2017 Christmas Letter

From our home to yours

???Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.???


Until the SOUL felt its worth??? That really gave me pause this season.?? I LOVE that line.?? Jesus.?? He arrives on the scene and??in that moment, this brilliant??personification of love incarnate come to declare our?? incredible value…our worth.?? That moment in time declared it in such an epic way.?? And then came hope…

It’s been a good year for the Brinkman family and we are so thankful that 2017 was (relatively) free of ER visits, disasters, heart attacks, loss of loved ones…etc.?? It was a “glorious morn” kind of year following the epic 2016 year (of which I have no desire to repeat!)

A little update on our tribe…wait…I retract that.?? I started off with the intention of a straight forward summary but in typical Doni fashion I digressed often and turned this letter into a novel.?? How incredibly typical of me.?? So…you may want to skim for the good stuff.?? But first, let’s open with a 17 second song from Troy…


Well…he is just fabulous.?? Fabulous in every way.?? He looks good.?? He feels good.?? You’d never know a heart attack and bells palsy were part of his 2016 story.?? The yonder broke indeed!?? Yay!?? Not enough words to describe how much I adore this guy.?? This year I have just really enjoyed watching him as a Daddy.?? He is a GREAT daddy.?? So incredibly patient.?? He is really good at investing in us and he invests in such a myriad of ways.?? From building fish tanks, video game reviews, reading stories, lake trips, mountain trips, fishing trips, camping trips, beach trips, and just time at the dinner table and late night tv with mama.?? He spends quality and quantity time with his tribe.?? He is still working for COX (it’s been over a decade now) and has been doing some sidework as well – he is a software engineer so I am lucky to have an awesome IT department around here (and believe me I need it!)


Hmmm…some of you might not even KNOW my name is Donielle.?? My Dad nicknamed me Doni hoping people would stop calling HIM Donny.?? I have often thought I would rather have been called Elle (as in Ellie).?? That would have worked just as well and been more feminine.?? Sadly, that ship sailed.?? You can’t easily insist on a new nickname past 40.?? Can you??? I won’t be mad at you if you try it.?? Really.?? (Insert hopeful smile).?? This is where I need a string of emoticons but somehow they don’t always translate in blog updates (they sometimes change to things like random question marks).?? Jim hates emoticons.?? Hates them.?? I think that is weird.?? So I text them to him all the time.?? I am just ornery like that.

Let’s see…I am still having fun with my photography business but I have to keep it scaled back as I can’t homeschool and be a full time business owner.?? Too much plate spinning.?? This blog used to have my business posts in it but I switched them over to my business website (www.livelovedphotography.com) about two years ago and now it is back to a personal blog.?? Homeschooling keeps me more than busy these days.?? The last two years have been a challenge with all four being homeschooled.?? I realized recently though that in another 18 months, we’ll start sliding back down the hill because Tanner is already a Junior so I am nearing the schooling finish line with him.

I have been enjoying creating composite art this year as well.?? An example of this would be our Christmas card!?? I planned for this picture in August and it darn near didn’t get done.?? I invested my time working on these projects this year because I realized that my dreams for what I want to capture are bigger than what I can physically accomplish so sometimes I have to force the square through the round hole by finding another way to get ‘er done.?? No…I didn’t take the kids up north…in the snow…with a tree…and a sled…and winter boots (that we don’t even own or need)…in a classic truck.?? I wanted to.?? Wouldn’t that be a fun Christmas adventure??? Instead I had to create my vision.?? First I went to Goodwill and bought cheap outfits.?? I tried to find several gray elements because gray is relatively easy when it comes to color changes.?? Then I took a staged picture (with mom’s borrowed lantern that I “kinda” forgot to ask about…forgiveness rather than permission??) in my kitchen.?? Then I sat on it for a bit until inspiration struck.?? Really had to wait that one out.?? That is the trouble with art.?? You can’t just “do” it.?? It has to come to you.?? So you have to wait for it.?? I knew basically what I wanted but it took some doing to gather all the necessary pieces to build my scene.?? ??I also created a custom color palette choosing the red of the truck to be my central color.?? That way, I knew exactly what color harmonies would work best for my scene when I changed the color of their outfits.?? ??Here is a little behind the scenes of what I started with.

