Saturday, May 3, 2014

My marriage is like an old truck...

Years ago, in one of our marital counseling sessions, our therapist asked me to describe my marriage. Being the analogy lover I am, I came up with this:

My marriage is like an old truck. 

The therapist asked me to elaborate, and I did.

Trucks are strong, built for the long haul, and specially crafted to carry heavy loads. Trucks are durable, and I imagine they can handle stormy weather, rocky roads, and can be a safer alternative for passengers to get from point A to point B.

That is how I see marriage.

The therapist asked me why my marriage was like an old truck.

Maintenance is important for any vehicle. Trucks are strong and can handle a lot, but they still require regular service in order to run smoothly. Neglect of oil changes, filters, or any other fluid levels can wreak havoc on what would otherwise be a perfectly running system. Older trucks require even more care- not just routine service, but occasional replacement parts, upgrades, and additional tune-ups. 

My marriage is like an old truck.

What happens when the truck breaks down?

Unlike a truck, a marriage is made of two people. Two people with two different personalities, two different sets of life experience, two different minds. The marriage dynamic between my husband and I had him driving the truck, and me as a passenger. I could navigate, change the music, and set temperature controls- but ultimately he was at the wheel, in charge of the destination. That said- we were both knew we were in the same truck. Our eternities, our decisions, and our fate (although we may experience them in our own ways) we saw as being shared.

So, again....

What happens when the truck breaks down?

Picture this:

We parked our badly beaten truck at a lovely home in Nauvoo.

The truck was in bad shape.

Here are the facts: the truck had not been routinely serviced. Not only were simple oil changes ignored, but more serious repairs had been left undone. The truck barely, and I mean barely, made it. The wary driver and passenger had clung to prayer and hope just to get it as far as Nauvoo- both believing that being close enough to the Temple, and a new start, would help offer them some rest from what had been years of rough roads. 

And yes, the roads were rough. Everyone can agree on that. Career changes, moves, considerably dangerous medical crises- the road had been anything but smooth. 

But now, the truck will not start.

Seems simple. Go fix it? Take care of it? Just toss in a few quarts of oil every so often?

It is not that easy.

There is a story floating around the internet about a woman whose husband had told her he was leaving. In the story, she declared that she wasn't buying it- and kept carrying on as if things were fine. She gave him his space, and just kept her shoulder to the wheel. She decided to keep the truck moving. She drove it herself, but she kept the truck going.

Years ago in our own marriage, we had our truck break. It was pretty badly broken for a few years, but Kurt managed to fix, repair, and replace so much of the truck that it drove better than new. He had decided to keep the truck moving. He did much of this himself, and he kept it going.

Many times a truck will experience a breakdown, and couples will tirelessly work together to pick up the pieces- seeking help when necessary. They work together, even if they are both exhausted, wounded, or hate the setback- they keep it going.

Sometimes there are opportunities to improve truck performance. Just as an improved suspension can help trucks creep over boulders in the road, couples can work together to increase the strength of their trucks to perform better and longer, while hauling more, preparing for uncertain terrain.

There are so many different types of marriages, and marital dynamics. So many different solutions to so many different difficulties. I could probably write a few thousand scenarios! Just as along a road, there will be many people along the way will offer advice, products, or services- that can either help or hurt a truck and journey, so it is in a marriage. It can be confusing enough just to drive a tuned-up truck, let alone be stuck in a rut with a broken one!

It is all to easy for onlookers to comment or pass judgement on another person's truck:

"Ooooo, that comes with air conditioning and cruise control? You are so lucky!"
"You are so lucky you have a truck at all. I would love a truck! ANY truck!"
"A lot of people don't have trucks, so stop feeling sad!"
"Your truck seems so perfect. I am so jealous."
"You should ditch your old truck and get a new one!"

"My truck performed better with product X- you need product X in your truck."
"Your wife should clean your truck."
"Your husband should get the oil changed on your truck."
"So-and-so got a new truck- doesn't she look happy! I wish I was as happy with my old truck as she is with her new truck..."

