Thursday, November 27, 2014

No.11 | Motherhood

A gratitude list would not be complete before I have something to say about my favorite little things.

This one is 3.5 years old. I love watching him learn new things every day. He is fun and smart and sweet. I love his ears, his smile, the way he says "I love you, Mom!" Even the face he makes when he has just burped. A mixture of pride and mischievousness... I love to watch him play. He is my sweet heart. He is very aware and concerned about things and people around him.

This one is 1 year old. Happy, beautiful, smart, and busy. She has mastered walking and almost mastered running skills. (She needs these for when she steals something from her brother and tries to run away.) She is already talking a little bit too! She can tell me when she wants milk, when she wants "mo(re)", and when she is "dunnn." She is happy to say, "Hi!" when someone walks into the room. She is learning so much, and she brings us so much joy.

I just love being their mother. I'm grateful to get to spend my days with these little ones! My biggest (little) blessings!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No.10 | Everyday Miracles

It has been a rough few days here at home. The little one has one of those "go-big-or-go-home" personalities and it seems that her body has responded. 4 molars all at once makes for a miserable time the past week. Besides the teeth we've been watching a fever all over the place and reach up to 104... and... lets just say I know what a used tissue feels like... Turns out its a sinus infection.

All this drama has really given me perspective on things to be grateful for this week. Its all about the little things people. Those things that happen whether we recognize them or not... the every day, mundane, yet powerfully miraculous things I take for granted most days. For example:

Running water or even one step further... indoor plumbing. What greater gift and blessing than that of a faucet that will emit forth clean, drinkable, bathe-able, warm (if needed) water? I mean seriously?!

Along those lines, I can't forget electricity. Its kind of a big deal... but the things it makes possible are little things that are easily overlooked. PBS would not be watchable, there would be not Pinterest or internet... No cozy lights (or heat...), no working oven (or microwave... and that makes microwave popcorn difficult to pop...). No clean laundry. Just to name a few of my everyday necessities...

How about a pen and paper. Cardboard boxes. Blanket forts. Zippers and buttons. The magic clinging sound of change in a jar. Velcro shoe fasteners. Yoga pants and over sized T-shirts. (maybe I shouldn't admit to that one...) Basically, life is a miracle. Thank goodness!

Friday, November 21, 2014

No.9 | Nature

I have already expressed how grateful I am about the physical ability I have to enjoy the beautiful world around me, but as I got to thinking about it, that beautiful world in and of itself is worth at least a post of its own.

Nature is peaceful, it is ever changing, it is beautiful and mystifying. I love to sit on the porch during a thunderstorm. I love the sound and smell of the rain, the power of the thunder, and the beauty of the bolts of light that flash across the sky. Yet, I love watching the snowflakes fall from a gray sky and land softly in a glittering blanket covering the world below. And I am known to go out of my way to step on a particularly crunchy looking leaf...(and am terribly disappointed if it fails to give a satisfying crunch)

Nature has the ability to stir the soul into contemplation. One can feel an amazing range of emotions while out in nature. I think about the scenes I have looked over at overlook points in the mountains. I feel as though I can see for forever. I can't help but feel small when faced with such majesty and immense space. Yet, I am amazed that I still have a part, however small, in the grand scheme of things. Its humbling and empowering all at the same time.

A night walk down the lane to the creek in my favorite place in the world reveals a Milky Way that is truly beautiful to behold. Yet, there is great beauty in watching humming birds busy flitting from flower to flower.

There is so much to love about the world we live in. We should slow down and truly recognize the magic that happens around us every day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No.8 | My Body

It might seem a little strange to actually post my thoughts on my own body. But I am constantly amazed at all the amazing things that it can do. It can heal little cuts and massive surgery. I can walk, run, or crawl wherever I need it to take me. I can hear, see, taste, touch, and smell the world around me (for better or for worse) and I have a mind that works well enough that I can think and reason for myself.

