Monday, April 25, 2016

Dinner Spoon, 6 week Healthy Habit Challenge

At night, when Scott and I take the children to bed, we ask each one of them what their favorite thing was that day, and almost every day, each of them will mention dinner. And even though I'm sure the food is part of the reason why, I think an even bigger reason is because it's a time for the entire family to be sitting around the table together, visiting. Now, that being said, when there are 7 people around the table, all eager to talk and share their experiences from the day along with other stories, it can get pretty loud, and sometimes a child might get upset for being interrupted. Scott and I remembered listening to a 'sharing gospel principles' interview where one father talked about having a spoon or spatula, that when held, gave that person the floor. We decided to give it a try and we've done it all week and so far, so good! The kids pull out a wooden spoon as we're setting the table for dinner and put it in the middle of the table and once we've blessed the food and we've started serving, someone will get the spoon and tell us their news and then we'll pass it along so everyone gets a turn to talk without interruptions. 

 I started a 6 week Healthy Habit Challenge a couple of weeks ago. Elisabeth's piano teacher told me about it and it sounded like fun so I joined an online group and got put on a team and we're all working toward some healthy habits, some different, some the same. The goals include sleep, exercise and nutrition, and then there are a couple of 'free choice' habits that you fill in on your own. Once I got started, the older kids all wanted to do it as well, so I edited my spreadsheet so the goals were a little more kid friendly (8-11 hours of sleep instead of 7+, and 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water instead of 100 ounces) and they got started. You get one 'free day' a week per category which is nice. I usually use my free day for my meal plan (I chose 'no refined sugar or white flour') on Saturday, my free day for exercise on Sunday and for sleep on Friday and everything else I do pretty much daily, unless I have a slip with my personal goal of 'no complaining, whining, sighing', then I'll use my free day for that :). I did a lot of these healthy habits even prior to starting this challenge, but what I'm liking about the challenge is the steadiness of doing it every day, especially when it comes to not having sugar and getting enough sleep every night. Prior to the challenge, we would try and go to be around 10 and wake up around 515, but some days it was 1030 or 1045, or 11 on weekends, and we'd still be waking up at 515 and so we felt more tired on some days. But this challenge has forced me to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night so we are a lot more exact about getting the lights out between 10-1015 because sleeping in is not an option, especially during the week, when we have certain things we need to accomplish each morning so that we have a good day (scripture study, exercise).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Good kids and Piano Festival at USU

One day every week, I attend a free Zumba class given at a church building. Nora is such a gem and comes with me each week, sits on the side and eats her snack and plays with toys. I'm grateful she's good enough that we can go each week. 
 This baggie had a shortbread cookie in there, but Charles ate it. I liked his note on the bag for "mom" to not eat his cookie :). He knows I have a sweet tooth, even if it is a whole grain, no refined sugar, cookie :).
 I noticed Annabelle was practicing piano one day this week with binoculars in her hand and I had to chuckle and take a picture. Not all our work/chore times are super productive, that even goes for me who sometimes loves to sing and dance while I may take a lot longer, but we get it done and sometimes you just need to change things up :).
 Elisabeth had a piano festival/competition at USU this weekend in Logan Utah (about a 1 1/2- 2 hour drive). We were able to drive up with our good friends, Gina and Sara Arkell, because Sara was competing as well. We left at 7am and got home around 430pm, so it was a long day, but we had a nice time together as mother-daughter, and also with our dear friends. I have pictures of Sara and Elisabeth together when they were babies/toddlers :), Now Sara is 13 and Elisabeth 11.

 Elisabeth performed two pieces in two different divisions, one Chopin and one Beethoven. Then we had about an hour in which we ate lunch and she played some games the music students from the college were running.
You could earn tickets at the various games and turn them in for prizes and so Elisabeth's favorite game was the one she always won and got several tickets for each win, sometimes she even won against the college students. The game was called "Spell on the Staff" and they would write 4 words on the board that 2 people would then race to spell out drawing notes on the staff. She's a really good little sight reader! :)

 Here is Elisabeth with her piano teacher and the other 5 of Bridget's students that entered the festival. Every single one of them was either a finalist or got an honorable mention which is fantastic! There were SO many kids there who performed and did so well but didn't get recognized because there are just so many good ones to choose from.
 Elisabeth got called up for her Beethoven piece and received and 'honorable mention' certificate. She did amazing on both her pieces.

