Ugh

Today started about pretty good. The young women at church are pretty awesome. I asked them all to share object lessons and I was so impressed. We learned about repentance, trusting the Lord, magnifying our Gifts and our true identity. It’s so neat to get to be along side such amazing youth.

Then somewhere throughout the evening the kids got really wild and I got grumpy and I just couldn’t wait for bedtime. Then out of the blue show up our home teacher (who happens to be out bishop) Ryan and Jared were gone doing there own home teaching. The boys were wild animals throwing things and climbing all over each other. You could tell Bishop was a little uncomfortable but I had lost my handle on the situation and I was at a lose. I threatened with cookies I nicely asked and I even had to hold a child against their will in my lap.

Then I sent them to bed and I want to feel better. But I’m left with grumpiness and a headache. Tomorrow. There is always a new tomorrow.

Something’s I’m looking forward to? I’m throwing a favorite things party on Tuesday. I teamed up with some super cute ladies to put this party together. I feel like I don’t know a lot of people yet and they helped put together the guest list. I’m hoping this helps me to feel a little more at home here in Arizona since we believe this will be our forever spot. Never thought I’d say that.

I’m also working on a Christmas gift for a family member. I can’t say what incase they look at my blog. It has been a lot of time and work but I’m very excited for the end product. I’m hoping to get it done in time. It is going to be awesome. I’ll post about it after Christmas.

Piano guys

This song. Right now click on it and go watch the video. It is amazing. I played it over and over this morning while I was getting ready. Tears streamed down my face.

I’m grateful for a savior who loves me. Who came to earth for me. Who suffered and died for me.
It truly is glorious!

We are official

I took the boys to the new school for a tour. They loved it. Any reservations they had seem to be gone. When they realized the work was going to be more challenging they were excited and they all loved that.

I have struggled with schools for years trying to get them to challenge my kids. You see they have their fathers brain. They all learn very quickly. Some of them have not loved writing but other then that they seem to thrive. I was not that way. When they ask me how good my grades were I don’t have much to say. That’s nice that they think I’m smart like they are.

My mom was really good in school. She even skipped a grade for a time. Maybe it skips a generation.

Right now my people all want to go to byu provo so I’m trying to help them get that academic start they need. I was studying a talk by elder L Tom Perry yesterday as I was striving to figure out what decision to make.

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That was huge in helping me make my decision. This new school has an accelerated program. Kindergarten works on first grade work etc. and they can test up in math. When I homeschooled that is what I always did. And I believe that plays a part in why my older three have excelled.

Now I get to go buy uniforms for all three boys.

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Just because I like these people I’ll share this picture. We made cupcakes Sunday just for fun. Green cupcakes with red frosting.

And EmmaLee is cast free again. Just in time for basketball season in a few weeks.

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Last nights dinner was served buffet style and Joseph was proud of his masterpiece.

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I love my people.

Decisions

Warning this post is long. It’s my pro and cons list and I think it was very helpful to get me closer to making up my kind.

The elementary school my kids go to has qualities I really like. Joseph and Joshua are in the gifted program and they love what that entails. Once a week they are pulled from their regular class to spend the day with the gifted teacher. They do a lot of out of the box thinking and hands on projects.

It’s across the street from our house. The kids ride their bikes and we love that.

After school the kids and I have been involved in a program called Odyssey of the Mind. It’s a big competition held once a year. The are formed by age and made up of teams of 5-7. I am the coach for Josephs team and it’s been fun.

Unfortunately there are things I am not so happy with. Kindergarten is all day and it feels like busy work. Jacobs teacher is nice but I am not super impressed as far as teachers go. She is young and seems disconnected at times.

Josephs teacher is not very approachable. He doesn’t ever want to talk to her even when he needs to. He doesn’t like her. She is rather strict and when I have tried to communicate with her to discuss my son and how we might help him she is again not very approachable. She wants things done her way and that is that. I feel she lacks the ability to see what my child’s needs are and is unwilling to work with me to meet those needs.

Joshua is doing great in school so I have no complaints.

I guess that’s all the negative. It’s not huge. And yet I’m being pulled to have them switch schools. After a frustrating incident with Josephs teacher today I called a charter school near us to see if they had space available for my three boys. I had already put their names on the wait list for next year but I decided it was worth seeing if they could get in now but I wasn’t expecting availability for all three of them. I had called before the school year began and they had a wait list for kindergarten.

To my surprise they have the space for my kids. So now comes decision time. I will go on the morning to set up a tour of the school and I’m hopeful that will finalize my decision.

