Friday, January 21, 2011

peace of mind

I spent the day yesterday canning chicken with some friends.
Have you ever canned chicken?
Believe me, I was a bit skeptical a couple of years ago when I first tried it out.
Especially because the finished product looks like a vital organ floating in a jar of formaldehyde. But it has a great flavor, it's moist, and it falls apart on it's own.
Perfect for any recipe calling for shredded chicken.
And the best part?
It goes toward my food storage supply.
Seeing those jars line my pantry shelves is such a beautiful sight.
No, not because it looks like a creepy collection of human hearts,
but because, to me, it represents
and peace of mind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

cotton cheese

I love how my kids call cottage cheese, cotton cheese.
I hope they never grow out of that one,
I think it's hilarious.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the friendly beasts

I'm embarrassed that I'm just now getting around to putting up some pictures and video from Ruby's preschool Christmas program.
It's been over a month now.
My goal is to have all of my holiday posts completed and posted, (it's sad how many of my blog entries are still in the 'draft' stage - finished, or nearly finished - but never published) by the end of January.
I have to be honest. This little program was probably one of the cutest things I have ever seen. It actually made me cry. A few times.
The whole thing was centered on Christ. No songs about Santa, or the reindeer.
Nothing about jingling bells or christmas tree rockin'.
Every song had something to do with the Christ Child, and let me just tell you, nothing even compares to hearing innocent children sing about the Savior.
They sang songs like Picture a Christmas, Christmas Bells are Ringing, and even the familiar primary song, If The Savior Stood Beside Me.
Probably my very favorite, was their sweet and tender rendition of The Friendly Beasts song. First I must ask, where has this song been all my life? I don't understand how I had never heard it before, especially since it's been around for centuries. Well, at least since the 1920's.
I don't know, maybe I had heard it.
All I know is that never has it affected me like it did that day...
hearing my sweet 4 year old sing it with a few of her friends.

Isn't that just the sweetest song? It makes me cry every time.
It may seem silly to some, but for me, it's nothing but beautiful.
I love contemplating that very special night, and not just the important role the shepherds, wise men, and angels played...but the animals as well.
After all, God loves His beasts too, doesn't He?
I have listened to several versions of this song since I first heard Ruby sing it with her class; and I must say...none of them even compare in my book.
I guess if I had to rank them, this would take a close second.
The arrangement is simply beautiful. Had me crying (surprise, surprise), but also laughing at the same time.
I love songs that can play with my emotions like that.

Ruby was the star in her play.
When I first asked her what she was going to be, she replied,
"I'm the star, mom, and Miss Arlene said that we're all friends, and that friends don't laugh at each other."
Needless to say, I was pretty anxious to see what this star outfit was going to look like.
The day of the program arrived, and just as Miss Arlene had admonished, and to my relief, the children did not laugh at Ruby in her star costume.

Rather, it was the parents - myself included - whom you'll hear, how should I say it, expressing amusement, upon her grand entrance.
I mean how could you not at least chuckle?

She's stinkin' adorable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

the great big world

Ruby came home from school the other day and educated me on the period (as in punctuation mark). She told me that Miss Arlene said that it was the tiniest stop sign in the world.
That made me laugh.
In the same sitting, she explained to me that Laman and Lemuel (Nephi's wicked brothers from the Book of Mormom) were the 'grumpy, bumpy brothers'- also something she learned at school, and again, something that made me laugh.
I haven't written much about Ruby and her preschool ventures this year,
which I totally feel bad about.
The truth is, I have been amazed by the things she is learning.
She only goes 3 times per week, for 2.5 hrs each, yet the amount of things they get through in a single day, blows my mind.
They've learned all their colors and shapes (even strange shapes like the pentagon),
and numbers and letters (by their sounds, not their actual names,
this will help them later on as they begin to read, which is happening now...I just attend my parent/teacher reading clinic with Miss Arlene).
They also memorize poems, study science, learn about different cultures, practice writing their first and last names every day, and bring home the most adorable art projects known to man.
And to top it all off, they are learning the scriptures!
During the 1st half of the year, they studied the Bible - old and new testament - ending with Christ's birth. Ruby would come home and tell me about Noah and the Ark, or Daniel in the Lion's den. She was especially distraught as she retold the story of Joseph, and how his brothers threw him in a pit, and then brought his bloody coat back to their father.
She told all me about David and Goliath, and Jonah and the whale.
When they came back from Christmas break, they began learning about and studying The Book of Mormon.
As a family, we read and discuss the Book of Mormon daily; and it's so refreshing to know that what we're teaching her at home, and what she learns at church, is being reinforced at school. Repetition is key to learning and retaining knowledge.
Plus I love all the exposure she is getting, and the many different teaching techniques that are being used on her.
I also love to see her little budding testimony take shape as it begins to blossom into something beautiful and pure.
I couldn't ask for a better program for my angel.
I know that this will provide her with all the confidence she needs as she ventures out into the great big world...