If you are interested in more of these fun art composites, hit the Live Loved Art link in the top menu and it will show the different pieces I composited this year.?? It’s fun.?? Total mom time that I LOVE.

I have also been investing my time in Trim Healthy Mama Pinterest boards and vlogs and facebook groups.?? What is THM you say??? Well…it’s a lifestyle eating plan that only about…oh I don’t know…one MILLION women have invested in over the last few years!?? I prayed and prayed that God would help me to find the right inspiration to change my diet.?? After Jim’s heart attack, I had such a sense of anxiety over all the “what ifs”.?? Jim has always been good with his eating plans and his diet did not cause his heart issue.?? But still…I struggle with control and I naturally wanted to control every element that I could to stack the odds.?? Our littles need us for a good long time so that scare properly motivated me.?? Unfortunately, I was struggling to find a plan that I felt I could buy into for the long haul.?? Low carbing always worked well for me (weight wise) but I knew it was not lifetime sustainable.?? I also didn’t like the idea of tossing out some healthy food groups forever.?? The nutshell of THM is simple.?? Stop eating sugar and flour.?? Recent studies are demonstrating that those two items are the culprits in heart disease (not good fats).?? Eat low (10 gram) carb meals with healthy fats and protein.?? Eat low ( 5 grams) fat meals with?? healthy carbs with protein.?? Space them 3 hours apart so that your body can concentrate on burning one fuel source at a time (either fats or carbs…just not both at the same time).?? It is really all about separating your fuel sources as your body doesn’t like to burn both fats and carbs at the same time.?? That is the super simple version anyhow.?? I have truly loved this plan and feel that it is sustainable for me.?? I have been on it for over a year now and still growing strong.?? So I collect recipes like crazy and have introduced all kinds of????healthy foods??into my diet like collagen and gelatin, kefir, chia, sprouted flours, baobob, nutritional yeast, lots of superfoods like okra and…STEVIA (with little to no processing).?? If you are interested, here is a link to their site.

I have struggled with many different gastric issues over the years and also arthritis and I have to say that while on THM, I am SO MUCH BETTER.?? So ya…I am feeling younger than my 44 years these days.?? If you notice the grays though…just too lazy to keep up with that constant chore.?? ??Jim tells me I can’t keep dyeing my hair forever.?? I beg to differ.?? I just can’t keep it a secret because my roots show through too often.?? A sweet young thang at Del Taco complimented me on my sunset blonde streak and told me that I reminded her of a Disney character.?? I said, “Yep.?? Cruella Deville.?? Dyeing it today.”?? Insert her deer in headlights look here.?? I enjoyed listening to her (feeble) attempt to retract that statement.


Big year for our oldest.?? SIXTEEN!?? I think it is a bigger deal for mama quite honestly.?? I gotta give kudos to Daddy here too because he impressed the heck out of me by driving with Tanner nearly every week night since January to get him some good driving hours in.?? When he would get home from work, the two would set off on their evening journey (which included buying mama a polar ice tea).?? They’d be gone about an hour.?? Tanner really enjoyed that time with dad so by the time he took his drivers test he was well prepared.?? They still take their trips a lot of days…just for the sheer fun of the guy time I think.?? Also…we have become tea addicts.

Tanner is a junior in High School.?? He has already finished his math and science credits so this year it is history, IEW (writing), bible, economics, civics, apologetics…stuff like that.?? Much easier year for him than last year actually (Geometry and Chemistry…yuck).?? In this regard, it has been easier for ME as well!?? He is still playing soccer and participating on an archery team.?? He is loving Overwatch, Roblox, The Hunter, Minecraft, and raising his self caught bluegill and minnows.?? He really wishes for ranch life.?? He is a disappointed city kid.?? I would guess him to be about 5 foot 10 right now and he wears about a 10 shoe size.?? I thought he would top out at about 5′ 10″ but now I am second guessing myself.?? His legs are longer than Jim’s (and Jim is 6 foot 1 inches).


