Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessing Box

As a parent, I feel like I am always struggling to help the kids understand how blessed they are.  How just because their mom makes them clean their room, doesn't mean they live tortuous lives.  And how having a healthy well-rounded, but never-before-tried meal is not a punishment from on high. 

It seems like every November I come up with some grandiose idea of helping us to be more grateful in our daily lives and usually it lasts a week or so (if I'm really on top of things) then it fades back to business as usual. 

This year we decided to try a Blessing Box.  On November 1st I set it out in the living room, with some slips of paper and told the kids we were going to daily write down something we were grateful for and add it to the box.

As I mentioned, usually this type of thing doesn't last long at our house, but this year it caught fire  and we each added a slip daily to the box.  A couple of times that we skipped a day, we would make up for it the next day with adding an extra slip. 

In the end we ended up with a full box and now we've spent the last week, going through the box and reading them aloud.  Some of them are cliche.  Some are silly.  But some are also really touching. 

After we read each slip, the rest of the family will yell out, "Yay for taking a walk with a friend" (or whatever the slip happened to say).  It added a little humor as well as some family involvement. 
I decided that it's kind of cool when you stick with something for a while and I hope that we can find similar traditions for other holidays that will add meaning, like this one did. 

Here is a random sampling of some of the slips (written exactly as they are on the slips):

I am grateful for hair dye.
I'm thankful for chess.
My boots.
I am grateful for sunny skies and awesome 5-mile run.
Im gtfl tat i got to play. (sic)
The gorgeous weather.
Strong youth program. 

I'm grateful to eat a dinner I didn't cook myself.  Thanks Daddy!

Math test
I Im gtfl tat I had fun. 
I'm grateful for wonderful and inspiring talks at Stake Conference.
I'm thankful for the visitor center.
Taking a nap in homeroom.
I Im gtfl tat I got to rll dan the hll (roll down the hill).
My bed
Homework (?!) 


What about you?  Are you good at sticking with long-term "projects" like this?  Or do you prefer things that can started and finished on the same day?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Lara Doesn't Arm Wrestle

After 16+ years of parenthood, 3+ years of being a food blogger,  and 2+ years as a nursery leader, it's certain that I look a little sturdier (aka pudgier) than I did a few kids ago...

but I am sad to admit that with all my sturdiness of build, there's no two ways around the fact that I am officially WIMPY armed!!!!
I held a cute little 18-month-old in nursery for a while on Sunday (he actually wasn't a big kid at all) and now two days later and I still can't straighten my aching arms. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving by the Hour

--Daddy and Spencer get up and go to the annual ward Turkey Bowl--Young Men vs Old Men.  Both my men come home uninjured and I take advantage of this fact and send Daddy to the store for a couple of last-minute ingredients. 

7:30am--kids come to snuggle in bed with mommy (a favorite weekend tradition of ours) and end up playing on the computer

Google's Thanksgiving turkey graphic proved to be entertaining for the kids (and adults)

9:00am--I finish baking the last of our four pies

11:00am--Glen puts the turkey in the oven

12:30pm--Matt, Karey, and Lincoln arrive and the kids play outside and enjoy the beautiful day

4:00pm--Pete, Mika, Lauren, McKenzie, Bridgette, and Davin arrive and so we run outside before it gets dark to take some group shots. 
4 out of 8 Crain siblings (sans Lara the photographer), 10 out of 12 Crain cousins (please come to visit Andrew and Madeline!)...

And the girls wanted to try out  a jumping photo just for fun! 

4:20--go inside, socialize for a few minutes, say a family prayer...

4:30pm--time to eat!  Green beans and 2 varieties of mashed potatoes made by Mika.  Homemade rolls and sweet potatoes made by Karey.  Turkey made by Glen. Cranberry sauce and 2 pies made by Lara. More pies made by AnnaLisa and Sue (our neighbor). 

4:45pm--Eat, laugh, and try to hear over the happy din of cousins playing!  (I threw this picture in mostly because I wanted there to be at least one picture of me in here, but there were several children hiding behind my chair and randomly jumping up that AnnaLisa was trying to capture in this picture.)

5:00pm-- The tryptophan didn't seem to work on the kids and they proved to be a little on the hyper side throughout the evening.   AnnaLisa attempted to calm them by showing them her webcam, but it proved to have more of a riling effect than calming. 

