Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Results

Laura asked me to post some pictures of the results of last week's reduce/simplify/purge experience. Most of the changes are subtle internal changes like more space on the closet rods and tidier drawers, but here are some pics anyway.

Our room: still lots of pillows on the bed and stuff on the nightstands, but a new frame over the bed that I got my dear husband for Christmas ~ it says "Always Kiss Me Goodnight" ~ a sentiment I highly endorse. And the lamps are closer to the bed.

The big and best change is the sitting room ~ little room off the kitchen that used to be the dining room before we added the great room. It is quite a popular place and there was never enough seating so after much ado we got a corner sofa from Ikea this week which is PERFECT.

It was hard for me to give up the big round table I had in there with my cute decorations on it, but the seating is obviously way more functional. The next problem was getting some lamp light without any tables. (I really don't like overhead lighting, so I must have a lamp in every room) I had this cute white floor lamp but it needed a new shade. I finally found the perfect size and shape but it was white - boring. So today I downloaded instructions from the internet and covered it in blue fabric! I also have some red trim I was going to put on it, but I'm undecided about whether I want the trim or just like it blue. I'm open to opinions!

I wanted to get a more open space feeling in the star room so I took out the Ikea chair that was in there and put this small rocker which was red, but I spray-painted it navy. I love spray paint!

As I look as these pictures I realize I'm still the "cluttery decorator" I have always been, because I love too many things. But I really did get rid of some things and I feel more streamlined and organized.

So those are my changes and they are fun and feel good.

NieNie and Mr. Nielson

Yesterday I went to Harmons grocery shopping. I stopped on the way in to get some fine avocados that were in the Super Bowl display. A couple opposite me were also looking at the avocados and I noticed that she had what looked like burn scars on her face. As I walked away I thought, "that could be StephaNie Nielson."

Later as I got into the shortest checkout line I was right behind this couple again and as I took a better look at him I realized that, indeed he was "Mr. Nielson."
I didn't speak to them because
a) I was a bit starstruck; I don't react well with famous people. (ask Rich about Patrick Stewart sometime for a good laugh) and
b) I thought they deserved an outing to the store without being accosted by adoring fans. My dear husband said I made the right choice and he has world-class interpersonal skills.

But they have been on my mind and I just want to say this:

Dear Stephanie and Christian:

I have been following your blog since the crash (I started following Courtney's blog a little less than a year ago when I followed a link there from Chelle's blog about Lent) and I am in awe of your courage and faith and love. Thank you for being a shining example of devotion to family and faith and all that is good. Thank you for sharing yourselves and your inspiration with the blogging world. I have prayed for you, I have participated in fundraisers for you, I have thought of you often, and I will continue to do so. I wish you the best and feel hopeful at seeing you out and about together. Witnessing your life, your love and the courage with which you have faced tragedy has enriched my life.

With love,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perfection in Six Words:


(If you make this bigger you can see the sparkly diamonds I saw)

Today's Stats:

1 hour 25 minutes
3.81 miles
14.4 mph - maximum speed

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter (I hope)

While I was in NY at Laura's house I did the following:

Cleaned the oven and stove
Made tutus and aprons for the birthday party
Scrubbed her cookie sheets shiny new
Mended Abby's jammies (little toes were sticking out)
Folded laundry and put it away
Got everything out of Laura's closet so she could clean and organize it

Where did I learn to give service like this?

From her:

Every time my mother came when I had a baby she was SO helpful - always cleaned my oven. When she came for Laura's birth she did all the baby bathing and I was seriously afraid to take over when she left. I didn't know how I could care for that little infant without her!

Then when she came for Mary's birth she played with and read to Laura and let down all the hems in her dresses that she had grown out of.

For Todd's birth she came all the way to Korea and came to the birth and supported me through 1 1/2 hours of pushing. Ouch for both of us!

After Jenny's birth, Mom and Dad came to our new house and removed wallpaper and painted and helped us get settled.

So I only hope that I can follow her example in serving my family. Her whole life has been dedicated to serving her family; I'm grateful for the service and the example.

In fact, on this very day, my parents surprised me by attending our sacrament meeting because I was playing a piano solo. Talk about supporting their 51-year-old daughter! And they paid for the piano lessons, too!

I love you, Mom and Dad
You're the best!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Last Day in NY

I just wanted to include these cute pictures of the Buchanan kids having fun in the playland at Burger King on my last day in NY


My dear husband had to work on Martin Luther King Day. But the Hammers spent the night and the Coxes came to play, so we had a great day. Rich met us for lunch at Mama Chu's Mexican restaurant. I have to say that I wasn't impressed with the food, but I sure loved the company!

The Always Generous Founder of Our Feast

Logan and Trevor

Todd, Sophie, Jenny and Ayden

Ayden, Jenny, Mary and Michael

Chain Reaction

It all started when Rich got the bidet toilet seat for Christmas.

It had been my habit for many years to sit on the toilet lid after showering to put in my contacts and lotion on my legs, etc. But, the bidet lid does not lend itself to sitting upon as it is flimsy plastic and slopes downward.

