Friday, December 30, 2011

A Buddy

Guess what this little lady got for Christmas. She wrote a letter to Santa Clause in September asking for her own sewing machine. It was the one and only thing she asked for (over and over again) for four months. How can a parent (er, I mean Santa) refuse? So I worked out a little exchange with my sister and viola: Anna is a beginning seamstress at age five.

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I sure love the company.  Right now she is still just getting used to the machine while I work on sheets for her doll bed, but her plans are big.  Already her sewing list includes an apron and a fancy dress for her doll, and a dress, shirt and endless skirts for herself.  She sounds a little too much like her mama whose to-do list includes marble bags for an upcoming birthday party, satin Sunday dresses, a birthday dress for Lu and a quiet book with “paper” dolls

Sometimes I worry about the time and money that is spent in that studio.  Sometimes I feel like I am being selfish by working in there, even when I’m making things for my family.  The housework lags, dinner is late, laundry piles up, bathrooms remain unsanitary.  It is a hard balance for me.  I try to sew during nap times or with children crawling around me, sometimes working on their own projects, sometimes just talking about their day.  But when the kids are in the studio it seems virtually impossible to make progress on any of my own projects; they need help, they need attention, they need Mom.  Often I become frustrated. 

So I have to focus on the good that happens in that room.  Sometimes it is the happiest and most crowded room in the house.  The memories made, the skills honed, the experiences shared.  It is a good place to be, most of the time.  And I’m grateful for my new little sewing buddy even though I feel pretty sure it means, at least for a while, I won’t be getting much crossed off my to-do list.  I feel so blessed to have this amazing little girl in my life and to share a little bit of who I am with her, while soaking up every sweet bit of her I can.  I love that we can share this.  I can’t help but smile when I think of all the wonderful fabric-filled projects in our future.  Love that girl.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

If you have read my Christmas posts in the past you know that we celebrate Christmas three times each year.  We have a big party at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, presents around the tree on Christmas morning with just our little family, and then one more party at my in-law’s on Christmas day.  As you can imagine that generates a lot of photographs.  In order to get the gist of it all I employ collages.  Here is a little piece of our world just for you.

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Christmas Eve Favorites

everyone showing up early so we had extra time to talk and talk and talk

peppermint-Oreo Cold Stone ‘scream

a new baby to hold (bliss)

all those cutie-patootie kids – I love them all so much!

the Emperor and Darth Vader for innkeepers

Shonee, the sheep, carrying all the shepherds

laughing and talking and laughing some more

seeing our family get better with age


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Christmas Morning Gifts

We all made presents for each other this year.  The kids spent hours and hours on each other.  It was amazing to see the energy and focus.  Man, I love these kids.  Although not every gift is pictured above, I have included a list of what they made.  It’s a little treasure hunt: see how many you can find in the collage.

Djeryd: for Daddy – a guys-night-at-the-movies kit complete with A&W, lots of candy and popcorn; for Erik – a wooden Roman sword, shield and sheath; for Anna – a doll bed; for Alyx – a little pink purse

Erik: for Daddy – a library card (I realize this one was not made, but Sean had been complaining about his worn out library card so Erik secretly bought him a new one with his own money – I thought it was very thoughtful); for Djeryd – a wooden rifle; for Anna – a quilt for the doll bed Djeryd and Sean made; for Alyx – a quilt for her dolls

Anna: for Daddy – a “Hawk-n-Daughts” shirt (think Haagen-Daaz – if you remember for Father’s Day the boys gave Sean a “Hawk-n-Sons” t-shirt, and Anna thought it was high time for Daddy to have a shirt about his girls); Djeryd and Erik - “checkmarks” (i.e. bookmarks); for Alyx – “a strawberry skirt like mine so we can be twinners”

I made all the kids jammies and gave Sean a picture of the temple I took last summer and had blown-up and put on canvas, and a new family portrait I blew-up and framed.

