Christmas Music I Love

Friday, December 5, 2014

Flight


Let's talk about flight for a minute...

I have a new calling in church.  For the past year or so, I've been teaching the 16/17 year old Sunday School class.  I'm now teaching Gospel Doctrine, which is the adult Sunday School class.  It's not vastly different than what I've been doing for years and years in church.  It's a teaching calling and I love teaching.  It's just the audience that's different.  And slightly more intimidating.  Mostly because they are spiritually amazing people who already know so much more than I could ever hope to know about the gospel.  And somehow I am the one who gets to stand up every other week and facilitate some kind of spiritual uplifting and edification for the group.  

Needless to say, the weight of my upcoming responsibility has felt heavy this week.  

But here's what I thought when I read that little quote up there on IG this morning...Heavenly Father has not set us up to fail.  It was His idea to give me this calling, so He must think I'm capable of succeeding in it.  I must have some kind of Gospel Doctrine wings that I just haven't fully exercised yet.  For the past several years, I have collected (hoarded might be a better word) quotes, scriptures, song lyrics, anything that spoke truth to my heart.  Anything that rang in my ears and made me FEEL light and love and hope, I scribbled down on whatever piece of paper happened to be closest.  And as my piles of papers got bigger and became notebooks and journals and a blog, I wondered what in the heck I was supposed to do with all the stuff I've been collecting.  

Maybe this is the very reason for all that searching and hoarding?  Or maybe it's just one of a handful of ways I can use all those piles of truth I've collected?  I really have no idea what the plan is, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to find out.  I'm grateful for hard things that compel me to rely on Someone other than myself for courage and faith that I didn't think I had.  I'm grateful for people who see in me things that I cannot see in myself.  And I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who places us in the exact circumstances where we can learn and grow in the most effective way.  

Launching out of the nest on Sunday morning at 10:05...I'll let you know how the flying goes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Random Stuff I Love Today

I lingered in the temple this morning and felt floods of gratitude for a whole giant list of stuff. It's sort of random, but I thought I'd write it down so I can remember it on those days when the list feels shorter.

  • a body that works 
  • the ability to hear glorious Christmas music
  • changing leaves...finally
  • Christmas lights coming up around the neighborhood
  • late nights
  • energetic mornings
  • jammies
  • new challenges
  • the Grs' upcoming visit
  • unhurried, unscheduled days
  • lunch with Amy
  • chilly, sweater weather
  • heated mattress pads
  • fuzzy slippers
  • trumpet music
  • Conference talks
  • healthy, happy children
  • bloggy friends and Insta-sisters
  • windows 
  • soup
  • new friends
  • old friends
  • Monday morning Institute classes
  • a good book
  • nativities
  • a new 2015 planner that fits in my purse
  • Christmas music...wait, I think I already said that.  Oh well, I do actually love it enough to write it down twice on the same list.
  • and a favorite new perch for the month where I can sit and contemplate all of that stuff


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Break

These were originally supposed to be about five individual posts, but somehow last week flew by, a calendar page turned, and now I'm about a week behind on this blog and nearly everything else I've needed to do.  Sometimes recap blog posts just have to be good enough.  

Early in November, Savannah made a list of all the things she wanted to do in Dallas before she left for BYU:  
It's been on our fridge for a month, so we decided to go on a few field trips over Thanksgiving Break.  

Monday: The Perot Museum
I love this place.  McKay and I had been there on a school field trip last year, but the girls had never been, so it was a fun adventure for them.  Oddly, it doesn't matter whether you're 10 or 45 when you're wandering around in a hands-on science museum.  We created our own bird, ran with dinosaurs, journeyed to the center of the earth, made a remote-control crane, and experienced an earthquake.  It was a pretty great day.  

Tuesday:  The Temple
Savannah and Megan both had to work on Tuesday, so while the other kids slept in, I stole a few hours in the morning and went to the Temple.  Perfect day.  Perfect decision.  

