Thursday, January 31, 2013

Week 4 Reflections

It has been a few weeks since I stopped and wrote my reflections. While I can sit and type that it is because I was too busy, the truth is that I have had a heart full of fear...

My days have been much easier. The beauty of a good routine, as well as the assistance with housework from the boys, has helped smooth the originally rough days. But during these last few weeks, my mind kept coming back to a personal quandary, and my spirit has felt uneasy.

Thankfully, there was an answer, and it is simple and clear. I came to it while reading and pondering a situation that had been bothering me, and after I decided to do more scripture searching on fear:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7

 So true, and how powerful! But wait, there's more!

The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1

The truth is, in this day and age, there is a lot to fear! Shootings, health concerns, economic woes, it can all pile up and make a perfectly reasonable person want to hide! I have been dealing with a specific concern, which is not particularly important to discuss, but has helped me get a better picture of fear- one that I never really needed to think about before...

I have a strong testimony that God lives, and I have many tender mercies that have proven that He is watching out for us. So, I do not fear for our future on this earth.

I know our Savior lives, and His atoning sacrifice will allow families to be together forever. I have comfort that even if we are parted in this lifetime, my family will be together again.

Living on our limited income for the last year has taught me how to really stretch a budget. I know that we will be able to get buy, no matter the income, and I have faith that God will provide. I am not afraid of the economy.

And yet... I had a problem... it weighed upon me... festered... brought anxiety and unhappiness...

Something had to change...

I was feeling pressure.

Pressure from the world. Pressure from the culture.


Pressure to change how I do my housekeeping. Pressure to change how I work with my children. Pressure to change my methods.


I realized I had a serious weakness- my weakness was this new found fear. A fear of something in the world! A fear of external influences attempting to beat down my door and enter my home! A fear creeping in, and weakening me...

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:25–27).

Fear is not something that is absent from our scriptures. Fear is mentioned several times! But there is comfort also. Using my weakness, and giving my fears to God, I can be made strong!

My personal fear can be summed up by saying that I felt like a square peg in a world demanding I fit into a round hole...

It had bothered me for weeks.

And then my mind remembered this beautiful quote:

"You always, if you are faithful in the Church, will be much different from the world at large." - Boyd K. Packer 

And I instantly felt better.

I am not afraid.

I am strong.

I am prepared to continue to do what is best for my family, and I know what is best because I am following God's voice. 

In a world that offers thousands of experts, opinions, thoughts, and viewpoints- each with his own voice- only one voice matters. And I am following Him. So, there is no more fear. There is only joy and celebration! There is happiness, peace, and love- and it is accomplished with prayerful consideration and humble learning. I will continue to listen to Heavenly Father, and following His plans for me and our family- and I will not apologize for it. No- I will celebrate it!

Those are my reflections. Four weeks in, and going strong, honey!

On a side note: I have been in school for four weeks and have maintained a 4.0 (term is already 25% done!). The boys are continuing to progress in their homeschool lessons, and our reading challenge is going really well- we love books! The house is clean, the fridge is full, and our home is warm and pleasant. I have lost 8 pounds, and am taking good care of my health. Carter is writing chapter books. Harrison is creating daily art. I nap when Seraphina naps. I play with the boys. The children all play with one another (all three!) and when they all laugh together it is the most beautiful sound on Earth! We have tickle fights, we have giggle-fests, we have movie marathons. We love life! The last few weeks have been particularly excellent, and our stress level has been exceptionally low. We look forward to our move, and we look forward to our vacation. Carter talks about his birthday. Harrison talks about stuffed animals. Seraphina has started to occasionally say "mama!" So, life is pretty darn good- even if we are square little pegs =)


We got your care package today! Thank you! The kids loved it, and so did I! The kids loved the Jazz basketball kit the most- they had a blast playing! Seraphina loved watching them! She kept shouting things at them- I think she wanted to play too! The boys really loved the treats and the movie- it was so nice because you gave us a great break today! It is wonderful to get a box in the mail, filled with lovingly selected items, all meant to help us smile. EXCELLENT! It really gives us a mini-vacation!