Similarly- all too often people enjoy commenting or passing judgement on another person's marriage. Don't believe me? Just read those above in a new way:

"Oooo, your husband does the laundry and makes dinners? You are so lucky!"
"You are so lucky to be married. I would love to be married! Any marriage is better than this!"
"A lot of people want to be married, you should be thankful for your marriage, stop feeling sad!"
"Your marriage seems so perfect. I am so jealous"
"You should ditch your husband/wife and get a new one!"
"I did ____ and it saved my marriage. If you want to save your marriage do _____!"
"Your wife needs to stop nagging you to make dates."
"Your husband should spend more time with you."
"So-and-so is so happy with her new husband! I wish I was that happy in my marriage..."

See? If you have not heard any of those, in some form or another, chances are you still may have caught yourself thinking them in your own head. While some of these comments could come from people who are well-meaning, it is important to remember than while all of us can see and hear about another person's marriage- none of us are actually living it. Just because I can see your truck, doesn't mean I know how it drives- and even then, test driving a truck is not the same as owning one- so it is best to try and keep comments like this in check.

It is best not to compare whose grass is greener - let's all just try to water our own lawns.

Our marriage has been broken for awhile. As I said, we barely made it here. Our own thoughts and feelings about this conflict greatly, and that does not help. Matt Townsend once told us that we needed to stop fighting about the smoke, and figure out what is causing the fire. Currently we are trying to do that- but the smoke is pretty thick, and we disagree on the cause of the flames. This process is not something that can be fixed quickly, and we are both busy- so even this seemingly simple step takes a lot of time.

I can say this: there are flames. There is a lot of smoke. The truck is broken.

I can tell you that I am exhausted. I feel like I have been in charge of caring for this truck so long, that I am just done with it. I feel like if I do not schedule the truck for service, and take it myself- it doesn't happen. I have had a lot on my own plate (We moved, and because of scheduling I did most of the packing and unpacking. I just graduated, our kids are both homeschooling again, and Fina decided she wants to potty train)- so I have not been able to handle any of the maintenance at all. My husband works 60 hours a week in a new job, and there is still yard-work, more unpacking, and weekend errands to run- so he doesn't get to working on the truck either.

So the truck is broken, and neither of us is fixing it.

For a long time we were nervous or afraid to mention our truck's current state because we have seen- firsthand- the extreme damage that can be done when someone shares information like this. We have witnessed couples go from civil separations to excessively hurtful divorces- all because, in their moments of pain, they allowed others to influence them. We have seen the significant damage that comes from allowing others to plant dangerous seeds- and we have tasted the bitter cup of regret for allowing ourselves to be fed the wrong kinds of "support." Neither of us hates one another. Neither of us wants to be single. Neither of us wants to be divorced. However- the truck is broken. Our marriage is broken. It teeters on the edge of ruin, and that has some very serious eternal consequences for all five of us. For this reason- we reserve the right to place immediate, appropriate, and healthy boundaries on EVERYONE. 

Some of you may be asking, "What can I do?"
DO offer your prayers.
DO NOT offer criticism of our spouse.

DO offer your ears.
DO NOT offer your own opinions.

DO offer small gestures of love.
DO NOT call us demanding to know details.

DO send texts or messages saying you care.
DO NOT demand us to tell you our plans.

DO support us as we figure out our next step.
DO NOT expect us to tell you what that step will be.

We have a lot of options. We are both reasonably intelligent people, who are trying to be calm during this time. We are trying to make good and healthy decisions, as rationally as possible, while dealing with our own pains. There is a lot in our past, a lot going on right now, and we have a lot in the future- and careful consideration is necessary at every single step.

My marriage is like an old truck... that has broken down... and it hurts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I have a secret... (told in memes)

I have a secret.

But- it has to come out at some point, so here it goes:

My eldest son attends school outside of our home.


It all started a few weeks ago....

We were in the car going to the grocery store. My middle son, Harrison, said, "Mom? I think I wanna go to school."

Although this is not exactly how the conversation happened, this is how I can best sum it up:

I was shocked. However, I was supportive. My eldest, Carter, laughed at the idea of going to school and told Harrison a sarcastic, "Good luck!" and we went about our errands.

