Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I can't believe this is the last post! Thank you all for your amazing inspiration and for sharing your lives here. I still have to follow the tutorial (thanks for including that one Nora!), but I am getting better.  I really liked having a goal in mind every month.  I really do better when I have something specific to work toward.  This goal was no exception.  This last goal took me the whole year!  It was one I started January 1 and finished the afternoon of December 31.

 I flounder around a little when it comes to things that aren't laid out.  Budgets, menus, schedules; I like a plan.  Scripture reading is no exception.  If I don't have a plan/goal/schedule in mind or on paper, it just doesn't happen well.  I had finished the Book of Mormon with my relief society at the end of 2013 and was looking for a new scripture reading chart when I came across this one:

Hmm, Nora, how do I make this blog insert a pdf???

Here are some links instead:   (the one I first saw)

and  (which is probably even better because it has the chart and some nice visual explanation.

And a picture, just because I know how :)

The premise that caught my attention was this:  If I were to read 4 pages of the Bible and 2 pages of the other standard works each day, then I could finish the entire thing, the whole tamale, the complete standard works in one year.  No kidding!  I know!! 6 pages a day (like 10 minutes?) and I could read it all.

Of course it wasn't complete smooth sailing.  I got behind in June when I had a wedding and a graveyard job and it took me the rest of the summer to catch up.  In the fall, I liked Paul's books so much that I finished the New Testament early but got a little behind in the D&C.  But I finished the last of JSH on new year's eve and that was a pretty good sense of accomplishment.  Reading that amount and kind of just plowing through gave me a big picture idea of the scriptures as well as a better sense of where things fit historically (esp. for the Old Testament).  This year I changed tactics.  I use Gospel library on my phone and am going through the institute course on the New Testament.  It is great!  Depth, quotes, links to all of the scriptures, pictures, maps, etc.  I am only in Matthew 6, but it good for me to have something orderly to follow.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stefanie Ackerson, December, Budget

Hello, everyone!  I can't believe it's been a whole year since we began this blog!  It has been a great year and I feel like I have accomplished so much!

My project for December was undecided at first.  I originally wanted to do something Christmas-y, but we did a lot of traveling up north to see family over the holidays and the month just seemed to slip by before I could come up with anything.  But my husband, Paul, and I have been working on updating our budget and making it all fancy for the coming year as our New Year's resolution, so I've decided to post on that!

Paul has put a lot more time and creativity into it than I have, so I have to give him most of the credit.  But here are some screen shots of what we've created:

First sheet (top) - income information.

First sheet (bottom) - this is where we decide how much money to set aside for each expense area, and then
record how much is spent and how much is remaining.

Example of detailed sheet outlining specific grocery expenses.

Paul figured out how to do buttons to take you to each
detailed page and then back to the home page.

Paul thought some of you might appreciate seeing how he programmed the code in
Visual Basic for the "Go Home" button.  Very fancy...and nerdy. :)
This shot shows how we color-code each month's expenses.
I helped pick the colors for each month. :)

The document is saved as an Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook.

And that's our project for December!  It's been a great 2014.  I'm so glad Nora invited me to be part of this blog.  I have enjoyed getting to know all of you through your blog entries and have learned so much.  Hope you all have a happy 2015!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Meg Lingard - Tiny baby blankets and hats

Oh boy... what month is it? January! So I haven't posted since September... 12 goals were about 5 too many for me I think :). But I did want to pop in here and share my last project, which was my October goal (again, hands covering my eyes).

My goal for October was to collect hats to donate to a cancer center for women who would be going through cancer this winter. This is something that I've really wanted to do since I found myself in that position five winters ago. However, as October came closer, I just wasn't feeling like this was the time for me to do it. I am a bit of an introvert and the thought of asking people to donate hats and such made me super anxious. I still want to do it sometime, but it just wasn't working out for me to even begin taking on a big project like that this year.

I was puzzling over what to do about this, still wanting to do something to help other people and maybe use my knitting skills... it's funny how when you have something in the forefront of your mind other things tend to fall into place. I went to check out a local yarn store one day since I had never been in there (Hemstitched Heirlooms in Bountiful) and there were these tiny hats all along the register, the smallest hats I'd ever seen. I asked the lady working there what these hats were for, and she told me about the charity project that they were doing for the year.

They were collecting tiny hats and blankets for babies that would pass away when they were born.

