Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving on the East Coast

Happy Thanksgiving to You!
Once we moved across the country, and were actually in the same time zone as brothers and sisters, our "new" Thanksgiving tradition became visiting them. We've alternated between North Carolina and Virginia, often making visits at both places on the same trip. This year starts another "new" tradition, because the North Carolina family decided to move to Texas. We'll miss them, but change is part of our tradition!

2002 Jumping on the trampoline and skinning a deer with cousins in Virginia, then installing a basketball pole and playing computer games with cousins in North Carolina.

2004 This year we tried climbing to the highest point in Virginia, Mt. Rogers. Because the snow was too deep, only Wayne and Brad actually made it to the top, but we all had a great time!

Dinner in Virginia the day before Thanksgiving (my parents moved across the street from my sister, so now we get to visit two houses!)
and a picnic in the park the day after in North Carolina.
and the same thing again in 2008!

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into our evolving family traditions and that you're all having a happy day wherever you may be! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving at Home

While I thoroughly enjoy visiting family, I also thoroughly enjoy having family visit me. And I love putting together a Thanksgiving feast. So, some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories are of when we were able to have the whole gang at our house! I only wish it could happen more often.

Our first Thanksgiving in our first house. No pictures of the actual dinner, or the newly-reupholstered dining room chairs, but we got 8 inches of snow that weekend and the boys had fun!

1993 Another snowy Thanksgiving weekend! This time Uncle Richard joined the Whitaker relatives. (I'm trying to decide if I like the "overlay" photo option. They seem to be a little busy, and are probably meant for people over scenery. What do you think?

1996When we moved to California, our trips to Seattle had to end. After a couple of years of getting together with friends, it was great to have a Beckstrand reunion for Thanksgiving. This year instead of playing in the snow, the cousins played in the hot tub and at the park. And don't forget the video games either!

2003 Once we moved to Florida, Thanksgiving includes trips to the beach. This year the East Coast Whitakers drove south for the holiday.

2005 And the next time we stayed home, it was the Beckstrand family's turn to visit. We also went to the beach and played in the pool this year, but by this time we had a digital camera, and there were WAY too many photos of the holiday vacation to post here. At least there are also finally pictures of the table and turkey.

It sure will be interesting to see what the future brings. Maybe we'll get some more Thanksgiving dinners at home with lots of friends and relatives. Give us a little warning, and we'd love to have you over for turkey and stuffing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving in Seattle

I had grand plans for a Thanksgiving countdown similar to last year's (go here for the first one and keep clicking "previous post" for the rest if you want a refresher course on our favorite pies) and had even chosen ten "side dish" recipes. However, the month got away from me and now we're down to just a couple of days before the holiday. It would also be nice to compile a list of things that I'm grateful for, but that's not going to happen here either. Instead I'm frittering away my time scanning in old pictures (when there are dozens of other, but less-fun, things on the to-do list) because I was reminded of our annual trips to Grandma's house. So, that's what you get this year - a mini countdown of Thanksgiving memories.

First stop - Thanksgiving in Seattle:
We decided that with two young children and limited vacation time from work, we would drive through the night, hoping that with the kids asleep we wouldn't have to deal with as many rest stops on the 14 hour trip. That might have worked out okay if we hadn't tried No-Doze to help us. Not a good idea! (The drive was fine, but the after-effects were awful.) In spite of the rough start, we had a great time. (That's David and his cousin Nathan on the bottom left.)
1988 This year Weston had fun playing with Aunt Julie and some leftover Halloween makeup/goop as well as creating pictures on LiteBrite. And there's the obligatory "line the cousins up on the couch" picture as well. (Nathan, Brett, Weston, David & Brad)

We spent Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa, but also visited some friends. The boys enjoyed playing in their tree house.

1990The number of kids on the couch is growing! We also enjoyed a visit to the Children's Museum, in spite of the wet, rainy weather.

This year we had a sunny day for our "day after Thanksgiving" excursion, this time a trip to the zoo.
That's all I remember of our Thanksgiving trips to Seattle. Those are some great memories, and we wished they could have continued. However, life changes and we needed to adjust our tradition. Stay tuned to see what the next few years brought.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Heritage Dinner

Memorable Monday Moments
Heritage Dinner
One of the suggested activities in the Family Home Evening Resource Manual is to have a heritage dinner (see #3). We did that in January 1988 and served Cornish Pasties from England. As part of the festivity, the boys decorated placemats using the flag of Great Britain (although I didn't take of picture of that). Actually, I didn't take a picture of the dinner either, but this picture was taken the following month. I have no idea which lesson it went with, but we had the following lessons that February (and I know this because Wayne's really good about putting the date given in the manual): "Delight in the Law of the Lord," "The Purpose of the Commandments," "Know the Lord's Laws," and "Family History Stories." Which one do you think this activity matched?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Favors

One thing that works for me is to involve my children in decorating for the holidays. Here are a couple of ideas we've tried over the years for Thanksgiving.

