Friday, December 31, 2010

Tolman Top 40 Hits of 2010

You know the "Billboard Top 40 Hits"?

Well, this is a similar list--except that instead of a list of top songs, it's a list of our top moments from the year. I started doing it last year, and it's a nice way to summarize the year and remember the best of its times!

I don't remember most of the specific days, but I remember the moments: moments dear to my heart, moments I cherish, moments that have become favorite memories, special moments that are worth recalling.

So, here it is, in no particular order...

The Tolman Top 40
Momentous Hits of 2010!!!
40. Ammon and his friends running around at his birthday party.
39. Taking Kanyon miniature golfing in Boise.
38. Cheering from home for Josh's favorite NFL team, the Saints, as they won the Superbowl.
37. Floating in a boat across Wallace Lake.
36. Finding frogs while camping at Painted Rocks.
35. Watching our old trailer home being pulled off the property.
34. Walking through our new home for the first time.
33. Driving to Anaconda, Montana as a family and observing the beautiful fall foliage along the way.
32. Celebrating Christmas all by ourselves in our new home.
31. Exchanging homemade valentines with each other.
30. Kala finding the gold AND silver eggs at the Perkins annual Easter egg hunt.
29. Jonah and Micah enjoying their first birthday party with friends.
28. Ammon competing in golf tournaments with his new golf clubs.
27. Playing group games with the Perkins family at Easter.
26. Visiting my dad on his last day of school before he retired from teaching.
25. Walking through the Lewis & Clark Caverns together.
24. Attending Jonah and Micah's kindergarten graduation.
23. Walking through IKEA alone with Josh.
22. Celebrating the 4th of July with both the Tolman and Perkins families.
21. Camping at Craters of the Moon with the Perkins cousins.
20. Sledding with friends over Christmas Break.
19. Going trick-or-treating with the boys.
18. Spending time with family on the Bear Lake beach at the Perkins reunion.
17. Listening to the boys sing a somber happy birthday to me--while walking in a funeral-procession manner!
16. Watching Ammon trying to catch a chipmunk over and over while camping!
15. Spending time as a family at Grandma and Grandpa Parsons' home in Montana.
14. Watching the Blue Angels air show with the boys.
13. Cheering for Jonah and Micah as they scored goals for their undefeated soccer team.
12. Spending time alone with my Grandpa Perkins at his home.
11. Laughing and eating and riding in a horse-drawn wagon at the Tolman reunion.
10. Being surprised by Josh with a new bed, and surprising him with a scare after he unloaded the truck!!!
9. Watching Ammon play football on the high school field under the lights, and hearing his name over the loudspeaker.
8. Taking Josh to dinner for his birthday and then soaking in the hot springs after.
7. Carving pumpkins.
6. Selling pumpkins on a beautiful fall day.
5. Watching the boys playing hide-and-seek tag with the neighbors and Gideon & Alyssa in the haybale maze.
4. Going on a date with Josh to karaoke and dancing, along with friends Amanda and John.
3. Seeing Muse in concert.
2. Winning the New Years Eve radio contest (again) with the Tolman family!
1. Being completely moved into our new home!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family, Food, Fun, & Fanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving with the Perkins family in Utah this year. Other than the long, snowy, treacherous drive down the day before the holiday, the rest of the trip was a delight!!!

It was so fun being with my family, and all my siblings came to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' home this year (except for Lisa and her family from the east coast), which hasn't happened in a long time! My cousin Lizzy joined us, too! And the best part about that day was the fact that even though there were almost 20 of us there together for several hours, there wasn't any fighting or arguing the whole day!!! That's a success for the Perkins family!!!

It was an awesome Thanksgiving all-around: being in the company of my family, eating lots of wonderful and delicious food, and playing and having fun together! I can't convey just how much of a good thing it was, because it was more of feelings I felt rather than a series of events, so instead, I'll display some photos from that wonderful day...

WAITING for dinner to begin....

(I love my mom's big kitchen!) (and I love that my mom used her good China to set the table with)

Some of my FAVORITE FOOD that was prepared...
(Turkey--light meat and dark meat separated)
(Real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy)
(yummy rolls)
(no Mormon Thanksgiving is complete without the green jello salad!)
(My personal favorite from the day--Marshmallow Yams)
(Two of my home-grown, home-made pies: Apple and Pumpkin)

EATING the big feast...

LOUNGING around after...
(Love my parents' big sectional couch that's conducive for lounging!)
(Look at the matching holes in their socks! Too funny!)

MAKING graham cracker & gingerbread creations...

SO THANKFUL for my family--I love them so much! And I'm grateful for reasons to get us all together--like Thanksgiving!! (Thank you Lizzy for taking this photo!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Remain: verb. definition- 1. continue in a place, stay. 2, continue in a specified state without change. 3, endure; last. 4, be left after something has been taken away.

