Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Resolution: A House of Order

I've been doing a lot of thinking this past week on what I wanted my 2014 resolution to be, and here it is: 

 A House of Order

I think it's closely tied to my motto:  Prepare ye every needful thing.

2013 was filled with so much chaos and change, that I wanted something to help secure me, to batten down my hatches, so to speak.  I hate feeling unorganized, un-prioritized; it's wonderful to feel spontaneous sometimes and fly by the seat of your pants, but I've had almost a whole year of that, and I'm ready to re-discover my roots.  Hence, my resolution to have a house of order.

I'm not so much speaking literally and I am generally and metaphorically.  It's more of resolution to prioritize my life and organize the things thereof in the manner that's important to the Lord and myself.  If there are prayers to be said, say them.  If there are people to visit, visit them.  If there are children to be played with , play with them.  If there are scriptures to be read, read them.  If there are things to be done.......do them.

And I want to be clear to myself on setting realistic, achievable sub-goals that allow for flexibility and numerous ways to accomplish them.  Rigid, strict, unforgiving goals are not allowed!  They will only make me feel unaccomplished and like a failure if I can't do them perfectly. 

 As long as I NEVER give up...I will NEVER fail!

Here are some of my sub-categories (I am not at all super organized, these are just some little thoughts that came to my mind in the car the other day):

**I will hold fast to my testimony and knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while I increasingly embrace those with different lifestyles.  This is a very important one to me.  With so much emphasis on Mormons for the need to change and conform to the world, I need to be in touch with Christ.  I believe in Christ.  He has revealed to me through personal revelation that He lives, and that we have a prophet here on earth to guide us.  This is my knowledge, and I will defend this vehemently.  This is the lifestyle I choose to live.  It may not be the same as others, and that's OK.  I support others rights to choose, as I am able to choose myself.  But I will hold fast to my testimony of Christ.  Christ loves everyone, and I am striving to be like Him.  I am not perfect, but I am trying.

**I will like myself.  Also so important!  Of course I love myself, but I really don't like myself all the time.  I'm human, what can I say.  I don't like *not* liking myself, it stinks, and it makes me feel bad about myself, what do ya know?  In my process to achieve my goals, I will like myself on the journey.  Because once we get to our goal, we will only set off on another journey again!  Either way, it's going to be a long journey, and I would like to be with friend who actually likes me, rather than a friend who's criticizing me all the time...and by friend...I mean ME!  

**I will embrace my children more and let them know how wonderful the are, and find more quality time to be with them.  My children are the future generation, they hold the power to change a world I may not see, and I want them to have the power that comes from a loving mother...something no other advantage can give them.  This goes for fathers, too.  A father in the home is absolutely crucial, in a world where fathers are devalued and hated and criticized and man-bashed, I say baloney!  Our children have the God-given right to have a mother and father who love and teach them the principles of Christ.

**I will kindle my relationship with Christ.  Something we will all forever be working on, no doubt.  My Savior has given all that had...for me.  And I am *sure* I can find a few minutes in my day just for Him.  I know that innumerable blessings will come if I can just beat away the little demons that tempt me with other time consuming activities, and find time for Christ.  He is there, He loves me, and He wants to tell me things!

**I will pray for husband more.  Husbands get such a bad rap these days.  No one values the husband, the father, the male.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  Men are some of the most extraordinary people, with incredible strengths and gifts that women  do not have.  Are you hating me?  You shouldn't be...we've been hearing how fabulous and superior women are for far too long, and how fair is that exactly?  Women are wonderful, too, but we are different, and that's ok...right?  In a society that embraces differences, can we not embrace the wonderful difference of a man?  My husband needs all the help he can get, and by golly, as his loving wife, I am going to call in the big guns!  If anyone can help, it's Christ...our Savior.

So anyway, these are a few of my thoughts for this upcoming year.  I LOVE setting goals and resolutions, they give me something to work towards, and I think we should all set them.  If you don't like setting resolutions, you might be doing it the wrong way!   Happy, HAPPY New Year to all of you, I wish happiness and JOY to everyone.

2013 Resolution Review: Finding Joy

With the imminent New Year just hours away, I find it incumbent on myself to share a brief review of this past years resolution:  Finding Joy in All Things.

