Thursday, December 12, 2013

Little moments

Do you ever have moments where you look around at your kids, your spouse, your life, etc. and you just can't help but smile and feel overwhelmed with happiness? It happens to me sometimes. I spend a lot of my days feeling stressed, running from place to place, always telling my kids "Do this now!" or "Don't do that ever!", and I'm trying to spend more time enjoying life and taking moments to relax and savor the little moments. It's those times when I slow down and take a look around that I feel so lucky and blessed with the life I have. 

Here are a few of the moments this week that made me smile:

I was using oranges for baking, and Dallin (who has previously stayed far away from oranges) picked one up and started licking it. I cut off a little segment for him and he began eating it.
This is a miraculous event! The only fruits Dallin will eat are cantaloupes and grapes. And cantaloupe this time of year is gross and expensive, so I'm overjoyed to find something else he will eat.
At the grocery store this week, we passed some oranges and Dallin asked for some, then happily put them in the basket. I'm cautiously optimistic about this.

I tried to take a decent looking picture of the boys together and actually got a few good shots.
I love Connor's smile here.

And this brotherly love is pretty cute.

A recent snowfall meant it was time to shovel the driveway and play in the snow.

Connor used a sand shovel to help me.
While very ineffective, this is ridiculously cute.

This video warms my heart. Connor  picked up my scriptures and started turning through the pages, "reading" outloud: "Heavenly Father loves me."
I'm not quite sure where he picked up that exact phrase, but we must be doing something right.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Part of the fun of making a Thanksgiving dinner is trying to figure out how to use up the leftovers. You can only have a leftover turkey sandwich so many times before it gets boring. I got pretty creative this year. I made Herb Turkey and Asparagus Risotto.
This was made with turkey stock that I made myself from the leftover turkey bones. It was so full of flavor and delicious.

I also made Turkey Enchiladas. I made them exactly like I would chicken enchiladas with a red sauce, but I used turkey instead of chicken. Easy!

I ran out of turkey a lot faster than I thought I would, but there is always one thing that I have leftover long after everything else is consumed: cranberry sauce. I love making my own fresh cranberry sauce and I keep it simple: cranberries, diced apple, sugar, water. Boil. Cool. Eat. I think I'm the only person that ever eats it, so I always have a ton leftover. I'm determined to use it up this year so I made some cranberry muffins.
These are really yummy. Connor is a muffin-fiend and has eaten two in the last hour. I mostly followed this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod, but I changed a few things. I used juice from an orange instead of orange zest. (My orange had already been zested for a previous dish.) The batter is REALLY thick (we're talking almost cookie dough consistency), so I would add more milk or orange juice to thin it out. The thick batter makes a dense hearty muffin, which may or may not be desirable to you, but it does make for quite a beautiful, rounded muffin top. I also cut the sugar back by a few tablespoons. I find myself doing that for most recipes and I can hardly tell the difference.

The muffins are delicious. I recommend you give them a try if you have some cranberry sauce to spare. I have a Christmas party to attend tomorrow, so next I want to try this Cranberry Orange bread recipe:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30: Dallin

The month is practically over, but I couldn't end it without devoting a whole post to Dallin.

I'm so grateful that Dallin is part of our family. He is an amazing person. He is kind to everyone and loves to meet new people. His smile is contagious.

His abilities amaze me. He has a gift for puzzles and can do puzzles better than other kids his age. He is a really big help to me, always willing to help set the table or unload the dishwasher.
Or watch the grill for me.

Dallin is a very loving, big brother.
He looks out for Connor. When Dallin gets a treat or reward, he want to make sure that Connor gets one too. If Dallin wants a fruit snack, he always grabs one for himself AND Connor He's very supportive of Connor's interests. As we drive around town, Dallin points out the train tracks to Connor and cheers when we drive over them, even though Dallin doesn't really care about trains himself. It's all for the happiness of his brother. Dallin is a good sport and lets Connor do pretty much anything to him, like wipe his face:

 Since Dallin was born with Williams Syndrome, we've been through a lot of difficulties and trials as a result. 

