Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When I Think About

When I think about my friend Al, I think about Jon Bon Jovi and singing along to the instrumental songs on the Lion King soundtrack.  I think about lobster and Old Soakers and the sound of the ocean.  I think about delphinium and watering chickens.  When I think about Al, my best friend from high school, I think about fireplaces and Frosh and cold frosty nights.  I think about long cozy naps, and making Bubble jam.  I think about eating doughnuts in a mad frenzied panic because we've crossed the wrong bridge in New York City, and that mistake costs us 9 dollars in tolls.  (Thank you ever so much Throgs Neck Bridge. May I never see you again.) 

When I think about my friend Al I think about loyalty, kindness, and how much a few simple truths can change a life.  When I think about her I think about courage and determination and never giving up.  I think about a purple pig on top of my fridge, and how it already (I repeat already!) has seven cents in it.  Here we go!

Thanks for coming to visit me. I love you.




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas

Last night was Christmas Eve, that holy night, that most holy of all nights.  The stars were brightly shining.  It was the night of our dear Savior’s birth.  Long had lain the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.  A thrill of hope, and the weary world rejoiced! For yonder broke a new and glorious morn.  Fall on your knees, and hear the angel voices! It was a night divine, when Christ was borne.  Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise his holy name! Christ is the Lord, let ever, ever praise we. (1)
Our Christmas story started with the trumpeting of angels.  “Glory to the newborn king!” They proclaimed. “Peace on earth, and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled.  Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!” (2)
Their audience was a group of lowly shepherds, guarding their flock of sheep in a field.  While they watched their flock by night, far far away on Judea’s plains, those shepherds of old heard the joyous strains, “Glory to God! Glory to God! Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth good will toward men!”  Those shepherds followed the star and it led them to the newborn babe.  (3)
The little family so earnestly sought by the shepherds were in the town of Bethlehem because of a requirement to pay a tax in the city of their lineage.  O dear little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie, above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light! The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.  For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above, while mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love.  O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth!  And praises sing to God the king and peace to men on earth! (4)
Those seeking Him found the precious baby in that city lying in a manger, with no crib for his bed.  The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head. The stars in the heavens look down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.  The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes. But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes. (5)
When the shepherds entered the manger, they found Joseph watching steadfastly over his wife Mary, and her newborn son.  The shepherds and Joseph watched Mary lovingly care for her newborn son, singing him sweet lullabies to soothe him back to sleep.  Silent night, holy night, all is calm. All is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace. (6)
And as she lulled her baby back to sleep, the earth itself rejoiced.  Joy to the world! The Lord is come, let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare him room, while saints and angels sing.  Rejoice rejoice, when Jesus reigns, and Saints their songs employ! While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy! (7)
There was another group of righteous men who also saw the star, and understanding its meaning set out to seek the Christ child.  With wondering awe the wise men saw the star in heaven springing, and with delight in peaceful night they heard the angels singing, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to his name!” By light of star they travelled far to seek the lowly manger, a humble bed wherein was laid the humble little Stranger.  And still is found the world around the old and hallowed story, and still is sung in every tongue the angels’ song of glory! (8)
And that is our miraculous, beautiful story, of once upon a time in Royal David’s city when there stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed.  Mary was that mother mild, and Jesus Christ her little child.  It is our job to come all ye faithful!  Let us be joyful and triumphant!  O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem! Come and behold him, born the king of angels!  Let us sing with choirs of angels and let us sing in exultation!  Sing all ye citizens of heaven above,  “Glory to God, glory to God in the highest” - o come let us adore Him!  (9)
President Uchtdorf said, “[Let us] celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah. [Let us] rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy in heaven was so great it could not be contained, and angelic hosts parted the veil, proclaiming unto shepherds “good tidings of great joy, . . . praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Wise Men “rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when . . . they saw the young child with Mary his mother, [they] fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts.” It is only fitting that we—like the Wise Men, shepherds, and angels—take time to rejoice and celebrate that glorious first Christmas Day.” Close quote. (10)
President Uchtdorf also said about our modern Christmas celebrations, “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events . . . nothing short of perfection will do. Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs . . . the turkey burns, the sweater is the wrong size, the toys are missing batteries, the children quarrel, the pressure rises—and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.
           
