Monday, April 14, 2014

Pictures! Videos! It's Just My Journal of the Weekend.

My statistics lie! There are not hundreds of readers! Dear reader, there are only 21 of you. And another dozen who couldn't comment (or wouldn't) but did on Facebook. So... 33 of you that read my blog (and some that I didn't know! Cool!). That's not bad! I don't mind 33 people. That's better than 0 people...

Alrighty, let's have us a weekend update and a lot of photos, eh?

Friday night, Brandon and I went on a hot date. We went to a Mexican restaurant (not bad) and then to Home Depot, where we bought a chainsaw. Yep! A chainsaw.

(Me all ready for our date with Brandon's bike in the background, which he actually rode for an hour before we got ready for our date. Not sure why I added that, just thought I would...) 

(I saw this gorgeous man at the restaurant and decided to take him home with me!)

Here he is using the new chainsaw! As I said on Instagram, I found this very attractive.

(Far away)

(Zoomed in)

While Brandon was cutting wood, I was manning the inside chores. The kids had a pretty big incentive to get everything finished quickly: The community Easter egg hunt! The kids worked fast and worked well and we arrived at the park at 11:03AM and....

.... it was already over. It had started at exactly 11AM and it was over by the time we were there. In three minutes. There were hundreds of people there! Apparently, they just left the eggs lying all over the grass. Needless to say, the kids were bummed.


But they survived.


And we took them to lunch at Costco after playing on the playground for a while (it was fun shopping with the whole family, too!).

Later that night there was an International Night at our church. I guess it's a yearly activity, but people sign up to bring different ethnic foods (and decorations, but I didn't know about that until after we got there or else we would have brought all of Brandon's Australian stuff!) Because the Korean Branch was dissolved into our ward (technically we are the magnet ward for the Koreans), most of the night was Korean themed. Such good fun! Great music! Karaoke! The kids had a blast and we were some of the last to leave.

(Introducing Korean percussion instruments)

video

(Kids doing tossing their shoes in a target for chocolate)

(Kids winning beads for doing different activities)

(Some of the people, and apparently the ceiling)

(Me and Sister Handy, one of our sister missionaries!)

Church on Sunday was wonderful. I got to accompany a couple singing the song Gethsemane, and I subbed as the chorister in Primary! That was so much fun. I got to teach them I Often Go Walking. We had another ward potluck after church which we do once a month. The best part of the day? Finally getting home and getting to nap for two hours! Holy cow, did I need it! Later that evening, Brandon found this drowned rat (i.e. he gave Kaz a much needed bath):


This morning, some friends invited the boys and I to Linvilla Orchards for some fun and a picnic. We had such a great time! I got some things at the farmer's market (their apple cider donuts are pretty good!). The boys had so much fun looking at all the farm animals and playing at the playground --there was even a little maze. #6 is getting so much bigger and can do so many things, now! I only had to break out the Beco toward the end.



video





video






Tonight we are feeding the Elders, and the rest of the week is going to be Easter and "my parents are coming to visit!" preparations.

Oh, I'll leave you with this video:


Because of Him, I have peace, hope, and joy in my life. What about you?

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Wanna Know Who's Reading My Blog

Apparently, there are hundreds of you (at least according to my stats). I don't mind that you never leave comments, dear reader (truly, I don't) because I don't blog for accolades of grandeur (or whatever). But sometimes, I'm just really, really, really curious. So, if you could, delurk, please!

Leave me a comment and tell me:
1. Your favorite color.
2. How long you've read my blog.
3. The best vacation you ever took (you may leave more than one if you cannot choose).

I'll answer them, too!
1. Green
2. Since I started it (hahahahahaha! I kill me!)
3. China, London, and Kauai. Okay, and Mexico was pretty great. Heck! Just going to Midway for the week was always fun. I guess ANY vacation has been the best vacation!

Your turn! Please and thank you.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Spring is in the Air

General Conference was wonderful. So wonderful. Everything about it, from the cinnamon rolls (in which I didn't add enough flour and they ended up becoming monkey bread, but they still tasted great, so who cares?) to the Sister missionaries visiting us on Sunday, to watching the Priesthood session with my husband in our living room, to watching the kids color, to all the yummy food and the insights gained and the spirit in our home --it was just fantastic. I have so much to review in the next six months! 

