Sunday, November 28, 2010

Joy, a Rainbow, and a Grateful Heart

On the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, I finally find myself here at the computer. As I contemplate and remember all of the moments that mattered over the last week, I find my heart overflowing with joy. The joy that comes from a home bursting with family. The joy that comes from deep and all-consuming gratitude for blessings that are too numerous to count. The joy that comes from the magic and warmth of the holiday season. Tonight as I ponder upon these things, I think of my wonderful parents who are on their way to Idaho Falls, their new home. I wonder what adventures lay in store for them. I wonder whose lives will forever be changed because of their wonderful examples. I think of my in-laws, who once again made the 8 hour drive to come and spend Thanksgiving with us. It just wouldn't be the same without them here. I think of Cory's brother Logan and his sweet wife Becca who will be delivering their first baby at the end of December. They came out almost a week before Thanksgiving and together we made memories that will last a lifetime. I also think of both of my sweet sisters and their families and all of the rest of my sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. Each one of them bring joy to my life in their own unique way. When I think of gratitude, I just can't help but think of my family.

The food is bursting out of our fridge, the trash is taking over our driveway, all of the rooms in our house need some major attention, and the Christmas decorations are just calling my name. But tonight, I want to just take it all in. I want to be still and just let my heart overflow with gratitude and joy. The other day as I was clearing off the kitchen table, I noticed that it had been raining outside. As my mother-in-law opened the back door, there in the sky was one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. As quickly as we could, we called the girls from downstairs to come up and see. We all stood on the back patio in awe at the wonder of such a magnificent sight. Then we all went back inside....except Cloey. As I turned back to see what she was doing, I saw a sight even more magnificent than the rainbow. There in front of my eyes was my five year old daughter kneeling on the ground as she thanked her Heavenly Father for making us a rainbow. Tears began to puddle in my eyes as I considered the powerful lesson I had just been taught. All though I have no pictures from the holidays (what was I thinking???!!), the picture I have in my mind of that moment, is one that will never be erased. A precious moment where I was taught what it truly means to have a grateful heart.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picture and a Story

Picture 1---This was taken at the school's fall festival. I was working one of the booths and Cory was taking the girls around. After I was done with my shift, I walked up to two pink haired children with paw print tattoos on their arms (which they know that they never would've gotten if I had been taking them around...not the pink hair, the tattoos...I'm not a fan). They both decided that someday when they are old enough to get their hair dyed, that they want to have pink hair. It made me a little nervous.

Picture 2----About a month ago, we were toilet papered AGAIN. The crazy thing about it this time is that they did it in the middle of the day while we were out playing tennis. My friend Marilyn loaded up her car with about 10 youth and came to show Cory how it is really done (Cory teased the youth last time and told them that they did an amateur job). They actually did a pretty good job this time. The girls LOVED to clean it up (as you can see from the picture).

Picture 3----Last week I hosted a baby shower at my house for a sweet lady in my ward. It was the easiest baby shower I've ever helped plan because one of my friends was in charge of invitations, another was in charge of the food, and then all I had to do was decorate a little, clean my house, and provide the paper products. Seriously, it is the BEST way to do a baby shower! Here is a pic of the decorations. It's not a good picture but it was fast, easy, and turned out pretty cute.

Picture 4----Cloey had a "sick" day last week. She had a little too much fun!

Picture 5----I love my husband!!! After a really bad day of Hailey choking and me being hysterical (and then the next day she fell out of her crib), Cory came home with a chocolate cupcake just for me. I'm not such a big fun of these kinds of cupcakes bc it is WAY too much icing for me, but in this case, it was the thought that counted BIG TIME!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Punky Brewster and the Tooth Fairy

This picture is not very clear, but I love it because it is so Katelund. She just has her own sense of style, and I think it is great! Most of the time she goes to school in some pretty crazy outfits, but as long as she feels cute...that is all that matters to me. I tell her that she is my Punky Brewster. Do you remember that show? I LOVED it!!!

When I was doing my student teaching, I remember one day when a little girl was drawing a purple cat. The teacher's aid walked over to her and told her that cats are not purple and that she needed to change the color. I was furious. I totally disagreed. If that sweet little 5 year old girl wanted her cat to be purple then why couldn't it be??? So now I tell my girls all the time that when they are drawing, it is their world. They can color and draw things however they want. I feel the same way about what they wear (unless it is too small, short, or the wrong season...oh, and if we are going somewhere nice).

