January 30, 2015

Our Family Motto …

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For the past five years we have presented a family theme to our children at the beginning of the new year. It usually comes from scripture and is a way The Hubby and I can share our desires for our family in a capsulated way and help us all concentrate our focus for the year.

Recently I read an article about Stephen Covey that suggested every family should have a Family Mission Statement (or motto) that they’ve created together.  This is the line in the article that spoke to me: “"Good families—even great families—are off track 90 percent of the time," he wrote. “What makes them good is they have a clear destination in mind, and they have a flight plan to get there. As a result, when they face the inevitable turbulence and human error, they keep coming back to their plan.”

How can we ask our children to uphold our family’s values and plan if we never articulate what that is?

The Hubby and I agreed that it was (past) time for our family to write a mission statement together. This would be different than our yearly theme. This would be a motto that we will always strive to live by from year to year – an overall statement to unify us and declare our purpose as a family.

As a family we came up with this:

“We will seek for each other’s happiness, spiritual growth and safety as we try to be more like Christ: helpful, kind, obedient, selfless and willing to forgive.”

I printed this and put it in a frame in each of the kid’s bedrooms. I still need to frame it for our room. We are having family home evenings that support this motto and our yearly theme. So far, it’s going well. Do you have a family motto or mission statement? I’d love to hear about it!

January 28, 2015

Yum.

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My daughter is baking things like this pretty cupcake. My mind is going crazy and while my stomach is grateful, my jeans and thighs are waging a battle with each other every time I get dressed.

It has been six weeks since my kids have had a full week of school. The Christmas break was lovely, but once it ended we had snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures that have cancelled or delayed school multiple days each week.

My daughter stays home and bakes. And I eat her results. Dangit.

These cupcakes were actually a bit funny. It was a simple box mix that my mom gave us because she is trying to eat through (or give away) her food storage before moving to Utah. The mix was a little bit on the old side.  Hannah followed the directions perfectly, but the cupcakes came out extremely dense and totally burnt on top.

She was frustrated. I, on the other hand, just laughed and got out a knife to cut all the burnt tops off. Chris and RedDog promptly ate the burnt trimmings and declared them delicious. Boys are weird.

Hannah has been perusing Pinterest quite a bit lately and found this cream cheese/ whipped cream combo frosting. We used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and once we’d folded in the whipped cream, it was light, fluffy and perfect for piping onto the tops of the now flat cupcakes. A little strawberry garnish and we called it done.

These cupcakes were tasty! They were also pretty to photograph! I love baking with my daughter. She’s a keeper.

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January 21, 2015

Thoughts On Forgiveness . . .

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Today our town was blanketed with a beautiful snow that cancelled school. The little boys played out in the back yard and I walked around catching the quiet loveliness of snow resting on branches with my camera.

This particular shot made me think of the scripture in the first chapter of Isaiah (1:18) that says “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The contrast of the red berries covered by the white snow had me lost in thought as forgiveness has been on my mind quite a lot lately. I am a completely imperfect person. I have done so many things wrong in my lifetime. I will continue to make mistakes for the rest of my life. It is just fact.

Others have wronged me. I have wronged others. No matter which side of that equation I am on, it never feels good. But I can tell you what does feel good – forgiveness and forgiving.

The beauty of the scripture, the beauty of our reality, is that the Lord has promised us that he will forgive us. He will give us a clean slate. He is willing to take the redness of the berries and blanket them with the most beautifully white snow. He will take our sins and make us clean. Because He loves us that much.

Likewise, we can do the same for ourselves and everyone else. We can let go of anger, disappointment, sadness and pain by forgiving others. We can see them as we are, imperfect human beings who need a clean slate. We can forgive and NEVER LOOK BACK.

I don’t want to hold on to negative feelings. I don’t want to hold grudges. I don’t want to be a harsh judge of others. I want to love. I want to feel full of joy and goodness and goodwill towards those around me.

Please forgive me. If I have ever done anything to hurt or offend you, I am sorry.

Please forgive others if they have ever done anything to hurt or offend you - even if they aren’t sorry.

Please forgive yourself. Most of all, forgive yourself and move forward.

This life is too short to be unforgiving.

A clean slate is waiting . . .

January 14, 2015

Still Here . . .

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FEELING frustrated that I haven’t written for a month. A whole month. It makes me wonder, can I even string two words together to make a coherent thought? Yet here I am, trying because I don’t want to feel frustrated and I want to express myself and I need this little place to get the jumbled words and feelings and ideas out of by brain where they are making me crazy.

THINKING about how simple life was when it was just me and the Hubby. Or when it was just us and tiny Christopher. Even two kids seemed simple compared to the four ring circus that is our life now. I wouldn’t change it at all. Our family is exactly the people it was meant to be. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes just want to chuck all the activities and commitments out the window and become a hermit family that only interacts with each other.

HEADING to The Queen’s Dish tomorrow night with an easy, hopefully tasty mango, papaya and grapefruit salad. Our little cooking group is full swing into its fifth year and going strong with twelve fantastic and funny ladies. It is my one “Girls’ Night” a month and I long for it. I always come home with aching sides from laughing and a belly full of delicious food!

READING The Book of Mormon with my husband. I am testing the theory that if I start my day in the scriptures, everything that follows will fall into place and I will have more peace in my life. I used to attempt my scripture study at night and was usually too tired to make it meaningful. I’m reading a beautiful book that has a snippet a day concerning the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is profound and it is changing me. I’m also reading the first Harry Potter book to Owlie at night before bed and he hangs on to every word.

