Saturday, December 31, 2011

Collett Family 2011 Review

Some of you may have already received this in the mail, but here it is for everyone else and simply for preservation's sake!

This year included one family wedding, two family vacations, three different vehicles, four cavities, and five years completed of marriage (our fifth anniversary was in April). Teething has been more difficult than we remembered, and potty training has been more exasperating than we expected. Jeff is the ward mission leader at church and still works at Citywide Maintenance. Mimi is still the visiting teaching coordinator and spends most of her day trying to entertain her children—sometimes succeeding. Unforgettable from 2011 was this spring’s frequent flooding of the basement along with the sewer pipe leaking into our crawlspace.

All things considered though, we have been very blessed. Trips this year took us to Nebraska, Michigan, South Carolina, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. We’ve also had many people visit us, which we love and hope continues in 2012.

Daniel Wells Collett surprised us all by arriving exactly one month early; he was born on  January 7. He has progressed a lot this year and is currently in the early stages of walking and babbles quite a bit. He loves food that he can pick up with his hands, and he is always very interested to see what his big sister is up to. We feel really blessed that he and Jill get along so well together. He seems to understand a lot of what we say to him. Other than contracting the chicken pox and the croup and forgetting how to sleep, he is a very easy baby who is happy almost all the time. He brings a lot of joy into our home. Jeff and Mimi both agree that his first official word is “kitty.”
Jill Halley Collett turned two in April. Thanks to her grandma, she has been able to meet Elmo and the rest of the Sesame Street gang, as well as see Mickey on Ice. It is pretty cute to see how excited she gets at these shows. She was a pirate for Halloween and made sure her brother was one, too! She can spell her name now, almost count to twenty, and recite the alphabet. She has been a busy girl this year with swimming and gymnastics lessons, story time at the library, and a joy school with her friends. So far she seems to have inherited her mother’s love for singing and reading and her father’s ability to remember names. She never forgets a friend, and she has a lot of them!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmases Past

For fun, I thought I would revisit some past Christmas family photos.

When the Bolings were still just the Bolings.

The Bolings expanded to add a Collett and a Rose.

The Collett Family went on our fabulous Caribbean Christmas Cruise!

The Bolings added in a Cosman and some Lamberts.

Jill's First Christmas!

We didn't know it then, but we were only two weeks away from becoming a family of four!

Christmas with Daniel and Jill.

And while I was scrounging around, I found some more to share.

I don't know the year, but I'm guessing this was is Michigan, so sometime between 1989 and 1993. Perhaps now I know where Jill got her last year Santa picture from. What am I so unhappy about? And who is sitting on Santa's lap with me??

I'm guessing 1997.
Those were some great pajamas!

And I'm guessing 1999.
Haha. So much for trying to look good on my blog! I thought this was pretty funny. 
Christmas morning doesn't get much better looking than this!
Oh, those were so not the days . . .

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

This is a talk by my sister that she let me read before she gave it at church in her ward today.

Last night was Christmas Eve, that holy night, that most holy of all nights. The stars were brightly shining. It was the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long had lain the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, and the weary world rejoiced! For yonder broke a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, and hear the angel voices! It was a night divine, when Christ was borne. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise his holy name! Christ is the Lord, let ever, ever praise we. (1)

Our Christmas story started with the trumpeting of angels. “Glory to the newborn king!” They proclaimed. “Peace on earth, and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled. Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!” (2)

Their audience was a group of lowly shepherds, guarding their flock of sheep in a field. While they watched their flock by night, far far away on Judea’s plains, those shepherds of old heard the joyous strains, “Glory to God! Glory to God! Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth good will toward men!” Those shepherds followed the star and it led them to the newborn babe. (3)

The little family so earnestly sought by the shepherds were in the town of Bethlehem because of a requirement to pay a tax in the city of their lineage. O dear little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie, above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light! The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above, while mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth! And praises sing to God the king and peace to men on earth! (4)

Those seeking Him found the precious baby in that city lying in a manger, with no crib for his bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head. The stars in the heavens look down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes. But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes. (5)

