Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

As Christmas is coming nearer, I got busy and got our Christmas letter done early.  So here it is!

Another year filled with wonderful things and people begins this Christmas greeting.
Brock Patrick Gourley joined our family in March as grandchild #3. What a happy little guy he is.
Cami began Pre-K this year. Are we really old enough to have a grandchild in school? I should think not. 
Driving is Andrew's newest venture. He got his license a few weeks after his 16th birthday.
Eleven is the number of students Heidi is teaching in seminary this year. Our course of study is the Old Testament. So far so good.
Fillmore is the name Sammi now uses after her marriage in August to Jeff. What a whirlwind courtship that was! The first date was June 24th and the wedding was August 18th.
Grade 10 is where we find Andrew these days. He's a fairly good student and he loves athletics. He's just a good all-around son.
Home sweet home should be the sign hanging in the Gourley's new house. They bought a house in the Gresham area last winter and are enjoying being out of our house. We painted a lot of walls before they moved in.
Into everything would be how to explain our grandson, Adam. He's two and as curious as he is cute...and he's a real cutie!
Juicing apples this fall, was the way Heidi spent two days. Fresh apple cider. There's nothing else to compare. Canned many gallons and gave many more away.
Killing his first deer was Andrew's big news last deer hunting season. Not quite so successful this year. :(
Lake swimming brought us together with our dear friend MaryEllen this summer. The temperatures were so hot, that the lake felt so good at the end of the day. That was as close as we got to camping this summer.
May brought Sammi home from her mission in Washington. How I love to be able to text or talk to her whenever the mood strikes me. She was a fantastic missionary!
Nauvoo was the site for our youth conference. Tom and Sammi came along to help do dishes. Heidi set up the schedule for all the activities. A wonderful time together of fun and service!
Overjoyed is how we felt with getting airline tickets for cheap to attend nephew Zane's wedding in Idaho this coming January.
Princess is what Cami called niece Nicola in her wedding gown. We were able to attend her wedding last December in Idaho Falls. These grown up kids are getting expensive!
Qualifying for the sectional track meet with a jump of 5'6" was Andrew's big news in May. He struggled a lot with injuries and confidence all season, but it all came together for him at the Regional meet.
Receptions in Muscatine, IA and Gresham were a way to meet new people and reconnect with friends from our past. Roasting a pig was a good and delicious way to celebrate!
Soccer is Andrew's fall sport. He got to play a lot more this year and the team as a whole did a lot better as well. Basketball has officially begun and he's playing Varsity.
Tom is still involved in Special Olympics as well as working at the chip mill with his mom one day each week. He's quite independent.
Utah, in Provo are where Sammi and Jeff are living. He's going to school and she's working at Deseret Book/Distribution. She loves it!
Vocal Point was the concert in Nauvoo where Sammi and Jeff reconnected. We've enjoyed watching them this fall on TV in The Sing Off.
Wedding bells for Sammi and Jeff resulted in a trip to Utah to deliver wedding gifts in October for Pat and Heidi. We enjoyed General conference while we were there.
ReXburg, ID is where Erin is getting her education. She's still loving being there.
Yellowstone is a beautiful place to visit. Pat and I drove through on our way to visit the girls. It really should be enjoyed as a destination and not just a drive-through.
Zebra stripes are what Pat and Erin will be wearing over the course of the basketball season. Each year Erin says she hopes this will be her last year doing it but it pays her college expenses.

That pretty much sums up our year.  One thing we have that is so important is the constant love of our Savior.  As we celebrate his birth, we're reminded once again what a great miracle His love is.  All we have is because of Him.  We would be very ungrateful if we didn't praise Him and give Him the credit for everything in our lives.  We wish you a very happy Christmas season with you and your loved ones.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Johnny Jump Up

Clare has a Johnny Jump Up and keeps it our house as she doesn't have the door frames at her house to make it work.  So, each time Brock comes over, he jumps and jumps and jumps.  He loves it!
Tonight, Clint put Adam in it.  He used to jump in it as well.  He's much too big for it but it gave us all a good giggle.
Since both boys are such jumpers, we bought a jumping horse for the boys.  Cami is actually about the right size to use it, but we specifically thought about the boys when we bought it.  I'm hoping Clare will post a photo of Adam on his "ho-achee."

