February 26, 2015

Peace Of Mind …

hannieb

Every once and a while my kids do something I know nothing about and when it eventually  gets back to me I think (with serious relief) that we might actually be doing something right as parents and they are going to turn out okay.

I’ve been meaning to record this story about Hannah on the blog for a few months, but didn’t know how to write it. Instead, I am going to post an excerpt from a talk that a member of our Stake Presidency (leadership over ten congregations in our area) gave to the adult church members in which he recounted the story through the eyes of one of Hannah’s friends:

“On Wednesday, December 10, a student entered Loudoun County High School shortly after 8 a.m. A security specialist monitoring the surveillance cameras saw a flash of metal that looked as if it could be a gun. She called police. Within minutes, a message was broadcast over loudspeakers telling students and staff at the Leesburg school to lock doors and move into interior rooms. Leesburg police arrived with tactical teams to sweep the campus and traced the young man’s path through the school with the same cameras.

Three Mia Maids (14 and 15 year old girls) from the Leesburg Ward (Ellie Brinton, Hannah Lee, and Trina Cummings) were early because they came directly to school from early morning seminary. They were in their classroom in the school before most of their classmates when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. They immediately sheltered in place under their desks as instructed, remaining silent.

I’d like share what happened during the next hour in Ellie’s words, “As we were waiting there, I wondered- what was going on of course- but also if we would be okay. I texted "I love you" messages to my sister who was in the school as well and also my parents. After around 20 minutes, we started hearing sirens. After another short time, we heard crashes outside our door. Then pounding footsteps, and walkie-talkies. I remember hearing someone yell, "POLICE!"

It was then that Hannah turned to Trina and I, and gestured with her hands- 6 fingers, 3 fingers, and then 6 again. I realized she was trying to say, "D&C 6:36" We knew this well because it is a scripture mastery verse which reads "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not". Over time the noise died down. While I waited in a corner with 6 other kids, I felt my Heavenly Father was keeping us safe. He made sure we were okay. I knew He was there, with me, my friends and my teachers. I knew we were not alone.”

There are so many things about this story that make me happy as a mom. First, the supposed gunman ended up being a student with a pair of collapsible headphones shoved awkwardly into his pocket, so our children were and are completely safe. Second, the school and town worked together to handle what was a very intense and stressful situation in such a great way that it is being studied by other schools and towns.

But most importantly, both of my kids were in the school at the time of the lockdown and had the immediate reaction to turn to the Lord in silent prayer and both felt everything was going to be okay. Hannah sensed that her friend was starting to get a little panicked in the situation and my girl had the peace of mind to recall a scripture that would calm her friend’s nerves!

And that brings me a peace of mind like nothing else.

February 25, 2015

So Lovely It Hurts …

lillies

When you have a birthday that is six days before Valentine’s Day, you usually get flowers midway between birthday and Love Day to count for both. I’m not complaining because I love flowers. I have encouraged The Hubby to think outside the flower box by avoiding roses. They’re not my favorite – too cliché. This year I received a nice bouquet of white lilies from my sweetie.

They were all closed when I first received them so I was a little bit like, “Meh”. Then they began to open and I fell in love with them, moving them all over the house during the day so I could enjoy them and even picking the leftovers apart to put in an arrangement with tulips for our Valentine’s Day dinner table.

Before that I snuck them upstairs for an impromptu photo shoot. I often go to my room or bathroom for pictures because that is where the best light in the house is. It’s not unusual to find me standing in my tub photographing things. I’m weird, but natural light is so good. I just knew these flowers would look so gorgeous against my bedroom paint – a moody blue/gray/green (Glidden’s Oyster Bay) – and I was right!

lillies side

Sometimes when I take photographs like these that are close up and nature inspired, I feel such an awe and reverence for the creations God saw fit to give us. A few of these lilies had the faintest blush of pink on their edges. They were so dainty and feminine.

I sat in my room staring at them, photographing them and just being grateful. The beauty of it almost hurt it was so great. I wish I could always remember to be grateful like that. I wish I could always see the beauty and not get caught up in the ugly and negative.

I wish I had flowers like this to remind me all the time!

  lillies front

February 23, 2015

Love Day Dinner …

vday dinner

I’m being super untrendy by not writing about Valentine’s Day until a week and a half after the fact. I like to blaze my own trail like that!

As usual, we had a Valentine’s Day dinner with our kids and parents on February 14th. I don’t want to be out and about with the throngs of people on Valentine’s Day, so The Hubby took me out to dinner the night before. We went shoe shopping (happy place for both of us) and stayed the night at a hotel. When we came home in the morning, our kids were all alive and well. Sadly, I slept horribly on the hotel mattress which was  too hard for my Princess and the Pea body.

I spent the rest of Saturday (after eating cronuts) getting ready for our family dinner. I finished up some handmade Valentine cards, I set the table with some new additions this year courtesy of Pinterest (doily table runner and cupid arrows) and got to cooking.

vday arrows

We had chicken parmesan served over pasta, a green salad, and fresh strawberries. I added some paper straws to bottles for pink Italian soda and everyone got a box of conversation hearts. Is it just me or are they yucky tasting now?

vday drinks

I attempted a delicious dessert and it was a win! My friend Michelle made me molten lava cake with a salted caramel center for my birthday and I made it again for our Love Day Dinner.

My Valentine got another punny gift this year which is now hanging in our kitchen:

spooning since

I made it using things I already hand on hand in the house, inlcuding these little antique silver spoons. I love my Hubby! He’s a good spooner.

I hope you had a fantastic Valentine’s Day with someone you love. For me, it’s not a commercial day as much as it is a day to show extra love to the people in my life who mean the most to me.