ATTEMPTING to go for a 1.5 mile walk every day. My only exception is if it’s raining. I don’t do wet. I have, however, already walked in several subzero days, dressed up like an Eskimo ninja and I found it strangely invigorating.

WANTING to get back into a regular pattern of writing here three days a week. I have to find a balance to make it possible. I want to write because I have things to write about, not create reasons so I can write about them. I want to feel genuine and unfettered again. I need to do it because it helps me, not because I feel a pressure to help others through writing. I want to write but be present and with my family in the moments of life.

LOVING an every other week bowling date I’ve set up with my Dad. We gave him a new bowling ball for Christmas and he is rocking it like nobody’s business. It is so fun to meet up with him, bowl a few games, cheer each other on and talk about recent newsworthy items. We are both improving in our game, too, which is an added benefit. The only real benefit I care about though is that I get alone time with my Dad. It is awesome!

GETTING healthier with my daughter. We are both trying to eliminate most processed foods from our diets and eat more whole foods,especially vegetables. It’s not easy. I love food. I love not worrying about food, but just eating it because it’s yummy. But I’m finding that veggies are so yummy and fresh just tastes better. We certainly aren’t eliminating any one thing in particular. Just watching and being more conscientious.

WATCHING Downton Abbey. I’m pretty much over the story lines from the show. They are old and tired. Too much scandal for me now. But I can’t get over the costuming. I’m sure my sweetie doesn’t want to hear me say, “Oh my gosh that hat is unbelievable!” or “Her hair is perfection!” or “I really think I need that dress in my life.” one more time. Also, Maggie Smith is so, so great and I love her.

LISTENING to Pandora Radio New Order station. All the old, good songs from my high school days like Depeche Mode, The Cure, Thompson Twins, OMD, Pet Shop Boys. And now I have completely convinced my kids that I am as old as the dinosaurs.

FINDING out that raising teenagers is really hard work. And my kids are good kids. Really good kids. But they have their moments and I walk away shaking my head and thinking about where I went wrong in raising them. I am glad that by the time RedDog is a teenager, the older two will have outgrown their moody attitude days.

TAKING nothing for granted right now. I have people who have really hard things going on in their lives and I have to acknowledge every day how blessed I am to be surrounded by my family and good friends, to have my health and a home, and to be able to live, breathe and worship God freely.

December 15, 2014

My First Baby …

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Today he is seventeen. He woke up at 5:50 a.m. just like any other day. He didn’t want me to go out of my way to make him anything special for breakfast, even though I offered to. He was happy with a giant bowl of Lucky Charms.

Yesterday he taught a class of his peers at church. The Hubby was there and said he did a magnificent job fostering good discussion and teaching the group how they can become better shepherds to those in our congregation they have stewardship over.

He sits and watches TV with The Hubby and me at night. He laughs with us and yells enthusiastically during sporting events or discusses serious things like politics and war with us. I love spending that time with him.

Last week there was a lockdown at the High School in the early morning hour before school. My kids were both inside the school at the time. Christopher remained absolutely calm and hatched a plan with his chorus teacher to take the intruder out if he attempted to enter their classroom. That’s the kind of person he is. He would do anything to help others.

He’s goofy. Sometimes he acts like a T Rex – this hulking body with tiny uncool arms. It is my favorite. He also sings in the shower and smells a cup before he’ll drink out of it, which is equal parts bizarre and awesome.

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He is turning into a remarkable young man. He is smart, funny, sensitive and kind. I’m so glad he was the first person to call me Momma. Happy Birthday, Christopher!

November 25, 2014

Randomness for the End of November …

Feeling a little random today. Maybe it’s because I have my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving this year?

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This is how Hannah dressed up for her birthday. What, your kids don’t do this kind of thing on their birthdays? Hmmm…

It was our church Halloween party on November 1st (scheduling mishap) which is also my deer daughter’s birthday (did you see what I did there?). She really wanted to recreate this costume she’d seen on Pinterest, so she got all the materials and spent two hours doing her makeup.

She looked, in a word, otherworldly. She was like a deer for real. Nimble, lithe, quiet, cute, attentive, listening, graceful. So many people loved the costume and told her so, which made her feel great! I am really loving her personality and penchant for creativity!

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This boy. Oh man. He’s my baby. He’s a baby, right? I mean, he still snuggles me every day and wants me more than anyone else. And he still loves the tub and a blankie and special stuffed animals. So he’s a baby, right? And then I looked at this and panic set in.

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Same tub, same time of year, just four years ago. I need to have a little talk with Father Time. Because this my kids growing older thing has got to stop. My heart cannot handle it.

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It’s now officially not cool Fall temperatures anymore. It is cold. Although yesterday it was 72 degrees on NOVEMBER 24th, so whatever. But this time of year means I am perpetually cold. It also means we are raking giant truck sized piles of leaves out to the curb every single week and our back yard is littered with sticks and twigs from our trees. This in turn means we have to have a firepit and make S’mores. Have I mentioned that I will trade being cold for S’mores any day? True story.

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Last random thing. Owlie is obsessed with puppies. He has about twenty stuffed puppies in his room that he mugs all over and sleeps with every night. When people are out walking their pets and they pass in front of our house, he’ll yell out, “I like your dog!” A few weeks ago I took him to my friend’s house where he loved all over Coco the wonder dog. On the way home he told me he has the best dog friends ever. Sure wish I was not allergic to dogs and didn’t love my sleep so much. One day, I guarantee it, this kid is going to have a dog.

Dogs, deer and tubs. Yep, pretty random.