Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 (and my new e-reader).

I'm so so so thankful for family!!

We spent the 4 day weekend at my mom's house.  We got to chat, eat and play games.

It's so relaxing over there.  I love my mom and I admire her in SO many ways!   She is my hero - someday I want to be as good and giving and selfless as she is.

On Thanksgiving day we went to a church for a Turkey dinner with Rock's mom's side of the family.  I sure love them.  They've gone through some tough times and it's so neat to see how good and close they are despite (perhaps because?) of them.

Rock's mom has always made me feel like a welcome part of the family.  I'm thankful for her - how great it is to have such an accepting mother-in-law!  I'm also thankful for her kind husband!  He radiates love to all those around him.  He is an admirable man.

I'm thankful for good food - Melody's rolls, Dustin's stuffing, and everything else - it was all so good!  I'm also very thankful for wonderful nephews, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law that play with my kids.  My kids look up to them and I love the good example they are to them.  Bud had a great time playing basketball at the church.  I had never seen him shoot a basket (on a real basketball court) so I was pretty impressed when I saw he could - even from the free throw line!  I didn't think he could get the ball high enough.  I think we're going to have to buy a basketball hoop sometime soon...

The girls had a fun time drawing with their uncles and aunts.  Mindi's an artist and Spice had fun hearing some pointers.  She's been practicing what she learned.

We had a great time.  After we left, we made it to the last part of my family's Thanksgiving feast.  I'm thankful for my aunts and uncles and cousins.  I love them and they have shown in lots of ways that they love me!  I didn't remember to get any pictures of that party so here's some more from the church:

I'm thankful for good health!  The day after Thanksgiving, Spice got very sick.  She pretty much laid on the couch for 2 days straight.  She had a fever and a headache.  My mom started getting sick Friday night.   Spice is doing much better this morning.  Hopefully my mom gets better quickly and none of the rest of us get it - it looked pretty miserable.

I'm thankful for good books! I spent most of my free time (which was quite a bit when we were over there - with a sick daughter - there's not too many things you can go do!) researching e-readers.  Rock and my mom were thinking of putting their money together and getting me one for Christmas.  I debated back and forth between the Kindle, the Nook, and the Sony Touch Edition.  I finally decided on the Touch Edition.  Rock and my mom encouraged me to go ahead and buy it, as an early Christmas present.  I LOVE it!!  After buying it, I spent all of my time downloading books that I've been wanting to read - all of them were free from and since they are all classics!  I've downloaded over a hundred and fifty books so far - not a bad Christmas present!  Thanks mom and Rock!

It's got a fun pen that I can highlight, or scribble notes, with on my books as I read them.  I can also add notes to my highlights with a virtual keyboard or my pen.  I also get to search through my notes.  Plus, as I'm reading, if I don't know the definition of a word, I just tap on it and the definition is displayed for me at the bottom.  It's so much fun!  How awesome of Rock to think of it.  I'm thankful for a thoughtful husband!

I hope everyone else had a good Thanksgiving.  Thank you all who helped make ours so nice!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Teaching and Anger

Pick Your Attitude by Spice
Would you like to be happy
Or would you like to be snappy?
Want to be sad?
Want to be mad?
I don't know, go ask you dad.
My dad probably would want me to be happy
He would probably never ever want me to be snappy!
He wouldn't want sad
He wouldn't want mad
I think I would want to agree with my dad.
Happy? Snappy?
Sad or mad?
I hope you agree with my dad!

The other day, we were talking about anger during our morning devotional.  I told the kids that a lot of times the decision to get angry happens so fast that we may not even notice it.  It's a split-second kind of decision.  For me, I start to feel a "boiling" kind of feeling in my heart and then the choice is so fast - I can give in to it and yell or I can choose to calm down, but once I make the choice, there are always consequences.

