Friday, December 26, 2008

Some of our Favorite Christmas Moments

We had a fabulous Christmas this year. It was our first Christmas that we have spent in Tennessee. Jeff's sister Holly came into town from Dallas with her cute family. We loved having them here. We really missed everyone in Arizona a lot. Wish we could have Christmas in both states. But, we are grateful we have family here. We've had many Christmases without any family. It's much better with. The week started with the kids making Aunt Laurie's famous graham cracker houses. They always have a great time doing this. Once again, I had a great time eating the candy while they were creating! Here's Brennan, McKay, Kaisey, Abby Blackham (friend), Uncle Ben, Jadyn, Bailey, Taelyn, Brooke, Regan, Emma, Gracie, Scott. Fun group of kids! Monday night we got together with the Danielson gang. We were going to go Christmas caroling. Unfortunately, Jeff's Grandma Stay passed away that day so the mood kind of changed. On top of that, it was around 13 degrees outside that night. SO, we decided to carol to ourselves and share favorite Christmas moments. Very enjoyable.
Christmas Eve we decided to do a progressive dinner. We started at our house for appetizers and a cousins' Christmas piano recital. Very talented group of kids. Then we went to Mom and Dad Danielson's for yummy dinner and the nativity. Here's our group below. We then walked across the street to Laurie's house for dessert and play. It is so fun to live so close to each other where we can do things like that. Afterwards, we went to look at Christmas lights and had the kids open their jammies. It was such a fun night. Here's Jeff trying to get a little Christmas action. Think he got lucky?
Christmas day I heard someone up at 6 a.m. I walked upstairs to the game room and found Brennan. Turns out the kid woke up at 12:30 am and never went back to sleep. Crazy boy! Had the kids open presents then had the Collierville family over for our traditional chili egg puff breakfast. YUMMY! Can't break tradition. Especially when it comes to food. Our Christmas miracle....Brooke got some boobs.....
Cutie Jadyn with her new slippers.
Look at the cute sisters sharing the love.
Jeff got these awesome pants from a friend in the ward...."SEE THESE PANTS?" - Napoleon Dynamite
Our wonderful children must have been good this year since they didn't get any coal from Santa. The rest of the day was spent at the movies, being with family and a small adult party playing games with chips, dip, and salsa once the kids were in bed. Good Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Party, Party, Party!

