Posted in Family Corner, Joy

My Birthday Weekend & Exciting News

I was so busy last week that I didn’t get a chance to sit down and write a post. My mother came up for a visit on Thursday evening and stayed ’til Saturday night. That motivated me to thoroughly clean my house top to bottom before she arrived. I am one who works well under a time crunch. It makes me buckle down and tackle items I’ve been putting off on my to-do list. Besides the general housework that always needs to be done, I cleaned out our kitchen freezer, scrubbed the oven, decluttered our den, cleaned the boys’ laundry room downstairs (which was a tornado of laundry), and took a full load of donations to my church’s thrift store, Deseret Industries (or D.I. for short).

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Our September craft for our nature club was a sun-catcher mobile.

On top of all that, Marcus and I created and assembled 20 craft kits for our nature club. We had to cut up six colors of tissue paper into 1″ squares, but it was worth it to see happy kids taking home their craft kits and then hear from some of the moms that they were busy making them up that very day.

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Marcus, observing butterfly chrysalis at the nature center.

Saturday was my birthday, which was why my mother was visiting me. We celebrated from Thursday night on, beginning with dinner at Olive Garden with my mother and her husband, who dropped her off. On Friday morning my mother joined Marcus and I at our nature club activity. We have just gotten this club off the ground so I was delighted with the moms who showed up and supported our activity, especially because it was raining. Last week’s activity was rained out in fact, but this time the rain was a light, though steady drizzle and the trail I had chosen was a gravel path so it was not muddy at all. Halfway down the trail is a nature center which meant we spent half of our time indoors. I was pleased with the turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

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Marissa, holding her unopened mission call.

On Saturday after a delicious waffle breakfast, I told Marcus to get our mail. We had forgotten to check the mail on Friday so he came back with a stack of envelopes and two of them were 8 1/2 x 11″ white envelopes. My oldest son, Zach, and I both pounced on Marcus because we knew there was a good chance one of those envelopes was my youngest daughter’s mission call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were right! There was her mission call. Immediately, Zach and Marcus set out to pick her up from her university apartment and bring her home so she could open it with our family.

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Looking at all the guesses on a world map.

A tradition for this time is to contact friends and family and ask for guesses for where the future missionary will serve. It could be practically anywhere in the world as we are a worldwide church. Guesses were coming in by text, Facebook and Instagram,  representing several countries and different states in the U.S. It was very exciting and helped to pass the time waiting for Marissa to get home.

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Opening her mission call was a thrilling moment!

Once Marissa was home, over four hours later, we had pizza and salad ready for dinner. My mother’s husband had arrived in time to join us. With my husband’s mother on the phone and Zach making a video, Marissa opened her call and read aloud where she has been called to serve an 18-month mission for the Church.

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I captured her expression of surprise and delight.

In January she will report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Lima, Peru. Her mission is the Cusco, Peru mission. Having lived in Peru, twice, for a total of four years, Marissa is already familiar with the customs and language (Spanish) which she will learn more fluently. We even attended our church meetings in the chapel right next door to the MTC when we last lived there.

♥ I am a missionary mom again! And we have so much to do over the next few months to prepare her. ♥ Thanks for reading! I have fun posts coming up whenever I get around to them, haha. This week I am busy preparing for a weekend trip to Tennessee where I get to meet my amazing friend, Audria, in person for the first time. I’m so happy! ♥

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Posted in Joy, My 52 Stories

The Prince of Peace (and a 52 Story)

Since today is Palm Sunday and it’s the start of Holy Week, I want to share a campaign which my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has launched: The Prince of Peace. I hope you enjoy the video and will take a little time this week to reflect on the eight principles selected from our Savior’s life- Faith, God’s word, Compassion, Gratitude, Prayer, Forgiveness, Repentance, and Hope.

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Today I’d like to share one of my 52 Stories which focuses on prayer and a recent answer to two prayers. I have been an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life. I honestly cherish my faith because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings me immense joy and peace. I love knowing who I am (a daughter of God), and why I’m here on earth, and how I can return home safely to Him.

