Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm so excited...

because for the very first time I am a guest post on a blog. One of my good friends from North Carolina is doing a series called "I'm a Mormon Monday". She asked me to start it off with a post about my eternal family. It was a lot of fun to write it, but also a little nerve wrecking since I knew that it would be on somebody else's blog. If you want, you can click here to go check it out. And, you should keep going back each Monday because I know that she has a lot of GREAT writers scheduled...and she's pretty amazing herself. :)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Three More Weeks

Usually by this time of the summer, I am SO ready for the girls to start back into the routine of school. But for some strange reason, this time I am not. We have had a great summer. We have seen almost every member of Cory and I's family within the last two months. We've had LOTS of relaxing days playing at the pool. We've had lots of memorable family activities at the water park, Six Flags, splash pads, bike rides, trips to the temple, and watching the Olympics. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better summer. The weather has been hot, but I'm pretty sure that where we live in Texas is less humid than Chattanooga, so I am actually not dying like I was in August last year. I am also LOVING the ages of my girls. I have the best of both worlds....the babies to keep me smiling and the older girls to keep it exciting. Yes, there has been fighting and days that I would give anything to just walk out the door and go on a long drive ALL BY MYSELF, but...that's just life as a mother. We only have three weeks left and I just feel like summer is coming to an end way too quickly. I'm not ready to be without half my children for most of the day. I miss them when they're gone, but more than that, I worry about them. I worry about what other children are talking about around them or what types of messages they are receiving about themselves and the world they live in. I worry that I haven't done enough to build them up and prepare them for the world outside of our home. Thankfully, they go to a really good school and have made some great friends, but still....I worry... because that is also the life of a mother. But until then, we will keep on enjoying each day and each other...savoring the moments and making memories. Here are some of the things we will be doing in the next three weeks... -playing with Grandma and Grandpa Mann, Aunt Amber, and MORE COUSINS!! WOOT!! WOOT!! -our stake women's volleyball tournament. I've been playing for the last month or so and it has been SO MUCH FUN!! We are in second place right now but I know we can beat the other team, so hopefully first place will be ours. -a dance recital. The girls have had SO MUCH fun taking dance class from my CUTE cousin Kayla who was home from BYU for the summer. Tomorrow they are going to perform for everyone at their final recital. -a youth baptism trip. I LOVE going on temple trips with the youth. They never look more beautiful than they do in the temple. -providing dessert for 8 youth in our ward for their progressive dinner group date. I'm so excited!! It's a Mexican food theme so I'm planning on going ALL OUT!! -more speech therapy for Hailey. I don't think I've blogged about this, but when we first moved to Texas I took Hailey in to be tested for her delayed speech. I have loved the team that has been working with her. The therapist that comes to our home every Thursday morning has been AMAZING!!!! I love her. Hailey has progressed SO much in the last two months. It has been so fun to hear her making sentences and telling us what she really wants or thinks of things. -Katelund's 9th birthday. I think we are going to have a surprise family party for her while her Las Vegas cousins are here. -Cory and I's 12th anniversary. I'm not sure how we are going to celebrate but I've gotta think of something good. I'm thinking of planning a date that includes a night alone at Six Flags...maybe we'll even go sky coasting like we did when I was 16. -Today I started my training for the half marathon I am running at the end of October. I have kept up my running since the marathon but I have kept it around 4-5 miles each run and I have also been doing a lot of biking (way more enjoyable in the Texas heat). I am running it with a team that my uncle has put together. We are called Team Moroni. I'm really excited to run with a team and I really need to put some miles down so I can beat my half-marathon time of 1:59. Let the countdown begin...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Mann Crew

