Wednesday, December 29, 2010

para aproveitar

I am enjoying every moment of this Christmas break. I want to savor every second. Relish the freedom, the unscheduled and unspoken for time that is all mine.

This may be the very last Christmas break I ever get…ever. Because in a few months I will graduate from school…possibly never to return…And I will have to find a job. A real job in the real world. And in the real world, people with real jobs don’t get two weeks off for Christmas break. (Unless you are a teacher. Those lucky few.) **sigh** Honestly. Don’t people learn anything in school. Like how important vacation and Christmas breaks are to one’s sanity. No. Instead in the real world people with real jobs (in this country anyway) might get two weeks off…for the whole entire year. NOT ENOUGH.

Please let this Christmas break drag on and on. 

para aproveitar in Portuguese means to enjoy, to take advantage, to utilize. All in one word. Some things are easier to express in Portuguese.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

just like that…

…Christmas is over. After all the hype…the days of preparation..the months of anticipation. A few hours, one day. And it’s gone. Over. Passed. Christmas music disappears from the radio. Christmas tree comes down. Lights are turned off. And we are back in our normal everyday non-Christmas life, we start over, looking forward to next year.

It was a good day, worthy of all the hype and all the time. I am so thankful that it is a day that I can enjoy with my family because of the good, no drama, friendship relationship we have with each other. I am really grateful for that. I see other families that don’t have that and I realize how blessed I am.

I am also thankful that my family has been blessed greatly through recent economic storms. We have had our years of famine, when things have been rough. It’s amazing to me how we have always been blessed. Even when things have been rough, we are taken care of and richly blessed.

The new year is around the corner. I love that. I love thinking about, anticipating what the new year may and will bring. Adventures. Blessings. Trials. Change. Growth. Learning. People. Work. Fun. I anticipate great things to come. I pray to be ready for it. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—Luke 2

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

A few Christmas Joys

  • Finding that perfect gift that you know the other person will love and they didn’t even think about.
  • Christmas music on the radio
  • Caroling every where you go
  • Decorations
  • Pulling out your favorite ornaments
  • Thinking about Bethlehem and remembering how you were once there.
  • Setting up the Nativity you got from Jerusalem
  • Wishing everyone one you see a Merry Christmas
  • Christmas Eve dinner
  • Finding the almond in your rice pudding***
  • Taking treats to neighbors
  • Getting Christmas cards and reading the letters
  • Going to the store and missing the crowds
  • Christmas lights outside
  • Christmas lights inside
  • Christmas trees.
  • Wrapping presents
  • Going to bed Christmas eve knowing when you wake up it will be Christmas
***This year it was me and the prize was a beautiful advent calendar. Seriously, how lucky am I.

12 day of Christmas stories—The Night Before Christmas

This one was one of my favorites when I was little.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Doner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Happy Christmas Eve!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories--The Littlest Angel

"His halo was permanently tarnished where he held on to it with one hot, little, chubby, hand when he ran, and he was always running. Furthermore, even when he stood very still, it never behaved as a halo should. It was always slipping down over his eye..."

When the christ child is born, the mischievous angel learns the timeless lesson of giving, a lesson that has long endured as the true spirit of Christmas. His gift to the Christ child, a little box of his earthly treasures,  became the star of Bethlehem.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—The Three Trees

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: " I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. " I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world! The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.
Years, passed. The rain came, the sun shone and the little trees grew tall. One day three wood cutters climbed the mountain. The first wood cutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall make a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" the first tree said.
The second wood cutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It's perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. " I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last wood cutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the wood cutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the wood cutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, or treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the wood cutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and awed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the wood cutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. " All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."
Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. " This manger is beautiful." She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She new she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awoke. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten wood pile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hand to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
The next time you feel down because you didn't get what you wanted, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The Story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As told by Ed Herman

In the winter of 1860 Cambridge, Massachusetts captures the essence of an American Christmas. Under starry skies and between snow laden pines, proud New England houses push their way through a thick white blanket. Their yellow-orange windows like Christmas candles are reflected in the ice bound Charles River. In the silence of falling snow sleigh bells and laughter crescendo as the Longfellow family, bundled in winter wool is whistled along behind glossy horses and above them a thousand bare branches release a shower of sparkling snow. Five children giggle with delight.  And ringing down cobbled lanes, across fields and through the wooded hills and valleys are the bells. Single steeple bells and bundles of carolyn bells playing those old familiar carols that make Christmas, Christmas. To men and women of good-will everywhere this is the music of hope and peace.

