Sunday, November 30, 2008

Warm Hands

When I was a teenager we lived for about 5 years in Iowa. The winters were both cold and humid--a chilling combination. Every time my mom got in the car to drive during the winter she always put on gloves. I, of course, was an invincible teen. I could not figure out what her problem was. Sure, the steering wheel was a little cold. But it was not that big of a deal. She could have driven just fine without them.

Now I am a mom. I live in the more temperate climate of North Carolina. But every time I drive in the winter I wear gloves. I have lots of pairs of gloves, so that I will always be able to find a pair. My teenagers probably wonder what my problem is--because it truly is not that cold.

Now I understand what my mother knew then. Being a mother means that there are many things that I cannot control. Being a mother means that there will be times that I will be tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and under-appreciated. Being a mother means that I will have to cook meals that get complained about by at least one child day after day. Being a mother means that there will always be someone frustrated that they do not have clean underwear, or can't find their shoes or jacket. I'm glad I am a mother, but it is also a lot of work.

And so I wear my gloves when it is cold. Whatever else is going on, at least my hands will be warm.

Thanks, mom.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Who Needs Toys, Anyway?

Every now and then I have to wonder--why on earth do we buy them toys???

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happiness is...

Specifically, Thanksgiving leftovers.

Apple and pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Turkey and twice-the-fat mashed potatoes with gravy for lunch. Yum, yum.

I think it's time for a nap...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful for my Friends

I love Thanksgiving. I especially love Thanksgiving when I am able to convince my wonderful friends to come and eat Thanksgiving dinner with us at our house. Here are some pictures from today's festivities.

After dinner we had the world premiere of the our summer beach vacation slideshow. We have a slideshow every year after our beach trip, but this year we took it up a notch and recorded the music ourselves. I have wonderful friends who record music on the piano for me, who sing into microphones for hours on end, and who let me take all sorts of pictures of them. And then they clap when the slideshow is over. I would say more about our really amazing slideshow, but it was pointed out tonight that we could really be sued for c0pyright violation this year. So I won't. But it was awesome. (As you can see the kids love making faux gang signs to show how really cool they are.)

By the time the slideshow was over everyone was ready for pie. We don't eat pie very often, but at Thanksgiving we go all out. And this year we had the added bonus of 6 very large cans of the spray whipped cream supplied by Ann. The kids were in heaven. Pie heaven.

After everyone had eaten as much pie as they dared we spread out throughout the house.

The little kids played computer games.

The medium kids played James Bond on the playstation. Or, as Jared calls it, James the Bond.

The big kids watched a movie up in my bedroom. (Still no remodeled loveseat, sorry--that's going to have to wait until after Christmas projects are done!)

And the very happy parents played games and talked.

I've been saving a quote from our last book club book for this post. It's one of my all time favorite quotes because it so perfectly describes one of the things I love about our friends. This is from Persuasion, by Jane Austen:

"My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

"You are mistaken," said he, gently, "that is not good company; that is the best..."

My life is enriched so much because of these friendships. When we lived in Idaho we had wonderful friends, but we were still also able to visit regularly with family members in Utah. Here in North Carolina it's a different matter entirely. Sometimes we've been able to go back to Utah and visit our families once a year; sometimes not. Some years we've been visited by family members; sometimes not. Our friends here have become like family to us. We have eaten together, celebrated together, grieved together, played together, and even vacationed together. We are already planning the family reunions we will have when all our kids are grown--we call them our "friendly reunions." We are lucky to experience so much of the "best" company.

I've really enjoyed blogging about things I'm thankful for this week. For every topic I wrote about, I thought of two or three other things that I also wanted to write about. I said in the first post that by today I wanted to feel marinated in gratitude.

And I do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm Thankful for my Kids

My cup truly runneth over...

I always wanted a lot of kids. I am the oldest of 10 kids, and all of my growing up life I thought that I wanted 10 kids as well. All it took was baby #1 to let me know that I probably was not cut out to be the mother of 10, but I still wanted a big family.

Then we found out that baby #1 had cystic fibrosis, and that any other children we had would have a 25% chance of also having cystic fibrosis. We were, of course, devastated.