It was a week of party party party. Sound familiar? But first, this is an advent calendar my mom made us years ago. My kids absolutely LOVE hanging up the ornaments day by day and counting down the time for Christmas. Each child takes their turn and looks forward to it. As you can see though, the top of the tree is up pretty high on the wall. Last Sunday I got a glimpse of this....
My sweet Brennan had Regan on his shoulders helping her put the ornament on for her turn. He's a great big brother! My primary class earned a party for good behavior. They decided to make sugar cookies, have pizza and watch Christmas movies. We had a great time. We did miss Carson though. Wasn't quite the same without him (our only boy). I just love this class and feel blessed to be their teacher. Wednesday after school, Brooke's 3rd grade teacher had her class bring gifts to the Adult Alzheimers home here in Collierville. They then sang a bunch of Christmas songs for them. It was really cool. Afterwards, Brooke got in the car and said, "I feel so good inside Mom. Can we go there again sometime?" I'm grateful she has a teacher that gave them such a wonderful experience.
On Thursday, both Brooke and Jadyn had class parties at school. Here's Brooke decorating her cookie.
Jadyn's class also had a little Christmas program for us. SOOO CUTE! Jadyn did a great job and loved dressing up for it. She also has an amazing teacher. What a blessing!
Friday night we had our ward Christmas party. Santa Claus came for a visit. Regan seemed to enjoy it. Jadyn loved talking with Santa too.
Brennan thought he was too old for Santa, but liked being a goof ball with him.Brooke, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with Santa. She was afraid of him and didn't like everyone starring at her. Here she is after we forced her to atleast stand by Santa for a picture. NOT HAPPY AT ALL! I also got to go to a cookie exchange party with some of the women in the ward. Also enjoyable. Although busy, we had a fun week spending time with family and friends. Aren't we blessed?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I love to read my family and friends' blogs. It is such a fun way to catch up with everyone and see what goes on in their lives. Interestingly, it seems like lately there has been a reoccuring theme with everyone.....friends. Funny thing is, I've been wanting to post about the same topic for a while now. Now I'm even more impressed to blog about my friends. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has told me to pray for good friends. I have always done that. I must say, it works. I have been blessed with the most AMAZING friends a girl could ever have. It has been such a huge blessing in my life. Here's a picture of one of them. Miss Elizabeth Cluff (aka Libby).
Elizabeth and I have been friends for 20 years now. We met each other at Ricks college our first year out of High School. She followed me to Arizona after that. Elizabeth has been one of my sweetest, dearest friends. We have been through A LOT together and she has always been by my side. No matter how far a way we are from each other, it doesn't matter. Our friendship has always been strong. Through roommates and boyfriends and getting married and trying for children and then having those children.... she has been there. Right now Elizabeth if fighting breast cancer. Once again I have been amazed by her. Don't get me wrong. She has her bad times, she has her pain, but she is such a source of strength to all who surround her. Despite all of her trials and difficulties, she remains positive. She is such a blessing to all of us. I can't imagine my life without her. Thank you Elizabeth for years of laughter, tears, joy, frustration, and more laughter. You are an amazing blessing in my life! I love you! This girl below is Heather Biggs. She and I have been friends since the 7th grade. She has also been through a lot with me too. Heather was around when I lost my father. I can't tell you how much she meant to me during those dark, dark days. She stood by me through the most difficult time in my entire life. Through the years after college we stayed in touch, but our lives went different ways. Recently, we have gotten to be close again. It has meant the world to me to have our relationship strong again. She too has had a lot of health problems lately and lots of trials and difficulties associated with it. Once again, I stand in awe as I watch how she faces these problems. She too has her bad moments, as we all do. But her overall attitude is so optimistic and full of faith. She is such a wonderful example to me. I am so grateful to have her in my life. When I'm having hard days, she is one of the first I want to call. Heather, I am so grateful for you. Thank you for putting up with me over the years, not giving up on our friendship and staying a huge part of my life. I love you!
AND THEN, I have all of my OTHER friends. I seriously could write a blog devoted to all of them. I have had so many special friends that have shared such important parts of my life. I have friends that are there with me in my own trials, laugh with me in the good times, friends I can confide in and know they will be there for me no matter what. To Stephani and Shelli... thank you for filling my days in Texas with so much joy. Your friendship means more to me than you'll ever know. To all my friends that live here... you are an amazing bunch of women. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such fun people that enjoy having a good time and yet strive to live a good life and stay close to the Lord. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the friends I have here. Thank you for all you do and who you are! To all my friends in high school... thank you for supporting me through such difficult years. I couldn't have survived it without you. To my very best friends (besides Jeff)... my sister and my mom... no one gets me like you do. You are my favorite people to be around. I can never thank you enough for EVERYTHING! Okay... this is way too long. But my point is, I am very, very blessed. To all my friends ..... THANK YOU. My life has been touched because of you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Regan's fun Aunt Laurie has a tradition of having the preschoolers to her house to make "Gingerbread" Houses made of graham crackers. She puts the little houses together before the kids get there and all the moms bring a bag of candy to share. We had about 12 kids there this time. The kids had such a good time putting the houses together and use their creativity. The moms had a good time eating the candy and chatting. It really is a win win situation. We love doing this. Thanks Laurie!
Here's Regan with some of the kids.... Ryleigh, Alayna, Regan and Cara. Such cute girls. Of coarse Laurie's game room was a total disaster after they played in there. I went up to get the kids to clean up. The only one cleaning was Cara Rees. I told Regan she needed to get up and help clean too. She was in the corner standing by the rocking horse. She just looked and me and said, "No Mom. I need to stand here and watch the rocking horse to make sure nobody gets on it." What kids will say to get out of cleaning! You gotta admit, she's creative.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's that most wonderful time... RUN, RUN, RUN as fast as you can to be at all of the wonderful events that pack the month of December. I really do love this time of the year, but sometimes it gets a little crazy. Last week we got to go to Brennan's Christmas Choir concert. I'm not really impressed with his choir teacher, but the kids did a good job with what they are working with. It was fun watching Brennan sing. I love hearing him sing and am glad he finally is embracing that talent...even if he is only 1 of 4 boys in his middle school choir. Go Brennan!
I also got to go to a couple of Christmas parties this week. One was for my Jazzercise class. Kinda funny to see how much really junky food people bring from an exercise class. Oh well. It's Christmas, right? Here is the husband and his "helper" of the lady who hosted the party. They were a crack up!
On Saturday, Jeff and I had the privilege of going to the Temple to do sealings. Once again I was reminded of what wonderful blessings are in store for us if we keep our covenants. It amazes me how much our Heavenly Father loves us. The spirit was SO strong. It bore witness to me once again that this is truly His work and His house. What a blessing!
This month was also our wards month to clean the temple. So, when we were done with the sealings, we cleaned with a large group from our ward. IT WAS SO COOL! There is not much more rewarding than cleaning the Lord's house. It made us feel incredible inside to be a part of it. On top of that, there is nothing better than cleaning clean. I was in heaven! (Are you jealous Laura? Remind you of your old job?)
It amazed me how clean the place is. I mean there wasn't even a particle of dust coming down from the ceiling fans that I dusted. INCREDIBLE! It made me realize though that my house that I think is usually very clean probably isn't as clean as it could be. The whole experience was really cool. Something I highly recommend if you ever get a chance!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Time of Thanks

