Saturday, December 23, 2017

The light at the end of the Braces

I literally thought my orthodontist was joking when he told me I had to wear these rubber bands locking my teeth together for the next 6 weeks. Ha ha. Very funny. Now when do I get these darned things off my teeth?
I still don't know for sure. But I do know that these suffocating, humiliating rubber bands are an indication that my treatment is nearly over. Yay for that! 

So the rubber bands are forcing my teeth and jaw to line up correctly so I don't have any misalignment problems in the future. No TMJ
The first several days was really frustrating. I cried sad, sorry tears for myself. I also had to go see my chiropractor to help heal me from major migraines and neck and back pain. I had to start taking daily doses of magnesium to calm my muscle spasms.
But then, like anything else difficult in life, I got over it. Now I'm totally used to putting on and taking off my rubber bands all day, everyday, between meals, before bed, after breakfast, and so on...
I'm supposed to be wearing them 24/7 except for when I eat. I think I've been wearing them probably 75% of the time, which is probably more than he expects. (I think they probably plan ahead for the slackers, which is why I have to wear them for so long.)

I'm not positive, but I'm hoping that I get these off in January. 
It's been an interesting adventure having braces in my adult years--(definitely something I never thought I'd do) but I'm grateful nonetheless for the opportunity to get my health issues taken care of. I keep thinking that if it was 100 years ago I'd be walking around with a missing tooth, and well, I'd just have to get over it. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Traditions 2017

Family  traditions are super important to me. I think it's crucial to create special memories with your family that you can repeat year after year. There are study upon studies done about how traditions can unite families together, create lasting bonds, and bring joyful memories to people's minds for over their entire lives. 
I love that we have the power, as parents, to bring special, meaningful, and joyful traditions into our homes and family. 
However, the same can be said for negative traditions, which is why it's important to make a point to create positive experiences. For instance, if your family has a habit of  fighting every Thanksgiving dinner or  being glued to the television all day on Christmas day, or forgetting to include your kids in holiday activities, those are the memorable traditions you are creating, whether you mean to or not. Time to focus on the positive!

Last month my eldest son was having a rough week at school/life/in general so he stayed home one day to rest and recuperate. I decided we needed some restaurant therapy so I took him out to breakfast at IHOP and let him order whatever he wanted. Eating at IHOP is one of his favorite things to do because.... what 11 year old boy doesn't love sugar and carbs and greasified meats?? I sat there and watched him devour a huge plate of pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, and sausage, washed down by a steaming hot chocolate covered in whipped cream. He had a huge smile on his face the entire time, that growing tween of mine.
While we were there we came up with a list of our favorite Christmas traditions. It was interesting to see which ones stuck out in his mind as memorable.

Here's what we came up with:

1. Cutting down our Christmas Tree from Cedar Mountain. Each year we get a permit from the forest department for $10 and drive up the mountain to get our tree.

2. Decorating our Christmas Tree while listening to Christmas music. The kids love getting out all the ornaments and hanging them on the tree. Our ornaments have memories attached to them, either from places we've been or a gift from a loved one, or from the years we made our own. Each ornament tells a story, which our kids love to hear as we decorate.

3. Playing the Stokes Family Christmas card game. This is a tradition that goes back to my dad's side of the family. I used to play it as a little girl at my Grandma Lois's house during the holidays. It is such a fun (yet highly competitive) look-and-find game and all you need to do is save all your Christmas cards to play it. I'll have to explain the rules more in another post!

4. Reading favorite Christmas stories such as Mortimer the Christmas Mouse and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury

5. Attending our ward Christmas party at the church.

6. Doing fun and festive activities here in Cedar City such as Christmas at the Homestead Museum. (Odin learned how to dip candles this year and the two younger boys sat on Santa's lap just for free Candy Canes.) Also, there's a neighborhood here in town that sets up The Christmas Story poem at each of their houses. We like to drive through the neighborhood and see all the lights and decorations as we read the story they've displayed on large poster boards. 

7. Watching favorite Christmas shows like A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch (original), Pee-wee Herman's Christmas Special and Merry Christmas Mr. Bean.

8. Decorating Graham Cracker Gingerbread houses while also eating all the candy! 

9. Eating a Christmas Eve feast! This year we're doing ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet yams, rolls, croissants, grapes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, chocolate pudding pie, apple pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream! We're also making Fogle Punch, which is a drink we have at Micah's parent's house for Thanksgiving each year. And lastly, eggnog. 

10. Lighting candles and reading the story of Christ's birth in the New Testament on Christmas Eve.

11. Kids sleep in the living room on Christmas Eve and wait for "Santa." (They all know it's us, and we love to play along.)

