Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHRISTMAS MUSIC, FUN, HANDEL AND NATIVITIES ... WHEW! I'M TIRED!

My computer is giving me fits again.  I've tried and tried and tried to write this post.  Hopefully this time it "takes."
We have had a VERY busy few weeks.  My mother has always said, "No rest for the wicked."  So I must be very wicked indeed.
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December started completely insanely.  The first weekend was full of performances and nativity displays, etc.
We are still participating in the homeschool choir.  This is it's second year in existence.  I am the director, while K2 are performing.  It's really loads of fun, gives us a creative outlet, and uplifts those around us.  This year our choir has 15 participants.  We sing fun Christmas songs as well as sacred songs to celebrate our Savior's birth.  The kids have worked really hard.  And they did a fantastic job.  We performed for parents and friends on December 5th, Friday night.  We sing everything from "I'm Gonna E-Mail Santa" to "Breath of Heaven" to "The Santa Clause Rock" and "He's Just a Tiny Baby."
"My" Choir is great!  I love these kids!
The following night we performed again at the stake Nativity Display.  This time we only did our sacred numbers.  I also donated over 100 of my nativities for the display.  Scott spent all day Wednesday and half day Thursday setting them up so they looked just right.  He is so talented with decorating.  He has a vision and can make it come to life.  (My house looks amazing for the holidays also because he has a vision and makes it happen.)  After the Nativity Display and performance, we took down all of our nativities and brought them home to begin decorating for ourselves.
I REALLY love nativities!  I love My Savior!
Sunday, the entire family went to Shawnee Branch for Sacrament meeting.  Key Lime Pie, Kotten Kandy and I sang with Noel Gosnell for their meeting.  We sang "Away in a Manger."  It was a BEAUTIFUL arrangement, completely accappella.  We each had our own parts, and it took us over a month of practicing to pull it off.  I LOVED it!  Noel is amazingly talented.  She plays the cello and sings baritone in Sweet Adelines.  She taught us the nuances of singing "barbershop" and listening to each other while being independent.  It was a great experience for all of us.  - Scott took a video or our rehearsal, but I couldn't get it to download on my blog.  (Maybe Scott can work a miracle and post it when he gets home....)
The following week was full of parties and a music recital.
First the music recital.  I have the GREATEST piano and voice students ever!  I was so proud of them all.  They did great!  And Kotten Kandy is so talented.  I love teaching my youngest daughter how to sing.  She really has great stage presence and her voice is beautiful!
My private students are amazing!
Kotten Kandy sang "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "The Christmas Song"
She's absolutely gorgeous!
Then we had our homeschool choir get together.  We just snacked and planned a program for the following semester.  (If anyone wants to donate to a children's choir for new music, feel free to contact me....  We can always use new music.)
The homeschool activity for 12 and up was really fun, complete with M&M game, dipping chocolates, pizza and White Elephant gift exchange.  We are blessed to have so many good friends.
Crazy kids... sucking up M&Ms....
Kotten Kandy has a great sucker.  :-)
Great Girls!  Kotten Kandy, Key Lime Pie, Nutella and Lemon Drop
Next we had Scott's annual Christmas work party.  We had dinner at Logan's Steak House.  YUM!  The Parmesan Chicken was delicious!  And I got to hold a 2 month old baby after I was finished eating.  That was the highlight for me!
The CPS work crew....
The ward party was the following night.... After Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy had spent most of the day taking the ACT.  They both said it was really boring, and that they don't like the atmosphere of public schools.  I guess it's a good thing that we homeschool....  The ward party was alright.  I wasn't feeling great, so I left a bit early to go grocery shopping....
Sunday was AMAZING!  We decided to be spontaneous with our friends, the Bettenhausens.  We took off, after church, to Nashville, TN.  Key Lime Pie actually drove, for her first time on the highway, the entire 3 1/2 hours to Nashville.
Key Lime Pie behind the wheel....
Kotten Kandy and I weren't nervous at all...  We fell asleep.
Once we got there, we had dinner with Amy's sister and brother-in-law (Jenny and Nate).  Jenny made the tastiest dinner of chicken over rice.  Then all of us left for the performance of Handel's Messiah.  There is nothing better than Messiah.  I was uplifted spiritually and emotionally by the beautiful music and inspirational performance.  Even the younger kids loved it.  Apple Pie sat next to me and was enthralled with the timpani and the trumpeter.  Jelly Bean conducted the entire performance.  The choir members all commented that he was much more adorable to watch than the actual director.  (It's hard to beat Jelly Bean for cuteness.)
Here is my sweet Key Lime Pie with my absolutely adorable Jelly Bean after the concert....
One fun thing that happened during the "show" was that Lacey Williams was performing.  That may not mean anything to most people, but she is a huge celebrity in our house.  She stars in "Take That Mountain Down" which is a musical telling of the parable of the prodigal son in the bluegrass music style.  We had to get a picture with her:
Kotten Kandy, Lacey Williams and Key Lime Pie
My daughters are so adorable!  They love music, and dancing, and having fun, and being silly!  I love this picture of them before the ward Christmas Party.  They were beyond cute!
Merry Christmas!  If my computer cooperates, I'll blog more next week.....



