Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Word

I am looking forward to a great year.

I present my 2010 word to you:


I am coming upon a year with many opportunities and milestones ahead.  But usually when faced with an uncomfortable or new situation I tend to backpedal and retreat. When things don't go the way I planned I sink low.  When I don't understand I give up.  When life is hard I want to rest. 

I am promising to keep this word in my head to help me embrace change, embrace my imperfections, embrace my talents, embrace my trials, embrace my roles, embrace the journey, embrace my children, embrace L-I-F-E more this coming year.  I hope you will join me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Last night I met a big goal of mine. I have now read the entire Bible, finally.

In 2007 I read the New Testment. Then in April 2008 I started the Old Testament. 21 months later I am done. I told myself I would finish this year. I wondered at times if I would get through it. Chronicles, Isaiah, UGH.

I didn't understand 90% of what I read and there are lots of things in there that were eye-opening. In fact, I hope my children are adults before they read much of it. But I know that when those words were written they were to benefit us and the word of God can be found throughout the 1184 pages.

I am thankful for the insight I gain when the scriptures are a habit for me and I am blessed to have them within my reach at all times.

Something struck me when I finished. As you can see in the top picture the final words are "THE END of the PROPHETS". I am so grateful for my testimony that I live in a time when we know it is not the end of the prophets. I know that if God spoke then it makes perfect sense that he'd speak now. I love learning about this gospel that brings me so much happiness when I follow it.

P.S. I think I just set a record for using the word "I" as much as humanly possible in one post.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Resolution Revolution

I admit it; I love to make resolutions. Unfortunately I am also a perfectionist. So while the process of making "the list" is satisfying, the subsequent veering off the path is damaging to my soul and my self image.

Enter in the "One Word" concept.

It was developed here (I think) and used here and here and here.

Basically it takes a look at your goals from the end rather than the beginning and it sounds intriguing enough for me to give it a whirl.

It is also suggested to mull it over for a bit to see what your heart is really telling you to focus on. So I am posting this today in the hopes that in the next 2.5 days I can get a better idea of where to put my energy for 2010.

words currently in the running:



If you embark on this journey as well please tell me, or leave a link to your post in the comments.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ahhh, much better

All is calm, all is bright

The wrapping paper is all in the recycle bin, Santa's belly is a little fuller, and the tree is going bye-bye this afternoon.

We had a wonderful Christmas as a family, with lots of time together and many carefully chosen and received-with-gratitude gifts. In addition, one of the highlights was seeing/talking to my brother Matt in Mozambique via webcam. Very cool.

I hope you had a chance to spend time with or speak to loved ones this week. Family really is everything. Really.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas music

I really enjoyed hearing the kids do their Christmas songs at school lately. They did a great job and I love the music of the holidays. I have been listening nonstop on the radio. Nothing brings the spirit into the season more easily than just listening and singing carols.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas baking

Why is it that so many traditions surround food? At least for our family that's the case.

This year it has been super duper neat to bake with Princess. She is fantastic at rolling out dough. I am tickled that she enjoys being in the kitchen with me.

As something new this year my dad also wanted a baking night with me and my siblings, so we pooled our resources and worked on treat plates. It was really cool.

Still on my to-do list? Figure out my mom's peanut butter fudge...

Mixing the sugar cookie dough

real gingerbread men


decorated cookies

chocolate oat squares

dear 'ol Dad

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas, Africa

My baby brother Matt, on a mission in Mozambique

Dear Africa,

I have never visited you; most likely never will. All I know about you is from National Geographic and letters from a missionary.

A few months ago we sent you something very special, our precious Elder Brown. Anyone who knows him knows he prepared his whole life to be there with you. He didn't choose the location but he was preparing nonetheless. He is the most dedicated, intelligent hard-working and selfless man for the job, period.

So far you have taken good care of him. As he appraoches his 6 month mark (1/4 of the way) this week I know that you have started to show him some of your character, your African soul. He loves you already.

I know many of your inhabitants are poor, very poor. Not even in circumstances I could imagine, probably.

It makes me sad to hear that someone there took my mother's heart when they intercepted and signed for the specially chosen, lovingly packed, securely FedEx shipped and insured Christmas package.

