The Trials of a Busy Mom

Month: December 2011

Christmas memories

Christmas this year has been wonderful! I loved the concerts, the decorations, the music, the shopping, the wrapping, the gingerbread house making, the anticipation, the live nativity, visiting Santa. All of it. Seriously. I asked the kids if it would be ok if we didn’t have Christmas on Sunday but waited a few days just to keep the magic going, but they didn’t go for that.

For months I had been planning on an early Christmas morning trip to the Conference Center for Music and the Spoken Word. I planned on dragging my family along. But about two weeks before Christmas, I got the message that they were going to record that on Thursday night, instead of having everyone come for a live Christmas broadcast. Hooray! It was wonderful to be there with the choir, especially when they did the Hallelujah Chorus. It’s one thing to hear it on a recording, but to be there, live, and to be sitting up on stage with the orchestra and the choir is behind you…that’s a once in a life time experience.

Saturday we began our celebrating.

We had our Coleman family Christmas party at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and all but my brother and his family were there. As you can tell, it’s a big crowd, with 21 grandkids in attendance. We had wonderful food, then Grandma did some games, ending with a pinata in the garage. Instead of gifts, each of the kids and grandkids got an envelope with some cash in it (the kids were excited that it wasn’t just regular money, but the cash was in $2 bills, which is even MORE special!) Yes, it’s chaotic, but it was a wonderful party with my family.

We came home before too late, and we had time to watch Mr. Kruger’s Christmas, and tell the story of Jesus’ birth and act out the nativity with our puppets.

The kids eventually went to bed, and soon Ryan and I were in bed, too. We had agreed on “no earlier than 7 am” for a wake-up time.

It was the usual excitement and flurry of present opening. The family was excited to receive a Kinnect for the x-box from Santa, and quite a few movies. Cole got an MP3 player that he had wanted, Jenna and John got games for the Nintendo DS, Natalie a new coat, and Megan got a Kindle. I gave Ryan some clothes and a remote control helicopter. He surprised and spoiled me with a new Kindle Fire. I kept saying that it was too expensive and I didn’t need it, but he told me to just be quiet and enjoy it.

Our church isn’t until 1:00, so we had time to watch the Music and the Spoken Word, play with some of the new stuff, eat a nice breakfast, and then get ready for church. Our sacrament meeting was really lovely. The choir sang, the primary sang, there was a beautiful musical number, and two great speakers. And there were no other meetings!
After dinner, my parents came over to play some games. For the past several years, we’ve invited both sets of Grandparents over for dinner and games on Christmas eve, but since we ended up doing the family party on Christmas eve, we opted for a last minute invite. It was fun to have them come over, and we learned a new game. Ryan even made the treats (cheeseball and Brazilian cheesbread). So, that was a fun way to end the evening.

Monday came, and the partying continued. The Ericksons had planned their family Christmas party for the day after Christmas, as that’s when we could get everyone together. We decided to get everyone together earlier in the day to take a big family picture. The last one we took was when John was a baby and my other kids looked about like this.

Oh, they were so cute, I want to just EAT THEM UP!
I looked just a bit younger, then, too. Sigh.
Anyway, I had suggested the photographer who had done our recent family photo shoot, Julie Taggert. She did such a great job making us look good, that I thought she could handle the challenge of our large extended family. And a challenge it was. One of Ryan’s nephews was hospitalized recently with pancreatitis, and he is still not back to full strength. He’s also got a feeding tube that we want photoshopped out, but she said she could do it. Getting 40 people to show up all at the same time in the same place and looking nice is also a challenge. I worried that it would be too cold, or raining or snowing, but the day was nice, bright, and above freezing. I wish I had thought to bring my camera with me to the shoot and the party, but I left it at home. I’ll have to wait for the official pictures. Megan woke up that day feeling crummy, with sneezing and runny nose galore. I tried to make her up a little bit, but she was stuck with a red nose and a bad attitude. Hopefully Julie can photo shop THAT, too. It only took about one hour to get all the shots we needed, and then we were on to Julene’s house to party. We took Megan home first, as she wasn’t feeling up to a party, sadly. We ate and ate and ate, had a small white elephant game present exchange, and Grandma and Grandpa gave everyone their presents. I was excited about the Ninja blender and chopper Ryan’s parents gave us, in fact I’ve make smoothies two days in a row now. Today’s was even a GREEN smootie. Yum.