The following year, 1861, America will need that music to counter the drum and bugle of civil war.  Rising from the strife are the plaintiff songs of divided families.  Songs for lively boys who steal off to war and broken young men carried back to their homes and all to often on to early graves.  Still, for the Longfellow family in Cambridge Summer comes as it always has.  For the five children outings to the seashore, long walks under leafy canopies and happy hours in the family home seem to promise that this Summer will not, cannot end. 

Then on Tuesday July 9th a fire in the Longfellow home claims the life of the childrens’ mother Fanny.  Trying to rescue her, her husband Henry is severely burned on his hands and face.  Three days later Fanny his beloved wife is buried on the 18th anniversary of their wedding day while he is confined to his bed fighting to live.  Fighting to want to live.  For Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as one war ranges without another rages within.

For the next two years Christmases come and go.  Henry writes how inexpressibly sad are all the holidays.  "A Merry Christmas, say the children, but that is no more for me.  Perhaps someday God will give me peace."  And then Henry learns that his eldest son Charles, who ran away to join the army has been critically wounded in battle.  Henry rushes to Washington to bring his son home and after days of searching he finds him barely alive.  With the outbreak of war, Fanny's terrible death, and now two years later his son desperately clinging to life we should not be surprised that on Christmas day 1863 Henry reaches for his pen and writes, "it was as if an earthquake wrenched the hearthstones of a continent and in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.

When reading his words today we ask, when conflict rages and pain, loneliness and grief overwhelm us where is the music of hope and peace?  For Henry, the answer to that question has everything to do with Christmas.  After Fanny's death he had written, "so strong as the sense of her presence upon me that I should hardly be surprised to look up now and see her in the room.  Death is a beginning and not an end."  On that Christmas morning it is clear to Henry that war, injury and even death are not the end.  The rising sun turns the icing river to silver and the windows of the Longfellow home to gold.  Henry's children bundled in winter wool are whisked past snowy fields, through wooded hills and valleys - along the road to home.  They look up blinking and giggling in the falling snow and they hear the sounds that make Christmas, Christmas.  They hear the bells and from his desk Henry hears them too.  Renewed he plunges his pen into fresh ink, joyfully drawing it across a sheet of snow white paper

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

In those bells the message is clear, on Christmas day a child was born in a stable.  Of that child Henry writes, "though in a manger thou draw breath, thou art greater than life and death."  And so he is.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

As the bells ring on Henry dips his pen again and again.  Because Christmas lives on, Fanny lives on, Charles lives on, a nation lives on and we, each one of us, may each live on as well in hope and peace forever. 

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—Handel and the Gift of the Messiah

By Spencer J. Condie

George Frideric Handel seemed to have been born a musician. As a young lad in Germany, he became proficient on both the violin and the organ. After composing his first opera in Germany, he moved to Italy, the operatic center of the world, to try his hand at musical composition in the Italian style. There he achieved some success in composing operas and chamber music.

In 1711, at age 26, Handel decided to move to England, where his operas and oratorios initially gained acceptance. By the late 1730s, however, British audiences had become less enthusiastic about operas sung in German or Italian; instead, they favored comedic performances such asThe Beggar’s Opera. Thus, for several years Handel struggled to keep the wolves—his creditors—away from the door.

In 1737, after pushing himself to his physical limits by composing four operas within 12 months, the 52-year-old composer suffered a stroke, leaving his right arm temporarily paralyzed. A doctor told Handel’s faithful secretary: “We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever. It seems to me that his brain has been permanently injured.”

