Monday, September 29, 2008

Thanks Grandma Tammy!

Cory's mom has been making the boys these adorable small holiday pillow-cases. They are so fun and the boys love changing the pillow cases when there's a new holiday.

Apparently they also love using these to be "ghosts". Gabe was being silly with his on his head and of course Hunter had to try to join in. It's scary how Hunter copies everything Gabe does.....cute, but scary....

So thanks Grandma Tammy - the boys love them!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

They teach us so much....

Today I have a heart full of gratitude - gratitude for children and what they teach us. Isn't it amazing how much our children, and the children around us are our teachers? You'd think logically - they are younger than us, we are the adults - we should be teaching them. And we do - but I think the really important things we learn are the things we learn from our little ones. Today I had 3 different experiences that just touched my heart and taught me so much about our Heavenly Father's love for us.
  • Our ward Primary program was today. We've been working on it for weeks and weeks and I was kind of nervous. Our primary is HUGE - not just kind of big - but HUGE. (For example - I teach the CTR 7 class. We have 15 kids in our class, and we have 2 CTR 7 classes in our wardbecause there are so many kids this age!) I was particularly nervous because the other teacher I generally teach with just had a baby yesterday afternoon, so she wouldn't be there. We have one boy in our class who is disabled and is in a wheel-chair. Truthfully I don't know the extent of his abilities, or the details - but it makes me a bit nervous because I'm not real familiar with dealing directly with him - we have 2 teachers in our class, as well as another Sister who comes in just to help with him - kind of as an aide. Anyway, I was going to be directly in charge of him through the program and it was causing me some anxiety. (In addition to being in a wheelchair and not being able to communicate well he also has no control over one of his arms, and hits if you are on the wrong side - hard. It had happened to me several times a few weeks ago when his helper didn't come and I was learning a bit more about how to help him, and I was nervous about it happening again, and nervous about making sure it didn't happen to any of the other kids.) Anyway, I said a special prayer that I would be able to do what I needed to do today and that I would still be able to enjoy the spirit of the program without being too stressed. And you know what? My prayers were answered! My sweet little friend was so sweet. He can't sing the songs, but he held my hand and swung my hand back and forth to the beat of the music. He would tap my knee and communicated to me with his heart. I wasn't afraid of taking care of him anymore. Do you want to know what I felt? I felt love. Not only did I feel love for each of my primary kids as I watched them, but I felt SO MUCH love for this special little boy. As the kids sang "I am a Child of God" and the song "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" tears just poured down my face as I could feel of this little boy's spirit and the love that our Heavenly Father had for him -and for me. It was one of the more special experiences I've had with those sweet primary children. I was reminded that our Heavenly Father loves those sweet spirits so much, and they are such innocent and strong spirits! The progam went fantastic and I am so blessed to have been a part of it!
  • Today at church I also had an experience with one of my old Young Women. After it happened I was just so overwhelmed and in awe of the love (once again) that our Heavenly Father has for us. As my heart was breaking and I was wondering what I could do to make things better for her I got to thinking of our Heavenly Father. If I felt such anguish for this one girl who I don't even have a responsibility for anymore - I can't even fathom the experience of being a Heavenly Parent who watches the struggles we all have. Think of the numbers of children that our Heavenly Parents have sent to earth, and they've watched as we each struggle and feel pain because of our decisions or because of the trials we are faced with - and yet they sent us anyway because they knew it was what we needed to do, and what would be best for us. WOW! I can't even comprehend that love. I have found though that as being a parent (and youth leader both in Primary and Young Women) that I am getting more of a glimpse of that love that our Heavenly Father and Mother have for us.
  • Lastly was an experience we just had as we were getting the boys ready for bed. We ask Gabe what he learned in Nursery every week and most of the time he tells us about the truck he played with, or how his friend Noah was there today (in fact today one of the things he said was, "Noah was there. He kept wanting to hug and kiss me....I didn't really like that...." - funny kid). Anyway, we asked him as usual and didn't get much of a reply. But then later we were going on a drive to see the fall leaves as a family and Gabe starts talking about that "big girl who was talking today about the Plan" and how she said, "Hooray!" It took us a little coaxing to understand what exactly he was talking about (because he brought this up at a very random moment) - but he was talking about The Plan of Salvation, and referring to the idea that we shouted for joy when we heard of the plan for us to get a body and come to earth. A light went on and we talked about it for a moment - I was very proud to realize that he had learned something very important about the gospel - and he seemed to understand it! Well then as we were saying family prayer tonight Gabe said our prayer and said some really sweet things. After he was done he came over to me for a hug and kiss and I said, "Buddy - I'm so grateful for THE PLAN that you learned about today. I'm so grateful that you decided to come to earth and get a body, and that I got to be your mom!" Gabe looked at me and said, "Oh mom - I need to thank Heavenly Father for that too!" He went back to kneeling and said, "Oh yeah, Heavenly Father - I'm so thankful for The Plan" and ended his prayer again. I was crying again because it touched my heart to know that Gabe knew the wonderful plan that our Heavenly Father set out for us was something we should be grateful for. What an example to me!

