Yesterday we were suppose to go ice skating with Jason’s family, but unfortuantely, Heather and Allison were up most of Friday night throwing up. Needless to say, the ice skating trip was cancelled. It worked out pretty good for us though. The ice skating is rescheduled for Monday afternoon and we had a night to make graham cracker houses. We spent the afternoon going from store to store to find the right candy. Jason in particular wanted a specific kind of hard to find candy that took us to 4 different stores. But at the end of the day, we had everything under the sun that we could possibly want to put on a graham cracker house. On the way home we stopped at Marley’s, the restaurant in the Harley Davidson store to get some sliders for dinner. We also ordered a Black Cherry Vanilla custard that they forgot to give us, but of course we were all the way in Lehi before we realized we didn’t get it. Bummer. Anyway, after we got home, I made the frosting while Jason helped the kids cut the graham crackers to the right sizes and then we spent the next couple hours gluing, frosting and covering our houses with candy. Kayla and Garion both had the goal to not only use every single kind of candy we had, but to cover the entire house and the 10 inch paper plate the house was sitting on. We had a great time! Amazingly enough, there were no fights, arguments, tears or tantrums the whole time! The houses turned out really cute too! The only problem now is how to keep the kids from devouring them all at one time! But then again, it is Christmas, why not!!
I have to grudgingly admit that winter does have it’s advantages. On Thursday after it stopped snowing, I took 7 kids (by myself) sledding to the hill at the amphitheater. I had Brynn, Kayla, Garion, Grace and Meg, and Tyler and MaKenna. We had a blast! Kayla in particular has been asking to go sledding for weeks! We didn’t even own a sled until about 2 weeks ago and since then have just been waiting for the snow. It finally came. And it came hard! Wednesday night and Thursday it snowed pretty hard, then Friday it stormed really bad all day and rumor has it, it is suppose to snow and storm all weekend. Although, here it is noon on Saturday and not a flake yet today. Maybe it will hit tonight. Anyway, the kids had a blast sledding and afterward we all came back here for a cup of hot cocoa! We made it sledding for about an hour before the girls all got too cold. Since we only had 3 sleds for the 7 kids they had to share, but the 4 year olds had a hard time getting up the hill and down by themselves. They need a parent to help, so I would like to get another sled so that while Garion is doing his thing, either Jason or I could be taking the girls down the hill. So mainly, while Meg, Tyler and Garion sledded, the girls and I played in the snow at the foot of the hill. At the end of the hour, when we were leaving, they took off their gloves and all their fingers were bright pink and ice cold! So I took a picture of them all saying “Burrr!!” and holding out their hands. Super cute!!!
I want to relate a quick story about the ward Christmas party. I forgot to mention it before. I have discovered that Grace, Kayla’s friend is out to sabotage Kayla’s Christmas! Just Kidding. But it was so funny! The ward Christmas party was a breakfast in the morning. We ate yummy food, then they had a really cute program and then, of course, Santa came. They didn’t have the kids all line up to sit on his lap like they have done in years past. Instead, they gathered all the kids into a circle around Santa’s feet and Santa talked to them about all the symbolism of Christmas. He had a “goody” bag with an example of each thing in it. Like a star, a wreath, a candy cane, etc. It was really great. Kayla, Grace and Garion ended up on the floor right at Santa’s feet. Kayla was touching his boots. She sat in rapture awe of Santa the whole time! I wish I had my camera to take her picture with her head back and mouth open and smiling at the same time as she stared at him! Anyway, just after he sat down, it got really quiet as everyone waited for him to begin. Just as it got quiet, Grace says to him “Santa! Kayla has been mean to me!!” Santa was very surprised by this declaration. He was quite speechless actually. He mumbled something I didn’t quite hear because I was laughing so hard and then went on with the program. The funny thing was that Kayla had been really nice to Grace that day. When they play, they argue on and off, but nothing unusual. The only thing I can figure is that Grace must think that if she rats Kayla out, she will get more gifts! The best part of the whole thing was that Kayla didn’t do anything more then smile shyly at him and look down for a second. She looked so guilty! Hopefully Santa will know she has been nice and not naughty and put more in her stocking than coal!
