Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Am a Pinterest Addict

On vacation, this is how my mornings look:

Wake up.  Whenever (glorious!).  Let Marshall outside, then love on him a little bit when he comes back in.  Grab a bowl of dry cereal, get back in bed, and turn on the computer.

Check my work email for anything interesting.  (Hooray for Nanci!  Hang in there, Amber.  Hi, Dad!  Thanks, Aunt Cathi!)

Go to my blog and check in on my friends and the people I stalk.

Check Facebook.

Pinterest.  Pinterest for a while.  Then a while more.  Dream of all the marvelous things I can do to my house.  Consider starting next year's ornaments.  Think I should maybe get up out of bed and MOVE.  Nah.  Pin.  Pin some more.

Yesterday I thought, "I should actually do something I pinned." Spencer said, "What's a vacation if you don't do something fun with your sister?"  So Briana and I went to the craft store and came home with paper, card stock, buttons, and ric-rac.  Also glue and adhesive.  We set up the banquet table in Mom and Daddy's family room, and we made cards.  My sister didn't make a card, but she visited with us, so that counts.  Nio made a card.  Seeley made several cards.  Seeley's friend made a card.  Seeley's friend's mom made a card.  Ashtyn made some, Breezy made some, and I made some.

Now I can go on Pinterest and move a couple of my pins to the "I Did That" board.  I'm cool like that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

There Are Times When I Can't Wait to Be Just He and Me

Landon and Taylor are tired of this trip.  They want to go home.  Taylor is quiet about it.  He just sits like a bump.  It bugs me.  Landon, on the other hand, is very vocal about it.  It bugs me more.  Today I told Spencer we should just let them go home.  They are going to leave in the morning.  Is it bad that I'm kinda relieved?  The girls are opting to stay.  I'm glad they want to stay, but frankly, it would have been OK if they wanted to go home, too.

We planned to spend today in San Francisco.  We got on the freeway at 12:50 p.m.  Since it takes close to three hours to get to SF and park, we didn't have a lot of daylight time.  We had a nice dinner together at Wipe Out on Pier 39.  We looked in some shops.  We didn't go to Fisherman's Wharf.  We didn't go to Alcatraz.  We didn't go to Ghirardelli Square.  We didn't really go anywhere, because nobody can agree.  We did drive over the Golden Gate bridge and take the northern route home through wine country.  It was actually a really fun time together, but it seems a shame to go to San Fran and not get to see much of it.  The kids thought it was great, though.  They'll tell their friends they went to San Francisco (which they did), and they will feel great about that.

On the flip side, my sweetheart took my hand in the car.  Have you ever noticed how sometimes that is all you need?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Know It's Time to Grow Up When

Today we took our family to the Sacramento Temple to do baptisms for the dead.  It was the first time we've all been in the temple at the same time.  It was lovely.

Afterward we had lunch together.  Five large bodies consume a lot of food.

We went to the Folsom outlets.  The boys "shopped" for about a half hour.  In a half hour, the girls had barely made a dent in the first store.  Finally we found some sensible but cute shoes for Sister Hill.  Then we went off to the next store.  After trying on approximately 15 outfits each, we finally purchased a skirt, blouse, and dress jacket for Sister Hill, a pair of earrings for Sassy, and a blouse for me.  The jacket was originally mine to try on.  I looked cute in it.  So did Bri.  She won.

I talked couponing for 45 minutes with my sister.  She is a master.  She is inspiring.  I just want her to do it for me.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ

On Christmas Day we got up earlier than we have in a while.  That is what happens when you are spending Christmas with small children.  We had a fun time watching the kids with their new toys and listening to their squeals of delight in what Santa Claus brought them. 

We opened thoughtful gifts from one another.  That is what happens when you are spending Christmas with older children.  We laughed at one another and wept with gratitude.

Then thirteen of us took turns in two bathrooms, showering, brushing teeth, doing hair and makeup, getting dressed in our Sunday best.  By 10:00 a.m. 18 of us were at Gramercy Court Care Facility, where my dad is the pastor each week in a short worship service.  We took turns singing Christmas songs to the residents of that facility.  Some hardly looked up.  Others clapped and sang along.  We passed out Christmas gifts (flashlights as a reminder to follow the Light of the World, small pictures of Jesus, and packets of Hershey's kisses) and shook hands and visited and said "Merry Christmas" dozens of time.

