Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Swimming Lessons

Carter is ready to swim!

Harrison enjoys the spa.

Harrison is excited to get in the pool!

Carter gets into the pool, ready to swim!

Harrison is so cute!

Carter takes a dip in the spa.

Carter swims with Danielle- working on his kicks.

Harrison just sprang out of the water!

Carter floats =)

Carter loves to swim in "the deep!"

Carter can't touch the bottom, but doesn't need to because he swims!

Carter gets out of the pool, doesn't he look like such a grown-up?!

Harrison, post swim!

Carter, post swim!

Today was the last day of the boys' swimming lessons. Carter loved his teacher, Danielle. Harrison loved his teacher, Allie. The boys made such huge improvements! Carter can float on his front and back, and can swim in the water from point A to point B! Carter enjoys doing flips in the water, and having his feet in the air. One of the ways Carter loves to swim is, "like a shark!" by holding his hands together and moving his body like an eel. It is so adorable! I am so happy- I feel so much safer knowing that if he fell into a pool he would be able to swim to safety!

Our little Harrison started out with a VERY serious fear of the water. At the first lesson, Harrison wouldn't put his chin in the water. After a week he touched his chin to the water, and a week later he went to his mouth. Week by week little Harrison's courage increased and at the end of his lessons he not only puts his whole head in the water- but he can push down into the water and pick up toys from the bottom of the pool! Harrison now will hold onto a board and kick his feet- he no longer needs to cling to a caregiver! Yay!!!

I am so proud of both of my boys! They tried their hardest and they both improved AND had fun! I am happy they are more comfortable in the water, as our gym has two pools and I forsee a lot of swimming over the summer =) WAY TO GO, GUYS!

Catching Fish

Yes, it is a bit hammy to post pictures like these, but I am a big Lego fan (and so are my boys!) so I thought using them as a visual aid was appropriate.

The scripture John 21, is a very good read. When looking at the things Jesus was trying to teach, we see that there are many messages inside this chapter. Breaking down just a small portion of these we see a multitude of comforting blessings that can come from following Christ.

In the scripture, Jesus was standing on the shore while his disciples were fishing on the water. The disciples did not recognize The Savior. Jesus asked the disciples if they had caught fish. When the disciples answered no, Jesus suggested casting the net to the right side of the boat. Upon doing so, the disciples found a vast amount of fish. As the disciples pulled the net full of fish to shore, it was found, surprisingly, that the net that held the multitude of fish had not broken.

When Jesus gives us a task, he provides the way for us to complete it. Jesus understood the difficulty in finding food and resources, and he helped provide means. The Savior did not hand them fish, but simply suggested a different path in which to find the fish. In our lives, The Savior does not force us to walk His path, he simply and lovingly provided us an example to follow. His examples, and The Church that he put on this earth, are meant to help lead us safely back home. His atonement provides us forgiveness for our sins through the beautiful process of repentance and growth. Our Savior loves us- he wants us to eat and walk with Him =)

Charity and Love

One of the things I love most about scriptures are the different translations of each of them. In the King James version of The Holy Bible, the word "charity" is exchanged for the word, "love." I was interested to learn more and found that Charity means, "means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others" (Wikipedia Charity). One thing I found most interesting was the cautionary note that charity, in scripture, does not only refer to donations and giving. No, no, charity is much bigger than that!

In The Book of Mormon, Moroni explains charity is the "love of Christ" and something that all of us must strive to keep in our hearts. Moroni explains charity clearly:

44If so, his afaith and hope is vain, for none is bacceptable before God, save the cmeek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and dconfesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

45And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

47But acharity is the pure blove of Christ, and it endurethcforever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

48Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be dpurified even as he is pure. Amen.

What wonderful things for us to strive for, and wonderful promises about the blessings that will come from giving such Christ-like love and kindness!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Proverbs 31

I would love to be a woman whose worth is greater than rubies. I would LOVE to be a Proverbs 31 woman! A few pieces of Proverbs 31 were in the Good Morning Girls reading today, and I am thrilled to share them!!!

What a wonderful thing that would be! To utter kind and thoughtful words! I would love to do this all the time! No idle gossip, petty comparisons, or snide comments- just kindness. I always feel better when I say kind things, or decide to wisely take the high road in situations. I love this part of Proverbs 31 because it really does matter! So much of who I really am is shown in my words- and I aim to keep them kind! (Do I often fall? ABSOLUTLY- but thankfully this scripture is here to remind me of who I want to be!)

