advent calendar: Christmas books

We have had this tradition since our girls were small. Sometime before December 1st (usually November 30th…and sometimes the morning of the 1st), I wrap 25 books from our Christmas picture book collection. I generally buy a few each year, some have been gifts we have received, a few I have even bought at a 2nd hand store. Our current collection is probably about 35. I pick the 25-this year with help from my girls, claiming several times each “THIS is the very best one”

We did add a little twist this year. With our money system, our girls earn their spending money, buy their own clothes, gas $, etc… They are all feeling a little low in funds SO we put $ in the pages of some of the books. When we began the tradition I numbered the books. For several years now our girls have just chosen which to open. Now that decision will be a little bit more fun for them. The one that opens the book keeps the money. They are excited to start tomorrow. These are the books that I wrapped this year.

OLIVE THE OTHER REINDEER by J.Otto Seibold & Vivian Walsh

THE BERNSTAIN BEARS AND THE JOY OF GIVING & THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL by Mike & Jan Berenstain

THE FRIENDLY BEASTS an old English Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola

DASHER by Matt Tavares

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER by Robert L May & Denver Gillen

YES VIRGINIA THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS by Chris Plehal & James Bernardin

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry & P.J. Lynch

NINE DAYS TO CHRISTMAS A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets & Aurora Labastida

THE STORY OF HOLLY & IVY by Rumer Godden & Barbara Cooney (this one is too long for our purposes but it is a sweet story)

GOOD KING WENCESLAS as read by Jane Seymour & illustrated by Omar Rayyan

THE NUTCRACKER IN HARLEM by T.E. McMorrow & James Ransome

MORTIMER’S CHRISTMAS MANGER by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman

THE CHRISTMAS EVE TREE by Delia Huddy & Emily Sutton

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE for kids by Jimmy Hawkins & Douglas B. Jones

MERRY CHRISTMAS BIG HUNGRY BEAR by Don & Audrey Wood

ONLY A STAR by Margery Facklam & Nancy Carpenter

GREAT JOY by Kate DiCamillo & Bagram Ibatoulline

IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES by Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond

SANTA CLAUS THE WORLD’S NUMBER ONE TOY EXPERT by Marla Frazee

THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL by Hans Christian Andersen & Jerry Pinkney

SALLY’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE by Charles Schultz

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS by Dr. Seuss

A WISH TO BE A CHRISTMAS TREE by Colleen & Michael Monroe

THE GREAT SPRUCE by John Duvall & Rebecca Gibbon

CHRISTMAS ORANGES by Linda Bethers & Ben Sowards

Sometimes my teenagers act like they are too grown up for picture books, then I get these out and working on our selection for the days before Christmas, they are filled with opinions and excitement. What are some of your family favorites that we don’t have listed here? I would love to add them to our collection!

poverty doesn’t define me.

I recently finished the book YOU ARE A BADASS AT MAKING MONEY by Jen Sincero. I loved the book. (If swearing isn’t your thing, know that there is plenty of it in this book.) I gained so much insight, and it has given weeks (if not months!) of journaling|self reflecting work to go through. One of the first insights I gained, in my history with money, was my attitude toward it. I would never have consciously said this, but I had an almost fearful disdain for it. In fact, I held a belief that there was valor in poverty.

My father was born in 1931. He and his family were nearly overtaken by the depression. His mom raised her seven…and then eight children as a single mom for the majority of it. She has been revered for this, as she should be. She worked in cotton fields, orchards and sewing rooms. She often worked more than one job a day. She brought home a meager existence. I can’t imagine the struggle.

The struggle she went through is something I will always admire, but I took a long with that- an idealization of poverty. Her hardship, her poverty is what adds character to the story we re-tell of her. In our minds, it added honor to her mistakes and her triumphs. What if instead, we chose to see that hardship as a circumstance but not the value. What if we saw greatness in what she gained instead of what she lacked.

left to right: Aunt Vivian, ME, Granny, my mom, and my sister Dede on her lap

My new story will be this:

I come from a line of hard working women. They bring tremendous value in the world. Their work is worthy of support and money. They created income and put a roof over our heads (including MY mom for me). They found many ways to feed themselves and the people they loved. They strived to do their best, and grow and learn. They knew that the money they created made them more of who they are, and not less. Poverty doesn’t define us. The value we put into the world and in our own lives does.

As Ms. Sincero teaches masterfully in her book, I know that the words we say do create our reality. And the thoughts we think about money feed those words. And the beliefs we hold, even the well intentioned ones, are the foundation of those thoughts. I know we can all benefit from considering what is contributing to our reality today. YOU ARE A BADASS AT MAKING MONEY helped me take a giant leap in that direction, and I am grateful.

He would be 88 years old today. This is my favorite image I have taken of my dad. This is how he greeted us most Sundays- socks (no shoes) and comfortable clothing. He was often at the grill, one of his favorite ways to serve and give. Taking time to photograph life as it is- without pretension and posing, is often the very most meaningful. What my family and I wouldn’t give to sit at his table with him tonight, feasting on one of his grilled steaks and then washing it down with a watermelon milkshake. Instead, lets pick up our cameras this week…photographing the people we love, just as they are.

money doesn’t grow on trees- or does it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was sitting in a home that was beautiful and inspiring. It was filled with relics and artifacts from around the world. It was set in a breathtaking spot, surrounded by trees with massive windows to let in the beauty. I was there for a parenting seminar. The family that was teaching this seminar is amazing. They have sold millions of books. They are asked to speak and teach all over the world, and rightfully so. They are very intentional and proactive individuals. It was inspiring to learn from them. Toward the end of the seminar, a concept came up that I disagreed with. A question was raised to the attendees:

What do you want your children to know about money?