The snow kept blowing today. Someone was really sweet (afraid I don't know who they were) and cleared out our driveway! So nice! It was still blustery and cold, and the wind chill is too nasty- so even the boys wanted to stay in. I didn't see a single cat all day - too cold! 

This is the boys playing "basketball" with your little ball! Look at Carter's stance! So funny!

Seraphina was impressed with their basketball skills!

This is impressive, and so wonderful! Carter was thrilled today because, as you know, 90WPM reading is the goal for "fluent reading" in our 2nd grade Language Arts program. Carter, at the beginning of the year, hovered pretty low. He could read, but lacked confidence, but he kept trying. Now, half through the year, he has nearly hit the perfect goal! He was so proud of himself!!! Practice really works, and he was thrilled! (He read to Harrison today: Bears! Bears! Bears!) He has gotten great at doing voices (looking for quotation marks!) and paying attention to punctuation and reading with appropriate feeling. It is really impressive, you are going to be thrilled for him!

The boys help me with dishes every time I do them now. At this is what I see every night when I "close the kitchen!" A shiny sink- just perfect FlyLady style! It is there to greet me in the morning, and I love it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Playing Catch-up! (Day 26)

Thankful for Skype!
Thankful for my phone's ability to capture video!
Thankful for World of Warcraft! (I will explain later, I swear)

I haven't updated in nearly a week. WOW! Where has the time gone? Well, I know where it went, and Kurt- you know where it went, but to my dear parents and friends, it seems as if we disappeared! Well, we did not disappear. We were just really busy!

Friday we met Melissa as well as the lovely Mrs. Smith, and had a really fun homeschool gathering! It was great fun, and very much needed!

Saturday I woke and didn't feel well at all. Neither did Seraphina. Oh, dear! She and I spent most of the day lounging. I fed her so much that day! Literally, I fed her something like 16 times. So, that was how Saturday went! The boys loved it- they played Wii and Legos and ran around. Good times for them! 

Harrison made breakfast Saturday- ham and eggs!

Sunday was an ice storm, and Church was canceled it was so bad! I was glad because I wanted to go, but felt totally awful. Fina slept a good deal of the day, and I rested and put my feet up (spent a lot of the day playing Warcraft with you!). The boys, again, thought it was the best EVER. They enjoyed playing games, they made an indoor Bat Cave, they made forts, and they watched movies. 

Monday! Little Seraphina wasn't quite herself yet.

Monday I felt somewhat better, but Harrison didn't feel well. Seraphina felt good too, but wasn't quite her full self. The roads were so bad and none of us were feeling excellent- we stayed home. We did our homeschool, cleaned, and did laundry. Harrison lounged a lot, but still did his schoolwork. Good day, but busy- as I had been out of commission the last two days. 

Tuesday we went out. I burned garbage. The boys ran around outside with the kitties. Everyone seemed to be feeling right as rain! We saw Mark for a moment, while we were in town. We went to the library, and we set ourselves up in anticipation of the big snow storm! I got a care package! For breakfast I made Harrison hot rice, and I made Carter pancakes. I had pancakes with a few eggs. 
Care Package! You bought me flowers- thank you! Anarel sent me books and fudge! My favorite things!!!

Wednesday we woke to snow! The boys finished their homeschool lessons in record time, as they wanted to run and play outside. They went out FOUR times today! They were out there for a good deal of time, and had a blast! The kitties loved seeing them too, there are paw prints all over! I snapped the snow picture of them today! 

 All better now!

Hoth or home?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 20

Carter is posing to be a football player, "Because this is what Daddy looked like when he played Football!"

The kids asked me to take this picture.

What do homeschool, my own coursework, a trip to the library for books, a trip to the grocery store for a week's menu, a visit to the McDonald's playland, and playing games all have in common??  They all happened TODAY!


Day 19

Day 18

Seraphina tried to eat my phone! This is what my phone saw!

The blue box came with a cinnamon raisin bread mix. Carter made the bread! He pretty much did it all by himself- I only helped a little bit! We also worked together to learn about oven safety. He loved it!

Harrison loved the bread too, at snack time!

Day 17

"Brothers love each other!"

How many times have we said that over the years? Well, today it was demonstrated so many times. I cannot even begin to list the sweet things the boys did for one another. It was simply wonderful, and made my mother-heart swell with joy!