February 10, 2015

I Like To Photograph Food . . .

orange

Fun fact: I like to photograph food. Food is pretty and colorful. It is an easy model because it doesn’t blink or have stray hairs or a runny nose. Food always looks straight into the camera (and straight into my soul). And if I photograph it, I get to eat it!

I think I have an addiction to clementines. We’ve eaten quite a few this winter. I’m sure none of us will be getting scurvy. They are a perfect little compact snack, and because they come in segments, I feel like I’m getting a lot. Plus, when artistically arranged on a vintage cutting board, they’re just pretty!

saladclub

Fun Fact: my two brothers, who now live and work together in Utah, have started a Salad Club. Yes, I’m being completely serious. They bring their layered salads to work in mason jars and then mix them up to eat for lunch together. It sounds girly, but it also sounds yummy.

I love salads. Fun fact: Salad is one of my Hubby’s favorite foods! Because we eat a lot of salads, I have to mix it up frequently. The boring last minute salad is lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and dressing. It’s probably the salad the kids like best, but the Hubby and I hate it.

Here are two salads I photographed that I had for lunch recently. I submitted these pictures to my brothers to see if I could be part of their Salad Club. Both salads were made by me just going through the fridge and using what I had on hand or leftover.

The top salad was Romaine lettuce, leftover quesadilla filling of sweet corn, black beans and green chiles, cucumber, a little chile verde ranch drizzle and a scoop of salsa. Mmmm, just typing that made me hungry! It was a delicious salad.

The salad below was spinach, gorgonzola, strawberries and granola  with chopped pecans and a little poppy seed drizzle. I call it a drizzle because I use less than a tablespoon of dressing. This salad was so flavorful it almost didn’t need a dressing at all! I was trying to copy Chic-Fil-A’s salad, but didn’t have apples or blueebrries. It was YUM.

 saladclub2

Let’s just call this last food photo dessert. This is what a homemade peanut butter cup looks like. I actually know a real live human who makes real homemade peanut butter cups! And guess what? This bad boy put Reese’s to shame. See? See the benefits of loving to photograph food?

 pbcup

February 5, 2015

Something I Love …

loveflowers

It’s Love Month! For me, February is a great month to focus on love not just because it’s Valentine’s Day, but also because there are lots of people I love who have birthdays during the month.

One of those people is ME.

Self centered much?

But seriously. The other day Hannah came home from school to find tulips on the table. Her first question was, “Who brought you flowers?” I answered with, “I brought me flowers.”  She was puzzled, but I shared with her that it is important for me to sometimes do something just for me. As a mom I am constantly doing things for all the other people in my sphere, and I love doing that, but if I’m not careful, I can find my own well depleted.

We had an interesting discussion in church on Sunday about loving others despite our differences. It resonated with me deeply. As religious people who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to love everyone. It is a lofty goal that often seems unattainable. Sure, it is easy to love the people we like and are close to (most of the time). But that isn’t true for everyone we meet. The teacher then posed this question: WHY? WHY IS IT SO HARD TO LOVE EVERYONE?

Of course there are many answers. I suggested that one reason is because each of us sees life through our own personal lens. The only person who has looked through all those lenses is the Savior, which is why he understands each of us so personally, but it is often hard for us to understand or relate to people who see things differently than we do.

Another woman’s suggestion hit me hard. She said it is hard to love others because we don’t yet love ourselves enough. We won’t have the energy to expend on loving others if we can’t first find the energy to love ourselves.

I think that’s why I bought myself some tulips.

There are so many things we can do as women to learn to love ourselves like not feeling guilty about taking time for ourselves to exercise or read or be with friends, or coming to a place of positive body image and self love instead of negativity and body bashing, or being okay with not having a perfectly clean house and a perfectly perfect life, or being willing to say no to putting more on our “plates”, or being okay with saying we can’t do something by ourselves and need some help.

I could go on and on. I hope you get my point. Find a way to love yourself this month. Stop beating yourself up. Stop being your own worst critic. Stop thinking you are less than. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is not what God wants for you. He wants you to love yourself. He loves you. He wants you to be happy.

Start today. Go buy your self some tulips! Can’t afford to? Stop all your busyness and read an inspiration book or watch an inspirational You Tube video. Eat a piece of chocolate and don’t think about its relationship to your hips. Call a good friend and have a half hour chat.

BECAUSE YOU ARE AWESOME. AND YOU SHOULD LOVE YOU.

Love, Me

February 2, 2015

Subtle Changes . . .

bathroom door

In the almost twelve years we’ve lived in this house we have painted, changed or fixed just about every single surface in this house. We are maybe three projects away from declaring ourselves officially done. Insert big fat sigh of relief.

In the late fall we finally replaced the chipped and worn formica countertops in the kitchen with granite. We figured that while we were at it, we should go ahead and do the bathroom counters too.

We couldn’t justify putting nice countertops on the sad builder grade cabinets that came with the house, so we bit the bullet and upgraded to counter height cabinets. What a difference those two changes and a new paint of coat have done for our master bath!

jewelry

It is a neutral palette with pops of green here and there. Every time I soak in the tub I pretend I’m in a spa. It is really is a happy place for me now. I am only sad that we waited so long to make the changes!

When my bestie Ronalin moved, I remember her saying, “Why did we wait until we were trying to sell our house to make all these changes and fixes? We should have done it so we could enjoy it!” I have taken that to heart.

That green dish that I keep my jewelry in (a gift from my sister) and this thrift store artwork (from my mom) are two of my favorite things about this space. I also love having a little spot to display my pitiful vintage alarm clock collection.

Who says a bathroom can’t be a place to display pretty things?

boyinhat

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore’s Healing Aloe