Saturday, January 28, 2017


It's mild, they said.

You can almost grow a garden all year long.

Hardly any snow.  

Occasionally there's some hard rain.  Maybe some freezing rain every once in a while.  But you'd never notice by the end of the day.

Not like the rest of Idaho, they said.  Definitely not, they said.    

They lied.   

My daily walk past the stupid geese (even though I'm captivated by their cuteness squatting in the middle of the road).  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cabin Fever

And....this is what happens when you have six snow days (no school) in a row.  SIX!! (plus canceled Stake Conference with a canceled General Authority speaking).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Christmas 2016

McKinnon Christmas Part I - 

The plan called for Greg to take the kids down to Utah the Sunday before Christmas.  It let him and the two oldest boys attend Steve Arveseth's funeral (one of Greg's best friends from Connecticut).  It would also leave 3 full days for the kids to catch up with friends, and see Rogue One with the beloved Astin family.  The kids even crashed their old school Tuesday afternoon before the break - it was wild!  They were nearly crushed in the excitement of all their friends rushing towards them.  

Mom arrived Wednesday night (after extracting promises from the furnace that it wouldn't break down while she was away).  We were on the verge of settling into a comfortable weekend of long awaited family parties, dinner with friends and the Nutcracker ballet when we realized what was coming.

The storm.

A massive snow storm was scheduled to hit Boise Friday morning and last until Saturday night - when it would transition to Northern Utah until Sunday night.  Which meant we were stuck.  We either had to leave the next day or stay until Monday morning and miss any moment of Christmas at home.  And less we forget - we were still worried about the unfaithful heater at home and potential frozen pipes.  So in the end, we left early.  

Stupid, stupid weather.  

When we finally reached Eagle around 7:30 Thursday night, it was 10 degrees and starting to snow.  We still don't know if we made the right decision.  Either way, it was a lousy start to something we had anticipated for months. 

McKinnon Christmas - Part II

It took several days for us to get over leaving Utah early.  Our first Christmas in Idaho. 

My second week at work I met a sweet lady who makes these intricate wire and bead creations as a hobby.  All the members of her team have various bugs as office decorations.  They're beautiful!  Not only did I want one.  But I wanted one for each of my kids.  

These dragonflies were a Christmas highlight.  I placed them on the kids stocking so it looked like they were crawling out the top or had just landed on the rim.  The kids loved them!  Pretty Girl's pink one decorates her jewelry box.  Roo's is on his lamp.  And my oldest one has his perched on his desk.  Bubbs didn't get one - too young to appreciate this.  I took his for now and it sits on my computer screen at work.   

Let's talk about these blankets.  Three weeks before Christmas, I got this amazingly softest, glorious blanket at a work white elephant gift exchange.  It's scrumptiously divine!  I credit the 2 month stretch of sub-freezing temperatures around here, but this blanket has become my new snuggle buddy.  Which is odd in itself, because I don't have any affinity for blankets.

Within days of bringing home the blanket, it started disappearing into kids bedrooms.  Constantly.  So in spite of the abundant amount of blankets we already own, I realized each one of the kids needed one for themselves.  So on Christmas day, 4 new blankets - identical to my own in fabric and texture - were under the tree.  And the kids ADORE them!! 

I don't throw around the phrase, "knocked it out of the park" lightly.  But this year... oh yes.  Greg and Pretty Girl knocked it OUT OF THE PARK.  

McKinnon Christmas - Part III

We kept New Years Eve simple this year.  We invited the Johnson family over and we celebrated New Years, Eastern Standard time.  Part of me really regretted my lack of energy and the horrible weather this year.  Apparently Boiseians celebrate New Years by dropping a gigantic potato (not kidding) at midnight at the downtown Grove Hotel.  It's a big deal - and something I wish the kids could have seen.

But the other part of me was exhausted and didn't want to endure an evening of 5 below.
Instead, we made hot wassail, cranberry and cheese relish, nachos, ice cream and brownies.  We played a ton of board games with the adults and kids.  Lighted off fireworks.  And I was in bed by 11:30.  

Hurrah for 2017!

