Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 on FB

Dec. 1: After trying new fuses in each strand and pulling out & replacing each individual bulb on the strings of lights all to no avail, I threw away over half my Christmas light collection today. Super time-consuming and extremely frustrating!

Dec. 2: This was the one episode of Amazing Race where I was really hoping it was an elimination round...since our entire family completely dislikes the "Twinnies"! We couldn't believe it was a non-elimination finish. Argghh--frustrated we have to watch (and listen to) them another week.

Dec. 3: I loved decorating gingerbread houses as much as my boys did tonight! Ammon thought he was "too old" to do it, and watched football instead with dad. So, I happily took his lil house and worked on it while the 3 younger boys did theirs. It was so fun!!!

Dec. 5: SO proud of my 4th grade students for singing the Star Spangled Banner at the HS bball game tonight! They did so good and were very respectful. And the boys' team pulled off the win in an exciting game! It was a great night!

Dec. 6: Best part of my day: watching the Irish Christmas in America live performance with the school kids. It was so awesome and enjoyable!

Dec. 8: I am determined to finish canning the rest of the pumpkins today...what a lengthy process! I do NOT enjoy making pumpkin puree, but i DO love eating all homemade pumpkin in desserts throughout the year, so I know it's worth it. I just keep reminding myself of that over and over and over...

Dec. 9: There are only 8 more school days until the 12-day Christmas break. I feel like there's so many things that need to be done before Christmas and not enough time to get it all done!

Dec. 10: I am an extreme spell-checker, and one of the most common spelling errors that totally irritates me is when people think they're spelling "definitely" when they write "defiantly". Two TOTALLY DIFFERENT things!!!

Dec. 11: I can't make it through an entire episode of Parenthood lately without crying!

Dec. 14: how heartbreaking...every parent's and teacher's worst nightmare happened today to far too many innocent children.

Dec. 16: I don't know why I ever thought making fudge as this year's neighbor Christmas goodies was a great idea! After 4 rounds (and 6 to go), I'm a little tired of standing over the hot stove and endlessly stirring!

Dec. 17: I felt like I re-lived a scene tonight straight from "A Christmas Story". We had just gotten in the car to go deliver neighbor goodies. It was snowing hard outside, and the wiper blades were frozen. As Josh tried to scrape the windshield, the wipers got stuck on each other, and completely broke, and out came the F-bomb. Ammon said "I heard the word that Dad just said". Micah then proceeded to spell it out loud in case there was any doubt. Unfortunately, I had no soap to put in his mouth, and there was no neighbor's dad to blame the word on...since he IS the dad!!!

Dec. 19: Super proud of my students today! The Kindergarteners had their very first performance for school peers, and they did so well! And the 5th graders blew me away tonight with their excellent skills on the recorders and singing! I am one happy, proud teacher! Great job kiddos!

Dec. 20: Oh my Kindergarteners made my heart happy today with their awesome performance at their "Snowmen at Christmas" show! They are too precious! They did SOOOO good and they just made my day bright!

Dec. 20: I drove to Tremonton from Salmon on 9/11/01, and I felt like the world was ending that day. I will be driving to Tremonton from Salmon on 12/21/12, the day that the world's supposed to be ending. But I'm looking forward to being with my family and friends this weekend, since I truly don't believe that this is the end!!!

Dec. 20: Here's my list of things to do tonight: work for the golf course, make more fudge for neighbor gifts, address-stuff-mail Christmas cards, do two days' worth of blogging, wash laundry, get packed, help all the children get packed. Here's what's likely to happen tonight (because this is what happens EVERY thursday night): sit, watch DVR, check facebook. Motivation completely leaves me after 4-day school weeks! Especially after crazy weeks like this one!

Dec. 22: I woke up this morning! I survived the end of the world!

Dec. 24: twas the day before Christmas, and FINALLY i finished making neighbor goodies, mailing cards, and getting presents! Bring on the wrapping, the eating, and the ho-ho-hoing, cuz I am READY for this white Christmas to begin! Yay!

Dec. 29: Chillin' with the family in beautiful Stanley Idaho--literally and figuratively!

Dec. 31: i'm a list-making, goal-oriented girl. so naturally i love this time of year: reflecting on what I've done during the present year with lists, and looking forward to the new year with goals!

Top 40 of 2012

Tolman Top 40 Hits of 2012
(our favorite memories of the year in chronological order)

