Monday, January 31, 2011

Live & Love Life 365 - January 2011

At the start of this new year, I challenged myself to find or do something every single day that brought me happiness and then to write down that simple aspect from my day that brought me joy. I called the challenge "Live & Love Life 365".

The "Live & Love Life 365" Tab (at the top of my blog) is where I keep the daily record. In addition to that, at the end of each month, I'm going to copy the items from the entire month and paste them here onto my regular blog page.

I've truly enjoyed creating this daily journal of joy. Since I've been focusing on experiencing joy every day, and because I'm making an effort to record the experiences, I've been feeling so much gratitude for all the simple blessings in my daily life! I love the phrase from the scripture 2 Nephi 25:4 that says "for my soul delighteth in plainness", because that's exactly how I feel!

So, here's my "Live & Love Life 365" in January 2011:

Day 1: Hosted a New Years Party with family and friends, and decided to let go of the usual details of food-layout and time-line of the party. There were over 25 people in my home, and the party was so relaxed. I enjoyed every single minute of it!!!

Day 2: Helped my friend John work on preparing his classroom for the start of school after Christmas Break, and we listened to good music while working.

Day 3: Cleaned my bedroom and cleared off my desk.

Day 4: Started teaching piano lessons again after a 3-week break over Christmas vacation.

Day 5: Laughed with my friend Amanda over trivial things while eating wheat thins decorated with letters made from spray cheese.

Day 6: Substituted for the music teacher at the elementary school, and my favorite part was singing and dancing with the kindergartners! They said it was the most fun they've ever had in music class!!

Day 7: Having passionate kisses with my husband.

Day 8: Dancing with my husband, singing karaoke with John, and laughing with Amanda and friends at her birthday party.

Day 9: Had a glorious day at church--loved attending every meeting and feeling the Spirit.

Day 10: Playing games with my boys during FHE.

Day 11: Celebrating Ammon's birthday: taking treats to his school and watching him interact with his friends, making his favorite dinner and eating it together as a family, seeing him open gifts from us and receiving his grateful praises, and eating dessert together as a family in honor of his special day.

Day 12: Deep-cleaning parts of my kitchen, and playing Mickey Mouse Memory Game with Kanyon while I was home alone with him during the day.

Day 13: Substituted for Ammon's 5th grade teacher, and enjoyed playing with the students and seeing Ammon throughout the day!

Day 14: Went to Idaho Falls, and while we were there, we went bowling together as a family! It was so fun, and we all enjoyed it! (And I was secretly happy that I got the highest score of all of us!!!)

Day 15: Texting Josh, and taking a road trip with Amanda and John.

Day 16: Teaching my Sunday School class at church about prayer and feeling the spirit so strongly.

Day 17: Called and talked to my mom for her birthday, and we had a nice visit. Made oreo balls with Kimi and they were delicious. Finally completed the Perkins Photo Calendar 2011 and I'm so proud of it!

Day 18: Laying in Josh's arms after a long and tiring day.

Day 19: Taking a much-needed, short, mid-day nap!

Day 20: Reading to Jonah and Micah's class at school.

Day 21: Soaking in the hot springs with my husband and friends.

Day 22: Jumping simultaneously with Josh on the dance floor, and jamming with Josh, Amanda, and John.

Day 23: Playing wii Just Dance with my sons and husband (and I won every round until the last one when Ammon and Josh both beat me!)!

Day 24: Watching Ammon's 5th grade class performing a shortened play of " The Music Man" and playing Blokus with my four sons at Family Home Evening!

Day 25: Playing wii Play for the first time with Kanyon! He's totally a better fisherman on it than me, but he was so excited for me whenever I caught a fish too. He'd say "Nice Job, Mom!" so excitedly! I loved playing with him!

Day 26: Going on a field trip with Jonah and Micah's 1st grade to the hockey skating rink, and watching them as they both tried ice skating for the first time!

