Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Little Ties

I think the best gift I've been given is family. What would I do without these people who love me no matter what? They are opinionated, stubborn, and sometimes grumpy, funny, gifted, generous, sweet, and enthusiastic. They are glue to life. My husband woke me up this morning holding my hand, looking at it as he went over it with his fingers. My sister encouraged my mother, who was feeling low about something yesterday. My brother-in-law played a game with me that he doesn't like. My daughter told me she loved me in the middle of Kohl's (I was buying her clothes, but it was wonderful to hear, and she almost didn't care when I threw my arms around her and squeezed as she muttered, "Sorry I said anything."). I caught my youngest's eye across the room and she broke out into a beautiful smile only for me. My boys and their cousin giggled as they tried to maneuver to stay up later while I blocked the door to the media room and the Xbox, and I could see their minds working between respect for their parents wishes, needing to kick some Halo hind-end, and seeing their mom/aunt in a kung fu pose in front of the closed door saying, "You must get some sleep, young grasshoppers, it is midnight." Of course, the sound is just a little off the movement of my lips when I remember it. My brother and I narrowed our eyes at each other as I closed in on his huge lead on the game board, and the competition spurred me on with a smile.
These may seem like small things, but we go through such hard, sometimes overwhelming things, these little ties that bind help me keep it together, give me something to fight through for, remind me that the struggle is worth it, and that I am up for it. These crazy people seem to see something in me. Why not trust them to be right? They know me better than anyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Survey From Sam

1. Get kissed under the mistle toe or in the snow? Mistletoe... we have some strategically placed in the entry to the kitchen. Jacob stands there, waiting.
2. Santa or Rudolph? Santa... I believe in the magic.
3. Stocking or presents? Presents, although when I was a kid, the stockings were always a nice surprise that there was just a little more to do.
4. Egg nog, hot cider, or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. With a candy cane.
5. Angel or star? Star. I just broke ours this year and had to find a new one. The kids are a little disappointed I couldn't find the same one, but seem to understand.
6. Decorating the tree, or putting lights on the outside? Well, it was about 7 degrees when I put the lights up outside, in between two blizzards, so I am saying tree, definitely. I love watching the kids hang the same ornaments I did when I was a kid.
7. Warm cozy fires or sleigh rides? Warm, cozy fires. This is our first house without a fireplace. I miss it.
8. Family time or friend time? Both... lots of both.
9. Expensive presents or presents that come from the heart? Expensive presents that come from the heart, but I don't get those. I actually get more excited about the presents I am giving.
10. Snow ball fight or snowman? Snowman. Never liked the snowball fight unless I knew I could win.
11. Coal or presents? That is a lame question. I got coal once. I promised I would never do that to my kids.
12. Open presents quick or slow? Slowly... I don't get many under that tree, so I like to stretch it out.
13. Diamonds or rubies? Ruby is my birthstone. I like diamonds as much as the next girl!
14. Caroling or christmas stories? I love caroling with Brandon's family. Caroling.
15. Snowy days or ice days? What? Umm, snowy days. Definitely.
16. Red or Green? Both. Together.
17. Best christmas present recieved? When my family surprised me (see Drops of Ink, below right), a big teddy bear called Papa bear, a leather bomber jacket, a baby with a wooden cradle my dad made, a doll house my dad made, a diamond ring, and the book, Fire of the Covenant.
19. If you're dating someone, what would you want them to get you? Something special from Willow Tree.
20. Have you ever been kissed under mistletoe? Yes, mm-hmm.
21. Age you stopped believing in Santa Claus? What?
22. Do you send thank you notes? Sometimes.
23. Do you wake your parents up early to open presents? Yes. My brothers and sister and I would all sleep in the same room Christmas Eve, and we would watch for the neighbor's lights to come on, and that was our "go" signal. It was still 6 am. Our kids do the same thing (well, they get up when they get up- none of our neighbors have kids).
24. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa leaves his presents out and open, very conspicuously, with big ribbons on them, and sometimes a label with each child's initial, if needed.
25. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I would have just white, but I married a colored-lights person, so we have both and we are both happy.
26. Do you hang mistletoe? Yes.
27. When do you put your decorations up? Tree goes up day after Thanksgiving, and depending on how much energy I have after wrestling it, we decorate it that night, or the next day. All other decorations go up within those first three days. The exterior lights go up in between the blizzards.
29. Favorite holiday memory as a child? All of them... choosing secret pixies, the food (chili and cinnamon rolls Christmas Eve), decorations, sleeping in the same room with my siblings, the felt advent calendar, caroling, the food, opening one present Christmas Eve, the Nativity re-enactment, the food...
30. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What?
31. Do you open any gifts on Christmas Eve? One... the kids always get new jammies to wear. They still act surprised.
33. Snow, love it or hate it? Love it.
34. Can you ice skate? Barely. I love to skate with my kids.
35. Do you remember your favorite gift? Didn't we answer this one?
36.Whats the most important thing about the holidays for you? Sharing traditions with my family, time together, and remembering ther birth of the Savior.
38. What is your favorite holiday tradition? The food.
39. What tops your tree? A star... its white and covered with gold swirls, and looks like it was dipped in sugar cystals.
41. What is your favorite Christmas song? My cd changer has The Carpenters, Kenny Loggins, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, and a compilation cd we made one year to give to all our friends instead of cookie plates. That was a lot easier, and everyone loved it!
42. Candy canes? Jacob seems to suck them up like air. They are on our tree, and in a Santa jug on my counter. I prefer the peppermint taffies with christmas trees on them. We get both in our stockings.
43. Favorite Christmas movie? Holiday Inn, Muppet Christmas Carol, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, While You Were Sleeping, Its A Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story.
44. What do/did you leave for Santa? Cookies and hot cocoa. Sometimes oats for the reindeer.
45. What do you really like most about Christmas? Everything!!!!!!! Every single thing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Nutcracker... Sweet

