General Conference Traditions

I’m excited about this new tradition that we started last October at General Conference time. Last year I made a make-shift b/w print that barely made it out of my printer. But we kept it up for 6 months. This week, I created a new one that will hopefully last longer and be easier to erase/change in 6 months.

I love that I can use a wet-erase overhead projector marker and it doesn’t wipe off when our shirt bumps the glass.

I love that we have a quick reference of what we learned in General Conference. Hopefully the kids look at it occasionally since I hung it at their eye level.

I love that my kids can learn the names of the apostles.

I love this quote by Elder Andersen:

Here’s Hannah’s video version on the LDS Apostles song to the tune of 10 little Indians. We taught it to the primary kids on Sunday when we had a lesson on our Living Prophet today. They learned it so well and loved singing it fast.
[youtube width=”640″ height=”510″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGY5TpFUPa4[/youtube]

Another tradition the kids wanted to continue from last year is having our “Conference Mix”. We just throw a bunch of crackers, pretzels, raisins, m&ms in and it keeps the kids satisfied for a good few hours.

p.s. if anyone is interested, I posted the freebies to the apostles poster and 4×6/5×7 prints on my Simply Fresh Designs blog.

The Color of Joy

This morning I woke and felt like crying because I was so tired… and was dealing with cranky tots. I don’t know that I slept much from 4:30 on. Not good for this mama. I had a busy day with doctor and dentist appointments for me and the tots. My dear mother saved the day and watched the 2 littles, tidied my entire kitchen, folded laundry, and more. After she left, we had 2 big spills under the table. Will the floor ever be truly clean? By dinner, I was in tears again with exhaustion thinking about dinner prep. Then Hannah saved the day and took the 2 little boys upstairs to play. I was able to make dinner without hardly an interruption… a miracle.

I was thinking about how I’m longing for bright cheery colors of spring … and thought about the color of JOY. Can you imagine what the color of JOY is to you? I think it changes for me. Sometimes it’s bold and deep golden yellow. Sometimes it’s peaceful blue. Sometimes it’s bright and cheerful grass green … or popsicle red.
So at the end of this Monday, I wanted to think about the JOY I had today:

Music. Max singing so loudly in his cute 3-year-old voice from the bathroom in the middle of dinner … “The hills are alive… Super Why. Super Why.” If you know those songs, imagine linking the 2 tunes together.

Flowers. The deer haven’t eaten my tulips. Yay! We sprinkled hair clippings around the flowerbed because the deer supposedly don’t like the smell of humans and will stay away. May we have 50+ lovely tulips to enjoy in a few weeks.

Darling daughter. Hannah entertaining boys for an hour.

Love. Jimmy answering every one of my phone calls. I told him I called him so much because each time was like a hug… I needed his support and love to make it through.

Support. My mom getting things put together around here.

Ibuprofen… helped Tru so he didn’t scream all day. 2 molars breaking forth at the same time = hard on Tru and everyone. But the joy… more teeth to mash all those veggies with.

No cavities for tots at the dentist! Also, Max did splendidly and thought it fun.

Max’s prayers. So cute and funny. “Grateful dad go work. Grateful dad build fence. Grateful go dentist… get all clean. Grateful dad go scouts. Grateful Grandma stay. Grateful dad be safe.” Mostly he prays about Jimmy.

FHE on Prayer. There weren’t any major meltdowns… only a minor one from Max. Hannah sang a special musical number that was an unphotographable moment that I always want to remember… A Child’s Prayer in various childlike keys. So sweet. The older kids seemed to actually get what we were teaching. Love those moments.

Testimony. Jimmy shared a story from the other evening about when we felt a simple prayer was answered about a mishap with the fence construction. The kids were wide-eyed and curious. Prayers are answered in simple ways every day. What a blessing.

Life. I went to the doctor and heard baby’s heartbeat going strong. A JOY to hear. Glad I’m alive to be a mom.

Lovies. I had some good Max loves today… kisses and hugs. Tru even gave a hug today… a miracle for his mood.

Courage. Abe was near tears from fright at the dentist. I encouraged. But he had courage. He did great! Life experiences build character.