We had a GREAT Thanksgiving week. Luckily for us, we have the blessing of living by family and had lots of visitors this Thanksgiving. Jeff's brother Joe and his wife Melanie came in from Pennsylvania with their two kids. Laurie had some cousins from North Carolina come. Then, while we were playing games at our house on Thanksgiving eve, the doorbell rang. We were surprised by a visit from Jeff's other brother Carl from Utah. It was so much fun having everyone here.
Wednesday we went bowling. Here are the cousin bowlers and the adult bowlers. We had 4 lanes for two hours. In the end we decided that two hours was way too long bowling. I was hurting that night. Used muscles I don't normally use I guess. We had fun though. That night was when we did games and had the cousins spend the night.
Thanksgiving morning all the grown boys went to play football with the ward and got beat up, but had a good time. I made breakfast moms (or breakfast jacks) for all the little girls in my home after I went and grabbed a newspaper and a beverage (my favorite tradition). We watched the Thanksgiving Day parade as the kids circled what they wanted in the newspaper ads and I made homemade rolls. We then headed over to mom and dad Danielson's for a DELICIOUS dinner. These pictures are of the girls making Grandma's traditional apple turkeys. Also Jeff with ALL of his brothers. They haven't been all together for a few years. The Danielson Boys - Jeff, Steve, Carl & Joe. That night we went to my house for a movie and went to bed stuffed. Friday Jeff & I hit the stores for all of the sales. We aren't die hards... we left our house at 9 am. We (or should I say I) just like being out with Jeff after being home all day. I kinda go stir crazy staying home for that long. We had a great time together and got a lot of shopping done. That night, Laurie & David (her fiance), Rommyn's cousin Eric and wife Christa, Jeff's parents, Carl and Jeff & I went down to Beale street to BB Kings for yummy food and wonderful music. When in Memphis you have to do BB Kings. It's so Memphis. Anyway, Christa, David and I had a fun time doing the "Electric Slide". Later on I had this old guy that seemed to be 100 years old call me out to the dance floor to dance with him. IT WAS SO FUN! He was such a riot. He wanted to dance every song and kept pointing to different women to come dance with him. It was a great time. Saturday we spent the WHOLE day setting up for Christmas. All in all it was a wonderful week. I am SO grateful for everything I have and acknowledge that it is all from the Lord. One of the biggest blessings - family. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful family. Both the one I came from and the one I married in to. How blessed am I?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Twins

We have always thought that Regan looks just like Brooke when she was young. Now we have proof. I was going through some old pictures today. Regan saw this picture of Brooke and kept telling me it was her. She didn't believe me that it was Brooke. To tell you the truth, there are times when I can't tell the difference. I showed Jeff this picture of Brooke and he said, "Are you sure that's Brooke? I think we have that purse." He couldn't believe it until I showed him the date on it of 2002. It's amazing how much they look alike. I think they're twins born 5 years apart!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weekend Getaway - Time Out!