Anyways, on to some exciting news. Katelund lost tooth #3 last night (yep, she is 7 and has only lost three teeth). She was so excited for the Tooth Fairy to come. When I tucked her into bed last night, she said, "Mommy, I just said a prayer that the Tooth Fairy would also put a dollar under Cloey's pillow because she really wants one and she's never lost a tooth." So of course, the Tooth Fairy HAD to put a dollar under Cloey's pillow as well. In the morning, Katelund ran in so excited that she had a dollar. Then after Cloey woke up, she ran in even more excited because Cloey had a dollar as well. I asked her how she thought the Tooth Fairy knew to give Cloey a dollar too. She said, "because Jesus told her." Duh. I think the Tooth Fairy may have started a really bad thing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grateful for Grandparents

My sister, Andrea, is finishing up her degree right now. She is such an inspiration. As a mother of two and with a full time job at their school, somehow she finds the time and energy to take classes as well. She is majoring in elementary education. Once she graduates, all three of me and my sisters will have degrees in education. I also have two cousins who graduated from BYU in elementary ed. a couple of years ago. Neither one of my parents have degrees in education and neither do my cousins' parents, but somehow the five of us all ended up in the same field.

Two years ago this November my Grandpa Black passed away. After his funeral, we, all of his children and grandchildren, gathered around in my Grandma and Grandpa's basement and we each took turns remembering and recounting experiences with Grandpa. Experiences that made us laugh, smile, and cry. Experiences that some of us never knew about and others that each of us will never forget. This picture in my mind of us gathered around as a family is one that is engraven upon my heart. We all loved Grandpa. All though he is not here with us anymore, his example and influence upon me will live forever.

He was a teacher and so was my Grandma. I do not think it is a coincidence that five of their granddaughters have, or will have, their degrees in education. The influence of a grandparent is no small thing. All though we live in a world today where grandparents are usually not just down the street, or in our case not even in the same state, they still stand as a powerful example to the generations that follow.

This month as I focus on my blessings, I thank God for grandparents whose examples are exemplar. And for my children, I also thank God for parents and in-laws who are the best influences and role models I could ever ask for. When my children think of their grandparents, I hope that they remember the family council (on the phone with all of the children and grandchildren) where their Grandpa and Grandma Mann shared their testimony of charity. I hope they remember the year that Grandma and Grandpa Black traveled back and forth every week from California to Texas so that Grandpa could fulfill his calling as Bishop. But above all, I hope that they will always know how much they are loved by each of them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So you want to be friends with Cloey?

Apparently, it is not an easy thing to be one of Cloey's friends. First, you must pass a whole list of requirements (no, I am not kidding). Here are some of the concerns she has with some of her new friends at school.

Cloey: "Mommy, I really like Avalina, but she is not modest and she always has to be the boss."

Cloey: "Jakayla and Demarcus are the kids who sit next to me at my table and they always act so crazy and don't listen to directions. They always ask me what to do."
Me: "Well maybe that is why your teacher put you next to them, so that you can help them and you can be a good example for them."
{after school that day}
Cloey: "Mommy, I told Jakayla and Demarcus that they need to stop being so crazy and that I am sitting next to them to help them and be an example for them."
Me: "You told them that??? Honey, that probably made them feel bad."
Cloey: "No, it didn't."

Cloey: "Lindsey always dresses modestly, but she doesn't go to church."
Me: How do you know? I asked her.

Cloey:"Mommy, I really want to have a play date with Anna. She dresses modestly, she goes to church, and her parents don't smoke."
Mom: "Did you ask her if her parents smoked?
Cloey: yep. Oh, and she said we can have a tea party but we can use water because I told her that I don't drink tea.

So, if you want to be friends with Cloey you MUST always dress modestly, not be bossy or act crazy (all though she acts crazier than anyone I know when she is in one of her moods), you must go to church, your parents can't smoke, and you have to be willing to drink water at your tea parties.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


When I think of patience, these are the images that come to my mind: long lines, crowded rooms, whiny children, slow drivers, pessimistic people, hungry children, bad internet connection, stories that never end, tired children, doctor's office, airports, Walmart, post office, a child who wets their bed night after night, loud obnoxious dogs in my neighborhood, smokers,etc, etc. Seriously, that list could go on and on....which should tell you that I have some serious issues with patience.

The other day, I was reading a family history story that my mom sent me about my great, great, great grandma, Alice Court Jones. In the story, her daughter said the following about her,

"She often prayed for strength and patience to accept nobly whatever she might be called to pass through. She found that patience is a form of strength; it is the product of struggle. It is not acquired through the pursuit of easy things...."

This faithful grandmother of mine was put through the ultimate test. She spent her life seeking God's will and learning to trust in him, in his ways, and in his timing. She had a very difficult heartbreaking life. One that I couldn't possibly imagine. But, one that I'm sure has lead her to win the prize that we all seek.

