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MF: A late Christmas present

He is the GiftWe just got a letter from Elder Livi, dated 12-25 (2015). Even after a month, it was such welcome news and made my day! (We have been thinking about him in particular this week, since he turned 19 this week, and just today baked some cookies in his honor.)

He wrote,

Thank you so much for everything y’all did for me for Christmas. My companion told me it was one of the best Christmases he ever had. I was really surprised cuz I didn’t think it was really special because we weren’t with family, there wasn’t even a real tree (just one made of green sticky notes I made the night before while he was asleep), and besides the stocking, there [weren’t] really any presents under the tree (I gave him [a few new items he had still in his suitcase] cuz he needed some.) But that made me realize something. I already knew Christmas didn’t come from a store, that you didn’t need presents all over the floor; and though family is important for sure, I too, like the Grinch, discovered its a little bit more. (Just call me Dr. Seuss, Jr.)

Christmas is about serving and making memories and helping others feel the Spirit of Christ. I’m sure y’all know, but the church made a video for this Christmas called, “He is the Gift.” (El es la Dádiva). But what you don’t know probably is that it’s more than just a spiritual video and a social media campaign (but for sure I would have tweeted #ShareTheGift/#ComparteLaDadiva). Missionaries were given cards [he included one] to hand out…I’m pretty sure all the missionaries in the world did it. We didn’t baptize anyone, but we contacted solely with that card all December, and taught some lessons because of it, and shared the video with everyone we visited. 

There’s a Coldplay song (no, I didn’t listen to it) that says, “When you’re still waiting for the snow to fall, doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all.” But as I saw how happy my comp was that morning, I looked back and realized I had been sharing the Spirit of Christ the whole season. And that is what my Christmas was all about.

P.S. I still miss eggnog A LOT. 

I love you guys so much! Here’s to hearing from you soon, and to everything going well in the new year. Can’t wait to hear about school and sports and concerts/recitals and fun experiences! Thanks for all the support and love you’ve shown!

He also wrote me a thank you note, which really made me happy. Ah, I hope he keeps writing me letters when he gets back from his mission! I love being a missionary mom!

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FF: Feeln good about some good flicks

Feel'n logoYou know the drill: It’s Friday night, you’re tired, and you just want to relax and watch a good movie with the family. You didn’t think ahead to find a good DVD to order from Netflix, so you begin a search for something you can stream right then.

As you scroll through the movies, you wonder how it is possible for such a library of movies to offer so little worth watching!

Before Christmas, we took turns having the seasonal flu. Anna was particularly sick, and before long (a couple days of laying in bed, listening to audio, reading books), she became bored. So I started looking for something for her to watch.

While searching, I discovered Feeln, which streams Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. They offered a free week trial, and we made good use of that free week!

While all the Feel’n movies are not up to the standards I have for my family, we have been delighted to find some movies that found family view-worthy that we really enjoyed!

Wings of Courage

Wings of Courage tells the true story of an airmail pilot who crashed in the Andes and whose wife inspired him to walk to his rescue. It’s inspiring, and it’s SHORT! (40 minutes), which is really helpful for those Friday nights when you start the movie later than hoped, like we seem to do so often in our home!


Firelight was a sober yet inspiring and refreshing movie about a correctional facility counselor (D.J., played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who believes in the young women he is counseling and helps them overcome personal obstacles to make changes in their lives while in prison. We thought it was fun to see the actress (Q’orianka Kilcher) we had just watched in a completely different setting (Princess Kaiulani) shine in another role as a juvenile delinquent. This film helped me grow in compassion for youth who find themselves in a correctional facility.

 

 

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SOS: Good Things to Come

“Everyone of us has times when we need to know things will get better.”

Today has been very hard. I wondered if I wrote too much on that last post earlier today. I feel too vulnerable today. Not that I care that people know what I struggle with, but just that today I don’t really want to talk about it much. Just want to get through today.

So I knelt down and prayed for help and got up. I turned on the Mormon Channel to listen to while I get some things done.

I saw this video again. It’s one of my favorite videos, and I even asked my children if they remembered it this morning when we were having scripture study and talking about how God doesn’t always give us immediate consequences for our choices. “Don’t you remember that video? Where he says that the radiator let off some steam and he matched it with his own?” They shook their heads. I couldn’t remember the name of the talk right then, just the video.

I was happy to find it today. God is looking out for me. And to hear it today. I needed to hear it again, to feel that reassurance that I just need to hold on. Things work out. Today will pass, and tomorrow will be better. Just hold onto faith.

“Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven, but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”

#faith #sharegoodness #dontyouquit

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Mexico shells

It’s winter. It’s cold. The sun is out, along with the pollution, but I don’t want to be out in it. I’d like to board an airplane and going to Mexico. Hawaii. The Caribbean. Southern California. Then I’d go stretch out on the beach and let the sun just soak into my skin and penetrate to my bones.

Dreams! That’s not about to happen. So I do other things, like listen to French and music (like I described yesterday), which helps make my day more enjoyable while slogging through the edginess I feel. Why am I edgy?

Twice each month I cycle through hormonal changes that really are a trial. My whole physical state changes, and I feel exhausted and low in reserves in all areas. Going to church is particularly hard: sometimes I practically weep through most of the meeting, and not because I’m feeling the Spirit. AWKWARD. I am so not a weepy person. I hate it! I went home after the first hour and went back to bed. It was much easier catching up on sleep than tearing up every couple of minutes.

This last year has been such a challenge with hormones (and energy, muscles/joints, sleep, etc.) that it has really made me look forward to some gloriously distant day when I am through menopause and hopefully won’t deal with this so much.

But back to the French listening. In his address to the priesthood, Elder Cook spoke about being authentic when posting on the internet. I have tried to share some of my challenges on my blog, but being a private person and also not wanting to be negative, I haven’t shared nearly as much as I feel. So I thought that perhaps I should create a new category that helps me to do that when I feel like it might be helpful to someone else to hear about my problems. (But that is my question: who wants to hear about my problems? Will that help them?)

So “Brr” stands for “Balanced Report.” It also sounds like how I feel all winter long. I do NOT like being cold. Which makes for a long winter season living in Utah.

Back to edgy again.

In my heart of hearts, I am cheerful and optimistic. I love the light and gravitate towards things that help me feel light, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. At the same time, I regularly fight negativity in my mind. Sunshine is who I am at my core. (I think it’s why my mom called me “Sunshine” when I was little.) But clouds and storms are constantly blowing my way.

I have battled depression like people deal with diabetes. The cure that has come to me has been an increased ability to cope with and help prevent the symptoms. Depression is always within arms length, particularly during the winter and bi-monthly during hormone changes. So I have one good week, one hard week, one good week, one hard week. The hardest part this year has been the increase of physical difficulty on the hard week. I wake up and feel like I can not even lift my muscles, they are so sore and achy.

We are looking for answers to help . This morning I was grinding up a huge calcium/magnesium tablet to add to a morning protein shake when Anna asked me what I was doing. I told her that because I am lactose intolerant and don’t eat a lot of dairy products, I hope that the calcium supplement will help with the muscle achiness that I feel most days. She was so sweet. She told me that she would help me when I’m not feeling well. I was so touched by her compassion. Such a compassionate child. It is one of her gifts.

ANYHOO, before this gets too long and boring, I will just try to explain how the edginess feels and blow the whistle for today. (If I write too much, I will start to feel sorry for myself, which by now I have learned is never helpful. Compassion for self is OK, but self-pity works against us.) SO. The edginess I feel is a distinct kind of feeling: it’s like I have this anger volcano inside that would really love to erupt all over, blaming and criticizing and being mad at anyone who crosses my path. I know: Scary! So I try to keep the volcano from erupting and exercising patience. When I don’t, I really regret it. I have come to recognize that this is a hormonal thing, and I just have to be super patient with myself and others until it passes. This can take a lot of energy!

I don’t always do very well. A recent day will testify: I had almost every child up in arms in tantrums and blaming and frustration towards me and me towards them. It was hard for me to respond to their questions, requests, or comments with any normalcy. I got a pulse on how my children could sense my inner battle when one of my daughters asked me, “So what was good about your day, Mom?” LOL. By the end of the day, I was so glad to go to bed so that we could all have a break from our strained interactions.

Here’s what helps: Prayer. Talking with my husband. Reading scriptures, even if it is just out of habit and I feel dull spiritually. Laughing. Sleep. Serving others. Slowing down. Exercising. Dwelling on the positive. Housework at a slow pace. Counting my blessings aloud. Writing a thank you note. Taking a nap. Taking a shower instead of staying in sweats all day with greasy hair. Reading a great book! Not worrying about it.  The tide will turn and the burden will be set aside again. Some people never get a break. I do. I am so grateful!

OK, enough for now. I’m going to go DO something. :)

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RWM: Point com

French Day podcast logoWith Sarah taking French at university this semester, and I having the opportunity to speak French while driving her to school, I have noticed that my français is un peu rouillé (a bit rusty).

I need to brush up, or perhaps even get an extreme make-over.

Nope. No time for extreme make-overs. Has to be something small and simple. And FREE.