We read this quote by Pres. Thomas S. Monson from the November New Era:
"To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible....I ask, Is it possible to feel the Spirit of our Heavenly Father when we are angry? I know of no instance where such would be the case.”
Later that day, the kids were giggling and playing with each other, I asked them for something and they ignored me.  I asked them again, a little louder, and still it was as if I wasn't even there.  One of my biggest pet peeves is being ignored.  I felt myself getting mad and was just about to yell when I remembered our lesson and instead I said (in an exited voice), "Guess what?" (That got their attention).
"What mom?"
"I was getting mad at you guys for ignoring me, and I was feeling that "boiling" feeling so I was just about to yell - but then I stopped myself and I chose not to get angry!  Isn't that great?!  Everyone say, 'Good Job Mom!'"
They laughed at me and said, "Good Job Mom!"

Later on in the week, we were folding clothes and a couple of the kids started play-fighting on the couch and were on the verge of knocking our laundry piles to the floor.
"Guys, please stop, you're going to knock the laundry down."
I'm ignored.
"Seriously guys, you need to stop."
I'm ignored again.
I throw a sock on the floor and I begin to yell, "Guys!  I just told you... wait, I'm loosing my temper.  I need to take a deep breath..."
They laughed at me again, but they stopped and started helping me again.  They appreciated my efforts.

I've had a few similar incidences since then.  The kids think it's funny, but I really think they're learning that it is possible to control your anger.  Spice is specially trying and has asked me for advice on how to get rid of the bad feeling that lingers even after you've chosen not to yell.  We've talked about praying, scriptures, deep breaths and practice.  If she starts practicing these things at her age - she's going to be so great at it by the time she gets to be my age!

I think back on all the times I've lost my temper and lectured or yelled to get what I want.  What a waste of time!  I was trying to teach them something, but their hearts were not going to be changed when I was approaching them in that attitude.  I'm sure they were just thinking of all the ways I was being unfair instead of how they could change to be better.
“If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).
if we teach by “some other way it is not of God” (D&C 50:20).
What irony that so often I try to teach my kids and correct their behavior right after they've done something wrong and I am upset.  It all goes over their heads - all it changes is their feelings towards me - maybe to fear or to anger.  This may get me what I want for the moment, but hearts are not changed and neither is their long-term behavior. 

In teaching God's children whom He has entrusted to me - I just want to be an instrument in His hands.  I know so little.  If I can - like a musical instrument - keep myself well-tuned and clean, and not allow anger, or other distractions, to mess up the music He is trying to play - then my kids will want to change because of the beauty of the music.

It's easy to tell if I'm in the right frame of mind for teaching.  My feelings are more tender towards my children.  I am filled with love and compassion towards them.  If I don't have this Spirit with me - then I need to get it back before I open my mouth to try to teach something.

It's quite the challenge, but I love challenges, and there is no challenge more worth the effort is there?
“No greater responsibility can rest upon any man, than to be a teacher of God’s children.” -David O. McKay

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting the Little Ones Involved

This post is part of my thoughts on how to teach the kids to work.

I could use some help with this one.

I had an epiphany last week...

I've been worried that I haven't been able to give little Bazinks enough attention. He seems to act out in inappropriate ways at times and I know it's because he just wants attention and he's trying to get it in any way he can - even if it's negative.

I've been working on praising him a lot more often when I see him do something right or well, and I've been trying to make more play time with him.

I've been trying to spend lots of time playing "Hi Friends" with him and reading to him..

Anyway, none of these things seemed to be enough. He still seemed to be trying to get attention in negative ways. I worried, "Maybe I have too many kids and I can't give him what he needs!" I thought, or "Maybe he wasn't ready for the new baby." etc.

So, the other day, Spice, Bud, Little Miss and I were busy cleaning the bathroom. Bazinks was downstairs playing by himself.  It's kind of hard to get Bazinks to clean. Maybe it has something to do with the age - I was talking to a friend and her 3 year old is the same way. I'd say, "Bazinks - could you put this in the garbage for me?" He'd reply, "I'm so tired! Putting things in the garbage takes a wong time!" then he'd fall on the ground from mere exhaustion.