Day 27: Seeing all my boys at school while subbing for a lunch lady in the cafeteria, reading to Jonah and Micah's 1st grade class in the afternoon, and getting the perfect neck-rub from Josh to help alleviate my pains.

Day 28: Playing Blokus with my boys, and getting a perfect score for the first time ever! And Josh made my day today--he arrived home early from work, and he also brought pizza for dinner since I was sick! I just adore my husband!

Day 29: I was still feeling sick this afternoon, but I still had to go to work and clean the bank. Josh offered to come with me, and I appreciated his help so much!

Day 30: My Sunday School lesson today was about family relationships, and I really enjoyed the class. And after church, we had a delicious lunch and a relaxing afternoon at Tim & Barb's.

Day 31: Took Ammon on a date to see a concert pianist perform.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

and a happy new year!

It's tradition for our family to spend New Year's Eve at Josh's parents home. Every year, the crowd is a little different, because each year different family members and neighbors attend the annual party. This year, it was just Josh's siblings that came, and we had an absolutely wonderful time!

We started the evening with gift-giving. We all opened our Christmas gifts from each other and from Josh's parents. I loved watching everyone take turns opening gifts--we've never done that with Tiffany's family before. It was fun for all the cousins to be together!
Grandma got all the grandsons scooters, and they were so happy! They rode them around and around in our kitchen constantly until just last week, when I discovered that one of them had an "accident" (that nobody fessed up to, of course), putting a large dent in one of my new lower kitchen cabinets. So now they're banned to only riding the scooters outside, which will have to wait until the snow melts!

After the gifts were all opened, the New Year's celebration got underway. There is only one radio station in Salmon, and on New Year's Eve every year, the station has an oldies music contest. They play short clips of twelve songs in a row, and you have to guess the songs and the artists. And to make it more fun, every year there's a different "theme" to the songs, and if you can figure out the theme, it's helpful in figuring out all the songs too. For example, one year the songs all had a woman's name in the title, one year the songs/artists had names of football teams in them, one year the songs/artists had numbers in them, etc. This year, the theme was "names of states in the USA". For most of the years that the Tolman family has competed, we've won the contest! And this year was no exception!!!

To pass the time, I tried to put a 1000 piece puzzle together, the kids played games and looked at photo albums with Uncle Gideon, and Josh participated in the radio trivia game throughout the night with his parents!

It was one of my favorite New Year's Eves yet, mostly because we were with just family, and the whole atmosphere was casual and enjoyable! And for the first time, all my boys stayed up until past midnight--and they rung in the new year just how they know best--noisily!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

'Twas the...

...morning of Christmas, and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were laying by the gifts on the floor.
It was evident that St. Nick had been here and had done his chore!

The children were still nestled all snug in their beds,
Because we'd been out late the night before with friends.

As the sun was rising that morn, I looked out the window and was filled with delight
to see a beautiful blanket of white covering everything in sight.

Shortly after that, my listening ears heard a noise about quarter to eight,
and Josh and I went to the boys' rooms and told them to "wait"!

For in the other room, the youngest child was still asleep--on his bed he did lay,
We tried to awake him, but he did not want to (much to our dismay).

So we told the 3 older boys "okay, you can go", and away they all flew,
they ran in their pajamas to the living room to see what was new.

Their shouts of excitement were so lively and quick! I heard things like:
"Yes! an mp3 player", "I got legos!", and "Just what I wanted--a bike!".

Kanyon was awakened by all the noise, and came out to see what Santa had brought:
He was so happy with all the Thomas the Train gifts he got!

When they looked inside their stockings, the boys each discovered
toys, bath soap, and plenty of candy canes and chocolate to devour!

In Josh's stocking, he received cologne, lottery tickets to scratch, and Reeses & Kit-Kats.
In mine, I found socks, my favorite kinds of chocolates, and more lottery tickets!

After all of St. Nick's gifts were revealed (including a treadmill for me), I called everyone to breakfast in the kitchen,
"Now Ammon, now Jonah, now Micah, and Kanyon--come and eat up, the bacon, hashbrowns, & eggnog are waitin'!"