There are days (ok more often than I would like to admit...) that I may wish the mirror portrayed a skinnier, stronger, more attractive woman. I may cry about the dissonance I have between what I want to look like (and what society tells me I should be) and what the reality is. But I have to remind myself that it does a lot for me. (That all said, please be kind regarding the pictures I chose to post here... It was a difficult one to choose.)

I have two hands that open and close. Do you know just what a miracle that is?! Its HUGE. I can type, grab objects, and wear gloves and mittens. I may have a few scars, but they remind me of the miracles I have witnessed and what an awesome healer my body is.

I carried two babies (big ones, I might add...) to full term. They were healthy, I was healthy, and there were few complications. I am so very grateful for those blessings, and the little ones running around to constantly remind me of what a miracle that whole process is...

I can eat what I want. That seems to be a theme for me these days. While I shouldn't eat just anything... I have no allergies. I am blessed that this is not something that I have to worry about. I have the physical ability to eat gluten, sugar, milk... meat... and I have the control over my body to decide what I will eat and what I will not.

Overall. I am just grateful for a body that does what it is supposed to do. I am grateful for my health, the health of my family, and the blessing of living where we are close enough to doctors that can help us when we do need the help.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No. 7 | "Cozy"

The word "cozy" just feels warm doesn't it?! After spending a weekend outside helping with a yard sale... I have a new appreciation for the idea of cozy.

So included in my list of gratitude for the month is: my Coco-Motion (perfect hot chocolate every time), Torani's Salted Caramel flavored syrup, my ruby slippers, and my luxury soft blanket. I am also loving my warm coat, fleece lined leggings (worn under your pants for an extra layer of warmth) and mittens with the ability to actually use my phone...

My ruby slippers and my favorite snuggle blanket

I am grateful for a home and a furnace that works. I am protected from the elements and can enjoy a "cozy" time on a cold winter day. I am grateful for a car that runs efficiently, with a heater and a radio that works. (believe me, the radio must play the "McQueen Song" or life is nearly over according to the three year old...)

I am grateful for the warmth of the sunshine. And I am grateful that the snow did not fall despite the forecast. I am grateful for the "cozy" feeling you get when you are able to help someone who really needs it. I may not be able to give much, but I have time, that is my greatest gift to give and I am happy to give it to my friends whom I love dearly.

Friday, November 14, 2014

No. 6 | Friendship

I have been blessed with the most amazingly wonderful friends. I love and adore each of them in ways I cannot describe and I will fail miserably if I attempt such an endeavor. I could spend hours and days on each beautiful woman and what she has done for me and for my family.

But I have thought a lot about friendship recently. I attended my ward relief society meeting recently. Upon returning home I realized that I had been comfortable enough to be my crazy self, and abandon the "socially acceptable adult" shell I tend to put up when I don't know or am uncomfortable around people. I bounced around, made dumb jokes, and had some real conversations with the ladies there. I am so grateful to these women.

These women I live by, and get to associate with weekly at church. They are fabulous and amazing examples to me. I have enjoyed getting to know them and their families. They are real, they are smart, they don't judge, they are kind and amazing and wonderful. I have cried in front of most of them (I teach once a month... so its a fairly regular occurence...) and I enjoy laughing and eating and chatting with them all! There are many here who know and understand what I am going through. They have kids, we all deal with laundry, messy houses, and the "what to cook for dinner"every night question... These women are inspirations to me as they go through life and its challenges with grace and dignity.

I would do anything for them. And I am grateful that I can consider them as friends. I am grateful to the Lord for directing us to this house so I can have these new friends in my life. Thank you all.

PS. No pictures of these beautiful ladies... You can trust me on that though. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No. 5 | Lil' Brother

So I have this amazing guy in my life. He's my brother. I kinda think he's crazy, but he would easily blame that on me, so we'll keep it under wraps.

He's always been pretty cool.

