Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I was tagged a while ago, by two different people, and now that things have calmed down a bit, I'm finally getting around to answering the request. So, here are some of my random "quirkies" (as Michelle decided they should be called).

1. I prefer my own cooking over restaurants. Once Weston and I participated in a Primary "How well do you know your mother" activity. When he was asked what my favorite restaurant was he answered "She doesn't have one." They made him pick one anyway, and he chose Red Lobster since that's where Wayne had taken me the night before for our date. When it was my turn to answer, I also said, "I don't have one." Then I had to pick one anyway and went with Red Lobster for the same reason. So, we got that question right either way!

2. I often have "reject eggs" for breakfast. My kids like easy-over eggs, but only has a vehicle for dipping their toast in the yolk. I couldn't stand throwing out all the egg whites, so I started sprinkling a bit of cheese over their leftovers, zapping it for a few seconds, and eating it myself. That way I don't get all the fat from the egg yolk and I don't have the guilt of all the starving children in Africa hanging over my head.

3. I don't like reading a novel unless I can finish it in one sitting. Yet I like reading, so I often arrange my time so that this can happen.

4. I plan my driving routes to avoid left turns without a signal. That means the bank is always the last stop, and never the first, while the cleaners is opposite.

5. I don't like anyone to touch my feet, and I always wear socks. Since living in Florida I've tried to wear sandals or flip flops more often, but it still feels weird.

6. I must have a scissors fetish - they're all over the house. There are scissors in the kitchen (and I keep telling myself I need another pair closer to the fridge), by the outside door (to open chlorine bags for the pool), each of the kids' desks, each of my desks, the garage workbench, two in the laundry room (one with the hair clippers and one with the gift wrapping supplies) and even in my bathroom (for clipping stray bangs and clothing tags).

7. I don't mind hidden messes, but I like my counters and floors to be empty. (Doesn't always happen, but that's my preference!) When I send my children to clean their rooms, the standard is "vacuum ready". That means the bed is made, there's nothing on the floor, and the closet door is closed. Then every year or two (or seven!) we try to tackle the hidden clutter. Guess what one of my goals for 2009 is!!

The instructions said to tag seven random people, so if your name is Orson, Scott, Michael, Bryan, Todd, Kay, or Whit - you're tagged!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Peaceful Christmas is Past

2008 - Merry Christmas to You! And Happy New Year Too!!David, Steven, Michelle, and Jeff - the traditional picture in front of the stockings.Christmas Eve dinner with our friends the Tyree's.Steven's busy checking out the presents under the tree, knowing that he's not allowed to touch them until after breakfast.The highlight of our day - talking to Elder Brad. (He's doing great and even had success making our traditional cinnamon rolls for his breakfast, because his current apartment has an oven!)After the phone call, it was time for breakfast!
And then Michelle was able to play Santa and pass out the presents. (Jeff wanted some hair clippers because the buddy he'd been borrowing them from wasn't coming back for winter semester.)
Wayne had a great afternoon installing his new toy . . .while David kept the others amused during their game-playing time.

And this is what I spent the day working on - no cooking or cleaning on Christmas! It's a real holiday.

Scripture Study Insights - week twenty-one

Helaman 9
We ought to believe the prophet, for prophets speak only the truth.

Helaman 10
Revelation comes best when we’re pondering in solitude. Take time to make that happen. Work towards aligning our own will with God’s will for us and be unwearying in good works.

Helaman 11
When Mormon says that the Nephites turned from righteousness to wickedness “in the space of not many years,” it really means just that.
year 75 = wickedness
year 76 = repentance
year 77 = peace
year 78 = contention
year 79 = strife
year 80 = wickedness
year 81 = remember the Lord and repent again
year 82 = forget the Lord again
year 83 = “wax strong in iniquity”
year 84 = continue in pride wickedness
year 85 = “ripened for destruction”

Helaman 12
It’s a human tendency to forget God after he blesses us for obedience. We need to remember to always express gratitude. Then it’s just possible that the blessings will continue!

Helaman 13
We should listen for what the Lord puts into our hearts, and then share it with others. The glad tidings are that Christ was born and that through him we can all be saved and return to Heavenly Father. Beware of pride, which leads to boasting, envy, strife, malice, persecution, murder, and all manner of iniquity. It is impossible to find happiness in doing wickedness. So, choose the right if you want to be happy.

Helaman 14
Prophets prophesy and share their testimony so that we might believe on Christ, and then repent. God wants us to have knowledge. Then, when we know the difference between good and evil, we have a responsibility to choose one or the other.