6:20pm--Our neighbors, the Tapps, arrive and we eat dessert.  AnnaLisa made  coconut cream and pecan.  I made apple and lemon meringue.  Sue brought Boston Cream Pie and Pumpkin. Everything was delicious-o!

6:30-8:00pm--Decibel level reaches record breaking heights in our home.  Thankfully it's all of the happy sort of noise. 

8:20pm:  Everyone's gone home, the dishes are done (thanks to my Hunny), and we break into the "Blessing Box" (a post to come on that later).  We then attempt a quick game of Pit, but don't even make it two rounds before someone is in tears.  We quickly put the kids to bed and RELAX!!

Never:  I'm proud to announce that I did not spend even 1 minute of today looking at Black Friday ads.  I'm sure I'll get some online shopping done tomorrow, but I am definitely not setting foot in a store tomorrow.  :)

It truly was a wonderful day and I was happy to spend it in the company of family and friends. 
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, dear blog readers! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Autumn Time!

What's so great about raking up 30+ bags of leaves on Saturday? 

Well, for one thing, autumn leaves provide great inspiration for art projects....

Plus all that raking gives them a big itch.....

to run and jump  geronimo-style into them....

and that itch never is quite satisfied, until someone starts tossing the leaves up into a giant leaf storm.

Then there's the fact that autumn leaves make a great backdrop for pictures...
which means that Lara gets to go crazy with the camera!                                       

And one last thing:  Let's not forget that bags of leaves make a perfect setting....

for an impromptu Barefoot Clarinet Concerto on the Sidewalk. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Tonight I am grateful for....
  • fun little food projects to make chore day a little more exciting for the kids.
  • the opportunity to go to Stake Temple day.
  • for having live-in babysitters who can cook dinner themselves while we're at the temple.  It's sooooooo nice!  
  • for a gorgeous, sunshiny day.
  • for an awesome husband who doesn't mind copying the programs for me, because I have this unnatural fear of being in the church at night by myself. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Playing Games...

Over the years, each of these games has provided hours of fun and entertainment for our family  (click on the pictures to see them on Amazon): 

We've enjoyed many other games as well, but these are the ones that have been the most inclusive of the whole family. 

So when Glen bought this game for Emma's recent birthday, I wasn't so sure she would like it very much.  I remembered playing as a kid, but didn't really recall enjoying it all that much. 

The day we pulled it out to play it for the first time, had been a very grumpy day and I'm not sure anyone harbored high hopes for it....

but it didn't take too long of playing...

before everyone was giggling, joking, and in general enjoying themselves immensely....

It was a hit all the way around....Mom, Dad, Spencer, Cami (who set a new world record for negative points), Emma, Adam, and even Ellie thoroughly enjoyed it! 

My pictures don't really capture the fun and joy we felt while we played, which feelings were amplified and appreciated all the more after the negativity of earlier in the day, but Pit will forevermore have a place in my heart as a fun smile-maker for the whole family! 
Pit rocks! 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The main reason for our recent trip to Palmyra was so that we could scout out the area for next year's youth conference (since Glen and I were recently called as the stake youth conference directors).    During youth conference, we will be staying in a church owned camp called Seneca Lake Camp, which features several rustic cabins, a mess hall, and lots of lots of land to run around on.    Additionally there is this beautiful guest house, which is where decided to stay while we were there as a family. 

The home is situated on a gorgeous plot of land in rural upstate NY overlooking one of the Finger Lakes and since it's meant to sleep up to 20 people, it was also significantly larger than our actual home.  It has a HUGE kitchen that had me bordering on covetousness and my kids were thrilled not to be three to a room like they are here at home. 

So I was really enjoying our spacious, clutter-free surroundings for the three days we were there, until one of my kids had the gall to say.... 

 "Mom, look how shiny the sinks are here.  I like it when they don't have those white soap spots in them." 

So after sending the kids on a scummy sink scrubbing spree when we got home, I decided that  it's time to admit that those 5 housekeepers I hired, er, um, gave birth to, don't seem to be doing their jobs too well.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the quality of their training, since everyone knows their mother is a housecleaning Nazi. 

Or was that a  Housecleaning Not-See, wherein if you're tired/busy enough you simply Not-See the clutter?    


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Big hair...

Big noise...

Big smiles....
Big wind...

Big pretty....

Big ending. 


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