The composer defied the diagnosis. Over time his body responded to treatment in the thermal springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany), and he recovered his physical strength. After testing his ability to play the organ at a nearby cathedral, he jubilantly proclaimed, “I have come back from Hades.”

When he returned to London and resumed composing operas, his work was not well received, and creditors began to hound him again. In the depths of despondency, he began to wonder, “Why did God permit my resurrection, only to allow my fellow-men to bury me again?” In April 1741 Handel held what he assumed would be a farewell concert. His creativity was spent. A biographer wrote: “There was nothing to begin or to finish. Handel was faced with emptiness.”

Late one August afternoon that same year, Handel returned from a long and tiring walk to find that a poet and previous collaborator, Charles Jennens, had left him a manuscript. This libretto quoted liberally from the scriptures, particularly the words of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and describing His ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The work was to be an oratorio. Given his previous failures, Handel was apprehensive as he began to read through the text.

“Comfort Ye,” the first words of the manuscript, seemed to leap from the page. They dissipated dark clouds that had been pressing upon Handel for so long. His depression waned and his emotions warmed from interest to excitement as he continued to read of angelic proclamations of the Savior’s birth and of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah, who would come to earth to be born as other mortal infants. A familiar melody Handel had composed earlier flooded into his mind as he read “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” The notes distilled upon his mind faster than he could put pencil to paper as he captured the image of the loving Good Shepherd in the aria titled “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Then came the overpowering exultation reflected in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” followed by the soft, supernal testimony of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” The work came to its majestic conclusion with “Worthy Is the Lamb.”

After all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah,largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.” Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”

He had finally been relieved of his restless quest for fame, fortune, and public praise—but only after composing his crowning work for an audience that included those not of this earth. The things that mattered most were no longer at the mercy of the things that mattered least. Handel, the restless composer, was now at rest.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—White Christmas

After World War II, song and dance men Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, form a successful partnership eventually becoming top Broadway producers. Bob agrees to take in a nightclub act by the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy, as a favor, so he thinks, for their brother who served with Bob and Phil in the war. Phil has always been trying to get Bob interested in a girl, usually one in the show but when he realizes that Bob is smitten with Betty, he arranges to accompany them to their show at a small Vermont Inn. Imagine their surprise when they learn that their old commanding officer, Major General Tom Waverley, is the owner. He's sunk his savings and his pension into the venture but it has yet to snow and it looks like he's on the verge of bankruptcy. They come up with a plan to help the General out but a series of misunderstandings leads to a rift between Bob and Betty leaving it Phil and Judy to try and get them back together.
I don't think I have ever seen my dad not cry at the end when the general enters the room and his former service men come marching singing "We'll follow the Old Man."

I don't think I have ever not smiled when Bing and Danny sing "Sisters."

And I always love when Bing sings "Count your blessings instead of sheep."

A family favorite. A personal favorite. And one of best treats of season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—A Christmas Carol

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol was first published December 19, 1844. Charles Dickens, began writing in October of 1943 and finished it in six weeks.

Dickens took financial risk to get the book published, and was soon glad that he had. The book was an immediate bestseller across England. Six thousands copies were sold in the first week and three thousand were sold before New Year’s. A Christmas Carol has remained in print ever since.

The book’s title comes from Dicken’s desire to have the story associated with all the other popular Christmas carols of the time. He further the allusion by dividing the the book into staves (verses) instead of chapters.

The story tells of Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation after he is visited by Jacob Marley, his former business partner, and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. -- Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.


Finals. It's the much anticipated, horribly dreaded, wake-up call, winding down time of every semester. The time when you find out whether you understood anything your professor rambled on about throughout the semester. And if you didn't understand will you be able to regurgitate it back in a coherent and semi-intelligent manner. It's that time of the semester you will either feel disgruntled because you knew you should have studied more but wonder if more studying really would have done any good. Or feel you relief because it is over and there is nothing more you can do and it is time to move on.