I love this guy! I am proud of the man he is becoming and for the mission he served to Florida. I am very happy to have him home. My children absolutely adore Uncle Ben. He is in every prayer Brayden says. He is so good to play with them, to let Brayden come down and bang on his drum set or drag him around the playground at the park. Brayden and Madi look up to him. So do I. Literally... and as an example of quiet strength.

He is an insanely talented musician. He has a good ear for music. He plays the drums, the guitar, the banjo, and the piano. He writes his own songs and can play a lot of other song favorites. He can hold his own in a conversation of classic rock with my Dad, and he is patient enough to begin my guitar lessons with me.

He is my one and only. My other half growing up. I remember not being too thrilled about a little brother for a while when he was new to the family. But most of my childhood memories include him. We were great friends as we grew up. We could play, talk, and travel together without any trouble. We both love history, learning, and music. We love adventure, the outdoors, and good food. I seriously love him more than I can express. I don't know what I would do without him.

I know he's got a big head now... but I can't help but be grateful for the brother God gave to me. (Even if I told him we found him under a rock). Love you bro!

These pictures were taken 5 years ago. We should update our pictures more often... 

I can make him laugh every once in a while... 

Monday, November 10, 2014

No. 4 | Knowledge

Knowledge is power. But more than that, it is fun. At least for me. I am grateful for my ability and love for learning new things. I am grateful for the ability to read, to analyze, and to listen. I am grateful for school, for teachers, for skills that can be passed on.

I am grateful my mother was patient enough to teach me how to crochet and for the patterns and tutorials at my disposal for me to continue to improve and try new techniques and patterns.

I am grateful for a good read. I am grateful for adventure, romance, fantasy I can live through a book. I am grateful for talented people who can write such beautiful and intriguing novels for the enjoyment of others.

I am grateful for my education and the chance I have to finish my degree through an online program. I am so blessed to have the resources and information I could ever need or want right at my fingertips. I take that technology for granted.

Friday, November 7, 2014

No. 3 | Music

Music is medicine for the soul.. at least for my soul. At least for me it is. Nothing helps my mood better than a good song. Whether it be pop rock or instrumental, country or the favorite movie soundtrack (currently that would be the "McQueen Song" aka. Real Gone by Sheryl Crow). I sing in the car, I sing with (and to) my kids, I sing in the shower and while I put on my makeup.

I am a lover of dancing too. I have been known to dance while cleaning in the kitchen... and I danced ballroom in high school. I don't dance as much as I used to, but we occasionally have dance parties in our living room in the afternoon to the kids' favorite songs.

I enjoy concerts too! I enjoy participating with others who have been blessed with insane musical abilities. I have a dream to one day go to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert... but I always enjoy a MoTab concert, a Brad Paisley show, or a friend's recital and/or concerts.

I am grateful for the ability I have, the musical talents as well as the physical ability to hear, play and enjoy the gift music gives to the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

No. 2 | My Superhero

It is difficult to put into words just how much I love and adore this man! Prepare for a very poor attempt at just that... It will be one of those mushy posts. But the first thing that comes to mind on my gratitude list is my husband. And I am so very lucky that he is mine! (My father tells me all the time that I "got a good one." and I always agree!)We have been married for 5 years. We have lived in 3 places, have had 2 kids, and have been through some rough patches. We have laughed, cried, stressed, and adventured together. What a life we have ahead of us!

He is a hard worker, and enjoys being the protector, provider, and overall superhero for our family. He works all day and comes home to play with the kids, change diapers, and help me with the dishes. Then, as if that weren't enough, he teaches the young men every Sunday, and goes to class every Tuesday and Thursday night so he can get his Master's degree. He is my superhero.

I admire his strength and his optimism in everything. He is a tough guy when he needs to be, but is so very sweet and gentile when he needs to take care of a sick one here at home. Other qualities I admire about him include: intelligent, friendly, and kind. He is the peacemaker in every situation.

