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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Merry Christmas

Setting up a Christmas tree is a like a sacred ritual for me. It signifies the opening of the magical season of Christmas and all its sentiments of warmth, coziness, giving, and love. I've loved it since I was a child and don't think I'll ever tire of it. Towards the end of November I begin looking forward to spending a calm, quiet evening in the living room sorting through ornaments and carefully placing them on the tree as I listen to lovely tunes of the season (preferably by Amy Grant, Josh Groban, or Morman Tabernacle Choir) and joyfully watch as the tree comes to life with dancing twinkle lights, shimmering glass bulbs, and dainty little figurines.

This year setting up our tree was extra special for me since I inherited some of my parents' old ornaments. With plans to downsize my Dad and Deb have begun "de-junking" and getting rid of unused, unneeded items. Lucky for me, a lot of the ornaments I grew up with found themselves in the "to go" pile, having been replaced with nicer, newer decor. So as I decorated my tree with these ornaments, scenes and memories from my childhood came to mind and I felt like I was back in the tall-ceilinged living room of the home where I grew up in Idaho, with my sisters and Mom doing our tree up like we used to, of course with Amy Grant playing in the back ground.

Allow me to reminisce over some of these pretty little things.

Meet little porcelain mousey.
She was special because she didn't come in a set,
like many of the others.
awww, isn't she cute?

 Kind of hard to capture, but we had dozens of these little horns, and now I've got a few on my own tree.
I always imagined as a little girl that they
were beautiful, golden, angel horns
like the ones the angels singing to the
shepherds in the field used.

We used to have a handful of these as well, and each had their own little bow to hang beside it
but I guess over the years and with 9 rowdy kids, only one bow-less violin survived.
This may be my favorite of all the inherited ornaments.
I think it is simply beautiful.

The glass bulbs you see in the background were from home,
but the star of this photo is the lacy, golden bell.
It came in  set of a dozen or so, and they may scream 80's,
but I love 'em

Aww, this little guy is my other favorite.
I don't know where she got them, but my Mom had lots of little wooden ornament guys like this one, some of them were nutcrackers too.
I love how ratty his hair is and how old and ugly he looks.
He's beautiful.

The strands of cranberries laced and woven throughout the tree also came from my mom. Lovely lovely things.


see how it twinkles!
So warm and happy and glowing.


Alice really loves the tree. I have to keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn't tug too hard on the lower branches. (She may or may not have already pulled the tree down on top of her once....)

See how's she sneakily trying to get to it without me seeing?

She's learning that Christmas trees are for us to sit nicely in front of, not touch.




Merry Christmas from the Ogles!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Real Spirit of Christmas

Yesterday (Sunday) I was reading in the Ensign, a magazine publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As I usually do, I skipped first to my favorite section of every issue, Latter-Day Saint Voices. This section of the magazine shares short vignettes written and submitted by members of the church all over the world about personal experiences that strengthened their testimonies and faith. We learn best through stories and examples of other people and I've found that these short messages are often the most touching and impactful part of the entire publication.

In this December issue they were all about Christmas and there was one that I found especially sweet. It was a moving reminder of what Christmas is really about - giving and serving, joyfully sacrificing for others just as Jesus Christ did for us.

I found the online version here and pasted it to my blog for your convenience. 

 
 

Linda’s Last Christmas

J. Audrey Hammer, Utah, USA

During my sophomore year at Brigham Young University, our ward bishopric signed the ward up for a Sub-for-Santa program, through which we would provide Christmas presents for a family in need.

Our ward name, however, kept disappearing from the list of volunteers. As Christmas neared, we still had no family to help. Then one of the bishop’s counselors told us of a family that might be able to use our help instead. When we learned about this family, we all felt certain that we should focus on them.

Linda (name has been changed), who had several sons ages 9 to 15, had fought a grueling battle with breast cancer. During the stress of that illness, her husband had left her. She had just moved from another state to take a job in Provo, Utah, but the job fell through, and she was left with no income.

When we met Linda, we immediately took her into our hearts. We were blessed to see her the way the Savior did—as a great and noble spirit who had overcome many difficult challenges. She was never a project to us; rather, she was an eternal friend. Every member of the ward contributed something to help her and her boys. We were all young college students and poor in our own right, but we gladly gave because we loved her.

Linda came to our ward Christmas party, during which several ward members went to her apartment and filled her cupboards and refrigerator with food. They decorated a Christmas tree and surrounded it with presents for the whole family. They also left her four new car tires and paid her rent for several months. I’m not sure how our meager contributions managed to accomplish all that, but I knew that Heavenly Father had used our sacrifices to bless her.