1. Ammon receiving the priesthood when he turned 12 in January
2. going ice skating & swimming for Kanyon's birthday in February
3. Josh & Kala's couple's retreat to Salt Lake City & Park City
4. Jonah & Micah both medaling in a wrestling tournament
5. hiking to Gold Bug hot springs as a family
6. Josh building a rock walkway in our backyard
7. Ammon placing at a spring home track meet
8. Kala traveling to Couer d'Alene for music teacher's meetings
9. going to the Perkins family reunion in St. Anthony, Idaho over Easter
10. Kanyon's preschool graduation
11. Ammon receiving the "student of the month" award
12. Josh rebuilding a 3-wheel golf cart, and then using it out on the golf course for couple's league
13. visiting Logan, Utah for cousin Libby's baptism & Sunny's blessing
14. roller skating & swimming with the Perkins girl cousins
15. hosting the Elders Quorum summer party
16. swimming at the Pocatello pool
17. working together to get rid of the downed tree in our yard after a big windstorm
18. playing in the ditch with friends and family
19. watching Jonah, Micah, and Kanyon all score goals in their soccer games
20. slipping down the homemade waterslide by our house at the Tolman Reunion
21. having a float in the Salmon River Days Parade
22. celebrating Ed & Kathy's 40th wedding anniversary with a family talent show
23. riding the gondola in Kellog, Idaho
24. visiting Great Grandpa Perkins in Spokane, Washington
25. playing on the Whitefish City Beach in Montana
26. vacationing in Glacier National Park: driving, hiking, boating, & photographing while there
27. floating down the Salmon River with Ammon for the first time
28. camping at Reservoir Lake in Montana
29. touring the ghost town of Bannock, Montana
30. Kala dancing with Josh at an outdoor rock concert on her birthday in August
31. attending the Brigham City temple open house in Utah
32. Kala & Josh going to the Eastern Idaho State Fair and seeing Heart in concert
33. running, swimming, and camping at Challis Hot Springs
34. Jonah & Micah's pirate birthday party in September
35. seeing Ammon get 3rd place at the home Cross Country meet
36. having another successful pumpkin patch
37. Ammon & Josh both getting a deer while hunting
38. Josh & Kala going to a Boise State football game for Josh's birthday in November
39. having Thanksgiving in Salmon and playing "Things" with everyone together
40. visiting the Forsgren's in Stanley over Christmas Break

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We wish you a...

With our Christmas cards this year, we sent out a "Lists of 12 from 2012":


1. Worked at the golf course
2. Bought a lawncare business
3. Served as school board V.P.
4. Attended lots of meetings
5. Saw a Boise State football game
6. Refereed basketball games
7. Watered the pumpkin patch
8. Took long motorcycle rides in the mountains
9. Hosted the Idaho Golf Superintendents Fall meeting
10. Became Pres. of the IGCSA
11. Successfully hunted a deer
12. Chopped wood for our stove


1. Taught elementary music
2. Did golf course bookkeeping
3. Sang at baptisms & funerals
4. Took guitar lessons
5. Hosted her 15-yr High School class reunion
6. Taught Sunday School
7. Went to Coeur d’Alene for music teacher’s meetings
8. Learned to make new recipes
9. Blogged frequently
10. Canned the garden produce
11. Had knee surgery
12. Took lots of photos


1. Plays trumpet in the pep band
2. Ran Cross Country
3. Golfed competitively
4. Mowed lawns
5. Earned straight A’s
6. Received the Star in Scouts
7. Camped with YM’s group
8. Bought a motorcycle
9. Got an Ipod
10. Shot & killed his first deer
11. Rode his bike to school
12. Weeded the garden

Jonah & Micah

1. Wrestled for the first time
2. Played soccer
3. Wrote a book
4. Began Par Kour lessons
5. Attended cub scouts
6. Started the 3rd grade
7. Passed swimming lessons
8. Read avidly in the Library Summer Reading Program
9. Rode their 4-wheelers
10. Picked & sold pumpkins at our pumpkin patch
11. Learned to mow the lawn
12. Played the wii often


1. Stopped using binky & sippy
2. Graduated preschool
3. Started kindergarten
4. Began learning chores
5. Got glasses
6. Took swimming lessons
7. Played soccer
8. Excelled at playing Angry Birds
9. Writes his name by himself
10. Loves to count
11. Plays dad’s phone at church
12. Spoke in the microphone at the Primary program

 Tolman Family

1. Grew a garden
2. Visited Great Grandpa Perkins in Spokane
3. Celebrated Easter in St. Anthony with the Perkins family
4. Hosted a Tolman family reunion in our backyard
5. Vacationed to Glacier Nat’l Park
6. Got a new puppy: “Shorty”
7. Camped in Idaho & Montana
8. Hiked to Goldbug Hot Springs
9. Attended temple open houses
10. Had a float in a parade
11. Began reading the Book of Mormon
12. Played lots of board games

12th day of Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas: Christmas Eve

We used to rotate holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas between the Tolman and Perkins families. But Christmas of 2009 was the last one we spent in Utah--ever since then, we spend Christmas day at our home, and now we just rotate the Thanksgiving holiday between the two extended families. We do go to Utah sometime over Christmas break each year now, to see our family and do winter activities together, but it's too hard to take Christmas somewhere else with 4 kids (+ stuff) in tow!

For the past 3 years (ever since we moved into our new home), we've tried to establish our own Christmas Eve traditions. Josh and I grew up with different traditions, and it takes time to figure out what works for both of us as well as the kids, and then stick with it year after year. There are just a few small things that we do the same every Christmas Eve:

1. Read the Luke 2 story of the account of the Savior's birth. The boys all pick characters of the wooden nativity, and set it up as the story is being read from the scriptures.

