Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas

It is so much fun to have 2 little boys who Christmas is magical for. We had a wonderful season. Our Christmas traditions expanded quite a bit. We grew close to each other through our acts of service each day for each other and for others. We had a Bethlehem supper on Christmas Eve that was fun. We had food that was semi-authentic food that they may have eaten in Bethlehem the night before Jesus was born. We ate by candlelight on blankets on the floor, dressed in costumes. We had a donkey (dressed in long johns), a wiseman, two angels, a host of Shepherds and a few others. We listened to music that sounded "Bethlehem-ish." Then later we acted out the nativity as it was read. We sang Christmas carols and hung up stockings. We even saw a few "reindeer" (deer) crossing the street before going to bed. We dreamt of sugar plums dancing in our heads. It was a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Christmas day came and sure enough, Santa had made it to our house. We opened presents and the kids were so excited, but not out-of-control like some other Christmas's we've had. It was really nice. The last present we opened was started with Brandon opening it - inside was a gift for me that I opened. Inside was a gift for Jen, and then C and then J. When J opened it they were so excited - it was the baby from our nativity set. We talked about how Jesus is the greatest gift we could have at Christmas, given to all of us. Then we went and enjoyed a wonderful dinner and good company with family. Christmas was special for us this year. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New YEAR!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nativity Scenes

One of my favorite things about Christmas with kids is watching how they will rearrange the nativity scenes. Sometimes we have extra action figures joining in. Sometimes cars transport the figures to and from the stable. Sometimes we have dinosaurs and wild animals appear. Each day is a little different. We have a nativity that is plastic so it's very kid-friendly. They love to act out the story of the nativity scene and it's really fun to watch them play. Here's some pictures of this year's arrangements:

Jesse Bear's Thoughts on Death

This is a conversation I overheard between J.B and Brandon the other day.

Jesse Bear: I can't wait till I'm grown up. Then I'll die. And you'll die and Mommy and C and...

Daddy: Wait, what does die mean?

Jesse Bear: It means growing up.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Traditions

This week c's kindergarten teacher sent home a note asking families to share a holiday tradition with his class. It got me thinking about our family traditions during the Christmas season. Here's just a few:
  • I spy a Christmas ornament - this tradition is actually the one I'm going to share with C's class. This tradition was started with my family growing up. We kids would spend hours looking at the Christmas tree. We'd pick an ornament and describe it and the other kids would try to guess which ornament it was. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas for me without this game.
  • Christmas Devotional - Every year we watch the first presidency Christmas devotional on the First Sunday of December. It helps us get into the true spirit of Christmas. You can find the broadcast here.
  • Christmas Advent Calendar - We had an advent calendar growing up that had strings to tie pieces of candy. Every day we would take turns picking a candy off of the tree. I remember when it was my day, being so happy and excited. It made the Christmas countdown extra special for us. My mom passed down the advent calendar to me so now our family gets to enjoy the same tradition.
  • Christmas advent story book - This is another tradition along the same lines. We have a book that has a Christmas story for every night leading up until Christmas. It's another fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. Some years we get into this one more than others.
  • Nativity Scenes - these have always been a very important part of our holiday traditions. One year someone gave our family a crocheted set. That year we started a new tradition. We played "Hide the baby Jesus". We would take turns hiding the baby and said "hot" when the finders were close and "cold" when they were far away. This always made Christmas so special for us.
  • Christmas Eve - our Christmas Eve tradition for as long as I can remember has been to act out the Nativity story while someone read it from the scriptures. I love this tradition and we continue to do it in our family every year.
  • Christmas Magic - We started a new family tradition this year. We told the kids about how Christmas magic happens when you serve those around you. To illustrate the point, we did a family service activity and then told the kids the Christmas magic happened and we set up the Christmas tree and put on the lights. Then we gave each person in our family a box of ornaments to put on the tree. Every day each person in our family looks for something they can do to help someone. That night at family scriptures each person tells what they did and they get to put up an ornament on the tree. So far it's been really fun and we've had service things like giving someone a hug, helping someone clean their room, making someone's bed, helping someone up who has fallen down, etc. We also list the service things on a yellow star and hang them on a small tree. The Christmas magic is definitely happening and it's a fun way for the kids to see that. At the end when all the ornaments are on the tree we're going to do a secret family service activity and then put the star on the top. Then when that happens we told the kids the tree would be accepting gifts under it. :)
Well there's a few of our favorite family traditions. I'd love to hear some of yours. What makes Christmas special for you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Touchdown