Now all the parties are over, and it’s time to start taking the decorations down. At least some of them. It was a wonderful Christmas. We have spent a lot of time together as a family, and made some precious memories. The kids seem happy with their presents.

I hope you also had a wonderful Christmas, and that we can welcome in a bright new year.

Tab Choir party

Christmas party.

Every year, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir throws a big “company party”. I call it my work party, although technically, I don’t work for the choir, in that I don’t get paid. But, employee or not, it’s a great company party. We all gather at the Grand America Hotel. dressed up fancy.

Here we are in front of the giant gingerbread house. You can’t see, but I did my hair up all fancy in the back. I should have taken a picture of THAT.

The company is great. While there are over 1300 people at this party, we only really interact with our little table of 10. We sat with other bell people. You can’t really see Ryan’s name tag, but his name for the evening was “Sven Erickson”. I believe last year he was ‘Dirk’. I guess he just likes to change things up a bit.

Here’s our main course, which was chicken, steak, asparagus, and a little loaf of stuffing with sweet potatoes on top. Very fancy!

For dessert, there was a lemon pudding thing and a chocolate thing. Ryan had the lemon and I had the chocolate. Both were yummy, but mine was slightly better.

President Monson didn’t speak to us this year, but he was there, up at the head table. I tried to get a picture, but I was WAY on the side, and it didn’t turn out.

It’s such a nice evening and I feel so blessed to be able to associate with all the wonderful and talented people in this group.

We even checked out the FANCY new toy store at the Grand America hotel.
Here I am with Maurice the penguin.

As company parties go, it’s a good one.

The spirit of giving

At this wonderful Christmas season, a lot of people are looking for ways to help others. Have you heard about the new “lay-away” pay it forward wonderful people who are going into stores like K-Mart and paying for random people’s lay-away purchases? That is SO wonderful and selfless! I wish I had thought of doing that!

We usually try to do some anonymous giving and help as many people as we can. We had a great experience with our sub-for-Santa families last year , but weren’t doing that as an extended family this year. Instead we took a name off of an ‘angel tree’ that Ryan’s company was sponsoring at work and bought fun presents for a little girl. But I still wished I could do more.

I decided to nominate a couple of families for the B-98.7 Christmas wish

To tell you the truth, I have written to them for about the past three years hoping to get some help for certain families I know, but nothing has come of it. I don’t know if my letters weren’t compelling enough, if the stories weren’t sad enough, or if there were just SO many people submitting stories that there was no way they could help all of them.

So mid week last week, amid all the chaos of concert week, I got a phone call from someone from Toyota Bountiful telling me that they would like to answer not one, but TWO of my letters. But they would like some information. Hmm, I had about an hour before I had to leave for the conference center, but I would do my darndest to find out the kids’ names, ages and sizes, and if they needed coats and/or shoes.

One family has so many ongoing medical bills, there just doesn’t seem to be any left over for fun things like Christmas presents or special Christmas meals. I knew that they wouldn’t be able to help with the real problem–the medical bills–but if they could help with things like groceries and a few gifts for the kids, that would go a long way to saving Christmas for this family.

The other family hasn’t had any huge medical tragedy or horrible event, they just haven’t had enough work to keep up with the bills and they were going through their savings trying to pay for regular things.

My hope was that both families (as well as so many other families I could think of. I could probably write 10 such letters and nominate equally deserving families) would appreciate the surprise and not be embarrassed or ashamed to have some help. So, I set about finding out shoe sizes, clothing sizes, if their kids needed coats or not, and what the kids might be interested in for presents. I enlisted a couple of people to help me without giving anything away.

I got another call the next day from one of the ladies in charge and she said they were going to deliver to family A on Friday, and that Of course she wanted me to be there when they delivered the goodies. I was a little bit worried about this because I seriously don’t know the family very well. I know the dad, but I’ve only met Mom maybe once in person. I called another friend who knew of their situation and who knew them about as well as I do, and asked if she would be willing to get up early on Friday morning and go with me. Bless her heart, she worked it out so she could go.

