Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spiritual Thought: To My Grandchildren

Sunday was my week to teach again. Sometimes I dread it, sometimes I look forward to it. This time I didn't mind so much because the given topic was from my favorite general authority (is it ok to have a favorite, or is that like having a favorite child?), Henry B. Eyring. The comments given in class were really great - my favorite came from our Bishop's wife who talked about the power of music to bring the spirit into our homes. She said when her children were little (she has six, three of which are very close in age) she would sing hymns all the time to make them stop yelling at each other. Even though the children are all teenagers, they still do that.

Most of the comments and stories shared came back to the same four things - build up your personal testimony, put your loved ones (and others!) before your self by giving service, let the Holy Ghost guide your actions, and love unconditionally.

If you haven't heard this talk in a while, I encourage you to listen to it. I especially love the anecdote he shares from his parents. I'm including my outline below for other TFOT teachers.

To My Grandchildren, Henry B. Eyring
His grandchildren, upon entering into marriage, asked him - What will lead me to happiness? What will cause unhappiness? (and I believe his context is “IN FAMILIES,” not so much personal happiness, though those two can often be the same).

How would you answer this?

Here’s what Pres. Eyring says:

Quote #1:
“For all of us, including my grandchildren contemplating marriage, there is one overarching commandment that will help us to meet the challenges and lead to the heart of a happy family life. It applies to all relationships regardless of circumstances. It is repeated throughout the scriptures and in the teachings of the prophets in our day. Here is the Bible wording of the Lord’s advice to all who want to live together forever in loving happiness:
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.””

Joy of the Atonement
Pres. Eyring says that for him, the question before “What leads to happiness” is really “What leads me to love the Lord with all my heart?” His answer is feeling the joy of forgiveness and the Atonement. He says to CHOOSE to put yourself where you feel the joy of forgiveness. How do you do this?

Service in the church
The second commandment is to love thy neighbor. I think we can accomplish this in many ways since our “neighbors” essentially are everyone. But Pres. Eyring focuses specifically on our callings. Here’s what he says:

Quote #2:
“That great blessing has come by encouraging people I care for to go to the Savior for relief from pain, a relief only He can give. That is why I urge those I love to accept and to magnify every calling offered them in the Church. That choice is one of the great keys to family happiness. The pressures at every stage of life can tempt us to reject or neglect calls to serve the Savior. That can put us in spiritual peril for ourselves, our spouse, and our families.”

How does neglecting a calling put you in spiritual peril?
He says that in serving others, our love for the Savior increases. Why is that?
He also says that as we serve, as are more likely to plead for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Has anyone found that to be true?

The Holy Ghost and Marriage
After Pres. Eyring emphasized the importance of pleading for the companionship of the Holy Ghost in callings, he then applies it to the family as well.

Quote #3:
“It is only with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage free from discord. I have seen how that companionship is crucial for felicity in a marriage. The miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven, and it takes time. Our goal is to live together forever in the presence of Heavenly Father and our Savior.”

This is my favorite part of his talk. He shares a personal story of his parents: His family had been living in New Jersey for 16 years because that’s where his father’s job was. It was really difficult for his mother to be so far from her family. His father was offered a new job opportunity that would take them back to Utah and asked his mother what she thought he should do. She answered that it was up to him and what he thought best. He turned down the offer and Mama Eyring got pretty upset. She left him a letter reminding him that he had made her a promise, many years ago, that if he ever could he would take them back to be near her family. He had forgotten about the promise and was surprised that she remembered and was upset. He went to her and said  “Mildred, why didn’t you tell me?” and she answered “You were supposed to remember.”

Why was it important for him to remember, not be told?
Why is Pres. Eyring using this story as an example of why we need the Holy Ghost?

Don’t Put Conditions on Love.
Not just for your spouse, but for your brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us no matter what, we should follow that example.

Pres. Eyring shared this story:
Quote #4:
“Years ago a friend of mine spoke of his grandmother. She had lived a full life, always faithful to the Lord and to His Church. Yet one of her grandsons chose a life of crime. He was finally sentenced to prison. My friend recalled that his grandmother, as she drove along a highway to visit her grandson in prison, had tears in her eyes as she prayed with anguish, “I’ve tried to live a good life. Why, why do I have this tragedy of a grandson who seems to have destroyed his life?”
The answer came to her mind in these words: “I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.”

He adds:
“Life in families will test us. That is one of God’s purposes in giving us the gift of mortality—to strengthen us by passing through tests. That will be especially true in family life, where we will find great joy and great sorrow and challenges which may at times seem beyond our power to endure them.”