Helaman 15
God chastens us because he loves us. Those who do their duty are walking circumspectly, keeping the commandments, and striving with unwearied diligence to teach others. A testimony comes as we study the scriptures, words of the prophets, develop faith in the Lord, repent and have our hearts changed. When that happens, we become “firm and steadfast in the faith.”

Helaman 16
Both Samuel and Nephi taught “glad tidings of great joy.” The closer it got to Christ’s coming, the more Satan worked to harden the people’s hearts and “stir them up to do iniquity continually.”

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas is Here!!! - #25

2007Missing Brad, but enjoying Megan. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is Coming #24

2006 It would have been a prettier picture if David wasn't in pain from recent knee surgery! But we had to get one final "all six kids on Christmas morning" picture. It may never happen again :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is Coming #23

2005 One advantage to having Christmas on a Sunday is you get white shirts and ties for the annual picture!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rocky Road

Memorable Monday Moments:
Rocky Road - a special FHE treat

One of my favorite memories from elementary school is making Rocky Road candy for my school teachers each December. Mom would go to San Francisco and bring home a ten pound block of Ghiradelli chocolate. (Or maybe it was a different brand, and maybe it was delivered, but somehow a giant brick of chocolate made it to the kitchen counter!) She would chop it into one pound sections, and each of the kids would get a chance to make Rocky Road. The highlight of the experience was being able to lick the bowl! Then we would package it and deliver it to our friends and teachers.

This was a tradition that continued with my own children, although with a few variations. We didn't live close enough to San Francisco to get "real" chocolate, but I discovered that milk chocolate chips work just fine. We also used a microwave to melt the chocolate instead of a double boiler. However, this year our microwave started sparking when I put the chocolate inside, so I pulled out the pan to melt it the old-fashioned way. Steven was really intrigued! And even though we stopped delivering the candy to school teachers once they reached middle school, he decided that he had one teacher this year that deserved some.

In addition, once Jeff realized how easy it was to make, Rocky Road was no longer relegated to a December only treat! I suspect that this is one tradition that will continue for a long, long time.
To make Rocky Road, place one pound of milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or use a microwave to melt it).
Place over a medium heat and stir occasionally so that it will melt.Stir more frequently near the end and remove from the heat when it's all melted.Stir in 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts. (You can use pecans or almonds for variety. Or you can be like Steven and omit them entirely.) Then add 3 cups of mini marshmallows and stir until everything's coated with chocolate.Spread into a butttered 9" square pan and chill until it sets up.Don't forget to reap the reward of your labor!When the candy is hard enough, plop the whole piece onto a cutting board. The easiest way to do this is to run a sharp knife along the edges, put the pan upside on the board, and give it a good whack. Then remove the pan and flip the chocolate.Cut it into large squaresor smaller, bite-size pieces.

Place it in a pretty package to give away, or just eat it yourself.

Christmas is Coming #22

2004 Weston's home! But David's gone! (And Jeff grew!)

Michelle is the only one who likes wearing the Santa hat and passing out presents. (We open them one at a time in this family.) And that's okay with her big brothers who want to claim their corner of the couch on Christmas day and stay put until it's time to play with their new things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas is Coming #21

2003Weston was still on his mission. No picture of him this year, but he did photograph his companion's rendition of the Jordan River Temple made out of gingerbread.

Scripture Study Insights - week twenty

Helaman 1
Watch out for wicked people hiding amidst the masses so that they can’t be discovered. The Lamanites were conquered when they marched into the center of the Nephites and were surrounded.

Helaman 2
Combination means an alliance of individuals. (For some reason, whenever I heard “secret combination” I thought of a combination lock and I couldn’t figure out the relationship between that and Gadianton’s robbers. I looked the word combination up in the dictionary and the second definition is a series of actions, but the first is a uniting of people or countries. Now it makes sense.)

Helaman 3
Pride causes dissension. Church members are not immune. Nevertheless, in spite of surrounding wickedness and contention, individuals can choose to keep the commandments continually. The “word of God” can lead the “man of Christ” across the “gulf of misery” and wo. Sanctification comes from yielding our hearts unto God, from making our will the same as his.

Helaman 4
“The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.”

Helaman 5
True repentance includes the desire to immediate endeavor to repair wrongs committed. It also removes the cloud of darkness the overshadows us when we’re not choosing the right.

Helaman 6
It takes firmness and steadiness to be righteous. Satan is the author of all sin, and he carries his works of darkness and wickedness from generation to generation.

Helaman 7
God wants us to repent and turn to him. Seeking for riches and the praises of men leads to iniquity and pride and hardens our hearts.