2. Read the classic tale "Twas the Night before Christmas".

3. Write letters to Santa, and leave the note out with cookies and milk on the Santa plate.

4. Discuss the rules for the next morning (no coming out to the living room until everyone has woken up and mom & dad are ready), and send the kids to their beds.

One of our friends has hosted a Christmas Eve family party that we've attended two of the last three years. The kids go sledding, we eat dinner, and we play games and laugh into the night. It's a fun way for all of us to pass the time on Christmas Eve, as well as spend quality time with those we love to be around.
I'm grateful for the extended invitation for my family to be a part of their festivities, and I hope that it continues to be a tradition as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012

11th day of Christmas

On the 11th day of Christmas: Seeing Santa

Every year, we go to the Library for their Books with Santa night.

Except...I sort of forgot to take the boys this year. It was planned for Thursday night, Dec. 20th. I was finally doing the Christmas cards, Josh had an Elders Quorum meeting, Ammon had basketball practice and a birthday party at a friend's house, the younger boys were all getting ready to leave to Utah the next morning, and I totally forgot about it.

The night at the library is the only event I take my kids to with Santa. A guest reader reads several books to the kids, a librarian sings songs with the kids, then Santa comes, and each child gets to sit on his lap and receive a small bag of treats. I love going to it! And I'm so grateful that it's free, too. I'm super bummed that I missed it--especially because I don't know how much longer Jonah and Micah will be willing to sit on Santa's lap (Ammon doesn't anymore). Sad face :(

So here's some photos from last year's Books with Santa night, instead.

10th day of Christmas

On the 10th day of Christmas: Music Concerts

Every year, we always see one or more Christmas Music Programs. We go to the High School Christmas Concert, I am in charge of the Kindergarten Christmas Show, there's usually a program at our Ward Christmas Party, and sometimes we attend a community concert, too.

This year, we all saw Ammon participate in the High School Christmas Concert. He's now in the Savage {high school} band, and he gets to play with the pep band at sports events, and he also plays with them at their concerts. He plays the trumpet, and his band played 2 songs. The concert was fabulous! We enjoyed all the choirs and bands, and the Bell choir song was a nice addition this year.

My 5th grade students also joined this concert, for the first time. I've been teaching them how to play the recorder for the past 2 months. They played 3 songs on the recorders: Shoheen Sho (a Welsh lullaby), Jingle Bells, and Jolly Old St. Nick. Then my students all sang one song: Jingle Bell Rock. They all played jingle bells during parts of the song, and 2 students played the air guitar. It was awesome!

Kanyon was in the Kindergarten Christmas show this year. Jonah & Micah saw him during the school performance, and Grandma & Grandpa T. & Uncle Malachi came to watch him, too. Ammon & Josh came to see him during the parent performance. The Kindergarten Christmas show was titled "Snowmen at Christmas" this year. It was a 20 minute show that our superintendent Mr. Foote narrated, and the students sang 10 songs throughout the program. They did fabulous and I loved watching them! I also sang one solo part with a fiddler during the song "Deck the Halls".

I love Christmas music and public performances! I truly enjoyed watching my students, and my sons, participating in musical programs this Christmas season.

9th day of Christmas

On the 9th day of Christmas: Lights

Every year, we take one or two nights to go look at lights. I bought several different "Christmas light glasses" a few years ago from a friend that we usually take with us, too; the glasses have holographic lenses that transform the lights into figures of stars, santa, snowmen, angels, snowflakes, & gingerbread men.

The kids each pick a pair of glasses to wear, and then they trade with each other as the evening unfolds. We went to look at lights twice this year: once in Salmon, and once in Tremonton.

There's one house up on the bar hill in Salmon that decorates their yard every winter with an abundance of Christmas figures, large blow-up decorations, and a smorgasborg of lights. It's our favorite place to look at in Salmon, and I'm so grateful that they take the time to decorate so extragavantly because it's such a delight to see!

Our favorite spot in Tremonton to look at lights is a house where they coordinate the lights to move and light up with songs. Last year, there were 6 songs, and it was a fun 20-minute show to watch. This year, it was moved from that house to the Tremonton City Center. You tune in your radio to a certain channel to hear the music as you're watching the free light show. This time there were songs added to the program, and it lasted about 35 minutes. It was SOOOO awesome to behold and totally put me in the Christmas spirit!!! (I've tried all morning to post a video of one song at the light show on here, but it wouldn't work).

Every other year, we go to see the lights on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and stop at the "Bay of Lights" at Willard Bay on the way back to Tremonton. This year, we didn't go look at lights at those two places. The years in between, we see the Parade of Lights show in Salmon on the day after Thanksgiving. This year, the parade was smaller, but it was still just as much fun to see! And the parade floats threw candy out this year, too, which made all the kids so happy despite the cold temperatures!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

8th Day of Christmas

On the 8th day of Christmas: Cards

I like sending out Christmas cards. Each year I like to do something a little different with them, but I always seem to incorporate the same kind of things in the annual process: the card, the photo, the year's summary, and hand-writing.