In my church, each congregation is called a ward and in every ward there are many volunteer opportunities to serve one another. We call these, callings, and we receive our callings from our Heavenly Father through the prayers of inspired ward leaders, such as the presidencies of each organization, and always, the bishopric (the bishop and his first and second counselors). I have held many callings throughout my life, in various wards that I been a part of (in the U.S., Canada, and Peru). I have taught and served children of all ages. I have worked with the youth/teenagers. I have worked with and served the women, or sisters, in my ward. Each calling has taught me different follower and leader skills, and each has stretched me spiritually, growing my testimony.

♥ I  have two personal rules with each calling I receive: First, I always say “yes” to a calling, trusting that it came from my Heavenly Father and He knows what I need in my life at that time. Second, I always give my best effort to each calling, even if my heart is not in it at first. I have found that I enjoy my callings more when my heart is “in it” and the more I give my best effort, the more the heart joins in. ♥

My absolute favorite callings are in Primary, the children’s organization. I love those callings more than any other. I guess you could say, those are my heart callings. My last Primary calling was when I lived in Canada, and it ended in the spring of 2011. For six years now I’ve held callings outside of Primary, which have allowed me to attend Relief Society class on Sundays (Relief Society is the women’s organization). And that has been good for me, but I have truly missed serving in Primary, and for me, it goes a little deeper… I wanted more children, but it wasn’t meant to be, and my kids are now 14, 19, 21 & 24. Sometimes I just miss having little ones in my home. I have been praying often over the past six years for another Primary calling.

As some of my readers know, we move around with my husband’s job, but we have a home-base here in Utah. In other words, we have owned a home here in northern Utah for the past five years, but most of that time, we have lived outside of Utah because my husband’s job is not in Utah. This is the first time we have actually lived here consistently as my husband is working from home for the first time ever. So our ward here never knows whether we are coming or going. I’ve been here since last Thanksgiving and in December I started praying to Heavenly Father for any calling in this ward.

Today I am starting a new calling! I am so happy because I am going to be the Primary teacher to a 3-year old boy with some special needs. We will spend part of the Primary hours in nursery with the younger children, and part of the time with his Sunbeam class (the Sunbeams are the 3-year olds). When a counselor in the bishopric extended this calling to me two Sundays ago, he told me that this was a unique calling and my name kept coming up for it. Later, when I talked to the boy’s mom and the Primary president, and especially when I was set-apart by my bishop (I was given a special blessing to help me in my calling), I could feel my Heavenly Father’s love for me. He has finally answered both of my prayers, but in His time because He knows best. I have a testimony of prayer and know God hears and answers our prayers.Happy Palm Sunday. ♥

Posted in Joy

The Joy of Living in the Moment

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My husband had no idea until afterwards. He likes to tell me I can go up in a hot air balloon once I’ve held my first three grandchildren.
While living in Lima, Peru, not so very long ago, I was given an exciting birthday gift. After taking me out to lunch downtown (and instructing me to eat light), three lovely women, each old enough to be my mother, walked me across the street to an outfit that specialized in paragliding. My friends promptly paid for me before sitting down on a bench to cheer me on. It was a total surprise and naturally I was a bit nervous as I had never done anything like this before, but in front of these friends (there was something about their wiser ages that spurred me on) I did something I rarely do. Instead of analyzing the situation, I took a deep breath and simply went for it. Mere minutes later, as my instructor and I were soaring high above cliffs, ocean and skyscrapers, I found myself truly living in the moment. Every sense was awakened. I felt the rush of the wind on my face, saw my reflection in the highest shiny window of a tower, heard seagulls and crashing waves, smelled the salty sea air, and tasted twenty minutes of pure exhilaration. Yes, thrill has a distinct taste.

