Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hair Storage Craft

It's been hard to be crafty when all of my supplies are boxed up in a storage unit. But each Christmas I usually like to try to go with more handmade gifts because they are fun for me, I feel more in the spirit of the holidays, and the gifts mean more to me (and hopefully to who I am giving them to). Since all of my stuff was boxed up this year, I only really made one gift, and it was for my sister Kayleen.

Kayleen's hair stuff was all over the place and my mom kept talking about needing to figure out a better way to store all her headbands and bows. Having seen many, many, many pinterest ideas on just the subject, I decided to undertake that task as my gift.

I searched and pinned multiple ways to create a hairbow board and headband container and then kind of winged it on my own, combining different processes. Then I went to Goodwill for a cheap frame, and then to the dollar store and Walmart for the rest of my crafting supplies. I did spend a little more than I wanted, but that's because I had to buy all new supplies instead of just using what I already have in storage - like modpodge, paint, brushes, and such.

I took the frame from Goodwill and painted it a dark gray/blackish color.

I also took a candle stick holder from the dollar store and painted it the same color as well.

It took several coats and days for the glass to look half decent. It still wasn't high quality, but it looked just fine for the purpose of just sitting on a shelf.

Unfortunately, after this point I forgot to keep taking pictures. I was actually rushing to get the project done since I had to do it when Kayleen was at school and I was constantly running out of time. So, I don't have pictures of washing out an oatmeal container and modepodging scrapbook paper around it, or gluing the container to the candlestick holder, but you'll see the end result.

I also modgepodged scrapbook paper to a piece of cardboard that came with the frame.

Once it was dry, I was reading to add the ribbon. At first I tried to use a staple gun to attach the ribbon to the frame, but it was too strong and the frame started cracking. My brother smartly suggested I use a regular stapler instead, and despite my protests that it wouldn't be able to go into the wood, it worked perfectly.

After the ribbon was stapled on, I put the back on and it was ready for bows!

I also took two smaller frames from the dollar store, hot glued ribbon and used some coordinating paper as the background to go with the big one.  I used Kayleen's favorite color of turquoise, and my favorites of green and pink, for the project, and I found a cute little container that matched to work for small clips and bobby pins.

With a couple new bows, I boxed it all up and Kayleen was able to open it on Christmas. I should have taken a picture of the before, but I was forgetful. I also should have taken a picture of what everything looked like before we added all of Kayleen's hairstuff, but you just get it after it's all set up.

Though you'll have to take my word for it, it all looks WAY better than before. And her hair stuff actually fit on the shelf. Before it was falling all over the place. I loved how it turned out.

Someday I'll have to do it for all of Lydia's stuff as well. I sure loved working with the fun colors and I always feel so accomplished when I make something nice for others, even if the quality is amateur at best.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ammon's 3rd Birthday!

Ammon had a pretty good birthday this year. He got to start Primary! I went to take him to nursery and he walked in, saw that none of his friends were there anymore, and were replaced with a room of crying babies instead, and lost it. He kept crying and saying that he wanted to go home. Since he barely missed the cut-off for Primary by a couple weeks, I decided to get special permission for him to go to Sunbeams. Luckily, the Primary President has a child in the same situation previously, so she was fine with it. 

Unfortunately, the nursery experience had him riled up and he started crying about having to go to Primary too. It didn't help that it was right in the middle of his usual three hour nap (curse the one-o'clock church!). After some persuading and explaining that he could sit with his friends, he sat down and was doing well, and I snuck away to Sunday School. Unfortunately, ten minutes later, the Sunday School door opened with a member of the Primary Presidency towing a splotchy-faced Ammon behind her. She said he was doing fine but he would fall asleep, jerk awake, not know what was going on, and start to cry. They would then calm him down, he would fall asleep, and the whole process would start again...over and over. It was just getting too disruptive.

I took the poor kid home for a nap.

And that was Ammon's first day of Primary. Luckily, after a phone conversation with the President, we agreed to try again, and hopefully Ammon will be better prepared to face Primary this next week and won't wear himself out crying so that he can't stay awake.

Ammon's first day of Primary on his third birthday.

