Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Review

Now is the time for all of the "Best Of" lists etc... I haven't really posted about Christmas (it was great) and I don't really want to put my New Year's Resolutions out there so for my own journaling and for my own posterity I will review the year that was...

January: Devon and Courtney turn 12, Devon is ordained. Courtney and I saw 42nd Street, we got a new niece (cousin) - Whitnee, I started teaching Gospel Doctrine, Morgan went to California on a field trip, Alan's Uncle Glade came to visit and we went to ALOT of basketball games (Devon was on two teams).

February: Will and Michelle came to visit and see the Phoenix Open, more basketball games, I got a speeding ticket on Guadalupe, I got a new great-niece (my niece had a baby - I think that is called a great niece, maybe a grand-niece??) and I attended traffic school.

March: Courtney got braces, I went on the Pioneer Trek as a big sister, we spent Spring Break in Utah, I suffered a freak dehydration side effect and swelled up like a Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon and I got to attend the Young Women's broadcast for the first time with my daughter!

April: Still more basketball games, Courtney's team won the school Battle of the Books competition and the first round of the District championship, we kept the Harms kids for a weekend and we helped organize the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.

May: I went to BYU Women's Conference, Nicole turned 6 (while I was gone), I got a calling to go to camp as a 1st year leader, I fasted for a dear friend who was going through a medical trial, set a personal family record of six birthday parties attended on one Saturday, my two 6th graders graduated from elementary school, celebrated our 14th anniversary and Alan was ordained a High Priest.

June: Devon attended basketball camp then he and Alan went to Scout camp, Alan and I spoke in church on Father's Day, I got a new dryer, I had my birthday, Courtney and I went to girl's camp and while we were gone - Morgan and Nicole flew to California by themselves to visit their grandparents and I started blogging!

July: We celebrated the 4th with our family at Duck Creek, I had my 20 year high school reunion, Alan went to Oregon to visit his friend Kevin, Devon went to Santa Barbara to play golf with his Uncle Will and Devon and Courtney took off on the adventure of a lifetime -they traveled the East Coast in an RV with our friends the Waites.

August: I bawled my eyes out when Devon and Courtney started Jr. High and then again 5 days later when Morgan and Nicole went to school, Nicole donated her hair to Locks of Love, I read the three Stephenie Meyer books in three days and then read them again, we started our food group, I was released from being the Gospel Doctrine teacher and called in to the Primary Presidency, Alan had his birthday, I worked at the cannery, we moved my Mom, Courtney made the volleyball team and I started teaching French at the elementary school again.

September: Morgan turned 11 and had a fun party, we went to lots of volleyball games and missed everyone of Devon's football games, I went to Shadow a Student day at the Jr. High, we met with a member of the Stake Presidency to find out that Alan is being called in to the Bishopric of a ward we are not in - we also find out the ward boundaries are changing and we will be leaving our beloved 2nd ward to go back in to our beloved 1st ward, and Alan's dad comes to watch Alan be put in to bishopric.

October: We took and awesome trip to Southern California and got out of there before all of those fires started, Nicole had dental surgery, we had a fun Halloween party and Nicole went on her first 1st grade field trip.

November: Amazing Race started, Alan conducts Sacrament Meeting for the first time, I got a calling as a RS Teacher in our new ward, I cleaned out our fridge, we went camping with friends, the Douglas Family came for a wonderful Thanksgiving and my brother and his kids are involved in a terrible ATV accident - but come out okay.

December: I almost totally blow off Christmas by not putting tree up until late in the month and then only putting up a portion of our decorations, I don't send Christmas cards for the first time in 13 years, Nicole celebrates the Polar Express at school, we go to some great Christmas parties, and we celebrated a beautiful Christmas together as a family.

Bonne Annee everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

May this Christmas renew in all a love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love when the thoughts of so many turn towards His birth and life. May His love for each of us wrap around and warm each of you as you gather with loved ones over the next few days. I know that I will be thinking of what it would have been like to give birth in lowliest place and I will be thankful for all of the blessings that my Father in Heaven has granted me.
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

17 years ago....

On December 19, 1990 I entered the Missionary Training Center. I had turned my papers in at the end of July, received my call over Labor Day weekend and was called to report to the MTC the week before Christmas (?). I was ready to go - I had made the decision to serve a mission several months before my papers were turned in and the whole process just seemed to take forever!

If you have to be away from your loved ones at Christmas - the MTC is the place to be. Every night there were special devotionals by General Authorities. Ezra Taft Benson was the prophet then, he made a special video presentation that was shown; President Hinckley came, Elder Haight, Elder Nelson and Elder Ballard all came. President Monson came and spent Christmas Eve with us - that was very special. It was the coldest Christmas in Utah history up to that point and he couldn't drive down from Salt Lake because of the ice so they made some arrangements and he left his family home and was actually driven down to Provo in a snow plow.

