Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Progression and Joy

A poem I wrote today to express my gratitude for this incredible Plan of Happiness that allows us to progress and find joy:

We are that we might have joy.
But there is so much sorrow.
This life isn’t perfect.
I am not perfect.
How can I have joy?

Well, I try.
I try, and sometimes I fail.
But when I fail
I learn
And learning brings joy!

How great is the Plan of our God!
Because of Him
We can learn from our mistakes,
Without being condemned by them.1

God wants us to learn from our own experience
To know the bitter from the sweet
To choose for ourselves
To want to be good.

He wants this for us so badly
That he lets us mess up and hurt each other and hurt ourselves
All so that we can learn
Not just to do good,
But to be good.

1.     1. quote from Bruce C. Hafen

The Bible Dictionary teaches that the Greek work translated as repentance "denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." As a former stake president of mine said, "repentance is learning." Anytime I have a realization that changes my perspective and behavior, I consider that repenting.

And in the scriptures, repenting is associated with joy! What else brings us joy? How do we obtain joy? I thought about this years ago and came up with a list that all have something in common.

Gospel living brings joy. Relationships, including children bring joy. Repenting brings joy. Working hard brings joy. Learning and growing brings joy. Serving others brings joy. Being grateful brings joy. 

What do all of these things have in common? I believe joy comes from making sacrifices to be closer to God.

As Elder Nelson said in his recent talk about Joy and Spiritual Survival, "the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."

We can have joy in any circumstance as we focus on Christ and his gospel.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Afternoon in Anzio

It would be an understatement to say that I can hardly wait to get out of this apartment. Sometimes my heart just aches when we pull into our complex and Elena says, "We're home!" Sometimes when we go outside I have to take my girls somewhere else to play when there are too many young children playing outside with zero adult supervision, making choices I don't want my daughter picking up. Sometimes I get a whiff of fresh air and remember how amazing it feels to be in nature, or to be on land, and how alive and right I feel in that environment.

But sometimes, it's better to just not think about these things. And sometimes I succeed in doing that. I've been praying hard about my unhappiness and have been guided to ways I can find more joy in my life. One thing has been to exercise more intensely and regularly than I have been. Wohoo! It feels awesome. I don't know if weaning Abby has anything to do with it, but I feel strong again.

Another thing I have been doing is working on being in the moment. Right now, the weather is amazing and we need to enjoy being outside as much as we can!

The other day the girls were playing outside and I decided it would be a good afternoon to get out my camera again and practice photography. I seriously have a lot to learn, but it's fun to practice on my girls. These photos do no good just sitting on my computer, and I like to be able to look at all the best ones in one spot, so I am sharing them here on my blog.

Bought myself flowers last week when I was having a bad day. I love flowers on my wood table!!! And carnations were a great choice, they have lasted a long time!

Fun with chalk

My climber

Monday, January 30, 2017

Downtown Tempe Photography

The other day we drove by the historic Hayden Flour Mill and I said, "I need to take pictures of that!" I have always loved old buildings and rusty metal, and since getting my first DSLR camera I hadn't taken a shot at urban photography yet. So this inspired a rather unique date idea. I would go downtown and start taking pictures, and Jeff would walk over from campus and try to find me. I would text him pictures every now and again to send him clues. Well, the finding me part didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, but it was creative! I kept forgetting to text him, and we ended up passing each other. When we were reuniting I stole a picture of him and sent it. I though that was pretty clever, but it was so far zoomed out he didn't recognize it was him.

We then agreed to eat at a nearby restaurant. It's amazing how after living in Arizona for a while, 62 degrees feels really cold. I was shivering! I didn't want to walk anymore, so I was happy there was a good restaurant right where we were on Mill Avenue -- Ra Sushi. YUM!

So here are my pictures of downtown. They aren't amazing by any means, but I am learning! I definitely know my style and what I love, but the art of taking a great picture still needs to be mastered.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Full Friday

This Friday started off as a normal day, but it quickly proved to be one of those days where you know you're being tested.

First of all, the night before we had a little trauma when Abigail hurt herself in a tender area by sitting down really hard on a toy in the bath tub. There was blood, there were tears. We made sure the bleeding stopped before deciding to not go to urgent care and let her go to bed instead. We were sure to comfort Elena as well who was worried about her sister. Jeff gave Abigail a blessing in her crib while Elena and I started playing Sequence For Kids, a typical night-time activity for us. That night singing, "mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power," to Elena before bed meant a little more.

In the morning I made an appointment to have Abby seen before Elena's OT appointment. We played outside a bit while I talked to my sister on the phone. Not a bad morning. We were even ready to get in the car early, when I realized the car was totally out of power. Couldn't even unlock the doors electronically. After talking to a neighbor, calling my husband, and him calling State Farm who sent roadside assistance, we were able to get jump-started and make it to Autozone to get a new battery installed and be back right before nap time! Whew.

So I had to cancel our appointments, but things worked out, and Jeff and I were grateful. While we were waiting for the roadside assistance I had decided today would be a good day to try something I'd seen on facebook for a fun activity since we were stuck at home anyway. Colored shaving cream! The girls enjoyed it. Here is where the next fun thing came up. I realized the bugs I had seen in Abby's hair yesterday were not just fruit flies, but were smaller. I caught three and put them in a ziploc. I google bed bugs, nope. Then lice. Yup. Oh boy! This really is an interesting day. As Jeff put it, a "lousy day." Bah. Ha.

By this point I couldn't get into the pediatrician because they were all full. I was able to talk to a nurse though and she gave me the run down of the lice treatment method they recommend, which is The Nuvo Method. It uses cetaphil (which I already had!) and a blow dryer. Doing the treatment was a team effort by Jeff and I. Side note, the girls no longer have lice to pass on to anyone else. When the girls were finally in bed, we celebrated by sitting on the couch with some popcorn and watching Fixer Upper. Yay.

So yes, it was a full day, of many unexpected challenges. But I got through. And it was interesting, because it reminded me that I actually deal pretty well with some kinds of stress. Sometimes those unexpected challenges help me feel stronger. It was a nice contrast from what I have been feeling lately -- weary of the way my three-year old pushes my buttons and how weak I am at keeping my temper. I've just never felt so weak. This motherhood thing is intense. Any seasoned moms want to sit down and tell me if this is normal?

Anyway, just wanted to share about our crazy day for anyone who wanted to know.

Today was great (probably partly because of the contrast). We went as a family to the zoo. We decided before moving we would do the camel ride once, and today was the day. Fun!

During nap time I lied down (yay) and cleaned the floors (YAY! This is huge for me, it's my biggest cleaning struggle).

Tonight Jeff and I had a fun date which I will hopefully write about soon. It will involve photos from my new camera that I still need to edit. :D