But then, if we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us that will direct or redirect our attention to the sublime. It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture; we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time, to its words; or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life we too often use to adorn it.” Close quote. (11)
Today as we celebrate the birth of Christ I would like to encourage you to look past the minor things of life that we typically use to adorn the holiday, and focus more on the sturdy and enduring aspects of it: the message of Christ’s love for all of us.  Do as Uchtdorf suggested and find a quiet moment to read the account in Luke, and ponder what it really might have been like for that little family on that night, and what it meant and still means to people all the world over.  Play the sacred carols, and let their sweet melodies and joyful lyrics embed themselves in your heart.  Don’t wait to witness a sincere expression of love—create a sincere expression of love!  Smile, laugh, hug, play.  Praise Heavenly Father and thank the Lord for the gifts they have given us this day, and every day.  Renew commitments made to yourself, your family, and your Savior.
I know some of you are perhaps finding it difficult to feel the joy and happiness of this season.  Life can be overwhelming sometimes, and pretty songs and lights don’t make problems vanish, as nice as that would be.  The December issue of the Ensign has an article by David L. Frischknecht.  In that article he tells of a time when he was Bishop and feeling weighed down by the burdens the members of his ward were carrying.  He knelt to pray for them, and as he reviewed their individual troubles he felt the weight of their suffering literally pressing down on him.  As he prayed he felt a clear and powerful answer that God was very aware of each individual and their needs.  He felt comforted by the Holy Spirit, as if it said to him, “Bishop, let the Lord take these burdens. Rise up. Do the best you can. Things will work out for these people. You’ll be fine, too. Go be their bishop. The Lord will be their Savior.”  I have spent a lot of time this month thinking about that.  Christ’s sacrifice is for each of us, that precious baby who grew up to be our Savior knows us and our pains and troubles, and He loves us, and we need to remember to let Him be our Savior.  (12)
And so, on this glorious Christmas day, and any other day, if you, like so many right now, are feeling lost, or concerned with difficulties in your life, I would just like to remind you, in the words of Brother Frischknecht,  that “Before and after He was a baby in Bethlehem and a carpenter in Nazareth, He was and is the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth. He was and is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Holy and Only Begotten Son of the Living God. ... May we remember and believe that He has all wisdom and all power in heaven and in earth ... And may we have faith that He yet condescends to help and lift the least and the last, even you, even me.” (12)
There may be many things that you do not have this Christmas season.  There may be things that have been taken from you due to the current economic situation, or a health situation, but there is something that can never be taken from you.  This beautiful Christmas story is unlike any other story ever told: it has no ending, the characters are all real, and that precious baby lying so peaceful and sweet is our living Savior and Redeemer.  When we know that, when that truth becomes real in our lives, no one can take it away from us, and it can compensate for all other losses if we allow it to.
I know he lives. I know he loves me and I know he loves each of you.  I know that men are that they might have joy, and that Christ is the light which cannot be hid in darkness. (13)  As today goes on and the sun sets, take a quiet moment to look at the lights on the tree, the lights on the houses, and let go your troubles, and let your heart be full of joy for Jesus Christ, he who is the light and the life of the world (14).  Let him be a light in your darkest night.
(1) O Holy Night
(2) Angels We Have Heard on High
(3) Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains
(4) O Little Town of Bethlehem
(5) Away In A Manger copyright 1980 Rosalee Elser
(6) Silent Night
(7) Joy To The World
(8) With Wondering Awe
(9) Once In Royal David’s City
(10) Uchtdorf, Dieter F., 2010 "Seeing Christmas through New Eyes," 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, (December 5, 2010)
(11) Uchtdorf, Dieter F., 2011 “Of Curtains, Contentment and Christmas, “ 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional, (December 4, 2011)
(12) Fricshknecht, David L. “The Condesscension of Jesus Christ,” 2011 Ensign, December 2011
(13) Doctrine and Covenants 14:9
(14) Mosiah 16:9

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Serious Talk

I think it is time to get serious and discuss something that has been on my mind for a while.  I need your honest input, and please try to stay objective and give me the straight facts.

I have three main discussion points that I would like to bring to the floor.

1. What is Spam really, have you tried it, and is it delicious?

2. How did Spam become SPAM, a word used for unwanted online messages?  I mean, for posted mail we have "junk mail", and who/how/when/why did someone decide that for emails the word should be "SPAM"?

