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