Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the way I see it

I've been thinking a bit about gratitude lately. Not just because it's Thanksgiving and all (although that would be a good reason). I've had a few experiences recently that have gotten me to wondering if I am as grateful as I ought to be. I guess it depends on how you look at it.
The way I see it, I have room to grow.

A few weeks ago in Sacrament meeting, a soon-to-be-leaving missionary spoke. He was full of enthusiasm, and I loved listening to him. As he spoke, he touched on many different things, but it was all so genuine and sincere. A common thread was gratitude. One thing he said really touched me. It was something I've never heard before. He mentioned that we often think of gratitude and thankfulness as the same thing, but he reasoned that they are not. In his view, we can be thankful for many things. We may even find it easy to write a long list of things we are thankful for. (I could whip one up in an instant.) Gratitude, however, not only implies things we are glad about, but it actually changes the way we behave. If we are truly grateful for something, our behavior will be impacted because of it. True gratitude literally changes the very essence of who we are.

I don't know if this is just something he came up with, but I liked it all the same.

If this is true, then I should be very kind, warm, and loving. I would see the need of those around me, and I would strive to lift their burdens. I would be slower to complain, and quicker to praise. I would radiate happiness.

My life would be an exclamation of the blessings I have been given.

I would do more than make lists. I would live the gratitude. It would become real and life changing.

This past weekend I read a book titled, "Foreign Flowers", written by Peggy Rogers. Peggy founded the Zambia Scholarship Fund, which helps fund education in Zambia, Africa, and has devoted her life to this cause. (You can read more about it http://www.zambiascholarshipfund.org/. ) If you want to be inspired, you should read her story.

Peggy lives gratitude.

Peggy and her Christlike way of seeing the world has touched our family. Each time the girls have met her, she has taken the time to talk to them about the children in Zambia, showing them pictures and telling them stories. If only in a small way, she has changed the way they see the world. In one way, she has helped them to see how big the world is, and how vast its opportunities- how there is so much more than the little corner we call home. Yet in another way, she has helped us see how small the world is, how we all have the same needs, and how great our opportunity is to share and to lift.

This weekend, Courtney and the girls were watching a DVD, "Teach A Man To Fish", depicting the story of the scholarship fund and it's work. As they watched and listened to Zambian children tell about their day to day struggles, they were amazed at the poverty and suffering. As I worked in a nearby room, I heard Ryenne comment, "Wow, and I think I don't have any clothes." It's funny how your perspective changes when you watch a child proudly show you his two (and only) pairs of clothing, or hear him telling you how he washes his body with a stone because his family cannot afford soap.

Although it was all a bit depressing, we had reason to smile after the girls finished watching the DVD. Courtney told me that after it ended, Emmy turned to him and quietly said, "Well Dad, at least there is one good thing for them."

"Oh, what's that?" Courtney asked.

"They have really white teeth."

A month ago, I would have said I am a grateful person. After all, I can make one heck of a list. Now? I want to live my gratitude.

There again, it all depends on how you see it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

our little weekend "mini-moon"

Last weekend was fun. F-U-N.

Courtney spent the week in Fillmore (Or was it Moab? Or Monticello? Or Blanding? Sorry, I lose track.) By Friday afternoon, us girls (especially this girl) were excited for a few days with Dad. Sometimes Friday can't come soon enough at our house.

Fridays deliver Daddy.

I was eagerly anticipating his arrival when I got a little phone call from him. Seemed he had cooked up a little plan for the weekend. He let me know the girls would be spending the night at Grandpa Lloyd and Grandma Tam's house (bonus for the girls) and we would be going on a "hot date" (bonus for us)!

The girls, of course, were thrilled with the prospect of a sleepover, and I was thrilled about the prospect of spending some time with my favorite guy. It was a win-win situation for everyone!

After dropping the girls off, we drove to Ogden to dinner. Even better because we used a gift certificate to the Timbermine. Gotta love a yummy free dinner. After dinner, we drove downtown to see the fancy schmancy new complex. . .(I don't even know what it's called. And it's really not even new at all, but we don't get out much). Anyway, we had a great time watching people try the "Flowrider" and the "IFly" windtunnel. Beats our normal date routine of dinner + Wal-Mart.

