Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas Adventure

December 30, 2014

Twas the day before Christmas and all around Portsmouth town
The skies were gray, rain was pouring down
The apartment was quiet, no pipe bells for grandkids to play
But no matter, it would soon be Christmas Day!

Christmas morning was very quiet in Virginia......just Elder Ashton and I opening our gifts.....that we had saved to open that day.

Only a small pile of wrapping paper to clean up :)

We received lots of great presents......each of us received a GIANT heating pad - the size of a blanket so we can snuggle under that when we are COLD.   I was tempted to take mine to the office today because I was freezing all day even though I had on a heavy skirt and had layered two sweaters.  BRRRRRRR!!!!!!

In addition to the blanket sized heating pads we received books, calendars, chocolates, fuzz shavers, ear rings, neck and shoulder wrap, spices, hot chocolate and crampons so we won't fall down on the ice ;-)   

Elder Ashton has already put one of his gifts to good use....he has come down with the flu so we came home from the office a little early this afternoon and he took a nap snuggled up under the warm blanket on the couch.   I offered to make a mustard plaster for him (only those of you close to my age will remember that was a common home remedy used by our mothers when we had a bad cough) but he declined.   He did agree to let me make him some nice hot home-made vegetable soup and said the warmth made him feel better.

By 10 a.m. on Christmas morning we had cleaned up most of our Christmas celebration, packed our carry-on bags and headed to the airport to fly to Arizona for a few days to attend our granddaughter's wedding in the Snowflake LDS Temple.

In honor of my exciting Red Bag adventure of last week, I decided I would take only 2 red bags to Arizona with me.   I thought it would be rather easy for me to keep track of those red bags and also expected that the airports would be deserted on Christmas Day.

We flew out of the small International Airport in Newport News (only 7 gates) with a layover in Charlotte, NC before flying on to Phoenix.   I was pleased to see that my prediction of mostly deserted airports was true when we got to Newport News.   When we boarded the plane it was raining and that made me anxious to get to sunny Arizona even though the forecast indicated it would be COLD in Snowflake on the day of the wedding.

We flew on a small plane (only held 50 passengers and every seat was full).   We had picked our seats but some of the travelers decided they could sit just anywhere and since we were in the last boarding group, we had to sit wherever there was an open seat.   Elder Ashton ended up sitting in the very front seat next to a young mother with a toddler - the last seat available on the plane.   As I saw where he was sitting, the thought crossed my mind that he might not have a very pleasant flight if he was sitting next to a fussy child.   I was tired so I promptly fell asleep for about 30 minutes and when I woke up I noticed that Elder Ashton was engaged in a conversation with the young mother and I didn't hear any crying coming from the toddler.   As we landed and disembarked the plane, Elder Ashton had a grin on his face and said he spent the whole flight talking with the young mother about the church.....she had a friend who was a Mormon and said she would be willing to have the missionaries come by her house in Newport News to bring her a copy of the Book of Mormon and talk with her when she returns from visiting her family in Texas.   Elder Ashton was so excited to share the gospel message with someone else......I know this adventure we are on brings back memories of his mission to Mexico over 50 years ago.

When we landed in Charlotte, there was no walkway into the terminal.   We had to climb down some wiggly steps and walk across the tarmac to enter the terminal.   And what a sight greeted us!  People, people and more people - everywhere.    We had a 3.5 hour layover there and it was a good thing because the airport was HUGE and we landed at the far end of concourse E and our flight was supposed to leave from concourse D (it took us almost 10 minutes to walk over there carrying all our bags and our coats).   We sat and waited and watched people for awhile, then the announcement came that our departure gate was now in concourse B - so we started walking again.   Interestingly, at least half of the moving walkways in the airport were out of order so I got some good exercise in on Christmas Day :)

The gate areas were crowded with lots of people!