What I like about the school is that they help your child excel and the kids are pushed. They call it intentional learning. It’s not busy worksheets just to have something to do. The kids have the opportunity of testing up in math which I think my boys would love.

They offer tutoring before school if the need arises. Love.

It’s half day kindergarten. Love

School hours are similar to high school which is great because the schools are right next to each other. This is neither pro or con.

They are strict and expect good behavior from the kids. Bullying is not tolerated. And it sounds like issues are addressed immediately. This will be a learning curve for my active boys but in the long run I think it’s a pro.

It is a k-8 school and to me that’s a huge pro! They won’t have to go to the local middle school which I do not love.

They offer the odyssey of the mind program just like the current school.

I think the kids will be better prepared for college by attending this school. Which makes me wonder if the challenge would be good for my one I’m worried about. He is so smart. He can come up with solutions I would never have thought about.

The school is great for kids who want to excel and yet it sounds like it could prove challenging for my one who is a hands on learner. This is where I am torn. At our current school he thrives in the out of the box thinking and hands on projects. He struggles with his current teacher because she is so strict but also because she has no warm and fuzzy feelings.

I have heard they get more homework at this school as well. Again fine for two of my kids who currently finish homework so fast but I’m not sure about my one who has a hard time sitting still.

If we switch schools we will really mess up the odyssey of the mind teams. I believe each of my children are on teams with only 5 members. And I am the leader of one of the teams. They will have to find a new coach and kids to fill those empty spots. Ugh this is hard for me as well. I hate to walk away from a commitment.

I do feel like I have to do what is best for my children. They take precedent.

After writing this all down I feel as though the charter school will for sure be a better school for two of them. The one I’m worried about is not happy where he is at now I’m just unsure if the switch will be for the better? It could be exactly what he needs, to be challenged and a fresh start. I just remembered that his teacher said he tends to tune out when he is bored and not being challenged so this could be the very best thing for all of them.

Overcoming Overwhelm

My whole life I have dealt with anxiety. It comes and goes. Sometimes I have it under control other times it comes out of nowhere. It can be so overwhelming and very difficult to understand. For me the first sign is that I can’t seem to think straight. Every little task seems difficult. Sometimes I cry other times I feel like I can’t breath. When it’s really bad I feel like I’m having a heart attack. That’s only happened a handful of times thankfully.

For the first time in my life I feel I am starting to overcome it, not just temporarily deal with it, but finally understand how to keep it at bay.

What’s changed? What profound knowledge did I gain? It is so simple I wish I had figured it out sooner.

Back in August I started studying the scriptures or conference talks every single day. I wrote this post back here about my texting study group. It has turned into so much more then I could have thought.

At first I shared my favorite scripture everyday. But it turned into a true study. What I shared and what I leaned deepened. As I wrote I would learn even more. I began to really hear the spirit speak directly to me in the words I read. I began to love the scriptures, and they became my closest friend and deepest confidant. I have always wanted that relationship but I did not know how to gain it.

About a month ago I added to my study. I talked about it back here. Basically I kneel in prayer before my study. I think about the one question that is most pressing at that moment. I ask for the Holy Ghost to be with me as I study and I really truly try to imagine his hand on my shoulder. It helps me to really feel his presence. I thank Him for the scriptures and then I ask my question and I expect that I will find an answer as I read. Then I study until I find my answer or at-least part of my answer. Some questions take time to unfold. But often I find the answer almost instantly. It feels more like a conversation with God doing it this way.

I have learned to trust that my Father in heaven wants to communicate with me. He wants to give me guidance. I simply have to go to Him and then seek to hear His answer in the scriptures. There have been many times I have felt it was magical and I have been filled with wonder at Gods goodness.

The added unexpected bonus to all of this is that my stress levels have gone way down. When I feel the anxiety come I am able to handle it. As my relationship with my God and my Savior deepens so does my trust that things will be ok. I am able to let go and I am able to trust that I don’t know what’s happening in the future BUT He does. I could not have perceived my texting group having this affect on me, but He did. And I believe that is one of the reasons He lead me to this article. I will forever be grateful for her insight and for sharing with the world what she learned.

So how do I overcome the overwhelm? I expect God to walk me through it. And when I turn to Him He does. Every. Single. Time.

EmmaLee is 13

We decided fairly last minute to throw a party for Emma over thanksgiving weekend. She was rather hopeful we could fit it in before December. Most of the time we have to put off her party due to traveling and festivities.