A year later I was in another student ward, but I returned at Christmastime to visit my previous bishopric. I learned that Linda’s husband had returned to the family and that their finances had stabilized. But then her cancer had returned and claimed her life. I realized that we had helped give Linda her last Christmas.

In feeling “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) so strongly that experience, I learned that real charity is a priceless spiritual gift that propels us to act in the Savior’s place.



Join me in trying to remember that Christmas isn't about Santa Clause, reindeer, snowmen, and mistletoe. It is about Jesus Christ and his example of love and sacrifice.

Paul

After Thanksgiving Max challenged me (and himself) to read the whole New Testament by the end of the year. The goal was 7 chapters a day. Maybe that's not very much to you, but going from my meager attempts to read at least a couple minutes every day to spending 30 - 40 minutes in the scriptures every day was a pretty big jump. I have SO loved the hours I've spent reading the Word of God in the past few weeks. We hear this all the time as Latter-day Saints but studying the scriptures daily, and giving yourself enough time to truly bask in the Word, really does makes such a difference in the way you live your life and the way you feel about life. There really is a healing, inspiring, faith-building power in the words of the ancient prophets and apostles.

I haven't kept up with reading all 7 chapters every day, and I've got some catching up to do, but I'm still reading through the New Testament faster than I ever have before. Rather than feeling as if every chapter is an isolated, random piece of writing, I've been able to make more logical sense of the narratives and feel more as if I'm reading a story than a disjointed ancient text. It's never been so enjoyable and intriguing for me. If you are struggling with regular scripture study, I suggest setting a timeline for yourself such as this so you are extra motivated and pressed to read a good chunk every day.

While reading today in Romans I came across a passage that really touched me.

Isn't it amazing how every time we read in the scriptures we can find a comforting and beautiful passage that we never noticed before?



...in all these things we are more than conquerors 
through him that loved us. 

For I am persuaded, 

that neither death, nor life,

nor angels,

nor principalities,

nor powers,

nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor HEIGHT, nor d e p t h,

nor any other creature,

shall be able to separate us from the LOVE of God, 

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 24

Paul was such an eloquent writer. Sometimes his epistles are so eloquent that I don't feel like I fully understand them, but some of his passages are more simple and beautiful than anything.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy

I'm a little behind...

Back on October 7th it was Max's birthday. We did some fun things to celebrate. This year was a little different because since he's working full time (versus both of us being in school) we didn't see much of each other. The past couple years we were able to meet up on campus a few times and see each other throughout the day. But this year he left for work and was gone all day. But we got some good celebrating in before he left, and I was able to meet him for lunch so we didn't go ALL day without seeing each other.

I wanted to surprise him with a fancy breakfast before he had to leave for work, and knowing his love for cinnamon rolls that's what I decided to make. A few days before the 7th I did a little trial run with my friends Kaeley and Tawnee, so that when the day came I didn't completely ruin a big batch of what could have been yumminess and waste a good chunk of time doing it. This was a good idea if not just to convince me that it was too much to do all in one very early morning. I ended up making the rolls the day before and then putting them in the freezer then waking up a few hours before morning to take them out for rising. Turns out what I should have done is taken them out of the freezer right after going to bed (so he wouldn't see them) because I took them out at like 1:30 or 2:00am and they hadn't quite risen enough. But I just really wanted them to be a big surprise so I didn't want to risk taking them out earlier and  him seeing them.

This was right after I rolled them up, just before putting them in the freezer. 
Aren't they just beautiful!
 
Mmmmmm. So good.

Alice was a good sport while I was busy in the kitchen.
I set her in her bouncer (or as we started calling it, her poop chair...you can guess why we named it that)
and she discovered that it wasn't meant only for reclining.
Look how happy she is sitting up like a big girl straight and tall.
:)

This was the breakfast spread. Looks pretty dang good, if I do say so myself.
His two gifts: the ipad (he'd been saving up for it for a while, normally we wouldn't spend that much on a birthday gift) and then since he'd actually gotten it a few days before, and since I love being surprised by gifts on my birthday (or whenever) and figured he probably did too, and I also wanted to give him something thoughtful and meaningful, I made him a cute little book.
I called it The Happy Birthday Daddy Book (creative, I know)
I should have taken some pictures of it and shown you how cute it is, but you'll just have to imagine. 
I printed a bunch of shots of him and Alice doing things together (reading, snuggling, Dad bathing her or feeding her, etc.) and pasted them on construction paper pages (gifts on a budget here) then wrote a little something about what they were doing and how she loves spending time with her Dad beside each picture. It turned out really cute, he loved it.

