Friday, December 30, 2011

Not Being a Slug

Today was a good day.   You know those days when you wake up and feel like you can do everything??  I got up early, cleaned stuff, read my manifesto, did my hair, made lists, and wasn't a SLUG!  I got tons done, smiled at people, and connected with 50% of my kids (the others were busy with friends.)  

TCD and I went shopping for sparkly NYE outfits.  Unfortunately she was the only one who found something cute.  

I was looking for this...

  or this...(only in red or pink)
 ...and this...

But I couldn't find anything even close to those.   It was a little disappointing.  Not sure what I'm wearing tomorrow, but I don't think it will be sparkly.  :(

I might have to settle for sparkly fingernails and toenails instead...
But do you know what the very best part of today was??...Running into my friend, Jeanette, in the church parking lot.  When you're a slug, you forget to connect with your friends.  You forget to get dressed and you forget that other people live outside of your house.  It's been awhile since I've talked to her.  She is a breath of fresh air for me, always.  We stood outside for an hour and a half and caught up on all the things we've missed in the last month that I've been a slug.  

There are so many reasons not to be a slug!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Manifesto

Do you know what happens when you spend an entire month sitting around in sweats all day, eating whatever is available, and not moving around very much??  You start to feel like THIS...
 ...disgusting, unattractive, shapeless, slimy...ok maybe I didn't feel slimy, but a couple more weeks and I would have been there, too.

And do you know what happens after feeling like a slug for a whole month??  

You start to act like THIS...
...crazy, insecure, defensive, irrational, and willing to blow up small bridges at the first opportunity! 

It's been a long month of overindulgence, selfishness, and spending way too much time in my head.   This morning I woke up and thought, "I'm kind of sick to death of living like this."  

So, I'm not going to anymore.

I read someone's New Year's"manifesto" and I loved it.  Hers was colorful and framed and cute, but mine isn't there's just been in my head all day, so I thought I'd set if free and put it on my blog.  Here's mine...


I love the beginning of a New Year.  Really, any excuse to set goals, make lists, and rearrange furniture is a reason to celebrate...and apparently a reason to get off the couch and get dressed. It's a few days early, but I'm not waiting till Sunday...I'm fixing it now.     

Sunday, December 25, 2011


"For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."  Luke 2:11

I LOVE that this Christmas morning started with Sacrament meeting.  It was the perfect way to set a reverent tone for the day.  We got up at 7:30am, got ready for church, and had the most beautiful 90 minute meeting I think I've ever been to.  The ward choir sang The First Noel.  Then three speakers each talked about their three favorite Christmas hymns including background on each song and their personal testimonies about them.  After each speaker, we sang their hymn as a congregation.  The final musical number was O Holy Night by an incredible tenor in our ward.  And at the end, the Bishop gave a beautiful talk about the "Good News" of the gospel, and the incredible blessing it is to have the gift of the Savior.  He reminded all of us that we have a Father in Heaven who loves each of us more than we will ever understand;  that even when we don't feel worthy or deserving of that love, He loves us anyway; and that the Savior is the greatest gift He has ever given us.  I love that message.  I loved the quiet reminder that the whole reason we celebrate Christmas is to honor the birth of the Savior.  It was such a great way to start the day.

 ...and Sunday clothes make for a nice Christmas picture on the stairs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Karaoke Night

I am NOT into games and activities where I have to act, sing, dance or risk public humiliation.  I would rather stick pokey things in my eyes than play charades.  I would die before I would ever be in a play or a musical.  I don't participate in skits, lip sync contests, or ward Christmas party entertainment.  And I DON'T sing by myself in public WITH a microphone.  


Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that require you to do things you never thought you would have to do.

Tonight we had plans to go to our friends' house to exchange Christmas presents, have dinner, and just hang out.  Someone had mentioned Karaoke, but I've been to those kinds of parties before and I can almost always manage to slip under the radar and leave the spotlight to all those other people who don't mind it.

I pretended to be excited about the evening, but I was a little nervous.  I can carry a tune.  I can sometimes even sound good, but the thought of doing that into a microphone surrounded by people who are REALLY good isn't the slightest bit appealing.  But I LOVE these people.  And they are so warm and relaxed and comforting that I probably would have even agreed to jump into a game of charades if they had asked.   (They didn't...phew!!)