January of 2017 resulted in a second teenager in our home.?? Now…at nearly 14…Ty is about 5 foot 11 (I would guess).?? He is between 1/2 and 1 inch taller than his older brother and also wearing a size 10 shoe.?? Yes…he is still a video game lover.?? Definitely his hobby of choice by a mile.?? He is still participating on the archery team with Tanner too.?? Papa has been working with him on driving (the golf cart) and he has really enjoyed that.?? The two of them love to take trips of their own to QT (so Ty can buy a large soft pretzel – he loves those).?? He is such a good big brother and Troy just loves him.?? He often makes Troy’s lunch for me as he and Troy eat a lot of the same foods (they both eat a very limited diet).?? He even reads Troy books and tucks him in at night if Jim and I are occupied (though that is usually Daddy’s nightly routine because Troy has determined that Daddy is best at tuck ins).?? School is going along well for him this year.?? Ty is my kid that stays on task the best and finishes his school day the quickest.?? He is motivated by being “done” so he is a steady worker.?? He also pushed the whole household into Christmas music before Thanksgiving.?? My Elf.?? Ty is also the primary reason I have returned to publishing this blog.?? He loves it and enjoys easy access to it when it is on the web.?? He is my number one reader.?? (So son…this is for you).?? I have been blogging?? for 17 years now and have pdf books created for every year so I really can’t stop until Troy is grown.?? Committed now.


I see this picture and think “Laughing all the way”.?? She is fun at 9.?? She has the biggest laugh (and loudest by a mile).?? Our girls emotional pendulum swings wide.?? In a house of boys, she brings the estrogen balance for sure.?? There is no halfway about her.?? She is all in or all out.?? All up or all down.?? She is loving gymnastics this year and cartwheels everywhere we go.?? It is kind of an obsession actually.?? I had to laugh at all the random cartwheel pictures this year.?? I also laugh (sort of) at all the selfies taken on my cell phone that look like this.

On Sunday, December 3rd, 2017, Tori and Tanner (along with Noah, Braxtyn, Cozy, Quinn, and Beth) were baptized at our home church.?? This was such a precious time for our family.?? We did a quick video for her baptism as she explained her “why”.

(Ignore Troy.?? Try.?? Try hard.)


She is in her second year on the archery team with her brothers.?? A challenge for her but she is still working at it.?? She and Ty could care less about archery as a sport but they want to be part of a team for the people time.?? This year she has loved Britaly – Youtube reality tv type – two sisters who do gymnastics.?? They have daily episodes and she hates to miss them.?? I am totally over the slime phase but wow did we go through a lot of Elmer’s glue in her 9th year.?? Good grief.?? Jim and I are ready to ban slime, silly putty, playdough, clay, etc…from this house.?? Truly driving us nuts.?? It can be found everywhere – from hair, to carpet to clothes…I even had to throw some books away.?? Girl’s are so messy.?? Jim was delighted when his work clothes were washed with her stuff and subsequently GLITTERED.?? LOL.?? ??When she was born he said our house exploded pink.?? I don’t think that has changed much in a near decade.?? She leaves a big footprint around here.?? She (and Ty also) is learning to cook and likes baking.?? She has also been making gummys (trying to funnel that slime energy into something more productive).?? She is an avid collector of makeup, makeup brushes and nailpolish.?? She is not allowed to wear makeup out at 9 but she loves to play with it at home and she is getting pretty good at it.?? We come from a long line of women who love their frosting so that one she got from me.?? She also loves boots like I do and she has?? 3 pair on her Christmas list this year.?? ??Her favorite music this year has been Jordan Feliz and NeedToBreathe (favorites of mine as well!)?? She also loves Hillsong United like me (I just can’t get enough of the Wonder album…my FAVORITE!).?? I love that she still REQUIRES tuck in time at night.?? She is R.E.L.E.N.T.L.E.S.S. about that.?? We have been doing the Kids Jesus Calling together and she loves it.?? Lots of good mom/daughter talk time come out of our evening chats.?? She is a very observant and insightful little woman and I really really like her (on top of loving her to pieces).



And he might just be the cutest six year old in the history of ever.?? I am not kidding.?? You may be tempted to think this is a mom brag but if you have spent time with our youngest, you know I am being straight up here.?? He is a teddy bear personified.?? Even those dark eyes with long long lashes remind me of a teddy.?? He is FUNNY and adorable and precious and sensitive and loving and sweet, sweet, sweet.?? ??If you are in the mood for Troy funnies, just scroll back through this year’s blog when your bored and zero in on the “Troy” sections.?? I have several cute Troy quotes/stories written down.?? But here are a couple of Troy moments for you to enjoy (because seeing is believing):

Troy singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame (as superman)

If you watched the baptism video of Tori above, you will enjoy the Troy highlights.?? I told him he could not say a word.?? He didn’t.?? I need to have a longer contract next time though because clearly I did not cover all my bases.


