Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ringing in the New Year, Southern Style

Wow, I can't believe New Year's Eve already happened!  Time marches along quickly.  Saturday was wet and rainy in Mississippi.  I have this goal with my kids that you may have already heard about.  Before Clark goes on his mission I want to visit all 50 states with my kids.  I didn't know if Elden had been to Louisiana or Arkansas so we visited both states that day! 
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Now my kids have 4 states left: Montana, North Dakota, Hawaii and Alaska.  I'm contemplating a trip to Alaska in 2018 with Deb and her family.  We'll see. 

That afternoon we went on another drive to see the cypress trees in the buoys and the houses on stilts. On our way there Mike showed us the "Castle".  Have you ever heard of it?  A preacher told his wife he would build her a castle, and he did just that out of bricks and cinder blocks.  I guess it's somewhat of an iconic place to visit.  I'd never heard of it. But now I'm in the know!
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That night we prepared for the New Year's Eve party! 
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Later that night Mike did a magic show for us.  It was a fun surprise!  I didnt' know he was going to do one. He has done several with our families over the years and does a great job.
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Shanna kept doing a "disappearing" trick with some of the younger kids.  Wow, kids can repeat stuff so much...over and over and over and over.  And over. And over.  So funny.
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The movie in the background is "The Night Before Christmas", short cartoon I grew up watching.  I love the songs on that little film!
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I think we started a new tradition here!  I walked into the kitchen where the younger boys were hanging out and asked what song they wanted to listen to.  Hyrum said he wanted to listen to Everything is Awesome from the Lego movie.  I thought that was an appropriate song for New Year's eve!  And then the dance party started.  First it was a few of us, then basically all of us.  It was super fun.
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We even did some fun line dancing.
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There was an encore performance with Paul, Clark and Mike.  It was pretty hilarious!
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We watched another movie...have you sensed a theme with the movies over the holidays?  I LOVE watching movies, but haven't watched very many as of late.  I enjoyed catching up on some the past couple of weeks.  We missed the countdown to New Years by seconds, but found a countdown on line and did our own.  Well, we actually did a countdown around 8pm or so and then another one at midnight.  Since church was the next day Lee and I went to sleep soon after that. 

Sadly no one played Monopoly that night.  I did play Dutch Blitz with Lee and won a lot!!!  The new year started right with an amazing breakfast of Scotch eggs, chocolate pumpkin muffins, oranges and milk.  YUM!!!  Lena is a great cook and I loved the things she makes. We enjoyed our church services (and were on time!), and it was fun seeing friends at Lena's ward.  One lady there, Ashley, was in my ward in Missouri!  She and her husband taught lessons that day-I loved hearing from both of them. 
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After church we had lunch together and then it was time to say good-byes.  Lois and Deb took off about the same time.  We stayed later till after 5 and enjoyed visiting and some ice cream.  A few kids did play Monopoly.  Not sure who won though as we left half-way through their game.
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Thankfully we arrived home safely after driving through the night.  We weren't planning on this, but Lee ended up having patients on Monday so we wanted to get back.  At 7:30 Monday morning we pulled up in front of our house.  I slept for several hours, and then the kids and I unloaded the Chevy and I vacuumed it out.  I did some other stuff here and there.  My friend Brittany brought by some yummy rolls and cake to help out with dinner since we had been traveling.  It was so sweet of her!  We had chili that night so the rolls were perfect with the soup and then we enjoyed the cake for family home evening treat.  I feel blessed to have her as my friend. What would we do without friendships?!
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Cal and Elden (thanks to Cal) have been on a penny kick.  They bike over to the bank and exchange their work money they earned for pennies.  It's kind of funny.  Elden arranged his pennies and new camo wallet just so this morning and wanted me to send this picture to Lois.  Too funny.  And the wallet is camo only because it's the only one I could find in my lazy search that had a zipper coin pouch.
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And speaking of money, how is the new year going for everyone with budgeting and money goals?  I love looking at the fresh new year and thinking about what Lee and I will and hopefully accomplish the coming years.  Setting goals is a good thing, and it really helps me to stay focused on something.  I know we haven't been in this house very long, but we would like something bigger, with a larger yard too.  The thought of having two showers (or more!) instead of one sounds amazing...so does a GARAGE! 

