Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Intentional Fun, Less Phantom Stress

The real test of my capacity to overcome my weaknesses....
It has been roughly 3 weeks since embarking on my Homemaker's Challenge.  Really that has taken on such a different meaning for me than I had thought.  Sure the "My house is going to look better than ever" goal is still there, but the "I want to feel as if my day is full of my priorities" has risen higher.  I am trying.  Then I get exhausted.  Slack off.  Mess up.  Something lifts me up, no doubt divine grace, and I'm ready to try again.

Mike said something today that really hit home.  He said, "Four more years and all your kids will be in school."
Wow!  That's it.  I only have 4 more years til all my kids are in school.  That really made me sad and reflect on how I am spending my time with them.  Looking back on my day, I am glad that I had that reaction of sadness because honestly somedays I find myself looking toward a time in my life with more "me" time.  Is that ever going to happen?  Probably yes a little more, but I don't want the trade off to be regret.

As I was chasing Felicity around outside as she was putting her baby doll and then herself in a dump truck, instead of doing that laundry that my Calendar alerted me that I was supposed to be doing, I realized that I needed to change my expectations of Summer and fill more of my time with playing with the kids instead of managing them enough to try to get what "needs" to be done done.  I think its going to be a tough balance, but I think this may be a better way to approach it.  I want to teach my children work and service but at the same time the joy of family fun.  I think I will have less discouragement if I change my focus a little.

Here's to more intentional fun and less "phantom stress" as Mike calls it!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

April 2011: Baby Shower the Royal Way

I have been wanting to learn more and more things with my Photoshop Elements, so I took this evening to learn about clipping masks.  Wow, such possibilities have opened up.  I came across this site that is absolutely amazing, Pugly Pixels, and watched her screencast (never knew there was such a thing) found here.  This site has all sorts of eye candy for your blog and has tons of tutorials on how to work with them in Photoshop.  I decided to use this template shown here to create a little collage of my darling sister-in-law Jani {see more of her here} from her family baby shower that my Aunt Pamela threw her last month.  As I am so far behind in my blogging, I thought the many faces of Jani at her shower would facilitate the great use of this cute collage.

I love all of her cute faces as she opens her gifts!  Bathtubs, and headbands, and shoes oh my!  And the hat.  Yes, the hat.  So fun!  My mother suggested that everyone wear hats to the shower in honor of the Royal Wedding that took place at 4am or so that morning (which Jani, my Mom, and surprisingly my sleepless brother Luke all got up to watch).  Even darling Felicity had her hat.  Mom looked as if she could have attended the Royal Ceremony herself:-)

My Aunt Pam lives on breathtaking Coronado.  If you have never had the pleasure of visiting, you must make a point to do so.  Here is Jani and Vanessa with their cute baby bumps.  Jani just loved the view and I think was ready to move in:-)

Here are some photos of some of my family members.  We have such a happy family.  I was so happy that my grandma was able to make it.  And yes, I didn't have a hat:-(  I LOVE hats, but didn't have one that you would wear to a Royal Wedding.  Felicity was our family representative.

Yummm, who can resist a Nothing Bundt Cake!!

Our lovely hostess. Thank you Aunt Pam for such a royal shower.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 2011: Homemaker's Challenge - Work In Progress

Felicity's Nursery
Well Day 1 of an Orderly Home went great!  Day 2 still on track.  Day 3 will definitely not be given any awards from the National Orderly Home Society.  Even after Day 3, I am already being reminded of some forgotten truths:

My day goes ever so much better when I wake up before the children, {well before most of our children as I would have to wake up at 5:00 am to beat Tate some mornings}.  I can accomplish a few of those things that belong at the top of my priority list, but sometimes don't even make the daily cut, if I don't do them first thing. -such as exercise and dedicated gospel study.  If I don't wake up before the kids, I feel like I am playing "catch up" the rest of the day.

Mistakes are going to happen, especially in the beginning.  So it is ever so important that our house is a "place of grace" {Sarah Mae}.  My words and actions need to be forgiving and come from a place of love.  One of the quotes that resides on my fridge for needed daily reminder is:
"When we act with the child's needs in mind, we act very differently.  When we understand that our children are doing the best they know how in a big, confusing world in which they often feel awkward and powerless, we like Jesus, can act redemptively.  When a child falls short because of lack of wisdom or experience, we can teach rather than punish."  
H. Wallace Goddard, author of 1 of my favorite books which I strongly recommend, "The Soft Spoken Parent"
I must eat lunch. Most days I am hurrying between one thing to the next that I rarely stop and "waste time" making myself an actual lunch.  The result= I'm starving, very grumpy, and don't have the patience to actually make something for dinner.  I've got to make myself stop and eat something for lunch.  And then eat snacks during the day.  This is going to take some additional planning.