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

THANKSGIVING FUN

We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with friends and family!  We truly felt blessed and enjoyed our company.
We always "break bread" for the homemade stuffing the night before Thanksgiving...
It's fun to "break bread" with family....
I truly love this cute husband of mine!
My BFF, Amy and her husband, Mark
Scott's brother, Brett and his wife, Alana
We had a kid table!  I loved having lots of little ones!
8 kids under 11...
Here are the teenagers!  They're a good lookin' group!
Juice found a new buddy, Banana.
Donut and Nuts also got along magnanimously (isn't that a GREAT word?!)
Key Lime Pie is beautiful (inside and out!)
Raspberry and Kotten Kandy had a lot of fun together....
Jelly Bean decided to serenade us with his tunes!
I also cut my hair!  (Scott even said he liked it!)  Check it out:
And besides having 8 family visitors for a week, we also hosted a Christmas Bazaar on Saturday.  It was fun.  And Key Lime Pie sold some of her homemade, beautiful scarves...
Key Lime Pie sold 4 scarves and is commissioned to make 10 more!
I sold Jalapenos knives.  They are hand crafted.  And they are beautiful!
He is selling them to help fund his mission.  Check it out:  www.predatorcustomblades.com.
If my brothers (or anyone) are reading this - buy one of these awesome knives.  This kid is talented, only 16, and he really is using his skills to help fund his mission!  The knives are WAY COOL!

I'm worn out.  In a good way.  :-)

Friday, November 28, 2014

HOPE

I started this blog for two reasons:
1       1.        I wanted my far away family and friends to know what is going on with us.
2       2.       And I thought that I could also use this blog for a DeGooyer Family history.
I've been grateful for the place to share my thoughts, activities and fun with family and friends.   But today I want to write a post that is a bit more personal and not so much for history or informative purposes.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to write this blog post, but I feel inspired to do so…  So…
Twenty two years ago I was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance.  In other words, I suffer from depression.  For the past twenty years I have been taking medication and seeing therapists (off and on) to combat this struggle.  I remember being at Ricks college feeling like I was “faking” my smile and my happy, enthusiastic attitude.  I felt like a liar as I pretended to be happier than I felt.  I had lost interest in people and things that made me happy.  I remember feeling like something dark had taken hold of my mind – sadness, despair and hopelessness were all the emotions I felt I could find.  I couldn't fake it anymore.  All my strength at keeping up my pretense had gone.  I spent many days and nights curled up on my bed crying.
Luckily my mother recognized the symptoms I was expressing.  My mom had also suffered from a hereditary form of depression, and she was able to get me to the doctor.  A few months later, with Prozac and some counseling, I felt “normal” again.  It wasn't an easy road to take, but my family was supportive, and I had a very good doctor.  (It takes time to get the right cocktail of meds for most depressions.)  Luckily for me, my Mom helped me through most of the early diagnosis period.  She would sit with me, cry with me, talk with me, and sometimes just hug me.  The fact of the matter is that my memory of this “dark” time is kind of repressed.  I don’t remember a lot.
Twenty two years later, I still take anti-depressants.  They have changed over the years as my depression has changed, but the one constant is that I can’t go off them, or I become despondent and moody.  I still occasionally see psychiatrists and counselors to help when I feel like I can’t cope.  All of these things have helped.
I’m not sure why I am writing this post.  I know it’s not for sympathy.  But I do seem to be struggling a bit more with my chemical imbalance right now.  There are times when it is more prominent than other times.  I just hope that this post can help someone else who is also having a difficult time and offer some hope.  There are a few things that have helped (aside from the medication – which I call happy pills – and the therapists – which I call expensive but necessary).
Depression is difficult to explain to people.  If you have experienced it there is no need to explain it; if you haven’t, I don’t think there are words adequate to describe its despair.  It permeates every part of your life, and sometimes it seems as though there is no light anywhere.  BUT there is hope.
The last few weeks have been hard, and I've had to go “back to the basics.”  What are the basics (besides medication)?  Here is what I have learned in 22 years:
  • God loves me.  I know it sounds simple, but it’s true.  It’s hard to remember in the moment sometimes.  But he truly loves me.  He loves everyone.  He loves us more than we can imagine. There have been moments throughout my life when I felt unloved and unlovable.  It’s usually in these times of deep sadness that Heavenly Father shows me a tender mercy in the form of reminding me of His love for me.  I have literally felt Him hug me.  I have had blessings where His love for me has brought tears to my eyes.  With God’s love for me, there is hope.
  • Prayer and scripture study is a MUST for those suffering from depression.  It’s even more important in times of trials.  Unfortunately, I haven’t always FELT like doing the daily prayer and scripture study when my spirits are that low.  The hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” has been my go-to song to get me through prayer and scripture study when I am feeling that I cannot possibly pray.  I sing it in place of prayer until I can cope.  It’s helped.  It still helps.
  • Get enough sleep.  Eat right.  Move more.  Be healthy.  This also seems obvious, but it works.  Depression can make it hard to get enough shut eye.  And too little sleep can make depression worse.  Trying to stay on a sleep schedule really seems to help beat the blues.  There is no magic diet that fixes depression, but it really does help when sadness sets in.   Some people who struggle with depression may not feel like eating at all, but others might overeat.  I am in the latter group.  I try to be extra mindful of getting the right nourishment.  Proper nutrition can influence a person’s mood and energy.  People who are depressed may not feel much like being active, but if I make myself do it anyway, I usually feel better.  A walk makes me feel much better.
  • Getting outside really helps me.  I think it’s the sunshine and light exposure (the flowers also make me smile) that help lift my spirits.  I find that my mood improves when I've been outside walking for 30 minutes. 
  • Finally, being creative has really been an effective tool to fighting my depression.  Cross stitching or playing the piano has really helped me loosen up some positive emotions.