After about 45 minutes we changed into pants and went to North C Street, where ministries from the Sacramento area have set up all kinds of services for the homeless.  There are women's shelters, a preschool, a place for men to get clean, kitchens, medical clinics.  The City of Sacramento doesn't like this area.  They are afraid that if they create an organized place, the homeless will congregate there.  On this day, Pastor Joe's ministry was working with Loaves and Fishes to give sleeping bags and ground mats to the homeless.  There were about 300 sleeping bags donated.  We sang again, shook more hands, wished more Merry Christmases.

Then we followed Mo, who showed us the way he is spending his money, the way he chooses to minister for Jesus.  We toured the facility where homeless women can sleep and leave their children in a safe place and earn their GED, all without leaving the facility.  These women are told they are worthy of God's love, they are good, they are talented, and they are "potant!"  When they graduate, they get to go into the closet filled with formal dresses and shoes and choose an outfit.  A volunteer comes in and does their hair and makeup, and then they go downtown for a formal graduation ceremony.  They have their picture taken and their story written and posted on the wall.  (There are 800 of them!)  Then they come back and start looking for work.  Of the 41 (41!) women who graduated this fall, 22 got jobs.  When they get an interview, they go into a different closet and choose a business suit and shoes to wear to their interview.  They get a ride to the interview, during which they are told they are capable and worthy.

We saw people who were clearly mentally ill, mentally challenged, and/or addicts.  We also saw people who were good and kind and happy and, incidentally, homeless.

Perhaps most impressive was Mo, who has been involved in this "ministry" for nearly 20 years.  He, too, has seen many mentally ill people, many addicts.  He chooses, however, to focus on the people who clearly need the touch of the Master's hand--those who need to be told and shown that they are worth good efforts; those who need a little help in order to get on their feet.  He chooses to see in each face the face of one of Heavenly Father's children.  He chooses not to be jaded by those who are criminals.  He sees, instead, someone who might be brought into the fold of God.

Mo sees the truth.  I have been touched and changed.

Merry, merry CHRISTmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Which I Sing You a Song

Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  I love ya, Tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I can't wait for my parents to see the gift we made for them.  Hooray!

T-Minus Two Days and Counting

The closer it gets, the more excited I become.  Hooray!  We get to go to California for Christmas!

The Plan? you ask. 

Tonight Spencer and I will drive to Mom and Dad Hill's to pick up Dad's Jeep.  When we get home, I will start scurrying through chores.  The laundry needs to be all done before we go.  So do the bathrooms.  We will deliver the last of our Christmas gifts and anything else that comes up.

Spencer is taking tomorrow off work to do all of his "dad" stuff like checking the oil and getting out the chains and spraying Rain-Off on the windshields.  In the meantime the rest of us will pack clothes, gifts, movies, laptops (ya know, all the important stuff), and finally, the cars.  Early Friday morning we will load ourselves into the cars and hit the road.  Barring any trouble (at which event we will stop in some lovely town in Nevada), we will arrive in Sacramento on Friday night.  We will call a cheerful hello to everyone who might hear us, including the people, the trees, and the rivers.  Then we will go plop in my parents' noisy, full home and enjoy every minute of it.  Daddy will play Perry Como (yuck!) and Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and whoever else he can find.  I hope we get out the record player, because I really want Jimmy Dean's "Jingle Bells" from childhood.

On Saturday we will work on the Christmas project we are bringing along, and on Sunday we will be involved in a couple of service projects that I can hardly wait to do.

After that, the plans are not made, but I'm sure we'll find SOME way to occupy our time.  :)

Just. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something Magical

On "It's a Wonderful Life," we learn that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.  My brother had a teacher who wished that every time a student passed gas, his or her hair would fly up and stay that way for a couple of seconds.  My friend says sometime when she walks into her house and it's a mess, she folds her arms and blinks.  (I keep trying that now, but it doesn't work for me.)