Troy being very upset about a blood draw to his finger.?? This was a facebook sensation earlier in the year LOL.


He is in first grade (sort of).?? He was a young kindergartener so I am playing this by ear.?? Sometimes determining grade is difficult with homeschooling.?? He enjoys math the most.?? He loves to watch tv, he has a super long attention span for his favorite shows.?? His list is:?? Mickey Mouse, Teen Titans, Peppa Pig, Team Oomizoomi, Paw Patrol, Blaze and OK-KO.?? He also loves Minecraft and watching Preston Blake minecraft videos.

He is such a people person and makes friends every where he goes.?? I could write about his antics all day but I guess I’ll just have to say “trust me on this” so I don’t??expand the word count any further on this Christmas “letter”.


So that is about the sum of it folks!?? And hey…thanks for showing up here and investing your time reading this letter.?? ??We hope all is well with our loved ones both near and far!?? The world has just gotten so big that it is tough to catch up with people in a truly meaningful way.?? This method stinks compared to sitting in a quiet room having quality chat time with the people we care about…but it’s the best we got for now so I embrace it and hope seasons will come that will allow us more real time with our extended tribe.?? Until then…have a wonderful Christmas.

Love the Brinkmans

December 2017 – Santa’s Comin’

I promised myself that when I had a Christmas break I would get more art done.?? I really had fun with this piece because Tori and I spent time working on it together.?? Sometimes, it is a bit like playing with a dollhouse adding items piece by piece.?? Tori has a really good eye and she often notices things that I don’t.?? I have been impressed with her ability to even discuss perspective with me and color toning.?? Putting the Christmas picture on the wall was her idea.?? I actually had another image in that frame and she told me I needed to swap it out. I realized instantly she was right.?? Troy wanted to insert an opinion too.?? The star on the top of the tree was initially silver and he REALLY didn’t like that.?? At first, Tori and I vetoed him and left the star silver but for whatever reason (probably because he is sick), he started crying saying, “I really want that star to be GOLD!”?? So it got changed.?? Working on these things WITH them is far more fun anyhow because they always remember their contributions.


Tori baptized!?? *?? Tanner baptized!?? *?? Noah baptized!?? *?? Braxtyn baptized!?? *?? Cozy baptized!?? *?? Quinn baptized!?? *?? Beth baptized!?? * McCormick Ranch Christmas Night Train * Archery?? * Gymnastics?? *?? Noah weekend?? *?? Tori in Camp Verde for the weekend?? * Fishing with Dad, Jim and Tanner?? * Out Shooting

Due to the fact that I have just been so busy this fall, I fell behind in my daily entries.?? I write a daily journal and then use that to write my monthly blog post.?? I am writing this on the 13th of December so this post is a work in progress and I will finish it in January.


Tori and Tanner were both baptized on Sunday, December 3rd.?? As I wrote before, Tori initiated this but then several others jumped in on it.?? It was a super precious day and we got to spend time with all our family at mom and dad’s afterwards for a spaghetti dinner.?? It was mentioned to me later that it was especially cool that Beth and Tori were baptized together nearly 24 years after their daddy’s were baptized together.?? Below are pictures??of Jim and Tom being baptized by Dad at Christopher Creek on a family Camp back in 1993.?? Who would have thought??all those years ago that their baby girls would be baptized on the same day too? (Picture above was a bracelet given to Tori by Denise to celebrate).?? Kristi pointed out that times have sure changed because now Tom is clean shaven and Jim is all Duck Dynasty.?? LOL.

