Monday, January 31, 2011

Gingerbread House

By the looks of this picture, it's seems like the kids and I had a mellow and quiet evening together making this gingerbread house...

But looks can be deceiving. Things are rarely quiet and mellow around here I'm afraid. These pictures are a better reflection of our evening together...

It would be nice to have things a little more calm around here- but truly, these kids bring so much LIFE to my days and joy to each season. I wouldn't have it any other way.

This was Jakey's first time making a gingerbread house, and he really thought it was great fun...

Until he found out we had to wait to eat it. Poor guy, haha!
But it's a good life lesson for him. We don't always get what we want. The sooner he learns that, the happier we will all be!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Jewels

This was our family portrait this year. I was pleased with how it turned out. For the first time since kids came into the picture (literally), we finally had a relatively calm family portrait experience. Usually, it's such an exhausting ordeal getting everyone ready... and nearly impossible to get everyone to smile, let alone look in the same direction. But we actually pulled it off this time, and it was quite painless. This was even the very first picture she took!! We bribed the kids with the opportunity to meet Santa after we were done. We'll definitely have to remember that trick for next year.

And here was their reward... (although it looks like it was a bit of a letdown for them, haha!)

Even though no one is smiling, I just love this picture. It was a special night for us... Jon and I were walking around the mall side by side, one of the kids up on his shoulders, laughing and playing. We were all taking in the sights and sounds of the season, the kids were cooperating, and we were all just happy to be together. All was right with the world. So this will always be a special picture to me and a reminder of the goodness of God. He has blessed me with much more than I deserve. I love this story shared by President Hinckley:

In ancient Rome a group of women were, with vanity, showing their jewels one to another. Among them was Cornelia, the mother of two boys. One of the women said to her, “And where are your jewels?” To which Cornelia responded, pointing to her sons, “These are my jewels.” Under her tutelage and walking after the virtues of her life, they grew to become Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus—the Gracchi, as they were called—two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history.

My children are the jewels of my life. I am richly blessed to have the opportunity to raise them with a faithful husband by my side leading us through this world and putting his trust in the Lord. I truly couldn't ask for more.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Deep Beauty

The Lord “seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

We had a special program for the Young Women in November called, "Young Women in Excellence". The purpose of this yearly event is to celebrate the young women and recognize their personal progress accomplishments.

So the idea we came up with was to have a "Deep Beauty" pageant for the girls. A funny/mock pageant focusing on lasting inner beauty instead of the superficial. The girls were the stars of the evening and they'd each get to choose to represent a value: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. Each value has a color assigned to it, so each girl had to dress in the most outrageous outfit she could put together in that color.

Just to make sure they understood, the leaders dressed up a few weeks before the event to demonstrate. I'm sure they thought we were a bit WaCKo! You should have seen the looks we got when we showed up for our activity that night, haha! Here were our outfits... (however, you can't see M's leg warmers, my red high heels, and L's eye shadow.) Too fun! The girls got really excited to come up with their own ridiculous ensemble.
So this is how the program unfolded... each girl walked down the red carpet and came up on stage, shared the scripture and motto for the value she represented, answered a question by the emcee and received her award. Then I spoke about the meaning of deep beauty. Following my talk, the Bishop gave some closing remarks and then we were dismissed to look at the girls' personal progress accomplishments displayed on tables around the room. Lastly, we all had refreshments while we watched a slideshow of pictures from all our activities that one of the young women put together for her personal progress project. It was a really wonderful night! I hope it was special and memorable for the young women.

Here are some pictures:

Goofy pic of the girls (and the hot emcee). These are all the yw except a few girls who couldn't make it that night...

Enjoying some refreshments after the program...

Here's one of the beauties!

A couple cuties were asked to help hand out awards...

Celeste was SO excited to help with the program. She kept saying, "I can't WAIT till I'm in young womens!"

It was fun to see how creative the girls got with their outfits! Some went all out... blue lipstick, blue hair dye, etc...

Taking a final bow...

During my talk, I shared a few quotes and stories from the prophets and other church leaders. I've listed a few highlights below.

Sister Dalton was introduced to President McKay as a young woman, and had the privilege of meeting his wife. The following is her story:

President McKay reached for his wife’s hand and said, “Now, young women, I would like you to meet my queen.” There seated next to him was his wife, Emma Ray McKay. Although she did not wear a crown of sparkling diamonds, nor was she seated on a throne, I knew she was a true queen. Her white hair was her crown, and her pure eyes sparkled like jewels. As President and Sister McKay spoke of their family and their life together, their intertwined hands spoke volumes about their love. Joy radiated from their faces. Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.

On that fall day in Huntsville, Utah, I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.