So I hope that as you interact with the precious spirits that are on the earth right now as children that you will take a moment to give them an extra hug, have some extra patience, and try a little extra hard this week to be taught by them. They can try our patience, but if we take a moment - they can teach and love us so much.

General Conference Packet

Last Conference time I posted a link to a great General Conference Activity Pack. The person who put together the original packet posted on my blog with a note recently saying that she had an updated version for October Conference on her blog.

So go to Genny's Blog, download your packet and enjoy conference!
I also searched on one of my favorite websites ( for Conference Clip Art and found this link full of great things to print for your kids.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gabe & Dr Seuss

Gabe was entertaining himself today with an Oriental Trading catalog (one of his favorite things). He was looking at some pictures of skeletons and I explained that he had a skeleton inside of his body. I tickled his ribs and let him poke at the bones in my arms, etc. Then we had this conversation:

  • Gabe: "Mom - those people looked at the bones inside of my body."
  • Mom: "Really? Who looked at the bones in your body?"
  • Gabe: "My doctor - DR. SEUSS!"
I laughed and laughed (I couldn't help it!) - and then the poor guy almost started to cry because I was making fun of him. Oh buddy - I wasn't making fun of you - I was simply thinking how funny a dr visit with Dr Seuss could be!

Messy Hunter

I've had a little time today to myself (which hasn't happened at ALL lately) so I'm indulging in some digital scrapping.

Fall Ranger Ride

Kermit knows best

I saw this quote on my friend Keri's blog and just loved it. Kermit Frog got it right:

Real beauty—and health—can't be seen in the mirror; it's inside of you. Real beauty is who you are and how you treat people. How you look is just the packaging to carry that beauty around.

(--Kermit the Frog)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

last one for today

Man - I'm on a blogging roll today. I am stepping away from the computer....

Here are just 2 more pictures Gabe insisted I take this evening when I was taking pictures of the shop. I love these boys - all 3 of them.

Our messy boy

Cory came home early from church with Hunter on Sunday because it felt like Hunter was coming down with a fever. He was hot when we got home and continued with a fever the last several days. Monday night his fever reached 104.5 and was stuck between there and 100 for the last couple of days. We ended up taking him into the after-hours clinic at our pediatrician's office last night when his fever kept going up. They looked the poor guy over, ran several tests (strep test, CBC) and came to the conclusion that he had a very red throat, but the dr couldn't determine "for sure" if it was a virus or something bacterial. She said that it was leaning towards a viral infection - but the test results weren't conclusive. Anyway, she decided not to prescribe Hunter an anti-biotic and said that after a few days he should be doing better. Nice - glad I just paid them a couple hundred dollars to tell me that....

Anyway - today he's gotten a bit better, and even had a bit of an appetite. If nothing else he had enough energy to make a HUGE mess of his dinner (I'm a rotten mom - we had Wendy's drive-through again tonight....) He insists on feeding himself and he's a disaster! (but cute - huh?)

Cory's new building

Well here are some pictures of our new building. It's most of the way done....they finished the carpet on Monday in the upstairs office. We still need to have minor touch-up paint done, the built in reception desk finished, and the displays moved into the show-room. But for all intents and purposes - it's done.

These pictures are of Cory's office....but I didn't capture my favorite part of the room....there is one wall that is an exterior wall - and it is brick. Some people have suggested to paint the brick - but I actually really like the look of it. The beams on the ceiling are exposed and it all just looks cool. (at least I think it does). It's a large office and he's going to have it separated into kind of a sitting area and office area.

These aren't the best pictures - but this kind of shows the conference area. As you come up the stairs there is a large area with a table and chairs - where they'll have office meetings. Then off to the left side of the table is where Cory's office is. We will be putting in shutters into the 2 cutout windows on the sides of Cory's office door. Then there are 2 offices to the right of the tables. We are going to be renting one of them to a friend of Cory's for his office, and the other office will be for our salesman and another part-time employee who will be overseeing the shutter business. He also runs the blind cleaning business we sold to a friend of ours, and will use that office to do that as well. We are also renting out a space in the shop for the blind cleaning business.