And here is the video that we played at her baptism.?? A note on Troy though???Tori and I waited until the last minute to film this.?? Because of that we were running out of daylight.?? She was being extremely detailed and her first recording was over 5 minutes long.?? I frustrated her by telling her it was a no-go because we needed it half that long.?? She had run out of steam at that point and so did I.?? Hours later we decided to write it out and let her read it but it was approaching bedtime and we had to film in her bedroom.?? When Troy asked to be part of our filming, I was inclined to say “HECK NO!” but then I caved (because he has me wrapped).?? I did tell him that he absolutely could not utter a word and he had to sit quietly beside her.?? Technically, he did as I asked.?? Next time I need to write a much longer list of the can and can-nots.?? We wanted to refilm this after Troy’s comical contributions but Tori and I just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it a single more time.?? So it is what it is folks.?? Enjoy.



The other night we were at mom and dads.?? Troy sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to mom and then kept repeating the last line adding extra vibrato to impress her.?? Papa walked in and he asked Papa to sing it.?? Papa declined.?? Troy assumed it was because Papa didn’t know how so he sang it to him to show him how to do it.?? Then he asked Papa again to sing.?? Dad kept saying that he couldn’t but finally he relented and sang it to Troy.?? When dad was done, Troy in a very serious little voice said, “You were right.?? You are not good at that.”?? Mom and I died laughing.?? We were crying.?? Troy then ammended that you need a little voice to sing that song.


And if you are wondering why there is a bruise on the side of his head…

He wrapped himself up like an inch worm in his John Deere blanket.?? With his arms wrapped up, when he tripped he had no way of catching himself and his head hit the floor…HARD!?? Live and learn.


One of our traditions is to buy Christmas pajamas every year.?? This year, while shopping in Target, Troy and I picked out a star wars pair.?? A few minutes later, I found a soft green plaid that I liked much better and asked him if we could trade out the star wars.?? Initially he said no, but then he changed his mind.?? I was suspicious and asked him why he changed his mind.?? He said, “Because you like the green pair and I don’t want you to be sad.”?? Ug.?? I was afraid of that.?? I??insisted that I would not be sad if he wanted the Star Wars pair but he stuck to his decision and we bought the plaid.?? For a week I have lamented this.?? On the one hand, I really do want my children to consider other people in decision making.?? That is (for the most part) a wise and compassionate thing to do.?? There is really so much goodness in that.?? However, my six year old not wanting to disappoint me over a pair of pajamas??? It’s tough being a parent.?? Troy is WAY more sensitive of a person than the other five people in this household.?? Yes…often times more personally sensitive but ALSO sensitive towards others.?? I am having to learn how to wisely and lovingly parent this treasure of mine because we don’t always think alike.?? I want to bring out the best in his natural gifts but I don’t want him to lack boundaries or strive too hard for approval either.?? Tough to navigate sometimes.?? I felt a little better this morning because we are a week away from Christmas still and he came out of his room for breakfast wearing those green plaid jammies.?? I made him change immediately because those are for CHRISTMAS!?? I was at least glad to know he liked them enough to break into the bag early and attempt to cheat the system.?? Mom and I had a talk about this and her judgement was that I need to make another trip to Target and buy the Christmas Star Wars pajamas ALSO.?? I should have just done that in the first place.




One of many things I love about my girl is that she has a super giving heart.?? I think she finds more pleasure in giving than receiving.?? She doesn’t just give stuff she doesn’t have use for either.?? She will give what she loves.?? I can’t take parenting credit for this either.?? In fact, I am more likely to argue what she CANNOT give away.?? Earlier this year Sweetie bought her something she really wanted.?? A few short week later, a loved one was injured.?? She quietly came to me and asked if she could give her gift to the injured party but she was afraid of hurting Sweetie.?? My heart melted.?? This morning we had the following conversation:

“Mom, you know the (blank) I am hoping you bought me for Christmas”, said Tori.

“Yes.” I said.

“Well (blank) would really like one too.?? If I get that, could give away one??? Or would that be you giving a Christmas gift?”

“That would not be me giving a Christmas gift.?? I am giving them to you.?? If you choose to gift one after that, that will be a gift from you.”

Again, her heart wasn’t really centered on whether the gift would be from her or me.?? The context of her question was more around whether or not she would be making a decision for me that I had not made considering I was choosing to get the gift for HER.?? She didn’t want to disrespect my gift to her.

