Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lesson Learned from an Unexpected Source

Last weekend was our yearly broadcast of Stake Conference. It was given from Utah State University to all of Northern Utah & I'm assuming parts of Idaho and Wyoming as well. We've only had one other broadcast, and that seemed to be mostly talks about someone else's relatives coming across the plains. Not really enough to keep this ADHD stricken girl attentive. It made me not generally a fan of the broadcast ones, and let's face it--once the lights go down in the chapel, it triggers my sleep response. Its one redeeming grace is the fact that our Stake Center is not big enough to house everyone, so they show the meeting in two sessions. This removes any guilt I may have for not making my kids sit through 2 hours of sacrament meeting. Mike goes to one session and I go to the other. It really is least until the kids are old enough to not be a complete disruption. In fact, because Maggie was baptized a couple of months ago, I thought she was ready to come to conference with me, so we packed up our scriptures, our notebooks and pens an headed out.
I think the last time I took a notebook and pen to a meeting was in college. There really is no point, now that I have kids. Unless I grew a third arm for writing, and a second head that could pay attention to something other than flying crayons and elbows. I asked Maggie to bring her notebook along as well because I knew she couldn't be still and pay attention the whole time either. She let me read some of what she had written earlier--things like: I *heart* Hannah Montana. Jana is my best friend. And some story about being a fairy. Gotta love that girl of mine.
I had forgotten how much more I get out of meetings when I'm writing. Some of the things I wrote down were:

  • "Going to the temple will peel off the selfish shell." I have not made a valiant enough effort to get to the temple. I've used my children as an excuse, and I've used the Mortuary as an excuse for not having enough time to go. I had the distinct impression as I was listening to Elder Rasband's talk that I've proven I can get up early to work out, so I also need to get up early to go to the temple. Mike and I have two weekends a month that we are not on-call, so we can trade off going to the 5 or 6 am session on those Saturday mornings. Imagine how I felt when I shared this impression with Mike and was told he had thought the exact same thing. Guess you know where one of us will be Saturday.
  • "The degree we to which we keep the commandments is the degree to which we love the Lord." (quoted from a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf) I need to more closely examine the things in my life that would keep me from loving the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength. Most pressing on my mind is the command to "pray always" as I've NEVER been good at prayer. Meredith was telling me about a talk she heard--I apologize for not knowing the reference--where it was said that prayer cannot be sincere without sincere scripture study. I'm still struggling to find that daily study time, though we've been quite successful at family scripture study. I think this may be my missing link.
  • "If others have come up easier, they have not learned so much."--John Tanner, on crossing the plains and losing everything. Not only does this help me keep my trials in perspective, but it really made me want to go read more about my progenitors. I guess I can pay attention to pioneer stories.
  • "Optimism is THE virtue to be considered during tribulation." and "Hard times create a great place to raise latter-day families."
  • "Be CONSISTENT: in family prayer, in scripture study and in alone time with each child." I love President Eyring. I think if we knew each other, we'd be great friends. Of any of the apostles, I feel like he just has love laced through every sentence he utters. We are very consistent in family prayer. We are becoming consistent in family scripture study. I need to be better about spending more individual time with Maggie, Brooke and Katie.
All of these are things I wanted to remember. Things that made an impression on me, and things that, if incorporated into my life, will make me a better person. I expect to find nuggets like this in the meetings I attend, when I look for them. What's an even greater blessing is when you find nuggets without searching. During Pres. Eyring's talk, I noticed Maggie busily scribbling away in her notebook. Her writings had entertained me so much before, that on the way home I asked what she'd been writing. She said, "Oh, just some things that I thought that I should do when I was listening to that talk."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Like, I should love others more and be nicer to my sisters."
I immediately thought of Elder Scott's talk from General Conference on acquiring spiritual guidance. I was able to help Maggie understand that the thoughts she had during Elder Eyring's talk was the Holy Ghost giving her inspiration. What an amazing experience to be able to teach my daughter about something so seemingly intangible to a lot of people, in such a tangible way. I hope she won't forget our conference experience together. I know I certainly never will.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our ONE Day of Fall

So, before the snow flew this morning (Hello, Winter!), Mike was able to rake a few leaves up over at the mortuary while I worked on winterizing a couple of the garden beds here at home. Of course the girls opted to help Dad instead of me since one of their favorite things is jumping into piles of newly raked leaves. It also one of my favorite things to take pictures of. (Wish I had a great camera and some sweet photog skills.)

