I am a Mormon stay-at-home-mom of six. Yeah, I know, "that's a lot of kids"! Sometimes it truly is A LOT. Most of the time it's not. It's simply put...our normal. On my page you'll find spiritual thoughts, tales of trials, happy moments, recipes, funny stories, and more. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Magic of Christmas

Children can see the magic in the world around them.  Things that we, adults, have seen a million times and now take for granted are new and wonderful for children.  They appreciate the little things.
The stars are amazing and sparkly. They cause "oooh's and aaaah's". The moon is beautiful and bright.  The trees are so big and tall.  The rocks are fun to climb on.  Falling leaves become a pile to jump into.  Animals are amazing creatures. Toys come to life in their imagination.

An empty box becomes so many different things; a time machine, a car, a space ship, a boat, a box to hide in.

Jumping on the trampoline is like flying, soaring through the air like a bird.

The tooth fairy is mysterious as it sneaks in while they sleep to leave money for lost teeth.

The Christmas tree is awesome. The smell of fir needles. The sparkling lights on the Christmas tree. The intricate ornaments adorning it's branches. Tinsel.

White fluffy snow falling from the sky is joyous.  Sledding. Snowmen. Snow forts. Ice skating.

There are so many treats to eat.  It's like living in a candy shop. Candy canes.  Christmas cookies. Popcorn balls. Party mix.  Gingerbread men. Gingerbread houses. Chocolates shaped like Santa. Hot chocolate. Ribbon Candy. Egg nog. Muddy Buddies. Pizzelle Italian cookies.

Santa slides down the chimney with a red pack stuffed full of toys. Christmas morning. Bright wrapping paper.  Excited squeals.


Christmas: a time to enjoy the abundance of magic in life.  Enjoy every moment.


It's Christmas Time!

Thanksgiving turkey sits cold in the fridge.
Gravy is congealed in the bowl.
Mashed potatoes are in a lump and the squash is all squished.
Half eaten pies clutter the counter.

Bellies are full.
Naps are in order.

Visiting and conversation abound.
An uncle is sitting on the couch with nieces and nephews surrounding.
He entertains with his voice and guitar.

The men are all happy.
Feel the buzz in the air.
Their hunting adventures a success.
Blessings are pouring down.

Christmas music is playing.
Happy and sweet.

A Christmas wreath adorns the front door.
Soon the tree will be in it's place
Covered in ornaments, tinsel and lights

Black Friday madness is avoided.
A sigh of relief!
Shopping for special gifts.
Finding the perfect one.
Merry Christmas greets young and old.

Cookie dough is rolled.
The oven is baking.
Treats for one and all.

We think of each other with love.
Family and friends gather around us.
Christmas carolers spread cheer.
Christmas spirit surrounds.

The joy of Christmas swirls, spins and envelopes
Like the swirling and swarming of snow on the wind.
Spinning and encircling each one.
Filling us all with Christlike love and kindness.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Little Blessings

One of the "foods" that we have found that our youngest little girl cannot have or eat is anything containing petroleum.  Yeah.  That's right.  It's in foods. Scary right!

Food dyes are petroleum based. Preservatives TBHQ and BHT are both petroleum based as well.  I am so thankful for a friend who forwarded a blog, a story about a mom who's child had a problem with food coloring and also preservatives.  It was fascinating to me.  And gave me an answer I had been praying for.  They were the last ingredients we had to remove from our daughter's diet.

Here is an interesting site. I can't believe the FDA still allows artificial colors in our foods.  Don't get me started!

We love Chex Mix at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  This year I tried making it with the Crispix cereal and not only did it burn, which has never happened to me before, it tasted odd.  My sister bought some Chex cereal today and, Low and Behold, they changed their ingredients!  There is no longer BHT in the Corn Chex cereal!  I am so excited!!  They are using Vitamin E as a preservative instead.  Which is what they use to preserve the Honey Nut Cheerios too.

Someone is listening.  And for that I am Thankful!  So, just a little blessing in our lives today.  We can have Corn Chex again!!  Yay!

Happy Day!