He comes up with all sorts of reasons why he shouldn't work:
"Putting things away makes me too tired."
"That takes such a wong time!"
"I'm so tired to clean up."
"I don't like guys with markers" (oh, wait, that was the excuse he used when he didn't want to say "hi" to the friendly guy that checks your receipt as you leave Sam's Club).
"That's too hard for me!"

I kind of wanted to teach him that working is fun so I didn't push too hard. Then it became easier to just not ask him much at all because it takes so long!

So as we were all busy doing our jobs, it occured to me, "No wonder he feels left out! I'm not involving him in our family work! He thinks he doesn't want to be involved, but I think he does."

After we were done, I called him. "Bazinks", I said, "Tomorrow, you will be three and a half," (actually he turned 3 1/2 last month, but who's counting?) "and I want to celebrate by making you a special treat because you are going to be a big boy and you will get to start picking a weekly job when we pick jobs in the morning."

I wasn't sure how he would feel about this, but he was ecstatic. He smiled and hid his smile under a blanket, as he often does.

The next day, we made some pumpkin cookies and we all congratulated him on being a big boy.

Then last Monday, it was time to see how things would go. I had all the kids pick their jobs and he picked his with a big smile on his face. He picked, "Vacuum the family room". I gave him the little hand held vacuum and I took the big one. I gave him certain areas to vacuum - the stairs, under the craft room table, etc. He loved it! We all praised him for the great job he did. The other kids are cute. They'll say things like, "You did that all by yourself?!? You are such a big boy now!" etc.

It's been a little hard to remember to have him come help us during the rest of the family work, but I've been trying and he's doing so much better! He especially doesn't like to stay to help clean the kitchen after a meal, but I remind him how much we need his help so we can get done quickly. If he doesn't want to help us then he can sit and watch, but he can't leave because we all need to stay until it's clean. He usually enjoys helping as long as he's doing the same thing I'm doing ("Come help me wash these dishes", etc.)

There are times when he still refuses to help though.  When we first started focusing on working more - the older kids complained quite a bit.  They very rarely complain anymore.  It has just become part of life, but I think Bazinks learned a lot from their earlier behavior.  Now I need to somehow undo some of the damage.  Here's what I'm going to do (and I would love some suggestions if you have any):

-Make sure he stays in the room with us when we're cleaning (he's pretty good at sneaking away when no one's watching - I need to keep a better eye on him).

-Make sure I praise him a ton when he helps (he thrives on praise).

-Have him do whatever I'm doing (he doesn't like to be given assignments, even though it's easier for me, I have to remember that he's still little and he enjoys doing whatever I'm doing - even though it will take me longer.)

-When he still refuses to work.... here's where I could use some help.  I'm not sure if I should put him in time-out because he gets to sit and not work until we're done.  This might be the right thing to do because I tell him that it takes us longer when he's not helping - so he has to sit in time-out a long time unless he's willing to help.  It seems like a pretty natural consequence.  I don't want to do the 10 item pick up with him because it takes so long.  He tends to take something and put it somewhere that he knows it doesn't belong so I have to go check every single item, and he thinks this is funny.  Maybe I should just focus on the positive and do a reward system with him.  I've thought about buying some "bubble tape" (his favorite) and giving everyone a little piece if we get done in a certain amount of time.  Maybe this would motivate him to help.  I'm going shopping today so maybe I'll try it and keep you posted.  Does anyone have other ideas?

He has been so much better about things when I ask him for his help lately (now that the expectation is there). He's noticed I treat him like I treat the other kids and that I need his help. He hasn't been acting up nearly as much because he feels more like part of the family now.  He loves the praise he gets when he helps out.  Maybe I just need to be patient and give him time to learn.  I'm glad he's on his way.  I don't know why this didn't occur to me sooner - of course working together builds family unity! Isn't that what I've been working on all along?

I'm so happy that he seems so much happier!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Help - I need info.

So I spent all morning trying to figure out how to make my blog have 3 columns.  In the end, I messed it all up and had to start over in configuring it.  At least it now has 3 columns, but I lost the information I have for my friend's blogs.  I put some of them on there that I could remember the address to, but there are several that I don't know how to find.  If you are a my friend and you have a blog - please send me your blog address so I can add it to the blogs I read.  I like to have them on my page so I can just click on them and see what people are up to.  Thanks!  -Karen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We're Going to be Okay - Amazing Friendships

I had a thought last night about how much good there must be in the world even though it sometimes seems to be drowned out by the loud voices of not-so-good all around us...

