Sunday, April 26, 2009


Oliver and Silas are at this great age where they've got enough of a command of the language that they are really fun to talk to and they can communicate really well - but they still have these super cute voices with their "l's" and "r's" coming out as "w's" and usually speak in a super-animated way. I love hearing how they express themselves and love how they integrate new words and ideas that they're still figuring out as they talk. Oh, I love these little boys so much! I look at them sometimes and feel so overwhelmed with joy and love for this surprise double blessing the Lord gave us and wonder what in the world I would ever do without them!

Anyway, I finally remembered to write down a few of the cute things they've said lately so here goes:

Silas at bedtime the other night as I tried to leave the room: "Wait! I need to give you a hug!"
Me: "But Silas you already gave me a lot of hugs and it's really time to go to sleep now."
Silas: "But I have to give you one more! I'm just so FULL of hugs!"
(He is so full of hugs. He comes up to me several times a day and says "big hug" and then throws his little arms around my legs. Oh, those moments make my day!)

After contemplatively looking around the chapel for a while during sacrament meeting, Oliver said in a very excited whisper: "Mommy, when I get big, I want to get the biggest, bluest scoopie (backhoe) and I will use it build more churches for everyone."

Silas in his prayer the other night:
"Thank you for Jesus to be OK after the cross. Please bless Charity on her mission to not be old so she won't die." (Silas has been thinking quite a bit about death lately after all the talk of death and resurrection at Easter. When we talked about how everyone dies someday, he got tears in his eyes and said, "But Mommy, I will miss you too much when you die!" I reassured him that I planned to be around until he was a grandpa!)

Silas went to open the door to the bathroom to go potty before bed and Oliver said "It's locked" but when Silas tried it, it opened right up. Oliver said, "Siwas, you're a genius!" No idea where he got the word genius!

More favorite phrases and activities for the twins of late for both twins:
  • "dis singy" (this thingy) when they can't think of the word for something.
  • "pwitty pwitty pwease!" when they really want something. It's pretty hard to say no to the cutest little boys with their arms thrown around your legs and their beautiful blue eyes pleading up at you and the most polite requests!
  • "midnight monsters are comming! We have to huwy!" They gleefully get ready for bed with the pressure of the "midnight monsters" helping them hurry along. I mentioned one time when they were really slow getting ready for bed that they needed to hurry or these midnight monsters would show up and eat them up -midnight monsters are only allowed to eat kids if they're not in bed and they can only come out when it's almost dark. They totally latched onto the idea and love racing to get to bed before the midnight monsters show up!
  • "wets biwd a spaceship!" They build a spaceship out of K'nex or magnets or furniture several times a day. They are SO into Star Wars and everything to do with space.
Last night we had the twins' beloved Sunbeam teachers over for Family Home Evening. You'd think the celebrities of the world had arrived when they showed up! The twins were literally doing summersaults and jumping up and down when they saw them getting out of the car. Brother and Sister Johnson (or "Sister Johnson" as they like to call the pair of them) are the nicest young recently-married couple and Ollie and Si think they are the greatest people ever (and they really are wonderful). It was so interesting to see what the twins felt they MUST show to their teachers. They showed them how they could ride their bikes with training wheels (they just figured out how to ride them proficiently last week - and Si has Liza's old My Little Pony bike and thinks it's awesome in it's pink sparkly glory. Oliver has Ashton's old yellow bike "Strecky" - it's still holding it's own!). They showed them Firehead the snake (and thought it was hilarious that Bro Johnson is terrified of snakes and DID NOT want anyone to take it out of the cage). They showed them how well they can jump off their beds (again and again and again). They HAD to show them the penguin soap dispenser we got for Christmas and that I can't put away with the rest of the holiday stuff because it's still a great motivator in getting them to wash their hands. They felt it necessary to show the Johnsons our master bathroom (which was a total mess). It's so fun and interesting to see what's really important about our house in the eyes of Oliver and Silas! Ollie and Si gave the "mini lesson" at the beginning of family home evening and talked about all the things Jesus created that they love. They pointed at different people to share what they loved about the earth and of course Brother and Sister Johnson had to share about 10 favorite things while the rest of us just got one or two turns. Silas' favorite things about the earth: cactus flowers, the ladybug we saw at the park, the blue blue sky. Oliver's favorite things: dogs and giraffes and all animals and lizards and the park.

