Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Eve Date!

Of course I had such great thoughts and insights during quiet moments of the day... the last day of the year... And, nope, I didn't write any down... So, we are stuck with ramblings at 7:42pm of the last night of 2011.

It's a wonderful night. Beautiful. Bliss.

Yep, if you know me very well, you know that can only mean a couple of things... and this time it means it's quiet here at home. I've got the house mostly to myself and am breathing in, taking in joyous memories and made a few more to boot...

Like these...

This was my New Year's Eve Date:

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And we had a fabulous end of the year celebration!

Yessir, we did! First off, was the bath, complete with the whale who spouts water!

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Uh... baby boy just doesn't stay in the basket in the tub anymore. He climbs out. Good thing this grandma knows that you stay with babies while they are in the bath!

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Oh, the faces and noises this little boy makes!!

Now, to tell you a bit of a story. Jayden's momma does not like it when I comb his hair in the traditional "boy" hair style. She gives me that look and says, "NO! No comb overs!" And she promptly messes his hair up. But, momma wasn't here, so I had me some lovely time combing baby boy's hair!!

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Isn't he handsome?

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I truly cannot believe how fast he has grown and developed this year. For goodness' sake, he's only 10 months old! He should still be a baby!!

Next it was time for a night-cap... milk time!

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Then we needed (needed, I tell you!) to get in some play time. Jayden loves stacking cups/buckets/etc.

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Then it was lullaby time. We did my favorites... Sleep, Daddy, Sleep... La-La-Lu and You'll Be in My Heart... and he was out for the count.

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So, all is quiet. My husband is out with the boys fishing on the boat. I do expect them home anytime now, though. Until they come in, aaaah.

I hesitate to get too deep in thought and begin planning for the next year because I am not sure how much longer the house will be so silent. I sit and hope, "Maybe tomorrow I can carve out a few quiet hours to think and contemplate and plan and write and make lists!" So, I may or may not begin that entire process tonight.

In any event, I had a lovely early evening and think I'll enjoy the quiet and then the increase in activity, volume and chaos of 4 teen boys when they walk in... and steal my Happy New Year's kiss from my dear one, Scott.

May your year wrap up blessed!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happiness Project: Resolutions!

Here we are again... at the end of another year. I am so excited about 2012! Any other time, I might have dreaded it. I know there will be some steep challenges. Heartaches. Disappointments. But, I am excited because I have grown enough to know that those don't define me or my ability to live a content, satisfied life. The past couple years have taught me to find joys in little things, to live life fully, even if that means visiting someone in the hospital, weeding the garden or running errands. You cannot wait for "this to pass" before becoming happy.

Which brings me to the Happiness Project. It resonates with me, not only because I like lists and resolutions and charts, but because the point is to tweak some things in life throughout the months of the year that will add to your happiness.

Our first step (you ARE joining me, right? RIGHT??) is to pick several areas that we could make a couple of changes in to increase our happiness (contentment, satisfaction, etc.) and assign them to months of the year. Don't fuss over if your list will be perfect or "the" list that you end up with in the end, just get started... My list has changed three times this past week!

Here is my basic list:

January – Organization: Schedule... for daily and weekly habits, for quiet, keep notebooks... for to-do lists, want/need lists, projects... keep weekly/daily planner and learn to keep it with me... need pocket size and desktop size...

February – Spiritual Goals: Worship and prayer, heart attitude, personal inventory, right any wrongs, forgive,

March - Marriage

April – Energy/Health: Sleep habit... vitamins... exercise... reduce stress...

May – Photography!

June – Play: Explore new areas of “fun” ???????

July – Friendship: Connect with friends... really...

August – Life Goals: Education, Career, Church, Years to come...

September – Finances: Monthly budget **Just in time for the holidays!!**, Schedule for being out of debt, savings

October – Parenting

November –

December: Application!

You can see I still have one month to fill in with something... and that's okay.

Now it's your turn! Pick at least three areas and tell me!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Introducing the 2012 Happiness Project!

Several months ago I saw a post about a project a lady was doing... a happiness project. I googled it to check it out and read up about Gretchen Rubin's year long happiness project. Several week passed with this stuck in the back of my head, when I saw the book at Barnes and Noble and couldn't resist. It wasn't just a fun read, it totally connected with several parts of me. I love lists. I love plans. I love resolutions. I love monthly goals! I love weekly goals!