I like observing the differences in my twins. It's obvious by this illustration how opposite they are in so many ways... A week after Halloween, Jonah's candy bucket REMAINED practically untouched, while Micah's candy bucket only had REMAINS of what once filled it!!!
After Halloween was over, the pumpkin patch still had approximately 100 REMAINING pumpkins of the 500 that we started with. With the leftovers this year, we donated several to a community Halloween event and to the school, and I made pumpkin puree out of a handful. Then we loaded up the truck with some of the REMAINING pumpkins and headed to the dump.
When we arrived at the county landfill, we all cheered Josh on as he threw the pumpkins out of the truck one-by-one and they each smashed into pieces. It was amusing for all of us, and we laughed and applauded Josh until all the pumpkins were out of the truck, and all that was left were pumpkin REMAINS on the ground.

Then we loaded up the truck once more and took the REMAINDER of the pumpkins down the road to our neighbors' pigs. We each unloaded them, throwing them into the pigpen.

And we liked watching the pigs as they ate the REMAINS of the smashed pumpkins!

Halloween REMAINS to be one of my favorite holidays, but it was good to finally clear out the pumpkin patch in November, and have the last REMNANTS of the October holiday disappear (including the candy--which for Jonah, lasted until December!)!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Backtrack to Boise

Since I've been working on my 25 days of Christmas this month, I've neglected my regular blogging. So I'm going to back-up in time to the middle of November, when we took a little excursion to Boise.

Josh has served on the local school board for over 2 years. Two Monday nights a month (sometimes it's more frequent), he attends school board meetings. Here he is right before a meeting, looking all handsome while reading through the upcoming meeting's agenda:
In the middle of November, the ISBA (Idaho School Board Association) held some meetings in Boise. The rest of the Salmon School Board was going, and I convinced Josh to attend as well (even though he didn't want to, but I really wanted him to go because I wanted to go to Boise!). It was a 3-day, 2-night trip during the middle of the week. The older 3 boys were in school, so I had no choice but to take Kanyon on the trip with us. It's a 4 1/2 hour drive to Boise from Salmon, and almost the whole roadway is winding and curvy, as it follows rivers and mountain ranges. Thankfully, Kanyon did well in the car and, because of dramamine, he didn't even puke (a first for that road)!

The first evening we were there, we took Kanyon to go play with our sister-in-law Alyssa while we went to dinner, and he had so much fun with her! Josh and I ate at P.F. Chang's with the rest of the local school board and the Salmon schools Superintendent. We had never eaten there before, and Josh was not looking forward to going to an oriental restaurant (because he can't stand Chinese food), but we both enjoyed dinner! We all ate family-style (which I've NEVER done), and it was awesome to try so many different good foods!

After dinner was over and we picked up Kanyon, we went to our fabulous hotel and went swimming for an hour before bed. Kanyon absolutely loved it!
The next day, Josh went to meetings all day long. While he was gone, I went to the Boise Temple that morning. I took Kanyon to my friend D'Neill's house and he had so much fun playing with her daughter Paige! After the temple session, I ate lunch with D'Neill and visited for several hours with her at her house! I had a wonderful time catching up with her and being in her beautiful home!
Then I took Kanyon miniature golfing. That boy loves golfing, and he had a great time whacking the ball over and over again! He even beat me on one hole (out of the 36 that we played)! We had so much fun together!

Then we picked up Josh from his meetings, went to dinner at a buffet restaurant, and we visited Josh's best friend and cousin Ryan and Heidi and their daughter Ayla at their home for the rest of the night. We enjoyed their company and I was so excited to finally meet Ayla in person! She's a cute little girl and we loved hanging out with their family!

After we got back to the hotel, we went swimming again for an hour before bedtime. Kanyon loved being in the water with us, playing and swimming and soaking! And it relaxed us to sit in the hot tubs, too! The next day, Josh had meetings for half the day, so I took Kanyon shopping in the morning for several hours.

After lunch, we picked up Josh and went to the Boise Zoo. Neither Josh nor Kanyon had been there before. Unfortunately, since it's the off-season, lots of the animals weren't outside. But, the nice thing about going in the off-season is that there's a LOT less people around, too!! It only took us an hour and a half to walk through the whole zoo!

Kanyon's favorite thing to do at the zoo was feeding the sheep and goats, and his favorite animals to see were the warthogs.

We drove home all afternoon, and got back to Salmon in time to see Ammon's first basketball game. All night long, and all the next day, Kanyon kept crying to go back to his "other home". He said he did NOT want to go to "this home" (the one in Salmon), he wanted to go to the home with the swimming pool and the elevator (the hotel in Boise)! He had such a great time; he wasn't ready to come home from the short vacation! But for me, it was just right! I was grateful to spend time away from home, spend quality time with friends, have fun with Kanyon, do some shopping, relax at the hotel, and come back to see my kids. The amount of time away was just perfect for me--and since Josh and I had a fight in the car the whole way home, I was glad we weren't alone together for another day!!! Good times, good times.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From our home-SWEET-home to yours.....
...we wish you a merry Christmas!!!