But we want to do it debt free.  You may or may not have read this on my blog, but we own our house.  We paid it off a couple years ago and it's been amazing!  Sure we qualify for a loan and could pay off  another house somewhat quickly, but if that was the only way to get a home, I'll stay put.  Thankfully, it's not.  So, this year is the big year to start saving for a house!  We saved a tiny bit last year, but we need to push ahead in 2017 and get a nice chunk in the bank.  I'm a nerd AND a spender so having a goal helps me in that regard too.  Lee is a  free spirit and a saver.  I would love to be in a house by the time I'm 40...we better get crackin'! I love the beginning of everything.  Believe it or not, as much as I love budgeting I mess up on it pretty much every single month!  I also love figuring out how much cash we need for the month, going to the bank and then divvying up the money.  Here's to a mess-free budget this January.  I just need to not spend money and then I'll be fine, ha ha.  Isn't that the case always?!  Happy New Year!
Jan 3 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 37th Birthday!

We enjoyed the last week of the year with Lois and her family.  They came Christmas Eve and stayed till the morning of the 28th.  One afternoon we invited some families to meet us at the church to run around and play games. 
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Our friends, the Mayfields, met us there and brought lots of fun outdoor toys.  We played outside till the sun went down.
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I finally did the first coat of white paint!  Need to do another coat and paint the door.  And then paint against the trim with the gray color.
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We had fun hanging out, watching movies, and eating treats--a perfect way to enjoy the last week of the year!

The Heits left for Mississippi on Wednesday with Clark and then we took off the next day at 2:41 am! We spent the New Year holiday with my sister Lena and her family.  Deb and her family also met us there. I woke up originally at 1:25, and actually felt fine, but decided that a little more sleep would be good.  So we finally got up at 2:15.
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We made great time and arrived just before 3pm.  We met everyone at the Mississippi River museum.
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Their downtown is so cute!
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That night we drove over to someone's house that has awesome Christmas lights synced to Christmas music.  We really enjoyed that.
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When we arrived back at Lena's we enjoyed a hot chocolate bar! I did a hot chocolate bar and did not bring enough hot chocolate for the whole weekend.  I was really surprised that whenever hot chocolate was made, people rushed the station and it was quickly gone!  It was really fun to have one.
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You can't tell, but Elden lost a tooth at Lena's!
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I turned 37 while down South!  I had a nice birthday.  I love having my birthday in between holidays.  Usually I'm with lots of family and there is a natural break in the everyday schedule.  I loved getting many birthday wishes from family and friends.  I felt very loved.  I feel so blessed for this wonderful life.
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And bunny ears for good luck! On my way to 40!
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Some of the kids received a face paint job, if you hadn't noticed!
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Shanna's was a bit creepy.  But she loved it.
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After my birthday celebration we headed to the nearby military park and saw an old battleship from the Cival War, the U.S.S. Cairo.
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Cal was able to visit General Pemberton's headquarter's for his Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.
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One of the kids took this picture.  It looks kind of fake with the lighting.
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That night the married adults all went out to eat at the Walnut Hills Restaurant. They had a fun family style menu.  All the food was put on a lazy Susan, so we could pick and choose what we wanted.
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The catfish was really good, and so were the beans and the rolls.  There was fried okra, collard greens, coleslaw, and green beans.  For dessert we received a small serving of yummy pudding and cake.  Too bad the picture is fuzzy..... Later that night we watched another movie and had ice cream.
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Another year gone, and another one to look forward to! 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Well, Christmas arrived!  I'm sure the kids must have wondered it if would ever come.  Since Christmas day fell on a Sunday this year we decided to do our traditional Christmas day things on Christmas Eve.  First up, wait for mom to get "ready", then pumpkin pie for breakfast.  The kids were up around 6am, and we finally ate around 8 or so.  After breakfast we did scripture reading.
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The traditional line-up waiting to see their stockings.  Shanna got to go first this year.  Next year it will be Haley's turn.
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They were pretty excited!
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The height difference between Clark and Elden is amazing!
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Going in one by one.
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Thankfully Haley was healthy and well this Christmas!  Everyone was healthy, which was a blessing.
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We've replaced the can of olives with "beef bites". 
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We of course had already been in the room with presents, but we led each other in.
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Shanna did the honors with Lee.
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After looking at stockings and other items for a little while we called my mom and she watched as we opened presents.  She and my dad have just a few months left on their mission in Salt Lake City.
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We could not figure out Haley's fake firepit.  The instructions told us what to do!
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Lee hands out the gifts one by one.  Once the person has opened it (and thrown away the wrapping) the next gift is handed out.
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Lee took this picture on his mission, though took three separate pictures and taped them together to make a panoramic photo. He's always wanted it as one photo.  Not sure if he envisioned a huge canvas, but I did.  I love it!  From what I could tell he loves it too. It's fun too because when we visited Nicaragua in 2010 Lee took me to this exact same spot!
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We finished opening presents around 11:40.  Next up was building Legos!
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And drone flying.
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And car racing.
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The traditional sitting-on-the-couch-with-matching-pjs-wearing-Santa-hats picture.
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That night the Heits joined us.  They also opened presents Christmas Eve morning.  We had fun eating, visiting and playing.  We also watched a movie.
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After the kids were in bed Lois and I set the table for Christmas dinner the next day. It was fun planning and thinking up a way to decorate the table.  I have never done this before.  I am going to have to think of something different next year!  But it was sooo fun having a decorated table.  Decorating and accessorizing are not my strong points so it takes me awhile to pull out a finished product.  
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I bought the chargers in 2013, got the water goblets at Dollar Tree, bought the napkins on Amazon, and purchased the tablecloth at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  The candles and candle holders are from Dollar Tree and Michael's. I bought the center bowl last year at Hobby Lobby and filled it with ornaments from there too.  The pine cones my kids gathered from our neighbor's yard (with permission) and the pine branches are from a bush from my friend's house.  When I started to decorate the table initially the night before Christmas Eve, I pulled out the branches to set them on the table and some smelled bad.  My friend has a couple of cats and they must have marked their territory on the lower branches?  Or?  Anyway, I'm sure an on looker would have laughed as I pulled out each branch and smelled it one by one.  I found some good ones, which was great!
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Lois did the oh so awesome name cards and menus!  I had some twine so we wrapped that around each napkin for added texture.  It was really fun setting the table!
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Christmas Eve we had the kids put their Christmas mugs under the tree.  Even though they had already opened presents I thought it would be fun to wake up to a little surprise Christmas morning.  When they put their mugs under the tree Lois told them a story about the original Saint Nicholas. We put a Christmas tree treat and a pack of gum in each mug.
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Church was so great on Sunday.  We heard songs from the choir, a sister duet, the primary kids, and we as a congregation sang a beautiful "O Come All Ye Faithful" among other songs.  The bishop of the other local congregation gave a wonderful talk about eagles.  He told us how eagle get strength from flying into a storm and how they can go higher and higher when they do so. Relating that to us, we are strengthened when we turn to Christ in our trials and seek to learn and grow in the midst of them...not just complain and wait till they're over.  He also told his favorite Christmas story which was pretty funny about a teacher guessing the presents each child gave her.  And then his comments to the stake patriarch after wondering if it would be appropriate to share and how that maybe if he told the story with a member of the stake presidency there he could get released early.  Anyway, it was funny.