After mentioning the book to a friend and to my daughters, hoping to put together a happiness project of my own, I got busy with life and shelved the idea... thinking that I had plenty of time before January rolled along (that's when I planned to start my happiness project, by the way). Suddenly, it's the end of the year and friends and family want updates and I find myself scanning, re-reading, pondering and planning at full speed (not what I should do) to kick this project off (which I will do!).

So, this is my introductory post and one of my personal 12 commandments will be to let go of having to have things perfect (that stops me from starting so many things). Therefore, I will be evolving and learning right along with my friends and family! Please feel free to email me or jump in with comments, suggestions or questions.

Here's the plan... we each need a copy of the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I wont assign chapters or anything like that... because our own happiness projects are about our own lives, not about Gretchen's life. But, I think many of you will enjoy her humor and how friendly she is. Her honesty is refreshing and her goals are obtainable, which sets one terrific example for each of us. My goal for 2012 is to live life much happier, come what may (and a lot of “not nice” tends to come my way at times).

The overall way it works is to pick eleven areas of life in which you would like to make a change (or a few changes) and assign each area to a month of the year. These are changes that we believe, if achieved, would add to our happiness in life. At the beginning of each month I will write about my goals for that area of my life for that month. These should not be overwhelming and once the month is over, the idea is to move forward with that change in place. So, as the year progresses, we will build on each month's growth in our lives.

If I do not blog during the month about my happiness project (my blog covers several different areas of my life), I will definitely be jotting down thoughts and ideas about my progress, struggle, victories, etc. and will post a follow up for how those goals went. And once again, I'd love to see comments from you! Send an email, facebook message or comment on my blog. By the end of the year, we'd have eleven areas we've worked on and tried to maintain (which is why some of us might only pick one or two simpler goals per month!) and the 12th month we will see how it feels to apply each months resolution to our daily lives.

I also hope to develop a reading list to dip in and out of throughout the year so that I can glean wisdom from other great mind and lives.

And I'm just gonna be real. Cause that's all I've got! No plan of perfection... Just taking on life and learning how to make some tweaks along the way to increase my level of self-satisfaction, confidence and contentment.

I hope to have you join in! Really!! Don't delay... email me, message me on facebook, leave me a comment!

Coming soon: 2012 monthly resolutions. Would you like to join in? Think about at least a few areas in your life that you'd like to make a couple of changes in. My 11 areas to work in have already changed a couple of times since I first starting making my list... so don't worry! Can't think of 11 areas right now? No problem, pick an area for January to work on (remember, just a couple of very do-able things that you can continue with that can make a difference in your level of happiness or satisfaction).

Come along with me!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night". There are several runner-up songs, but, I love that song. It's one of those that reaches the deepest part of me, I inhale deeply, taking in the meaning of the words and everything else fades away.

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Chris, Shasta and Jayden came over after breakfast for some morning fun...

Earlier this holiday season I heard the rhyme, "Something they want, something they need, something for fun and something to read". Well, that's from memory... it could have gone a little differently, but it was regarding gift-giving. Most of the kids received clothes, which they did need and even wanted... and a few fun things were thrown in... for a couple of teens, gift money for them to use as they'd like was the way to go...

The last gift was for Shasta. Chris had this all planned out and wanted me to take pictures.

Chris had selected a large box from his office to wrap her gift.

Is that a duck decoy in the box?

Are those 4 duck decoys? Really, Chris? Really?

Oh! It's a Nook!!! See Shasta! See Shasta smile!

Jayden is the baby who likes books... I think he'll like mommy's nook, too! Good job, Chris!

We were mostly just hanging out today... relaxing a bit... I made some amazingly delicious stuffed mushrooms and a prime rib dinner. I enjoy cooking on holidays. I've said that before. It's because I don't have to go anywhere or do much of anything else. Scott and a couple of the kids and I watched Despicable Me, which was a treat because Scott hadn't seen it before and so he laughed a lot. You cannot help but smile and laugh when he does!

Now I will enjoy listening to some more Christmas music and taking in the pretty decorations for a bit longer...

Peace... Blessings... and to all a good-night!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Color Explosion!

Last night Bek and Nick arrived for our Christmas today... then they will head back to Nick's for Christmas with his mom. After a quick trip to the store this morning, Bek, Nick and Zoey made some yummy goodies!

