Thursday, December 31

Blessings, Motto, & Mission Statement

2009 has been a year of incredible blessings for our family.
It is not surprising that when we reflected back on the past year, many of our disappointments or heartbreaks were not even remembered until well after we had listed out our abundance and many joys.

And when the blessings were listed,
a precious little 7 year old girl in Honduras,
took the top spot.

For 2009 (and for as many more years as she needs us) we sponsored Heidy and have been able to help her receive the schooling and medical help she could not afford herself.

For me personally, she quickly became my most important resolution for the year.
I pray for her, her 2 sisters, and her mom daily.

We have sent Heidy many pictures of our family, farm, and lots of silly stuff.
In return, Heidy and her family have poured upon us photos, tons of letters, and artwork.

Heidy sent me this coloring after I told her that I love to take photos (amatuer, of course).

Heidy is still learning how to write, so she dictates what she wants to say to her mom, and she writes it for us.
Ty has become an excellent pen pal to Heidy.
He rivals the number of letters I write her.

We keep all our drawings, artwork, pictures, and letters in our 'Heidy' album in the classroom.
We have set a goal to visit Heidy and her family in a few years,
hopefully for Savannah's Senior trip... before she goes off to college.

On to other Resolution News:

For the first time, our family is doing joint resolutions.
There are 3 daily steps to our resolutions and they were inspired by Sister Dalton, General YoungWomen President, during a SouthEast area fireside given to the Youth of the church.
Some of these goals are already being done by several family members, but the 3 resolutions being done daily by all 5 of us should prove to be a powerful experience!

Read the Book of Mormon at least 10 minutes a day.
Pray to our Heavenly Father personally, both morning and night, each day.
Smile! Every day!
In D&C 11:13, we learn that 'joy' is an indicator of the Spirit.
By February 2010 (Ty's 8th birthday), every member of our blessed family will have the
Gift of the Holy Ghost,
this blessing is tremendous!
This will help us to daily SHOW that joy we feel from the Spirit's constant companionship.

There is also a {4}th resolution
Sister Dalton specifically challenged all Adults, Parents, & Leaders:
to not allow one day of 2010 to pass without giving a verbal compliment to a young person...
 Shawn and I have accepted this 4th challenge also!

Callahan Family Motto
We wanted a formal family motto, a word or phase that we could use to remind us and refocus our daily efforts to come unto Christ.

We wanted a gauge to measure all efforts with.
A standard to evaluate activities, words, thoughts, time spent... 
the Good, Better, Best rule of measure.

 This motto eluded us for quite some time,
Shawn was the one to finally receive this beautiful tidbit of inspiration for us!

4 simple words, words that happen to be in my favorite Christmas song, 
words that perfectly express the precious truth of what we know and celebrate of our Savior's birth, life, death, and resurrection...

So to honor Him

respect and esteem shown to another.  the recognition of ones's right to great respect. accompanying praise: REVERENCE.  profound respect mingled with love, devotion, and awe. PURITY.  to live up to.  INTEGRITY. untarnished reputation.  to guide by a high sense of duty.  distinction.

And so we have our Family Motto and in that a beautiful Mission Statement also:

exactly as the small boy did in this precious Christmas Carol, 
we will give all that we have; 
talents, time, ourselves...
to Him,
and in so doing, we will honor Him.  

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28

Christmas Morning

Shawn made this little trough in 1997.  We lived in Nebraska and he was in dental school.
I wanted to start a new family tradition, and without powertools or any tools to speak of, Shawn made this for our family.
We have it out and use it every Christmas.
And on Christmas morning, baby Jesus is always there for us to welcome to our home.

Shawn got up before anyone on Christmas morning and started a fire in the fireplace,
it was amazing to gather around the fire and open presents.

Savannah, Christian, and Ty really embraced gift giving this year.
Each of them saved and purchased or cleverly made a gift for each person.

The kids always laugh at the fact that the stocking stuffers
never, ever, actually fit inside the stockings (this year our merry little buckets)!

Although, I have included this shot of Shawn's 'stocking'... see?!  His fit, there, it can be done!

We have no rhyme or reason to digging into stocking gifts... we just go at it.
But the presents under the tree are all handed out and then we take turns opening and oooohing and aaaahing.

One of this year's highlights, is the treasure hunt Christian created for his dad.
Shawn had to read 13 different riddles, one at a time, figure them out... go to the location, and retrieve the next clue.

Final clue led him to Christian's bedroom closet,
where Shawn found a glow in the dark key chain that Christian got for the key to Shawn's new mower.
And the fact that the key chain also has a real scorpion in it, made the fellas think it was the coolest thing e.v.e.r!

I have to make note that our family once again got a wonderful album of pictures from our neighbors,
capturing sweet, everyday moments our children have spent together the past year.
My sil, Alisha, and I hostess the 2 biggest family dinners each year. 
Alisha does Thanksgiving and I do Christmas.
She and I used to dream of having special sets of dishes for these meals,
but truth be told we rather spend our money on gardening supplies, composters, trees, crusty antiques, etc.

But I did finally get some holiday dessert plates this year.
I saw them, fell in love with the random 6 patterns, and took the plunge.
These should  more than fill my urge for Christmas pretties for the table!

Very thankful for the time we now have with Shawn home,
we laze around, get a few tasks done, but otherwise we truly hang out together.
Love this time of year!!

Saturday, December 26

Heaven on Earth

"With all my heart I believe that the best place to prepare for eternal life is in the home."
President David O. McKay

We invite all my family, 35 and counting, over for Christmas dinner.
How precious it is to have my own little family gathered around a fire opening presents in the morning...then enjoying a Christmas breakfast, and while the kids revel in their new goodies...
I prepare to have our extended family over for a wonderful dinner.

