Friday, December 9, 2016

refugees and our upcoming Children for Children concert

This year our efforts for our Children for Children concert are going to help refugees at the Oinofyta Refugee Camp in Greece.

We were made aware of this particular group of refugees through my sister's friend Liz who went with her family to help build a computer lab there last summer.


This winter we have found that there is an urgent need as 178 refugees (including 47 kids under the age of 5, several newborns, and one pregnant woman) remain outside in tents.  With temperatures dipping into the low 30's at night, they are freezing cold, and temperatures promise to decrease.  As a result, women, children and families are suffering.  A generous donor has started a project to shelter these families but they are in desperate need of $10,000 to finish the project.  We have committed to raising $3,000 to help.

Just like last year, we will gather as neighbors and friends for a concert hosted by the children FOR the children in Greece, and the parents will pay to enjoy the talents shared at the concert which proceeds will go directly to the Oinofyta Camp in Greece.  (More about how Children for Children concerts originated and how ours went last year back HERE.)

Our concert doesn't take place until the 21st, but WE WOULD LOVE TO START FUND RAISING RIGHT AWAY.  So if you are looking for a good way to give this Christmas season, please help us raise the money this particular group of refugees is in desperate need for right now.  

The link is HERE with more information. 

Here is a video with more information about the refugee crisis.  I love that it gives some specific ways we can help in our own communities near the end.


#LIGHTtheWORLDđź’—đź’—đź’—

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Levain cookies (a pretty awesome copycat recipe)

When the girls and I were visiting my brother and his family in NYC last summer he introduced us to a place we all dream about on a regular basis:


Oh man, that place is out of this world, always with a line of people waiting to partake of it's deliciousness.  Warm cookies right out of the oven that are so good.

So you can imagine how excited I was when my friend had made a copycat recipe a couple months ago for book club.
That picture above is directly from THIS LINK, which you MUST check out.  So much good stuff on that blog!

And what'e even better than the fact that the recipe happened to be from my brother-in-law's sister's amazing cooking skills (which is actually no surprise because she is a prize-winning baker.  Literally.

if you want some more pictures that will make you drool, click HERE where there are step by step instructions.  I loved reading the story of how she came up with the recipe.  She is one in a million that Melissa.
They are pure deliciousness I tell you!

But I think these chocolate peanut butter ones may have won in my girls' (my own as well as my young women at church's) eyes:

Another picture I stole from Melissa's blog because you must see the deliciousness...
and then click HERE to check out the details.

Also, I was googling Levain Cookies to put a link in this blog post and found another copycat recipe as well which of course I had to try.  That recipe is HERE in case you want to have a bake-off party.

Just have to load people up with some treat ideas in December you know?  Because it's not like we have very much sugar around, right?

Ha!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

early-morning scripture study

I love early morning scripture study.

I don't love the "early" part, because quite honestly I feel like I got hit by a truck most mornings, but I love the togetherness built into our day and the opportunity to reflect for a moment on scripture and carving out time for family prayer.  

I love it.

We do what works for us...which has taken quite a lot of re-working over the years.  In China we did it at night because kids were around more, but here we always have to do it early.  Dave and I take turns each week, one makes breakfast while the other does scripture study.

Dave had the grand idea recently to move us over from the snuggly couches (where kids promptly fell back to sleep) over to the counter area to see if we could up the ratio of kids paying attention.

Didn't work so well for Lucy...

Another day, same Lu...
Ha!

That countertop can't be overly comfy!

So we went back to the couch...always trying out new tactics!
I must say, that does look like a cozy place to read scriptures...as evidenced by Claire below...
(I must admit, usually she's pretty good though.)

For December scripture study is exciting because we are using our scripture advent calendar my sister sent us as a gift years ago:
 There are little scriptures from Christ's life in each of those little linen pockets:
And we are watching the tiny little clip each morning of the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative that I love so much.  

Here's today's:


It's been awesome to think as a family of things to do each day to serve those around us as Christ did.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

the wall

Several people have asked about our new wall in the game room so here we go...

Through a series of events and inspirations, Dave came up with an idea to turn our game room wall into a giant family moment/inside joke/favorite quote/everything-family-you-can-imagine.

My friend had suggested doing a huge long frame with favorite family words and quotes.  We have a design friend who had re-done an entire office in the coolest things and part of it was custom wallpaper.  So we decided to combine those ideas and create something specifically "us."

Luckily that design friend up in Utah (his name is Brian) knew the exact vision Dave had in his mind and started working with us.

For about nine months we sent him all kinds of things about our family.  Favorite games we play, favorite memories, all kinds of traditions, and he whipped up a graphic incorporating them all.

We got that graphic made into wallpaper, and some guys came and installed it the day before Thanksgiving.  WooHoo!

Here's how it all started after they took the lights off to get going:

Here it is half-way up:
...and voila!  There's our WALL:

The kids had helped us come up with all the ideas (even Max gave great input from Taiwan) so they were so excited to check it out.  It was fun that Elle was home for the big reveal.  Here we are walking in to see it:

We were all pretty excited!



