Monday, November 28, 2011

Viva Las Vegas Thanksgiving

For many reasons, we decided to do a Toothsome Family-only Thanksgiving this year.  And, since my husband, who rarely closes his dental office, closed his office early on Wednesday, so his staff could go home and start their Thanksgiving festivities early, and kept it closed for the rest of the week, we decided to make it an "away" Thanksgiving.  After some debate, we ended up on Las Vegas at a two bedroom, Marriott that had a full kitchen.

My kids are not big turkey eaters so we did a pared down meal.  I know our meal might have been heresy for some of you but it was well received by the kids.  Jenny-O turkey loaf, green salad, freezer rolls, homemade mashed potatoes and Martinelli's sparkling apple cider.  And, since nobody likes pie at our house, we had candy bars for dessert.  

Later in the day, we ventured out and ended up the Coke store on the strip and tried the "Cokes Around the World".  16 different Coke products from various countries.  

 We all would take a sip and then give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.

 Some were not so good, in particular the Beverly from Italy.  Quinine was the main flavor.  (If you have read as many WWII books as I have, you will know that quinine was an antimalarial taken by US soldiers who fought in the pacific.  They hated it then and now, so did our family.) 

On Friday, we went to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay.  Toothsome #3 LOVES sharks, even decorating his Christmas tree at school with sharks.  He was in heaven.

 After telling the kids no souvenirs, Dentist husband surprised them by getting them shark teeth and these extremely discounted moray eel stuffed animals. 
 We also did plenty of watching TV, swimming in the pool and in my case, standing by the dryer (where it was extremely warm) and reading a book.
 And, because we were in Las Vegas, we drove the kids by the Pawn Stars pawn shop.  (We don't have cable but this show was on a 24 hour loop one of the days we were there.)  

We also took the kids by the various electric signs my husband's grandfather helped create.  He was the main man behind Vegas Vic (the waving cowboy).  

It was a fun trip.  And, yes, we walked in the door from Vegas and my kids went straight downstairs and started getting out the Christmas decorations.  My house is almost completely decorated.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Gratitude

I have been reading a lot of blog posts about gratitude.  It got me thinking about the many (almost countless) things for which I am grateful.  And, then I realized there was one piece of advice (big idea really) that I was given several years ago that I use in my life on a daily basis.  It is worth sharing.

I attended a Relief Society Enrichment where the speaker was a friend of mine in the ward.  She started out talking about how when she is pregnant her morning sickness was not just morning sickness but all day sickness.  She then went on to tell a personal life changing story.  When she was pregnant with her third child, her husband traveled constantly and her oldest child, who has autism was struggling.  She also had an active toddler and her morning sickness was worse than it had ever been and she was at the end of her rope.  She called her mom in tears and said, "I don't think I can do this."

Her mom, after listening to her vent, said, "I raised you to know that life was not always going to be easy.  You knew that there would be bathrooms to clean, sicknesses to deal with, heartaches and and other such trials.  You can't avoid them.  But you can control your thoughts when you are going through those things."

She then read this quote: Celebration is the conscience decision to live our lives with joy.  In the midst of turmoil, pain and adversity, in bad times and good, joy is the great companion our Heavenly Father intended us to have.  To feel joy, however, requires a decision on our part--a chosen approach to life, a chosen attitude, a constant awareness . . . To live with real joy we must begin with a personal conviction that we have the ability to change our lives in small meaningful ways.  We must feel we can learn better patterns of thinking, feeling, and doing that will allow us to feel better, accomplish more and rise higher. Elaine S. Marshall

She then talked about when she has to do things she doesn't really like to do (like cleaning a dirty bathroom), she thinks about a favorite vacation she went on as a child.  She said, "I don't even really notice that I am cleaning the bathroom because I am not thinking about that.  I am thinking about this great vacation."

I went home that night forever changed.  Whenever I am faced with things I don't like to do, I think of her advice.

What are some of my tools?

When folding laundry, I often call my mom or sisters and say, "Let's chat while I fold laundry."

I paid $72 annual fee to able to download any of Dr. Laura's radio programs.  I commit that when I am listening to Dr. Laura I have to be cleaning.  It is amazing how easy cleaning my house is when I am listening to Dr. Laura.

I put on the radio (or my ipod) and sing LOUDLY to whatever is on.  If my children are at home, they often join in singing with me.

I give myself a topic and write in my head a speech or talk on that subject.  It forces myself to recall scriptures, conference talks I have heard, etc., as I review that topic in my mind.

I memorize poems.  "If" by Rudyard Kipling is a favorite.  There is so much beautiful poetry out there and it becomes incredibly meaningful when repeated over and over again.

So, in this month of gratitude, I am grateful for the idea of filling my head with good things while I am often doing things I don't particularly like to do.  It has been life changing me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Chart You

Several months ago, I was in my friend's house and saw the above pedigree chart on her wall.  I instantly fell in love with it and asked her where she got it.  She told me her sister and brother-in-law created it for her as a birthday gift.  I immediately asked if I could contact her sister and pay her to do one for my family.  I had been looking for an attractive way to display this information for several years and had come up empty handed.  I knew this was the answer.

She gave me here sister's contact information and I immediately e-mailed her and somewhat persistently asked her if she would be willing to do one for me.  I also emphatically pointed out that she needed to open an esty shop because attractive pedigree charts are almost impossible find.  Her older sister (my friend) also encouraged her to do so as well.

She agreed to do mine and I am honestly in love with it.  There is something so incredibly moving about seeing a family pedigree chart and seeing how the lives of two people are connected.  I named three of my four children after direct descendent family members (the fourth is a family name but not a direct descendant) and their names are on this for them to see.  This is a very personal piece of art.

Kimmy has now opened an esty shop and you too can own one.  You will need to send her five generations (you being the first generation) and if you need help getting that, go here.  Or here.

If you have particular color ideas in mind, you can contact her directly and she will do those for you for $50 more.  (I sent her pictures of my house in the room I wanted hang the pedigree chart and she came back with a great combination of colors.)

You then own the file and can print it however you like.  I had mine done 30x30 on canvas (Costco does it and so does this place.  I am sure there are others out there as well.)  Again, you are owning a piece of art that is directly personal to you and your family.

And, my husband who loves good design, thinks this is fantastic as well.  We are planning on ordering others from her for his siblings and mine as gifts.

Honestly, I am thrilled to be able to share this find with you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nutcracker Season is upon us

This is just one of three costumes my girls will be wearing this year.  Oh how I love having ballerinas in the Nutcracker.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Toothsome #3 and the answered prayer

Toothsome #3 is always into everything.  He begs to take everything we own apart and I have taken going to local thrift shops and buying old VCRs, TVs, etc, so he can take them apart.

I honestly feel as his mother, I have been very patient, understanding and supportive of his desire to see and learn how things work but I have my limits and Sunday night, one day before Halloween, I discovered several batteries, that I had put away specially for Halloween costumes, missing.  In asking the kids, it was discovered Toothsome #3 had found them and had been planning on using them for an experiment.  He said, "I haven't taken them out of the package but I don't know where they are!"

I stood there dumbfounded.  I then lost my cool and informed him that he would be grounded unless he found the batteries.  (I wasn't completely mean, I told him he would be grounded after Halloween.)  With his very sincere face, he nodded and left the room.

I few minutes passed and I happened to walk into the room where he had walked into a few moments before. He was on his knees praying.  He was asking for help in finding the batteries.  My heart melted.  I then started praying that we would indeed find the batteries, so he would know that prayers are indeed answered.  We enlisted the whole family and they were found about 20 minutes later in the game closet.

Honestly, I was moved to tears.