November 27, 2015

A Summer With Great Aunt Rose: GC 4

There is so much to glean from Elder Uchtdorf's story about Great Aunt Rose. What a great way for me to learn--I love stories.

And I loved picturing Great Aunt Rose sitting on her couch, with that creepy cat curled up nearby, reading her scriptures. Not only reading her scriptures, but having a conversation with them! "And as she read, she sometimes made comments like 'Oh, he shouldn't have done that!' or 'What wouldn't I give to have been there!' or 'Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever heard!' . . . It sounded to Eva as though Rose knew God as a friend." Her scriptures came alive. Her prayers were genuine. Oh, how I need to be more like this in my daily study and devotions!

One clear message of the parable was about happiness. "There is enough that doesn't go right in life, so anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy. But I know people who, even when things don't work out, focus on the wonders and miracles of life. These folks are the happiest people I know. . . God didn't design us to be sad. He created us to have joy! So if we trust Him, He will help us to notice the good, bright, hopeful things of life. And sure enough, the world will become brighter."

When I focus on my problems, that is all I see. It is quite discouraging. When I focus on what is good around me and in my life, I feel hope, peace, and joy.

For whatever reason, this story made me think of a little shift in my thinking that happened to me one day well over a year ago. We were going through a particularly rough time with Perry. He was having huge meltdowns and tantrums multiple times a day. He was super aggressive. There were many, many behavior problems we were working with therapists on. To say the least, it was a hard time for all of us. One day, while trying to move him to safety during a meltdown, not only was I hit and kicked, but I, also, ended up with a huge bite on my arm. All I wanted to do was curl up and cry and feel sorry for myself. He bit me! I couldn't move on from that. I wanted to wallow in self-pity. But the therapist was coming in a few minutes to start our session, and while I value a good cry, it hit me that self-pity and seeking sympathy from others wasn't going to change it. It sounds harsh, but no one else really cared if I got a little bite on my arm. No one was coming to swoop in and magically fix this. What I really needed to do was move on and open my eyes to other things in my life. Focusing on this bad, hard thing that happened wasn't going to change it, make it go away, solve anything, or really even help me feel better. I needed to zoom out and try to see the big picture. I needed to notice the areas we were making progress in and the good moments we were having. It wasn't easy to do, but when I was able to focus on the positive side of things, I felt much more hopeful and had more energy to do what I could to help us get through and figure out how to deal with the negative situation. Sometimes it is a choice and a shift in our thinking that helps us find happiness, not a complete change in our circumstances.

Through Rose, President Uchtdorf also teaches that at the center of the happiness that we can feel is one thing--love. "It is love--the pure love of Christ . . . everything else in the gospel--all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts--lead to love. When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs."


He concludes his address with "As you walk along your own bright path of discipleship, I pray that faith will fortify every footstep along your way; that hope will open your eyes to the glories Heavenly Father has in store for you; and that love for God and all His children will fill your hearts."

November 24, 2015

Perry's game

Perry's ultimate favorite game right now is playing "a monster is chasing you around the house: run or be tickled". 

He loves this game of chase. When he wants to play, he looks over his shoulder and teases, "you can't get me". Or he just bothers Layla or grabs the things off the kitchen counter you need until someone takes notice of him and proceeds in this game of running all around the house.

We added another element of fun when we brought in the caterpillar tunnel. This way of hiding and penguin-running is much more exciting than simply crawling through the tunnel or simply running around the house. It made for some loud laughter.

Layla took a turn being the caterpillar monster, too.

November 23, 2015

it's thankful people who are happy

I am on the RS meeting committee and as we were preparing for our November activity (a dinner, short program, and making gratitude journals), someone shared this quote.

A lot of things in my life do not play out how I hoped they would. Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes it's a discouraging thing.

For instance, Eric and I were just walking down a path with his job and we really wanted this thing to happen. It was a dream of ours for it to happen. We saw so many benefits and blessings and opportunities that could be realized. And it was so close to working out. Really close. But then a week ago we found out it would not happen. It was so devastating.  

I took a day to be sad about it, and then we started thinking about the good life we have here right now without that big change in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for. 

One of the lessons I have to learn over and over again is to be content with my life. I always seem to be looking for the next big thing to come along and bring me some kind of adventure and joy. But I think true happiness is something you find along the way in your daily days and in your small moments. Even when things are crazy, messy, and hard, by focusing on what I am grateful for my life feels more complete.

