December 09, 2012

2012 in Review, or "The Blog Version of the Annual Christmas Letter"

Long ago I used to include a letter with our Christmas cards.  The letter got shorter every year until I finally started making it really brief with just key words about each individual.  (The next year I noticed many of my friends did the same.)  And then I just stopped altogether, because good grief, that's what this blog is!  That's when I just started including this blog address on the Christmas card.  This year we went one step further and included a QR code to take people straight here on their smart phone (that was Jay's idea... it made us feel really cool). 

So, here is what we would have included in a Christmas letter many years ago.

The DeWitt Family Highlights

(click on each for the details)

Jack turned 8 years old.

Jack participated in his first Pinewood Derby.

Mary ran for student council.

Jack was baptized.

We saw the Harlem Globetrotters, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Jack played on a basketball team and Mary took a cheer-leading class.

Collin got braces on his teeth.

Mary got "published."

Jay turned the big 4-0.

Mary fainted during her school field trip.

Mary & Jack started tennis lessons, Collin started planning his Eagle project, and Jay performed a stand-up comedy routine at a fund raiser.

Collin turned 13 years old.

We celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary in Nauvoo, IL.

Mary rocked the MCC Musical Theatre Workshop, and Jack earned his "Wolf" rank in Cub Scouts.

Collin had a blast at two different Scout Camps and earned lots of merit badges.

Collin had surgery on his scalp and his ear.

We had a fun time at the cabin, went to San Diego for a wedding, and celebrated Mary's 11th birthday.

We had a great time at our ranch in New Mexico, and then the kids went back to school (Collin-8th grade, Mary-6th grade, Jack-3rd grade).

Jay found time to enjoy his hobbies.

Alice & Jay visited New York City.

Collin auditioned for and made the high school symphony orchestra (he plays the cello).

Collin won the Geography Bee at school.  

And during the year I lost 60 pounds.  It's changed my life! 

November 01, 2012

My Health and Weight Loss Journey

I began an exciting journey at the beginning of this year; I started on the road to getting healthy and losing weight.  I lost about 60 pounds in 6 months and went from size 16 to size 6.  I'm loving life! 

After struggling to lose weight for many years (reading everything, trying everything) I finally found a healthy, medically sound way to lose weight, and change my bad habits into good habits so that I can maintain good health for the rest of my life.  I was addicted to food and had many "issues" resulting from my emotional dependency on food and eating.  But this program has taught me to overcome those issues and bad habits, and taught me how to keep the weight off for good.  And having a (free!) health coach to guide me, mentor me, and keep me accountable has made a huge difference!

This has changed my life in so many ways; I have more energy for serving my family and others, and for exercise; I feel better about myself so I'm healthier spiritually and emotionally (and not so grumpy with my kids!), AND I am healthy physically (off medication, less knee pain, and other issues resolved).  My life has improved as an individual, as a wife, and as a mother. 

I am so grateful for this program, and I'm so excited about how it has changed my life that I decided to train to be a health coach so I can help others.  I have really enjoyed coaching others this year as well.  If you know anyone who wants to get healthy and lose weight, have them contact me, or visit

I would love to hear any input you have, or answer any other questions.

SIDE NOTE:  I was viewing this before/after photo on my computer when Jack walked up behind me.  He pointed to the "before" and said, "Who is that?"  I laughed and said, "That's me, silly.  That's before I lost weight."  He sternly replied, "No mom, you never looked like that!"  I could not convince him it was me, and he kept insisting I was never "that fat."  Our discussion brought the rest of our family in.  My other kids were also shocked as they looked at the photos side-by-side.... they had all gotten used to the "new me" and had forgotten how I looked before.  They were used to how I looked when I was "fat" and now they were used to me thin.  My husband was quiet the whole time, but when the kids finally left the room (after eventually relenting to their shock and admitting I had once been "fat"), he finally said, "Wow.  I hadn't realized how, um, overweight you were either."  Naturally, he is very pleased with the "new me."  :)

October 16, 2012

NYC Reprise

Jay had to take a trip to NYC for work, so I bought my own plane ticket and joined him.  It was a short trip, and I spent a lot of time exploring the city alone while Jay was in meetings, but it was super fun anyway!  The weather was gorgeous too.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

On the Staten Island Ferry

Times Square

Brooklyn Bridge at night

Historic South Seaport District
View from our hotel window (Wall Street Inn) in the financial district
Mary Poppins on Broadway!  So fun!

In the New Amsterdam Theatre waiting for the show to start

I can't wait to go back!

The last time we were in NYC was back in 1998 (pre-parenthood) when Jay won two tickets (on the radio!) to fly anywhere in the continental US.  We had NO money so we picked the farthest place where we knew someone who would let us mooch off them stay with them.  My college friend, Kathryn, and her husband graciously put us up for a few days in their darling Tudor-style home in Stamford, CT, and we had an absolute blast!  Wanna see?  I found the photos!

