Tuesday, April 17, 2018

words to remember: kind words

This past Sunday, I was the recipient of some kind words.

Kind words that took the person less than one minute to communicate. They were simple. Shared by someone we hardly knew in the moments just after our church meeting.

But they were so meaningful. They felt like light. They were a reminder of how much I am loved. Of how much we are all loved.

Those kind words brought peaceful tears later that day as I had a moment to reflect and ponder them. The few words were full of principles of truth I had been pondering in my heart for some time. Tears of gratitude for God, who connects with us on such personal and individual levels.

And as I've been pondering in the days since, it has more fully opened my heart and mind to both the giver and receiver.

The giver was willing to say something simple to someone he hardly knew, but because it was a good thing, he didn't hesitate to act. It reminded me of these words written by Moroni (chapter 7): "...all things which are good cometh of God."

The receiver was willing to listen. Sounds simple, but it's something I continually must practice. To let go of the inner conversation that limits and disputes what was shared. That discounts the goodness and finds the fault. Instead, choosing to listen and humbly accepting what was spoken with gratitude.

Because good thoughts are centered in God's love. A connection that utilizes the enabling power of Christ, who can heal our heavy hearts and strengthen our weaknesses. The choice is ours to receive and to listen.

I choose to write this experience, not for the experience alone, but as words to remember.

To remember the feeling of God's abundant love.
To remember that goodness has the potential to grow within all of us.
To remember to receive.
To remember to give.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Art

Painting is one of Abigail's most favorite things. And I'm so grateful for paint that is easy to clean up! She wanted to paint a picture for her sister, and the painting time evolved into her making one for all of her siblings. It was sweet to see her light up with each one she made, and to hear her talk with excitement that we'd hang them on the doors as a "surprise" for when they came home. And I couldn't resist a reason to hang up some quotes! It was a simple thing, but a reminder to me that those simple things really do matter. In a small way, they strengthened a connection.












Her actions inspired me to be mindful those thoughts of connection and to act on them. I feel like it's much easier to push aside those thoughts thinking it's not the right timing, or not "grand" enough, or like it would take too much time. But the thing is, I've never regretted acting on those thoughts, but I have regretted NOT acting on them. No matter how simple they may feel. This painting project was a gentle reminder to me that service can happen at any time, by any age, and in any way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A new theme

We swapped out our scripture theme from last year...


And replaced it with the theme for this year!


This hangs as a large poster just off of our kitchen. We love having these words in such a visual place. We’re big believers in using our walls as space for creating an intentional home. And I love a reason to handletter!

We love how this scripture is the theme for the youth of our church this year. A beautiful song centered on this theme is here.

Last summer, I read “A Quiet Heart” by Patricia Holland who shares amazing insights on meekness. I love how she defines meekness as a “quiet strength.” I’ve applied that definition every time I’ve read meekness in the scriptures and it’s truly opened my eyes and mind to this attribute of Christ. 

One of my favorite talks from general conference was this one by Elder Bednar and his insights centered around meekness. He shares: "Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint." Beautiful. 

I'm a visual learner, and I need lots of visual reminders. Because sometimes it's those moments when I'm nagging everyone to do their jobs, or I'm caught in worry over something, that I will see words of truth like these on the wall, and stop for just a moment. Re-center. Re-connect. A little breath of strength. Of gratitude. For the bigger picture, and the opportunity to grow, learn and change.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Growing


Mike gets all the credit for this great pic! We are so grateful to be parents to this crew! They inspire us and we strive to diligent parents. It feels like we learn something new each day about how to approach (or not approach something), but we keep trying.

I've been pondering a phrase to "raise a sin-resistant generation" for some time. I remember hearing it from President Nelson here and from Sister Jones here. Most recently, I love what Elder Taylor shared recently about this specific phrase: "To mothers, especially young mothers, who often feel overwhelmed and underwater while striving to raise "a sin-resistant generation," never underestimate your central role in God's plan. In stressful moments - perhaps when you are chasing little ones and a charred smell from the kitchen informs you that your lovingly prepared dinner is now a burnt offering - know that God sanctifies your most difficult days. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee," He peacefully reassures. We honor you as you fulfill the hope of Sister Joy D. Jones, who stated, "Our children deserve to understand their divine identity." More of his talk is here.

I know what those chasing/burnt smell moments feel like. More often than not, our dinners end up on the "slightly overcooked" side. And just last week I walked into the house after running an errand, only to discover a faucet had been left running. It was a slow run, and it was in the sink, but I had a moment.

We fully believe that striving to "raise sin-resistant children" is our purpose. It begins with ourselves, and understanding our identity. Our worth. Our eternal value beyond what others choose to label it.