While we shopped I thought hard about what Harrison said. We discussed reasons for why he might want to go to school, and I listened carefully.

I talked to my husband that night and we agreed that it would be a good idea for us to check out the local schools. We talked for something like five hours. It was a late night, but worth it. We discussed a lot: our own immediate reactions, our first thoughts, the best timing for the kids, the various pros and cons, the changes in our lives, etc. After those five hours, we agreed it was best to look into the schools before we thought or discussed further.

(Even though I am the one who did the homeschooling, 
Kurt was a very large part of the process!)

The next morning I visited two local schools (and by local, I mean both within 3 blocks). Both schools were excellent, but I felt one of the schools would be a better "fit" if Harrison did indeed end up going to school. There was a lot that went into that decision, but I will spare you. I went home and discussed my take-aways with my husband, and we talked a few hours, and then decided the next step was to show Harrison the school.

My husband went to work, and I took the children to the school for a tour. Harrison bounced from room to room, excited by the happy faces, bright colors, and all of the neat things he saw. Carter walked more slowly. He wandered the rooms, hands tucked in his jacket pockets, analyzing things without saying much. The kids toured the music room, gym, lunchroom, 1st/2nd grade room, 1st grade room (the classes are combined, but 1st and 2nd graders are separate in the mornings), and offices. The principal of the school was wonderful, and answered Harrison's questions and told him what to expect if he decided to attend school.

At the end of the tour, Harrison told her he wanted to come. She said she would talk to the teachers, staff, and Priests and get back with us. We were about to leave when Carter said, "Where is my class?"

I felt a little like this:

After years of Carter insisting he wanted to homeschool, Carter wanted to attend school.

I was floored.

The principal was shocked as well, but did not skip a beat. She showed him the 3rd/4th grade class, and introduced him to the teacher. She answered his only question, "When do we start?"

I filled out paperwork and picked up uniforms the next day.

They changed their minds about fifteen dozen times over the weekend.

The kids started a trial on Monday. The school was so wonderful, and very supportive. We all agreed a trial was best. We woke up, everyone had breakfast together, and the boys showered and dressed in their uniforms. The boys went to school. I picked them up at the end of the day and they both expressed how much they enjoyed it! Their reasons varied, but the outcome was the same: school was great!

The evening was a bit more difficult. The kids couldn't wrap their minds around the concept of homework. "I was at school all day, and now I have to do more schoolwork at home?!? WHY?!" Kurt and I assured them it was a normal part of school, and we helped them complete their assignments. That evening, Harrison came to us and said he changed his mind and wanted to continue homeschooling. Carter changed his mind a few times as well- but he flip flopped both ways. They both agreed to try another day.

The next day Harrison told everyone he would not be attending any longer. He said his goodbyes. Carter asked to continue attending school.

It has been a few weeks, and Harrison is here (to my right, practicing the piano) and Carter is at school. It has been a difficult adjustment for everyone- from our patriarch to our toddler- not a single one of us goes untouched by this change. However, the fact that there are only six more weeks until the "end of the school year" made this a much easier decision! I am very thankful this came up when it did so they could get a taste of school without any large commitments. During this time both boys have had daily discussions about what they felt were the best parts of their day. 

Both seem to be settling into the fact that homeschool seems a great "fit" for Harrison...

While school seems a good "fit" for Carter....

I do not know what we will be doing this fall, but I know we will continue to homeschool during the summer, and Carter will be included in the lessons. Beyond summer will take more thought and discussion, and we will continue to allow the kids to offer their thoughts and input. 

I feel the need to express: We believe that homeschooling is an excellent academic opportunity. We also believe this particular school offers an excellent academic opportunity. There are positives and negatives with both options, so for our family, in this situation, at this time, we allowed the children a large "say" in the process. If we believed there was a "best" decision, my husband and I would make the decision- but as we see it, there are two wonderful academic opportunities, and we allowed the children to individually choose the one they felt was right for them. We are so fortunate not to have to choose a "lesser of two evils" but instead have a "best of two greats!"
Carter was welcomed in the school newsletter!