To the kitchen they came and ate up with some zest,
because they wanted to start the gift-opening fest!!

And then, in a twinkling, the unwrapping of the presents got under way,
we all took turns, and the boys hoped it would last all day!

For over an hour, we watched with glee,
as everyone opened gift after gift happily.

My favorite gift to give this year was hand-made blankets for each boy's bed.
And as each boy opened them up, the blankets stretched from their feet to their head!

When the gifts were all open, a bundle of toys were strung throughout the room in an upheavel:
Books, puzzles, lincoln logs, legos, trucks, chairs, blankets, clothes, wii games, and a shovel!

And I know I exclaimed, before the day's end, that this Christmas was "the BEST"!!
I'm happy to announce that our FIRST stay-at-home Christmas was truly a success!!!

501 regarding my last post: the number I chose for the winner was 4, because I've been blogging for 44 months.

The 4th person who commented was Marsha. Yay for Marsha! And Marsha, you guessed it: you win a jar of home-canned pumpkin butter, made from home-grown pumpkins and home-processed pumpkin puree! I will be mailing that to you this next week! Hope you enjoy!

And for those of you who asked, here's the recipe that my sis-in-law Jen gave me:

Amish Pumpkin Butter

1 can (29 oz) pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.

2. Spoon hot pumpkin mixture into hot jars, filling to within 1/4 inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.

3. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

(It says it yields 40 servings, but I have no idea how large they consider a serving size. I think I tripled the recipe, and it filled 12 half-pint jars, so a single batch would produce about 4 half-pint jars or 2 pint jars.)

Friday, January 28, 2011


I started blogging in May 2008.

In May 2009, I was happy to announce that I'd done 100 blog posts.

Over the last year and a half, my blogging has become more frequent, and today marks my 500th blog post!!! I'm so excited!

I love numbers, I love accomplishments, and I love contests. Here's all three of those in one....

To celebrate my 500th blog post accomplishment, I'm going to reward a reader with a prize. I've picked a random number, and if you comment on this blog, and are that certain number of person that's commented, you win!!

Good Luck! And thanks for reading my blog!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wish Lists & Santa Visits

At the beginning of December, we had a Family Home Evening where we talked about the upcoming Christmas holiday, and we discussed how it's fun to receive things, but it's important to give things too. Then we gave the boys each a paper and had them write 2 lists on it: a list of gifts they hoped to get from Santa and a list of gifts they wanted to give to Jesus.

These were Ammon's lists:

"Things I want from Santa"
1. Ipod
2. wii Wipeout game
3. wii Neighborhood games
4. Lincoln Logs
5. Metal detector
6. Pool table
7. Monopoly City

and "Things I want to do for other people"
1. give brothers presents
2. do things without being asked
3. be nice to others
4. be a supportive friend
5. give friends presents

Jonah's lists were smaller:

"From Santa"
1. Bike
2. Snow shovel
3. Blanket
4. Pair of Gloves

"For Jesus"
1. Set the table

and Micah's lists were even smaller:

"From Santa"
1. Clothes
2. Blanket

"For Jesus"
1. Shovel the snow

Kanyon didn't make lists, because he was 1. too little to write and 2. he had no idea what he even wanted!

A few weeks later, I took the younger 3 boys to visit Santa Clause when he came to the library's pajama party, and they were excited to tell him in person what they wanted most. Jonah was the first to sit on his lap, and he couldn't wait to tell Santa what he wanted. He asked Santa to bring him his number 1 request: a new bike!

But when Micah sat on Santa's lap, he completely surprised me when he told Santa that what he wanted most of all was "shoes". Santa looked rather concerned with that request, and he told Micah that he thought he could find some for him! Micah and Jonah have an over-the-door hanger FULL of shoes in their closet! I was giggling in embarrassment when he told Santa that he needed new shoes, because I knew it simply wasn't true! I still don't know if he just panicked and forgot to ask for what he really wanted, or if he just had no idea what he really wanted and that came first to his mind!