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There is a favorite local restaurant here in Cache Valley called, Juniper. Like many other restaurants today, they have big screens set up to captivate diners while they eat. At Juniper you don’t watch sports such as basketball, football, soccer and golf. No, at Juniper you watch video clips of extreme sports. The last time my husband and I ate there, we watched footage of men and women shooting off a massive ocean cliff from a slip-and-slide! And you know what? Not a single one of those insane thrill seekers had a frown on their face as they plummeted to the water below. They were screaming to be sure, but there wasn’t time to do anything but live in their action-filled moment, and it always ended in big smiles, laughter and high-fives (because they all survived).

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Learning to use my macro lens. When I’m out in nature taking photographs, I live in the moment.

Today I realized that I want to live more in the moment. The best part of living in the moment is that I don’t need to leave the ground to do it. I just want to remember how amazing it felt to be paragliding because in that space of time I wasn’t over-thinking my trials or stressing over all that is wrong in this world which I have no control over. I was replacing the negative I often zoom in on, with a whole lot of positive, and I think the key for me is getting out of my own head and really appreciating all the beautiful things around me. Because life really is beautiful. Sometimes I need to ignore my messy kitchen and piled up laundry, put my cell phone down, go outside and take a meandering walk as I breathe deeply (unless the cows are out). Sometimes I even need to put down my camera and enjoy the world through my natural lens. (Okay I wear contacts, but without them the world would be a messy blur and I’d wave at street lamps.)

♥♥♥ ♥♥♥

What helps you to live in the moment? Have you ever gone paragliding or skydiving or something that pumped up your adrenaline?

Posted in Joy

The Blogger Tag

I have been tagged by the adorable Elizabeth at The Comfortable Coop. I love her blog as it is upbeat and charming, so make sure you visit. She’s got some great recipes on there and video clips of ducks in her bathtub! Read on if you want to get to know me a bit and then see who I tagged:

Question 1. How tall are you? 

I am 5′ 2″. I took after my dad who is maybe an inch taller.

Question 2. Do you have a hidden talent?

I think I have a flair for interior design, especially around the holidays.

Question 3. What’s your biggest blog related pet peeve?

I can’t stand preachy blogs. If it sounds like a sermon and I feel like I’m being preached at, I lose interest fast!

Question 4. What’s your biggest non blog related pet peeve?

Preachy people, lol. Actually, it’s intolerance. Whether or not people agree or share the same beliefs, everyone deserves kindness and respect and I think some people forget that we are not asked to judge, but to love everyone regardless of our differences.

Question 5. What’s your favorite song?

Because I’m a hopeless romantic- Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love. 

Question 6. What’s your favorite social media?

Pinterest. Although I just got on Instagram and that’s fun too.

Question 7. What’s your favorite way to spend your time alone?

Coloring, writing in my journal, or curling up with a romance novel.

Question 8. What’s your favorite junk food?

Chocolate covered cinnamon bears. Chocolate licorice. Brownies. Those chocolate molten lava cakes. Chocolate covered pretzels. In other words, chocolate.

Question 9. Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

We have one Aussie-Border Collie named, Zoey (my kids chose the spelling), and my son’s stealth black cat, Midnight, who delights in hiding under my bed and attacking my foot when I’m least suspecting it.

Question 10. What are your number one favorite fiction and non-fiction books?

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the scriptures (I honestly enjoy reading the scriptures).

Question 11. What’s your favorite beauty product or tool?

Any Bath and Body Works product. I love their scents and they make me feel pampered.

Question 12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

I summoned up the courage to walk up to the podium at church and share my testimony in front of the entire congregation and started crying before I even began. I blubbered all the way through. Later a sister told me that at least I could still be understood! Also, I’m sure the bishopric noticed my shaky legs! It will probably be a while before I put myself through that again.

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Question 13. If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Orange juice

Question 14. What’s your favorite movie?

Naturally, all versions of Pride and Prejudice, but I also adore most versions of Cinderella.

Question 15. What was your favorite lesson/subject at school?

When I was in elementary it was reading. In high school it was child development.

Question 16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

It used to be Hawaii until I saw how ginormous cockroaches are there! I would love to live by the ocean.