This one is a scripture that I have to be very mindful of.

As a perfectionist, I often find myself overdoing things. I push myself to go further and be better than is really necessary. I often catch myself overworking in my household chores. Simple tasks that should take only minutes end up taking hours due to my irrational need for something to be "perfect." As I have left school and am home full time once more, I have found that I lost my balance (if I ever had it) for all of the work that is to be done within a home (not to mention the things that are NOT on a "to do" list- like hugs, cuddles, and tussle break-ups).

Being prone to overdoing a job that composed of recurring tasks is a prime setup for feelings of failure and burnout. I can push myself to exhaustion by making sure every last dish is spotless and in its assigned place. I can drive my energy to nonexistance by putting away the last peice of laundry and starching that one last shirt. and I can certainly labor for hours making a dinner that is organic, healthy, and delicious... But tomorrow there will be more dishes to do... more shirts to fold... and more dinners to make... Perfection is not a healthy way to run a home.

My perfectionist side comes with a very high price. Yes, I may generally look somewhat put together, have amazing grades, and a beautifully kept house- but it can come at the cost of my sanity. I unnecessarily work too hard and become highly irritable- snap at my children, nag at my husband, and go into crying fits. NONE of these things are the traits of a good mother. Perfectionsim in housekeeping is not God's way.

The worst part of perfectionism is what happens when I get burned out... which, if I focus on "perfect," is way more often than I would EVER care to admit. I end up in a sobbing heap on the couch, with my children running wild, and my husband attempting to console me. I end up in bed for days on end in a semi-depression, where I lack motivation to do anything because NOTHING I do is good enough. ICK! Is THIS what God would have me do? NOOOOOOO.

The scripture above asks that we not eat the bread of idleness. It does not say work until your hands bleed (yeah, I have done it...) or scrub until you pass out (yup, done this too). Taking a necessary and healthy rest, or break, is NOT idleness (For an AMAZING thought on breaks, read here). No! This scripture speaks to my heart, because it reminds me that the days when I burn out (for totally unnecessary reasons brought upon myself) IS idleness- and is not what God wants from me.

Now HERE is what God wants from me! Not a spotless livingroom, or perfectly arranged bookcase- He wants me to be the kind of woman whose children call her BLESSED, and whose husband sings praises! I gain such hope and joy with the thought! Instead of fussing over tasks that could be done quickly (or not at all), I could be doing something special and kind for my family. Imagine if my husband came home to a happy wife who may not keep a perfect house, but has the energy to give abundant love to her children and himself. Imagine my childrens' joy if their mother took the time to sit down and play with them, instead of simply supervising while she did other tasks (I am so guilty of this... the location the children play often is dictated by whatever zone of the home I am cleaning).

Proverbs 31 is a really amazing scripture, and I aim to be like the Proverbs 31 woman =)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

House and Home

Today's Good Morning Girls scripture really spoke to me. Although I have never actually gone outside my home and started tearing pieces off the house, I have found myself tearing down my home in other ways.

Kurt and I had a very shaky marriage for a very long time. Separation did us a lot of good, but our hearts still have a lot of healing to do. As much as I would love to point the finger at my husband, I admit my own fault in MOST of our current home stress. I built my house- created a loving home by choosing my eternal companion, and bringing children to this earth. I built my home with love and good choices. I took my house and made it a home full of appropriate media content, safe and comfortable furnishings, and surrounded by loving friends. I picked my house- I picked the actual location in which we reside, and I picked the people that live within these walls. I built my house.

However... in heated anger, annoyance, or just plain irritation I catch myself making remarks that hurt my husband and children- and therefore tear down parts of my home. By not giving my marriage everything that I possibly can, I tear down my home. By not giving my children everything I can, I tear down my home. By not allowing myself to be an instrument in the hands of God- and do His will, His way, I tear down my home.