On the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island

Rock Center

It's fun to have this photo of the former skyline - Ellis Island

Times Square was just as crazy then

October 07, 2012

Today I'm grateful for/that....

A couple of months ago I taught a Family Home Evening lesson about Gratitude.  I want our family to remember to feel gratitude daily (not just around Thanksgiving time) because people who remember their blessings on a regular basis are generally happier people.  And because it's a commandment to be grateful.  :)

So, we started a new "thing" in our family.  I gave everyone a small notebook as a "Gratitude Journal" (this is NOT an original idea... people have been doing this for years) which we take a few minutes to write in and then share with the rest of the family what we wrote.  We are supposed to write 3-5 things each time, at least once a week.  We usually do it just before reading the scriptures together. 

After hearing President Monson's talk in General Conference this morning in which he gave us all the challenge to count our blessings, I felt grateful we had already decided to do so.  Then I decided to take it a step further and start sharing what I write in my "Gratitude Journal" here in my blog.  So, here goes:

Today I'm grateful for/that....

... General Conference Traditions.
... opportunities to serve.
... the blessings of paying tithing.
... a prophet of God.
... another Temple has been announced for Arizona (Tucson).  [6 Temples for Arizona!  Wow!]

October 03, 2012

Catching up on the last several months....

Once again I got SO far behind that I just stopped blogging.  BUT since this is my journal I feel obligated to catch up.  So, I did.  But I back-dated everything to be in chronological order so it wouldn't be confusing.  If you are interested in an updated, here are links to those posts:

May in Review

June in Review

July in Review

August in Review

September in Review

September 30, 2012

September in Review

Jay has been busy this month.  He took a trip to St. Louis for work and enjoyed that. 

He hand painted this old found-by-the-side-of-the-road-former-bouncy-toy-horse into an amazing work of art... just to go with a western themed silent auction gift basket for a fundraiser.  He is quite the artist, and it doesn't seem to bother him that all that work will just go to some stranger and might even get thrown away.  It would drive me crazy!
Jay is a super hard worker, no matter what it is.  He is enjoying teaching Gospel Doctrine Sunday school classes at church, and his class is always packed.... he does a great job.  He is often fixing something around the house or yard.... he seems to know how to fix anything, or if he doesn't know, he figures it out... or watches a video on YouTube to learn.  :)

Now that school is back in full swing we are all busy with homework, tennis lessons, piano lessons and practice, Cub Scouts/Activity Days/Scouts, book reports, school projects, etc. 

Collin (8th grade) is in orchestra and choir this year, is enjoying his classes and teachers, and is working hard and doing well.  He is ready to quit piano lessons, but we are hanging in there for one last year.  He is getting fairly good at playing hymns, and that's our basic requirement.  He loves having Fridays off school and enjoys working on projects, and especially helping a friend film a movie.  Big project!

Mary (6th grade) is impressing her parents with her responsibility and independence, taking tennis lessons and improving a lot, and she took sewing lessons over the summer... she made several nice projects, learned the basics, and had a lot of fun.  School has been demanding this year, but she works hard and gets it all done (and gets A's), and still finds time to read (a lot), and always practices the piano. 

Jack (3rd grade) is doing well in school, loves science and social studies (he's very inquisitive and asks amazing questions!), and often has his nose in a book.  (He's loving the Percy Jackson series, and still working on Harry Potter.)  He is improving in piano and tennis.... he just needs more confidence.  He is very tender-hearted.

I feel very blessed.  I have a wonderful husband and great children. 

August 31, 2012

August in Review

Our annual week at the ranch in New Mexico was the first week of August.  I love the ranch!  This year we stopped in Holbrook on Route 66, both on the way up, and on the way back.  (Holbrook is one of the models for "Radiator Springs," the town in the movie Cars.)

Do you recognize the "Cozy Cone" from the movie?  It's the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook.

With Doc Hudson and Mater
Then to the ranch where it's all about being outside, riding quads and horses, hanging with cousins, visiting, eating, and relaxing.  
 Again, I don't have many photos.
 And I hardly saw my kids because they mostly hung out with their cousins. 

Jack watching a lady bug crawl up his arm

And then school started!  I didn't get Collin in the obligatory first-day-of-school-front-door-photo since he was already gone by the time I pulled out my camera.  Oh well.  He probably would have balked anyway.  

Mary and her 2 best friends again at Skateland, enjoying a little weekend fun!

July 31, 2012

July in Review

July was busy and zoomed by!  

We spent the first week at the cabin with cousins.  Unfortunately, Jay couldn't go with us this time... too busy at work.  :(
We took a fun hike along the rim road.

I don't have any photos of our fun time in St. John's celebrating the 4th, but it was great, as usual.  I was too busy visiting and enjoying myself to take photos!  (I'm so bad about remembering!)