Jesse Bear was sad after church today. Curious George had gotten a fruit snack in his class and Jesse Bear didn't. He was throwing a mild temper tantrum. Crying, refusing to be picked up, etc - mild compared to other kids, but actually a big deal for Jesse Bear. A little girl in our ward came by and tried to cheer him up. She asked him what he needed. He didn't say anything. Finally because she didn't know what else to do, she reached in her bag and pulled out a fruit snack and gave it to Jesse Bear. He was so excited. He did this:


Later he told me:
"When that girl gave me that thing I was so happy I did this (and then he showed me). I did a touchdown like those football guys do."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthdays

This is the month of birthdays in our family. Both boys have birthdays in November. I think it is no coincidence that their birthdays fall in the month where we give thanks. I'm so grateful for them. Both of their births have been miraculous and I wonder quite often what I would do without them. They are my life. Listening to their happy laughter brings me the greatest happiness I could ever imagine. Seeing them learn something new is better than learning everything there is to know myself. Watching them show kindness is the best payment I could every receive. Here is a poem I wrote that I hope captures the essence of what I am trying to say.

Give a kind word to my own dear one,
and my heart swells with thanks to you.
Better than any gift you could have given,
You made my child smile and be glad.
A smile in them is a smile in me,
eternally ingrained in my heart.
Yes, I will be forever indebted to you,
for each kindness you show to my child.

I think that's what being a mother is about. Your heart is never all your own again. In it, there are sections for each of your children. When they are happy, your joy is full. When they are going through trials and troubles, you go through them too. Their pain is your pain and their joy yours. It's hard to watch them go through tough things, it hurts to see them hurt. It's painful to see the effects of their wrong choices. Motherhood is a rocky path. I'm grateful for all of those angels out there who make my job easier. I've met angels in the grocery store who give my children a smile or say a kind word. I know some angel teachers who lift and build up my children's confidence and self-esteem. My children have angel grandma's and grandpa's who send them letters and e-mails, encouraging them and inspiring them. I'm grateful for every smile, every kind word, every act of service, every lesson, and every gift of time you've ever given or will give to my children. My heart is full of gratitude for all of the many blessings that I have - especially for you my dear friends and family.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful for My Life

I feel the need to ramble again. This month is thanksgiving and I'm so thankful for all of my many blessings. It's easy to get caught up in the things that are "undone" and "imperfect" and "less than complete". I have a lot of those things. I have an everlasting laundry pile that seems like it appears the moment I make it disappear. I have imperfect children with an imperfect mother to mother them. I have a to do list that has things on it that have been there for over a year now. I have picture frames that have out-of-date pictures and some with no pictures at all. I have dust bunnies and smudged windows, toy chaos and escape-artist chickens. I'm sadly in need of a haircut and wear pants that are a size too large. Yeah I have all of that and more. But you know what I have? I have a child who writes me notes like this one:

"I love you Mom Love C We thenk that you ar the best."

and even better writes his brother notes like this one:

"I love you J and I thenk that you ra the best. Love C"

I have a husband who does the dishes for me and makes me dinner every Sunday night. I have a warm home and food on my table every meal. I have a healthy body that allows me to go about my day without pain. I have a child to play cars with every morning while his brother goes to school. I have kind neighbors who bring me cupcakes, neighborhood kids who call me "Mom", and good friends near and far. I am so blessed! And I'm thankful for my life. I really do have it all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Fun

For Halloween this year Curious George is a Green Dinosaur and Jesse Bear is a Green Monster. CG had a Halloween program for kindergarten this week. It was adorable - all the kids were dressed up in their costumes. Today the Mom of the girl sitting next to C in the program talked to me and told me that her daughter thinks C is her boyfriend. In the program when they got bored after like 10 minutes, they started measuring their costumes to see whose horns were the biggest. It was really cute.

At another point they were both picking their noses. When the Mom asked her daughter why they were both picking her noses the girl said, "See Mom, we're perfect for each other!" :)

Here is the green monster doing gymnastics at his class this week:

Potty Training

Jesse Bear is almost completely potty trained now - it happened a lot faster than I thought it would. Here's a cute shot of him washing his hands and getting a drink while he's at it. :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Love One Another


I loved this little ceramic doodad when I saw it first at my sister's house. A few weeks later I was shopping and saw it and had to buy it. We happened to be remodeling our bathroom at the time and I had the perfect shelf to put it on. It's sat there fairly untouched for about a year. Then when I was dusting a few months ago my arm bumped it and it fell and broke into three pieces on our bathroom tile floor. At first I was heart-broken (silly, huh?) and it was all I could do to pick up the pieces and set them aside. For a few days they sat there and I cringed every time I saw them. Finally after a few days the thought came to me that I could glue it back together. I used some ceramic glue and rubber bands and the next day it was whole again (although not without scars).