Carter walks to school. The school is just around the corner and a block down. Loves the walk!

Carter and Harrison play on the school playground (yes, that is a castle- it even has a bridge!) after school.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Vacation! (part 2)

Universal Studios!

Sorry it took so long to finish this update- we had a lot going on! More on that later... in the meantime, let's talk about Universal Studios! **Pretty much all of my pictures of Universal Studios are in the camera. We recently moved and I have not unpacked the camera yet, so more pictures will follow!

Universal Studios was a place I never cared to visit. I always saw it as Disney's weirdo fourth cousin or something. I just felt like it would pale in comparison, so why bother visiting? As a child I was never a huge fan of most of the Universal characters or experiences anyway, so as an adult I didn't think twice. But then... the game changer happened.... Hogwarts! (Dooo de de dooo deeee dooooo doooooooooooo, dooo de de doooo de doooooooooo- you totally just sang that, didn't you... it's okay, embrace it!)

Ah yes, Hogwarts. Hogwarts was the ONE and only place my mother requested to stop. That was totally cool with us, because we all wanted to visit too! Carter started reading Harry Potter right away, and we started to plan our trip!

Planning a Multi-Disney-Multi-Universal week was a lot of fun. As a child I would watch my father pour over guides, maps, and even catch a program or two (generally Rick Steves- love that guy!) and spend hours upon hours planning a trip, so for me it felt like a torch and some big shoes were passed!

One of the first things we planned was where we would visit each day. Some parks close early on some days or during some events of the season- it is really important to check the hours! We had to work around Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween (where additional purchases are required to stay and ride the rides in Disneyworld park), a few random early close days (some parks would close as early as 6 on certain days), and factor in our personal endurance (5 days, 4 parks, 3 kids) to come up with our perfect schedule. I also looked online to find trackers that estimated park attendance on various days, based on several factors (such as advanced ticket sales, local events, past history of business that week, etc) for each individual park, as to maximize our time spent on rides rather than in lines. Cross checked that with days that offered shows, theater events, parades, or park-closing entertainment we wanted to see. I put into account parks we wanted to close (Disneyworld fireworks are a MUST SEE for us!), and what parks open the latest the next day (I knew if we stayed at Disney until 10pm we wouldn't want to be up super early the next morning). I read blogs on what time was best to be at the gate, and what order to do the fastpasses and rides, what time of day to see each show, etc....Overkill, you say? Well, we rode everything, multiple times, and saw everything we wanted to see. So I would say the planning was well worth it. I also loved the planning, and grew more excited with every day- so for me (and hopefully the family!) it worked great! This was the most research and planning I had ever done, and it was the best of the park trips we have ever experienced. So- I highly suggest pre-planning. A little homework now can save you a lot of hours later!!!

We opened the Universal Studios park. We had planned on doing a bell-to-bell at this park, so we had a full day planned. Universal Studios now has two different parks, and we planned on visiting the original park first because ... I won't get into the factors (did you not see the algorithm logic above?)... but there was a method. Anyway, we opened the park, and this was the day we decided to test out Universal's drink and meal plans.

The Universal drink plan is awesome. While none of our party are huge soda drinkers, the selection at the park was great and there were many stops for us to choose to refill. It was a good value, and we ended up doing it again at the other park on our other Universal day.

The Universal meal plan is hit-or-miss. We weren't sure how it would work for us because so many of us are gluten or dairy-free, but decided to give it a try after reading favorable reviews online. Basically, a select number of restaurants offer a select menu for those on the meal plan- and there are GF and dairy-free options available. We calculated costs and this plan did end up saving us money, and none of us were hungry during the day- so it was a good value. *HOWEVER* it is so close, that if you are itching for off-menu items, it could end up costing more than it was worth. That said- we only ate one lunch and one dinner- and it is unlimited, so if you are super hungry it would have saved you a lot more! Just something to consider. The servers were super nice and careful about our GF needs, and none of us experienced symptoms of contamination- so that was EXCELLENT!