Wednesday:  The Dallas Zoo

This might have been my favorite thing we did all week.  The Dallas Zoo has two days annually when they offer $1 admission, and one of them happens to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  As gorgeous as the weather was, we were all a little nervous that it might be really crowded, but we ventured out anyway and it wasn't crowded at all!  

And we fed giraffes!!    


These are the most amazing animals I have ever seen.  They were so tame and so huge and so drooly.  Their tongues are a mile long.  Each of their little faces (ok, giant faces) is totally unique and different.  And they each have their own individual personalities.  We hung out with these guys for a really long time and just let them eat cracker after cracker out of our hands.

Seriously AMAZING!


Thursday:  Thanksgiving
We spent Thanksgiving with our really good friends, the Kings.  Oh, I can't even tell you how much I love this family!  This is the second year we've spent Thanksgiving together, and it was just as fun this time around.  They are so patient with my experimental recipes and my lack of turkey experience.  They came early and stayed late.  We ate turkey, and pie...and more pie.  We played games, had a Mario Kart tournament, and we even fit in decorating gingerbread houses.  It was a really good day.  We are so grateful for the amazing people that surround us in both our neighborhood and in our ward.  This place has been such a huge blessing for us in every possible way, and we could not be more thankful to spend another Thanksgiving with these awesome people.    

Friday: Camping Trip
Friday was unexpectedly gorgeous, and no one was really interested in shopping, so Craig decided to take two of the kids camping.  They loved it.  The girls and I took advantage of a free TV and leftover pumpkin pie, stocked up on some extra large Diet DPs with coconut from Sonic, and had a Gilmore Girls marathon at home...until 2:00am!  Totally fun!  So girly.  When we couldn't keep our eyes open for one more episode, we all camped out in my bed and slept in the next morning until Craig and the other two kids came home and woke us up at 11:30.  Perfect weekend.  (I can't even remember the last time I slept in until 11:30!) 



Saturday:  Craig's Birthday
Craig came home from camping to find a fresh loaf of his favorite birthday treat ever...lemon poppy seed bread, and a pile of Christmas lights that needed to be put up outside.
He and the kids were so awesome to get all of that done.  We have visitors coming in this weekend so there was a little pressure to get Christmas up as soon as possible.  After the lights were up, we snuck out for a quick dinner to celebrate my favorite carnivore's 44th birthday.

What an amazing week we had during this Thanksgiving break, sprinkling a little busy in between some really lazy, really relaxing days, and making lasting memories with our kids.  And poof! in a blink it's December.  How grateful I am today and everyday for this family, for good friends, for the blessings we have in abundance, and for the upcoming Christmas season.  I love this time of year.  

Let the Christmas music begin...    

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Anchors and Wings


A few weeks ago, we had a conversation in our house about anchors and wings.  I told the kids that I am drawn to people who are anchors.  You know, the kinds of people who are steady, consistent, and reliable, who are always where I can count on them to be?  I need that influence in my life because I don't have much of it on my own.  They easily identified their dad as the anchor, and me as the wings in our relationship.  

I fly around haphazardly, loving the view but not always keeping sight of the shore.  Craig, on the other hand, stays firmly planted on the ground, carefully and deliberately moving toward his life goals.  Every day is a brand new possibility for me, filled with brand new decisions that I may have already made yesterday, but will probably make over again anyway.  For Craig, every day has an expectation, a purpose and a plan.  I jump around when I'm excited.  He stands still.  I cry when I'm sad, lonely, embarrassed, frustrated, tired, angry, or joyful.  I yell and occasionally destroy things when I'm angry.  He is calm and rational in every situation.  He carefully considers his words.  He is not quick to anger.  His feathers rarely ruffle.  

For all of my moody, unpredictable flying around, Craig remains solidly anchored in place.  

I love that he has expectations and a plan.  I love that he is consistently faithful in his callings, both in church and in our home.  I love that he is where he says he's going to be, without fail.  I love that he is the same in public as he is in the privacy of our home.  I love that he teaches our kids to be all those things, and that he has taught me a greater appreciation for anchors in my life.  