Anyway, there are about 100 super cute things they say and do every day that I forget by the time I sit down to write them - but at least I captured a bit of this adorable duo!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mold and Boiling Water

Around here, most days are crazy days. But Wednesday was a CRAZY DAY. My mom has written whole wonderful books using experiences she bothered to record in the midst of the mahem when she had little kids at homee - so I figured Wednesday should be captured. Here goes:

To preface Wednesday, let me tell you about Monday and Tuesday. Ashton and Isaac entered the science fair and Jared volunteered to be their coach and totally handle their projects. He got them started and then we all got busy with different things and then Jared had to go out of town on Monday and Tuesday so guess who got to figure out how mold grows and determine the boiling points of different quantities of water? Yep. You guessed it. I spent all afternoon and evening on Monday and Tuesday working with Ash and Ike on their projects (with 100's of interruptions from the other kids) and by 10:30 Tuesday night we had some fairly decent projects done and some less-than-stellar display boards put together.

Wedesday morning, I got up early to see the boys and Jared off to the school (they had to explain their projects to the judges before school) and prepared my Joy School lesson (it was my turn to teach the twins' group). I spent the morning trying to help a bunch of very cute but very wiggly 3 and 4 year olds understand the concept of being "unique" and special in their own way and accepting others' differences, "interviewed" each of the kids for their "All About Me" books, then quickly fed the twins lunch and hurried to be at the school at 1:30 when Ashton told me they'd be announcing the winners of the science fair. Turns out Ashton was wrong - the assembly was at 2:30. So I tried not to be too annoyed that an extra hour had been sucked out my already crazy day. I dragged the twins around the school with me for an hour as I caught up on some PTA stuff and saw the science fair projects on display (some pretty interesting stuff) and it turned out fine.

Once we finally got settled in the gym for the science fair assembly, the twins escaped out the back door of the gym to head to the playground across the field (they were done with the boring stuff I'd subjected them to at the school) just as they were about to start announcing the winners. I ran across the field in my dumb clogs and had to pull the twins off the play structure (with much wailing on their parts and some none-too-nice firmness on my part combined with some physical coersion) and drag them back to the school gym, bribing them with pennies (the only thing in my purse that seemed to interest them) so they would stop their wailing so I could bring them back into the assembly.

Turns out I missed them announcing that Ashton had won the "people's choice" award in a poetry contest I didn't even know he entered. But I got to see both boys get their science fair awards (I was pleasantly surprised when Ashton got 1st place for 3rd grade and Isaac got 3rd place for 2nd grade - nice pat on the back after all that work!) while the twins fairly happily rolled pennies around on the floor. Then I had step over kids sitting all over the floor in the assembly to grab Eliza out of the audience to take her to a dentist appointment that we were only a little late for - yeah! She was SO brave about getting her first filling - the dentist was very impressed with her and so was I (and the twins actually sat on my lap and watched quite nicely).

Then I rushed home to try to plan out the "service scavenger hunt" for our church's youth group - an activity I'd reluctantly agreed to be in charge of. I put together lists of families to be visited divided up by area where they life, made up the rules for the game, put together a list of service projects they could offer to do at each house that would give them a certain number of points, etc. I had a couple hours to do everything before I was supposed to launch the project that night at 7. I seriously contemplated calling up the lady I work with in the youth organziation and saying "I know I said I'd do this scavenger hunt thing but I just really really can't - can we just play kickball or something instead?" I wanted to take the kids out for ice cream or something to celebrate the boys' awards and Eliza's brave dentist visit. I wanted to be a fun mom and relax for just a minute with my kids. But no, I said I'd do this thing and it's a little late to be asking anyone else to do it and I hate flaking out on anything.

So Jared was nice enough to come home early from work and feed the kids while I worked like crazy on the lists of people to be visited and the rules of the game and all these different handouts then hurried to the grocery store to pick up some prizes and treats and was so proud of myself when I made it to the church with everything all ready at 6:55. I walked in there and found our dutiful Young Women's president all ready to go with her own handouts and prizes and treats. I couldn't believe it! Since she hadn't had a chance to talk with me, she just decided to go ahead and do it herself. Have I ever flaked out on anything I said I'd do? I had to swallow some serious frustrations but I probably let out a little more of how I was feeling than I meant to!