After some time online googling “French podcasts,” and listening to some samples, I’ve found one I’m going to subscribe to. It’s called “One Thing In A French Day”–a thrice-weekly, 3-4 minute snippet from a Parisian mother’s day. She is married and has three young children. I think we may have some common ground.

She might speak my language, so to speak.

Terrible puns. Sorry! :)

I listened to today’s podcast, about triangular crayons. I like her voice, and I like how short her podcast is, and I like that the transcript is affordable. I may subscribe to that next month. I just cancelled my Audible subscription to save some money, so I’ll see if the newsletter (around $3.40) is monthly or per podcast.

I’m already listening to general conference talks in French, which is a wonderful resource (and the transcripts are FREE!), but I wanted something that wasn’t translated from another language into French. I think this might be what I’m looking for.

I particularly wanted to learn some technology vocabulary. From today’s podcast, I learned “email address” (mon addresse email) and “dot com” (point com) and web address (site web). Voilà! Already making progress on my goal!

Eh bien, I need to get back to cleaning the kitchen–before children get home from school and my quiet hours are put aside until tomorrow.

I love how nurturing children always keeps me learning!

#onethinginafrenchday.podbean.com #brushinguponFrench #Frenchpodcasts #youngFrenchmom

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3T: Instead of arguing

a child who sings happy quoteA couple weeks ago, I was driving a carpool when my children started bickering.

Ugh.

I remembered a general conference talk in which the speaker had said that when in the car, their family would sing Primary songs to keep from arguing. I told the children we were going to take turns picking songs–any song they wanted–and sing it together.

Once we got singing (after the initial grumbling), the mood changed immediately! We sang some Primary songs, some Disney songs, whatever.

I was delighted when I had to drive somewhere else on another day, one of these children suggested we sing again. Soon we were singing and laughing again. Who knew driving together could be so much fun?

(Thanks to Tami Ray from A Pocket Full of LDS Prints for this beautiful, free downloadable quote!)

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SOS: Preparing happiness

IMG_0299Have you ever thought about the ways you “prepare happiness” for your children?

This morning I read 2 Nephi 9:43, and it was one of those verses that reminded me how being a parent is preparing me to become like Heavenly Father. In this amazing chapter, my understanding is that Jacob is telling us about Christ, and how if we come unto Christ, we will have many gifts open up to us, both on earth and in heaven: wisdom, knowledge, love, grace, forgiveness, joy, purity, eternal life. In verse 42, he says that a key to being able to receive these gifts is humility, considering ourselves “fools before God.” Then he says,

“But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever–yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.” (Saints meaning “all those who by baptism have entered into the Christian covenant.” See Bible Dictionary, “Saint.”)

I love to think of Heavenly Father preparing happiness for me. It motivates me to action, to consider that life is not going to always feel so hard, that there will be pockets of happiness to look forward to. Sometimes, in the middle of challenges, I feel like the hardships will never change. That doors are only closing around me and resolutions to my problems are just out of my grasp.

But experience has taught me that my feelings alone are not an accurate measure of what is real or true, just like the child who looks at learning their multiplication tables as impossible.

Amidst my challenges, I have had so many fun moments as a mother “preparing happiness” for my children.

inner tubeI think about planning and preparing for birthdays and outings and vacations.

Captain Moroni CostumeI think about sewing a costume for a child, spending hours on each part so it will come out just right and bring them hours of imaginative play.

Piles of booksI think about the books I have collected over my lifetime in our family library that we can sit down and enjoy reading together. I think about the wonderful music I share with my children.

Lemon drop cookieI think about Monday nights when we have planned a special Family Night, including a yummy dessert to enjoy together. I think about a surprise date I have planned for my husband, or one he has planned for me. I think about a day when I have prepared something special for an after-school snack, and it’s warm out of the oven and the whole house smells good.

photoI think about setting the table at the beginning of the month to “welcome” the month: placing colored placemats that I have accumulated year by year and bright fabric napkins that I have sewn, and folding the napkins in some fun way. Then hanging up a sign or putting some festive decor in the center of the table.

Skewered BreadsticksNext comes planning the meal and making something that sounds delicious. As the children come home from school and see a bright table, they have something to look forward to. As we kneel around the table in family prayer, giving thanks for being together and for our blessings, we feel happy to be together and excited to eat something good together.

I think about presents that I call “from Heavenly Father” that I have ready for a birthday that are just exactly what I know a child wanted or will love, and waiting with anticipation as the child opens the gift to see the expression on his or her face.

I think about helping a child get ready for a first day of school, for a first date, for a first job interview.

Birthday WishingI think about preparing a special meal for a child’s birthday, graduation day, or shopping together for a new dress or reward when a child has finally achieved being prepared their first solo music recital.