He brings me flowers on my rough days, and whispers sweet nothings in my ear just to get a reaction. He doesn't care what I look like today, and encourages me in whatever crazy endeavor I happen to be working on at the time. He puts up with me throwing crazy parties and helps me prepare. (He squeezed 200+ worms out of straws for me just last week!) He makes me laugh, he loves to make the children laugh. He is loyal and worthy for his priesthood responsibilities and takes great care in performing his duties when and where he is needed.

My heart still flutters at the thought of a lifetime spent with him. I love his smile, I love the silly faces, I love the spark of passion lighting his eyes when he works on a new project. I love to be near him, curled up watching a movie, watching football (its more difficult to snuggle with football on..), just talking in the car. He holds my hand every chance he gets. I can't imagine life without him. Love you Babe!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grandma Alice

I have spent a year trying to write this very post. I have visited and written and re-written it so many times I have lost count. But it is important to post my feelings about my dear grandmother.

It is difficult to fully appreciate the significance and influence one person may have on another until they have passed from this life, leaving a void. I want to tell you about an incredible woman left an unexplained void in my life only a year ago.

Isn't she positively beautiful?!

My connection to her starts on my birthday. That's right, the day I was born. I have always been proud of the fact that I share my special day with my Grandmother. It is the reason that I have the privilege to share her name as well. My parents gave me her name as my middle name. When I was young, I felt that made me very special... and it does. Her legacy is one that I hope to live up to.

There are so many fond memories that run through my mind when I think about visiting her. She lived on a ranch. As a child you could not ask for a more magical place to visit. There were cats to hunt (since they were feral, it was a literal hunt for the kittens if I wanted to hold one, which I always did), ATVs to ride, and mountains to explore. Every night after dinner we would wash the dishes in the sink, then take the scraps out to "feed the chickens." That usually meant that I got to toss the feed everywhere and Grandma would collect the eggs (because those chickens were mean!). Then I would accompany her to the horse barn where I would climb on the hay bales and watch her lift those heavy loads of feed into their bins. I thought she must be the strongest woman in the world... and I still believe it.

There were always hummingbirds flitting from the feeders on the back porch, and adventures to be had everywhere you looked. It is a heaven on earth and that ranch has a special place in my heart. But what made that place so special was Grandma. So many times we would arrive there late at night, she would wait up for us, the heater would be on in the front room, and we would find her there waiting to welcome us home. Some times, despite the hour, we would stay up and chat or play a game of cards.

She was so gifted and talented in her ability to create beautiful things. She took up toll painting and painted beautiful things on plates that lined her living room. She also painted the grand kids special Christmas ornaments for years. They are still the ornaments that go on my tree today. They are beautiful and I know that she thought of me as she made them. I looked forward to those ornaments every year.

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother happened on a weekend that the horses got out through the gate. They made their way to the ponds, where we could see them from the porch. At that time, Grandma used an old golf cart to get around the ranch... When we saw the horses finding the greener grass on the other side, she got up and went out the door. All of the sudden, around the corner of the house we see Grandma on her golf cart. She drove around them and herded those two horses back through the fence with amazing speed and agility. I don't know if John Wayne could have done a better job, and it made it better that she was driving a golf cart.

She is an inspiration to me. She did not live an easy life. Hers was a journey of heartache and loneliness. Yet I didn't get the sense that she lived with self-pity nor did she seem to need (or want) help from everyone. She didn't wish for things to be better. She made things work for her, or she did without.

I never met my grandpa, he passed away long before I came around. I loved to have her tell me the story of how she met him. She always smiled a sly smile when she told me how she went to a dance with a another guy and left with "Bob." I like to think that their reunion was a sweet one, though she probably gave him a stern talking to about leaving her there for so long...

