Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nativities: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Every Thanksgiving weekend, it is a tradition that the Saturday and Sunday, we decorate for Christmas. Saturday is the day we do most of the heavy duty decorating, the tree up, but not the ornaments, the stockings, the nutcrackers, the books, all of that stuff. Over the years, we've collected lots of fun stuff. We no longer can get it ALL out. Bear here is "helping" out.

And on Sunday we do two major things, the ornaments and the nativity scenes. The ornaments are all special, each with meaning from a special year or a special event. Every trip we get a new one, and every year the kids get a new one from Mom and from Grandma Billings. At this point, we have to pick which ones get to make it on the tree this year. All of them mean so much. Towards the very top, the one "ornament" that I brought with me and is hung last every year is a United States flag. Everyone loves the tradition, and it brings back many happy, and some somber, memories of years gone past.

But keeping Christ in Christmas is very important, especially to me. Over the years, I have collected Nativity sets from across the world and time. It all started with a white ceramic one from Zims our first year married... $21.00 according to the box, I think we might have gotten it on sale, but it was a lot of money to us back then. It has gone up every year, and for most of them by little hands and on top of a hand crocheted doillie Robert received from a woman on his mission in Argentina. It has meant the most to us. It was always one the kids were free to rearrange and kept at their level (until we got Bear this year, now still at their level, just not at his).

Eight years later, my parents brought me home my second, a Lladro from Spain, when they pick up my brother from his mission in Barcelona Spain. It is a simple Mary, Joseph and the Baby, but it is elegant.

Some years later, after many trips to Mexico, I found a nativity set that was like the other pottery pieces I had seen them do there. So now I have my little pottery set from Northern Mexico.

Last year, I feel in love with another simple "Little Family" nativity and just had to get it. Robert relented. I bought it here in Bountiful, and it is the largest of my pieces, and I love it because it is intimate like the Lladro and very classical looking.

My final nativity that I own I got just a month or so ago from my mother. She brought it back from Provencal region in France. It is tiny pieces that are each over 100 years old. My sister and she apparently spent quite some time looking through baskets of little figures to put together two sets for me and for my sister. It is absolutely beautiful. I love it so much! Especially because I know it came from the heart!

The point of all of this is that for me the nativity scenes remind me and my family and friends of the reason we celebrate Christmas. The focus not just here but all over the world and that it is not all so different. I love Christmas and all the things about it. But most of all I love Christ, our Savior, and Mary and Joseph and what they did for us, especially what we focus in this time of year. Oh, and anyone interested, is welcome to come see my nativities close up, just let me know.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Liz: Model for a Day Continued

Here's more pictures. I had a hard time narrowing down them at all, but I picked from the photographers' favorites and ended up with these. Mom loves them all. What a beautiful daughter!:

Liz: Model for a Day

A few weeks ago, one of Elizabeth's young women leaders and a friend of ours asked her if she would mind playing model for a day. She owns her own studio, LindseyJane Photography (her blog is listed among blogs I follow. It shows some other amazing shoots they go on), and is training some of her newer photographers on senior pictures. She was bringing them in from all over the western US and needed someone to photograph around Bountiful. LindseyJane did my niece's wedding and did a totally awesome job last spring! She has a less formal style, but it's beautiful!

Poor Liz, they did her hair and make-up, had her bring a couple of her favorite outfits and a couple favorite things, her toe shoes (which she really couldn't use because of her cast) and her saxophone. They treated her like a little model trudging around Bountiful in the rain. Todd held the umbrella for her as she got in and out of the car. She had a total riot. Instead of getting paid, we got a DVD/CD of all of her pictures and permission to use them. Thus the point of this post, to show off my beautiful daughter as seen through the camera of four professional photographers. Here are a few of their favorites (and mine, too). They did an amazing job. Best of luck to them as they continue to hone their skills. And if they ever need a model again, I'm sure Liz would love to do it. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of you who read this blog I say, Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is such an important holiday for me. It gives me time to reflect on all the things I am thankful for. For a loving husband, who has taken care of me and loved me through thick and thin, through good times and bad. A husband who I have the privilege to be sealed to for time and all eternity, my best friend.
For my two wonderful children (who actually are most of the time). They are my friends and my helpers. They are my confidants. They are my miracles. At 19 and a newlywed, I was told the chances of me becoming a mother were small at best. But I was blessed with two perfect, bright spirits to join and complete our family. For our puppy, Bear, I am truly thankful for. It may seem strange to have him under these circumstances, but although he is young, he provides me an extra level of companionship and security during the day when I am home alone. He's still learning his manners, but he has already learned to be loving and to be protective without being aggressive (although sometimes a little too fun loving).

To my extended family, my parents, my parents I got when I got married and my brothers and sisters, thank you for your ongoing support and love. I don't know where we would be with out you. I've seen how a family can come together in crisis and in celebration, and I am so proud to belong to these families. I love you all.

