Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Theme

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Every year I try and pick a theme for myself.  I am TOTALLY one of those nerds who sets new years resolutions.  I love a fresh start.  I love a new beginning.  I love a blank canvas.  I love an empty notebook.  I love the endless possibilities of a new year. 
Usually my theme for the year comes quite easily.  Our family has a special Family Home Evening where we set goals for the year and talk about what we want to focus on. 
As I have pondered what I want to focus on in 2011, I have struggled to pin down my specific desires, since I am not in the place I thought I would be.  What do I want for myself in 2011… I’m not entirely sure yet! 
I do know, that through the challenges ahead I want to maintain a positive attitude.  I want to recognize my blessings.  I want to look forward with faith.  I want to look beyond myself and focus on those around me. 
Therefore, my little motto for the year is this: “The best is yet to be.”  It is a saying I have loved for a long time, taken from Robert Browning.  It is something I say to remind myself when going through hard times, that things will get better.  When I am experiencing good times, I am comforted in knowing that there are even better years to come.  No one wants to have enjoyed the best years of their life already!  Then what could we possibly have to look forward to?  The future holds so much joy. 
The best is ALWAYS yet to be. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas

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How the heck did it slip past so quickly?  There were so many Christmas-y things that I didn’t get to do yet.  I had more Christmas stories to share, and more Christmas treats to give. 
There wasn’t a lot of time to spend with family this Christmas.  Our trip was quite short.  As a consequence, I didn’t take as many pictures, nor did I spend any time on the computer.  So my little blog has been neglected of late.  But, our time spent together was wonderful.  Every time I get to see my family, my heart whispers, “treasure these moments.”  Time together is just so precious.  The older I get, the more precious it grows.
I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a slump today.  It always takes me a bit of time to get back into the swing of things.  I miss my family the most after I have to leave them.
In the meantime, I am grateful for the Christmas season when the world pauses to remember the birth of our Savior.  I am thankful that because of his sacrifice, we can be with the ones we love forever.  That is what makes leaving my family a little easier, knowing that even when we are far apart, our bond is eternal. 
So though it’s a little late, I just wanted to say, “Merry Christmas.”  I hope your Christmas was a special as mine was. 
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You!

I hardly know where to begin.  Thank you, thank you, thank you sweet people for your kind comments/e-mails.  I opened my e-mail this morning to discover so many sweet letters of encouragement and support regarding our adoption process.  Some from precious friends and family members.  Some from people I haven’t even met!  Your kind words could not have come at a better time.  I spent the better part of the morning in tears.  But don’t worry, they were the good kind. 
I hope to take the time to thank each one of you individually, but I had to express a general thank you to each of you in the meantime so you will know how much your messages were appreciated.  Though the words “thank you” don’t seem adequate enough to express my gratitude, I hope you know how sincerely I feel. 
I wanted to particularly thank my dear friend Katie for writing  such a sweet article about Spencer and me.  You can read it here.  I feel very humbled and grateful to have so many wonderful people in my life.  Wow. 
In regards to the question, “How do I post your button on my blog?” I present these simple instructions. 
How to add our button to your blog:
1. Copy the HTML code directly under our button. 
2. Open your blog.  Click on “Design.”
3. Click on “Add a Gadget.”
4. Click on “HTML/JavaScript”
5. Paste the code into the space provided (You don’t really need to post a title, but if you want to, then feel free). 
TA-DA, that’s it!  Easy peasy right? 
Here’s hoping that each of you have a WONDERFUL Christmas. 




And at the risk of sounding redundant… Thank you again! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did You Know?

… that we have an adoption blog?
Well, we do! 
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We are excited to be in the beginning stages of the adoption process. 
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We know that there is a very long road ahead, but we are so grateful to get to share the adventure together.   
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We do make a pretty good team! 
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Feel free to stop by.   www.spencerandwhitneyadoption.blogspot.com
Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE add our adoption button to your blog!  It would mean a lot to us! 
Thank you!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And The Winner Is…

Thanks so much for sharing all of your stories with me.  There are so many wonderful people in this world, and so much good that goes on.  I love to see people recognizing the good things and people around them. 

I was really touched as I read your comments.  As I read about the wonderful ladies in your life I was reminded of all the lovely ladies in mine.  I really do wish I could give EACH of these deserving women a gift.  I don’t have the resources to do that at this time, but I did decide to do “Giveaway Giveaway’s” more often.  I think I’ll try to do one once a month.  So if you didn’t win this time, be sure to stop back again.

So… I using a random number generator, I selected a winner, and the winner is:  

COMMENT NUMBER  11  KATIE! 

Blogger Katie said...   I would give this to my sister, Jen.  She is my only sister, my big sister and a big role model to me. I've ALWAYS wanted to be just like her and even at 24 I can say I still do. She is always giving, giving giving, & puts everyone else first and deserves to get something that is just for her. She has FOUR boys that she takes care of every day and she never complains about how challenging they are (even though I know from babysitting they are!) With all those boys, she needs more girly things in her life and I know she would love this necklace!

