Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 in Review and This and That

Well, today I can finally say I made it!  That's right folks after weeks of being sick and coughing, hacking, a head to toe rash, countless prescription medications along with a few OTC medications, along with a few other thing we won't mention, I FINALLY made it back to work!  Work wasn't super busy for a Friday, which is a little strange for this time of year, but it still wore me out.  I came home, we did dinner Kevin style....we ordered and picked it up.  Then as soon as Kyle left around seven to go hang out with friends, I was fast asleep.  I will admit, I'm a little worried about next week and getting super tired while at work.  I'm glad to be back.  I guess we will just take things one day at a time.  That's all I can really do, right??!!!  

Remember telling you that I started this whole lifestyle change?  Well, I was on it for about a week and a half and lost a few pounds, but then I got sick and broke out in the rash and got super sick again.  So, I had stopped the lifestyle changes and just ate the comfort foods I wanted.  Well, I started back with the changes I made and I am happy to report that even with the cheating I am now down fifteen pounds!  I am thrilled!  Even with the cheating, I didn't gain all the weight back and that makes me super happy.  So, we will keep going and hopefully I will keep seeing things change.  Yay me!

Well, today I have decided to start us out with a Meme.  I'm doing this one now so you all can copy and paste it to use for yourselves.  Here goes....

What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?  
Planned my daughter's wedding reception and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.  With a Mormon or LDS wedding you don't have to do much for the wedding itself except have a current temple recommend, call the temple and schedule the wedding/sealing, then make sure your daughter has a temple dress.  If she doesn't the temple rents them.  Then all you have to do is show up and the temple workers do EVERYTHING else.  It's pretty awesome.  So, all we had to do was plan the party after wards!  I have to say being Mormon and having children get married in the temple is such a blessing.  Especially in the keeping things simple and peaceful during what could be a very stressful time of life.
Not to mention all the other blessings that are far more important that the simplicity of the day.  ~smile~smile~

Did you keep your New Years resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  Yes and no.  I had a New Years resolution to drink more water and exercise more.  I have exercised more, but I could do better and I have drank more water, but I could get a little better at that too. I also had a mid-year resolution to stop drinking soda and I've kept that resolution.  That has been awesome!!  Now to get the rest of the family off of it too.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No, unfortunately no babies in the family yet.  Babies are always fun, but we aren't rushing my daughter and her new husband.  I think it's great that they want to wait a bit and take some time to get to know each other first before having kids.  I'm a-okay with whatever they decide.

Did anyone close to you die?  No, thank goodness!!  There are still a couple weeks left of 2016.....let's keep it this way.

What countries did you visit?  Just the United States.  We live here. Our big travel adventure, so far, has been a trip to Montana. We're hoping next year we will be able to travel a little more.  This time for fun.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?  This has been a long time dream of mine.....Remember it's just a dream.  It will probably NEVER become a reality.  Here goes..... Enough money to be able to quit my job and be a stay at home wife and mother.  Now that Kevin has his injury to deal with I want to be here to keep an eye on him more.  Not that he always needs that because let me tell you, he has been all over the place with Kyle and Lexi while I've been down sick.  That was kind of frustrating.  Now that he has the pain meds again, he has slowed down a little more.  (I hate that about the meds.)

What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory and why? April 8, 2016.  The day my oldest child was sealed in the temple to her eternal companion. 

What was your biggest achievement of the year?  I'd say, helping with my daughter's reception...lets face it, her getting married in the temple has been a lifelong goal for her and us as her parents.  Then, I'd say, finding and working with a group back east to help us with a few things for Kevin.  They have been awesome thus far and we have already received big answers!  (Thank you!)  Last, I'd say finally getting Kevin covered on Social Security.  Finally!  It just happened too.  That is quite the blessing!  Yay!

Did you suffer illness or injury? No injury.  Just sickness.  Nothing major,thank goodness!  Not fun!  I thought I was gonna actually die over Thanksgiving.  I did not feel good at all!  Thank goodness for modern medicine and some amazing medications.

What was the best thing you bought? Oh, I'd say new beds for our kids.  That has made all the difference in the world.  Now I have to beg them to come out of their rooms to talk to me from time to time.  It's kind of funny.  They spend a lot of time in their rooms now.  That didn't happen before.  I'm happy they are happy in their space, but I will admit it takes some getting use to for me.  

