Sunday, May 11, 2014

A love note for Mom

My favorite gift to receive on any occasion is a love note. It is not disposable. It won't wear out. It is something that I can go back to when I need a pick-me-up. I don't know anyone who doesn't like to hear they are loved and appreciated. They may be uncomfortable at the expression of affection, but deep down, it boosts them up to know someone cares about them.

I like to know I am valued. But I also like to know WHY. My psyche thrives knowing the specifics. It is positive reinforcement at its best. My love language is Words of Affirmation. That is why I love receiving gifts like this:

I know a love note is my Mom's favorite gift also. Maybe as we get older and "things" lose value, we realize that what gives us the greatest joy is our relationships. Knowing that our life has made a difference to someone. That is much more valuable than an Amazon gift card.

A few years ago, I posted a love letter to my Mom on my blog. It largely reflected on the past and how having her for a mother had shaped me. All of those things are still valid. This time I want to talk about what my Mom means to me today, at this time in my life. There are two solid things that stand out.

My Mom is interested in my life. She calls at least every week, often more. She wants to see how I'm doing, how I am bearing up my everyday burdens. She values my friendship enough that she calls me when she has exciting news to share. She asks for my opinion. She visits and sleeps in whatever bed we have for her, even if the clean sheets are still going in the dryer.

My Mom makes time to nurture relationships with each of my children. She makes the 3 hour trip to come to dance recitals and birthdays and sometimes just because the kids are missing Grammie. She takes an interest in each one of them, buying a new puzzle to do with Amelia, taking Mack to the Dinosaur Museum for the 6th? time, making a new Scottish recipe to celebrate Lily's completion of her World Day project. She talks to them on the phone. She sends notes in the mail periodically. My Mom is blessed to live within three hours of 3 of her 4 children, but she doesn't just make the effort because of the relatively close proximity. My oldest brother lives on the east coast and my Mom makes a trip out there at least once a year so that her far-away granddaughter knows that she is valued and loved and that her Grammie cares about having a relationship with her.  My children, and I suspect Mom's other grandchildren, have a sure knowledge that Grammie loves them.

 {World Day where Lily presented Scotland 5-08-2014}

 {Flowers after Amelia's last dance recital 4-18-2014}

{Sharing birthday wishes with Mack 12-28-2013}

I love you, Mom. Thank you for the gift of your time. It is precious.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Only once this winter?

Although we will continue to get snow off and on until May, the big snow has melted off for the year and the bikes are out.

We're crossing our fingers that the mud won't be too bad, but April is usually full of snow and rain. March is such a tease in Wyoming! With the weather slowly changing, I figured I better post these sledding pictures from Valentine's Day before I look up and it's summer.

It seems deplorable that we only took the kids sledding once this winter. We live in Wyoming, for crying out loud! Most of it had to do with the back problems that Dan and I both have. But the kids did play in the snow a lot at home, so I don't feel too guilty.

Lily was at ski school for the morning so we took Mack and Amelia up to Test Hill to sled for a bit. Silver was pretty excited to be out and running free!

She would follow someone up the hill,

then come sprinting down at top speed.

Dan took a couple runs, then took Silver for a walk along the river.

While walking along the river, Silver went out on the ice to sniff around. She got out where it was thin and CRACK, down she went. Dan had to get down on his belly and crawl like a polar bear to help her out of the water. Man, I wish I had a picture of that! She came back soaking wet but all smiles.

Amelia had a great time sledding and made it through this outing without much whining and no huge meltdown. That's a first!

Mack insisted on climbing to the very top of the hill. It was much too high for him but he would not be dissuaded. Over and over he came crashing down and got bucked off his sled halfway down.

I kept telling him to just get back on his sled and go down from the middle of the hill. "No! I took a long time to get up here and I'm not giving up!" Back up the hill he went with Amelia, who was lagging 10 yards behind and declaring, "I give up!" Those two are polar opposites!

He finally made it most of the way down the hill, but caught some serious air.

He came down pretty hard and I think it knocked the wind out of him. He decided sledding wasn't fun anymore, so he went and sat with Silver.

I love, love this picture! The quintessential Boy and his Dog picture. It would be more accurate, though, to have Lily sitting with Silver because Lily is her favorite. Mack likes Silver well enough, except when she slobbers on his stuffed animals. Usually he's either trying to climb on her or ignoring her.

Dan picked Lily up from ski school and brought her over to the sledding hill. She still had a little snow fun left in her after 3 hours on the ski hill.

Then the real fun began.

Dan started throwing snowballs and I took one right in the eye seconds after I took this picture. Some of it got on my camera lens and I was totally unamused.

This dude is serious about his snowballs.

Then it was all-out war.

 Snow down the neck, baby!

Mack stole Daddy's hat and started chucking snow at him.

Looking a little disheveled in the aftermath.

For only one sledding day during the season, we didn't do too bad!

And just so you know what I mean by the off and on snow, here's our yard only 3 hours after I took the picture at the beginning of this post.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Faith, Trust

Faith has become increasingly important to me lately. I have always believed in God and had faith that Jesus Christ is His Son. I have had faith that keeping God's commandments is the surest path to peace in this life. I have had faith that I can be forgiven of my sins. These feelings have always been the guiding truths in my life.

