2010 Christmas Card and Letter

In spite of my tongue-in-cheek rant against Christmas letters a few days ago, how could I resist sharing ours? Merry Christmas to all of our online friends and family!

*(Names and locations have been changed so as to be blog-friendly.)

Dear Friends and Family,

Our 2010 holiday letter is quickly becoming The Christmas Letter That Almost Wasn’t. In fact, if you are actually reading this and it isn’t Valentine’s Day, a Christmas miracle must have taken place. We keep thinking that one of these days life is bound to slow down a bit. Why are you laughing? It could happen. Although it certainly won’t be happening for us over the next several months.

As soon as the stockings are tucked in the boxes with care, we will be expecting the arrival of our fourth baby. SHE is due January 17th (coincidentally the exact same day as Dee was due) and we look forward to meeting her. We are hoping she will come with her name tattooed somewhere as we are still clueless about what to call her. Watch for baby announcements in the next month or so.

Once the baby is safely here and I have a week or so to recover we will be packing up our household and moving where Joe has accepted a job offer with the corporate part of Komatsu. You may be thinking “Didn’t they just get a new job and move?” and you would be thinking right. At the beginning of this year Joe was teaching Cummins Power Generation at Universal Technical Institute in Arizona. In May he took a job with Komatsu Equipment Company as a field technician in another state, helping build the HUGE mine haul trucks for the surrounding mines. This job with its abundance of overtime has been a great blessing and we have been enjoying being so much closer to our families. We assumed we would be living in this town for a few more years at least, but you know what happens when you assume, right?

In early December Joe went to a training program for Komatsu. He must have done something to impress somebody because they asked him if he would be interested in taking a trainer position with Komatsu Corporate in another state. We weren’t even searching for a job, but after much deliberation we have decided to take it. We will be moving AGAIN at the end of January. I think I am beginning to understand how Mary felt just a little. Fortunately, I get to ride in a mini-van and NOT on the back of a donkey.

The kids are amazingly resilient in spite their parents’ knack for shaking things up every six months. Dee will turn six years old in January. He started Kindergarten this year and is head over heels for school and his wonderful teacher. He has improved so much this past year that he no longer requires speech therapy and is even testing at the top of his class. He is learning to read and is developing a love for the written word. When I asked him what his favorite things are his response was: “I love to go to Grandma’s house, go to school, and watch lots of TV”. (Did I really just admit that on our holiday letter?) I would also add his love for eating as I never seem to be able to satisfy his voracious appetite. Luckily his favorite foods are green apples and salad. Whew!

Jeigh is four years old which we seem to have a hard time convincing people of as she is so tall and well-versed. She squeaked into the last available spot at the local school’s preschool program this fall and is also testing at the top of her class. She maintains that dramatic flair she was born with sustaining “life-threatening” injuries on a daily basis. She loves spending time with her family, going to ballet class, reading books, and helping Mommy in the kitchen. She is rarely seen without a notepad and pen in hand and impresses us daily with her funny little drawings and knack for writing letters. She is a natural-born mommy and we are planning on allowing her to practice all she wants once baby #4 arrives.

Elle is two years old, but dying to be at least twice that. She has a hard time watching the bigger kids go to school every day. I will remind her of that when she complains about waking up every morning in ten years. She is a busy girl who has a special talent for getting into trouble; usually soapy, wet, lofty, or cosmetic trouble. She loves to read books, take baths, collect and chew on rocks, dance and sing, eat chocolate, and cuddle. We love our one and only little blondie (so far) and her sweet and funny ways.

Joe hasn’t done much this year besides work, work, and let’s see…work. When he isn’t working, he’s sleeping or eating. We have been so grateful for his dedication to providing for our family, but are really looking forward to having him home more often with this new job. This last month he took and passed the MSHA test, a big deal for his current job. He was pretty nervous about passing, but we knew he could do it. Passing this test meant a bonus, a raise, and merits on his resume. Although he hasn’t been able to go with us very often on trips home, he has enjoyed being closer to family. He continues to be a wonderful dad, husband, and provider.