Depression is an ongoing process.  I am constantly on this roller coaster.  Some days (most days) are wonderful.  Some days I struggle.  For those people who are currently gripped by depression, either experiencing it or are supporting or living with someone with it, I hope my story helps.  There is no situation that is without hope.  There is no person that can’t overcome their difficulties.  For anyone who is suffering silently, there is help out there and you are definitely not alone.  God loves you. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NEWSIES AND MOCKINGJAY

I have been so spoiled last week.
It all began on Wednesday night.  Scott took me out to dinner and a show.  And not just ANY show, he took me to see the Broadway version of Newsies.  It was an absolutely perfect date.  
We went to Chuys for dinner.  (Chuys is my favorite!)  As we visited and enjoyed our enchiladas, we discussed life and love and work and family.  It was fun to reconnect.  We did notice a sad trend though:  We saw many people on "dates" but instead of enjoying each others company, they were on their phones and/or technology.  Scott and I have a no phone clause on our dates.  We consider our dates time to reconnect not catch up on social media, or playing games.  It makes me sad about what this world is coming too.  (Now don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my technology.  And sometimes I have to force myself to be present in the moment with my family.  But I do try to make my family the number one priority over my i-phone.)
Newsies, the Musical ROCKED!  I loved it!!!!  Let's face it.  Disney knows how to make you cry, laugh and in the end provide audiences with a satisfied ending to the story.  And Newsies does all that and more.  I started loving Newsies in high school.  What could be better than watching a somewhat unknown Christian Bale dance around and stick it to the man by protesting through song and dance?  The musical version was just as much fun.  The dancing and singing were amazing.  The sets were awesome.  A few things about the story varied from the movie and I wasn't the biggest fan of those (I'm a movie purest) but I understand the stage needed something different.  I couldn't have been happier.
And on a more personal level: I "tested" my husband with this musical when we were dating.  He said he loved musicals.  I had to make sure, before I started liking him too much, that he really did enjoy the musical genre, so I had him watch Newsies.  He loved it as much as I did!  So I fell for him!
Saturday night I got to go on another date.  This time we double dated with the Bettenhausens.  We went to Qdobas.  (Another favorite restaurant.)  
And then we went to see Mockingjay!  If you don't enjoy (or haven't even read) the books, than this movie isn't for you.  But I LOVE the books.  I LOVE the characters.  And I LOVED the movie (despite how sad it is.)  I just wish we didn't have to wait an entire year for the next installment....
The Hunger Games trilogy is primarily a story about war and human tragedy.  It is about what we will do to each other in the name of preventing the same thing from being done either to ourselves or to someone that we love.  War is awful.  War is messy.  The plot is messy.  Katniss's mental state is messy.  I think, one of the main "take aways" from this story is this:  Humans have always killed each other and will likely continue to do so.  But we find the strength to love and continue on, despite the damage that has been done to us or by us.  I liked the way Mockingjay ended.  It was realistic and full of hope.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