We had incredible food, great conversation, and hilarious stories...and then...they brought out the microphone.  (ugh...)  These people are SERIOUS about their music and their technology.  They had one mic on a stand that was plugged into something, and another handheld, cordless mic that could be passed around.  They also had their AppleTV connected so that any of us who happened to have music downloaded onto our iPhones could just use that as the musical accompaniment to our singing.  AND in case the 150 karaoke CDs and the personal music collections didn't offer enough choices, they also had the capability to pull up ANY song on Youtube.  Did you know that there are karaoke versions of just about every song out there.  The selection was limitless.  (There was no possible way to use "I can't find a song" as my excuse for not singing.)  

These people are amazing.  They jumped up first and sang a few easy songs, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, You're So Vain, and Jingle Bell Rock.  They sang in small groups and by themselves.  

Even Andrew sang...Jason Mraz I'm Yours
Jacob and Johnny (Andrew's backup singers)
They made it look effortless.  And then they asked us what we wanted to sing.  

The Scout Master was brave and started in his comfort zone...Rhinestone Cowboy, which broke the ice for the girls.   

Spell Girl and June did a duet of Airplanes which was AMAZING.  

 And TCD did Forget You.  

Then the Rodriguez's did a few more songs...and then...guess what...

I could avoid it no longer.  I had held Baby Sofia for as long as I could get away with, I had hidden behind my camera, and I had gone to the restroom a few times, but the inevitable was upon me... the microphone came around to my side of the couch.  (EEK!)  

TCD and June bailed me out of a solo and sang For Good (from Wicked) with me.   (Sorry I don't have pictures for proof.)  And all of a sudden it wasn't a big deal anymore.  I didn't sound horrible.  No one threw things at me or complained.  And I did it.  And it was over.  (I can do hard things!)   All 14 of us continued to sing and when the microphone came back around to me, I sang a couple more songs...Mele Kalikimaka (duet with Mack) and Love the Way You Lie (duet with Spell Girl who did all the Eminem rapping perfectly.)  

Disclaimer:  I would NOT suggest using that song (or any other Eminem song) at any parties or karaoke nights in the future, because unlike the version we have on our MP3's, the Youtube ones out there are embarrassingly NOT CLEAN!  That's just the impression I wanted to leave in front of our friends...having my 13 year old rapping a song with way too many four letter words in it!  ugh!!

I was just feeling comfortable enough to start requesting some Carpenters and MCC when we looked at the clock and realized it was 11:15pm and we had been there for 5 HOURS!  Holy cow!  How time flies when you're having fun!  We stayed just long enough to hear the boys demonstrate their beat boxing skills...AWESOME!

I am constantly amazed at the talent that flows from this family.  They are kind and generous and humble and SO much fun, and they just quietly do all these really cool things.  I'm so glad they keep letting us hang out with them so that we can discover all this stuff.   We all had a great usual.  We love the Rodriguez family.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Online Shopping

I have officially converted to online Christmas shopping.  I've gotten a few things from "brick and mortar" stores this year, but nearly all of my shopping has been done on the internet.  What a total joy!!  I can't believe I didn't do this earlier.  

Everything just takes longer in December.  This morning, I went to a couple of stores to return one thing and to pick up another quick thing.  It was SO frustrating.  And then I realized I was officially in the wrong place because everywhere I looked, there were only MEN shopping.  72 hours before Christmas, the last place I need to be is in a non-grocery store.  None of them looked entirely comfortable shopping for presents. They all looked ridiculously lost, and half of them were on blue tooths talking to their wives or trying to multi-task last minute work responsibilities.  Men are great at lots of things, but I don't think multi-tasking in the mall is on that list.  So, next year, I will be doing my last minute things in NOVEMBER, and staying out of their way.  And the bulk of my shopping will be done in cyber malls.  

Twisted Peppermint Lotion

I wear lotion everyday...EVERY DAY!...without fail.  It's just part of the routine.  And I really like stuff that smells good.  Typically this is what I wear...
Bath and Body Works...Velvet Tuberose
But last year, my friend gave me this...
It was late in the season and I'm pretty loyal to that other smell, so I didn't even wear it before the holidays were over.  I just put it in the basket with the other 20 bottles of my other scent.  :)   A few days ago, I thought I should at least try it.  After all, it is Christmas.  What other time of year is it socially acceptable to smell like a candy cane??   And guess what!!  I LOVE it.  I LOVE that it lingers all day long.  I LOVE that it reminds me of Christmas cookies.  And I LOVE that I discovered something new right in my own bathroom.  
There really are so many reasons to love Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Insurance City

A few weeks ago, we went to lunch with our good friends who happen to own an insurance agency.  We were casually discussing our kids' past and present jobs and I mentioned that TCD was trying to earn money for the truck of her dreams...
 she has lofty goals!  :)

Our friends said that their kids used to work at their office over the holiday breaks from school, but now that they're getting older, that doesn't interest them as much.  So I hinted heavily that if they were looking for someone to help with light office work, TCD was totally available over the Christmas break.  We left that with them and didn't pursue it any further.  And then last week, they emailed and said they would LOVE to have TCD come and work for them.  They gave us details and specific requirements and we worked out an arrangement to get her to and from their office each day.  

