Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pretty Pictures

I missed my post for Tuesday.  We had to run some errands Monday night that took us pretty near the temple.  We decided to take a look at the grounds, since we were so close.  I’m so glad we did.  It was truly beautiful and really helped me See Christmas Clearly, not only for the time we walked around the grounds, but for all of Tuesday – it just stayed with me.

Nativity at the Temple photo

(Sean took that one with his iPhone.)

My beautiful thing for today also has to do with a picture, actually 500 of them.  I finally got all the kids’ pictures sent off to Costco for one of their Christmas presents.  It feels like I’ve been working on it forever!  Basically, they will each get about 75 pictures of them from since they were a baby up to present day.  Then I have a whole bunch of family pictures of the kids playing together and hiking as a family and doing stuff with their cousins.  They will get to hunt and peck through those Christmas day to fill up the rest of their individual photo album.  Each child will get a very simple album that they can organize and do whatever they want with.  That way, they will each have something to keep by their beds to pull out when they are feeling lonely or sad or they just want to remember something funny.  I am hoping that seeing all those pictures of them smiling and playing together will help them know they are deeply loved and needed by every member of our family.  Three cheers for getting that one checked off the Christmas to-do list!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Three Beauties

Please forgive my lack of pictures to keep things interesting today.

It was hard to find time to write over the weekend, but I carried on in my quest to find something beautiful each day – to See Christmas Clearly.  Here is what I saw:

Saturday: Anna offered to help wrap presents.  While her enthusiasm for the offer only lasted long enough to wrap one gift, the euphoric thought of me not having to do it all by myself lifted my spirits for the next few hours.

Sunday: The talks in church were about the true gift of Christmas – Christ.  And about giving gifts that really matter – gifts that help bring others to Christ.  It helped me re-think my gift list and holiday to-do list to make sure I am giving and doing what matters most.  I appreciated the opportunity to re-focus.

Monday: I made three batches of strawberry jam before 9:00 this morning.  ‘Nuff said.

(Now I’m going back to bed.)  ;>

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lu’s Art Class

Today has not been my favorite day.  The early morning started out well enough, but by the time the kids had all walked out the door, my enthusiasm for the day evaporated.  I laid on the couch feeling grumpy and uninspired.  And I kept trying with all my little might to find something beautiful about today.  Days like today are the reason I invented my challenge – so I would please, oh, please find someway out of my own self-destructive mess.  I needed some extra help today.  Enter: LuLu – Bad Mood Buster Extraordinaire!


Once I finally forced myself up off the couch to get some lunch (and finally get dressed), LuLu guided me to the table, pulled out colored pencils and put a piece of paper in front of me.  She proceeded to give me an art lesson.  “Take your red pencil and draw a line like this.” “Take your blue pencil and draw a line like this.  Good job!” “Take your black pencil and make circles.”  I made swirly circles, which she totally rolled with, “I like your lollipops.  You make lollipops on your paper and I’ll make circles on my paper.”  And so it went until she felt we were finished with our art.


After some friends left this afternoon (there’s nothing like company to get me dressed and upright), Lu entertained me with song after song after made-up song that had me laughing out loud.  She also instructed me that if I was not going to stand up and dance with her, I needed to “wiggle on the couch” while she sang more songs to me.


My good mood from 7:00am returned and I’ve been busy doing good things ever since.  Alyxandria, thank you for being my beautiful thing today.  Thank you for lifting my spirits and being such a faithful, sweet companion.  It is my joy and privilege to spend each day with you.  I love you, little Lu!  You are a miracle, my love.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Love Notes

A beautiful thing in my life is love notes.  Just the other day I got an email from a friend I haven’t seen in a while.  It was short and simple and sweet – “How are you?” “I’m thinking about you.”  It warmed my heart and made me feel loved and appreciated.

I put a chocolate kiss (the mint truffle kind – yum!) and a little note on the pillows of my little ones yesterday afternoon.  It is something I’ve needed to do for months, but kept procrastinating.  But things have been a little rough around here lately and I felt like it was high time a few words and some chocolate worked its magic.