EmmaLee opted for a small party this year and she was rather selective in who she invited. She ended up having 6 girls come and celebrate with us.

When the girls first arrived we had snacks, popcorn and candy, set out and they got to fill out a pop quiz, 13 facts about EmmaLee. We had questions like what was her favorite candy, how many schools has she been to and we through in an easy one, how many siblings does she have.

Then the girls ate pizza and had soda. And mostly just laughed and chatted with each other.

Once they were done we headed to the park for some glow in the dark fun and games.

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For their good bags we put together glow sticks, silly string, and cotton candy (Emma really wanted the cotton candy).

The girls decorated bandanas we gave them by breaking up the glow sticks. What a mess but boy oh boy did they have fun. They played all sorts of games like tag and hide and seek and a game they called firefly.

Then they attacked each other with silly string. Wow the giggles and fun they had just by spraying each other. The clean up just as fun. They kept pulling it out of their hair.

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While they decorated cupcakes

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I heated up some yummy hot chocolate.

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We served the cocoa with candy cane bits and marshmallows. And to cool it off we added some mint ice cream.

Emma opened presents and the parents started to arrive. We forgot to eat the cake

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I loved meeting Emma’s friends. It made my heart happy. They gushed over her. They think she’s adorable and funny and for a mom they are just the kind of friends I could hope for.

Our Christ Centered Christmas #sharethegift

My sister Laura and I were talking about Christmas the other day and it got me thinking. In the past my kids would draw names and only buy one present for each other. I believed this made things less expensive and less stressful. While talking with Laura she explained why she changed from doing it that way several years ago. She realized she could spend less on each child and then they would have the opportunity to really think about each other.
As the thought pondered around in my brain it eventually decided to take up residence.
Sarah and I went Black Friday shopping and I when I only had to buy two presents for each child (one from Santa and one from us) it was much less stressful. I had already bought all the stocking stuffs and matching pjs. I really thought about each child and if they only got two things what would make them happy. I smiled and just loved the time I had to think about them.
Later that afternoon the youngers all wanted to go shopping. Ryan and I took them all to target. We would split up each taking two. I Loved it and was in my happy place. Hearing them discuss what so and so would just love and the moment they discovered the perfect gift. Why had I not figured this out sooner? New traditions were formed and I think we are all the better for it.
Then today in my scripture study texting group they were discussing the true meaning of Christmas. Striving to really focus on Christ and the ultimate gift he has given to us.
I want my Christmas this year to be stress free. I desire to help our family strengthen their ties with Christ.
I had thought to make a 24 day scripture advent of some sort. Yay for Pinterest and over achievers. I found this one here
She made adorable tags that referenced scriptures discussing gifts our Savior has given to us. I literally ran to the store the moment I found this as today is the 1 day of December I knew I needed to get it up ASAP.
I found these cute little gift bags, 3 for a $. Print out her free printables and Ryan helped me hand them before the kids got home.

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Each day we will read the scripture and discuss what it means to us.
Then on Christmas Eve we will each come up with a gift we want to give back to him. Something we can work on the rest of the new year. I’m hoping to make this a new tradition.
What was so fabulous was when the missionaries came over and shared this video with us
Go watch it. You will be spiritual feed. I sure was.
It tied in so gloriously with the advent I had just made. The magical feeling of His hand orchestrating my life fills me with awe and wonder and is humbling to say the least.
We read our first scripture
D&C 6:13 If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
Joshua reminded us that if He had not been born he could never have saved us.
I owe Him everything I have. I was lost and now I am found in Him. It’s times like this I want to shout it on the roof tops for all to hear. He lives. My great redeemer lives.

Thanksgiving.

Yesterday we at to much food, laughed, played, and even watched a rooster get its head chopped off. More on that in a minute.

I was really hoping we could go to California for thanksgiving but Jared has a tournament today so it just wasn’t possible. I’m so grateful that we got to spend the day with Ryan’s aunt and uncle and family. They have traditions that I am hoping to incorporate into our family.

I started the day off with a great scripture study. Sometimes on holidays I have a tendency to have a moment of stress. Beginning my day with words from my Father helped me to start of in the right place. As I read I learned the value of remembering all that we have. Remember to be grateful. A few times during the day I told myself to remember. It seemed to help fight of some of the stress.

At 9 in the morning we all meet at the fields for so outdoor play. Soccer madness and ultimate frisbee. I had never played either and it was fun to run around and be silly with the kids. I loved how they let all the kids play. It wasn’t about winning. It really was just about having fun.

