Friday, March 27, 2015

REUNION FUN!

The McCallister Clan!
We just got home from an amazing weekend.  The McCallister Family Reunion was a huge success this year.  And it was wonderful to reconnect with my nieces and nephews, etc.  Kotten Kandy said it best when she said, "It was over too soon!"
Here's the breakdown of our three days together:
Day 1 (Saturday):
We started with pictures!  Mil and Grandpa Mac got us all matching shirts and we took lots of pictures.  
Top Left to Right:  Scott, Sundy, Tara, Zane,
Ben, Kristi, G.J., and Ken
Bottom:  Dad and Mom
ALL the grandkids minus Elder Honda and Sister Honda
who are serving missions in Florida and Maryland....
Then Uncle Zane took us on a tour of the new Mosquito Control building.  It is truly amazing.  Our family has been a part of this for over 30 years.  The Mosquito Control started as a shelf in our garage growing up.  It has grown like crazy!  
All of my family (G.J., Dad, Zane, Ben and I) have made
money from the Mosquito Control at one point in our lives.
Zane with his favorite nieces.
I wish we live in Grand Junction, this would be 
a WONDERFUL field trip for homeschoolers....
We picnicked at the new building and celebrated everyone's birthday with Grandma Mil.
We also heard "Last Lectures" from Mil, Grandpa Mac, Zane and Tara.  Mil talked about God's creations and especially focused on fractals.  Dad gave a parable about the lamp post and creation and determination and knowing what you want.  Zane read letters to his children.  And Tara talked about how Zane and she fell in love - with the Lord's help.  Zane's kids also gave short "MormonAd" talks.
My crazy brother also gave us each a necklace of his wisdom teeth.  How gross!  But funny, if you know my brother.
My tooth even has a cavity....
At the end of the day, Zane and Tara took the adults to eat "Super Fries."  Yummy!!!!  But not terribly healthy.  :-) 
Sunday was Church.  
Then we feasted on lasagna and heard "Last Lectures" from Ken, G.J., Scott and I.  Ken talked about Grandma T.  It was neat to hear her voice again (on a video of course) and be reminded of what an amazing woman she was.  G.J. talked about the virtues all of the 17 grand kids had.  She gave them necklaces as she honored them.  Scott spoke about spiritual moments and faith promoting stories in his own life and how we can learn and grow our own testimonies through these stories.  I talked about the lessons learned from each member of my family growing up and how grateful I am that I have such "side kicks" to share my journey hear on earth with.  (I'll recap my lessons learned at the end of the post....)  Our daughters also shared some spiritual thoughts and we all enjoyed each others company all day long.
Monday began with a "meeting" of sorts with the adults.   My parents gave us copies of their wills and we discussed funerals.  It sounds kinda morbid but it wasn't.  The kids spent 3 hours at a place called Bananas where they played miniature gold, laser tag and bumper cars.  It was really fun, according to them.
Ben and Kristi finished up the afternoon with their "Last Lectures."  Kristi spoke about Light!  And bore a beautiful testimony about Christ.  Ben spoke about power, honor, creation and priesthood.  Again, it was uplifting and we learned a lot.  The Ben McCallister kids also shared their "MormonAds."
Crazy Shoes for the grandkids - from Mil and Grandpa
Key Lime Pie, Mil, Kotten Kandy, 
Shaved Ice and Shortbread
Escargot, Kidney Bean, Mil and Cheese
Me with L
We ended the evening with a BBQ and goodbyes.  I already miss my family!  I'm grateful for them and their examples in my life!
Here are the lessons I learned from each of my family members:
Dad taught me creativity and a love of music!
Mil shared with me a love of children and teaching!
I learned loyalty from my sister!
Zane taught me to be well rounded and try new things!
Ben continue to teaches me to think and 
find meaning in unusual (or not so unusual) ways!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

It has been a really rough month and a half.  I’m sorry about not posting more often, but I’ve been struggling with depression and losing our baby.  But things are looking up.  Life continues to move forward, and each day is easier.  But instead of this post dwelling on the hard things that have been happening, I’d rather update you (my readers) on the positive and uplifting things – because there have been some good things too

First:  Kotten Kandy tried out for a musical at the end of January.  The local high school decided to let homeschoolers audition this time.  She made it!  It’s a re-telling of The Wizard of Oz.  She has multiple parts, but the fun part is that of one of the Wicked Witch’s friends, another witch, who rides a vacuum cleaner.  She’s enjoying the rehearsals and is excited to be back on stage.  The show is in the beginning of May, so we have lots of time to prepare.