We just got home from Maren's final performance of this year's Nutcracker. Her parts were a party child, a flower petal, and a Greeter in the Land Of Sweets. B and I attended yesterday's performance, and I helped out backstage on Friday for the two performances for the elementary schools in the area. Even after watching it twice on the monitor backstage, I still got chills and caught my breath several times as Clara was lifted around by the Nutcracker Prince, the snowflakes whirled softly (my favorite), the dew drop leaped and kicked, and the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier (guest dancers from the NYC Ballet) took my breath away. And, as it had back stage, the part came where the prince bids farewell to Clara and she picks up her doll and gently twirls away, her dream over. And, as I had back stage, I got emotional. B smiled at me and said, "Wow. That was amazing." It was a beautiful production... yes, we saw it last year, and it was good, then, too, but something this year... I don't know. Anyway, what is it about the Nutcracker that gets me verklempt? I think its just the innocence... an innocent love story, a dream that ends, but will always be remembered, given as a gift. And watching these children and young adults, under the guidance and direction of their teachers and beloved director, Miss Elizabeth, doing something artistic, physically taxing, and demanding of their time and respect... amid all the corruption and terror, and evil influences of the world. Our society can still teach our children to dance, and be beautiful in expressing timeless music known the world over.
We took Maren out to eat Saturday after her performance. Every little ballerina wants ribs, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow!

We had a few inches of snow the other day (it warmed up this morning and now it is all gone) and driving around in the slick stuff got me to thinking. We usually do some measure of traveling over the holidays, and it is always an understandable concern from our families whether or not we will make it because of the weather. We have lived far enough away and been homesick enough to make trips in all kinds of weather, taking care, and praying along the way. Here are some actual quotes my B and I have remembered from our holiday travels:

"What happened to those snow measuring stick things?"

"Is this a pasture, or are we still on the road?"

"Is it snowing up?"

"Honey, that cop is saying slow down."
"Honey, we're going 5."

"I think we just went over a bridge."

"What is that?"
"It's a jack-knifed semi."
"Well, should we stop?"
"Honey, we can't stop."
"Why not?"
"Because we're going downhill, and it's all I can do to try and make the turn. If we stop, it means we've hit the semi."

"Is that a moose?"
"That's a moose."
"He's faster than we are."