#cornchex #glutenfreedyefreebhtfree

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The joy of childhood

We celebrated our youngest child's birthday last night with family.  Our sweet four year old requested balloons, chocolate chip cake, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream. Wish granted!  She is at a stage where she loves EVERYTHING!  She would be happy with matchbox cars.  She is so easy to please. She loves the Mylar balloons filled with helium that she can carry around the house.  She loves the cute little candles on the cake.  She loves blowing out the candles to make a wish.

When she is happy...she is so very happy!

The BEST part of the evening was that she was so excited to open each gift.  Everyone enjoyed watching her open her gifts.  It was very entertaining.  Papa, Gramma, Great Gramma, siblings and Aunt were all taken with her.  She was precious! We were all chuckling at her cuteness.

She exclaimed in her cute little girl voice, "Thank you sooooo much!" She gasped in surprise at the Care Bear in the box.  She hugged each toy.  She squealed in delight, "It's just what I always wanted!"  She was so happy that she even hugged each card. She wanted each toy opened right away, but we reminded her to wait until she opened all of her gifts.

Yeah.  It was adorable!

And then she, her sister and her Daddy played with the new toys together.  It was comical and awesome. But their Daddy is hilarious sometimes! They have the best Daddy in the entire world.  I may be just a little biased.  ;) #bestdaddyintheworld

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The gratitude challenge

Today I am taking the gratitude challenge found on Scott Moore's page and posted on facebook by my older sister, Dawn.

I love my absolutely wonderful, sweet, kind, goofy, silly, helpful and amazing husband.  There aren't enough words to describe the love that I have for this awesome man.  I love that our love has grown in a way that I could never have imagined it.  He is my best friend.  He is my confident. He is my sidekick.  He is my handyman...when he knows how to fix things.  Haha.  He is the most amazing dad.  His love for me is surprising, as he sees my faults and shortcomings.  He is forgiving and simply the perfect match for me.

I love my Dad.  I love that he took the time to cultivate a great love of nature in each of us girls.  I love that he is a jack of all trades kind of guy.  He almost always knows how to fix everything.  I love that he would do just about anything for just about anyone.  I love how he taught us to serve others.  I love that he taught us to appreciate our talents.  I love how he loves my kids.  I love that he has a love of learning and reading.

I love my Mom.  I love that she loves us kids with everything she has, and then some.  I love that she taught me how to be a good mom and to put my children first.  I love that she laughs with us.  I love that when she is tired you can get her laughing so hard she's got tears running down her face and can't stop.  I love that she is my friend.  I love that she listens to me.  I love that she has been my shoulder to cry on. I love that she is there to listen to my successes.  I love how she loves my children.

I love that I grew up in a home with only sisters and that we had to do hard work because there were no brothers to do it for us. I love the value of hard work. I love that my sisters and I can have fun together.  And even though our beliefs may be different and our lifestyles may be different we love each other.

I love my kids.  I love that each one of my 6 children is unique.  I love that each of them has their own talents.  I love that the oldest is such an amazing and talented artist like my oldest sister, Yvette.  I love that he is a good, kind, and thoughtful person.  I love that my 2nd son is so full of life and love.  I love that he can make friends with just about anyone.  I love that he smiles so much.  I love that my 3rd son has Autism, because without he wouldn't quite be the same.  I love that he is funny and makes us laugh.  I love that he is a rule follower.  I love that he loves his siblings. I love that my 4th son is so athletic and loves almost any sport that he tries. I love that he is so full of energy and loves to be out doors.  I love that he can be thoughtful, kind and helpful.  I love my oldest daughter who is my first curly girl.  I love that she loves to snuggle and loves to laugh.  I love that she loves to play pretend with her sister.  I love my youngest little girl.  I love that she is my second curly girl.  I love that she is so silly and happy and sweet.  I love that she makes everyone smile.

I love family, near and far away.  I love friends who have become family but who have no blood relation...but we've unofficially adopted them.

I love the Holidays.  I love baking. I love making goodies for people.  I love to see the smile spread across their face when they taste something yummy that I made for them.  I love the joy and magic of Christmas.  I love the spirit of Christmas that many people have.

I love snow.  I love seeing the white flakes falling from the sky for the first time each year.  It makes me smile every time.  I love making snow men, and snow forts, and snowballs, and sledding, and shoveling.  I love watching my cold breath at it turns to ice in the air.  I love laying on the snow and looking up at the stars.  I love how winter is magical.