I kind of feel weird blogging right now about trivial things when there are much more important things going on right now. BUT, knowing those people I'm worried about, they would want me to go on and have a moment not worrying. I must say first, Elizabeth, we love you so much. Words can not express how much your friendship has meant to me in my life. Our prayers are with you. I have to thank Jeff for posting for me while I was gone last weekend. He did a great job. I missed that great announcement that was posted in our bulletin at church and will miss that class a lot. Now to catch up. Last weekend, I got to go to Time Out for Women in Nashville with these gorgeous ladies below. We had such a great time. We were fed spiritually by wonderful speakers and talented singers. On top of that, I got to enjoy great company. My friend Nicole set us up in her time share that was close to Opryland. It was spacious and comfortable. We even fit 3 of us in a bed very comfortably. Here's the group... Nicole Rees, Erika Bailey, Tiffanie Emerson, Sheryl Varnedoe, Cheri Sharp (who was really with the other group, but we needed her gorgeous face in this shot), Amy Smith, Marianne Rickabaugh and Me. As you can see, it is a very mixed group of women. As I sat listening to the messages and was surrounded by these girls, I realized how blessed I am to know each one of them. We all come from different back grounds and have had different trials in life. But each one of us has great attributes and outlooks that have strengthened me so much. I loved getting to know these women even better and loved being around them. After we were fed spiritually, we were fed physically at Macaroni Grill. YUM! Marianne had a birthday in two days and had these boys eating out of her hand. That woman is a kick in the pants. SO MUCH FUN! She had them sing to her, bring us extra dessert that we didn't pay for and had them kiss her on the cheek. It made them blush, but they loved it.
Here we are enjoying our dinner together. What a cute bunch of girls.
That night, Nicole really wanted to go line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon down town. Most of the girls were tired from staying up talking the night before, but Marianne and I went with her. We had SO MUCH FUN! We made lots of friends along the way, danced and danced and laughed even more. Our sides just ached from laughing so much. It's so nice when you can do that. It doesn't happen often enough in life. Marianne in her 64 years of life is so spunky and high energy, Nicole and I had to try to keep up with her.
The next day, we had fun walking around the inside of the Opryland hotel seeing all of it's beauty. It was a great way to end the trip. Thank you Nicole for putting this together. Thank you girls for making this trip so memorable. Let's do it again sometime!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Church has Canceled Gossip Essentials :-(

When we arrived at church today we learned from the Ward Bulletin that the Gossip Essentials class has been canceled.
We are so disappointed. How are we going to keep up with what is going on in the Ward? I guess we will have to see what the other classes have to offer...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free dog anyone?

This is our dog Maddie. We rescued her from the local shelter. Most of us love her dearly. Regan, our four year old, unfortunately does not. For some reason Maddie doesn't realize that she is below Regan on in the dog pack order. The majority of the time Maddie is very sweet. She is the coolest dog I've ever seen. When she gets outside, you just have to call her name and she comes right back. We NEVER have to chase her around the neighborhood or anything. She's a very lovey dovey dog that loves to follow the mom of the house around EVERYWHERE and needs lots of loving. Sad to say though, Maddie has snapped at Regan a few times. The other day she actually bit her on the nose when Regan pushed her. She didn't draw any blood or leave a mark. BUT, she is our daughter and we're concerned. We would hate to see this continue to escalate and do some permanent damage to our little one. She has never done anything to any of the other kids. Just Regan. I think it's because she's about the same height...and Regan doesn't like her. SO, if there is anyone who knows someone that wants a dog... preferably no one that has kids younger than 6, we have a free dog. Please ask around. She really is a good dog. We'd hate to give her back to the shelter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Save the Tatas - Race for the Cure!