I wish I could take credit for raising unselfish kids but I really can’t.?? Some people are just born with a truly giving nature.?? My own father is probably the most unselfish person I have ever met.?? I admire that so much.?? As I have mentioned many times, my life nemesis is control.?? When you battle control, it is tough to be unselfish because you prioritize “need” to much.?? My friend Liza and I had a conversation this summer in regards to “scarcity”.?? Where is our “scarcity” threat in our lives??? I hate to admit this, but I have considered that conversation long and hard because I fear I may have many elements of scarcity thinking.?? It doesn’t make any sense either because I have always had “enough”.?? ??Now that I am aware of it, I am working on refusing that in my life.?? When I was growing up, because (a) dad was a Pastor and (b) we lived near the church and (c) we were lower income (not LOW income but I wouldn’t say mid either) – feeding people seemed an issue to me.?? We always had food – always.?? However, we also had drop in guests all the time (see a. and b.).?? I have so many memories of Dad’s dinner invites and mom’s deer in the headlights because how do you stretch it??? I related to my mother in this.?? Anyhow, Dad believed that if you told people there was plenty of food…there simply would be.?? Food just multiplies.?? (And yes…he would eat last or not eat if it took that…always).?? My friend Belinda teases me about my cook for an army strategy.?? I recently hosted a small event and didn’t call her first about food quantities and she laughed at the abundance.?? She knows my scarcity concern when it comes to food.?? I recently discovered one of my siblings is just like me in this.?? She has been trying to convince me for years that there is always enough food because people naturally consume a lesser portion to make things stretch.?? (And then I argue that I don’t want them to have too – I am so Mary begging Jesus to get more wine right??? He did too.?? That was actually his first miracle.?? I think he understands my struggle here.?? Why was the not having enough (especially of something not integral to anyone’s survival,) important enough to Jesus to perform a miracle – especially his first??? I need to think about this more.?? He certainly wasn’t guilty of scarcity thinking but there must be a deeper issue rooted in all this because clearly he understood those who felt threatened by it.?? Such a compassionate God huh??? I’ll chime in on this again if I get any insights.?? LOL.

The kids are always so proud of dad when he gets the lights up!

Trip with Grandma to the Railroad Park for the Christmas Night ride (and then out to dinner at Portello’s).


As I have been writing this blog, one thing is breaking my heart.?? I can’t even express how much I miss my Aunt.?? I don’t care if the only people reading this are me and my kids.?? I truly don’t.?? I put it back online for the following reasons:

  1. Ty begged me too.
  2. Even though I have continued to write a personal diary, I realized that when I was writing things no one would/could see, I got very loosey goosey about it.?? I wrote daily but it was more or less bulleted.?? I realized that when you post something online, even if no one reads it, you realize they potentially “could” and that causes you to consider your potential audience.?? The end result? A better product for me.?? I have created pdf books annually for the past 16 years!?? I love to reread them because I can’t believe how much I have forgotten.?? In the last 18 months I have been disappointed in myself for the low quality of book I was keeping for myself.?? I wasn’t taking the time to associate all the pictures or to really “write” my heart.?? Troy is only six years old.?? What if he is like Ty and this important to him??? I can’t have him be that sterotypical last kid who didn’t get a baby book!?? So…I recreated the last years worth of blogs and I am going to go back and do that for all of 2016 too.?? As I said, I have the info…it just was put together in a messy way.
  3. I have had to realize that social media exists because of the culture we live in.?? I really knee jerk to this less than personal approach of knowing people – of friend circles being too large for intimacy.?? I really hate this aspect of social media.?? But…the truth is…avoiding social media doesn’t suddenly create intimacy.?? The issue for me with lack of intimacy is time related.?? It is what it is either way.?? It isn’t “enough”.?? But it is something.?? When that’s all you got, that is all you got you know??? I may even be brave enough to try some vlogs this year.?? That is another thing I have long knee jerked at.?? I do not want to be in front of a camera.?? However, while doing THM I have discovered a lot of vloggers and I have found that I LOVE watching them more than reading them. I get a much better feel for who they are.?? Also, it lends itself to more authenticity as most of the ones I have been watching have kids video bombing them the whole time and less than clean homes.?? Love it.?? Three of my four kids would have fun participating in that during this stage of their life too and it would be an added special keepsake for me for sure.?? Bet you can guess which kid will “pass” though. I would say that ship sailed but I don’t think that ship ever showed up.?? LOL.