After a bit of dominoes, during which my suspicions that Nick and Bek cheat together were confirmed, we headed out to get some fresh air. I tell you, Nick is a character and a half! These photos will explain it all... I call this first picture "Make-A-Wish-Nick" because he was begging for a picture with cows. I had to oblige.

This next one is Nick, the Tree Whisperer:

He's such a clown...

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Hopelessly devoted to... where's that cow?

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Nick did a fabulous job making tri-tip while Bek and I whipped up some marvelous twice baked potatoes... add in some asparagus, rolls and salad... Yep, it was a wonderful Christmas dinner. Shasta and Chris joined us for dinner and presents.

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You cannot tell, but Shasta gave Bek a necklace with the words Key to My Heart... because Bek has a thing about keys. Bek got Shasta a really fun tablet where each page has a clever "to-do" list. It's fun to see the girls grow up and think of each other!

Here are my three girls:

Jayden really likes his "lovey-bear" from Aunt Bek:

Bek was a lovely sister to all, giving each of us a bit of gift-love and we shared our gifts for Bek and Nick with them as well. So did Shasta and Chris. It's so sweet growing in our relationships and having time together as family.

(Cody received a crystal growing tree from Bek, he loves it!)

Bek presented to me three figuring girls... the one for Shasta has a bowl, which is great since she loves cooking... the one for Bek is holding a dog, which is perfect... the one for Zoey looks a bit dreamy. It was so sweet of Bek to pick these out for me.

Nick loves the slippers I gave him... he keeps me laughing...

While Clayton and Joseph aren't in any of these shots, they were around all day... eating and playing... but, they kept slipping into their room for video games.

And to all... a good-night.


Monday, December 19, 2011

In Full Color... SO not black and white!

We had a lovely Christmas party... We enjoyed the evening with Shasta, Chris and their little Jayden along with Chris, Sonia and their Christopher and Chloe, along with those of us here at home... Joseph, Victor, Clayton, Cody, Scott and I. Friends who wanted to join in had family arrive at the same time, so it was just a cozy, family time... well, how cozy it can be with a 4 year old, 1 year old and 10 month old!! They are the joy around here!!

When the family spreads out to separate homes and I adjust to having adult children and fewer people to wake up with, the color fades for me. It's like waking up to a black and white world. And when they arrive once more, everything brightens up, the colors come alive! Perhaps only parents who have experienced empty nest understand... And this is just the beginning!!

And sometimes it's all full color! Last night was a full color night.

Zoey pushed me a bit in decorating for the party... I had a lovely tree, a poinsettia and the nativity on the mantle... but, she thought we could do a bit more and "festive" it up. So, I obliged... This year I had kind of ignored that holidays were approaching. Chris and Shasta arrived a few hours early, so I called on Chris to assist and before long, we had the home "festived" up (if there were such words, anyway).

Oh, I also fluffed up a mini-tree and handed Victor some beads, asking him to decorate it for the bathroom counter. I just LOVE it! I wish these moments in life could be frozen and saved... I cherish them!

We had to test out the wagon a bit... and Frodo was the lucky passenger...

And since it is the end of the following day I have four excited boys watching Terra Nova's season finale, and it's getting more difficult to come up with words to share regarding my favorite photos of the evening, I will just put up the pics!!

***I have to interrupt the flow of pictures and say that I was SO excited for my daughter-in-law to open the gift I had made for her... a 2012 calendar with my favorite photos from this year of Christopher and Chloe!***

And, speaking of Christopher, he has been having such fun with Joseph and Victor, Clayton and Cody.

It was great joy to give Shasta this gift. Zoey had taken these pictures of Jayden when he was about 5 weeks old and had them developed in her photography class. I didn't want anything to happen to the lovely print, so I matted and framed it:

Taking a picture of it doesn't do it justice. Oh! A bit of advice... If you want to give a gift and it's a secret, DON'T take photos of it. I took shots of the gift but only made the pictures available to a few people on facebook... but... Shasta uses my computer when she comes over. She was enjoying browsing a while and then she also downloaded some pictures herself... and found the pictures I had taken. Sniff. Sniff.

I am sure that I'll laugh about this in years to come. And, to tell the truth, Zoey told me NOT to take pictures of the gift. Sigh.

And the evening wrapped up and we are now looking forward to the next visit of family to come...