All I can say is I AM DONE. And I am feeling relief and a little disgruntled. This is the first semester I am feeling a little disgruntled. There was only was one test for which I maybe should have studied a little more.  It was that class that gives a technical name to those everyday occurrences. Such as, you know when you are talking to someone and you assume you are being perfectly clear and that the other person understands how you feel. That is called illusion of transparency. Or when someone doesn't do something you expected him to do and you assume he must be lazy. That is called fundamental attribution error. See what I mean...Anyways, I maybe should have studied for this test a little more. But at the same time I wonder if it really would've helped me keep all those technical terms and theories straight. My brain was pretty fried. But now it's over, the world will go on, and there is nothing I can do about it now except for set new goals for the coming semester and eat Christmas cinnamon rolls.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—How the Grinch Stole Christmas

by Dr. Suess

Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot...
But the Grinch, Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But, Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistleoe wreath.
"And they're hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!"
For, tomorrow, he knew all the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!
And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They'd sing! And they'd sing! AND they'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
"Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming!
...But HOW?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
"I know just what to do!" The Grinch Laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
"With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!"
"All I need is a reindeer..."
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...?
No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
THEN He loaded some bags, and some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said, "Giddyap!"
And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos Lay a-snooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
"This is stop number one," The old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
"These stockings," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos' feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!"
And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter
Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,
"Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?"
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,
"There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side.
"So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
"I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here."
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then He did the same thing
To the other Whos' houses
Leaving crumbs much too small
For the other Whos' mouses!
It was quarter past dawn...
All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
"They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
"The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!"
"That's a noise," grinned the Grinch,
"That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...
But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—The Gift of the Magi

When I was little I couldn’t believe the irony of this story and I felt bad for them. Both of their gifts seemed to have gone to waste. I know better now.

The Gift of the Magi   —  by: O Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 days of Christmas stories—The Christmas Orange

Inspired by RS and the many Christmas stories. This one is a favorite of my dad. And he passed it on to us.

Sometimes it is easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. The busy traditions of the season and the appealing advertisements for material goods can leave the pure and simple truths far, far behind.

Jake was nine years old with tousled brown hair with blue eyes as bright as a heavenly angel. For as long as Jake could remember he had lived within the walls of a poor orphanage. He was just one of ten children supported by what meager contributions the orphan home could obtain in a continuous struggle seeking donations from townsfolk.

There was very little to eat, but at Christmas time there always seemed to be a little more than usual to eat, the orphanage seemed a little warmer, and it was time for a little holiday enjoyment. But more than this, there was the Christmas orange!

Christmas was the only time of year that such a rare treat was provided and it was treasured by each child like no other food admiring it, feeling it, prizing it and slowly enjoying each juicy section. Truly, it was the light of each orphan's Christmas and their best gift of the season. How joyful would be the moment when Jake received his orange!

Unknown to him, Jake had somehow managed to track a small amount of mud on his shoes through the front door of the orphanage, muddying the new carpet. He hadn't even noticed. Now it was too late and there was nothing he could do to avoid punishment. The punishment was swift and unrelenting. Jake would not be allowed his Christmas orange! It was the only gift he would receive from the harsh world he lived in, yet after a year of waiting for his Christmas orange, is was to be denied him.

Tearfully, Jake pleaded that he be forgiven and promised never to track mud into the orphanage again, but to no avail. He felt hopeless and totally rejected. Jake cried into his pillow all that night and spent Christmas Day feeling empty and alone. He felt that the other children didn't want to be with a boy who had been punished with such a cruel punishment. Perhaps they feared he would ruin their only day of happiness. Maybe, he reasoned, the gulf between him and his friends existed because they feared he would ask for a little of their oranges. Jake spent the day upstairs, alone, in the unheated dormitory. Huddled under his only blanket, he read about a family marooned on an island. Jake wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life on an isolated island, if he could only have a real family that cared about him.

Bedtime came, and worst of all, Jake couldn't sleep. How could he say his prayers? How could there be a God in Heaven that would allow a little soul such as his, to suffer so much all by himself? Silently, he sobbed for the future of mankind that God might end the suffering in the world, both for himself and all others like him.