So Friday morning at 6:20-ish, after quite a late night on Thursday night (both of us were at the conference center for the Tab Choir concert that night, by the way), the two of us met with Shawn Stevens from B98.7, Santa, Mrs. Clause, and a bunch of elves from Toyota Bountiful in the parking lot of the grocery store to pow wow. Then we all drove over to the house. We parked a few houses away, and waited while Erin called the house. We hit a slight snafu when they didn’t answer the phone. I know that not everyone answers their phone before 7 am, so we had to do what we could do make sure they answered. I had my friend Brittany call from her phone. It went straight to voice mail. Darn. She called right back and Mom did answer. “Someone is trying to get a hold of you. We need you to answer your phone.” Not terribly subtle, I know, but you do what you have to do. So, Erin called back and talked to Mom on air about the difficulties of having so many medical bills. You can actually listen to that conversation here, if you want.

As they were talking, Dad walked out the front door to start up his car, and the whole bunch of us were gathered outside the door.
“Whoa!” he said in surprise, “I was just going to go start my car.
Shawn was cool as a cucumber and said, “You’re going to want to go back inside for a few minutes.” And he did.
Soon they got to the part where Erin says, “I think there’s someone at the door,” and there we were at the door, knocking. Teen daughter let us in, and Mom was reluctant to come out of her bedroom because she was in her pajamas (as MOST of us are at this time of morning). But she was assured that this was radio, and no one would see her. It was touching to see Santa and Mrs. Clause give them the presents. I don’t know what was in the bags, but they brought three bags full of groceries and a gift certificate for a free turkey, as well as three large garbage bags full of presents for the kids. They were very surprised and appreciative.

I didn’t take any pictures, but I REALLY wish I had gotten at least a picture of me with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

I got a message from Mom later that day telling me how appreciate she was and how excited her kids were (and how even the teens were kind of mad at her that she didn’t wake them all up to see the guests).

Family B didn’t receive their gifts on the air, but someone came by and delivered groceries, gift cards and presents for the kids and even cozy blankets for Mom and Dad. Mom was SO thrilled. She somehow knew it was me that nominated them, and called me later to thank me for helping them. I told her that honestly, I hadn’t done anything but write a letter,and I am so thankful and thrilled that there were wonderful and generous people who would help them.

I honestly feel so privileged and grateful to have been a part of bringing Christmas to these two families. I wish I could have done more. So much more. But I am thankful and honored that these two families were chosen and that generosity abounds at this Christmas season.

Whew! What a week!

This week was Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. with special guests Jane Seymore and Nathan Gunn. You can read an official review of the concert here.

In order to make the concert great, that required a busy week full of rehearsals, beginning with Tuesday night. The rehearsal part isn’t bad, it’s the GETTING there that is the problem.
Really, once I get there and have found a parking spot, the rest of the night is fun. I love hanging out with my bell choir friends, and it’s wonderful to be there and be a part of the amazing production that is put on.

This year, the amazing costume lady and her team decided to outfit the bell choir so that we fit more with the theme of the show. So we were in these outfits.

And even given our own “dressing room”, which was really just some curtains put up in an out of the way hallway, but we aren’t complaining.

So, do these outfits remind you of anything?

They do look quite star trek, don’t they? We heard from choir members, stage crew, even our own director, that yes, we looked kind of star trek, but we’re ok with that. On STAGE, with the whole group, we looked good.


I decided to embrace our trekiness, and Saturday, I had Cole help me make these little badges.
Can you see the little BOTS on the badge?

I was hoping that everyone would have a sense of humor and not think I was just crazy, but after dinner on Saturday, I brought out my little badges and suggested we take a group picture.
Everyone was on board. They LOVED their badges and we took lots of pictures.

Even a group shot!

We waled around with our badges on back stage and even showed Sue, the costume lady. She laughed and laughed. The official choir photographer came up to us and said, “I understand you got a group picture with those star trek badges on.” She wants a copy for the choir newsletter. So, I’d say they were well received.

