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.
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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.  :-)