A few days afterward we celebrated with his family at Grandma O's house with a delicious dinner by Mom/Maureen and a divine chocolate cake made by yours truly. From scratch, mind you. (the cake and the frosting)

There it is. So beautiful.
It really was very good.
So happy birthday to Max! We loooove you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Territorial

I've heard that some animals are territorial. They mark their ground and when another animal trespasses the two will fight it out until one is the victor and one the loser, having to leave.

Last night I realized that I'm sort of like this too.


...Mainly just when it comes to spiders.



I Hate spiders. I Hate hate hate HATE them. They terrify me. Living in a basement unfortunately subjects me to them much more than I would like. They pop up every once in a while in the corners and crannies of our little apartment. Once or twice they've even shown up on our couches creeping and scurrying on the couches much too close for comfort for me. These sightings usually result in me gasping, jumping, and pleading with Max to "Kill it!!!" and then shivering with the whillies for a few minutes after. But once I've shivered enough to shake the fear away, I forget the incident and move on. Surprisingly spiders and I have lived side by side, though thankfully generally not sight by sight, with each other for over two years. (I just don't let myself dwell on the fact that they're around - out of sight out of mind kind of thing).

But last night they Crossed the Line! It was late, Max and I were just getting ready to jump in bed and go to sleep. I turned down the covers like I always do before he turns the lights out, and in my peripheral I saw a dark shadow moving much too quickly across the corner of my mattress and down the back side near the wall for me to ignore it. I bent down for a closer look to examine that space between the mattress and the wall and somehow I wasn't surprised to see a big hairy brown disgusting red eyed (I swear I could see its eyes and they were red!) SPIDER! I don't even like thinking about what he looked like, it's giving me the creeps just trying to remember! That is SO not ok Mr. Spider!

HE WAS ON MY BED!  The fragile coexistence we'd shared up to that point was shattered and I lost it. I started crying and refusing to get in bed because as soon as I was asleep that stupid spider was going to come back and crawl all over me. Seeing them in other places in my little house is bad and results in my discomfort but I've always kept my sanity, or at least most of it, during the sightings. But that bed is My territory and they are not allowed to cross the line! It took me a while to be able to sit down on the bed and then even longer to lie down, because I knew that spider was just hanging out down in the dark corners of the box-spring, where I couldn't see so I couldn't kill him, biding his time till he could crawl out onto my head! Max offered to let me sleep on his side, but I couldn't sleep on his side you see, because his side is next to the wall and there's always been a spider sitting there in the corner every time I've ever looked. I was spider trapped! Blalalallallahgughhuhuhguhughhgh GROSS.

Eventually my territorial anxiety/anger/rage calmed down enough that I was able to fall asleep, yes, in my bed (I surprised myself). But it was a fitful slumber and I think I had a few nightmares about spiders.

I know I could turn this whole fear of them around and think about how the spiders eat other bugs and make it so I don't see creepy crawlies very frequently. But why do they have to be in my space?? Can't they just stay outside and eat all the bugs out there and just not come in my house?

As I said, apparently I'm pretty territorial, me against the spiders. If they're outside, I'm fine, but if their in my house, and especially IN MY BED, that is so not ok.

**Usually I  try to put up a picture or graphic with every post cause I think it makes it more fun to read, but no way, not in this one. No pictures of spidees on this blog.**

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stories and Holidays

I just read a story about my Mom on my cousin Carmin's blog that I loved so much I had to share it. It's about Thanksgiving traditions and  what with us just leaving the Thanksgiving holiday I thought it very appropriate.

Carmin was telling about the pies she had made for her families feast and the meaning/stories behind them., I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her words and photo.



"The chocolate cream pie has a story too. When I was about 12, we were at Grandma Ray's house for Thanksgiving as it was our annual tradition. When it came time to serve pie, a certain chocolate cream pie turned up missing. Uncle John had drooled over his wife's, Aunt Lana's, chocolate cream pie all morning and he wasn't going to put up with it going missing. He lined up all the teenage boys on a bench, and declared that none of them would get any pie until one of them confessed to taking his chocolate cream pie. The poor fellas just sat there, none of them fessing up. Finally, word came from a back bedroom that all of the teenage girls were hiding away with the chocolate cream pie, just eating it straight from the pan. They didn't even pause to cut  it up or put it on plates--they just dug right in. By the time it was retrieved, there was nothing left but the crust. Poor, poor Uncle John. The next year Aunt Lana brought two chocolate cream pies, and so did each mother of those teenage girls. Aunt Lana started a great tradition, because now a chocolate cream pie will always be in the Thanksgiving spread."


