Month: November 2014

SOS: The glorious discovery of our amazing part

SOS: The glorious discovery of our amazing part

We got back from driving home from Phoenix (AZ) tonight and were sitting in the kitchen eating some mac and cheese while watching cover videos of the song “Glorious.”  I love how David Archuleta invited anyone to sing along with him, because now there are…

RWM: The False Prince

RWM: The False Prince

Last week, my mom, Eliza and I drove down to Mesa. Arizona, together for Eliza’s first Irish dance oireachtas. We packed up and planned to leave at 5 am on Thursday morning. The morning of our trip, we both waited 90 minutes for each other…

LOL: A good way to end the day

LOL: A good way to end the day

Last night Lane shared this Studio C clip with me. I laughed until I cried.  A hearty belly laugh is a good way to end a day.

 

LOL: More pressing

LOL: More pressing

Julia was helping me with laundry when she asked me what to do with some pillowcases*. “Put them on the ironing board,” I answered her. “I have other things I need to iron as well. I never have time for ironing!” I told her, and then…

Learning or maintaining a second language (for $10/year)

Learning or maintaining a second language (for $10/year)

I just finished reading a very sweet article in the December 2014 issue of The Liahona in French. It told about a woman who was sewing blankets to give to newborns in impoverished or natural-disaster affected areas of the world. She talked about how the Spirit spoke to…

Extended family Christmas giving

Extended family Christmas giving

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I like our extended family tradition on the Livingston side. Every extended family does things differently. But on the Livingston side, we have a plan in which one family gives to only one other family. So I created a Christmas Giving Rotation Charts page to help me remember. I don’t know why, but it can be seriously mentally taxing at this time of year to try to remember who we gave to last year or the year before that!

What are some gifts we have given or received that we loved? Every year is something terrific! One year we got really nice water bottles in different colors so each of our children had their own color. These have been fabulously practical.

Another family gave us a blanket which they made from two pieces of fleece fabric, having tied the edges. Simple construction, extremely cozy. We have LOVED using it in our basement to watch movies or snuggling up on the couch with a good book. Great gift!

We love to give and receive games. Some terrific games we have enjoyed over the years? Ticket to Ride, Rummikub, Quelf, to name a few off the top of my head.

Of course, our family has given Christmas books or music, as that is one of our special interests.  I love to give Christmas books, such as A Christmas Carol or wonderful children’s books to the children when families were younger.

We also have given and received great movies. The blanket the one family made also came with a DVD that our family loves!

Last year we gave the gift of music to Lane’s parents when it was our turn to visit them for Christmas. We brought some of our sheet music and instruments with us to do so. That way they didn’t have to store it or clean it or regift it!

When the children were younger, of course, we gave things like mouse pads made from drawings or photos, or photo books or photo collage placemats to our parents.

Giving to siblings and parents really has been such an enjoyable part of our Christmas traditions! It can take a little extra effort, but it’s so fun to send a package off with love to distant loved ones.

Happy Planning and Giving,

Liz 🙂

 

THINK: Elementary education

THINK: Elementary education

Talk about stream-of-consciousness! Get ready. This is a long post! I am a thinker. I am constantly pondering. So I’m adding a category (“Think”) to start sharing more of my thoughts about whatever I’m thinking about (that doesn’t fit into the other categories). In recent…

RWM: Green pastures and still waters

RWM: Green pastures and still waters

I love good poetry! This morning I was thinking of a poem that I sometimes remember when I feel the press of life upon me (and am wanting to shake it off): The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending,…

Committed to simplifying this Christmas

Committed to simplifying this Christmas

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Sometimes I get overwhelmed easily.

With a multitude of details ever-present in my mind, I tend to get bogged down in what I’m not accomplishing and what seems to loom ahead endlessly.

Which means that November and December, on the tail end of back-to-school (August/September), birthday season (September-December), holidays (Labor Day, Fall break, Halloween), and regular-crazy-big-family life–all of that in a marathon string of events can be a recipe for a nervous breakdown.