Thanks so much Katie, send your e-mail address to whitneywblake@gmail.com, and we’ll figure out where to send Jen her gift. 

Thanks again to everyone who participated! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

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Do you know what the five love languages are?  I really won’t go into all of them, but the theory is that people like to show and receive love in different ways.  For example, I might really like to receive love by just hearing the words “I love you,” but I might like to show love by writing little love notes.  The point is, we all have different ways of expressing how much we care about each other. 
My family is big on expressing love through gifts.  Not in a materialistic  superficial way, we just get really into  selecting presents the others will love.  When we were little, and the time came to visit our grandparents,  my sisters and I  would spend weeks before hand making them drawings and knick knacks to give to them upon our arrival.  Our little tokens were obviously of no monetary value, they just showed Grandma and Grandpa how much they meant to us.  We STILL make many of our own Christmas presents to give away.     
We spend a lot of time thinking about what to give each other for birthdays, and other gift-giving holidays (i.e. Christmas, mothers & fathers day, etc…) because a generic gift doesn’t say, “I love you” like a thoughtful gift does.  We love wrapping the presents and sneakily hiding them somewhere in the house.  We love surprises more than most people, I think.  It’s not about how much money was spent, just how much thought and care went into the gift.  I’m sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way, we ALL want to share meaningful gifts don’t we?
I found this story that shared a really great idea for meaningful gift giving.  Perhaps it can become a new tradition in our house. 
Here it is:
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas---oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-overspending...the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.
These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.
It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.
Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."
Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.
His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition---one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal it's contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.
You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.
The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
May we all remember each other, and the Real reason for the season, and His true spirit this year and always. God bless---pass this along to your friends and loved ones.
--- Copyright © 1982 Nancy W. Gavin
--- Submitted by Edwin G. Whiting

The story first appeared in Woman's Day magazine in 1982. My mom had sent the story in as a contest entry in which she subsequently won first place. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer two years after the story was published. Our family still keeps the tradition started by her and my father and we have passed it on to our children. Feel free to use the story. It gives me and my sisters great joy to know that it lives on and has hopefully inspired others to reach out in a way that truly honors the spirit of Christmas. --- Kevin Gavin

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Great Photo Swap

Remember how I did a photo swap with my cute friend?  I never shared the photos she took of us, which is a shame because she did a really good job!

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Can I tell you how happy I was to play with the horses.  They are BABIES!!!!!  Oh man, I love animals way too much.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that my dad is a veterinarian.  You can see by the look on my face that I was one happy gal.

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See? BABIES!!!!!
Spencer says: “Those aren’t babies, they are adults.”
I say: “They are so cute and fuzzy… they are BABIES!” 
Then I tried to sneak one home with me. 

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Here we are… smooching again. 

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I just can’t help it, look at his little face! 

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This random stray dog was following us around everywhere.  I called him over and he ran up to me like we were long lost friends.  You guessed it, he’s a BABY!  He kept hopping into my arms for our family picture.  Poor Lizzy will think that we were cheating on her when she sees this.

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See, I told you my friend did a good job!  It was awesome to have someone take our picture together for once, because usually it is just one or the other of us taking a photo of one or the other of us.  Or we have to set the self timer and run like crazy, and get lots of strange looks from passers-by.  Thanks so much Leah!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh it is Love

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You know what?  Last year I remember thinking, “this will probably be our last Christmas without a baby.”  We had already been trying for quite some time, and Christmas 2010 seemed so far away.  Twelve whole months of possibilities.  Maybe our baby wouldn’t be born yet, but surely he or she would be well on the way. 
Time flies.  Twelve months of testing, poking, prodding, wishing, waiting, hoping, wanting… still no baby.  Still no SIGN of baby. 
Christmas is when I miss our baby the most.  I felt a little bit sad writing our Christmas letter.  Our family picture looks like an engagement picture. We are young and in love… and don’t have any children.  Any news our family might have is overshadowed by pregnancies and births.  It isn’t really fun to feel stuck and left behind. 
Luckily, I have the very best husband in the world.  I say it all the time, but it’s true dang it!  I am SO SO SO grateful for our family, as little as it is. 
Yesterday, we were sitting in the office, and Spencer signed on to his facebook account to retrieve some addresses for Christmas cards.  As I was writing the addresses down, Spencer foolishly left to get himself a snack… leaving his beloved facebook page to my devices. 
I had just enough time to change his facebook picture to a picture of my mom and to sign out of his account. 
Spencer realized his folly too late, and came rushing into the office hollering, “I made a stupid mistake!”
He had to pry me away from the keyboard to log back in to his account and assess the damage.  He did change his picture, but not before one of our friends had commented that he sure looks a lot like his mother-in-law.
This wasn’t the first time this happened.  We jump at the opportunity to change the other person’s profile picture/status if given the chance.  We just love to laugh and tease and have fun.  I love that Spencer is my best friend. 
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Even if we have to wait ten more years (but sheesh, I REALLY hope not!) to find our baby, I’m glad I get to wait with my sweetheart. 
P.S. (Why I'm P.S.ing a blog post I don’t know, it just seemed like the right thing to say…) We have been having lots of fun making comic strips lately, like the up top.  I’ll have to share more sometime.  They make me giggle.