I'm grateful for the difficulties because they've helped us grow. It's easier to find joy in the little things. Simple things like Dallin saying the prayer in Primary at church bring a big smile and tears of joy because we struggled for so long with him not being able to speak at all. Seeing him eat three slices of pizza at once is an amazing sight because I remember when the sight of food would make him gag. Dallin has made me more accepting and understanding of people with disabilities. He has made me research and learn, and I know more than I ever thought I would about heart conditions and calcium and genetics and physical therapy.
I've learn how to be an advocate for my son.

When we participate in Walks for WS and raise awareness, I do it not only for Dallin but for 30,000 other children and adults like him in the United States.

I'm grateful for that I get to be Dallin's mom.
I am far from the perfect mother I thought I would be, but I try harder to be better everyday because of Dallin (and Connor too). When I am angry or sad, Dallin is always right there to give me a hug or say the right words to make me feel better. He is very sympathetic and thinks of other.

I'm so thankful for my sweet Dallin. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 29: Christmas decorations

We put up our Christmas decorations today. Well, we already had the tree up so we put up the rest of our decorations.

We (mostly Mckay) put up the lights on the house.

 I made some paper snowflakes to hang over the piano.

 The instructions to make these are pretty easy. I've collected many many pages of sheet music from various Christmas and Easter choir performances I've played for, so I used some of those papers to make the snowflakes.

I was very excited to get out the Advent Calendar I made last year. I spent so much time with it last year, it was like seeing an old friend. I have to find the perfect place to hang it up and then maybe I'll take an updated picture of it.

I'm thankful for Christmas decorations. They make our house look so festive and cheerful. I'm thankful for the constant reminder of the upcoming holiday and the reason we celebrate.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 28: Purdue

Today I am thankful for Purdue and that Mckay has a job. 

For Thanksgiving, I made 4 pies: 2 pecan and 2 apple.
These two pies above I made to take to a local organization that provides meals to families in need. Thinking about others who don't have very much made me really grateful for what we do have. I'm really glad that Mckay gets paid to do research and be a student. I'm glad that all our needs are met. Sure, we budget our money and spend carefully, but we have everything we need.
 We have a wonderful house with two boys who kept eating all my pie crust scraps.
We always have plenty of food on our table, like the delicious rolls in the picture above rising on the table.

I'm thankful that Purdue brought us to Indiana. We've had a great experience here. 

We have a pretty wonderful life. I'm grateful for this holiday that reminds us to be grateful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27: friends

I'm thankful for wonderful friends. Being here in Indiana for school, it can be difficult to be away from our family at times. We've been blessed to develop friendships with some wonderful people here. In our home away from home, they've become our family away from family. 

We celebrate birthdays together, we conquered canning together, we have Easter Egg hunts together, babysit each other kids, borrow tools and equipment from each other, have playgroups together, the list goes on and on.

Through husbands on military deployment, deaths in the family, new babies born, and medical procedures for our kids, we're here for each other. It's nice to have a good support system and people I know I can count on to help us when we need it. Our friends invite us to fun things, like a Halloween Doughnut Party.

Or there was the time this summer when we went to the Zoo and had a picnic lunch and rain started pouring down on us just as we finished eating.
We eventually ditched the pavilion to run to our cars only to have the rain come down even harder. Even though we were all soaked, we made sure all the kids made it to the cars.

Through rain or sun, we have some pretty awesome friends. I'm thankful for them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26: music

I love music. I love listening to it. I love playing music myself on the piano. I love to hear other people play the piano. I'm amazed at how quickly music can affect our emotions. Happy, lively music makes us want to dance. Scary music makes us feel uncomfortable. If you ever watch a scary movie, you'll notice that it's the music you hear that clues you in on when something bad is about to happen. Take the movie Jaws for example: 

duh nuh....     duh nuh..... duh nuh.. duh nuh duh nuh DUH NUH DUH NUH DUHNUH!!!

Or think of Psycho. REE! REE! REE! 

Take the music away, and scary movies lose a lot of suspense and scariness. Although, it's still pretty scary to see someone stabbed in the shower.

I feel like I'm getting off track here.........  I love how HAPPY music can make us. I love this time of year when listening to Christmas music makes us feel nostalgic and remember how magical Christmas is.