These are pictures of the shop where the shutters are being manufactured. Not everyone knew taht we were going to be doing this now - so I'll explain. When we bought the building we also bought a business - Deseret Wood Shutters. We are now manufacturing our own custom wood shutters. We are mostly fulfilling our own jobs for now, but will eventually be doing jobs for other Blind Guy franchises as well as anyone else in the area who are interested. It's been an adventure getting things going - but I *think* it's a good thing. (for the business anyway - we rarely see Cory anymore!) Anyway - this is a glimpse of where the shutters are made.

The kitchenette & bathroom. Yes - there is a shower in the bathroom...just in case Cory decides to move into the shop....(?) And here is the entrance too.

This is what will be the show-room area. The desk is where the built-in receptionist desk will be and the rest of the room will be filled with blind/shutter/awning displays. I am excited to see this part of the shop all finished. We don't have much walk-in business - we are a "shop-at-home" business - where we bring the samples to the customer's home. But I am excited to see how having a full-fledged show-room changes things. Hopefully it will be a nice addition and help reach customers who want to go somewhere to purchase their blinds. We'll still go to customer's homes for measuring and things - but some just want us to have an official space for them to come to.


Gabe: Mom - do you 'member when we were asleep that one time and when we woke up Santa had come and brought us lots of presents and toys????
Me: Yes - I remember that.
Gabe: I think we should do that again. Yeah - I think it's a good idea to do that again real soon.

Buds with blue tounges

A day does not go by that Gabe doesn't BEG for his best friend Noah to come over. We don't have a lot of little boys on our road that are Gabe's age (in fact - there is only one other!) so Noah and Gabe get to spend a lot of time together. It's great because Noah's mom Tracey is so great at taking turns - and I think it's been really good for the boys. It's' such a relief to me that I know when Gabe's over at Noah's house that he's well take care of (Thanks Tracey!)

They love to have "car washes" at Noah's house, go to the park, take ranger rides, play cars and trucks, and eat treats.

Yesterday it was really fun to just sit back and listen to them playing. They had the funniest conversations! They kept saying, "I'm coming! I'm coming to save your life!" They played a bit rough, ran in the house, and had a blast just being boys. I loved watching my sweet boy making a friendship that I hope will continue for a long time. I enjoyed them sharing and teaching each other little things while they played.

I hadn't really thought much about friends for my kids until recently. They've pretty much stuck close to home - but now that Gabe's growing up, having experiences in pre-school and with friends - I hope and pray that he can make more great friends like Noah.

(in these pictures the boys came running to the screen door to show me their "BLUE TOUNGES". They were pretty excited that they BOTH had blue tounges - and wanted to know where mine was)

WW Wednesday

I'm down this week 2.2 lbs. YAY! That puts me at a total of 12 lbs lost.

This week's triumph was that we went out to eat with friends Saturday night at one of our favorite local steakhouses. I didn't order the giant plate of steak and coconut shrimp I normally would have ordered - I had BBQ chicken. And I was full - so instead of stuffing myself with other food on my plate I simply pushed it aside and enjoyed the conversation instead. And lastly - I didn't indulge in the AMAZING looking cheese-covered ranch fries that our friends ordered as our appetizer. I had one fry right at the end just to satisfy my curiosity (and they were good) - but it felt good to not stuff myself.

I did however enjoy dessert at their house afterwards. But instead of having a huge bowl of the amazing looking pumpkin ice cream (which was divine by the way!) I just had a small scoop with a cookie and felt good that I could enjoy it but not pig out.

That's what it's about - balance. Not totally giving up the foods we enjoy - but to have smaller amounts, and not over-indulge. So the challenge I give to you this week is to work on balance. Find a way to still enjoy things that you love - but in smaller amounts, or different versions of them.

For instance - I love chocolate. I've found that a bowl of sugar free, fat free chocolate pudding is 3 points. I add some tasty fat free cool whip and stir it up for chocolate mousse - 3.5 points. The best part is that 1 cup of the pudding is = to a serving of dairy. So I've satisfied my sweet-tooth and done something good for my body!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My hair

So this afternoon Gabe wanted to look at old scrapbooks and see pictures of when I was a little girl. I pulled out the scrapbook with some older pictures in it. He didn't believe me most of the time when I'd point to a picture and say it was me. He's laugh and say, "No it isn't!"

Then I came to a picture of me in college (10 years ago!!!) He said, "Hey Mom - that looks like you! Hey - that IS you - and you're wearing YOUR hair!"

