Saturday, November 30, 2013
I couldn't think of a better way to end this month of gratitude than with a trip to the temple this afternoon with Mike. This is what happens when I attend the temple: My love for my husband increases. I have a greater desire to leave the things of this world behind and seek for the better. My dedication to my family is strengthened. My spirit is lighter, and my joy is greater.
I am thankful for these blessings. I am thankful for the perspective that attending the temple gives me, and for the peace it brings.
I have so enjoyed this month of gratitude. I hope it has been a happy one for you. I know it has been for me! Thank you for reading, and for playing along. You guys are the best.
For more information on Mormon Temples, go here. If you live in Arizona, and would like to go inside a Mormon Temple, you are in luck! The new Gilbert Temple will be open to the public before it's dedication starting in January. Find more information here. Email me (barefootstephanie@gmail) if you'd like a friend to go with you. I'd be happy to!
posted by stephanie at 4:53 PM
Friday, November 29, 2013
I've wanted to take our Christmas card photos for weeks now, and finally today we had about five minutes before it was going to be too dark outside. So I quickly dressed the children and sent them outside. Taking family pictures, even just in our backyard with a tripod, can be stressful. But these kids had good attitudes and were patient with me as I adjusted their positions and straightened their hair and made them stand still and smile. I am thankful for their easy going natures and I hope we got a good shot! (Otherwise, we're doing this all over again after church on Sunday. And I really don't want to have to do that.)
Also, please know that I would never send out Christmas cards without our heads attached to our bodies. I just didn't want to ruin the surprise. :)
And now let's eat some more pie.
posted by stephanie at 5:58 PM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Mike and I were going to run the big, official Turkey Trot this morning. But then Mike injured his ankle a few weeks ago and our training schedule went out the window. So we ran a less competitive (but SO fun) neighborhood trot together instead. Thanks to Mike, I even shaved a minute from my best time (49:01 today!). The race was bright and early and we were home before it was even time to fry the turkey. While Mike gets his frying station rigged up, I am going to make my mom's sausage stuffing and bake the rolls.
All month long I've been talking about what I am thankful for, and this morning as I was working in the kitchen, all of those things and more washed over me and my heart was full. I have a happy life, and I am so thankful for it.
I saw this video a few days ago and wanted to share it with you. I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!
posted by stephanie at 10:10 AM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Last year I decided that I was going to learn how to make pie from scratch. After several attempts, I realized that making pie crust is not one of my talents. So this Thanksgiving I am back to store-bought pie dough, and I feel really good about it. This pie crust was filled with pumpkin and spices and is currently baking in my oven. I can't wait to have a slice tomorrow afternoon. I have another crust waiting in the fridge for a German Chocolate pie on Friday. Or maybe Coconut Cream. We'll see.
So today I am grateful for my talents, but also for the knowledge that I don't have to be good at everything. And thankfully, store bought crust is there to save the day.
What pies will you be eating tomorrow?
posted by stephanie at 1:01 PM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The hour before the kids leave for school is typically the busiest of my day. There is a warm breakfast to cook, lunches to pack, homework to sign, a Stella to wake, etc. A lot of days it leaves me feeling frantic. This morning, I took one look at Stella's sleepy, rosy cheeks across the breakfast table, and I decided to be grateful for it instead. I am grateful that I get to spend this hour with my children, and that I am able to send them off to school with a wholesome breakfast in their stomachs. I am grateful that once he is ready for school, Oliver likes to sit at the piano. I am grateful that most mornings, Mike doesn't have to leave for work until after the kids have gone. I am especially grateful when we take a minute to say family prayer before everyone leaves.
And then I am thankful for the quiet left behind for me and Elliot to enjoy.
posted by stephanie at 9:20 AM
Monday, November 25, 2013
While I finish it up, I thought I'd share a few other books that I've read lately. I really love to read, and good books are definitely something that I am thankful for. I love that quote that says when you read you become a thousand men and yet remain yourself. It is so true. When I read a good book, I live another life, full of fascinating people and interesting places, all while staying put in my little living room here in Arizona. And as grateful as I am for my own good books, I am even more grateful for children who love to read. Sometimes I feel like the best part of our day was spent reading together on the couch.