We even saw Santa scurrying through the airport with 'her' bag thrown over her shoulder ;-D

The main area of the airport where the concourses all came together had lots of Christmas decorations, including this beautiful tree of red and white poinsettias and Santa flying in a small bi-plane.   The area also was a mall with many chain stores there and rocking chairs along the side of the walkway so people could shop, rock, eat.....whatever they wanted to do.

We left Charlotte about 6 p.m. Eastern Time and arrived in Arizona about 9 p.m. Mountain Time.   Felicia, Dallon and Addie picked us up and some of the best parts of my Christmas Adventure began as I got to hug all of them tightly.

They took us "home" and I must say it felt a bit strange to be there......it seemed like my voice echoed because my 1900 square foot home was so much more spacious than my 900 square foot apartment.   It was good to sleep in my own bed, but when I woke up in the night to go to the restroom I nearly panicked because I couldn't remember where I was and the bathroom door was not right next to my bed :)

Mid-morning on Friday we got into our GMC Terrain and headed up the hill to St. Johns.   When I first tried to drive the Terrain, it felt really strange because the steering wheel grip has a larger diameter then the steering wheel grip in the pickup that we have back here in Virginia.   I found it interesting to realize how quickly even a "well-seasoned" human like me can become accustomed to their current situation. And on the drive I noticed the most beautiful thing------blue sky!

Elder Ashton laughed at me when I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the blue sky....but I thought I needed a picture to remind me of the clear blue sky while we go through the gray and rainy weather back here in Virginia :)

When we arrived in the Snowflake/St.Johns area it was COLD!!!!! about 30 degrees.   As soon as we got to that area of the state I started cashing in on the hugs again.......oh how I love those hugs from kids and grandkids!

Wedding was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday morning so we headed to Snowflake bright and early.  I loved this beautiful white marble nativity that was sitting outside the doors of the temple.

The wedding was beautiful!!!! And it was so great to be together with family members for the entire day on Saturday.

Big brother, little sister and Grandma waiting for the bride and groom to come out of the temple.   Notice that big brother is holding the bride's bouquet, and it looks like little sister is telling him what he is supposed to be doing :)

Here they are - the newlyweds :)

Most of the family and friends outside the temple.   We are all FREEZING - it was 23 degrees!  Looks like the groom's mom is snuggling up to him trying to get warm :)

We had a lovely lunch and open house in Snowflake - adults and kids enjoyed hanging out with each other.   Griffen was especially excited when he saw that Colby and Miranda's boys were there.....he had been hanging out with me but as soon as those boys showed up, I was yesterday's news.

Grady, Griffen, and Duncan.   I must say these are 3 of the most handsome boys I have ever seen :)

A second reception was held in St. Johns.    It was wonderful and the decorations were beautiful.  My granddaughter, Brynna, from Colorado commented that the decorations looked like a Pinterest explosion.......I thought that was an apt description:)

Some of the Colorado Ashtons - mother, Meri; big sister, Brynna; big brother, Joel; and freshman, Josh - bride and groom with backdrop in the background.

Some of my family members hanging out together at the SJ reception - note trees, pictures, lights, etc. in background.   Lori, Kodi, Quinn, Levi, Dallon and Felicia - looks like they have all been enhjoying the hot chocolate stand :)

Grandma and Grandpa - aka Elder and Sister- Ashton with the Colorado Ashton family standing in front of the hot chocolate stand

Three views of the awesome cake and more of the decorations.    The cake matched Sydney's bouquet that was white roses, white carnations, pine cones, and pine boughs really well!

Words don't adequately express how wonderful Saturday was......all of my children and their spouses were together and about half the grandchildren were there.   My heart was full as I looked at them and thought about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family.   Before booking the plane tickets to fly back to Arizona for the wedding, I was a little concerned that it would be too difficult to leave everyone for a second time and although it was hard to say good-bye, I felt calm in knowing that Elder Ashton and I are here in Virginia at this time because it is where we are supposed to be and I can see that great blessings are coming to our family even though we are far away.   