When the shepherds entered the manger, they found Joseph watching steadfastly over his wife Mary, and her newborn son. The shepherds and Joseph watched Mary lovingly care for her newborn son, singing him sweet lullabies to soothe him back to sleep. Silent night, holy night, all is calm. All is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace. (6)

And as she lulled her baby back to sleep, the earth itself rejoiced. Joy to the world! The Lord is come, let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare him room, while saints and angels sing. Rejoice rejoice, when Jesus reigns, and Saints their songs employ! While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy! (7)

There was another group of righteous men who also saw the star, and understanding its meaning set out to seek the Christ child. With wondering awe the wise men saw the star in heaven springing, and with delight in peaceful night they heard the angels singing, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to his name!” By light of star they travelled far to seek the lowly manger, a humble bed wherein was laid the humble little Stranger. And still is found the world around the old and hallowed story, and still is sung in every tongue the angels’ song of glory! (8)

And that is our miraculous, beautiful story, of once upon a time in Royal David’s city when there stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed. Mary was that mother mild, and Jesus Christ her little child. It is our job to come all ye faithful! Let us be joyful and triumphant! O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem! Come and behold him, born the king of angels! Let us sing with choirs of angels and let us sing in exultation! Sing all ye citizens of heaven above, “Glory to God, glory to God in the highest”—O come let us adore Him! (9)

President Uchtdorf said, “[Let us] celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah. [Let us] rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy in heaven was so great it could not be contained, and angelic hosts parted the veil, proclaiming unto shepherds “good tidings of great joy, . . . praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Wise Men “rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when . . . they saw the young child with Mary his mother, [they] fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts.” It is only fitting that we—like the Wise Men, shepherds, and angels—take time to rejoice and celebrate that glorious first Christmas Day.” (10)

President Uchtdorf also said about our modern Christmas celebrations, “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events . . . nothing short of perfection will do. Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs . . . the turkey burns, the sweater is the wrong size, the toys are missing batteries, the children quarrel, the pressure rises—and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.
But then, if we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us that will direct or redirect our attention to the sublime. It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture; we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time, to its words; or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life we too often use to adorn it.” (11)

Today as we celebrate the birth of Christ I would like to encourage you to look past the minor things of life that we typically use to adorn the holiday, and focus more on the sturdy and enduring aspects of it: the message of Christ’s love for all of us. Do as Uchtdorf suggested and find a quiet moment to read the account in Luke, and ponder what it really might have been like for that little family on that night, and what it meant and still means to people all the world over. Play the sacred carols, and let their sweet melodies and joyful lyrics embed themselves in your heart. Don’t wait to witness a sincere expression of love—create a sincere expression of love!  Smile, laugh, hug, play. Praise Heavenly Father and thank the Lord for the gifts they have given us this day, and every day. Renew commitments made to yourself, your family, and your Savior. 

I know some of you are perhaps finding it difficult to feel the joy and happiness of this season.  Life can be overwhelming sometimes, and pretty songs and lights don’t make problems vanish, as nice as that would be. The December issue of the Ensign has an article by David L. Frischknecht. In that article he tells of a time when he was Bishop and feeling weighed down by the burdens the members of his ward were carrying.  He knelt to pray for them, and as he reviewed their individual troubles he felt the weight of their suffering literally pressing down on him.  As he prayed he felt a clear and powerful answer that God was very aware of each individual and their needs. He felt comforted by the Holy Spirit, as if it said to him, “Bishop, let the Lord take these burdens. Rise up. Do the best you can. Things will work out for these people. You’ll be fine, too. Go be their bishop. The Lord will be their Savior.” I have spent a lot of time this month thinking about that. Christ’s sacrifice is for each of us, that precious baby who grew up to be our Savior knows us and our pains and troubles, and He loves us, and we need to remember to let Him be our Savior. (12)