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." — C.S. Lewis

As I carry this scripture in my heart, I hope to remember that I need to BUILD my home, and never foolishly tear it down. And if I work hard, and endure to the end, I will be able to enjoy the palace that awaits me and my family =)

The Master

The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
-Luke 6:40

Every day I learn and grow. I remember once thinking that children were the only ones who learned lessons, and than when I became an adult I would somehow know everything I ever needed to know. I believed that people could learn new hobbies or crafts, but life lessons as an adult? Psh, never! Boy was I wrong! I learn just as much now as I ever did as a child, but I need to constantly remind myself to be open to the lessons that God is wanting to teach. Heavenly Father is not going to stand in front of me with a whiteboard and attempt to get me to pay attention. God's lessons come from life experiences, and are most effective when paired with Christian teachings. If I am open to it, I learn many new things each day. If I want to make the most of these teachings, I can search my scriptures for answers to my questions, and for examples on how I should live my life. My master is Christ, and although I would never proclaim to be above him in any way whatsoever, my heart's hope is that each day I will grow more like Him as I learn from His teachings and example.

I am so fortunate to have so many amazing positive influences to help me on my spiritual journey. Just last week a great friend felt impressed to lend me a copy of I am a Mother on CD. I own the book, and read it years ago, but I smiled and took the CDs and agreed to give them a listen. I remember it being a pretty good book, and I was happy to have something to listen to while I drive my son to school (my commute is almost 2 hours each day! I will be SO happy when school is over!). As I read I was impressed by the wonderful outlook that the author had about motherhood. I laughed at some of the funny stories, and I cried at many of the sections of the book that strongly declared the importance of Christ-centered mothering. This book, at THIS time, was exactly what I needed, and I am so thankful to have a friend who thought of lifting my spirit!

Today, I am making a list of all the many people that inspire me to be a better mother, and daughter of God. I appreciate the time they give to me, and their efforts. Above all, I am thankful for Christ, for giving all of us such a perfect example of selfless love and dedication. He is my master =)

**Art at the top of this post is by Greg Olsen

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sharing Faith

I am a private person. My faith has been so personal, and I don't ever want to step on any one's toes, or offend. Today's scripture is one that we hear often at Church.

Years ago our Church came out with Pass Along Cards. These wonderful little cards fit in pockets or purses, and are meant to be shared. Kurt and I are the only ones in either of our families that are members of our faith. So often we want to share our beliefs, but we were never sure of how to do it- especially when most of our family members live so far away. Last Christmas, we took a big step (for us) and we included some beautiful Pass Along Cards in our Christmas cards. It was our first step in sharing.

Last General Conference we heard a wonderful talk from President Uchtdorf, where he told listeners, "With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before... My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place. Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity." (Waiting on the Road to Damascus, LDS General Conference April 2011)

Since President Uchtdorf's talk I have looked for ways to share my faith, at the appropriate time and place. I have found that my blog is a wonderful way to share my faith, especially as it will likely be shared with my grandchildren some day! I have used Facebook as a way to share faith as well, sending encouraging LDS messages or videos to friends that need uplifting, or quoting scriptures or leaders.

All of these are nice, I know, but the most important thing I can do is prepare my sons for their missions. By encouraging them in their hopes and plans for missions, I am really able to apply this scripture to my life. The best missionaries are the most faithful young men, and as I continue to grow spiritually, so will they.

I am so thankful for missionary work. My husband and I love our Church, and adore our leaders. We are thankful for the sacrifice that all missionaries make, and the little seeds of faith that they plant everywhere they go. We are so excited for the day that we will welcome home our sons from serving their own honorable missions, and celebrate their dedicated service!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Impact

Sometimes the daily grind gets to me. Well... actually it gets to me kinda often. I forget that what I am doing can make a difference, and often feel like I am overwhelmed and nothing I do really matters. Don't get me wrong, I don't need praise or reward, but it would be nice to know that I am making a difference. Friday's scripture reminded me of just that: (Proverbs 6:20-22)

What a perfect reminder for me! What I do DOES matter, I am teaching my children! I am helping them develop their talents and grow into fine men. I am working to mold them into righteous Saints! There is nothing more important I can do!

This scripture reminded me of one of the songs from Veggie Tales. In the episode, the group of veggies were faced with a lot of pressure to conform and do things that they knew their parents would not have agreed with. However, they were grown-ups, and their parents weren't there, so they were tempted to just go along with what everyone else was doing. However, once Junior Asparagus started to sing this song, and they remembered the teachings of their parents, they found the courage to face their opposition. (I love Veggie Tales, so cute!!!) Here are the lyrics, as sung to Junior by his mother:

Think of me everyday.
Hold tight to what I say,
And I'll be close to you,
Even from far away.
Know that wherever you are,
it is never too far.
If you think of me,
I'll be with you.