HALLOWEEN NIGHT AND BOOKS AND 9 CHILDREN!

Halloween was wonderful, because we shared it with people I've come to love a lot!  Since we can't spend Halloween with our families (who live far away) we spent it with our "adopted" families here in Kentucky!  Who are these "lucky" (some would say unfortunate since we've decided to claim them) families?  They are none other than: the Bettenhausens, the Larsens and the Schmids.  The Melansons were also invited but got sick at the last minute!
Here are the kids BEFORE candy!
Key Lime Pie and Lemon Drop are "PRETENDING" to sleep.
They can't fool me!
I told Jalapeno to dress up...  I even splurged and got him a skunk costume!
He wore it!  Kudos to this big "kid!"  I'm proud of him and his sense of humor!
Two of my favorite people:  Jelly Bean and Lemon Drop
Aren't they adorable?
The teens took the younger kids trick-or-treating, while the "adults" visited and ate chili.  Chili is tradition at our house.  Mmmmmm!  Scott and I always fix chili with corn bread for this fun holiday!  I love celebrating!

Sooooooo - I love reading.  But I haven't had much time lately.  I did get to read two books in the past month:  The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress by Sally Johnson and Cress by Marissa Meyer.
The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress isn't something I would normally read, but one of my good friends from Las Vegas wrote it - so I bought it with the intent to read it right away.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read it right away as my daughter "stole" it first and read it first.  As soon as she was done, I picked it up.  I couldn't put it down.  I enjoyed it!  Sophia, the main character, has a lot of emotional baggage because of her sudden divorce.  I thought it was uplifting to see that good things did come from such a sad experience.  I thought the book was humorous AND thought provoking.  It was engaging and sensitive to difficult topics (like divorce and depression).  It provided a sense of hope in such a sad situation.  I look forward to reading more books from my friend.
Cress was the 3rd book in the Lunar Chronicles series.  I STILL love the series.  I STILL think it is appropriate for teens (with no bad language and no immorality).  I STILL want to read the rest of the books in the series when they come out.  Full disclosure:  I love fairy tales.  I also love SciFi.  And Marissa Meyer did an excellent job putting these two together.  It was a page turner.  And if I say anything more, I'll probably give somethings away.  So READ these books.  They are fun!

I LOVE KIDS!  I really do!  And I was privileged to get to have 9 of them for an entire week at my house.  The Larsens were kind enough to trust me with their 7 children for them while they went out of town.  I LOVED it!  The kids were AWESOME!  And it was nice to know that Scott and I could handle a LARGE family.
Do you know how hard it is to get 9 kids to pose without making weird faces?
Check out Kotten Kandy's odd face...  And Doritos put pretzels in his nose?!
Me and a daughter and a son...  Who knew I had a son?!  :-)
9 kids - ages 16 to 3!  :-)
Believe it or not, we still homeschooled with this small army.  We ate well.  (I'm not great at fixing breakfasts and lunches - I consider making dinner a feat) but we managed to keep them all fed.  And we kept them clean.  And we got to church on time.  And we went to the park twice.  And we showed them the Liken the Scripture videos (which a couple of them would sing afterwards and make me smile!)  And I got to tuck them in to bed and sing to them at night.  We still were able to do our scripture study and family prayer and FHE.  I enjoyed every minute!  And I really do love those 9 kids!  I'd "adopt" them all in a heartbeat!

