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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.**