My favorite talks were Elder Holland's, Elder Hale's, Elder Bednar's, Elder Oaks', and Sister Reeves'. And my second favorite were all the rest. 

What was your favorite? Go here to read or watch all of them! 

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I have been rocking it the last two days! 

I cleaned out the game closet and organized and purged. 

I finally unpacked the office/guest room in anticipation of my parents' visit next week and organized and cleaned. Then I bought some dressers and some lamps for the room off of Craigslist, and I am picking up a bed tomorrow (what would any of us do without Craigslist!?). 

I went visiting teaching.

I started filling out our last will and testament (no judging on the procrastination!). 

I started (and finished!) our taxes this morning. 

This afternoon, the kids and I are going to clean the yard.

What's next!? Ooh, probably Easter preparation/lessons... 

I'm proud of myself for tackling these tough jobs and for staying on task until they were done. I hope I don't lose steam for a while and will continue to get important things done around here. 

(What has caused such motivation? Could it be due to the higher dosage in medication? Possibly. Probably. I don't really care what has caused it. I'm only glad it has been caused.)

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We've had consistent 55-60 degree weather days around here, lately. The daffodils are blooming all over the township (literally, thousands of them). They are everywhere, in yards, all along the sides of the roads, planted right into the grass! It's so fun to see them all blooming as we drive around. 

I love Spring. Not as much as I love Fall, but pretty close. I love that the kids are playing outside, that there is more day than night, that the trees and bushes are starting to bud and flower. Spring is spectacular! 

April is such a wonderful month to me, too. My oldest child was born in April, and when it's combined with Easter and flowers and sun... well, there you go! So much joy, hope, and happiness. 

It's safe to say that I'm feeling good today. I hope you are, too, dear reader! 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Fear vs Peace

Yesterday was a contrast of sorts. Many good things, but many bad things. I started out with a dark paralyzing feeling that was really painful to fight. It's difficult to describe, but it was if I was fighting with more than my brain; I was fighting lies. Almost as if I was fighting for truth. I don't even know if this makes sense? I just knew that I had so much to catch up on in the house (mostly cleaning) and I couldn't find any strength to do it. So, feeling desperate, I offered up some prayers, and then I asked friends on Facebook to give me motivational words. They did such a great job! Lots of hilarious videos and motivational quips filled my mind and after pushing and fighting my brain for a few hours, I was able to get up and start working. I worked hard and I got a lot of things finished! In the middle of doing my work, my Brandon called me (made my day). After the kids got home from school, I ran a few errands and went to therapy, as well as grabbed dinner for the kids.

The best part was what happened after dinner. The kids and I went to a local nursing home with another family in our ward and for nearly 40 minutes, we sang songs with the residents. The sister missionaries showed up to sing with us, too. We had such a wonderful time! This particular family does this often (has for years) and invited us to join them. So, earlier this week, on Monday, we had dinner with this family and FHE, where we practiced the songs we'd be singing. It was such a simple thing and yet so wonderful. The residents had such a great time, and they loved the little kiddos. Even the kids said they really enjoyed doing it! Brandon was bummed he was gone and couldn't join us, but we're going to do it again in June.

After coming home, the kids occupied themselves by playing games of chess with each other, taking turns playing Minecraft, playing tag, and being silly. We were listening to our Imagine Dragons station on Pandora and I was crocheting. It was a really contented time (and the house was clean!).

The contrast wasn't as significant as light and dark. It was more subtle. More like... fear and then peace. Okay, so maybe that's a really huge contrast. But maybe it didn't feel so significant because first, it was in my mind/heart (not external) and second, because I've been in this conflict for most of my adult life. Whatever the case, this contrast was there and it was interesting to observe. I think I've learned some more about this darkness in my mind, and it has me pondering...

I would be lying if I haven't approached it in a spiritual way, either. I can see that satan was having an effect and exploiting my weakness (i.e. mental illness) and trying to convince me to cling to that as an excuse to ignore my responsibilities and give into all the fear and darkness that occupies my brain. The peace, however, that I felt, was the Spirit whispering strength to my soul; filling me up with love and quiet, telling me that what I did yesterday was good! I served others. I was fulfilling my roles; I was giving to others in a very positive and healthy way.