I think the magic it works is mostly in me.  I pause to really think about how that person has blessed my life.  And I feel blessed because of them – because of who they are and the privilege I have of walking along this path of life with them, even if it is only just crossing paths. 

When we take the time to willingly love another person – to let them know they are loved – we make beautiful things happen both within them and within ourselves.  They feel the warm glow of being appreciated and valued.  And we feel the light and warmth that comes from Heaven telling us we did good in helping another human being feel loved.  That is a beautiful thing.  It helps me see the true magic of Christmas a little more clearly.

Do something beautiful today (and then tell me about it).  ;>

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Seeing Christmas Clearly

I had an epiphany of sorts last night.  Without going into the long tear-laced details, let’s just say I realized normal everyday beauty has been missing from my life.  Not that I am not surrounded by a multitude of beautiful things, but I just haven’t been seeing them lately.Christmas Tags 001

Enter my Christmas project: Seeing Christmas Clearly!

Christmas Tags 004

I am going to do my very best to see and document something beautiful everyday for the rest of the month.  It may be something I see or do or experience or remember or whatever – but something beautiful.  Something that reminds me that Christ loves me.  That this season celebrates Him.  And if I can see the beauty He pours into my everyday life, I will see Him.

Christmas Tags 008

For my Seeing Christmas Clearly post today I have gift tags the littles and I made before school this morning.  We covered the table with scissors and glue sticks and markers and all different kinds of paper and ribbons and yarn and went to town making something a little extra special for those we love the most.  We listened to Christmas music and praised each other’s ideas.  They turned out beautifully and the spirit of the morning was beautiful!  And I felt happy and blessed.

Christmas Tags 011

What will you see this Christmas season?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks


Every year I have great plans for holidays, everything from New Year’s to Christmas, including birthdays, and first and last days of school.  I’m going to make them more meaningful, more memorable, more fun.  But inevitably things don’t work out for one reason or another – schedules, health, life circumstances.  Last year Seminary threw a wrench into virtually everything (a good wrench, but a wrench, nonetheless).  This year was going to be different. Alas, it was not to be.  You see, I have a wee little babe in my belly at the moment, and man oh, man, does that wipe me out.


So, while I read some lovely articles on meaningful family traditions for Thanksgiving, I was instantly disappointed knowing these ideas were not going to make it into our celebrations this year.  But then I had a brilliant idea in the middle of dinner one night.  Maybe I wasn’t going to get a Gratitude Tree crafted from branches in my backyard, complete with hand-cut leaves for writing our many blessings on, but we could go round and round the table talking about our blessings.  And a few nights later we could do an ABC list of blessings going around the table again, but only saying a blessing that begins with each letter of the alphabet in order (zippers are an often overlooked blessing).


One quiet Sunday evening, while Sean and Djeryd were gone, the littles and I cut up some scrapbooking cardstock and made Thank You cards for anyone we could think of.  They wrote out cards for teachers and grandparents and cousins, the mailman and garbage man.  Admittedly, after Alyx’s tenth card of nothing but scribbles, I had to put a kibosh on her use of the cards and just give her blank paper for her “writings”.  But the other kids had free reign.  I even decided to leave a little basket of cards and envelopes on the table for the rest of the month so they could say “thanks” whenever the mood struck.


So even though we have not done all the marvelous grateful things I wanted to for the month of November, we have managed to squeak in a few things.  And that makes me happy.  All of it was spontaneous because planning, at the moment, is just an exercise in frustration for me (planning is over-rated anyway).  ;>  I am just grateful we’ve taken a few minutes here and there to take stock of our blessings and the people who bless our lives this month.  It was not what I imagined in my perfect, white-frosty-glowing imagination, but hopefully the kids will take away something from our impromptu “traditions” this year.  I hope they are thankful we took a moment to say “thanks”.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Process


I thought you all might enjoy a little peak into our house as it has been over the past month, so you can be thankful that it’s not your house.  ;>


Sean and I got this crazy notion to rip out almost all of the flooring downstairs and replace it with hardwood.  (Really, if you think we’re crazy, try living with four little kids and “white” carpet in your dining room.  Believe me, if you don’t start out crazy, you will be shortly.)