I recently looked up the definition of raise:
1. To lift or move to a higher position or level.
2. Increase the amount, level or strength of.

"Raising sin-resistant children" is about creating space for growth, recognizing and feeling connection to our eternal worth and the voice of the Spirit. In everyday moments of learning that mistakes are an essential part of the everyday. I loved the words written about mistakes, repentance and forgiveness from Elder Robbins here.

Growing.

Always happening. Constant, yet can feel so slow.

Changing.

Full of missteps and opportunities to learn.

I'll write more on this later, but we've loved applying the advice to evaluate the kiddos regularly on five areas - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social. I feel like anytime we have moved and experienced a high amount of change, Mike and I talk about these even more frequently. But, it's interesting how much they blend together.

For example, the whole reason we were out "shopping together" (a rare thing for us!), is that after basketball the other day, I looked down and noticed a hole in the front of Max's shoes. I never knew shoes could wear out like they do! One of the kiddos needed some new shorts too (legs are getting looonnngg!), so we checked out a super big outlet mall nearby. It’s huge. We couldn’t believe the amount of people shopping with empty suitcases. It was an awesome to chat about how truly global the world is. And while the size of the place felt a bit overwhelming, we navigated where we needed to and headed out!

We met some physical needs. But in the course of the errand, we were able to connect with other areas as well. It gave us additional insights into our kiddos that we will continue to cultivate and help them discover and grow.

Of course, those were moments. Mixed between the ongoing learning experiences that not everyone buys something just because we all go together, of keeping track of them in the crowds, and reminding them that hungry tummies will be filled, but they may need to wait just a bit (and reminding that same kiddo of the snack they turned down earlier because they weren't hungry). But those moments woven in over time are what we strive for and are central to our family unit.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A new accessory

We’ve entered the chapter of braces! Of course by the time we picked up everyone from school a bit early (it was a tricky appointment slot to schedule!), we were scrambling to get to the appointment on time, but I had to snag a before:



And so glad I did. Here’s the after:



Doesn’t he look awesome?! 

And a pic of the “waiting.” I typically always have a little notepad, gel pens and stickers for things like this. And of course Tayler remembers the books. We see screens and technology for “passing time” as a choice, and as a family, strive to be mindful of how or when that choice is used. For us, teaching kiddos how to be present far outweighs any short-term distraction, so choosing to tolerate carrying around other things keeps us in line with what we strive to teach. We know as each kiddo ages, technology will become a much bigger part of their life - and giving them the capacity to connect to the "now" in non-screen ways is something we strive for as often as possible. It's a small way we really try "practicing presence." But gosh, technology has so much goodness to offer, and I do love the convenience of a camera and being able to take a simple quick photo of a little moment!


Friday, April 6, 2018

Florida Snapshot

We've been here *almost* six months! We've been creating and reworking so many of our old routines into every day life here, and we're feeling a good flow again in this chapter. Which had me thinking about past chapters, and how that was always an evolving thing too. I want to remember the "every day" and am beginning a tradition of "snapshot" posts to remember a recap in one spot. Like a little glimpse into the daily routines. I think I'll aim to do these at the first of each year, but this one begins in April as our "Florida snapshot."

Max is growing. A couple weeks ago he walked into the kitchen with this shirt that didn't even cover his torso and his shoulders occupying the part where the arm sleeve should be. I couldn't help but laugh. It was one of his back-to-school shirts we'd purchased at the beginning of the school year! We took a trip to the Nike outlet (probably his favorite store). He was a little hesitant to hand over his % of paying for new clothes, and was quick to find the bargains, but is now happily wearing shirts that fit.

Alexis tidies up her room every night before going to bed. I love watching her scurry around, give everything a place, and then brush off her hands with a little clapping sound once she's done. 

Sometimes I have to slam on my brakes when driving so that an iguana can cross the road safely. 

Tayler is a bookworm. It's the first thing she does when she comes home from school. She jumps for joy when it's time to go to the library. She takes books EVERYWHERE. She has so much animation to her voice in every story. Abigail LOVES it.


Our car is a disaster of books. 

"That's awkward" and "so disgusting" are two of the funniest phrases I hear from Abby throughout the day.

Socks full of sand end up all over the floor. Never in the laundry.

The girls and I ride bikes to/from school every day. Mike surprised me with a cruiser bike for Christmas and I smile every time I'm on it. My heart is so grateful. In our one day of house hunting and purchasing a home, we didn't know what the to/from school routine would look like, and I say a little prayer of thanks every day to God for being so mindful of little routines that matter so much and that bring so much joy.


I give as many hugs as they let me.