{Tolman Family Christmas 2010 Newsletter}
Life is a beautiful gift, and we have truly been blessed during the 2010 year. We have felt a strong spirit of LOVE in our home this year! We’ve had several uplifting, as well as upsetting, experiences. We acknowledge that each experience has made us who we are today, and we are truly grateful for our many blessings.
Our biggest experience in 2010 year was purchasing a new home for our family! We were finally approved in April, we moved our old mobile home off the property in May, moved into our 25-foot travel trailer for 3 weeks, and we watched as the ground was excavated and cement was poured and our new manufactured house being set in place. It was a frustrating and exciting time for our family! In June we moved out of the travel trailer and into our new home, and we have truly loved being in our new home these past 6 months!
Vacations were cut back this year, due to scrimping and saving to pay off our debts and purchase our new home, and we have been blessed as a result. Instead, we took smaller and shorter trips closer to home. Kala traveled to Spokane this spring to see her Grandpa Perkins, and we took family vacations this summer to visit Josh’s Grandma & Grandpa Parsons in Montana and to southeast Idaho to play after the Rex Tolman reunion.
Endurance is one of Josh’s strong points. He just completed his 10th year working as Superintendent for the Salmon Valley Golf Course, he’s in his 3rd year volunteering his time as an elected School Board member, he is the treasurer for the Idaho Golf Course Superintendents Association, and he got called to be the 1st counselor in the ward Elders Quorum this fall after being released as the Ward Missionary Leader. To rephrase, enduring meeting after meeting has become one of his strong points! He’s a hard-worker, a wonderful husband, and a great dad. I appreciate him for his efforts in supporting our family financially, physically, and emotionally and for providing us with our comfortable home!

Ammon, our oldest, is 10. He is a sports fanatic; he’s an avid fan of the NFL and NBA and PGA, and he plays a sport each season: golf, football, basketball, & bowling. He likes making money, too, and he worked this summer raising 4-H pigs & mowing lawns. With this year’s earnings, he’s bought himself a new laptop, a set of golf clubs, a new golf pushcart, a Nintendo DS, and he’s invested a lot in his future mission savings account. He’s a straight-A student who excels in reading, and he’s involved in scouts and piano lessons, too.
Toddler Kanyon is 3 and is potty-trained (well, mostly). He goes to preschool 2 mornings a week, and the rest of the time, he loves being home alone with mom during the day. He has fun playing anything electronic: the computer or wii or Nintendo DS. He’s super smart, and super moody, too. He’s happy when his big brothers come home from school, and he loves playing with them—but only as long as they’re doing what he wants them to! For the most part, his sleep patterns have improved, and for that we are very grateful!

Home-making has become Kala’s specialty. She cooks, bakes, and preserves food, and she loves making dinner each day for her family to enjoy. She’s organized the home and put everything in its new place. She has a passion for blogging and scrapbooking and photo-taking and music and performing. She volunteers in the school, and started substitute-teaching this fall, which she thinks is so fun! She also started teaching an adult Sunday School class, and it’s starting to grow on her. She loves being a wife to Josh and a mother to 4 boys.
Older twin Jonah is mom’s helper, a wonderful big brother, a pro at sharing and giving, and is social and sweet. He is good at coloring and being creative, and he has many friends in the first grade. He liked scoring goals for his soccer team this spring, and he was a good worker in the pumpkin patch all summer.
Micah, the younger twin, is fast and quick, loves to learn and read, likes to feel involved and is a great student. He is competitive and likes to be the winner! He is smart, he likes to be in charge, and he is happy to be 7. He had fun helping others get their pumpkins at the patch this fall and playing soccer with his team in the spring.
Every second, every day, every year our family continues to change and grow. We are grateful to travel through life together as a family, and we are so grateful to have family and friends like you who help us along the way! From our home to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a New Year full of happiness, and we send you our LOVE! Sincerely, The Tolman Family

Friday, December 24, 2010

24th Day of Christmas - Rex

Introducing...Josh's grandpa REX
10 years ago today, Josh's grandpa Rex Tolman passed away. We have missed him a great deal over the years, but his memory truly lives on in our hearts.

Rex was an amazing man. He was gentle and tender, kind and loving, accepting and supporting. Rex was the 7th of 10 children born to the Benjamin H and Emily Tolman family. His family was respectable and hard-working and compassionate. His siblings' children still hold annual reunions, and we always look forward to going to them to be with the Tolman family whom we love so much. Rex was married for 48 years to his wife Beth, and he was the father of 6 children: 3 sons and 3 daughters. He was an exemplary husband, a wonderful father, and an awesome grandpa.

He raised his children on the ranch, and he taught them all to work. He was a hard worker himself, and he enjoyed being able to work with his hands. He was a smart man, and his mind created new concepts and he figured out how to do a lot of things on his own. He was innovative in establishing new farming techniques, and successfully managed the ranch and dairy. He had lots of extra farmhands working under his direction each summer, and the young workers often came back over and over because they enjoyed being in his presence and feeling a part of the productive ranch life.

