Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Growing up

Today I was feeling a bit nostaligic.  I went back through all my old blog posts and realized how much I enjoy looking back at the things we have done and seeing pictures of my beautiful babies.  I realized that I hadn't posted about either of them since Elsie's birthday.  That was 8 months ago.  Wow they have grown up so much since then.  
Elsie is now 20 months old and is a little firecracker.  I could just watch her all day long.  everything she does has so much pizazz.  Whenever she gets excited she does a little jig that can't help but make you laugh.  She is obsessed with "babies" and will repeat anything you ask her to.  She is communicating so well and in most cases can tell you exactly what she wants, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing. Her favorite word right now is "mine." she is attempting to sing her abcs which means she says a few letters as you sing it.

Brinley is the sweetest little girl.  She asks me multiple times a day if she can "snuggle". Her favorite things to do are to help cook and paint.  She loves to help, whether or not her help is needed, causing me to do things like cut off my fingernail with a cheese grater. Brinley finally knows all her letters and is working on the sounds they make.  She is so busy and always wants to be doing something.   

These girls have become best friends.  When we had them so close together that was exactly what I hoped would happen.  I grew up very close to my siblings and I wanted Brinley to have that experience as well.  They love each other so much. I wouldn't have it any other way.  My job has become a lot easier lately because I don't have to be the sole entertainment for Brinley any more.  On the other hand I suppose it is also harder because I am playing mediator 75% of the time.    

These girls make me so happy.
dressup tea party. or  rather cookies and milk party.

They are growing up way way too fast.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Courage update no 1

So since it is now March....I figured it is time to check in on how I am doing with my goal to have courage this year.

First a thought on courage from the movie We Bought a Zoo:

I love that.  Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.  I feel like this is the way I have found my courage.  It comes in bursts, and isn't always there, but every so often I have had 20 seconds of insane courage and done something that was hard for me.  And I am still hoping that something great will come of it.

Here is how I am doing.

Courage to do what is right:
I have done well in some ways and not in others.  I still haven't been to the temple and now it is march.  I blamed January on it being closed, but it wasn't closed at all in February.  It's because February is only 28 days long, right?  Or something like that.

I have had days of great scripture study and days where it hasn't happened at all.  I need to do better.

Courage to learn:
I didn't finish 2 books in February.  Probably because I decided to start reading 5 books at once and have only finished 1 of them.  Does that mean when I am done with all 5 that can count for 2 and a half months?

I have found a few seconds of courage to learn new things and to ask questions.  But I want to learn more. I keep telling myself that once our house is in better order (and I finally finish painting all our trim) that I will be able to focus on learning one new thing a month like I said I would.  Foolish foolish.  There is always something that will be in the way. If I keep waiting nothing will ever happen.

Courage to teach my children:
In someways I have really been enjoying this.  I have been trying for months to teach Brinley her letters to no avail.  She just didn't care.  But it seems like the last few weeks she has really picked up on it, and it is so rewarding to see her get excited when she sees a "G" on a sign or a "B" on the cereal box.  I am realizing as a parent that you can try to teach your children, but if they aren't ready to hear what you are saying they aren't going to get anything out of it.  All of the sudden Brinley was just ready for whatever reason and her learning has taken off.  These are the things we live for.

I have been the opposite of patient.  I know it, and my kids can feel it.  Working on it...

Courage to make new friends:
This has been the hardest thing for me lately.  We had amazing friends in Mississippi who I miss so much. Starting over is hard, especially when you don't feel like you can invite anyone over to your house because it has been in such a state of disaray.  Basically the only time I see other women who I could connect with has been at church, and for the last month and a half we have missed church a lot of because of sick kids, going out of town, stake conference, etc. What do you do to connect with other people and build relationships?

I just joined a new book club that I am looking forward to getting to know people in my neighborhood. it's a start.

Courage to be happy:
In the recent LDS General Conference Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

We do matter. We determine our happiness.

You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness."

Reading this has been my best reminder to take charge of my own happiness. And some days I actually remember:)

Overall I feel like in a lot of ways I have done well and I have tried to have courage. Sometimes I just flat out don't have it, and sometimes it just isn't in the forefront of my mind and I forget all about it. I have a couple of ideas of things I am going to try to do this week to help remind me to have courage.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pendant lights

Since we are on a roll blogging I thought I'd tell you about our pendant lights.

When we re-did the kitchen Christa decided she wanted an island with pendant lights over it. My dad was so kind to help us with our lighting and we couldn't have done it without him.

We shopped and shopped- first buying a set of lights at Home Depot.  After a while we decided they were too expensive and someone (me) wasn't sold on them.  Christa was patient with me and we ended up buying some from Ikea.  I wasn't sold on them either but we saved a considerable amount of money by switching to them.  Finally, we returned those lights too and we just bought a basic pendant cord without a fixture on it (something like this but I think it was a little cheaper than what is listed).

