Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Creating with Joy

Aha! The number of uses with my name in them seem to be endless! 
P.S. It's nearly impossible to use my name as a curse word. So. 

I'm super excited about the changes I've recently made to the blog. Let's discuss them shall we?
First(ly?), I created a new header and discovered how to make the picture extend the full length of the page rather than being short and centered. If you are short and centered, please don't take anything that I just said negatively or personally. Buy one of those "I'm not short I'm fun-sized" shirts and wear it proudly.
 Initially, I created this one:
And Jason said it didn't look like my style. Then I sat and thought and thought... what is my style? For the record, I still don't know. So I might just sneak this one in as my new header the next time I have an inkling for change. What's an inkling anyway? It sounds like another word for a baby midget. 
    1. a slight knowledge or suspicion; a hint.
      "the records give us an inkling of how people saw the world"
Whew! I used it in context correctly. 
Secondly, I added a picture of me on the sidebar to the right. Yes, I can use the word sidebar and sound awesome. I only added my picture because I was browsing Kayla Aimee's blog and she has her picture on the right side of her blog page and I wanted to be cool like her, and even use her picture too. At the last second I decided to be cool like me. I'm not sure how long that picture will last there. Just leave me comments and tell me whether to keep it or scrap it. I always listen to the advice given on the internet.

Thirdly, I removed the FaceBook Follower gadget (and you thought I was awesome using the word "sidebar"!) and replaced it with an Email following gadget instead. This was mainly because the FaceBook icon showed 6 people following me, but I could never find out who they were. What if they were zombies?

Finally, I added the search bar at the top of the sidebar on the right. I'm super excited about this because it means that now you're able to search for keywords and all of my blog posts with those key words in them will pull up.  For instance, to ensure the search box worked, I typed in "Telluride" and KAPOW, all of my blog posts about Telluride or that I spoke about Telluride came up. I have labled as many posts as I can think of that are informational about cool places we have visited such as El Salvador, Indian Rocks Beach, Estes Park, Ouray, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Durango, Indiana... okay I'm getting a hand cramp. 