This year, the card, photo, and year's summary were all separate from each other (this isn't always the case, though). So, I wrote a message inside each card (I feel that a handwritten message or hand-written signatures are important to include), folded the summary, wrote the date on the back of the photo, stuffed the summary & photo in the card, addressed the envelope, stuck the card in the envelope, and licked it shut. I {unfortunately} just barely got around to doing this all tonight--which is much later in the season than I intended. I've had the cards for a year (I got them clearance in January--something I've never done before). I've had the photos for a month (I ordered them when there was a great sale on snapfish). I made this year's summary two weeks ago ("Lists of 12 from 2012" for each person in the family). It was just a matter of time of sitting and putting it all together that was holding me back! December is a crazy, busy month!

I send out Christmas cards because I love to receive Christmas cards. I enjoy receiving mail, and looking at photos of my friends and family; I like knowing that people are thinking about me enough to send me a card. So, if you've sent me a card, please know that I deeply appreciate it! I display the cards during the Christmas season on my wall in the dining room, and when I sit at the kitchen table to eat each evening, I look at the cards and think of the people who sent them to me. A few years ago in Relief Socity, I made a Christmas card holder out of a 6' long piece of 1x4 board. I covered the board in green Christmas scrapbook paper, and then decorated coordinating clothespins to hold the cards. Unfortunately, I don't think it's quite big enough. I think I will need to come up with another solution, because this board gets so crammed with cards that I have to double up each clothespin by Christmas.  

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is the reaching out...either by goodies, or giving gifts, or sending cards to stay in touch with others. I like that there's a sense of belonging and caring in the air all around!

7th day of Christmas

On the 7th day of Christmas: Goodies

I tried something new this year for our Christmas goodies: fudge. In years' past, I've made cookies,  jams, applesauce, and other baked or canned items, but never fudge.

I made three kinds: pumpkin fudge, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate fudge. (This was the very first time I've made chocolate fudge, so I'm counting it as my new recipe for December, too.)

I admit it was more time-consuming than I figured it would be. Each fudge has to be stirred for so long, and then each fudge has to set up for a while. I only have so many glass dishes, so I had to wait for the fudge to set up before I could remove it from the glass dish and make another round. I had to make several rounds of each kind of fudge, so it took me 2 days to make enough fudge for the first two rounds of deliveries. I still have more fudge to make to complete one more round of deliveries. Josh & I made a list of neighbors and friends and family in Salmon, and it totalled 20 families. The list was divided into 3 groups based on areas that people live to assist us in time management in delivering them.

I ordered some cute boxes from Oriental Trading to carry the fudge in. They're little gingerbread houses that are the perfect size for holding fudge! For each group of deliveries, I put pieces of each kind of fudge in the boxes to coordinate with the number of people in each household. The twins and I did one round on Sunday night, we went as a family and did the biggest group on Monday night, and I have one round to do next week since I ran out of time this week...

I enjoy this time of year when we get unexpected visitors at our home bringing us goodies, and likewise I enjoy dropping by others' homes with small gifts as tokens of appreciation for what they've done for our family throughout the year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

6th day of Christmas

On the 6th Day of Christmas: Movies

Every single year, we watch some of the exact same Christmas movies during the holiday season. Here's a list of our favorites:

The Christmas Story
It's a classic! We used to watch it a lot when I was a teenager too ,and my dad still laughs raucously when he watches it now! I often think of this movie when my boys want to go shooting, and I remember the red rider gun request always followed by the answer "You'll shoot your eye out, kid".

National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation
It does not feel like Christmas until we've watched Clark's Christmas disasters!!! We all laugh hysterically when we see it. This movie was funny when I was a kid, but it's even funnier now that I'm an adult! And I quote lines from this movie all year!

Will Farrell dressing up and singing always puts a smile on my face. The boys love this movie, and understand its humor so well! Buddy's usage of maple syrup is quite comical! The character is so naive and innocent, and it's a delight to watch this movie together as a family.

The Polar Express
When the boys were younger, they loved watching it because of the train and the elves. Now they like to quote that boy who was on the elves' screen on Christmas eve: "I didn't do it, I didn't do it, I didn't do it".

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I like the older cartoon version of this movie, with the deep voice of the narrator and the music, and I feel like the animation is close to Dr. Seuss' creations. The boys prefer the newer version with Jim Carrey. They like the character Cindy Lu-Hu and the Grinch's dog.

Home Alone
My sister Tabbi gifted the Home Alone trilogy to my boys for Christmas a few years ago, and it's been a huge hit (they like to watch it several times during the year)! I love the music on the movies, and the boys love all the adventure. I love the friendships and cleverness, and the boys love all the bad guys being hurt. It's a win-win movie for all of us!!!

The Santa Clause
This is one of the Christmas movies that the boys will watch over and over, but it's not one of my favorites. Tim Allen is fun to watch, especially when he keeps getting bigger and his hair is growing white, and he can't shave his beard fast enough. And I like the elves at the north pole, and their interaction with Santa. I just don't like all the negativity and distrust and divorce aspect of the movie.