Faced with that situation, there are many people who would decide not to have any more children. Russ & I wanted a family (which to us meant more than one child) too much for that to be an option. And so we had what we fondly referred to as our russian roulette babies--taking that chance each time that the baby could also have cystic fibrosis. Thankfully neither boy did.

One day when Cindy Lynn and Jason were both young, and before Josh was born, we were eating at a restaurant. Near us was another family. Throughout the meal I watched the children in this other family interact. There were about 5, and there were several that were teens and younger children as well. Before we left the restaurant I told Russ sadly that that was the kind of family I wanted, but knew we would never be able to have. I wanted a family that was big enough that there were big kids and little kids--not a small family of children all close together in age.

Well, you know the rest of our story. I wanted a fourth baby really bad, Russ was supportive of that desire, and the rest is history.

I had forgotten that family long ago in the restaurant, but it came back to me one day this summer while we were traveling and eating at a restaurant. I looked around me, and I though "I'll be darned. I got my dream family!"

I am not sure why I have been so richly blessed, but I am certainly grateful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just in Case you Wondered...

This is how Russ & the little kids keep themselves entertained when left alone with vacuum cleaner parts:

I'm Thankful For...

You knew it was just a matter of time, didn't you?

If you didn't, you must be just getting to know me.

I'm thankful for the beach.

PS--and for this really great picture taken by my talented daughter...

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Finally Did It.

I put links on my blog. Now you know who's blogs I'm reading. But I'm really worried that I missed someone. So if you think you should see your name there, but don't--it's probably because it's midnight and I'm brain dead!

I'm Thankful for my Calling

(Quick explanation for anyone who might be reading who is not a Mormon. Our church has no paid ministry. We call our congregation a "ward," and each member of the congregation has a job, which we call a "calling." These callings change from time to time according to our needs, the needs of the organizations that we serve in, and the inspiration of our leaders.)

A little over 4 years ago I was asked to be the secretary of an organization at church. It was a bad moment. I am not a naturally organized person and I was very overwhelmed in my life. It seemed like a bad combination. But after crying for a while, I accepted the calling. A day later I was told that things had changed (someone was moving) and so I was asked to be the primary chorister instead. (In charge of music for the 3-12 year old children.) I was thrilled. This was one of my favorite jobs. I knew I would be good at it and that I would love it. It was a wonderful experience. After about 3 years as the primary chorister, though, I started to have little promptings that my time was almost over. I quickly forgot those feelings and kept singing.

And then one day it happened. I was called into an office by one of our leaders and told that it was time for my calling as primary chorister to end. I was devastated. I was right in the middle of teaching a beautiful song! I loved the children and they loved me! How could they do this to me?? I cried. (Before you think I always cry when I get callings, these really were the only two times in my life. And I was very embarrassed at my lack of control.)

It got worse. I was asked to be the new ward music chairperson--the person over all of the music callings in our congregation. All I could think was that no one cared about this calling, and that I was being taken from a job I loved and being given one that didn't even matter. But I was assured that this calling did matter, and that was why they were asking me to do it.

And so I began. Slowly, at first. I tried to figure out who in the ward could sing. I made a list of people who played instruments. I helped the choir director in every way I could. And then I started organizing special music for church.

The first thing I organized was a double quartet singing a hymn arrangement with a lovely accompaniment. You know what? It was really lovely. Fabulous, even. And I didn't have to make pictures to teach them the song, like I would have in primary. (Pictures never were my strength...) It was a terrific experience.

The next month we had a violin duet. At the last minute I realized that I was going to have to accompany the violins (on the piano) and that was stressful, but I survived and they were great.

A month later I started working on something else--this time a woman's solo of one of my favorite hymns, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with piano, flute, and viola accompaniment. It was amazing. I knew that I would be out of town for the wedding on the Sunday that they would sing/play (I hate to use the word "perform" for what we do in church, you know) and so I started the practices sooner so that I would be able to hear the music and enjoy it before I left town. It still makes me smile to think about it, it was all so beautiful.