With a tired body I went to bed Saturday night knowing that at least 12 hours of travel would take up the day on Sunday.  We drove back down to Phoenix from St. Johns, picked a little fresh citrus to bring back to Virginia with us, and boarded the plane for Charlotte at 4:20 on Sunday afternoon.   Once again, Elder Ashton and I didn't have seats together, but this time it was my turn to meet some wonderful new people.   I sat between a young military man who was traveling back to Fort Bragg after visiting his mother in Phoenix for Christmas.   He was very cordial and had the nicest smile that just lit up his face.   I talked with him quite a bit about why we are here in Virginia and thanked him for his willingness to serve.   It was a pleasure to sit by him and I could tell he had been raised right - he kept calling me ma'am, "yes, ma'am", "no, ma'am", "I plan to use the GI benefits to get my education, ma'am".   A great experience for me!   My other seat mate was a woman who has recently moved from Michigan to a small area just outside Charlotte, NC.   She told me that she drove sporrts cars in races for 24 years - and I was SHOCKED!!!!   She looked like a nice little grandma like me:) We landed in Charlotte and trecked to the other side of the airport, only to find out that our plane was going to be delayed so we got back to our apartment at approximately 3 a.m. on Monday morning and were at the office by 8:15 a.m. to get ready for departing missionaries this week and next and new missionaries arriving to replace them next week.

And guess what kind of weather greeted us when we woke up on Monday morning :/   Oh, well, I've decided that the gray skies and rain will really make me appreciate the Arizona weather by the time I get back there!

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.....but how did it get to be 2015 already?!?!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Red Bag Adventure

December 23, 2014

It was a week before Christmas and in this very Virginia town
A bag had an adventure - and the bag was not brown
This bag is a cheery, beautiful Christmas red,
Sister Ashton was oh so lucky, enough said!!!!

Last Thursday, with Christmas Day drawing ever closer, I thought I had come up with a clever way to stealthily do a little Christmas shopping for Elder Ashton without him knowing.....it is quite difficult to get away and do any secret shopping when you spend 24/7 together.   It just so happened that I needed to go to the bank to make a deposit for the mission office, so I told Elder Ashton I was going to take the truck and run to the bank, then run home to grab some quick lunch.  I told him I wouldn't be gone long and then he could go to lunch when I got back.   He was very agreeable to my plan so off I went with a smile on my face.....thinking of my secret plan to quickly stop at Target and JC Penney before returning to the office.    The problem was that I didn't take into account that it was just a week before Christmas and that the stores might be busy.   I made it through the line at the bank swiftly, then drove over to Target which is close to our apartment.   It was a ZOO in there with long lines at the registers.   I quickly grabbed what I planned on picking up there and went to the shortest register line I could find - with my pretty red bag sitting in the "seat" of the shopping cart.  Best laid plans so astray....the person in front of me in line was trying to use a coupon that could only be used on line.  I waited, and waited, and waited.....glancing at my watch several times as I noted time slipping away.   FINALLY, it was my turn to check out and it went smoothly but I knew I was not going to have time to go to JC Penney.   I hurried out to the truck and hurried (over the speed limit) home to grab the lunch.  Imagine my consternation when I drove up to the apartment and reached for my pretty red purse....it was not there.   I suddenly realized that my pretty red purse was left sitting in the "seat" of the cart at Target - and that red bag had credit cards, debit cards, check book, driver's license, social security card, and passport inside!   I hurried (even more over the speed limit) back to Target, finally found a place to park and went inside where I approached a security guard and asked if a purse had been turned in.  He said, "A white purse?"  I said, "No, it was red."   He directed me to register 4 and told me to see if they had anything in lost and found.    By this time I was just imagining the problems that would crop up as I tried to replace all my pieced of identification in just one week so I could fly back to Arizona this Thursday to attend a wedding of one of our granddaughters.   I was feeling a little sick and hyperventilating just a little as I walked up to register 4 and asked if a red purse had been turned in.   The clerk said, "Yes, just a minute and I will go get it."   That was a long minute by a huge smile covered my face when she came walking out with my pretty red bag - which still contained all the things that were in it when I left it sitting in that "seat".  I thanked the young woman profusely, but she nodded in the direction of a maintenance man who had been working on the door locks when I left and he had immediately turned it in.   I then thanked him profusely and his response to me was "No problem, you are very welcome."   I'm sure he could read the relief on my face as I rushed out the door, jumped in the truck and drove SLOWLY to my apartment counting my blessings.   I've tried extra hard to keep my red bag close to my side since then ;-)   Although I didn't get the secret shopping in that I had planned on, I went out again on Saturday and fought those crowds so all is well!