As for me…I have been busy being a stay at home mom, doing less “staying” than the title would imply. With two kids in school it feels much of the day is spent chauffeuring back and forth between home and school. Earlier this year I started doing some freelance writing for a popular pregnancy and parenting website as a featured blogger. Personal blogging continues to be a favorite activity (http://hangingbyasilverlining.blogspot.com). Other than writing, raising kids, packing and unpacking our household, I have been busy growing a baby. A rather successful year I suppose.

We have loved reading all of your letters and cards and hearing what you and yours are up to. We are grateful for such wonderful and true friends and family and hope to continue to stay in touch over the coming year. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Valentine’s Day…Whenever this letter gets to you…we hope you are happy, merry, and well!

Love, Our Family


Merry Christmas Mary

This will be the second Christmas I will spend 8 and 1/2 months pregnant. (You would think I would have learned by now.)

Needless to say, my thoughts turn to one particular person who is vital to the Christmas Story.

I can't even picture getting my leg over a donkey's back in my current swollen and sore state, much less riding one for days on end.

I am worried about the small-town hospital here being "good enough" for my encroaching labor and delivery. A stable??? A stable. Complete with hay, animals, cold, and poop.

I get anxious thinking about the pain of labor. I will have nurses and doctors attending my birth with medications and interventions on hand, "just in case". I wonder if Mary even felt the irritating scratch of the hay beneath her as she labored and delivered alone.

My husband will calmly and lovingly stand by as the professionals take care of everything. All he has to do is cut the cord. Do you think Joseph delivered the baby all by himself that night?

Thinking about capably raising four children causes me to lose sleep. I'm not even anticipating being the one to raise the Son of God.

How did she do it? What were her thoughts? Was she afraid of the task that lay before her or was she chosen because of how gracefully she would accept her heavenly responsibility?

Merry Christmas to you all. In the midst of all the packages, goodies, fun, and chaos may we all remember the true reason for the season.


On the Twelfth Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

As soon as I found out who my swap partner was I started drooling. Drooling because the woman is a baking fiend! Sure, she is a fantastic person for other reasons (a mother of three little men, a criminal law officer, a cancer survivor, a runner, etc), but her blog is overflowing with yummy recipes complete with step by step instructions and pictures.

I thought for sure she would fatten me up this holiday season, but everyday I opened my packages and...no goodies.

Until the 12th day!

A whole bag of candies, cookies, and tasty holiday treats! We skipped what I had planned for our Christmas Eve dessert and dined on these goodies.

Thank you Colleen for being a wonderful swap partner! I hope you enjoyed your 12 days as much as I enjoyed mine! Merry Christmas to you and to all you other bloggers and swappers out there!

{Eleventh Day} fuzzy socks
{Tenth Day} toasty toy
{Ninth Day} Glade candle
{Eighth Day} slippers
{Seventh Day} facial supplies
{Sixth Day} onions and salt and pepper shaker
{Fifth Day} bear
{Fourth Day} Milano cookies
{Third Day} ornament
{Second Day} hot chocolate
{First Day} blanket

And thank you to Sami for hosting this fantastic swap of 12 days! What a marvelous idea! Head on over HERE to see how the other swappers fared.

I'm Dreaming of a White {Trailer Trash} Christmas: An Exercise in Randomness

I hear a little randomness goes great with a mug of hot chocolate.

We were going to try to pull a fast one on our kiddos this year. We want to spend the holiday with our families in Idaho, but don't want to transport all the Christmas goodies there and back. We were going to try to convince them that TODAY is Christmas Eve and that Santa would be visiting our humble little trailer tonight, but Dee (bless his heart) is getting much too smart. He has been counting down the days until Christmas...

...Which I love that he is doing! He's putting the magic back into Christmas for me this year...

...That and all the snow we have seen over the last month or two. I am so happy to be back in snow country! Have I already mentioned that once...or twice...or more?

Joe just accepted a job offer in another state which happens to tote "The Greatest Snow on Earth". They wanted him to start January 10th, but seeing as we have a baby due January 17th, he was able to push the start date back to January 31st. If she isn't nine days late like her sister was, that gives me almost two whole weeks to have a baby, recover, and pack up and move my household.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared out of my ever-lovin' mind.

I could sure use some of that pioneer spirit I hopefully inherited from my ancestors.

We Mormons (I'm Mormon. Did I mention that?) put our pioneers up on pedestals. They were hardcore. They gave birth to their babies WHILE they were moving. Minus the epidurals.