Babies that would be born so premature that they would not live. She told me that they now give out death certificates for babies born as early as 16 weeks because they can tell the gender by then. She said that these would be given to the hospitals in Davis County for parents to chose from for their little babies to be buried in. They were asking for hats and blankets to me made. One blanket for the baby to be wrapped in and one for the parents to keep as a memorial of their child.

I'm pretty sure that my heart burst wide open there as I listened to her talk about this project. I knew that I had to be a part of it. We lost our second son when he was born premature at 21 weeks and didn't have any chance of making it. I spent the week after I gave birth to him knitting a blanket that I could wrap him in. I was so grateful to have something to do to keep my hands busy during that week. It was the only thing that I ever made for my son.

(My tiny baby's burial clothes were a doll dress/sack that my mom made out of my wedding dress material and the blanket that I knit him). 

I brought the pattern home that they had there and had high hopes of making many sets of these. However, life got away from me and I only managed to get two sets done. I'm planning on making more and will possibly always have these going on the knitting needles because I feel like this is so important.

Such tiny little hats...

We bundled them together and took them over to the knitting store tonight. They were hard to make, as they brought back a lot of emotions of having a baby that tiny and having to plan on burial clothes for them. Knowing that the mother that will pick these out for her baby will be experiencing one of the most difficult times in her life breaks my heart. But I hope that she will know that she is loved, that she is not alone. That the reason this charity project exists is because other mothers have stood in her shoes and needed something tiny to wrap their precious baby in.

This was not the type of service project that I originally intended, but it ended up being the perfect project for me. I'm grateful to be able to give back to someone going through this type of situation. It's one that doesn't get talked about a lot publicly, but I feel there is such a need.

So with that, I guess I close my contribution to this page. I've loved reading all of your entries. Though I've never met most of you I've been greatly touched by your examples, your dedication to your families, and you quest for improvement and to live a good life. Thank you for letting me be a part of this Nora. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jennifer Hatch, December, Au revoir

My 7-year-old son set a New Year's resolution to get to bed by 8 p.m. By Jan. 2 he gave up. "I didn't get to bed on time last night so I can't do that resolution anymore," he said.

Sound familiar? I was feeling similarly in the dumps about my December project, which was to improve my French. (My children are in a French immersion program at their elementary school.) In addition to daily reading I wanted to incorporate French customs and food into our family's holiday celebrations, learn carols in French as a family, and hold a family home evening about my husband's memories of Christmas in Quebec on his mission.

I started off with a bang, doing exercises in a textbook. I learned about St. Nicholas Day, on Dec. 5, and wanted to leave our shoes on the hearth for Pere Noel to fill, as he does for children in France. But Pere Noel hadn't done any shopping that early in the month, and our non-observance of St. Nicholas Day also marked my silent disregard for the rest of my project. 

Realistically, this wasn't a good month for me to tackle a fun, but non-essential project. As the month wore on, I remembered the crushing power December always holds over me. I shared with my visiting teacher how overwhelmed and unprepared I felt. "You were this way last year," she pointed out. It is my hardest month. I don't know why. Probably a lot to do with expectations I don't think I can meet. Several times I broke down in tears. One was the Sunday before Christmas; I stepped into my car after church, closed the door and lost it. I had a nightmare about my husband hurting his head again and woke up shaking and crying, a response I've never experienced. A man who lost his wife in November came to my doorstep with a gift for my family, and I wanted to weep. 

Yet, just as I will encourage my son to keep trying with his resolution, I will attempt French another time. 

If only to make myself feel better, I want to chronicle some of the things I did accomplish in December, some with help here at ProjectsConnect.

• I printed selections from my blog into a book for my mother. I converted the filmed interview of my father (my February project) into a DVD that I gave my parents and brothers. I lacked the equipment to do the transfer on my home computer, so had to research a local company that could do it in-house, because I was time-crunched and did not want to risk losing the miniDVs in the mail! It's just like me to leave a project like this to the last minute.

• The most satisfying activity was taking my piano students to neighbors' homes to perform for them. I did this in two groups on different days, during piano lesson times. We traveled to two houses to play carols and then returned to my home for cookies and cocoa. I wanted my students to find joy in sharing their talent with others. It was the best.

• We played pixie for a family in our neighborhood and secretly delivered a piece of a nativity set, scripture reference and treat associated with the nativity character (like candy canes for a shepherd) to their porch over several nights. It was fun, but there were a few nights I was tempted to give them the whole set so I didn't have to keep haranguing doorbell ditchers (uncooperative kids) to come with me.