Hopefully, my constant quest for the steady and reliable in my life has helped a little of Craig's solidly and happily anchored personality seep into my own.  And hopefully, a tiny little bit of my reckless abandon has made him delight in the occasional opportunity to take flight.  

We're a pretty good match, I think.  

I'm grateful for the opportunity to freely gush today over this amazing man on his 44th birthday.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today

This is just about my favorite school break of the year.  There's no pressure to travel, so we usually don't, and although I love being with our Utah family for Thanksgiving, I really love just staying home, too.  We have a ton of stuff planned for the rest of this week, which I'm so excited about, but we had nothing on our Tuesday calendar, and that worked out pretty well, too.

The Temple
It was 39 degrees this morning when I woke up, and the absolute last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed.  But that little voice in my heart kept saying, "You should go to the temple today," and I could only manage to ignore it for about 20 minutes before I had to just get up already.  The temple was lovely, and not at all crowded like I thought it might be, and so much better than staying in bed.  I especially loved the Celestial Room where I lingered for a really long time, and the drive home with Diet DP and really loud Christmas music, where I also might have lingered a little.  

Turkey Hunt
I have had a little trouble finding a turkey big enough for the 11 people I'm feeding on Thursday.  So Emma and I went out again this afternoon on yet another turkey hunt...and we found it!  just kidding... 
We actually did find the perfect 19 pound bird who is happily defrosting in my fridge right now.  

The Park
It warmed up to 61 degrees this afternoon so I took my three favorite 11-year-olds to the park to play their newest obsession...frisbee.  They had three frisbees, and obstacles and invented some kind of adventure frisbee game that they played for two whole hours!  

Miraculous Ladders


About 10 minutes into our park date, one of the boys got his frisbee stuck in a gutter on the roof of the little pavilion.  Three boys and two frisbees is a slight inconvenience, although nobody complained.  I didn't even try to retrieve it because I'm only about 4 inches taller than the boys.  But just after everyone settled on a frisbee sharing rotation, this man came out of nowhere to work on something (I still have no idea what) and I asked him if he would please get the stuck frisbee.  And because he was so nice, all three boys had their own frisbee again.  

Dinner is currently in the oven.  Two out of four of my children have picked up extra hours at work tonight.  Everything is on schedule for Thanksgiving which means I can take the kids to the zoo tomorrow guilt free.  Inspiration and confidence were regained, a couple of blog posts were written, scriptures were read, thank you notes were sent, and music was practiced for DMCO.  I'm quite sure that had I chosen to stay in bed for two extra hours this morning instead of spending that time in the temple, the day would not have come together as well.  Something about making the effort to get there, and being quiet for the first few hours of the day, helps everything else come into perspective.  Ladders appear miraculously.  Turkeys are found.  Play dates fit into the schedule.  And I spend a whole lot less time running around doing things that don't matter very much, like dusting.  I'm so grateful for a temple that is close enough to get to on a spur of the moment impulse.  I'm grateful to have listened to that little voice.  And I'm grateful for all the tiny little details that made this day so much better than I anticipated.    

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dorm Room Miracles

A few months ago, Savannah met a girl from Plano at a YW activity.  They exchanged phone numbers and have texted a few times since the activity.  Recently, that girl found out that Savannah was headed to BYU in January and texted to tell her that she had also been accepted for the winter term.  She invited Savannah to come over before class and housing registration because her mom was sort of an expert at that, so around the first of November they arranged a time to have a crash course in BYU class selection.  It was immensely helpful and had Savannah not gone over that night, she would have had a hard time getting the schedule she wanted and needed.  

We've all been extremely grateful to both the friend and the mom who were willing to call and offer help that night.  

Just as the stress over registration started to die down and we started to feel like things were coming together, we realized that Savannah still had no place to live.  Housing registration at BYU occurs in a very small window and there is limited dorm availability for winter because so many of the fall students keep their housing.  