And... that's all the creativity I've come up with for one day. However, I have some thoughts to share on some things I've been reading in my Bible. Be on the lookout. 
Or don't. Whatever.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Do you like how I was able to use my name as this post subject about Christmas?
Yeah. Me too.
And I would like it to go on record that I didn't bestow even one JOY ornament on any friends, neighbors or family members this year. Not that neighbors aren't friends, because in our unusual case they are. But in most cases... I know many of you out there suffer from horrible neighbor syndrome. Or maybe you're the horrible neighbor. In either case, purchase a JOY ornament and give it to your neighbor or put it on your tree. Problem solved. 
I don't know what it is about Christmas Eve that bores the stinking heck out of Dawson, but keeping him entertained on that one day is excruciating. Then again, I was walking around looking for things to take pictures of. Like the Christmas tree in the mirror.
It wasn't until it was time to FaceTime my family that things started to pick up a little. 
Yes, here you have me taking a picture of me FaceTiming my mom. I'm pretty sure that puts me at the top of the creative food chain.
Dad didn't say much. He just made faces at Evan.
By the time my niece Shadow came around, I was determined to go bigger. 
So we broke out the ipad. My sisters are awesome.
My sister Karen carried us around to ensure everyone had their chance to talk to us. I kept begging her to hold it in front of the American Flag so that I could salute.
A hundred million boredom hours after our FaceTime chat, it was finally time for the Christmas Eve service. 
Our church still uses candles, and they actually let the kids hold them. That's how I know our church is Spirit filled.
Evan was upset that he couldn't light his candle right away so I told him to pretend it was a microphone and he actually liked that idea.
Once it was time to light the candles, my other pyromaniac child was finally happy.
I'm starting to wonder if giving Dawson a lit candle was a good idea.
We have a tradition on Christmas Eve that the boys get to open one gift and it's always pajamas. Last year we extended that tradition to include a Christmas movie as well.
This year they got "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" -yes, the 1986 version which I had never seen before. It was quite excellent and I even shed a few tears at the end when Imogene cried. I checked out the book from our local library but the last few pages of the book were ripped out! It was probably a bratty Herdman kid that did it.
Here they are in their pajamas ready to watch the movie!
 Evan is holding the 2 bags of marshmallows I included in the gift box. It's from the idea I stole from my friend Kelly who stole it from Pinterest. They also got a bag of popcorn, hot chocolate mix and the bag of marshmallows for the hot chocolate. Just to clarify in case you were thinking the marshmallows were for the popcorn. Ew.
I don't understand why some of our pictures in front of the tree look like God is raining light from our ceiling... 
Christmas finally came.
Of course that meant we had to delay the gift giving 5 additional minutes to take our traditional picture of the boys sitting on the stairs. I know my cousin Karla really likes it that we make them do that. She can't wait until they're 28 and 22 and we're still forcing them into it.
I made breakfast pizza and the boys got to dig into their stockings.
It's a curious thing how different the boys are sometimes. Dawson dumps the contents of the entire stocking out onto the floor and Evan gently pulls each individual item out and declares it to the world.
Finally the moment has arrived. The moment that takes 1 full year to come and only 15 minutes to fulfill. At least in our family. Maybe if you're rich it takes a half an hour? I wonder what that's like.
Evan got a Lots and Lots of Trucks dvd. Next up will be his own tv to watch it on in his room because I can't bear the thought of listening to the music on that video for one more second.
Dawson got a Peyton Manning jersey which I will probably borrow.
Evan was super excited to get this crane, as I'm sure you can tell.
And Dawson is fully prepared to embark on another stop motion film now that his Lego dream city has come in the form of a Christmas gift. The Tim Hawkins DVD was a gift from me to him, but it was really a gift from me to me because I love Tim Hawkins comedy.
I got this funny mug.
And I got Jason this Espresso machine which he said he actually liked.
Then I showed him the picture of how disgusted he looked so he made me take again.
As always there's the Christmas mess.
We forced showers, cleaned the living room, and commenced family Christmas pictures.
Before long it was time to go to Grandma & Grandpa Wilkins' for Christmas.
I love lunch.
A little pre-wrestling action before the kids were allowed to get their stockings. I allowed it because it was at 3:00 in the afternoon instead of at 9:00 pm like usual which is bed time.
All the cousins behaving.
Opening stockings.
And then Santa's cousin's dog's owner's best friend came to deliver presents.
Sometimes Evan is the patient one and Dawson lays on his back and randomly tugs at Christmas ornaments.
Dawson got a ginormous art set which I plan to have him use to draw amazing things which he will in turn sell at street side markets as a hobby which will bring in enough money for me to go to Paris. 
The giving came to an end and before bringing Christmas to a close, we took more family pictures.
I love Christmas. Even if it does take 1 full year to come around.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Change is a lot like death. At least in the havoc it wreaks on my emotions. In the less than two year span since I was last home, my mom, two of my sisters and my dad all moved to new homes. No, I don't think it was all a conspiracy so that I couldn't track them down. 
Okay, no. No it wasn't. Even though my mom changed her phone number. Hmmm. 
Everything was so different. And being an OCD, list maker who doesn't handle change with grace and dignity, I felt a bit pouty about what home would mean from now on as I pondered where we would have Thanksgiving. How could I raid my sister's closet for super cute clothes if I couldn't find it? Yes, change feels like the death of something familiar. I totally just made that up, and I'm pretty proud of that sentence. Those questions would meet answers by the end of my trip home...
We flew out of the Denver airport where I discovered that the city of Colorado Springs is way better than the city of Denver because the mountains can be seen without binoculars.
Colorado Springs:
The moral of that rant is to move to Colorado Springs.
After a considerable amount of hours flying and driving, we finally made it to the home of my sister Bobbie. She had an entire list of activities to be accomplished by Dawson with her help. Please disregard the cowlick and pajamas. That's just how we roll.