12. Making homemade cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk for Christmas morning breakfast.

13. Opening stockings, exchanging gifts, and enjoying that beautiful, magical, Christmasy feeling!




I would like a Hatchamal for Christmas, says J

I would like a tool set for Christmas, says Mally

Traditions are so fun! I love how most of these just happened naturally as our kids grew older, yet I also love what Micah and I have worked hard to create in our family to celebrate these wonderful holidays and most importnatly the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

DIY Overnight Oats in a Jar

Overnight Oats, a poem by Sally Jackson

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, the mama was as busy as a determined little mouse.
She was wrapping the presents and filling the stockings - making sure everything was just right.
When she finished her tasks she was pleased with herself and lay down for a long, winter's night.
When suddenly a loud rumble awoke her!
Could it really be Santa's big sleigh?
No, she realized. It was her hungry stomach,
for she had forgotten to eat today!
She smiled knowingly and went back to sleep, dreaming of holiday floats.
For in a few hours she could wake up and devour her overnight oats!
(The End)

Every year at Christmastime I try to think of something to give away to friends that isn't a sugary treat. I'm not sure why I do this since I love to sample all the sugary treats that my friends and neighbors bring over! However, I think it gives me some sort of satisfaction to share something I love with those I love, and I LOVE healthy foods!
 I love whole grains, I love fruits and veggies in their natural state, I love foods that are full of vitamins and nutrients, I love foods grown fresh in our garden, and I love foods that just make you feel good. I suppose that at Christmastime I want to pass that goodness onto others. 

I don't always make food to give away. Last year I ended up making coconut-oil-sugar-scrub for the shower that smelled like pine trees. The year before we made eucalyptus-juniper berry soaps. And the year before I think we just escaped a house fire so didn't make anything at all. 

This year I decided to make jars to give away  of my favorite breakfast ever!: Overnight Oats! I wrote that cheesy poem to go along with it, and voila! Christmas gifts that are healthy and make me feel good to give them away. 

Ingredients on the back:
Each jar has 1  1/2 cups Oats
1 Tablespoon Stevia
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1/4 cup Coconut Flakes
1/4 cup Almond Slivers
1/4 cup Dried Blueberries
1/4 cup dried Craisins

Directions on the back:
Just add your favorite kind of milk to the top, (my favorite is vanilla soy milk)
(even some yogurt if you like),
shake it up real good,
set in the refrigerator overnight,
and enjoy!

Friday, December 15, 2017

DIY Scented Gingerbread Family

When I was a little girl my mom had made these Gingerbread people to represent each of our family members. She would get them out each Christmas to display next to the Christmas tree. I remember they smelled of cinnamon and love and felt like soft corduroy and holiday happiness! So this year I decided to make my own versions of the Jackson Gingerbread family to display next to our Christmas tree. Each one represents one of our 6 family members, with a distinguishing characteristic to tell them apart. 
If you know our family well, you will be able to tell who is who (not that I didn't put them in birth order or anything...)
They are scented with rice-infused cinnamon oils inside their tummies so they'll smell delightfully delicious each Christmas season that I get them out. 
I love how they turned out! This was definitely one of my favorite Christmas crafts to make!
Here's what I did to make them:

ginerbread doll pattern
brown corduroy fabric
white Ric Rac ribbon
googly eyes
various colors of felt
hot glue/hot glue gun
white yarn
darning needle
polyester toy stuffing
squares of cotton fabric
Liquid scent of your choice i.e. Essential oils, warming oils, candle scents, etc
Fray away liquid fabric sealant

I started out by googling for a gingerbread doll pattern and found  this pattern on the internet. It seemed like the right size for what I wanted. I then printed it out and used it to cut out a corduroy pattern.
 I figured it would be easier to pin fabric to fabric rather than pin paper to fabric each time I cut out a gingerbread person. (and it was!) With the fabric folded in half, this pattern will make one full sized half of a gingerbread doll. 
Next I decorated the top halves to look like my family members. I used googly eyes, buttons, ric rac, and various colors of felt to make distinguising characteristics for each doll. It is much easier and looks way better if you decorate them first before sewing them together.

For the scented smell I made little satchels full of rice that I had soaked in Cinnamon Swirl warming oil for several days then filled about 2 tablespoons of rice into each satchel. I stuffed one satchel each into the tummies of the gingerbread people as I was sewing their sides up. I also stuffed each doll with polyester toy filling.
Note: This particluar warming oil is a skin and eye irritant if contacted with. I wouldn't use it to fill a stuffed animal that a child is going to be sleeping or cuddling with. I wouldv'e used natural Essential oils but I couldn't find one that smelled deliciously sweet like Christmas!

I used a blanket stitch to sew up the sides of each doll then went around the edges with a Fray Away glue to seal the edges from possible fraying.
And ta-da! The Jackson Family Gingerbreads were born!

Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

September Memories

There are more than 8 things I want to blog about before 2017 is over so I am going to attempt to do that in the next 18 days!
Fall is officially over with winter on it's way. However, we haven't had any snow, yet, which is very strange and unsettling for this time of year. Sure this warm-weather girl has been enjoying the sunny, 50 degree Fahrenheit weather in the middle of December, but the environmentalist in me worries about drought..i.e.. crop failures, drying rivers and streams, the rise of fruit and vegetable prices, and worry that there won't be enough water for human consumption. We need moisture/snow/rain/sleet/hail this time of year to supply us with enough water in the Spring and so forth.
The other day in the car with my two youngest kids I started making up metaphors for what winter without snow is like:
Winter without snow is like a door with no handle. 
Winter without snow is like a donut without sprinkles.
Winter without snow is like eating your favorite cereal without milk.
Winter without snow is like  a car with no steering wheel.
Then Malachi chimed in with,"Winter without snow is like a green light that has a stop sign and then you can't go."  (So clever!)
Then Jonah added,"Winter without snow is like sledding on dirt."
Heh heh! I explained that that wasn't a metaphor but was literally what winter is like without snow. We all laughed. We REALLY need snow so we can not sled on dirt this year, as well as all the other reasons.

Well, In the first of my 8 or more blog posts, I want to highlight some of my favorite memories from this past September. September is one of my hardest yet most favorite months of the year. I almost feel like September should be the start of the new year, not January, because it is the mark of so many beginnings. 
September is right after the end of August when the new school year starts and when we get all our kids settled into school. It's the beginning of getting situated into a new routine.  It's hard to start new routines and get everyone into the swing of a new schedule, so September is the time when I am working hard figuring out how to get everyone where they need to be on time, and fed, and happy.

My husband is a huge part of this organization and scheduling process. He is the master of making menus for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, buying the groceries, and cooking meals and making sure everyone has foods they like in stock. We council together in all the needs and wants of our children and try to make the best choices with each of them. 
For instance our eldest son wanted a paper route. So we ask, Is this right for him? Do we have the time for this? Will this enhance his life, take away from it, or enhance or  take away time and energy from our family as a whole? So, we think on it, we pray on it, we talk with our son and then finally decide that, yes, a paper route will be just fine.

There are so many little and big matters to take care of in raising a family, so making decisions with my spouse like this is  important in making everything function as a whole....i.e...Should we get a new refrigerator? Do we have money for swim passes this winter? Do we have time to help with soccer this spring? How should we budget our miscellaneous finances this year? How should we distribute chores for the little ones? Where should we go for summer vacation in 2018? How can we make scripture time more meaningful? How can we get our three year old to consistently use the toilet when he has to go poop?
And so on and so forth... These are the types of discussions that fill our days, our hours, and our minutes. 
I also like to start de-cluttering in September to get ready for Christmas. It's amazing how much junk earthly possessions you can accumulate in a family of 6. Plus the kids grow out of their clothes and shoes pretty frequently, grow out of toys and books, and just keep growing in general. I just took 3 huge garbage bags full of clothes, toys, books, and games to the thrift store to make room for more clothes, toys, books, and games.
I would love it if my eldest child could give his hand-me-downs to the second eldest, and then the second eldest could give his hand-me downs to my third child, but it just hasn't worked out that way for various reasons. One being that my second child has his own style of clothing he likes to wear and is kinda particular about what we buy for him and then my third child is so much smaller than my second that it will be years before he ever sees any of his older brother's clothes anyways, and then my eldest only likes to wear basketball shorts and cotton Tee's (yes, year-round!), and my second eldest doesn't want to wear his older brother's clothing that he sweated in (his words). Then lastly, my toddler is four years younger than my third child and needs his own clothing for at least 4 more years until he can fit into my third eldest's clothing. So, that leaves me buying clothes and getting rid of clothes for my kids more frequently than I'd originally anticipated. 

Back to September Memories, here' a run-down of things that happened in September:

1. The first weeks of school: New routines, new schedules, etc..
2. De-Cluttering and cleaning (wait, aren't I always doing this??)
3. Lots of wonderful, sunny, park days
4. Micah got his first batch of honey from his bees
5. Went hiking up in Crystal Springs
6. Zadok broke his arm
7. I started donating plasma weekly
8. Malachi started pre-school
9. We made tie-dye T-shirts for family night
10. I started the whole 30 diet and changed my eating habits (more on that in another post)
11. Jonah had a lemonade stand on our street
12. I organized a Salad Social for Relief Society
11. Read the book Cold Sassy Tree for Book Club
12. Started running with my dogs on the red rock trails during Mally's pre-school time
13. We all got really sick with an awful stomach virus for about a week.
14. We survived
Micah calming the bees down with smoke
A large honeycomb from a beehive

First drops of honey.

Hiking at Crystal Springs

malachi being cute

mama and mally

Running free at Crystal Springs

Jonah making the big bucks. 

Jonah at the park.


Sunny, park days are our favorite.


My pile of boys

The family that tie-dyes together.....

Super September Salad Social
Hanging out with some of my favorite ladies.
WE called him GIMPY as long as we could.

Jonah ART-It's a rainbow dragon fighting an army of bees!