3. I get a ridiculous amount of SPAM comments on my blog.  They used to always comment on really old posts, and I'd have to go through my archives, find the post, and delete the comment.  Not only that, but they were also fairly to extremely offensive in nature (not to me personally, but to people of values and standards in general), and one in particular for some reason or another would not delete, and I started crying, and finally had to delete the entire post, copying and saving all of the comments, reposting the post, and then reposting all of my friend's comments. (Nerd alert.)  But now Blogger has really improved their system, and there is a nice separate folder for SPAM comments so I can delete them before they ever show up on my blog for the public to see, AND since the update, even though I actually get MORE spam comments now, for the most part they  have not been offensive.  They usually start off by complimenting me on my creative/inspiring/aesthetically pleasing blog, and then there is a long link to some website where you can buy GREAT cell phones for CHEAP! 

This one in particular made me smile, and if whoever wrote it is by chance an actual reader of my blog who just happened to also be a salesmen of GREAT cell phones for CHEAP, then to that person I would like to say, thanks for the sweet comment.
"Never thought blogging could be sooooo fun and interesting. Man you know how to do it brother." and from the link it looks like this person wants to sell you an Android.

In comparison, this is what most of the SPAM comments I get lately look like:
"Thanks on creating one of the most stylish blogs I have come across in a long time! It's truly incredible how much you are able to take away from some thing simply because of how aesthetically gorgeous it is. Youve created a fantastic be site fantastic graphics , structure. site!"
and this one wanted to sell educational toys for kids, actually. A departure from the cell phones!

So my question on this third point is, do you get SPAM comments like this too, or is my blog somehow targeted? Occasionally I get 100 hits a day from Pakistan, all to the same post... and then the next day that post will have a spam comment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just To Be Clear

 I would just like to clear something up.  I even took pictures so that you wouldn't have to take my word for it.  Those of you who live around here, and see us frequently throughout the week, might have developed the opinion that I spend more time on Hallie - her hair, her outfit, the cleanliness of her face.  Because when they stand side by side when we are out and about it often certainly looks that way.  I would just like to state here, for the record, that when we leave the house they are in equal states of cuteness.  While it's true that I don't spend as much time on Hanna's hair as I do on Hallie's, that is just because it is much shorter and so I really have only three options: comb it, ponytail it, or pigtail it.  Which I do. Every day (or nearly...).  And every time while we are in the car on our way to wherever we are going, she pulls it all out.  That's why when we arrive Hallie looks great, and Hanna looks like I have let birds nest in her hair.

To reiterate: Hanna really is cute too, I promise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Child's Play

What they don't tell you about being a stay at home mother is that sometimes it is boring (or am I the only mom who feels that way sometimes?)  When Hallie was old enough to play, but refused to play by herself, I would at times sit down and "play" with her.  But at that age her playing wasn't all that involved, it wasn't all that interesting, and day after day of it, I think you get the picture.
She's older now though, and much more willing to play on her own, and she loves imagining and playing pretend.  She comes up with the craziest stories, and she gets involved in the most intricate role playing scenarios.  And as she has grown up her favorite type of playing also happens to be what I enjoyed playing most when I was a little girl.  That's why, even though I made this for Hallie, it's usually me that ends up playing with it most.
 
 Here you can see the fire truck on its way to save the day, and the pig on his way to the market. Bacon. Nice.  You can see the parking lots I made, and the various buildings we have in our town, usually an assortment of grocery stores, schools, houses, etc.
 Here you can see in the corner the swimming pool, which Paula Purple is driving home from, right next to the lake and beach with fish (that's my favorite).
Here's the farm, probably where the pig was born and raised.  I need to get more farm animals... that horse looks kind of lonely.

They usually have a zoo set up too, but we didn't get to that this time.  Excuse their jammies, I was so excited to play I didn't even get them dressed until after...

Who knows what we'll come up with next!

Thanks Pinterest! (I got the idea from here.)

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today was a special day for me.  It was the day that marked the culmination of four and a half years of hard work, and I was proud of myself for what I had accomplished.  My classmates, peers, and friends gathered together in robes and silly hats and waited for their turn to walk across a stage, their name scrolling across a large screen, to collect a piece of paper in front of a crowd of hundreds of people, filled with their own friends and families.

