Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Post of Pictures

I let my camera get a bit backed up on the pictures, so here are a bunch from the last three weeks. Enjoy!
Jill taking a little nap the day before Thanksgiving.
Isn't she just a little cherub with those chubby cheeks?


Mama let her have a taste of her popsicle,
and Jill was extremely thrilled to get to hold the stick!


Okay, okay, I needed to have the flash on,
but it's still a cute picture!!


I love it when Jill makes this face!!


Daddy let Jill try out his candy cane.
She was a big fan.


Jill is pretty thrilled to hang out with Grandpa Collett.


Jill absolutely adores getting to touch the Christmas tree.


Bath time is fun time!!


And to finish off the post in style, here is a video of Jill and the Christmas tree. Watch her face closely, at about second 4 of the video, when I turn the Christmas tree lights on, she busts out a big smile. What a cutie!! Doesn't she communicate quite effectively through her grunts? :)
video

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story

I really enjoyed reading this Christmas talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I definitely recommend you click the link down below to read the whole thing.

Here's the beginning:

You will recall from Dr. Suess’s holiday “horror” story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that the devilish Grinch determined to rob Who-ville of every holiday treat. In a nefarious scheme in which the Grinch dressed as Santa himself, he moved through Who-ville taking every package, tree, ornament, and stocking.

We now come upon him as he leaves the city, chuckling to himself in delight over the pain he will have caused children like little Cindy-Lou Who.

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry Boo-Hoo!

“That’s a noise, “grinned the Grinch,
“That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow …

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN‘T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
(Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, New York: Random House, 1957.)


Part of the purpose for telling the story of Christmas is to remind us that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Indeed, however delightful we feel about it, even as children, each year it “means a little bit more.” And no matter how many times we read the biblical account of that evening in Bethlehem, we always come away with a thought—or two—we haven’t had before.

There are so many lessons to be learned from the sacred account of Christ’s birth that we always hesitate to emphasize one at the expense of all the others. Forgive me while I do just that in the time we have together here.

One impression which has persisted with me recently is that this is a story—in profound paradox with our own times—that this is a story of intense poverty. I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7; italics added.) We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could talk in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of influence or means, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.

I have wondered if the Inspired Version also was suggesting they did not know the “right people” in saying, “There was none to give room for them in the inns.” (JST, Luke 2:7.)

We cannot be certain what the historian intended, but we do know these two were desperately poor. At the purification offering which the parents made after the child’s birth, a turtledove was substituted for the required lamb, a substitution the Lord had allowed in the Law of Moses to ease the burden of the truly impoverished. (See Lev. 12:8.)

Click here to finish the story.

(Now I'm writing.) If you clicked to read the whole story, then here are my thoughts on it. His description of the birth of our Savior (combined with my experience of giving birth) really put the Christmas story in a new perspective for me. I have seen many nativity sets, and for the most part, they are gorgeous. They have an animal or two thrown in there (sometimes), but nothing to depict how dirty a stable/manger/barn/cave really would be.

I hope this story helps you take a moment to remember the Savior and his birth and Heavenly Father's ultimate Christmas gift to us all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Houses

So, Jeff and I have continued to look at houses, and there are two that I like right now. One is a smaller ranch (way cute and move-in ready) (House A) and the other one is a large house (two stories and a basement) that needs work (House B).

So, House B (just under 2,000 square feet) needs about $20,000 to $25,000 worth of work but is listed at $40,000 less than House A, which is just under 1,200 square feet.

House A has a gorgeous, flat, fenced back yard. House B has a hill, half of it wooded, with a brook at the bottom. So we couldn't do anything in that yard. It also has a swimming pool that needs a lot of help (House B). Jeff is convinced Jill would roll down the hill and hurt herself severely. There is a small side yard that is flat. And it is on a cul-de-sac, so there is the street (haha) to play in. House A is on a somewhat busy street. It's not super busy, but it's not inside a neighborhood; it's on the outside of the neighborhood, the edge.

House A: 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, living room, laundry room, 2-car garage, storage shed

House B: 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, front room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, family room, 2-car garage, and a basement with three rooms, large hallway, and a laundry room.

House A was built in 1991, and House B was built in 1977.

They both have fireplaces. House A has a concrete patio, and House B has a two level wood deck.

Ultimately, we have to decide whether House B is worth the hassle of doing all that work and the lack of yard and whether House A is worth living in such a small home without very much room to grow.

I should probably share more about what kind of work is needed on House B. It would require about $10,000 to $12,000 to have three full foundation cracks (one of which you can stick your hand in) repaired and the entire foundation water proofed. There is mold that needs to be chemically killed and removed and plumbing that needs to be repaired. All of the carpet needs to be ripped up (possibly the pads as well) and new carpeting put in. Some drywall will need to be replaced, and there is mold on the outside on the soffits. The deck was built incorrectly, with the wooden posts on top of concrete that was not put in a hole. The dirt has begun to erode from under the concrete and the supports have slipped. The repair will require hydraulic pumps, digging holes, and pouring concrete in  backyard that is on a slope. This is not included in the cost since it would be done by us. Some dry walling will need to be redone in the basement. Everything will need to be painted, flooring and stairs will need be fixed. Including completely removing all the basement stairs to shift the stringer back to its original position since it has shifted at least an inch and a half. It snowed today, so we don't know what kind of shape the roof is in. So, without knowing about the cost of the roof and the pool, it is about $20,000 to $25,000.