Whose behavior merited celebration? I'd have to say Kevin's.  He has been through so much, yet he still continues to be my rock, my number one fan, and an inspiration.  I am also very much aware that he is going through the biggest trial so far of his entire life and that he still has some pretty bad days, yet he still has a pretty decent attitude.  I don't see mean Kevin that often...only when the pain gets out of control and that I totally understand.  I know I would probably react the same way.

Where did most of your money go?  I'd say bills.  It didn't take long to freak my bank out once we started paying bills.  They actually had to up my account withdrawal limit so we could get all of the big bills paid one day.  That was a pain in the butt!  Especially when I was coughing and hacking all the time.  Thank goodness for speaker phone.  (love that option on my cell phone)  It felt great to get those bills paid!  I paid our rent, tithing for year, paid off my car repair bill in full, got our water bill current, paid a few doctor's bills, and got Lexi set up and ready for braces. I am so glad everything could be paid online or with a quick phone call. No leaving the house for me!

What did you get really, really, really excited about? I'd say my daughter's wedding reception earlier this year, and that I was able to find the folks in Virginia to help us out when the folks here in Phoenix turned us down.  I am so grateful for the Internet and the ability to research things at a moments notice.  So glad the Virginia folks have been there for us!  They have already helped us receive answers we thought we would never get.  They are awesome!

What song will always remind you of 2016? Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake.  I like it because it's upbeat, danceable and just a happy song.  Here is that video. 

What do you wish you'd done more of? Educating others about Kevin's injury. I'm still amazed at how some people act.  They think they know what we are dealing with, when they have NEVER dealt with anything like this day in and day out.  They have absolutely no idea what it's like.  Frankly, there are times I wish that Karma would give those "know it alls" the chance to really see.  I'd like a front row seat when that happens.  I know that's mean spirited, but sometimes I just can't help it.  

What do you wish you'd done less of?  Stressing.  Stressing over Kevin and his injury.  Stressing over our future.  Stressing over our finances.  Stressing over family relationships.  Stressing about our missionary.  Stressing about how all of this effects our children.  Stressing about work.  Stressing about everything pretty much.

How did you spend Christmas? Well, Christmas hasn't quite happened for us yet. Remember I'm doing this early.  BUT, we will be spending our Christmas Eve with my parents, siblings and spouses, nieces, nephews, and cousins.  Then on Christmas day we will be spending the day with our immediate family and talking with Curtis. Pretty much the highlight of Christmas Day will be centered around when we get to talk to Curtis.  Yay!

Did you fall in love in 2016? I'm already in love, but I do fall deeper and deeper in love with my husband more and more each year.

What was your favorite TV program?  I have several now.  Scandal, Madam Secretary, Designated Survivor,  Lethal Weapon, NCIS, Bull,.....just to name a few.

What was the best book you read this year? I didn't read any NEW books.  BUT I tried to focus my time reading my scriptures more.  In fact, I have slacked off a bit while being sick. I need to get back to it.  I'm trying to make it a daily habit.  As you can see, I still struggle.  Work in progress.

What was your greatest musical discovery? Thanks to Lexi, I'd have to say the Broadway musical Hamilton.  She has really made me want to go see that play as soon as we can.

What did you want and get for Christmas? Well, again, Christmas hasn't happened yet. I really don't have anything big that I want. Just a few little things.  Nothing crazy for me.

What was your favorite film of this year? I'd say Finding Dory and Zootopia.  BUT, I want to see Office Christmas Party but it's rated R.  We don't watch rated R movies in our home. 

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 49 this year and we celebrated here at the house with cake & ice-cream, presents, and a nice dinner.  Nothing crazy.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If Social Security would have kicked in at the beginning of the year and not the end. 

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? I'd say soft, comfortable t-shirts are my staples with a nice comfy dark jean.  Sandals have also become my new best friend too.  Love it!

What kept you sane? My therapist!  She has been an amazing blessing in my life!  

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I'd say Tia Leoni!  I love watching her on Madam Secretary and I have been pleasantly surprised by her on that show.  I remember her from some movies in the late 80's and 90's and she played the typical blonde.  In Madam Secretary she plays a very intelligent woman.  Love it! 