We drove to Idaho yesterday to spend time with some friends we have from when we lived in Texas - Nathan, Amy, Elle, Ava and Rock.  They are moving to San Diego in a couple of weeks so we thought we better go see them while they were still pretty close.

(I didn't bring my camera to Idaho so I'm stealing some of their family pictures)

They are currently staying with Nathan's parents while they waited for the results of his bar exam, and he could start his job in California.  Nathan's mom has made their home a really great place for her grandkids to visit.  They have story themes in every room, a story-land backyard, a beach-themed swimming pool (it was baby's first time swimming - he wasn't a big fan) and lots of games to play.  It was pretty amazing.  You can't help but feel transported into your imagination when you're there.  I put Ray down for a nap in the "Beauty and the Beast" room and I wanted to hang out there all day.  The shelves were lined with classic children's books and there was a comfy couch that invited you to sit and imagine.  Their home was a pretty magical place.

It was so great to see our friends again.  They are an amazing family.  They spent the last year in Europe and it was fun to hear their adventures.

Amy is one of the people that has influenced my life in many ways for good.  I admire them a lot.  Our Little Miss and their Elle were the best of friends when we lived in Texas and they had no trouble picking up where they left off.

Saying goodbye was hard again.  It seemed like we ought not be saying it.  Hopefully we can visit them in California.

I've had the privilege of knowing some really amazing people in the 10 moves we've made since we've been married.  As we were driving home last night, I thought about the friendships I've made and how much they have impacted my life.  I would be such a different person today if I hadn't had the opportunity to meet these amazing people who have helped me understand and see things in ways I hadn't thought of before.  They have impacted my life in a way that transformed me into  a different person than the one I was before I met them.

I thought "Wow, what a coincidence that the 10 places that we've lived in, happened to have some of the most amazing people in the world."  Then I thought, "Wait, maybe there are actually people like them everywhere".  It seems hard to believe, but it's definitely more probable than thinking that I just happened to live in the some of the few places in the world that they exist!  Think of it... if there are actually amazing people like my friends in all places - quietly living their lives, and impacting for good those around them through their words and example - then there is a huge force for good in this world.  I don't need to despair and fear for the world.  We're going to be okay.

Thank-you to all my friends who have enriched my life so deeply.  I love you all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our Schedule

This post is part of my thoughts on how to teach kids to work.

"There are times when  conforming to a schedule has legitimate advantages.  But when sticking to the plan becomes and end in itself rather than a means,  it may get in the way of loving attention to the real needs of children." 
"Linking people has less to do with what gets done than how it gets done." -SoF

I love making schedules, but I really have a hard time remembering not to make them an "end in itself "rather than a "means" to my life.  I tend to get stressed out when we're not "on schedule" and become less patient with the fun little things the kids do.

I've looked for ways to overcome this. One thing that helps me is to remember this scene from the Book of Mormon - 3 Nephi chapter 17 verses 4-7.  The Savior tells the people he has to go (he has an agenda), but he looks in their eyes and perceives that they need Him (they don't even have to ask!) and he stays and spends time with them.

I try to remember to look into my kids eyes more often and perceive what they need instead of looking at my watch.

That being said, I find that I am even more stressed out if I don't have a schedule. I have goals and ideas for myself and for the kids that I would like to work towards. If I don't have some sort of "roadmap" to how I'm going to get there - I worry more, and I waste more time on things that don't bring me happiness. Here's our road map (give or take a couple of hours, or a couple of items, depending on the day):

Our Schedule

Me: (to be done before 8am)
5:30 - Scriptures (30 min)
6:00 - Exercise
6:45 - Blog/Journal
7:30  - Breakfast Checklist
8:00  - Fix, eat and clean up from breakfast
9:00  - Weekly Jobs
12:30- Lunchtime Checklist 
              Fix, eat, and clean up from lunch
1:30  - Table Time 
2:00  - Study Time 
4:00  - Play Time 
5:00 - Dinner Checklist
           Fix, eat, and clean up from dinner
6:30 - Bed Time Checklist 
7:00 - Family reading time *
8:00 - Reading in bed
8:30 - Lights out for kids

* I'll explain these in later posts and link them back here.