Monday, October 27, 2014

ZOO, HALLOWEEN AND BOOKS

We have had a fun, crazy, and busy week!  It started on Wednesday...  We decided to take 14 kids to the zoo to see the monkeys:
Just kidding!  I really enjoyed these two, big, strapping young men: Doritos and Jalapeno.  They were really helpful with the younger kids.
The zoo was wonderful!  The weather was perfect.  The kids were well behaved.  And the company was delightful!  I've always wanted a large family.... and Wednesday I pretended I had one.  (I think my nieces and nephews need to live closer to me so I can "adopt" them too!  But luckily my two Amy friends let me "kidnap" their kiddos once in awhile to feed my crazy tendencies.)
I wish I could tell you about the day in minute by minute details - but I'll let the pictures tell the story:
Apple Pie loves his pig!
Jumbalaya is ADORABLE!!!!
Spaghetti was excited to see an ant eater....
Key Lime Pie and Jalapeno as confused super heroes!
Eclair and Marmalade were VERY photogenic.
This cute little wallaby is 16 1/2 years old.
We decided she would make the perfect date for Jalapeno...
He said he would take her to Outback Steak House for dinner.
Lemon Drop decided to take a page from
the wallabies by holding Jumbalaya in her "pouch"
Jumbalaya and Snickerdoodle got to ride...
I was a bit jealous....
Obviously Jalapeno was jealous too....
Kotten Kandy LOVES ice-cream!
But she doesn't like pizza....
Key Lime Pie is a natural with Jelly Bean!
And Jelly Bean LOVED being tall on Doritos shoulders!
Brothers - First they were monkeys.  Now they are turtles?!
Snickerdoodle isn't quite as big as a gorilla....
Teenagers?!
Snickerdoodle and Jumbalaya...
Mom - this pics for you...
Consider yourself challenged!
Come visit so we can play!!!!!
Boys!  If you look closely - there are 6 of them in this picture!
Nuts is relaxing on Spaghetti
- while Dorito's head is precariously positioned in the throne.
Crazy moms who brought the crew!
Me - Jan - Amy B.
Marmalade and Eclair channeling Elsa....
Nuts, Apple Pie, Spaghetti, and Juice
Crazy boys!
I really had a great day!  I hope the kids did too!  They are all wonderful children of God!

So... this month has been crazy busy.  I have been helping my husband a lot at work.  And I have been trying to keep our homeschooling efforts alive and well.  I've also been trying to keep up with my Church calling.  Between all the business, I haven't had much time to read.  But I did manage to read two books from The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  Much to my surprise, I REALLY liked them.  Marissa Meyer likes to re-tell the traditional fairy tales using a futuristic, space-age theme.  At first I was wondering if I would really like reading about a "Borg"-like Cinderella... but she actually works as a "cyborg."  OK... let me start at the very beginning:
Cinder is the first book.  It's loosely based on Cinderella.  And yes, she is a cyborg.  Throughout the book, we are introduced to a world of technology and wonder - in addition to governmental intrigue and the Lunars, another species.  Prince Kai - from future China - meets Cinder early on in the story to ask her help in repairing his android.  And it becomes clear that he may have to marry the evil Queen Levana, a Lunar, to avoid a war with the Lunars.  While some of the aspects of the story are similar to Cinderela, there are some changes.  And the story enthralled me from start to finish.  I wasn't surprised by the big reveal at the end.  But overall, I thought it was a terrific and unique retelling.  I liked it a lot!  (And there is no swearing at all!  Which is a HUGE plus in this mother's eyes.)
I was really excited, after reading Cinder, to read Scarlet.  Scarlet is the second book in the series.  I liked the sequel just as much.  It picks up right where Cinder left off.   Now there is an army of genetically modified human/wolf soldiers hunting Cinder down and poised to destroy all of Earth's major cities.  Fortunately, Cinder isn't alone.  She has "Captain" Thorne.  And Scarlet Benoit, aka Red Riding Hood, on her side.  Wolf, a street fighter with his own issues also joins the unusual group of fugitives.
I liked both of these books enough to buy the third book in the series, Cress.  I'll let ya'll know about it when I've read it.  :-)

The ward Autumn Festival was Saturday night.  Of course, we wouldn't be THE DeGooyers if we didn't dress up as a family!  We were elves this year!  Lord of the Rings elves to be exact.  Scott and I were woodland elves while Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy were from Rivendale.
We were thrilled that Lemon Drop decided to dress up too!
She was adorable in her colonial outfit!
There couldn't be a nicer girl!  And I LOVE that smile!!!!!
Doritos attempted to dress up, but the blond wig didn't work.
He is supposed to be Edward Elric (a cartoon character I had never heard of before)....
I miss my blond hair....
And Scott is the MOST handsome guy I know!
He can pull off any look - He's even better looking 
than Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
Key Lime Pie
Kotten Kandy
These two girls are GORGEOUS (inside and out)!
I'm lucky to be their mother!