We’ve also been wanting to repaint the kitchen and laundry room.


All of that beautifying makes a lot of mess.  The master bedroom is now graced with a piano, which my children wander in and play whenever they darn well please.


And you can no longer walk into the office without taking your life in your hands.


Oh, and then there are the anticipated and unanticipated hiccups.  Always an adventure.


But, things are actually moving along now.  With any luck, we’ll be done by the time my family floods our house for Thanksgivagain.  Ah!  The race is on!  (Sean, you’re amazing, by the way.)

Full story and big reveal coming soon . . . like when it’s actually finished.

Monday, November 25, 2013

LuLu Lops Her Locks

LuLu has curly hair the color of honey.  Aside from a trim here and there to keep things even and tidy, Lu has never had an honest to goodness chop-it-all-off kind of haircut.


That is, until this happened.


It was a late sort of evening.  Family Night, actually, which always seems to push things later than normal.  We thought everyone was downstairs wrapping up the evening with reminders about permissions slips that needed signing, stories from the day that hadn’t been told yet; you know how it is.


Then Anna’s voice rings out, “Mom? You’re gonna want to see this!”  We all raced upstairs. 

Now that was one thing I did not want to see.


My past self would have totally freaked out, I think.  A later me would have sighed heavily, given my three-year-old a pointless lecture and been ticked off the rest of the night.  Instead I just started laughing and sent someone downstairs to get the camera.  The giggles continued was the kids kept finding little piles of hair all around the room, mostly in front of the big mirror that sits on the floor and behind the door where Lu was hiding after the alarm was sounded.


Alyx had taken a fistful of curls off of each side right over her ears.  The back was left long and mullet flashbacks of the 80’s were flooding my brain.  I trotted her into the bathroom (the whole family followed) and we set to work laughing some more and trying to make her presentable in public.


As much as I miss her lovely locks, she’s so stinkin’ cute that I’m equally tickled with her little mess of pixie curls.  The moral of the story is: When life gives you fistfuls of perfectly good hair (that should be attached to your three-year-old’s head) . . . laugh . . . and make sure you grab the camera.

Friday, November 15, 2013


A week or two ago Alyx and I picked up a book from the library called Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson.  That book made applesauce-making look so easy and so fun and so yummy that I could not pass up the apples at the grocery store yesterday.  It’s apple season so prices are great and the fruit is fresh and crispy and juicy. 

1-Floor, applesauce

We followed the instructions from the simple picture book and made the very best applesauce we’ve ever had.  Delicious!  The littles had to go to bed before we finished, so Djeryd, Sean and I took care of the last few steps.  This morning we had pancakes and fresh applesauce.  It all felt so good and homey and comforting in the way food can be when you know it is made with love.  I may not eek out another batch this season, but I feel good about making even just this one small one with my children.  A lot of apples, a little sugar and spice, a lot of love, and a memory.  Yummy!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Family Photo Shoot


My wonderful daddy took some family pictures for me a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, we did not get a decent shot of everyone all together, but we wound up with some pretty fun ones otherwise.  Perhaps we shall try again.


This is a pretty decent reality shot – Anna’s fake smile, me trying to tell my dad what I want, and Lu . . . exploring.


This is honestly my very best all-boys shot.  The boys and their smiles were less than cooperative.  While it is not “picture perfect”, it certainly tells a story about that shoot.