Today as I was looking at it, the thought came to me that maybe I like it a little better the way it is now:

I think the reason I like it a little better is because it more closely represents real life, especially family life. We love one another and then something happens - maybe a trial, maybe a hurtful or unkind word, maybe a mistake or a sin. Our love sometimes gets broken. It hurts to think about it, so we just set it aside for a little while. After a while (minutes, hours, days, weeks or years sometimes) we start to patch it back together until it's whole again. We have scars, but we've forgiven and we love again.

And after a while...we think to ourselves, maybe I like it a little better the way it is now. The thing about love is it it grows with each forgiven mistake and strengthens through each trial endured.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Angelus


This is the painting we chose to hang on our newly remodeled kitchen wall. It was painted by Jean-Francois Millet and entitled "Angelus" or the painting of a prayer. I found this site that gave the description of this painting from a sales catalogue when it was up for auction in 1899:

The night is coming: the sun, already below the horizon, is still shining with a warm and golden light on the lower part of the sky and the vast cultivated plain that stretches away as far as the horizon.

The countryside is already radiating the mysterious quietness coming with the end of the day.

On the foreground, in a potato field that they are harvesting, two young people, a young peasant and his companion, have interrupted their work. They are standing up and out against the bright sky. The young man has taken his hat off and his pose expresses a feeling of innocent and touching respect. His is holding his beret in his hands on his chest and his head is bowed. The young girl is joining her hands up close to her face. The two of them are bending their heads; they are meditating and praying to the Creator silently. Actually the Angelus is ringing in the distance, from the steeple of the village church that can be seen on the horizon on the bright sky golden with sunset.

A deep religious feeling radiates from this famous painting that is said to be the most beautiful painting of the modern school and that is undoubtedly the masterpiece of Jean-Francois Millet."
The Angelus was the ringing of the church bell every morning, mid-day and evening. The faithful would stop at the sound of the tolling bell and pray. I love the message of the painting - a poor couple hard at work, stopping near the end of the day, interrupting their work to call upon God. I hope that when I look at it, I can remember to call upon my Heavenly Father and thank him for all of my many blessings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Profile

I'm excited to announce that I have recently created a profile on Mormon.org! You can check it out by following this link or click on the "I'm a Mormon" button to the left on this blog. If you have any questions about our religion and beliefs, feel free to make a comment and I'll try to answer as best as I can!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are You Listening?

This question is a popular one in our family. I find myself asking it to my kids several times a day when I ask them to do something and I'm ignored. Sometimes I say it once softly then louder and louder as if I'm doing a hearing test or something. Sometimes I try different voices - does a manly voice make it more effective? An old Lady voice? A ghostly voice? It's hard to say what works the best. It depends on the day and circumstance I think. Sometimes I wonder if my kids really do have hearing problems, but testing has shown otherwise.

So the conclusion I finally came to was that they're kids. Kids sometimes don't listen.

Then one day not too long ago I was busy doing something while Jesse Bear was chattering in the background and I heard a little voice say, "Mom, are you listening?" It startled me and my mind jumped back from whatever I was thinking back into reality and I realized that no, I wasn't listening. Later I thought back to all of the many times that I haven't really listened to them. When I try to do too many things at once or spread myself too thin. Sometimes I may actually be listening but doing something else and to them, that's still not listening.

So I guess my conclusion was wrong. Listening is something that we all need to work on. Listening with our bodies as well as our ears. As good as we may think we are at it, there's always room for improvement.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Comings and Goings

We've had a few thorns in our life the last few months. Maybe I'll mention a few since I usually just talk about the joys. It's always good to realize that most people go through challenges, they come just like the good comes. I find that I'm not a very open person and I don't like to share my challenges with the world for some reason. But sometimes I think it helps getting them out there. It makes them seem a little more manageable seeing them listed for all to see.

1) Asthma - we first noticed this during the kickball season back in June. C was playing one day and had a really hard time breathing. I had to take him into the urgent care center and they gave him a breathing treatment. It helped him a lot and the next day we took him to the doctor and they diagnosed an inhaler. Throughout the summer we used it a few times, but this fall during soccer season we've been using it a lot. The asthma (usually just like a cough and really labored breathing) has gotten worse. We're looking at our options now trying to decide what to do.

2) Broken Arm - J broke his arm 4 weeks ago and has been wearing a cast. The good news is he got it off today. Or that may or may not be good news depending on if he continues the same level of reckless playing that he has in the past. I'm hoping that we'll keep it off.

3) Other health challenges - we've had quite a bit of sickness including the stomach flu for C, J and my sister who is living with us right now. J also had a fever for a few days which left him with the grumpies for a week. It's been kind of a medical nightmare around here with more health challenges than I care to list here.