Question 17. PC or MAC?

PC

Question 18. What was the last romantic gesture from a crush/boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse? (Or a kind gesture from a friend.)

My husband is a total sweetheart. Every Saturday night he turns on the Hallmark channel and makes me sit down to watch the latest movie. Sometimes he even joins me even though that means I put up with his cheesy commentary and saying they should just get to the kiss already!

Question 19. Who is your favorite celebrity?

I like the whole cast of Studio C. If you’re unfamiliar with Studio C, look them up on YouTube. They are hilarious!

Question 20. Which blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

I would love to be next door neighbors with any of the homeschool moms I follow just because I’d love to go over to their house and craft with them or join them for poetry tea time. I’d also love to be in the same kitchen with Elizabeth (The Comfortable Coop) and just gab as we cook together. 😊

Question 21. Who is your biggest inspiration?

I have a blogging friend who also homeschools and she inspires me because she is passionate about being a wife and mama just as I am and every post she writes is honest and from her heart. She is talented as well, but she is very modest about her talents (which is a great quality). She inspires me to love and accept myself just the way I am.

Question 22. What is your favorite blog to read?

If I follow your blog and comment on it often, it’s a favorite to read. 😊

Question 23. What is your favorite high street shop?

I had to look up what high street meant and it seems to be the small quaint shops you’d find on Main Street. I’ve always enjoyed Hallmark shops and we have one on Main Street in our historic downtown. There’s also this unorganized, hodgepodge bookshop called, The Book Table and I never know what little finds I might discover there.

Question 24. Are you in education or do you work?

I am the co-CEO of my household. 😉

Question 25. What is one thing you are proud of?

I’m proud to have homeschooled over seven years now. Homeschooling rocks!

Tag, you’re “it”! I tag:

Audria at In Pursuit of Wild Things

Shelli at Mama of Letters

Shelly at There’s No Place Like Home

Sharon at Simple Days Make for an Exciting Adventure

Kirby’s Korner Blog

ofamily learning together

Posted in Joy

Keeping a Journal and 52 Stories

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I’ll be writing in my journal about how much snow we got today and how the boys went outside to sled and play in it. This was just a couple hours after snow-blowing our driveway and sweeping off my son’s truck.

I was a very good girl last year and kept a detailed journal from February through December. In the past, my journaling has been rather inconsistent, but I’m confident my sporadic efforts will add up nicely to give a sweet picture of my life for my future great-great grandchildren, especially if I keep the habit up and add childhood memories as I go.

There are many benefits to keeping a journal. For me, writing in a journal is therapeutic. It’s like a friend who is always available to only listen and never judge! I’ve also found that writing down special moments or occasions soon after they happen keeps those memories fresh and accurate. When my kids have read my childhood journal entries, they’ve realized that even with our generation gaps, we have a lot in common (such as peer pressure). But most of all, I’ve come to recognize and appreciate many of my blessings, big and small.

  • A journal can be as simple as a spiral notebook or you can find pretty or themed journals at bookstores such as Barnes and Noble.
  • Always date each entry.
  • Write from your heart and be honest. Share your ups and your downs of life.
  • You never know. Your trials and mistakes and the way you handle them or learned from them might inspire or help someone years from now.
  • Get detailed! Saying you had a fun day won’t mean anything unless you list the specific events that made it fun.
  • Write both first and last names of people you mention, and add their relationship to you.
  • Don’t worry about spelling or perfect penmanship. If you make a mistake, just cross it out instead of ripping out the page and starting over. Cross outs and doodles give your journal personality! I’ve even glued paper items into my journal, such as a turtle drawing my niece made for me or a ticket stub.
  • Think outside the box if you want. I created a type of journal by printing out personal email conversations I had years ago with my sister and my closest friends, while I lived in Peru. I put each printout in protective sleeves and compiled them in a binder. Bloggers who journal in their posts can turn their blog into books with services such as blog2print.com (I’ve never used this so I can’t vouch for it.) 