Before entering the parks we all looked over the maps and listed things we wanted to see and do. We always made sure to do those first, so that we didn't have to worry about missing anything. Minions, Transformers, Men in Black- we did it all! We ended up seeing and doing everything at the park, and some multiple times! The park services offered Harrison and Fina birthday buttons, and many ride attendants waved us to the shorter line and wished them a happy birthday. If you have a birthday in your party, take the extra few minutes and get a button!

Universal offers a pass that allows riders to go on shorter lines. We debated getting the pass, but because all of our readings speculated a low turnout we did not pick one up. It worked out well because the only thing we actually waited in line for was Minions, and sailed onto rides the rest of the time because of birthday buttons, or lack of crowds! (If you go in the summer, consider picking up the Unlimited Express addition if you hate lines!)

We stayed for the show. It was pretty neat: water, lights, movie clips, etc. If we are being honest I would say it was the least impressive show of the trip- HOWEVER- it is hard to compare clips of ET to a half hour of fireworks and a flying Tinkerbell- you know? So the show was good- and worth it I think- but was not something I would consider necessary. (Just my personal opinion.)

Here are my overall take-aways:

I will probably never skip this park again. Seriously, it was that amazing! The rides were fabulous! Thrilling, exciting, amazing! There was an excellent mix of roller coasters, themed rides, and children's rides. No one was bored!!! The park was much larger than I realized, and I was pretty tired in the middle of the day, but MY DAD (grandpa of the kiddos!) practically skipped us from ride to ride! Men In Black? SO fun!

The fact that we had a 1 year old with us was a non-issue! Universal Studios was AMAZING with littles. Dare I say it- it was actually BETTER for the adults than Disney! Allow me to explain: Disney is cute, and wonderful, and has lots of stuff for kids. (I ADORE Disney!) However, Universal Studios rides were amazing for ADULTS too (the graphics, the quality of the rides themselves- just felt better... almost sorry to say it- but it is true!)- and they have this unique way of handling littles: Most of the themed rides that did not allow littles had a special system. Families could all be in line together (no more waiting outside with baby!), chatting in the lines, seeing the neat sights along the way (lots of neat things to see in the line area- we didn't spend much time there because we went on a day with low crowds- but still! I would have hated to miss seeing a lot of those things!), and then at the end there was often a special room where someone could stay with the littles while the rest of the group rode - there might be movies playing, there may be interactive decorations on the walls- they were all different! AND THE BEST PART: The family members who rode leave the ride- swap guardians of the littles- and then EVERYONE gets to reride (I think they said up to 5 people?!). So in our family- I would sit with Fina, Grandpa and Grandma would ride with the boys, and then Grandma would stay with Fina while I rode with Grandpa and the boys AGAIN! The boys LOVED riding everything twice without waiting in line again!!!! It was SO awesome!!!

Yeah- so... Universal is not Disney's weirdo fourth cousin. Universal is also not Disney's twin. I would say Universal is Disney's sibling- and they are different, but they are both fantastic. I will not be skipping this again!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vacation!!! (part 1)

Disney and Hogwarts trip with my parents! It was SO MUCH FUN! I mean, CRAZY amounts of fun! Seriously fun-tastic! Truly! AWESOME! Here is the beginning of our trip! We flew down and joined my parents in Orlando! (As with other trips, I dressed the boys in identical clothing, to help identify them should we become separated. This trick has helped me numerous times, when one would wander off a bit further than the rest of us, and would help me be able to accurately describe clothing in the event of an emergency- as I have a copy of the clothing on my other son!)

The boys were ready to fly!!! The fear on Harrison's face? He didn't want to have to put away his electronics! LOL!

Seraphina's first time in a stroller! (She liked it more each day!)

They loved riding the "subway" in the Atlanta airport!

Dinner with Grandpa and Grandma!!!! We ate at Uno's! They had gluten-free pizzas! Yum!

We had plans to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios the next day. Seraphina wanted to go extra early, she just wouldn't sleep!!!

In the morning, we were at Disney's Hollywood Studios right when it opened. My parents pulled into some great rock-star parking, and we walked to the park! I had read blogs and talked to other people who had visited the parks, and we decided to hit all the rides first and do the shows second. The boys and I headed to the Tower of Terror while my parents (bless them!!!) went with Fina and picked up Fastpasses to the Buzz and Woody ride (the most popular ride at any of the Disney parks right now).