On that day, five years ago, I was not in a robe. I was not in the auditorium.  I was not with my classmates, and none of my family was in the audience.  I remember I was sitting in a chair in a building on campus we referred to as the Institute.  The Institute is a building that only a very small percentage of Purdue students know about, and yet it will always be the most special one over there to me.  The students who are lucky enough to discover it find a safe haven, a place to study, eat, nap, laugh, socialize, fall in love, take religion classes, and even attend church on Sundays.  I'm sure I spent many more cumulative hours there than anywhere else on campus during my years at Purdue University.

And even on the day of my college graduation that's where I sat.  Waiting for something even more exciting and important to me to happen.  In eleven days I was going to marry my favorite person in the world, and I was going to marry him in the Nauvoo temple.  And I was much more caught up in thinking about wedding dresses than graduation robes.

this picture is from here.

In order for that to happen though, first I had to meet with a couple of people, who would make sure that I was living in a certain way, because only those who are willing to make and keep the promise to live this way can enter this building.  I waited in the chair and reflected on my life.  I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't gamble, I keep myself morally clean, I am honest in my interactions with others, I donate 10% of my income, and I do my best to be the best person I can be.  I was ready for this interview.

You might be wondering why I scheduled my interview for the exact same time as my college graduation.  Yes, a good question.  The man that I had to see is an incredibly busy man, and when the time came for me to schedule an appointment with him, he was gone to various places in Europe all but a few days out of that entire month.  I couldn't be terribly choosy, he did after all also have a family that wanted to see him at least a little bit the few days he was home.

And not once in five years have I regretted missing my graduation.  Every single day for five years I am glad that I sat in that chair and waited.  It has been a beautiful five years.

If you want to know more about the temple and why it was so important to me to go there, click here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Snowman Yoga

Two weeks ago on Saturday we got a couple of inches of fluffy, beautiful snow.  Hallie begged and begged all morning long to go out and play in it.  When we put Hanna down for her nap I talked Devin into taking her out.  I sat on the couch and watched them stomp and romp and finally get down to the business of building snowmen.
This is actually Devin with Hanna, she went out for a few minutes when she woke up.

At first they built just a little baby one.  After that one was done they came inside for Hallie to go potty, and she was very concerned that the little snowman didn't have a mommy.  I told her to tell Daddy he needed to make a mommy snowman for the baby one.  So of course, good man that he is, he built a mommy snowman.

Every morning Hallie and Hanna would check on baby snowman and mommy snowman like their very existences depended on the well being of this little snowman family.  Then one morning, after a warm(ish) night, mommy snowman looked a little different.  The girls were all riled up, until Daddy and I explained that she was just bowing.
Then we had another warm(ish) night and the next morning her forehead was almost touching the ground.  This time I told the girls that the mommy snowman was doing yoga.  She continued to do a downward dog in a more and more extreme position for about a week, until finally one morning we woke up and there was nothing left outside but sticks.  A pile of sticks.  I guess if we go out and pick up those sticks before it snows again we can recycle them when we make our next snowman family.

Much better yoga than I could do, even when I am not in my current physical state of limitations.  Devin was very impressed that she was somehow defying the law of gravity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hallie's Talk

We've been staying after church for a couple of hours every week the past few Sundays while Devin does tithing settlement.  I realize that I could come home with the girls, but it seems to me that they are easier to entertain when there is a huge gym with basketballs, and rooms to explore, and drinking fountains, than at home with their same old same old dolls and whatnot.  So we stay.

Hallie likes to stand at the pulpit in the seminary room and give talks.  I managed to write down this one as she gave it last Sunday:

Thanks for my heart because it helps me think of my brain.
When it comes to love you can see again.
Don't ever cry over toys, just always say please.
On Tuesday we go to church and then on Monday we will be taken to heaven.

The only part about this that makes me nervous is that I really do go to church on Tuesdays, twice actually, in the morning for Music Makers and in the evening for activities with the young women...

what if this is an "out of the mouths of babes" type thing?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Santa Baby

Santa loves me, yes he does.


It is unclear which of us is having the most fun, but I dare say I think it is me.


Devin and I like to give ourselves the big presents early, apparently.