Then on my trip to NY I started reading a book called "House Thinking" by Winnifred Gallagher. I only got into the second chapter, but she got me thinking as she suggests that we should decorate/design our homes on behavior-based, rather than appearance-based criteria.

While I was in NY I visited a couple of Laura's friends' homes. The more stark nature of their decorating styles back East got me thinking about maybe being less of the "cluttery decorator" that I tend to be. (Every surface cries out for embellishment - I don't know why they do that - I wish they would leave me alone!)

I also enjoyed being in Laura's home - yes, it is small, but it is functional for their family and feels organized and tidy.

Then, I had a six-hour flight home with all this time to THINK about all of that and make plans for the changes I was itching to make in our home.

So, I've spent the last 10 days doing some major cleaning out, rearranging to the main floor and while it has certainly taken longer than I expected, it feels GOOD! And I'm happy with the results. I cleaned and organized every drawer, cupboard and closet upstairs and took three loads in the back of my car to D.I., not to mention the garbage that was removed. I reduced and simplified and tried to make things more behavior-based.

This is the mess our bedroom was in for a few days "in progress"

One of the things I reorganized was my jewelry. I hung this hook board for my necklaces:
Using this fine tool that Todd gave me for my birthday:

My next chore will be to do the same thing in the basement. But I think I need some serious skiing before I do that and the fresh powder is on its way!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Google Reader and a Pet Peeve

I use and love Google Reader which allows you to see when there is a new post on a blog you follow so you don't have all the annoying bookmark checking.

But . . .

I really don't like it when people set it up on their blogs so that you can only start reading the post and can't finish without going to the actual blog. It's very irritating and frankly, I often just skip the post because I don't want to go to their blog - I just want to read the post. And if I want to comment, then I do go to their blog to comment.

Not that anyone really cares, but if you want me to read your post, please just allow the whole thing to show up on Google Reader.

Thank you very much.

By the way, if you don't know if you're a culprit of this evil practice, go to settings, then site feed, then allow blog feeds and choose: full.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Home Sweet Home and a Website

It's always good to come home.

I loved my trip to New York; the kids were darling and we made some great memories. Laura is such an amazing wife, mother, homemaker, friend, Primary president - I am just in awe of her and thankful I was able to keep her alive to become what she is. (I take no credit)

And now . . .

Introducing . . .

(drum roll please)

My dear husband's website!

It contains his blog and you can read his Mission President's Journal and a list of all our missionaries that they can update. I just had such fun reading about all the missionaries who've updated their info on the website. And my dear husband is a wonderful writer, so you don't want to miss his blog entries.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nanajan Reading to Connor's Kindergarten Class

Monday, January 12, 2009

Connor's Game

After school today I was in the kitchen with Connor making cookies. He got a piece of paper and pen and asked me how to spell "heaven." Then he announced that he had made a game. He drew a person and a path with squares to get to heaven. I was to ask him questions and if he answered them correctly he could mark the squares and get to "heaven." Here are the questions I asked and he amazingly answered each one quickly and correctly and got right to heaven.

1. What does CTR stand for?
2. Whose birthday is at Christmastime?
(At this point he said the questions were too easy and I should make them harder)
3. What are the names of Nephi's naughty brothers?
4. What color is the shield on a CTR ring?
5. Who saw Jesus and Heavenly Father in the Sacred Grove?
6. What is the name of our prophet today? (Laura cued him with Thomas . . .)
7. What should you do when you are 19-years-old?
8 .To get to heaven Who are we trying be like?

When he got to "heaven" he drew another stick figure to represent his arrival.

What a delightful, and smart boy!
(His mother must be a very good teacher)

Abby and Her New Pink Polka Dot Umbrella

New York City

Friday night Laura had a Primary training meeting (General Primary Presidency in town) and since she's the new Primary president in her ward, she wanted to attend. I love to attend the temple wherever I visit and since both were in the same building in Manhattan, we went to the City. We got a ride with her 2nd counselor, also attending the meeting. While Laura was in the meeting I did initiatory work in the Manhattan Temple and then we hit the streets of New York City.

It was cold and windy so we were bundled up. We started off with a red velvet cupcake at the Magnolia Bakery and then walked down the street to Starbucks for a hot chocolate. Thanks to the iphone we figured out how to take the subway to Rockefeller Center where we saw the unlit Christmas tree and ice skaters.

This is me in front of the Rockefeller Center and tree with Laura's fingers in the picture, so she would be in the picture with me!

Then we walked over to St. Patrick's Cathedral - a place I love to visit in NYC to see the beautiful stained glass, gothic arches, flying buttresses and light a candle. Unfortunately, it was closed for the evening, so Laura just took this picture of me in front of it, talking to Rich on my phone.

Finally, we walked down to Grand Central Station and took the train back to Tuckahoe. It was a fun evening visiting with my dear daughter, just as adult friends. I love that girl!