Santa's Helper

Today one of Santa's helpers stopped by our house. 
Maybe you saw him at church.  I think he looks much more like an elf than Santa.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Riddle of the Day

QUESTION:  What do you get when you allow a two little girls ages 4 and 5 to decorate your Christmas tree?

ANSWER:  A tree that looks like this.  :)
I think I'll do some rearranging when they're both gone home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Temple

In my quest to be thankful, I have to say that I'm thankful for temples!  Yesterday my sweetie and I drove to Chicago to spend time in the temple.  I always learn something new.  We did some sealing and I was reminded of the covenant of marriage.  It felt so good to hear the promises and blessings that come with that specific covenant.  Besides that, I got to look across the alter at my handsome husband. 

We've been going to the temple monthly for at least four years now and I can't imagine not doing it.  I believe not only has it opened my understanding, but it has strengthened our marriage.  What's not to be thankful about?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hunting and the Sabbath Day

This week in seminary we studied Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt.  What a bunch of whiners!  They had miracle upon miracle and deliverance more than once and still wanted to go back.  I'm sure they weren't all like that.  You know, the squeaky wheel theory.  Those are the ones that get heard. 
We learned about manna.  It "rained" from the sky after the morning dew was gone and it melted upon having the sun come out with it's heat.  It couldn't be stored from day to day as it got wormy and stank.  Yet, on the sixth day, the people were to gather enough for two days and it didn't go bad. 

This is evidence to me about how very important the Sabbath day is.  Even the Lord rests on the Sabbath day.  He thought it was important enough to make it one of the "Ten Commandments."  I think we are expected to put aside our daily lives and devote ourselves to the Lord.

This week in the newspaper there was a story about a local Pastor who was doing a special Thursday night worship service so that the hunters who will miss church on Sunday can have a "free pass."  We discussed this article in seminary as well.  How dare this man "change" the Sabbath!  I understand that he thinks it is better to get people in church any way he can rather than not having them there at all.  He even invited them to wear their blaze orange to his service as he would be wearing his blaze orange stole with a cross on it.

I, for one, love the Sabbath day.  I love the chance to worship and partake of the sacred emblems of the sacrament.  I love being with the wonderful people of the choir, going home or visiting teaching and preparing for Monday's seminary lesson. 

I don't pretend that I am perfect at keeping the Sabbath, but I'm so much better than I used to be and my children are way better at it than I was when I was a child.  I love the Lord and I feel it a privilege to serve Him.

Christmas is Coming

 When our children were young I had a Nativity set that was out in the livingroom during the Christmas season.  Clare loved to play with it and called the "Activity Set."  Believe me, it got plenty of activity!  Since then, I've wanted something nicer and several years ago, my husband came home with three!  I've collected a few small sets as well.  After Christmas Stein's Gardens and Gifts puts everything on sale for 75% off.  He came home with more last year.  I have two more that I didn't get posted and another two for each of my husband's offices.  Here's what I have displayed in my house as of now.
This is one of the miniature sets.  It sits on this little shelf in the kitchen.
 Here's another of the minatures.  It is on top of the piano.
 This is a new one from last year, so this year is the first time it's being displayed in our home.  It is on the counter in the kitchen.  Good thing we extended that counter this Spring.
 This is one of the original three that came home.  It too sits on the piano.
 The Gourleys gave me this one for Christmas last year.  I've wanted one for years that the kids could play with.  It is a true Activity Set.  Adam loves the animals and Cami plays with the people.  It's down low where they can have easy access.
 A friend made this one many years ago.  She's very crafty and I bought it from her.  It's one of my favorites.  It's on the window sill above the sink.
 The one of the left is new from last year's sale.  The one of the right was given to us by the Growcocks.  They purchased it in the Holy Land many years ago.  It's made out of Olive Wood.  The plates in the background were some that my mom collected. 
 This is the window sill in the livingroom.  On the left is something I bought for $1 many years ago.  Next to it and on the far right are new ones from last year.  The second from the right is just another $1 one.
Last year after Christmas I was in Walmart and looked through the Christmas clearance and found this wall "sticker."  It sticks to any smooth surface and come off clean.  I've had it up all year.  At present it is located above the back door.  I have another wall sticker of the nativity.  I'm not sure where I'm going to put it.  First I have to find it. 
I love Christmas!  I love what it represents and why we celebrate it.  I want everyone coming into my home to know that we are Christians just by looking around.  I have plenty of pictures of Christ hanging in my home all year long, but this time of year (and especially this year) our home is covered in the reason for this blessed season. 
I've never put these things out this early and yet, why not?  I love them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back Online