Josh has such fun memories of being with his grandma and grandpa. When he was a toddler, and in his early school years, his family lived in the Magic Valley, which is over 4 hours away from Salmon. He loved visiting their house and he always felt loved in their presence. He was so happy when he got to spend the night there all by himself, and he was spoiled by his grandparents. Later in his childhood, Josh's family moved back to Salmon, and he spent many, many hours working outside with his grandpa and being taken care of by his grandma. He knew that his grandparents loved him unconditionally, and his grandfather taught him many important lessons in life.

Rex was a patient man, and was very rarely angered. He was wise, and handled confrontational situations with sincere kindness. He was a giving, generous man. He gave so much to those who he knew, and he loved serving. He taught by example, and in addition to good work ethic, all of his children have developed a love for service because of him. He had an incredible ability to make everyone around him feel special, feel loved, feel accepted. He made friends, not enemies, and everywhere he went, he was surrounded by people who loved him.

I adored Grandpa Rex, or as Josh called him, "Pa-ah". He always had a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face, a positive remark. Although he was short and small in stature, his character was larger than life and he had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. He was a spiritual giant, and radiated with the light and love of Christ. He was an example to all that he came in contact with.

Rex battled cancer and its effects for years. His body became extremely weak, and he grew so tired, but yet he never became bitter and he never complained. We saw him a few short days before he passed away, and I am still brought to tears at the sight of him in so much pain. Josh helped him into the car to go to the hospital, and he never came home after that, because he returned to his heavenly home. We have missed him tremendously over the years, especially Josh, but we were so grateful that he was freed from his mortal pain. It was at Grandpa Rex's funeral that I saw Josh cry for the first time; one of only 3 times it's happened in our 12 year marriage. Josh says that his Grandpa Rex was one of the greatest men who have ever lived on the earth, and he loved him with all his heart. We named our son Ammon after him, and we're grateful that his name carries on in Ammon Rex.

Rex's life was commendable, and he lived it to its fullest. He was a pillar of strength and moral character, and his genuine goodness is remembered by all who knew him. We are so blessed and lucky to have been a part of his life. Although we are saddened that our children won't have the opportunity in this life to know him, Josh and I are grateful that we knew him and we are privileged to call him grandpa.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

23rd Day of Christmas - Samantha

Introducing...Josh's friend SAMANTHA (I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, I couldn't find a recent photo of her, and this one didn't scan very well.)

I first met Samantha over 2 years ago when Josh and I went to England for our 10-year wedding anniversary, but I've known about her and liked her since Josh and I were newlyweds. Josh first met her 14 years ago when he was in England the first time, during his LDS mission there.

Josh was serving in an area along the east coast of England, and he was there for 5 months. He got to know the people in the area and the members of the ward really well. Sam's dad was in the bishopric, and he often went on splits with the missionaries, and the missionaries were invited to their house for tea (dinner) about once a week. The missionaries were very involved with the youth, and would often go ice skating with the young men and young women on P-days. After a month of being in the area, Josh started becoming friends with Sam by association through family dinners and youth activities. There was an instant connection between them, and he felt really comfortable talking with her. Josh and Sam became good friends, and he was grateful for her friendship.

Sam comes from a very large family, and she's the oldest. Her family is religious and faithful, and they are fun and jolly. They are very involved in each other's lives, and they are open with each other about their lives. Out of all the families that Josh met on his mission, he loved this particular family the most. He felt included and loved, welcomed and cared for. He didn't feel homesick or discouraged when he was around them, and he enjoyed their company. He has fond memories of spending Christmas 1996 and New Years with them and the other missionaries in his district. Even though it was one of the few Christmases in his lifetime that wasn't spent with his own family, Josh felt right at home with them.

Josh and Sam were never alone together, and there was never any inappropriate activity between the two of them. Sam has high moral standards and righteous desires. She values her membership in the church, and she holds true to the principles she's been taught. Sam is compassionate and caring, generous and kind. She is easy to talk to, fun to be with, and she is genuine. She has an amazing spirit about her, and she emits light and love.

After Josh was transferred to another area, Sam continued their friendship through letters. She wanted to make sure she wasn't breaking any rules, so she had her mom read them first, and her mom always included a letter, too. Eventually, after Josh came home from his mission, they lost touch with each other. When I first started making missionary scrapbooks for him, I read through his journals and letters to accurately write what happened as I was posting photos. I fell in love with Sam through her letters, and I often told Josh that if something were to happen to me early in our marriage, that I wanted him to fly across the ocean and search out Sam to be his wife.