We got home and I quickly got to work. I really didn’t have enough time to make stuffing and sweet potato casserole and this is were I got a little stressed out. I put on some spiritual music and Ryan took the kids all to the park. That helped. Unfortunately I did still have a moment but I moved past it quickly and for that I was grateful.

We had a beautiful dinner with cute name tags and everything. My favorite part is always the visiting. I get to know this part of Ryan’s family better and they are such great people. I learned today that they have a lot to teach me.

This is were the fun really began. Emily and her husband have a few chickens they keep around for the eggs. Recently they got a rooster and he turned out to be a big fat bully. So they thought they would bring it over and cook it in the roaster while it was all set up. Boy my kids thought that was great. I had a self realization. Maybe I could work on a farm. I was just as intrigued as the kids were.

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It’s always been a hidden fantasy of my to live on a farm.

Joseph cracked me up. He was so excited when they cut the feet off. He really wanted to take it home.

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One of the men suggested he cut of the talons and wear it around his neck. Thanks for that.

“Grandpa” as my kids started calling dads uncle, took them on a truck ride around their property. My boys were all for it. Including EmmaLee. He spun in circles and we got to feel what it’s like to have a real country thanksgiving for a moment.

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After we got home I learned EmmaLee also drove a car for the first time. Hmm, not sure how I feel about that one.

Once the food settled a little the family was back outside playing volleyball. My kids thought it was so great that their great Aunt and Uncle were always outside playing with the kids. I really did to. I hope I can be like that as well.

Then of course lots of pie to choose from.

Throughout the day people would fill out little card with what they were thankful for. After pie we sat around and listened to all of the great things we have filling out lives. The most common one was family. Boy oh boy did I feel that yesterday. Thanksgiving with just my little family would have been great but with all this family it was so much better.

And of course what would a family get together be if there were no games involved. We played the name game and the younger kids did the best.

I laid down my head last night full of appreciation for the day. My life and the people I share it with are pretty darn awesome!

What’s lost is found

I feel like so much has happened in such a short amount of time. From and outside perspective none of it seems monumental. No one went to college and no births occurred. No birthdays were had. Although we did celebrate our 17th anniversary.
The kind of events in referring to are of a spiritual nature. I feel changed for the better. Ok a way that’s hard to describe but I will try.

I was so grateful for last Thursday and that I had prayed to know how to keep peace in my heart. I did not realize I was going to get to utilize that knowledge in such abundance over the span of the coming week.
It all started with a four hour delay and not getting home till after 10:30. I was so tired from many nights of not sleeping well (and everything is harder for me when I’m tired) we pulled into the garage and Ryan noticed his brand new bike, he bought it Saturday and it was his birthday and Christmas gift, was gone. Apparently when the kids were riding bikes earlier around the neighborhood they left the garage open and someone stole it. Emma had noticed it was got but forgot to tell Ryan.
I was so upset. We both were. This bike was to be the means of some solid family time. Ryan never does things for himself. He is always giving his time for everyone else. The next morning when I woke up I still felt frustrated but hopeful that maybe it could be recovered. We filed a report with the police and put up signs.
As I went to study my scriptures I thought of the 30 day challenge and realized my deepest desire was to recover that bike. I pleaded with the Lord that if it be His will would he help me to know what more I could do to help recover the bike?
I did have the thought to put up flyers by the skatepark near us but other then that as I read scriptures nothing came. I remembered I had started reading an article from last months ensign on the plane but got interrupted before I was done.

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I journaled this after reading that article “We may never find the bike. I understand that. As Ryan put it, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh” As I read the above I felt peace regarding the situation. Regardless of what happens I know He is aware of us. I can let go now and trust this peaceful feeling. I know He will lead me when the timing is right. And that may just mean that He will lead us to happiness regardless of if we find the bike or not. I feel more peace and for that I’m grateful. ”

On Friday morning I was talking to my sister-in-law Allie about the missing bike and I this story came to my mind.

“There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

Who knows?

Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be a good in disguise. And everything that seems good on the surface may really be an evil. So we are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.”

I again felt peace in regards to the lost bike.

Later that day Ryan received a phone call letting him know that some kids had found his bike. They found it in a wash and had seen the signs.

I feel losing the bike and then finding it in a miraculous way, especially after Heavenly Father helped me to be at peace that it might be forever lost, has been a huge blessing to me personally. I am being taught how to ask for things with sincerity of heart while still finding peace in His will.

It’s a lesson I hope is seared into my heart.

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