Friday, December 31, 2010

The Quintessential Oregon Winter Day

First of all, Mark and I took the grandkids snowshoeing at Lolo Pass, on the slopes of Mount Hood.

Josh, Sarah, Kat

Making snow angels in the fresh powder.

Fixing the snowshoes again. This outing had lots of stops and starts.

Happy New Year!

Mt. Hood in the background. It was 22 degrees out with a wind and we were cold, so we turned back to the car after about an hour of playing in the snow.

Then we went to Powell's Bookstore so the kids could spend their Christmas book money.
Powell's is a Portland tradition, and an amazing book store. Four stories and an entire city block - the largest new-and-used bookstore in the world! The kids found their books and read them all the way home in the van with their mom.

Meanwhile, Mark and I ended up at REI, where Mark had ordered some beautiful slippers for me for Christmas.
I love them - they are warm and cozy, the nicest slippers I have ever owned. They're going to turn me into a homebody, I think.

It was a perfect Oregon winter day.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hanging Out at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Too many family members live far away these days. More will be on the move soon. Which makes moments like these all the more precious...

Ender is my jolly Christmas elf. Does this guy ever get cranky?

Becca enjoying some grandpa time. Grandpa enjoying some Becca time.

Sarah, Julia, Kat, and Josh skyping with Maddy in New Jersey.

This cracks me up. I'm cutting some fabric for sewing. Arora has the same pose.

Katie and Arora reading with Auntie Holly. 
Katie (5) was surprised that Arora (3 on Jan 1) could read so well!

Seth and Katie hanging out in Grandma's kitchen, going for the munchies.

Polly helping Becca and Ender get acquainted. 

I love those eyes! I think Ender likes the way I fixed his swaddle blanket. 
(He had outgrown it, so I added a couple of inches here and there.)

Oh, how I miss my family members who are so far away! Sending Grandma hugs to Maddy, Abbi, Charlie, Olivia, Ethan, Audrey, Sam, JJ, Blake, Kenadi, Christina, and Kaitlyn!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Hike

There were many sweet Christmas moments yesterday, but one of the best was the quick hike Mark and I managed to squeeze in before the early December sunset.

We drove 45 minutes to the Fish Creek trailhead of the Clackamas River Trail. The trailhead is only 900 feet elevation, so it was snow-free. The trail provides river vistas of the rushing green upper Clackamas, and enough little ups and downs to make the way interesting.

A quick stop to check out the upper end of a rapid.

My hunk - playing on a mossy log.

We hiked in about a mile and turned around to get back to the car in the remaining daylight. We want to go back and explore more of this trail! The website I linked above says there is a good waterfall at 3.5 miles in, and it also suggests hiking the entire 8-mile trail, and then shuttling back to the car by bike, using Hwy 224 on the other side of the river. Sounds fun! I'd like to try that when the weather gets a little warmer.

I am so thankful for this beautiful earth that Christ created!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sweet moments

We have had some sweet, dear moments with grandchildren this week.

On Monday and Tuesday we visited Polly and Eric and their family in central Washington.
It was so fun to spend time with Seth, Rebecca, and Katie. And you know how I feel about sweet baby toes. Becca loved to have me play "This little piggie went to market" with her.

I never made snow angels when I was a snow where I grew up in California! But Katie demonstrated a great technique--flopped into the snow several times to show us how to do it.

Polly led the family in a service project--shoveling snow off the front porch of a neighbor who was out of town.

Bedtime stories are the best! For a wonderful Christmas tradition with the "Jesus" stocking in the background, check out Polly's blog.

Last night we had some time with Julia and David & Holly and their families. Sarah helped Ender open a gift.

Arora concentrated carefully (note the tongue involvement) on opening a gift.

Ender and Josh enjoyed some "boy cousin" moments - they have so many sisters!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What happened today

December 23, 2010, was a good day to add to the journal.

Today I...
...went with my honey to worship in the Portland Temple early this morning.
...jogged 1 mile. a new cell phone upgrade. (Merry Christmas to me!)
...delivered Christmas gifts to family members...all the gifts are finished, wrapped, delivered.
...did some grocery shopping.
...spent time with a son and a daughter and their families.
...went caroling with my grandchildren.

Tomorrow I plan to just be here at home. I want to do some cleaning and de-cluttering, to get my home ready for the best guest of all: Baby Jesus!