It takes a long time to go through and explain every detail, which was so fun with Dave's whole family over for Thanksgiving.  Here on the blog I'm going to take a sec to zone in on just a few things:

We put included lots of our very favorite family quotes.  This one is one I memorized with my family growing up and it's just a classic:
Gotta love that Rummikub smiley face up there too.  I love how Brian just took what we said (we like to play Rummikub) and makes it kind of not so in-your-face.

More favorite quotes...and all our old addresses are on there with little houses next to them (on the left below).  We got Grammie camp in there and how Dave always tells the kids to have confidence and go into places with a wink and gunfingers :)  That little map on the right is Romania (there's one of Taiwan and Hawaii and Utah up there different places too) and that "lang zalze leven" is the birthday song we sing because it's been passed down from Dave's side of the family:

Five of the "Grandfather's Secrets" are up there (see below) each with that all-seeing eye symbol, and everyone's heights (and birthdays) are included.  I love that all of the heights have footprints and Lucy's is complete with all eleven toes.
 ^^Brian scanned in a lot of the kids' art work too.  Gotta love that Aslan is up there^^ "Aslan, the king of all Narnia and the symbol of Jesus Christ."

"Feliz Cumpleanos" is because Grace's birthday tradition is a piñata:

Dave's nicknames for Grace and Elle and another family favorite game:
 (And Dave's Dad's quote from the speech he gave at a devotional at BYU-Idaho is below that.)

Yarn because the Easter Bunny uses that to help the kids find their Easter baskets on Easter morning:
 "Nerdos" because that's what Dave calls us all if we're on our phones too much, and you gotta have a little Shakespeare, right?
 ^^Our cars names "Jenna" and "Stella" are up there too (and "Ted" is somewhere else).

A huge map of the world with this little color guide :)

The hearts are to represent our "heart-attacks" we do every Valentine's Day:

Boston University and our family motto...a drawing Claire did of our family last year, a funny text from Max, and my favorite "Life is Long" quote from my mom.  Oh and how Dave and Max always say "I'm 100% sure."
 Ha!

Lucy's works are scanned in all over the place:

"Te Iubesc" is "I love you" in Romanian:
 ...we also have it written in Chinese Characters and in Braille.

There's a Christmas tree with a quote from "The Gift of the Magi" down there below (we love that book and always read it among our Christmas books under the tree), gotta have the touching the temple business and Taylor Swift.
 ...also up there is Gabby our first pet ever that was sadly accidentally stepped on by one of Max's friends the first day we had it so she'll always live in our memory.  (The story about her and her funeral is back HERE:)

Families Fighting Blindness, the "Chateau" (Dave's family car growing up), rainbow pancakes and Angkor Wat all made it in.
I could go on and on, and you really need to see it in real life to really be able to fully appreciate it, but you get the idea.

We are in love with that thing and we'll cherish it forever.  So grateful for Brian for his amazing ability to put all these ideas into a whole that makes up that wall.

Monday, December 5, 2016

October little things

I don't want to take away from that Thanksgiving post, but I'm sneaking this in at the end of the day here because I'm trying to catch up!  Here we go back into October for a little bit...

October started off strong with the highly anticipated birthday of this child:
...who made it into the "double-digit club" and and insisted we camp for real this year (her birthday tradition):

This is how Lucy's texts always look:
I loved her thank-you notes for some of the gifts she received:
Where does she come up with some of this stuff?

For Fall Break we got to soak in the grandeur of Lake Powell:
 (Back HERE)
We got there earlier than the other families and had a little "scum" tournament before they arrived.
And had a little hiking/closet-cleaning aftermath that I wrote all about back HERE.

Here's one of the "food creations" from that post:
That is a campfire on a beach in case you were wondering...

We watched some serious soccer.  School soccer wrapped up (back HERE), and club is still going strong:



We also got to go to a few football games to watch our cheerleader.

Lucy brought her traditional reading material:

This particular game was homecoming.

Each class had their own huge poster and did a dance at half time.

It was so weird to be there amidst that throng of kids (not so many on the other side) and reminisce about my own high school days so long ago.

Man alive high school is fun.

And these Junior High kids had stars in their eyes about getting there some day:

The "Mom Conference" came and went:
More about that over HERE.

Meanwhile over in Hawaii:
Along with the play Elle worked hard at school.

Her semester ended the end of October and she learned so much.

I liked this quote she was messing around with fonts on for her graphic design class:
...and here's a random sunset shot she sent.
(More about Elle's first semester over HERE.)

...and meanwhile over in Taiwan:
Max was an office Elder for a couple months.  He was the "Operations Manager" and missed being out in the field like crazy (although he was out teaching every night and found a really awesome guy who was able to get baptized).  He learned a ton and I have to get busy doing some kind of an update on him soon.  His letters are hard to organize because some are audio files of him talking (which we LOVE) and some are just answers to a list of questions, so I am trying to find a good way to organize it all.

Family FHE at Costco...
 ...those are some of my favorite nights.  Get the shopping done at the same time as quality bonding and no dishes.  Win/win in my book!