Yes, there were a couple hundred dollar's worth of things my baby brother needed or wanted. But there were tangible expressions and also words from a mother at home who knows no other way to transport Christmas a world over. She sent it early, she sent it as suggested, and still her son is without a gift from home. Her last bird is out of the nest and she is sad and lonely this December.

I hope that whomever needed the protein supplements, makeshift Christmas tree, peanut butter, church books, camera memory cards and much more can use them. Maybe they will even share them this Christmas. I wonder if they will read the special Christmas message from Mom? Or The Book of Mormon?

So, dear Africa, we have left our hearts wide open and have given you the very best we had, via plane and post. Our brother is in your keeping. Please treat him well. I hope you can feel the influence of good this holiday season throughout your many beautiful countries.

And maybe that Christmas package will change the life of its recipient, if not the intended one. Change it for the better and leave the world, and Africa, a better place. After all, it's what my brother is wearing out the soles of his shoes for every. waking. minute.

Merry Christmas!

our family

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thank my mom

Mom got me hooked.

I am loving applesauce with vanilla yogurt. It's a great treat!

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Signs of the season:

Fantastic oranges

Cold temps and SOO MUCH snow

Tons of time for reading Christmas books

Watching Christmas shows as a family

And reminders of what we believe in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interviews with diety

Just clearing out my inbox and found this quote I had saved.

"I fear that many of us rush about from day to day taking for granted the holy scriptures. We scramble to honor appointments with physicians, lawyers, and businessmen. Yet we think nothing of postponing interviews with Deity—postponing scripture study.

"Little wonder we develop anemic souls and lose our direction in living. How much better it would be if we planned and held sacred fifteen or twenty minutes a day for reading the scriptures. Such interviews with Deity would help us recognize his voice and enable us to receive guidance in all of our affairs."

--Carlos E. Asay, "Look to God and Live," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 52

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Red Pinecone Ornament

Originally posted December 18, 2007

I want to tell you a story. It's a story of Christmas hope.

When my mom was a girl, their prized Christmas decoration was a red pinecone ornament. It was so well-loved over the years that the red had actually turned sort of brown. Every year, just as some families place the tree topper on very last, the Riley family hung the red pinecone on the tree as the final touch.

When my mom was very young, they went to a movie as a family and they came home to discover their house had suffered a devastating fire in their absence. It was destroyed. The only item my mother remembers salvaging was their special pinecone, now a miraculous symbol of hope and love and renewal.

My grandmother died over a decade ago and when she died she willed the ornament to her youngest daughter, my mom's little sister. My mom has been wondering the whereabouts of it recently and had hoped it was being taken care of. She wanted the story surrounding it to be preserved.

That aunt of mine in Pennsylvania contacted my mom to tell her that someone recently cut the lock on her storage unit and stole most of her belongings, including all her Christmas decorations. How devastating a loss! But then she told my mom...somehow, that little pinecone must have fallen out of its box because it was left behind. Of no value to the burgler, one would never know the significance of that Christmas symbol to the Rileys.

On Sunday we had a special Family Home Evening with my parents. My mom told us this amazing story and presented each of us with our own red pinecone for our trees. It is my new favorite ornament, and I have a LOT of nostalgia on my tree.

I wanted to pass this along to any of you who read my blog so that you may know that you are known by our Heavenly Father. He is aware of you and the happenings in your life, just as he notices each sparrow's fall. Christmas is a reminder of that love and care. I hope you have a merry one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the list for Tuesday the 8th:

*be grateful I don't need to really go out and battle the storm at all
*upload the family photo to Inkleys
*put away laundry
*make sugar cookie dough
*finish my book, Every Last Cuckoo
*upload Bugs' Christmas performance from tonight
*find the dust pan that the kids lost
*contact new sisters on my VT list
*round up more items to donate
*watch Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC
*update Project 365
*plan the rest of the week's meals
*get ready to cheer on Strider as he gets his semester's final work in tomorrow night!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In search of the perfect tree

We got it set up late Friday night.

And Saturday morning it snowed. Just like a Christmas card.