When Josh and I were on our anniversary trip to England, we decided to spend two nights out of the 7 we were there in that town that he loved so much on his mission. We went to church there, and we didn't know who we would see or if anyone would recognize or remember him. That ward welcomed us with open arms, and we were so lucky to see Sam there! We met her husband, who was teaching Sunday School, and Josh introduced me to Sam. We sat by their family during Sacrament Meeting, and then after church, she invited us over for tea (dinner) at their home. We met her two little red-headed kids, who I adored at first sight! And we spent hours in their home, eating her divinely delicious food (my only home-cooked meal in England) and talking and laughing with her and her husband Karl and some of their friends. We looked at scrapbooks and talked of years gone by. I overheard her talking to her mom on the phone while we were there "You'll never guess who's here....Do you remember Elder Tolman?....And his wife, she's like a spitting image of me, it's like being with my double...." I always really liked her even before I met her, but I truly loved her once I had the opportunity to be with her in person.

Sam and Karl make a great team. I loved watching them interacting with each other, and being with them in their comfortable house. They are the parents of three children, and love is abound in their home. Sam is a nurturing mother and Karl is a funny father! They love their children so much, and sacrifice so much for them. They work hard to teach them and guide them in the ways of the Lord, and they are terrific parents and wonderful examples!

Sam is a special person. She's overcome so many challenges throughout her lifetime, and she remains optimistic and hopeful and cheerful and faithful. She is honest and open, and she improves the lives of others with her presence. I admire her and I am so grateful for her positive influence in Josh's life! Our Heavenly Father is mindful of us, and he places certain people at certain times of our lives to help us along the difficult path of life. Sam brought Josh so much happiness, and she helped him through the loneliness and homesickness that he felt occasionally while on his mission. He was so thankful to have a true friend who understood him and listened to him and cared about him, and we are so grateful to Heavenly Father for Sam and her eternal friendship.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

22nd Day of Christmas - Jane

Introducing...Josh's aunt JANE
Jane is Josh's dad's older sister. I first met her when Josh and I were engaged. We drove to Idaho to see Josh's grandpa Rex receive the Idaho Cattleman's Award, and Jane had flown in from Wisconsin to be there for it, too. The awards banquet got over really late, so we decided to spend the night at Josh's aunt Linette's house instead of driving back to Utah that night. Aunt Jane also spent the night there. Josh and I were sleeping in different rooms, but we stayed up pretty late talking. I remember Aunt Jane coming down to the room and telling us that the Holy Ghost leaves at midnight, and that it was time for Josh to go to his room to sleep!! I appreciate her having our best interest in her heart, but there was no need for worry--and I still laugh when I think of that memory!

Jane is the mother of nine children: the oldest is a boy, the youngest is a boy, and there's seven daughters in between!!! Jane was born to be a mother. She had five younger siblings, and she grew up on a ranch that had several extra workers in the summer. In her youth, Jane helped feed the ranchhands and the family. After those years of working in the kitchen to feed everyone, and then becoming a mother to nine children, Jane has perfected the art of feeding an army! She is a fabulous cook! Her meals are heart-warming and comforting and soooo delicious! I love eating her food! The special ingredient she includes in her meals is love, and I can always feel it when I partake of her food! She makes feeding the masses look so easy, because she never seems stressed out in the kitchen--she always looks right at home!

When Josh was a little boy, his family lived in Jerome for a couple of years. He remembers that whenever they took a trip to visit his grandparents' ranch in Salmon, Aunt Jane's home in Moore was the halfway stop. His family stopped there on the trip, and he looked forward to it, not only because he got to play with his cousins, but also because she always had the best snacks: either homemade beef jerky, or homemade fruit leather!

Jane is a wonderful woman. In many ways, she reminds me of my mother: her life is devoted to serving others, and she is happiest when she is helping those around her. She is a great mom to her kids, and does whatever she can to help them be happy in their own lives. She has sacrificed so much for her family, and they are the most important part of her life. She loves being a mom, and she loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. We lived next door to her for a couple of years here in Salmon before she moved away, and it was so fun to have such a great neighbor! One summer morning, when Ammon was about 3 or 4, he walked down to Aunt Jane's house after he woke up. We weren't awake yet, and had no idea he was even gone. He felt right at home in Jane's house, and went in and sat up at her kitchen counter. She was surprised when she walked into the kitchen and saw him there, and he promptly told her that he was ready to eat breakfast! Even young ones can feel her love and appreciate her food!

She is so talented: in addition to cooking, she's also an amazing seamstress. She loves making homemade gifts for her family, and she's sewn blankets and crocheted afghans and tied quilts and created pajamas and made clothing and aprons for them and many others. She enjoys giving of herself, and she is so good at sharing what she has with others.

Jane is genuinely concerned for everyone she knows, and she cares so much about the welfare of others. She is devoted to her religion, and always tries to do what's right and to be a faithful follower of Christ. She has a firm testimony of the gospel, and she has a strong relationship with the Lord. I admire her ability to always remain steadfast in the gospel, even towards the challenges she's faced. She has an optimistic attitude towards life, and can see the silver lining in any trial she's enduring. I love her attitude and I appreciate that she can always bring a smile and a laugh to any situation!