 We got to hear a lot of the finalists play in the 17 divisions and when we did, I think Elisabeth was just thrilled to have even gotten an honorable mention! They were all that good! And she's still young so there are lots more opportunities to try and go for a finalist spot if she chooses. We're so proud of Elisabeth for all her hard work!

Monday, April 18, 2016

My 33rd Birthday

I turned 33 last week! I woke up and went for a 6 mile run, and came back to a green smoothie made by Elisabeth, which is my favorite breakfast ever! I got some new exercise shorts and headbands, a book I love, Life's Search For Meaning, a Roxberry Juice gift card, my favorite Burts Bees lipgloss from Jane and some money from both our parents to spend as I please :). Then everyone was off to work and school and Nora and I did a quick clean of the house and went over to the kids school by 9am so we could see Charles and Elisabeth in their school orchestra recital. 
 Here is Charles on the cello and Elisabeth on the piano. They did wonderful!
 Here they are with their awards/ribbons.
 Scott came home around lunch time and we dropped Jane and Nora off with Kim and then went to lunch at India Palace which has a buffet. It was delicious! Next we stopped off at Schmidt's Pastry Cottage and I got a small slice of birthday cake and a sugar cookie, and Scott got a cookie as well :).
 We picked up the girls, came home and started on dinner, the peanut butter ice cream and the jam tart. Scott made me a jam tart for my birthday last year as well; I sure love them! And him!
 For dinner we had Cafe Rio style foods: black beans, brown mexican rice, shredded chicken (for them, not me as I'm vegetarian), tortillas, salad, guacamole etc.

Elisa L and Kim both stopped by later on in the day with food/treats and this beautiful plant. 
 After dinner we headed off to one of the local high school's for the kids Monster Concert which was elementary orchestra's from all over the school district. It was huge and the kids performed more at the one earlier that day at their elementary school so I was glad I had been able to make it to both.

 Once we got back from the concert the family sang "happy birthday" and we enjoyed our home made peanut butter ice cream and jam tart. I loved spending some extra time with Scott and being with the family, enjoying some of my favorite foods and seeing some friends. It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We can do hard things: run 13 miles, piano recital, read Les Miserables

Today is my 33rd birthday and life is good. Scott and I are going to go out to lunch today at an Indian Buffet since the kids have an orchestra concert tonight, and tonight we'll make some in-home Cafe Rio style foods; I'll try to have pictures and more details in another post. 

This past Saturday was my long run and I ran to the temple and did 13 miles in 1 hour 59 minutes and 33 seconds, which breaks down to about 9:10 min/mi which was slower than my 11 mile run with Robin, but she's fast and I had to keep up! This was my first time running 13 miles, and the week before was my first time running 11 miles. I've experienced a lot of firsts with this half marathon training, mostly with increased distance, but also with things like eating while I run and drinking water while I run, and having my legs shake for a couple of minutes after I just finished a long run. 

While I run, I mostly listen to general conference talks, and then my own thoughts. It's a special time for me.  I feel closer to the Lord when I'm out in nature, working my physical body and meditating. The temple pictured here was my half way point and you have to go up a big hill to get to it, which was hard, but perfect. I climbed that hill with my eyes set and focused on the temple, and on angel Moroni and it filled me with strength and determination to work harder and be better. It was a good reminder that life is hard, no one is exempt from trials and challenges, filled with mountains to climb, but if we will keep our focus upward, on the temple, and on our Savior Jesus Christ, by continually and daily nourishing our testimony, through scripture study, sincere prayer, and pondering,  we will make it through and everything will work out and we will be stronger and happier than we can even possibly imagine. Life is hard, but with the Lord on our side, we can do hard things. I love this scripture, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phillipians 4:13
I like to think that our kids are learning to do hard things at home :). Maybe that doesn't sound quite right, but what I mean is that we have them doing chores at a young age and then involved in private music lessons by age six, not because we're trying to raise concert pianists or the like, but because we want them to learn to work, to be disciplined and for them to see that when we work hard every day, and are diligent, that work pays off and we will improve. The kids are constantly being challenged in piano because they are continually doing harder and harder pieces, but they've seen time and time again that what once seems overwhelming and impossible, soon becomes bearable and then feels great to play! 