As I am trying ever so hard to transition from chaos to order,  I have really been thinking more about my mission statement.  I decided that it is a work in progress, a compilation of little pieces of advice and necessities.  Here's what it looks like so far.

To make my home a haven I will abide the following:

Early to bed, early to rise.
Do your Duty with a Heart Full of Song
Have our home be a Place of Grace
Live with the desire, faith, and as a willing worker to qualify for the privileges Heavenly Father has ready for me as the mother of this family

I am sure that it will continue to take shape as I press forward in my efforts to transform my heart and home.  I have already witnessed miracles, and I'm loving that!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

March 2011: New York, New York Day 2

The morning of my second day in New York City, Maria took us up on the roof of her building so that we could see the view, including Ground Zero.  Being down in the city, you forget that you are surrounded by water {the Hudson seen behind us}.   I couldn't believe how close her apartment building was to where the Twin Towers stood.  I thought of what that view must have been like, what the residents of this building must have witnessed during that horrific event.  Maria said that people don't talk about it.  I can understand that completely.  You can see the new construction occurring now.  With the morning fog you can see the new buildings high in the clouds and imagine the Towers high above them.

We ventured on the Subway on our own, without our trusty guide, only to have a mini-debacle, solved by an entertained Subway employee.  We headed out to the Metropolitan Museum of Art which borders Central Park.  I loved people-watching on the way: the boarding school girls in their uniforms and brightly colored Wellies carrying tennis rackets and books, the Wall Street men and women all in the uniform black - rarely did I see anyone wearing color besides a small accent piece, and my particular favorite scene: a petite older woman -must have been at least 75- decked out in a long fur coat, chandelier earrings, etc effortlessly pulling a wheeled luggage trunk across the street.  I have no idea where she was going, but she was no tourist.  This woman looked accustomed to such a task, she needed nor wanted any help.

We could have easily spent the entire day at the Met.  Its collections are extensive and often breathtaking.  Xochi was our resident Egyptologist.  We had some great discussions about their perception of the after-life and their curious ceremonies.  Fascinating!  Of course beside our stimulating conversations, were some just plain silliness.  We took turns squatting down in front of this exhibit of wig rings to get this perfect shot.  Behold Princess Xochitl!

It was exhilarating for me to be amongst great works of art again.  I miss my college days of studying the Masters and art in all its forms.  We went on a special hunt to find Van Gogh amongst the millions of art pieces.  I am sure he seems commonplace to most, but I have always been drawn to his pieces because of his cool color choices and the movement I feel his paintings capture.  Here I am beside "Wheat field with Cypresses", with "Roses" shown below.  My very favorite piece of his is Almond Blossom seen here.  {And I just discovered that I could have a pair of high tops adorned with the images of this painting seen here.  Yes please:-) }

I absolutely love European sculpture and architecture.  I am always amazed at the intricate detail which is achieved in working with marble.  The draping of the dress in this first sculpture is astounding.  What a tender scene!  And of course I have always been fascinated by columns.  I fell in love with this bust of this beautiful little girl, Louise Brongniart, the five year old daughter of the distinguished Neoclassical architect.  Such a cherubic face and I adore her head scarf!  Reminds me of my Felicity.

Another discovery was of this incredible oil painting of Joan of Arc which spans 8' x 9' by French naturalist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage.  It invites a sort of reverence as you're viewing it.  I loved seeing this soft, feminine side of the heroine.  Her eyes are piercing.  She is portrayed with such poise and nobility despite her common attire.  I just loved it!

We pried ourselves away from the Met, having only allotted part of the day there, and headed on over to another one of Maria's splendid eatery recommendations, Forty Carrots.  Located on the 7th floor of the 9th floored Bloomingdales, it is a gem of a little restaurant splashed with spring colors and tasty, healthful food and drinks.  Meet my Sweetie Juice: carrot, strawberry, and orange.  Yum, yum.  Sadly my food was devoured too quickly to be documented - the best hummus I have had accompanied by tasty flatbread as the appetizer with an entree of 3 mini sandwiches - quoted here by their menu "classic tuna on an organic pretzel roll sonoma chicken salad on onion roll with fresh sage egg salad on organic brioche roll".  

