Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Epiphany

I was preparing to teach a lesson to the 14 and 15 year old girls at my church.
The topic was Creating a Christ-Centered Home.

My first thoughts were to the easy and obvious: hang pictures of Christ and play uplifting music.  The next most obvious were having scriptures a part of your regular day, frequent and sincere prayer, and other personal and family religious observances.  It quickly grew into the importance of temple attendance, paying of tithes and offerings, serving others, researching family history, avoiding gossip and developing charity, avoiding contention, and so on and so forth.

How am I supposed to teach any of those things with any kind of effectiveness in my allotted 30-35 minutes?!  Additionally, how can I choose just one of those attributes to emphasize without neglecting all of the other essential attributes?

After prayer and pondering, my answer came:

How can I establish a Christ-centered home?

I must establish a Christ-centered ME!

If I am focused on my Savior, I am going to want to be with Him through scripture study and prayer.  I'm going to want paintings that celebrate Him and His teachings portrayed in my home.  I will automatically try harder to obey His commandments, including paying tithing, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and developing talents.  Above all, charity will become a part of me in such a way that I truly love my neighbor and try to serve those around me.  I will come to him with a broken heart and contrite spirit to repent with I fall short and I will envelop myself within His grace and I will teach my children in faith.

And so, these holiday weeks, I remember that Christ was not just a baby; He is the creator of the world and Savior of our souls.  He is the perfect example, the friend and mediator that all of us so desperately need.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Great-great-great Grandma Charlotte's Library Table

When my dear, sweet grandmother moved in with my parents last autumn, I inherited her grandmother's library table.  Grandma Charlotte used it for years then had it donated to the local library after she passed. 
There it worked for many years as patron after patron studied and read upon its oaken top.
 After some time, the library was up for a remodel and the table came back into the family's hands.
When Grandma found out that I was building a library in my new house, she said at once that I was to have the treasured table.  
After all, it was always meant to be in a library!



As we were decorating our shrinking trailer with our Christmas decorations, my eyes landed upon the small ledge between the legs of the sturdy library table.
It is the perfect place for the children's nativity!


Add a few lights and voila! Magic!
I never met her, but I have heard many, many stories about Grandma Charlotte.
One thing I know:
she loved children.
I think she took a moment from her own busy life up there in the Great Beyond to look in on us tonight,
and I'm pretty sure she was pleased to see her great-great-great grandchildren playing and learning 
under her table.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Power of a Clean Sink

Do you know what this is?
It is an empty sink.
That's right, folks, she did it.  WE did it, but mostly, SHE did it.  One month and I had a clean sink every day--except for that one fork or mug or butter knife that was always discovered after the water was drained.  It didn't bother me.  I wasn't striving to be nuts, just cleaner.  We also swept and vacuumed nearly every day--which meant the floors were clean enough to be swept and vacuumed.

A funny thing happened:  after the sink was cleaned, it was just a moment of my time to wash off the counters, the table, and the stove.  The goal of washing my dishes every day before I hit the hay turned out to be a clean kitchen every day.  A clean kitchen encouraged the rest of the family to pitch in and tidy up other areas--it never got too bad because we had just cleaned it.

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men."  Colossians 3:23

You can laugh at me and shake your head at my weakness, but I know this was a big deal for our family.  There were times when I got a late start (one night I started hand washing the dishes for a family of eight at 11:30 PM!). I'm not gonna lie; there were a few prayers said to keep this goal. One night specifically, I was chanting this verse as I alone stood cleaning the house after everyone else had gone to bed.

I'll never be a sparkling house keeper because it's not my thing.  I don't mind that--I do other things well.  What I don't want is a crazy mother for my children and children who grow up to be messy fathers and mothers.  If dedicating my work to my Heavenly Father is my only motivation, that is a pretty good motivation.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happenings

Our little girl had her dance recital last week.
Her costume was pink with sequins,
she got to dance with a wand
and she wore make-up.
It was the best night ever.


After she danced, we took everyone out for Italian food because lasagna is her favorite food in the world.
We hadn't taken all of the children to a restaurant in a very long  time and this place did not let us down.
It was very family friendly, providing pre-meal entertainment such as coloring, pasta necklace kits, play dough, a giant chalk board on the wall behind us and baskets of bread.


Even our littlest munchkin was well behaved!


In other news, I rarely do "friend" birthday parties.  I don't know why, really.  Maybe because our family is big enough to make every birthday feel like a party?  
But I'd promised the kids this year, so we're having friend parties.  
Since we don't have a house, we're navigating a new world: destination birthdays!
Last month was the 11th birthday at the ice skating rink.


This month is the 9th birthday party at the swimming pool.


These two middle girls have found a group of wonderful friends.  Having been through periods where one kid or another has had no friends, I know how valuable this group of girls is for my daughters.


Oh, yes.  And store bought cakes.  Unheard of! 


Our oldest waited 14 years for a brother.
I often have my girls match on holidays and Isaac usually matches them, but he couldn't be twins, exactly.
When the baby was born, Isaac couldn't wait to dress alike.
My boys were twins last week and they were simply adorable!