Project: Pillow

I love throw pillows.  I love sitting with a pillow in my lap.  I love creating pillows because they’re easy to make and add so much personality to a dull piece of furniture. 
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I thought about making another more “wintery” set, but haven’t done it yet.  I am not in the mood to work on Christmas-y projects when it’s not Christmas, and somehow never seem to find the time when the holidays actually arrive. 
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I’m particularly proud of that rose pillow.  You see, a while ago I saw a pillow that looked like this:
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(found at Elle Apparel)
And I really wanted to have one kind of like it.  I made up my own little pattern, and it actually worked by golly.   I was pretty pleased with the little ruffled one too. 
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Kind of ionic that I am only now getting around to putting these pics up, since I have recently switched out my usual d├ęcor for holiday stuff.  But here it is anyways. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is a First

I am doing a giveaway over at Notes From a Very Red Kitchen
“What are you giving away?” you ask.
Why, this little necklace pictured below:
necklace
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHH
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Just hop over HERE to find out how to enter.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

It’s That Time of the Year…

where everyone is sending out Christmas cards! 
That means I have been busy busy busy,  but I love it!
Here are some favorites from a recent Christmas card shoot.  Aren’t they the sweetest little family?  They are even cuter once you get to know them, AWESOME AWESOME people.  Love them. 
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They all have the bluest eyes in the world. 
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This one may be my favorite: 
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I loved their little outfits too.  They were just the right amount of matchy. 
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Enough is Enough

All or nothing.  Do you ever feel that way too?  Like, if you are going to do something then it has to be done PERFECTLY or it’s not worth doing at all.  Or is that just me? 
I am striving to adopt a new motto, “Good enough is good enough.” 
Enough is such an interesting word. 
How do we know when we have reached the elusive state of “enough?”  How do you find that sweet spot of being comfortable with who you are and your stage in life, but nevertheless always trying to improve?  The line between acceptance and growth is a wiggly one. 
Today, I re-read a favorite scripture that has changed the way I think about enough. 
Mosiah Chapter 14:
3He is adespised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he has aborne our bgriefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was awounded for our btransgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are chealed.
I had always thought that use of “we” meant us, as in, everyone one of us who is imperfect and has had to rely upon the atonement.  But today I was thinking about “we” as in my Savior and myself. 
Alone, I can never be enough.  If I reach as far as I can, and do as much as I can, I had always thought that the Savior would just make up the difference.  But now, I think it is so much more than that.  It’s not about what I can do plus what He can do; it’s really about what WE can do together. 
Whew, kind of heavy for a blog post.  But that is what I was thinking about today, so I wanted to share. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Something Good To Listen To

Lately I have been listening to THIS song (sorry, I tried to embed it but it REFUSED).  My friend sent it to me on facebook, and I have listened to it a lot since then.  

It's by this lady I had never heard of, but apparently I look like.  (Thanks Stacie!  How flattering! I wish I could SING like her too.  I can't carry a tune in a bucket.  Or a cooler.  Or even a U-haul.)  

It's PRETTY huh?  So is the video, though I feel a bit bad for the piano.  I just wanted to share cuz it makes me happy.  That is all.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Up and Up

I have been sick the past few days, but today I’m feeling a bit better.  We even started our Christmas newsletter!  I know we’re running a bit late, but I think we will get it out before Christmas.
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Please notice the awesomeness that is my hair. 
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Lynley!  These pictures are quite old, but it makes me sad that I never got to share them.  So here they are, in all their glory.
If you are ever looking for a photographer in the Orem, Ut area, you should consider Lynley.  I swear half the pictures I use on this blog were taken by her on one of our happy random photo shoots (including the one above of me).  She is one talented lady and I miss her QUITE a bit!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photos Galore

Here’s some more pictures from a recent photo shoot.  Isn’t she GORGEOUS?!
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I don’t usually share this many shots, but there were just so many good ones to choose from…
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I was quite in love with her boots.  I don’t think I could pull it off though…
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Senior portraits are seriously my FAVORITE photo to take.  It’s just such a fun age and I love capturing the personality of young people.  Exciting times! 
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Oh man, it takes me back to when I was a senior.  That makes me sound like an old goober, but I seriously feel nostalgic when I remember that time of life. 
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I am so happy that tomorrow is Friday!  Do I have an amen?