We got to go visit the lady who comes and cuts our hair so we could meet her brand new little sweetie: 
 She looks extremely excited to meet my girls don't you think?

Ha!

Dave got a new stake calling and this is the only picture of him I got that day...
Still posting though cause it'll help me remember!

Shadow-your-student day that we were pretty excited about:

FaceTime with our sweet baby Moses over in London:
...accompanied by trying to figure out how to move over there so we can snuggle him in person!

Date night with Lucy:

The founder of Rising Star came to the desert and did a little presentation at my friend's house:
 Oh man it made me miss our time over there SO much.  (Posts about that are back HEREHERE and HERE and HERE).

Some day we will go back!

Claire and Elle sending pics back and forth of what we were each doing:

 These girls are scaring me turning into teenagers before my very eyes.

My best practicer:

Another game:


One weekend in the middle of October we helped with my friend's daughter's wedding.

Our job was to clip branches and make arbors for the reception:
...as well as help with the luncheon:
 (That's what I made the salad for that I shared the recipe back HERE.)

But there was some sort of mix-up of communication and we were suddenly in charge of decorating this whole thing for the reception:
It was the craziest night because Homecoming and our neighborhood Halloween party and a few other things were all the same night so we were all kind of scrambling.

But it all turned out pretty beautifully:
...and we all have some pretty crazy, hilarious and great memories from all that hoopla.
That's the second of good friends' daughters to tie the knot.

Sure makes me think about when that's coming for me.  Hoping not for a good long while!

Grace sent off all her friends to go Homecoming.  She won't be 16 until June.
I thought she might be sad to miss out but she came home that evening and breathed a huge sigh of relief that she wasn't going.  All that hair and make-up and prepping made her tired.  I'm sure she'll change her mind about all that some day...

This was that same night as I was running back and forth between things:

And so was this Halloween neighborhood party:
 (That I talked about back HERE.)

Lu and I finished Prince Caspian:
...which I'm sure is what inspired her "Daughter of Eve" inspired art work at church:

Lucy has volunteered to give talks in church twice in the lat little while.  

She insists that she has to write her own talks.  She will not let me help her aside from suggesting maybe she use one of my favorite pics. of Christ as a visual.  

This is what she came up with:

Dave's nephew and his wife moved here recently from Milwaukee.  Remember their wedding back HERE?  We got to have them over for dinner and some FHE games:

All of Dave's in-town family headed over to help them move into their new place:

So happy to have them join the desert crew here!

Book Club came and went.  (We read "The Aviator's Wife" which I wrote about back HERE.)

But I didn't write about the cookies Kara made for us, which is very important:
...because they were Levain copy-cats, and they were SO GOOD!

I'll share the recipe this Thursday so get excited!

Watched a couple of my Young Women play volleyball in "Max's old gym" :)

Taught Art Masterpiece on perspective:
Wish I had more pictures from that because those kids did awesome!

Worked with Lucy on her Halloween outfit...

Grace opened her first real bank account:
She has officially graduated from our family bank account (back HERE and money system is HERE) and is doing so great with it!

That girl is really shining as the oldest one home these days!  Love having her rule the roost.

Lucy finally got her birthday gift at the end of the month (kind of a fiasco getting it figured out):
It's a "gizmo" watch.  Her friend had one and we figured it would be a good independence thing for her.

Little did we know it would be so great and helping her get her exercise in.  Here she is one day on her way home from the bus moving her arms around like crazy since she realized that thing would count her arm movements as steps:
Ha!

Reading time together with my girls is sadly getting more sparse these days (they are growing out of it all) but I love when we can squeeze it in:

Random pic. of Max since he needs to be more accounted for in this post:

A paddle-board exercise morning with these women:

And a pretty funny group message/text/ pic with some friends:
Getting ready for Evening in Excellence:


One Sunday when I had so much to catch up on in planning and thinking I assigned these girls to do the whole Sunday dinner without me.  (We always cook together on Sundays.)

They were the BEST at whipping up that meal.
Made me so happy!

Lucy is not pictured but she did her regular awesome job setting the table with notes to each of us.  Here's my brother's which made us all laugh:
(He was living with us at the time between houses.)

We do "huddles" for family prayers sometimes.

I took a picture after one just so we can remember:

Desert sunset:

My little girl ready to be a red-lipsticked "robber" on Halloween:

Elle and crew in Hawaii:

More soccer:
(That coach there on the right was new for us in October because of a few different reasons and he kind of rocks.  These girls love him.)

Sunday dinner prep with Elle on Face Time (see that phone propped up against the hairspray bottle?  I know, hairspray in the kitchen?  What the what the??)

Another football game:


I experimented with making pesto since we have such a huge basil bush:
I want to do pesto and fresh bread for our neighbor Christmas gifts but I need to find a fabulous recipe first.  If you have a great one send it on over!

We had three different occasions for pumpkin carving in October (HERE are the first couple along with some Halloween prep).

Then it was HALLOWEEN (back HERE...our "official" pumpkin carving party is at the end of that post).

Phew.  I thought this was going to be short!  But there we go, October 2016 wrapped up.
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