Today I came across this article on familysearch.org that has a challenge, called, the 52 Stories project, which I’m going to do this year. I’m hoping some of my readers will join me. The idea is to record (in any form) one life story each week of this year. The best way to do this is by random memory. If you don’t know where to start, try asking yourself one of these questions.

Here is a snippet from the article that stood out to me:

“On nearly every headstone, no matter how plain or ornate, is carved one universal symbol. It’s a simple horizontal line—a dash—separating two significant dates. The first marks the day one precious soul entered this mortal life. The second marks his or her inevitable journey onward.

A well-known poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash,” speaks of this symbol:

“For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.”

We are each, right now, standing somewhere in the middle of our own individual dashes.”

♥ Do you keep a journal? If you decide to participate in the 52 Stories challenge, let me know! ♥

 

Posted in Joy

Our Christmas

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On Christmas Eve Day we opened a wonderful package sent to us by new friends in Kentucky. It warmed our hearts!

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As it was Marcus’ birthday, he got to open seven gifts, each wrapped multiple times by his sister. We gave him a group gift of the first seven seasons of MythBusters. He was definitely one happy birthday boy!

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For the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, northern Utah seemed to be in a pattern of occasional hopeful snowfall, immediately followed by rain, which of course turned the snow to slush so that the only snow sticking around was in the mountains. Waking up to this backyard view on Christmas morning brought big smiles to our faces. It was a white Christmas after all. In our opinion, that’s the best kind!

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After checking out what Santa brought us, my daughters surprised me with a new outfit I could wear to church. Luckily, our chapel is only down the street a few blocks. I enjoyed having Christmas fall on the Sabbath this year. We only held Sacrament meeting and the bishopric each took a turn sharing a Christmas message in between singing Christmas hymns as a ward family. It was very meaningful to me to partake of the sacrament and focus on my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, on Christmas day.

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Back at home, 3 of my kids changed back into their Christmas Eve pajamas before we gathered together in our living room to open our presents to each other. We started with the gift that had been sitting under our tree since Thanksgiving weekend. It was from my sister-in-law, who had vacationed with our family (with my brother and their four children) at Disney World this past May.

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She gave us this beautiful denim quilt which she made with her mother and this is one of my favorite gifts given to us this year.

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Just having my husband and all our kids home with me made this a perfect Christmas (and the snow of course!). My mother-in-law spent Christmas with us, and we exchanged gifts with the young newly wed couple living downstairs.

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They (the young couple) gave us this beautifully framed print (from an original painting; the wife knew the artist before he passed away from cancer) of the Logan temple. I was so touched by their gift that tears sprang to my eyes upon opening it. Today we found the perfect spot for it, next to our front door. (We have limited wall space upstairs due to all our big windows.)

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The Logan temple truly is a beautiful, historic temple (it was the second operating temple). If you’re ever up this way, make sure you visit the temple grounds as all visitors are welcome to walk around the outside.

♥ So that was our Christmas in a nutshell. I hope your Christmas was special and I wish all my readers a Happy New Year. What was your favorite part of Christmas this year? I’d love to hear of any special gifts you received. ♥

Posted in Joy

Merry Christmas!

I love this song and I think Peter Hollens is amazing! (I also like Josh Groban.) Wishing my readers a joyous and beautiful Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I plan to silence my phone and leave my laptop alone this weekend (right after I post this, haha). I want to live in the moment and embrace Christmas with my husband and children (and my mother-in-law who is visiting, and the young couple downstairs when they are here with us). Tomorrow we will celebrate Marcus’ birthday and end the day reading the Christmas story from scripture, singing carols and unwrapping a new pair of pajamas (one of my kids’ favorite traditions). On Christmas Day we will attend a church service and worship with our ward (LDS congregation) family, in between opening gifts to each other and enjoying my husband’s famous (to us they are famous!) waffles. And I will gaze at the beautiful manger on my coffee table and ponder the gift of a precious baby who was born to be the Savior of the world.

♥ Merry Christmas! ♥