Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Peaches and Herb and the Scriptures??

So, I've been on this marathon reading event with Dominique and Elle. We've been reading the Book of Mormon *most* days since Thanksgiving in an effort to finish it by the new year. We will fall short of our goal, but we'll finish it sometime in January. It is a monumental feat no matter how you look at it.

We're way past the 1/2 way mark and it's all done but the readin' for now.

Recently we read a long explanation in the BOM regarding death and resurrection. For those who are unaware, Latter Day Saint doctrine teaches that the spirit and body separate at death and that resurrection (a reuniting of spirit and body) is a gift that will be given to everyone at some future point in time (after Christ comes again....but then it gets a bit tricky because there are multiple resurrections, blah, blah, blah). ANYWAY!

When we finished reading that part in the scriptures, I asked Elle if she understood what was said, and she said, all I could think of were the lyrics, "Reunited...and it feels so good..."

I laughed and laughed and laughed. All day long, we would just start singing "Reunited...." and laugh some more.

Who knew that this chorus from Peaches and Herb:

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited, 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited
Hey, hey

had a secret, second meaning!!!!

I've loved this experience in reading with Dom and Elle. I don't know if they are getting anything out of it, but I sure am!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

This year for Christmas, I wanted to achieve two things 1) keep it simple (and relatively inexpensive) and 2) make sure that the girls got something they really wanted. Last year was kind of a bust. Even though I try, I always kind of miss the mark with their clothes and shoes. Let's face it...I'm kind of an old lady, and while I think that I'm still hip enough to pick out cool teen clothes, I'm not. So....such that neither they nor I would be disappointed, I crafted a plan. We did a 12 Days of Christmas Christmas.

The girls on Christmas morning (before the present opening began).
The 12 days of Christmas went something like this.....all neat and packaged...and painstakingly adorned with the pictures of the 12 days of Christmas on every.single.package. I printed out pages with the "clues" to the gifts on them. Mariah read each one then they opened the presents.
This gift was a "pair" of earrings.
This one was a small box of turtles (candies) and a bag of Dove candies.
This was a $5.00 McDonald's gift card so they could get their favorite meal (chicken nuggets and french fries).

This was 4 free downloads for their cell phones. We don't let them download things, so they were kind of psyched about this one. They would have been more excited about free texting, but we don't let them do that either.
This was a $15.00 gift certificate to Claire's They love buying crap from Claire's. I did, too, when I was their age.
This one was kind of hokie. I got Easter eggs and filled them with various kinds of M&Ms. Unfortunately, I could only find 12 eggs...the ones Dean got for me last Easter and hid in my I gave each of the kids 4 eggs. They LOVED the candy. In fact, the next day at church, Mariah pulled out her new make up bag from her purse and it was FILLED with M&Ms! I just laughed and laughed!
I ordered rubber duckies online (24 of them). I put 7 in a box and put a $25.00 Bath and Body Works gift card in with it. I was kind of proud of the rubber duckies idea. They all bought lip gloss from BBW.
We have a cleaning lady who comes once every other week. (We DO NOT call her a maid, though.) Earlier this year I instructed her not to clean the girls' bathroom any more because they need to learn how to keep it clean on their own. They were being 1st class slobs and would say things like, "The cleaning lady will clean it." Um......I don't think so! So, now we are on a rotation....Mariah, Elle then Dom clean it...and rotate every Saturday. This gift was $20.00 (or the approximate amount that it costs to have Karen clean their bathroom). They chose to spend the cash. No surprises there!
This was a $10.00 iTunes gift card.

The younger girls have been telling me for months that they want Vans (a brand of shoe). I have been telling them for months that they are not getting Vans from me. I got Dom and Elle $30.00 gift cards to the Vans store. Riah got $30.00 to Payless (she's not as big of a fan of Vans). This was a $100.00 gift card. It can be used at Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy. This was the BIG surprise. They got iHomes (which are devices that you can plug your ipod into so you can hear it). The only one who has an ipod is Dominique. So, Mariah and Elle were like..."uh, thanks." Then I said to Dom, "Keep looking in the box." Hidden in the bottom were the new nano slide ipods. They were quite surprised. You can see Dom's mouth agape in this picture.