What political issue stirred you the most? Do you really have to ask?!  The Presidential Campaigned and Election.  Holy Cow!  Are we all not embarrassed by how that all played out?  Wow! I will say this, I was not happy with any of our choices for President and feel I picked the better of the two options and I have been pleasantly surprised with our new President.  For the first time I actually believe Donald Trump really does care.  (He just seemed smug and a jerk on his shows and whenever he appeared on television. Goes to show you can't judge everything by those kinds of things.)  Not just about the things on his so called agenda, but about EVERY American especially those that didn't vote for him.  I think he really does want to do what he can to make America great again.  Not by putting up walls or sending illegal immigrants back to their countries, but by standing up for what this country is all about.  I loved that he let everyone know he was not happy with those people who like to burn our nations flag and destroy it.  I also love that he is considering Mitt Romney for Secretary of State!  I would have preferred Mitt in the White House, but Secretary of State is a great place for him as well.  I'm excited to see how things play out over the next four years, and if all goes well I hope Donald Trump will be able to make it eight.

Who did you miss? I miss our missionary, BUT I don't want him home before his time.  He is doing exactly what his Heavenly Father wants him to do and I am very proud of him for his desire to serve and his dedication to the work.  I've never been one of those mother's that you see that would likely choose to not have their sons serve so as not to have them away from them for two long years....missionary service doesn't make me sad it makes me happy.  I feel its an honor to have a son worthy, willing, and excited to serve the Lord.  What more could a mother ask for?

Who was the best new person (people) you met? Well, that's a tough question.  For starters, I'd say my new boss.  She has been awesome.  She is fair.  She doesn't get emotional and let her personal feelings get in the way of doing her job. I love that about her.  Second, I'd say our new friends in Virginia!  They have been awesome!  

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:  This isn't exactly something new that I have learned.  I have always known this.  People in your life will let you down sometimes.  The only one person that will NEVER let you down is your Heavenly Father.  I think the thing I am most surprised with is who let us down this year.  One things for sure, we have come to know our Heavenly Father's will for us and we have come to know Him more than ever and that is the biggest blessing of all. 

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

By: Justin Timberlake
I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We're flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone
I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
I can't take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don't stop
And under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine
Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
A feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
Ooh, it's something magical
It's in the air, it's in my blood, it's rushing on
I don't need no reason, don't need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I'm in my zone
'Cause I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
I can't take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock, the way we rock it, so don't stop
Under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine
Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those thing I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can't stop the feeling
So keep dancing, come on
I can't stop the, I can't stop the
I can't stop the, I can't stop the
I can't stop the feeling
Nothing I can see buy you when you dance, dance, dance (I can't stop the feeling)
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on (I can't stop the feeling)
All those thing I shouldn't do
But you dance, dance, dance (I can't stop the feeling)
And ain't nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
Everybody sing (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body (I can't stop the feeling)
Wanna see you move your body (I can't stop the feeling)
Got this feeling in my body
Break it down
Got this feeling in my body
Can't stop the feeling
Got this feeling in my body, come on

This is so random, but I just had to share.....I have seen these funny egg shaped items in the store for a while now and have always thought they were some kind of pumice stone for your feet or something.  Well, imagine my surprise when someone told me they were sponge applicators for face powder.  What??!!!  Well, girls, they are the greatest little tool for applying your facial powder. They are called Real Technique Miracle Complexion Sponges.  It has rounded sides for blending, a precision tip for covering blemishes, and a flat edge for contouring.  It leaves your face "smooth as a baby's butt."  And, yes, you can order them from Amazon!!!  I'm thinking they would make a great stocking stuffer!! 

RECIPE:  I think I want to try this recipe, but the only people in my family that will eat it are Kevin and I, and I shouldn't eat it.  I can't have white potatoes right now.  It hasn't been a big deal until I see recipes like this.  LOL!

Asiago Potato Soup with Cheese-Crusted Croutons

A rich and delicious soup!!!  Make sure you make the croutons!

Asiago Potato Soup

1 lb. smoked Applewood bacon
18 baby red potatoes
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup butter
3 tsp. granulated chicken bouillon
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 1/2 cup flour
1 quart 1/2 n 1/2
8 oz. fresh grated Asiago cheese
8 green onion stalks, finely chopped
1-2 quarts 2% milk
Cheese-crusted croutons
1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Dice bacon and saute.  Remove bacon from pan and cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and toss in remaining bacon drippings to coat evenly.  Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with parsley flakes and kosher salt.  Place in oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning potatoes every 10 minutes until golden brown.  Do not overcook.  The potatoes will fry in oven.  Melt butter in a large pot with chicken bouillon, onion salt and pepper. Slowly add flour, beginning with 1 cup until the butter is completely absorbed.  Add more flour until mixture is crumbly.  Using a whisk, slowly stir in the half and half until it is smooth.  Soup will thicken as it cooks.  Fold in cheese and green onions.  Add fried potatoes and bacon to the soup.  The consistency should be very thick.  Slowly stir in milk until desired thickness.  Top with homemade croutons, WHICH ARE AMAZING) and fresh cilantro and serve.