And when Santa asked Kanyon what he wanted, Kanyon just kind of squawked. The only reason Kanyon even sat on his lap was to get the brown bag full of goodies like his older brothers; he didn't really care to make conversation with the guy! And he was happy that he got what he came for--the brown bag, even though it was filled with food that he hates: candy canes, an orange, and peanuts!! Silly boy!
I knew Jonah would get what he wanted from Santa, because he did his Gift to Jesus every single day in December by helping set the table. And Micah shoveled the snow several times, so I figured he'd get most of what he asked for. But I wasn't so sure about Ammon's wish list being completely fulfilled since he didn't do even half of his Gifts to Jesus--he didn't give presents to his friends or his brothers, plus he was pretty ornery at times!

When Christmas morning arrived, my hunches about what they would receive based on how well they served others proved to be true... (to be continued)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Good idea, Bad execution

For this year's Christmas goodies that would be delivered to our neighbors and friends, I wanted to give something home-made. I thought it would be a good idea to make something out of our home-grown pumpkins. My sis-in-law Jen gave me a recipe for Amish pumpkin butter last year that sounded delicious. So back in November, while I was thinking of what to make for Christmas goodies, I found that recipe and decided to make it. And I thought home-baked rolls would go perfectly with the pumpkin butter. Sounds like a wonderful idea, right?! Canned pumpkin butter and home-baked rolls?! Yeah, I thought so too.

So, in preparation, I bought half-pint size canning jars, giant packages of frozen Rhodes rolls, coordinating paper plates & plastic goodie sacks, and I made gift tags. And in a month's time, that's as far as I ever got--thinking and preparing, but not actually making the food.

For over a month, I thought about making the pumpkin butter. And every time I thought about doing it, I stressed myself out. Part of the instructions were to put the pumpkin butter in hot jars and let it sit in a hot boiling bath to seal the jars. I had no idea how I was going to get the jars and the lids and the rings all hot at the same time after boiling the pumpkin butter and making sure that it all sealed properly. I only do freezer canning; the only time I've ever done any real canning was the one time that my friend Hailey came over and helped me do applesauce. One day in December, I was talking to my friend Gina about my anxieties, and she offered to come over and help me make the pumpkin butter. I'm SOOO thankful she did! I was grateful for her supplies, her guidance, and her companionship in the kitchen for the several hours it took to make it all. We made the pumpkin butter in two rounds, and it produced enough to fill 23 half-pint jars. I was super happy with the results! The cans looked so beautiful, and the pumpkin butter tasted delicious, too! So, with the pumpkin butter made, I focused on making the rolls. Because there were over 20 families on my list, and since I only have 3 jellyroll pans to put rolls in, I knew that I'd have to split my roll-making and goodie-delivering into two different days. The first day went wonderfully: the frozen rolls thawed and raised and baked beautifully, I packaged them all up nicely and I delivered them that night with Jonah, Micah, and Kanyon.

Two days later, I started thawing the second set of rolls. By that afternoon, they hadn't risen far enough to bake, but I had to go to town for an appointment. That appointment ended up being twice as long as I'd expected, and by the time I got back home, the rolls had risen too far and had already fallen. They weren't any good. I still baked them, but I made our family eat them over the next week since I didn't want them to just go to waste. I bought more rolls, and a few days later, I tried the "speed method" where you boil some water, set it in a preheated oven, and put the frozen rolls in the oven with it. They rose within 1 1/2 hours, and looked great. But, when they were cooking, they got burnt, even though I was checking them over and over. I was furious with myself. I'd ruined about 100 rolls by this point, and I didn't know what to do. So...I threw a crying tantrum on my bed. And my awesome husband came to the rescue while I was in time-out. He started another round of roll-making, and his batch turned out great. I picked some of the lesser-burnt rolls out of my last batch and combined them with his, and it was enough to finish all the deliveries. And the job was finally accomplished! Yay! Although, next year, I think I'll go back to delivering something easy and NOT home-made!!!