And so, on this glorious Christmas day, and any other day, if you, like so many right now, are feeling lost, or concerned with difficulties in your life, I would just like to remind you, in the words of Brother Frischknecht, that “before and after He was a baby in Bethlehem and a carpenter in Nazareth, He was and is the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth. He was and is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Holy and Only Begotten Son of the Living God. . . . May we remember and believe that He has all wisdom and all power in heaven and in earth . . . And may we have faith that He yet condescends to help and lift the least and the last, even you, even me.” (12)

There may be many things that you do not have this Christmas season. There may be things that have been taken from you due to the current economic situation, or a health situation, but there is something that can never be taken from you. This beautiful Christmas story is unlike any other story ever told: it has no ending, the characters are all real, and that precious baby lying so peaceful and sweet is our living Savior and Redeemer. When we know that, when that truth becomes real in our lives, no one can take it away from us, and it can compensate for all other losses if we allow it to.

I know he lives. I know he loves me and I know he loves each of you. I know that men are that they might have joy, and that Christ is the light which cannot be hid in darkness. (13) As today goes on and the sun sets, take a quiet moment to look at the lights on the tree, the lights on the houses, and let go your troubles, and let your heart be full of joy for Jesus Christ, he who is the light and the life of the world (14). Let him be a light in your darkest night.

I hope you are all having a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas with the Sharks

As an early Christmas present, Laurie took Danny and Jill (and me!) to the Newport Aquarium. I had never been there before, and there were lots of cool exhibits. Jill was very impressed by Scuba Santa, and Laurie was impressed that the digital copy of the photos was only $5 extra! (Yay!) Jill really liked the sharks and the penguins. Danny just liked pretty everything. He was even nonchalant about a bird pooping on his head. (Yeah, there was a bird exhibit at the aquarium.) Jill enjoyed feeding the bird the sweet nectar drink; although a bird did steal the cup from her and then dropped it. Bummer.

Jill and Danny aren't really smiling in the picture below, but that seems pretty appropriate since the photographer caught a shark swimming past. They do look slightly apprehensive, don't you think? As if they knew . . . :)

Have any of you been to an aquarium recently? The octopus and jellyfish really were insane looking up close. And there were a few ocean creatures that looked like they could have walked right out of a nightmare.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"I don't even speak Spanish!"

Today I had a first that was somewhat difficult for me. My ward is the designated Spanish-speaking ward for my stake, so anyone in the stake boundaries with Spanish as their first language usually comes to our ward. We offer different services in Spanish, including having a Spanish Relief Society lesson once a month. That, of course, leaves three other Relief Society lessons in English for the Spanish-speaking sisters to sit through, sisters who often are not fluent in English.

We used to have Spanish-speaking sister missionaries who would translate those lessons, but we haven't had those for about a year. One solution we came up with was to have our elders translate, but there is something weird about having elders in Relief Society.

So, I was asked if I would be willing to give translation a try.

People always ask me how I learned Spanish, and I always have a long response. I sort of learned it through Portuguese. When I was eight years old, my family moved to Brazil, where I learned Portuguese. We moved back when I was twelve. Then when I was fifteen, I began studying Spanish at school and studied it for the next three and a half years. When I was eighteen, I went to college and began studying Portuguese again. I graduated rather quickly, so I ended up one or two classes shy of completing the Portuguese minor.

In these Portuguese classes, I made some of my best friends from college. I took the accelerated course my first semester at BYU, and the course was designed for those who spoke Spanish (or another Romance language, but specifically Spanish) to learn Portuguese. My closest friends were from Mexico and Colombia. We saw each other every day in class, and almost every weekend we would go out dancing or to some sort of party/get together. They obviously often spoke Spanish to each other, and I sometimes felt lost and always responded in English or Portuguese, never in Spanish.

I remember numerous occasions in Portuguese class, speaking in Portuguese only to discover that I had thrown a Spanish word in. I would look at my friends and laughingly say, "but I don't even speak Spanish!" And I really didn't.