At the top of the list was to create decorations to hang from a Thanksgiving banner. All of you focus your attention on the table of crafts and not on my reflection in the mirror or the amazing sunset view of my sister's back yard. I tackled the project with amazing ineptitude. So I quit. Out of all my sisters, I have the least creativity. But hey, if you need a list, or something organized. I'm your girl.
On Tuesday we visited my mom and dad. So that there's no confusion, my mom and dad are divorced, but they get along splendidly and they both now live in the same apartment complex. Different apartments. I will not allow this blog to be the instigator of rumors. Even though I heard my cousin is pregnant.
They have a beautiful view of Sylvan Lake from their living room windows. We took the boys outside to the feed the ducks, and that's when I spotted the view of The Way.  One sister told me that old building was haunted and another sister told me the people who lived there were in a cult. Just a brief history for those of you who care.
The boys fed the ducks moldy bread which didn't bother me because I felt that we were doing them a great service. Penicilin will cure all their ails.
When the frigid temps set in, we moved back inside and mom broke out her reading glasses.
On Wednesday we went to visit my best friend Kelly. I thought I'd take a moment to point out that she moved within the last two years as well. I refuse to dwell on conspiracy theories. Their temporary living situation is on a farm, and the cows are hemmed in by an electric fence. On the outside of the electric fence is another fence which is barbed wire. When I asked Kelly if the barbed wire fence was electric, she said she didn't know because she never touched it and she thought I should see. So I did. It was electric.
Dawson and her son Jude are the same age and Dawson told me if we ever move home, that Jude would be his best friend. Isn't that sweet?
This is the cow that came inside the barn to hear me talk. I'm a motivational speaker.
On Thanksgiving....
The apartment complex where my parents live has a community center. So this is where our Thanksgiving was held. Even though I had misgivings about celebrating such a family oriented holiday in a community room rather than a home, I came to discover that there's nothing that a little festive decorating can't fix. Unless your decorating skills are crap. But I didn't have to deal with that.
 Here's the banner that Dawson decorated. It says "Give Thanks" but you probably have to click on the picture and zoom in to read it.
 My favorite bit about Thanksgiving is usually food, but this year it was food + family. See how I've grown in character?
 I forced everyone to pose for pictures before we ate so that I could have photos of myself that were untainted by food stains. Which seems selfish. So maybe I haven't grown in character. Just in butt size.
Then it was time to eat.
Afterward, we all gathered for a game of "Heads Up". It's a game on Jason's cell phone. You hold the phone to your forehead and when the word pops on the screen, the audience has to get the person holding the phone to guess the word by describing it. Jason urged us to play the version that is acted out, however ... and all manner of chaos ensued.
Here we have: Backflip. I personally am of the opinion that I'm an expert at the game.
 Harmonica. Clearly I'm the only person who plays the harmonica like you're blowing a whistle.
 Model. Nailed it. 
Even though you can tell my sister Bobbie (behind me) watches Project Runway.
 Sleep Walking. My niece guessed "Zombie" and initially I took offense.
 Once Evan and my nephew Remie broke a small glass table, we had to end the game.
This is my mom and her sister, my aunt Geri. They have nothing to do with the breaking of the table I just mentioned, but their picture came next in chronological order. My aunt Geri gave my mom a cd to listen to of me and my Aunt Ruthie (she passed a way just a few weeks before Thanksgiving) singing when I was about 14. I sang flat and squeaky. But the memory is gold.
 Black Friday!
A few years after my sister Sherri passed away, my sisters and I made an annual tradition to go black friday shopping, which I'm totally not capitalizing this time due to sheer laziness. This tradition continued until I moved to Colorado Springs, which still breaks my heart. So I have them FaceTime me and carry the phone outward in all the stores so that I can see the deals. That's just a joke. Even though it's a great idea. 
The memory of our very first trip: (I've never seen a Santa so cheerful. How many Santa's get to put their hand on my sister's butt. I won't answer that question).
Here we are! Shopping was about to commence which is why we're all in a good mood. If I had taken an after photo, I'm speculating that it would look pretty identical to the zombie photo I mentioned above.
 This trip was quite productive and I scored a pair of Han Solo boots (see Jason for explanation) which were originally $60 and I got them for $20. Which leads me to believe they are actually only worth $20 and I didn't get a deal at all. 
We managed to eat lunch at Cheddar's where Karen found a drink on the menu that limits you to 2 glasses. Of course none of us ordered the drink, but we speculated the outcome if we had.
 I stayed the night with my sister Karen and we watched The 12 Dates of Christmas. And Jason ordered Jim's pizza. My sister Anita should have been in this picture too, but she wouldn't come until she knew the pizza had been delivered. Just saying Nita. I have incriminating evidence in my FB Messenger....
 We went back to my sister Bobbie's house and Jason and I made a trip to Meijer in search of peppermint ice cream. It was on this trip where I found this little gem:
That's right. Free prayer in Angola, Indiana people! It's also what gave me the idea to offer prayer for 7 cents out of my home. Because 7 is a holy number.
When we returned (sans peppermint ice cream), Dawson had this taped to the front door:
 "Caution recording in process please be very quiet when you come in"
On the very long list of activities that Bobbie had planned was "make a movie". This activity was Dawson's undoing. He loves making films. And the whole thought of doing so, unearths his inner diva.
Here are a few behind the scenes shots:

Shhh! Editing in process!
And now I present to you: "How to Make a Recycled Christmas Tree"
This is the finished product:
Finally, as our stay came to a close, we spent one last day with my mom and dad. We took my mom to Shipshewana. Amish country. Where else could I have found this?:
I also found this amazing scrapbooking store that I didn't dare go into for fear that I would print out every picture I own and make a giant scrapbook. I mean how cool are these ideas?:
Evan found this:
We bought peanut butter spread from Blue Gate restaurant and then went back to my parent's apartment's community room for one final family dinner.

The kids made a train with Evan

Oh how I miss home.