 Elisabeth had a recital last week and did very well. She had a small memory slip on one of her two songs, but I told her before hand, "If you mess up, who cares! I sure don't! I'll be smiling and cheering in my heart during your entire performance because you are amazing and you have worked and practiced so hard and I've heard you play it beautifully already so many times." She didn't agree, but I think it takes some pressure off to know that mom and dad will be proud of her no matter what.
After the recital (Annabelle went as well; Nora is not allowed yet because she's too young, so we take turns) I took the girls to Roxberry Juice where we got fresh juice and smoothies. Yummy and healthy which is perfect! 

 Another hard thing I've accomplished recently was finishing the book Les Miserables. There are over 1200 pages of small print, around 600,000 words, and this took me months of reading, granted I also read several other books during this time. This was my 'car' book for a long time which meant it stayed in the van and I would read as I waited for various things, usually as I waited for Elisabeth to get out of her hour long gymnastics class. The last 300 pages I listened to as I jogged or cleaned the house. The book has some long, drawn out parts about cities and the history etc which I may have skimmed over but there are some great truths in the book. I wrote out several of my favorite quotes and parts from the book and they are below:

"you need not tell me who you are. this is not my house; it is the house of Christ. it does not ask any comer whether he has a name but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty. be welcome and do not thank me. do not tell me that I take you into my house. this is the home of no man except him who needs an asylum. I tell you, who are a traveler, that you are more at home here then I; whatever is here is yours. what need have I to know your name? besides, before you told me, I knew it."
 "really? you knew my name?"
 "yes," answered the bishop, "your name is, my brother." Pg66 

(I absolutely loved the bishop and later, Jean Valjean. I loved their love for others, their unselfishness, their humility)

after Jean valjean steals the silver and is caught by the police and brought back to the bishop, when the Bishop sees him he says"ah, there you are!" said he looking towards John Valjean, " I am glad to see you. but I gave you the candlesticks also which are silver like the rest and would bring 200 francs. why did you not take them along with your plates?" Then the bishop approached him and in a low voice says, "Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man." Jean valjean who had no recollection of this promise stood confounded. the bishop had laid much stress upon these words as he uttered them. he continued solemnly, "John Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil but to good. it is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God" pg 90 

(This is one of my favorite parts in the book. I love the bishops goodness, his trust and faith in Jean Valjean who just messed up big time. I love that he loves all people but does not condone sin or sinful behavior; just like the Savior! but he still loves and helps them a long the way to become better.)

Fantine suffers and sins much and is in an awful state of hatred and distress when jean valjean (who changed his name to Madeline, started over and is now mayor) steps in to save her. "She listened with dismay, she looked around with alarm and at each word that Monsieur Madeleine uttered, she felt the fearful darkness of her hatred melt within and flow away, while there was born in her heart an indescribable and unspeakable warmth of joy, of confidence, and of love." He immediately forgives her wrongs and pays her debts and promises to help her get her daughter back and take care of them. Pg 167

A man is caught and thought to be Jean valjean and sentenced to life in the galleys (prison) and Monsieur Madeline (Jean valjean) finds out and has to make a choice: be silent and let the man go to prison in his place, or come out and tell all who he is, giving up everything and all he's worked for for years. "to lend himself to it by his silence, to do nothing, finally, was to do all! it was the last degree of hypocritical meanness! it was a base, cowardly, lying, abject, hideous crime!..... He recognized that One of these ideas was necessarily good, while the other might become evil. that the former was devotion and that the latter was selfishness. that the one said "the neighbor" and that the other said "me." that the one came from the light and the other from the night." Pg 190-191 

Of Marius it says, "for him a debt was the beginning of slavery." Pg 576  True words.
"he looks at humanity so much that he sees the soul, he looks at creation so much that he sees God... every morning he sets about earning his bread and while his hands are earning his living, his backbone is gaining firmness, his brain is gaining ideas. when his work is done he returns to ineffable ecstasies, to contemplation, to Joy. he sees his feet in difficulties, in obstacle, on the pavement, in thorns, sometimes in the Mire; his head is in the light. he is firm, Serene gentle, peaceful, attentive, serious , content with little, benevolent; and he blesses God for having given him these two estates which many of the rich are without; labor which makes him free and thought which makes him Noble. this is what had taken place in Marius." Pg 579 

Of Jean valjean thinking of Cosette (like daughter) "he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being." Pg 751 

"if there is anything more poignant than a body agonizing for want of bread, it is a soul which is dying of hunger for light." Pg 842  (Ah!!! So True!!!! Feed both body and soul; body with food and water, soul with words of Christ. )