I love having the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the guiding light in my life.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Some days are just rough

Before I ever was married or had a family I had this idea in my head of what it was going to be like to have a family.  It was magical.  It was wonderful.  And there was a lot of joy and laughter all the time.  It was a fairy tale.  And it was not very realistic.

I met my knight in shining armor and what could be better.  Nothing.  Right?  Then we had our first child.  And we were so happy.  Until that little tiny bundle started screaming all the time.  And some days I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

There have been many days over the past 17 1/2 years when I have questioned my decision to have a family.  Of course those doubts usually float away almost as quickly as they come.  I know in my heart that this is exactly what I was meant to do and where I was meant to be.  There is so much joy. Happiness. Laughter. Smiles. And love.  There are days that it really is a fairy tale.

Recently I have been really struggling with my seven year old daughter.  She is a sweet and wonderful angel at school, on the bus, and at church.  Almost as soon as she walks through the door she begins growling at everyone. Stomping her feet.  Screaming bloody murder at them when things don't go her way.  And throwing huge temper tantrums that I would expect from my 4 year old.

The mornings are unbelievably rough.  I've tried so many different things to try to get her to be more pleasant and happy.  I've played soft music.  I've rubbed her back. I've snuggled with her.  I talked calmly while she whines and gets angry at me.  This morning after 25 minutes of trying desperately to get her to get dressed, I finally yelled.

I absolutely hate when this happens.  As soon as I allow myself to give away my control, to the unseen evil one, I know I've made a mistake.  I feel awful.  And I dislike it.

This morning I ended up in tears.  I want so badly for her to make good choices. I want her to be happy.  And yet so many mornings have ended with me blowing my top and getting angry.

I've been pondering and praying daily about this.  But this morning's prayers were different.  I was desperate as I plead with my Heavenly Father for ideas. For solutions. For guidance and answers.

And when I was weighed down in my sorrow at allowing myself to make poor choices,  I picked up my sleepy four year old and she sweetly said, "I missed you mommy," as she snuggled into my shoulder and sucked her thumb, while rubbing the edge of my t-shirt.  And then I was reminded of the sweet blessings that come from having a family.

There are many blessed moments when it is like a fairy tale...for a short while.  And it's those moments I cling to when I'm struggling to remember why I chose to be a mom.  It's the good times that help us make it through the hard times.

A thought came to me after praying today.  It was this: I should try to involve my 7 year old in helping me bake or cook. So, with Thanksgiving coming this week I think it's a perfect time to allow her to spend some time helping in the kitchen.  I'm thankful for prayer and for a loving Father in Heaven who sends us guidance.

And so to start my day off with a bit of a boost I listened to Rachel Platten's Fight Song up loud while I did my planks.  It helps me remember that I CAN DO THIS!!

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Perspective is everything

Last night I attended a wonderful Stake leadership training meeting for our church.  (A Stake=several congregations)

Many times I have been to these meetings where they split us up.  Presidents meet.  1st counselors meet.  2nd counselors meet.  And secretaries meet.  They then each gain new ideas that they can take home and use in their service in the church.  This time, though, we all stayed together and had a fantastic discussion.  The discussion was based on an article called "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawrence E. Corbridge.

This article talks about missionary work and what kind of missionary we want to be.  The Stake Relief Society presidency applied it to each of us and how we fulfill our church callings. (A "calling" is a job in the church that the Bishop or Stake President asks us to do.)

They were speaking and asking questions and I was madly scribbling down notes.  It was all about self improvement.  We all can be better people.  None of us is perfect.  We each have room to grow, learn, stretch and improve.  And I LOVED how these awesome sisters presented it. (Sisters:this is how we refer to women in the church...we are all sisters in the gospel.)

One sister  in the audience commented (I'm paraphrasing here.  I can't remember her exact words.) that when we are simply checking off our to-do list or our check list our hearts are really not in it.  We are just going through the motions.  Our check lists are huge.  We never can seem to get them done.  She said, "my checklist runneth over". Haha! I LOVED that!  It's so true! When we throw out the check list and begin to really give away our "will" to the Father and allow His will to take over we will be so very blessed.  And we get more accomplished.  And our perspective changes.