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You - Oh, I loved this book! It follows four different characters, from very different places, as the country is heading into the Civil War. To see the different story lines finally come together was so satisfying. A must read. Five stars (out of five).
The Snow Child - This is the interesting story of an older, childless couple and their adopted "snow" child in the wilds of Alaska. Sad and sweet and full of love. Four stars.
I'll Watch the Moon - This story takes place in a boarding house during a polio outbreak, soon after the end of World War II. It is touching and tender. Four stars.
Jim the Boy - I had read the sequel to this book, The Blue Star, years ago without knowing it was a sequel. I was so happy to finally read this first book. It is quiet and sweet. I loved it. Four Stars.
Mrs. Mike - I mean, I had to read this one, right? It was a fun, quick, romantic (but clean) read, following a handsome Canadian Mountie and his young bride. Four stars.
The Shoemaker's Wife - This is the sort of book where you wonder if the main characters (two Italian immigrants) are ever going to get together. And then they do! And they have a happy life. I really enjoyed it, but felt like the last quarter or so was rushed. Still, it was a great story. Four stars.
The Sandcastle Girls - This book dealt with a subject that I was completely unfamiliar with - the Armenian genocide that occurred right before WWI in Syria. It follows a modern-day woman of Armenian descent as she uncovers the history of her family. The story is well-told, and manages to be hopeful despite such tragic circumstances. Three stars.
What have you read lately? I love hearing your recommendations.
posted by stephanie at 2:09 PM
Sunday, November 24, 2013
We live in a particularly densely Mormon populated area of Mesa, so our ward (congregation) boundaries are some of the smallest outside of Utah. (Fun fact: Mormons do not get to choose their congregation, but are assigned depending on their geographic location.) I wasn't particularly excited about the idea of small ward boundaries when we moved here from California, but Mike and I both had an overwhelming feeling that this was where our family was meant to settle. It turns out, though, that having such a small ward area is actually pretty great.
I love to watch our neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, especially on the last Sunday of the month when men are hurrying to finish their Home Teaching, or women their Visiting Teaching. It is a busy place! Because we live so close to the church building, children are walking to and from church, adults are walking to choir practice or to various other meetings they might have. But my favorite thing is the sense of extended family that exists here. Elliot's nursery leaders love him, and he loves them. Our Bishop is a friend. Because I serve in the Relief Society, I have a true feeling of sisterhood for the other women in our ward. But these feelings of love and friendship don't end with our ward members. Because our boundaries are so small, those same feelings extend to all neighbors, regardless of religion. I love all women in my neighborhood and feel a special kinship with them. There is real love and concern, genuine friendship, and a desire to serve and help each other. And that makes this neighborhood just about the best one on earth, I am convinced.
I am so grateful to live here.
posted by stephanie at 2:11 PM
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Everyone should get the chance to drive their dream car at least once in their life. I was lucky enough to drive mine for over two years. We had a good long run together, but it is time for her to retire to Georgia. She's off to be displayed at one of the largest after market Jeep parts manufacturing companies, or something like that. They said we could even come visit her if we want to! (Which, we totally might do someday, if we ever find ourselves in Georgia.)
I am thankful that I had two good years with her, but I am even more thankful to know that things (even the most beautiful dream cars) don't really bring lasting happiness. And thankfully, I have plenty of the stuff that does.
posted by stephanie at 1:57 PM
Friday, November 22, 2013
I started thinking about this post at approximately 4:02 am, minutes after Oliver came to tell me that Elliot was throwing up. Why would I be grateful for motherhood at a time like that? Because motherhood makes a woman willing to do anything for her children, even get out of a very warm bed on a very chilly, rainy night to clean up a mess.
This life is better than I ever dreamed it would be. Sure there are tough moments, and long nights, and sick kids. But there is so much joy in caring for these children. Being their mother is one of my greatest blessings.