so interestingly enough, my keyboard will no longer allow me to type capital letters... hmmm. strange.  Here let me try.  T.  nope. T. no again!!

so anyway, tell me that you wouldn't have gobbled that food right up:-)

Downstairs {well there you go, Mr. Capital Letter is back!} some happy shoppers made some lovely purchases.  Myself I suffered majorly from sticker shock.  Sadly I hardly bought anything for myself the entire trip.  The next trip I will go on:-) I will be sure to give myself a budget that I can spend on myself. I am the weird one that you don't have to worry about over-spending, but disappointingly under-spending.  I think I drove my friends crazy with the hem and haw of should I buy this or not.  Then finally deciding to buy it, only to change my mind on the way to the cash register or while in line.  Annoying I'm sure, I'm annoyed with myself!!!  Well those of us who are normal people bought a few nice items and were happy with their purchases.  Don't you love this elevator?  It is straight out of Film Noir.  Love it!

After our late afternoon lunch and shopping, we went back to the apartment to rest before our play.  Even though I was exhausted I couldn't stand the idea of resting inside while there was so much to see outside, so I decided to take a little solitary stroll around the Financial District. {Don't tell Mike:-) Oh hi honey.}  I initially wanted to walk around Trinity Church, but the grounds were already closed.  I did however stay long enough to hear a tour guide of a group of teenagers describe the significance of Trinity Church as the church that Benjamin Gates comes to in "National Treasure".  Wow! Never mind that fact that George Washington attended a service there immediately following his inauguration.  George who?  I then strolled down Wall Street and people watched.  This is when I took this photo, a view of the Trinity Church between the looming financial buildings.

That evening Melinda, Xochi, Maria, and I attended Oscar Wilde's Broadway play "The Importance of Being Earnest".  It is  a "satirical farce" defined by Wikipedia as a comedy which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication. That definitely sums it up well.  It was so much fun to watch!  It felt so good to laugh at something that was worthy of your laughter.  

After the play we ate again :-).  This time at a restaurant with a late night club feel: loud jazzy music, low candle light, and lots & lots of chatting.  I think this was my favorite place we ate at.  It just embodied what I thought eating in New York should be like.  It may also have had something to do with the yummiest dinner ever- well, can you really call a crepe dinner?  Yes!  It was a Rosen Deli Smoked Turkey Crepe with sauteed mushrooms and melted swiss cheese.  Oh my word!  I left very happy:-)

Day 2 done {well if that includes the late-night chatting into the wee hours of Day 3}

See my Day 1 adventure here.
And our movie trailer here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do your Duty with a Heart Full of Song

For the last while as I've been praying and contemplating over our unique family situation and how I am going to be up for the demands it brings, two words repeatedly have come into my mind and have been laid in my path, "meekness" and "work".  Recently I have been exploring this idea of work.  In our morning devotionals we have been talking about being a "willing worker".  I so desperately want my children to be good workers.  I usually consider myself a hard-worker when the task is at hand, but lately I have felt unmotivated and overwhelmed with WORK.  {Can you hear the resentful tone?}  I am grateful for a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father who has confidence in me and who has been sending me little messages here and there to guide me to a change of heart in regards to the matter of WORK.  {sounding a little bit better already, right?}

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."
- final verse of the hymn "Praise to the Man" {Tate's favorite}

"Work is to be reenthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our church membership"

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God"

"The world has need of willing men who wear the worker's seal.  Come, help the good work move along; Put your shoulder to the wheel..Push along.  Do your duty with a heart full of song.  We all have work, let no one shirk.  Put your shoulder to the wheel."
-first verse of the hymn "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel" {our devotional anthem for the last weeks}

"The heart of our homes is not in the ability to keep it perfect at all costs; the heart of the home is love.  We live in a thing, a non-eternal structure that needs to be maintained.  The thing is worthless without the life we bring to it and through it.  This book is about bringing life to the mundane in order to love well."

These all have come to me over the past couple of weeks.  I think I'm getting the message.  Now to change my heart over and put my shoulder to that wheel.  

If you have noticed in my sidebar, I have decided to try this Homemaker's Challenge which corresponds to the "31 Days.." book mentioned above.  Beside helping you do a major overhaul on your house, the primary goal is to change your vision about why we should keep a clean and orderly home.  When I came across this challenge I felt like it would fulfill this need to readdress my idea of work at home.   Each day corresponds to a chapter in which there is a Mary challenge {looking at our motivations, our heart} as well as a Martha challenge {actual cleaning}.  I have come into this late, but I am excited for the journey.