After church I made Ammon's birthday dinner. He asked for pancakes and jello (we did jello the week before to get that out of the way) and I found a perfect recipe for cake-batter pancakes.

You literally just mix up a cake-mix and pour it on the griddle, then melt some frosting so it's runny, poor it on top, and throw on some sprinkles. SO easy. And SO yummy.  Everyone loved them - I mean they were cake-pancakes! Something about cooking them on the griddle made the texture extra delicious. Brigham, who normally hates cake, couldn't stop eating them and raving about how much he loved them. 

We also had scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes and carrots.

Ammon definitely did not like the candles. We put his pancakes in front of him and he looked at them for a minute, blew a little bit, and then turned his head and wouldn't look at them. I had to "help" him blow them out.

He sure loved eating them though :)

After dinner we opened presents and he was spoiled, of course. It's hard not to be when you live with your Grandma.

After presents we had ice cream and I did Ammon's birthday interview. I love the answers he gives because it shows his silly, easily distracted self. A few of the answers he gave because he was trying to be funny, a few answers were because he was bored, and a few were just completely out of left field. I complete he's even old enough to have an interview. I think I officially don't have a baby anymore :(

Though I'm sad, I'm so proud of how big of a boy Ammon is, he had a big year!  He potty-trained so easily and finally was patient enough to learn his colors. He now makes it through about 15 minutes of a few movies or shows (Yo Gabba Gabba, Elmo, Cookie Monster Movie). He still is obsessed with books and asks us to read to him eighteen times a day. He graduated to a big-boy bed and is now starting Primary. He started talking (finally!) and drives us crazy with his constant "why". My Grandma said she's heard a lot of kids ask why a lot, but none as much as Ammon. 

Grandma Busby wanted a picture taken with them so that in 30 years my kids might remember that she was there with them on their birthday. It hurt my heart.

Probably one of my favorite things he says: when someone says something he doesn't like, he says, "Don't copy me!" Haha, he picked it up from the older kids and only uses it correctly only half the time and it's adorable! Lydia will say, " No Ammon, don't put that there" and Ammon replies, "Don't copy me!" :) 

Here's the best clip I could get of him talking recently. Every time I try to video him he just wants to see the video so that's all he says...as you'll hear in this video.

Pretty much one of the worst quality videos ever...oh well. Caitlin, I will try to do better. But notice, the kids are playing your game in the background :)

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. You've captured my heart like I never imagined and I'm so pleased with everything you've done and excited to spend another year being your Mom! Love you!!

Ammon's 3 Year Old Birthday Interview

1. What's your favorite song? ABC's
2. What's your favorite thing to do with Mom? Get off
3. What's your favorite thing to do with Dad? Play with toys
4. What's your favorite day of the week? Saturday
5. How old are you? Three
6. Who is your best friend? Abby
7. What's your favorite thing to do? Play with toys
8. What's your favorite color? Pink
9. What's your favorite food? Watermelon
10. What do you like to do with your family? Play outside
11. What's your favorite toy? My little people airplane and carnival
12. What do you want to be when you grow up? A movie
13. What makes you happy? Daddy
14. What makes you sad? I don't know
15. What's your favorite show to watch? Yo Gabba Gabba
16. What's your favorite book? The Elmo book
17. What do you like to learn about? I don't know
18. Where do you like to go? Exercise class
19. What's the best part of your birthday? Candles
20. What's your favorite treat? Starburst
21. If you could meet someone famous who would it be? I don't know
22. What's your favorite movie? Yo Gabba Gabba
23. What's your favorite game to play? Uno
24. What sports do you like? Tennis
25. What do you like to wear? A Dress
26. Who's your favorite Superhero? Superman

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mentally Strong

As the new year approached, so did new year's resolutions. Honestly, just the thought of making them exhausted me....so naturally I rebelled. "I don't need no stinking resolutions, I'm working out enough stuff as is," I thought to myself. Such good excuses.

The truth is, I do have things I'm constantly working on and I didn't feel the need to set new resolutions on top of my currently-in-progress goals like exercise, healthy eating, quality time with children, patience, kinder words, and more expressions of love towards husband, better quality scripture study/prayer, %100 visiting-teaching/temple attendence...etc. See, my list is already full. 