And where did they move? To Utah. Which is where we are moving. Mormon country. Sure, I am a Mormon, but I never pictured myself being a "Utah girl". I sure hope my self-esteem can handle it. That and my very flat and fine hair. I might have to buy my first Bump-It...

...And figure out a very non-Mormon name for my baby. Seeing as I already have a "Deacon", "Eliza Jane", and "Lydia", all very Mormon-y and pioneer-y names, I hope they won't laugh me out of the state before I can unpack the first box at our new place...

...Which I vow will NOT be another yard-less trailer like the one we live in now...

...where we will be celebrating Christmas...

...a day early...

...because thankfully Dee is one trusting little guy.

How's your hot chocolate?


Christmas at the House of Dreams {2002}

The Christmas season of 2002 I lived in a very large, very old, creaky, drafty house with four other college girls.

The house was in appalling physical condition. When you walked upstairs you felt a little dizzy as the whole upstairs was shifted ever so slightly at an angle. A very narrow stair case led down to a dark and dank basement. Unless I had laundry that needed to be done, I rarely went down there out of pure unadulterated fear. There was a large dirt-filled recess at one end that would have been the perfect place to stash bodies.

As if that wasn't enough to spook a bunch of single girls, a large attic-like room full of sticky cobwebs, piles of ancient insulation, and inky-black mysterious space lurked strangely in the middle of the house.

Whatever the house lacked in charm, warmth, and safety, I found in my roommates. I had lived with other roommates in other apartments and houses before, but these four girls became my sisters. We just clicked. We called our strange twisted abode the House of Dreams. We stayed up way too late most nights talking about anything and everything, simply enjoying each others' kindred spirits.

That Christmas in the House of Dreams we decided to swap names for a roommate gift exchange. Chelsea had picked my name and I believe I had hers in return. Sadly, I can't for the life of me remember what I gave her that Christmas, but I will NEVER forget what she gave me.

Although we were a bunch of single college students, we had pooled our money to buy a real Christmas tree for our living room. The five of us gathered near the glow of its twinkling lights on the predetermined night before the Christmas holiday to exchange our gifts.

My gift was the last to be given. Chelsea handed me a stack of papers and envelopes, varying in size and shape and color, carefully tied with a ribbon.

As I untied the ribbon and began to investigate my lapful of envelopes, I realized these were letters written by dozens of people for...me.

I was stunned.

How had she done this without me knowing? How had she managed to get so many people from so many different areas of my life (family, church, school, work, high school, etc.) to cooperate with something like this?

And how had she known this is exactly what my heart and soul needed at that time? She could have spent hundreds of dollars on a gift for me and it would not have meant nearly as much as this simple stack of letters did.

If you have read my blog for long, you already know I tend to be a bit of a weepy person, but I was out-right sobbing as I began to silently read some of the letters. They were brimming full of love and inspiration and friendship and encouragement.

I tried to read a few quickly, not wanting to hold up our little roommate Christmas celebration and hoping to absorb the rest in private later, but was quickly encouraged to read my letters out loud. As I did, immense love filled the room and each of my dear sister-roommates became emotional as well. We were up for hours that night reading letters and expressing gratitude for the goodness in our lives.

That night will always be one of my most magical and treasured Christmas memories. It was the pinnacle of my living experience in that creepy old house with those wonderful women.

I still keep my stack of letters tucked away in a box and every couple of years I start reading them again letting the love and the memories of The House of Dreams wash over me again.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

When Jeigh opened this she proclaimed "It's a RUG!"

Haha! Not quite Jeigh! This is better!

Much MUCH better than any rug! Aaaaahhhhhhh!

This made me laugh...

It almost sounds like a Public Service Announcement... "Only YOU can prevent cold toes!" Hahaha!

Thank you Colleen! From me AND my very happy toes!

{Tenth Day}
{Ninth Day}
{Eighth Day}
{Seventh Day}
{Sixth Day}
{Fifth Day}
{Fourth Day}
{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


Christmas Letter Carnage

Christmas cards, or rather Christmas letters, are a rather narcissistic affair, don't you think?

Narcissism wrapped up in pretty bright red ribbon.

Every year I feel a little funny as I type out a letter telling you all about ME ME ME! Oh, and the rest of the fam too.