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
We always happen to watch this on the Disney channel around Christmas time when it's on, so I finally purchased this movie this year. I appreciate the simple stories and classic Disney characters.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
This is such an oldie, but a goodie, and I'm glad that it's on TV multiple times in the month of December so that we are able to see it.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlie Brown is timeless. My boys love the classic humor in the Charlie Brown movies, and Snoopy always makes us laugh. Charlie Brown always finds a nice way to bring a lesson into a short movie instead of hitting you over the head with it, and I love the lesson of this movie: understanding the real reason for the season!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

5th day of Christmas

On the 5th day of Christmas: Decorations & Music

I store 6 boxes of Christmas decorations in the shed all year, and pull them out when we are ready to decorate the tree. I refuse to have more than 6 boxes for just Christmas stuff, so whenever I get new items, I have to get rid of older things or decorations I don't want, in order to fit everything into the same 6 boxes. The majority of all our Christmas items is decorations for the trees...

Box 1 contains the four 3' artifical trees that the kids decorate for their rooms.

Box 2 contains lights. There's different colored strings for all the different trees: white lights, blue lights, red lights, and multi-colored lights. There's also strings of white & purple lights for outside.

Box 3 contains ornaments & decorations for our tree. I have two sets (so that the tree doesn't look the same every year): a blue/silver set, and a red/gold set.

Box 4 contains ornaments for the kids' trees. The kids all have their own ornaments in their own separate containers--ones that they've made or have been given. Josh and I also have containers of our own ornaments from our youth in this box.  

Box 5 contains miscellaneous larger items: the door wreath, two larger glass blocks with Christmas vinyl lettering, the larger painted wood nativity, the large crocheted Santa & Mrs. Clause that my grandma made, the tree skirts, and a lit-up window decoration. 

Box 6, the final box, holds all the house decorations, including: multiple smaller nativity sets, Christmas books, stockings, advent calendars, and various Christmas figures.

On the day that we decorate the house and the tree, I play Christmas music on the CD player, and turn it up super loud so that everyone in the house can hear it. I don't let any TV's be on or other radios play music while we're decorating. I only listen to music from the 4 Christmas CD's I own; two of my favorites are: Celine Dion's "These are Special Times" Christmas album, and Michael McLean's "The Forgotten Carols". I love singing along with the songs on those albums as I'm decorating. It totally puts me in the mood for the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

4th day of Christmas

On the 4th day of Christmas: Giving as a Family

Each Monday in December, we've incorporated into our Family Home Evenings a lesson on giving as part of the Christmas season.

The first Monday of December, we put up the Christmas tree and each boy created their wish lists. We talked to the boys about asking for things they needed & wanted, and about not being greedy. They were limited to only 5 requests each, and the lists they created were pretty sensible. Ammon asked for new church shoes, church clothes, winter coat, boots, and a pillow. Grandpa T. had extra snow boots in Ammon's size, so we crossed that off his list, and he added the Madden NFL 13 wii game. Jonah asked for a BSU jersey, ice skates, slippers, a mini banana chair, and an SD card for his new tablet. Micah requested an SD card, ice skates, his favorite movie "Over the Hedge", and the new Legos Lord of the Rings wii game, and another wii game. Kanyon wants a remote control monster truck, star wars legos, the Wipeout 2 wii game, a DS game, and a tablet. Josh really enjoys shopping and fulfilling their needs, and Santa usually supplies most of the children's wants. 

After the boys created their wish lists, we talked to them about our family sponsoring another family this Christmas. Josh got lists of items needed for a family, and we all decided to pool our money together and go shopping together to help this specific family. Josh and I went shopping one day, and then Josh took the kids shopping another day to purchase items on the list. The boys all donated $10 of their own money to help this family, and they felt good about helping.

The second Monday in December, we talked to the boys about giving to each other. I told them that I would match the funds that they gave to help the anonymous family, so I would be giving them each $10 to shop for one of their brothers. They pulled names out of a jar to see which brother they would be giving to. I told them that the purpose of this activity was to give, not to receive, so they were not to tell the brother that pulled their name what they wanted. It was up to the giving brother to decide what to get. I've taken them shopping one by one this week to get their items for their chosen brother. They each had to choose on their own what to get, and they've all done so well! They will each be wrapping their gifts tonight to put under the tree for their brother.

The third Monday in December (in 2 days from now), we will be delivering home-made goodies to neighbors and friends and family around Salmon. It takes a few hours to make the rounds, and we all help in the giving: Josh & I have purchased the items to make the treats, I bake the goodies, Josh drives us around to the homes, and the boys give out the gifts!