For the first one, an M&M Turkey, you need a couple tablespoons of M&M's (or really any other small candy), a piece of ribbon (or even string) about 10" long, a 6-8" square of netting (or tulle), a couple of "googly" eyes and a couple lengths of chenille stem.
I'm sorry I don't have the "head" in individual pieces, but one of the neat things about this craft is you can do it once and use it year after year. The first time, take one length of "bumpy" chenille and fold it into the turkey head shape. Take a smaller piece of regular chenille (do they even still call it that? - I hope you know what I'm talking about - they were called pipe cleaners when I was little) and fold it in half. Glue it in place for the wattle and attach the two eyes with glue (one on each side).
Next, pour some M&M's into the center of the netting square, pull the edges up to the center, and tie with the ribbon.
Tilt it on its side and stick in the turkey head. Voila! You're done. Make as many as you want, using whatever materials you can find, and have fun.
We've also had fun making Cookie/Candy Turkeys. You can google these and find specific directions, but here are some pictures to get your creativity going.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The "I Am Thankful For . . . " Activity

Memorable Monday Moments
"I am Thankful"

It's quite safe to say that we've had many, many (or a "plethora" according to Miss Michelle) November family night lessons on gratitude and thanksgiving, but I'm not remembering a specific one today. Instead I decided to share something that I wish we had done. And even though it's not the beginning of November, I'm posting it here so I can find it again next year.

This idea came from my son's sister-in-law (via another sister-in-law here). When he got married last year, Weston inherited a wonderful set of nieces and nephews - and they're so wonderful because their parents are great. That's something I'm definitely thankful for, even if it's not on the following list. Anyway, the idea is to pick something specific to be thankful for each day as a countdown to Thanksgiving. I think these were written on little pieces of paper and put in a jar. Each day they're pulling one out and doing what it says. What a fun idea! And maybe we'll even try a shortened version this year. We still have ten days :)
•I am Thankful for My Family!
Play a game together, inside or outside! (board game, hike, chalk art, etc.)

•I am Thankful for Pies!
Make some Pumpkin Pies to deliver to anyone!

•I am Thankful for Grandparents!
Call and tell them "I love you" "I am grateful for you"!

•I am Thankful for Prayer!
Say a prayer only using the words "I thank Thee for..." and don't ask for anything.

•I am Thankful for Computers!
Send an email to someone you love, and a photo!

•I am Thankful for my Toys!
Give some of your toys to Goodwill to give to other kids. (Grown-ups--you know you have toys you can give up too).

•I am Thankful for my Teachers!
Make a plate of cookies and/or a card for your piano, Primary (church), or school teacher.

•I am Thankful for our Car!
Clean out the car, and go get ice cream cones in it!

•I am Thankful for Turkeys!
Art project: Make paper turkeys

•I am Thankful for Neighbors!
Do a secret service for your neighbor! (rake leaves, pull weeds, leave a treat, etc.)

•I am Thankful for my Heavenly Father!
Write in your journal and say a prayer expressing your love and gratitude!

•I am Thankful for my Cousins!
Call or write a letter to one of your cousins!

•I am Thankful for the Scriptures!
Have a Family Home Evening on a favorite scripture story--memorize a scripture!

•I am Thankful for Sisters!
Do something nice for her! (make her bed, do her job, play a game with her, etc.)

•I am Thankful for Food!
Go to the store and pick out a food that you haven't tried yet!

•I am Thankful for our Kitchen!
Bake something fun together in the kitchen!

•I am Thankful for my Ears!
Close your eyes and listen to music! Play some music. Enjoy it all day!

•I am Thankful for my Dad!
Do something nice for Dad! (run give him a hug when he gets home from work, write him a note, shine his shoes, clean his closet, organize the garage, etc.)

•I am Thankful for my Hands!
Art Project: Finger painting, or drawing.

•I am Thankful for my Eyes!
Watch a special movie with your family!

•I am Thankful for my Brother!
Do something nice for your brother! (make his bed, do his job, play a game with him, etc.)

•I am Thankful for my Legs!
Go outside--run and jump or ride your bike!

•I am Thankful for my Mom!
Do something nice for mom! (write her a note, good chocolate, cook and clean up dinner, do the laundry, clean any room, etc.)

•I am Thankful for Books!
Go to the library and pick out some Thanksgiving books!

•I am Thankful for the Seasons!
Go on a walk, enjoy nature, the colors, etc.

•I am Thankful for my Teeth!
Give Mom & Dad some Halloween candy and brush & floss

•I am Thankful for a Prophet!
Read a Conference talk or article in the church magazine by him! (If you are of a faith other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel free to pick a different leader of a church or state).

•I am Thankful for my Home!
Clean out a hall, bedroom, or upstairs closet together--play music and have fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Come Along, Come Along

Works for Me Wednesday
"Come" vs. "Go"

A while ago Michelle had the opportunity to babysit some cute kids. When she got home I asked her how it went and she said, "Fine, except I felt really bad that they were still awake when their parents got home." As we discussed what she could do next time I asked if she said "go to bed" or "come to bed" and if she ever turned the television off. Guess what the answer was?

