Friday, December 30, 2011

Finding JOY

2011 was one heck of a year for me. Probably not my  best.
  • I started the year out losing my job, and it went downhill from there.
  • In March there was my car accident.
  • It took me six months to find a job. A job I'm not overly thrilled to have.
  • I am really starting to feel old and grumpy. Seriously, my body is beginning to betray me, and I'm such a sourpuss all the time.
  • I've really suffered a bit of a setback to my self esteem this year...between being out of work, and starting to feel my age.
I haven't experienced much joy this year, or so it seems when I look back. It was just kind of a downer.

Seems kind of lame to say that I haven't experienced much joy when I have four beautiful children and one very loving husband who all bring me joy every day.

Let's see if I can turn this around.
  • I lost a job that I wasn't overly thrilled with at the time and got to enjoy six months off, with pay. (66% of my previous income, but hey! that's not horrible). That's more time I got to spend with those four gorgeous kids and that sexy man o' mine.
  • Totalled my little 5 passenger car, but got a 7 passenger mini van out of the deal--not bad.
  • I opened up my Etsy shop. I've only sold two items on there, but it's something I had been wanting to do, and being out of work for that long kind of gave me the impetus to do it.
  • I have a job. In this economy, that IS a blessing, and perhaps it's teaching me something, to have to endure the inconvenience of not really liking my job. Maybe it's teaching me about endurance.
I'm not sure what there is to say about those other two items. I'm not sure why I'm so irritable all the time. No, I take that back. I do know why...because I'm tired. That's just one of the perks of my schedule. I'm sure that my inactivity, which is due in part to being tired is the reason I'm feeling so old as well. I know what I need to do to remedy this situation...sleep better, eat better, get more exercise. Hopefully two out of three will make a difference. I'm not sure I'll be getting much more sleep until Jason and Justin start first grade and I can get a day job. But getting back in the saddle with eating better and exercising are part of my New Years resolutions.

SO ANYWAY, what am I trying to get at? Why has joy been so elusive for me this year? Maybe because I haven't been looking for it? Maybe because I have let the basics REALLY slide. Personal prayer and scripture study have really taken the back seat this year. My resolution last year--to dedicate the year to the Lord was pretty much a failure. I can't say I behaved in a very worthy manner most of the year.
I've been angry. How can joy abide in the presence of anger? Better question: Would anger abide if I was more focused on the basics--scriptures and prayer?  Would it abide if I took a little more time to seek out joy? To focus on my blessings? I think we all know the answer.

I heard the coolest thing from one of my visiting teachers this month. I have these plates on my wall that spell out the word JOY. She was admiring them, and mentioned a recent lesson in relief society on the subject of joy (I don't get to go to relief society these days, I'm in the nursery).
One of the cool things mentioned in the lesson was how joy is obtained: Jesus first, then Others and then Yourself.

J e s u s
O t h e r s
Y o u r s e l f

You've probably all seen that before, but it was the first time this was pointed out to me, and I LOVE IT!

So, I'm making this my word/theme/mantra for 2012.
I'm setting my priorities straight and seeking joy, and there's the formula-->Jesus, Others, Yourself.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2012 is better all around for everybody.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas week recap #4 Christmas Day and present overload!

Ok, last one. Thank goodness, go ahead and say it!
Chrtistmas day was lovely.
We were truly spoiled this year.

 That's a lot of presents! I feel truly embarrassed about this. There were sixteen presents under the tree before Christmas Eve even got here. Four for each of the kids, from the church. We were deemed a family in need this year. For Thanksgiving we received a turkey and all the trimmings as well. We had already purchased what we needed for dinner, so we saved the turkey for Christmas, and I am truly grateful for the church's support, although I really feel like maybe it could have gone to someone who needed it more. Maybe everyone feels like that when they receive charity. Things have been really tight, don't get me wrong. Being out of work half the year, and now working reduced hours is cutting into what we're used to getting by with. Two weeks ago, I was seriously stressing about how I was going to pay off my layaway's and have anything under the tree for my kids. But, we are seriously so blessed. I received our security deposit refund check in the mail that week from the old apartment. That paid for Christmas. It couldn't have come at a better time and I was weeping with gratitude as I looked at that check. I believe wholeheartedly in tithing, but I haven't been paying it because Jon has asked me not to until things get better financially for us. It goes against everything I believe not to pay it, but I feel I need to honor my husbands request. And still, the Lord has blessed us! I just feel so ....undeserving.
My momma gave me some good advice though, she suggested I just pay it forward next year. DEFINITELY!