We follow this schedule pretty much every week day, but we do usually end up shortening some things or leaving some things out most days, depending on how the day is going.  I try to rotate what I leave out so I'm not neglecting the same things too often.

I think one reason that following a schedule is so hard for me is my personality.  I like spontaneity and freedom.  Sometimes schedules make me feel "caged" in.  On those days, I forget about the schedule and go on a hike with the kids or have a family read-a-thon or something of that sort.  

Another reason I think schedules are hard for me is my laziness.  I grew up being rather pampered.  My mom had a very, very difficult childhood and she wanted to make our childhood a happy one.  She wanted us to enjoy it as much as possible.  I'm embarrassed to say that sometimes she even cleaned my room when I was a teenager!  She taught me about hard work through her wonderful example, but since I didn't do too much myself (except for the money-earning type jobs I had as a teenager) I had a hard time adjusting to married life.  I still sometimes have a hard time making myself get to work.  On those days, I have to exert my willpower to take the initial step to get started and then usually it's easier and more fun from there.

I do, however, love this schedule.  That's probably an important thing when it comes to being able to stick to it.  Everything on the schedule is important to me and brings me joy.  I look forward to getting started on it in the mornings.  I really have the best job in the world!

Want more exiting details?!?  Click here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Hi Friends" and Bruises

Bazinks loves to play a game he calls, "Hi Friends".   In this game, he takes any object (a battery, a crayon, a little figurine, a pencil, etc) and gives me any object.  These are our "Hi Friends". My little object says "Hi Friend!" to his little object and the game begins.

It goes something like this:

Me (wiggling my little object): "Hi friend!  What's your name?"
Bazinks: "My name's Bob.  What's your name?"
Me: "I'm Frank"
Bazinks: (whispering to me and pointing to his guy) ac-shee (actually), his name is Frank too.
Me: (whispering) Oh, okay
Bazinks: "I have a cool jet, wanna go on it?"
Me: "Sure!  What's you jet's name?"
Bazinks: "Ummmm. (long pause)...His name is Frank,"
Me: "Oh!  Cool name!"

Then we have some sort of adventure.  He likes to pretend his guy has magic and he can turn into anything.  He's also nice enough to share some of his magic with my guy so my guy can accomplish the same feats.

We have K'nex - sometimes these K'nex are guns or swords, but when we're playing "Hi Friends" they turn into machines that shoot out different things when you push a "button".  One will shoot out strawberries, one bananas, one cookies, one guns, and one ice cream.

If we don't have K'nex near by, he isn't deterred.  The other day, he took a wipe box and it became  a machine.  If you push on the "H" - chocolate chips come out, on the "U" - bananas come out, on the "G" - cookies come out, on the other "G" - more cookies come out, on the "I" guns come out, on the "E" - swords come out, and on the "S" - whipped cream comes out.

I'm thinking he's going to engineer some pretty useful devices when he grows up.


I had to take Bazinks to the Doctor yesterday.  He had been drooling blood at night and I was worried.  I had checked his teeth, but they looked fine.  His bloody drool at night had started on the day he hit cheekbone on the coffee table after getting "belly buffed" by Bud (they push each other with their bellies).

I took him in, after the third day of finding blood on his pillow, concerned that he had internal bleeding of some sort.  I guess it had been a while since I'd taken him to a doctor.  They still had our Baltimore address for him on the computer.

He was so brave and so quiet as the doctor examined him - although his eyes did shed a couple of tears.  He was nervous because I had told him the doctor might have to take some blood.  We needn't have worried.