Been there, done that. (Christmas 2006.)

And so each year I avoid a repeat performance and try to simplify a little more.

It’s challenging! It’s so tempting to get caught up in over-celebrating and over-complicating!

Christ gets lost amidst the shopping lists and calendar count-downs.

So I’m prioritizing and beginning early, chipping away at what feels most important.

Then when December comes, I’m going to try to not over do. Focus on enjoying the moments that arise, planned and unplanned, with family and friends. And whatever doesn’t happen, that’s OK.

I got Elder Livi’s Christmas package mailed last week. That was a good feeling. One child taken care of. Check!

I ordered some Christmas cards tonight.  I adore Christmas cards! I feel like it’s a chance I have to personally send a hug to people we love so well! It took me about 4 hours to deliberate, experiment, and figure out what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend. I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot. So I ordered a lot less than last year. As in 150 cards less. I decided to only send cards to those living far way or who aren’t big internet users. It’s not as fun to not order enough to give to almost everyone I want to, but it will be better. I’ll just pray that I can extend our love in another way, and that others will feel that like they would a card. I should get the cards in enough time to send a card to Elder Livi and have him get it before Christmas. That’s my priority.

I’m almost always late getting Christmas cards out, simply because I don’t have enough chunks of time to get them addressed and mailed out–even if I order them at the beginning of November. I carry them in a bag with me to music lessons, dance class, and doctor’s appointments, but still not to complete success. I would have done Valentine’s cards again like I did last year, but I knew Elder Livi would like a card for Christmas. So now at least I can get his mailed right away, as soon as they arrive. Check!

We talked about doing something for others this year instead of spending so much on our own family. We never spend a lot on our family (all things being relative), but we could focus more on others and focus less on getting. We talked about it Sunday and asked what the children thought. There was a lot of discussion, I will say that much! Everyone had ideas and opinions to share. (“All chiefs and no indians.”) We didn’t come to a complete conclusion. We know we want to do stockings as usual, and a gift from parents. But the rest is undecided. We did, however, decide on two things we want to do to improve our focus. Check!

I mentioned that I wanted to give one homemade gift to each child instead of multiple gifts. I’m excited about that. It isn’t going to be a gift that takes a lot of time, because that’s something I don’t have a lot of, and it won’t cost a lot, since I don’t have a lot of that either, but it will be fun. I just got the idea today. Now I just need to do it…. Check!

I would really love someday to just forget almost all gift-giving one year and give everyone 1 special gift. Then just focus on doing things each day that help me feel closer to Christ. And then for Christmas just go on a trip as a family to a cabin. Or do a humanitarian project or trip. Or just go skiing all together. Or? It will happen. One day. One year at a time. Baby steps.

Years ago I went through our decorations and gave away a lot. I found that it was much more fun if we could get “Christmas up” in one family night (2 hours) with Amahl playing and treats at the end. And then it needed to be able to be put away in about the same amount of time. That has been a great thing! I’m also trying not to collect more decorations. If someone gives us something, I try to give away something else. I want to “stay lean” because there is only so much space to store it all, and it can be exhausting to have to get it put away if it takes a week or two, as regular life and obligations kick into gear.

My favorite part of Christmas is sitting by the fire at night and reading Christmas stories. Yesterday it was only November 10, but we decided for family night to start! We sat on the couch and in chairs and on the floor in front of the fire, and Lane told stories. I fell asleep on his shoulder. It was heavenly.

Simple.

Wonderful.

Simply wonderful!

Happy Simplifying the Holidays,

Liz 🙂

 

 

 

November’s classroom read aloud recommendations

November’s classroom read aloud recommendations

Typically in November, there are 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, so if you begin reading books about gratitude from the first week, you’ll be able to share a bunch of good ones with those dear children! And you’re in luck! There are a bunch of delightful books about…