As he climbed back into bed from the cold, hard floor, a soft hand touched Jake's shoulder, startling him momentarily and an object was silently placed in his hands. The giver disappeared into the darkness, leaving Jake with what, he did not immediately know!

Looking closely at it in the dim light, he saw that it looked like an orange! Not a regular orange, smooth and shiny, but a special orange, very special. Inside a patched together peal were the segments of nine other oranges, making one whole orange for Jake! The nine other children in the orphanage had each donated one segment of their own precious oranges to make a whole orange as a gift for Jake.

Sharing what we truly value is the true spirit of Christmas. Our Heavenly Father gave us His beloved Son. May we, like the children in the orphanage, find ways to share His love with others less blessed.


What is the significance of oranges at Christmas time? In England they were a sign of prosperity and wealth so if you used them as decorations you must have been very wealthy. (

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without caroling…and a llama

They may not be able to carry a tune, but never underestimate the power of a llama.

The doorbell rings and you hear the sound of a not-so-on-key group of carolers on your doorstep. You dread opening the door because that means you will be inclined to listen to them sing all versus of the 12 days of Christmas while letting the frigid winter air invade your home, and by the time they get to 7 swans a swimming  you are still wondering how french hens are different from any other hen…In spite of apprehensiveness, you don’t want to be seen as the neighborhood  Ebenezer, so you go to the door to listen the carolers and then send them be on their merry way. You crack the door expecting to see 7 mismatched scarves and gloves, but you see a llama. Blink, look again. It’s still there. There is a llama on your doorstep amongst the off-key, mismatched scarves and gloves, but all of a sudden they sound like angels and this is coolest group you ever seen.

2010-12-03 22.48.18It’s all part of a food drive. For the last few years, a few individuals have rented llamas from the Kirshna Temple and organized carolers to go around collecting items for the Utah Food Bank. And like I said don’t underestimate the power of a llama. Kids love them. Adults love them. And they are willing to donate big bags of food just because you brought a llama to their door. Even the woman hosting Christmas party and is not interested in scrounging her pantry to give you anything, and even less interested listening to you sing…until she sees the llama. Then she calls all her friends to come see the llama, listen to you sing, and you leave with a big bag of food that will be appreciated by those who are not as fortunate this holiday season. 

Serious. The ROI jumps leaps and bounds just because you have a llama.

Read about it here. Visit Carollama.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

the goose is getting fat

"Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat..."
Christmas break is moments away. Two weeks of nearly complete freedom and unspoken for time.

So looking forward to:
Reading…whatever I want
Catching up on a few movies I've missed
Working on personal and family history (yes, I enjoy doing this.)
Chilling  with family
Maybe I'll do a little baking
Christmas shopping
Think about nothing
Planning nothing
Playing with nephews and niece

Unfortunately, two weeks will probably not permit me give sufficient time to all of these. I still like thinking about all the things I could do when I have nothing I have to do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

christmas is in the air

...and so is the end of the semester. Classes are starting to wind down. Next week is finals. I already had my last negotiations class. I'm sad. I have absolutely enjoyed this semester. I've loved: the class discussions, the classmates, the different perspectives I've been introduced to, the different concepts and theories I've learned. SO great! And the stress level of this semester was way down compared my two semesters last year. Time has been just as tight since I'm working two jobs and in the temple. But it's all good.

My days at BYU are numbered. One more semester. Definitely bitter sweet. I'll be happy to graduate and have the degree, but sad to leave the learning environment. Some MPA classmates have been here since their undergrad days and they are ready to move on. But I will only have 2 years. I did have 3 wonderful years at BYUI. (I did a four year degree in three years. That was dumb. I should've stretched it out more. That's what I get for not changing my major six times. I didn't change it at all.)