We really did have a wonderful week. Jane Seymore said hi as she walked by, Nathan Gunn came by Sunday morning and said loudly,
“Good Morning, everyone.” They were both warm and gracious guests.

Saturday night four of us stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn, and it was wonderful not to have to make the one hour drive home, and then the one hour drive in the morning. Sunday morning’s Music and the Spoken word was exhausting after the whole week of concerts, but it was a special performance. Ryan brought the kids up and I met them afterward.

So, I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad I got to again experience the wonder and magic of the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert.


For Christmas this year, we are starting the work on our basement. Although right now it doesn’t seem like such a gift, as we have to haul all the junk out of our basement. Ten years we have lived in this house, and we have accumulated quite a bit of STUFF that has been shoved down in the basement. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But it’s not ALL junk. We had reasons for saving it all in the first place, so we can’t just throw EVERYTHING out. We have found diplomas, my mission call letter, old high school yearbooks and photos, unopened boxes of dishes that we got for our wedding, and lots of craft things.

Years ago I taught a craft class at our home in the basement. The kids would come for an hour twice a week and do little crafts and activities. It was fun, but I have WAY too much craft stuff down there. So, if it’s a little craft kit, it goes. Felt goes. Fabric goes, feathers go, wood goes, it all needs to go.

We have made many trips to DI and the dump to get rid of old couches, chairs, and usable items. Last night alone Ryan made three trips in the little truck. We still have a large sofa sleeper to get rid of, but we’ll have to enlist some extra help. All those trips up and down the stairs to haul things out have taken it’s toll on our out of shape bodies, and today we are sore. I have a bunch more stuff I need to get rid of today.


The dust is thick, and the trash on the floor amazing. We got a LOT of boxes and bins stuffed in the cold storage area, though. Impressive, right?

The one thing I am very glad about as I sweep up years of dirt and dust and piles of crap is that I am not finding any mouse poop, or evidence of mice or other critters in the piles of dirt. That’s comforting. Years ago we had a very icky experience with mice when we moved from our house in Lehi and rented to my cousin. When we came back, the whole basement was infested with mice. Baby mice, little mice families, little mice neighborhoods all set up and eating our food storage. Can’t tell you how paranoid I am about mice now. Ick. Double Ick.

Now we have a nice pile of wood down there to begin the work.

A visit to Santa’s Elves

>Last night we went to see the elves at Gardner Village. It’s such a fun place to shop or look around, and there are elves all over the place!

Our little elf fit right in.

We met my parents there, and my mom encouraged us to go in the Christmas store. Which is a good thing, because if she hadn’t been there, I don’t think I could have dragged Ryan in such a whimsical store (or any store at all, for that matter).

My kids especially enjoyed the little Christmas villages that are set up there.

Ryan took this one and said, “Look, it’s Paige in her natural habitat.” Which is true. If I could live in the Christmas store, I probably would. I especially loved these Christmas fairies, and if I had tons of money, I would buy a few and hang them throughout the house.

After shopping (and I can say ‘shopping’ not just looking because Ryan actually bought something at the Christmas store. Don’t get too excited, it was just a double outlet thingy for three prong plugs), we went over to Archibald’s restaurant for some dinner. Darn that they wouldn’t let us pay for the whole dinner with gift certificates, but we did take $30 off our meal, so that’s a good thing. We had a fun dinner with the family and my parents. It was such a nice evening, and I’m glad I thought to invite them.

We might have to make this a new holiday tradition. Only maybe I should have JUST gone with my mom and done a little shopping without the family. Maybe they could meet us there after I got some shopping done. They did have such a cute purse store. Hmmmm….

Get your priorities straight, Grommet!

I have a ton of stuff I should be doing.
I need to finish cleaning my kitchen, as I’m hosting a big brunch here on Sunday.
I need to flippin clean up my office. It’s a disaster.
I need to wrap some presents, because I have a huge pile of shipping boxes and shopping bags not so skillfully hidden in my bedroom.
I need to make my treat to take to the Relief Society party tonight.
I need to go out and check on my chickens and see if they’ve left me a very cold egg.
I need to hem those pants for my daughter, that she left hanging on my sewing chair.
I need to finish arranging my furniture in the front room that got rearranged by the Christmas tree.
I need to haul about 60 pounds of crap from the basement to the garbage.
I need to take a shower and get ready for the day. I get to teach 1/2 day at the Jr High today (woo-hoo).
I need to start a load of laundry.