When we were at the Salt Lake temple Saturday night, we paused to reflect on these signs. They are written on stone monuments in temple square. This is exactly what I feel about the government and the constitution. I feel that the constitution is under attack lately and unfortunately a lot of the attackers come from the government itself. I know that all people, government officials as well as normal citizens who do not stand up to defend it for the God given document that it is, will be held accountable. I am so grateful for the country I live in and the freedoms I enjoy. But it is important to remember that even though we have freedom, we don’t have the right to forget the commandments of God and turn away from what we know to be right and wrong. We have agency, and the laws are there to protect us from those who choose to use their agency inappropriately, not to protect those in the wrong. Things are confused and backwards these days, the Constitution is there as a guiding light to keep us in line. In case you can’t read the photos, they say…
LIBERTY: “The constitution of the United States is a glorious standard…founded in the wisdom of God..Established by the hands of wise men…raised up unto this very purpose. It is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land.” ~Joseph Smith
“The laws and constitution of the people…should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles: That every man may act.. according to the moral agency.. given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgement.” ~ Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 101
“Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” ~
GOVERNMENTS: We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man, and that He holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property and the protection of life.” ~Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 134
“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.” ~Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 58
“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates,in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.” ~12 Article of Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
This has been a fun week for me, and the family. On Wednesday morning I went to the Temple and it was like a breath of fresh air. I need to go more often because I forget how relaxing and calming and peaceful it is there. I just sat and pondered life and things that have been on my mind for awhile. I came home feeling better and more centered. A very important thing for this time of year.
As many of you know, we have been trying to get the kids more into the true spirit of Christmas this year and take some of the focus off of the presents side of things. One of the ways we have decided to try and do this is by being a secret Santa. Our neighbor is a trauma counselor and he works with a family of 8. A mother and 7 children who have seriously had the wrong end of the stick. The father is not in the picture anymore for good reason. The mom and kids are in hiding from him and would not have anything come Christmas morning without help. We thought it would be more meaningful and personal to help with a family we have an association with though our neighbor than a stranger off the tree in the mall. So we have combined forces with several other families to provide Christmas for this family. Jason and I elected to buy for the 4 year old girl and the 7 year old boy since they are the same ages as Kayla and Garion. That way, they could really help pick presents for them and better understand the feelings of the kids. This has been a completely satisfying and fun experience for our whole family. The kids (Kayla in particular) had a hard time in the beginning when we started buying things that they would have really liked. But as we explained to them the situation, they have really gotten into the spirit of secret Santa. We finished our shopping yesterday and today after church, we pulled out all the stuff we had gotten for them and went over it again with kids. I asked them how they would feel if Christmas morning they woke up and there was nothing under the tree and Santa hadn’t come? Garion about broke into tears right there. I think he really started to understand what it would have been like for them. It was really neat to sit and explain to Garion and Kayla how this opportunity has allowed us to act as Christ would have us act and share our blessings with others in need. We didn’t wrap the gifts because our neighbor wanted to make sure everyone had about the same amount of things so no kids would feel jiped. But as we carried the items next door, Kayla must have asked 10 times if we are going to go with Jamison to deliver the presents and if we are going to be friends with the little girl and how happy she was that this girl was going to get presents.
I am planning on making secret Santa a yearly tradition. However I am not quite sure we will go in with other families again in the future. It just gets a little awkward. The whole point is to do what your family can to bless another. But all in all, it was an excellent experience and I am soo happy we were able to help another family have a good Christmas and get the things they need. It has really increased the spirit in our home.
Friday night we had our 2nd annual friends Christmas party/gift exchange with the Laws and the McNairs. This year we changed it a little and added a full blown traditional Christmas dinner. It was Fabulous! The food was excellent, the conversation was entertaining and the presents were fun!