Saturday morning we headed over to Logan for a late breakfast and then to the Temple. We had such a nice day. We were commenting afterward how nice it was to go to the temple without being rushed. Seems every time we go we are running late. We rush to the make a session, rush to try to get dinner, and rush home. It was really nice to take our time!

All in all, a great weekend.

My sister told me a few months ago of a friend who told her that she and her husband try to go on a "mini-moon" once every 3 or 4 months. This way, they can just go somewhere for a few days or even stay at home, so it doesn't have to get very fancy.

We decided that these short little "getaways" are wonderful- and for us, make all the difference. Life is getting pretty busy, and if we're not careful, it seems we hardly have time for each other. I read a quote today by James E. Faust, which read, "Those who enter into marriage should be prepared to establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives." The older and busier our kids get, the more I realize the importance of putting a little bit of extra effort into the two of us.

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for taking the girls. They had a great time. And thanks to the one and only boy in my life for turning a little ordinary weekend into something special.

I'm convinced. Every one needs a little mini-moon now and again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

dictator me

This morning I was checking my email when I found this week's "family gem" from LDS.org in my inbox. And so, I clicked for a little bit of daily inspiration.

This is what I found:

"Parents need to draw the children into the problem-solving process by letting them be heard. For example, I came home at times to find that the children had not cleaned their rooms or done other things that they were supposed to do. My wife had her hands full with seven children to raise. So I called the children together for a short council meeting. We talked about what needed to be done and decided on a course of action. Talking about the course of action makes all the difference. If it's mandated or dictated, there will usually be resistance. But if the parents will create a climate conducive to openness, where every person is important and every opinion valued, they can create a kind of synergism in the home, where the combined action or cooperation that results is greater than the sum of the individual parts." (M. Russell Ballard)

This got me to thinking about yesterday.

Saturday evening the house was fairly clean. Not spotless, but somewhat tidy. By Sunday mid-morning, however, it was a wreck. Stuff everywhere. . .and not my stuff. Kids stuff. Cards, shoes, books, movies, and dress-up clothes found themselves strewn across every available surface.

So I did what any good mother would do.

I ordered them to clean it up.

And they didn't.

So I tried again.

And they didn't.

On the third (or fifth time-I can't remember), I explained that I had a fairly stressful day ahead, and I could really use their help.

They took no pity.

By now, it was time to get ready for church. I was finishing the last touches on what would be dinner, and so I made one last announcement. No more pleading for me, I decided.

"If this house isn't clean by the time we eat dinner, little people don't eat."

I don't know if I would label the reaction "resistance". More like apathy. I don't think they even batted an eye. They kept on doing their thing, and I did mine, and eventually we all went to church.

No one seemed too concerned as we arrived home. Until I pulled the food out of the oven. Until I cut the brownies. All of the sudden, everyone was very concerned with what I had to say.

And when Courtney, Claire, and I sat down at a table set for three, things started to happen. Right away. Within 15 minutes, the house looked a mite better.

In an effort to obey Elder Ballard's counsel, I'm going to try (once again). I'm turning a new leaf. I'll make a better effort to have family councils, where the girls and I can gather and together decide on a course of action. Where every "person is important and every opinion is valued". I'm gonna work on that synergism thing. Really, I'm truly inspired.

But I just have to say one thing.

Sometimes dictatorship works.

Monday, November 2, 2009

my not-so-wicked witches

Our whole gang (and as you can see, I mean the whole gang) decided to be witches for Halloween this year. And if I must say so myself, I thought they were pretty darn cute.
(As was Kalli the bumblebee, who joined the girls for trick-or-treating again this year! )
The tallest (and most handsome) witch was dressed up only because he was one of those extra good sporty kind of witches. I was planning on being the pink witch, but came down with an awful bug the day before and had to miss out on the festivities. Being that Dad didn't have a costume for the Wo-Jo Halloween Bash, we talked him into wearing the pink witch.
And let me tell you, he couldn't have been more charming.

(Especially with the big 'ol hole in his tights. I guess 'one size fits all' doesn't really mean one size fits all.)