And yet, here I sit, writing Tillamook Cheese Christmas carols for a contest.

The 1st prize is FREE Cheese, people. Free Cheese!

So far I’ve got this little jingle, to the tune of “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”

Have yourself a merry slice of cheddar,
Tillamook’s so light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a chunk atop a cracker,
make it Tillamook.
It’s so nice
for snacking, won’t you take a look.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful cheeses are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years 
We all will have our favorites,
Colby, swiss, or jack
All the greatest dairy products from the cow.
So have yourself A slice of Tillamook right now.

I can do better, though.


How about this one?

Santa Baby,
Just slip a cheddar under the tree
For me
Been an awful good girl
Santa Baby, make sure that it’s Tillamook cheese

Santa baby, chocolate peanut butter ice cream
A dream
I’ll wait up for you, dear
Santa baby, make sure it comes from Tillamook

Sour cream is oh so smooth
How about a package of Till-a-moos
Next year I could be just as good
If you’ll bring along a block of swiss.

Santa Baby, Colby Jack and Pepper Jack sliced
So Nice
Been an angel all year
Santa Baby, so bring me something Tillamook tonight.

Santa honey, a bag of shredded Mexican blend
Makes our tacos so fine
Santa Baby, make sure it comes from Tillamook

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking baby Swiss
Oh, Bliss
Provalone is so fine
Santa cutie, make sure it comes from Tillamook.

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations that are Chees-y
I really do believe in you
Lets see if you believe in me

Santa Baby, forgot to mention yogurt so sweet
A treat!
Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Get your Christmas on

It’s time to get our Christmas on! Love everything about the Christmas season. Love to make gingerbread houses, put up lights, listen to Christmas music, and watch “it’s a wonderful life” on tv. And we like to have a good time. Here’s what we are up to in our Christmas celebrations so far…

Friday night I had a wonderful Christmas party with a group of ladies I have been friends with for more than 30 years. Really. I’ve known these girls since gradeschool (most of them). They have been a rock of friendship and fun for my whole life. I know how extremely lucky I am to have such a longlasting group of friends, and I am thankful for them! My dear friend Lisa, who is busy enough getting a missionary ready to leave next week, offered to host our party this year at her house. We went with a ‘favorite things’ theme. Like Oprah, we each brought our favorite things to share with the audience. Only in our group, there were no cars, flat screeen tv’s or other such extravagances, as our price limit was $6.

Who knew that two of us would pick the very same spatula set from Ikea for one of our favorite things?

Now our friends will HAVE to use them, since they got two sets, right?

The food was great, and the conversation was even better. We shared our laughter and stories of kids and work, and our Christmas plans. It was so wonderful to just sit and chat. I finally had to peel myself away when I noticed it was almost 11. It was a wonderful way to start the Christmas season! Thanks, Ladies!

Another great way to start off the season was our Bells on Temple Square Christmas concert. We performed this the weekend before Thanksgiving, and while it may seem early for a Christmas concert, it’s the perfect combination of Christmas and non Christmas music, and just early enough to give us a break between that concert and the big Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert that we participate in next week. It was our first concert with our new director, LeAnna Wilmore, and we were pleased. I think it was a great concert. Just the right length, with well placed songs. Of course, I am a bit biased. I was thrilled that some of my book club came to the concert. It was so nice that they were there!

On Saturday, I dragged the family over to our local high school for a breakfast with Santa. The school officers are doing a bunch of fundraising this month to help a little boy with cancer, and this was one event I could get behind. I mean, pancakes, a visit with Santa, AND the money goes for a good cause? I’m there.

And Santa even let me sit on his lap!

Here at the house, I’m working on getting lights up, pulling out the decorations, and getting the house cleaned. Wish me luck with that last one, because I’d really rather sit and watch my favorite programs on tv, or even go to work and substitute than clean bird poop off the windowsill.

How are you getting into the holiday spirit?

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