Know that wherever you are,
It is never too far.
If you think of me, I'll be with you.
Think of me everyday,
Hold tight to what I say,
And I'll be close to you,
Even from far away.

Know that wherever you are,
it is never too far,
If you think of me, I'll be with you.

Carter and Harrison, know that wherever you are, I will never be far- I will always be with you =) I love you very much, and I dedicate my life to helping you hold to the rod!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Faithful Mothers

Today's scripture was so beautiful, and spoke very clearly about the importance of faithful mothers.

2 Timothy 1:5
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

How wonderful is that? To take the time to illustrate the importance of the faith of Timothy's mother, and grandmother! Obviously the faith of mothers is vital in the work of the Lord! This scripture really spoke to me, as it reminded me that I am responsible for planting the seed of faith in my children's hearts! Church attendance, daily family scripture study and family prayer, weekly Family Home Evening, and daily personal prayers are all necessary for helping my children develop their own relationships with their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I reluctantly admit that this is something I struggle with. I am the first to jump up and proclaim my love for the Restored Gospel and the Plan of Salvation, but I am often the last one to rush into Sacrament Meeting, or the last one to suggest family prayer before we all retire. I need to work harder to be like the mother and grandmother of Timothy! How wonderful would it be to be called a credit to my children's faith!!!

Totally appropriate...

Yesterday was a very busy day! Carter to school, brunch with the ladies from my last ward, then a fun afternoon of cooking with a friend of mine. The morning started in such a chaotic blur, I was happy to get Carter to his classroom. The brunch was perfect- wonderful friends, food, and fellowship. Abi went with me, it was very nice to have her there! After the brunch I went to my friend Arlene's house, where she taught me how to cook a perfect roasted chicken. Wearing aprons and discussing ways on imrpoving the family put me in a light and happy mood. I picked up Carter and Sean from school (Sean's usual sitter was in the hospital- oh no!!) and we went back to Arlene's and had a delicious dinner. Before I knew it the day was over, and I was so tired! I had a great time, and everyone in my family was happy (and tired!), so we all passed out before I had managed to read my scripture for the day. Darn. How does that happen???

Well, today I read the scripture for yesterday, as well as today. Yesterday's scripture was perfect- and completely applied to my situation. It was totally appropriate, and hit me as effectively as a lightning bolt!

As wonderful, productive, and uplifting as yesterday was- the day was not run as it should have been. I should have started my busy day with my scriptures. Yes, I have excuses- I didn't plan on going to Arlene's, I fell asleep so fast and didn't mean to, I made it up today, etc etc. But in the end, I honestly did not put God before myself yesterday, and I did not seek out His kingdom. This is so important! I have to make the effort- I have to make the change. I normally have a routine, and my scripture time is set at a quiet time of the day that I know I can be alone. However, as the summer comes and my routine changes, I know I need to change the way I do my schedule, and Seeking the Kingdom of God needs to be FIRST! I am so glad this was the scripture for yesterday, because it applied to me perfectly. (Funny how that works, right? It is both unbelievable and totally believable at the same time!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Branches and Vines

Today's reading came from John 15:4,5. I enjoy scriptures so much because they say so many different things at different points in our lives. Perhaps that is why doing reading groups is so much fun- it is really enjoyable to hear the vastly different take-aways everyone else got from reading the same passages.

The scripture today likens humans to branches, and The Savior to the vine. Branches, by themselves, are strong. They can hold weight, and can stay strong though most storms. They are produced in groups, but they themselves, are individual. I think it was amazing to describe humans this way, as branches. Sure, without having a relationship to The Savior, we can all float through life. We can get up, breathe air, eat food, get married, have kids, and die. We are strong, and we are capable of holding weight. But without the vine... branches are simply branches.

The Savior, however, is like the vine. The vine is what bears fruit, the vine needs the branch in order to be able to create the fruit, and the fruit is what we all long for. The vine needs the branch, and the branch needs the vine. Without the vine, given to us through whisperings of a still small voice, or Comforter of our hearts, we are unable to bear the fruit we long for- meaning, purpose, salvation. Yes, we can get through our mortal lives without the vine, but we will never be able to taste the sweet fruits of exaltation.