I am thankful for safe schools and school buses. I am thankful we can save money. I am thankful for clean, warm clothes. I am thankful for working cars. I am thankful for a beautiful world--trees, the sky, leaves, water. I am thankful for good friends. I am thankful for a supportive, kind ward at church. I am thankful for phones. I am thankful for a house with enough room for all of us to live quite comfortably. I am thankful for costco and grocery stores filled with so much food (and a full refrigerator and cupboards at home).

I am grateful for whiny children, toys and art projects strewn around the house, kids that have to be tucked into bed 5 times at bedtime, closet doors that seem to always be left open, crumbs covering my kitchen floor, and coats and shoes covering my entry way. Because, as hard as those things may be sometimes, these things all mean that I am blessed with a healthy family--four energetic children and one pretty great husband.

November 20, 2015

Here to Serve a Righteous Cause: GC 3

In this talk, Carol F. McConkie told about Sister Ella Hoskins. She was called to serve in Young Women's at the age of 100 years old. At 102 years old she received her Young Womenhood Recognition award. When sister McConkie asked her how she did it, she replied "I repent every day."

Don't you love that? And isn't it true? We do need to repent every single day. Each of us. Most days,  for me, it is about more than one thing. I make many mistakes, we all do. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can overcome our weaknesses and shortcomings and mistakes. One day at a time. To be a little better. To grow a little more. As we humbly rely on him. As we serve the cause of Christ.

". . . to shine with the beauty of holiness, to stand with the Savior, and to bless others, we must be clean. Purity is possible through the grace of Christ as we deny ungodliness and choose to love God with might, mind, and strength. The apostle Paul taught 'Flee . . . Youthful lusts: . . . Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.' (2 Timothy 2:22) None of us is perfect. We have all made mistakes. But we repent so that we may be better and 'retain the name [of Christ] written always in [our] hearts.' (Mosiah 5:12)"

November 17, 2015

These Days

Layla was playing with some toys in the kitchen while I was cleaning up this morning. She was pretending her toys were talking to each other. All of a sudden, she looked up at me confused and exclaimed, "Wait! Why did I say that?! I just said chocolate goose. Why did I say that word?" I'm not sure, Layla girl. The funny thing is she has questioned her word choice and usage in very similar scenarios before. Silly girl.

While we were cleaning up after dinner one night, Eric turned kids songs on his phone and Perry took the phone in the other room by the piano to listen and play. A few minutes later, when Eric went in to check on him, the music had been changed to a Foo Fighters/ACDC station. Eric picked up the phone and offered to change the music back to kids songs for him. Perry protested, "No, I want the scary songs."

Kacin tried out for and got a part in the Veteran's Day assembly. He was one of the narrator's in the K-3 show. He worked really hard and memorized his part. Isn't that awesome? I was impressed. I don't think anyone else had their part memorized. He did such a great job at it!

My dramatic trip to the dentist to do the crown prep turned into a dramatic trip to the dentist to get a root canal a week and a half later. I was in a lot of pain so it had to be done. Thankfully, my dentist is really nice and set it up for me to get the root canal with oral sedation at his brother's practice an hour away. On their days off even. So I had two dentists working on my tooth while I slept and Eric waited. Four hours in the office and we were done and on our way home. Thank goodness for medicine, Eric, and good twin doctor's.

Kyler has been working hard on a few projects. Here is a poster for English. He also made an artifact out of clay for history, but I didn't get a picture. Our computer wasn't working for a few days, so Kyler and Kacin handmade their combined birthday party invitations. Creative Kyler made his a pop up.

The kids have been having fun with slow-mo videos and Lego Movie maker. It adds a whole new element to wrestling when you get to replay it in slow-mo.

Layla and Perry got cozy in their "beds" in the kitchen while I made dinner one night.

Perry's face here! haha. I'm not sure what he was doing, but I love this boy.

November 13, 2015

Worthy of Our Promised Blessings: GC 2

I really appreciated Sister Reeves' talk. It is a good reminder to hear "Our bodies are sacred gifts from our Heavenly Father. They are personal temples." It is important to treat them as such and to be deliberate and mindful of our choices and actions.