I felt badly that she hadn't learned something I learned before she was born - that there is a huge difference between telling someone to do something and taking them by the hand and doing it with them. We remembered the hymn we had sung recently - "Come Along, Come Along" -

"Come along, come along" is the call that will win
In leading to virtue and keeping from sin.
Most men can be led, but few can be driv'n
In shunning perdition and striving to heav'n.

This applies to little children, and for little things as well. She noticed that the child she took to get their teeth brushed, got their teeth brushed. The older one that she told to just go do it, never did. We never had a problem with getting children up in the morning, because instead of yelling across the house, I would always go to them and wake them up with a gentle nudge, basically inviting them to join the family for breakfast or family prayer. Yes, that way took a bit more time, but it helped the decibel level greatly throughout the whole day. When I could hear the bickering/squabbling beginning to start in the other room, I learned that it stopped more quickly if I went to the kids and gently distracted or separated them rather than yelling at them to leave each other alone and be nice. This principle works with doing chores - whether it's cleaning rooms, doing dishes or pulling weeds. It works with homework - "Come and do some flash cards with me." or "You do your math while I balance the checkbook." And it definitely works with going to church and serving others and following the Savior, as the hymn suggests.

So, that's what "works for me" and the next time she babysits, Michelle's going to give it a try as well - AFTER she turns off the TV!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What is it?

If you want the answer, it can be found here.

The kids at the dinner table wanted your opinion as to what you think this might be. Hint: dinner table = edible.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can it really be November already?

Works for Me Wednesday
Holiday Tips

This week everyone is sharing their best holiday tips over at "Works for Me Wednesday." Rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I'd just share some links. These are ideas that we've tried before so I know that they really work. And sharing ideas works for me!
Christmas Countdown: Wrapped Books. Our kids were older before I learned of this tradition, of wrapping 24 books and opening one each night and reading it together, but we tried it anyway and they loved it. In order to come up with 24 items without buying anything, I added some Christmas movies to the collection. That was fun.
Food in the Freezer: Freezer Inventory. One of the most helpful tips for keeping sane in December is to have several dinners already in the freezer. Fishmama shares how she keeps track of the meals she's prepared. Our system is basically the same (I use checks instead of numbers), and it really works great.
More Food in the Freezer: Baking Early. Amy suggests starting right now to put cookies and quick breads in the freezer, so that when you need a quick gift you don't have to get stressed. I know this REALLY helps my sanity, especially when someone decides he wants to go home teaching right now and wants to take a treat! During December, I try to keep Rocky Road and Poppy Seed Bread in the freezer just for this reason.
Displaying Christmas Cards: Ribbon Hangers. We haven't done this one in a while (we've used a basket on the kitchen wall the past few years), but this way you can see all the cards at once. I may just try it again.
Christmas Binder: Making a List. Mine is tailored for us, but Lisa shares what works for her, and the idea of keeping copies of past lists really helps make current celebrations easier. I can go to mine to find favorite recipes, remember what I gave my parents last year and who we received cards from (so I don't forget them this year), etc. Give it a try!
Perfection vs. Reality: Lowering Expectations. Erin shares the story of decorating their tree and her daughters putting all the ornaments in one spot, leaving it with an un-balanced feeling. Wisely, she left it that way, and now has a great memory. The best holidays are NOT perfect, but they're filled with gratitude, happiness, and love. That works for me!! What works for you?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Letters and more Letters

Memorable Monday Moments
Week Two of the Assignment Wheel

Remember we were interested in seeing how Wayne would fulfill his assignment to play the piano? Well, never fear, he did a fine job. But first it was Michelle's turn for the lesson. She started by reviewing the importance of always remembering our Savior through reading the sacramental prayers and Moses 6:63. Then Michelle decided to give us practice by playing Boggle. At the end of each round, we had to choose one of the words on our list and explain how that object can remind us of Jesus Christ. (For example, Jesus cast the NET into the sea. It doesn't have to be profound!) We've done this before and it's really a great activity.Although it's more fun when you're not losing!Wayne was delighted to be reminded that he got to choose the closing song. He decided "The Alphabet Song" would be perfect. So Steven led while he plunked out the tune. (It wasn't a very reverent introduction to the closing prayer, but it is a great memory!) Although this was a simple song, he assured me that he can play any hymn in the hymnbook with one finger, so he's not stressing over the assignment returning to him.Two weeks in a row with actual refreshments! This time it was Halloween Sugar Cookies.We hope you're all enjoying your family home evenings as much as we are!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October UFO's

Yay! I was able to cross a couple of things off the to-do list in October.
First, I took advantage of having someone home to climb the ladder and reach the ceiling and change the filter.
Then I sent him to work outside pulling out more over-grown bushes.
And, finally, he hauled the non-working freezer out of the garage (and also an old lawnmower battery).
But I did some things as well. The extra computer finally disappeared from the family room. That meant I had to transfer everything we wanted to keep from our old computer onto the newer ones. That took a lot of time, because the only drive that worked was the floppy with a 1 MB limit! (Don't tell me that there was an easier way to do it.)
And since I was busy doing computer stuff, I figured it was time to cover the worn out chair seat. The fabric I had on hand matched the curtain and not the black chair, so it's not the most beautiful, but it works to cover the holes!