Fear and Peace. (*this is me thinking some more*)

Sooo... the psychiatrist upped my meds and my therapist is concerned about my negative self-image and critical self-talk. My homework this week is to think about how I feel about myself. To find out where it's coming from; why am I so mean to myself? Why am I so worried about external validation and why can't I overcome it with internal validation? What can be done to counteract that critical dislike of myself?

Meh. We'll see. I think she's right, because I am my harshest critic, and I'm very sensitive to how others perceive me. But I'm not sure I know the answer. I take care of myself, I take care of my family, I have a personal relationship with Christ, I've come a very long way over the last two decades when it comes to maturity and discovering who I am. But I guess I have a lot further to go.

Figures.

Ooh, some good news! Brandon comes home this afternoon! Huzzah!

Have a fantastic weekend, dear reader! I will be watching LDS General Conference with my family. You should, too! I really look forward to it every six months. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Little Bit of Romance

Brandon is traveling for work again. He left Sunday night and will be back Friday night. I am used to his travels, but it's not any less difficult for me. Not difficult in that I can't handle life without him (obviously), but because I miss him when he's gone. And since he's gone a lot, I miss him a lot. I spend too much time reading love and romantic quotes on Pinterest when he's traveling, I've noticed. It kind of takes the place of his kisses, I guess. That plus romantic moves and books! Nothing inappropriate, though, dear reader. Just good old fashioned romance and love! In fact, I have two Pinterest boards dedicated to love and romance: Marriage and I (Heart) Romance . Here are a few of my favorites that make me swoon (or miss Brandon somethin' fierce):
















Speaking of marriage and romance, I have great news! It's old-ish news, but I can't remember if I told you, dear reader. In two weeks, my lovely parents are coming to visit us. Yay! And in three weeks, my lovely parents are staying put to watch our kids while Brandon and I run off to St. John! Five days of sand and sun with my man! I'm really looking forward to it, and now I feel obligated to appreciate all of the travel he does for work. Because without all of that travel, this vacation probably wouldn't be happening --all those air miles and hotel points he accumulates are very nice, dear reader. Very nice, indeed!

Which brings me to my one and only fear: what to wear. Because let's face it, I'm not exactly stunning in a bathing suit right now. I'm grateful for options, though. Grateful I'll spend most of my time hiking and in the water swimming/snorkeling. And when I'm reading my novels on the beach, I'll be wearing beautiful sarongs and maxi dress/skirts. It'll work out. I refuse to let my insecurities stop me from having a great time! Because we will have a great time. How could we not?

And with that, dear reader, I bid you a Happy Wednesday. May it be filled with at least a little bit of romance! Kiss away, dear reader. Kiss away.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

LDS Women's Meeting and I'm Baking a Cake

My baby woke up with a fever. [Yes, I know my "baby" is 2 years old, now, but until another sweet angel comes along (maybe?) he'll just have to continue being my "baby!"] That means I'm home with the little guy while Brandon took the other kids to church.

I'm bummed about missing church because I love church. Love it. I look forward to it every week, and I'm sad I won't have the opportunity to partake of the Sacrament. Last week was Stake Conference (no sacrament) and next week is General Conference (no sacrament), and so today was the day! Plus, it's Fast Sunday for us, which means that our congregation has the opportunity to bear their testimonies about the gospel. I've always loved Fast and Testimony Sacrament Meeting, simply because I love to feel the strength and the Spirit and the love of those in my ward. Ah, well. Next time!

I'm occupying the time by baking a delicious lemonade cake for one of our sister missionaries (it's her 20th birthday today and we get to feed her and her companion! Yay!), listening to the scriptures on the Mormon Channel app (listening to the book of John), cooking taco soup, and giving into Baby's demands. I may also tidy up and take a shower.

Oh, recipe for the cake? Go here.

Last night was the LDS Women's Meeting! This is big news, dear reader, because this is a newly implemented meeting for the entire church! Every six months we have General Conference, and for decades, the women have taken turns going to a meeting the week before. In September, the week before October General Conference, the Relief Society sisters have met (18 years and older). In March, the week before April General Conference, the Young Women and their mothers and leaders have met (12 to 18 years old). Now, both of those meetings have been replaced with the General Women's Meeting for all women ages 8 and older! This is huge!