None of the other homes we've seen have been appealing. There is, of course, also the option of waiting and seeing what else comes up, but I think there aren't many people who start to sell a home in the winter. Winter seems, to me, to be the slow season for real estate, and we definitely want to be in a home by May. (I would honestly like to own a home much, much sooner than that.)

So, do any of you have any thoughts on this? Either from having purchased a small home? Or purchasing a home that needs work? What worked for you, what didn't, etc.? I am very interested in hearing your opinions and learning why you feel that way.

Thanks for the advice!!

Ornaments


Yay! So, for a Relief Society craft activity, we made these cool Christmas ornaments, and I decided to make a bunch and give them to my siblings as Christmas presents. Everyone got a different style, as you can see here. Haha. I hope now that my siblings see the styles each other got that they still like the ones they got! (Did that make sense?) :)




I have also mailed out the Christmas cards, so I can post that on here. Again, I did not get to print and mail as many as I wanted, and when I finally did stamp them, three were suspiciously missing. Sigh. Life . . . Anyway, so I'm sorry that I couldn't send all of you a card.


So, there is our cute card. Ta-da!
Here is the text that was in the envelope with the card. I meant to tape it to the back of the card, but then . . . I didn't. Ha.

Hello friends! Our life this year was full of changes. We began 2009 living in Provo, Utah. Michelle was working full time as the manager of about 70 freelance writers for Heritage Internet Technologies, and Jeff was finishing up his last year at BYU, as well as interning for a regional manager of facilities for the LDS Church.

In April, Jeff graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Facility and Property Management. The day of his graduation, Jeff and Mimi went to the hospital, and the next day (April 25), Jill Halley Collett was born: 6 pounds 11 ounces and 19.5 inches.


May found us moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, to live with Jeff’s parents. We have really loved being back in the Midwest nearer to both of our families and have had the opportunity to go visit or be visited by family every month we’ve been back.


In November, our prayers were answered, and Jeff began work as a quality account manager for City Wide Maintenance of Cincinnati, a local franchise of a nationwide facility management company.
All together, life is good. Jeff loves his job and beating his brother at ping pong. Mimi stays at home, spending her time with Jill, reading, working on family history projects, and going out with the missionaries. Jill also stays at home, currently spending her time trying to figure out crawling and trying to shove things in her mouth.


At church, Jeff is the assistant ward mission leader for Spanish-speaking investigators, and Mimi is the visiting teaching coordinator. These are relatively new callings; we spent most of the year with Jeff as a nursery worker and Mimi as a Relief Society instructor.

The year ends with us looking for a home to call our own. We did not realize how emotional and arduous that exciting task could be. Feel free to check up on us at http://mimihalley.blogspot.com.

And here is the Christmas letter I helped create for my family. You can click on it to view a larger version. :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hello Santa!


We had our ward Christmas party on Saturday. I was really worried about Jill, because she had not been sleeping regularly the days before it and the day of, so she was really tired and should have been cranky for Santa Claus, but I guess he was interesting enough to get her out of her "funk," because she was very good for him. (Or maybe she just knows that he controls the naughty and nice list.) :)

No luck, Jill, that's real. She is really into faces these days, grabbing your lips, nose, glasses, and apparently mustaches. Poor Santa. :)


 Can you tell  how tired she is?

Our awesome missionaries sang a really funny version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

12 transfer nightmares * 11 * 10:30 bedtime * 9 hours of tracting * 8 runs in my nylons * 7 winter layers * 6:30 wake up * 5 sisters from Utah * 4 scoops of Graeter's ice cream * 3-way bowls of chili * 2 suitcases only * and a letter from my future hubby

Dang. I can't remember what 11 was. :( Shucks.

Some of my friends and I sang three songs: Deck the Halls; Baby, What You Goin' to Be; and I'll Be Home for Christmas. It was a lot of fun. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Okay, this was funny

Read this story my friend shared from another blog! Click me. :)

Seriously, click the link above. It's really funny.

I just received another funny Holiday photo from my Grandma. I don't know where it originated, because it's an e-mail chain.


And a quote

My sister just sent me this quote, and I really liked it, so here it is. :)

"It is our sisters who carry the burden of the work. We talk about the missionary work of the Elders who go forth to proclaim the Gospel; we talk about the great pioneer work of the early settlers of this country, but I wish to say here that it is the mothers at home who are making the sacrifice for the boys to go into the mission field. It is the mothers who stand the hardships far more than the men. Men are engaged in many activities, and without the devotion and absolute testimony of the living God in the hearts of our mothers this Church would die. May God bless the mothers of men, is my most humble prayer; and I do bless them in the name of God our Heavenly Father and in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer."