Saturday, I “snuck” out with the girls to do the last of my shopping for Jason. Jason took Garion out do some shopping of his own and around 12 pm we met up at Arctic Circle to have lunch. Julie and Michelle picked me up from there and the three of us went out again for last minute whatever shopping. I am pretty sure all of us are now completely done with our shopping. It feels really good. Now I just need to get things mailed. Saturday night, Jason and I took the kids to Temple Square to see the lights, watch the nativity presentation and see the Christis. We had a great time! It took us a while to find a place to park, the traffic was terrible! But once we got out of the car it was awesome. At one of the gates to temple square there was a set of bag pipers. We stood and listened to them play Christmas music for awhile and gave both Kayla and Garion a dollar to put in their bucket. It was funny because they were really
scared to walk in front of everyone to the bucket, but then they saw a couple other kids putting money in. So they very cautiously walked to the bucket together and put their dollars in, then ran back to us. The lights were amazing as usual. I was glad we made the effort to go. Battling the busy streets and the crowds at Temple Square where totally worth it to see the kids’ faces when they see the Christus. Their eyes go wide with awe, and they reverently approach Him and just stand and stare at Him. We listened to the 2 minute presentation and the kids loved hearing the “voice of Jesus”. Garion was the only one who understood it was a recording. But it was awesome. After that, we made the trek back to the car and came home. It was a late night, but a really fun one. And the best part was, that it didn’t snow on us! Although, I don’t think Jason would agree with that.
My sister-in-law Heather, has a lovely theory about what the greatest thing about having kids is. I have to say, I think I agree. She says the greatest thing about having kids is finding out what matters the absolutely most to them, and then taking it away! Yesterday was a hard day for the children in our house. When it came time for Kayla to go to pre-school, she started to flip out because she didn’t want to leave her friend Grace’s house. She ended up hitting me, which in turn got her a nice hard spank as a consequence. She then was refusing to go, so I got to threaten to take away candy AND TV. Needless to say, she left without a further word. Last night it was Garion’s turn. He came home from school and had his afternoon snack. Which, on a side note, takes him FOREVER to eat. I think he uses it as a stalling method so he doesn’t have to start his homework. After his snack, he got started right away on his homework. He did his journal writing without a single complaint and he worked hard to keep it legible and put spaces between the words. It was great. He even wrote a whole page when the assignment was only half a page. He then had to move on to his spelling list. All he had to do was write the words 3 times each. Which is a break because I usually make him write them 5 times each. After I “thought” he had started I went upstairs to keep an eye on the girls who were in the bath and to clean the bathrooms and do some laundry. I came down an hour later and not only had he only written one of his words, he had his friend over who was sitting at the table joking and laughing with him. Over the next 45 minutes I gave him 3 different warnings to get his work done or his friend would have to leave. After the 3rd warning, I told Tyler he had to leave so Garion could do his homework. At this point, Garion completely broke down in tears and said he hadn’t had any time to play at all that day. I told him that wasn’t my fault because if he had done his words right away like I asked him to, he would have been done and playing a LONG time ago. He didn’t like that. He walked over to his shoes, kicked them at me (at which point I told him to go to his room) , and then ran up stairs saying he wasn’t going to give me kisses anymore, ever again when he leaves in the mornings for school. Once he was in his room, he ripped all his covers off his bed and then sat there for another hour crying. Once things calmed down and he talked with Jason and apologized to me, we tried his homework again. For 40 minutes after dinner he sat there. At the end, he had written 3 more words and half of them were spelled wrong. So the end of the story is, he is grounded from friends today and has double spelling and reading to do, since it didn’t happen yesterday. The best part of it all is that he woke up happy and ready for his consequence and didn’t complain at all when I reminded him of it. He wants his friends back as soon as possible!
Leverage is a beautiful thing as a parent.
Well, the Christmas season is upon us in force! I love this time of year. Especially this year, with the good weather. If you ask Jason he would say the weather stinks. We should be covered in snow with unbearably cold temperatures. But being from California, I love the more mild weather. I know the snow would be good for us as far as the drought goes, but I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I LOVE the nice weather. It is December and I can still walk outside during the day with bare feet and a t-shirt on!