I wanted to post about this earlier, but I was waiting on some pictures from my friend. Now that I have them, here I go. On Oct. 25th I got to do the coolest thing and participate in the Race for the Cure for breast cancer. It was really an amazing experience. Our group was a bunch of LDS women from the area (seen below). We have all been really touched by our friend Cheri Sharp who has been battling breast cancer this year. She found out she had breast cancer while pregnant with her 4th child. She's only 32. (I hope I got that right Cheri). Anyway, her courage and strength has inspired everyone that surrounds her. Luckily, she did remarkably well and is cancer free and just finishing up with a ton of radiation right now. On top of that, my best friend Elizabeth Cluff that I have been friends with for 20 years was diagnosed with breast cancer in October at age 37. She's at the beginning of her battle. As with Cheri, I am awed at her wonderful attitude and amazing strength. These are women to look up too. I love her so much. So, when Patty Michaelis put this team together, I just HAD to be on it. It is just crazy how many people I know have been affected by this horrible disease. It made me feel an urgency to try to do SOMETHING.
The two women in pink above are our LDS breast cancer survivors. Cindy Forsyth is to the left, and Cheri Sharp is in the center. Do you see her smile? That's what I'm talking about. She's wonderful!Here I am in front of the pink horse with the names of all the women I was running for. Now, another cool thing about this race was the involvement of the community. The race was a 5k that went behind a shopping center and into a neighborhood in Germantown (the city next door). Turns out, the neighborhood got completely into this. We had cheerleaders and a band from the local high school rooting us on. As we went through the neighborhoods, many houses were all decorated in support of the race. There was pink everywhere. It was SO cool. There were pink flags, pink flamingos, even pink Halloween decorations. The house with the Halloween decorations had pink spider webs and pink spiders with pink ghosts and a sign that said, "Save the BOOOBS!" The picture above is a family that dressed up like the rock group KISS that had a sign saying, "KISS breast cancer goodbye!" I thought that was so cool.
This is kind of hard to see, but this guy was dressed up like Elvis and had a huge pink ribbon for breast cancer on his roof top. He was doing his Elvis moves and cheering us on. Other neighbors just sat out on their lawn chairs and clapped for us. One house had the music from the movie "Rocky" playing to motivate us. Another house even had a sign that said, "Save second base!" I thought that was hilarious. I tell ya, it was such a cool experience. Seeing all the women in pink that are survivors gives you hope for a cure and motivates to try to take care of yourself. Here are my friends Vickie Mecham and JoAnn Briscoe who stuck by me through the race and weaving in and out of the other racers because I wanted to go faster. They were troopers! This was actually the end of the race, but we were accidentally standing under the wrong sign. I highly recommend doing the Race for the Cure if you ever get a chance. I know I'm addicted.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Fun!

We had a very eventful week that was a lot of fun. Jeff's mom started a tradition of making "scary" food around Halloween and getting together to eat it. She was out of town, but Laurie and I decided to continue the tradition in her honor for family home evening on Monday. Here's our food. I made some witches brew soup and some mummies....

Laurie made these very yummy candied apples for the kids. Not scary, but yummy.
She also made these cute ghosts to dip in a spider web of guacamole dip. It was fun to get all of us together and enjoy the beginning of Halloween week.
On Wednesday, the young women in our ward put on a trunk or treat night with dinner and activities. We still don't have an activities committee in our ward, so we were grateful they were willing to take this on. We all had a great time. Here's my little princess Regan.
Jeff had fun passing out the candy while I took Regan around.
Here's my cute primary Valiant 9 class at our ward activity. I have my cute Brooke, my niece Bailey Skipper, Madison Bailey, Melissa Ault, and our one and only courageous boy Carson Rees in the back. This group is a lot of fun. I just love being their teacher.
The cousins also got together to carve pumpkins during the week. Everyone bailed on carving the pumpkin except for Brooke. She did the whole thing by herself and loved every minute of it. Here's her great creation.
Brennan was sick for Halloween so he missed out on the fun. Poor guy. Jeff stayed at home with him and passed out candy while Laurie stayed at her house with Maddox since he was done after just a few houses. SO, I had the great privilege of taking these cute kids trick or treating by myself. Here's Kaisey & McKay in the back. Taelyn, Jadyn, Brooke and Bailey in the middle. Maddox and Regan are in front. We went all the way from their neighborhood and looped up and down through many streets until we got to our neighborhood. It was quite a walk, but we had so much fun. Regan squealed and laughed with delight as she pranced from door to door. Later she said, "Mom, I can only hold 3 candies in my little hand!" I just LOVE going with these kids and watching them. It's my favorite part of Halloween.
And here's all the candy they got without Brennan's help! Regan must have eaten more than we knew because she ended up throwing up at 1 a.m. That was fun. We had enough candy to send a big bag with Jeff to work, and two other big bags with the girls to their teachers on Monday and still had a ton left over. Hopefully I can keep it out of my sight! I just LOVE Halloween.