Turns out that I have gotten stuck in a hair rut and my hair looks almost exactly like it did when I was a freshman in college (with a little more grey)...But at least it helped my little buddy realize the picture was me...

(and yes - I am going to get an appointment ASAP to have my hair done! 10 years is way too long to be doing the same thing! But who am I kidding - I'll probably still stick to what 'works'.)

Cars Layout

  • I used a template for this layout - a freebie from (Sya's blueprints - template freebie #2)
  • Kit used for layout (SO cute! This girl does really cute Disney themed kits - she's a HUGE Disney fan): Motor Mania

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Man I love these boys!

I am so lucky to have these 2 boys! There are so many days when it seems like I focus on the "stuff" that life hands us - the messy diapers, crayon drawn on the floor, piles of laundry, etc. But I have other moments too - moments when I am just captured with gratitude that Heavenly Father lets me be a mom - to these two boys! I'm sure I would be blessed with any children that would enter our home, but I am grateful that I have THESE ones, and that they are ours!

It was just about 4 years ago that I would cry on almost a daily basis - begging my Heavenly Father to help me to understand what was standing in our way of having children. I prayed for understanding, comfort, peace, and the ability to bear my trials with faith. I bargained - promising just about anything possible if we could just hold a baby of our own. I felt burnt out, frustrated and I didn't understand by it wasn't happening on our time-table. I remember just around 4 years ago a specific prayer when I said, "I know that we aren't supposed to be given trials that are harder than what we have the strength to endure - but I am there. I am at the end of what I can handle and I really don't think I can go on - even with the strength I'm given from you - my Heavenly Father." I wanted children desperately - so badly I felt it would break my heart.

But how quickly I forget that at times when my (sweet) 3 year old is yelling and bossing me around as he throws fits - and toys, and my poor little 1 year old is STILL struggling with some teeth that I am sure are going to be the end of my patience (poor guy has a fever again today - but with no other symptoms other than the 2 teeth that FINALLY broke through this weekend). How quickly I forget those trying moments when I'm juggling them through the grocery store with a full cart and Gabe announces that he needs to go potty. Or how I forget when I'm up at night with one of the boys and I'm pleading that they just PLEASE go back to sleep until it's at least a time of day resembling morning. (And no Gabe - 3:30 am is NOT that time!)

I'm grateful for the time that Cory and I bonded together as we pleaded for children. I'm grateful that the Lord listened to our prayers, and answered them - but I'm glad that He helped us learn faith, helped us to rely on our Heavenly Father more than ever, and I'm grateful for the peace that I did feel through that time. Even in moments of despair I still heard a quiet voice telling us we would be parents....someday. Looking back over those years I know without any doubt that our Heavenly Father was preparing us, He was holding on to us through that trial and He WILL hold our hands through any and all trials we have coming up in our lives.

But I hope that I can remember that these little blessings were answers to many, many, many prayers (and certainly not just our own prayers - family and friends petitioned on our behalf repeatedly through those trying years). I hope that when I look into these beaming eyes that I can remember that they brought me to my knees so many times, and that by returning there I can also become a better mother and wife. Too often I wait for "big" trials before I draw closer to my Heavenly Father to guide me through. But whether it's something "big" like wanting children desperately - or smaller - like needing to know how to handle certain daily parenting situations, or having the energy to deal with them - I know that we can pray for that strength and comfort.

(I planned on just posting these sweet pictures and saying I love these boys. But as I started typing more thoughts came out....I guess there was something more I needed to remember....)

Friday, September 19, 2008

How do you simplify your life???

My mother-in-law posted a question to our family website this week - asking us what we all did to help simplify our lives so we would better be able to serve our Savior. I responded to her comment there, but I thought I'd share my thought here with you guys as well:

One thing I've found is to dismiss some of the expected views of what a perfect
mom is. One main one is cooking. My kids and Cory aren't big eaters - Cory would
much rather I just let him have a big bowl of cereal for dinner. Anyway, instead
of putting way too much time into fancy homemade meals every night - I really
have scaled back - BIG TIME with our meals. The kids haven't complained, Cory's
been grateful I don't make a big deal out of eating all the time, and I've had a
little more time to spend with the kids when I could have been slaving over the
hot stove. I also haven't been baking nearly like I used to. Now this has been a
good thing for all of us - because I seemed to be the one who ate most of the
baked goods (not good for my resolve to loose weight) and it took time away from
my kids. So I don't bake many goodies anymore. Sure - we'll do cookies from time
to time - but lots of sweets just aren't being cooked at our house.

also let Gabe help me cook sometimes - stirring things, getting things out of
the cupboard for me. It doesn't necessarily simplify the process - but then at
least I'm multi tasking - I'm getting dinner ready AND spending time teaching

I try to multi task in other ways too. Instead if sitting down and
officially having a lesson about directions (right and left), or colors - I talk
about it when we're driving. We talk about which way we're turning, and what
color the cars or traffic lights are. I try to make each moment I have with them
into some kind of a teaching moment. It's not always successful - but I do know
they pick up on these things even faster than if I was to sit down and have a
school moment and teach them that way. They learn how these concepts work in
their lives.