"Jean valjeans generosity towards him, Javert, overwhelmed him. Javert felt that something horrible was penetrating his soul, admiration for a convict . respect for a galley slave, cannot be possible? he shuttered at it, yet could not shake it off... A beneficent malefactor , a compassionate convict, kind , helpful , clement , returning good for evil, returning pardon for hatred , loving pity rather than vengeance , preferring to destroy himself rather than to destroy his enemy, saving him who had stricken him , kneeling upon the height of virtue, nearer the angels than men." Pg 1107 

Jean valjean alone, 80 and dying but Cosette and Marius come. God said, " you think that you are going to be abandoned, dolt? No. No, it shall not come to pass like that. come, here is a poor good man who has need of an angel. and the angel comes and & I see my cosette again. and I see my darling cosette again!" Pg 1215  (an emotional part of the book)

"to her I bequeath the two candlesticks which are on the mantle. they are silver , but to me they are gold , they are diamond ; they change the candles which are put into them into consecrated tapers . I do not know whether he who gave them to me is satisfied with me in heaven . I have done what I children, do not weep, I am not going very far, I shall see you from there." Pg 1221 (where your treasure is, there will your heart be also)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Char's Dog Bite, Friends, and Nora

 A few days ago the kids were outside playing with neighbors before dinner and I went to the front window to peek out and check on them and I saw Charles coming our way, with his hand on his face, and blood dripping down from that hand, all down his arm. I opened the door and asked him what happened (thinking he got hit in the face by a ball) and he said he got bit by our neighbors dog. I had him go into the bathroom since he was dripping quite a bit, and I got out alcohol wipes, triple antibiotic ointment (neosporin) and a band aid with some gauze. Apparently there were lots of kids around this dog (who is normally a backyard and indoor dog with no small children living at home) and someone patted his bum which spooked him and he snapped at Charles who was sitting on the ground nearby and got his tooth on the top of Charles' nose. Once I cleaned off the puncture wound with the alcohol wipe and gave Charles a wet rag to hold to his nose, I was unsure if he would need stitches because it looked a little deep. But after a few minutes the blood slowed a lot. I said a prayer and then put some antibiotic ointment on the gauze and stuck it on there with a band aid. His nose hurt that night but he didn't cry, didn't even complain, he only told me it hurt when I asked him how it felt. But his sweet sisters cheered him up with fun stories, jokes and playing games with him and our neighbors whose dog had bit him, came over and asked what Charles' favorite treat was and then they went to the store and brought back rootbeer floats for everyone. All the kids and Scott enjoyed floats that night (Charles' favorite treat is rootbeer and though we allow the kids to get a treat once a week, we've asked him to only get soda once a month so this was huge). They had brought a HUGE tub of ice cream and 2, 2 liters of root beer which meant we had a lot leftover so over the next couple of days we shared with 12 neighbor friends who had come over to play :); hopefully their moms were upset with us for sharing, but I did make them promise that they would still eat the next meal there mom was making for them, and they all agreed :).
 Thursday early morning my good friend Elisa L had her fifth baby and so we had her four kids over the next day from 730am-130pm; they were on Spring Break and unfortunately my kids were not, so they didn't have their BFF's to play with but they know me and my little girls so well because we get together often, that we still had lots of fun together. Annika and Nora helped me make muffins while the boys played sports outside,
 and we all came in for awhile and quizzed each other on state capitols, had lunch, and finished with a  basketball game of 'horse'. And of course, as luck would have it, just before their dad came to pick them up, Ben, the 2 year old, tripped while outside and scraped his face on the cement :/. Sorry friends, we were trying to be careful!

We've had several friends have babies recently. Another of our good friends and neighbors had a baby boy a couple of weeks before, also their fifth, and I was able to go over in the middle of the night and sleep at their house with the kids while mom and dad went to the hospital. I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to help a couple of my good friends; they are both the type that don't normally call on people for help so I was pleased that I was given a chance to do something for them, even if it was small.
And we have a couple of random pictures of Nora. We had made granola one morning (we make a batch weekly) and she begged to lick the spoon after...I'm not sure why because there's not much on it, just a few oats mostly :). 
 Annabelle just started playing soccer on a team with Scott as her coach. She just got her new uniform and has been wearing it around, asking people to play soccer with her, and Nora was happy to play, especially if she could, too, get all dressed up in soccer gear. As you can see, the soccer uniforms we have are WAY to big for her: the shorts go down to her ankles, the short sleeve shirt looks like a long sleeve shirt, and the shin guards are so big they barely stay on and come up past her knee :). She's a funny girl.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

