Monday, November 30, 2015

Hank Smith, Building a Strong Foundation

Elisabeth and I attended a youth fireside one Sunday evening a few weeks ago, when Hank Smith was presenting. Hank Smith is a religion professor at BYU and he has published several books, and has cds and does all sorts of speaking engagements including speaking at Time Out For Women and BYU education week. Since his fireside, we've checked out from the library and listened to several of his other cds with 1 hour lessons/talks, mostly directed to teens, but good for all. I'm going to call him Hank now since Hank Smith seems too long and formal. Hank is really good. I could not believe how well, clear and simple, he taught gospel principles and he had everyone smiling and laughing throughout the entire lecture, though there were times, as well, when the entire audience was silent in contemplation. He had several neat quotes throughout the fireside address which I'll post in here randomly as well.

"Laughter and learning are not enemies." - Walt Disney

His topic for the evening was on "the wise man's foundation", where he went over the scripture in Matthew 7. He said that our 'rock' is our 'foundation' or our 'private life,' or the life that is unseen. And that our 'house' was our 'public life,' or the life everyone sees. He said that when we get a crack in our foundation we might try and cover it up with a bush for awhile, but it grows and gets bigger and eventually it will bring the entire house down, in what seems to the outside world, all of a sudden, because we had been hiding our cracks in our foundation. 

Hank then suggested some 'Private Victories' for us to work on that come from The Strength of Youth booklet, and gave several challenges including:
1. for 7 days in a row, replace some unhealthy food you normally like to eat (soda, chips, chocolate etc), with something nutritious. 
2. for 7 days in a row, exercise each day for at least 15 minutes (walk, weights, jog, swim, bike etc)
3. For 7 days in a row, set a time to go to bed and stick to it (that was especially for the adults in the room and for the teens he said to not hit the snooze button for the entire week)

Scott, elisabeth and I did all three of these challenges above, and Scott and I are still doing them...we liked it so much we decided to extend our time. We were already really good about exercising every day and eating really well, though we did decide to only have a treat with sugar in it once a week which we're still doing, but the hardest one that we're trying to form into a habit now, is getting to sleep around the same time every night, at 10 (we wake up at 5 so anything after 10 makes for a rough day ahead). 

"The first and best victory is to conquer self." - Plato

" the ultimate test of our character." - James E Faust

4. Get a talent back - YOU are responsible for developing the talents and abilities that Heavenly Father has given you
5. Delete every bit of music you haven't paid for- obey the laws that govern sharing music, movies and other copyrighted items
6. if you encounter pornography, turn away immediately (not some time, or eventually). Don't believe the 'future-me myth'...if the present me does not change today, it will not exist tomorrow or later. He said that the average age of pornography first time exposure is 7 years old. He said not to ask 'if they've seen pornography' because the answer will always be 'no' because they want to hide it and think you won't love them, but rather to ask, "what are you seeing? and how much are you seeing?" to create a culture of openness, and for parents to 'just listen.' Satan wants them to keep it a secret; just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he tells them to 'run and hide'. Satan wants these innocent children to decide never to tell anyone so that they will struggle with it on their own and not get help and it will eventually ruin them. He told a couple stories side by side to illustrate a message: one of the tabernacle in Provo catching fire and now it's being turned into a temple, and a story of a young girl named Elizabeth who struggled with pornography for years on her own before she got help and made changes.

At the end he asked if the bishops in the room would mind staying after for any who were present that would like to talk to their bishop about a pornography issue that had been a secret. The bishops all agreed and I later heard that some stayed after for 2 hours meeting with youth who had a change of heart and wanted help. How wonderful! He reminded everyone that there was nothing they could do that would burn the Savior out of their life, because he loves them always and forever. 

I was so glad Elisabeth and I were able to go (we decided completely last minute because we were at tithing settlement that night and remembered he was coming to speak soon...even though she's not quite youth age yet, but will be this summer). Elisabeth used his material to teach our Family Home Evening lesson the following night so the rest of the family wouldn't miss it. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chef Jane, Star Fall, NC prep, football

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and we get to spend it with the Smith family in North Carolina! Sunday night, the night before we left, the kids were so excited it was hard to get them settled down and in bed, but we did it and we even managed to get the house all clean before we took off early Monday morning. Over the weekend we prepped for our flight to NC by doing laundry, cleaning and packing and this was part of that prep too: dividing out snacks and putting them in quart sized ziploc bags with their names on them. We'll have lots more pictures and a separate post on our North Carolina trip next week, once we're back home and I have time to sit down and write and load pictures. 
I try and prep dinner in the mornings or early afternoons, before all the kids are home from school and the house gets really busy, and I love that the girls will often time do dinner prep with me. And they love it! This week Jane helped me make a vegetarian lasagne. I've learned that if I want lots of veggies in there, I've got to blend them up and mix them in with the sauce so the kids won't pick them all out :).