Then I married a man who was fluent in Spanish. Then we moved to Cincinnati where we lived in the Spanish designated ward boundaries. And then I made some very close friends who didn't speak any (or very little) English and no Portuguese. And so slowly, my Portuguese morphed into Spanish. My vocabulary is pretty okay, but my conjugation is horrible. I'm never in the correct tense or person, but they seem to understand what I'm trying to say.

Recently I have made a new friend who is Brazilian, and it was been so much fun to hear her speak in Portuguese. And it has been really sad to try to respond to her in Portuguese, because now it all comes out Spanish. If I want it to be Portuguese, I have to stop in between each word and think about it rather than just let it flow effortlessly. Sad.

But it was really fun translating today in Relief Society, even though I was somewhat stressed about it and nervous. I did not know all of the words, but I usually figured out a different way to describe what was being said.

Thinking about speaking Spanish though has made me really miss my first Spanish-speaking friends. It has made me remember all of the fun times we had in college and wonder what they are up to now. I wish I could have been able to speak to them in Spanish back then like I can now (messed up verbs and all). :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Genealogy Fan Chart

I had to shrink it to get it to fit on my blog, but isn't this cool? It is a fan chart of my direct ancestors! Click the link (Genealogy Fan Chart) if you want to get one, too! If you click on my chart below, you should be able to see it a bit bigger but not even close to as large as the original is. It is definitely high quality enough for if you wanted to print it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yummmmm Manicotti!

I made manicotti for dinner last night. (Yes, Ames, on the phone I said stuffed shells. I was very surprised when I pulled the box of pasta out of the pantry. Luckily, the recipes are very similar, or at least it worked.)

Jeff happened to sit next to Danny, and he was busy serving everyone. I glanced over and said "Wow. Did you give that big piece to Danny?" Jeff didn't know what I was talking about, and he looked down and saw that Danny had swiped an entire manicotti noodle from his plate!

Danny looked very happy with himself and was munching away on a pepperoni, which I didn't think he'd be able to handle, but he did fine!

Jeff took his dinner back and cut Danny some appropriate-sized baby pieces. We were all laughing so hard. If you look in the picture,  you can see the little sauce trail left from the theft. I guess he was impatient to be fed. :)

And I wish I had an audio recording of it, but Jill sounds really cute when she says "manicotti."

Jill is doing two funny things right now. My Grandpa Homer has been with us this past week. When Jeff and I pray, we usually address our "Heavenly Father." My grandpa always says our "Father in Heaven." Every single time (without fail!) that my grandpa has prayed, Jill opens her eyes and says "He said heaven!" She usually repeats that two or three times during Grandpa's prayer. I don't know why she thinks it is so funny. Maybe because it is different from how we say it, or maybe because she thinks he is saying Kevin or Devin (two of her uncles). I don't know, but it's pretty cute how excited she gets.

As you may know, Jill loves Justin Bieber. Apparently his appeal does extend to two year olds. Her daddy recently showed her his mistletoe song, and in the song, Justin sings about "makin' a list." Jill, for whatever reason, thinks he is saying "naked" instead of "makin." Now the song is not dirty and has absolutely nothing to do with nakedness, but every time she hears it (even when sung on the Sing-Off), she says, "he said naked!" and giggles ensue. I guess naked is just a very funny idea for her.

Two year olds are pretty cute.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas

This picture is brought to you courtesy of my wonderful mother-in-law who forked over to buy the digital copy! And I love that it documents Danny's black eye for all progeny to see!

And if you want to remember how the Santa pictures went in 2010 and 2009, click here!
Oh the tears! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

I was not meant to die today.

As some of you may know, I am exhausted. And I have a history of falling asleep driving. Remember that trip to Pennsylvania earlier this year? My sister and I drove from Cincinnati to Hershey, and at one point (right before we switched drivers) my sister commented from the back of the van, "you know, it's very disconcerting to see the same expression on the face of my sister who is driving that I see on the face of my nephew who is nodding off in his car seat."

Well, I have fallen asleep driving before. Three times now. And I guess that is why, with the third time, I finally struck out.