Emotions were high last week for various reasons, and that one little BYU variable certainly wasn't helping it at all.  Then on Friday afternoon, Savannah got a text from that same awesome mom who had helped her before.  She just happened to be looking on Craigslist - Provo for housing for her own daughter, and saw another room that would fit Savannah's needs.  We really wanted the new Heritage Halls with 6 girls/suite and a little kitchen.  And that's exactly where this available spot was located.  The girl who currently lives there is moving out and living at home next term so that she can save money for a mission.  Within an hour, phone numbers had been exchanged, a housing contract was transferred into Savannah's name, and she was FB and IG friends with her new roommate.  

Wait...there's more...

As miraculous as all of that was, and believe me, there were plenty of tears of gratitude being shed here on Friday evening, there were more little miracles that we hadn't planned on.  

Savannah's new roommate's name is Mallory.  She is a cute girl from Idaho who graduated HS last June and is currently a fitness/health major.  She loves adventures, and football games, sings and plays the guitar, and is obsessed with shoes and Psych.  She's the oldest of four with two younger sisters and a younger brother.  She didn't have any really close friends in HS so she came to BYU hopeful to find the BFF of her dreams.  Unfortunately she hasn't really become very close to any of her suite-mates because they're all from the Provo area and have friends and family close by.  She's never had a boyfriend.  Her goal for next year is to go to the temple once a week, she's thinking about serving a mission, and she'd she'd really like to visit every single temple in the whole world.  Sound like anyone you know?  The similarities are startling.  

Mallory and Savannah have been texting nonstop all weekend.  

It's one thing to be excited about a new start and a new school and a new chapter in your life.  But it's a whole other kind of excitement to start all that new stuff with a brand new friend.  

I am amazed all the time at the way Heavenly Father is able to weave together so many needs into one answer.  It looked like just a dorm room for Savannah, but it has turned out to also be an answer to a prayer for a girl who is trying to save money for a mission.  And a potential friendship for two girls who have been looking for a  best friend for a really long time.  

How grateful I am that Heavenly Father has a plan.  That He knows exactly what we need and how to bring us to it at exactly the right time.  And that He is so much in the details of our lives.  Even when we're not thinking about a thing, He is busy working to bring it together for us.  Even when it looks like it's impossible, He is making it possible.   How grateful I am to have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much, and that Savannah has been able to witness that love in such a deeply personal and meaningful way.  With one phone call from someone we didn't even know 6 months ago, her fears have been calmed, and she can see that this thing she has hoped for for so long wasn't so wildly improbable after all.  It was the plan.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Recap of the Week via iPhone

Since there was a big playoff football game last Saturday night, and since my Sunday School class is notoriously unresponsive on the Sunday after a late night game, I opted to toss out the suggested curriculum and have a pre-Thanksgiving mini-feast complete with "turkeys!"  I think they were happily surprised.  

McKay had his first band concert.  He's loving this trumpet thing, and his band director thinks he's so awesome that he let him warm up the entire band!  

We (and yes, I did say "we" because this was very much a collaborative effort) finished our last EVER 6th grade castle project.  After two previous 6th grade castles, I was happy to see this one delivered to the school on Monday morning.  McKay earned 95/100 for our effort...5 points were deducted because we used real food (note the sugar cone turrets,) which was against the rules.  I'm happy with a 95%.

It snowed on Sunday night.  We crossed our fingers that school and seminary would be cancelled on Monday morning, but as you can see, that tiny little...what's that word? skiff...wasn't enough to keep busses from running.     
Four days later, our cold front has passed and we are back up to balmy Dallas weather.
(I don't know if you've noticed, but I am mildly obsessed with the weather.)

Savannah and I have acquired a countdown app on our phones.  The fact that a cute little duck is counting us down to the inevitable makes it no less painful.  