Max singing Book of Mormon Stories with the cutest actions … “Giv’n this land if they lips… righteousleeps.”

Quiet time. I need quiet and peace in my life. Sometimes it’s that 1 minute in the bathroom a few times a day. Mostly it’s after 7 p.m. when tots are sleeping (please sleep through the night kids!). Quiet is JOY… to regroup and gain perspective.

Anyhoo – I’ll stop here. I just wanted to remind myself that there were good things in this day.

LDS Humanitarian Services

I wanted to share this video we watched for FHE tonight. We talked with the kids about LDS Humanitarian Services and how they use donations to help others of all faiths around the world. They were wide-eyed about many of the situations people, especially children, live in. I think it helped them realize how much we have and how little others have – a bit of cultural education for them (without being too intense or harsh on their innocent minds and hearts).

prayer: trials and earthquakes?

When I was at BYU, a friend asked if I prayed for trials. I told him that I figured Heavenly Father would send all that I needed… and frankly, I wasn’t interested in asking for more.  He didn’t exactly agree with me.

Yesterday in sacrament meeting the preparedness specialist advised us to pray for the earthquake to happen during the day, in warm weather, and not on Sunday.  Huh? Again, though a large earthquake may be inevitable, I don’t want to pray it here. And honestly, sunlight would be nice for cleanup and safety, but I’d almost rather it happen at night when I know my family is close by. Jimmy wouldn’t be 40 minutes away and the kids wouldn’t be scared at school. I want to be together as a fam… which is also why I wouldn’t pray for it to NOT come on Sunday. As for warm weather… yah – okay, I’d much rather have a natural disaster in warm weather. Still… I’m not going to pray it here.

So – what am I willing to prayer for?

Perhaps I’m completely off-base… and a perfect heathen. Maybe it’s appropriate to pray for trials. But for now, I’ll work on spiritual strength so I have a reservoir of faith when the trials do come.

p.s. last night in the middle of our couple prayer, there was a tiny tremor. Jimmy paused. I wondered if it really was an earthquake. The seismologists never acknowledged it though our neighbors felt it too. Now – if it would have happened 6 hours earlier, we wouldn’t have felt it because Abe was busy bouncing all around the house. But – as it was… it happened on Sunday, in cold weather, and at night… not exactly what our preparedness specialist was hoping for. May the big one never come!

There is ALWAYS hope

Do you see what grows in the front of my house? My tulips are showing themselves. There is HOPE that spring will find it’s way here very soon.

Darling Flower Painting by Stephanie Ackerman @ Homegrown Hospitality

i’d like to ride a bicycle… yes, a bicycle… a bicycle

Did you hear my song there in the header? Like a little tune you’d make up to sing to a tot. There it is. Today while I was rocking Tru before his nap, I thought of how cool riding a bike is. Seriously – can it get better than having the breeze in your face, blowing through your hair, getting exercise, enjoying God’s creations out of doors (in the warmth… I might add)? It’s a freeing activity. I think there are a few all-important things in a kid’s life… two of which are swinging and riding bikes. There’s something thrilling and rejuvenating about both of those activities. They give you a lift. Whenever I do either activity, I feel like a kid again… without a care in the world. This quote reminds me of the JOY in riding a bike.

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark,
when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having,
just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road,
without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

So my bicycle dream is for the whole fam to have great bikes. I’ll take the yellow one with the bucket to strap the 3 youngest in. Jimmy, Hannah, and Abe can have the others.

And OFF Weeeeeeee GO into the wilderness called the river trail in our neighborhood. Wouldn’t that be fun? Well – fun until someone crashes and skins a knee or the 3 youngest are kicking each other. Or someone has to go potty … or the mosquitos come out. We’ll just imagine our bike ride in wonderland with the happy Smith family bellowing “I have confidence in sunshine” like the Von Trapp Family singers. Perhaps just a dream… but a good one.

Victory and Struggle

A few weeks ago we watched the wrestling movie Legendary. It wasn’t the most awesomely inspirational movie ever, but the ending struck me as an important life lesson. We don’t always come out victorious… succeed at everything we try… or win every battle/race.