No pictures, no frills, nothing special.  Just grateful that my internet connection is back up.  It allows me to keep in touch with all of you who read this.  Isn't  it interesting that we take this communication for granted?  How many years back was it that it didn't even exist?  I'm grateful to be back online.  Good thing I worked today and was busy....no time to miss it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My New Friends

Two weeks ago I stepped on my bathroom scale which is not my friend.  The news it gave me was unpleasant.  I've not felt comfortable in my clothes as of late and that little scale was exactly what I needed to make these fine pieces of machinery my friends.
I am now in my third week of daily exercise (excluding Sunday) and last night I noticed that I feel different.  Not inside feel as much as outside feel.  My muscles feel tighter and more toned.  I spend 1/2 hour with my Bowflex Treadclimber and then another 1/2 hour with the traditional Bowflex and the Totalgym. 
These pieces of workout equipment are in the back room of our garage.  There's a TV out there and I've discovered that either Perry Mason or Cannon on MeTV are great workout partners.  (I still can't believe that in the 70's there was a detective show centered around William Conrad who had to weigh at least 300 lbs.)  There's a good motivator! 
Some days I am extra motivated and get out in the evening as well as the morning.  I'm a huge Biggest Loser fan.  If those people can exercise and lose huge quantities of weight, I can do it too.  I don't feel I need to lose a huge quantity of weight, but I really don't like being as heavy as I am.  I'd like to be a "lighter weight" at my next birthday.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I love choir!  I have the opportunity to be the choir director even though I'd really rather be singing.  Each Sunday afternoon I get to be with the wonderful people who have chosen to be a part of our ward choir.  We laugh together and they raise their beautiful voices to make the most amazing music.  I am very blessed to be with them each week.

I don't have a photo of my choir so the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will have to do.  Sometimes as I listen to them sing, they inspire me as to what we should sing next.  What an amazing blessing the gift of song is!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Apple Harvest

This year our apple trees gave us a plentiful harvest.  Yesterday (11-11-11) Pat and I processed apples into applesauce.  We were blessed with 29 quarts!
Earlier in the fall, we processed apple juice.  After a lot of pressing, we were able to get 14 gallons for ourselves and I know I gave away at least 8 more gallons. 
Our trees really blessed us this year.  Unfortunately, we lost one of our trees.  No more yellow delicious for us.  It wasn't one of my favorites, but it did make a tasty sauce/cider or whatever. 
We have been very blessed!

Friday, November 11, 2011

There is Beauty All Around

 In my attempt to be thankful everyday, I took these photos last evening when I got home from parent-teacher conferences.  The moon was just rising and the clouds were trying to hide it. 
I am so thankful for where I live.  This particular part of this wonderful country is calm and still and beautiful.  I thank my Heavenly Father often for the opportunity to live here in this place and now in this time. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The First Snow

I love the first big snowfall of the season.  Mostly because it covers everything with a blanket of clean.  As I think about that clean, it takes me to the Atonement of Christ.  It really covers everything, not just sin.  I think about all the heartaches we feel in this lifetime, about all the unfairness.  The Atonement is what helps us get through those times.  I have a dear friend whose daughter is going through the most difficult thing in her life.  Today she will recognize that only the atonement will get her through her trial. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Happy Boy

 This little guy makes me smile.  He always has a smile for me too.
 When he comes to our house, he gets to play in his jumper. 
 He was dressed as Peter Pan for Halloween.  That's the smile I've fallen in love with.  Gotta love those dimples.
He's learning how to jump in a specific direction. 
I love this little face and I'm constantly thankful that he lives so near.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lessons from a 2 year old

This little boy absolutely warms my heart.  He's all boy and loves boy things.  He also has a temper which he shows off from time to time.  Putting that aside, he did something tonight that was very interesting. 