There were answers spilling out that I feel can poison potential…

  • “take care of what you have, because it is limited”
  • “when you spend it, it is gone”
  • “money doesn’t grow on trees” with a chuckle

These are well meaning thoughts that I was taught growing up. They sound good. They sound like the building blocks to inhibit entitlement. They sound responsible and like common sense. But do we really want to believe this? What if instead we taught our children-

  • “making money is easy and fun”
  • “there is always enough”
  • “money is there for you whenever you need it”

I am letting go of scarcity. I am teaching myself, and hopefully teaching my girls, that life and it’s resources are abundant. That they are there for whatever we need. That I know what to do and how to find it. What if they believe that now, at their young ages? Imagine the good they could do in the world!$

Easter Sunday

An Easter tradition we had when the girls were young was Saltwater Sandals in their Easter baskets. My girls actually hated them for years…so I did different things. THEN THIS YEAR! They all ASKED for them! Two of them even wore them that day with their Easter dresses. Now I am wondering what other things they might learn to love as they get older-

  • tomatoes?
  • mushrooms?
  • cleaning their rooms?
  • sushi (one of them does like sushi, and tomatoes actually too :))
  • running?

egg hunt

On Saturday Dede and I talked over the phone, debating whether or not to do an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids. Now that the youngest between us is 12 (Sophie) we thought they were probably over it, they were getting enough…and we were feeling lazy. We showed up to Nana’s house for Sunday dinner and she excitedly told us she had eggs to hide. Danny and my mom went right out and hid them before we ate. They all loved it. Dede and I decided we wouldn’t be slackers next year. I was inside doing the dishes and saw Dede taking a photo of everyone, so I grabbed one from the back through the kitchen window. We are never too old for family traditions.

a glass of brushes

50mm | f2.0 | 1/160 | iso800

My Saturday morning began in the kitchen for a glass of water. On the window cil, I saw this glass with Kate’s makeup brushes inside. It is prom day for Ellie. Ellie didn’t want to spend money on having her makeup done professionally. Kate, who is the makeup enthusiast in our house, sweetly (and excitedly!) offered to do it for her. Ellie agreed-and Kate was thrilled. The night before the big day, she washed all of her makeup brushes. It was really a sweet gesture, wanting to have things just right for her big sister. My heart melted when I saw them there waiting for these two sisters. My heart also melted to see how beautiful and happy Ellie was for prom. Her beauty was enhanced by her makeup…but was truly lit by her sweetness toward Kate.

50mm | f2.0 | 1/250 | iso320

Winter Concert

Utah Youth Philharmonic Winter Concert was Monday, January 14, 2019. Ellie loves participating in this group. She began in the Utah Youth Junior Symphony many years ago. I think this is the third year she has played with the Philharmonic. They played:

Lieutenant Kijé Suite Op. 60 by Sergei Prokofiev & Symphony no. 7 Op. 92

The music was BEAUTIFUL! Barbara Scowcroft is a joy to watch as Conductor. It might have been my favorite of their performances. We obviously have a special preference for the bassists.

Danny, Kate, Sophie and I were all there. Nana, Dede and Chase came too. We all had a late dinner at Rio Grande Cafe after the concert.

take care of the girls- part two

cont…from here

Dad was still awake, not seeming as agitated, but also not asleep. He was, however, in bed when the nurse came to check on him. She took his vitals and chatted with him. When she asked him what he needed, he said that he was hungry and sherbet sounded good. As soon as the nurse left we went to the freezer and found rainbow sherbet. Danny fed him 1 teaspoon full, that was all he wanted, and finally, after days of restlessness- he fell asleep.

Food was important to my dad, his love language. He often told me the story of my first time on a plane. He had taken me with him on a business trip when I was a toddler. The only thing I know about that trip was that I ate BBQ ribs, corn on the cob (my dad would laugh because he couldn’t believe how well I ate that corn with very few teeth!) and rainbow sherbet. Because my dad told me that story many times while growing up- I have never eaten BBQ ribs, corn on the cob or rainbow sherbet without thinking of him.

As the day progressed my dad slept…

  • we kept mom company, doing puzzles and chatting
  • sat at dad’s side
  • Ellie, Kate, and Sophie made homemade rolls and soup and brought them to us (how great was that!?)
  • Danny went home with the girls
  • Dede came by for a visit in the evening

After Dede went home, mom got in comfortable clothes and settled into the recliner by dad’s hospital bed with a western movie. Once the time came for his evening dose, I said goodnight, made a bed on the couch and set the timer for 3 hours. The timer woke me up. Dad was still asleep. I gave him his medicine and went back to sleep. Just an hour or so later, my mom woke me up. “I think he’s gone.”

Now rainbow sherbet connects the three of us- Danny feeding my dad his last bite…and that his last bite was a treat that reminds me so much of all that my dad has given me in the world. The gifts from him aren’t visible to the eye. They are generosity, service, respect and love. October 15th will forever be a day we eat BBQ ribs (knowing that they won’t be as good as what we have had from his grill), corn on the cob and of course, rainbow sherbet wishing he was there enjoying it with us.

taken 10/22/17
35mm | f2.5 | 1/160 | iso100