Carter was very afraid of this ride, but thinking of how his cousin rode it made him find courage! It was a lot of fun!

Harrison, Grandpa, and I rode the roller-coaster next, and then my parents took the boys on Star Tours!

(Carter took this picture, and the one following)

We then headed over to Pizza Planet to celebrate Harrison's birthday!!! The Disney cast members were so awesome! They had given Harrison a birthday button, and everyone who saw him wished him a happy birthday! They gave Carter a button too, so he wouldn't feel left out! Seraphina got a birthday button as well (for her actual birthday, lol)! Pizza Planet was excellent, and the manager came out and worked with us to be sure that our meal would be gluten free! Harrison has been asking for a birthday party at Pizza Planet ever since he first saw the Toy Story movie. He adores Buzz Lightyear, and this was his dream come true!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013


When we moved to Iowa, the laws (at the time) stated that I needed to have a supervising teacher oversee our homeschool progress or I needed to subject my children to standardized testing. I decided to go with a supervising teacher, and happily I was connected to a teacher who used the Portfolio Evaluation method, rather than monthly check-ins. I knew that homeschooling was a good fit for my family, I knew that the laws regarding what I needed to complete were in place, and I knew I had my ducks in a row, but trying to put it all together seemed like it would be a mess.

Insert Time4Learning!

Carter started Time4Learning at the beginning of 2nd grade. Carter loved it right away! After a few months, our homeschooled kindergartner, Harrison, asked to "play" Time4Learning too! We have now used it for over a year and we hands-down LOVE it. Here is why:

The (not-so) basics:

Time4Learning offers the fullest Language Arts curriculum I have seen in one location. This one program offers reading, phonics, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and more all themed and put together in an order that flows and makes sense. The programs I had used through other sites, other purchased curricula, or created myself, did not have the complete package that Time4Learning provides. Language Arts is not just a simple grouping of lessons students get to "click through," or can tune-out, but is an interactive and engaging set of lessons, complete with fun characters and themes! There are even separate Language Arts Extensions that go beyond the already thorough work offered in the program, giving students access to an even greater amount of learning!

Science, Social Studies, Math? Oh yeah! Time4Learning offers those too! The math offered by Time4Learning is not a series of memorized digits or formulas, but is presented with logic and practical application in mind. The Science and Social Studies subjects have fun, animated themes, and printable worksheets to enhance lessons.

As the parent, I get access to spelling lists, lesson plans, grades, and time logs, all with the click of a mouse. I can see what the kids have been working on, for how long they have been working, and their mastery level! This made the Iowa portfolio such a breeze! All I had to do was selected which reports I wanted, and click print! **We had other things in our portfolio, but the easiest part was the Time4Learning sections!

We get instant access to multiple grade-levels. With a single click, my 2nd grader was able to access 1st grade or 3rd grade work. Excellent for a chance to offer more of a challenge, or to review a sticky concept at a simpler level. So handy! Time4Learning also allows me to set the grade levels of subjects individually, so when a child finishes a given subject before the others, he is able to go up in that subject and continue to be challenged without changing the level of the other subjects. Time4Learning also allows me to change overall grade level if I want, anytime I want- no waiting for a new school year! Harrison started first grade this past winter!

One of the characters is named Harrison.... he is a harry purple puppet. This is just plain cool, and anytime Harry Harrison comes on the screen and his theme song plays, it is a guarantee both of my boys are singing at the top of their lungs, and paying attention! **There are a great deal of characters, and they change with grade level, so the chances of a child finding a favorite are pretty darn good!

There is a lot of flexibility. I need flexibility, and so do my kids. One of my sons loves workbooks and worksheets, and the other hates them. One of my sons loves to color and draw, the other would rather gag. Time4Learning allows us access to printable materials that can be cut, pasted, colored, and completed, but is also set up to allow these to be an *option* for kids who don't need or care for them. One of my children has nearly every worksheet printed and completed, and one of my children hardly ever completes worksheets (unless we are using them to reinforce a lesson or concept). This allows us a great amount of flexibility within the program, and makes it easy to tailor the curriculum to fit each child's learning style.