A counselor in the Stake RS Presidency asked, "Who are you going to be"? When we are standing in front of the Savior and all of the day-to-day things are no longer "defining" us....who will we be? We are not what we do: laundry, dishes, diaper changer, mom, wife,chauffeur, cook, baker, etc, etc, etc.  Who are we really?  What are our qualities?  How are we becoming more like the Savior?

I love that this really made me think about the person I am becoming.

I loved this quote that was shared:
"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." By Ezra Taft Benson

There was a time a couple of years ago that I used this phrase a lot: "It's all about perspective!" I love that this lesson changed my perspective and helped me to see some of the things that I need to change in my life so that I can become more like the Savior.  Perspective is everything!
Image by Greg Olsen

A cure for boredom

Thursday was so busy and hectic that I never did get to finish my post for the day.  I decided to go ahead and do it today.

Wednesday night, while the three older boys were at Scouts, my 11 year old son was so bored.  Boy oh boy!!  He dislikes not being old enough to participate in the fun activities that the older boys get to have at church.

It had been a very busy day.  I was hoping to sit and have some time to just rest before bed.  A thought popped into my head.  I could play a game with him.  So, I offered to play Rummikub with him.  He was very excited!

This young man is so good at games.  Even if I had really been wide awake and more coherent he still would have beat me.  He takes games very seriously.  Sometimes I tease him that I think he's cheating.  But really, he's just really competitive and good at sports and games.

Here he is concentrating very hard...He's so serious...

We played two hands and he won both times.  This is the face of victory!

Wednesday was our youngest's 4th birthday.  This awesome kid was so sweet to his little sister and let her have complete control of the the TV and Netflix in the family room because it was her birthday.  What a great kid!

And here is the birthday girl...Queen of the Pumpkin!

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Too Funny!

I have never been funny.  I am only funny by accident.  I'm actually quite serious.  I think it's the OCD and the introvert in me. If I'm going to put myself out there then I need to know that the response will be positive.  But the response depends completely on your audience.  Maybe I should simply stick to my family and close friends to try my un-clever-ness on.

Over the years I have tried to be funny. Oh boy!  THAT doesn't work well for me. I'm not quick witted.  In fact, when I try to be funny I get strange looks from people.

I have wished that I was funny.  I wanted so badly to be able to come up with something clever to say.  On a rare occasion it happens.  But don't ask me to duplicate it.  Haha!  It's almost impossible.  It's only accidental!

When someone laughs at something I say, I'm surprised.  Was that really from me?  Did they ACTUALLY find what I said to be humorous?  Weird!  haha!

I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate those who have been blessed with a quick wit. I can appreciate that it is a talent that some have been given.  And I can surround myself with people who are amusing, clever, and humorous.  In fact, I am blessed with a husband who attracted me to him using his humor.
We met at a singles conference held in Maine.  It was the first Regional Conference held near me.  My mom pushed me to go.  I resisted, but eventually decided to go.  As most introverts do, I needed a buddy to go along with me.  I dragged my sister and a friend from church and we went.  When we entered the building I spotted a girl near my age whom I had met previously and I liked.  She was standing in a circle of boys.  She was the only girl in the circle and seemed to have all eyes and attention on her.  I walked up and said hello to her and to the onlooking boys.  That evening we were learning to line dance.  One of the guys from the circle, Todd, whom I had noticed, started out the line dancing across the gym from me.  By the end of the lesson he was dancing right next to me.  I don't remember what we talked about.  I don't even remember who else was there.  But I do remember that he tripped over every chair and doorway he came near.  He had me laughing the entire time.

The next day the singles conference group spent the day exploring at the Portland Headlight.  It's a beautiful lighthouse.  On the grounds near the lighthouse are some old buildings that are really fun to explore.  I walked away from the group to see if Todd would follow.  Of course he did.  And when he would walk away from the group, I followed him.  By Sunday morning, and the end of the conference, we were together almost all the time.  About 2 1/2 weeks later we were engaged.  Yeah, I know, it was fast.  But when you know, YOU KNOW.