Helaman 8
All the prophets testify of Christ.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is Coming #20

2002Weston was on his mission in Salt Lake. This particular Christmas season he was serving in his grandparents' stake, and so he got to have Christmas dinner with them (and Thanksgiving and New Year's Day dinners too)! Here he is with Elder Tennant.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Busy Season

Flashback Friday

Since the daily countdown posts have been flashing back to the distant past, today I figured I'd post some happenings from the recent past. As you can imagine, we've been keeping busy. Here are just some of the things we've done.

We had a nice Thanksgiving trip. First to Virginia to visit one side of the family.
Then to North Carolina to visit the other side. As you can see, Steven found the video game systems at both houses without any problem!
Back at home we've had family projects and school projects and church activities and Christmas preparation - shopping and decorating and baking. Throw in a couple of minor illnesses, a business trip to Europe, tithing settlement, and final exams, and I think we're up to date!
(FHE project - survival kits, chorus concert, school project on Argentina, and Bishop's seminary breakfast)

Christmas is Coming #19

2001We got to take two pictures this year!
Grandma and Grandpa Beckstrand came to visit with Richard and Holly and were able to open stockings too.
Then we put Holly on one of these:
So she could see these:
Christmas in Florida sure is different - but fun just the same!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is Coming #18

2000 Our first Christmas in Florida - notice the shorts. It was hot! I'm still not used to it, although it does feel more Christmasy in Tampa than in Miami.

A favorite memory from this year was the day Wayne returned from a business trip. He mentioned a new song/group he had heard on the plane and while he was gone that afternoon I ran to the store and was able to find The Christmas Attic by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. That night we turned off all the lights except for the Christmas tree and sat as a family and listened to the whole thing. It was really a lot of fun. Over the next couple of years we purchased the other cds. A TSO song is one of the things that says "Christmas" for us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas is Coming #17

1999For several years we had the tradition of doing a "12 Days of Christmas" for someone. (We were the recipients one year and enjoyed it so much that we had to pass the fun along.) I think this was the second year. In my journal I wrote, "This year the arguing was over who got the privilege of dropping off the treat, rather than who would deliver it under protest." I guess that's improvement! (There are numerous ways to personalize this activity, but here's one that is similar to what we did - and that way I don't have to type the description up!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas is Coming #16

1998 Well, I don't know what happened to the "all the kids by the stockings on the stairs picture," but Jeff was willing to show off our pretty tree!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Activity Advent

Memorable Monday Moments:
Christmas Advent Activities

Here's the list of activities we used one year when we did our Gingerbread Garland Activity Advent. Most of them are probably self-explanatory, but I'll add descriptions to some of them. The idea here was to keep things simple and fun - an enjoyable activity for the kids (at the time ages 3-14) to look forward to but not a huge mess for Mom to clean up! By planning ahead, each activity could be assigned to a specific day. For example, "blowing bubbles" could be for a busy day, sandwiched between errands and Scouts, while sponge painting aprons (to wear later when baking cookies) would be on a day that had a bigger block of time available. Any one of them could be turned into a FHE lesson or activity!

Make snowflakes (Just fold paper and cut, then hang on the window, but you can find patterns and ideas here.)
Sponge paint aprons
Play with play dough
Play match-up game (Concentration with Christmas symbol cards)
Blow bubbles
Listen to cassette tape
Color in coloring books
Make graham cracker houses
Make candy cane reindeer
Make paper doves
Make Rocky Road candy (Melt 1 pound of milk chocolate. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped walnuts and 3 cups mini marshmallows. Pour into buttered 9x9" pan and chill until hardened.)
Play bean bag toss
Make thank you cards for teachers
Play “Winter Chase Game” (For 4 players. You need a checkerboard, dice, and 4 markers. Each player places their marker on a corner of the board. Starting with the youngest, take turns rolling the dice and moving your playing piece that many spaces clockwise around the perimeter of the checkerboard. When one player lands by exact count on a second player, the second player is out. Play continues until there is only one person left. Then do it again!)
Make mini Kisses wreaths (simply cut out a 6-inch cardboard wreath shape, glue Hershey kisses on it, and hang with a ribbon)
Decorate lunch sacks for gift bags
Make pinhole pictures (Have copies of pictures using simple shapes - like from coloring books. Place picture over a piece of construction paper. Using a pin - push pin or quilting pin - poke holes every 1/4" on the lines. When done, remove the picture and hang the colored paper in the window so the sun can shine through. To prevent your table from getting scratched, have a thick piece of cardboard underneath, or even use the carpeted floor. This one does need adult supervision but it's a lot of fun!)
Use paint with water book
Make craft stick reindeer
Make secret good deeds sticker tree (Start with a blank Christmas tree. Decorate it with sticker ornaments by adding one whenever you do a good deed.)
Melt mints into wreaths (I couldn't find a picture of this, but they're pretty amazing to try.)
Sponge paint napkins
Assemble Christmas puzzles
Play with jacks or marbles