Megan has taken up photography recently, and I kind of love it!  It's nice to have a companion who sees something entirely different than I do.  
Notice any resemblance?
Here's a sample of her gorgeous work...I predict there will be more of her pictures sprinkled around on this blog in the future.  

Savannah has a Dallas Bucket List, which I'm sure I'll write in great detail about next week after we complete a good chunk of it, but one of the things on that list was Sprinkles Bakery, so we ventured down to Dallas yesterday after school and had cupcakes for lunch.
from the Cupcake ATM!   Whoever thought of that idea was a genius!
video

And today is the last day of school for a whole week!  Hallelujah.  Thanksgiving break always comes just when we all need it the most.  

Happy Friday!    

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Having a Tribe



It's been an interesting week.  I've done the things I always do, that usually are right in my comfort zone, but this week they've felt oddly uncomfortable.  Lunch dates are usually my favorite thing on earth to do...unless they're at a restaurant I don't love, with people I'm not very comfortable around, and the food is gross.  And then all of a sudden the thing I expected to bring joy and connecting, instead becomes the source of a whole lot of frustration.  And then there was the temple.  I went on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday this week, and not with my little group.  I'm sure any other Wednesday would have been just fine, but this particular Wednesday was frustrating.  The one place I can always count on to find quiet and to clear my head of all its many distractions happened to be filled with a lot of distractions yesterday.  And I found myself hurrying to get out of there and get back into my peaceful car.  

I've been wondering how this average, seemingly unstressful week could have possibly turned into the frustrating one it has become, and here's what I've decided...  

It's opposition.  Contrast.  And although not enjoyable, totally necessary sometimes.

I have a very small group of people I feel comfortable hanging out with.  I know them.  I know what to expect when I'm with them.  They are embracers of routines and appreciators of the ordinary, like me.  They are non stressful and non gossipy, even tempered and calm, compassionate and understanding, not like me.  I am drawn to anchors.  And they are anchors for me.  And over the past few years, I have slowly and cautiously gravitated out of isolation and toward them.  But they're it.  I typically don't do anything with anyone except for my family and that small group of trusted friends.      

To have that rare opportunity to be social with an entirely different group of women was a stark contrast.  Not because those women aren't great, too.  They are.  They're just not mine.  For a little while after that lunch this week, I retraced all my steps, worried about my outfit, and re-evaluated every word I said and a few I didn't say.  And then, I grew weary of all that negative thinking, and decided to just be extremely grateful to have a little group who I never EVER feel that way around.   I love going to the temple with them.  I love that they are quiet when I want to be quiet.  I love that they rejoice in the sometimes long list of things I freely gush about.   I love that they don't mind that I ask too many questions, use way too many words, and talk ten times more than they ever do.   

And so, looking back on this week, it really hasn't been all that frustrating.  It's just been clarifying.  I think I picked well.  I think I'll stick with my little band of sisters.  

via Sweatpants & Coffee





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mothering Baby Birds

I'm not a fan of transitions.  I'm extremely resistant to change.  If given the choice, my preference would always be to get used to things looking and feeling a certain way, and then to just count on them staying that way forever.  We're going through some pretty giant transitions around here lately.  
There's a strange dichotomy in having an 18 year old child who currently lives in the nest, but is on the verge of taking flight.  Some days, I feel like I'm going to just fall apart when she leaves, and I can't imagine how I will ever get through a single day with part of my heart wandering around Utah without me.  And other days, like some of the recent ones, I'm tempted to move along the whole packing process and push her right out of this comfortable little nest.