So many thoughts have been mulling around in my mind this past week, thoughts of this past year and it's now shared secrets, and what's to come in the new year.  Last Christmas of 2012, I hung our new family ornament on the tree:

It was a crystal dove, one that I had purchased while in NY visiting my parents in a time of great turmoil and pain.  I hadn't even realized the significance of my purchase until I flew home and hung it on the tree.  I had purchased the ornament while my subconscious and mind were looking for peace amidst chaos.  
I set my goal for 2013, to find JOY in all things, not knowing at all what the year had in store for me.  I worked hard at enjoying the little moments with my kids, and I found joy in my job, and in loving my husband.  And then my dad neared his time to die.  The many months prior to his death were so painful and awful, and I struggled so much in finding joy in those moments. I've already posted so much on his pain and suffering and death, I won't get into details once more.  Finally, the day arrived.  The moment arrived when I knew I would see him without his spirit inside any longer.  My spirit knew.  But my mind....my mind was ablaze with terror.  I had barely survived the nine months of sheer torture, and I feared that seeing him dead would be even worse, and I didn't know how I would be able to control myself.  I had broken down in tears so many times, and had struggled to keep the choking sobs inside for so long, that as I drove to the nursing home that morning he passed, my heart was racing and my mind was exploding with fear.  "How can it get an worse????"  I panicked.  "How can I make it through this!".  

And then something unexpected happened.  It was as if God had heard the silent, surreptitious prayers that my spirit was pounding out for me, because I couldn't even think straight enough to say them myself.  I entered my father's room, where he had passed just 5 minutes prior, and I was filled with an emotion I had not counted on feeling.  An emotion that carried me through that day.  It was the sweet, comforting feeling of peaceful joy.  

It has taken me these many months to sort out what exactly happened that day, but I remember that feeling as brightly as if it was yesterday.  My father was gone, his spirit was released from his tortured body, and as I entered the room, it was as if a breath of life washed over me, and the weighted anchor that had hung around my neck for the nine months of his illness had been lifted.  And I was joyous it was over.  

While the tears still flowed from my eyes, it was almost as if I was cleansing myself of the pain and sorrow I had been carrying.  I still felt that joy of knowing he was done suffering.  I still felt that joy of knowing I could breathe again.  And the joy I felt knowing that families are eternal, and I will someday see my father again.

Somehow, in the most difficult moment, I had found joy.  I know that it's because the Lord was pouring it all over my poor little torn and tattered spirit, but I still found it and drank it in.

After his funeral, I flew home to a brand new house.  My husband had closed on our very first home the day after my father passed away, and had kept it a secret and had moved everything up.  I am so grateful to have a husband like Kristoffer.  The next few months we spent just about every day pouring our efforts into fixing up our new home, and loved it.  I found joy in creating a new home in a new town with my wonderful family.

I've found so much joy this year.  And I'm so happy!   What a wonderful thing to know we *can* find joy in this life, and not just the next.  Men are that they might have JOY!  So I conclude my 2013 resolution a success, and I will continue to hold fast to it in the years to come, it's so important!  I hope we can all find true joy in the following year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

I seem to be missing a portion of pictures, so this  is maybe 80% of Christmas.

We took the kids to the Layton Hills Mall to see Santa a few weeks ago.  Marin was so excited and drew a picture for him.  Santa looked pretty decent, but was a little less than enthused.  Hey, we've all got jobs, buddy, but yours actually requires you to be social.  We also didn't realize it was a company/photo op...which meant no personal cameras allowed.  I wasn't about to spend 40 dollars for pictures.  The kids could sit on his lap for no charge though, so I scurried up the second story of the mall over to the overlook and snapped a few shots of my kids; I know, don't hate me.

 Owen was figuring it all out.  Marin knew exactly what to do.
 The actual making of the gingerbread house!  The kids had a great time, and tummy-aches later that night, of course.
Putting multiple bowls of candy in front of your kids...what are they supposed to do, say no??

Sorry these are sideways.  This is Christmas dinner, nom nom nom.....  These are the marinated turkey cutlets.
 Justin and Melodie brought caprese salad, YUM!

I made homemade noodles with alfredo sauce, and they were deeeelish!  I don't have a pasta roller....perhaps next Christmas?  BUT, I just used my giant rolling pin and some elbow grease and cut my noodles with a pizza roller.  They were a bit thick, but super delicious.  I for sure will be making some again.  And the alfredo sauce?  Oh, my best yet, SO good...and sinful.  I can't make this stuff but once a year.
 My plate of food, I''ll admit, I did have seconds on the pasta...

The cake.  Ooooh, the cake.  I made this six layer vanilla raspberry cake with lemon frosting and coconut from scratch.  I *know*!  It took me all day, but it turned out beautifully and was delicious.  I had to actually throw away the last big piece of it the day after, because I knew I was going to keep eating it!
 Layers and layers of loveliness.
 Marin with Melodie's husband, Justin.  She loves him...heck, we all love him! 
 I couldn't get a shot of Trine, she was right next to the lamp!