One final detail about our first holiday in Idaho.  The Village shopping district in Meridian had these gorgeous, massive reindeer set up on every corner.  And they enchanted us!  So much so that my kids designated one for themselves and gave it a name for the season.  It was a highlight to drive past whenever we were in the area during December.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Old Man

I love Kate Rusby.  And this has been my favorite song lately.  

It's worthy of posting because I love singing it with my kids while we prep dinner.  These are not easy lyrics to recite, much less sing.  So there's a lot of laughing when we completely fail on her quicker lines.    

It's also reflective of our situation right now - with Greg taking on so much of the home life while we balance life and my career.  It's a massive challenge.  The difference, of course, is Greg is no "old man" and always considerate of the demands from both roles.

"He swore by the sun, the moon, the stars, the green leaves on the tree.
If his wife didn't do a days work in her life, she'll not be ruled by he." - Kate Rusby

PS - James is the speckledy hen, Roo and Bubbs are the little pigs.  And Tidy the cow - that's Pretty Girl.

Monday, January 2, 2017


#1 - The Eggnog Contest

For years - nay, over a decade - Greg and I have debated the merits of homemade eggnog (me) vs store-bought eggnog (him).  So in the middle of December, we finally decided to conduct an official taste test and let our kids be the judges.

Mom came in dead last.   

#2 - Christmas Concert

Since the end of Thanksgiving, our oldest has been practicing every Sunday evening with the local Eagle Stake Youth Choir for their annual Christmas Concert.  The final concert was absolutely wonderful!  I was especially fond of the hymns where the audience sang with the choir - it made me choke up with tears.

Of course, we were in such a rush that night that Bubbs nearly had a mini disaster trying to get his shirt on (see below), and Mom forgot to take a single picture of James with his choir.  In my defense, I was so completely moved by the singing that I didn't think about anything else except the words of the hymns.  It was also -1,000 degrees outside and we all could barely speak while holding it together to keep from frostbite.  

#3 - The Ugly Sweater Cookies

I don't think I'll ever opt for ordinary gingerbread houses again.  This was 100x more fun.  Thank you Trader Joe's.  I love you. 

#4 - Inventive Creativity

Around the beginning of December, Greg and I laid down an all-encompassing decree in the McKinnon household - NO MORE SCREEN TIME.  Except Friday & Saturday.  Good luck, we told the kids.  We love you!

Since then, the kids have slowly stretched their creative wings elsewhere.  Roo's direction was the kitchen and the local library, where he checked out a few cake pans and tried his hand at decorative frosting.  We're loving eating all his experiments!

The other kids have resorted to more physical challenges - 

#5 - Candy Cane Swim Meet

He's in the lead!  And getting better and better.  You should see his sculpted biceps now.

#6 - Christmas Sunday Outfits

My mom sent vests, shirts, pants, shoes, socks, ties, dresses.  They were one handsome bunch! 

#7 - 2016 New Years Resolution - DONE!

I forget constantly how much God knows us - in the smallest of details.  Last New Years I was uncharacteristically firm in my resolution to spend more time in the temple.  I didn't know it then, but that resolve was divinely inspired.  

There were several months where getting to the temple took extreme creativity and assistance from others - especially the months away from Greg and during our apartment skirmish.  And then there was that entire month the Boise temple was closed for cleaning - WHAT?!

But considering how this year turned out, I can't think of a stronger resolution to have chosen.  I felt lifted, strengthened and calmed.  Truly, I believe there are less gray hairs on my head because of the reassurance I continually felt every month from worshiping in the temple.  By no means did this worship take away our hardships - especially the ones that seemed to multiply this fall.  But we were stronger in facing them. 

"He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are.  He knows your grief.  Your silent pleadings.  Your fears.  Your tears.  It matters not how you became lost - whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control.  What matters is that you are His child.  And He loves you.  He loves his children.  Because He loves you, He will find you."  
- Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

The pictures below celebrated my last time in the temple for 2016.  That night we picked up KFC for the kids.  Warm house, comfort food, spiritual high and a delirious sense of accomplishment.  It was a sweet night. 

#8 - And The Rest...

Grandma Carver's Christmas pillowcases were all the rage around here.  And we loved the ward Christmas party/breakfast.