The Final Countdown:

HR Law Final Paper
Team Mgmt Paper
Finish Defining Moments (almost)
Personal Code of Ethics
Organization Code of Ethics
Flexibility Final
Negotiations Final
Team Management Final
Ethics Final
Career report Paper
Grade a ton of papers

Sunday, December 5, 2010

it wouldn't be Christmas without...Andy Williams

and It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a must experience

If you haven't already, you need to go see the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU. It is a special experience to sit three feet  from such renowned, priceless, and inspirational pieces of art that just happen to be passing through your neighborhood. Normally, I like to be in country (or out of this country) to see these type of things, but this exhibit is fantastic and I saved a few hundred bucks.  I have to admit, though, my desire did increase to travel to Denmark and see the pieces in their original settings. However, the exhibit, and experience it  creates, is definitely satisfying and inspirational.

Bloch (pronounced Block) has a beautiful, unique way of illustrating emotions and expressions. I could feel and relate to emotions captured in these paintings of the individuals next to Christ. The images have a real power and Bloch was without question inspired in his work.

I am so lucky to have been able to attend the exhibit. The paintings came from churches from all over, even Denmark and Sweden. Four paintings were removed from their altar settings for the very first time since installed in the late 1800s.

So worth it. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time in to truly enjoy the work and take in the atmosphere.

PS. It's free!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

craving a little pumpkin

Some of the best flavors this time of year are the pumpkin treats. Pumpkin is a good idea any time of year, but seems to have more of a presence around the holidays. So if you are craving a little pumpkin here are some yummy treats you can try.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies are one of my all time favorite cookies in the whole entire world. And I love this classic recipe because it is so easy and you can't mess it up. It is almost a Christmas tradition for my sisters and I make these and then eat them all. They definitely hit spot when those pumpkin cravings come on. 

  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 box of spice cake
  • 1 1/2 c of semi sweet chocolate chips (maybe 2 c ;)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix ingredients together
Spoon on to a greased cookie sheet (or I have discovered parchment paper is wonderful
Bake for 8-10 minutes. (maybe 12) Until cooked through and cake-ish. Unless you like them gooey.

Almost as easy, but just as good. Maybe better.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 tsp nut meg, 2 tsp ground Cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used salted)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.
I stumbled across this at Real MOM Kitchen. There are few other yummy treats worth checking out. (hint, hint)
This one is for Abby who called me the other day wondering how I made it. She was craving something pumpkin and chocolate free. Poor nursing mother.

Pumpkin Smash from Jamba Juice. 
  • Pour 1 c soy milk into a blender. (Could use vanilla soy milk.)
  • Add the a couple scoops of pumpkin pie mix (about 1/2), 1 c frozen yogurt, and ice cubes.
  • Blend until smooth with a thick consistency
Adjust ingredients to get the flavor and consistency you like. That's the beauty of making your own, opposed to dropping by Jamba Juice.

Monday, November 29, 2010

small world

Yesterday I visited South Ogden. My stomping grounds until the sixth grade. As I drove by the old home and through the neighborhood, I was amazed at how small everything seems to be now. The house isn't as big as I remember it. The drive to the church where we use to go wasn't quite as far.  The hill we lived on used to be gigantic. I'm sure it has shrunk through the years. The 5th house down the street where I used to go play with Danny is a lot closer than is used to be. I swear it was further when I was 3. It's funny how things like that change through years. 

I'm realizing I lived in a small, happy world. But to someone who was only 30-48 inches tall, it was huge. 

It was fun to go to church and still recognize some familiar friendly faces. It's good to know some things don't change.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

rise and shout

O Rise, all loyal Cougars and hurl your challenge to the foe.
You will fight, day or night, rain or snow.
Loyal, Strong, and True
Wear the White and Blue.
While we sing, get set to spring.
Come on Cougars, it's up to you!
O Rise and Shout, the Cougars are out
Along the trail to fame and glory.
Rise and shout, our cheers will ring out,
As you unfold your vict'ry story.
On you go to vanquish the foe
For Alma Mater's sons and daughters.
As we join in song, in praise of you, our faith is strong.
We'll raise our colors high in the blue,
And cheer the Cougars of BYU.
It’s been a fun season, full of cheers and a few tears!!
Go Cougars!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.
My beloved friend President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”--Thomas S. Monson
" in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon you.”--Alma 34:38

21 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 21 Happy Thanksgiving

On the 21st day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for God and His loving presence in my life.

