Friday, October 20, 2017

happy weekend

Mike and I have been putting in our winter lawn this week. It is so much work, but it is worth it! Our regular grass (bermuda) goes dormant in the winter and turns brown and scratchy. Winter grass (rye) is lush and dark green and so pretty.

We transplanted some jasmine vines to the side wall of our house last year, but just barely got around to putting up a wire trellis for them. I can't believe the difference it has made! The vines have flourished with the trellis and will soon fill it. There are some gospel parallels here, but I'll let you sort them out on your own.

I hardly ever buy clothes, and especially never shoes, but I bought two new pairs this week! These black sneakers from target are replacing the 15 year old black converse that I've worn into the ground.

Quilting update: I've almost completed 12 blocks. The more I've worked on it, the less wonky my pieces have gotten. I love that it's an ongoing project that I can work on when I have a spare moment. Next I need to decide how to put my blocks together. I like quilts with a lot of white space, so I'm experimenting with different border sizes. It has been so fun.

This weekend is big for us. Tomorrow is the elementary school carnival (I'm the PTO vice president, so I'll be there all day), homecoming for Mabel (She's not old enough to date, so she's going with some friends ... and I couldn't convince her to wear my cute vintage dress. Sigh.), and then Mike is singing in sacrament meeting on Sunday. I love when he sings.

It sort of feels like the world is falling apart, doesn't it? I found this quote from President Uchtdorf to be comforting: "When we embark upon or continue the incredible journey that leads to God, our lives will be better. This does not mean that our lives will be free from sorrow ... No, following the Savior will not remove all of your trials. However, it will remove the barriers between you and the help your Heavenly Father wants to give you. God will be with you. He will direct your steps. He will walk beside you and even carry you when your need is greatest ... The fires and tumults of moral life may threaten and frighten, but those who incline their hearts to God will be encircled by His peace. Their joy will not be diminished. They will not be abandoned or forgotten."

I hope your weekend is a happy one!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

what's for dinner

When I am really on my game, I prepare dinner in the morning. Our afternoons are busy and I love having dinner ready to go before everyone gets home from school and the afternoon rush begins. We are trying to eat a plant based diet these days. Low dairy, very low meat, high whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Tonight we're having the Pioneer Woman's Quinoa with Buttery Roasted Vegetables. It might not feel like fall outside yet (still in the upper 90s here in Arizona-blah), but it's the season for roasted vegetables and I couldn't be happier.

I've made this recipe before and loved it, but I'll be honest and tell you that I make sure to serve it with lots of whole wheat toast so that Oliver doesn't go to bed hungry. :)

Friday, October 06, 2017

happy weekend

It's still too hot out, but my friend, Jill, and I went hiking this week anyway. Is it beautiful here? I don't know. Ask me again when it's not 97 degrees outside. We had a good hike, despite the heat. I like hiking with Jill because she is fun to talk to, but also because she keeps us moving at a fast pace. Sometimes I'm jogging to catch up to her and it feels really good.

We are heading in to our October break this weekend. I can't think of anything better than a week off of school right now! My kids have been working so hard, but they are beat and we all need to catch up on some sleep.

Do you quilt? When Mike and I were in Boston last week, I went quilt fabric shopping with my sister-in-law and her mom. They are highly experienced quilters and I was hoping some of their talent would rub off on me. I bought a little fabric and have been piecing some squares this week, but I must not be precise enough because they are turning out a little wonky. I'll keep at it, and read up on it a little bit, but I'll gladly take any advice you have to give!

One of my favorite quotes from the conference talks I listened to on my runs this week was from Elder Joni L. Koch's talk, Apart, but Still One. He said, "We have no right to portray anybody, including from our Church circle, as a badly finished product! Rather, our words about our fellow beings should reflect our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and that, in Him and through Him, we can always change for the better!" Working on that ...

I hope you have a happy weekend.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

to change the world

Life seems particularly tragic right now, doesn't it? As I was settling down to sleep last night, thinking about what happened in Las Vegas and elsewhere, the words of Sister Oscarson's talk from Saturday morning's conference session were ringing in my ear and bringing me comfort.