Then Collin had surgery!  (Read about that HERE.)

Then I took Jack's Cub Scout den on a field trip to Peter Piper Pizza.  They got to have a tour of the kitchen and learn all about what goes on there, then make (and eat!) their own personal pizza.  And of course, they got play some games too.  They had a blast!

Jay and I went to San Diego for a weekend to attend Jay's brother's wedding.  
It was beautiful and we are very happy for them!

We stayed in San Diego with my awesome sister (thanks Liz!) and enjoyed mugging on her sweet baby Fritz.
Jay and I had a little spare time and enjoyed exploring La Jolla and Coronado Island.  I loved this sand castle on the beach!

Then I took Mary and her 2 best friends to a local resort to celebrate her birthday.

 They all brought their American Girl dolls....
 .... and enjoyed putting together a set of Harry Potter Legos, and a scavenger hunt/pin collecting game put on by the resort!  Awesome, and free!
 They were quite the divas....
 ... enjoyed the pool, water slide, and lazy river....
 ... and the amazing bagpiper who plays every evening as a tradition going back many years.
 It was a very fun little trip, and a great way to celebrate Mary's 11th birthday!  I LOVE these girls, and I'm so glad Mary has such great friends! 
 On her actual birthday we took her to the local "free birthday meal" restaurants.
Liberty Market's amazing burger!
 I'm glad  Mary still loves getting new clothes for her American Girl dolls.

"Ding Dong Cake" is the best!
 And she is still very obsessed with all things "Harry Potter." 

Grandmary's famous candy bar poster birthday tradition!  Love it!

Mary, Jack and I took guitar lessons this summer.  We learned a lot and it was very fun!  I found it much harder than I expected, but I really enjoyed it.  Now I really appreciate how good Jay is!

July 13, 2012

Collin has surgery

I apologize if you are "squeamish."  If you are, you might not want to read on.  This is to follow up from this post

Collin had surgery today for the following:

A Pediatric Neurosurgeon removed a quarter-sized lump on his scalp (lipoma = fatty benign tumor).  These are not uncommon, but his was unusually large (they are usually smaller than a nickel), and in an unusual location (usually found on the torso).  The surgeon said it looked normal when he removed it, but they will send to lab for biopsy just in case.  Collin has a small patch of shaved skin on the top of his head, and we will probably give him a short buzz cut to balance it out until it grows in.  There shouldn't be any complications (the lump was all outside the skull) and he just has some internal stitches that will dissolve, and it's "super-glued" closed on the outside.  That was the easy part. 

Now the harder part.  The ENT performed a tympanoplasty to repair a perforation on Collin's right ear drum using a small piece of tissue from behind his ear (externally), meaning he has another incision on his head, behind his right ear, and lots going on inside.  The biggest issue is that his equilibrium is way off, causing a lot of nausea (and some vomiting), but that should settle down, and the medication for it helps (but it knocks him out).  He had a rough time coming out of the anesthesia and it took him a really long time to be discharged (about 3 hours, rather than the 1-2 that is usual) and they almost decided to keep him overnight because he didn't seem to be holding up very well.  But then he perked up a little (after vomiting) and got to come home.... where he immediately zonked out again.  :)   He has some stitches where they took the graft from, and has to wear a giant plastic shield over that ear that makes him look a bit like a wrestler with lop-sided headgear.  :)  He will be taking it easy for a couple of weeks, and he won't be doing any swimming the rest of the summer, but that's OK. 

All in all, everything went well and according to plan, and Collin was a trooper, though he had a bit of anxiety when they had trouble getting an IV going, and after "blowing" a couple of his veins decided to wait until he was "under."  (He takes after me that way.  I'm a really hard "stick.") 

June 30, 2012

June in Review

We spent a fun morning at the zoo with cousins.  This peacock was really putting on a show for us! 
The highlight of this visit was the lengthy show that the baby orangutan put on just for us, it seemed.  She was really going to town, showing off and making us crack up!  It was quite entertaining.  Obviously I was enjoying myself too much to remember to take any photos.
Mary participated in MCC's musical theatre workshop, and LOVED it, as usual.  I have video of the performance (she was fantastic, of course), but it's pretty impossible to get decent still shots in a live theatre setting. 
Grandma Wendy congratulating Mary after the show.
 My kids read all the "Origami Yoda" books and loved them.  They were delighted when Jay went out and bought some "real" origami paper and I made a Yoda and Darth Vader (following the directions in the books, of course).  Great books with a good message, and very fun!

Jack earned his "Wolf" rank in Cub Scouts.  He had to "wolf" down a bowl of whipped cream to retrieve his award.  He loved it, naturally.  :)

He really loves Cub Scouts and works hard at it!

Collin spent most of the month of June at Scout Camps.... 2 different ones.  Read about that HERE.