4) New Schedule - It's been 4 weeks and the school schedule is going in full-swing. I'm amazed at how much of your day is absorbed by the comings and goings of taking a kindergartner to and from school. Being on a schedule of course means my flexibility has dropped considerably. This is not easy for me and I find that most days I am amazed at how little I actually accomplished. Of course we plow on. I know this is how life will be for quite a few years and I need to get used to it. And I need to learn to focus on the things that I am doing instead of the piles of things that never get done.

Well that's enough of that. Hopefully that helps you get a sense of just a few of the challenges that we are facing right now. After reading through this list again I am guiltily realizing that I'm leaving out several of the most challenging of trials but I guess that's okay. My trials are mine for a reason. I think one of the reasons is because there are things that I need to learn from them that I couldn't learn any other way. Sometimes our trials are also our blessings. That's how some of mine are. I'm so glad that the Lord knows what we need better than we know ourselves. If I got to pick my trials I certainly wouldn't pick the ones I have, but I don't know that I want any of yours either.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Week of Firsts

It's been a week of firsts for us - a little over a week I guess. Here's the updates...

First Broken Arm!
Jesse Bear broke his arm a couple of weeks ago. He fell off a table on the cement patio and landed on it. Poor guy! But he's doing well as you can see, he doesn't let it stop him from doing everything he wants to!


First Soccer Game of the Season!
CG started soccer last week and has had a couple of great games!

First Day of School!
Curious George started kindergarten this week. He loves it! I wish I could have captured the look on his face the first day of school - so confident, so proud, so excited! He had a great day and unfortunately he got sick that night and missed the next two days of school. But he went back on Friday and had a great day!

First Peaches!
We tasted the first peaches of the season and they were delicious! We even got about 10 off our own tree! Mmmh!

First Missing Tooth!
Curious George gets to be a jack-o-lantern mouth for Halloween this year! He lost his first tooth today! So fun!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Fun

It's been a week of injuries for Jesse Bear. Bumps, bruises, burns, scratches & bug bites...it must be summer! Here's his "snuvv" that we put to cover his burn that he got on his finger. The word "snuvv" comes from the Dr. Seuss book "The Lorax" - remember the once-ler? and his snuvv? His Secret strange hole in his gruvvulous glove? Yep! Now Jesse Bear has one too!

We got our first batch of green beans from the garden! Mmmh!


On Saturday we celebrated pioneer day by hiking 8.5 miles (round trip) on a mountain near our home. It was beautiful! And believe me, we all felt like the pioneers after that hike! It took us 8 hours! (we averaged about 1 mile/hour) :) Here are some of the views along the way:

I liked the message on this tree!

And here's the beautiful lake that climaxed our hike! :) Ha ha! The saddle that you can see just above this lake in the picture was a mile further, but we had to head home. So close...and yet so far!


Curious George hiked for all the hike except about a half mile where his Dad did this:


Jesse Bear hiked for a couple of miles also. Finally after the 25th fall, he agreed to be carried the rest of the way. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Armor: Part 2

Well, we sure have gotten a lot of use out of this armor that we made on Sunday. Yesterday our family home evening lesson was all about warriors that were righteous in the Book of Mormon. We talked about Captain Moroni and Helaman and the righteous things they fought for. But today...today just topped it off - it's been a while since I've laughed so hard.

Jesse Bear took a bath and afterward Brandon had to leave for a meeting so we quickly read scriptures and said prayers before he left (which meant Jesse Bear was left in his towel for a few extra minutes). If you've ever had a two-year-old boy you know that they love to be unclothed. And they love to run around while you try to catch them while they are unclothed. So after Brandon left Jesse Bear dropped the towel and started running around like a mad man. He of course wanted me to chase him, but he was too quick for me. Finally I just sat down next to his clothes and started counting (an old trick that usually doesn't work but sometimes we resort to anyway). Jesse Bear was in his room and when he came out he was fully clad from head to sword in his cardboard armor of righteous over his completely naked body. Curious George and I busted out laughing. He runs out in his armor and proceeds to do a warrior dance for us (looking very similar to what I picture the Lamanites looking like). This went on for about 5 minutes with all of us laughing hysterically (my sister was there too). Then all of a sudden I hear it! I scream and drop everything and rush the unclothed warrior into the bathroom before he pees all over the floor. An inevitable ending to a perfectly hysterical moment. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Armor of Righteousness