After church we visited Mae Francis as our last service for the 25 days of service.  It was great to see her out of bed.  She broke her hip a few weeks back and hopefully that's healing.
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With bad lighting, we attempted some family photos.
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The kids enjoyed the treats in their mugs and a special surprise from my brother Sheldon and his wife Ciera.  They sent us a big bag of Lego Minifigures.  I separated them out, giving each kid 7 figures, and wrapped them in a box. I gave Lois and Jeff a goodie bag too.
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Dinner was really easy.  The table was all set, and we just had to warm things up!  Well, assemble a salad and steam some broccoli.  Everything else I made on the 23rd.  It was great!
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After dinner for scriptures that day Lee and Jeff read the Nativity story.  I need to write up a copy of this with parts and what not for the kids.  They get so silly (and argue) and it's not my favorite thing.  We do it every year, but maybe a script would help?  Or just reading it? 

Rhett was baby Jesus for a little while and during some Christmas movies that we watched he laid (?) there the whole time.  So funny.  We watched the classic movie "The Gift" before that.
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This is pretty much what the Nativity was like.  Guess I should have different expectations?
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King Herod had some somewhat tribal apparel on.
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Next up for the evening: pie, homemade ice cream and fresh whipped cream!
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Shanna loved taking everyone's orders and serving them.
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We had a fun night talking with family too.  What a great Christmas it was!  (Even despite the lack of professionalism with the Nativity.)  I hope you had a magical, wonderful Christmas also!