One thing I've been doing the last several weeks/months is
when I am feeling crazed and like I don't know how I'll get everything done
(which is likely when I'm putting my kids off about fun things and telling them
"maybe later") I try to step back for a second and think of something that my
kids would enjoy doing. Frequently it's a quick trip to the park, a little walk
together, a ranger ride, or getting a treat somewhere. But I try to take a break
and remember that they will only be small for a VERY short time. Sure - my to-do
list is still there when I get back - but it appears more managable, I feel like
I have my kids support because I've taken time for them - and I feel less like a
crazed mom.

I've beent thinking a lot lately about how the time we have
with our children IS service. Every moment we have with them we are serving and
teaching them. Every diaper we change, every mess of toys we pick up, every meal
we make, every story we read - they are all ways we are serving our Heavenly
Father. We are taking care of His most precious children - and THAT is service!
I wish that the church would teach this concept more readily - so that as LDS
women we could quit beating ourselves up because at this stage in our lives we
aren't out and about serving as much as we might be capable of doing when our
kids are out of the home. Yes, serving other outside of our home is also
essential - but if we look at each thing we do as young mothers as service I
believe we'd be more encouraged, more hopeful, and want to serve our children
with all the energy of our hearts.

I'm going to work on simplifying even more and look forward to what others say. I'd love to hear all of your thoughts on this as well!

Things I've learned....

I learned a few things today, and I thought I'd pass along my new wisdom...
  • Just because I am thrilled about my brand new camera (Nikon D90 - it ROCKS!) doesn't mean that my little boys will be even nearly as excited as I am. My excitement in no way communicates to them that they must let me take adorable pictures....(any tips for perfect pictures of my boys? These pictures are right out of the camera without any editing. It's a pretty awesome camera!)
  • The idea of "velcro with adhesive" might have sounded like a quick and easy idea when I put the wooden letters G-A-B-E up in the nursery 3 years ago....but the idea wasn't so bright when I went to take the letters down (because it has been Hunter's room for almost 14 months now...I decided to take the G-A-B-E letters off today.) I took of CHUNKS of the wall - it looks horrible. Let's just hope in a couple years when I get around to making wood letters, or vinyl letters for Hunter that it will cover up the mess I've created. So to save you all from a similar mess - don't use velcro with adhesive on anything that will need to take it off of! And if you do - have something handy to cover it up with or your husband might say, "I remember I told you it wasn't a great idea when you did it...."
  • As we grow up we need to rely on "simple pleasures" in life. For instance I got VERY excited about my new hand vac I needed this week. It sure has made my life easier. If you'd told me 15 years ago that I'd be super excited to use my new vacuum I would have laughed you out of the room - but it sure has made my life simpler!
  • Happy mail can change how we view things on a frustrating afternoon. I got a sweet package from a friend yesterday (THANKS HILARY) because I won a contest on her blog. So cute, and I loved it! (however - another lesson I learned was if there is chocolate in the house I will eat it....unfortunately this is a lesson I have learned MANY times in life.) If I were just independently wealthy and had all the time in the world to go shopping - I would spend my day putting together random fun mail to send people - every day. Things that were just FUN. Not necessities, just fun things I found for people I love. I would love to just be known for giving fun, happy, gifts - just for the fun of it.
  • Wind-swept hair isn't always fun - in fact I generally think it's a pain in the rump...however if it is the result of a fun impromptu ranger ride with my favorite 3 little boys (Gabe, Hunter and Gabe's best friend Noah) - it's totally worth it!
  • Apparently we love stripes at our house. Today I put away some laundry from this week. I had 21 shirts for the 2 boys. 16 of those shirts were striped....we need some kind of a stripe-intervention I think!
  • Lastly - I learned that if Hunter is fussing while I'm making lunch, and just keep fussing that it doesn't necessarily just mean that he's tired and needs his nap. There is a chance that he's gotten into the toy-bin and the lid has shut on his hand....just because he's not SCREAMING - but just fussing loudly doesn't mean everything is ok....