also known as kindergarten.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

neat little rows

My little Asher, bless his heart, has never been one for order.
His life motto (if he could flat out tell me) I'm sure would be something like this-
dump it out, throw it, crush it, jump on top of it, mix it up, mess it up, smash it...
and then start all over again.
Hence his nickname tornado.
One can only imagine, then, my state of utter shock when he was discovered in his playroom today- quietly and methodically - lining all of his cars up in neat little rows.

Now if Ruby hadn't been at school, I never would have believed that he was solely responsible for creating orderly.
I praised him up and down, and over and over, and took at least a dozen pictures.
He was just a grinning from ear to proud of himself.

Then when Ruby got home, they created this masterpiece together...

Again I was in utter shock.
Not only by their precise system of displaying all the cars, but that he was actually cooperating and conducting himself in a civilized manner - and for more than 3 minutes at a time.

He really is growing up and making progress.

Still has a ways to go toward perfection....

but then again, who doesn't?

Friday, January 7, 2011

gathered 'round the christmas tree

A couple more Christmas pics for your enjoyment...

One of us all decked out in our snazzy sunday/holiday getups,
the other is of us in our Christmas eve pj's.
I sewed my pajama bottoms, and John sewed his.
Good times.
The kids are pretty tired in this pic.
It had been a long day.
We had had a fun dinner of holiday hors D'oeuvres,
and then our first ever reenactment of the nativity.
I'll have to post some video of that.
It was really cute.
By the time we finally got pajamas on, the kids were flat out, ready for bed -
in every way (do you notice Ruby rubbing her eyes? Both of them were completely exhausted).
We quickly put them down, so that the 'adults' could enjoy the rest of the evening
(which we did, I'll have to post some video of that too);
but John and I felt horrible when we later realized that we hadn't done any of the fun things we typically do with our kids on Christmas eve (i.e. putting cookies and milk out for Santa).
What kind of horrible parents are we?
Ruby wouldn't let us live it down either.
We explained to her that Santa actually helped himself to a few cookies that he had found the in the pantry, and then poured his own glass of milk...and that he was totally fine with that.
It was like a fun adventure for him...a treasure hunt of sorts.
That seemed to pacify her.
What was really sad, is that Santa's bells can usually be heard jingling right outside the kids' window, and his jolly HOHOHO's booming over the intercom for the children to hear.
But neither of those transpired this year.

Or maybe they did, and we 'adults' were just too distracted to notice?? Ha.

Seriously, what kind of mother am I?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

being humbled

I've started working out again.
It's been nearly 5 months.
Today was my third day back, and I've been wounded already.
In case you can't tell from the photo, that's my shin.
I tried to do a box jump on a standard size plyo box, and I totally missed it.
Smacked my shin pretty good.
I've always been a bit clumsy, but to miss the box altogether?
That's just down right ridiculous.
Especially because I've done those jumps nearly a thousand times...
and landed every single one of them.
So between that, and Ruby asking me why my tummy is getting so big (both in the same day)...
I guess you could say I've been humbled.
Just 6 months ago I was in the best shape of my life.
I was fitter, and faster, and stronger than I had ever been.
And now I can barely fit into the jeans that I wore during my entire pregnancy with Ruby.
Yep, my fat jeans.
I can barely squeeze into my fat jeans.
That's just pathetic.
I jumped on the scale the other day (first time in weeks) and was completely horrified.
How anyone can gain nearly 20 pounds in 6 month's time, is beyond me.
Sure I was pregnant for 3 of those, but I'm not what's the deal?
I guess eating like crap and not exercising for long enough, eventually will catch up with you.
I'm seriously sick about it though, and have even lost hours of sleep over it. Ha.
It feels good to finally be working out again (humbling, but good);
and I can't wait to get my speed, strength, agility...