Jane, I sure do love you. I'm glad I've had so many opportunites to get to know you better! I'm so grateful for your positive influence in my life, and Josh's life, and the lives of my children! Thank you for the love you've shared with us, and for the support you've always given us! I love seeing your beautiful smile and being around you and feeling your great attitude!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21st Day of Christmas - John good friend JOHN
John has been my friend since forever. In all actuality, I only met him about 4 1/2 years ago. But from the first time I met him, I felt like I already knew him--that we already knew each other. When John first moved to Salmon, he lived in our church ward boundaries. I remember feeling an instant connection with him, and I started inviting him over to family dinners once a month. Those monthly dinner continued for a couple of years, and then he moved to the other ward and we didn't see him as often. Last year, he moved back into our ward again and we get to see him all the time! John is our family friend, and he's also an integral part of my life. I've felt for a while now that John's purpose in my life is of a truly divine nature. I cannot describe the connection, for it is one that I've never had before, but I feel that our souls speak to each other: we have never not been friends, and we will always be friends.

I greatly respect John and his beliefs and thoughts. He is so smart and intellectual. He is open-minded and has deep thoughts on so many subjects. I really admire him for the person that he is, and I am grateful for the way in which he gets my own mind to open up. We've had some very deep discussions, and I like that he gets me to think--I appreciate having opportunities for my brain to expand and grow, and for my heart to be introduced to new ideas.

John is extremely talented. He is a gifted musician, and he has a passion for music. He can play piano by ear, and he can play on demand! That is such a rare and incredible talent in itself! I love listening to him play whatever I request! He plays multiple instruments beautifully as well. John teaches band and choir and guitar, and since he has moved to Salmon, the music program in the secondary schools has more than doubled. He's a great teacher; his love for music shows, and is reflected by the students. Ammon has him for a band teacher, and it's his favorite class every day--he learns a lot and he loves it!!

John is open-minded and accepting of others. He is friendly and is a good listener. He's easygoing and has a calm demeanor. He's very cordial, and is always saying and doing the appropriate thing around others--a quality that I never seem to perfect! He is super funny, too, and I enjoy his sense of humor! He's silly and sarcastic and witty, and he's always getting me to laugh! I find myself constantly smiling and laughing when I'm around him! He brings me so much happiness!

John is very creative and is also very organized. He has an eye for detail and he's a perfectionist: he believes if there's a job worth doing, it's worth doing right. And his concerts and performances and shows are always done beautifully! His idea for a music department fundraiser was "Salmon Idol", a small-town version of "American Idol". He does the advertising, the backdrops, the audio-visual effects for it, he directs the contestants in a group number, and he also helps each competitor with their individual song. For the past 4 years, it's been a huge success! Each year, it grows and grows and is extremely popular now! He's also been instrumental in directing the school's musicals the last several years, and he helps with the community music programs as well. He gets along with just about anybody, and is well-liked in the school and in the community!

John is an excellent cook, and is always making healthy, delicious dishes. I love eating his food! And he believes in eating the finer things of life, namely chocolate. He buys the good kind, too! And he is so thoughtful, because he shares it with me! I find myself constantly craving chocolate, and my appetite is satisfied at least once weekly because he brings a little bag of it to church for me and my family to partake of!

I like that we have similar taste in music and plays and movies, and we both love GLEE. I enjoy listening to music, singing harmony, and talking about songs with him. And we have fun watching movies and TV together. Lately, four of us have been getting together frequently and having so much fun: Josh and I, John, and Amanda (my friend who I highlighted the other day). I have been having the time of my life with them!

John, I am a better person because of your influence in my life. I'm so grateful for your friendship, and for your patience and understanding with me. Thank you for being such a wonderful example to me, and for always being true to yourself. I'm so glad that you are a part of my life!

Monday, December 20, 2010

20th Day of Christmas - Kimi friend KIMI
Kimi's name is spelled with 4 simple letters, just like my name is. Her real first name (Kimberley) is longer, just like my real name is. And her name gets mis-spelled all the time, just like mine does! Kimi and I have a lot in common, and not just because of our names!

Kimi is a senior in high school, and she reminds me a lot of me when I was her age. She is outgoing and fun, she is involved in a lot of activities, and she likes boys a lot!!! She sings in the show choir, she acts in plays, she's involved in sports--she played volleyball for years and she was the football manager this year, and she's a leader in 4-H and has been on the student council. She is popular and knows how to have a good time!

I know I've blogged about her before, but I just love this girl. She feels like a little sister to me, and is the same age as my youngest sister who I don't get to live by. Coincidentally, I'm also the same age as her oldest sister. Kimi started coming over to my house when she was about 12; she came with her friend Tina to babysit on a few occasions. And after Tina grew up and left, then Kimi became our babysitter. At some point along the way, she also became my good friend. And she comes over to hang out often, and she fits right in: she gets along with my boys and she is a friend to both me and Josh.