To my friends, I hope some times I don't seem too overwhelming or don't disappear for a while, but I think of you often and care for each of you dearly. I would love more time with each of you to get to know you better and have more fun with you (I kind of sometimes have a warped sense of fun - helping out on projects is good enough for me), so never be afraid to call. Thank you for putting up with me when I get so sick. I am really working with my doctors to get over those issues. To my children's friends, thank you for your support of them. You mean so much to them. They care so much for you and love spending time with you at school and away. For my husband's work, I know work is always challenging, but I am thankful for his gainful, seemingly safe employment.

There are so many other things, my home, my car, my computer, my books, etc, but I could never list them all. But the final thing is for my Savior and my Heavenly Father and their unfathomable love for me. For the things they have done to save me eternally and for their patience with a person who is still trying to become more perfect, I thank them. The Savior's sacrifice has opened the door for my eternal salvation and the possibility for my family to be forever and I will never be able to thank him enough.

Happy Thanksgiving and listening to my rambling.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lizzy's cast is off

It has been five very long weeks, but Lizzy's cast is finally off, today! For a dancer, losing an ankle and foot has been very trying. She has muddled through walking to school and being called "Gimp" by everyone. She has even continued to teach little girls 3 times a week. Liz has had a great attitude and really not let it slow her down, but today was the day she has been counting down to, the day that dance gets to start again, however, slowly. Now the hope is that the pain doesn't come back, and the cast worked as advertised. There is no way of knowing unless she starts hurting again. Then we would have to recast her, or if serious enough, do surgery :( . But hopes are high and she's planning on trying out for summer intensives in January and February on toe, so as long as she takes her time all should go well. Today she just feels quite weak. Congratulations, Lizzy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Utes smash BYU - for a good cause

12-0 What a way to end the regular season play! Thank you BYU for allowing us in just 4 measly years to come up with a perfect season again. Now BSC has to deal with the undefeated MWC Champions! Well, isn't that going to be difficult. Who do they include and who do they leave out? WAC Champions (so far) Boise State is still undefeated, but is not as big as MWC. Sugar bowl against Meyer's Florida Gators? We'll take them on. This is a picture of my proud brother, true U of U fan in Chicago wearing his U of U hat after the BYU loss showing his true colors. They run deep in our family, true dyed in the wool Ute fans, 2 generations of them. To all my BYU friends, I love you, but I am true RED. No offense. GO UTES!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight the Movie

Ok, where were you at 11:59 11/20/08? I was with Steph, Katie and Liz and several hundred crazed Twilight fans awaiting the start of Twilight, the movie. And boy was it fun!! I thought the movie was great!! I've read the book a number of times, and I didn't expect the movie to match the book (how do you get all that into 2 hours?), so I had fun with the movie. It's hard not to like it when everyone cheers when the Cullens or Edward walks on the screen for the first time. Or everyone screams when they kiss. It was the coolest way to see it. Thank You Steph!! Eternal servitude, up for grabs.

The four of us got there about 9:30 and partied our way through the evening and just enjoyed the spectacle of it all. My favorite was the Ducati. Would have loved to actually take it for a test drive. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to go with Liz, Katie and Steph to New Moon, etc. the same way. It really is the way to see the movie.

We even made it home in one piece at 3:15 am. And Liz made it to a full day of school with three tests. Maybe the vampire no sleep is rubbing off (I wish). And here's a special thank you to my hubby who was such a good sport about all of it, including hearing about all of it today. Don't worry, we'll go see Quantum Solace.

Mom's Retirement Open House

Ok, so my mom retired and told my dad no to do. Well, she didn't tell my sister and me. So Thursday night, we had a lovely open house for her and about 65 of her closest friends and coworkers to celebrate all the years of service she has given. We actually got busted the day before because no one new it was a surprise and one of her old dear friends wrote her a lovely note about how excited he was for her retirement and how he would miss not seeing her at the open house at Steph's house on Thursday. BUSTED! We had a hair appointment set up for her and everything, dang it.
It was lovely. My sister did a beautiful job with food and her home is wonderful for entertaining. Almost everyone left her a nice note to go in a book for her book. My mom and dad were perfect hosts and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. After everything she has done for us, it was fun to do this for her. We missed my brother, but they'll be in Chicago for Thanksgiving with him. Congratulations, Mom!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Missing Church: More of a Hole than One would Expect

For those who don't know, my health has been, well, less than perfect, and I am currently battling a round of bronchitis. When your health is poor, it takes away a lot of things. You miss a lot of things that you wish to do, like changing out of your pajamas, but today, Sunday brings about the thing I miss the most, going to Church. It seems like a simple thing to do, to get up, get ready and, if necessary, drag yourself to at least Sacrament meeting, but for me, even that much of a process has become overwhelming. And I miss it so much. I miss my friends. I miss the Spirit there. I miss the messages from the speakers. But most of all, I miss the Sacrament.

My family is able to go religiously and brings home news about people in the Ward and messages from the speakers, but nothing replaces the Sacrament for me. Most people don't understand why I miss when I do, and probably question my commitment, but without the Church and my family, I would have nothing to hold on to. The testimony is strong, the body is just weak. So to all my friends out there, I miss you in Church today :( .