Not only does he keep me laughing, but our kids have learned to be funny too.  Our third son, who has Autism, is hilarious.  He definitely got that from his dad!! Since we moved back to Maine, he rides to school with my sister.  She has called me or texted me several times to tell me about something funny he has said.

One day she drove by his school and noticed that there were fire trucks outside.  After school she asked him what happened.  He replied, "Humpty Dumpty caught on fire." She said, "No seriously, what happened?" And he said, "No seriously! They were cooking eggs and POOF!  They caught on fire!"

Oh!  We had a great laugh about that one.  HE is clever.

Yesterday I took him for his well-child visit at the doctor's office.  Just before we went in I noticed that his face had black specks all over it.  I asked, "What did you do in school today?  You're covered in dirt!" He chuckled and replied, "We jumped in a pile of leaves." I handed him my phone, in selfie mode, so he could see the dirt and brush it off.  He proceeded to make silly faces at the camera...so much like his dad. He snapped a picture and said, "Hey!  It's my first selfie!" Haha!  What a great kid! Then he asked if he could have his own phone.  ;) Not likely.  But good try, buddy!

His first selfie!

So, on that note...I hope that your life has humor, laughter, and silliness.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I love it when it works!

Don't you just hate it when a favorite piece of clothing gets stuck under a wet towel and ends up with mildew on it?!?!  It makes me so sad!

My youngest daughter has the cutest black and white zebra print leggings that she wears regularly.  She spilled "warm chocolate" all down the front of them.  I rinsed them and hung them on the towel basket.  Big mistake!! They got knocked down inside the basket with a wet towel or rag against them.  When I found them I thought for sure I would have to throw them away.

I soaked them in OxyClean, which usually does the trick, but the stain didn't budge.  I bought a couple of lemons and followed a trick from Pinterest where you pour salt onto the mildew, squeeze the fresh lemon juice onto it and scrub it in.  Then I let it dry. After washing the stain was only faded a little bit. So, I tried it a second time.  No luck.

So frustrating.

Then I had a Norwex home show and my friend who was doing the amazing demonstration suggested I try making a paste out of the Norwex laundry detergent and rubbing it onto the stain.  Let it dry.  And then wash it.  I tried that and the mildew stain got lighter, but it wasn't gone.  I decided to try it again.  I made a paste and rubbed it into the stains.  It was a bright sunny day so I decided to lay it on the deck railing because I knew that sun could take out stains too.  I thought, maybe the combination of the two would get rid of the mildew enough so that I could salvage these poor leggings.

Those leggings sat outside in the sun all day...and then on the counter for about a week. Just yesterday when my husband washed clothing he threw those in with our white clothes.  I forgot to tell him to make sure and check them before drying them.  This morning I was so thrilled to find that they came out clean!  The mildew and hot chocolate stains are GONE!!!  Yay!!!

The mildew before the Norwex paste.

After Norwex laundry detergent paste was applied two times along with sitting them in the sun the second time.

The leggings look brighter and cleaner than they have in months!  Amazing!

A Mother's Work is Never Done

Yesterday I knew it was going to be a busy day.  I had it all planned out.  It did not go according to plan.  But things rarely do...and you just have to learn to roll with it.

Having a family, of any size, takes a considerable amount of work.  There is not a lot of "free time".  Usually what "free time" really means is something else got put on hold so that mom and dad could have some R & R.  There is ALWAYS something to do.

I used to think that it was busy, crazy and hard to have an infant or toddler.  At one point we had an infant, a 2 year old and an almost 4 year old.  At that point we had three in diapers.  Oh yeah.  THAT was fun!  It was constant.  Diapers.  Baths. Nursing. Cleaning. Chasing. Severe sleep deprivation.

I wouldn't change it for ANYTHING!

Somehow I thought that eventually things would slow down as the kids got older.  I thought that I would sleep more.  Haha!  I thought that I would have more "free time".  Well, haha, I am still looking forward to that day.

Right now I have one in pull-ups...she'll turn 4 tomorrow.  All of my kids have potty trained late.  And potty training is my very least favorite part of having children.  They seem to know that and so they just keep delaying the inevitable...I guess.

Instead of gaining the elusive "free time" I have gained new challenges.  This, I have come to understand, is simply a part of life.