Friday we attended a Christmas devotional conference in Virginia Beach with half the missionaries.   We all watched "The Polar Expresss" (first time I had seen it) and then had a lovely dinner prepared by some women from the area.   The afternoon consisted of a variety of musical numbers performed by the young missionaries (they are really talented) and a talk by Brother Hancock who lives on Harker's island and told alot about the history of this area.   He related a story about some young missionaries from Logan Utah who gave a blessing to his grandmother in 1897 when she was a girl and she was healed from a serious illness.   He expressed deep gratitude for those missionaries being willing to serve - he said without their service he probably would not be here today...or at least he wouldn't have the ancestors that he does.  After the program we handed out packages, letters, and goodie bags to all the young missionaries and then rushed back to Portsmouth where we went to dinner at Sister Hoal's house.   She had fixed a delicious meal and I really enjoyed talking with her.   She came here from Taiwan in the early 1980's and did not speak English at the time.   She speaks very well now and has a son who lives in Gilbert, AZ and is married to a daughter of Merlyn (I believe that is the name) Pace.   She showed us a big family picture of the Pace family (including her son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandsons) in front of the Gilbert Temple.

Waiting for the movie to start

Young Elders looking for more popcorn to eat

Waiting for packages

After handing out the packages and preparing to clean up.  Note that I took a picture of the red bag on the stage just to make sure it was still there.

Sisters waiting to talk to Elder Ashton about the air cleaner in their car but Elder Ashton is nowhere to be found.   He and Elder Wilson took some young Elders to pick up there car and got lost trying to find their way (the sisters finally gave up).

By the time we arrived home at a little after 8 p.m. we had been gone for 12 hours and I was one tired senior missionary!

Other than going out to do a very little Christmas shopping and to pick up a few baking supplies at WalMart, I spent Saturday in the apartment cooking, baking, cooking, stirring, baking, etc.   I made fudge, caramels, two types of cookies and caramel popcorn.   I cooked the caramel a tad too long, but Elder Ashton was being very helpful and using his muscles to cut them for me.  I was busy cooking cookies - just put a pan in the oven and had another pan sitting on top of the stove cooling - and 

the pan shattered sending shards of glass all over the kitchen.   I'm happy to report there was no screaming, no tantrums, no cussing, and no crying.   Elder Ashton cleaned it up, Sister Ashton threw away the one pan of cookies and got out the ingredients to make a second batch of caramels.

Sunday we attended church and a beautiful Christmas program......great music and a mom, dad, and darling little 5 year old girl as narrators.   The 5 year old read most of Luke Chapter 2 and did a GREAT job!!!   After church we came home to more cooking (dinner this time and a few more goodies), then made some goodie plates to take to our neighbors here in the apartment building.   We have 11 neighbors so it was quite a few plates, but we didn't go in and spend time chatting with them as we did when our children were young and we delivered goodie plates to friends and neighbors in Saint Johns.   Although it was a little different, it was good to keep up some of the Christmas traditions we have had over the years.