Another excellent day: Church, lingered, ate delicious food, and we spent the remainder of the day enjoying a much deserved rest. It was fabulous and the boys enjoyed every moment as much as I did!

Day 16

Random pictures of the kids of Saturday!

 Carter and I made cookies for his Primary class- one of our students is turning 8 this week!

Seraphina pictures- she is such a doll!

Chicken and veggie curry was in the crock pot for dinner, and I made funny faces for lunch!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 15

Excellent day!!!

This morning we took a field trip to a local vet! Amelie was examined, and lab work was done. Amelie was given a prescription and the vet thinks she will be just fine! Hooray!

We did our homeschool lessons- Carter scored even higher on his math, Kurt! He is very proud of himself, and I am so happy he is trying so hard! Today he did the word problems himself, and set up the unknown without any assistance. Beautiful thing!

The boys got to choose what they wanted to do on their "Friday Fun-Day!" They enjoyed their activities, and had a blast!

It was a very busy day - so productive and wonderful! Hope you are well!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 14

Today was hard.

Amelie is sick.

Homeschooling? Psh- I've got that.
Full-time college course load? No problem.
Living long distance from you? Meh, I can handle it.
New baby? I can do it!

Amelie... sick? Nope. That is pushing it too far, thank you. (For those who do not know, Amelie is my almost-10-year-old kitty. I have had her for my entire adult life, and she is by far my most precious earthly possession.)

Physically I can handle it. Emotionally, not so much.

I don't want to get into details, but Amelie is not okay. I called a local vet (a few times) and had good dialogue, and Amelie will be seen tomorrow (immediately, if she gets worse). I have taken every step I am able to make sure she is comfortable and able to get the privacy and rest she may need. The boys have been instructed not to enter my room for the time being, as I don't want her upset.

I hope, TRULY hope, that this is nothing major. I am clinging to that. It may sound silly, with all of the things I have endured and all that I have on my plate, for me to worry like this over "a cat" but she is more than that to me. She is my little friend.

I will let you know what the vet says tomorrow morning.

So, probably needless to say I was not super happy today. I decided that it was time to open the Blue Box. Yes, sooner than I hoped to have to open it, but I was not about to have my mood ruin an otherwise good day.

The Blue Box was GREAT, and exactly what was needed!!!

Blue Box note from my parents: "Sweeties- Have some fun with this. Lots of love, Mom & Dad. We miss you."

Carter holds Seraphina. Such a good brother!

Carter loves Zebra Popcorn!

Breakfast. Pre-Amelie illness.

Chocolate covered berries... mmmmm!

 The boys decorate cookies!

My mom provided us a way to make cookies in a snap!

This is what I wake up to every day =)

Harrison's coloring book, from the Blue Box! Carter got a Pixar one!

New pajamas! Fina got a warm bundle outfit, and I received new fuzzy pj pants! My pj pants had Grumpy dwarf on them, and our box also contained a DVD of Snow White, so the boys could see Grumpy in action, lol! Wearing those, and watching the movie with our laughing boys, really helped me be less like Grumpy!

Cookies, right out of the oven!

Harrison's finished puzzle! (I love that it came with a magnifying glass! The kids had a blast reading various parts of this map-puzzle!) There is another puzzle in the Blue Box, we haven't done it yet! There was so much to do in there! It will keep us occupied for days!

Putting the puzzle together! (Harrison still has not finished the Fantas you allowed him to have for Christmas!)

Window markers!

Day 13

**Wednesday's post, written Thursday. Sorry about that...

Today was busy. Not in a bad way, just busy.

Went to the library! We got some new books! We are over 70 now. GO US! The kids are reading a lot more on their own too- they carry their favorites in their beds, and keep a few in the car. Love it!

Homeschool went GREAT today. Carter grasped a math concept that had been eluding him, and we all celebrated his victory! WONDERFUL! He was very proud of his accomplishment and I am so proud of him for continuing to try so hard!

Got your mail!

We got your package today! It was wonderful! The boys loved it!!!

Seraphina is really loving her bath time- she is by far our splash-iest child yet! A change of clothes is necessary after bathing her, lol!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 12

Good evening!