But isn’t life just like that… that we’re not in this to be perfect here on earth. Yes, we try and keep on moving onward. But most of the time it’s the STRUGGLE that builds CHARACTER.  We’re here discovering our potential as a child of God.  We’re here to bless others lives and discover that mission that only we can accomplish.  And therein lies GROWTH.

I love this lesson… okay, don’t love to experience growth and struggle… But I love the realization that even though I’m not the perfect wife, mom, daughter, sister, primary leader… I am BECOMING through all the struggle and occasional accomplishment.  It’s a lovely thought that gives me hope that all is not lost with this mama.

Gratitude: Holy, Unhurried, Ordinary Moments

The creative side of me loves the fine poetry, the beautiful MOMENTS captured, ordinary-ness of this video.

The spiritual side of me wants to REMEMBER to keep my life unhurried… to LOVE those nearby… to appreciate the BLESSINGS here and now.

The mother in me LONGS to never forget that “heaven scent” on baby’s skin… HOPES to help my children feel the Love of God… and to feel confident in who they are as a child of God.

We can do HARD things

This has turned out to be the theme for the week. Mostly because this week was really, really hard. My friend Diana used “We can do hard things” as their family theme last year. And ever since then I’ve wondered if I really could do hard things. I think I’m an utter wimp sometimes. I certainly don’t want to have to do hard things. But in the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that with God (and ONLY with God), I can do hard things. As a family, with God, we can do hard things. I think it’s a really important message to instill in our children. We all survived this week… that’s a plus.

A few examples…

Mornings: Jimmy started a new job this week. This means instead of him getting the kids off to school and driving them to the bus before heading to work, he is leaving at 6:40 or so. Which means slow-poke Mom is in charge of getting the tots off. I know I’m a complete wimp, but mornings are hard for me. Some days this means I drive the kids since we missed the bus. Some days this means cold cereal – again. But even though I don’t like to start the chaos so early, I’ve been able to do it. He Gives me Strength!

Wednesday morning 6 a.m.: I didn’t know how I’d make it through the day. Abe had gotten up several times during the night to tell us he had a cough. He kept coming in just as I’d finally fallen back to sleep. I was tired. Hannah had been home sick all week. It’s draining to stay on top of sick kiddos. But by the end of the day, I could see how Heavenly Father gave me strength to take care of the kids and keep going. Even after Jimmy had to go to scouts, I got the kids in bed by myself on time (truly a miracle). It really is amazing how much we can handle when we rely on the Lord.

Potty Training: This is a conversation I have about 20 times a day with Max as we’ve been spending lots of time in the bathroom.

Max: “Ohhhh, Go Potty.”
Mom: “Quick, run to the bathroom.”
Mom: “Pull down your pants and your underwear.”
Max: “It’s way hard.”
Mom: “You can do it. You need to try.”
… one day after 20 minutes of crying and trying to get that poop out …
Max: “It’s too hard. I go pee-pee. I all done. Maybe later.”
Mom: “You can do hard things. Keep trying.”
… mission accomplished …
Mom: “Ok, flush the toilet.”
Max: “I can’t. It’s hard.”
Mom: “You can do it. Push down hard.”

This has been my week. Sorry for the potty talk. But for reals… for a 3-year-old, that is a hard thing. Pulling up and down pants is quite a challenge. But he’s learning… a lot. Plus, he’s learning that he can do hard things. Oh, the joy in accomplishment, especially in basic life skills.

Jimmy: Have to put in a plug for Jimmy on this topic. This man can do hard things… like deal with his ornery tired wife who’s coughing up a lung all night. Like make dinner even though I know he’s tired from work. He’s willing to make up where I can’t manage. Mostly I feel bad that I can’t do more this week, but I’m grateful that he’s willing to put up with hard circumstances.

*Sunshine*

The last few afternoons I’ve been soaking in all the SUNSHINE pouring in my south-facing windows. Seems like we’ve had lots of grey bleh cloudy smoggy days in the past few weeks. I love me some SUNSHINE!1. Oranges!, 2. Untitled, 3. Glass Marbles, 4. HOPE 5. Untitled, 6. .heaven, 7. The tulip orchard, 8. Old Fashioned Tractor, 9. Sunflower