Curious George saw this image in the friend this month and wanted to make some cardboard armor just like it yesterday. I told him that we could as long as the weapons and armor were used for righteousness. :) We spent the morning making breastplates of righteousness, swords of truth and shields of faith for the boys. They loved it. Their Dad fought imaginary foes with them all afternoon.
Curious George also saw another image from the friend with the title of liberty that he wanted to make. We didn't get to that one, but next week we'll make it so the boys can act out of the story of the title of liberty. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Baby Falcons

These baby falcons hung out near our house all day yesterday. We saw three of them. Aren't they beautiful? We waited all day for their parents to come get them, but never saw them. One of our neighbors took them home and gave them some food and water to keep them alive. She was going to turn them into a wildlife place if she could find where to do it. They were extremely docile birds. They just kind of sat there. One of them took a shower in the neighbor's sprinkler for most of the day. The other one was going back and forth over the road. I didn't think it would make it through the day, but it did. They weren't scare of us at all. Just kind of sat there. They looked really funny when they ran. They spread there wings out (they have a huge wing span that seem way out of proportion to their bodies) and kinda hopped along. They were really cute.



Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Thankful for Freedom

I'm reading an excellent book right now by Ezra Taft Benson (the former Secretary of Agriculture for President Eisenhower and Former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) called, "The Red Carpet." It was published in 1963. Amazing book. I highly recommend it. It really opens your eyes.

In honor of the 4th of July this weekend, I'd like to quote one of my favorite parts of the book so far (pages 96-97):
"I wish I could say to all freedom-loving Americans - it is time to STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT. Yes, it is past time to stand up and speak out for freedom. Many Americans - thousands and thousands of them have protected with their lives the glorious gifts of freedom and peace which each of us enjoy. How can we best honor them?

"Is it enough to sound a trumpet or lay a wreath?

"Is it enough to honor all by following the two unknown soldiers to their official and final resting place?

"No, it seems to me that we each have several more personal responsibilities.

"First, we must do our part to stay free...

"Freedom is not always lost on the battlefront. It may also be lost through the acceptance of false idealogies that subjugate the dignity of man. We must not compromise ideals so hard won, nor adopt, nor be blindly led into, any course which would erode away our freedom. we must be ever on guard not only against overt acts but against the subtle forces that seek to undermine freedom...

"It is natural to take for granted what we are accustomed to. But the one possession we MUST NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED is freedom - the freedom bequeathed to us under our Constition. To be enjoyed, freedom must be continually won."
I love the last phrase - "to be enjoyed, freedom must be continually won". Another popular phrase that says a similar thing is: "Freedom isn't free." It's true. And we all need to be more vigilant about protecting and defending our precious freedom.

I am grateful to live in this free country of America! We are so blessed to live here. I believe that the principles that this country were founded upon were inspired by God. And I believe that freedom is a God-given gift, meant for all His children upon this earth.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Piano Lessons Idea

I read a great idea for encouraging young children during piano lessons or practicing. I tried it with Curious George and it is amazing! And so simple! Here's what you do:

Put 10 m&m candies (or marshmallows, skittles or whatever small candies your child loves) on the piano during the lesson or practice session. Explain that your child or student can have all 10 treats as long as there is NO complaining during the lesson (or practice session). Every time they complain or whine (or whatever negative action you are trying to discourage), you simply go over to the piano and eat one of the candies. You don't say anything, you just take one. Pretty soon they catch on and stop complaining. It's great!

In fact, I've even taken it a step further. Now anytime during the day when Curious George is getting whiny about something - I just reach out into the air and grab an invisible m&m and stick it in my mouth. He thinks it's hilarious and we both end up laughing about it. But he really has been more conscious about not whining as much.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pheasants!

I love these birds! I have loved watching them ever since we moved into this house almost 5 years ago! My favorite time to watch them is the spring, when the males chase the females. :) When we moved here I didn't know what they were - I had never seen one before. I would wake up to their calls in the early morning -they have a very distinct call that is LOUD! I thought for the longest time that it was Brandon's cell phone! I asked him about it one time and he laughed at me and told me it was the pheasants. Anyway, I've been wanting to get pictures of these beautiful pheasants for a while now. These aren't the best, but you get the idea. I think the movie shows the best.
video

I realize I am really spoiled to live here where we live with all of the wonderful wildlife. There's a forest of trees right behind our house where the pheasants live. We also live really close to the mountains where the deer like to come down and I have seen flocks of up to a dozen deer right in our backyard. Our backyard is part of their migration path and in the Winter, you can see a path where the deer have trod through the snow almost constantly and it's always in the same place! One time I even saw 2 bucks interlocking antlers over a doe. One of my favorite stories to tell is about the time I saw a flock of wild turkeys in our yard - it happened to be the same day that I had bought my Thanksgiving turkey a couple of years ago. It was really funny. Anyway, I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Joys of My Life

I decided to write a post dedicated to the many things that bring me joy in my life right now. Of course if I listed everything it would probably be a REALLY long post, but I'll give some of the highlights.