Over the last couple of days, we have gathered together as a family each evening to watch the Olympics. My two older girls are at an age where they understand what is going on and they are so excited to cheer on team USA, in whatever sport they are participating in. The other day we were watching the men's rowing competition. I was so fascinated by the whole five-six minutes of the race. As they row, they do so in perfect synchronization. It is quite amazing to watch. I loved to hear all of the comments that the commentator was making because I am so unfamiliar with any of the logistics of rowing and it was just so interesting to me. As I cheered on the USA team (they totally killed it, by the way), I couldn't help but feel an analogy coming on (I know, I know, it's a sickness I have...what can I say?) The precise rhythm and perfect unity shown amongst the crew was so symbolic to me of the goals and vision that I have for my family. We are also a team, made up of individual members who have different strengths and weaknesses. As we come together united and in perfect synchronization, we have the possibility to accomplish and become greater than we ever could on our own. Really, that's what being part of a team is all about. A team united in purpose, direction, and vision and all working together to win the victory.
I loved this analogy so much and thought that it would be fun to get on the internet and do further research on the sport so that I could find some more symbolism. Well, I was definitely not disappointed. I found tons and I learned so much about all the technicalities of the sport. The crews come in all different sizes but the same principles of rowing are applied. The race that we watched was an 8+ coxed team. Each of the team members face the stern of the boat, except the coxswain, he is the only one who faces the bow (or front of the boat). The order of each of the team members is strategically placed because each of them have different roles to play. The stern pair sets the rhythm for the rest of the crew. The "power houses" are in the middle and the last two, the bow pair are the more technical ones. They keep the boat in balance and they also have the most influence on the boat steers. The coxswain is the one that steers the boat and coordinates the rhythm and power, and like I mentioned earlier, he is the only one who faces the front...and the finish line. I strongly believe that the order of our family was by divine design. I often tell Katelund that Heavenly Father sent her first on purpose. She fulfills a special role in our family of girls. Her younger sisters have such a special love and adoration for her. Her role as the oldest not only gives her greater purpose in our family, but also pushes and motivates her to do and be better because she has so many little eyes watching her. Although she sometimes feels burdened by her role as the oldest, she sets a good strong rhythm.
Cloey is also a rhythm setter. Her rhythm is gentle and nurturing but also very fun and spunky. She fulfills her own unique role and I imagine that our row team would be pretty dull without her.
Hailey and Makayla are the power houses of our boat. They keep us all on our toes with their high energy and they definitely keep us laughing through the monotony that comes with rowing. Their sweet little spirits are a constant reminder of the love we are trying to develop as a team and also of the divine nature within each of us as we look into their innocent eyes and remember who we really are...children of a loving Heavenly Father.
I like to think of Cory and I as the bow pair. It is our job to keep our boat in balance, and in doing so, keep each other in balance as well. When we started our journey together 12 years ago, we not only made promises to each other, but we also made covenants with the Lord. Covenants that teach, clarify, and remind us of the eternal significance of family and marriage. As long as we live faithful to those temple covenants, we know that the finish line we cross at the end of this life is not the end. The reward is the sweetest reward possible...the promise of an eternal family. As our crew has grown in number and our stern pair has grown in age (and at times, attitude) we have found that we have to work harder to keep our boat in balance. Thankfully, we have the greatest coxswain ever...the gospel of Jesus Christ, the scriptures, a living prophet, the priesthood, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Without a coxswain, it would be impossible for us to have the vision necessary for a victorious finish.
As we watched the teams rowing as hard and synchronized as possible, they showed the side of the lake where the coaches where biking along the side, cheering and coaching their team forward to the finish line. Almost exactly four years ago, we lost one member of our crew. Clairisa was born and died on July 26, 2008. Losing a child has got to be one of the hardest experiences of mortality, but because of our belief and faith in Jesus Christ and eternal families, we have great hope. In fact, our synchronization and unity has greatly increased as we openly teach and testify within our home that Clairisa will always be part of our family and someday we will be with her again. As we row, I know that she is "biking" along the side cheering us onward, also waiting with great anticipation for us to victoriously cross the finish line.
The family is eternal...that much I know for sure. The waters are more dangerous than ever and there are so many in the world today who have jumped ship and decided that they don't need a crew, or a boat for that matter. I have no control over the waters, the other ships, or lost crew members, but I do have control over my boat. I know that the crew that I have been blessed with, are the most important people in my world. They are the ones that keep me rowing day in and day out. They are the ones that remind me that one day it will all be worth it.
Row, row, rowing our boat, gently (or not so gently) down the stream.Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. Life is not always merry, nor a dream for that matter. But, the hope and anticipation of what awaits a life of obedience and covenant keeping is the dream. It is what makes the rowing easier, the crew more essential, and the journey that much more merry.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A spontaneous outing

It all started with a bike ride/stroller walk....

...and then I saw some sprinklers...

...and the little girl in me just couldn't resist (and apparently Hailey just couldn't resist either. She's going to have TONS of modesty lessons coming her way). :)

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