So, back to yesterday...
I needed to package the venison that my husband and two oldest boys cut up over the weekend.  I also needed to get to the store.  And now...when I say store...I mean several stores.  It's never a quick trip to the store when providing for 8 people.

We were out of milk. You'd think it was the END OF THE WORLD!  And powdered milk has such a bad rep that they all wine and complain if they have to use it.  So, off to the store I went, with my almost 4 year old in tow.

We first had to return the wrestling shoes that I purchased on Saturday because my 2nd son couldn't squeeze his huge feet into the tiny hole.  Haha!  Then we stopped at BJ's (like a Sam's Club or Costco) for several items.  Next...30 minutes back into town...we stopped at Save A Lot for the items we could purchase there, for a decent price.  Then to the High School to drop of the wrestling shoes to my son...who NEEDED them that day.  Walmart. Hannaford. Tupperware lady. *sigh*

Then home.

Remember that meat that I needed to package...yeah.  After we put away all of the groceries I began packaging the venison.  I am SO thankful for that meat!  And my  kids absolutely love it.  It's a great blessing to us.

I glanced at the clock...5:00pm already!  Oh my goodness!  I enlisted the help of my husband to get the meat finished while I cleaned pans...yeah dishes hadn't gotten cleaned yet...and started dinner.  Dinner was finished. Next paperwork called my name that needed to be filled out and sent back.

Then we gathered the family for Family Home Evening.  It's a short spiritual lesson that we have each week with our family.  This lesson was about self reliance; what that means and how we can apply it.  Good lesson!

By that time it was after 8pm and and passed time to get the little ones to bed.  Jammies, snuggle time, hugs and kisses, and bedtime prayer.

All of the sudden it was 9pm and I knew that if I didn't get to bed I would be exhausted at 4:50 am this morning.

I've heard so many negative things about those who are able to be a Stay-at-home-mom.  What I have come to realize is that it's the most challenging, most busy and crazy, most rewarding job that anyone could have.  I am the cook, baker, cleaning lady, secretary, chauffeur, schedule coordinator, manager, mediator, accountant, and more. I am privileged to be able to comfort my kids when they need me.  I am able to tell them I love them every day as they walk out the door and climb onto the bus. I can make them healthy food. I am able to be there when they are excited about something...or sad.  I am able to teach them and train them.

What greater joy could there be in the world.  Motherhood is the greatest!

Friday, November 13, 2015

The invention of the "selfie"

My fourth son is FULL OF IT!  I'm telling you.  Oh BOY did this boy give me a run for my money as a toddler.  AND...he still does sometimes.  Haha! He is very inquisitive.  Curious. Mischievous. Active. Funny. A trickster. He can also be sweet, good, kind and thoughtful.  Thankfully.

This morning we were looking at a framed picture of two people standing by a waterfall.  He asked, "Did they use a REALLY BIG selfie stick?" I couldn't help but laugh and say, "No, those weren't invented back then."  He replied, "Really?" with an inquisitive look on his silly face.  I explained that the selfie stick is something that is pretty new.  He asked, "Well, who took the picture?" I didn't have that answer for him.

Then he asked me who created the first selfie.  I told him that I didn't know, but I would find out.  I Googled it, of course.  I clicked on a link titled, Who Invented the Selfie.  It talked about how the word selfie is a slang term for a self portrait.  All of the sudden my mind was bombarded with memories of people holding up a "point and shoot" camera way out in front of them...attempting to capture a picture of themselves or more people...which was really difficult because you could not SEE the image you were capturing until you got your film developed.  Oh the days of the film camera!  I spent so much money on film!!

In the article it names Robert Cornelius as the first person to take a self portrait in 1839. My son thought that was pretty cool and he decided he needed to write down that information so he could share it at school.What a nut!

The article also states that the word "selfie" was chosen as the "Word of the Year 2013" by the Oxford English Dictionary.  I wonder if ANYONE could have guessed that there would be so much selfie taking when they invented the digital cameras and cell phones.  Probably not.

And, of course, my son thinks I grew up in the stone ages because we didn't have computers and cell phones...way...back...then.  GASP!  How did we ever survive!?!?