Shortly after I became the music chairperson our life got a little more hectic. Cindy Lynn started her series of what was eventually 3.5 hospitalizations in 6 months, she got engaged, we started planning a wedding, and I started sewing. I was a bit chagrined to realized after a few months that I was relieved to not have to spend so much time preparing every week to do the music in primary. I realized that I was grateful for the opportunity to go to Sunday School and Relief Society again and listen to the lessons. It was definitely what I needed in that moment.

I have also realized that my new calling does matter. I may not have three and four year olds running up to me every Sunday to give me sticky hugs and call me teacher and tell me that they love me. (Ok, some of them still do!) But this is giving me a chance to learn new things about church music. A chance to learn to work with other adults better. And a chance to add to our worship of the Savior through special music.

Someone moved into our ward about 18 months ago, and after a few months asked me, "aren't there every any special musical numbers in this ward?" I told her that no, we hadn't really had any for a long time, and that that was a shame. I think I'm getting a chance to put my money where my mouth was.

Right now I'm working on a woman's arrangement of "With Wondering Awe" for our women's Enrichment night in December, and another double quartet for church in a few weeks. I'm really excited about them both--I think they will add so much to our celebration of Christ's birth.

You know what? This really is a great calling. Now if I could just find a great duet for two women...I think I have exactly the right combination in mind...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm thankful for my tub...and my husband

The first time we walked through our home we walked into the master bathroom and looked together at the bathtub. It was what was optimistically called a "garden tub." Russ said, looking at it, "that will never work for you." He knew me well enough by then to know that I love taking baths, and that the "garden tub" was not going to be big enough to support my bath habit.

I know that there are many people in this world who have not taken a bath since they were children--I am not one of them. Last year when we were in such a huge drought I worried that there really wasn't enough water to have baths, and so I didn't have one very often. (Don't worry--I did shower instead!) But oh how I missed a nice hot bath with a good book on a cold winter day.

Anyway, back to the story of the bath tub. A couple of years after moving into this house I got a new tub for my birthday and Christmas (which are in the same month). The old one was about 3 1/2 feet long--this one is a full 72 inches long. It has molded arm rests and lumbar support. It holds a lot of hot water. It makes me happy, happy, happy. Every time I use it I think how much I love it.

But even better than thinking about how much I love the tub is that every time I take a bath I am reminded of how wonderful my husband is. Russ had never uninstalled/installed a bathtub before. I read about it on the internet and assured him that it wouldn't be too hard, and he was game to try it. Of course it turned out to be 3x more difficult than I expected, but he never complained. He hammered and sawed and moved things and hauled things and worked like crazy--and now I have that beautiful tub.

Russ is like that. Whatever crazy idea I get, he is there to help and support me. When I wanted to have "just one more baby" he agreed.

When we got a couple more than we'd expected he took such good care of me. He waited on my hand and foot--literally, since I was on bedrest for 10 weeks. After the first couple of weeks that all three babies were home from the hospital we hired night-nannies for two months. And after that he got up with them when they woke up at night. He knew that I was having a tough time with post-partum depression and that I needed as much sleep as possible, and he made it happen.

I could give a million examples. When I was the primary president Russ spent time in the nursery with our two year old. Now that I am the ward music chairperson Russ supervises a choir nursery. Every spring I go spend a week in Utah without any kids and he picks up the slack while I'm gone.

The funny thing is that he is always telling me that I'm wonderful. Well, if I am, it's only because I'm trying so hard to keep up with him...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Thankful for my House

For those of you who don't know the story of our house, here's the quick version. (Ok, quicker. There's no way to make this story quick!)

When our triplets were 6 months old we decided to build a house. We loved the house we were living in, but it was bulging at the seams from the addition of 3 babies and all of their paraphernalia--especially the 3 high chairs. So we put our old house on the market and signed with a builder to build a new house in a new neighborhood.

It was no fun. I kept the house as clean as I could, but with 3 babies it was difficult. It was sometimes impossible to leave quickly if people came to see the house, so quite often the house was shown with us in it. Within 6 weeks of us putting our house on the market our neighbors on each side and also across the street put their homes up for sale. Instead of a lovely residential neighborhood I was sure it now looked like there must be a toxic waste dump somewhere.