She said, "An aspect of service for all of us who have watched news of recent events and felt helpless to know what to do ... might actually be right before us. The Savior taught, 'For whosoever will save his life will lose it: and whosever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.' President Thomas S. Monson said of this scripture, 'I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.'"

Sister Oscarson continued, "It is sometimes easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don't see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting next to us in class."

And then she related the story of a woman in the 1990s who, with her daughter, rounded up quilts and drove a truck full of them from London to Kosovo. On her way home, the woman had a distinct impression that said, "What you have done is a very good thing. Now go home, walk across the street, and serve your neighbor."

Sister Oscarson said, "What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us?"

And then this, "Changing the world begins with strengthening your own family."

"As you strive to become more like the Savior Jesus Christ and live your covenants, you will continue to be blessed with desires to relieve suffering and help the who are less fortunate. Remember that some of the greatest needs may be those right in front of you. Begin your service in your own homes, with your own families. These are the relationships that can be eternal."

I guess it can all be summed up in that wonderful quote from Mother Teresa--"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

I can't change what happened in Las Vegas, and I can't help rebuild Puerto Rico, but I can love my family more. I can be a better neighbor. I can be more generous in my fast offerings.

You can watch Sister Oscarson's entire talk here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sharon Eubank for President

Last Saturday was Women's Conference. Did you watch? Oh, it was good. I found myself feverishly writing notes, especially during Sister Sharon Eubank's talk. She was so fresh and bold and inspiring! I thought I'd share my favorite things she said:

"Each of us needs to be better at articulating the reasons for our faith. Use your voice and your power to articulate what you know and feel. Tell why you believe and what it feels like and if you ever doubted and how you got through it and what Jesus Christ means to you."

"Innovation and creation are spiritual gifts. When we keep our covenants it may make us different from others and our culture and society, but it gives us access to inspiration so we can think of different solutions and different approaches and different applications. We aren't always going to fit in with the world, but being different in positive ways can be a lifeline to other people who are struggling."

"There is an energy that comes from happiness and optimism that doesn't just bless us. It builds everyone around us."

"I appeal to each of you to put yourself in a place where you can feel the generous love God has for you. You cannot put yourself beyond the reach of that love. And when you love Him, you will repent and keep His commandments. And when you keep His commandments, He can use you in His work. His work and glory is the exaltation and eternal life of women and men."

You can watch her entire talk (so good!) here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

happy weekend

I think I've forgotten how to blog, and I'm ok with that.

We rearranged our family room yesterday. Our tv was broken (thanks to an errant magna tile), so we took it down and moved everything around. Lest you think we are virtuously going without a tv from now on, we picked up a new (bigger) one at Costco last night. Rearranging furniture is near the top of my list of favorite home improvements and I keep walking down to the basement just to see the new set up again.

This morning felt a little bit like Christmas, as our nighttime low finally dipped down to the 70s. Hot afternoons are much more bearable when I can open my windows at night. We are heading in to the best six months in Arizona and I can't wait.

I made these pumpkin muffins to celebrate.

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

an eclipse trip

Did you watch the eclipse? Mike and I traveled to Idaho this weekend to be in the path of totality. I thought Mike was kind of crazy when he mentioned it a few months ago, but oh, it was amazing! I keep watching the video I shot of the moment of totality over and over again (you can see it in my instagram), and it gives me goose bumps each time. It was an incredible experience.

This photo was snapped during totality. You can see that it wasn't totally dark, but pretty nearly. It was so, so strange.

We met up with my parents in Victor, Idaho. The skies were clear and the temperature was just right.

As we neared totality, the temperature dropped significantly and the sky started to darken, but it wasn't until the moon completely covered the sun that it got dark. I can't even describe it. It was surreal and spiritual and breathtaking. If you ever get the chance to witness a total eclipse, do it! Make it happen. You won't regret it.

One of my favorite parts of yesterday, though, was when totality was complete someone started blaring the song, Total Eclipse of My Heart. It was perfect. Not my favorite part: the post-eclipse traffic. Oh man, it was intense getting out of Idaho! We barely made our flight home.

But before the eclipse, we spent a little bit of time with my parents in Sundance. I hiked with my mom and we ate dinner together at the Foundry Grill. I felt so lucky to be there twice in one summer!