The world places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness and would have you believe that you are to look like the elusive model on the cover of a magazine. The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful. When you are virtuous, chaste, and morally clean, your inner beauty glows in your eyes and in your face. My grandfather used to say, “If you live close to God and His infinite grace—you won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.” When you are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you are confident and your inner beauty shines brightly. And so “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”

We have been taught that “the gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. … It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features.” Now, that is a great beauty secret! That is the beauty I observed in the home of a prophet. That day I learned that the beauty I saw in Sister McKay was the only beauty that really matters and the only kind of beauty that lasts.

Happiness comes from accepting the bodies we have been given as divine gifts and enhancing our natural attributes, not from remaking our bodies after the image of the world. The Lord wants us to be made over—but in His image, not in the image of the world, by receiving His image in our countenances (see Alma 5:14, 19). (Sister Tanner)

From Elder Nelson's talk to Young Women:
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you... you are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.”
A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. (Sister Nadauld)

God sent women to earth with some qualities in extra capacity. In speaking to young women, President Faust observed that femininity “is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your … capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each … possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty."

I hope these deeply beautiful young women always remember the value and importance of seeking after the gift of charity and developing other Christlike attributes. Usually in a pageant, there is only one declared the fairest of them all. But there was no competition in this beauty pageant because each girl has an equal privilege to have His image engraven upon their countenance. And His image is the truest and deepest beauty there is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Halloween 2010

Love this family tradition! Can you believe I got my hubby to dress up like this? I mean, seriously?! We did this a few years ago, when we only had 3 kids... so I just had to get a couple more costumes for the little ones. We try to buy them on clearance the year before so it doesn't get too pricey.
At some point, the kids probably won't want to do this... but for now, I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to make it special for them and create fun memories together!

This year, instead of dealing with the mess of carving the pumpkins, I just had everyone get their own and decorate it however they wanted...
My little "Minnie-Me's"
Cute bunch... if I do say so myself. :)
Being this adorable is exhausting!
Happy Halloween!

Perfectly Imperfect

I just love the fall season. It's absolutely gorgeous here in Wisconsin. It's been known to snow here before halloween... but thankfully this fall was pretty mild. We took advantage of it, and went on special family outings- picnics, trips to the park, and family bike rides. If you're wondering how in the world we made that happen, Jon and I both rode bikes with a kid seat attached, Celeste rode her own bike along side of us, and there was a bike trailer attached to Jon's bike to haul the other 2 kids! People did double-take when they saw us ride by with all those kids in tow!

So we went to this cute little pumpkin farm and petting zoo to pick out our pumpkins. It was a nice little family outing on a perfect crisp autumn evening... total bliss... until Jarom pooped through his pants, kids started fighting over pumpkins, and Jakey had a meltdown. Let's get real... life with little kids can be seriously stressful and out of control at times. I rarely take pics of those moments though! Haha! Only the good stuff here...

But honestly, I wouldn't change it. I'm learning that the stress and difficulty of those hard parenting moments help me to grow in patience and love. We wouldn't develop these attributes without the problems. I like this old saying, "There are no problems, only opportunities." Sometimes I get so frustrated with the kids (just for acting like kids.) But they're innocent... and not even accountable for their actions until they're 8. The bickering and whining is a TEST for us- the adults all around them. So some days are better than others and I remember to be patient and teach with gentleness and other days are not so good. But I hope I will grow in love and patience every day... and in the end, ironically, I can thank my kids for who they help me become.

I'm learning that happiness in life is all about perspecive. "Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." -Unknown

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Many Faces of Baby J

So Jarom is 7 months now. Can't believe it. I think my favorite thing about him is his temperment. He's just an all-around jolly kid! Never stingy with those smiles... just gives 'em freely to everyone he meets. And the best part of my day is waking up next to him! He's just so happy to be alive! And it's the best way to start the day because it's seriously contagious...

I think he has his own little look, but mostly resembles his sister Charity...

You know you're in love when you even find this expression adorable and endearing...

I just love this kid beyond expression. I can't imagine our family without him! And I'm so grateful the Lord sent him to us.

Love you, love you Baby-J!

I'm back!

Ok, I know I've been a pathetic and neglectful blogger. Things have felt pretty out of control the last couple months. (Mostly because we travelled 5300 miles across the country for over 2 weeks.) I just haven't taken the time to write about life because I've been too busy living it! But I've decided to try to take more time for solitude- time to ponder about things. I've committed to wake up early again (before the kids get up!) to read, pray, study, and write. I used to do this consistently, but it's become more of a challenge since Jarom was born, mostly because I don't sleep as well at night. But it's amazing the difference in my life when I've made this a priority. So I seriously need to get back to it.
Another reason for my neglect is my hardrive crashed recently! It had all the recent pictures of the kids on it, so I was pretty depressed about that. Thankfully, Mr. Wonderful had backed up the computer, so we located most of our picture files, and we're still working on restoring the rest. But excuses aside... I know I need to get back to blogging. It's such a great way to feel connected with friends, to record our family experiences, to gain clarity and perspective, and to share my love of family and truth. So it will take me a while to get caught up, but here goes!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...