It's always fun to hear stories told about my Mom, who is one step ahead of us all (she died 8 years ago after a fast but grueling battle with breast cancer), especially when I haven't heard them before.  Through stories like this one I learn more bits and pieces about my Mom and who she was, or is rather. Although I was fifteen when she died, I feel that I know her better now than I did then. I guess I was a typical "too cool for Mom teen" and hadn't quite reached the realization that she was a person for me to get to know and befriend, rather than just "Mom". It's not that I ever held a negative attitude towards her, I just hadn't gotten to know her as her own individual person yet. But because of the legacy that has been, and is still being created of her with shared memories from loving family members and friends, I have learned more about her than I ever knew before.

So Happy Holidays everyone, and thank you for sharing your stories.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On My Mind

Christmaaaaaaasssss *ding*
You know that Christmas song that goes like that? I think it's on some movie, maybe the Santa Clause or something.

Anyways, Christmas has been on my mind. Yesterday and the day before I started listening to Christmas tunes nonstop on Pandora and in the car, 106.5 is the only station I know of playing nonstop Christmas music already. Thank you to them!

Normally I don't allow this until after Thanksgiving, because I LOVE Thanksgiving!

 It makes me sad that in all the stores and decor it gets skipped over. I love the feeling of gathering and coziness and warmth that comes with Thanksgiving. The autumn colors and feeling of the harvest, the pies and rolls and turkey, I love it all.
 But this year for some reason I guess I've realized I can still be excited for Thanksgiving while listening to Christmas music.






As I've been trying to focus on the real reason for the Christmas season,


I've been thinking it would help to do a service project or two to get into the holiday spirit of giving. What can honor and celebrate Christ's birth and life more than giving of ourselves for others in need? Sacrificing our time and resources to help other people is exactly what his whole life was all about.

Know of any good opportunities?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Wicked Witch Lives Here

Actually, that's not true. But in honor of my mother's Halloween birthday and the sign she put out
on our front porch every October, the saying continues.

Halloween festivities began this year with our 
annual ward trunk-or-treat party. 
In years past it was also a chili cook-off, but much to our disappointment that was ix-nayed this year.
We still had the chili, but not the pleasure of trying a few different pots of it. 
(also, whoever was supposed to heat up the chili in the two gigantic crockpots didn't start soon enough so the chili was cold! Which I'm sure wouldn't have happened if everyone brought their own special chili, but not to complain...)

This year I made a little ducky costume for Baby Alice and when Max and I were brainstorming what we could be that would match/go with her outfit, Bert and Ernie came to mind, with their little Rubber Ducky in tow! While I was gone in Idaho a few weeks before Halloween Max got busy and made us some awesome paper mache masks!

Here we are at the party!

Despite the chilly Chili (haha) the party was quite fun! We chatted with some friends and saw some awesome costumes, including a cloud (blue sweats with cotton balls stuck all over them and carrying a spray bottle) and some astronauts (white jumpsuits *(one was an old baptism jumpsuit found at D.I.)* with moon boots spray painted silver and white plastic silverware trays hung around their necks with all sorts of space-suity stickers on them).  There was also doughnut eating station - suspended from strings - that Max and I dominated at... not really, but we both finished :)

And then best of all, the trunk or treat. I loved seeing all the cutey little kids in costume shyly offering their "trick-or-treat". My favorite ensemble was a little Wizard of Oz family complete with Dorothy, Glinda, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. They were all so Cuuuute! We tried not to freeze too much as we handed out  candies to the kiddies and told the older, double rounding kids "No Seconds".

On Halloween we hosted our own little party with my siblings. I told them all that Costumes were required.
They didn't disappoint!

From left to right, top to bottom we have:
 GI-Joe, Al from Home Improvement, Ernie and his Rubber Ducky, Steve Jobs, 
Nurse Kristin, and Katniss Eerdeen.
Our spread of treatsies. 
Rice Krispies, cookies, caramel apples (which didn't retain any caramel at all- by the end the apples were all sitting in the middle of a large, sticky, caramel pool) and wassail.
I loved how these pumpkin krispies turned out.

Alice as the rubber ducky had the best costume of the night!
Who can compete with this!




 What a little cutie pie.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Lovely Lovely Fall

A few weeks ago, back when the weather was still warm, our little family drove up to Rock Canyon to take a little hike. Although the following pictures deceivingly look like a bright, crisp, cool, autumn day, don't be fooled. The weather was actually a little too warm--we didn't make it very far up the canyon before the beating sun stopped us and we turned around and decided the hike would have to happen another day.