Back to the office on Monday with the usual tasks to complete.   I took the leftover goodies to the office to share with the rest of the staff and both the other Sisters who work there requested copies of the caramel and caramel corn recipes.   I learned just this week while talking to my mom that the caramel recipe was my grandma's recipe so it seems pretty special to know that women have been making caramels using that recipe for over 100 years!    I am excited when the mail comes and I get mail from friends and family back home.  I've made a little galary in my corner of the office :)

I love looking up from my work to see pictures of family

It has been gray and rainy here this week - it poured all day long yesterday and was very foggy and gray this morning.   Even after the fog burned off it was still a gray sky all day.   Supposed to be more of the same for the next two days :(   This morning when we arrived at the office, it was pretty foggy and one of our little squirrel friends was sitting on the lawn picking things up in its front paws, peeling what it picked up and then putting the item up to its mouth to eat.   It was so cute - I wished all of my grandkids and great grandkids were here to see it!

Sitting in the windowsill beside my desk is this little "ladybug plant"   It is solar powered so when we have sunny days the lady bug really dances, but after a few gray days it is pretty quiet.   She was hardly moving this morning :(

Hopefully she will start dancing again soon;-)

But no worries for me - I'll just take a quick vacation to Arizona to attend a wedding of this cute couple.......

 in this beautiful building!    We fly out on Christmas day and return Sunday.   I'm excited! and I'm taking the red bag with me :)
Image result for snowflake lds temple


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Who Would Have Thought I Would Have This Adventure

December 16

The weather in Virginia is an Adventure......many people here say if you don't like the weather to just wait a few minutes and it will change :)   That certainly has seemed to be the case for a number of days since we got here.   One day last week we noted a really beautiful sunset as we left the office.   Almost as pretty as the Arizona sunsets, but not quite.  :)

Friday night we attended the ward Christmas party.   There had been a couple of ladies at the church most of the day getting all the decorating done and by the time we arrived (10 minutes early) the cultural hall was beginning to fill up.   The ward provided turkey and ham and everyone was asked to bring a side dish and a dessert.  It wasn't a fancy party and we left before Santa arrived but the bishop told Elder Ashton that there were more than 300 people there.   The decorations for each table were a limb cut off of local shrubs and the table cloths were brown paper :)
The tables were placed so close together that there was only room for one person to walk between the tables at a time.   We sang a rousing version of the 12 days of Christmas and I was surprised at how many of those in attendance got into acting out the verses.....we had maids a milking, lords a leaping, swans a swimming, etc.   Quite fun.

Saturday morning dawned too cold for Elder Ashton to get a bike ride in so he drove to a cemetery.   By the time he got back at 10:00 I was ready to go get a pedicure.....but it was still cold outside so I put on my socks and my loafers and wondered what we would do about getting the nail polish dry so I could put them back on.   Never fear......those nail techs know just what to do whether they are in Arizona and want you to wear sandals that don't touch your toenails or you are in Virginia in the winter.   When she was about done with the pedicure the nail tech said to me, "You have sock?"  It took me a bit but I finally realized she was asking me if I had socks with me.   I told her I did and she said , "Oh, good."    When she finished painting my toenails she grabbed a tiny fan and aimed it at my toes for about 10 minutes.   Then she came back and said, "You get sock now."   So, I got my socks out, she painted something that looked like honey on my toenails (I think it was some kind of thick oil) and then tore off a small piece of plastic wrap and wrapped my toenails in it, then slipped my socks and shoes on......and off I went on our exploring adventure with toes wrapped in plastic wrap ;-)

We drove to Norfolk (the locals here say that the last syllable should sound like you are cussing or you aren't saying it right).....I can't force myself to say it like the locals so I get teased for my pronunciation.  We went to the Nauticus Museum that was right on the water front and down right close to the shipyard.    The USS Wisconsin, a battleship that fought in 3 wars - WWII, Korea, and the Gulf War) is moored there and is open for tours.   As we were touring the ship, I said to Elder Ashton, "Who would have thought in the last few years as I struggled with health issues that I would be climbing around on a ship?"   I feel truly blessed to feel so good!