Last night I put up my Christmas tree.  It isn't decorated nor will it be until Thanksgiving is finished.  I just really wanted to see how the furniture would fit with it up.  Since we moved the furniture, there was a big empty spot where the tree should go, so I put it up. 

Tonight, the Gourleys came over which is normal for a Sunday.  Adam came in and noticed immediately the the tree was up and said, "Tree. Beautiful."  (It's pre-lit and the lights were on.)  After some time he came over by me and looked up at the top where angel Moroni is our tree topper.  He folded his arms and became very reverent. 

My question is, how does this little boy even know who Moroni is?  He certainly has seen him on top of the many temple he saw some 10 months ago, but not since then.  It was a testament to me about how much our little ones know and just how pure they really are.  Any time I see this little guy getting into mischief, I just have to picture him folding his arms as he looks up at the Angel Moroni.  Isn't that putting things into perspective?

Sesame Street Live

Several years ago, I took Tom to Sesame Street Live at the arena in Green Bay.  He loved it and has wanted to go back each year.  Unfortunately, it just didn't fit into our schedule.  This year, however, it fit easily.  
 I did the grandmotherly thing and brought Cami along as well.  She liked it enough, but was ready for it to be over as she was hungry and I wasn't spending arena prices on any kind of food.  Here they are waiting for the show to begin.  I think that was the longest part for Cami.  Tom is good at waiting.
 Last time the show didn't include all the favorite Sesame Street characters.  This time was different.  All the favorites were there.  Count von Count was there as well (his photo didn't want to load).  He's
Tom's favorite!

It was musical and entertaining, but you've got to love Sesame Street to love it.  Tom loved it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

16 and Licensed to Drive

For Andrew's birthday a few weeks ago, Clare got him his very own "car" and a keychain.  Grandpa and Grandma Pleshek gave him the same thing plus some cash.  Well, starting today he can put away his Hot Wheels and actually drive all alone.  My last child to reach this milestone.  Congratulations Buddy and drive carefully!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I.E.P. stands for Individualized Education Program.  Tom needed these all the way through school.  In second grade, Andrew was falling behind big time in the area of reading.  Mr. Everson asked that we do some testing to determine whether or not he needed some special services.  It turned out that he had some deficiancies in the area of reading.  Every year the process repeats itself and we have to determine if he still needs services and if so what.  Some goals are set in place.  Andrew is still in need of a bit of assistance at times.  As a note to help you understand the following, he has horrible handwriting and often rushes through doing a paper so it can be declared "done."  He's always had great comprehension though.

This year was the first year that so many teachers were in attendance.  Each of them gives a synopsis of how Andrew is doing in their class.  Today I received the official written report.  As I read the teacher's comments I couldn't help but laugh out loud.  This is what was written in the area of language arts.

Andrew is able to comprehend what he has read about 90% of the time which is great!  He is able to identify characters, plot, and setting with no problems.  When writing, Andrew has great ideas.  I have noticed that this is usually due to the way he holds his pencil and if he rushes.

What???  His great ideas are due to the way he holds his pencil when he rushes?  Now that's funny!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Sammi!

 Once upon a time, 23 years ago, this wonderful little daughter was born to me.  She's always been happy and still is!
The blonde child that has remained blonde.  Well, sometimes anyway.

 I took her to the photographer to have her photo taken and there was no way that was going to happen, so I settled on this wonderful shot which hung on the wall for the year.  She was 2.
When I think of little Sammi, this is what I see.  Giggles and smiles.
 Belle was a favorite for a few years.
An amazing volleyball player.
And a scholar.
 There is nothing quite like "sister time."
 One of the sisters born to another mother.
This guy came along and stole her heart.
I left out all of the jr. high pictures as a birthday gift.  This beauty had a few awkward years, but my oh my has she grown out of that!  You've come a long way baby girl!  I love you immensely!  I just hope Jeff appreciates you the way I do.