Month: December 2013

Mmmm: Finnish gingerbread cookies, for Mila

Mmmm: Finnish gingerbread cookies, for Mila

OK, I’m not very good at staying away from blogging, but this was for a really good reason. Lane and I recently visited a grade of school children to teach about Christmas in Finland. We brought Anna’s brand cookies as a taste of the holiday.…

Psst! Making someone’s Christmas

Psst! Making someone’s Christmas

Our favorite Christmas memories have been making someone else’s Christmas, either for someone in our family or someone who (hopefully) will never know. I just saw this awesome video today and couldn’t help but interrupt my “vacation” from blogging to share! Happy Giving, Liz 🙂

Christmas Card Greetings!

Christmas Card Greetings!

Family Photo 2013Here’s the 2013 Livingston “Christmas ‘Wrap'” for you–a short version (for those with short Christmas letter attention spans) or a longer one with more pith (for those who like to savor the details):

Anna’s jump-roping’s no fake. Watch me jump with no mistakes!
Liza jumps on dancing feet, but tapping toes are NOT for Pete.
Pete-O’s slick on ski’s instead. Hope those jumps don’t leave him dead!
Just in case, Sare’s on the job. CPR for a heart throb.
Heart throbs?  We’ll say Lulu’s great to get asked out on a date.
Dates for Nate? Nope, to Peru he will go and return in 2!
Two,*, too, for Bex, who loves those tunes and building robots for the moon.
Oops! No moon-trips, just a pool in which the bot will walk. How cool!
That’s the sum-up of 20-13.
Hope your Christmas is mighty keen!

*Two choirs

Anna (8): Jump rope chants are top of her list! “Cinderella dressed in yella…” She got BAPTIZED and performed in a concert on Temple Square, scoring a new dress AND a paycheck from the deal. Double surprise! Her favorite activities of the year? Late nights on Fridays with friends or Sarah. I (Liz) am her Primary teacher, which she actually enjoys. Mostly. (Lucky for me!)

Peter (10): Built a go-cart in his woodworking class. That pretty much made his life! Unfortunately, it broke. CRISIS. He fixed it. Hooray! He actually ties Anna in sociality but to his chagrin is spending the bulk of his after school hours doing lots of homework in his new, challenging class this year. NOT his favorite, but he LOVES the teacher. Aside from Scouts and soccer, his other highlight was learning to ski. He’s TOTALLY looking forward to more slope time with Nate again this winter!

Eliza (12): Dancer at heart. Loves Irish dancing and dreams of taking ballet. (Another year, another driver, another budget.) She loved swimming with friends earlier in the year and wishes she could do it all: swimming, dancing, musicals at school….She also LOVES being with friends and recently spent an entire Saturday baking bread with them. She, Peter and Anna are all doing piano pretty much against their wills, but they are making progress, and SOMEDAY they will be grateful. (Right? That’s what everyone tells me. That’s what I tell them. Gotta be true.)

Rebecca (14): Strumming the guitar and singing in her school choir and a non-school audition choir or at the piano or hanging with friends on a Friday night.  We had the cool experience of going to a recording studio with her audition choir section so they could record a CD. I can’t wait to hear it! (I was supposed to pick it up today. Didn’t get there. Story of my life.). She performed in the same concert on Temple Square with Anna, which was the best way for our whole family to start the holiday season. She can’t wait to be in a school musical, hopefully soon!

Julia (16): Here it comes: the big 16, and Julia has been livin’ for it! She begs to drive any chance she can, and dating? Let’s just say that’s also at the top of the list. After giving into her inner swimmer, Julia has been happy as a clam (No! A dolphin!) swimming with the high school. And hanging with friends. Do we see a pattern here? Loving our friends! She also loves to be with Sarah whenever she’s back home. She’s still playing flute and piano and hopefully will get to learn the piccolo this year. Can we do another instrument?

Nate (18 in January): Went to the high school rugby National Championship in Indiana last spring with him team, and they took first place. Some SWEET rugby playing! They are all brothers! Nate was THIS CLOSE to enlisting in the National Guard when he felt that an LDS mission should come first. So he’s trading rugby cleats and combat boots for Sorels (just like mom and dad wore on their missions!)* and will head to Peru this March, after he graduates early from high school in January. Let me tell you: doing two semesters in one has not been a party. But he’s up for the task. He’s also working part-time to earn money for his mission. We’re proud of him for how hard he’s working to pull it off! He especially has enjoyed serving on helping lead the Boy Scouts, serving in the student council at school, singing in the school assembly, and cutting out snowflakes.

Sarah (19): Sophomore at BYU, finally landed on her major (PD BIO. Translation anyone?) She was going to do music (like Grandma M.), then Econ (like her dad and Grandpa L.), but both of those weren’t quite working out for where she really wants to go: med school. She has been double-dosing life (like Nate) this semester since she decided to become an EMT while going to school. It’s been pretty intense, but we’re  proud of her for going for it. Tough girl! She’ll be done before Christmas. SOMEONE is going to sleep in a lot over vacation–and she’s earned it.