Here we all are!!
 Such a fun night, we were so sad when it was done and over with.
 My new friend.  A Christmas Gift, she's an automatic vacuum; her name is Wanda and she is wonderful.  She does a great job keeping my floors dust/crumb free, and I just LOVE that.  Nothing makes me crazier than sweeping my floors...only to have crumbs on them within a few hours and *stepping* on them.  It makes me feel like my house is a pigsty.  So...she has been wonderful!  I highly recommend one!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Wedding Dress and A Little Girl

A while back, I saw a cute idea, to put your little girl into your wedding dress and take pictures.  Granted, the idea involved a strapless wedding dress, which is much easier to clamp in the back and have it look nice than a wedding dress with sleeves.  Either way, tonight was the night.  It wasn't planned, it just kind of happened, so my background isn't the most desirable, but I love how some of these pictures of Marin turned out.

 Oh my gosh, love my sweet girl.
 We had just finished watching The Princess Bride, and of course Marin loved all of Princess Buttercup's dresses.
 She was really posing!

 I think this is my second favorite.  Love her face!
 She told me my wedding dress looked like a princess dress...

 This one is by far my favorite.  I'm not sure why, I just love the angle, and her eyelashes, just perfect.

 She asked me if she could wear my dress when she got married, I told her of course.

 I do not even know if I can even stand the thought of her growing up and wearing a wedding dress for real some day!
My gorgeous Marin, you looked absolutely beautiful tonight.  I loved the way you smiled at yourself in the mirror and how pretty you felt.  You are always pretty, and it doesn't matter what you wear.  Someday you will look back at these pictures and smile, my sweet girl.  Mama and Daddy love you, Marin!

Silent Night

We've been doing our best to get ready for Christmas, and I can't believe it will be here in Wednesday!! Despite my previous post on missing my father, I've still found the Christmas spirit and have loved preparing all these little things in my heart and for my family.

I've tried really hard to sacrifice.  The last couple of months, I've been a little, ummm, off kilter for varied reasons, (no baby), and I've totally struggle with weight.  I've gained 10 pounds over the last 4 months and couldn't believe it when I stepped on the scale and realized what had happened, complete disgust, my friends.  Are you shocked that I live in Utah and I'm sharing that I've gained weight??  #thisgirlgetsreal  Yeah. 
 So besides for the last few weeks being full of food sacrifice, I've been trying to find those around me to serve.  I guess I really felt I needed to get into the Christmas spirit, and there's nothing like serving to do the trick.  I won't share a few of the things, but there are pictures a little ways down of one thing.

So here we are, and here is a picture of our main floor bathroom lights.  I take this picture to tell a story.  Friday night I was smack in the middle of making dinner (after working all day, mind you), and half the power in our house goes out.  The power downstairs in the basement was working, and a few lights and outlets on the main floor as well as the lights in our master bath upstairs.  Strange!  My oven was out (as I was in the middle of baking chicken), but the fridge (thankfully!) was still running.  Honestly, of all the power we lost in the house, I'm grateful we had use of our fridge, furnace, and kids rooms. #tendermercy

As luck (ha!) would have it, I had so duteously decided to wash all of my and Kristoffer's winter jackets, and the power went out to the washer...with my wet jackets in it.  *sigh*.  So I found an extension cord to plug the washer into an outlet that was working and air dried my jackets: 

 To tried to fix the power issue myself at the breaker box, I shut down the whole house and restarted it...nothing.  I called Kristoffer and he walked me through resetting the GFI outlets...nothing.  He called a friend in the ward who came over to check things out...nothing.  We spent a very quiet evening that night!  I always sleep with a fan on, but not that night...a very silent night indeed!

We had the power company come out the next day, and they determined the problem was on one of their main lines to the house....which meant we could have been looking at a ripped up back yard/concrete/tool shed.  We said a prayer, and Sunday morning when they came, they were able to fix the problem without hardly any digging at all.  VERY blessed with that one.

Last night, Kristoffer and I were able to go out on a real date.  It had been more than two months at least since we had gone on OUT on a dinner date.  We did get to go the the temple this week...which I loved...but when you don't get to actually see your spouse on the date, it's kind of not the same.  So I sent my neighbor a last minute text yesterday, and her sweet 12 year old daughter came at 3pm to babysit.  It was such a great date!

We went to Deseret Book because I wanted to find a Christmas book and an ornament.  I think it's something I want to continue each year.  I've been trying to find a new ornament for our family each year, and when I pulled out our decorations this season, I realized we had about five Christmas books, mostly from gifts.  The kids have loved reading them, so I thought I would add to the tradition an find a book for this year.
For dinner, we went to a place here in Layton called Mongolian Grill.  Kristoffer had been to one a few times in college and loved it, I had never been.  It was great!  It's a buffet of all the different fixings for an asian noodle bowl.  You choose your own uncooked meat, noodles, veggies, sauces, and they grill it up for you as you watch.  All you can eat for a great price, I'll totally go back!
We actually started our date just South of Perry at a store called Smith and Edwards.  This place is amazing, they have just about everything!  Seriously.  It's been almost five years exactly since we've last been, and we found some great little stocking stuffers.  They also have some pretty awesome, obscure, totally random things.  Love that place.
Speaking of obscure items...take a look at this...cassette blowout, 2 for 99 cents!  Yeah, this didn't make me feel old at all!