Three months into the building process the builder told us that if we couldn't take a bridge loan (promise that we would buy the house he was building even if our house didn't sell) then they would need to put the new house on the market. But he assured us that it was merely a formality--they had plenty of other new houses to sell in the new neighborhood and wouldn't really sell ours. Since we were in no position to own two houses, we said we would not take a bridge loan. And he put a for sale sign in front of our under-construction new house.

We kept showing the old house. And hired someone to do a bunch of painting. And showed it some more.

After 5 months we were pretty sure we were going to go crazy. We started to consider adding on to our old house instead, since it was looking like no one was ever going to buy it.

At 6 months the new house was done. We still had no buyer for the old house. One afternoon the builder called and said that he had a buyer for our new house. I immediately called our realtor and told her to take our old house off of the market. The next day someone made an offer on our old house.

I chose to believe that Heavenly Father doesn't make 24 hour mistakes, and that there must be more to his plan that we understood. Russ & I made an appointment with the realtor to go and look at some other houses later that week--since we had gone from having two houses to now having no house at all.

When we walked through the first house with the realtor that Friday the spirit spoke to me--louder and more clearly than at any other time in my life. It said, this is the house where you will raise your children. It still gives me chills to think about it.

Moving with 3 one-year olds was not easy. It was a long time before I could say that I was happy that we had moved, and even longer before the last box was unpacked. Through all of the difficulty, though, I was always very aware of Heavenly Father's generosity. The house we ended up in was bigger than the house that we built; it might not have had freshly painted walls (the paint was a nightmare!) or nice carpet but the rooms were just the right size for a family with 6 children. The yard is big and the screened in porch has been the site of many happy dinners.

The kitchen has miles of countertops, room enough for a table for a big family, and even plenty of room for those 3 high chairs.

The family room has almost enough built in book cases to hold all of our family's books.

The bathroom is beautiful now thanks to my amazing sister Laila's beautiful mural. (Which now includes a lighthouse behind the door!)

I could (obviously) go on and on. Our neighborhood is spacious and rural. We spend happy summer days at the pool and take bike rides on fall mornings to the park. I take long walks with my camera and am delighted by the beauty that is everywhere around me.

I can't think of a nicer place to live.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Thankful for....

I decided yesterday that I would celebrate the week leading up to Thanksgiving by posting about something I'm thankful for every day. Hopefully by Thursday I'll be completely marinated in gratitude for all of the bits and pieces of my wonderful life.

Today, for starters, I'm thankful for my wonderful book club. We met last night to discuss Jane Austen's "Persuasion," eat sugar-filled treats, and just hang out. Once again I came home way past bedtime, my mind filled with interesting thoughts, hilarious stories, and spiritual insights. Our conversation ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime and everywhere in between. And the addition of several adorable babies to hold made it that much better.

I'm thankful to have such a lovely group to meet with each month. To have wonderful books to read that enrich my life and add phrases like "I urge you earnestly" to my dreams. (Straight from the pages of Jane Austen, I promise you!) And to know such delightful women. I enjoy each one of them, and am always so sad when someone isn't able to come. Thanks gals, for adding so much happiness to my life!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Overheard Last Night

Last night was one of those awesome Wednesdays when everyone goes to their activity at church and leaves me HOME ALONE! Hooray!

The kids came back and the girls were just jazzed about having done yoga for their activity. They told me in glowing terms just how wonderful yoga is.

Rachel: Mom, if you're every really stressed you really should do yoga--it will totally relax you!

Jared: Good idea--Mom is like that a lot.

I guess it's yoga time???

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After the Inspiration

One of my sisters is an amazing woman. (Actually all of my sisters are amazing women, but right now I'm just going to talk about one of them.)

My sister Andra has 8 kids. That, in and of itself, is amazing to me. But even more amazing to me is the fact that Andra and her husband moved to this house when their first child was a baby, and moved out of it after their 8th baby was born.

This house has 4 small bedrooms, is less than 2000 square feet, and the only way they managed to live there so long was by adding on to the kitchen in back of the house. This was one crowded house, and my sister handled the close quarters with a lot of grace.