The fourth Monday night in December is Christmas Eve. We will be reading the Nativity story, and talking about the gift of the Savior's Life, and the gift of the Atonement for us. We will share stories about giving to others around us, as Jesus would like us to do. We all had a goal at the first of the year to perform acts of service every day, and we will continue that discussion and implement the continuous desire to give and act on that goal. This is our gift to Jesuss for his celebrated birthday, to serve others.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2nd & 3rd days of Christmas

Every year (except for the first year of our marriage), Josh & I get a live tree to put in our home for the Christmas season. And every live tree we've obtained (except for one) has come from the same location on a mountainside near Salmon.

On the 2nd day of Christmas: the Tree
Traditionally, we go and cut down the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving as a family. This year was no exception to that tradition...the only thing that was different about our annual tree-hunt was that I didn't go for the first time ever. I was just one week post-knee-surgery, and I didn't think I would be able to traverse the terrain successfully. I was really sad about it, but I gave Josh the camera and gave him strict instructions to take photos so I wouldn't feel completely left out of it! There was a big group this year that went tree hunting: Grandpa, Josh & our boys, Gid & Alyssa, Mal & his gal pal Molly, and several of Tiffany's kids. Josh took some fun pictures, and he did a great job picking out the tree without me; he brought back our biggest Christmas tree yet! Gideon took two smaller trees, and Mal & Molly each took a smaller tree for their college dorms. The kids all had a great time on the excursion, too!

On the 3rd Day of Christmas: Decorating the Tree
I have always been the one to put the lights on the tree (with just two exceptions of Josh doing it), and I didn't have the energy to do the job until a week after the boys cut it down. The Monday after bringing it home, we did a Family Home Evening project of rearranging and cleaning the living room to bring the tree inside. We moved the piano to a different wall so that the tree would be placed along the wall with the tallest ceiling. Josh still had to cut the base of it as well as a few branches off in order to fit it in the house. It now stands at 8 1/2 feet tall--truly our biggest tree ever.
The boys wanted to decorate it the same night we brought it in, but unfortunately for them, I just couldn't do it. That was the first day I'd returned to work, and I was so sore and stiff, and in pain and so exhausted that I couldn't put the lights on the tree. So instead, I got out the four artificial 3' trees for them to decorate with their own ornaments and lights for their individual bedrooms. They were happy to have a project, and they all got right to work.

Finally on Friday (after 4 days of the boys' begging and the tree standing naked--and a full week after cutting it down), I put the lights on the tree. Josh & I have not always seen eye-to-eye regarding tree lights. I like plain-colored lights, and he likes multi-colored lights. Last year, I compromised by getting all blue lights for the tree. They pleased me because they were all the same, and they pleased him because they were colored. So, I chose to do the same compromise this year by getting all red lights. We've never had an all-red tree before, and our whole family loves it! After spending an hour putting the lights on, and putting the tree topper on, I took a break from tree-decorating and let the boys take over. The 3 youngest boys decorated the rest of the tree themselves, using the red & gold decorations. I was so impressed that the boys pulled over kitchen chairs & stools so that they could reach higher on the tree to place the ornaments. They did an outstanding job and I enjoyed watching them do it all on their own accord, without any help from me! It truly was a family project that we all contributed to: Josh picking out the tree, me putting the lights on it, and the boys placing its decorations. I think that's part of the reason why I love it so much--because it was a collaberative effort. We all love coming home in the evening to find its red lights on and the house lights off; it's such a beautiful and peaceful sight!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Today's date is 12-12-12. How cool is that?! I was thinking this is the end of the "Once in a lifetime days"; you know, where the day, month, and year are all the same. No more 01-01-01 dates will happen for another hundred years (or 88 years, to be mathematically precise).

Today is also the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas for 2012. Last year on my blog, I did  "Twelve days of Christmas" posts, in which I shared each day about a memorable Christmas from my past. This year for the 12 days of Christmas on my blog, I want to talk about one activity per day that we do to celebrate Christmas in our home.

On the 1st day of Christmas: Advent Calendars

My kids love advent calendars. They love counting down the days until Christmas. Their favorite advent calendar is the disposable ones that have little doors on them for each day of the month, with a Christmas-shaped chocolate behind each open door. I try to buy 4 different designs so that they don't get confused as to whose is who's. A few years ago, they were all matching and I wrote the boys' initials at the top of their calendar, but Kanyon (who didn't know his letters at the time) ended up eating chocolates out of all 3 of the other boys' calendars. The boys all became emotionally distraught when they discovered what their youngest brother had done. They were even more upset to find out there would be no replacement for the stolen chocolates: when I went to buy more calendars to replace theirs, the stores were all sold out of them. We learned our lesson that year: never buy matching calendars again! 

We also have a Nativity advent calendar that we've used for years. We received it from a secret santa the year that the twins were born, and I treasure that somebody thought of us to bring us such thoughtful goodies, including the calendar. Each day a character is taken out of the numbered boxes to add to the nativity scene at the top, always ending with the addition of baby Jesus on December 24.