 My friend Desi, from Colorado, told me about Star Fall, an educational app quite some time ago, but it wasn't until just recently that we put those apps on our phones and kindle fires for the girls to use and I love it! This one we have is mostly for early learners, probably 2-5 years old, or until they learn all their alphabet letters and sounds and are putting words together.
Jane snapped these photos of Nora, asking her to do different faces and expressions. 

 She's a good actress.

 I love this picture of Charles out with a couple of friends playing football, Charles doing a little victory dance near the fence :).
 Saturday Annabelle and I were invited to attend the BYU football game that afternoon with our good friends, Elisa and Annika. It was such a fun date. I love Elisa and Annabelle loves Annika so pretty much anything we do together is going to be great.
 The girls weren't super interested in the football game but were able to stay happy and distracted most of the time with visiting, watching Cosmo the cougar, the marching band, cheerleaders, cougarettes and eating stadium food :).
 I think the people behind us were a little annoyed that we got up during the middle of a play to get food. In fact, Elisa overheard one of them say something like, "do they even come here to watch the game?" :) I laughed when Elisa shared that with me.
Here are our girls, all cozied up in there winter jackets, hats and gloves, and Annabelle even pulled her hat over her face to keep it a little warmer :). Love these girls!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ponderize Week 7, Allergist and Physical

Scott choose our ponderize scripture for week 7. Psalms 101:7; I think he was trying to teach the children a lesson with this one :).

 Nora has been such a trooper this week, tagging along with me in the mornings to 2 exercise classes on different days, an appointment with an allergist and an appointment at the health center for a physical. She was so good for all of them and didn't whine or get inpatient with our sometimes longer waits and tests that needed to be done. I'm fine and good; I hadn't seen a doctor since I had Nora 3 1/2 years ago and figured it'd be good to go visit one and get checked out, and as for the allergist, I  wanted to find out what I'm allergic too since I get seasonal allergies pretty bad in the Fall and Spring.
 At the allergist appointment, a nurse wrote numbers on my back, 50, and then pricked me 50 times with various extracts from weeds, trees, mostly environmental things and then also did some common food and pet allergens as well. I got super itchy and had several big welts which meant I had some allergies.
 I am severely allergic to weeds, all sorts and kinds, which pollinate in the Fall, and grass which pollinates in the Spring, and dust mites. I'm also allergic to a couple of trees and cats. Most of these were a surprise, minus the weeds, which I guessed over this past year. With my milk sensitivity or lactose intolerance, I was grateful that I didn't have any allergies to foods.
 This has been my go-to 'grab on our way out the door' snack for Nora, which we had to pack most mornings this week with all our different appointments.
My physical went well. We did some blood work and I found out that my cholesterol was 'optimal' with my HDL(good cholesterol) at 62 which, anything above 60 means it's considered protective against heart disease, and my LDL (bad cholesterol) was at 92, which anything less that 100 is optimal; so my total cholesterol was 166 and anything less that 200mg is desirable. So all great with cholesterol. My BMI was 23 and the ideal for women my age is between 18.5-24.9, so that was good. My blood pressure was 118 (systolic) over 78 (diastolic) and anything below 120 for systolic and below 80 for diastolic is ideal. So everything checked out great; I figured it would considering the way we eat which is mostly whole foods, and considering that we exercise 6 times a week, but still, it was nice to hear the doctors and the blood work, reaffirm that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sick, BYU basketball, Piano Festival, Home and Family Life

We had Charles, Nora and then Jane all get sick for about a day, maybe less with a fever and some congestion. This is what 'sickness' looks like at our house: lots of sleeping in bed, with the humidifier and the diffuser going which has an essential oil inside (I used DoTerra's 'breathe' because of her congestion). I also rubbed some peppermint on her back for her fever and 'on guard' on her feet.

 This is actually my snack, not Jane's. I love ants on a log.
 Friday night we went on a double date with our good friends, Maren and Brian Wilcox, to the BYU basketball game.They have quite a few seasons tickets, shared amongst their family(Maren's siblings, parents etc), to the basketball and football games and when they have extras, they'll invite some friends and Scott and I try and go when possible because we enjoy being together and because we love BYU. Some of the seats come with complimentary buffet dinner and unlimited snacks which is fun too :).
 I hadn't been in the Marriott center for years, and they'd redone the inside which looked pretty cool.

 I also enjoyed watching the cheerleaders and the cougarettes perform. They are all so amazing!

 Saturday morning after Zumba, we watched a friend from Colorado's kids...she recently moved here and it was good to see them again.
 Saturday afternoon Elisabeth played at the Sandy Music Teachers Association Festival, along with a lot of other piano students, and then she got a call back later that afternoon saying she received an 'honorable mention' which means she didn't place, but was really close so she was invited to come that evening and receive a medal, but she didn't have to play her piece again for the recital that night, which made her feel a little more at ease :).