Today someone is doing something on their computer that makes it "bling" every few seconds.  I think it must mean SOMETHING, but I have no idea what that is.  It's probably something boring and predictable, but mostly I'm pretty sure it means Bill Gates just made another $100 or something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm a Snob

There are two women who I share a wall with at work.  Since it's cubicals, I'm using the term "wall" very loosely.  These two women speak with outdoor voices, especially if they are talking to someone out of state.  It's like they don't believe their voice could carry all the way to INDIANA, so they have to yell to make themselves heard that far away.  This irritates me. 

I also get irritated with them when they discuss issues which should have been discussed behind closed doors.  They may not have walls and doors, but there are offices and conference rooms all around which can be used.  Once I was so uncomfortable with a conversation that was happening that I interrupted one of the directors (who was in a meeting with some other directors) so he could come make a suggestion that they move.  It was embarrassing, and I wonder where their brains are!

However, the thing that bugs me the most is that they CONSTANTLY talk with their mouths full of food.  It's so gross!  They talk to one another, and they talk on the phone with their mouths full.  Sick!  Imagine if you were calling from INDIANA.  Wouldn't you be 1) grossed out that they are chewing and talking in your ear, and 2) feeling unimportant because they didn't even bother to swallow before chatting with you?

In the end, this is my problem, not theirs, I suppose.  I need to not let these things bother me.

But ew!

That is NOT my favorite!

Monday, December 12, 2011

You're My Favorite

A week ago, Landon informed us that he had it figured out.  I was really looking forward to hearing "it," because I've never figured "it" out.  Here it is!

Parents have favorite children, just like he has favorite friends.  And now it all makes sense.

As much as we tried to talk him out of this, Landon was not buying it.  We explained that our favorite is usually just who we're with at the time.  Sometimes one child is easier to like than another because of the good decisions he or she is making.  But each one is unique, and it would be impossible to have a favorite.

Nevertheless, Landon is convinced (as are his siblings) that we have a favorite child.  Namely, Briana. 

Briana wasn't home when we had this conversation, but when she heard about it she said, "Huh!  I thought Ashtyn was the favorite."  Then, "Sweet!  I'm the favorite."

At first this dismayed me, and I was ready to quit my job and be home every moment, making cards and scrapbooks and doing chores to convince each of the children that he or she is my favorite.

But then I started laughing, and I haven't stopped.  In case you haven't noticed, there are many, many ways to differentiate about your favorites.  Landon is our favorite BS-er.  Ashtyn is our favorite high-schooler.  Briana is our favorite lifeguard.  Taylor is my favorite male singer.  The list has become so long that now Landon just rolls his eyes when we tell him he's our favorite.

But maybe someday he'll just believe that he is our favorite.

(P.S.  You're my favorite blog-reader!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sharing A Memory

Sylvia Hansen was the Relief Society president when we moved into our ward. She was a former elementary school teacher--the kind that every kid and every kid's parent hopes they get. She had also been very, very ill a couple of years before, but through a miracle of modern medicine, regained her health.

That was the first year I was teaching preschool. Sylvia had been wonderful to share lots of ideas and lots of really cool "stuff" with me (my puppet show, everyone!). For Enrichment Night, Mary Ann got all the stuff so we could decorate gingerbread houses. Sylvia told me that she used to make graham cracker houses for all of her students and let them decorate. I must have looked at her like she was out of her mind, because she said, "Don't be a lazy teacher, Aundrea."

Yup, I am a sucker to peer pressure. Every year for the next six years I made about 20 graham cracker houses so that each preschooler could decorate a house. It took me (and various family members) all day on the Saturday before. We used 5 or 6 bags of powdered sugar, at least two cans of meringue powder, a couple of large boxes of graham crackers, and a couple of cake decorating bags and tips. Then I hid the houses in far places so they didn't get broken.

The kids' parents brought candy with which to decorate. I bought spray-on red and green frosting and gave each child a milk lid full of the stuff, along with a toothpick. I'm sure I sent more than one child home from preschool with a belly ache or at the very least a sugar high. But those were a huge hit every year.

My friend Sylvia got very ill again about a year after that first Enrichment Night. This time no miracle came, except the sweet release of death. She literally wore out her life in service to others, including me. I cherished her friendship and her example.

Now every year at Christmas I think of gingerbread houses, preschool children, the sweet smell of our house on gingerbread house days, and my dear friend Sylvia. Happy, cherished memories!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There Are Some Things that Succeed in Making Christmas Better

1.  Christmas on Sunday.  It's beautiful, I'm tellin' ya.  I love it.  The Lord's Day on the Lord's Day.  I love it, and I can hardly wait for Christmas Day!