Found the picture! Arrange unwrapped peppermint candies on a greased cookie sheet so that the sides touch. Then back at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes until they soften. These went a minute too long, but still worked out okay. Add a ribbon to hang.
Here's another easy craft. Just glue Hershey kisses to a cardboard ring (covered with foil if desired), punch a hole for a ribbon to hang.

Christmas is Coming #15

1997This was the year of the Gingerbread Activity Garland. Using an idea similar to this, I made a bunch of paper gingerbread men and strung them into a garland. However, before gluing them shut (with just a dab of glue at the bottom), inside each little "card" I wrote an activity, similar to ones found here. Then each day we'd open one up and find time to do that activity.

We had so much fun that the next year we made one to send to the cousins.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas is Coming #14

So, maybe they still weren't cooperative, but we learned our lesson from the year before and took a picture anyway!
In case it hasn't been mentioned before, our favorite family tradition is to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. This year Wayne's parents came for David's ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood and stayed for Christmas. Mom could see that I was really busy and wanted to help out so she went to Costco and bought cinnamon rolls for us. It was extremely thoughtful, but, unfortunately, they turned out to be a flop - not because they weren't good, but because they didn't taste like normal. So, we haven't done that again. (Now our backup plan is to have some stashed in the freezer just in case something happens on Christmas Eve and we run out of time to make fresh ones.)
Potato Refrigerator Rolls

1 Tbl yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
7-8 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, shortening, eggs, potatoes (I usually just add dry potato flakes with some extra water/milk) and 4 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate until ready to use – up to 5 days, punch down as it rises.
Punch down the dough and cut off the amount needed. Shape as desired and let rise in a warm place about 1 ½ hours. Bake 10 – 15 minutes at 400°. Makes 4 dozen.
Filling for cinnamon rolls:
butter, brown sugar, cinnamon to taste
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar
Combine all ingredients.

Scripture Study Insights - week nineteen

Alma 53
Idleness leads to problems. When you’re in charge of a group of people (FHE, church or school class, Mutual activity, etc.), try to have them each involved somehow. Help them take responsibility for their individual growth and education. This chapter is our introduction to the “army of Helaman” – young men who were courageous, valiant, strong, active, trustworthy, sober, obedient and righteous, because they had been taught by parents who honored their own covenants.

Alma 54
It’s usually not possible to deal fairly and justly with the wicked – they just aren’t interested in being honest and equal.

Alma 55
Even during times of war and strategy, it’s possible to tell the truth. (Moroni looked for a true Lamanite among his soldiers to deliver the wine.) It’s also better to win without fighting if at all possible. Remembering to “remember the Lord” helps us avoid Satan’s traps and snares.

Alma 56
The best path is a straight one – “neither would I turn to the right nor to the left.” True courage comes from putting your trust in the Lord and following his teachings. Lack of leadership leads to confusion.

Alma 57
Follow the example of Helaman’s army: Be firm and undaunted – “obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.” Faith in God leads to great miracles.

Alma 58
When we’re feeling afraid, we should “pour out our souls in prayer to God.” Then he can send us peace, increase our faith, and give us courage and determination to conquer our obstacles. To solve our problems, sometimes we need to keep trying new things. What works once may not work again (particularly when it involves strategy).

Alma 59
“It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” Our actions (or non-actions) really do affect others.

Alma 60
“Begin to be up and doing.” We can exhort others to righteousness and stay humble at the same time. We also have a responsibility to do our best at preventing unrighteous behavior from negatively affecting those over whom we have stewardships.

Alma 61
We must resist evil. The Spirit of God is the spirit of freedom.

Alma 62
Converting people to your side not only increases your power, but diminishes the opposition’s. Doing things in anger can have disastrous consequences. It’s easier to remember God’s mercies when we’re humble and pray continually.

Alma 63
Our family records are to be kept sacred, and handed down from generation to generation.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas is Coming #13

1995For some reason, this year we didn't have cooperative kids on Christmas morning, but we did get them to pose for a picture a couple of days later. (Hence the lack of Christmas decorations!)