• We painted my boys' bedroom (same color as their sisters' room, part of July project).

• Jeff's grandfather passed away on Dec. 15. I got to show my love for Grandpa Hatch by playing the organ at his funeral (had to practice a lot!) and taking the kinds of pictures that he would have done. I then made them into a gift for my father-in-law, who is shown in the bottom photo accepting the flag. Phew! It really was a hard month.

I've enjoyed being part of ProjectsConnect this year and getting to know a few of you better. Thank you for your support. Au revoir!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dana Robb-December, Family Service Projects and Outings

Our family goal this year was to do at least one service project each month and go on a family outing all together.  Usually it's me taking the kids while my husband works, or him taking the kids while I catch up on projects at home.  That's all good, but I knew we also needed that time all together. Not all our trips ended up including dad, but here's what we ended up doing:

January: Natural History Museum of Utah.  One of our favorite places!  Five levels, lots to explore, we never get tired of this place.

February: Discovery Museum.  Another favorite.  Once a year we get the free exploration pass from the Salt Lake City Library System, and get to explore the Discovery Museum, and Red Butte Gardens, NHMU.

March: Family History Library in Riverton.  My first time there.  The girls ended up falling asleep so Chris stayed in the truck with them while the boys and I went inside to learn and print family pedigree charts.

April: Cathedral of the Madeline.  We studied about cathedrals in art this year and made a trip to the Cathedral in Salt Lake and attended evening mass.  It was eye opening for our boys.  We even got a tour afterwards and learned more about the building.  And then disappointed the priest (?) when he found out we were Mormons.

May: NHMU Chocolate exhibit.  Another trip to NHMU.  Free day once a quarter.  Check out the website.

June: Family day at the best park in Daybreak Utah with zipline, creek, and lots to climb.

July: Comedy of Errors, and Cove Fort.  This was a trip for me and the kids.  Chris stayed home working hard in the hot summer sun.  We studied "Comedy of Errors" just over a year ago so when I found out it was playing at the Shakespearean Theatre in Cedar City, I had to take my boys.  We loved it!  On the way home, we stopped at cove Fort, which we had just learned had been bought by a great-grandpa and run for years. 

August: camping with our ward and bonus: watching a cattle drive with real cowboys.  We all love camping and just wish we could do more of it.  Going over night is never enough, but longer trips are hard to fit in.  We were the last to leave and lucked out in watching the cattle drive, which made us feel liked we'd stepped into a John Wayne movie.

September: another trip to NHMU.  This time we focused on our cytology unit. Plus a family hike to our favorite spot-Hidden Falls.

October:  Cabin and four wheelers with some friends.  Two separate weekends.  Warm fall, shooting and riding.

November: Boondocks.  A yearly tradition.  Through the Utah Adoption Council we get seriously discounted tickets the first Saturday of National Adoption Month.  

December: Free homeschool day at NHMU horse exhibit.  Learned a lot about these domesticated creatures.

As for service we enjoyed a variety of experiences.  This was such a great part of our year, I want to keep up the tradition.  My kids have become such great sports when it comes to reaching out to other people.  A book I highly recommend is 52 Weeks of Fun Family Service by Merrilee Boyack.  I just need to get better about documenting with pictures.

January: Grandma Robb's birthday.  We showed up and surprised her with breakfast and each of our kids did some cleaning for her.

February: homemade Valentine's cards for grandmas, aunts, and cousins

March: family history - indexing, finding names, and temple work

April: community cleaning at Sunset Ridge

May: spent a week helping Grandma and Grandpa pack up to move

June: weeding at the neighbor's as secret service agents

July and August are unaccounted for.  There must have been some service outside of our home that we performed, but it's totally slipped my mind!

September: watering a neighbor's plants and getting her mail.  Someone became a little possessive of the keys...

October: working in the neighbor's garden, cookies to a new family in the neighborhood, flowers and card to a sick friend, helped out a friend who was moving by taking her kids to the park

November: wrote to a sister missionary, and took flowers and card to a less active sister in the ward.

December: made lots of cookies and treats for all our neighbor's and shoveled a neighbor's walk.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holli Gunther's November Goal: Survive the Remodel!

I think my original goal for November was to take my 12 year old on an overnighter.  Well, we ended up doing that in June.  Which is good, because we ended up buying a home in July and have been knee-deep in major remodeling since then!
Here is the home:
It sits on an incredible piece of property that is right next door to my husband's parents.  But, it is very 1970's inside and had major electrical and plumbing issues.  Mold every where that there was running water.  We didn't know all this until we got in to it, so needless to say, our Nov. 1st projected move in date has been pushed back to March 1st.
Here are more "before photos."