Kimi is not like a lot of teenage girls that I know: she isn't vain and she isn't fake and she doesn't try to impress people. She is real and she knows who she is and doesn't act like anything else but her true self. She is honest and open and funny and smart. She is funky and cool and has her own style (I make fun of her style, but she also makes fun of me for my eccentricities!). I think she's so beautiful: her hair always looks so gorgeous, she has an attractive face, her smile is so cute, and her laugh is absolutely adorable! I love hanging out with her, and I do so as much as I can! I'm so sad that she will be graduating this year, because I will miss my little friend!

Kimi is so giving and is always lending a helping hand, and she does so with a generous spirit and doesn't complain. She has helped me out on so many occasions...she's helped me clean up after Halloween Carnivals, she's sat with me during pumpkin sales, she drove to Spokane with me for my grandma's funeral, she's babysat my kids on lots of occasions when I was in a bind, she helped me put together my yard sale this summer, she participated in some of my ward programs to help me, she's gone on short family trips with us and helped me with the kids in the car. And we've had a lot of fun together doing it all! Kimi has an upbeat, positive attitude, and can make any situation a cheerful one!

I love to go to her house, and sit at her kitchen counter and eat and chat with her, or sit in front her computer with her and look at photos, or lay on her bed with her and watch chick flicks, or drag main street with her in her car and the music up full-blast! I always feel so youthful and alive when I'm around her, and I love the person she brings out in me!

Kimi, you are a fabulous friend and I've enjoyed your company over the years! Thanks for being such a fun companion and for bringing me so much joy! I love you, and I treasure all the good times we've had together!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

19th Day of Christmas - Ruth mom RUTH
I'm teaching a lesson in Sunday School today about family responsibilities. While preparing for this particular lesson, I researched and studied the righteous responsibilities of a father and the nurturing responsibilities of a mother. Everything that I read about mothering reminded me of my own mother. Since I did a blog post this summer about my dad (you can read that HERE), I wanted to write this blog post about my mom.

My mom's greatest calling in life has been the same as her favorite job ever: being a stay-home mom. She loved being able to stay home and take care of us children. She loved having the opportunity to nurture us and raise us and teach us. She is so patient and soft-spoken; she never yelled and she never spanked. I never heard her complain about us children, and she showed us nothing but kindness and love.

My mom has two main personality traits: serving others and worrying about others. My mom is the most selfless, giving, generous, charitable woman that I know. Her entire life has been dedicated to serving others, and she is the happiest when she's giving of herself. She is loving, kind, and sweet. She never says a bad word about anyone, she never cusses, she never acts like anything other than a lady. She is spiritual, faithful, and always remembers to give thanks to Heavenly Father. She pours her heart out in daily prayer, and is a very righteous follower of Jesus Christ. She is a perfect example to me, and I know that I will never be the mother to my children that my mom was to me.

My mom is so good at taking care of others, and has helped all of us kids when we were sick or recovered from surgeries. She used to rub my back when I was a child and I had the flu in the middle of the night, puking in the toilet. Even now, whenever I'm sick, I always wish she could magically appear at my side to help me and comfort me. I'm not half the care-giver for my husband and kids that she is!

My mom writes hand-written letters and sends awesome care packages. I got lots of mail from her when I went to college, and I appreciated knowing what was going on back at home in my absence. Every member of my family always gets birthday cards on time from her--I don't know how she remembers them all (I only remember after the fact and constantly send my siblings belated cards), but I always feel special to receive one of her hand-written cards, because I know that she's been thinking of me. My boys receive lots of letters and packages from her, and they look forward to finding new ways to break into the superbly wrapped and taped packages!

My mom is organized and likes to have her family surround her. She likes to have fun things for the grandkids to do when we all get together, and I appreciate her hard work and effort in cooking for so many people, having activities for the kids to keep busy, and for cleaning up before and after us. She silently works and works and works. Even though I'm a grown woman and a mother myself, I love going home and feel like I'm taken care of by my mom.

I love my mom so much, and I'm blessed and lucky to have her. She's devoted her life to serving the Savior, her husband, her children, and her grandchildren. I'm so grateful for the example she is to me, and I constantly strive to be more like her!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

18th Day of Christmas - Amy

Introducing...Josh's cousin/my friend AMY
Amy is a sister to Heidi and Carrie, who I previously highlighted last week. I met Amy shortly after Josh and I were married. A week after our wedding, we came to Salmon to have an open house. One of the days we were in town, we went to a soccer game of Josh's little brother Malachi. Amy was there at her son's soccer game as well. She and Josh exchanged greetings, and then Josh introduced Amy to me. She said she had something for us, and she went to her car and came back with our wedding gift: a matted and framed, cross-stitched piece of art. She had hand-stitched the words "TOLMAN" on it herself! It was so beautiful and I absolutely loved it! I had it on display in our home for years!

At various family functions over the next several years, I came in contact with Amy and her husband Myron and their children. But it wasn't until after we moved to Salmon in 2001 that I really got to know her better. In 2002, I was called to serve in the ward Young Women's organization under her direction as President. I enjoyed working with her. She was always so organized, and creative, and fun. The girls felt comfortable with her, and she was an excellent leader. I truly admired the way she led the group. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with her, because we became good friends as a result of it.