Dixon hasn't spent a lot of time outside in his short life, so he was loving the fresh air and crinkling leaves. I just can't get enough of this kid.

Chocolate Caramel Apple Madness

For Family Home Evening last night, we made some "Gourmet" Carmel Apples. I think I'll follow a recipe next time instead of try to figure it out by myself. The caramel slid off all the apples, and therefore so did all the chocolatey goodness. Didn't matter to the kids (or us), they ate them up just the same.

Even Dixon got in on the chocolate madness.

And Brooke's apple demanded some recourse, so it took her tooth.

Happy Boy

Just some randoms taken of Dixon in the last few weeks. Yes, he really is this happy all the time. Can't believe how big he's getting! The one on the right of him in the Bumbo cracks me up. He refuses to sit in it straight, and always assumes the starting position. Maybe he's an innate track star...

Slave Labor

See, I wasn't kidding when I said I "make" my kids clean. It's actually more like them begging to help me and me reluctantly letting them, knowing that I'll have to redo whatever they just finished. Ahh. The joys of motherhood.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Capturing the Everyday

A couple of weeks ago I read a great post about "Capturing the Everyday." It inspired me so much that I pulled out my camera to take a few pics of what was going on at the moment. Here's what I found:
Pizza Night at the Stringhams! I love making individual pizzas for the girls and letting them top their own. They think it's a blast, and I don't hear complaints about not liking dinner.

Dixon sat in his Bumbo, very interested in what was happening around him. He also liked to crinkle the plastic Walmart bag next to him--full of groceries yet to be put away. You'll notice the mail sitting on the table as well...

I love this one. Maggie's instructions to Bridget on how to top a pizza, all the while having a death grip on the remote control. You'll see a theme here--first groceries, then mail, now dirty dishes still sitting on the counter.

Yeah, this is my everyday. And it was a good one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day in the Life

Two weeks! I'm having blog withdrawls. I just haven't been able to find a spare minute to write anything lately. Not that anyone is really interested, but my schedule has been somewhat CraZY and I wanted to document it so that I can look back when the kids are teenagers and long for these "quiet" days...or so I hear.

4:30—Awakened by a hungry baby who has probably already been up at least once in the night.

5:00—Put Dixon back to bed, throw on my sneakers and (usually grudgingly) head out to the gym, where I am tempted to park, lay the seat back, and nap for the next hour—but I don’t.

6:00—Return home so the hubbers can get his workout in from 6-7. In the meantime, prepare breakfast for the kiddos & make sure they’re out of bed to eat it. Spend the next hour trying to keep them on task as they eat, brush teeth, & get themselves dressed amidst mom’s continual reminders and counting down. ( i.e. “You have two minutes left! No, you don’t have to show us how you can twirl all the way around on one foot without falling over—eat your pancakes! You can’t brush your teeth and talk at the same time—clean the toothpaste off the floor now! Stop playing with your Barbies and get dressed! FIVE MINUTES, GIRLS!)

6:45—Work feverishly to get their hair done so they don’t go to school looking like they just rolled out of bed, which is suspiciously what Mom's hair looks like.

7:00—Hubby returns from workout. Read one chapter of scripture as a family & kneel for family prayer.

7:30—Carpool arrives and we just hope no one has any "forgotten" homework, and that it's all INSIDE the backpacks, and everything is signed that needs to be signed as they head off for their day.

7:45—Feed the younger girls & hubby their breakfast and grab a bite to eat myself while I hop on the laptop and get my daily blog fix (mostly just reading, with the occasional update to mine).