"I still see snowflakes coming at me."
"Hon, we've been at your mom's for two hours, now."

Be careful out there! Buckle up! And smile!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's that Time of Year When the World Falls In Love

It took me a minute to realize that it was time to put the Christmas tree up. One of the drawbacks to taking a tropical vacation just before the holidays (the only drawback) is that one gets a little out of sync with the traditional schedule. For me, that is putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. So, as I slid the huge turkey into the oven Thanksgiving morning, it occurred to me for the first time that, Hey, shouldn't there be Christmas music playing so my husband can come in and say it's too early for Christmas music? Oh yeah, and I guess I'll be putting the tree up tomorrow... huh.
Maybe not so weird for some of you, but very weird for me. I love traditions that remind me of being a kid and feeling that peace that can only be found in childhood, where your biggest worry is if you are going to get the Barbie Corvette you want so badly you've already had your Barbie doll pass her driving test. Usually, I am chomping at the bit, and the carols have been playing for a couple of weeks already.
As we began to decorate the tree yesterday, Maren helped me with some of the preliminary garland hanging. She lied down under the lowest branches and declared that on Christmas Eve she was gong to sleep under the Christmas tree. She would be sure to see Santa that way. As I started to remind her that there would be Christmas presents under the tree and she wouldn't fit, I stopped myself. Because every year, as I decorate the lower branches of the tree, I think of my sister, Shelli, and how we would pick a night the week before Christmas, and we would sleep under the tree, looking up through the branches and lights, the ornaments we knew so well. But I realized I hadn't shared that with my kids... I don't think so, anyway. So, I suggested to Maren that maybe she and Chelsea could do that on a different night, and that would be fun. She quickly reminded me that that would defeat the whole purpose of trying to catch Santa in the act. Oh well. Maybe I'll suggest it to Chelsea. She has a way of talking her sister into things.
I hope you all get a chance to relive a bit of your childhood, experience a memory of that peace. What a break from grown-up worries.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Manly Man

Brandon and Matt Talkin' Up Some Football
I walked into our bedroom the other evening after some grocery shopping, to find my husband sitting on the edge of our bed, meticulously cleaning out his rifle while simultaneously watching a football game and talking to one of his best friends, his dad, on the phone, deep into discussion about how to fill their own bullets. Needless to say, the room was teeming with testosterone. I smiled at him and told him how cute he was.
When he was done talking to his dad, I asked him how many times he was going to pull that long cloth snakey thing through the barrel of the rifle. He smiled and said, "As many times as it takes." I asked him how would he know it was clean? It looked clean to me. He said, "When it stops smoking." I watched him pull once more. I didn't see any smoke. He told me to watch more closely. I leaned in, wary of being anywhere near the thing. He pulled again, and at a certain point, he said, "There. Did you see it? A little puff of smoke." I hadn't seen a thing and told him so. I told him I thought he just like pulling that thing through his gun. He muttered something about Chelsea needing a date.
The next morning he left before I opened both eyes (I opened one eye when he kissed me) to go sight in his rifle with his dad. A couple hours later I left for a Super Saturday craft day at the church. We both had a great time.
Viva la diference.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Sixteen, Chelsea!

What a Sweetheart!

Birthday dinner at the Ruesch's house... prime rib and cake. We can't believe you're sixteen, but you've always been a little adult. We are so proud of you, Smoochie. We love you!

Vacation Slideshow Link

I just posted a slide show of our trip at Anglesey Antics, so click if you would like to see. Did I say we had a great time? We had a great time. Ahhhhhh.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Look Again

This blew me away. Happy Halloween! (My Dad and Mom... not bad, eh?)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Back To Reality

We just spent a little over a week in Puerto Vallarta and I highly recommend it. We got back today, but here are a few photos. I'll write something more after I re-adjust to the cold and the responsibilities. *sigh* It was wonderful... Thanks, Claire and Todd!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Songs & Stories