What beautiful thoughts! I love this scripture! This applies to me as a mother, because there is nothing more important I will do in this life than try and bring my children back Home. I hope that my boys know how much I love them, and I hope that they know how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love them too. I want my children to know they they, too, are strong branches, and I would love for them to cultivate their own vines and bring forth the precious fruits that God would love to give them. =)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Women Living Well, and Good Morning Girls!

While I chuckle at this picture, I have to say, I don't believe it is completely false. Faith, family, and friendship are things that I hold as my top priorities. That said, there is something to be said about the peaceful calmness that can come from always having a clean home. But I have said it before- being home is hard! In American culture today, housewives and stay at home mothers are seen as a thing of the past. I can remember feeling pretty depressed after my first few months returning home, and knowing I needed some Christian inspiration. While searching for uplifting pro-homemaking words of wisdom, I came across Women Living Well. This was such a breath of fresh air! Here was a woman who knew EXACTLY what I was going through, and who was being exactly the kind of woman I wanted to be! I started following right away, and every time that I need a boost I head to her site and soak up the Heavenly inspiration.

The Women Living Well site is run by a lady who is part of a group called Good Morning Girls. I have seen a few of their sessions come and go, always too shy or nervous to read along and participate with them. Well, that is a thing of the past! I printed out my materials, linked my blog to their site, and I am ready to read! I welcome anyone else who wants to read with me =)

Today our first scripture was taken from Psalm 127:1, and it reads

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Today I wrote this scripture in my journal, wrote some observations I had about it, thought of applications to my life, and prayed about it. Already there is a difference in my heart! When I looked at my job- as a homemaker- and the labor I do in my home, I stopped and realized that nothing I do matters if I am not doing it with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in mind, and without Their help, I labor in vain. Knowing that the Lord's teachings built the home that I keep, made my labors much more important. I don't just iron shirts, I am working hard to help my husband look his best, so that he can focus on providing for us- just as the Lord would have him do. I don't just wipe noses- I am creating a nurturing and loving environment that enables our children to thrive and blossom into the amazing men they are to become. Our safety, and our salvation, come from Him and following His plan!

What a great scripture! I would love to hear any thoughts that anyone else would have about it =)

Friday, May 13, 2011


I am so happy for the summer to come! I am a bit early to celebrate, but once spring semester is finished, summer officially starts in our home =)

Now that school is over, I have time to reflect and breathe. I find that once Carter goes to school, I go to the gym, I do some laundry, and clean the house, it is somehow time to get Carter, and then come home and start dinner. This is tough work! I am always tired! I want to cry and complain, but this week I didn't. I focused on getting my work done, and giving Kurt space to do his job too.

Having boys is hard. I am able to teach them many things, but I cannot teach them how to be a man. Carter spent most of last week in a button-down shirt and tie, insisting that he wanted to be just like Daddy. Harrison demands "Daddy hair" every day. The kids do learn from me, but they want to emulate their father. This is a good thing, and I am happy their dad is such a wonderful man.

Having time to reflect gave me the opportunity to really look at what it is to be a man. In our home Kurt is our provider, presider, and protector. He leads our family. This does not mean that I have no say in things, and it does not mean that he makes all our decisions. For example, we are very seriously considering homeschooling our children. The decision to homeschool is a big one, but because most of the work would fall upon me, Kurt shares his opinions but has left the final decision to me. When it comes to moving, job changes, finances, and extended family matters- Kurt does most of the decision making. We are a team, but in the end, he is the leader. Our success- in every dimension is built on the stable foundation that he makes for us. I can't imagine the pressure, stress, or anxiety that comes from being in his position!

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor 11:3

I am so thankful that my husband is such a great man. I am so grateful for his great job, and the happiness he finds in his work. I am thankful for my beautiful boys, and the joy they bring to my life. I am so happy that I have a strong, capable, and spiritual husband for our boys to look up to.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kurt!

The boys wanted to make Daddy cupcakes! The process was delicious fun =p

Kurt had a nice birthday =) He worked most of the day, but that was okay, because it allowed us to make his dessert! The kids sampled them first, but there were many left over for Kurt to enjoy =) Grandma and Grandpa Smith came over to visit, and brought gluten free tarts and specialty cakes! Kurt celebrated by sitting back and enjoying games as soon as he got home =)