and favorite pair of jeans back.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

my everything

I'm still going through all of our Christmas photos.
I'm telling you, I took a ton.
And over an hour's worth of video, too.
I'm probably never going to do anything with most of it, which makes me sad, but I just had to at least post these two.
I love these pictures.
I can't even explain how excited the kids were about Christmas, so I'll let these pictures do all the talking.
Seriously, have you ever seen two kids more excited about Christmas?
I loved being the mom this year, and being able to just sit back and watch my children discover the magic of the season.
I'll be honest, I'm a little sad it's all over with. It's been hard being back.
I've done my best the past couple of days to take the decorations down, unpack all of our suitcases, and jump back into the reality of life...
and schedules...
and responsibilities.
I knew it would be hard, it always is, but man, this year has thrown me for a loop.
I'm hoping by at least next week, things will pretty much be back to normal.
I have yet to cook a meal since we've been home.

Tonight I was lying down with the kids listening to some lullabies.
The room was dark and silent, except for the soothing music playing faintly in the background. We were all snuggled in Ruby's twin bed.
The moment felt perfect.
And then I heard a sniffle...

Ruby: Mom, what ever happened to baby Isaac?
Me: Well, he died, remember? I've told you about it before. We buried his body deep in the ground, and his spirit went on to live with Heavenly Father.
Ruby: (crying pretty hard at this point) That is so sad that you guys did that.
Me: Did what?
Ruby: Put him in the ground. Is he all covered in dirt?
Me: No, we put his body in a special box, called a casket.
Ruby: So is he all alone in the ground?
Me: No, not exactly. We put his casket right on top of my mommy's casket, remember? I've told you all about your grandma Pitts, too. So both of their bodies, and their spirits, are together now.
Ruby: So do they have enough room to move around in the ground?
Me: Well, they don't really move around at all, sweetheart. They're bodies are taking a long sleep, until the resurrection, when their spirits and bodies will be able to come together again.
Ruby: So will we get to have Isaac again?
Me: Of course we will.
Ruby: (still crying) But mom, we don't even have any clothes for him, and not even a bed for him to sleep in. This makes me so sad.

Our conversation continued for awhile.
I did my best to explain everything to her.
But how can you really help a 4 year old comprehend something like that?
It was the saddest thing.
Her poor little heart was broken.
And then mine was too.

I just lay there and held both my kids so tight.
And suddenly my problems seemed so insignificant.
Who cares if I still have some of my Christmas things up?
What does it matter if our suitcases aren't completely unpacked?
A cluttered house? Not important.
I just lay there in the moment and thought about how these two precious little ones, well...

how they're my everything.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

closer to heaven

I just noticed that this is my 500th post.
But then I guess if you consider that I've been blogging for 4 years now, and that probably half of those posts were published within that very first year,
500 suddenly doesn't seem all the impressive.
I have a goal this year to be better at blogging. After all, this blog is my journal.
I'd like to be better at writing in my journal for 2011.
Actually I need to be better at a lot of things.
I want to be more organized, and git rid of stuff.
I want to lose weight, and get back into shape.
I want to cook more, and eat out less.
I want to be a better wife, and a better mother.
There are so many things that I want to improve upon, that I'm afraid I'd just be setting myself up for failure if I make my list too long and try to make too many changes at once.

John and I discussed our goals and resolutions for 2011 on our way home from Utah,
and came up with a pretty good family motto for the upcoming year...
2011 - Closer to Heaven.
The theme this year for the youth of the church is the 13th Article of Faith.
John and I both especially love the last line that states,
if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praisworthy, we seek after these things.
We promised each other that we were going to take our spirituality up a notch this year.
I think that this is the only goal that I'm really going to focus on.
I feel like if I can strengthen my relationship with my Savior, that everything else will either fall into place, or drop out of my life.
Together we decided that if it's not virtuous, or lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, then we want nothing to do with it.

As I was looking over the hundreds of photographs that I took over Christmas, I fell in love with this one of Ruby playing Mary in the Nativity.
It's not really in focus, the composition and exposure aren't great...
but it's a perfect picture of how I want my life to be-
completely centered and focused on Christ.
You'll notice that also in the picture is a Christmas tree, a Santa Claus, and some toy soldier nutcrackers (representing the world), but that they all take a back seat to what's most important.
I don't want to become so caught up in the spiritual aspects of life, that I omit entirely some of the secular things that make life fun and enjoyable.
Of course, those things will perpetually pop up in my life's pictures, but my goal is that they remain in the background,
as Christ invariably prevails front and center.

So here's to 2011...and getting closer to Heaven.