At the beginning of this lesson, we discussed two questions - what leads to happiness in families? and what leads to unhappiness? After discussing Pres. Eyring’s talk, what can we add to that? What advice would you give to your children, or grandchildren?

My answer -
  • Purify yourself. President Eyring talks so much about the atonement and feeling the joy and love of Christ. None of us are perfect. But as become more like Christ, we are less likely to yell, judge, be angry. I think of flying - put your air mask on first before you help others.
  • Give Service. In families, I think of service as just always thinking about the other members of your family before yourself. Service is the opposite of selfish.
  • Listen to the Holy Ghost. Even if you’re doing the first two things, we often still fall short. And that’s why we need to constantly be checking in with the Holy Ghost, listening for things we may be missing.
  • Love unconditionally. Don’t give up on your family members because they are making choices you don’t approve of. Our Savior never gives up on you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More firsts: Petting Zoo and Bounce House

Every April, the town just a little bit south of us holds a Wiener Dog Race Festival. We have gone many times in the past with our little furballs and thought Punkito would enjoy it this year.

We watched a few races (she was confused and disinterested), played on the playground, rode a train, went in the petting zoo, and played in a bounce house.
They had several different inflatable things set up, many involving giant slides, gladiator competitions, dunk contests, etc. The plain jane bounce house was totally empty! So we put Em in it with Daddy. I don't think I would have done it with a bunch of other kids in it, but since it was empty it was perfect. We were not prepared for how much she loved it! She had a HUGE smile on her face the whole time and made happy screeching noises non-stop. Totally worth going.
So we had a great weekend. Oh, and little one is now 14 months old! Can't believe it. Love all her silly faces.

And unfortunately now (and possibly related...) Punkito is sick for the first time. The kid has a pretty awesome immune system - she made it 14 months without getting sick! She threw up pretty badly Sunday night and has been rocking a low-grade fever ever since. Poor kid :(
We're doing lots of Advil, naps, and lots and lots of baby snuggles (the only good part of a sick kiddo). I hate her being sick, but love those baby cuddles.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My fav green smoothie

You can't sign on to Pinterest without seeing a million and one green smoothies. So you probably don't need to see another one, but I'm going to do it anyway. Mostly because I've tried probably half those recipes looking for one I actually liked enough to try on Little One.

This one, though, is the keeper. I make it a couple times a week now and thankfully Little One likes it enough to slurp it up. I love that it's a quick an easy way to slip her some healthy fruit and veggies and she feels like she's getting a special treat.

Peachy Green Smoothie
A good handful of ice
1 heaping cup spinach
1 cup frozen sliced peaches
3/4 cup almond milk
half a very ripe large banana
honey to taste

Throw it all in a blender and puree until smooth! I usually do the ice first to make sure it gets broken up, then the spinach, and then the rest of the ingredients. Could be I just need a better blender :) This recipe makes a large glass-full for mom and half a sippy cup full for baby.

*Note: Most pediatricians recommend not giving honey to children less than 1. Keep this in mind if your little is very little.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Love list: More cute Little One and other things I'm drooling over

*Edited 4/27/14 - I don't know why the video didn't show up before! It should be there now.
1.  Em's new swimsuit
We had our first pool playdate of 2014 today and I got to bust out Punkito's new swimsuit. How cute is that?!? I die.
2. Spinning
Our little one can be quite serious. It's hard to really get her cracking up. But this week we discovered one sure way to give her the giggle - she LOVES to spin around in circles with mommy or daddy! Big huge grin on her face the whole time. The best part, of course, is watching her try and walk afterward ;)

3. Freshly Picked moccasins
How cute are these little shoes from Freshly Picked? One of my oldest friends has a daughter just a little older than Em who I follow (slash stalk) on Instagram and she has a pair of these. They are the cutest shoes!! I am trying to convince Hans why I need to spend $60 on them...
Look at the coral ones! Oooh, no, the polka dot ones... no the Aruba... or maybe the Glacier?? ahhhh, I want them all!

4. Haircut
Um, embarrassing: I haven't cut my hair since before Em was born. Like... at all. I know, gross, right? I'm just afraid to! I can probably count on one hand how many times I've had a haircut I like. It almost always goes awry. And let's be honest, I'm lazy. So I need the most low-maintenance style possible.
I'm dying to get my haircut like this, but wonder if my stick-straight, won't-hold-a-curl hair would look ok. Do you think it would take a lot of styling everyday? Especially for me, the styling dummy? I need a person stylist (Deb Palmer, where are you?!)