8:00—Send hubby to work, hope the baby is still asleep, plop the girls in front of Dora and jump in the shower—with the door open, of course. (I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted shower.) Get myself ready for the day, which may or may not include hair and makeup depending on what’s on the agenda for the day, how much time I have left, and whether or not the baby has woken up yet.

9:00—Turn off the TV, get the rest of the kids dressed and hair done. (Unless my hippie Bridget decides she's comfortable with hers forming dreads, at which point I have no energy to fight her.)

9:30—Start on chores! Throw in a load of laundry and a load of dishes. Give the girls some Magic Eraser Bars and Clorox Wipes and send them to the bathroom! (I have literally not cleaned a toilet in the last year. They actually fight over who gets to clean it. I know!) We break up the chores with a little dancing here and there, and of course, I always have to take a break to pay attention to (and feed) my little butterball.

11:00—Start lunches, which usually migrate to the car because the girls are too busy playing to finish it before we have to run out the door.

11:40—Leave to take Katie to school. (I HATE half-day Kindergarten! It makes longer daytime activities impossible!) Run errands while I’m already out & about. When we finally get home again, I fix myself some lunch & try to do some activities with Bridget. Usually the Dixon’s napping, so we get some good one-on-one together. Sometimes she’ll help me bake some bread or other goodies, and sometimes we’ll just sit and read. She loves doing “homework” when I pull out the preschool workbooks. This is also my "project" time, which lately has included lots and lots of tulle.

3:00—Bridget picks out the afternoon snack for everyone and we jump in the car to do afternoon carpool.

3:45—Finally get home, send the young ones down to the playroom or outside, start Maggie on her piano practice and help Brooke with her homework.

4:00--Send Brooke out to play with the others, put Dixon down for a nap (God willing!), and help Maggie with homework.

5:00--Start cooking dinner. If I'm on the ball, I'll have remembered to get something out of the freezer that morning. If I'm having a Wonder Woman day, I will have thrown dinner in the crockpot earlier that morning. Most likely we'll just have spaghetti. Again.

6:00--Eat dinner, hopefully without too many opinions from the peanut gallery, and hopefully before Dixon wakes up, then we clean up the kitchen.

7:00--Start getting the girls ready for bed. Having only one bathroom makes this process DRAG ON, which is why we start an hour before bedtime. We brush, floss & fluoride teeth--yes, we do this EVERY night--, wait for everyone to take a turn on the potty, find jammies and get dressed, sing a song (we've condensed to one instead of letting each child pick one), have family prayer, give momma hugs and kisses, and get a drink.

8:00--My favorite hour of the day! Dad takes the girls to bed, then we usually plop our weary bodies on the couch and zone out in front of the TV. Normally, this is where the ice cream makes its entrance, but lately, we've been really good about only eating some on the weekends.


Exhausted yet? I am


In Stephen R. Covey's newest book, The Eighth Habit, he quotes a man named Albert E.N. Gray who said,

"The successful person has the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose."

This is my new go-to quote when I feel like staying in bed. When I feel like skipping the squats. When I feel like putting the kids in front of the TV so I can get "my" stuff done. When I don't feel like reading my scriptures. When I don't feel like wrestling with my kids through another sacrament meeting alone. I remember the strength of my purpose, and I get out of bed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Favorite Thing...