I tried it out for six months and have decided I absolutely hate using my phone as the camera.
It is a decent camera--for a phone--but that doesn't make them good pictures.
After one particularly aggravating lost moment a few days ago, I quit.
I've gone back to my $100 point-and-shoot.

Every once in a while, my son takes pictures of his dinner to send to his former roommate who is still starving in Russia.


Our house is sitting happily on the plot of land it was designed to inhabit.
We won't be living in it any time soon.
I don't really know why, but we can't seem to get anyone to work on it.
There have been some good things that have come of the delays.
We have a persistent leak that would have been a disaster if it hadn't been discovered until after insulation, sheet rock, paint and tile.


Since almost all of the bones of the house are complete, I thought it was a good time to document the skeleton.  I went through the house with a measuring stick and took pictures.
I tried to document every angle, capturing large expanses . . .


and small close-ups.


Who knows when this information will become useful, but once the wallboard it up, we won't be able to see what is behind it.  I certainly wouldn't want to decide to take out a wall or move a closet only to run into this!


I took 120 pictures and have them all labeled and filed.  I plan on printing them, too, so we have several viewing options.


The one thing that did happen last week was a high impact change.
We finally have a front door!!


From this,


To this.
I love it.


Speaking of things I love, I LOVE this baby.


I'm trying to wean him right now and it isn't going well at all.
It is 12:59 AM as I type these words and he is screaming bloody murder because I refuse to nurse him continuously through the night.
He took these pictures the other night.
Not just now.


He is absolutely not smiling right now.
He is cute, nonetheless.

*Update:  I gave in and he is watching Mr. Rogers.  
Whatever, just so long as he is happy--and not nursing. :)



Saturday, November 15, 2014

No Longer a Baby

This is one of my favorite sights as a mother.
I absolutely love catching an older reading to a younger.
The younger, in this case, is 19 months old.


He communicates very well and his constantly growing vocabulary is a delight!
He refuses a bottle and mostly refuses a sippy cup.
He sits at the table, still in a booster seat, but no longer eats off of his tray.
He LOVES Mr. Rogers, which pleases his mother greatly.


And then there is his hair....

His older brother insists that it is time for a haircut.  Insists.
I know that when you cut a baby's hair, they stop being a baby and turn into a child.
This makes my heart hurt and made me resist for a long time.
Last night, I finally gave in.


And, just like that, I no longer have a baby in the house.
Good thing I love toddlers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cold, Cold, Cold . . . and Cleaning

We are in the middle of a frigid spell, the first really cold weather in our region this season.
I can't get my outdoor projects done and the house isn't ready for me to work indoors;
so I'm baking.
Few things taste as good when it is cold as a yummy homemade soup with bread, fresh from the oven.


There is one more thing, but you have to promise not to make fun of me.
You'll think I'm silly, but it is a big deal for me.

I've made a goal to keep a cleaner house and make my home a more inviting place.
It has been a struggle because I don't like the place, don't want to spend any money fixing it or making it flow for our family, and there is no such thing as everything in its place because there aren't places for a lot of our things. Our house makes everyone grumpy.

We began on a Saturday.
The kids and I put our shoulders to the wheel and got a giant portion of the house clean.  I took several bags to the thrift store and took a few loads to the dump.  (Granted, some of that was construction debris, but still.)


Months ago, I heard a friend of mine give a speech about her healthy weight loss last year--a thing with which she has struggled her whole life.  She said she went 1/4 of a mile on her treadmill and then buried her face in the couch, crying.  She couldn't even go 1/4 of a mile!  It was too hard!  But, in faith, she approached Heavenly Father and asked for help.
Her final statement was something to this effect:
Test the Lord.  
He has promised to help those who ask in faith.  
Try Him and see if He doesn't lift your burden so that you can carry it.

It worked for her; she now runs miles and miles.  I decided that I would indeed test the Lord.  On Saturday, I plead for help, outlined a plan, and got to work.
On Sunday I fasted and prayed for help in achieving my goal.

Then after the meeting, another good friend came up to me and said she had recently uncovered a tape set she'd bought years ago.  She wondered if I was interested in listening to it.  It is called:
The Industrious, Well Organized, Proverbs 31 Woman
By Sidney Launder

There is no question in my mind that these tapes entered my life because of the fasting and prayer.
Heavenly Father is helping me, step by step, room by room, dish by dish, keep my house cleaner and my home a refuge. (Thank you, Jen, for listening to a prompting and responding!)

Sorting
12 days into November and my dishes are being done, my table has been washed, floor swept and carpet vacuumed.  Every day.
There is much work to do and they say it takes three weeks to develop a new habit, but we are all happier with this arrangement!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Delicious

Please allow me to introduce you to your next favorite food:
Reese's Spread.

Reese's Spread on a banana.
Oh, my!

I spread mine straight onto a banana, but it was also good on apple and crackers.  
I can't wait to spread it on a few other things, but that is what I had available.

And the best part?

0 grams of fat!
You are welcome.