Day 1's Mary Challenge was what I needed to start off.  Looking at your true motivations for why you want a clean home.  It was a wonderful time for reflection.  There were many reasons, of few of which include: want to feel peace when I wake up and walk in, to be a working family, to have order and feel less hurried and stressed, to have more freedom to do things I want to do, to be the friend that invites people to enter her home not just hide behind the front door.

I opened this discussion up to the children tonight for our Family Home Evening and I got some great responses.  Owen and Eyan both said that they can have and feel the Spirit "cuz its clean". I asked Owen how it feels to have the Spirit, "warm, cozy, and comfortable:-)"  I asked Eyan why it was important to feel the Spirit, "it helps me to be obedient".  Tate received a little help from Dad, "When the house is clean, Mommy is happy."

I pray that my motivations to keep a clean home will be as bright and pure as my children's answers.  That I may see through the mundane to a brighter perspective.  Peace is what I want to feel, the peace the Spirit brings.  Peace begets gratitude and confidence and laughter.  I told my mother today that I have been ruled by chaos and how I hope that by choosing order, freedom will rule instead.

Part of the Mary Challenge was to create your mission statement, something that will remind you of your vision and purpose amongst the mundane.  I thought of "Put Away so we can Pray and Play".  I really like the phrases "willing workers" and "house of order".  But I do love the line "Do your duty with a heart full of song." as quoted above.  I think that may best describe motivation in our home; everything is done with music.  We love to listen to music, dance to music, sing, and even make our own.  Maybe we'll have to try that one out!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I'm in the Movies: Ladies of Liberty Movie Trailer

So I've been going through all of my photos of my trip to New York and I was wanting to share a few video clips.  Well... I may have taken it to the next level.
Introducing my first ever movie trailer:
Ladies of Liberty
Melinda, Xochi, and I
and of course Lady Liberty

{Make sure to pause my playlist down in the right hand column or you'll get some strange combination of songs:-) }

To watch a larger and better quality video, watch it here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

March 2011: New York, New York Day 1

I was feeling particularly nostalgic for New York last night as I watched on the news as firefighters and street-goers crowded together in Time Square to celebrate this peculiar event in history.  As I'm a little under the weather I thought it was okay to ignore the pile of items on my stairs waiting to be returned to their perspective homes just a little longer to write about my trip to New York.  A trip that now almost seems fantastical, a dream I created.  

Well as we are going on this trip together, I thought it was important to introduce the others accompanying us:  Xochi on the left and Melinda on the right.  {I am so sure they will love me introducing them with these shots.}  We flew from LAX straight to JFK, so plenty of time for catch up chatting, movie watching, and of course napping.


Xochi, Melinda, and I {along with their spouses Brian and Jason} all met in college very soon after Mike and I were married.  We lived in our first apartment in South Provo Utah, an apartment Mike described to me over the phone as a "bomb shelter". What a wonderful thing to tell your soon bride-to-be!  Despite the disadvantages of living in a cinderblock walled, 300 sq ft, non-air conditioned hole, Mike and I made some incredible friends whom we have kept in touch with over the years.

I think every good New York Adventure begins with a trip in a Yellow Taxi and ours was no exception.

The trip out from the airport was eye alluring straight out of the gate.  The vastness of the cemetery and the architecture of the bridges and buildings were incredible.  Isaac was a great taxi driver and brought us safely to Melinda's sister Maria's apartment in Manhattan next door to the Trinity Church.  It was a great location right in the heart of the Financial District, just across the street from Wall Street featuring the New York Stock Exchange.

Maria had the amazing ability of recommending the most incredible food.  Each place we ate was unique from the others.  I could write a novel just on the food we ate.  We started things off with some good old burgers, shakes and/or frozen custard at the Shake Shack right next to Times Square.  I loved the energy of being in the city.  The buzz of the people.  The blinding lights and larger than life images.  We were IN NEW YORK!!!


This one was for my kids, whose love for making chocolate milk is a tad excessive.  They loved it!  Is that real Mom?  Suddenly buying candy and sweets became evermore fun in New York than at your local grocery store.

The Subway became our friend, thanks to the precise instructions given to us by Maria, our resident New Yorker and generous hostess {seen here in the center}.  We definitely had our occasional 'freak out', such as our first ride without Maria when our tickets didn't work and when we just couldn't get up the courage to stuff ourselves inside the doors amidst the sardine crowd during rush hour.  We learned etiquette and how to stand to not look like a tourist:-)  I stayed up later than I had in years, cuz that's what you do in a city that doesn't sleep.


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