I tell you how in love with my husband I am and how stellar our marriage is.

I tell you all the amazing things my children have accomplished this year. I tell you how above average they are and how much they love to eat vegetables and walk and hug each other and recycle and behave like perfect angels when we never go out to eat at McDonald's.

I tell you how adorable they are and even send my best pictures to prove it.

Christmas letters are an open call for bragging rights and putting your very best foot forward.

In my Christmas letter, I will tell you all about how wonderful me and my family are. As if you care.

Funny thing is...I do. I LOVE reading others' Christmas letters. In fact, when we go home for the holiday, I always catch myself reading the stack of holiday letters sent to my parents. Even the ones from people I don't know. Somehow it's just kind of interesting to read about other people's lives.

But wouldn't it be crazy if we wrote what REALLY happened in our lives?

"Merry Christmas everybody! Well, little Jimmy is four this year and still throws one heckuva tantrum in the store every time we go out. We just go ahead and buy him the candy so as to shut him up. We gave up on potty training Sally. Older sister, Suzie, is still struggling with her eating disorder and Jim Bob started drinking again. All in all its been a good year. Mary is busy being a stay-at-home reality TV watcher which is an improvement considering how much she spent compulsively shopping last year. We would say we love and miss you all, but that would just be lying."

Who wants to read that on cheery snowflake-glittered holiday paper???

Yea. I would totally read it too!

By the way, I finally just finished writing my 2010 Christmas letter tonight. (So what if Christmas is four days away?) Don't worry! I kept it upbeat and cheerful and only told you the best parts. If I can get my printer to cooperate I would love to send you one...but only if you want to hear how amazing my life is. {wink, wink} Send me your address (hangingsilver@gmail.com) if you want one.

(P.S. I'll probably end up posting it on here at some point in case you have particular feelings for trees.)

Merry Christmas!

On the Tenth Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

Dee is home from school for Christmas vacation today so he got the honors of opening up the tenth gift.

He could NOT figure out what this was supposed to be. He had all sorts of funny theories about it though.

It's a...a...You know...I'm not sure what you call it, but it's one of those things you can microwave and place on your neck or cold buns or whatever parts needs a little toasty TLC. And it smells wonderful!

Thank you Colleen!

{Ninth Day}
{Eighth Day}
{Seventh Day}
{Sixth Day}
{Fifth Day}
{Fourth Day}
{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


On the Seventh Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

Wow. The timing on this gift couldn't be any better. What a crummy Mommy day. Now if there was just a masseuse in the box to apply these for me...Haha!

Thank you Colleen! How on earth did you know how today was going to go??

{Sixth Day}
{Fifth Day}
{Fourth Day}
{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


Good Things Come to Those Who Blog

But do I really need to convince you of that?

Chances are, if you are reading this, you already think blogging is pretty fantastic. It's those darn husbands that need the convincing, right?

No dear husbands. Despite what you may believe, blogging is not a modern mass movement to empty your wallets or take attention away from you and your manly needs or to bore you with stories about even more people you don't know. We promise.

Blogging is fun. Blogging is funny. Blogging is therapy. Blogging is connection. Blogging is cheering, sustaining, inspiring, touching, lasting.

Blogging is a way to connect with other women who just "get it".

This year has been one of the loneliest years I have ever experienced. I have yet to make any friends in our new town. I blame some of that on the language and culture barriers and some on how hectic it has been to tend to my own little garden patch of three kiddos and one on the way. In other words, it's my fault too.

How can one feel so lonely when so surrounded and busy? Believe me. It's possible. There has been many a day in the past year that I have felt like my only friends are those I know by pseudo names, digital pictures, and typed conversations.

Does that sound a tad pathetic to anyone else?

Wait. You're a blogger. You get it.

This last year especially, blogging has brought many a good thing to my life.

A chance to record memories and family history.
Friendships with now very dear friends.
Advice, wisdom, and experience beyond my own.
Paychecks earned while sitting in my jammies at home surrounded by my children.
A medium to express and share my self, my accomplishments, my struggles, and my joys with others who reach back, validate, sympathize, and balance me.

And how can I not mention the really marvelous packages (at least the most recent ones) that have floated over to my neck of the woods?

Very thoughtful packages like this one that was sent by Sarah Cardell after I wrote a post about persevering. Thank you so much Sarah. I choked up when I opened it. Can you believe I was already in need of a reminder?