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Kunz Family: Health Crisis

Unwelcome news came this week to the John McKay Kunz family. After 2 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, there appears to be some reoccurant spots of cancer on his brain, at least. More tests are following today to see if it has spread to his spine again, or further. John McKay is Elizabeth's age and only a sophomore in high school. Our prayers for answers and peace are with his family as they go through this struggling time. I've included a picture of the National Academic League team from Millcreek last year that has John McKay in a wheelchair right after his last round of treatment. Luckily, he was able to go on a trip this summer to visit national and church sites back east.

A crises like this with a good friend reminds me of how lucky we are to enjoy things as basic as our health. Even though sometimes I feel like my health is a mess, atleast mine allows me to live a pretty normal life, enjoying my family and my time here on this earth. How blessed I am for the health of my family. Good luck and God's blessings to the Kunz.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day!

Today is one of my favorite least celebrated holidays. Ok, partly because my whole career I worked for one branch of government or another so I got the day off when the rest of the world had to work, but mostly for what it stands for.

While most people even forget about Veteran's Day, to me, it is so important to remember the men and women who have served, and do serve, to protect our freedoms and the freedoms of others, sometimes at the ultimate cost. We have enjoyed years of relative domestic peace in our country compared to so many countries around the world, and yet our armed forces have come to the aid of countries less fortunate than ours to protect others and to try to wipe despotism from the face of the earth and replace it with freedom. It has taken a high toll on them, their families and the Country as a whole, so we owe them so much that remembering them one day out of the year seems so trivial. It was instituted originally as Armistice Day after World War I, the war to end all wars, where our troops saw some of the most brutal fighting conditions, and has been honored since then.

So, Happy Veteran's Day! To continued relative domestic tranquility and those who support it, Thank You! And may God be with those currently serving, especially those in hostile zones.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Do Moms get sick days?

Ok, no pretty pictures here, just a little reflection on being a mom. It's been over a week since I came down with this lovely cold that now includes a fever and a cough, but has that stopped me? Put me to bed for the week? No, Friday I was sorting cans for the Bountiful High Service Club food drive outside, and yesterday I was grocery shopping. Which brings up the question, do moms get sick days?

Now, my husband has to be on death's bed to actually take one, but one of the joys of being a mom is that life doesn't slow down just because you have a cold. Yes, I missed church today, two showers this weekend and about everything else this week, but I still was up at at least 6:30 am to help the kids get off to school. And I picked up Liz from school because of the rain and her cast. But I have it easy, my kids are big enough to get themselves (or each other) taken care of most of the time. My only "baby" to take care of is my puppy that is much more patient than any human baby... I've even gotten to take naps a couple of days this week.

A couple people have become acutely aware of my cold this week because, even though I lost my voice completely for 2 days, I still had phone calls to be made. Thank goodness for email and facebook to take care of the rest of my correspondence. Unfortunately, tonight I am going to miss Young Women in Excellence, but my daughter has already forgiven me. And tomorrow is pretty slow. Except, tomorrow I am going to see the doctor. Thank goodness for insurance!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A More Perfect Union

Well, I went out and voted yesterday. I helped make Utah a red state, unfortunately one of the few. I found myself voting against instead of for a candidate which is against my political nature, but what else do you do. I have voted in every election since I was old enough to vote and see it as my privilege and my duty to take part in our political process. Unfortunately, I have missed recent mass meetings. I feel like it is every citizen's right to vote for who they think will do the best job as leader of our country and our areas. So many people chose not to exercise this right that people all over the world fight for and stay back and complain after the results have been counted. We send our brave men and women into hostile areas of the world to help provide the rights of liberty to people to have a say in their government. I wish more people would extend their say in ours, although the turn out yesterday was outstanding in most areas.

Personally, I have to say I am a little disappointed and a little concerned about the next four years. I hope that the majority party acts with prudence in their power over the Senate, House of Representatives and White House.

Although the Preamble to the Constitution states "We, the People, in order to form a more perfect union" (italics added for emphasis), I hope that all people realize that still under this administration, this is not a perfect circumstance for everyone. Our goal is to continue to move towards one, and we are not there yet. Whatever your choice may have been yesterday, it was under God that this Constitution and system was established. And whatever my choice may have been, may God provide for our leaders health and wisdom as they govern. God bless America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Liz's Halloween Pictures

Liz had fun this Halloween with pictures. Witch hats were hung floating at Dad's work party which just looked like too much fun. Here she is in her doctor's costume the Wednesday before Halloween. We were good sports and went even though Dad was out of town on business.

For the football game, here she is with Sharlee as Brave ghosts.

And for the day after Halloween, we went to a birthday party/costume party where Dad was sick so Liz and I went as doctors. Jane Austin (KD) and Liz hung out, while I hung out with Elizabeth Mason (Stephanie).
It was a fun year for dressing up.