What will today bring?

I have a journal that lets me write a few lines every year on the same date. I'm on my 4th year now, and it's interesting to look back and see what was happening on the same date in previous years. This morning it made me chuckle to see how December 23 had played out in recent years.

December 23, 2007
[Lots of family members in town for Katie's wedding]
"Such a busy Sunday, but a good spirit and happy. The girls and I puttered on projects--bow ties for baby boys, finishing the sashes, cookie plates / stands for Julia, Chris' gift from Kendra--we chatted throughout--very pleasant.

December 23, 2008
Awful day. I have no control over anything. I can't get anything done. [Shall remain nameless] and [shall remain nameless] were both being brats. Accused me of taking the other's side. I hate this season. I want to go live by myself.

December 23, 2009
[Visiting my parents in Washington]
Ahhh...we are here in Colville and it is so peaceful. Mark and Maleena took turns driving and I finished Mom's Christmas blanket. We had a nice evening with Mom and Dad, just visiting, and then drove over to Dragonfly Cottage--oh, it is perfect. I am so happy to be here.

December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve Eve to everyone!

PS - Happy Birthday to Joseph Smith!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Candlelight Carol

Trying to pin down a feeling...

This evening Mark and I went to a lovely concert of Christmas music at our church. The penultimate song was this one, "Candlelight Carol." Here's a lovely version by the MoTab.

I don't know what it is about this song. I've sung it several times over the years in different Christmas choirs, and it always moves me. Tonight was no exception; I had to use Mark's hankie.

Christmastime prompts so many reflections of the gifts of the gospel, the gifts of the Spirit. I am thankful beyond words for the Atonement, and the promise that I can return with my family to live with God again. But 2010 has been a year of such profound, unspeakable loss in my family, that the emotions of gratitude and grief collide and twist my heart, and while I try to be cheerful and brave, sometimes there is nothing left but to weep for a while.

Sometimes Christmas is just like that. That sweet, innocent baby was born to be crucified. The scriptures tell us that we all shouted for joy when we heard that we, too, would come to earth to be tried, to suffer. At the heart of the tinsel and presents is the truth that Christ didn't come to have a holly-jolly Christmas, he came to work out our salvation through his Atonement.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be moody and depressing. I'm just sitting her next to my little 4-foot fake tree, with the lights turned low, echoes of lovely music in my heart, and reflecting with gratitude on the Savior and his love.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peaceable Things

I found a great bargain on live trees this year. One of the teachers at my school is selling U-cut Doug firs for $5.00 and Noble firs for $10.00. Wow! $10.00 for a Noble! I've never had one before, because they are so expensive. I made arrangements to go out to their farm and cut one last Friday.

But then life happened. We could have made it to the farm Friday, but doing so would have meant pushing ourselves to the point where it wasn't fun any more. And so we decided to pull out the definitely fake, 4-foot tree, and hang a few ornaments on it. 

And you know what? For this year, that's just fine. I got to reflecting on something Dieter F. Uchtdorf said at the recent Christmas devotional broadcast from Salt Lake City on December 5: "If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most."

What mattered most to me this week wasn't a fancy tree, it was time with my family. I appreciate President Uchtdorf's counsel to not become a Grinch in my own home, You can read the rest of his talk here

As for me, I'm going to settle in next to my little tree and have a peaceful Sunday morning. I hope you are having one, too!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm putting Christmas on hold this week...

...because we have a new trimester starting tomorrow morning! We are now 1/3 of the way through this school year. Tomorrow morning at 7:40 am I will greet 37 new students for the first time, and we'll launch into the beginning of the "Oregon Literature - Past" course. (I teach "Oregon Literature - Present" in the spring.")

I think I'm ready to go. I have revamped my lesson plans and grading system that I used in the fall. I have a two-week unit ready to go, to get us through until the winter break. I have a shiny new seating chart prepared, and I'm heading to bed a little early.

I am SO grateful that I get to teach teenagers. I am SO grateful that I get to work with Mark every day. I am a lucky, lucky woman. I get to teach!

(Thanks to son-in-law Mike K for finding today's image. When I tried to find google a "trimester" picture to add to this post, I mostly got pregnancy images. Mike had a different idea for a google search, which worked better than mine.)