can be found at this website - volunteering with the Christmas Tree Festival, The Arc "Give a Gift" program, Road Home - Project Blanket, Blankets for the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House of Charities - small groups to provide meals for 40 people, kitchen provided - and many others.
I'm sure there are many more holiday needs out there. Feel free to share any needs that you are aware of by leaving your comments below. We're getting excited for Christmas! And getting excited to think that we can do something to make someone else's Christmas a little bit merrier and brighter this year. It seems like no matter how tough the times may get, we always seem to be blessed with something to share!
Hello all - I have so many different people always asking me to keep an eye open for them for a great deal on a laptop. I know with the holidays approaching there are probably many of you looking at the possibility of updating your computer or purchasing a new laptop for the holidays. I have a great bargain that I've found - the tricky part is that it currently is a ONE-DAY only sale from Dell.
I highly recommend Dell for a couple of reasons - when you purchase from the "small / medium business center" online, you get decent customer support if you have any problems down the line, which is getting extremely difficult to find these days. And secondly, and even more important, it's one of the few, if not the last place you can still have Windows XP installed on your computer as the operating system. Don't be impressed with the bells and whistles of Windows Vista. It's a memory hog, SLLLLOOOWWWW (did you get that means extremely slow), and will do absolutely nothing that you can't do with Windows XP. So sorry to offend any of you who currently have Windows Vista and love it. You just don't know what you're missing :) I purchase all the computers and laptops for my husbands business, and have purchased exlusively from Dell for the last 5 years and I can seriously say I have not had one unresolved (and quickly) problem with any of their systems both laptops and desktops.
Anyway - here's the scoop. They have a VOSTRO 1510 system available right now for $499. It includes the following components (with my comments): Intel Core 2 Duo @ 1.8ghz (a perfectly adequate core speed unless you're into architechural drawing/rendering or editing multiple video files at the same time), Windows XP, 1 yr limited warranty+1 yr onsite service, 15.4 " WXGA LCD anti-glare display, 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 667 MHz (great memory actually), 24X CD burner/DVD combo drive (does not burn DVD's but does burn CD's), integrated graphics, 80GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive (a little small these days, but perfectly adequate for everyday use and student use), Dell Wireless 802.11g, 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery, McAfee Total Protection 30-day subscription (just what you need to get started, if you have your internet through Comcast you have access to the best protection through them for free). FREE 3-5 day shipping, and possibly no tax. Not sure exactly what their tax status in Utah is currently. This offer currently expires NOV 18 at 6AM CDT. (Not to say that they won't have a similar deal sometime again between now and Christmas - but you never know . . .)
Additional information you need to know. This computer comes with no software installed. You need to install your own Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook etc. Most people have them available from previous systems. I'm still installing Microsoft Office 2002 on new systems and it still works great! If you don't have it available - there are actually fantastic free online programs now where you can get by without ever installing Microsoft stuff on your computer anymore (contact me if you need recommendations).
You possibly will find less expensive laptop deals. Why you probably don't want them: they probably have Intel Celeron processors (don't buy one of these!), they have Windows VISTA as the operating system (don't buy one of these unless you have at least 2 GB memory, and even then you're better off with Windows XP even if it costs you a little bit more money).
If you have a little bit more money to spend and would like a few upgrades - here is what I recommend: Upgrade the optical CD drive to the 8x DVD+/RW with double-layer DVD+/-R write capability for $15 more. Upgrade the hard drive to 250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive for $75 more. That still keeps your total for the laptop at $589, still includes FREE 3-5 day shipping, which equals a great deal on a laptop that would fit the bill for almost everyone (except maybe a rocket scientist - so if that's you, sorry, I'll keep on looking ;)
I had the greatest time on Friday night (I know . . . it was supposed to be date night, and I appreciate my husband being so understanding and willing to take me out on Saturday this week!) with my cute and creative daughter-in-law 'Crochet Cami'. She invited me to attend a Scrapbooking Christmas Card 'make and take' event with her and her family and friends. Apparently, it's something they like to do on a regular basis and scrap together a bunch of cute cards for all different occasions. This was going to be a specific Christmas card making night. I think the group came up with a completely different and fun idea that I recommend for 'scrapping' groups everywhere!
Instead the six of us gathered together, had a potluck Taco Salad dinner and then put together our own bunch of creative Christmas cards. Each person attending was responsible for coming up with an idea for a Christmas card, gathering the needed materials and making any advanced preparations like cutting out the little pieces, providing the stamps or inkpads, ribbons, brads or whatever else was necessary to assemble the personal card. Each person provided enough materials so that every person went home with 4 of each of the 6 different cards and also the envelopes.
I can see this becoming a new Christmas tradition! I used to be a great cut and paste creative scrapbooker, but sadly I've fallen very behind in the scrapbooking arena. ~~~~Although, I do absolutely love the new digital stuff that's available from the photobooks online (did you all get your free 8x11 from Snapfish.com this week, that my niece Nicole mentioned), and also the free Creative Memories scrapbook program~~~~ So, while it physically taxed my mentally insufficient creative brain cells trying to come up with a card idea, once I got going it was so much fun! Then you all have the opportunity to visit together and catch up on everyone's busy lives, and you take away these gorgeous beautiful Christmas cards that all my neighbors and friends are going to be so amazed with, and won't even believe that I actually produced them. And I only had to come up with one idea! I'm sure this is old news for many of you, but if not, you have to try this with your friends and family for the holidays. It could just be a new tradition for you too!
I do still have one kit left that will make up four cute cards from my design. Hmmm . . . I always need new fabulous recipes . . . anyone want to trade?