 This is the book we bought at Deseret Book, and the ornament hanging off of the corner.  It's a Christmas tree, carved out of olive wood from Jerusalem.

 Our Christmas tree!!  I wrapped all the presents last night, and out the one's from us (mommy and daddy) under the tree...I think Owen was a little confused this morning and may have thought it was Christmas morning!

 We have a small nativity set, I'm not even sure where it came from, I certainly didn't buy it.  But, I set it out every year, and this year, little fingers have had fun rearranging it.  I really don't mind.  They have their own vision of Christmas in these little decorations, and it warms my heart that they try to recreate what's in their head (gently, of course).  I saw this and it was a potent reminder of how we really need to be drawing as close as possible to our Savior, kids are great for reminders like that!
Owen has a hard time waiting...he likes to pull out all the presents and put them on the coffee table to look at them...just *itching* to unwrap them.
 This is oatmeal.  If I could start to describe my Owen, it would have oatmeal in there somewhere.  He loves his hot cereal in the morning...almost every morning.  He's just a hot cereal kind of guy.
 Our cute little gingerbread house!  We bought a kit (THE way to go if you're a busy mum) from Costco.  The kids had a blast...and tummyaches later that night.
 A couple weeks ago, I went to a little Pinterest Party...just hosted by some friends at the ward.  We made these super cute clothespin magnets to hang Christmas cards on.  I *REALLY* wanted to keep them for myself, but at length, I decided to give them away to my the girls I visit teach.  I told myself that the blessings  would get in return would be worth much more than the joy I would have in keeping them for myself.  I'm not trying to say anything about myself, I'm actually innately kind of selfish, but I'm working on it.
 The gifts for my Visiting Teaching ladies.  I had an extra copy of The Christmas Train by Thomas Monson that I've been wanting to give as a gift, but it hasn't been the right time.  I finally wrapped one copy in the ribbon, only to unwrap it when Marin told me there was writing in it.  I panicked that I had wrapped up the copy from a family member, but then realized I had the right one all along...the one signed by our Prophet, Thomas Monson.  It was the right thing to do, the girl I gave it to was the right recipient.
 Ten days ago we did this...amongst other things.  Marin had a pulmonology appointment very early Friday morning at Primary Childrens (where I work), and I thought I would make the most of the day (since Kristoffer had the day off) and have a little date with my girl and do some Christmas shopping.  It turned out to be a very difficult twelve hour day.  Marin took her PFT's (Pulmonary Function Tests) and scored 58% (out of 100% obviously).  It was a tough wake-up call.  Even with the Singulair she's been taking, it wasn't enough, and it made my heart hurt to know how much she's been struggling just to breathe.  He prescribed an inhaled steroid...which I had been hoping to avoid, but she clearly needed it.  In the afternoon, she went for her eye exam, which was equally deflating.  Poor thing is as blind as a bat, thank goodness for Polymer lenses that give her thinner glasses.
I can't tell you heartbreaking it is to hear that your child isn't perfect (I know, I know), and needs things like this to be well.  As we were in Costco, dropping off her prescriptions, I figured we would just get all three months of her Flovent, Singulair and Albuterol all at once....until the girl told me it would be $800 for all of it.  I almost fell over.  I asked for a few minutes and called Kristoffer, and almost broke down in tears right there in Costco.  We decided to take just purchase one month of each for the time being and take the hit on saving by purchasing three months.  I survived and made it home, and I am so grateful for my husband who is such a rock when I can't hold it together anymore.
 My hubby and little guy shoveling the walk, so sweet.

We've had moments of frustration, and moments of tender mercies, but all in all, I am so grateful for our many blessings.  I look around me and think of how much worse life could be, and how life could be without the Gospel...and I wouldn't want it that way!  What a hopeless way to live!  In a few days, we celebrate the miraculous birth of brother, our Savior Jesus Christ.  With his humble beginnings in a lowly stable, He was mocked, scorned, and crucified by the very people He was sent to save.  Joy to the World!  The Lord is Come! And someday, when He comes again, every knee will bow....EVERY knee will bow, and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.  What comfort to know that our efforts to live a good and righteous life will not be in vain. From our family, the Lymans wish you all a very, extraordinary Merry Christmas.