Kate, the Green Witch

Ryenne, the Purple Witch

Kalli, the Bumblebee

Emmy, the Sun's in My Eyes Orange Witch

two darn cute witches

I tell you, all you need to make cute witches is a Wal-Mart, a good-lookin' bunch of witches in training, and a hot glue gun.
FYI: The girls absolutely LOVED that their Dad dressed up with them. I was so bummed to miss out on the festivities, but thought it was awesome that he was such a good sport. They even had a dance prepared to sing Kareoke at the party-"Witchy Woman" from the Eagles.

Before they left the house, I heard Kate say, "Dad, I know why you dressed up like a witch."

Dad then replied, "Why is that?"
"Because you love us."

I was shocked for a second when he answered, "No, it's not because I love you."

But then he quickly saved himself and explained, "But I do love you very much. But I dressed up because I wanted you to have a good time."

Thanks Dad.

You've got a spell on us.

*The best part was when the girls returned home that night and were telling me what a kick everyone got out of theirs and their Dad's costumes. When Kate told me about going trick-or-treating at Kelsey and Shawns house, she said they were laughing so hard. You could tell she thought it was so fun. She told me, "We had Kelsey crackin' up."

baking day

There are a few things I loved about about baking cookies with Emmy last week.
For instance, I loved how she was double fistin' it (as her Daddy would say). Grilled cheese in one hand, sugar cookies in the other. And I loved, loved that she was baking in her tutu, tap shoes, and apron.

You make my heart smile, Emmy Summer.

halloween party 09

Once again we held our annual Halloween-so-mom-and-dad-don't-have-to-go-to-the-school-pumpkin-walk-bash. And as always, it was great fun. We may have coerced Dad to turn off a football game (he insisted he can multi-task, but we know better. . .).

We played the tradition pin the nose on the pumpkin.

Claire was a pro.

And the donut on the string game was as always. . .funny (and yummy).

Claire was happy to share with everyone.

This is the part where I turn into a vampire and try to eat my husband. Lovely.

Another fun pre-Halloween night with our four cute as a pumpkin gals. . .

fun with cousins

Aunt Jodi and the S boys invited all of the cousins to their house to spend a few days of UEA break. What a crazy, fun crew! Those of us who were able arrived Friday afternoon. Aunt Jodi whisked us away to Gardener Village to see the witches. It turned out to be "Wee Witches Weekend" and the kids had a great time participating in the festivities, especially the witch scavenger hunt. After the witches, we came back to Aunt Jodi's to eat some pizza and dip carmeled apples.

By this time, Aunt Kerri had arrived, and we all know that a party isn't complete with Aunt Kerri's night games! Even I joined the fun (I will do that if they begin before midnight!) When Steal the Flag became a little too noisy (and a little heated!) we headed in and settled the kids into the basement with a good movie.

Meanwhile, the ladies gathered around the kitchen table for some pumpkin decorating fun. (Wish I had pictures!) Aunt Jodi had found a fun idea to make patterns in the pumpkins with tape. Then you spray paint the pumpkin, remove the paint, and WaLa! . . . A darn cute pumpkin! Maybe it was the late hour, (more likely the gabbing) but our little project turned into a late night affair! Aunt Kelsey, Grams, Aunt Kerri, Jodi, Grandma C and I felt like crafty little party animals!

All in all we had a lovely time! The kids stayed up all night (lucky for them Moms were so busy we didn't act like responsible parents). By the time Saturday afternoon arrived, we headed North with tired kids, weary eyed mom, and cute pumpkins in tow.

Thanks Aunt Jodi and boys! You throw a great party!

some of the carmeled apple gang

As you can see. . .Claire was completely taken with the witches!

claire's busy life

Oh, how we love our Claire. She is growing so quickly and is such a bundle of busy, busy fun! Loved by everyone, it's always a race to see who can get Claire to sit by them in scripture time (for the .2 seconds that she'll sit, anyway). One of the most fun things about Claire right now is her social little personality. Anytime you walk into a room, she comes up to you and says, "Hiiiiiiiii!" It doesn't matter if it's been an hour or a week. . .she makes you feel like your the best thing she's seen all day!

Other than delighting us with her sparkling personality, Claire stays very busy. She can usually be found in the kitchen, where she finds great joy in making messes.

Messes. . . .

Messes. . .

. . .and more messes.

Lucky for her, she's such a darn good cook that we don't mind a bit.