Monday, December 31, 2012

A Little Good News

Today is Steven's first day at a temporary job. He is helping a company with its year end audit during the month of January. Yes, it's only for one month, but it will bring in money and help us get through another month or two. He also has an interview with another company he would really like to work for scheduled for January 11th. We are hoping and praying that interview will go well, and that a permanent job will follow when this temporary job ends.

Christmas 2012

We had a wonderful Christmas. Packages and gifts showed up on our doorstep throughout the month as friends and ward members, sometimes anonymously, made sure that everyone in the family had gifts to open this season. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of so many people. The children received tons of Legos as well as puzzles, games and movies, plus some much needed clothes.

The Elder's quorum dropped off a box of food a couple days before Christmas also, so we had plenty to eat that day.

Also part of the day was spent on Google chat with Steven's family.
Because we had very little money for buying gifts, Steven and I made homemade gifts for the kids this year.

Steven spent most of the month of December in a friend's garage working on creating large wooden boxes for the children. I think they were the kids' favorite gifts.

The gifts I made for the children were mostly knitted or crocheted. Hannah got a scarf (and a couple small store-bought items), John got hat and scarf, Josh got a chef's hat and a snow hat, and Peter got an Elmo hat and a crochet-y monkey.

We are truly grateful for the many blessings we have received this holiday season. We hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking Towards a Wonderful Christmas

I have a lot to say today, and I'm not sure how to say it. I guess I'll start by saying thank you. Thank you to all those who have helped to make this Christmas a better time for our family.

Thank you to the brother in our ward who is letting Steven hang out in his garage, lending his tools and expertise to help Steven make special gifts for the children for Christmas.

Thank you to a young family in our ward - the husband brought us a bag of gifts on Sunday and said his wife wanted to get the kids something for Christmas.

Thank you to the members of our HOA who a few weeks ago gave us a Christmas card filled with cash, which has funded the few gifts Steven and I will be able to give our children this year.

Thank you to the anonymous person who left four bags of gifts on our doorstep sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Thank you to the boyscout in our ward who's eagle project involved collecting hats for children at a local hospital - and giving us an opportunity to make hats as a service project.

Thank you to those corporations involved in the "Holidays for Kids" activity hosted at the nearby Westin hotel for all the students at my boys school, where the younger ones were able to have their photos taken with Santa and get their faces painted, while the older ones had a dance, and they all got to eat a delicious meal and come home with bags full of books and goodies.

Thank you to our Ward Relief Society who planned our "Breakfast with Santa" this year.

Thank you to local radio stations that play festive holiday music throughout the season.

Thank you to Steven's Mom for the huge box she sent for Christmas. Thank you to my parents for the nativity scene and book they sent. Thank you to my sister Kristy for the package her family sent. Thank you to my sister April for the free Netflix rentals that entertained us a few evenings. Thank you to others who have sent packages and/or Christmas cards.

It's not a thank you, because it was senseless and horrible, and has had me in tears several times over the last several days whenever I think of it, but the horrendous tragedy at the elementary school in CT  has helped me to appreciate my children, and how precious they are to me. It has been a reminder that I need to let them know that I love them every single day. It has helped me to remember what is most important - not the gifts, or the food, or the caroling, or the lights, or the decorations, but the Savior - his atonement, his life, his gift of resurrection, for temple sealings, for the comfort of knowing that families are eternal and that even though we may be separated in this life, we can be together in the eternities.

This hasn't been an easy Christmas season. Still unemployed, Steven has been interviewing with different companies, but at the moment there is only one job that he would really, really like. He had a phone interview with them last week Thursday, but they have yet to set up an in person interview. (He was told that they would contact him sometime this week to set up an interview for the first week in January.) He had an interview with another company this morning, where he was told up front that the company might not exist a month from now.

We have been shown repeatedly that the Lord is watching out for us, that he is providing for our needs, and we really are grateful. It was two years ago that he was laid off from his last real job, and, amazingly, we are still doing okay. We still have our home. We still have a car. We haven't gone hungry. We have clothes to wear. We've learned a lot about the differences between needs and wants. We've learned that the Lord answers prayers in his own time, and we have faith that He will provide an awesome job when the time is right - in his eyes. (In ours, it would have been five months ago - right after Steven graduated with his MBA...)

Again, thank you to everyone for your help and for your prayers. We are going to have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Return to Childhood (Activities Anyway)

When I was a child, I loved to draw. I went through paper like crazy drawing princesses and landscapes. As a teenager, I focused more on drawing hands and faces, and I was always doodling.

As an adult, I find that I don't draw much any more. Other interests have superseded drawing in my life. Yesterday, during Sacrament Meeting, I found myself with a scrap of paper in hand, and a box of crayola twistables at my side. Almost subconsciously, I began to draw. I drew a picture, and then began inserting letters of the alphabet into that drawing, and I got as far as "j" before Peter noticed what I was doing and removed the paper from my hands to look at it. After church, I came across the drawing in the pocket of my scripture bag, and I came to an important realization.

Compare to last picture here.
I realized that I really enjoy drawing, and that I should do it more. I'm not saying that I'm good at it by any means, or that other people will appreciate my drawings. I'm just saying that I find drawing to be fun and relaxing. If I did it more often, I might become better at it, to the point that other people might begin to appreciate my drawings, but that isn't really the point. The point for me is that it is something that I had forgotten that I enjoy doing, and so I should do it more.

Along with that thought, I remembered a technique I used almost a year ago when I illustrated my cat walk story. I used Photoshop to "trace" photos for the story, and I really liked the way the pictures turned out, so I had some fun doing a couple more of these type drawings today. Yes, they are tracings... but I hope that as I do them, I am learning things that will help my drawings to become more realistic. And besides that, I think that it is fun!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Night of Excellence

Last week, the young women in our ward had their Night of Excellence, a chance for them to show off the projects they have been working on throughout the year. The theme for the evening was lighthouses.

Hannah shared the washcloths that she has been working on knitting. Other girls sang, played piano, learned to bake treats, did family history indexing, and submitted applications for college.

Earlier that day, Steven and I attended an awards ceremony where Hannah received an award for achieving a 4.0 GPA for her first trimester this school year.

Way to go, Hannah!

Thursday, December 6, 2012