It was a very good Christmas. I was worried that the hokie gifts at the beginning were not going to be received well, but they loved their 12 Days of Christmas. They have told everyone about their presents, and Dominique told me, "It was the best Christmas ever." I'm so glad! I'm so, so glad!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Danley Family Christmas Tradition

I wrote this for my kid brother, Adam, and gave it to him on Christmas Eve. He's 14 years younger than me, and we didn't grow up together. Unfortunately, he also never experienced these family traditions (and other family-isms). It's so important that we write down these kinds of things! My kids are ALWAYS asking us to tell stories about them when they were little. They love hearing the stories (and I'm amazed that they don't remember!)

This story refers to my paternal grandparents who are Eugene Howard Danley and Mildred Smith Danley. They died in 1981 and 1987, respectively.

Enjoy this glimpse into my past....

I never knew my grandparents to have much money. That was because they didn’t. My earliest memories are of visiting my Grandma and Grandpa Danley in public housing on the South Side of Peoria. I was too young to know that it was public housing. It didn’t matter to me. It was Grandma and Grandpa Danley.

In the summertime, Grandpa never wore clothes. It sounds a bit ridiculous today, but he was often found sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear. It wasn’t gross or perverted. It was, quite simply, cooler that way. To the best of my recollection, there was no “central air” in the projects, and I don’t even think that they had an air conditioner. If I had to guess, they probably had those old school box fans to cool the place down. Hence, Grandpa in his underwear.

I’d always go and give Grandpa a kiss, and he was ALWAYS happy to see his grandkids.


If he knew I was coming, he would shave (because I hated his mid-day stubble).

I digress. This is a story about a very important Danley Family Tradition.

Because there was not a lot of money and because there were a lot of grandkids, Grandma and Grandpa had to be judicious in their gift giving. Every grandchild received a two-dollar bill every single year. It was in a money holder (the kind with the circle cut out so you could see the mug of Thomas Jefferson). This was the only Christmas gift I ever received from Grandma and Grandpa Danley. I looked forward to it every year. It meant a lot to me. I loved getting that two dollar bill. I wish I could tell you that I saved them all, but I didn’t. I spent every single one of them.

I was 17 the year grandma died, and although I don’t remember it, I’m confident that I received my last two dollar bill from her during my 16th Christmas.

Because funds were low, Grandma always made fudge for the families. Every family got one Christmas tin of “Grandma’s Fudge.” This was a treat even more anticipated than the two dollar bills. I looked forward to that fudge every single year. Each piece of fudge was cut into a bite sized piece and wrapped in tin foil. The pieces were then placed in the tins, and the tins were given to the families. I don’t know if it was because Grandma made the fudge or what, but that fudge was delicious to me. For years after Grandma died, other family members tried to carry on the tradition of the fudge, but it was never quite the same.
The fudge was made with “marshmallow fluff.” Yes, it is a real product. It comes in a jar, and it’s essentially whipped marshmallows. This is the recipe. This is the new, updated version of the same recipe from the website. The differences in the recipes are probably accounted for in the size of the jar of fluff (if I had to guess). The ingredients are the same, the quantities are just different.


2 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick butter or margarine
15 oz. can evaporated milk (2/3 c.)
1 Jar (7 1/2oz) Marshmallow Fluff
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 12-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 /2 c. chopped walnuts

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan; set aside. In large saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir over low heat until blended. Increase heat to Medium and bring to a full-rolling boil being careful not to mistake escaping air bubbles for boiling. Boil slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (use Soft-Ball test). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add nuts. Turn into greased pan and cool. Makes 2 1/2 pounds.
At this point in time, I gave my brother a 2 dollar bill, and I promised to make the fudge next year so that we could re-establish this tradition.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A few Christmas Eve images....

We had a small family gathering on Christmas Eve. It was all of us plus Elise and Garrett and my brother Adam (who was not yet here when week took these pictures).
Our Tree
Me and Dean

Mariah and Garrett
Bradley and Elise
We read the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2) and sang a few Christmas carols...Opened a few gifts....
And just hung out....
It was a very good night.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Answer the question, please...

My fourth (and mercifully, last) teenager is upon me. I keep hoping, "This one will be different." This one won't mouth off...won't sneak around, won't discover short, I was hoping that this one wouldn't be plagued with the other teenage realities that we experienced with the previous three (let me say that for Bradley, he discovered girls, not boys). I have, however, been disappointed. This last one is just like the others. Notably, she has learned to never answer a direct question I ask.