Before I climbed the ladders on the ship we toured around the museum some and walked the deck of the ship.   It was HUGE!....seemed almost like a floating town.
The museum had displays of some of the fancy silver that was used on the ship for serving the officers and other important people.

Did I mention that this ship was HUGE?   Elder Ashton wanted to take a picture of me next to the guns to show a little perspective on the size of things.

And I took a picture of him standing by the shells that went in those guns.

As you can see, the day was pleasant and sunny when we started our tour, but by the time we left a couple of hours later it was getting cloudy and windy and I thought I would freeze standing outside waiting while Elder Ashton walked to the parking structure and came back with the truck!!!

These two extremely large black chains ran about half the length of the ship,   I asked Elder Ashton what they were for and he said they held the anchors, which were lowered into the water using some kind of heavy equipment........I'm not mechanical enough to know what it was.   I think each link on the chain was about 3-4 feet and weighed about 1000 pounds but can't remember for sure.

Another interesting thing we found after we had climbed the ladder to a higher deck was a number of bicycles hanging just beside the staircase.

As you can tell, the moist salty air causes some problems with the metal on the bicycles.   As Elder Ashton and I were discussing what the use of the bicycles might be I told him there might have been sailors like him who just loved to ride their bicycles and maybe they rode them around the deck of that huge ship just for the exercise ;-)

Another interesting place on the ship was the dining hall.   They had the tables decorated nicely with centerpieces and you can see some of the warming equipment in the background.   Also note the the chairs look like they are pretty comfortable.   There was an old reel-to-reel movie player in the back of the room so I think the room may have also been used for entertainment.

In a couple of entries on this blog I have mentioned that there are lots of squirrels around and I think I found one reason for that when I stepped outside the other day.   As you can see, it was a nice day with the sun shining and no rain falling out of the sky so I took the opportunity to look up.   I was surprised by what I saw in the tree right outside our front window.......hundreds of pinecones.   I'm guessing that means lots of food for the squirrels to store :)

Two mornings later when we walked out our door, we found FROST on the cover on Elder Ashton's pickup bed - that was yesterday morning and it was really cold and I was glad I was wearing my long trench coat.   However, this morning was nice and sunny and I went to the office with only a sweater on, but by afternoon it was pouring rain and there was about 2 standing inches of water in the parking lot when we left to come home.

Time is flying by and I have decided that is because we stay so busy!   Last Thursday I finally made it to Virginia Beach (I was supposed to go there in 2007 when we came out to Virginia for work to look at some court software but never made it to Virginia Beach because it was too snowy.   If I had any spare time I would try to find the court and ask them to show me that software we missed seeing in 2007 :)    When we got back to the apartment, I made dinner for Elder Ashton and me and two of the young sister missionaries....Friday we had work and a party, Saturday the regular chores and exploring, Sunday we had church, went to a member's house for lunch and then cooked dinner for 3 of the young elder missionaries, then back to work in the office yesterday and today.   

We are still having quite an adventure, climbing around historical things, and trying to find our way around this part of the country.   When we are out and about, I think Elder Ashton and I spend about 1/3 of our time trying to figure out how to get where we want to be without running into the water and having to backtrack to find a different route.   With all the water around us in the bay and falling from the sky on a regular basis, don't be surprised when you see me next time....I believe I am turning into a mermaid  with long golden hair  :-D

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Adventures of Christmas Preparations in Virginia

December 10

I do NOT know how it is already December 10th.  That means we have been here in Chesapeake for a month and although we have been busy getting settled and learning our jobs, it does not seem possible that a full month has passed.    And because it doesn't seem possible that it is nearly mid-December, I am getting a slow start for Christmas this year - finally this week I have started to do a few things.  However, the plants here in VA have been preparing for  quite some time - see below :)

Note the round clusters high in the tree branches.   That is mistletoe and grows in lots of the trees around here.   We walk under this tree 3 or 4 times a day as we come and go from the office......and we have not tried out the mistletoe tradition yet.   Either we are too tired or too old...not sure which!!