I find it a little bit disturbing that teenagers spend so much of their time taking selfies.  What's the purpose? It seems to place attention on oneself instead of focusing outward on others.  The "Selfies" I enjoy most are the ones including multiple people.  So, technically is wouldn't be a selfie.  Since it's more than once person.

These selfies are... capturing a moment with someone else.
A sweet moment with my sweet girl!

Showing my son how to take a selfie.

My son's turn to try.  Not bad for his first time.  ;)

And last, but not least...a group shot with Sister Cox who came to share a spiritual message with us tonight.  These are the kinds of moments where a "selfie" is a fantastic idea.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

We are blessed!

Blessings.  If we take the time to really ponder on our blessed lives, to truly count each one, I think we would be surprised at how blessed we truly are.

I've been thinking about how blessed we are recently.  Not because Thanksgiving is coming.  Not because Christmas is around the corner.  I've been thinking about it because life has been really hard lately.  That's not so say that others don't have it much more difficult than we do.  There are many with harder, more testing trials than I have right now.  But life can be tough. And when it is tough it seems that we are more humble, maybe, and more aware of the little blessings that are constantly pouring down on us from Heaven.

I listened to a wonderful speaker recently who spoke of blessings.  Some of his words have really stayed with me.  (You can find the full talk here.)

"Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God. It requires that we trust God and hope for things we may not see but which are true.8 By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”9

True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will."

There have been many times when it would have been easier to simply be angry.  Angry with everyone and everything.  Angry at the world.  But I learned that I would never find happiness unless I found a way to be happy in any circumstance. There are still times when it's difficult. Living in Texas for a year was a very trying time for us. At the same time, we can see many blessings that came from it.

"Part of our challenge is, I think, that we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.

His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings." Dieter F Uctdorf's talk.

Yesterday I was pondering the many blessings in our lives right now.  Our 15 year old son shot his first deer.  It was an exciting afternoon in our house.

But first I need to tell the back story.  The boys and my husband got up at 6 am and got ready to hunt.  It was raining out so they had to postpone until the rain stopped.  The boys finished chores and asked permission to get out their laptops to play a game.  I gave permission before realizing that the rain had stopped and they could finally go out. When I realized the rain had stopped and their Papa was ready to take them and their dad out hunting I told them they needed to put the laptops away.  They were angry.  They fought with me and were grumpy because they had to quit their game.  I promised them that if they changed their attitude and went out hunting they could play their game when they got home.  But if they chose to stay home they could sit on their beds and be grumpy.  They chose to go. And they are so thankful they did!

Not only was it a thrill, a rush, an awesome experience...it is a blessing.  Our son just provided more meat for our family for the winter. He learned that he CAN in fact sit quietly and wait and watch and hit his target.  He is so happy.

Even though life is tough at times we need to remember that Heavenly Father is watching over us.  He WANTS us to be happy.  He is blessing us.  As we strive to be good people and follow Him, He will continue to bless us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Red Cup Hullabaloo

This morning I was pondering all the chaos and craziness that is spreading across Facebook, and I imagine other social media as well.  In fact, I had NO idea what in the world people were talking about.  What's the deal with Starbucks red cup?  I decided to look it up.

I read a little about it and watched a video that has gone viral, which I'll talk about later. Basically, as I understand it, Starbucks has brought out a two toned red coffee cup for the holidays.  They wanted their product to encompass all beliefs.

I am not a coffee drinker.  I never really have been.  Even still, my first thought was, "that's pretty". I'd drink a yummy hot chocolate from it. It's red. I like red.  I don't find it offensive.  It works for Autumn leaves, or Santa's suit, or Christmas or whatever you want it to be. There are no words on it.  There are no Christmas symbols.  And in my opinion, that's perfectly fine.  It's simply a red coffee cup.

In my reading and searching to figure out what all the hullabaloo was about, I found a link to a video created by a Christian man.  It all would have been just fine, parts of it were even a bit comical, except for this one part...he intended to offend Starbucks.

I can understand if people want to make these coffee cups "their own" when they purchase the product and have the Starbucks staff write "Merry Christmas" on it.  Heck, why not just bring a sharpie and write your personal message on the cup yourself.  But don't do it with the intention to offend.  Do it with the intention to spread "Christmas Cheer" or make others happy or to put a smile on someone's face.  Intentionally choose goodness!