5. Master bedroom makeover
I have this terrible itch to do home improvement stuff. We did a bunch of stuff last week, but not the fun kind. We cleaned and organized the pantry (boo) and installed a new water heater (double boo) and did a bunch of deep spring cleaning.

But what I *really* want to do is makeover our bedroom. I'm thinking ... new paint, a cozy reading chair, a fun rug, and a bench for the end of the bed would be a good start. Who wants to sponsor my room makeover?
1. Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue 2. A trio of bw photos for over the bed? 3. Safavieh Soho rug 4. Target tufted chair 5. Target end of bed bench

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spiritual Thought: Two Witnesses

Confession. Sometimes we go to church and by the time we get home I couldn't tell you who spoke or taught, much less what they taught on. But I can tell you exactly how many pieces of paper and doorstops are in the hallway. And how many laps my kid did around the church. Guess who's counting days until nursery? Four months. I can do this...

But this past week, Easter Sunday, was a special treat. We took shifts with the baby so I got to actually pay attention to sacrament and relief society, both of which were exceptionally great this week.

The spiritual thought I wanted to share this week comes from our relief society lesson. It's out of the Joseph Fielding Smith manual, chapter 9.

We were talking about Moroni's promise in Chapter 10, v. 3:
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts."
Specifically, we discussed what it means to "ponder it in your hearts." One person said that "pondering" means that you kind of "marinate" the things you read, rather than just reading them and moving on. You let them stew a bit and develop. Someone else suggested that the word "heart" is critical because too often we seek after things with our intellect and ignore our heart.

But then one sister (our previous bishop's wife, who is kinda "Grams" for the whole ward) made a comment that I had never considered before and that's what I wanted to share with you today. She pointed to the law of witnesses that says “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” [2 Corinthians 13:1.] And then she said that both head and heart are necessary for our personal belief in truth. Our heart can be the first witness, but our head can be the second (or vice versa) and through the combination of these two we can establish our personal testimonies.
I'd love to attribute this photo... but I can't find the original source. Is it yours?
I loved this so much. I just sat there staring at her thinking... "how have I never thought of that before? That's awesome!" I've come to see how each person's testimony develops in a different way. Some people can let their heart lead and follow it. Others let logic be their guide. But I love the idea that both are crucial to our understanding and deepening knowledge of the Gospel.

So there's your five minute spiritual pick-me-up for the week. Trust your heart AND your head! (And Grams, you rock!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Easter Egg Hunt

While it wasn't technically Emma's first Easter, she was so teeny for her first one that I feel like this one counts as the first "real" one :)

Easter basket review:
  • LOVES the koosh ball duck. Seriously, Target dollar bin for the win!!
  • Loves the sippy cup and is drinking so much water I have to change her twice as often now.
  • Not too interested in the bubbles or the bunny, which I'm bummed about because the bunny is so cute and perfect carrying size! I actually think she subscribes to the "bigger is better" mentality for stuffed animals.
  • Favorite part of the Easter basket? That cheesy, fake pink "grass," of course.
Easter egg hunt:
This was so much more fun than we though it would be! We just scattered the eggs in our backyard and she went right for them!
At first she just kind of shook them and listened to the bunny grahams rattling around inside, but once we showed her how to put them in the basket, she did great. She'd pick up three or four, put them in her basket, dump them all out, and go find some new ones. This process repeated several times.
And how cute is her Easter dress? Her Mimi buys her the cutest dresses.

Hope you all had a blessed Easter!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Food for littles: Beyond Cheerios

Welcome to food for littles. I'm constantly trying to find different foods to try so that Punkito gets plenty of variety and nutrition. My qualifications are decently healthy and easy to pick up - she's an independent little one! If you're looking for toddler food ideas, hopefully you can get some inspiration from these galleries. And PLEASE - add your suggestions below. I find that we get into food ruts and eat the same thing over and over again. Right about now we could use some more ideas, so please send them!

Top L-R: avocado, brown rice, corn, black beans; cheese and avocado quesadilla and extra avocado; hard-boiled egg, rice pasta, strawberries
Middle: cheese, shredded carrot, whole wheat apple muffin, mango/strawberry fruit roll-up; mango and strawberry slices, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato puffs, cottage cheese; turkey hummus roll-up, zucchini and apple
Bottom: scrambled eggs and celery (and a jar of pears and blueberries just to make sure she gets SOMETHING in her tummy - she's not been eating much lately!); blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and a whole wheat English muffin (this was actually both her and my meal - we split it :)); hardboiled egg, cheese, turkey and cuties

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter freebies

Happy Good Friday!

I'm about to take off to enjoy a wonderful three-day weekend with my little family, but first I have some Easter freebies for ya. Have a blessed Easter!