I love sleeping in. No, really. I LOVE sleeping in. Aside from eating the first fresh, juicy tree-ripened peach of the season, it's my favorite thing in the world. At least, I think it is. I don't actually remember the last time it happened, so I may just be imagining my love for it. I also may spend the rest of my life pining for that one blissful morning when I am awakened, not by a crying baby who thinks his mom is an all-you-can-eat 24/7 diner, or a child needing a drink of water or they'll "just die", a husband whose snoring has no "off" switch, a cat who slurps water from the bathtub faucet, or a phone call requiring our services at 2 a.m. to remove a dead body in Malad, Idaho. Nay, I long for that one glorious morning when the first thing to arouse me out of my heavenly slumber is the brightly beaming, already risen sun. Now that I've committed myself to a 5 am date with the Roy Complex, it seems I may have just sacrificed my favorite thing in the world. I'm not sure I'll survive.
On a good note, though, I've discovered that I won't have to rely solely on the heavily chlorinated pool and its tendency to make my skin feel (and look) like the desert sand to get this pathetically out of shape body back to its former glory. I successfully rode the eliptical machine on level 3 for 30 minutes this morning, with virtually no pain in my knee or hips. Yay me! I can't tell you how euphoric I was as I finished the last hill on my machine. It's a feeling I didn't know I missed. I'm hoping that giving up my favorite thing will lead me to find a new one and that that favorite thing will make me look (and feel) good in Hawaii--and for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another Resource

I plan to do a post tonight after our outing to the pool--and my first ride on the giant scale. Wish me luck. In the meantime, I found a fun resource here for anyone looking to do preschool at home. I haven't had a chance to look through the entire thing yet, but how great to have a year already planned out for me! Three cheers for the world wide web!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Paradise Bound

My brother is just about one of the coolest guys I know. (Shhh....don't let him know I said that. I have to keep up appearances.) While he's had some burdens to bear lately that are unjust and frankly heartbreaking, he's also had some wonderful world adventures that I can only ever dream about experiencing. His first journey came when he spent two years serving the Lord in South Korea. After dental school, the military took him to Germany for a while, where he was able to travel around Europe with his girls and my angel mom. He even spent his 30th birthday with his best friends in Rome, eating gelatos and throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain. After his European adventure, he was whisked away to Hawaii to learn how to surf, play at the beach and pick pineapples with his girls, hike waterfalls, oh yeah, and do a little oral surgery as well. Because of his latest assignment, our family is going to take advantage of our new "local" and make the trip to paradise a year from now. It still hardly seems real.

This is where this post comes into play. I can imagine the pristine white sandy beaches, rainbows shining on the mists of cascading waterfalls and rows of prickly green pineapples turning yellow in the sun. What I can't imagine, is my large, pasty white body marring that beautiful landscape. My dad put it best when he said, "Mom and I also want to look good in our bikinis, but are shooting for minimum overhang and minimum slingshot effect when turning around quickly." I echo that hope. That's why I hope you don't mind that I'll be using my blog to account for my weight loss attempts during the next year. (See Weigh-in-Wednesdays at the top right corner or the blog.) Maybe the shock of actually seeing "that number" floating out in cyberworld will be some motivation for me to not mindlessly put everything in my mouth that crosses in front of me. I figure if I can lose 1 little ol' pound a week, I can be back down to the size I was 4 years ago at my BYU graduation. Size 8. I can dust off all my cute size 8 clothes, wear my cute size 8 skirts, swim in my cute size 8 suit. Now that sounds like paradise!

My parents have complied a list of things they want to do while nestled on the island, and to me, it all sounds like heaven!
"Some things that we would like all of us to do: Bike down a mountain on a long road and maybe picnic half way down in a rain forest. Parasail in back of a speed boat. Go snorkeling. Scuba dive. Jet ski. Play in big wave surf (within reason), play ball, and then roast marshmallows on the beach at sunset. Play a round of golf at a beautiful seaside golf course. Visit the memorial at the site of the USS Arizona with lots of kleenex. Go to the temple. Watch a Polynesian hula type show and eat roast pig. Eat good meals. Shop a little for keepsakes. Everything that we want to do, we want to do with you. So, when given the chance, "I hope you dance" even if it's not your favorite thing."Of course, none of this would be available to even the smallest stretch of my imagination without my parents. To call it generous would be to fail to recognize the tremendous love they have for each of their children, which motivates their tender generosity. It's a love I comprehend only now that I have children of my own. It's also why I'm able to accept their generosity--because I want to one day do the same for my precious jewels.