General Conference Weekend in Idaho and Car Difficulties

This past weekend we drove out to Idaho to stay with my sister Becca and her family, because my brother Fred and his family drove out from WA for their Spring break, so we had a little mini family and Lani(my niece) were able to join us as well! We got to test out Becca's new salon that they put into their home; several of the girls got their hair cut. 
That weekend was also general conference weekend and we LOVE general conference and look forward to hearing from our living prophet and the apostles and other general authorities, so we made sure to have it on so we could watch on Saturday and Sunday. I was able to listen to most of conference though there are a few talks I need to rewatch because I was distracted with cooking or helping a child a few times.
Saturday morning before conference started, Robin and I went for an 11 mile run. This was my first time running 11 miles, though I've been working up to it for the past month or so, and it went really well. Robin introduced me to running with a water bottle (strap on hand) and eating a snack part way through, which was brilliant and I definitely felt a boost of energy from that fuel. This is the snack she brought with us to share and it was super tasty! Since then I've come home and bought both the water bottle with strap and snack pouch, and a few of these waffles from Honey Stinger which kinda makes me excited for my 12.5 mile run this Saturday morning so I can test them out! I pushed myself a little more running with Robin. I knew she ran about 8 minute miles on long runs and my long runs were more like 8:50 or 9 minute miles. We ended up running the 11 miles in 1 hour and 35 minutes which meant our average pace was 8:35min/mile! It was hard but I was still able to talk some, just a little more breathy. It felt a lot more aerobic. I was a little sore the next day in my thighs, hamstrings and upper back. It was a good feel. 

The kids loved all their cousin time. Becca and Blake's home in Meridian has a great set up for friend/family gatherings with their fire pit, trampoline, ping pong table and covered back patio.
In between sessions on Saturday we went for a quick hike in Boise.
Becca waxed some eyebrows, but I refused. Just doesn't look  like my idea of fun, especially considering my sensitive skin.
Saturday night while the boys were at the Priesthood session, the girls did some Wii dance and watched Liv and Maddie :).
Even the adults did some coloring.
I love this picture of Gran with the grandkids. She's telling them stories from when she was younger and they were all very enthralled. We're grateful for the time we were able to spend with family and for the Romney's for opening up their home to so many of us.
On the five hour drive home the van started shaking as we went up hills so we took it in (again; last month for brakes) and they did some expensive stuff, again, and said it's a little better but not fixed; which means we'll need to take it to the dealership and have more diagnostic tests done and probably more expensive stuff done.  Scott's truck was in the shop two weeks ago for a week as they had to replace a leaking fuel tank, which is also expensive. Well, such is life. We'll just keep on, keeping on.

*Added the day after this post: On my run this morning I listened to general conference talks and one in particular touched my heart and I felt like it was guidance for me pertaining to our multiple unexpected and costly expenses over the past few months (2 trips to ER, car, flights for funerals etc; all while we're working hard to save). Elder Montoya told of  a group of people who traveled 12 hours to attend a small temple and not all were able to enter the temple because there were just too many for that small temple. He talked with several of the members afterward, who were not able to attend, and they told him not to worry, that they were able to allow others to attend for the first time and still were able to sit in the garden at the house of the Lord. One man he spoke with said,  "The Lord knows me, and He has blessed me, and we are fine." I was reminded of Nephi and his positive, and cheerful responses to all of life's challenges and felt an overwhelming amount of love and peace in my heart and a closeness to the Lord as I began to remember all of his many, daily blessings and again remembered that we all have challenges, trials, and setbacks, but that's what defines us. Those experiences help to refine us and mold us into beings that are more like our Savior, if we will follow his example, remember his many blessings and "cheerfully do all things that lie in our power".

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ponderize Week 14, E finished Book of Mormon!

Here's our ponderize scripture for week 14: Doctrine and Covenants 58:27

Last week Elisabeth finished reading the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, for the first time! She is amazing and had been working on it for several months, really stepping up her reading over the past couple of months. 

Because this book is so powerful, so life-changing, and so correct, we told the kids that once they finished reading the Book of Mormon on their own, we'd take them out on a dinner date. Elisabeth chose Sweet Tomatoes and we had wonderful and interesting conversation about various stories and messages we've learned from the Book of Mormon. Love our 11-year-old beauty!