Sean got me, well, let’s just say it wasn’t homemade and you can see its bright light being held in my hands.  He made Anna’s bed with Djeryd and a portable soccer net for Erik.  For Djeryd he built and painted a green screen.  Huh?  You know, when you see the “making of” segment of CGI movies where all the actors are in costume prancing around in front of green screen pretending there’s something there, when there really isn’t, but when you see it in the actual movies they are trotting around in a spaceship and being attacked by aliens – you know that?  That’s what a green screen is.  It makes it possible to add virtually any background or surrounding into your film.  Djeryd really likes to make movies (mostly about Legos).  Can you tell?  My goodness, Sean was busy this year!


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Christmas Day Highlights

Erik donning his sword and shield before church

Sean and the boys fighting to see what new wii game Aunt Heather gave them

my nephew proving that it is not only babies who enjoy playing in boxes

Lilly loving that Minnie Mouse purse

James jamming out Christmas-style on his groovy strings

missing Heather and Rachel – oh, how I wanted to see their faces when presents were opened

watching everybody visit and enjoy each other

observing the sweet relationships among us, like Erik loving his great-grandma the way he does

Alyx’s pink sparkle slippers

swapping crafty plans with my brother-in-law – the guy made everyone soap this year – like really cool soap

feeling like I could soak it all in this year – no stress, no anxiety, just beloved calm

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two New Skirts

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I made these two skirts in September while my camera was still out of commission. I finally got around to photographing them so you all can see (how nice of me, I know).

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I came across this wonderful tutorial on Simple Simon & Co.  The only reason I did not whip out a few more was because cold, icky weather was already setting in and it was time to put skirt-making on the back burner for a while.

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I made the gingham one first.  In an effort to avoid the somewhat tedious rolled hem (especially on a circle skirt), I lined the blue flowered one with some yellow satin.

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Next time I am going to use bias tape for the hem.  I think it will add some body and a nice design element.

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I love the contrasting turquoise ribbon and topstitching.  Sometimes I worry about adding a strong color like that because I feel it might limit what the garment can be paired with.  But my experience tells me to relax and just trust my gut.

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Incidentally, the pattern allows you to completely customize your pattern.  I have made this same skirt, perfectly sized, for my niece and an American Girl doll.  Now I just need to make one for moi.  Oh, I can’t wait for skirt weather to return. 

P.S.  I tried to get some pictures of Anna wearing her swirly threads, but the lighting in this cold, gray yuckiness is lousy.  I’ll try again when it warms up and sun comes out.  We usually get one or two nice days in February, and then again in May. ;>

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Thing I Am Loathe to Part With

I love making things for all of the darling little loves in my life.  Christmas is especially fun because I get to create for nieces and nephews.  This year I made one particular gift that I really, really do not want to wrap up and send on its way.Purses and skirts 025

When my shiny new copy of Girl’s World showed up on the doorstep, not only did I drool over the sumptuous photography, I immediately fell in love with the Penelope Purse.  It looked sturdy and adorable and generously sized (for a child, which mean perfectly little-sized for me).  I whipped this baby up for my beautiful niece, Brooklyn, who wanted an art kit.  I found some quarter-sheet-sized art paper pads for different artistic mediums, and the usual complement of crayons, watercolors, markers and pencils.  Don’t you think it will make the most adorable carry-all for her art supplies?

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(Special thanks to Lu for being my model so you could see it “in action”.) 