Today was an excellent day!

As I mentioned earlier (it is now past 10:30pm) I was given such a wonderful sleep last night! Loved it and it was so appreciated. Wonderful, wonderful! In my attempt to replicate I cluster fed little Seraphina, and I topped her off with 4 1/2oz a few hours ago. With luck she will be more comfortable, but if not- I will be there for her all night =)

Boys joined us for snuggle time this morning!

Carter finished writing his chapter book- I have it in a box to go to you! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Because Carter loved writing so much, I gave both him and Harrison some of my old school notebooks. I ripped my class notes out of them (because I don't think they would have cared about racial paradigms) and gave them both pens to use as well. Carter immediately wrote to you- that page is in the box as well. Harrison drew pictures of cats, then wrote a grocery list, then made a to-do list. Funny children! Carter, I believe, has written a few chapters about "Bad Kitty" in his. The rule is that everyone can only touch his own notebook- although both have chosen to share the contents, I have a feeling this notebook rule will help foster a good respect for privacy and allow for a safe outlet of journaling later on.

Today I fixed pulled pork again. I can't lie- it is tasty and so easy- so yup, it had to be done! I love the slow cooker, it really makes life easier. The boys happily gobbled it too- so that is always a win in my book. We made our own pizzas for lunch, the kids get such a kick out of that! You will notice when I blog about our eating that it is not nearly as healthy as when you were here. I assure you that some days it is, I just don't snap pictures of the turkey served with avocado with sliced apples (yesterday's dinner).

I did some schoolwork of my own today! Took a quiz too... only got a 90% on it... but I blame Seraphina. Of course the moment I opened the quiz window she started screaming. Carter tried so hard to help out, but my mind was too distracted. It is okay, I will do better next time. Thankfully this class is also heavily weighted in participation through online discussions and I already completed that portion, so I should be good in the end! I even watched 20 minutes of a super boring interesting online lecture too! One of my classes has a few hours of lecture a week, I figure I will just watch during my nightly pumping session... because... well... pumping is boring  important... and this class is boring interesting, so it sounds like a match made in Heaven!
Boys playing in the "Batcave"

Your box is ready to go, I will ship it out tomorrow. It might end up being 2 boxes, I am not sure yet...

My mother sent a box and it arrived today. Large and heavy thing! You will love this: it is a "Blue" box. Directions: open when feeling blue. Get it? HAHA! I think it is such a WONDERFUL idea! I peeked inside and grabbed a few items that she had okayed me to have early. I didn't look very far into the box, but I can tell you it is amazing. Basically, on a day that I am feeling pretty down- I am going to open the "blue box" and use the contents to brighten our day! There are things in it for me and the kids, and basically will set us up for a day of fun! What a sweet and thoughtful gift! I cannot wait to open it, but at the same time- can wait to open it because that means I would have had a rather difficult day! (So, be warned- if I told you we opened the blue box, maybe send flowers or something!)

The kids LOVE Harry-son on Time4Learning!

Homeschool went well! We read our challenge books too. Oh my gosh, funniest book today! The kids were rolling over Penguin. Kurt, seriously, this book is amazingly funny. I am going to do this craft with them tomorrow (the link gives you an idea of the book too). Oh my gosh, so hysterical. I love this reading challenge so much because it gives us the opportunity to just grab a book off a shelf and find such a rare gem, when it is not necessarily a book we would have ever chosen to read otherwise! Seriously, I love this book!

The kids helped with chores. I fed and watered the kitties (they also got the ugly fatty parts of the pork). I burned the garbage. Carter and I cleaned the kitchen after Harrison went to bed. As a reward I allowed Carter to play Legos for an hour after bedtime. He asked if he could stay up later, but agreed to go to sleep immediately if I allowed him to wear his Batman costume to bed. So, Harrison is sleeping soundly next to the caped crusader.

**She doesn't always look like this. However, you mentioned you don't remember what it looked like when she would cry, and said, "She never seems to cry, judging by your pictures!" So, I took this to prove... yes, she cries... and gets very angry... (she was asleep 5 minutes later, she was ready for snuggles and bed!)**