So, I took my two daughters to the meeting and it was wonderful! We stopped at Olive Garden on our way to the church for dinner, much to the girls' joy. Not very many women came to the church to watch it, and #2 was the only primary girl there, but it was still nice to be in the church. We sat next to the missionaries and had a great experience. I had gone to the conference with questions and a desire to find renewed hope and I was blessed with both. One of my favorite parts was when Sister Wixom asked the primary girls to stand and start singing a song. #2 was kind of embarrassed, but she stood and sang all by herself (well, all by herself in our stake center!).

Here's one of the videos they showed at the broadcast last night! If you'd like to watch the whole thing, go here.

(This video below made me bawl like a baby. So did seeing all of those daughters singing with their mothers in the choir that performed (in link above). So did hearing that young woman giving the opening prayer. I love the gospel so much!)




Oh! And here's the other one they did. It shows women around the world singing "I Am A Child of God" in their own languages. Then they had us sing the first verse together, live. So beautiful!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Goings On (Brain Dumping)

Brain dumping time!

#5 has been a bit sick the last few days, which means I missed #3's Pinewood Derby (his first! I was bummed, but it was okay because Brandon sent me a video via text of every single race. He came in 5th out of 20 cars! Go him!) but I got some photos of the goofball (I say that lovingly) before they left:






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The weather has been very typical Spring --snow and wind and then sun and warmth.

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather 
inside of four and twenty hours. 
 ~Mark Twain

I'm not sure how I feel about it. I have a love/hate relationship with Spring. I think it's the lack of consistency, and one of the reasons I adore Autumn. Autumn is predictable! Autumn is warm and then cools and then gets colder and colder and it's... gradual. It's a gorgeous symphony of aging deliberately and consistently. 

Another reason I don't like this Spring weather (although I'm liking the sun) is because my desire to get outside and start walking is being impeded by it. Okay, truly, it's being impeded by three very large obstacles: 
1. A place to walk
2. A time to walk
3. The weather 

A place? I could walk on our street (safer than the other main road), but going to the pond and back is still only 1.33 miles. I'd need to walk it three times. Which, now that I think about it, is not that big of a deal... Neither is walking carefully (or even driving) to the park where I can do the loop 4 or 5 times... Okay, so a place is no longer an excuse.

But a time? I'd have to go at 5:30 in the morning. I'm not really up for that right now. I could go in the evening, but that's Brandon time after kids go to bed... Unless I could convince him to come with me... hmmm... Or I really could just get my rear end out of bed at 5:30AM. I mean, I'm up at 6:30 already, what's another hour? 

The weather... who cares, right? I've gone running in rain and snow, what's a bit of wind and chill? 

When do you exercise, dear reader? Right now I'm simply doing push ups and sit ups and jumping jacks in the house periodically when the kids aren't whining or begging for my attention. 

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I don't hate the women and men who have chosen to join Ordain Women (Mormon women who are petitioning and protesting the LDS Church to ordain women to the Priesthood). I'm sad for them, as I said on my Facebook wall a while ago, but I'm not angry with them: 

What I find interesting is that the petition's numbers are less than 2,000. That number includes men, too (it's not all women who signed it) and out of 15 million people, it's really not that high of a number, and most are English speaking (maybe all?). Also, that they feel petitioning the Prophet will somehow change God. I really don't understand it, either. And I do feel sorry for them. Very sorry that they feel pain, they feel somehow less than they are, that they feel this will also somehow solve all the problems they think it will. I also feel sorry they've experienced unrighteous dominion (if they have) and I feel sorry they are so focused on what they don't have, they can't see what they do have. I don't feel these things in anger or frustration --just pity, really. That will offend many (my pity), but it's the best I can do at this point. I just pray they will find some peace, and that they'll stay in the Church as they find it.

I have family members who are a part of this movement. Granted, they won't speak to me, anymore, but still... It's odd, because I've watched this movement grow and I've seen how semantics have changed from "we would never desire to change doctrine" to "this is what God wants us to do." It's interesting to observe... But as I said, I hope these women stay in the Church, I hope they find peace, and I hope they will choose to listen to God's prophets and apostles, as well as all of their women leaders.