Sympathetic packages like this one sent by Mamarazzi, a firm believer in "Good Mail", from one swap host to another...

Speaking of swaps, packages like this one from Cherie Bakow, my ornament swap partner through the ornament swap hosted by Carrie from The Rowdy Stroudys (who also sent a very thoughtful and fragrant parcel earlier this year that I am still enjoying daily in my car.) Thank you Cherie and Carrie!

And don't forget packages from past swap partners who have become incredible friends and who also happen to know how to put all sorts of fun into blogging with monthly contests and games. I {almost} blushed when I pulled out all my winnings from this box from Sami the other day. How can one girl get this lucky?

The prize for Symfully Sweet Saturday...

...and the prizes for Quince Quote. (How did she know I love Junior Mints?)

And a little extra love "just because". And a handmade card to boot?? Thank you Sami!

And thank you to all of you for the Christmas cards, the packages, the letters, the notes, the comments of humor and genuine love and concern. It has meant more than I can ever tell you through any post or package.

But I'll keep trying...

***The winner of the Snugalicious Giveaway thanks to Random.org was...

Lisa @
Little Angels with Dirty Faces!

Merry Christmas Lisa and Lisa's arms! The snuggie is in the mail! ***

On the Sixth Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

After how well the 12 days gift went over yesterday {sigh}, I distracted my little helpers with some puzzles and ever-so-quietly opened up my sixth day swap present all by my self.

Today's package was a two-part gift! Woohoo! All the more to open up, my dear.

Onions and...

...a salt and pepper shaker set.

I've never seen these onions before; I bet they would be yummy on some soup or a salad. And the salt and pepper shakers I'm pretending are the two turtle doves of the 12 days. Thank you once again Colleen!

{Fifth Day}
{Fourth Day}
{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


On the Fifth Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

The 12 Days of Christmas Swap has been going swappingly...until today.

I have been letting the girls help me open gifts and for the most part they have been excited to do the opening and hand over my prizes. Not today.

See how loving everyone is BEFORE we see what is in the package...

I tried. I tried to get a picture of the girls holding this cute little fellow. But that is difficult to do when one is crying and throwing a tantrum in her room and the other is gloating about not being sent to her room.

Looks like I may need to use this little guy as Colleen intended sooner rather than later.

Thanks Colleen...I think. ;)

{Fourth Day}
{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


On the Fourth Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

***Remember to sign up for my Snugalicious Giveaway before Wednesday, December 15th at Midnight!!! THAT'S TODAY! GO HERE to enter!***

Elle's turn to help today...

She was much more genteel about opening the package than Jeigh was. There were many "oohs" and "aahs" before the first layer was even off.

Milano Cookies?! These are just like the gourmet hot chocolate flavors. I NEVER buy them, but I confess...I have found my self and my grocery cart stationed in front of them for several minutes considering it. These yummy cookies look rather absorbent; I bet they would be up for a little dip into a hot cup of cocoa. Looks like I have another date tonight!

That is IF they last until tonight... Milano Cookies for breakfast? Don't mind if we do!

Hidden goodies?? Colleen is so my kind of mom. Thank you so much Colleen!

{Third Day}
{Second Day}
{First Day}


Just the Way You Are

I catch myself getting a little choked up every time I hear this song.

It's because I like to think about my daughters when I hear it.

And how I hope they will grow up knowing they are important and precious and beautiful and worthy and good and perfect just the way they are.

Because it's true.

P.S. My hat is off to Bruno Mars for writing a song that doesn't talk about how "hawt" a girl is because of her body, booty-shakin', or bedroom habits. Cheers Bruno Mars!

On the Third Day of Christmas My Swap Partner Gave to Me...

***Remember to sign up for my Snugalicious Giveaway before Wednesday, December 15th at Midnight!!! GO HERE to enter!***

The guilt got to me today. Three sets of eyes watching me open my 12 Days of Christmas gifts for the past couple of days was too much to take. I gave in and let Jeigh help today.

A Nebraska Huskers Christmas ornament!

Methinks it was not such a good idea to let her help now. She's already asking repeatedly if it's time to open the next one yet. As if the temptation wasn't enough already!

Thank you Colleen!

{Second Day}
{First Day}


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