I was driving between Indianapolis and Richmond on I-70 with my cruise control set exactly at the speed limit. I felt tired, but I was only twenty minutes away from my destination, so I thought I could make it and I didn't want to be late to church. I tried calling people, but everyone was either doing something that I didn't want to interrupt or didn't answer the phone. The last thing I remember was driving in the right lane, trying to decide who I could call who could talk to me and keep me alert the last twenty minutes.

I felt tired before I even left Indy, but I felt like it would be dumb to say that. "Oh, I'm too tired to drive, so I guess I'll just sit here and wait until I make two people drive a few hours to get me and have one drive my car back while the other is alone in his car." I don't know. It just sounded too weak and really inconvenient for others. I had no real proof, like a broken leg or something. Surely it was all mental.

So I drove.

And the rumble strip woke me up.

I was then in the left lane, headed right toward the guard rail. I was not very alert, so I immediately jerked my steering wheel the other direction. Going 70 miles an hour, this is never a good idea. I drove in a complete tiny circle, hitting the guard rail on the way around. Then I drove in another quick circle. Then I became a little more alert and realized that hitting the brake would be a good idea. I still can't believe I didn't flip my van jerking the steering wheel like that.

So I slammed my foot on the brake. At that point, my car was perpendicular with the road, straddling the dotted line in between the two lanes.

I was still pretty disoriented, and I could not decide whether my car was turned on or off, so I turned the key off. Then I realized I was in the middle of a highway, blocking both lanes, and I turned my car back on, drove over to the shoulder and called my parents, 911, and the relatives I was going to go visit in Richmond. (Jeff was at church, so I didn't think he would notice his phone. I did eventually reach him.)

Danny was asleep for almost the whole event. He woke up at the end with a bit of a squeal, but seems to be completely unscathed. Thank you infant car seat!

I have some bruises, and my neck/head is sore.

My van sustained some damage. The first estimate came back at $2,080.

As I sat there waiting for the police, it was pretty scary feeling my car rock as every truck and vehicle whizzed past me. I was amazed at how busy the highway was, because during my accident, I neither hit another vehicle nor was hit.

How is that possible?

Then I got to church with my relatives and was wondering how I was going to get home. I was about an hour and a half away. My van was still drivable, so I didn't want to leave it in Richmond, but I REALLY did not want to drive. The adrenaline and shock was not enough to make me not tired. I was still exhausted.

As I sat in Sunday School, I recognized a couple (Russell and Amanda) who I had met a few weeks earlier at my cousin's (Shannon) temple sealing. Amanda was a cousin of my cousin Shannon, and we had never met prior to that, but at the sealing, we discovered that we both lived in Cincinnati, about 20 minutes apart. I decided I didn't feel comfortable asking Amanda, but my cousin Ben was actually also related to this couple, because his wife (Heather) was Amanda's cousin. (The Bakers and Homers are connected in many ways!) And Ben did feel comfortable, and Russell said they didn't mind at all! So, Russell drove my van, and Amanda drove their vehicle, and they dropped us off at the stake building, where Jeff and my father-in-law met us.

I asked Russell and Amanda how often they go up to visit family in Richmond, and they said this was actually the first time (other than holidays). They have always wanted to go and make an effort to be closer to Amanda's extended family, but it had never worked out prior to this.

Hm. It had never worked out until the Sunday when I would need someone in Richmond who was driving to Cincinnati any way.

And I did two hairpin circles and came to a dead stop in the middle of a highway and didn't hit any other cars and did not flip my car.

And I hit a guard rail going 70 miles an hour and did not injure myself or my child, and my car is still drivable.

All I kept thinking over and over again on Sunday was "I was not meant to die today."

Incidentally, I did say a traveling prayer before I left Indianapolis that morning, and my prayer was definitely answered. And up until Saturday, the plan was for me to take Jill with me, but last minute we decided to leave her with Jeff. I am so glad she was not with me, because the experience would have terrified her.

I feel so stupid for driving drowsy and falling asleep. I cannot believe I risked my family dealing with another funeral.

And I am not sure when I will feel comfortable driving long distances again.

I feel so, so lucky and blessed.