Because as I said to a family member once, "Why in the world would God give us more women leaders when the people clamoring for them won't even listen to the ones He's already given us?"

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Speaking of women! I'm really excited for the Women's Broadcast this Saturday night! I was looking forward to this meeting a year ago when #1 had turned 12, but now I get to take both of my daughters! We are going to have such a great time. I'm thrilled to be able to hear from our Church leaders and our prophet!


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It looks like I might have caught what #5 has had... but I think it's just a cold. I hope. Brandon is finally getting better, and so we don't need more sickness around here!

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The distance of the church is finally starting to wear on us. It only took 5 months...

It's truly a sacrifice to go to the church as often as we do (Mutual, church, activities, meetings, broadcasts, firesides/devotionals, etc.) and we discussed the possibility of moving closer (when we do move; probably not for another year or two or three...). It's not just the gas money, but the time it takes! I'm trying not to let it wear on me, but it makes for some very long Sundays (we usually stay an hour for choir practice, and sometimes we have to go early for meetings or things) and some advanced planning. But we love our ward, and we've felt guided to be here, so we will continue to go and not complain. What's a 30 minute drive, anyway? Some people live in countries where they have to take the train or bus for several hours. Some live far away from cities, anyway, and driving that far is a given to get to anything...

I also told Brandon I need to back off and stop saying "yes" to everything, too... mostly because wow! We have been bombarded with so many opportunities to serve! I was used to helping and serving in our last ward, but it didn't feel so... time consuming? It's not that serving here is stressful (it's actually pretty laid back and relaxed; lower expectations, it seems. Not bad expectations! No! Just not as... expected? Is that a phrase? Not expected expectations?) --it just feels like we are doing a lot. I usually sign up to help with everything because they just don't have very many hands to do it all. I never volunteer begrudgingly! I never sign up with impatience or frustration! I want to help, I really do.

So, yes, I'll make 3 dozen cookies for the shelter and yes, I'll feed the missionaries often, and yes, I'll attend the baptisms, and yes, I'm happy to substitute here and here, and yes, I'll feed so-and-so, and yes, we're happy to help host the youth, and yes, I'll do my visiting teaching, and yes, I'll bring a salad to the baptism, and yes, I'll make all this food for the monthly potluck, and yes, we'll sing at the nursing home (really looking forward to this, actually), and yes, the kids will help with this/that, and yes... I almost feel like in my last ward, I wasn't doing very much, now! Sure, I was fulfilling my calling and taking meals to those who needed it, but wow, it didn't feel so consuming.

And I think I know why. I think it's because first of all, it only took me 2 minutes to drive to so-and-so's house, and that's because she lived the furthest away in the ward. Making meals was a piece of cake because the girls could walk it over. Everything was easy because everything was physically close. In fact, that might be the only reason! The advantage of a ward within walking distance is an incredible blessing!

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This morning, as I went to the bathroom just before scripture study, I looked out the window (as I always do) to look at the sunrise and I saw four deer (five?) grazing in our backyard. It was a beautiful site and I just loved it so much. Everything about it, from the sun just peaking over the trees, to the serene scene of the animals quietly eating, to the silence of our home (we hadn't woken up the kids quite, yet), to the sleepiness I was still brushing from my mind... it was just so... peaceful.

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DEPRESSION UPDATE:

The meds seem to be working. I might have to go up in dosage, though --we'll see next week. Brandon told me that he thinks I'm doing much better (in fact, he said he's been pleasantly surprised at how well I'm doing) and I am. PMS this month was more a blip, rather than a complete meltdown, and although I still felt moody and irritable, it was controllable. This is good.

I'm still not sure about therapy. I have another session next week, so I'll need to reassess at that point.