She warned us that just like how in Alma's day, Korihor, the anti-christ, led away the hearts of many people, "Satan has raised a Korihor-like banner in our day with increasing success. What are some of his tools? Seductive romance novels, tv soap operas, married women and old boyfriends connecting on social media, and pornography. We must be so careful, dear sisters! We cannot play with Satan's fiery darts and not get burned. I know of nothing that will qualify us for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as much as virtue." I need the companionship of the Holy Ghost and I'm certain I can do better about making sure what I read and watch is virtuous. Because, like Linda S. Reeves says, "Regardless of our age, if what we look at it, read, listen to, or choose to do does not meet the standards in For the Strength of Youth, turn it off, rip it up, throw it out, and slam the door." I have always felt this same way, but it takes courage and integrity and it's easy in today's world to let our standards slip or assume it's ok just because it is all around us now. But I think it matters.

In our world today, we often expect instant gratification and answers. "In contrast, we will be exceedingly blessed if we exercise faith and patience and go to our Heavenly Father, the source of all truth, with our concerns. So many answers and assurances can come through daily searching and studying the scriptures and with sincere and pleading prayer, but there are no such promises on the Internet." I have found in my own life that Heavenly Father loves me and He is willing and waiting to pour out understanding, answers, guidance, and inspiration. All I have to do is go to Him, even for just a few moments a day, reading scriptures, pondering, and praying. When I am sincere and patient then line upon line, He blesses me with greater understanding.

We have been given tools to help us stay virtuous and clean. There is power in the scriptures, repentance, temples, the proper wearing of the temple garment, prayer, covenants, the prophet, and the sabbath day.

There are so many blessings promised to us. Sister Reeves said, "I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?" Like Amulek taught " 'this life is the time . . . to prepare to meet God. ' It is not the time to receive all of our blessings."

November 10, 2015

12 years ago

We celebrated our 12th anniversary over the weekend. 12 years goes by quickly. I am the luckiest girl to be married to my best friend and the best man the world has ever known.

Marriage is not really easy for us. We are annoying people with a lot of faults. This takes work. At each anniversary, I like to think about the things that we are doing to make our marriage work so we can keep doing it. My number one answer always seems to be that we pray together. We go to bed at the same time and we never fall asleep without saying our prayers together. It means we have time to talk each night and then end our day with our hearts drawn out to Heavenly Father in prayer, together. Weekly date nights are also high priority. And the fact of Eric being a saint with a ton of patience and kindness does not hurt us either.

We celebrated 12 years all weekend long. We went out to dinner on Saturday. Then we came home and took all the kids with us to get frozen yogurt.

On sunday, all four of our children were in the Primary Program at church. What a great way to celebrate our marriage by seeing our four children share their testimonies and what they've been learning in primary! We are proud, happy parents that our marriage has been blessed with these four.

Side note: Perry used noise canceling headphones for the first time during church (he has used them at school) and it went well! hooray! He liked them and it helped.

Second side note: Kyler and Kacin were pretty awesome up there with their parts completely memorized! 

Eric took the day off on Monday and, thanks to some nice friends, we spent the entire day together just us two. We went shopping and then ate lunch and went hiking in Anacortes.

I guess another title of this post could have been "a bunch of Eric and Laura selfies".

Yay for 12 years!!

November 8, 2015

these days

Perry went to the dentist a few weeks ago. He was calm and happy about it. They weren't too intrusive so that helped.

On the other hand, I went to the dentist and it was quite dramatic and traumatic. Six months ago, I cracked my tooth. I was scared and didn't know how big of a deal it was so I waited until my next 6 months cleaning to have the dentist look at it. He said it was the worst kind of crack you could have and I needed a crown. I have never had a cavity or any dental work like that before. I am a gagger. I am dramatic. Let's just say that the crown prep was not pretty. There were tears. Eric came with me, which was a good thing. except when he started laughing at me and my numb mouth. I told them all to pretend like I was 5 and to treat me as such. In the end, because of a super patient, kind, really good dentist and assistant, I survived. But now I have at least two more appointments to get through because my tooth is in a lot of pain still, which I don't think is normal. This is torture.

On a different note . . .

Layla as a clown was slightly less creepy and much cuter than a real clown. She was sad because Perry wouldn't honk her nose.

So I did and her smile came back.

I am so proud of Kacin. He wanted to run to be a 5th grade class representative. It was a pretty low-key election, but he did have to give a speech to his class. He has such courage! This boy is awesome. He started his speech by asking "Who likes cake?" Then he said a good leader is CAKE. Then he explained what each letter of his acronym stood for and how he demonstrated that. It was pretty clever--nice job, Kacin!

I took my second turn as Co-op preschool teacher. We studied the letter F. Layla loved helping to prepare for preschool at our house again. This co-op thing is going really well and I'm glad we are doing it.