Several years ago she and her husband decided that it was time to divide their acreage and build another house on it--a house that would be big enough for all of their children. The process was long, laborious, and expensive. There were problems at every step of the way and my sister and brother-in-law relied on a lot of prayer to help them know which direction to take. It was also a tremendous amount of work for both of them--most of my sister's part of that work (getting the old house ready to sell, which involved huge amounts of packing away and painting while her husband built a garage onto the old house to make it more marketable) having to be done during her last pregnancy or in the first few months after the baby was born. I was astounded at what she was able to accomplish. Again, she gave credit to the Lord for endowing her with extra stamina for the task at hand. And in the end, it all seemed worth it.

She and her family moved into the new house and she said that for the first time in years she felt like she had room to breathe. They staged the old house, hoping that it would sell quickly. They desperately needed the equity from the old house to bring the mortgage on the new house down to a manageable level.

Instead the sub-prime mortage crisis happened.

After months and months of praying that the house would sell quickly, they decided that they would go ahead and rent the old house and wait for a better time to sell. This at least meant that someone else was paying the mortgage payment on the old house, but they were unable to free up the equity from the old house to get a lower mortgage payment on the new house.

Now my sister, mother of 8 with 3 children preschool children, is looking for a part-time job. Her husband already works 2 jobs, but his income is not enough for the new, big mortgage. Something has to happen.

One of the last times I talked to her I offered the consolation that at least they are dealing with this stress from the roominess of the new house. She took no comfort in this thought, and said that she wished that she was still living in the crowded little house and had never built the big house.

Several weeks ago someone made a comment that has stuck with me. She said that we assume, when we are lead by the Lord in a particular direction, that following that guidance means that things will turn out "well" for us. We assume that feeling prompted to marry a specific person means that the marriage will go well, the spouse will be both faithful and kind. If we feel guided to take a new job then the job situation will be pleasant. And if we feel guided to build a new house, then certainly the old house will sell quickly, or at least before the pain is overwhelming. If things don't work out in these nice ways we doubt that we actually did receive revelation from the Lord--because he certainly wouldn't have put us in these difficult and painful situations.

Or would he?

I think we humans are creatures of comfort. We want it. We expect it. And when we don't get it, we are something must be wrong.

But what if God's greatest concern is not our comfort? C.S. Lewis touches on this in his book The Problem of Pain.

Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us ... While what we call "our own life" remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make "our own life" less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness?

Now I don't think by any means that God always wants us to be stressed and unhappy. I think that sometimes he provides moments of respite in our lives where things are relatively calm and problem free. But a life made entirely of these calm moments would never shape us into that thing that is our ultimate and eternal goal; becoming like him. And we know that this is his goal as well.

I once read a quote by Spencer W. Kimball that said something to the effect that if every prayer for relief of adversity was answered immediately, the entire plan of God would be thwarted.

Does this mean that God causes or leads us into every hard thing in our lives? I don't think so. Some things just happen. Some things happen as a consequence of other people's agency. But I do think that sometimes God leads us into situations because he knows that we need the growth that can occur there.

I think in the end, when Andra reaches another moment of comfort in her life, she will look back on this time and say what most of us say; that she would never want to do it again. But also that she wouldn't ever want to give up the ways that she grew or the things that she learned during this most difficult time. I'm sure that she will have learned a lot about herself, and a lot about God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quiet Promptings

Isn't it the nicest of all feelings to have what seems to be a good idea, and then to realize later that perhaps it wasn't your idea after all???

Help for the Tooth Fairy

Rachel lost a tooth in a traumatic manner tonight. I was up in my room fantasizing about sleeping for 15 minutes before the missionaries arrived for dinner; instead I was yanked back to reality by hysterical screaming downstairs and Jason pounding up the stairs and into my room to announce that Jared had knocked out one of Rachel's permanent teeth. I was not excited.

Fortunately when I got downstairs and checked out her mouth I quickly saw that her four bottom permanent teeth were still intact--but that Jared and his rope, which she had been holding between her teeth, had indeed pulled out her bottom canine tooth.