Even though we got no hike, we did get some BEA-utiful pictures.





Alice liked this shot. 
I think it's because those leaves are her favorite color...or maybe her Mom's favorite color...


I just love Provo in the fall.

A Punkin Patch

About a week before Halloween I convinced Max to take Alice and I to a pumpkin patch to search out our perfect carving pumpkin. Alice had a blast. And of course I dressed her up all Halloweeny so the pictures would be cute.

  She may look bored, but trust me, she was having the time of her little life.

While her and I were looking for that perfect pumpkin, Dad was off on his own searching as well.
He found it!

The perfect pumpkin.
Possible bigger than our entire apartment, but the perfect pumpkin nonetheless.

Eventually we did find another perfect pumpkin that was small enough to fit on our front porch.
I forgot to take a picture of the finished product though! 
 But this is the template I used after a brief search on the worldwide web:

It was pretty spooky! I think it scared off all the trick-or-treaters that would have come to our door.
(We only had two)



Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

U2

A few months ago Max and I went to see U2. We'd bought the tickets for the concert they were supposed to have the summer of 2010, which for some reason that I don't know didn't end up happening. So we received vouchers to come to this years tour, and we didn't turn them down.

It was fun, not the type of thing that we normally do. Honestly I'm not all that familiar with their music and so was surprised to realize at the concert that I recognized so many songs.

Before the show started their big screen was playing all sorts of facts and statistics from all over the world. Things like consumerism, politics, etc. It was really entertaining for us while we waited for it to start.

Their setup was pretty incredible. This huge structure in the middle of the Rice Eccles Stadium at the U of U. It was pretty impressive even before the show started, we had no idea of its awesome potential :)



When Bono finally came out on stage Max and I both turned to each other with the same thought. It was like he was a god! The stadium had completely erupted and people were going absolutely crazy! All the man was doing was walking around, he hadn't even started singing, and yet they loved it. It's amazing how much power we (as in we humans, not we me and Max) give to our celebrities by giving them such support, adoration, praise. No wonder so many of them have such messed up lives.


As it grew dark and the lights of the stage came on the effect was pretty awesome. With the eardrum splitting volume and all those flashing lights it was pretty hard to put your mind on anything else besides
U2.

It got even cooler though.
About halfway through the concert their huge screen
above the stage started doing this!!!!:

What???!!?!
It was expanding magically before our eyes and the image of Bono was getting larger and larger and larger than life!

It was really pretty impressive, and once again Max and I turned to each other excitedly like little kids and said to each other "Whoa!!" Pretty cool. It was fun to be a part of such a massive event.

A few times throughout the concert I would step outside of myself and all the noise and visual stimulation and think that all this was really quite stupid. I mean he's just a musician. He's really good, and it was really fun, but when it comes down to it, it's just music. All the money that goes into his massive tour and all the employees and technology he uses could be put to such better use.

Sometimes I can't help thinking that we may have all our priorities totally messed up.

But the concert was still pretty fun.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Can Clothing Have Memories?


When the weather started turning autmuny I started pulling out some cold weather clothing from the dark corners of my closet. In the mornings I would sit on my bed looking into my closet trying to become inspired by a shirt or a pair of pants to form a fashionable outfit. Instead I would sit there and look at the fall clothes and think blah blah blah, or rather blech blech blech. Every time I went to try and wear these pants:



...or this shirt:

...or even this lovely pair of shoes:



...among other items of clothing, I felt a wave of nausea surge from my mind through the back of my throat and down into my stomach where it would sit and smolder for a few moments before it went away.

No, it's not that I think my clothes are so completely hideous that I can't bear to wear them.

When I think of wearing these clothes I'm transferred back to last fall when I wore them a whole bunch. I'm also transferred back to that constant feeling of nausea I carried around with me every minute of every day (first trimester pregnancy sickness **(notice I didn't call it morning sickness, whoever made up that stupid phrase had obviously never been pregnant)** ). I simply couldn't bring myself to put these things on my body because they reminded me so strongly of feeling sick all the time, brought back thoughts of dragging myself around campus afraid that at any moment I was going to throw up. Yuck. I don't miss that.

Normally when fall comes around I'm all jittery about putting on the jackets and sweaters and bringing out my seasonal wardrobe. Sadly this year it wasn't quite so exciting. Oh the joys of pregnancy:)

Don't worry, I've since forced myself to overcome this aversion to half my wardrobe. I no longer feel sick to the stomach when thinking about putting on some of my clothing. But there is still some sort of lingering hesitation to wear them... kinda like the last person to be picked to play on a junior high p.e. team.