It was difficult for me to watch her body deteriorate over time. The difficult life she led left her body in pretty bad repair... She spent a long time in the nursing home in town. I remember when she was moved there because it was physically impossible to live on the ranch alone. I remember feeling like the woman in that room was not my grandmother. I hated to see such a free, independent spirit stuck in a bare hospital room... Her mind was sharp as a tack until the day she died. Her body just wouldn't comply... She had to adjust. And she did. That fiery lady I knew and loved came back. She eventually recovered enough to take trips to the town park and we would have to run to keep up with her motorized wheelchair. That time was full of all sorts of new kinds of memories.

Family was so very important to her. She loved each of her children so much I could see it in her face when she talked about them. Every inch of her wall was covered with of pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She loved to point to each one and tell us about this baby or that event. And I will never forget the glow of joy on her face when she was able to go to the St. George temple to have her son sealed to her. I am so glad I got to be there for such a tender moment for her.
Brayden's first time to Kanab. We got a 4 generation picture there at the city park!

St. George Temple. Grandma was so happy, it made me cry. 

I learned from her that your story can be simple and less glamorous than the rest of the world consider great, but it is all about your family. She was a rock, a solid foundation for her family. A haven for those traveling (at least she was for me). She exemplifies strength, courage, wisdom, patience, unconditional love, all with a sense of humor wrapped up in one. She is my hero.

My ability to write does not do this amazing woman justice. I admire her and hope to live up to the legacy she left for me. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to know such an incredible woman, and I know the world is a better place because of the 91 1/2 years she spent in it.

I love her and I miss her so much. But I am so very grateful for the knowledge of eternal families. I am glad to know that I get to see her, meet my grandpa, and be with them again. And so I wish her all the blessings of heaven. Until we meet again dear Grandma Alice. Say hello to everyone for me!


Monday, November 3, 2014

No.1 | Testimony

I'm a Mormon. I am proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for my affiliation to this organization, and for my knowledge and faith in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for Joseph Smith. He saw God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ as a boy. As a result he was persecuted and led a difficult life, but was able to bring forth the restoration of the Gospel to its fullest. He translated the golden plates into what we now call The Book of Mormon (its a fantastic read, if you are interested, I can find you a copy). He set up the church to be directed by the Lord and he renewed the belief that God still speaks to us today.

I am grateful for Thomas S. Monson who is the living prophet of God on the earth today. He is an incredible man who lives a Christ-like life and serves as an inspiring example of a life of service. I hope to be as good and kind as he is. I am also grateful for the messages he gives and the inspiration he is entitled to. He is the mouthpiece for God and I am grateful to know that if I follow his council and teachings, I will not be led astray.

I am grateful for personal revelation. I know God hears and answers my prayers and it brings great peace and comfort, strength and courage to me through the struggles and events in my life. I do not know where I would be in this lonely world without knowing that God knows and loves me as one of his divine daughters. I cannot imagine living life without this knowledge and I am grateful to be able to acknowledge this gift to the world!

I am grateful for Temples. Not only are they beautiful, they bring a sense of peace to the hectic and busy world around me. Once inside I am able to clear my mind and focus on an eternal perspective. It is through these holy places that we are promised family ties that will last through the eternities. Death looses its sting when you can be reminded of the eternal perspective every time you visit the temple. I love to visit these magnificent buildings and am grateful that I have so many nearby.

And, of course, what would a testimony be without gratitude for my Savior? He knows and understands me. It is through his atonement that he has the ability to know and succor us in our struggles. It is not only sin that he suffered through. He has been through my pain, he understands my heartbreaks, he lifts me up to bear the burdens I have been called to bear. In a similar fashion, he rejoices for me in my successes and in my happiness. He does not care what I look like, how much I weigh, or whether I got straight A's in high school. He loves me for me, and he has been there for me and will continue to be. I am humbled to have Him and His atonement at my disposal and am grateful for his priceless gift to me.

Blessing No. 1: A Testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Gospel to the Earth in the Latter days.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thanksgiving: The Holiday In-Between

I know it seems a little cliche to spend November posting about what I am thankful for. But I am overdue in writing and I miss it terribly.