It turns out he had a cut on the inside of his cheek from biting on it when he hit his face.  Why didn't I think to look in his cheeks?!  When we got home, and I told the family, Little Miss said, "Oh yeah, Bazinks told me he bit his cheek when he fell."  I wish someone would have told me.

He was glad he got to go though.  He got a sucker and some gum from the Doctor.  We also got to watch "Happy Feet" in the waiting room.  I think he left with a pretty favorable impression of going to the doctor's.

I love my little Bazinks.  He's one tough little kid.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Project Time

 This post is part of my thoughts on how to teach the kids to work.

"The problem is not so much the presence or absence of a 'work ethic' as it is the meaning of work and the way it links, or fails to link, individuals to one another"  -Robert N. Bellah (sociologist)

I like to set an hour or so in the morning for us to work together on a home project. This is something I just recently started when I realized that we needed to work together more. It was kind of hard at first - for a couple of days, one particular child argued with me about it whenever we would start. An interesting thing took place after several days, though.

You know how growth and character development take place when we are going through hard times or reaching towards goals that make us stretch? I have found that this can apply to household work. In just the short time we have been doing this, I have seen the children increase in patience toward each other, in obedience towards me, in controlling their tempers, in kindness and helpfulness. My patience and capacity has increased as well.

One Saturday morning:

Playing in the leaf bags (this actually lasted hours):

For example, during the first few days - there was yelling and arguing towards me and towards each other. I would try to stay patient and set a good example, but it was difficult. We had morning devotionals about kind words, the importance of work, the growth that comes from doing hard things, etc. In the evenings, the child that seemed to struggle the most with this new schedule would apologize and say, "I know I apologize about this a lot, and you probably don't believe me when I apologize anymore, but I am sorry about how I acted today." I'd assure them that I noticed times where they had tried to be better and that I was happy as long as they were trying. This child would still have a bit of a fit the next day, but I did notice times when he/she would try not to. Eventually, this child got better and better at following directions and staying calm when things seemed unfair, or when getting teased, or when he/she simply did not want to work.

This child is still learning, but has come such a long way in such a short time just from being expected to do hard things even when not feeling like it. I have seen similar growth and bonding from the other kids as well.

Cleaning Appliances:

Anyway, what do we do during family project time? Isn't there always a project that I've been meaning to get to? That's what we do. So far we've cleaned out a couple of closets, cleared and cleaned our appliance/spice cabinet, cleaned out the fridge and freezer, organized books and school things, raked leaves, made apple cider from apples, cleaned out and organized the office/baby room, and organized the junk drawers (yes, there were two).

Alphabetizing the Spices:

 I've actually ran out of jobs on my "To do" list so now I'm starting to pick a job from our seasonal or monthly work cards (I talk about these here) These cards say things like, "Sweep the walk-way", "Clean light fixtures", "Vacuum living room furniture", "Clean kitchen windows", etc.  I don't, however, do things that I don't think need to be done just yet even if they're scheduled. Yesterday, I drew a card from the seasonal cards that said, "Clean living room light fixtures." I looked at them and thought, "Ahh, they look fine." and I decided to organize the little closet by the garage instead. I plan to start rotating them in on a schedule (they're already divided into which jobs I want to do on what months for the seasonal jobs and which jobs I want to do on what weeks for the monthly) whenever I don't have another project I want to do.

Wondering what the spices taste like:

As a side note, I also allow the kids to earn money by doing one of the "monthly" or "seasonal" cards on their own. They get a dollar for doing one card outside of family work time. I've opted to do this instead of giving them an allowance because the allowance thing wasn't working for us. They didn't seem to be valuing the money enough. There have been no takers yet (they still have money left from the allowance days), but maybe when they find something they really want...

It's been such a relief for me to have a time that I know can rely on to get the projects done that I've been wanting to get done. It's been great to get everyone involved because it's not so lonely, I think they are learning valuable skills, and we're bonding more as a family.

Sometimes someone's job is to "keep the baby happy":

I really love this new aspect of our family life. Like I've said before, the ability to do hard things (work) can transfer to anything we want to accomplish in life.