1. My Husband - Yes, he's got to be #1. I love him so much. He is my best friend. We've been through almost 9 years of life together now. He has kept me smiling and finding humor in life every day. He is such a wonderful example to me in so many ways. I knew when I married him that I was marrying a treasure and he is! What an awesome guy!

2. Being a Mother - my two boys bring me joy every day. I love to watch them learn and grow and figure things out. Most days are hard. I think it's supposed to be that way. But the joys really do come every day and it's easy to overlook them when I'm too preoccupied. Some of my latest joys are:
  • Watching Curious George read
  • Hearing Jesse Bear blabber on and on and on
  • Seeing my boys share or show kindness to each other
  • When they give me slobbery kisses and hugs every morning when they wake up and every night before bed and several times "just because"
  • When CG turned off a movie because the people were smoking in it
  • Watching the boys wrestle with each other or their Dad
  • Letting them "help me" with the dishes, or chores or working in the yard
  • I love watching them asleep, all peaceful and still
  • When they give me little flowers and rocks and things they find outside
  • When they remind us to say prayers or read scriptures or have family home evening
  • Hearing Curious George play the piano
  • Reading to them
  • I love the time I get to spend with them one-on-one
  • Watching Curious George play kickball
  • Overhearing Jesse Bear's little voice as he's playing
  • Hearing little boy laughter in the house
3. Music - Music brings me joy every day. I love to play the piano and be a part of beautiful music. I love to compose and arrange music as well as play the music that others have created. It is something that I don't think I could ever live without.

4. My calling as the primary chorister - I get to teach the primary children (ages 3-12) primary songs and hear them sing their hearts out. I love this calling - it is definitely one of my most favorite callings that I've had in the church. I love hearing them improve each time they sing a song. Right now my favorite song that they sing is called "I know that My Savior Loves Me". If you haven't heard it, here's the link. It is such a beautiful song!

5. Growing a garden - I love the whole process of planting and harvesting food. I love working in the yard and digging in the dirt. I love breathing fresh air and saving plants from choking weeds.

6. The beautiful world around me - we are so lucky to live on this earth. I marvel when I think about the intricacies of life on this earth that Heavenly Father planned out and prepared for us. Even something as simple as a cluster of grapes is amazing to me. Think about the concept of how they must attach to the vine in a perfectly secure way for the inner flesh of the grapes to not be exposed to air. Yet they are so easy to pluck off and pop in your mouth in one juicy bite! It's miraculous!

7. Teaching piano - I talked about this in a recent post so I won't go into much detail, but teaching piano definitely brings me joy!

8. My testimony of the gospel and membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This one thing brings me so many other blessings that give me joy like temple work, family history and missionary work. In fact I think most of the blessings and joy that I feel in life every day can be traced back my membership in the Church. If I didn't have a testimony of the church I don't think numbers 1-7 that I listed above would matter as much to me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Robot

Curious George kept himself entertained the other day making this....

What is it?

A robot, of course.

Yep that's right. It's a robot. On the top are buttons that if one was to push, the robot would do certain tricks like twirl in a circle or dance or run around the room like a crazy man. The last action was the most popular, as you might guess.

And the hangers? Don't ask me. I never did figure out what those were for, but they did add a "robotty" touch, don't you think?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mystery Birds

We spent the morning watching these beautiful birds. I've never seen them before. Does anyone know what kind they might be? There were 4 of the brightly colored ones (we think they were probably males) and 2 of the plain ones (probably females). The boys loved watching them almost as much as me. Especially Curious George. They have been living in the trees in front of our house for a couple of days now. They are so fun to have, I hope they stay! :) Maybe we'll get a nest in one of our trees and have babies!
Here's are pictures of the males:



























I love this one's spikey hair! Yes that is snow! I think our tomatoes and peppers probably died last night :( so sad. Guess we'll probably be replanting this year.

Here's a few pictures of the females:

Curious George noticed that one of the females has a thorn in her feathers. Poor thing. They were eating some of the seeds that fall from the trees in the springtime.