Second:  Key Lime Pie got a job.  She LOVES it!  She is working at the local movie theater in the concessions area.  She really likes her bosses.  And they seem to like her too.  We haven’t had time to take advantage of getting to see a movie yet… but we plan to go see Cinderella next week.  She’s so cute in her uniform.  And she comes home so happy.
Third:  I’m not sure this counts as “good” news, but it IS news:  Kentucky has been getting a LOT of snow.  We were snowed in for a week three weeks ago.  The snow finally melted yesterday in time for another major storm during the night last night.  We have over a foot of snow outside.  We can’t leave the house.  
School has been cancelled for Thursday and Friday.  Luckily the commute to our school is zero so my girls are still getting to learn!  (The joys of homeschooling!)  But they are missing seminary, which kinda bums them out.
This morning, Kotten Kandy took Karmel outside to use the bathroom, and she completely disappeared in the snow and had to have help getting out of the snow drift.  Poor dog.
Scott felt like he had to work, but couldn’t get out of our driveway.  Our cars are completely under snow and the roads are pure ice.  Luckily, one of Scott’s co-workers has a HUGE truck and came to pick him up.  Scott just called a few minutes ago and has decided to stay put for the night.  He is going to stay at work overnight since the roads are so bad.  I’m definitely praying for him to stay warm and safe.
Fourth:  The girls won back to back stake basketball championships last week!  J  Go Shelbyville!  They loved playing, and have definitely improved since last year.  Kotten Kandy is extremely aggressive and really shines on court.  Key Lime Pie isn’t scared of the ball anymore.  In fact, she’s in the game hustling hard.  I really enjoyed watching them this year, although the championship game was a nail biter.  These Young Women are amazing!  I really do love them!
I’ve read a few good books lately:
“A House United” by Nicholeen Peck was recommended to me by Amy Larsen.  It was excellent.  I wish I had read it when I was a “beginning” mother.  I am the mother of two BEAUTIFUL and WONDERFUL daughters whom I LOVE with all my heart.  I have a great desire to help them live the very best they can and to have love guide our home.  This book helped me realize that I can handle problems in the home much more positively.  It really helps with communication in the home.  I’m going to be recommending this book to my friends and my daughters when they become mothers.  It is great parenting advice.
The other book I just finished was “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson.  It is awesome!   It is a fast-paced adventure with some fun characters, combining political intrigue with magical battles.  The characters are interesting and the plot takes some unexpected turns.  I love referring to it and discussing the themes throughout it with my family.  I’ve already started book two:  “The Well of Ascension.”  And I can’t put it down.

So... life is OK.  I will try to be more consistent in updating my blog.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I HAVE BEEN READING...

I realized the other day that I have read 3 books that I never shared on my blog.  So today, I am rectifying that oversight.  (I have been having a difficult first trimester of my pregnancy and so I have not read as much as I would like.  But my energy is returning since I am now in my second trimester.  And I hope to read a lot in the next few months.)
For Christmas, Amy got me a book I really wanted to read.  I was wishing out loud about wanting to read this biography and she heard me.  The book:  As You Wish by Cary Elwes.  Full disclosure:  I am a HUGE fan of The Princess Bride.  So when I heard that Wesley (aka. Cary Elwes) had written a biography of the making of the movie, I instantly wanted to read it.
This book was extremely entertaining.  Cary Elwes has such a conversational tone throughout the book.  It was like sitting down and talking to him in person.  I laughed at a lot of the stories.  I was surprised at some of the accidents that happened on set.  I was impressed with the dedication for the sword fight.  And intrigued by the behind the scenes work that went into making the movie.
Not only did I learn a lot about the filming of this classic, I also grew to love the cast through Cary Elwes stories.  Fezzik, the Giant, was an amazing, loving man who struggled with his health and with peoples' reactions to his giant-ness.  Miracle Max was hilarious and unscripted.  And I love Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) who also starred in my favorite crime drama "Criminal Minds" and was the reason I started watching "Criminal Minds" to begin with.
OK, so I have babbled on and on.  Truly this is a book that is just a fun, refreshing, encouraging read.
I also read The 7 Paths by the Anasazi Foundation.  This one was recommended by Scott Larson more than once so I broke down and purchased it.  I'm really glad I did.
This short, yet powerful, book was written in poetic stanza form.  It follows the journey of a young man that flees his people in anger, only to find himself at first confronted and then healed by the seven paths in nature that eventually lead him back home.  Each path, such as wind, or water, or plants help him to heal emotional wounds and help him to walk forward being more positive and creating his best self.  This young man gains clarity and truth and is able to reflect on his own heart.
I love that this book is simple, yet significant.  It helped me to reflect on my own experience with the world, and to draw parallels to the gospel throughout my reflection.  This is a book that takes time to read, although it is simple and short.  I recommend pondering and taking notes as you read this book.  It could be a life-changer.  My favorite path = the Plant Path.
Dad sent me Major Decisions by Eyring about two months ago.  I hadn't sat down to read it until about 3 weeks ago.  Wow!  I LOVE it!  I wish I had read something like this before I went to college 24 years ago.  It's entertaining and easy to read.  And I hope all kids before they go to school read this.  It is now required reading for my kids as they approach their college years.  And I've been recommending it to all of my fellow-home-school mothers to get for their teenage kids.
I started reading this book by myself, but then moved on to reading it out loud to my husband (who also enjoys it.)  The intended purpose of this book is to help both current and prospective college students to get the most out of their college experiences.  "Probably the most important thing I've learned about higher education is this:  you can get everything you hope for - and more - if you take personal responsibility for the design and construction of your education.  The key is to be your own 'general contractor,' the one who puts all of the pieces of a higher education together according to a careful personal plan."  Thanks, dad, for this GREAT book/resource.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

TRADITIONS!