I knew before I cut into my fabric that I should just construct two of them at the same time, one for my niece, and one for me.  But, with the Christmas rush I thought it best to postpone the construction of my own bag until after the holidays.  So instead I refuse to wrap it and find myself strategically placing Penelope so that I can catch little glimpses of her throughout the day.  I LOVE the lining, but I do not have enough of that perfect lime polka-dot to make an exact replica for me.  Whatever shall I do? (And man, oh, man, am I going to be sad when I finally run out of that pink paisley.) All I can say is: Brooklyn, if you ever get tired of this bag, I will be happy to take it off your hands.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Garden in the Making

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We got these beauties in the ground right before Thanksgiving and I am dancing with giddy glee.  These are all perennials we started from seed last winter.  Yea!!!  They moved out of their milk carton pots in early summer and into the raised beds to get nice and bulky before being planted out in the yard.  My horticulture instructor taught me to get my perennials in the ground in the fall so they can settle in before winter (I’m not sure if I met that mark) and be all ready for blooming in the spring.  Sean spent all last summer shaping the yard and this year we get to plant it!!!  Yea!  Oh, how I miss my roses.  But, man, am I ever excited to start pouring over seed catalogs and graph paper come January, coloring in rectangles for cosmos and snapdragons, tomatoes and apple trees.  Happy future spring!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Devotional

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One of our favorite Christmas traditions is sitting down together as a family on the first Sunday of December to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  We don’t have a television, so this is how we watch movies, etc. at our house – yippee for the internet and a projector.  Annaliese and I made snowball cookies (my very favorite – and because of the fat content and the amount in which I consume them, they are only made once a year).  My favorite part this year was the video of the Nativity.  I was deeply touched by Mary when the shepherds came to see the Christ-child that first Christmas night.  This amazing woman had just given birth, in a stable, no less, and within hours these sweet, humble people came to worship their God.  And Mary shared Him in those sacred, precious hours.  

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It was such a nice way to not only get into the spirit of Christmas, but to come together at the end of our trip as a last little “hurrah”. And those cookies were so yummy!  Don’t you just love Christmas?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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It is hard to believe that just two short weeks ago we were basking in seventy-two degree weather and staring up at warm, sunny skies.  The shock of arctic cold we experienced stepping out of PDX and into our car was unnerving, to say the least.  I snagged a picture of our maple tree a day or two after we got home.  The lovely filigree of ice has laced the yard ever since we got back.  I really, really, really do not like being cold.  And I really, really, really do not like gray skies.  (And I will not complain about the rain right now because the sun is actually shining today and I don’t want to think about the Northwest alternative to sunshine.)  I am trying so hard to be thankful for our weather.  The east coast seems to get slammed with snow, and the southern states have been cooking themselves right up for months. 

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So while I drool over blogs where people can still celebrate their children’s birthdays outside (in cute little dresses, no less), and others where gardens are verdantly resplendent, I am counting my blessings to be able to experience a Christmas that feels like Christmas. Hot spiced cider or yummy cocoa lose much of their appeal in warm weather. I like that the Christmas lights start illuminating the night by 4:30 or 5:00 in the evening.  I am thankful that the shortest day of the year is just around the corner, because that means longer days (and hopefully warmer ones, too) are in sight.  And it does seem much easier to work on all those Christmas presents when it feels so very cold and Christmas-y outside.

Kids Photo Shoot 013I spent a good portion of my childhood in Southern California where my dad would sometimes bring a bagful of snow down from the mountains for us to play in.  To me that was the best of both worlds – snow and seventy-five degrees.  I never felt deprived of that magical Christmas snow.  Thank you, Daddy.  But this is my situation right now, so I will bundle up and snuggle up and celebrate living in a place where winter, spring, summer and fall are each given plenty of time to be experienced.

Friday, December 9, 2011


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We went to Disneyland last week with my brother’s family.  We spent a day at Sea World, which warrants its own post.  I struggle with a social anxiety disorder from time to time which caused me to express some serious reservations about going.  In the end the miracle of modern medicine came to my aid and helped make most of the trip a joy.

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My favorite part is just being with my kids and my brother’s kids.  I love them all so much.  They get along famously and we did not have any problems at all.  It was wonderful.  In fact, after we all piled off the plane Saturday night, and after spending 6 solid days together, they asked if we could please, please have a sleepover that night.

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Favorite attractions for the kids were all the roller coasters.  After almost every coaster, Anna would jump up and down and say, “Let’s go again!”