I have always felt that Thanksgiving doesn't get the attention it deserves as one of the best holidays of the year. I know I love me some Halloween fun, and some Christmas Spirit... but Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, to slow down to enjoy the things we already have, and to pay tribute to the good things in our lives. I hope to do my blessings justice this year as I write about those people and blessings that I consider most dear.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween 2014

This year's party was extremely low key (read "casual fun") as I went totally crazy a little overboard last year... but we still had a blast with our guests and enjoy ourselves every year. And yes, I am already working on a theme ideas for next year! Mwahahaha!

I always hope that my guests have fun. I enjoy getting everyone together for a bunch of craziness. And I love seeing everyone's creative costumes! Its always an adventure!

Cutest Pirate family EVER. 

Itsy Bitsy Spider, Kevin (from UP), Cheshire Cat, my little princess Aurora

Gal Pals from the frontier.

Balloons were a fun addition this year.

Maleficent and her "Beastie"

Most Creative: Glow-in-the-dark Stick Figures

Disney Family: Walt, Mickey, Maleficent, Aurora 

Wonderland never looked so good! 

Thanks to all who came! See you next year!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Party! Retro Inspired Kitchen Bridal Shower

A little family history to start of today's party post! There once was a family of all girls. 6 sisters to be exact. They all lived relatively close and that benefited their children who LOVED to get together with the cousins. Meet the "Three Amigos" as we were so lovingly referred to... All close in age and all interested in Barbies, and boys, and all chatterboxes. We spent most family gatherings hidden in a corner (or girls bathroom as necessary...) somewhere so our brothers wouldn't bother us.

Well, we grew up. (Funny how that works isn't it?!) The oldest amigo (that's me) got married. Well, 4 short years later, the remaining two amigos have found their own true love! As it happens they got married a week apart. In true amigo fashion we threw a double bridal shower for the two beautiful brides!

I had so much fun getting this party to come together. I had the special privilege of co-conspiring with a cousin of mine. (I totally admire her in all her amazing-ness!) The party was a success! We had a lot of fun and the brides came out with a good pile of new stuff to start their own kitchens with! A WIN!

Invitations were ordered and sent by another cousin (also very admired!) who found a source via etsy with the perfect design for our colors and retro-throwback feel. We included a recipe card for each bride with each invitation for guests to fill out with a favorite recipe. These we put into albums for them at the shower to start their own recipe collections.

Food was delicious. Because we had traveling guests, we planned on a full lunch. Soup and a salad bar, with rolls and fruit. Followed by strawberry shortcake trifle. Mmmmm....

While we ate, we played a couple of games. The Price is Right: On one table we had a collection of general kitchen staples purchased at the local WalMart. It was up to the guests to decide how much each item cost. The closest to the total price won an AMAZING kitchen themed prize. (Thank you Dollar Store!)

Guess the Spice. Its just what it sounds like. Everyone has to guess what spice is in the jar. Jars courtesy of Ikea. I am always impressed with how well people do with this game. Important to make the rule that noone can smell the spices. Its a look-only game. Otherwise its too easy, and you should probably have more than one prize ready.

Decor came from my ever-growing collection of random items. I have a soft spot for vintage mason jars and pitchers and such. The flower arrangements are made by yours truly. Yes I'm proud of the way they turned out.

My ultimate labor of love for this shindig was my personal gift to each of the brides. A few weeks in advance I contacted the extended family. I asked for any and all advice they were willing to share for the brides. I got some amazing and thoughtful responses. You know like, "Put the toilet seat down," and, "Learn to sleep without breathing to negate snoring." Good, helpful advice in all sorts of life categories (housekeeping to relationship). Then I compiled them and designed a binder where they can keep them for future reference. I made it into a binder so they can add pages they find/print, or magazine articles or whatever they find. I am very proud of how they turned out! 

Aaaand... in true hostess fashion, I forgot to take a picture with my camera of the brides... it was one of those, "we'll share pictures later" deals that should be cleared up soon!