However, something kept nagging at me. 

This past year was one of the hardest years of my life. While Brigham was in the midst of master's school his job was threatened and we worked hard for three months to save it. And when I say worked hard, I mean we gave it everything we had, poured our time, heart, energy, and souls into it...and still ended up losing it anyway. I had to go back to work and leave my kids every day to go to a job I couldn't stand. And then we were told we had to find a new place to live in the middle of it all. We had financial strain, marital discord, health problems, no health-insurance, depression, school stress, months of job searching and interviews, and couldn't get pregnant on top of it all. Then we picked up all our things, left most of our friends and family, and moved in with my parents two states away.

Reading all that you might feel really bad for us. I know I did. But really we were SO blessed. Despite losing his job, Brigham was able to still get tuition reimbursement to help us since we paid cash for all his schooling. And I was blessed to find a higher paying part-time job so easily. Brigham now had the time to both finish his schooling, and apply for jobs and attend interviews. We paid off our car and had no other debt, plus Brigham was receiving unemployment, so we weren't losing money month by month. So many people were there for us and helped us. I felt their prayers. And then Brigham was able to land a job in Washington just in the nick of time. Also, my family had a vacation already scheduled in Utah that coincided with our move so they were there and able to help us pack and drive all our belongings to Washington. It was amazing how perfectly it all aligned.

I realized all these blessings at the time. Heavenly Father truly watched out for us and I knew it. And yet - how well did I handle all of this? Not. Well. At. All. I cried, I still cry. I felt forsaken, confused, unable to function, overwhelmed, lonely, and hurt. My depression was all consuming, and many days I didn't think I could get out of bed, let alone go to one more family dinner and pretend I was ok anymore. Although I felt peace at church because of the Spirit, I almost never made it through a meeting without trying to discreetly wipe my tears away. My family complained because I never smiled when we chatted online anymore. I fought with my husband constantly. I yelled at my kids constantly. I was tired 24/7. And my constant petition was why. Why us? Why did this have to happen to us? Why can't it get better when I want? Why can't I understand what God wants me to do?

And mostly, Why is this so hard for me?

Sure times were hard and we struggled, but no great tragedy happened. I recognized that no one died. We were all healthy for the most part. We weren't in ruins. We had the knowledge of the gospel, and I knew God was prepping us for greater times ahead. So why could I not snap out of it? Why was I struggling so much?! If I was grieving as if someone had died, what would happen to me if someone actually did? What if I was struck by real tragedy? I'd probably have a mental break down and turn into Mrs. Bennet and be in a constant state of nerves for the rest of my life. Ugh. I looked at others that were going through, or had gone through, way worse than me and would feel awful that I was acting so pitiful.

Basically, I spent a lot of time soul-searching. After I got over feeling forsaken by God, and yet still struggled so much, I began to realize that I was having such difficult times because I everything that was happening was not under my control, there was little I could do to fix that, and I was not mentally strong enough to deal with those facts. And once I realized that, instead of doing something about it, I just began to wonder, "Why not? Why am I not mentally strong?" I didn't really have an answer for it, and I didn't really do anything about it either.

Then, a few months after settling in Washington, one of my friends posted an article on Facebook that was titled something like, "13 Attributes of Mentally Strong People." At first I avoided that article because I didn't want to add more guilt to my life...I knew mental strength was not on the top of my list. But eventually curiosity gave in, and I read the article expecting to find I only did three or four or the thirteen things. To my dismay, after reading through the list, I found I did not do one.

Not one.

I failed the whole list. I groaned in discouragement and thought, "No wonder why I'm such a mess," and pushed the whole thing away because I couldn't deal with processing another failure. But it's been bugging me. More hard things are going to come, probably harder things. And I want the mental fortitude to handle them. And so yes, this whole big long story has led me to this point: this year I'm going to work on my mental muscles. 

I couldn't find the exact article again, but I found one that is basically the same called, Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid. I've looked it up to start breaking down and building back up mentally. And here's what the article suggests I do:

1. Stop wasting time feeling sorry for myself. 

But this is so hard to do! Man my life sucks. :) Seriously, self-pity is definitely a weakness mine. I hope to overcome it by thinking of nice things to do for others in the midst of my pity-parties.