I feel like Christmas is different for me in more ways than the weather this year. As the kids grow and their understanding about the world changes, Christmas is changing. I should preface this next paragraph by saying that I love to shop. It is very easy for me to get caught up in the whole materialism and “things” part of the season. There are really great sales that make it sooo easy to buy things and spend lots of money! I love to think about the looks on peoples faces when I give them the perfect gift. I have long since realized that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on someone to give them the perfect gift, but at Christmas, there are just so many people to buy for that before I know it, I have a closet FULL of stuff and an empty bank account. I am very lucky to have a frugal and grounded husband who keeps me on track and out of debt. Before we started any of our Christmas shopping this year, we decided to set a budget for each child, since this is the area that I have the hardest time with. I love to spoil my kids! A dollar amount that is significantly smaller than in previous years. I have been bound and determined to stay within my budget. I feel very strongly, more so this year than in the past, that we need to be more concerned with the true spirit of the season than the things we get. There are so many people in need and we have the means to really help others. But also, I am feeling so strongly, almost anxious, that my kids need to learn that Christmas is about Christ and not about gifts. It is hard to teach that lesson that when they get so much stuff! My Mom, bless her heart, does the 12 Days of Christmas for my kids each year. It is wonderful! But that means that the 12 days before we even get to Christmas, they are opening a gift. Then a gift Christmas Eve, which is our tradition. And then of course Christmas morning there is the gift frenzy with all the rest of the gifts under the tree. We are soo blessed! We get so much stuff! But I want my children to realize that our most important blessings come from Heavenly Father in ways that we can’t unwrap on Christmas morning. Anyway, even though I have tried very hard to stay in my budget for each kid, we have exceeded it. Doubled it in fact. I am disappointed in myself. I can return several things and get smaller versions…but that won’t decrease the amount of things they are getting. I can just return a few things and not buy anything to replace it. I don’t think I can express how difficult it would be for me to return the things I have bought. The kids will LOVE them so much! So where does that leave me?
I have really been trying to pray and do some soul searching. I think it leaves me still focusing on the gift and “things” aspect of the season. I am talking with Jason about what we can do to get back on track monetarily, but I am still left with how to teach my kids the true meaning of the season. I need to change my whole perspective. Stop focusing on the gifts myself. Just giving my kids less isn’t going to teach them how to serve those in need or how to appreciate what they have been given. The only way to do that is to set the example and really serve those around us. And to involve the kids in that service. That is really hard sometimes because they can’t keep a secret and they have no tact in their speech about other people appearance and situations. They just call it how they see it and in not so quiet voices. Also, it takes time to teach and lead and show them how and what to do. It takes patience. But, therein is the true meaning of Christmas. Teaching, serving, loving and giving time. I have started with baby steps in bringing this stronger spirit of Christmas into out home. We read a scripture and Christmas story every night before bed and most nights we talk about what we have learned and how we can apply it to our own life. Through our neighbors we have found a family with 8 kids that may not be having a Christmas this year because of some really terrible circumstances. We have talked with our kids about it and are going to do secret Santa for this family together with another family or two. We are really increasing the amount of Christmas activities that we do. I had the opportunity to go to The Forgotten Carols with a friend last week and it was FABULOUS!! I am totally taking my whole family next year. Last night Jason and I went to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and it was excellent as well! I love our first presidency! They are so inspired! I am trying to go to the temple more. We are taking the kids to shop for the secret Santa family and then going to see the lights at temple square in a week. Anyway, you don’t need to hear my whole schedule. But my point is, that this season, I am trying to give the kids more experiences as their gifts than presents as their gifts. It is hard because the really spiritual things have age limits of 8 years and up. So, we are trying find spiritual things to do without the age limit. I would LOVE to serve with Garion and Kayla (if she is old enough) in a soup kitchen. If anyone has any other ideas on activities we can do as a family to teach the true meaning of Christmas either this year or in years to come, please let me know. I would love some ideas! My next goal, will be to carry the attitude and acts of service throughout the year, with the kids involved!
It is funny to me, because it seems like I am going to be learning more than my kids this year about giving and serving and loving. But I guess that is how it goes. The teacher almost always learns more than the student at first. If Jason and I have done our job and taught them well enough, then they will learn from our examples what is truly important and when the time comes for them to teach, their experiences will deepen their understandings and increase their testimonies of Christ. “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” -Mosiah 2:17