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I loved the Wilderness Challenge in California Adventure.  They had five or six challenges for the kids to complete, including rock climbing and a mini zip line.  It was a nice way to just move around and play and explore a little.

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We met a few celebrities.  These guys were nice enough to slap hands and hang out with us for a minute or two.

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This is my favorite picture of my nephew.  His ice cream had turned to soup.  In an effort to maximize a return on his efforts, four spoons were used simultaneously to shovel in what was left.  Love that kid!  (And I wish I could figure out how to steal that little boy’s heart; at this point in his little life he sees no need for his Auntie My.  I think I will put “Win Karsten’s Heart” on my Christmas Wish list.)

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Tom Sawyer’s Island holds a special place in my heart, for some strange reason.  Again, I think it is the running and playing and exploring that calls to me.  Unfortunately, I did not get over there.  Alyx was asleep and no strollers are allowed, so I stayed on shore while Sean braved the waters and island with the boys.

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My two favorite things about Disneyland were all the magical Christmas lights, decorations and actual snow falling on Main Street (I know it was fabricated, but it was still incredibly magical); and I loved the Disney Museum.  It is housed in the same building as the Mr. Lincoln exhibit.  It was calm and peaceful.  Barely anyone was there, even on the most crowded day we were at the park.  We watched Moments With Mister Lincoln first, which was stirring and a little emotional at times.  Then we walked into the area that houses Walt’s original plans for Disneyland.  There was a soul to that place.  Two men’s hopes and dreams and sweat and prayers were enshrined in that building.  And I felt honored to have been able to spend a little time with them on a Saturday morning.

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It will be a very long time before we go back (we were there three years ago, and this time just felt like more of the same), but I’m glad we went.  Did you know that the original Disneyland had a replica of the Grand Canyon and you could take a little riding tour on your very own Alpaca?  I’m thinking the real-life version of that may be something worth doing.  And maybe seeing the real marble statue of our fearless 16th president, instead of a brilliant image of it flashed on a screen, would be worth seeing in real life, too.  And maybe finding a real piece of wilderness to explore on one of our Pacific Northwest mountains would prove to be its own real-life adventure (although I may close my eyes during the scary parts, and even scream if it’s really scary – like a spider).  If nothing more, I feel inspired to find the magic and adventure in my everyday life, to dream big and to live big and to put some soul into every single day. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


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I probably tried to cram way too many pictures into this little collage.  And right now my head is so full of all the millions of things I have to get done in less than three weeks (oh, how Christmas is suddenly looming), that I am just going to roll with it.  My favorite parts about Thanksgiving and Thanksgivagain were being with my family.  To me that is what makes Thanksgiving so wonderful – it is just about enjoying good food with the people we love most in the world (and of course being thankful for all that yummy food and all those wonderful people).  Djeryd prayed us a sunny day on Friday so the boys played football and the girls played at the park.  The maple hung onto its leaves through the weekend, providing some lovely fall pictures.  Djeryd is almost as tall as my sister now and I’m sure he will be soaring above her by this time next year.  How does time fly by so fast?  I seriously have a million things to do, so this is the best I have for this post today.  ;>

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Weekend With Lenny

Annaliese got to bring home Lenny, the Lion from school a few weeks ago. We played and partied and reveled in his stuffed company. We took pictures of our adventures and wrote up a little diary page from Lenny’s perspective to share with her class the following Monday. I should have copied down the entry for the blog, but it was late and I was tired and I forgot all about it until I ran across this picture today.


Anna read to him and slept with him and insisted that Lenny and her stuffed bear, Pinky Sweets, were going to get married.  We had a tea party with real tea cups and watched our one and only BYU football game of the season.  Incidentally, Sean picked up a stuffed lion for Anna when he was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.  Anna calls him “Lenny’s Little Brother”.  She refuses to give him a name of his own.  It cracks me up (her Kindergarten teacher was pretty tickled with that one, too).

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