Mike and I made our way slowly north, stopping at temples along the way. First was Payson, for our Mabel, who was born in Payson. Then the new Provo City Center Temple (SO gorgeous, wow!).

And then up to Logan. Utah (and Idaho) is such a beautiful state. I am glad we were able to spend the weekend there. We had such a nice trip.

And now I'm scheming how I can see the next total eclipse in 2024. . .

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

a new school year and a new theme

School starts today! I sent everyone off this morning and now the house is quiet. I wasn't quite ready for summer to end, so I feel a little bit glum here all alone. My kids get along well together and I think they are so fun to be around, so I'll miss having them home. Our house was an especially happy one this summer.

Stella and Oliver are off to 4th and 7th grades. They attend the same school, a sort of magnet school in our district with a more rigorous curriculum. Mabel is a sophomore in high school, in the International Baccalaureate program. Her schedule looks so hard this year, but she is a bright girl and I know she'll do all right! And then sweet Elliot is in 2nd grade at our neighborhood elementary.

I like to pick a theme each school year. It gives us something to think about as we start a new year. With Mabel's intense load, and Oliver starting junior high, and Stella at a new, more difficult school, I was afraid we would get loaded down with work. I want to make sure that we always put God first, so I chose a scripture from Matthew that says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

My hope is that our family will put prayer, scripture study, service, and family time ahead of school and homework and anything else. I have seen that in my own life, when I have put a greater priority on my spiritual wellbeing, everything else falls into place.

Here's to a new year!

Monday, August 07, 2017

charity vs pride

I was studying for my lesson yesterday and came across a talk by President Uchtdorf called "In Praise of Those Who Save." He is referring to those who work to save their marriages and families. I am grateful to have a strong marriage with Mike and a happy family life with our children, but I still found lots of things in his talk that were very helpful.

First, President Uchtdorf says that "strong marriage and family relationships ... require constant, intentional work. The doctrine of eternal families must inspire us to dedicate our best efforts to saving and enriching our marriages and families."

And "no matter how flat your relationship may be at the present, if you keep adding pebbles of kindness, compassion, listening, sacrifice, understanding, and selflessness, eventually a mighty pyramid will begin to grow."

So there is always hope! But adding those pebbles is not easy. It requires us to seek charity. President Uchtdorf says. "Whatever problems your family is facing, whatever you must do to solve them, the beginning and the end of the solution is charity, the pure love of Christ. Without this love, even seemingly perfect families struggle. With it, even families with great challenges succeed."

But sometimes charity is really hard to summon, right? Especially when we are in the middle of an argument. Because "the great enemy of charity is pride. Pride is one of the biggest reasons marriages and families struggle. Pride is short-tempered, unkind, and envious. Pride exaggerates its own strength and ignores the virtues of others. Pride is selfish and easily provoked. Pride assumes evil intent where there is none and hides its own weaknesses behind clever excuses. Pride is cynical, pessimistic, angry, and impatient. Indeed, if charity is the pure love of Christ, then pride is the defining characteristic of Satan. Pride my be a common human failing. But it is not part of our spiritual heritage."

When I read that last paragraph, I realized that when Mike and I have a hard day together, it is almost always because of pride. When we are able to overcome a difficulty together, it is because one of us offered the other charity. So here's to charity! And to offering the people who mean the most to us the best of us.

Have a good week! My kids are scrubbing the basement clean of the filth of summer today. :) I'm not particularly looking forward to the start of the school year, but I am looking forward to having a clean house again.

Friday, August 04, 2017

happy weekend

Yesterday we had a whopper of a monsoon. It is so amazing to have the temperature drop 30 degrees in a few minutes as the rain (and hail) start pouring out of the sky. It's just about the only time you see kids playing in the street in the summer. It is a welcome change, even with the humidity it brings.

I told myself this week that I didn't have to do anything. That I was just going to enjoy our last week of summer and relax. I did do a lot of that, but I also got busy cleaning out cupboards and junk drawers and my entire sewing room. I'm not sure what came over me. It was the most energy I've had all summer. Maybe because I gave myself permission to relax? Who knows, but I sure love walking by my sewing room and seeing it spic and span.