Tasting the spices:

Oregano is not so good by itself:

A job well done:

(P.S. I've added an update to this post)

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Would I Change? - "A Little Princess."

One of my favorite song of all time is one that I used to sing at our church's girl's camp and I now often sing to my girls when I put them to bed.  The whole thing is beautiful, but a there's a line in it that always strikes me because as I sing it, I feel the love that God has for me and I remember who I really am.  It says:
Long before the time you can remember
Our Father held you in his arms so tenter
His loving arms released you as he sent you down to earth
He said, "My child, I love you, don't forget your great worth.
Walk tall, you're a Daughter, a child of God
Be strong, please remember who you are.
Try to understand, you're part of His great plan.
He's closer than you know, reach up, He'll take your hand.
Some of my cousins I were discussing the book, "A Little Princess" by Frances Burnett yesterday.

This is one of my favorite books because it reminds me that I am"Princess", a daughter of a Heavenly King, and it gets me thinking about how I might act differently if I truly grasped the reality of the potential within me and those around me.

Sara liked to "pretend" she was a princess so she could try to act like one regardless of where she was, but in the end we find that there is no "pretending" about it.  Every girl (and woman) is a princess by nature and those who try to live like one can reach their divine potential.

This book made me reflect on a quote I head at a CES fireside recently.  Elder Urchdorf said, "Too many people go about their lives thinking they are of little worth, when in reality they are elegant and eternal creatures, of infinite value and potential, beyond their imagination."

I asked my cousins what being a princess meant.  They used words like "refined" and "polished".  I like those descriptions because as we go through life, we learn and grow and our rough edges are made smooth - we become more as we are meant to become.

I wondered, what would I change about the way I am if I try to grasp the potential within me?

I think I'm going to try harder to see the divinity within everyone I come in contact with.

Here's some of my favorite quotes about it:

On behaving in a way that reflects your divine potential:

"She says [being a princess] has nothing to do with what you look like or what you have.  It has only to do with what you think of and what you do."

"There was something friendly about Sara and people always felt it." (30)

"Perhaps I'm a hideous child, and no one will ever know just because I haven't had any trials." (41)

"She was a motherly person" - she ran and helped the little ones up and comforted them.

Becky when talking about Sara, "I wouldn't mind how [hard things got] if I might have [talking to Sara] to look forward to." (67)

"If Nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that..." (80)

"Everything is a story.  You're a story, I'm a story..." (149)

When she was having a really hard time: "her affection for everything she loved increased."

"If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside.  It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it." (178)

"It seemed as if the child were mentally living a life which held her above the rest of the world." (179)

In her deep hunger and misery, she was able to see someone more forlorn then herself and she gave.
Her giving, influenced others who became more giving.

"I was wondering what my father would say if he knew where I am tonight." (253) - she said this when Miss Minchin was being particularly awful to her - she was talking of her earthly father, but it's helpful to think this about our Heavenly Father and how we treat others.

On anger:
"If you were a princess, you did not fly into rages."

"It's true, sometimes I do pretend I am a princess.  I pretend I am a princess, so that I can try and behave like one."

"When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage and they are not...there's nothings so strong as rage exept what makes you hold it in - that's stronger." (160)

She would think of princesses who "could not be made to be rude and malicious by the rudeness and malice of those about her. (180)

When people were mean to her she would think, "You don't know that you are saying those things to a princess...I only spare you because you ... don't know any better." (179)

To me, a princess is someone who asks herself, "What would God have me do?" and then goes forward and does it.  That is how one becomes "refined" and "polished".  I hope my cousins see the divinity I see within each of them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our 11 Year Anniversary

Rock and I have been married for 11 years now!  It's been such an adventurous 11 years!  We've moved 10 times and have lived in 6 different states!  I am so blessed to be married to a man who is not afraid to pursue his dreams.  He is truly courageous and full of faith.  It is such a sweet assurance to me to know that he is guided in his decisions for our family, because he lives in a way that qualifies him for that guidance.  We are so blessed because of his willingness to pursue what is right, even when it's scary or difficult.