She started her new job on Monday morning.  She was nervous and excited and worried about doing a good job.  And of course, after the first 10 minutes, she was perfectly content with the whole situation.  So much that we didn't hear from her at all that day.  And then when we finally did, it was a text saying, "They want me to go to dinner and to see Mission Impossible with them!  Can I go???"  Her work day extended to a family outing with them.  She was so exhausted and happy when she came home from that first day of work. Today they're having a Christmas party at work and the whole family is going to be there again.

She is a hard worker.  And there is much more work than play happening in that office.  But how amazing is it to be able to have your 15 year old's first work experience be in a place where people love her and treat her like part of their own family??  We LOVE these people.  And I cannot think of a better place for TCD to spend 6 hours a day over the Christmas break.  

We haven't told her yet that all of this money she's earning is going to pay for her Driver's Ed class and her permit and license, so she'll have to secure another opportunity if she wants that big monster truck.  :) 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Cookies

I LOVE cookie starts in October with Halloween cookies and extends all the way to Valentines Day.  The rolling pin and the pile of cookie sheets rarely leave the counter for those four months of the year.  I'm not sure why I don't make sugar cookies all year long.  I could totally do Easter cookies or 4th of July star shaped cookies, but after Valentine's Day, I'm usually ready for all the flour and butter to go away for awhile.  

On Saturday, we had the missionaries scheduled to come over for dinner.  Early that morning, our friends called and asked us to come over for a Gingerbread House party.  So, with both of those things happening, and school schedules officially cancelled, the door was finally open for me to dig out some Christmas tree cookie cutters and get to work!

I turned up the Christmas music and covered the counter in flour and sugar for most of the afternoon.  It was the BEST way to spend the first day of the Christmas break.   I LOVE Christmas cookies...all the antique George cookies, the new favorites we've added...but I LOVE the sugar cookies the very best.   There's something about little shapes covered in royal icing and colorful sprinkles that just makes everybody happy. 



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chamber Music

We have been running like crazy this week...class parties, church parties, finals, concerts, recitals, presents, Christmas stuff, as well as all the usual things we do in a week.  It has been total insanity for the last 10 days.  

But tonight, we were forced to sit down and be quiet, which is exactly what I think we all needed.

Spell Girl has been taking private bass lessons at the Bass and Cello Conservatory of Dallas since September and she had her first recital tonight.  There were at least 20 kids there and all of them were bassists or cellists...there was not a single violin in the room.   It was an amazing concert.  I love the deep, rich sound of those larger stringed instruments, and the music tonight was so peaceful and beautiful.

 We couldn't resist taking a picture of the super cool, bedazzled violin

And we thought the line up of cello cases was pretty cool, too!  Some of these kids have some really awesome cases.

We also had the opportunity to hear Jeff Bradetich, the director of the string department at the University of North Texas.  He was truly inspiring.  I'm so glad Spell Girl got to hear him play and talk to him after the concert.  He teaches bass lessons to the more advanced group and directs a Bass Camp at UNT in June, so there is a strong possibility that she will work with him in the future.  

  We bought his beautiful Christmas CD that has already become my new favorite.

I am consistently amazed at the opportunities that surround us in this incredible place.  We are so fortunate to live where we do and to have such talented people who are willing to teach and inspire those around them.  

Sometimes being still is the very thing we need to remind us what is really, music, the Spirit of Christmas.  This was the perfect quiet break in the middle of a very busy season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YW Christmas Party

Tonight we had our YW Christmas party.  I have totally been looking forward to this for the past three weeks.  Food, games, presents, the Christmas Spirit and those amazing girls!  I love hanging out with them.

Wrapping Paper Fashion Show...

White Elephant Gifts...

I can't think of a better way to spend an evening than surrounded by these incredible girls.  I know I say this all the time, but they actually are amazing.  They're kind and grateful.  They help each other and build each other up.  There are absolutely no cliques or groups...they ALL love each other.  And I am so grateful and happy to get to be part of this group for a little while.  I LOVE all of them!