This summer Christa became a real garage sale master and found a lot of fun things.  She found some oversized mason jars and we turned them into our pendant lights.  We saved money, it was very easy to do, and it took us less than an hour.

(I'm not very good at photographing lights.  This is the best you are going to get for now.)
 We added some expensive vintage light bulbs to finish the look.  
Now we just need to finish the island that will go under the lights so I stop hitting them with my head when I walk by. 

Oh, and we have two of the cutest little girls ever. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kitchen Floor

In the last post I promised an update for the kitchen floor so try not to be bored.

The old floor was a golden oak - not a color we wanted to duplicate after we installed the new flooring.  We were hoping for more of a dark walnut look. 
 I took the time to cut out the old floor at different levels so it would look like it was always one continuous floor.
Sanding was not very fun.  At all. 

 Judging by these pictures you would think that Christa did all of the work.  And you would be right.  That Christa is amazing.

We really like how it turned out.  



Sunday, February 17, 2013


It has been a long time since we have updated our blog.  Since that time we have finished our floor and we are really happy with it.  More on that another day.  The thing that has changed our house the most in the past few weeks is the addition of a real pantry.

Remember that when we bought the house we did so with the intention of opening up the kitchen into the dining room.  We felt it was better to have a large kitchen with a good sized eating area than to have a small kitchen with a tiny table and have a separate dark, carpeted dining room.

View from family room
View from living room

This is the original pantry.  It wasn't very big and since we tore out a wall we needed a place for our refrigerator. So we needed a new pantry(and a bigger one if possible).

This is what we came up with

We went from this...

To this

We sure like it. What do you think?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013. COURAGE.

For the past few years I have followed a couple of my sisters in law’s blogs.  Every year they have a theme for their new year’s resolutions, and they report on their blogs weekly as a way to motivate and remind themselves of the their goals.   I have always thought it a great idea, but have never done it because, well, I didn’t think of it myself.  A little speck of pride within me has stopped me from doing it the past.  But, I actually love the idea. So this year I am going to try it, even though the idea is not my own. I am letting go of that pride.

I have chosen one word that I want to work on, and incorporate into all of the goals that I set.  That word is COURAGE.  I chose this word because I feel like it is a quality that I am desperately seeking right now.  In fact, all too often I find that its opposite -discourage- is something that is infiltrating itself into my life.  And I don’t like it. I miss out on so many things because of fear, and I am ready to change that.

I want courage.  Courage to stand up for what is right.  Courage to let myself get out of my comfort zone.  Courage to make new friends.  Courage to trust in my abilities.  Courage to love.  Courage to learn.  Courage to fail.  Courage to teach my children truth.  Courage to change.  Courage to let go and forgive.  Courage to speak out.  Courage to ask questions.  Courage to face challenges. Courage to try again.

Thomas S. Monson said that “Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.” I love that.  That is what courage is. Deciding to live according to what you believe is true and right, no matter what the opposition is.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

While trying to have courage I want to always remember this Scripture from Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
It is hard not to have courage when I remember that the Lord is with me.

With a little bit of courage I am going to divulge what my goals are this year.

2013 - The Year of Courage

This year I will have the:

Courage to do what’s right.

  • Go to the temple once a month
  • STUDY my scriptures.  Take 10 minutes everyday to read, and then another 10 minutes to ask questions and find answers about whatever I feel like I need to, based on what I just read or whatever else is going on in my life.
  • Daily prayer.
  • Be open and honest.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or let people know that I don’t know everything. Let other people help me.
  • Say yes to service opportunities
  • Listen. I know what I mean.

Courage to learn new things and skills.
  • Pick one thing per month to work on and then set a goal for that at the first of each month. For e
    xample, photography, gardening, computers, sewing....anything I want.
  • Read 2 books per month
  • Listen.

Courage to teach my children.
  • Every Sunday Plan out our week.  Plan learning and play activities for both kiddos.
  • Look for teaching moments.  Record teaching moments and what went well and what
  • Be patient.  Make sure that love is my first reaction to any situation.
  • Pray for each child daily.  Ask to be able to see what they need individually and to understand their dispositions.
  • Listen.

Courage to make new friends.
  • Meet one new person a week.  This could be at church, in our neighborhood, at the park
  • Have at least one family/person over for dinner per month.  Family not included.
  • Take the initiative.  Plan activities myself rather than waiting for someone else to put something together.
  • Listen.

Courage to be happy.
  • Let go. Don’t dwell on the things that cause  unhappiness.
  • Don’t live in absolutes.  Just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean that is an inherent
quality in me. Instead of saying to myself, I am unhappy , Say I feel unhappy because....
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for. Recognize where all of it comes from and give thanks where thanks is due.
  • Listen.