To celebrate our 11 years of marriage - we took the 5 kids and my parents and headed to Vegas.  Sure, it doesn't sound like the most romantic get-away, but we had a blast!  Taking all the kids with us (my parents came along because they were so kind as to agree to watch them) on a 14 hour drive (round trip) just seemed much easier to me than teaching Joshua to drink from a bottle and pumping all that milk.  Go figure.

Everyone was so great on the way there!  We only had to stop once for a potty break and they just played together and quietly worked on things.  Joshua didn't cry at all.  It made me want to do road trips more often.

We've been studying ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome and the Middle East a lot lately so we took the kids to see statues and decorations at Ceasar's palace, the Luxor, and Bellagio.  We tried to ignore all the gambling people and "scantily clad" women as much as possible, but Bud said it did make him feel kind of sad to see so many people gambling.  At least he didn't go to the top of the escalator and shout rebukes to the people like one of my younger brothers did so many years ago (you know who you are!) much to the embarrassment of my parents.

As we were walking down the strip on the way to the M&M museum, we ran into this guy:

(It's Jerry Springer).  I almost had the kids pose with him, but then decided that we weren't big enough fans to take up his time.  So we posed with this guy instead:

We also went to Mandalay Bay to walk through the aquarium.  It's pretty neat, they give you these little radio sticks and you punch in numbers that you see as you walk through, and then you get to hear all about what you are looking at.  Spice, Bud and Little Miss loved this and listened to every number you could punch in.  Bazinks and Ray just loved looking at all the fish as they surrounded us while we walked through the tunnels.

Rock and I went to the U2 concert that Friday night.  I hadn't been to a concert in years!  It seems like I used to go all the time in high school, but I don't think I had been to one since.  U2 has some major talent.  They were so great to watch.  The stage was amazing as well and I was really impressed with the quality of the sound (my youngest brother would tease me right about now about sounding like an old person.)  Black-eyed Peas opened for U2 and I actually liked quite a lot of their songs.  Fergie has an amazing voice.

Of course, I forgot to take my camera to the concert so here's a picture someone else took that must have been sitting pretty close to us:

 And in case someone forgot what U2 looks like, here's a picture of them:

We got back to the hotel to find my mom taking Ray up and down the elevator to keep him happy.  He had awakened while we were gone and wouldn't go back to sleep so my mom was pacing with him.  She learned that he likes elevator rides.  I have such an awesome mom!

My parents left early the next morning.  Rock and I took the kids to Circus Circus.  One of the clowns asked for volunteers up on stage so Bud went up there.  It was great because they were doing a limbo contest, and while others were struggling to go under the bar, Bud could just walk right under it.  It was hilarious.  Everyone laughed.  He won, of course, and he pretty much made the show.

After Circus Circus we decided to go to a buffet, but since the prices of buffets in Vegas are not what they used to be, we stopped in Mesquite for one instead.

I suppose we were a spectacle ourselves as we walked through casinos with our double stroller and 5 little kids in tow, but I did get a lot of compliments on their cuteness from people with good taste in cuteness ;-)

It also gave us a great opportunity to talk about what is real.  We saw so many replicas of things we had learned about in our history lessons.  There was one painting that looked like a mosaic.  We got really close to look at it and realized it had only been painted to look like a very real mosaic.  It was a beautiful painting, but we were kind of disappointed.  We saw beautiful statues that were made to look like stone and marble, and of course the replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumphe, the Statue of Liberty and other things.

We talked about how so many things in Las Vegas are "replicas" of the real thing.  Then we talked about how Satan likes to take everything that is good and offer people a "replica" or a way to misuse it - like he takes divine worth and turns it into self-worship and countless other examples.  As we looked around, we saw how there are so many people looking to find happiness, only to later find that it was a "fake" or "replica" kind of happiness that ultimately brings them sadness.

The drive home wasn't quite as pleasant as the way there.  They all held up really well until about the last hour of the trip which seemed to last about 3 hours.  I can't complain though, 13 out of 14 hours is better than I expected.  Maybe we'll try a road trip to Oklahoma or Florida this summer!