This year's dinner menu was casual and yummy:
Beef Pot Roast
Twice Baked Loaded Potatoes
Iceberg lettuce wedges with homemade ranch dressing
grapes, olives, cheeses
Corn on the Cob
Fried okra
Deviled eggs
and Garlic Herb Yeast Rolls

We also had 4 different cakes with candles to celebrate the 9 family December birthdays.

To seat everyone, Shawn brings in 2 extra tables and lots of chairs... not much more room for expansion, future years of dinners should get real cozy, giggle.

I lit all the candles on the mantel... throughout the night they were so beautiful.

I love to decorate for Christmas dinner.
I used a fun bright blue, browns, and a pop of red!

I found these sweet blue cards at Hobby Lobby and knew they would be perfect for placecards.
I simply trimmed them down and added a little velum tag with each person's name tied with twine.
They ended up being my favorite thing on the table.

I had to find a use for this adorable ribbon with blue and brown polka dots... napkin rings, of course!

Savannah did the poinsettias for me... a single stem in each of my vases, perfectly done.

I adore my family... I love that I am the second oldest child of 8 children... I love the wonderful chaos that ensues whenever the family gets together... I am grateful that when I turned to my groom yesterday, in the thick of the laughter and noise, and said, "I'm in heaven!" that he said, "Me too!"... I am eternally thankful for the knowledge I have of Jesus Christ, my Savior...and am in awe of the joy this knowledge brings me everyday, and especially on this day of celebrating His birth.

Merry Christmas!

"In all of living,
have much fun and laughter.
Life is to be enjoyed,
not just endured."
President Gordon B. Hinkley

Wednesday, December 23

Peanuts, Pistachios, Pecans... OH MY!!

One day last week, I ran into town to go grocery shopping.  I left the boys at home with a clear list of schoolwork to complete.

And since my valiant fellas oooooze with strict obedience, following instructions with exactness, and beam with integrity.... this is what I found upon returning home...

A mess,
a HUGE colossal mess!

A mess that had 'Christian' written ALL over it!
The heavy duty glue, hot glue gun, and power tools gave him away.

The story went something like this:
'Mom, before you blow your top... listen... cause I really think you'll be happy about this.'
Seems while Christian was finishing lunch he was eating some nuts and was overcome with shear brilliance, or so HE termed it.

And what could this brilliance be?


Which of course turned into a very messy Mouse making factory, with Christian as the foreman.

He cranked out a whole Legion of the critters.

And it so happens, I did decide he would be forgiven for his colossal mess,
cause I ended up gluing his cutey creations on top of some candles... adding a cute tag... and giving these as goodies to the attendees at the Barn Tree Trimmin' Saturday night.

Ty, upon seeing that Christian was spared his life after his creative outburst,
decided he had to do some nut creations of his own.

His nut of choice was peanuts.
Can you tell what it is?

And one little donkey turned into an entire manger scene...

Complete with Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus.

Please note in the top left... a camel, hump and all.
A goat and sheep round out the whole ensemble.

Ty could not last a week without using popsicle sticks in some form or fashion.
And so the crowning glory... the star!
Oh Holy Night!

Monday, December 21

2nd Annual Barn Tree Trimmin'

On the Saturday before Christmas, the Callahans throw a party!
We have planted a itty bitty 'fat albert' spruce next to the old barn.

We invite tons of friends and family to come, eat lots of food, hang out around a cozy fire, and all the children decorate our baby spruce.

This years menu:

PB&Js and grapes for littlest partygoers
White Chili
Italian Chicken Noodle Soup
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
tons, and tons of incredible breads
Apple Cider
Hot Cocoa Supreme
and the ever classic S'mores

It was a super cold night but everyone was bundled up and there was lots of cuddling while sitting on hay bails around the firepit.
With 100+ guests... our firepit will definitely be enlarged for next year.

This is little miss Ali, the cuteness that abounded on the farm Saturday was almost too much for me to stand.  Is there anything more precious than children bundled in mittens and hats, rosey cheeks and all?!

We are so very blessed with family, wonderful friends and neighbors.  Truly, I just can not explain the happiness it is to gather like this, crackling fire, children running amuck in absolute joyful abandon, barn tree covered in jingle bells, yummy hot cocoa, glow in the dark bracelets and light sabers, and roasting marshmallows.
Can't wait for our 3rd Annual Barn Tree Trimmin'!!

Sunday, December 20

Rudolph Run 5k

We did it!!!
It was one of my New Year's Resolutions to run a 5k, and I hoped we could all do it as a family, and we did.
It was c c c c cold and rainy on Saturday.
But the atmosphere was so fun, so many participants in festive outfits and tons of jingling bells.

Shawn finished first among the Callahan 5 and became the photographer.
Christian and Ty ran the whole thing and stayed together.  Big brother allowed little brother to cross the finish line first, giving Ty the bragging rights of finishing second.

Our determined gal was sick, but insisted on still running... so proud of her!

And I came in 5th, and was not able to run the whole thing... but I did great and finished with a better time than I even dared to dream.
We had so much fun and I definitely think this will become a new family pasttime.

I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for our family... our health... a good cause to donate to... and a rainy, freezing, cold, morning well spent!!

Thursday, December 17

Let the stable still astonish

Let the stable still astonish;
Straw - dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen,
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry her pain,
And the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to rest
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said... "Yes.
Let the Lord of all the heavens
And earth
Be born here, in this place"?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, "Yes.
Let the Lord of Heaven and Earth
be born here -
in this place."

Author Unknown