2. Stop giving away my power. 

This means that I won't give others the power to make me feel inferior or bad. I will know my strength is in managing how I respond. I have been working on this for a long time. I don't improve quickly and I'm awful at it. But I have the tools and renewed sense to work harder.

3. Stop shying away from change. Embrace it actually.

Yeah, I hate change. It scares me. But I do recognize that I become stagnant. I will need to be excited at the opportunities to grow instead.

4. Stop wasting energy on things I can't control.

I need to control everything. I'm one of THOSE people. It's the worst. I worry about not being able to control that I'm a control freak. And when something frustrating happens that I can't control, I waste ALL my energy on trying to control it anyways. Phew. I think the first good step for me here is just learning to recognize when I can't control things. If I start doing that, then I can learn to let it go.

5. Stop worrying about pleasing others.

This I'm about 50/50 on. Half the time I'm not worried at all; I actually have a kind of  "forget-the-world" attitude. But when it comes to those I love, I love to please. I'll bend over backwards to make them happy, sometimes putting myself out in the process. I need to realize that if I can't please others and I'm doing the best I can, that's all I can do. Tearing myself up about it isn't going to help any.

6. Stop fearing taking calculated risks.

I'm the biggest scaredy-cat there is. I want a 100% percent guarantee that everything will work out. I think I drive Heavenly Father crazy with prayers constantly begging reassurance, and re-questioning things I've already gotten answers to. And a lot of the time, after taking a risk, I tear myself up about the what-if's of going a different route. Would it be better the other way? Did I really do the right thing? What if we did it all wrong? All the worst-case scenarios I prepared for flood my mind and I'm remorseful I took any risk at all. I pray for stronger faith all the time and less fear. It's helping. I need to continue to trust in the Lord and know that even if I don't choose the BEST thing, He will be with me anyway.

7. Stop dwelling on the past.

But this is my favorite place to go! To wish for happier times, to kill myself over past sins, or to boost my pity-parties and feel sorry about past difficulties all over again. Stop doing that Kari! Remember the good, learn from the bad and move on. 

8. Stop making the same mistakes over and over again.

I don't really do this one all too bad. I learn pretty well and guilt keeps me from really relapsing too much...except for one area in my life...mentally! I make these mistakes always! So to fix this I'm making this new year resolution to grow mentally stronger :)

9. Stop resenting other people's successes.

I'm not the worst at this one either. I usually don't resent someone else their success, unless they've offended me or I don't like them. And usually it's more of a, "well that's just unfair!" rather than resentment. But I could do much better at not being jealous when others get what I want. Like I tell my daughter: be happy for them, being upset only hurts you.

10. Stop giving up after failure.

If something hurts me I'm especially quick to runaway. Well I am now determined to keep going. One good thing from this past year is that I do feel that I know how to be more resilient. Yes, I can keep going even if it's hard. Do it anyways.

11. Stop fearing alone time.

When I first read this I rejoiced and laughed, "Yes, one I DON'T fail. Hahahahahaha, I'm a mom. I CRAVE alone time." (Not to mention I'm super independent and like to manage on my own much of the time.) However, my joy quickly dissipated when I kept reading and the article went more in depth and referred to not letting others determine your mood or build your happiness. And honestly, after being alone for too long, I do start to fear that no one likes me, no one wants to be with me, and that I'll die alone. Ok, maybe not that exaggerated (all the time), but I do depend too much on others to make me feel needed and wanted. I want to be confident in myself and of my worth when I'm alone, rather than relying on others to build myself up.

12. Stop feeling that the world owes me anything.

I'm not really an entitled, spoiled brat. I grew up learning I'd only get what I worked hard for. But this past year tested that. It's hard not to feel entitled to opportunities after paying for school and working hard for a degree. But, alas, it's putting hours in on the job hunt and becoming what a company needs - the work - that gets you where you want to go. I will fight harder for what I want rather than wait for it to come to me after completing the basics.