 Even though she looks so much shorter than everyone there, she is growing! I know because I just had to buy her  a new pair of jeans (finally!) because the others were hitting above her ankle :).
 Here is Elisabeth with her amazing talented teacher Bridget Johansen.
 On the way home I dropped by Walgreens and got my passport photo...I got a new one last year and didn't get around to filling out my passport papers until just recently, and then found out that you're no longer allowed to smile in your passport photos so I had to retake mine. I guess because of face recognition technology etc, and because most people don't normally smile as they go through security, they want a more neutral looking face on your passport. So I got that taken care of. Now I just need to plan a trip out of the country :). We for sure will sometime in the next ten years.

Once we got home we popped some popcorn and played a family game of yahtzee before putting the kids to bed. Elisabeth got to stay up a little later that night with mom and dad and we decided to spend our time in mom and dad's bed, cozied up in the warm blankets, looking at and laughing over pictures from our photo albums back when Elisabeth was a toddler.
 Sunday mornings normally Scott and I go to choir practice together at the church and Elisabeth watches the kids, but Scott had a cold this past Sunday and stayed home. This is the scene I walked into when I got home: Love this family of mine and I love that they all love to be together...that takes hard, diligent and consistent work, especially on the part of Scott and I. I'm thinking of the words from Alma 7:23 where he lists some qualities like, 'gentle, long suffering, patient, meek, easy to be entreated, temperate in all things' and so forth. Yep, lots of work over the years, and we're not perfect, but we've come a long way.
And here's Nora on a late Sunday afternoon...she doesn't get naps in most Sundays because we have church from 1-4 this year, which is right during nap time, but in a months time that will change.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grandpa's Sarape, exercise, Ponderize Week 6, Snow, Thanksgiving Tree, Sight Words

When we were out in Washington for my dad's funeral, we picked out a couple of his things to bring home with us as remembrance items. I really wanted dad's sarape, the green one he used every day on the couch and on his bed to keep him warm and my siblings were kind enough to let me have it. All my kids use it regularly, as do I, when I can get it from them :).
I took this picture after a Bob Harper dvd workout. I was dripping sweat, as usual when I do his workouts. I do different exercises different days of the week because I like variety. I go to a Zumba class Tuesday and Saturday mornings, I'll usually run one day, do a video one day and then do weights or go to a different exercise class on the other day. 6 days a week, and I try and go for 45 minutes to an hour each time. I love when I work hard enough to work up a good sweat.
This is the scripture Jane choose for us to Ponderize during week 6; 1 Nephi 3:7.
It snowed this past week! Not enough to stick to the roads but enough that the kids wanted to be out in it. It was snowing when school started and the kids still wanted to walk to school, which is good because I might have made them anyway (I like to them walk as often as possible; it's good exercise and it's good for the soul).
Our Thankful Thanksgiving tree is up and covered in leaves with things we are thankful for, some of which are: family, Jesus, prophets, school, soccer, Blendtec (that's mine :)), home, cozy bed, temples, scriptures, church, friends, food, music and much more.
I made these sight word strips for Annabelle when she was in kindergarten, and saved them, so I pulled them out this week and we stuck them on the wall, with a little tacky, in our kitchen where we are the most. Within just a couple of days she had most of them memorized.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ponderize Week 5, Gratitude Tree, Nora's date

It was Annabelle's turn to choose our Ponderize scripture for Week five. She choose John 14:15, If ye love me keep my commandments. 
Charles was feeling under the weather for a couple of days this week. He had a fever for a day, was tired and his head and tummy hurt and he had coughing and congestion. We were thinking maybe a sinus infection, but we're not totally sure. Sunday is when I noticed the coughing, I kept him home Monday when he had a fever, sent him to school Tuesday because he was feeling better, but when he came home from school he was very low energy and told me he fell asleep on his desk during math, and after he told me that he went out to the living room and feel asleep on the floor. So I kept him home again Wednesday but he was definitely feeling better then and had all his energy restored...and he's got a lot of it! I mostly wanted to make sure he had energy for our family photo shoot that night, so I had him rest up a lot during the day, but he also played in between resting times. 