I'm teaching the Young Women on Sunday. The lesson is on why family is important. I don't usually look forward to my turn to teach, but I am excited to get into this topic with them. This whole month is full of really great lesson topics, actually. I am grateful to belong to a church that believes in and teaches these things to our youth.

Well, Oliver will be happy to know that because of the rain yesterday, the grass was too soggy to mow this morning. He had no idea I was going to wake him up early to work on it. We'll have to do that tomorrow, I guess. :) We need to get back in to the habit of waking up early, anyway. 5:00 wake up calls are coming soon!

Have a happy weekend.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

the last days of summer

It's our last week of summer break. Sometimes at the end of summer, I am really anxious for school to start. Not this time. I'm not quite ready to get back into that busy routine, even though I know it will be good for us. Plus, our time with Mabel is running out! She only has two more summers at home, and it'd be nice if time would slow down just a little bit.

I've sort of let everything go this week. We are watching tv and playing the wii and looking at the iPad. And eating lots of ice cream, too. #longlivesummer

Monday, July 31, 2017

back into the swing of things

School starts next week. Ah! I guess it's time to get back into the swing of things. I will miss this summer. It has been my favorite to date. We took a couple of really fun trips and then spent the rest of the time at home relaxing in a major way--staying up late, sleeping in, swimming, playing, reading. Oh, it has been so great! We work really hard during the school year, so it feels really good to take a break from reality for a little while.

But that can't last forever. My goal this week is to get the kids to bed at a reasonable hour. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 07, 2017

happy weekend

It turns out that the Fourth of July is a good day to drive home from Utah. The roads are mostly empty and there are really great fireworks displays dotting the sky as you descend into the valley. We pulled into our driveway just in time to light a few sparklers and send everyone to bed.

We were away for two weeks, which felt like a good long time, but we were ready to come home. We are homebodies through and through and even though Sundance, Utah is my favorite place in the world to visit, home is my favorite place to be. I spent the rest of the week getting back into the swing of things and reminding myself that I don't need to drink Dr Pepper everyday.

The kids missed our cats while we were gone. I surprised myself by really missing my bike! None of us missed the heat, but summer time in Arizona is what it is. And strangely enough, 100 degrees at midnight feels like home.

More photos of our trip to come. . . Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 16, 2017

happy weekend

I love summer. I love not having a schedule to keep. I love our slow mornings. I love not making dinner (cereal for dinner forever!). I love telling my kids when I tuck them in at night that they can read as late as they'd like.

On non-school nights, Elliot and Mabel switch beds so that she and Oliver can stay up late together talking. I hope they are always such good friends! It has tightened the bond between Stella and Elliot, too. This means that all summer long, Elliot is in Mabel's bed, and she is in his. Sometimes I wonder if they should just switch permanently, but I don't want to redecorate. :)

We are anxiously awaiting Mike's return for Father's Day this weekend. He has been away working as the cook for our ward's young men campout this week and we miss him (and Oliver, too). I loved this instagram about fathers from the LDS church that I saw this morning. My favorite part was when the dad said, "We fall short. We second-guess. We struggle. We hurt. We mess up. But, here's the real truth: We love. We cherish. We honor. We care. Not because we made ourselves that way, but because we have inherited our best traits and our greatest characteristics from the Father of us all."

Sometimes I think dads get a bad rap, but they are so important! And I know they try harder than we give them credit for.

I am feeling extra grateful for my own dad today--for his constant support and unconditional love. He has always wanted the best for his children and moved heaven and earth to get it for them. And I'm thankful for Mike, too, who takes his role as father so seriously. We'd be lost without his inspiration and direction and support.

Let's give our dads a big squeeze this weekend, if we can. Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

the family computer

For years our computer has been in a spare bedroom that serves as an office/sewing room on our main floor. But lately I've been feeling like it needed to be more visible, so I moved it to the kitchen. There is no ideal place to put it in there. We have to stand in front of it now or pull a chair up to the cabinets and bump our knees, but I don't care. I think moving it to the kitchen will keep my family safer. We have some strict computer rules already (like, unless you are doing homework, you have to have a buddy, no computer when the parents aren't home, etc.), but I like having it out in the open, too.

Summer is a good time to take a break from the computer, anyway. My kids keep asking to use it and I keep saying no. And they complain for a minute and then they find something else (better) to do. Ha!