I loved doing advent calendars when I was a kid, too. My favorite advent calendar was a Hallmark Around-the-World one from my youth. When I was a young child, my mom received it with a Christmas card. She laminated it, and we used it each year. One paper doll wearing a costume from another country was placed in the numbered slits on the wreath each day. I loved looking at all the different & colorful outfits from the varied countries. On the backside of each paper doll, there was explanations about unique customs from the country, too. My sisters and I had to take turns putting one person a day on the wreath, and I always hoped for the Mexico day--I loved the girl in the fancy red dress! On Christmas Eve, there was a Santa to place on the calendar. My mom has since thrown it away, and I've searched online, but only have found one {terrible quality} photo of what it looked like. I loved this advent calendar:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

di-nah-guh-gle boys

Tonight, Ammon & Kanyon played a game. It was a game they made up, and it doesn't have a name.

Here's how you play it: One brother covers his face with a shirt. The other brother calls out directions for the first brother to walk around the room. The directions that the second brother give make the first brother walk purposefully into objects or furniture. Then after the first brother crashes into the object or furniture, the two boys laugh hysterically, and trade turns.

They played it for quite a while, and as Kanyon called out orders he would say: "Go right. Go left. No, I said LEFT! Go backwards a teeny tiny bit. Go right. Go right. Go right. Go di-nah-guh-gle (diagonal)."

It was hilarious to watch. It was funny to listen to my 5-year-old Kanyon bark orders, and for my 12-year-old Ammon to willingly obey and crash all over the place. It was hysterical to listen to them giggle and laugh at such a simple game. I loved observing their game and their interactions as brothers!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fall 2012 Top Ten

Today is the 1st day of December, so for me that means the beginning of Winter, and the official end of Fall. Here's our completed Top 10 Fall 2012 list:

1. Eat yummy food at the East Idaho State Fair
Josh & I had some classics that we both love: the fried turkey leg, the tortatoes, and the funnel cake. And we tried some new foods, too: the fried cheesecake bites, the chocolate bacon, and a new smoothie flavor.

2. Have a party for Jonah & Micah's birthday
It was their turn for a friend party this year, and they decided on a pirate theme. It was a fun, and successful party with lots of boys running around!

3. Watch Ammon run in XC meets
This was Ammon's first year running Cross Country, and he did so well and he really enjoyed it, too. I will be posting more about this in an upcoming blog. 

4. Go to HS football games
Due to the severe smoke conditions this fall, our football games scheduled at home were either cancelled or played at another high school that's 2 hours away. Only ONE game was played at home: the last one on the schedule, senior night. We all went and had a great time watching our team win. It didn't feel like fall until we could attend a football game, and I was so glad we finally could go to one!

5. Go camping for the last time this year
Our last camping trip of the season was to Challis Hot Springs in October. We usually go there in the spring, but didn't this year. So when Ammon had a XC meet scheduled there, we took the opportunity to make a family camping trip out of it, and it was so wonderful!

6. Sell pumpkins from the patch
This was the 4th year we've had a pumpkin patch, and sales were so successful this year that we sold out of all the big ones. We were blessed with good weather and nice customers this year. I will be posting more about this soon, too. 

7. Dress up & go trick-or-treating on Halloween
I love Halloween! I'm so grateful for ward parties, the merchant's trick-or-treating, school parties, and Halloween Carnivals that give me and my children the opportunity to dress up, get candy, and have a good time! More to come about Halloween...  (I'm obviously behind on my blogging)

8. Have a bonfire
With all the branches that fell off our trees in the major windstorm this summer, our burn pile was huge and we were looking forward to burning it down this fall since we couldn't in the summer's hot and dry conditions. One weekend in October, Malachi (Josh's brother) came home to visit from college with a bunch of friends, and Josh's dad burned the pile when they were here. I was in the pumpkin patch that day, and couldn't leave to go watch or take photos, but I let my pyro-lovers Jonah and Micah leave the patch to go help burn dry limbs and leaves in the fire.

9. Celebrate Josh's birthday
I took Josh to Boise overnight for his birthday the first weekend in November. We went to a BSU game, ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, took a tour of the newly renovated Boise Temple, and did some shopping. It was a lovely retreat!

10. Eat Thanksgiving dinner with family
Edward & Kathy hosted this year, and all of Josh's siblings came home for the holiday. We had a great time playing games, eating, visiting, and lounging!

Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012 on FB

Nov. 3: Today is the day that I've been waiting for for months! Taking a tour of the Boise Temple Open House this afternoon, having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and going to the BSU Broncos game tonight with my hubby for his birthday!!! It's gonna be an awesome day!

Nov. 4: I love Winco!!!! Wish groceries in Salmon were that cheap!

Nov. 6: I just finished reading the book "Wicked". I love the music of the Broadway play, but I didn't like the book.

Nov. 10: Josh planted our tulip bulbs just in time yesterday before the snow fell & stayed on the ground. I've wanted tulips for years, and I'm so excited that we finally got some bulbs to plant. Thanks honey!

Nov. 11: I am so thankful for blue skies, especially after living without them for 2 months this year!

Nov. 13: ate homemade French Onion soup with onions from our garden. I only make it once a year, but should make it more! It is SOOO good!