There were less missionaries than usual because they slow down arrivals towards the end of December (I don't know how I was one of the lucky ones) and they keep sending them out. On Christmas day, Elder L. Tom Perry came with his whole family, there were about 40 of them. The Perry family did a special program around 10:00 a.m. with special musical numbers, talks etc... and then they shook every single missionary hand. They also stayed and ate Christmas dinner with us - which was sack lunches made the day before so the kitchen staff wouldn't have to work on Christmas. I have always loved Elder Perry, not just because he is so smiley and wears bright colored ties and he is so tall, but because he sat at the picnic style tables in the MTC cafeteria with all of us on Christmas.

I can't believe that it was really that long ago - it seems like it was just a few years ago that I was buying Rockport pumps and 25 pairs of Hanes Silk Reflections panty hose. In 1990, the Berlin wall came down, Nelson Mandela was freed and I started doing missionary work for real.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Grown Up Christmas List

This time of year I get super emotional. There is of course the stress that could add to the tears - but mostly it is the love that people show to each other. The effort that some go to to decorate their yards so others can enjoy it touches me. The thought that so many more people's hearts are turning towards the Savior - even the slightest bit - moves me to tears. The service projects, the family get togethers, the beautiful music - all of these things are so tender to me.

Yesterday, a couple of things happened. I had a party with my french students - I told them all about Christmas in France where the celebrations are much less commercial. Christmas in France is ALL about the birth of Christ, Pere Noel does come and leave small trinkets and fruits and nuts but it is not an all out gift-giving frenzy like American Christmas. Christmas in France is about family, food and the nativity. When I was done telling them all about it and while we were enjoying some croissants and hot chocolate, one of the 6th grade teachers came up to me and said, "I'm not particularly religious but I sure wish our Christmases were more like that." The more I thought about it the more tears came to my eyes. Why can't it be more like that?

I recently finished Skipping Christmas by John Grisham for our "non-enrichment activity" book group. We met last night and talked about some of these same things. The book was the basis for the movie Christmas With the Kranks. You may remember that the main character really protested all of the crazy spending and trappings that go along with Christmas - he really doesn't feel the Christmas spirit until the end when he is able to do an incredible service for someone else.

Another thing that happened is I bought the Michael Buble Christmas CD. It only has 6 songs on it and two of them are the same (one live version) so I guess it really only has 5 songs - but it is so great. I do have a small crush on Michael Buble - Harry Connick is still my number one crooner but Michael Buble is coming in close second. Anyway, I bought his Christams CD and there is a song on there called My Grown Up Christmas List. I had never heard this song before but this morning I learned that it was released by Natalie Cole for the first time in 1990 and since then, Olivia Newton John, Kellie Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Amy Grant have all released versions of it - but I have to say that I like MB's the best. Upon hearing it, my first reaction was - "this is what the Savior's Christmas list would be". I was looking for the lyrics or some way to share it here on the blog and found this video that is posted on YouTube. It is the Michael Buble version with pictures of soldiers. It is so amazingly moving. Please watch it.

Joyeaux Noel.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kevin Nash Update

Devon found the pennant in his room. He was convinced Courtney hung it there so he promptly went and hung it in her room. She found it and is plotting her revenge.

Devon and Courtney are having a blue stocking hat war! Only without the hat and with a wrestling pennant! I love it!

Long live white elephant wars!

The Best White Elephant Prize Ever!

Saturday night we went to a Christmas Party at some good friends of ours. One of the things they always do is have a White Elephant Gift Exchange. It is so fun. We brought two pair of crazy slippers - ugly - but useful. There is a fine balance in what you can bring to the WEGE - it has to be funny or desirable but not too cheap or naughty. The naughty prizes make me very uncomfortable (Type 2 Embarrassment) so I was glad there were none this year.

We ended up with the new Josh Groban Noel cd (very desirable), some candy, a "tooth tunes" toothbrush and a pennant for WWE champ Kevin Nash. It is totally sweet. He is making the coolest pose in silhouette at the bottom of the pennant. He looks a little bit like "Dog the Bounty Hunter" to me. I brought it home and asked Devon if he wanted to hang it up in his bedroom - he looked at me like he thought I was crazy - but I am totally going to hang it up in there while he is at school today and see if he notices.