13. Stop expecting immediate results.

I'm pretty much one of the most impatient people ever. When I get an answer from Heavenly Father I expect it to happen right then - Boom - Solution revealed, this is why I had you do that. This blessing will happen now. Degree - Boom - Job. Tell my husband how handsome he is and how much I love him - Boom - He is the most helpful, nicest husband ever. Obviously, it doesn't quite work out that way so I become frustrated, angry, or hurt. This answer is another that falls into the faith category. I'm working so hard on having more faith in the Lord and waiting on his answers and blessings. As long as I'm doing as He asks, I need to have the patience that what needs to happen will. And prayer. Lots of prayer on this one.

So there you have it. Pretty much my biggest weaknesses laid out before you. The hardest ones to overcome too. I feel really good about becoming more aware of these weaknesses and working on them rather than shying away. I hope that as I do so this year, that I can be better prepared in the future and grow in strength as a person. I also hope that in the future, when my posterity reads this, they can pick out a few of the things that I do become strong at, and how they carried me through my life. And I pray that Heavenly Father can guide me as I do so.

Now, to relieve the pitiful picture I've painted of myself and my situation: just know things are settling down. Though I miss my life in Utah and I'm adjusting to our changes, there is so much hope and faith here in our future. We still have so much to look forward to and possible changes to embrace.  I'm actually excited for it all (mental strength #3 right there :)). I hope your year is as promising as ours has the potential to be.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Full House for Christmas

This Christmas we had a boat-load of people at our house. It's hard not to when you have seven kids and two of their spouses, two grandkids, two significant others, and one grandma over. That's sixteen people in a five bedroom house. Crowded, busy, loud, crazy, fun, and just what the holidays are all about.

We of course started out with the classic baking day.

We were going to scale it down, but really the only change that happened was instead of gingerbread houses this year, we did gingerbread cookies. Otherwise it grew to it's normal scale of grandness.

We packaged everything up and caroled to all the neighbors as we delivered the goodies. We sounded pretty good with all of us.

Next Kayleen was baptized by Scottie.

It was special to have the youngest of all the Nelson kids baptized and the Spirit was really strong. Weird, my baby sister is eight. Congrats Kayleen!

Christmas Eve we had our typical day of prepping for the Nativity re-enactment.

Lydia and Ammon had fun trying on costumes in preparation.

We put on a great production with Sadie and her boyfriend Taylor playing Mary and Joseph.

I was the narrator, Scott's girlfriend, Polyana, was our lone shepherd, and Kenny, Ryan, and Kayleen were the wisemen.

Brigham and Lydia had the toughest roles as they had the speaking parts to memorize. Brigham doubled roles and played the Angel Gabriel and King Herod (with Ammon as King Herod's lion accessory), and Lydia was the angel that appeared to the shepherd. She did great memorizing and reciting her paragraph for all to hear.

It was a more low-key Christmas Eve with games and wrapping.

This is what the tree looked like before everyone came down for Christmas morning:

And this is a picture of the kids waiting to go see what Santa brought:

We waited a little later this year so Kyle and Katrina could be part of the unwrapping, so the kids were good to wait until eight to come downstairs.

And this is what happened next:

With our traditional breakfast of eggs and cinnamon rolls thrown in the middle, between stockings and present opening.

Scott decided to count the presents as they were opened and time how long it took. For sixteen people we opened 314 presents, and it took 2 hours and 50 minutes. Whew! It was awesome.

Afterwards we went to the church so my uncle and his family and my aunt and her family could join us for a potluck soup bar, volleyball, basketball, and games. It was a good time.

The rest of the holidays, we spent good quality time together by watching movies and playing a bajillion games. Seriously, we love games. We out-gamed many people this year, and included in our repertoire was my awesome new Christmas present, Just Dance 2014.

Some of us were better than others...

Does couple dancing skills predict relationship success...if so...Sadie and Taylor I'm afraid. Haha, when my body doesn't hate me anymore, I'll hopefully be able to join in and look just as ridiculous. I can't wait!

We also showed the newbies that weren't sick a couple of our favorite parts of Washington. Of course that included Snoqualmie Falls.