2.  Enough money to do something small for everyone.  It's just no fun if you can't give.

3.  Planning for #2.  I bought the items to make our neighbor gifts back in July.  Good call, Me!

4.  Making gifts.  I don't make all of our gifts, but it is really fun to plan and work on something (especially if it's not rushed).  I spend a lot of time thinking about the person whose gift I'm making, and it's glorious, really.

5.  Christmas music.  I'm a humbug on the Christmas music if it's before Thanksgiving, but the next day, bring it on!

6.  LIVE Christmas music.  There's no shortage.  Since I'm a sucker for any and all music, I enjoy everything from MoTab to elementary school performances.  We've already been to one of Ash's concerts.  We'll be at Taylor's (Sterling Singers) concert tonight.  In 10 days we're seeing the West Jordan High School concert choir with the Salt Lake Symphony, and a few days later we'll see all of the WJHS choirs.  As an added plus, Tay and his friends keep coming over to sing (Hi, Chris, Colton, and Logan!), and last night we got three planned, prepared songs.  Bliss!  Various high school choirs come to the COB to sing each afternoon.  There are many talented kids, did you know?  Someday our children will be grown and they will not be involved with a million performances.  Don't worry, Voice Male/MoTab/Forgotten Carols/others, we'll come see you then.

7.  Service opportunities. (Have I mentioned how excited I am for Christmas Day?)

8.  Children.  Children laughing.  Children singing.  Children dancing.  Children playing.  Children in cute Christmas Eve footie pajamas.  Kids, you tickle me.

9.  Grown-up men who are willing to go into an un-comfort zone to be Santa's helper.  Santa, did you see those kids' eyes?  :)

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lessons on Service

1.  Truly meaningful service is rarely convenient.
2.  Service is not service if you advertise that you did it.
3.  Wise parents see in every need of others a way to bring blessings into the lives of their sons and daughters (Henry B. Eyring, "Opportunities to Do Good," Ensign, May 2011).

My mother is a MASTER at giving service.  She willingly sets aside large chunks of time to do service projects (ask me about the dolls and the bags and the toiletries and the blood).  Even more amazing to me is her ability to see what needs to be done.  She walks into a home and just knows that ______ is what needs to be done.  My brain doesn't quite work that way, and when I get home and think, "I should have done ____," it seems too little too late (though I often still call and offer). 

But wait, it gets better.  Not only does my mother SEE what needs to be done, she DOES it.  She doesn't worry about spoiling her clothes or missing her show or who might or might not see what she's doing.  She just sees the need, rolls up her sleeves, and takes care of it.

Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). 

For the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Roman 2:13).

So here's my (very serious) question:  How do YOU see what needs to be done?  And how do you teach your children to serve?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have I Ever Mentioned How Much I Love Our Children?

I get to give the spiritual thought in our floor's Monday devotional on the Monday before Christmas.  I asked Taylor if he would like to come sing.  So he gathered 3 other (male) friends, and they are going to come sing for us.  They bought a bunch of music, and they are letting me choose which I want.  I think I want "Away in a Manger" (in 4-part men's harmony?  Yes, please!).  So yesterday Chris and Colton were here to practice.  Since Logan couldn't come, they used me on the piano and as 1st tenor (no easy task for a second soprano!).  What beautiful, amazing, talented voices these young men have! 

So we sat in our living room with our untuned (yet lovely) piano for over an hour, picking through music.  Mmmm!  I loved every minute of it.  And I don't think I embarrassed Taylor even once.  Success!

At 11:20 I finally said, "Class is over.  I gotta go to bed."  They all agreed.

What a lovely memory to take to bed with me!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Things on My Mind Today

What should I give my brother and his family for Christmas?

My eyes itch so badly I want to scratch them out.  Which means they are horribly red.

The Vampire Diaries.  Has anyone read the book?  Is it any good Does anyone watch the television show?  I love it.

Quit school.  Stay in school.  Quit school.  Stay in school.  Etc.

Why do all of the HR employee request forms and the Purchasing requests come to me?

Pinterest.  It's addicting.