21 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 19 and 20

On the 19th and 20th days of Thanksgiving I am thankful for mom and dad. I wouldn't be where I am without them. (literally and in more ways than one.) Because of them the bar came raised. They have taught me to always aim high and perform high. They have supported me through all my goals and challenges and they have provided a place for me to come back to when I need to get away and be boosted up. When I say I want to go to graduate school they say go for it. When I say I want to go to China, they say go for it. When I say I want to dye my hair purple, they say you are free, white, and over 21. (jk, I haven't said that.) I am so thankful for them and all they have taught me. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

21 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 18

On the 18th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for Home. But this home is warm and has indoor plumbing and lights. And it protects me from the negative degree weather outside. Yes, I am truly grateful for this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

21 days of Thanksgiving--Day 17

On the 17th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for home. A place to go to get away from everything else. A place to go to rejuvenate. A place to laugh and play. A place to go to be loved no matter what. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

21 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 16

On the 16th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for religious freedom. I know I already mentioned freedom, but yesterday I heard a woman talk about a man she knew that had to leave his country and everything because he was being persecuted for his beliefs and religion.This was in recent years, not in the 17th century,1830s or 1940s. I am so thankful that that I have "the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of (my) own conscience..." So wonderful. (I know I am a few days behind. Its not due to a lack of gratitude.)

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.--8th Article of Faith

Saturday, November 20, 2010

21 days of Thanksgiving—Day 15

On the 15th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for my cousin, roommate, and one of my best friends. And lucky me, I have all three of the those combined into one great woman. Amy.

She is always willing to go out play with me, act silly with me, laugh with me, or stay up late talking with me. No one is funny quite like her. No one is stubborn quite like her. No one is as forgiving of me quite like her.  No one could take her place in my life. I love my Amy. IMG_2122

Thursday, November 18, 2010

21 days of Thanksgiving--Day 14

On the 14th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for where I live. Wouldn't you be?

I am thankful to have a comfortable, peaceful home with family who care about me. 

favorite face

This is the face I love most that my nephew, Eli, makes. This is the smile he makes when no one is around trying to make him smile. He just smiles. I think he gets that from his dad.

21 days of Thanksgiving--Day 13

On the 13th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for technology. It is true. As much as I dislike how much time is spent on the computer, on the cell phone, and in front of the TV. I am thankful for lights that turn on, machines that wash clothes and dishes, cars, planes, trains, boats, blenders, stoves, sewing machines, doorbells, movie theaters, medical advances, refridgerators, waffle irons, telephones, email, ipods, crockpots, driers, vacuums, cameras, christmas lights...(the list goes on and on).....and access to information and people. It is a great era to be alive.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

21 days of Thanksgiving--Day 12

On the 11th day of Thanksgiving I am thankful for... Knowledge. Knowledge that comes through reading, through experience, through observation, through study, through others, and through inspiration. I am thankful for the light that it gives us and helps us to live better lives. I thankful for the power it gives us to change our world and assist others. I am thankful for the perspective I have because of what I know. Secular and spiritual. I am thankful I have the ability and opportunity to attain more knowledge everyday. 

“There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge.”-- Friedrich Nietzsche

tomato-basil parmesan soup

I tried this and it was reeeeal good. Especially on a gray chilly day. 

Makes about 2 quarts

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano
1 T dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
2 cups half and half, warmed (Can be replaced with skim milk or evaporated milk.)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil (if using fresh oregano and basil, if using dried oregano and basil add it in the last hour of cooktime), and bay leaf to a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft. About an hour before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Add all back into the slow cooker. Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for another hour until ready to serve.

This yummy find and the mastermind behind it were highlighted in the BYU Alumni magazine. Karen used her slower cooker everyday for a year to concoct different meals for her family. She blogged about it here. Check it out. You'll find a few things worth trying out.