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Good books I've read lately (because I've read some really dumb ones, too):

Good, Clean Murder (A Plain Jane Mystery) by Traci Tyne Hilton
The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell
Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake
The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna
Glimmer of Hope by Sarah Eden
Deep in the Heart by Staci Stallings

Most of them are Christian novels, and it was hard, sometimes, to read the modern Evangelical vernacular in what was supposed to be historical fiction (like in Fancy Pants and in The Widow of Larkspur Inn). But I don't mind religious meaning in LDS books, so I figured some forgiveness was in order for these, especially since the stories were pretty good and the writing was, too! Not necessarily pulitzer prize winning, but not eye-rolling or confusing.

Next on my list:

Divergent by Veronica Roth (although I'm already kind of over post-apocalyptic dystopian societal Y/A romances. But my girls want to read this trilogy, so I must read it first!)
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Beyond Justice by John Grisham
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

aaaaaand a bunch of other Christian romances. Because I love romance, dear reader! No shame from me.

What are you reading right now? 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Family + Scriptures = This (For Us, Anyway)

We read scriptures every weekday morning as a family. We read at 6:30AM because #1 and Brandon need to be out the door by 7:30AM (the elementary-aged kids don't need to leave until 8:20AM). This morning, I thought it would be nice to record what it looks like!

Since I'm married to a technology lover, we read them through the Apple TV via Brandon's iPad (or my iPhone when he's traveling). It looks like this:


I'm not entirely sold on the way we do this, since I want our kids to know how to navigate their physical scriptures, but using them in FHE and Church will help. What's nice is that nobody ever loses their place, and everyone can follow along at the same time (well, when they actually pay attention). We each read five verses, except for #4, who read one. #5 repeats one verse, as well. After we're done reading (it takes about 15-20 minutes or so), we kneel down and say a family prayer. Then I turn on Pandora to the Mozart station (Classical music) and it's off to get ready for school!

Right now, we're reading in Alma in the Book of Mormon. We just finished reading Alma's teachings to his sons and started reading about the wars.

The kids are usually cold and tired, so there are a lot of blankets (may change come summertime). #6 is the only child exempt from family scripture study at this point. I'm sure it will change by the next school year, but since he can't even repeat a verse, yet, we just let him sleep. The older kids sometimes wish we'd let them just sleep:



The cat joins us:


#3 reading out loud:


It snowed last night, so we have a nice dusting outside:


What do you do for family scripture study? What does it look like in your home? What are you currently reading? 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Squee! (Or in other words...)

Let's just get right to it, shall we? We bought a used piano yesterday! *And the peasants rejoiced* 


Some friends in our ward are moving across the country in a few months and needed to get rid of a few things. We opted to take the trampoline off of their hands (the kids were pretty excited about that), and then they casually mentioned they would be selling their piano. 

Last month we were *this* close to buying a used Baby Grand piano off of Craig's list, when it turned out to be too good to be true (it was so broken, it didn't even play) and I was completely crushed. Heartbroken! I've longed for a Baby Grand piano for a really long time, even though an upright would have been just fine. I think I've just been holding out for the dream (you know, putting all my eggs in one basket). 

Brandon and I bought our Clavinova when I was pregnant with #1, and it has served us well (and through a lot of moves! Five, I believe...) for the last 13 years, but I have always desired the real thing! Any pianist can tell you that a digital piano just doesn't cut it. It works, it serves a purpose, it's nice to have volume control, the different sounds, the ability to record, headphones (ours broke), etc., but it just does not play like a real piano. It really doesn't. (Not even close, really.) 


Anyway, when our friends named the price on the piano and Brandon went to see it, we were sold! Thanks to Bison (our van), we were able to pick it up ourselves (with the help of our friends and some Young Men in the ward), and the only thing left to do is hire a tuner to come tune the beauty. It plays like a dream, though (out of tune and all), and it felt divine to my hands (and heart!). 


I had to rearrange the library (which I now call the Music Room and Library, but only in my mind, because it's too long to say, so it'll still be "the Library," and I can tell you're incredibly relieved by this, dear reader) and it felt great to put things in place. Yes, I know there are technically two pianos in the room, now, but given that there's not much room for the Clavinova elsewhere, and I can use it to practice the organ (minus foot pedals), it's not a bad idea. Music and books and a fireplace and a comfy couch? Best room in the house. 

Still. 

Always. 





No other acoustic instrument can match the piano's expressive range, and no electric instrument can match its mystery.
 ~Kenneth Miller