I want every Sunday to be a day where I reflect on the goals that I have set and to remind myself to take courage.
It can be quite discouraging at the new year when we reflect on all the things we want to change.  I tried to make my goals simple this year, so that I can find the courage I need to improve myself.  I don’t have every detail filled in yet.  I know that I won’t be perfect.  I know that certain things might change throughout the year.  Things may be added, deleted, simplified, and made more specific depending on my needs.  But I hope to follow this saying:

“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

And I WILL try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Power of Perspective

It's amazing how our perspective can alter so much.  I mean, two people can see the same thing entirely differently.  Christa and I had that experience this past week.  For Christmas my wonderful wife gave me tickets to local NBA game.  It was a BYU alumni event and part of the ticket price went towards BYU.  From my point of view we were going to a Denver Nuggets game.  From my wife's point of view we were going to a Utah Jazz game.  As it turned out - we were both right. (Well, to be honest, it was more of a Nuggets game than a Jazz game based on the lopsided score.)

If you can't tell from our blog or from talking to us - our house has taken up quite a bit of our physical and mental energy over the last few months.  It has been taxing on all of us.  When we think about our house we can see the effort we have put into it positively or not so positively - all depending on our perspective.  We have the choice to see all the work we have done as an accomplishment - something to be proud of or we can see the errors, the imperfections, the work left to be done and be filled with despair.  

We choose to see our house positively or negatively.  This is obvious when we go to bed one night thinking about how great our house looks and when we complain to each other the next day about how bad our house looks. Our perspective is a choice.

Interestingly enough, I don't think we make that choice in the moment we cast our eyes around our unfinished house.  We decide how we will view things well before our eyes ever gaze upon them.  

If I am angry, tired, or annoyed I am more likely to view my house, my car, my body, my job, and my bank account negatively.  Conversely, if I am at peace - if I have recently remembered a positive experience, had recent success finishing a project, or if I have recently had a good interaction with someone - I am more likely to view my life positively.  Our choice of perspective depends on how we choose to feel in our heart.  

So here are some pictures of our kitchen.  In some ways there has been tremendous progress.  In other ways the finish line is a long way off.  Our kitchen is a daily, visual reminder of our successes and of our shortcomings.  

If you view something in you life negatively I challenge you to remember.  Remember a positive experience you have had and try to allow that memory to change your heart.  Change your heart and it will change your perspective. Change your perspective and you can change anything.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Resolutionary Challenge

Wow.  It has officially been a long time since I have actually written a real blog post.  The last few months have been a whirlwind like I have never really experienced.  I have never felt quite so displaced and out of my element.  I have spent approximately 80% of my time the past few months working on our house, and approximately 99.9% of my mental energy worrying about it.  I have an extreme amount of focus that is either a really good thing, or a really bad thing.  I haven't decided yet which it is.     When I have something I am working on, or something I want to do, nothing else happens until that thing is finished.  For example, I have to pick wisely when I am going to decide to read a book, because once I start one, all of the time that I can possibly steal is devoted to finishing that book. So it has been with this house.  Everything else has fallen by the wayside because I seriously struggle to put any focus on more than one thing.  And. I. Am. Sick. Of. It.

So, why do I tell you all this?  I suppose with being a fresh new year I, as many people, have been trying to take a step back and look at myself to see where I want to improve.  I have been thinking a lot about goals and have some ideas of what direction I would like to start facing.  I hope to finish my goals here in the next couple of days.  But until then, I do have one goal I would like to share.  It's called:

The Resolutionary Challenge

One of my awesome sister in laws is heading the challenge this year, and so Brent and I are both going to do it.  You can read more about the details here, and YOU can join in if you would like to. It starts tomorrow, so get on it fast!

Basically the challenge is a way to motivate and keep us accountable for 7 different areas in our lives, including exercise, nutrition, cleanliness, and gratitude.  Points are allotted for doing different things, and each person keeps track of their points.  And of course, what is the point of a challenge if there is no reward in the end?  With a 20$ buy in, prizes are given throughout the challenge and at the end.

At first I didn't think I would do it because I didn't want to feel like someone else was dictating what I ought to be doing, or what my goals should be.  But, I realized that all of the challenges are things that should be a part of my life always, not just for a challenge.  I really want to build habits in our family that are lasting.  I love that it is 12 weeks long, giving us time to really turn these challenges into habits.   Most of the things we do to some extent already, but they all need improvement.

I am glad that I will have motivation to do the things that I want to be doing better anyway, and more importantly that I have someone to do it with.  I am looking forward to starting this tomorrow, and I hope that by the end it will fell less like a challenge and more of a way of life.