The kitchen, actually, wasn't bad at all.  But, the cooktop was in a scary place (right where the little ones would be sitting), there wasn't room for an island, the double oven couldn't fit a sheet pan, and the hole for the frig was too small for any frig in RC Willey.  First World problems, I know! :)
But, if we are going to stay in this house for the next 50 years, we want to do it right.

So, my husband has been going to work, coming home to change clothes  and then going straight to the house to work until 10 or 11 pm.  I have been holding down the fort here while making tons of decisions about paint, tile, kitchen design, etc. and keeping our current house clean to show people that are interested in buying it. It has been extremely stressful, to say the least!
Here is how the house looks now:

The electrical is finally finished and plumbing is almost done.  We should be ready for an inspection on Monday.  After that, we can start sheet rock, wood floor, trim, cabinets, etc.  I think that will be the exciting part because the house will actually start to look better--not worse! :)

Merry Christmas to all of you!!  Our December goal was to do a service as a family.  I will post about our 12 Days of Christmas project for our neighbor with cancer.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stefanie Ackerson, November, Quote Book

My project for November was to update my collection of spiritual thoughts, stories, and quotes.  This is another ongoing project of mine, started way back in my Young Women days in high school, that piles up during my busy working months and frequently needs to be updated and organized into binders.  

I tend to be a bit of a pack rat--I hate to throw away the amazing handouts I get at church, etc.  But at least I'm an organized pack rat!  I previously had three large 2-inch binders organized by topic and a very full folder and overflowing pile of stories and quotes that I have collected over the last couple of years.  So I found another large binder and started in on the pile.  

I reorganized some of the tabs and shifted everything across the four books to even out the weight, printed out another cover sheet, updated the table of contents, and then got to work with my paper slicer, glue stick, and hole punch.  Is it a super fancy, sophisticated work of art?  Not even close!  Very informal and practical.  It serves it's purpose for me, which is to help me easily find stories and quotes for speaking in church, creating handouts for primary or Relief Society lessons, or simply for my own personal edification when I need a spiritual boost.  

Did I finish?  No, unfortunately I only got maybe 1/2-2/3 through the folder, but I feel like I made a pretty good dent in it.  It's just been so busy with the holidays!  But I hope to continue to chip away at it over the coming weeks and eventually get caught up.  Here are some pictures of the final book I added to my collection:

Anne Halpenny, December, Christmas Shopping

My goal was to be done with Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving... That didn't happen.

Most of what got in the way has to do with my new fiance (not to be confused with any old one). He kind of occupies most of my time. He is the most amazing man ever! He write me poetry; he cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner; he takes my car in to be fixed; is very loving and caring; I wipe his nose - it's like we're married already!

And then there're my church responsibilities and library duties that keep me plenty busy the rest of the time.

But despite it all, I still managed to accomplish getting some things crocheted; a couple of ninjas, barrettes, and a "bad piggy" from Angry Birds (For those of you who remember the January post about the Angry Bird =) ); and buying a few gifts for some friends.

And then I also cut my thumb yesterday in a freak accident with a paper cutter. My coworker is to blame! I was doing just fine until he came up behind me and said, in a most dastardly manner, "Don't cut yourself." So I did. I don't know how, but I did. But don't worry, I'll get him back somehow. I'll put glitter in his hair gel or something. Muah ha ha!

As always, thanks for reading. Take care and have a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Becky Beck- November - Scrapbooks

My project for November was to complete my kids scrapbooks for the year.
Every Christmas my kids get 3 gifts similar to the gifts of the Magi--something fun, something needful, and something meaningful.
The scrapbooks are the meaningful gift.
I make each of the kids a digital scrapbook and although they are never surprised when they open them, they love this gift and look through their entire book as soon as they open it.
This was the first goal this year I did not complete within the month.  I was working on them right up until almost midnight the night of Dec 10th (the 10th is my day to post, does anyone even post on their day anymore? :) haha.  I finished what I needed to for my kids AND did 2 additional scrapbooks.
One of the extras is for my Grandpa Moon with pictures of all the fun projects that were completed this past summer on his ranch.  
Here are a few pictures...

My December project is well on its way.
It was originally going to be doing the 12 days of Christmas for a family but then I got put over the Angel Tree in our ward and we are helping several families so I switched to that and am involving my kids.