Here's a movie of a couple of them:

video

Helping


JB was helping me wash the dishes the other day. I got a kick out of how he rinsed the canning lids! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaching Piano Lessons

C has been doing really well with his schoolwork. I've been giving him about 5 worksheets to do every morning and he quickly whips them out. I've gotta find harder ones I guess...He's really, really getting excited about going to kindergarten. It will be a lot of fun for him. He recently played at his third piano recital. He did really well. He had 2 of his 3 songs memorized. He played "old MacDonald", "Book of Mormon Stories" and "I am like a Star". I got the last two on this great website where you can print several pre-reading primary songs. He is still progressing really well with his piano. I teach him from the Bastien Piano Basics for the young beginner level A:



This is a great series and it's been perfect for us so far. I started teaching him about a year an a half ago and he's about halfway through level A. The first year was really slow progress, maybe a lesson every month (he was only 3 or 4 when I started). But it's picked up a lot in the last few months and now he progresses very steadily. We don't do lessons every single day, but maybe 2 or 3 times a week for about 10 minutes or until he's done. I don't push him. If he doesn't want to do it, we don't do it. But he usually really wants to. He usually asks for lessons and I'm always happy to oblige. I don't "make him" practice any more than his regular lesson, but he'll often practice on his own anyway. So far it's working really well for me to be his teacher. People ask me how that is, teaching your own child and I think for his age it's PERFECT! I'm not sure how long it will work, but I'm happy to do it until it stops working. When it does, I'll probably find another teacher for him.

I love teaching piano. I've taught for about 4 years now and it's been the best thing for me. I usually have around 9 students, sometimes more sometimes less. I've had 8 for quite a while, but I lost 2 for the summer so now I have 6. I teach the Bastien piano basics series. I have students from early, early beginner (like C.G.) all the way up to the fourth level books.

I also taught a preschool music class in the fall that I loved - A LOT! I'd like to start it up again, if I can get more interest - I only had 3 enrolled in the fall. I haven't decided whether I'm going to do it again this fall or not, but I've thought about it. I've also thought about doing a summer music camp this summer, but I'm not sure if I've got time to get it organized or not. If not, I'll do it another summer.

A lot of people wonder when to start their children in piano lessons. I don't think I would teach a 3-year-old formal piano lessons unless it was my own. Even a 4-year-old is really early, but it might work for some 4-year-olds to have a 10-15 minute lesson twice a week. I think 5 is perfect for a 10-20 minute lesson twice a week. The thing I've noticed about waiting until 8 to teach children is that even though they are better readers and will progress a lot faster, often they've lost the desire by then. And for many older kids, piano is a drudgery. Most little children on the other hand love music and want to participate in music. And they still think learning is a game so they look forward to it. I loved my preschool music class and I think it was perfect for 3-5 year-olds because although they're often not ready for formal music lessons, they are ready to learn music and they can learn SOO many things about music without having to sit still for very long. They can move and dance and clap and act out what they feel in the music. They can sing and play theory games and listen to all kinds of music of many genres. I found that with C, this music class really boosted his abilities as a musician. It fed his desire to play music, even though he wasn't quite old enough for formal music lessons. And it actually increased his desire to play an instrument when he was ready. I think that's part of why he's doing so well with piano now is because of that music class.

Anyway, that's just a few random thoughts about my music teaching experience.

The "babies"

Time is passing by very quickly these days. I can't believe it's almost summer! Then after summer C will start Kindergarten. Wow, my babies are growing up. We have a busy summer planned with growing a big garden, C in kickball and swimming, and several family vacations including 4 family reunions. It won't be long before were in the thick of it. The garden is pretty much planted - see my other blog for that post. But there's tons more yard work to do. I guess with as big of a yard as we have, that's to be expected.

Here is a picture of J's newest best friends. "baby dinosaur" and "baby alien". It's funny with J everything is "baby" this or "baby" that. He loves little tiny things. I probably should worry more about him putting them in his mouth and choking on them, but he hardly ever does. He just loves to hold them and play with them. They attend every meal and go to bed with him. Of course they are very easy to lose since they are so small, but they always turn up again. They are almost always in his hand and he takes them wherever he goes.

C has a couple baby dinosaurs too. The boys bought them at one of those things in front of the grocery store where you put in a quarter and out pops an egg with something cool in it. They have been wanting to earn money (well C at least). He's been doing little "money" jobs to earn money and he gets to spend it at the store when we go.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chickens!



I don't know why our family seems to be so attracted to fowl... but...we recently got 2 chickens...We traded them for 2 winter squash that we had in our basement from the fall harvest. The neighbor who gave them to us had a dog that attacked the chickens so they had feathers missing and stuff. They are funny to watch - they definitely have uppity personalities. The kids love those chickens and can't stop chasing after them. Their names are yet to be determined. Here's a few of the possibilities:

Orange & Black chicken:
1) "orangey"
2) "pep"
3) "chicadee"

White & Black chicken:
1) "Whitey"
2) "Zebey"
3) "soccer bally"
4) "chikaboom"

We'll see what sticks I guess. They have been laying quite a few eggs - one or two every day just about. The eggs are really yummy too. We keep them in our duck cage - we just removed the bottom so they can peck at the ground. We let them out every day and the kids love to catch worms, slugs and potato bugs to feed them. They are a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breakfast with some friends

Here's what I found when I came in the kitchen the other day after leaving Jesse Bear to finish his breakfast on his own.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Random thoughts and Happenings

Is it April already? Goodness, where does the time go? I took a 12 day trip to visit my parents with my sister last month and it was wonderful. We enjoyed it so much - and the car-ride wasn't sooooo bad as I thought. 5 kids ages 5 and under in a car (including a 3-mo. old baby) for 11 hours can get a bit interesting at times, but overall it went very well. All I can say is thank goodness for portable DVD players!