"A fiddler on the roof.  Sounds crazy, no?..."  Or maybe just a crazy DeGooyer tradition?  Yes!  Every year for Hanukkah we celebrate by watching one of our favorite movies; Fiddler on the Roof.  You may ask... "How do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word... TRADITION....  And because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years.  Here [at the DeGooyers] we have traditions for everything... how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes....  You may ask, how did these traditions get started?  I'll tell you:"
Last week, as we watched Fiddler on the Roof, the opening scene made me contemplate why we were watching this movie every December during Hanukkah.  We're not Jewish.  Was it because we just love the movie?  Or that we love the themes in the movie?  Or maybe that we just love spending time together?  Why and how did we start this crazy tradition? ... And not just this tradition.  Why do we have most of our holiday traditions?  What is the importance of them?  Why do Scott and I feel compelled to do things a certain way every year?  Why do we go to such great lengths to makes these traditions something we repeat?  Why do we have traditions?
Scott and I LOVE traditions.  We grew up in families that had wonderful traditions.  Some/most of these traditions we wanted to carry on.  We also believe that traditions and stories are what makes a family unit close.  So when we got married, one of the first things we did was sit down and decide what traditions we wanted to "carry on" and what new traditions we wanted to start.
So here are a few of our Christmas time traditions and why/how they got started:
I mentioned that we celebrate Hanukkah in our own unique way.  And the reason?  Because we LOVE the movie Fiddler on the Roof.  We also began eating blue candy canes while watching the movie, because blue is one of the official colors of Hanukkah.  It's a fun tradition.
Like many people throughout the world, we also enjoy decorating for Christmas.  Unlike many others, we do not use Santa Claus and reindeer and presents and candy in our decorating.  We decided to focus only on the story of Christ's birth.  Everything we decorate with is a nativity.  Scott has supported this crazy tradition and obsession by helping me decorate and adding to this immense collection of nativities.  It's a wonderful way to focus on the "real reason for the season!"
Four years ago, we started another tradition with our good friends: the Bettenhausens and the Thorntons.  We call it The DeThorntenhausen Christmas celebration.  We all get together and have dinner and a gift exchange.  Then we play games until late at night.  It’s really a fun time with some of our “adopted” family….
I made Amy a cross-stitch of the names of Christ...
Key Lime Pie was excited to receive a Recipe book and holder...
Kotten Kandy couldn't have been more spoiled with 712 writing prompts and a journal...
Growing up, Scott's family always had a delicious spread on Christmas Eve.  Tradition required several important dishes:  twice-baked-potatoes, ham, turkey, pistachio salad, red hot jello, homemade rolls, DeGooyer stuffing, Bettenhausen sweet potato casserole, and bubbly.  I am not a great cook and do not like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but Scott picks up my slack on Christmas Eve.  We are always super spoiled with a heavenly feast.
We loved sharing our traditional Christmas Eve meal with these amazing Sister missionaries...
Christmas Eve has become our sacred celebration in our home.  We love spending time together.  We read Luke 2.  We give gifts to the Savior in a white stocking that remains up after all the other Christmas decorations are put away.  And we watch The Nativity.  We love spending the evening remembering Christmases past and discussing the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It's our favorite part of the holiday!
We also love the tradition of Christmas pajamas.  This year, we invited the Sister missionaries to participate with us.  They loved their new jammies too!
Kotten Kandy, Hermana Graham, Key Lime Pie and Hermana Porter
New PJs are AWESOME!
Even the Sisters thought so too...
Christmas stockings are opened first thing on Christmas morning.  It's a fun way to start the rest of our laid-back, happy celebration.
-Christmas Morning Smiles-
So traditions have been a wonderful addition to our family life.  They have helped us grow closer as a family.  But more importantly most of our traditions help us remember the love of a God who gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, for us and our salvation.  We hope that these traditions will help them remember the important things:  God, the Savior and family!  Just like Tevya said, "... Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."
***
This isn't a tradition, but I wanted to share:
The Sister missionaries wanted to come over and "play" Christmas Day, also.  We really enjoyed having them for Christmas Eve so, of course, we said "YES!"  They spent 3 hours giving my daughters make-overs.  It was super fun and the results were amazing!  We love the sisters!
Hermana Porter curling Key Lime Pie's long locks...
Hermana Graham doing Kotten Kandy's make-up and hair,,,
Key Lime Pie
(I especially loved how they framed her eyes with her eyebrows.)
Isn't she absolutely gorgeous?!
Kotten Kandy
(Her eyes popped with her eye makeup and her hair was so different and fun.)
She's beautiful!  Eh?!

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.
******************************************************
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.....