The price cannot be beat. At just $19.95 per month (with $5 off for additional students), this program is priced right! This program does not require any additional purchases, have hidden fees, or contracts. For less than $20 a month, I have access to full curriculums from pre-K to 8th grade, my records are all kept for me, and grades are completed for me as well. SPECTACULAR DEAL. (High School is $30 per month, for those with students who are ready for 9-12 grade work!)

I am very happy with Time4Learning, and it will continue to be in our homeschool for years to come!

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. For more information, check out their standards-based curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Carter's Baptism!

Carter has been attending Primary for nearly 7 years now. He has learned a great deal, and has prayerfully studied about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and has decided to become a member of 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

Carter's baptism is this Wednesday! He is so excited! We snapped a few pictures to use on our online invitations! 

I get a lot of questions regarding our beliefs, so I thought I would post the 13 Articles of Faith here:

13 Articles of Faith

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
  3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
  6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
  7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
  8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
  9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
  10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
  11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
  12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Favorites

As summer is coming to an end, I decided to make a list of our favorite things of Summer 2013!


Yeah, we totally watched movies! We would pop some popcorn, huddle together, and enjoy a good flick! We watched some old favorites (Wizard of Oz, anyone?) and tried some new ones too (3 Little Pigs and a Baby... yeah, it wasn't my turn to pick, okay?). We would generally watch a movie during one of Seraphina's nap times. (It was a way to guarantee the boys would stay quiet, shhhh, don't tell them- they thought it was a reward for good behavior! I look at it as a win/win.) We would often play a game while a movie was playing too. Qwirkle Cubes is still our family favorite!

The Library

We love libraries! Moving here I was a bit skeptical of the library because of its small size. However, I have to give a shout-out to our local library! We have lived in a lot of different cities. Consequently, we have been members of many different libraries! I have to say, hands-down, this is the best summer reading program I have ever experienced. The library tracked the number of books or chapters read, gave bonus credits to kids who would "check in" with the library every week, and offered prizes based on amount read, in addition to random drawings! The last day of the reading program was celebrated with a library party! K'NEX, Legos, Wii games, and other fun activities were there for the kids! It was such a great way to celebrate the end of the program! 


This summer was great for reading! Yes, it helped the library had an awesome summer reading program, but mostly we did a lot of reading because... well, its sort of what we do. We love it! Carter is currently reading Harry Potter, and Harrison is choosing to read Magic Treehouse books! Seraphina has a small collection of board books, which she has near-constant access to, and she frequently picks up a book and brings it to someone! She will sit in the reader's lap, hand over the book, and happily hear a story!


Our family had our own personal best attendance record for Church attendance! Here, the boys are showing off a handout they received in Primary. The boys love attending Church, and get frustrated with me if they are late! I love our Church so much, and I have loved to increase my own testimony while watching my children gain their own!


Okay, okay, so I didn't *love* it at the time. But I am glad we did it. I am not sure if the boys will want to play next year, but a part of me hopes they do. They had a lot of fun, and it was a great chance to get involved with the community! (Kurt was an assistant coach and loved it!)


Okay, okay, so this is a pretty silly picture to use as our example of food, but I couldn't resist- she is too cute! We love summer's fresh fruits and veggies, and we adore grilling out and picnics!

The Pace

There is something about summer that makes us want to slow down and take it easy. We are so fortunate to be able to have a lifestyle that allows us to have this most of the year (but even more so during the summer heat)! We do not have to worry about morning rushes, commutes for the kids, trying to toss together dinner, or being a certain place by a certain time. We are free to do what we want, when we want (with a few exceptions). We really love living this way, and it makes our days sweet and enjoyable! With me home, making dinner can take hours, mornings can stretch until noon, the kids can start their days when they are ready, and we can enjoy one another's company! We start the day with a cooked breakfast together, send Daddy off to work, and then the kids and I have our day's adventures before cleaning up, making dinner, finishing the day's chores, and bedtime! It is a wonderful life!