The next day we drove the new mini-van into the city with the whole gang. It was snowy and cold, but we had a yummy lunch of pizza and pasta and a little restaurant called "Lasso" and then did some shopping at the Japanese Gap called "UniQlo." We topped off the day by going to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in White Plains. (Thanks for the gift cards, PapaRich!)

My Favorite Shape

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Gothic Arches, especially overlapping ones,which is why I love this grate in Laura's bathroom.

By the way, check out the pattern on the Kirtland Temple windows - revealed by God Himself. Apparently I don't have too bad of taste.

The Abigail Buchanan Third Birthday Polka-Dot Party

The Goody Bags

Polka Dot Garland
(handmade by Laura)

The EVENT I came to NY for was an astounding success thanks to the amazing efforts of Laura Buchanan. She really is just AMAZING in her ability to throw a party with a theme and fun games and decorations and food and everything - and all for three-year-olds!

The hostesses in their polka-dot aprons

Dancing to the "Nutcracker" in their tutus

Abby and her Amazing Party Planner

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tutus and Polka Dot Aprons

This is what I did today:

10 tutus for the "polka dot birthday party" guests

The special "white with sparkling sequins" one on the top is for the birthday girl herself

Three polka-dot aprons: blue for me, green for Laura and pink for Abigail
Laura and I will wear ours for the party, as the hostesses.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Playing Nanajan

I arrived in New York after a day of travel that included reading one book, two magazines and watching one movie on my iphone. The big surprise when I got here was that the Buchanans just got a brand new Toyota Sienna mini-van! I'm so happy for them; it's just what they needed for their little family.

Abby and Andrew were a little shy in the morning to find a stranger in their house, but before long they were climbing all over me - there's nothing better than hugging and kissing on your gkiddies! We started making tutus for the 10 guests coming to Abby's polka dot birthday party on Friday. Then we went to pick up Connor from school. Since Abby was asleep in the car, I just waited with her and Andrew while Laura went in to get Connor. Connor wanted me to see his classroom and couldn't wait til tomorrow, so he and I went back into the school for a tour. It was fun to have him show me where he sits at Table 5 and on the carpet and meet his teacher. He's so grown-up!

Connor and Nana in his kindergarten classroom

Connor sitting on "his spot" on the rug

We went to Michael's for more tutu materials and then the mall. On a whim I just decided to get the kids "build a bear" stuffed animals - I don't want them to forget my visit! It was fun to watch them choose and stuff their toys.

Connor chose a penguin and Abby a pink "polka-heart" monkey

Andrew got a puppy that he's calling "Pat Pat" since that's the sign for dog
Connor got the "Batman" costume for his penguin

Laura went to the church in the evening for Achievement Day for the Primary girls, so I got to do bedtime stories, prayers and tucking in. Since Abby had a little nap in the car, she became "Charming 9 pm Abby!"

It was a lovely day with my dear daughter (my firstborn in the Wymount) and her darling children.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Leaving on a Jet (blue) Plane

I'm flying to NY tomorrow for Abby's third birthday party on Friday. I'm swamped today getting ready to go: errands, leaving my home clean, laundry done, etc. and packing. But I'm excited for a trip. I love the traveling and I'm so excited to spend 8 days with Laura and Alan and Connor and Abby and Andrew! And I'm glad I have movies on my iphone (thank you, Keith!) to entertain me for my 4-hour layover in Las Vegas (yes, Las Vegas on the way to NY? Go figure! just going for the cheapest flight)
You know I gotta love these people - I'm giving up a week of prime cross-country skiing!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Winter Walk

Today I went on a walk with Annie. She loves the snow and often makes "snow angels" as she enjoys rolling around in the snow. Part of my walk took me to the hill by the junior high where there were close to 100 people sledding. The laughter I heard was contagious and just made me happy. Happy families and friends enjoy nature's winter landscape.

Word of the Year

Last year Laura got me started with a new personal tradition: choosing a "word for the year." Last year my word was temperance. I don't know that I really became more temperate last year, but I did think about it and I know that helps. I will continue to strive for temperance in 2009.

This year's word is:


Se*ren"i*ty\, n. [L. serenuas: cf. F. s['e]r['e]nit['e].]
1. The quality or state of being serene; clearness and calmness; quietness; stillness; peace.
2. Calmness of mind; eveness of temper; undisturbed state; coolness; composure.

Serenity is the name of my blog and something I am striving for and I love this quote:

Serenity is the gracious gift of peace we receive for living by the will of God.

It's True

This morning I finished reading the Book of Mormon again. I love it. I know that it is the word of God. When I read it I feel God's love for His children. I feel close to Him. I'm always amazed that no matter how many times I read from its pages, I can always learn something new and be inspired.

An integral part of study the scriptures for me is writing in my journal at the same time. Many times I feel that the things I write don't come from my brain, but the Spirit bypasses my brain and what comes out of my pen are the words and thoughts that I need. I like to store my journals this way:

Each year's journals are tied together with a ribbon

And I love starting a new journal each year!