And since he was feeling better, I gave him several double digital multiplication problems to solve since that's what they're working on in school, and he did really well once I showed him how to space his numbers out a keep things clean and organized so he wasn't adding up and multiplying incorrect numbers in incorrect rows.
Jane and Nora enjoyed having him home to play with.
The morning after our photo shoot, Thursday, Nora walked into the corner of our wall in the house and did this to her head. It was HUGE! I was so grateful she didn't do this a day earlier; I am sure the Lord sent extra angels to keep the kids protected and safe and bruise and injury free since he knows how much we love our family pictures.
Thursday Nora and I made a double batch of  pumpkin bread (with carob chips). We made 3 8x4 inch loaves and 24 muffins. We brought one loaf to my friend Elisa who was moving that weekend, just down the street from her house, but still having to pack up all her kitchen and everything else, and we wanted to bring something fast and quick and nutritious so I brought it over when I went over Friday morning to help her pack. We brought a second loaf to Lindsay's when we went over Friday afternoon to play, because I knew my kids would get hungry at some point and I wanted to have something to share with all our kids. This bread is one of our favorites and it's honey sweetened and whole wheat, which I love! I'll be posting it on my food blog next week and I'll try and remember to link it back here.

I snapped this picture of our food storage (short term...long term, with lots of number ten cans, is in another spot) with the lovely shelves scott built for me in the storage/laundry room. He really did an excellent job. On the bottom I have all my wheat and oat buckets. I go through about 4 wheat buckets in a year and I'm not yet sure how many oat buckets. I should keep track this year, but probably something comparable, maybe even more because we eat and make a lot of granola.

We put our gratitude tree up in the entryway/hallway this week. It looks beautiful. And we're continually adding 'leaves' each day with what we're grateful for.
November is Nora's month to go on a date with Mom and Dad. She was determined to get ice cream, so we took her out Saturday night for ice cream. She wanted blue ice cream with marshmallows. Scott and I have decided to allow ourselves one serving of a 'sugar' treat a week until Thanksgiving so we saved it for Saturday. And hopefully after Thanksgiving we'll continue this habit which we've found is a really good one...we've been feeling great during the week with more energy when we not only don't have sugar, but also go to bed on time and exercise daily. Doing those three things each day makes a HUGE difference in our energy, patience and thinking..we can think a lot more clear headed when all those pieces are in play.
And then she danced to the music. 
Several couples walked in the door all dressed up for some sort of high school formal, and when she was the guys dressed in their tux's while she was dancing, she grabbed one of their hands while continuing to dance! He laughed and then continued walking over to get in line with his date, so Nora let go and just kept on dancing.

Monday, November 9, 2015

2015 Family Photos (at Fotofly)

We had our family photos taken at FotoFly this past week which is professional studio that is fairly inexpensive compared to other professional photography studios. We did the indoor photo shoot which is cheaper than the outdoor shoot by $50, and I'm glad we did because the day we went it had rained and snowed a little and there were dark skies and it was very cold.

So how fotofly works is you pay $80 and you can about a 45 minute photo session where they do what you want with your immediate family (if you have more families joining, you pay more). I wanted a couple family shots, individual shots of the kids that were very traditional (think school pictures so nothing too trendy like sideways shots or top of the head cut off etc; we don't buy school pictures because it's be $60 just to get one traditional photo of the four kids which seems ridiculous to me so we always plan to do it with our family shoot), a couple shot and a shot with all the kids together.
These first several are very similar. This one below is the one we're going to blow up and frame for the living room. I prefer photos that are cropped in close so you can really see what they look like.

Silly Faces
I didn't love this one because I feel like it's too focused or centered on me. But I'll put one of the many they took in here just so we can remember the other poses. 

And we did a couple of standing family photos which looked okay, but we really liked the couch one the best. 

I do like this one quite a bit:
Next are the Individual shots. They take so many photos of each of these shots including family and the sibling shot etc which I'm grateful for because the kids had these fakes smiles in a lot of them that looked very forced and just not like themselves, or they'd squint or close their eyes, so it was nice to have lots to choose from. These two were Elisabeth's best.

And Charles' best: 
This is one they took when they asked him to make a funny face which I thought was hilarious :). 
Annabelle was probably the most photogenic. Most of hers were really good so these are my top 3 favorite:

On the other hand, it was really hard to get even one with Jane with her natural and normal smile, but we did finally get one (probably this is the one they got when the photographers either said 'turkey butt' or that mom or dad tooted :); they caught the kids off guard with the words that they said, but it really did make them laugh, so whatever long as it's not too inappropriate :)).
Nora had some really cute ones too, but getting her to actually look at the camera was the hardest part. 

I LOVED these siblings shots. The photographers were so good about placing the hands and arms just so, and making the kids stand up straight with shoulder down, but then also leaning in slightly so they didn't look stiff. I actually just really enjoyed watching the photographers do their thing and seeing their studio with all their big lights and reflectors etc.

And the couple shots. This first one is our favorite.

Overall we were really happy with our experience at fotofly: good price, good with kids, and great photos. I didn't end up printing any there because it's quite a bit more expensive than doing it at say Costco, but I also don't have a disk drive on my computer so instead I paid the extra $8 to get online storage space for our photos and within a couple of hours of finishing our shoot, they emailed me a link that had all the photos and then I can download them to my computer and/or send the link to family members or whoever and/or put them on my blog or facebook etc.