Liz and Lane: The usual. Work, home, church, community stuff. I started up this blog just over a year ago. It’s my outlet. It’s not like I need another thing to add to my list; it’s simply therapy. Lane is working harder than ever to try to find a way to meet this economy and our family’s financial needs in the middle. He’s also up to the double-dose challenge, even if it means some more grey hairs.

Life is so good. We feel so blessed to work hard to try to help our children with their adventures. We are so grateful to our children for being patient with us, and we sure try to be patient with them. All in all, it works out. It works out because things have a way of doing that (Thanks, President Hinckley) and because the Lord helps us. We couldn’t do it without Him.

jesus-christ-blessing-children-nephite-158467-gallery

We’re SO grateful He chose to come to earth. So grateful to be a family and to be friends with you! Thank you for all the ways you bless our lives!

Merry Christmas!

The Livingstons

*OK, Liz technically wore fake Sorels, but they look the same. Never knew Sunday dresses went with honkin’ snow boots…)

 

 

 

 

 

3T: Buy batteries (or, the solution may be so much easier than you ever thought)

3T: Buy batteries (or, the solution may be so much easier than you ever thought)

You might be thinking from the photo and title that I’m talking about buying batteries for Christmas gifts. That’s a really good idea. But this post is about how sometimes the solutions to annoying problems are simpler than we think. My garage door opener stopped…

Mmmm: Gifts in a Jar

Mmmm: Gifts in a Jar

cookies in a jar

When Lane asked me for my thoughts about his company party gifts, I asked if our family could make something for the employees as a way to express our gratitude for what they do. He agreed, and I searched the internet for ideas and then out I went to shop for the ingredients.

more cookies in a jar

We made four kinds of gifts from which to choose: brownies in a jar, cookies in a jar, candy in a jar (which we called “Elf Candy” to perhaps help a young parent with any stocking-stuffing), or a pomegranate wrapped in a dishcloth and a salad dressing jar with a pomegranate salad recipe attached.

wrapped pomegranates

We started Friday afternoon with the shopping, stayed up late stuffing candy jars, and then spent Saturday making mixes, designing and printing stickers, and decorating bottles.

photo 4

We had such a good time, that I’m hoping this can be a tradition for our family! What a great family memory!

Happy Gifting,

Liz 🙂

P.S. My cookbook version of the recipes are here: Cookies in a Jar

 

“Family Time is Sacred Time,” or “Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good [December]!”

“Family Time is Sacred Time,” or “Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good [December]!”

For Sunday’s Christmas Devotional, we dragged (not literally) the children together to sit down on the couch, cozy under blankets in the chilly basement, to watch and be inspired by President Monson, Sister Wixom, Elder Rasband, and Elder Nelson. It took some persuasion, but by…

Psst! Why is being kind and serving others a good ingredient in dealing with depression (or other mental illnesses)?

Psst! Why is being kind and serving others a good ingredient in dealing with depression (or other mental illnesses)?

I came across this interesting video recently. It reminded me of how serving others in my home and in my community has helped me increase in personal happiness, satisfaction, and overall health. I encourage service in my own home not only because it is a…

RWM: Amahl and the Night Visitors

RWM: Amahl and the Night Visitors

amahl page spread

If you are at our home on the day after Thanksgiving (which is when we decorate our tree), chances are you will hear the strains of the best children’s opera ever, Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti.

amahl cd

Amahl is the fictitious story of a little, crippled shepherd boy (by that name) whose single mother live in poverty with the hopes of earning enough money–possibly by begging–to feed themselves and have enough wood for a fire.

The Three Kings stop by to visit Amahl’s home (to his mother’s disbelief) and ask to spend the night before they continue their journey. The mother welcomes them in and goes to call the villagers to bring food and to dance for the kings.

While the kings sleep, the mother is tempted by the gifts they have brought for an unknown child, contemplating how just one piece of their gold could feed her child.

She is caught, and the kings say they must depart to find the Christ child. Then there is a miracle, and Amahl ends up going with them.

AmahlThe book pictured above is a lovely illustrated version that I will read to my children sometime this month. And we often have watched the video version of the opera, which is maybe 30 minutes long.

amahl videoI grew up listening and attending performances of Amahl as a child. Even if you don’t typically enjoy opera, the beautiful spirit and lyrics in this short production will melt your heart and make you want to be more generous and loving, any time of the year.

Happy Reading/Listening/Watching,

Liz 🙂

 

3T: Prick your potatoes (or, “Bake and Learn”)

3T: Prick your potatoes (or, “Bake and Learn”)

Peter was my dinner helper last night, and after washing the potatoes, I told him to get a fork out and prick them 3 or 4 times on each potato. He asked me why. I said, “So that when they’re baking, the steam can escape…