*This one was made with free hand-drawn circle graphics from We Lived Happily After. It's a lovely set, be sure to check it out for your own projects

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Love List: Yummy things, Easter, Divergent and more

1. Trader Joes' White Cheddar Corn Puffs
We are... kind of obsessed with these. We went to TJ's in the Woodlands and bought two bags, and Em and I have finished off a whole one already. She'll actually cry 'til I give her more. Addicting!
2. Easter basket
I'm so excited to be able to put together a baby Easter Basket this year! Last year she was too little. We don't really give her sugar or many snacks, even, so it was kinda hard trying to figure out what to put in her Easter Basket - I always associate Easter Baskets with candy!

Mostly, just wandering around Target helped (when does it NOT? #targetdoesitagain). So she's getting a stuffed bunny, a sippy cup that looks like the most adorable fox ever, some bunny-shaped bubbles (Yay for bubbles!), and a duck-duck koosh ball (do they still call them that?) We will do an egg hunt with these fun colored, cheapy plastic eggs filled with Annie's bunny grahams. Em already thinks the eggs are "Ba"s and she is fascinated  by the concept of taking them apart and trying to put them back together. Can't wait to see her go find them in the yard!

3. This funny face
She keeps doing this and I have no idea why, but it's hilarious and cracks me up. Now she does it just to get laughs. What the heck is she doing? Funny baby!

4. Divergent movie date night!
We took advantage of staying with Mimi and PaPaw to sneak out for a late movie after Punkito went to sleep. What a nice treat! Hans hasn't read the book, and I think he went in with very low expectations. I also think he was surprised that he really liked it and will now be reading the book.

I have some conflicting feelings on it. On the most basic level, I really enjoyed the movie. It's always great to see how a plot comes off the pages and translates into action, music, voice. The film was very suspenseful and I liked how they rendered Chicago and the Dauntless Pit. The acting wasn't too bad and that dude that plays Four is *so* pretty. I'm not sure how I feel about Shailene Woodley as Tris. I still will always see her as that chick from Secret Life. I think she did a fine job, she's just not what I pictured Tris looking like. She's supposed to be small, easy to underestimate, a "little girl!" I just didn't get that vibe from her.
My bigger complaint was how far the movie deviated from the book. There was some weird twisting of events and missing characters (Edward and his eye, anyone?). But that ending scene in the control room... were they just trying to get the most bang for their buck with Kate Winslet? Give her some more screen time? Weird. I couldn't get over that. I guess I can see an argument that the film adaptation's version was more dramatic and grandiose - the book's scene was very ordinary and almost uneventful. But isn't that what Dauntless is - acts of ordinary bravery?

On to reading Insurgent now. It feels a lot more tightly written than Divergent, so we shall see. What were your thoughts?

5. Oh, Just a Little Bit of Everything
The kid brother has a blog! I'm excited that he's getting into photography. It's still new for him, but the kid really has a good eye. And his writing style is (like him) crazy and funny and crazyfunny. Check him out:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

365 BoM Challenge

One of my main goals and motivations in transitioning to a SAHM has been to teach my child about the Gospel and help find ways to bring the Spirit into our home. I'm still figuring out ways to work on that with her (and I would love to hear your suggestions!), but I'm finding that one of the main means to accomplish this end is to increase my personal study and understanding of the Gospel. So every week I'll share just a little bit about what I have been studying that week. It helps that I'm currently serving as the Teaching For Our Times teacher in Relief Society, so expect to see some thoughts from those lessons, too. I always learn more preparing for the lesson than I'm sure the women learn when I teach it.

But to kick things off, I wanted to share something neat that I have been doing since Jan. 1. Many of you know I'm a wee bit addicted to Instagram. Thankfully, a genius LDS couple in Arizona is using that addiction to help me read!

Follow @bofm365 on Instagram for a daily reading "assignment" and participate in discussion in the comments section. So far, I've been able to stay on track and it's really helping! I always putter around on my phone while nursing and use the LDS library app on my phone to read right then. It's been great. I bet if you start now, you could catch up in no time. Give it a try!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bluebonnets in Texas!

Last weekend we visited our family in The Woodlands. Ok, so Aaron isn't my brother by blood, but he's been my "other brother" as long as I can remember and his parents are my "other parents" and Mimi and PaPaw to Punkito.

And Mimi loves to dress her grandkids in matching outfits. So what do we do when they look adorably matchy-matchy? We stick them in bluebonnets and take a ton of pictures. While they refuse to hold still. Too bad we couldn't find a good patch! I may have to take her out and try again.