After saying all this, the tough thing still is that Aunt Beck was the one person who diligently read my blog.?? When she died, I found hundreds of comments from her that are now such keepsakes too me.?? ??Swallowing lump…I am really missing that.?? So many things I want to tell her.

Christmas with Sweetie Clause

Three years ago, my mama (aka Sweetie), asked me to do a painting for her.?? She wanted to be reading a Christmas story to one of her grandchildren by her Christmas tree.?? I took the image in 2014 but it took me 3 years to finish the project.?? In this case, most of these elements were real.?? This is her house, her tree, her quilt, her book, and my kid (Troy).?? For some reason, I kept thinking it was missing something so I set it aside until I figured it out.?? Finally in 2017, knowing I needed to finish this in time for her birthday, inspiration hit.?? It needed a window!?? No…Sweetie does not live in the mountains.?? She lives in the desert.?? But the beauty of crafting art is that I can take the piece in any direction that “I” want.?? So this is her mountain getaway home LOL.?? (She really does want one of those so I guess this is for both of us!)

And yes…I had lots of grandkid choices but I wanted this piece to include my youngest child.?? I love this of my mama and my baby.?? We printed this in a large format and she hangs it on the wall at Christmas time in her home.

November 2017

What did I do in November? Since I am having to backtrack on all this and because my Fall got so busy that my daily notes got very sketchy???I may not be able to recreate it very well.

Bible Study * Archery * Gymnastics * Day trip to Prescott * End of Year soccer tournament for Tanner (they were in 2nd place) * Brooke’s surprise 40th * Spent Thanksgiving up in Camp Verde with Brooke and Dan and stayed the night * Celebrated Dad’s birthday by going to see Christmas Lights and dinner at Haus Murphy


Tanner won second place in the Wickenburg archery tournament for Bullseye.?? Above is Troy and I in our matching leather jackets while at the tournament.?? Troy loves to wear leather because he says he loves to look like Daddy (who wears a leather jacket often).


He lost his FIRST tooth! Of course the two adult teeth had already grown in behind so it doesn’t look like he lost his tooth. It is his bottom left. The right bottom??came out a day later.

I laughed at a conversation he had with Jamie on Thanksgiving. She was telling him he was so cute and she didn’t want him to grow anymore. He told her he would because he was six already. She pressed the point. He said soon he would be SEVEN. She said he could just stay little and choose not to grow anymore. Getting exasperated he finally says, “Jamie! I have God in my heart and he makes me grow!” Jamie responds simply with, “Mic. Dropped.”

I cracked up. Not much left to say when they pull the God card.

Troy has been sowing his wild oats today. First he SNUCK out of the house to follow his siblings down to the community park (in his pajamas no less). His sister caught him and escorted him back home (and subsequently straight to his room!) He explained he was bored. Hmmmm…I have quite a few tricks to cure boredom.?? THEN in the car tonight I told him that he had best not wake up early in the morning and get on the computer when no one was awake (like he did this morning). The following conversation occurred:
Troy: Well I have your stuff in my head and I have my stuff.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Troy: I have what you want me to do and what I want to do in my head.
Me: Well when your stuff starts talking you had better tell it to sit down and be quiet or there are going to be a lot of consequences!
Troy: Your stuff is taking over! Yep!!!
Little rascal. He makes me laugh every day. Between you and I, I think he fakes acquiescence though. I would love it if “MY” agenda is taking over but somehow I doubt it.

We had a great time in Camp Verde for Thanksgiving this year.?? We decided to stay overnight and have two days of celebration.?? Good decision on our part.

Below from Remy’s birthday.

Gummy’s made by Tori with Jello

Below from Dad’s birthday at Haus Murphy.


And from our day trip to Prescott area.?? We went to Lynx lake and Watson.

Halloween 2017

This year we had an M&M, Tigger, Pooh, and a dark Storm Trooper.?? We hung out in our neighborhood with grandparents and had a great night!?? Mom and Dad brought their ranger over and they drove through the neighborhood with that (Dad even strung festive lights on it!).?? It was quite the hit. Remy and Troy preferred to ride.?? They get so much candy in our neighborhood it is ridiculous.?? Tanner weighed his bag and I think it was six pounds!?? Cray-Cray!