I realize now that I really should have called her when I was feeling like I really needed to be with my kids after school rather than getting stuff done for the this thing. She would have told me she had things figured out and I would have been off the hook and all would have been well! Still it worked out OK. We combined the different materials we put together and I think the kids had a fun time and a good experience. After we divided them into groups, gave them their instructions and materials, and sent them off to serve up a storm, I headed home and skipped out on the rest of the activity - there were plenty of adults there and I wanted to get home to Jared to work on Power of Moms. I just needed to be DONE.

So it was a good day as well as a crazy day. I showered the boys and Liza with praise and promised them special treats the next day. I learned that I should go ahead and flake out on things sometimes and trust that it will work out OK - everything doesn't really depend on me as much as I often feel that it does. I learned that it's better to start on science fair projects a lot further in advance - but that even a last-minute project can be a good - if stressful - experience. I learned not to wear clogs when going anywhere with the twins. I learned to verify any information I get from my kids about what time I'm supposed to be anywhere for anything. And I learned a lot about mold and boiling water. Did you know mold doesn't grow very well in a closed ziplock bag in a drawer? It needs light and air. So our mold wasn't as impressive or gross as it could have been. Oh well. And I learned that water boils slower if it has salt in it BUT because the salt water had to reach a higher temperature to boil, salted water will cook things faster than unsalted water. Good to know.

On Thursday we had a cookie-baking party to celebrate the kids' good work and wow - I've got some cute kids. There were only a couple moments in the cookie-making where I almost lost it! (Somehow I always think making cookies will be a fun project but with 10 little hands trying to help, it doesn't always work out quite that way!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I think Easter is the best holiday - the most meaningful and the least stressful. I get out the couple of little Easter decorations we own (I'm just not that into cutesy bunnies and pastels so I've never found much I really wanted as far as Easter decor) and add some fresh spring flowers and a bowl of pretty dyed eggs and voila - the house is all decorated for Easter. Then we have special (but very simple) activities we do each day of the week leading up to Easter - and this year all 5 kids have been old enough to really get into all this so it's been especially fun. Here are our basic traditions for Easter week as they've evolved over the last couple years (thanks to great ideas from books and friends and some trial and error):
  • On Palm Sunday, we re-enact Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (using weeds for palms and Jared for a donkey...). The twins were really into yelling "Hosana!" this year.
  • On Monday we re-enact Jesus cleansing the temple (and this year we went to the temple grounds to feel the peace there and imagine how it must have felt to Jesus to see people showing so little reverence for the temple - I think we'll have to make a trip to the temple a part of our regular Easter week traditions).
  • On Tuesday we dye eggs (the first one has to be red according to Bulgarian custom - the red represents death and the egg represents new life - great symbol of death and life coming together).
  • On Wednesday we talk about Christ's parables and miracles (the movie "Finding Faith in Christ" and some good books we have help with this).
  • On Thursday we're supposed to have a simple passover supper with lentil stew and pita bread and talk about the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane (but this year Jared and I had our own little passover supper on Tuesday night since our schedule worked out better that way and we just talked about the sacrament and the Last Supper and read about the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • On Friday we watch "The Lamb of God" and talk about the sadness of Christ's death.
  • Saturday is for the Easter Bunny and egg hunts and all that fun, silly stuff. We make deviled eggs and gorge ourselves on candy. This year it was great to have Mom, Dad, Tal, Anita, Julie and Eli with us for our egg hunt and deviled eggs as well as lots of other fun stuff on Saturday.
  • Easter morning we watch a clip of the resurrection (from the internet or one of the DVDs we have) first thing when we wake up and do an egg hunt for plastic eggs filled with symbols of Christ's last week on earth accompanied by scriptures that go with them (a piece of bread for the Last Supper, a rock for the tomb, a little cross, some olive leaves for the Garden of Gethsemane, some nails, some thorns...) plus they find their Easter baskets filled with a few treats and some new Sunday books as well as new Easter clothes. Then we eat eggs benedict and get ready for church.
Our traditions are still evolving - and probably always will be. But it's great to see the kids really starting to understand the real meaning of Easter - and it's great for me as a mom to spread things out over a whole week and do something little every day rather than all the big stuff all at once like at Christmas. I hope my kids will always think of Easter as the best holiday - a great combination of fun and meaning and treats and tokens of the first Easter.