I think about planning a family outing after a Saturday morning of working hard together.

Sarah's baptismI think about preparing a child while they are growing up for baptism, and then when they turn 8, getting to watch them go down into the water and come up so happy! They each did! They were each so happy! And then watching and listening as they were given the gift of the Holy Ghost, surrounded by all their loved ones on that very happy day–the happiness that sinks deep into your soul, that you can’t buy or make yourself. It comes only from God, and you feel it and wish it could stay that rich and wonderful every day the rest of your life!

I think about talking with a child as they desire to receive a Patriarchal blessing and then helping them be ready, go through the interview process, and then taking them to receive their blessing. Talk about Golden Moments!

Nate's CallI think about being with a child when they open a mission call! And going through the temple with a child! Or getting that first letter (and each letter each week!) Talk about joy!

And then there are the moments we haven’t experienced yet: having a child date their future spouse; having a child get engaged; watching a child get married in the temple to their soon-to-be spouse; hearing about a first pregnancy; holding a grandchild in our arms.

All of these gifts, these Golden Moments, are part of the happiness that God has prepared for us and that we get to help prepare for our children.

When you think about it, isn’t it awesome! It makes me want to get out of bed in the morning today. I wonder what happiness I can prepare for today?

#preparinghappiness #goldenmoments

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HM: Take a picture of where you met

IMG_0046Lane and I met last night in the HBLL to commemorate 22 years from when we met there.

Unfortunately, because the entire library has been hugely remodeled since then, the computer lab where we met no longer exists.

Boohoo!

library Lane

The “Learning Commons” is where we think that computer lab used to be. But we’re not sure. And there was no one old enough working there to know. We decided we have become a part of the “Special Collections” at the library.

We’re really not sad, because what is there now is fabulous, and such a gift to the students who go there.

(BYU is the coolest university ever.)

But I did learn this lesson: take a picture of where you met!

Not only is that place gone, but also some of our favorite places to eat: the burger place where we had our first date, the Hogi Yogi where we would go to get frozen yogurt. (Lane loved raspberry peanut butter cup! I thought it sounded disgusting until I tasted it. One of many lessons about not judging…)

So take pictures of important places! Sigh…This is wasted breath on a generation whose every waking moment–seemingly–is posted publicly for all to enjoy. I think it’s only 20/20 hindsight for me. LOL.

#specialcollections #HBLLlovestories #wherewemet

 

 

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3T: Celebration signs

aloha signOnce upon a time, Lane and I went on a trip. Without children. Over a child’s birthday.

My sister, Becca, came to babysit. She is never one to delay a party. In fact, she is about the best party giver I know. She has celebratory blood pulsing through her veins. If you EVER get invited to a party at her house, you will want to go.

She made a “Happy Birthday” banner and hung it up over the kitchen window.

When I returned from my trip, I wanted to preserve the memory of that fun party, and so I laminated the sign.

That was YEARS ago. The sign is faded but still well-loved.

IMG_1105

I decided last year to go to a scrapbooking store called Pebbles in My Pocket and cut out a ton of letters. I wrote out about 30 celebratory phrases and counted up how many letters of each letter in the alphabet I would need to spell out those phrases. Then I brought them home.

This year, I went back and did some more letters. I have started laminating those letters.

laminator

laminating packetscelebration sign letters die cut

laminated letters

Katherine Ann signWe hung up a sign when our newest second cousin (my grand niece) arrived to celebrate her safe arrival.

diaper napkins folded baby shower(I also folded some cute diaper napkins for our dinner that night, after finding the idea on the purple pumpkin blog.)

We just keep the laminated letters in a Ziplock baggie, along with colorful ribbons and strings and some mini clothespins for when we want to use those. One of the strings has jewelry clasps at the end, which make it easy to attach to the wall hook that we screwed into the wall next to the window. (One piece of advice: in order to fit the clasp through a regular-size hole punch hole, you have to open the clasp and slide it through. A little tricky, but not so hard.)

wall hook

I’m pretty excited about my laminated letters because something as simple as a little sign can add that fun feel to a dinner with bright colored placemats, some colorful napkins, and a special menu.

And VOILÀ! Dinner becomes a celebration!

#partyathome #familydinner #celebrate

 

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LOL: Clay snails on the toilet

clay snailsDuring the weekend, Peter and Anna pulled out some clay and created some pieces that they didn’t want to squish back into the bag when it was time to clean up.

I walked in the main floor bathroom later to find their collection displayed on the top of the toilet tank.

toilet clay figurines

Just another reason I love being a mom. Clay snails and couches on the toilet tank.

#funbeingamom #LOL

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