I've noticed holly bushes growing many places around town - in home landscaping, in lines of bushes in front of Wal-Mart and this lovely speciman that is part of the hedge that grows in our apartment parking lot.    It makes me feel like Christmas and start humming "The Holly and the Ivy" just to see the bushes :)

Last Saturday we attended a service project activity for all the senior missionaries.  We were filling up goody bags so the young missionaries have a little gift bag at Christmas.....and of course we had to eat lunch after we had worked so hard.   It was fun to do something for the youngsters and also to meet some of the other couples we had not yet met.

The tall man standing in the back of the first picture is the mission president, President Baker.   There is something about his smile that reminds me  a little of President Henry B. Eyring.   He and his wife are soooooooo busy - I don't know how they get it all done.   We have a sister who is in charge of all the table decorations/place settings for meals that we do here.   I am happy to help her if she just tells me what to do but sure wouldn't do well with that responsibility because I raised a houseful of boys who really didn't care if the table looked pretty as long as there was enough food :)

Late last week I finally sat down to compose the annual Christmas poem but then had to find my way to a store to find some Christmas paper.  ( I think we get lost at least once a day back here but I do know my way between the apartment and the office/church now so maybe I'll be able to branch out a little more in the next few months.)  And, I bought Christmas cards on clearance right after Christmas last year and even remembered to bring them with me, so now it is time to let the Christmas card tradition begin!

I even have some "money" cards for gifts.   Now all I need to do is find where the money trees grow around here so I can pick some and put it in the cards ;-D

We received a package at the office yesterday and it was a nice surprise when we opened it up - a birthday gift/card from Colby's family and they even went the extra mile and sent a couple of our traditional Christmas decorations from the house.....so, that meant we needed to put them and a few others up last night.   Now the apartment is starting to look like Christmas.   

Frosty is a little lonely without any grandkids here to twist his nose around :)

The advent tree needs some grandkids to help me keep it up to date by removing a star every day, but I still smile every time I look at these because it brings back great memories of other Christmas seasons with family around.

Not much room for decorations in this tiny apartment but what space we have will remind us of the reason we celebrate.

The couple we replaced left a couple of small nativity sets.....and I'm glad we have them.   They are just the right size for the apartment.

Santa's elf, Elder Ashton, spent about 2 hours last night decorating the front window with the one string of lights we have.   He was a little frustrated that he couldn't get the lights to all turn the same way, but then we just laughed about it when I asked him if he suffered from OCD much :)

And before I end this post, I really must tell a story on myself.    While we were still in Gilbert, I was quite dedicated about going to the gym 3 times a week.  However, with all the travel, training, moving, new job responsibilities, new town, etc., it had been 7 weeks since I had been to the gym.   There is a small workout room here at the apartment complex so when we got home from the office last night I told Elder Ashton that there were leftovers in the fridge for dinner and I was going to change my clothes and go workout.   It was about 5:30 so was getting pretty dark but I found my way around the building to the workout room and entered the code so I could get in.  However, when I entered the room it was getting too dark to see anything and I started feeling around for the light switch by the door.  It wasn't on the left side of the door and so I turned to the right and could just see the shadow of an old woman really close to me.....I let out a little scream and then started to laugh when my hand hit the mirror I was looking in and I realized the old woman was me!!!!  Now - whenever you see a print of this famous painting, think of me :)

Image result for the scream

Finally found the light switch on the opposite side of the room and got a little workout in on the eliptical and the treadmill.   Need to get back over there but that won't happen tonight (too sore) or tomorrow night (feeding the young sister missionaries and have the lasagna all made and sitting in the fridge ready to heat up when we get home from Zone Conference in Virginia Beach tomorrow).

Hoping to get this little apartment smelling like Christmas goodies next week - time to make some goodies and take some to new neighbors and friends.