Easter baskets and new clothes - everyone got a little toy, two new books (one "regular," one Sunday-themed church bag book or coloring book), a chocolate bunny
and a handful of little chocolate eggs and jelly beans
Easter outfits - orange and blue theme this year - got to go with
what's on sale combined with what's been handed down from cousins, etc.!
Have to admit it's pretty fun to dress up my little girl. And she doesn't mind it one bit.

Wonderful Visitors

Mom and Dad, Eli and Julie and Tal and his girlfriend Anita (the two of them came out from NYC) came down Friday night and we squeezed in all the fun we could until they had to head back to SLC on Saturday evening. We talked a lot and hiked through some of my favorite places (girls' walk in Snow Canyon first thing in the morning - with jogger Dad tagging along - then beautiful slot canyon hike in the afternoon) and did a fun Easter Egg hunt for the kids. Despite a horrible weather forecast, we were still able to spend much of the day outside and the overcast skies and spotty rain served to make all the colors more vibrant and saturated than usual.We all loved getting to know Anita who is such an interesting, good, bright, lovely person and the kids couldn't believe their good luck in having so many of their favorite people visiting at once. Tal and Anita treated the kids to lunch at Sonic (it was his tradition to take them there whenever he'd be driving through when he lived in Phoenix) and every adult took the time to really play with the kids, tell them stories and listen to them. I'm so grateful my kids have so many wonderful relatives in their lives.
Here's the whole wet group down at the pool after a funny egg hunt/swim party
in the cold drizzling rain - that was the wettest part of the day - so most people
figured they might get thoroughly wet and get in the warm pool and hot tub -
the kids thought it was the best Easter egg hunt ever!

The egg search is on - every kid had an adult or two to help them!

So excited about her bunny ears and new Easter basket

The "dragon tree" at the beginning of our gorgeous hike
Eli, Julie and the kids at the mouth of the slot canyon on the dragon hike

Mom's knee wasn't quite up for the next part of the hike so M and D sat
and drank in the beauty (and chatted about all of us) while we continued on up the slot canyon

This is the view Mom and Dad had while they waited - pretty nice huh? And now you can see why it wasn't a great idea for mom to go on - getting up over that waterfall isn't the easiest thing.

Pretty cute couple, don't you think? We like that Anita. And that Tal.
This is at the top of the second little waterfall we came to.

"Really, we like each other - don't let our constant bickering lately fool you!"

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Finally Springtime - in more ways than one

For St George, we've had a really cold, windy spring. By this time last year, it was hot, hot, hot but this year we've only had a couple days that have broken 70 degrees. So when it was in the upper 70's on Thursday and I saw people in the pool - it was high time that we all had a good swim. Jared met us down at the pool after work with pizza and it was a great little party. I was a bit worried the twins would be nervous about swimming since it's been so long - but Si jumped right in and Ollie just needed me to hang onto him for a bit and it all came back to him and they were both swimming like little dogs all over the pool. On afternoons like that, I look around me at the beautiful pool and spectacular surroundings and super cute kids and wonderful husband I have and feel like the luckiest person in the world.

This was a week where I FINALLY felt like I really accomplished a lot - I checked off way more on my list than I have in weeks and things seemed to move forward in a really good way. I love feeling like I'm really accomplishing things! I put together this new Neighborhood Committee that our development's new Board of Trustees asked me to do - when they initially asked me to head up this committee, I was flattered but worried about adding one more thing to my neverending list of things I've got going on. But it felt right to say yes and I jumped right in and found some good people to work with me and smoothed over some issues that had been going on and held our first meeting and it seems like it will be a very good thing - nice to bring together diverse neighbors and work to build a real sense of community in our disjointed development. I also got a character education program off the ground in Ashton's class that I've been trying to get around to all year long. And I sorted through all the kids' clothes to get rid of the many too small and stained things they keep trying to wear - I've got lots of stuff neatly bagged up for the DI and ready to pass off to Saydi. And I did a bunch of other stuff that's been on my mind forever. I do think a lot of my better accomplishment record for the week is because of my better attitude (see previous post on thought replacement). We'll see how this week goes!