Max's school starts and ends about 2 hours later than the girls. The mornings he doesn't have bball practice, he uses that time to get ahead in homework, or we chat about current events or watch a Studio C clip. It's been awesome. 

I probably say "no thumb" or "take your thumb out of your mouth" to Abby at least 50 times a day. I figure at some point it will sink in. Work in progress.

Mike travels around a week out of every month, although it's broken up into smaller trips throughout. Initially, he was traveling a lot more, but things have settled into more of a consistent routine. I'm so grateful for how he just jumps into life with us as soon as he's home. And cleans the floors. It means the world.

Max received a basketball hoop for Christmas and we knew he would use it like crazy, but had no idea he'd utilize any moment. Anytime we pull into the garage, or get ready to leave, he grabs a basketball and gets a couple quick shots in. He practices every day after school, and his shooting and ball handling have really improved.

Max, Alexis and Tayler are all taking golf lessons. We started the older two in January and Tayler just started last week. They are all in the same hour, and Abigail and I hang out on this grass spot while they have their lesson. We read Elephant and Piggy books, she eats loads of snacks and plays under the trees. We look forward to it every week.


I don't remember the last time I unloaded the dishwasher. Or set the table. Or cleared the table. Or emptied the bathroom garbage cans. Or replaced toilet paper in the bathroom. So grateful to be in a chapter of hands helping and contributing in a variety of ways.

I also don't remember the last time I walked into the little girls room and it hasn't been covered with clothes, dress ups, books, dollhouse toys and all other things. I try to take a big breath as we tackle it each day.

I teach Alexis piano. She's diligent with her practice, and I feel so grateful to be able to do that with her. She wants to learn how to play the violin, and I feel like sometime over the next year we might find a teacher and add that in.


Our car now holds just two car seats. And technically it's one seat and one booster. 

Max builds PowerPoint presentations in his spare time. On all kinds of topics.

I am so grateful for the many different "hats" I've been able to wear during this journey of motherhood, and how much of a team of support Mike has been through it all. From working from home part-time, to teaching group fitness, to starting my own business, to volunteering on PTA boards, my heart is full with the variety of experiences and people I've met and learned so much from. And while I have many thoughts on this, and the flexibility we seem to embrace as women, I will say that I am continually discovering and finding peace with letting go of "hats" from other chapters, and wholeheartedly focusing on life here and now, and the "hats" I am currently wearing. I am hoping to take some time to piece these thoughts together in a way that makes a little more sense for a later post.

The girls play on the playset in our backyard every day. I'm soaking in the time I push Abby on the swings and find that more and more she prefers to be with her older sisters, immersed in whatever creative game they've come up with for the day. And it's absolutely okay.

Our backyard always has a football or soccer ball laying around. 

Max cracks his knuckles relentlessly.

Mike and I wake up around 5:30 for early morning workouts and scripture study, although we've done the same workout videos so many times he and I were just screaming with boredom. This last week we shook up the routine a bit and are both pretty excited about it. 

The girls are always humming or singing something.

One of our favorite moments in the day is to walk into the kitchen in the morning and see the kiddos up and reading their scriptures. It's been a two-year goal-setting work-in-progress in our family, and it still is far from perfect, but it's feeling consistent. We really wanted to create space for them to study on their own and to feel that personal connection first thing. 

Our family Scripture study still happens at night. For now that seems to be working.

We eat out once a week as a family. Usually it's Saturday night. I remember this tradition with my own family growing up and it has been so fun to continue. 

Our "morning devotional" is going strong while the kids eat breakfast. I most often alternate between the Friend and the New Era Magazines. 

I'm making and packing lunch for all three kiddos in the morning. That's a routine that needs to change with ownership handed to them, but we haven't quite gotten there yet. Work in progress.

We are so grateful for the opportunities we have to serve in our church no matter where we live. We think fondly of the time Mike was able to serve as a Bishop for our church congregation in Utah. Currently, he is the Young Men's President (he leads the boys 12-18) and they are in the middle of planning a fundraiser for summer camps. I'm currently serving as a Service Leader. It's been fun to connect with folks in an out-of-the-box way. We're in the midst of a fleece-blanket-making project.

We do our Family Home Evening lessons on Sunday nights. 

Monday nights are "game night." We love it. Transamerica is the game we play most right now.

Max loves scouts. He's set a goal to earn his Eagle.

I can't believe how quickly food disappears. 

Alexis loves attending activity days (girls 8-12 from our church congregation meet together a couple times a month). She's learning all kinds of fun things and loves that time with other girls.

Family movie nights are something we really look forward to. And it feels like we’ve finally entered a chapter where we can all sit and enjoy a movie together.