Nov. 14: It's gonna be such a great night tomorrow! Relief society dinner, a high school play, the midnight release of Twilight, and spending time with my bestie! I'm thinking of it as the Last Supper & Final {Fun} Act before my dreaded knee surgery on Friday morning.

Nov. 15: I don't like it when people go so much of their way to create problems for other people. Specifically, I don't like it when people go behind my back and say untrue things to hurt me. It really gets to me, and I hate having to defend myself because of someone else's lies.

Nov. 19: Other than my lopsided walk, i'm feeling so much better today! I could finally remove the bandages and look at the scars and take a shower, and the pain in my knee is definitely bearable now. So grateful to be on the mends from surgery, and just in time for Thanksgiving with family!

Nov. 21: I'm thinking that "Wreck it Ralph" is on today's agenda!

Nov. 23: payday + black friday + bum knee = lots of online shopping

Nov. 24: loved going to the cheerleaders bazaar & the festival of trees this morning. now I'm making pumpkin puree all afternoon as a homage to the end of fall.

Nov. 26: We put up our live Christmas tree today--it's 8 1/2 feet tall! Our biggest tree ever! And I am SOOOO in love. I was super sad that I couldnt' go tree hunting this year, and I'm so proud of Josh for picking the perfect tree even in my absence!

Nov. 29: [from Josh] "Schwedde Balls make a great Christmas Gift" at Season's Eatings with Kala.

Friday, November 23, 2012

the perfect autumn bite

The new recipe I tried in October was Pumpkin Fudge.

I searched on Pinterest for recipes, and tried a few. The one that I found the best was this:

3 c. sugar
2 TB light corn syrup
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (1 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1/8 t ground cloves)
1 12 oz. pkg white chocolate chips
1 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Butter a 9x13 dish. Combine 1st 6 ingredients in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugars dissolve, then continue cooking until mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly. Boil until a candy thermometer reaches the soft boil stage of 234* (about 30 min. of stirring). Remove from heat. Stir in white chips until they are melted & mixture is smooth. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Pour into prepared pan, store refrigerated in airtight container. Makes approx 60 pieces. (I used a smaller pan so that the pieces were thicker, and it made 30 pieces).

My whole reason for making pumpkin fudge was to sell pieces of it at the pumpkin patch. I've made pumpkin pies for the last 2 years to sell at the patch, too, but not everyone likes the texture of pumpkin pie, so I wanted to make something else in addition to it. I sold the little 1" fudge squares for 50 cents each, and I sold out of it each weekend. Everyone kept telling me that it's "the perfect little bite of autumn flavors"! I use my own pumpkin puree that I make from the pumpkins we grow in the patch in both the pies and the fudge, and I think that it makes it that much more delicious!

Speaking of my homemade pumpkin puree, it's on my list of things to do (and make) today...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I {heart} Fall!

I love the cold, crisp mornings and nights.
I love the harvesting of the garden.
I love the colorful landscape.
I love the dropping leaves.
I love autumn holidays.
I love the food.
I love fall!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

one good shot, then another

Last fall, Ammon completed the Hunter's Ed. Safety course in preparation for his first hunting season this year, since he turned 12 in January. Josh was looking forward to finally having a hunting buddy--he hasn't gone hunting himself since 2008. One evening in mid-October, Josh took Ammon, and they went looking for deer on the ranch--there's always ample amounts of deer grazing the surrounding hay fields. The boys were gone several hours scoping out their targets. Ammon made a few shots at a buck that night, but due to the twilight, it was difficult to see, and the shots were unsuccessful.
A few days later, Josh was on his way home from work in the afternoon, and spotted a buck in one of the ranch fields. Thankfully, he had his rifle with him, and he took 2 shots at it, and it did the job. His 2nd shot went right through the deer's neck, and Josh was so glad since that meant there wouldn't be any wasted meat. Unfortunately, his phone was dead (because Kanyon had been playing on it), and that was the only camera he had with him, so he didn't get a photo. He got to work gutting it, and lifted the body into his truck to take it home. When I drove home after work, I passed by Josh, who was shutting the gate to that field, and he had a giant smile plastered to his face. It's unusual for him to look so happy, so I knew something was up. After we both got home, he gleefully told me about his successful hunt. Then he got his dad's tractor, hooked the deer onto it, raised it up, and started the job of skinning it. That's when I finally got a picture of his prize meat (bloody and half-skinned, and raised in the air like a pinata!).

The very next evening, Josh took Ammon up to the field just above our house. They had been observing the deer patterns for a few days, and figured this would be the best time/place for Ammon to make a kill. And their observations turned out to be right! Within a half hour, Ammon spotted a buck, took just 1 shot, and the buck was down! The bullet went through its spine. Ammon was so happy, and we felt so lucky to get 2 deer within 2 days!

Josh gutted it for Ammon in the field before the sun went down, brought it back to the house on the 4-wheeler, and skinned it the same way he did his own the day before. 

Josh took both bucks to the meat packing shop in Salmon, and we are anxiously anticipating when we can start eating lots of yummy deer jerky and deer burger! I am so proud of both of them and their successful first hunting season together!