 So, anyway, here are a few of the favorites I thiink.
 Best present ever for the boys. These are going to keep them entertained for hours (or so I hope)!

 Haley's favorite--beyblades.

 And Ashley's favorite...duct tape.
She also got the haircolor she has been begging for. She's now sporting blue-black hair.

(not as horrible as I was expecting it to be.)
 I actually like it.

Hope your Christmas was truly Blessed.

Christmas week recap #3 Christmas Eve

We went to Jon's brother's house for Christmas Eve. Laura was cooking up some deliciousness for us!
She is an awesome cook, Laura's on the left, her sister Lisa is on the right.
 She'd been slaving all day on the meat fillings and sauces for tamales. I LOVE tamales.
We have never actually made tamales. So it was fun to see how it's done, and help with the process.
 Ashley, prepping tamales. She's a pro now.

 Laura's mom Susan, shredding pork. Time consuming work!

 ...watching the game and waiting for supper.

 Uncle Brad (on the left), and Jordan possible future son in law.

 Uncle Brad and Jason

 nice cheesy smile from Jon!

 cousin Julia, just got braces!

 Uncle goofy

 me and my boys (they were getting a little tired at this point).

 Cousins, Alicia, Julia and Ashley. Aren't they gorgeous?

 Jordan and Eddie (another wonderful cousin)

 Jordan and Alicia sharing some love

We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening with Brad and Laura and their beautiful family.
They began the present overload for my kids. Seriously, they spoil us so badly every year.

Back at home, everybody got to open one present before bedtime.

 The traditional Cristmas jammies.

Do you do Christmas Eve jammies too?

Christmas week recap #2--Baking Edition

So, we spent alot of Friday baking up some goodness.

This cute little pic is actually something my sweet nieces, Alicia and Julia brought over for the kids to decorate one night. Auntie Laura made the cute Rice Krispy Treat Christmas tree, and the kids decorated it.

Friday, we made fudge and cookies.

 I love this tip I figured out! I'm sure, everybody in the world does this already, but it just occurred to me after seeing them use this handy dandy little tool at a candy shop for just this purpose. I have struggled over the years trying to cut my fudge with a knife. It just gets sticky really quickly or whatever. But that handy dandy metal spatuala thingy makes the perfect cutting blade for fudge. Love it! I just feel like a moron for not figuring it out sooner.

These are yummy.
Crispy melt-away cookies with cream cheese frosting.
(Merrianne's recipe)
 (see those ones on the left? Somehow my oven got turned way up! Funny how a little thing like oven temperature can alter your finished product.)

And what I call Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies (more commonly known as peanut butter blossoms I believe)

 Ok, seriously. I've seen other recipes for this cookie and they're just TOO MUCH trouble. A whole list of ingredients.
This recipe is THE BEST ever because it's so simple! I'm going to share it with you....

3/4 cup peanut butter ( I like to use the crunchy kind)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

mix this together really well and add

2 cups of bisquick 
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix that really well. You're gonna have a sticky glob of yumminess.
Roll into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
Roll the balls in sugar and set on your cookie sheet.
Bake at 375* for 5 to 6 minutes.
Press a Hershey's kiss into the cookies as soon as you pull them out of the oven.
Let em cool, and enjoy!

What's your favorite Christmas recipe?

Christmas week recap#1

So, since I haven't blogged in like forever; I thought I'd inundate your readers with posts today.
Here's a little Christmas catchup from my family to yours.

Boredome buster number 2 last week was the Ethel M. Chocolate factory here in Henderson.
We've been there several times over the years, but I think it was the first trip for the boys.
 posing out in front of the factory before we went in

It was so nice to actually see them making stuff for a change. In the years past whenever we've gone, those conveyor belts have been empty and barren.

 look at those bins of chocolatey goodness....

It's a very short tour really, but you get a sample at the end, and then of course you get to visit their shop.
 look close, you can see chocolate dribble on Justins chin...

 Outside the chocolate factory is a huge, beautiful cactus garden. Ethel M lights it up every year at Christmas.
We walked through and admired the beauty of the desert, and captured a few prime photo ops.

I thought this was just too pretty. A saguarro skeleton. I took a pic of the description for your reading pleasure.

 We went back later in the week to see the garden all lit up. It was quite lovely. But dang! Was it cold!

 another photo op with the kids and an extra cute little guest that we took along with us.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas week!