I'm thankful that I know how to play the piano and the organ. I'm so glad that my parents had me take piano lessons and encouraged me to practice. I'm grateful for my wonderful teachers who helped me develop this talent. I love that I get to teach piano lessons now to 6 great kids. Sometimes I wonder why I do it; my life is certainly busy enough as a full-time mom and wife of a grad student. But I love seeing my students learn new things. I love hearing them stumble through a song only to come back a week later to hear it played perfectly. Practicing really does help! I love to hear them get excited about music. When they tell me, "I heard a song this week and I think it was in a minor key!", my music heart just melts.

I enjoy preparing little games/activities for my students to do that reinforce theory or terms we just learned.
I wish I could say that I come up with all of them myself, but most of my ideas come from other music bloggers or my Pinterest board.

I'm thankful that I get to teach my boys about music. I can already see their interest in it.
(This picture was taken over a year and a half ago when I first started teaching. Dallin looks so young here! Well, mostly the same size but his cheeks are less chubby now.)

I'm thankful for music, for how much it's blessed my life and allowed me to bless others.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25: Family Home Evening

I've mentioned before that we do a family night every Monday after dinner and we call it Family Home Evening. We set that time aside as a special, "family only" time. We don't watch tv, worry about dishes or anything else during that time. We spend it together as a family. We talk about a variety of topics like kindness, faith, sharing, prayer, gratitude, etc. Tonight, we talked about gratitude. I made a tree cutout and lots of little leaves.
As part of our evening, we took turns writing things we are thankful for on the leaves and put them on our tree.
This is hanging up in our kitchen to remind us of the things we're grateful for.

Next we put the ornaments up on the Christmas tree. When we put the tree up a few nights ago, we only got around to putting up lights.

The boys careful unwrapped all my snowmen ornaments.

Mckay helped them place the ornaments.

I remember during Christmases when I was a kid, my mom always put up this homemade Santa ornament that my brother made. It was far from perfect looking and we always wondered why Mom wanted this ornament on the tree among the other beautiful ones. Now I know why she did it. 
Dallin made this Santa ornament last year in preschool. I love it. I think I'll be putting it on our tree for many years.

I'm thankful for Family Home Evening. We get so busy and wrapped up in all the things we have to do. I'm glad that we can take some time each week to be together as a family, to spend some time teaching our children and enjoy being with them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24: new experiences

 I'm thankful that we get to try new things. Life would be pretty boring if we had to choose one thing to do for the rest of our life and we never got to do anything else. I like experiencing new things. When Mckay and I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to learn curling, we were pretty excited.
Yes, Curling. The winter sport you always see on the Olympics but have never actually known how its played. Well, now I know!

Mckay has a Chem.E. friend here at Purdue that curls and was even on his college curling team as an undergrad.
Erik is connected in the Curling community and still plays regularly. There is a Chicago curling club and they often invite new comers in to learn how to curl. So we found some wonderful people to watch our children all day on a Saturday and we drove to Chicago (2.5 hrs away) to go curling.

Curling ice is a little different from ice skating or hockey ice. Right before a game, it's misted with a hose so lots of little drops of water freeze on the ice and make it"bumpy."
 The guy in the middle is spraying the ice. The guy on the right is leveling and evening out all the bumps.

We were brought onto the ice, taught a few basics and then we curled!
I felt a little goofy at first, but once I got the hang of it, I felt very graceful gliding across the ice.

After we played a game with the whole group, they let the three of us stay on the ice for a while longer. Mckay and I played a few rounds against each other and Erik helped and directed us.
 We had a lot of fun! It is a really cool sport to learn. Everyone was very nice and accepting of us beginners, even the experts who have been playing for 30+ years.

 There was a little museum in the building where we got so see some really old curling stone and brooms.

Worn out and starving after a hard day of curling, we got some traditional deep dish Chicago pizza.
We had never tried authentic Chicago pizza before and it tasted beyond amazing! The crust, the cheese, the slab of sausage that covered the entire pizza.... all soooo good! It was already night and we still had a long drive ahead of us to get home to our kids, so Mckay snuck in a few bites of pizza while driving.
 Don't worry, Mckay while eating pizza is still safer than most of the Chicago drivers who were texting or looking at their phones while driving.

I'm grateful for new experience and learning new things. I especially love new food experiences. And now I'm really excited to watch the winter Olympics in a few months so I can see more curling.