Now to pick the ones I like best for hanging on some walls around here.  I want to put some of these on canvas, but I’m not sure which ones or where to hang them.  These are fun decisions to make, though.  I can’t help but smile at these beautiful people I love so much.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One of My Nicer Moments


In something of relation to my messy projects post from the other day, I present something I have only done maybe five times in the past fifteen years: let my kids build a fort and then sleep in it.  I think five is an exaggerated number.  I think the actual number is probably closer to two.  I have a whole list of reasons why I don’t like forts and sleeping on the floor, but last month I was in a sweet, peaceful mommy mood and set all of that aside in the name of creating happy memories.


The crazy thing about it all was that it wasn’t a big deal.  At all.  The kids were great.  Everyone was happy and got along.  We got the mess all cleaned up in the morning without any complaints.  And best of all, I really enjoyed my evening that night.  Sean and Djeryd were at a campout, so once the kids went down I was all alone.  Normally I put the kids to bed upstairs, then wander downstairs and stay up way too late watching Netflix so I don’t miss Sean too much.  But on this night, I tucked the kids under the table, curled up on the couch so I could keep an eye on the wiggles and giggles, and took care of a bunch of stuff for my Primary calling at church.  I went to bed early and happy and content.  So did my sweet children.

I almost can’t wait for the next campout. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Lu Post


I know I should write down all the wacky things she says . . .


and does . . .


She’s at that delightful stage where virtually everything makes me laugh . . .


and it’s so hard to discipline all that cuteness . . .


So I just try to soak up every little bit of my wonderful little Lu.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crafting with Kidlets


I was recently asked about my favorite thing to do.  Do you know what I wrote? Crafting with my kids.


I wish I was more artistic and more of a free spirit and, well, a lot of other things.  But I think because of that I try to make sure my kids have artistic experiences and opportunities.


I find creating relaxing and invigorating at the same time.  It is fulfilling and makes me happy.  I love playing with color and different mediums.  I want my kids to be able to experience the same happy calm that comes through the creative process.


Small disclaimer: Just because these are the things I want for my children, and you look at these pictures and think we craft everyday – we don’t.  Sometimes I hate pulling out the paint or the play-doh or the glue and paper and scissors and markers because I know it will make a mess.  Usually a big one.  And usually one I have to clean up mostly by myself.  I have to make a conscious decision to choose creativity over convenience.  And oftentimes I don’t make that decision.  I find it easier to invite creation when the dried on paint from the last venture is completely scraped off the dining room table and I can’t remember that it took me three weeks to clean it.  (I’m thinking a ratty old table cloth would make clean-up a lot easier.  I will have to try that.)


But the rewarding part to me is oh, so rewarding.  For instance, with Erik’s note project, he decided he wanted to create a stamp and stamp it all over for a background on his poster.  So we found a sponge to cut, he asked his brother to cut a block of wood for him on the saw in the garage, we heated up the glue gun, and – viola`- a self-made stamp is born.


Djeryd is working on a poster about Edgar Allan Poe at the moment for English.  My creative boy, because of past experience, came up with the idea to make a fluffy had for a skeleton so it looks like The Mask of the Red Death.  Out comes tissue paper, glue and a pencil.  And he is going to have a terrific poster when he’s done.


If I can try to remember my ultimate goal in all of this, it makes saying “yes” to the mess a whole lot easier.  My parents bought me a plaque I keep in my messy living space.  It says, “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories.”  Djeryd is fond of reminding me of its wisdom when my internal mess-o-meter is going ballistic.  I remind myself the pathway to almost any worthy goal is slow going – so be patient and keep making creative messes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Water and Sun and Heat


September had some really nice days in it this year.  For one of them Alyx and I trotted over to a nearby water park to play with some friends.


It was a nice way to squeeze in a little more summer.  Don’t you think water and sunshine are therapeutic?  We’ve miraculously had lots of sunshine lately, but the temperatures have dropped and won’t be back for several months.  I think I need to move to California.  There is just something about the bright sunshine sparkling up the water and the weather being warm enough to splash and play that makes me infinitely happy.


I’m glad Lu got in some extra splashing and playing before the season was completely over.  Until next year, water and sun and heat.  We will miss you.

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