Here are some of the things that have been heard around our house lately...
"Here's a list of all the things I'd like to do before I leave Texas forever.  I know that some of them are a little bit costly, so I thought that since the other children will still be here for a few more years, we could just leave them at home and not have to pay for their admission."  
The Allen HS football team is once again in the State Championship playoffs against a team that we always love to watch, and we are playing at Cowboy Stadium this weekend, which is always such a fun experience...especially when it doesn't have to involve any Cowboys...
"I've decided I can't go to the football game on Saturday because I really need all the hours I can get at work in the last few weeks before I leave for BYU." 
"I'm just going to leave all of my stuff in my room the way it is and you can just close the door and it will be like a little place where you can think about me when I'm not here."
"Mommy, I think we should plan a time to go through your closet so we can see what's mine and what I'm taking with me to college."
and this one I heard via Megan who was in this YW class with Savannah...
"One of the things I've learned is that when I listen to my mom's advice, I'm happier, and when I don't, I regret it.  My parents have actually done all the stuff I'm doing now.  And they know a lot."
and this one is my favorite...
"Don't worry, I know that my life of luxury is coming to an end.  I'm going to be living on Ramen noodles for the next four years."
None of us is really sure what this whole new life is going to look like for Savannah at BYU or for the rest of us at home.  She vacillates regularly between a practical, confident 18 year old, and a slightly selfish, insecure toddler.  

I am amazed on a daily basis, that after 18 years of this parenting thing, every transition is still a completely new and humbling experience.  How grateful I am to have the opportunity to sit in this front row seat and watch these little birds learn to use their wings.  I'll let you know how the actual "taking flight" part goes in January when I'm returning home with one less little bird.    

Friday, November 14, 2014

Connections

My dear friend and I went visiting teaching yesterday.  It was bitter cold and we were bundled up hoping to run quickly from the car to the warm living room of the sister's home where we were scheduled to be at 10:30am.  Unfortunately, she wasn't home.  So Jeanette and I lingered in the cold driveway and tried to quickly think of a Plan B before we froze to death.  Brunch?  Show up to the other sister's home early?  A random drive until 12:30?  

None of those ideas seemed like the best use of our time.  

We have a mutual friend who happens to love Coke from Sonic and who happened to have some exciting news to share, so we decided to drive through Sonic and pop over to Robin's house unannounced...because Robin is one of the few people who doesn't mind that sort of thing.  After 30 minutes or so at Robin's there was some question about whether our next appointment would be available or not, but Jeanette and I hopped in the car and drove over to her house anyway, and knocked on the door. 

And here is a list of a few of the wonderful things that happened because we decided to be spontaneous and let the spirit guide our day:


  • We helped someone prep a crockpot full of chili for dinner.  
  • We held a baby so her mom could get a few chores done.  (ok, Jeanette got to hold her the whole time, but sometimes I get to do that job, too, so it all evens out.)
  • We watched a mission letter opening via Facebook.  (That's where a prospective missionary opens his letter to reveal to family and friends the much anticipated mission call and to see where and in what language he will be serving.)  
  • We heard the most awesome and inspiring conversion story.
  • We shared some Diet DP (with coconut...which is my new, all time favorite drink in the whole world) and Coke.    
  • We learned about the climate and people of Mongolia (via Google.) 
  • We cried over the amazing and often startling way that Heavenly Father can change hearts and move mountains.  
  • We learned about family history and indexing.  
  • We shared family stories. 
  • We admired some beautiful sewing of Texas pillowcases in one home and a gorgeous, intricate tatted doilie in another. 

And in one short morning, we connected with not just the two sisters we had hoped to connect with, but with five sisters total...not to mention each other.  As I sat across the living room in two different homes and watched each of those sisters share a few of their hopes, some challenges, and a lot of their joys, I was completely filled with vast love for each one of them.  Some of them are my friends, and some just happened to cross our paths that day...although I don't for a second believe that was random.  But how grateful I am to have been available and willing to be in a place to feel connected to those women.  The whole experience made me think of Sister Hinckley's quote...
Doesn't that just inspire the heck out of us to want to know everyone's story?  It inspires me.  And it's so true.  Everyone that I've taken the time to get to know on a more personal level, I have come to love immensely.  Imagine what would happen if I took that time with more people?  

I'm grateful for inspired, unexpected, meaningful connections.  And I'm SUPER grateful for an awesome visiting teaching companion who doesn't let a little unanswered door stand in the way of a productive morning.