President Uchtdorf recently said that, "Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most."

As a mother, I find my patience tested everyday by small things of little significance. And yet, when I look at the big picture, I see that it is in those small tests that I find the courage and faith to face the bigger ones with a little more patience.

The tests of patience that are placed before us come in many different forms. Whether it is waiting for a baby to come, a child to return, a change of direction, a disease to be cured, a trial to be lifted, a heart to be healed, or a miracle to happen; each one has its own kind of pain and agony, and yet, each one can lead us to become more like Him.

Just as my great, great, great, grandmother did all those years ago, today, I too will pray for strength and patience to accept nobly whatever I might be called to pass through.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A moment of perfection...

Today as I got off the phone with my mom, I turned up the Christmas music and scooped Hailey into my arms as I danced all around my kitchen. Joy. That is what I felt. The joy that comes from gratitude. From knowing that I have the life that I always dreamed of and from knowing how blessed I am to be surrounded by parents, a husband, children, and siblings that somehow and in someway make my life absolutely perfect.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This week's happenings...

1. My sister was robbed!! Someone broke into her house during the day and stole all of their electronics AND her wedding ring (a prong is broken so she hasn't been wearing it). It has seriously freaked me out. Not only have I been worried about her and her family's safety, I have also had to once more face the ugly reality of the world we live in. All though there is MUCH good, there is also a lot of bad...too much bad.

2. My dad's uncle died. My parent drove up to Utah for the funeral yesterday. He was a wonderful man who has been very sick for a long time. I'm sure that he is now having a joyous reunion with two of his children who died from cancer at the ages of 8 and 12. Once again, I feel SO GRATEFUL for the knowledge and testimony that I have of life after death.

3. My parents could very possibly be moving away from Texas. I can't go into details just yet because it is not for sure, but very likely.

4. Cory's brother, Sean, came out to Tennessee for business this week. He drove down and stayed with us on Tuesday and Wednesday night. It was so great to see him. He's such a great uncle. It is also a lot of fun to reminisce and laugh over all the memories that we have from our teenage years together. Cory and I LOVE it when people, especially family, come to visit and stay in our home (yes, that is definitely an invitation).

5. Six years ago, I decided that I wanted to start a tradition with myself in order to make sure that I read the Book of Mormon all the way through at least once a year. So I opened up to the end of the Book of Mormon and put the date that I finished it. I have done this every year since. This time I actually did it a little differently. I got a blue soft cover Book of Mormon and I highlighted every time that it testifies of Jesus Christ and/or the Atonement. It was such an incredible experience! I just don't know how ANYONE could EVER wonder if Mormons are Christians. There was not a page that would go by without me marking something on it about Christ. It literally is another testament of Christ and I understand why more clearly than I ever have. I have such a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the power that comes into my life when I consistently study and read from it. I have many "favorite heroes" from the scriptures. I love reading about the faith of Esther, the courage of Daniel, the love of Jonathon, the devotion of Peter, the humility of Moses, the integrity of Job, the obedience of Nephi, the submissiveness of Alma, and the charity of Ammon, but there are two stories that stand out above all others for me. One is the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or the people of Ammon. When I read about their faith and their willingness to die rather than break their covenants, I am brought to tears every time. The other person that I love is Mormon. Throughout the entire book (well, except for the small plates) his voice is heard over and over again as he summarizes and recounts the words of the previous prophets. He consistently testifies of Christ and acknowledges the hand of God. He boldly proclaims his faith, hope, and love for not only Christ, but also for the future generations, including us. One of my very favorite versus from him is in Moroni 7:48, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Countdown

Whew! Halloween is over. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the parties and dressing up...but it is just not my favorite holiday. In fact, I was shocked at how hard it was to find a costume for my 7 and 5 year old daughters that was not completely inappropriate. Seriously?? When did Halloween turn into a holiday full of sleezy costumes? Not sure, but what I am sure about is that Halloween is becoming more and more trashy and I don't like it. I also don't like all of the junk food in my house. I'd really like to send it and all of the sleezy comstumes out there into a huge trash can. And...don't even get me started on the store Halloween Express. Last year I had a not so good experience with them and a particular display they had out for my children and husband to see. After a long letter to their company, and no response back from anyone, I will n e v e r step my foot into one of their stores again (and neither will my husband or children.... if they want to live). Okay, I am done venting. I feel much better now.

So now the countdown begins. The countdown to my favorite time of the year. Of course I love Christmas, but I also LOVE Thanksgiving. I love the focus on gratitude and family. I can't think of two better things to focus on in order to prepare us for the season of Christmas. The season where our hearts become softer, our thoughts become purer, and our focus becomes clearer.

Let the countdown begin....

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