We had parent teacher conferences a few weeks ago and we are pleased with the learning and progress of each of our kids. How did we get such smarties? They really are wonderful little people. We are so grateful for good teachers who work with our kids!

I found this gem on my iphone after stake conference. Love this boy!

November 6, 2015

Discovering the Divinity Within: GC 1

Surprise to me, soccer practice ended two weeks earlier than I thought it was going to. Which means we now have two more evenings open to just be home!

Eric and I played a game with the two oldest boys last night and we talked a little about a conference talk I read yesterday.

This was the first conference talk of the October General Conference given at the Women's session. I loved this talk when I listened to it in the chapel of the Stake Center (what a way to start conference!), and reading it was no different.

Rosemary M. Wixom started by saying "Life is a gift. God has a plan for each one of us, and our individual purpose began long before we came to this earth."

I believe that is true. There is a purpose and a mission for each of us. Our purpose and mission will help us grow and learn and allow us to do the work of the Lord and help others. It is our privilege to figure out what our loving Heavenly Father needs us to do. Understanding our divine nature is key.

Sister Wixom quoted Elaine Cannon when she said "There are two important days in a women's life: The day she is born and the day she finds out why."

She goes on to say that we know why--to help build His Kingdom and prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. "With every breath we take, we strive to follow Him. The divine nature within each of us is refined and magnified by the effort we make to draw nearer to our Father and His Son."

She reminds us to "take our validation vertically from Him, not horizontally from the world around us or from those on Facebook or Instagram." It doesn't matter how many "likes" or comments we get or followers we have. We need to remember that we are children of God. If we ever question that, she challenges us to "kneel in prayer and ask Heavenly Father, "Am I really Thy daughter [or Son], and dost Thou love me?" The answer will come.

Once we know who we are, we can ask "Therefore what? . . . What will I do to live my life as a child of God? How can I develop the divine nature that is within me?" Such important questions to reflect on often and take inventory of our lives!    

She goes on to say "President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,'God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine.' That future, a day at a time, comes alive when you do more than just exist; it comes alive when you live your life to fill the measure of your creation. This invites the Lord into your life, and you begin to let His will become yours." A day at a time, do more than just exist, but live your life. And you can when you align your will with His.

Two more quotes I couldn't ignore:

"I am so glad I have a family, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost who can be my companions whenever things with friends go wrong."

"Once we begin to see the divinity in ourselves, we can see it in others."

pumpkin carving and Halloween 2015

We ended up with some pretty cute jack o' lanterns this year.

Eric takes the lead on this fall tradition and helps all the kids. I love that.

Layla dressed up as Cookie Monster for her preschool party. She had her heart set on it. Not a ballerina or a fairy or a princess or anything girly. Just Cookie Monster.

I convinced her to be something different that night at the Halloween party. She decided on a pink princess.Yeah, I got to dress my girl up! That night, we also had a cowboy, a sad and creepy clown, and a mummy.

 Eric went in his Microsoft onesie as an Xbox gamer. ;)

Be careful princess, it's a creepy clown . . .

On Halloween night, Cookie Monster returned with a clown. A Monkey joined them. And Kyler ditched the mummy wrapping. When asked what he was, he said, "I'm an All-red." ha ha--clever kid.

We had pizza with friends before a fun evening of trick or treating.

I took the half of our family with short legs around while Eric took the other half with the long legs (and a drive to get as much candy as possible).

It rained for a few minutes, but that didn't slow any one down. We came home with lots and lots of candy. Layla was excited to sort hers this year.

Perry was excited to eat his. He was a cute little trick or treater. He was really into it. He would hurry ahead of me and ring the doorbell multiple times until I stopped him. Before anyone could come to the door, he was shouting "Happy Halloween" and "Trick or Treat". When he as told to, he would choose out his candy (usually m&ms) and say "just one" (because that's what I told him when we started out that night.) Many times people would say, have two or take a handful. He usually just repeated "just one". But without fail, as soon as we turned away from the door, Perry was asking "Mom, can we get more candy?" He repeated his question over and over until I told him yes. And he repeated that question every time we walked away from a house.

The older boys went with some friends to collect their loot. Eric and Ryan stayed close by. Oh, did these boys bring home a stash of candy!

Kyler counted almost 250 pieces.

Kacin was too busy eating to count.

As part of the Halloween festivities, Eric and I went on a date to a corn maze.