Cheese-crusted Croutons  THESE ARE FABULOUS!

4 slices French bread
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. onion salt
coarse black pepper to taste

Turn oven temperature to  low broil.  Mix the ingredients in small bowl and spread over slices of bread.  Broil in oven for 2-3 minutes.  Turn over and spread cheese mixture on the other side and broil again for 2-3 minutes.  Let cool and slice toasted bread into cubes.  Serve with soup or salad

These are a couple of the banners you will see at Time Square this time of year.

How cool is that???!!!!  Love it!

Elder Schmidt talked about all the different kinds of service the missionaries in his area have been by providing over the past week. handing out free hot chocolate was one of the ways they served the community.  Well, they handed out hot chocolate and invited people off the street into a church for a free concert that evening called Carols on Columbus.  This next photo is of some missionaries passing out hot chocolate and talking with the people.

Now for more Elder Schmidt photos.  Some of these photos you'll have to look hard to find him. These are from the recent Zone Conference....

Elder Schmidt in the middle of all the missionaries eating something

Elder Schmidt eating in the background on the right

Did you see the back of Elder Schmidt off in the back right of the photo. He's in his big warm overcoat.

You can barely see Elder Schmidt's head just beyond the Elder with the dark hair and glasses on the right of the photo.

Look to the far left of this photo.  You can see Elder Schmidt looking down at his tablet.

If you don't see him in this photo, then you must not know who he is.

Elder Schmidt in line for food.

This is a tough one.  If you look in between the arm of the man (Elder Schmidt's mission president) with his back to us, you can see Elder Schmidt's tie.

He's off the the far left in this one. 

You can barely see the top of his head to the left in this photo

You see the back of Elder Schmidt's head just beyond President Smith's head.

I'd like to leave you with this awesome message. I love it. It is so true!

Three Levels of Christmas
by William B. Smart
Messages for a Happier Life, (Deseret Book, 1989), 33-34.
Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special awareness of and appreciation for family and friends, the feelings of love and brotherhood that bless our gatherings at Christmastime.
In all of the joyousness it is well to reflect that Christmas comes at three levels.
Let’s call the first the Santa Claus level. It’s the level of Christmas trees and holly, of whispered secrets and colorful packages, of candlelight and rich food and warm open houses. It’s carolers in the shopping malls, excited children, and weary but loving parents. It’s a lovely time of special warmth and caring and giving. It’s the level at which we eat too much and spend too much and do too much – and enjoy every minute of it. We love the Santa Claus level of Christmas.
But there’s a higher, more beautiful level. Let’s call it the Silent Night level. It’s the level of all our glorious Christmas carols, of that beloved, familiar story: “Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus….” It’s the level of the crowded inn and the silent, holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of Man came to earth. It’s the shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings, the new star in the East, wise men traveling far in search of the Holy One. How beautiful and meaningful it is; how infinitely poorer we would be without this sacred second level of Christmas.
The trouble is, these two levels don’t last. They can’t. Twelve days of Christmas, at the first level, is about all most of us can stand. It’s too intense, too extravagant. The tree dies out and needles fall. The candles burn down. The beautiful wrappings go out with the trash, the carolers are up on the ski slopes, the toys break, and the biggest day in the stores for the entire year is exchange day, December 26th. The feast is over and the dieting begins. But the lonely and the hungry are with us still, perhaps lonelier and hungrier than before.
Lovely and joyous as the first level of Christmas is, there will come day, very soon, when Mother will put away the decorations and vacuum the living room and think, “Thank goodness that this over for another year.”
Even the second level, the level of the Baby Jesus, can’t last. How many times this season can you sing, “Silent Night?” The angels and the star, and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of the holy night itself, can’t long satisfy humanity’s basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manger will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.
No, for Christmas to last all year long, for it to grow in beauty and meaning and purpose, for it to have the power to change lives, we must celebrate it at the third level, that of the adult Christ. It is at this level—not as an infant—that our Savior brings his gifts of lasting joy, lasting peace, lasting hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable, who so loved us all that even in his agony on the cross, he prayed forgiveness for his enemies.
This is Christ, creator of worlds without number, who wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other – and then who willingly gave his life for all of us, including those for whom he wept. This is the Christ, the adult Christ, who gave us the perfect example, and asked us to follow him.
Accepting that invitation is the way – the only way – that all mankind can celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.

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