My conversations with the kids go something like this.

Me: What are you doing?
Kid: I *just* got here.
Me: I didn't ask the time frame of your arrival. I asked what you are doing.

See what I mean?

Me: Who ate the tortillas? (a serious crime in our house...usually because I got tortillas as an ingredient for something else).
Kid: So-and so opened them.
Me: I didn't ask who opened them, I asked who ate them.
Kid: You let me eat them last time.
Me: So, who at the tortillas?

And that is how it goes.

Me: Did you clean your room?
Kid: I put my clothes away.
Me: Yes, but did you clean your room.
Kid: [Slight pause] Uh-huh.
Me: Is it "Wendy Clean?"
Kid: Slinks upstairs to clean said room.

I swear....I could ask something like this.

Me: Where is your coat?
Kid: I have gloves and a hat on.
Me: Where is your coat?
Kid: I am wearing warm socks.

At this point in time I usually found that the coat is 1) "Lost," 2) in the possession of a friend (mortal sin at our house), 3) in a locker and of course it is the weekend or school break.

How ever did they learn this evasive tactic?

I think they have always used it. I just think that I used to fall for it. It was a "distract with a diversionary tactic" ploy that I used to buy hook, line and sinker. Bradley was much better at the diversions than the younger ones. I'm getting older and smarter, and the last kid will suffer because of it. I'm constantly telling her, "I've had three other teenagers; I know how this game ends." She has to sigh and come up with new tactics. I don't have gray hair yet, but check back in 5 more years.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

We have a tradition at our house. I can't remember exactly how it began, but that's not really important. Each year we read this book:Each year, we get just a bit of resistance, but not too much. This year Dom said, "Why do we have to read this book every year?" We said, "Because it's what we do; it's our tradition."

If you haven't read the book, you should. It's narrated by an elementary school girl and chronicles her interactions with an unruly gaggle of neighbor kids called "The Herdmans." Due to an unfortunate turn of events, the narrator's mother has been put in charge of the annual church Christmas pageant. I don't care who you are, this story is funny. We laugh and laugh every single year.

This year, it is only Dean, me, Dom and Elle reading the book. Bradley practically lives at his girlfriend's house and only shows up to sleep and eat some stuff once a day. Mariah is always busy with work when we want to read, so it's just the four of us this year. It's no less meaningful.

I hope you have meaningful traditions with your family. I fully anticipate that, one day, I will be reading this book to grandchildren.

And as Gladys Herdman would say, "Hey, Unto you a child is born!" Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A word about the new family picture....

Now that the Christmas cards are all sent (all but 15 of them...which I have in my bag and intend to do tonight), I felt like we could change the family picture on the blog. You will notice that Bradley is noticeably absent from the picture (and the Christmas card). This was not intentional.

We actually tried to take family pictures with him in early October, but he was late by a few hours because of a previous commitment. Those pictures were kind of cruddy anyway. Then the opportunity came up for a photo shoot in later October...on a day that you would never have imagined would have been good for taking photos. We ran with it. Unfortunately, Bradley was out of town on that day.

We are *hoping* that before he goes we can get one more family picture with him in it. I just didn't want anyone to think that we intentionally left him out. We didn't. We still love him....most of the time ;-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Benihana Birthdays

Over the weekend, my cousin, Kevin came to visit. It was a quick visit, but it was very nice. That night, we all went to Benihana for some great food. Here is a pic of Kevin, Dom and Elle waiting for our table to open.

Dom and Elle mesmerized by the preparation of the fried rice. Carrie, Dominique and Elle

Clearly, one of the best parts of the night is watching the meal preparation and all of the yummy food!

It all began when Elle wanted the seafood combo..then Dom followed suit. I normally would not spring for that expensive of a plate of food for the kids, but since we were (in part) celebrating Elle's birthday, I let them splurge.

We were also celebrating Carrie's birthday (which was a week ago).

They do birthdays up right at Benihana...."Happy Birthday to you...cha, cha, cha..." You get how it goes! We had a really fun night at one of our favorite places. In case you were wondering, Dean is out of town. Adam was there (just out of camera range), and Kevin was beside me. Fun times had by all...until we went down to coat check, and someone had stolen Carrie's coat. (Boo!)