So for the people who like to know details: It is a Schmoller and Mueller.  Don't worry if you've never heard of it, it was a local piano store in downtown Lincoln, I don't know when they went out of business but this particular piano is about 50 years old.  We bought it at a music store that was right next to the Schmoller and Mueller piano company, when they were still in business.  It is the perfect piano for our little sticky-fingered, still- learning- how- to- play family.  Although, since having it I've been playing about an hour every day and if I can say so, I am much better than I thought I was. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deal With It

Hallie never took a pacifier as a baby.  She was more than happy to suck on one if I was willing to hold it in her mouth, but the minute I removed the pressure keeping it in her mouth, it fell out, and she never showed any signs of missing it

Until she was two years old.  She found some of her pacifiers that I had been saving in case Hanna wanted one when she was born (she didn't) and suddenly Hallie had an intense and constant need for one.  At first I thought it was just a phase, and I thought it was kind of funny and cute, and whatever. I let her have it.  But when it became really clear that she wasn't going to give it up, it became an issue of frustration for me: I'm going to have to deal with weaning her from the pacifier when I had never enjoyed the benefits from it when she actually "needed" it as an infant.

We went through a few tantrums and now I just keep them hidden out of her sight, because if she sees one lying around (as I prepare for Heather - do you think she'll take one?) she pops it right in her mouth and another fight ensues, and I am so so so tired of that fight.  I mean, it just seems really especially useless since she never wanted one as a baby.

That being said, I think what we're entering now is worse.  On Sunday she would not stop sucking her thumb.  ?!?!?!?!?!

Now, I'm fine with thumb sucking in general for babies and young toddlers.  But like with the pacifier, I never once saw Hallie put ANY of her fingers in her mouth at any time, in fact sometimes when she has some food item on them and we are somewhere without napkins (say, in the car and she's had a sticky candy) I tell her to suck on her fingers - and she will not. She just never seemed to understand the concept.  Until now, apparently. 

And so, much like with the pacifier, I find myself with an almost four year old who never sucked her thumb when that could have come in handy as a soothing technique, and now I'm going to have to wean her from that too.

I am hoping and praying it doesn't become a big deal, when Devin saw her do it he got into a big fight with her about it, a battle of wills.  When I saw Hallie do it later I didn't want to get caught in that, causing her to suck on it just to spite me (which she would totally do) and so I pulled it out of her mouth and I said, "What do you have on here? Strawberry jam?" and I thoroughly inspected her thumb. She stared at me like I was crazy, and popped it back in her mouth. I pulled it out again and said, "Oh, do you have something stuck in your mouth that you are trying to get out? Let me see." And I tipped her back and pretended to try and look in her mouth while tickling her.  This distracted her enough that she did not put it back in... but will this work every time?


AND last, but not least, where did this come from?! Is it normal for kids to pick up these behaviors at the age when I would have thought they should stop them?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I Believe in Someday.

One of Devin's colleagues enjoys taking pictures, and has an entire studio-like setup in his basement.  He and his wife invited us over for lunch and to have family pictures taken.  Given that we are so bad at taking pictures of ourselves, how could we pass up this opportunity? Not to mention the fact that they are from Sri Lanka, and the food was fantastic and delicious.  I've been craving it ever since...

I never really saw the pictures that he took, because not only are we bad at taking pictures we are bad at printing them, looking at them, cherishing them, etc.  But I found them today! And some are kind of funny.  I present you, Rose Family circa Spring 2011.

 Waiting for Mommy to be ready, or something.
 I'm really not sure what I'm so excited about.
If only Hallie smiled like this for all pictures, we'd be set.  Hanna is finally looking less bored with life too!

Someday we'll try again to take family pictures. And someday I just know we'll have a good one.
Someday.  I really believe in it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winners Announced!

The winner of the tutu is: Tarver Family
The winner of the hair accessory is: Karin
The winner of the yellow watercolor by Hallie is: mimihalley
The winner of the green watercolor by Hallie is: Grandpa
The winner of the strawberry watercolor by Amy is: Alison
The winner of the Thanksgiving magnets is: "M"
The winner of the Autumn magnets is: The Plant Princess
The winner of the everyday magnets is: MJ
The winner of the Mary Kay makeup is: The Maughan-sters
The winner of the homemade chocolate covered peanuts is: Kim Davis

Congratulations winners, and thanks for playing everyone! I had a lot of fun.  I need the winners to send me their addresses to my 14 roses email address, that's at gmail and there are no spaces.

Thanks!!