The next year, I became pregnant with the twins. During August and September of 2003, I had to drive to Idaho Falls twice a week to see the OB/GYN and to have ultrasounds because their spinal cords were wrapped around each other and we were closely monitoring the blood flow that each of them were receiving. It was a busy time, because not only was I still working full-time, but Josh was also working full-time and coaching the H.S. cross country team. He usually came with me to one appointment a week, and the other time I always took a friend with me because of the long 5-hour round-trip driving distance. I took Amy with me several of those times, and I appreciated her friendship and companionship, not only in the car, but also during the stressful time spent in the Dr.'s office. She was a source of support and strength to me, and I was so grateful for her time and sacrifice to go with me.

I have so many wonderful memories of quality time spent with Amy. Our family used to go camping at Challis Hot Springs with her and her family at the first sign of spring, and we all loved it. For the longest time, I used to go over to Amy's house occasionally at bed-time, and we would spend hours on the couch chatting and laughing and eating until the wee hours of the morning when I finally was tired enough to go home to bed. Those late-night visits were life-savers for my sanity many times, and I was so grateful that she was a night-owl like me and that she always welcomed me into her home! When the twins were born prematurely, and were life-flighted to Salt Lake City, I had to stay behind in Idaho Falls for 3 days alone. I was so lonely, and she called me in the hospital every single day, and she babysat Ammon for us that first week. After we finally came home from the hospital 2 months later, she organized meals to be brought into our home for that first transitional week. I can never repay her for the kindness she showed us during that very stressful time in our lives.

Amy is seriously the best hostess that I've ever met. She pays attention to detail, she is very organized, and she's a planner. When she throws a party, she does it with style. Her home is beautifully decorated, her food is SO delicious, and the company is always a pleasure. She is able to throw a party and make everyone feel at ease, while she serves and hosts with a smile. She never seems stressed, she always knows how to keep an organized event moving along, and she makes it all seem so effortless. I admire her hostessing abilities above all else. Whenever I host a party or a get-together, I always think of Amy and wonder how she does it so perfectly, because no matter how hard I try, I can never pull it off as smoothly! Hosting parties is definitely a real talent, and she's got it!

She is such a riot to be with! I love her beautiful smile and her contagious laugh and her brilliant sense of humor! She says and does the funniest things, and never worries about what other people may think of her. Amy is charming, and I always feel so comfortable around her! She is easy to talk to, and so fun to be with. Last year, she moved away, and life in Salmon hasn't felt the same in her absence.

Amy, thank you for being my friend. You are such a joy to be with, and I treasure the time we've been able to spend together. You have been a bright spot in my life, and I'm so blessed that you've been a part of it! I love you, and I miss you tremendously!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

17th Day of Christmas - Amanda good friend AMANDA
I just gotta say that I love this girl! She has greatly enhanced my life this past year, and I'm so grateful that she is my friend!

The first time I met Amanda was an accidental meeting. When Josh and I were first married, we went to a car dealership looking for a new car. Amanda was working at the dealership, and Josh ran into her. They knew each other because Amanda grew up in Salmon just like Josh, and her older brother was his friend in school. We were introduced then. And even though I don't remember what car we were looking at, I never forgot her beautiful face.

Fast forward nearly ten years, and Amanda re-entered my life. During the years in between, both of us moved multiple times and experienced different life-lessons and became mothers. She came back to Salmon for the same reason we moved back: to be near family and for a job.

Amanda is an amazing hairdresser. I was so excited when I learned she would be moving back, since my previous hairstylist of 7 years had recently moved away! Amanda is a super talented hairstylist! She has a way with her hands, and an eye for style. She is SO good! I love sitting in her chair as she works wonders on my hair! My hair has become lifeless and dead and thin and fine after my pregnancies, and I don't like it anymore. But every time I step out of the salon after she's cut and styled it, everyone compliments me on how great it looks! It always makes my day! And all the credit is due to Amanda!

Amanda is so beautiful; I just love her face! She is such an awesome person, too. She is so fun to be around! She is hilarious, and I just love her sense of humor! She always makes me laugh! Even if I'm in a sour mood, or depressed, she somehow manages to get me to laugh! She has a great attitude about life; she takes it as it comes and she always presses forward. She is real, she is open, she is honest. She never tries to be any different than who she is. I love that the very most about her!

She is accepting of others, and is very caring. She hasn't had an easy life, but she is constantly trying to lessen the load that others are burdened with. She is kind-hearted and forgiving and freely gives of herself to so many. She is amazing, and I admire her so much. I lucked out big time when she came back to town, because I gained an incredible friend.

Amanda, thank you for your support and love. Thanks for all the time you've spent laughing with me, comforting me through my tears, and working on my hair. You have been a gift in my life this past year, and I'm so grateful for your friendship!