I let Stella stay home from school today. Kindergarten plumb wears her out. Plus, it hasn't stopped raining since last night and I couldn't bear to send her out into this cold, wet day. So we are hunkering down, watching movies, and trying to get rid of the throw-ups. Maybe we'll bake some cookies for the big kids when they get home.
This is the life, I tell you!
posted by stephanie at 8:52 AM
Thursday, November 21, 2013
We are big early-to-bed-early-to-rise-ers at our house. Last night I fell asleep even earlier than usual, though. Sort of embarrassingly early. But then when I woke up this morning (by myself, before the kids, which is the best), I felt fantastic! I am thankful for a good night's sleep. It improves my attitude, my health, and my happiness.
And then Elliot came and snuggled with me and this day was off and running in the best possible way.
posted by stephanie at 8:34 AM
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I am thankful to be a Mormon. I was raised by parents who sought out truth and joined the Mormon church on their own as teenagers. Their individual conversion and the strength of their testimonies was the basis upon which they built our family. Growing up in their home, I never had the need to question my faith. It was firmly planted in the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What are these teachings? The video above gives a brief synopsis of what Mormons believe. I hope you will take a look.
Being a mormon affects every aspect of my life, and informs my every decision. It gives me hope when things are hard, and courage to continue on. Because of my beliefs, I have confidence in my chosen path and so much joy in my journey.
posted by stephanie at 2:16 PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This morning I had a quick errand to run across the park. Oliver was dressed and ready for school, so I asked him to do it for me. Here's the thing about Oliver: he is always willing to help. He is such a kind, obedient boy.
If Elliot is upset about something, Oliver will get him to laugh instead. If Mabel is working on a school project, Oliver will be there to assist her. If Stella needs someone to play with, Oliver is her guy, even if that means playing with Barbies. He is such a good sport.
When he was four years old, he was inches away from being hit head on by a very large pick up truck that was barreling down the road. I still can't even really think about it. But he was saved that day, saved for something special, I just know it. I can't wait to see where this life takes him.
I am thankful for his calm presence in our home.
posted by stephanie at 8:26 AM
Monday, November 18, 2013
Sometimes Elliot catches me at a weak moment, and I let him watch a movie to start the day. I almost always regret this, because when it is time to turn the movie off and do something else, he falls apart. Today was no different. He watched a movie. I finished my chores. And then his little world ended. I'll be honest, I wasn't in the best mood at that point, either. But I took a deep breath, and in my most patient voice, I convinced him that a trip to the park was what we needed. And it totally was! He ran around with his friends. I read my book in the sun. We both came home with a smile on our face and played a little baseball in the backyard.
Today I am thankful that no matter how a day begins, a fresh start is always possible.
posted by stephanie at 11:06 AM
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Mabel played the piano in Sacrament Meeting today (in front of hundreds of people!), with only a few days to learn the music*. Oh, she did such a good job! She was nervous, but her hands were calm and steady and she played beautifully. I am so proud of her.
I am thankful for this brave, compassionate girl. She is reliable and level headed and very artistic. She has a better sense of self than I ever did at age 11. Being her mother is a complete privilege.
p.s. Mabel will be participating in the East Valley Millennial Choir and Orchestra concert in December. If you are local, I hope you will consider coming. It is a wonderful, powerful way to kick off the Christmas Season. Tickets are on sale now!
*Special thanks to our fantastic piano teacher, Sara. She arranged the music for Mabel to play and I am sure that was key to Mabel's success. We are grateful for her.
posted by stephanie at 12:47 PM
Saturday, November 16, 2013
I can't believe it, but this girl is six today! In my mind, she is still a pudgy two year old with a cute little bob. But then I see her long, lean legs, and her flowing, golden hair and I realize that she has gone and grown up on me. Stella is a friend to everyone, she always has some sort of ailment that needs attention, and she is as stubborn as her mother. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to make things happen. I can't imagine our family without her.
She had two of her favorite cousins and her best kindergarten friend over for a little tea party this afternoon. There was a fashion show, brownie sundaes, and a princess movie with popcorn. Perfect for a girl turning six, I'd say.
posted by stephanie at 1:13 PM