During dinner she told Russ and the missionaries the scary story and showed them the tooth in it's plastic baggie. Russ, brilliant man that he is, suggested that she give the tooth fairy a little more help this time by leaving a note strategically positioned on the stairs to direct the tooth fairy in the right direction. (Or perhaps to remind her on her way to bed...) So now I am off to raid my wallet for tooth fairy change. How nice that I won't be scrambling to repair the problem in the morning!

I was only going to include that picture, but I'm sure you want to see a closeup of Rachel's interpretation of the Tooth Fairy.

How low is too low?

Adventures in turning down the heat...

Last month I looked at our bank account for the first time in almost 6 months. One of the things I noticed was that the propane company hadn't drafted (taken money out) of our bank account that month. Or, when I looked, the month before. Or the month before that. Something was wrong.

Every year that we've lived here we've signed up for what they call "Level pay" for both our electricity and our propane. Otherwise the electricity use would bankrupt us in the summer, likewise the propane in the winter. So I called the propane company. Where the helpful woman looked up my account and said that I had not signed up for level pay last June. I assured her that I had; that I had signed up for the 7 years previous to this one and that there was no reason to change now. And she very helpfully said that they had no record of that, but if I brought my $1400 down to the propane office that would get me back on to the level pay plan. Otherwise this winter we would be on the pay as you go plan.


I somehow think not!

I thanked her, trying to sound calm and not like I was considering swearing, (and I am a non-swearing person) and got off the phone.

We've always cooled and heated our house to comfort. When you spread the payments out over the whole year it spreads the pain, and you don't see an immediate incentive to conserve energy and/or money. That changed with one phone call.

I looked at my children and decided that if it was warm enough in our house for them to be comfortable in short sleeves and bare was too warm. And so I re-programmed the programmable thermostats. I changed the daytime temperature from 71 to 69, and the night-time temperature from 69 to 65. And told the little kids to put on some socks.

It hasn't been too bad. Sure, 69 was significantly cooler than 71. I've been wearing more sweaters. They've been wearing more socks. I thought--we can turn it down even farther!

I turned it down to 68 during the day, and 62 at night. Now here's how I decided what time we should let the house cool down to 62. Russ and I have been trying to go walking every morning at 6:15. It really kills me to get up that early, but to be able to combine my exercise with 20 extra minutes of conversation with that wonderful man, I'll do it! We both know, though, that we need to be in bed by 10pm to be able to get up at 6am. So I set the thermostats to cool down to 62 at 10pm.

or rather,

Last night Russ had to work late. Happy for us he comes home, spends a few minutes with the little kids, and then works here until late. While he was working I was paying the bills which also took a long time. I didn't notice too much that the house had gotten cold because I was still wearing my warm clothes. (And far too focused on the pain in my mouth from an earlier visit to the orthodontist!) At 11pm we decided that it was time to go to bed.

Without really thinking about the temperature I brushed my teeth and washed my face and pulled off my nice, warm clothes. BRRR!!! I was suddenly freezing! Cold pajamas did not make me feel much better, and did you know that flannel sheets that have been in a 62 degree room are downright chilly! We both ran for the bed and jumped under the covers and lay there shivering and laughing. I realized that I had forgotten the rubber band for my braces, and did a 50 yard dash back to the bathroom to grab one. I didn't even put it in--I figured I could do that under the covers!

I was worried about the little kids, who tend to sleep in strange positions not always under the covers. But it was too cold to go check on them! Fortunately their dad is made of sterner (or at least warmer) stuff than their mom, and he got up, wrapped himself in my nap blanket, and made sure they were ok.

I'm thinking that perhaps 62 is, after all, too low. At least for me!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading Adventures

The little kids and I started a new read-aloud book tonight. I picked a very old book called "Swallows and Amazons" that I remember enjoying when Cindy Lynn was younger. It is the story of 4 young siblings who sail to an uninhabited island in the lake district of England and spend their vacation camping there. I thought that it would be a fun to read about their adventures.

And so we started reading. First we met Roger, who is no longer the youngest in the family thanks to a baby called "fat Vicky." (Truly.) Then we met John, the oldest brother, and Susan, the older sister. And finally, the sister just older than Roger. Her name? Funny you should ask. Because her name is Titty. Yep. Apparently in 1930's England there were girls named Titty.