We had houseguests on Wednesday night - our dear friends the Perrys - so good to stay up late talking with them and the kids didn't get enough of each other. Then Friday Derek and Janessa and family came for the weekend for another mountain bike race. So it's been non-stop fun around here! After our great day on Thursday, it was cold and rainy all day Friday - got everything nice and muddy for the bike race Saturday morning. Still, the race turned out great. It was pretty nippy out on the race course but the clouds went away and the mud wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected and everyone had a good experience. Everyone was able to improve their rankings from the last race and feel great about their ride. Liza raced for the first time and did a great job - she got 3rd for the girls in the 9 and under category (there were only like 8 girls in the race - but still...). I guess I've got a family of mountain bikers! I'm content to cheer with the twins for now. Racing across that crazy terrain doesn't really seem that fun to me.

Derek and Janessa left after the first session of Conference today and our kids were so sad to see them go - it's fun to see our kids really liking kids of our friends. Conference was great. It's easy to go into each conference wondering if there's going to be some exciting new announcement or big new admonitions. But really, it's always generally the same stuff - I guess we haven't mastered the basics so we need to keep hearing the good basic stuff in different formats. The messages of the gospel don't change - they aren't supposed to. WE'RE supposed to change. I'm going to do a better job this time round to really apply what was said - a couple goals a week tied to what was taught at conference. I do love how basic messages work so well for being applied in different ways to different people. We can all get exactly what we need out of Conference if we're really looking for it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Thought Replacement Therapy

I read this article in the Ensign last week that really struck a chord with me. It talked about how our thoughts can really drive us forward towards the things we want most - or they can bog us down and hold us back and lead us away from what we really want. Most of us work hard to control our actions - we all know we need to do more of some things and less of others. While it may not be easy to change our actions, it is quite easy to see where we need to exercise more control. But when it comes to our thoughts, do we think about what we think about enough? I've never really made a concerted and sustained effort to control my thoughts. I've let my thoughts control me way too much.

Just like many women need "hormone replacement therapy" to help them feel more "even" as they age, most people (especially women, it seems) need to adopt some "thought-replacement therapy" to feel not just more "even" but more happy. I should be happy. I have every wonderful thing I ever dreamed of in so many ways - a handsome, good, kind, smart, patient husband, 5 beautiful, fun, sweet kids, a lovely home, opportunities to use my talents in many directions, a great extended family... But I feel unhappy a lot of the time. And I feel like I've finally more fully put my finger on why. It's my thoughts. And I have the power to change them.

I often feel frustrated and angry and down. I don't need to feel these things nearly as much as I feel them. I can control these feelings. We live in this world where people are always blaming all the problems they have on how they were brought up or what their nature is or what has happened to them in their lives. But really, our happiness or sadness comes from the way we THINK about what happens more than from the actual happenings in our lives. We cannot choose what happens to us in some instances, but we can always choose what we THINK about things - if we learn to control our thoughts, that is.

The article I read pointed out that you can't just try to NOT think about something - you can't replace something with nothing in your head. To really get rid of a negative thought, you have to replace it with a new thought - and you have do do that again and again until your thought processes become permanently altered - until your negative rut is replaced by a new, positive rut.

So this week, I wrote down a list of the negative thoughts that pop up in my head way too often - and came up with new thoughts that I'm going to use to replace those negative thoughts with. So far, it's working pretty well. When the thought "wow, these kids are driving me crazy" pops into my mind, I replace that with "this moment will pass and I have great kids." When the thought "what in the world is Jared doing?" pops into my head, I replace it with "I'm sure Jared is doing his best as always." When the thought "I feel so overwhelmed" comes into my mind, I replace it with "OK, what's the next small thing on my list that I need to do - I'll just do that one thing for now." And you know what? It's really helping. I'm getting better at replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. And I'm realizing how often I do think negative thoughts and how poisonous that is to my spirit and my happiness.

I want to be happy. I should be happy. But to be happy, I have to CHOOSE it, with my thoughts as well as with my actions. This will be a long battle in my mind between the negative and the positive thoughts. But the positive ones will triumph!


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