Recently, I have reflected on how significant it is that faith is the first principle of the gospel (Article of Faith #4). What is ringing true to me right now is that faith is the ability to trust God. To trust that He will take care of me. To trust that if He asks me to do something, He will open a way for it to happen. To trust that if I always talk to Him and ask for His help, He will make me able to do all things.

Without this trust, can we do anything God asks of us? Can we even believe in God? There is evidence of God's existence all around us.

But without faith, one might say of this orchid, "That's just biology. It has nothing to do with God." The orchid is spectacular, but your view of it depends on where you place your faith, your trust. The LDS Church's website defines faith as confidence in something or someone. As most often used in the scriptures, faith is confidence and trust in Jesus Christ that lead a person to obey him.

Sometimes doing what God asks of us is just HARD. Being patient is hard. Not doubting yourself is hard. Working to preserve relationships is hard. Physical pain is hard. Commitment is hard. Careful parenting is hard. Living to a higher standard than most of the world is hard. Discerning God's will for you is hard.

But like this delicate orchid, with all it's fine intricacies, God created us and cares for us.

And if we put our trust in Him, He will make us beautiful. He will make us spectacular, too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let me call you Sweetheart

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but I wanted to share what our kiddos did for their class gifts.

Amelia got a Rainbow Loom for Christmas. They're all the rage.

So popular, in fact, that Lily has hogged Amelia's loom so much that we bought her one for her birthday.

Towards the end of January I suggested to Amelia that she make bracelets for her classmates for Valentine's Day. We ordered up a bunch of red, pink, and white bands for the girls, plus some green, blue, and black for the boys, and settled on a Fishtail design. It's a little more time consuming than the basic chain design, but it's more substantial and looks better, in my opinion. About a week before Valentine's Day, we got a note from Amelia's teacher saying that she decided to have no candy Valentine's because of class allergies, so it was a good thing that we had already planned a non-food gift!

Amelia worked on bracelets here and there, mostly while we were sitting at Lily's basketball games. But as Valentine's Day approached she didn't have enough made, so I ended up making several of them. But that's OK, I find it very therapeutic and addicting. No wonder kids are so crazy about them!

I was tired of store-bought Valentine's and Amelia liked the idea of making her own. I thought it would be fun to find a poem about friendship that would go with the bracelets, but in the end our time was spent finishing bracelets and we opted for simple cards. We got out the rubber stamps, Amelia and Lily wrote the names, and put the bracelets around the card. Done and done.

So cute, huh?

I bought the kids some Valentine buckets, thinking that they could just wrap some card stock around the outside and decorate it, but Amelia wanted to make one from a box because the bucket was too small to hold her goodies. Mack and Lily were totally fine with the store-bought bucket, thankfully, so I only had to help with one Valentine box.

Amelia is a little neurotic and has a hard time doing anything if she can't make it perfect. She worried and fretted about what to put on her box and got mad when I made suggestions. I finally left the room and she made some decisions and had me help her with the execution. It turned out pretty cute in the end.

Even if I did burn myself with the hot glue gun.

Mack wanted to take candy to his preschool buddies, so I got off easy with Fun-Dips. Mack wrote his name on them, which was a little tricky because they put the name spot right over the licking stick.

Yep, he's a lefty.

He was so cute running off to class with his candy-filled bucket swinging beside him. :)

Lily decided she wanted to make bracelets for her classmates, too. She'd planned to make Starburst bracelets for all the girls and Fishtails for the boys, but she also procrastinated and ran out of time. She made Fishtails for everyone except her teachers, who got Starbursts. She spent the night before the class party staying up past 11:00 to get her bracelets finished.

We stamped a more masculine design for the boys.

Most of her classmates knew she was making the bracelets because she worked on them during the bus ride to her volleyball game. The girls told her what colors they wanted and Lily made the boys' colors go with their favorite sports team or activity. Here's a nod to BYU:

These are the fancy Starbursts for the teachers:

Lily was really good to write a personal note on the back of each of her cards.

Heading into school, Amelia with her giving bucket and her receiving box. And Lily trying to rush in before her annoying mother takes a picture. I'm too fast for her!

The following morning the kids got their Valentine's goodies.

At some point, when Lily was young, I made the mistake of giving her a stuffed animal every year. Now it is a tradition and even though I hate to add more stuffed animals to the hoard we already have, it wouldn't be Valentine's Day without them. Later in the day we all went sledding.

Dan and I are lame and didn't get each other gifts, but we did go to a movie. Not a complete bust, but we have mostly made Valentine's Day about showing the kids we love them. And that's OK.

P.S. The Sunday following Valentine's Day, Amelia came out of Primary saying that several of her friends were wearing the bracelets she made. She said, "My heart was just singing!"

P.P.S. This morning when I took Mack to preschool, his teacher told me that she had complimented him on writing his name well. He replied, "A guy's gotta have skills." Love that kid!