I'm hoping that I can read all 351 pages without losing my voice, and without forgetting to substitute "Betty" for "Titty."

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sneak Peek: the loveseat in progress

I started in on the body of the loveseat today. I thought I'd show you how it's looking now. If you remember, when you last saw it it looked like this:

Here are some of the changed bits & pieces after a session with the coping saw and the skill saw. I can't wait to see what it looks like when I'm done!
narrower arms

reshaped sides,
no knobs

An act for our next ward talent show

I have been laughing at this for days. I think we need a group of men to do this the next time we have a ward talent show. I can think of several right off of the top of my head who would be great!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why We Live This Way

The story is told by a church leader that when his children were younger, as they would be on their way to church they would occasionally pass a car pulling a boat. His children would ask, "Why can't we got waterskiing today instead of to church?"

He said that most of the time he would try to remind his children how much happier they were because of their church activity.

One Sunday they passed a family who was excitedly loading their skiis into their car. One of his sons looked at him, and said with a sly grin, "They're not really happy, huh Dad?"

Our children often wonder how it is that people who choose not to obey God's commandments are not "punished" for their lack of obedience. It seems pretty obvious that people who break the Sabbath by spending their day on the lake in a boat instead of worshipping at church should not be able to have fun, right?

While an immediate system of cause & effect like that might seem at first glance to be attractive, it doesn't fit in with God's ultimate desire that we exercise agency in our decisions here on earth. If there was a negative consequence—a punishment—every time we broke one of God's commandments, we would probably stop breaking them. But it would be because of our fear of the consequence—not because of our love for God. And ultimately God doesn't want our fearful obedience, he wants our loving obedience. He wants our hearts.

In Sunday School this week we read some verses from Malachi that covered this topic that I had never really noticed before. I thought it was beautiful, and so for Family Night last night we discussed these verses.

I'm using the NIV translation, although we were using the KJV in Sunday School. In Malachi 3:14 & 15 it reads:

You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?

But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.'

I think we all wonder about this. Why is it that people who don't even seem to know the Lord thrive? Why aren't some who are devout believers blessed more?

The next verses, 16-17, have a lovely answer.

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

"On the day when I act," says the LORD Almighty, "they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

In the KJV verse 17 says:

"And they shall be mine," saith the Lord of Hosts, "in that day when I make up my jewels..."

It is so easy to forget what the real purpose of life is. To think that the greatest good is ease, or entertainment, or financial well-being. Certainly all of those things have their place. But here is the real purpose of life—to live so that in the end God will say of me "she is my treasured possession," "she is one of my jewels." How beautiful is that?

(Lindsay, thanks for a great lesson, and as always, for making me think!)

Lrning at the Seweeng Musheen

How was a mother to resist that plea? (Don't get me wrong--I do resist plenty of pleas!) All day I searched my brain frantically to figure out where the "lnr to sew" book was. I saw it recently, but can't remember where. When I found myself getting ready to quickly make some pillowcases in the afternoon (long story) I realized--this is the perfect opportunity to lrn! All straight sewing! And so I called Jenna upstairs. I put the pedal on a stool and let her sit on my lap and sew.

Now Rachel is excited to be able to lrn to sew on the other pillowcase today.

I'll be so sad when they're too big to sit on my lap anymore...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Fall Hike

Each fall for the last several years we've gone with friends and taken a hike in one of the nearby state parks to look at the leaves. Yesterday afternoon we met at the Cole Mill access, walked down to the river, and turned left. (Last year we turned right.) This way we got to hike under the Guess Road bridge, which I really enjoyed.

Since Russ & the big boys were at the UNC football game working the scout's concession booth, it was just me and the little kids.

We were joined by the Rogersons and the Emerys.

We decided that we should have gone last week--the leaves were definitely past their peak. Fortunately there were still great photo opportunities.

The Emery boys introduced a whole new level of river play into our day.

And pretty soon everyone was in.

Neither season nor clothing was an obstacle.

In the end, all of the kids except for Elise were soaking wet.

Fortunately for my kids and my van there were an abundance of jackets in the van. Good thing--because I made them strip to their underwear before they got in!

Such a nice day...sigh...