I finished my novel last night and did a little editing today.
A few days ago I made this playlist of songs that came to
mind or I came across that took me through the story. I
really love these songs and was amazed how well they fit
to the book. I don't know if more than a handful of people
will read it, but you can at least listen to the music! The
only one I couldn't find was Nat King Cole's Embraceable
On finishing the novel: I feel a little sad. I didn't expect
to feel like I was leaving these characters to go live their
lives, now. Strange, I know. Also, life goes on as normal
here at home, so what is kind of a big deal to me is set
aside for laundry, sick kids, parent/teacher conferences,
and grocery shopping. I guess I will just have to wait for
my "editor" friends, mom, and sis to give me kudos, or
at least a pat on the back, or kick in the pants, or a
confused, glazed-over look. Ha ha.
So, enjoy the music...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Wasn't Born Yesterday

The other day my 6 year-old asked for a pickle. She loves pickles. She doesn't have them a lot (I think she forgets) but when she gets it in her head, there is no doing anything else until a pickle is in her hand.
So, she got out the jar and I pulled off a paper towel from the roll. I folded the towel up in quarters, and we placed a pickle on the edge, then wrapped the towel around it, because we don't want pickle hands. My 15 year-old walked by and saw what her sister was doing and said, "Aah, the pickle in the paper towel. I remember doing that. I don't know why, though."
Well, I did. I said, "You did it, because I taught you." She let out a small laugh and said, "Oh yeah, of course." Then I said, completely unsuspectingly, "And,
I did it when I was a little girl."
My oldest daughter stopped and her mouth dropped open. She said, (wait for it)...
"Mom, they had paper towels back then?"

Yup. I'm now a product of the turn of the century. Where did I leave my monogrammed hankie? Oh, there it is behind the phonograph. Charleston, anyone?

Friday, October 24, 2008

A few more things...

I should probably add (to the post below) that I no longer fear asking for ketchup. I walk up, pound on the counter and yell, HEY! Then when they look at me, fear and trembling in their eyes, I give them a glorious smile and ask for ketchup, please. I also have no problem answering questions and I am pretty sure people roll their eyes a little because they hear so much of my valuable knowledge. And, just for the record, when I met my husband, we talked each other's ears off that whole summer... I can't remember one awkward silence. It was awesome. I still need to work on the saying hello thing though, among other things. So, I have come a long way. Still have a long way to go!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

She is SO shy... HOW SHY IS SHE?

I don't know why the links here are now purple and blue...I have tried everything to change it, but sometimes, we just have to let it go and maybe we'll come across a solution later.

Which brings me to my next topic. Are you shy? I mean, so shy that when someone you don't know well asks a question you know the answer to, and nobody else does, you just catch the answer in your throat, and feel your face become hot as your heart pounds in your ears? So shy, that you can't go up to the counter at the fast food place and ask for ketchup? Or, if you know you just can't eat your fries without ketchup, you go up and wait for ten minutes until someone stops and looks at you directly and says, "Yes?" and you say, "Can I have some ketchup, please?" and they look at you blinking because they couldn't hear the faint whisper that barely left your lips? Or, a boy you really like, after a silence because you are just enjoying being with him, asks, "What are you thinking?" and you panic, because you really were just enjoying being there, so you say, "Nothing." and realize that is not a very good answer after he raises his eyebrows and says, "Really?" Or, when you see someone you know in a store or at a restaurant, and you want to say hello, but you just look at that person, hoping they will make eye contact so you don't have to say their name and disturb them, and if they don't, you just leave, thinking, "Hm, I would have liked to have said hi."
I have been at all these stages at various times of my life. I have come a long way. But I still am stuck at times. And people are surprised. Do I look outgoing? I must. But, I'm not, never have been. It's a family thing. We would visit my grandparents after being so excited to get to their house, and when we arrived it would take us kids an hour to come out from behind our parents' legs. It was the same with most of my cousins, wasting precious playtime staring at each other out of the side's of our eyes until somebody non-shy came and did something goofy (my Uncle Steves... yes, I have two, or my non-shy cousin Brady, who came much later on so he couldn't help for awhile)
I was also painfully aware that some people thought I was "stuck up", because of my physical appearance when being scared out of my wits in a room full of intimidating, seemingly confident, not-a-care-in-the-world highschool peers. Fortunately, I had friends that had no trouble making friends with me. What a blessing they were, and still are to me.
I also read somewhere that being shy is a basically selfish phenomenon. Shy people are so concerned with what others are thinking of them, they freeze up. After I got over being offended, I realized that was true. Then I put it to a test. When I felt that pulling back feeling coming on, I tried to think of the other person, how they were feeling, what they might like to hear or see. Wow. It was an amazing result. I am still working on it.
Now, back to the purple letters bothering me. It occurred to me the other day, as I was talking with my wonderful friends, that maybe the reason I love to write, is that there is no person standing in front of me, making me back up. I can express myself, most times, exactly the way I intend to, and I can even go back and correct mistakes before I put it out there. Sometimes I have become so excited about writing that my pen and my fingers cannot move fast enough...my handwriting is scrolled in tiny writing across the page, getting what is inside me down. My fingers fly over the keybord ad I koik up only to fins ajumble dness. But I love it.
I have found a bit of a solution to my shyness. I hope it comes across as I share my ideas with you here.
Thanks for feeling that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Little About Me... Thanks, Bec!