But, we did not choose the best white elephant gifts ever. The host of the party ended up with them and we did find out later who brought them - it was a collection of Yanni paraphernalia. Not just a cd - but a VHS of a concert and a cassette tape. It was awesome! When Alan had a chance to steal, I wanted him to get it for his office white elephant party - but he didn't (we may have to break out our Bill Clinton toilet paper for that - we really have some) he thought he was saving himself some Christmas shopping when he stole the Josh Groban cd. He didn't realize it was a Christmas cd and that would be pretty lame to give as a gift ON Christmas. The Yanni collection was brilliant - the best white elephant gift of the night.

This Christmas I will be carrying on a tradition with my younger brother. It is sort of a white elephant but I hesitate to call it that. When Jeremy was packing to leave on his mission in July of 1990, I slipped into his suitcase, an electric blue stocking cap that our Grandma had crocheted years before. It is such an ugly blue AND it has a big pom pom on top. He found it in his suitcase and put it under my pillow, I found it a couple of days later and stuck it into his carry-on bag and he didn't find it until he reached the MTC. In December of 1990, I entered the MTC and was so excited to get a package from my missionary brother - but among other things was the stupid hat.

I took the hat to France with me and sent it to him for his birthday. He sent it back on my birthday. I sent it to a missionary in Japan and he pinned a Japanese flag pin to it and sent it to my brother. Jeremy sent it home and had my mom send it in my Christmas package. I sent it to Scotland and had Alan send it back to Jeremy. I can't even imagine the amount of postage we wasted on that hat. Since we've been home it has ended up in wedding gifts, baby gifts and Christmas gifts several times. I have the hat in my possession right now - I am looking for a good way to give it to him this year. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Jolene Wants

I heard of a really fun game that you can play with Google. You type in your first name and then wants. So I typed in Jolene wants - and true to Google form it brought up 450,000 entries that have those two words together. I didn't think there would be so many - Jolene is not a super popular name (I could never find a key chain or a pencil with my name on it) but after doing this little exercise I have found out something I never knew... Jolene is a very popular name in romance novels.

My name - Jolene - is a combination of my dad's name (Joe) and my mom's name (Carlene). Contrary to popular belief I was not named after the Dolly Parton song of the same name - although, if I said it was - I could pull off being a lot younger than I really am. I think that song came out sometime in the early seventies so that would work out great for me. It was not an easy name to grow up with - not just because of Dolly Parton - but because it rhymes with so many other words. Of course I am dating myself again but when I was in elementary school there was a very famous football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers who was called Mean Joe Green. See where I am going here.

Anyway, back to the Google game. If anyone is still wondering what to get me for Christmas - according to Google - this is what I want: (you have to try this with your own name)

Jolene wants to fight more

Jolene wants to walk in to a bar - one with liquor

Jolene wants to try out for a professional women's basketball team

Jolene wants to keep her word

Jolene wants to know who she is

Jolene wants to pay for her friends lunch

Jolene wants her man back

Jolene wants to take me to the Toledo show on Oct. 29

Jolene wants to give back

Jolene wants to seduce him to spite Rose

Jolene wants none of it

Jolene wants wealthy social elite

Jolene wants me to help her photocopy some stuff

Friday, December 7, 2007

Back to Blogging!

My life has been interrupted and I am just now feeling like I can get some blogging done. My Christmas decorations are almost up, we only have one more school concert to go and just a few more presents to purchase. Then, hopefully, our life will be back to normal - as normal as pre-holiday life can be.

Yesterday, my smarty-pants 12 year old son and I were having a conversation about careers in other countries. We were discussing how in some countries you choose a vocation and are provided the schooling for that choice or it is chosen for you depending on your aptitude or talents. Then he told me that if we did that in this country, and if I had chosen to be a stay at home mom, I probably would have only had to go to school through the sixth grade.

Yes, my son told me that anyone with a sixth grade education can do what I do. It is true that I am not very much help with his seventh grade honors math (pythagorean theorem what-um?) , but I think I am seriously offended at his thought process. When I started giving him a hard time about it, he back-pedaled real fast (lessons from Dad) - but it made me think.

How much of my higher education am I actually using on a daily basis? I learned how to read long before sixth grade so the story time, recipe reading and birthday party invitation interpreting would be covered. I could sign my name (pay bills), recognize colors (sort laundry) and write a pretty good paragraph (notes to teachers). All of these things I learned to do before sixth grade! I guess I would have had to take some continuing education courses in a few subjects like driving, first aid and advanced cooking for families. But what have I learned - after age 11 - that has really made a difference in my homemaking skills? I don't think I keep my bedroom any cleaner now than I did then.

This is the question for the ages - I am going to have to really think on this. I know life lessons like living with K-RAZY room mates and mission companions probably prepared me for life with children. But, Buyer Behaviors, Promotional Strategy and Marketing Theory - not so much.