I look forward to reading parts of a chapter book each night with the kids. Some nights are getting trickier to squeeze it in, but I'm still trying.

Since the girls and I have around a 2-hour window before Max comes home from school, we usually use that time for homework, and do things like tea parties, a weekly "art time" and playing outside. Love the endless summer!

Friday cleaning day is going strong. Grateful for hands that help with cleaning, and while sometimes it happens begrudgingly, it sure is nice to have things clean. At least for a few minutes. 

We started up the jobs and boxes thing we do for money and personal management up again in January. And overall, it's going well and is building consistency. 

We're all making friends with neighbors, folks in the community and in our church congregation. There are good people everywhere.

Max has started babysitting for us and we go out about 2 times a month. He has created a "camp fun" where he's the "coach", Alexis is his "assistant coach" and Tayler and Abigail are the campers. The girls jump with excitement when they hear he's in charge. And we are so, so grateful to be entering the chapter of having an in-home sitter. And we head out on a weekly walk once the girls are down.

This is the first house we live in that doesn't have baby items throughout. I have a lot of thoughts on this that I hope to write more on, but in short I am so grateful for those years, and so grateful for the current chapter.

Saturday afternoons are still our set "family activity" time. We started that tradition years ago, and it has stuck! In Florida, we seem to almost always head to the pool. We love it.

Mike is still doing his monthly 1:1 chats with each kiddo the first Sunday of each month. 

For the first time in my adult (and teenage life), I'm experiencing more consistent clear acne-free skin. Sounds a bit silly to even write about, but it's been a huge confidence killer for me for many, many years. I didn't think I would ever actually see clear skin in my life. I was told about a gal that focuses not only on skin care, but nutrition and better understanding the source of acne. I went to her, learned a ton and started implementing her tools. It's taken nine months, but I'm starting to see more consistently clear skin. And I'm hopeful it will continue! So grateful for folks who see problems, and find true solutions rather than quick-fixes and that we can learn from their wisdom! 

Abigail is swimming on her own, as long as she can hold her breath. Still working on the swimming and breathing part. 

Family dinner is a constant. Alexis helps regularly with the prep and actual cooking. I'm hopeful that one day Abigail will actually eat dinner. Until then, I'll continue taking big breaths.

The kiddos all bring down and put away their own laundry. I'm still washing/drying the loads for everyone, but feeling a nudge that Max is ready to take full ownership of his. Work in progress.

I've found a yoga class at the gym that I love to go to.

Mike and I are trying to learn Spanish. But gosh it's hard to set time aside for it. We try to text one another in Spanish only. Which is fun. But the study in general feels really sporadic. Definitely a work in progress.

We talk about nature all the time. The sunset. The clouds. The trees. The flowers. Bugs. Animals.

While we haven't made it to an allergist, I'm 99% sure that some of us have a tree pollen allergy. It's been a beast these last two months with higher pollen counts, and I need to learn tools in the long-term to navigate and prepare better for it next year. Gratefully, the season seems to be changing. Work in progress.

I read/listen to multiple books at a time. I try to squeeze in bits and pieces whenever I can. I have a long list of ones to get to - but most books center on personal growth, learning tools to teach to the family, messages on resilience and the value of work, and spiritual growth. My nightstand is an explosion of books. So much goodness.

Whew, and I guess that's the everyday life in a nutshell!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Two Perspectives

The girls and I kicked off spring break (while Mike and Max were on a scout campout to the Florida Keys) and joined up with friends at the beach! It was amazing weather, and we look forward to many more beach days to come.

And as the girls and I were at the beach, two perspectives really spoke to me. We'd spent an awesome time together on the beach and in the sand. I feel like I'm getting better with managing the sand and the beach experience - not overpacking, remembering to reapply sunscreen, and we brought a volleyball along which we attempted to pass back and forth. We spent more time chasing after it, but it was fun. The water was beautiful.

As we were leaving and walking through the parking garage to our car, the view from the parking garage was incredible! I couldn't believe how beautiful the beach looked! The color of the water was so much more brilliant when you were at a higher place to see it. The sand looked majestic, and the view in general was so much broader than what we'd experienced on the beach.

The whole drive home I pondered those two very different perspectives. And really thought about how much I spend my moments in life "on the beach." And while I believe those moments are essential, I cherish the time I take to go to "higher ground" to spend moments pondering a broader perspective. To see the bigger picture and remember how we truly are all connected. I found myself getting a little teary eyed with gratitude, thinking about how much I appreciate those "higher ground" moments in life as they empower and strengthen me far beyond any strengthening I could do if I only stayed "on the beach." 

So much wisdom from nature.