10 Years Ago..
-Jacob was 5 months old and not breaking anything...maybe ripping some books.
-My brother, Craig, graduated from high school. He has 3 kids, a lovely wife, and is in Texas finishing up chiropractic school.

5 Things on my "to do list" today:
-update my blogs
-write my novel
-do some laundry
-Go to Jacob's football game
-Figure out something for dinner so my kids don't mutiny because I'm writing my novel.

5 snacks I enjoy:

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire: (I just kept Becca's, they are what I would do)
-Pay off the house
-Pay off the cars
-Buy some land/build a house in the mountains
-College fund for the kids
-Do a little shopping

5 places I have lived:
-Kent, Washington
-Kennewick, Washington
-Cheney, Washington
-Hermiston, Oregon
-Klamath Falls, Oregon

5 jobs I have had:
-"The Cinnamon Stick", my Mom's store
-"The Hole-n-One", a grill/donut shop in the mall
-Sears, ugh.
-Dordon's Floral... not as glamorous as it sounds, I was gopher girl and delivery.
-Telemarketer for a Provo-area Chiropractor...worst job I ever had.

I tag:
whoever would like to do this!

The Rules...Each player answers the question themselves. At the end of the post the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves them a comment letting them know that they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person that tagged you know when you've answered the questions on your blog.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It must be Fall

We have had some gorgeous weather. The cold is coming, but let's look at some events that say, "Hello Fall" in a very warm way.
Hunting Season opened, and my B got himself an antelope. We now have a fridge full of jerky. This is a "When in Rome" thing, as my husband hasn't been hunting in decades, but look at that smile. Next, we have Homecoming, a semi-formal event in this part of the Rockies. The Broncs won our game, Chelsea and B were in the parade, and the gym was totally decked out in cowboy array for the big dance. Chelsea and her friend, Katie, looked gorgeous, and had a great time at a pre-dance party with a bunch of Chelsea's friends from church. She spent a good part of the dance trying to stay away from Mom and Dad, who were chaperoning. Finally, we have that pivotal event that truly makes my insides flutter with all that is Autumn. Are you ready for some football? Jacob is finally old enough, after 2 years of complaining, to play with the big boys (10-12 year olds). He is #84. They had him in the back on defense, but he kept blitzing the QB, which you can't do in this little league. So, they moved him up front, right up front, so he can sack that quarterback. That 'no fear' factor is fun to watch. Get'em, Jacob!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Perfectly Trying