We had a great time hiking down to the view point, even though we were bummed that they don't let you climb out on the rocks anymore to see how close you can get.

Doesn't my mom look beautiful with my sister? Gorgeous. And doesn't she look silly with me? I love her. And my husband.

It was foggy, cool, misty, and beautiful. We also went to the nearby railroad museum and raced on the tracks, climbed poles, and admired trains. Sadly, my pictures were lost of this. Stupid phone!

New Year's Eve we adventured to Seattle to show off Pike's Place and the new Ferris Wheel they put up.

I kind of was a fifth wheel with these two lovey-dovey couples, but that was cool with me...my husband was busy being my sugar daddy at work. Plus, I had the pleasure of a gentleman tell me I was as beautiful as the birds, and another guy stare creepily at me and after I said hi, trying to reduce the awkwardness, turn around and give me funny looks until I was nervous enough to fall back behind my posse.

We at fish and chips on the shoreline and also visited the Space Needle, and Ye Old Curiousity Shop. The classics. It was gray, wet, and purely everything Seattle.

That night we played more games, and talked until we tiredly kissed our lovers and went to bed.

And that brings us to the new year! Everyone has gone and we are all beginning the new year with exciting things in store....like a couple weddings maybe? ...But you didn't hear it from me...or at least not until it becomes ring official :) It was fun and exciting to have everyone around for all the Christmas festivities and hear what's in store for our loved ones this coming year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Leading Up To Christmas

This month has been crazy. We've had much family and fun, and because of that I'm way behind on updates. So here is what happened leading up to Christmas, and then I'll do a second post with all our holiday adventures later.

We've been busy going to my brother's Christmas Band concert.

I'm the first of three Nelson kids to play the clarinet. Total trend setter here.

We've been playing some card games and Ammon was practicing his poker face.

Then Ammon and I made cookies while everyone else was out Christmas shopping.

I told Ammon to smile AND keep his eyes open. Apparently that's a painful process, because this picture is his attempt, hahaha.

We then took those cookies to our Ward Christmas party the next day.

Our ward party was a breakfast/pajama party and we enjoyed delicious chocolate chip or blueberry pancakes with sausage and eggs and fruit. The primary kids sang and then we tried to fit our whole family in the giant picture frame for a picture. The only person you can't quite get is my dad; if you look close between Ammon and Kayleen, you can see his forehead. I sure loved wearing sweats to a party and have it be publicly acceptable.

We also had a jewelry-making day. My aunt came down and brought all her supplies and we made some jewelry and played some games.

Lydia loved showing of her necklace we strung together.

All of this was fun, but I was most excited for our ONE snow day. As mentioned previously, I was sorely missing snow and I wanted at least one day of it. Well I got my wish.

We woke up and there was a couple inches of snow. Of course school was cancelled, because it's Washington, so we bundled up and headed outside. The kids had an ABSOLUTE blast.

We decided to make snow angels, and Kayleen was really afraid of getting her pants wet so she looks like she's being tortured in this picture, and it's hilarious. Ammon did good with his legs but didn't quite know what to do with his arms so he just kind of held them up like chicken. Lydia was pro and made not one, but two snow angels!

We had a snow ball fight and Uncle Ryan used his great uncle skills and pulled the kids down the small hill in the backyard on the sled. He then even walked them to the nearby park so they could enjoy a bigger hill. When they all made it back, both my kids were crying because they were so cold and their poor hands were bright red and freezing. Hot cocoa and dry, warm clothes fixed them right up and we were able to cuddle inside until it all melted later that day. It was glorious. I loved having that morning of a white Christmas season.

It's really chaotic here when it snows. It took our next-door neighbor forty minutes to get home from our church building which is only two miles from our house. Forty minutes to go two miles. Cars were sliding out of control everywhere. No one here knows how to drive in the snow, they are never prepared with plows, and refuse to salt the roads...so it turns into absolute chaos. Luckily, Brigham was able to work from home so he didn't have to worry about the mess.

It was actually this day that everyone starting showing up and my Mom spent over an hour on the freeway trying to make her way to the airport to get my brother and his girlfriend. So here is where I'll cut off to prepare for the second post with all our Christmas festivities!