Whatever you do each day...choose to be kind.  Choose goodness. Choose to be Christlike. Choose to be an example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Spread happiness and kindness.

Satan loves to use little things like this to distract us from what is truly important.  And what IS truly important?  Goodness, happiness, kindness, LOVE, a loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ, family, friends,joy, peace, and serving one another.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Terrible, horrible, no good, awful chemicals in our food

It's an interesting thing, dealing with food allergies.  Our youngest daughter, almost 4, has intolerance to some foods, dyes and preservatives.  Once we got our daughter's allergies figured out she became outgoing and happy all the time.  Before figuring them out she would scream all the time. This isn't an over-exaggeration.    I stopped going places at night because, as an infant, she screamed horrible screams the entire ride. She cried almost constantly. She fussed all the time. She was a very unhappy baby.

As a younger toddler, 18 months-3 years, she was extremely clingy and refused to go to Nursery class at church almost every week. Most kids love being able to go play with toys and have snacks, but she didn't care.  After many months, she finally got more relaxed and comfortable just before she turned 3. Once she was 3 she was able to go the Sunbeams class.  That required that she sit through a 10 minute spiritual lesson called Sharing Time and about 30 minutes of singing time.  She was the ONLY child that did not adjust after a few weeks.  She constantly ran around the room. She refused to participate.  She climbed on my lap and snuggled.  She would dance and twirl, which sometimes sparked the other little girls to get up in front with her to twirl their skirts around.  It was cute and yet embarrassing too.

We had already figured out that she couldn't have gluten, food dyes, and dark colored clothing.  We also knew that she couldn't use soaps and lotions with dyes or gluten.  I switched to a calendula based diaper cream because the petroleum based creams caused her severe pain.

One day a friend sent me a link to a blog post about petroleum based food dyes and the preservatives that are also petroleum based and cause similar symptoms.  I read that and gasped!  The "treats" that we thought were okay might actually be causing problems.  I had to test it out; remove the preservatives and see how she responded.

When we eliminated gluten she became more happy.  People said she was like a new child.  When we removed food coloring she became even more happy. Again, people were shocked at how different she was. Then we removed the preservatives TBHQ and BHT.  The results were awesome! Just awesome!

I didn't think she could be any more happy, but I was wrong.  All of the sudden she was talking to people at church instead of screaming at them.  She climbed in peoples' laps instead of hiding behind me.  She smiled at people instead of growling at them.  It was fantastic!  Again, she was a NEW child! Or, in reality, she was allowed to escape her painful prison.  A prison no one knew was there.

Recently we had a few weeks where she became very sad and grouchy again.  There had been about 3 Sundays where she refused to go to class and she cried most of the time.  She became clingy and cranky.  I kept trying to link it to the weather because it had been rainy. The problem with that became clear when she was grouchy even on sunny bright beautiful days.  I was at a loss.

I began praying to know what was causing the problem because I have learned, over the years, that our moods can be directly linked to the foods we eat.  Food has a HUGE effect on us.  The answer to my prayer came as I pondered what we had been doing differently for food in the more recent past.  The Gluten free macaroni and cheese that I had been giving her from Walmart popped into my head,  She was begging for it almost daily. We purposely ran out of the macaroni and cheese and I told my husband that I was going to do an experiment to see if it was the cause. I thought maybe it was the annatto coloring.  I noticed that the annatto coloring was also in the Earth Balance butter that we use.  She had never had a bad experience with that before so before going crazy we just decided to see if it was something in the mac and cheese.

After about a week without this particular brand of mac and cheese her mood began to improve. It took approximately 2 weeks for the offending substance to leave her body and she began to be happy again.  We continue to use the Earth Balance butter with no issues.  What a relief!

I still don't know which ingredient caused the issue.  The list of ingredients on the Walmart Gluten free mac and cheese is rather long.  I didn't recognize MANY of the ingredients.  I should not have purchased it at all, but was trying to save money.  Ha!  This is why I don't like "crappy" ingredients or "junk" in my food.  Many of these ingredients aren't even food.  That's why I tend to purchase items with natural and minimally processed ingredients.  Ingredients that I can actually read and understand.  

And the joys of food allergies continue....