I have decided to address a subject some of us loathe, some of us cringe away from, and some of us just wonder about. I was visiting with some friends and we were chatting about our busy lives, housework, kids, chaos, etc. The usual. Then, one of them said, while looking down at her toddler who was trying to crawl up her leg, using her pants as a tow rope, "Could you please just tell us something about yourself that makes you seem less perfect?"
I paused, not sure who she was talking to. The other woman looked at me and agreed. "Yes, Krista, please."
"Are you talking to me?!"
They acknowledged that they were. I looked at them both, then burst out laughing. I asked them what would make them say that. Their answers included, as they wrestled their children, observations that my house was always clean (I snorted), and beautiful (comfortable), I was slender (so?). I stopped them.
"Do you want to come over to my house right now?! The sink is full of dishes. I am so tired at the end of the day, I seldom do dishes after dinner. I do them in the morning, or even later. And, for some reason, I noticed there are blankets all over the house, in little mounds all over. I am 3 days behind in laundry because I have been reading. Sometimes, most times, after getting after my kids about something, I realize that there is no way I would talk to them like that if other people were in the house. Not even my Mom. And I bet you about 80% of my home decor is hand-me-downs from my Mom and sister, which, don't get me wrong, I love..."
Mentally, I was making an even longer list (prideful, easily distracted, hard-headed, too shy, a dependency on Twizzlers). But, by the time I got to this point, I could see that they were calmed down a bit. So, I got deeper.

I shared that I live in almost constant pain, a result from a car crash and back injury years ago. I admitted that sometimes I get so frustrated with the pain that I cry, and wonder why I still have to suffer. I told them that my marriage is strong, and wonderful, but that hasn't always been the case. I reminded them that I had lost a child, a baby girl who only lived a couple of hours and died in our arms. So, no, I wasn't perfect. I told them that going through these things, these very imperfect trials made me realize how strong I am, much stronger than I had believed, and maybe that was what they sensed from me. They listened.

Comparing ourselves to other women, as easy as it is, is so wrong. It hurts us to do that. We don't know what others have been through, and everyone lives a life, full of all kinds of struggles and imperfections. No matter what we look like, or appear to be. I read something once, and I don't know who said it, but the meaning was this: Perfection is not an end; it is a journey... it is not a noun; it is a verb... it is not a result; it is a process.

Shannon, my friend who had approached the subject in the first place, is a mother of 6 children under the age of 10. Her husband is a doctor and works long hours and is on call often. Her home is peaceful and welcoming when I have visited. She ran a half-marathon this spring. I had recently told my mom, who was asking about my friends who gave me a birthday lunch, that Shannon was one of the most beautiful women I know. She bakes.

Karma moved here not too long ago, and immediately made a place for herself in our circle. She is open and honest, and has no trouble expressing her thoughts, questions, and concerns. She cares deeply about her family and it shows. She is just eager to learn and share and doesn't hold back. She is going to have a baby in a few months, her 4th, and is just letting herself get excited because she has lost one, too. I enjoy her contributions to our discussions in book club, and love that she looks you right in the eyes when she is talking to you. Every time I talk to her, I feel I know her better.

I know so many beautiful women who are just trying. We are so hard on ourselves. I think if we saw in ourselves, what other people see, we wouldn't compare so much. And if we knew what those other women are going through, we would thank heaven for our own short-comings. It is a lesson I am still learning. In all my imperfection.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Run For Peaches & Pears!

For the last I-don't-know-many years, my Mother-in-law has made a trip to an orchard in the Boise area, where she grew up, to bring back fresh fruit to the mountain communities she has lived in. When she and I moved this way a few years ago, she enlisted me, and I was happy to join in her cause. What cause, you may ask? Well, here in NW Wyoming, if a person owns a fruit tree, a precious apricot, for example, it is anybody's guess that the tree will make it through the winter, or bear blossoms, let alone fruit. The results in the marketplace are, of course, you pay out the nose for fresh fruit. So, we take orders and make a run to Idaho, where the season is long and warm, fill up a U-Haul, and greet our friends and neighbors who have placed an order with smiles. Mom gets so excited about it she has a hard time turning people down, so this year we had over 500 boxes of fruit to bring home. Dad joked, sort of, that we would need to get our hands on a Boeing 747 next year. Do you see that smile on her face, though? That is how Mom looks when she is serving. I love that smile. Of course, you have to get up pretty early to pick up peaches and drive them 12 hours home. Have I mentioned I am not a morning person? Part of that 12 hours is right through Yellowstone. I call it a perk. Yellowstone National Perk, haha. Happy canning!