We love our new kitchen. Every time one of the kids drops some food or water or something messy on the floor I cheer! I really do. It is so wonderful to be able to just wipe it up instead of scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing at the nasty carpet. Wow, the things you appreciate!

The world is awakening again and it's so exciting to watch spring unfold. I love watching each flower and tree come into bloom - it's like getting reacquainted with old friends. The crocuses are gone now, but the daffodils and tulips and hyacinths are blooming and I love them so much. Thankfully the deer haven't gotten my tulips yet this year. I'm crossing my fingers that I hid them good enough! :)

Curious George and Jesse Bear are growing and growing as usual. I sometimes wish I could put certain ages on hold for a little while...or good days - I wish I could just pause them and say, stop right there. Don't move. I want to keep on living this one. But it comes and goes just like the rest of them. Then there's the bad days that you want to just fast forward...but you can't...you just have to endure them. But each day, good or bad, has something that you learn from. Each one is important. Each stage of life is important too. And I'm learning that it's better just to enjoy each moment instead of always looking forward to the future or wishing back on the past.

I love the "moment" that we're in right now. It's so fun to watch C.G. learn to read and write and so many things. It's fun to be his teacher right now and I've really been grateful that I kept him home this year. It's been a huge learning year for both of us. And progress has been steady and consistent which is encouraging. He decided a month or so ago that he was interested in the piano and we've really been doing a lot with his lessons. It's nice that I'm his teacher for that too because he wouldn't have the attention span for a 30 minute lesson. But 10 minutes every day is just about right. He loves it and so do I. It's wonderful to be able to teach your own child something that you love so much. Jesse Bear is developing a huge vocabulary and interest in everything his brother is learning. It's like he just picks up on everything through osmosis - it's amazing. He is starting to enjoy even more playing with his brother and that has been so nice. It's fun to see their little friendship developing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kitchen Remodel!!

The kitchen remodel project is as good as done! It's actually not 100% finished (we still have light fixtures and a little bit of wood trim work to do), but it's basically finished! And I couldn't wait to share the pictures! We are lovin' it!! :)

Here's what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house (dark cabinets, blue curtains and yes, that's brown carpet on the floor).
We replaced the windows soon after we moved in, but the rest stayed the same...for four years...and I hated it...with a passion!

It was quite a process.... tearing off wallpaper, ripping out the carpet, sanding down & refinishing the cabinets, laying and grouting tile, sewing curtains and adding crown molding. We started at the end of November and just finished on Saturday - 3 full months! But it was worth it!

Here's what our kitchen floor looked like for about 2 months. We ripped out the carpet to see if we could use the wood floor underneath and found out that it was beautiful and intact EXCEPT (and it was a big except) for about 2 feet around all of the cabinets there was ply wood. So we knew we'd have to lay down another kind of floor. While we were deciding which kind we wanted to lay down we worked on the sanding job...wow what a job!

Here's the lovely two-tone paint that was underneath the wallpaper...
Here's an example of before sanding and after - the wood was beautiful and light underneath. It remains a mystery why anyone would ever want to cover that beautiful wood up with such a dark stain.
Here's some of the process sanding pictures to give you an idea what it was like before we stained.
We hung sheets up to keep the dust from going to the rest of the house. You can see all the dust on my camera lens - it was a huge mess!
Here's the mighty sander exhausted after a very full week of sanding!
Here's what cabinets looked like after we stained (before the floor was done)
We decided on tile so here's daddy laying the backer-board down with two very helpful boys handing him the screws. :)AND FINALLY...DRUM ROLL PLEASE...Here's what the kitchen looks like now (You'll have to excuse the lovely green place where the dishwasher will be....someday...):


Mmmm...It wouldn't be a kitchen picture without some freshly made rolls on the counter now would it? :)Close up of the tile.
Close up of the curtains.

And a close up of the crown molding
It's great to have it finished! Thank you Brandon for my Birthday, Christmas and Valentines day presents for the next 5 years! :) You're the best!