Heber J. Grant, April General Conference 1930

Fast as Lightning

Jill is asleep, so let's see how fast I can type and how caught up I can get!! :)

Okay . . . so Thanksgiving was wonderful. We were blessed to have my parents come down for a few days and join us. We also got to enjoy the company of our friends, the Arellanos, for the actual Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was tasty, and we actually had as many pies as people. No, we did not all eat one pie, but some of us may have eventually once all their pie eating was done . . . :)

The house failed its inspection, so we are looking again. It was a beautiful house, but there were some less desirable things lurking under its beauty. Termites, water, mold, and foundation problems—that pretty much sums that up. So, we stepped away. We're looking again. I actually went to four houses with my Realtor today, and that was a pretty interesting experience. We are looking at houses that range from small houses that are move-in ready and beautiful to larger houses that are foreclosed and trashed. Well, it really makes me sad how trashed houses can be. Who are these people that take absolutely no pride in their homes? I mean, we cannot all have top-end appliances and granite (of course), but do we have to smoke in our homes? Leave animal urine on carpets? Tear up floor boards? Leave holes in walls? It made me so sad to see the trashed houses.

We basically need to decide how much work we want to do and can do. It's an interesting balance. Buy a small house for 40,000 more than a trashed large house, or buy the cheap huge house and then fix it up. I don't know. We'll keep you posted on that. The foreclosed and short sale houses might take a while too. Our Realtor said banks usually drag things out for a while. She estimated about 2 to 4 months, but she has had one take 6 months.

Hmm . . . hmm . . . Jill is still asleep. I might even be able to add pictures!! As I (think I) said, Jill is crawling now. Moving, perhaps, is a better way to state it. Today though she got really close to crawling. She can definitely get from point A to point B/shiny toy, but she usually crawls, stops, sits, rolls, etc. as she gets there. Today she did not ever stop, sit, or roll, and she crawled to it. Her legs are still pretty awkward though. She'll figure it out.

Jeff is in Kansas right now on a business trip, well training really. Kansas City is the corporate headquarters. It's weird to have him on a business trip. (Although Jeff says it's not and that I just think to much.) It's just that in the past whenever we've been apart, it has been because of visiting friends and family. Never before has one of us just had to sit alone in a hotel room. Lonely. He'll be back tomorrow night, and he left yesterday morning, so it's just under 3 days. I think Jill misses him. She seemed pretty sad last night.

Sigh. I went grocery shopping with Laurie, and she was thinking about getting ice cream, so I offered my opinion that she should get fudgsicles. (I have been craving fudgsicles for about a year but could never justify buying something that is expensive, unnecessary, and not healthy.) Well, she bought them!! I ate three yesterday. Oh my! I really, really love them.

Jeff and I received new callings. He was a nursery worker, and I was a Relief Society instructor. Now he is the assistant ward mission leader for Spanish-speaking investigators, and I am the visiting teaching coordinator. So, our callings are going to take up more of our time now, but we're both really excited about these new opportunities to serve. We have both been asked to speak on Sunday. I was asked to speak on Jesus Christ's birth and purpose, and Jeff was asked to speak on the Atonement and make it somewhat personal. I am also teaching Relief Society for one last hurrah. Haha. Wish us luck. I wrote out my talk last night, but it was no good, so I'm going to write a new one. I haven't written out my lesson yet, but I've read it two or three times, and I've pretty much got it plotted out. The lesson is on the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. I thought it was interesting that I'm preparing to talk about birth and death.

Other than that, I've just been a reading fiend. I have really been enjoying books by Brandon Sanderson, Clare Dunkle, Sharon Shinn, and Jessica Day George. I've also been a singing fiend. Some of my friends and I are singing at the ward Christmas party this Saturday, and the choir has been working on music for the Christmas program in a few Sundays. That's been pretty fun, since singing and reading are pretty much my two favorite things.

Almost all of my Christmas cards are addressed. I only bought 50, and then I realized that Jeff and I have big families and that leaves a lot of my friends out. So, I am really sorry. :( It is too expensive to print and mail as many as Jeff and I have friends though. So in a week or two, I'll post the Christmas card and letter on my blog, and please, please, feel loved. Because you are loved. I'm just cheap. Well, frugal sounds nicer, so I'll go with that.

Okay, no crying sounds, so here come the pictures!!

Jill with Grandma Collett


Jill with GranB


Jill with Pappy


The Arellanos :)


The next three pictures are of Jill playing with her cousin, Emily






Jeff, Mimi, and Jill at the Xavier game.

Dang. Jill woke up. No captions!! :) (Note: I came back and added the captions.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh my Behind

So, I am unbelievably behind on my blog. I was just looking through my camera, and I'm a bit overwhelmed by how behind I have fallen. Thanksgiving. House buying. Annibelle. Etc. So, I will check up . . . eventually. Until then, here is a cute picture Jeff took of Jill on his phone. Jill was in love with that carrot. We bought a house, by the way. And our niece Annibelle is doing well now. She had an open heart surgery on Monday, and then she had a pacemaker put in on Thursday, and we hope she will be home by next Monday. Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes! (Those of you who knew and did.) Also, my parents were here for Thanksgiving, along with the Arellanos. Pictures will follow.