Monday, November 23, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

Tonight we put up our Christmas tree. It was all fun and games until Olivia accidently dropped the star we put on top of the tree... and it broke. We were all disappointed, but this little 8-year-old was heartbroken. It was so sad to see the tears pour down her face during family prayer, and when I came up a few minutes later, sure enough, she was sobbing in a ball on her bed. When I tried to console her she cried out "But I ruined it! It's ruined!" Rip my heart out with a spoon level here. She didn't want us to just buy a new one, nothing could console her. We finally made a plan to dig the part that wasn't broken out of the garbage and use it as a Christmas decoration so we could always remember it. The sobbing calmed and we held hands downstairs to the trash, dug out the part of the star shell still intact, and carefully placed it where she chose on the bookshelf -- behind the sign that says "believe." As we walked back upstairs, I thought about Jesus Christ. We'd set up the tree to help us remember His birth. The star pointing the way, like it had for the wise men. I thought of how He was a man of sorrows, aquainted with grief. I thought of how well He understood the heartbreak of this tiny girl, that it wasn't silly to Him, that He knew it was heavy for her to bear. And I felt such gratitude in my heart for a Savior; full of mercy and complete love for all of us. As we talked of peacable things, Olivia stilled. I will keep that broken star forever, and keep it close to my heart. Tonight I learned something powerful about the Spirit of Christmas. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sweet Moments

Hugs and Kisses
The Double B took these pictures yesterday morning and I adore them. So darn cute, these two babies of mine. That's the thing about parenting, these people wear you out and make you smile like nothing else. BB and I are grateful for our four little (and not so little) maniacs. 
Today was a great day. 
KJ passed the sacrament for the first time. It was so touching to this Momma. He did a beautiful job, so reverent and respectful, and it truly touched my heart seeing him serve the Savior and his fellow men that way. As I watched him with tear-filled eyes, the Spirit filled my whole person with gratitude. I don't know if I've ever had a moment where I have been more grateful for the decisions made in our lives that led to that moment. I don't know how else to describe it than in that minute, I felt the confidence and joy that we'd traveled the right course. It didn't last long, but I felt deeply satisfied. 
It was interesting, because first thing this morning I said my prayers and started to get ready for the day, and got thinking about the Double B. I wanted to be an actor. I never intended to live the life I ended up living, but I did intend to do what God would have me do. Then God threw a wrench in my plan -- the Double B. I didn't want to fall in love and get married, but I knew with absolute certainty, I KNEW, that if I let this man go, I would regret it for the rest of my life. And somehow I gathered the courage to live the life God chose for me. There is a quote that says "those who turn their lives over to God will find that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can." I have trusted that. And so far, He has. I thought about that alternate universe Marie. I honestly don't think I'd be married if I'd said no to BB; I think I'd be acting, and who knows what else. But instead, I got to experience today. And Friday, when Benson walked five steps out of the clear blue sky. And yesterday when everyone snapped at each other all day long. And tomorrow, when I'll get them off to school, and down for a nap, and finally sit down in relief. God is making more of my life. 
Spencer W. Kimball said there is no such thing as a one and only, that we could be happy with many different people. I think that's true. But I do believe in a "best case scenario." I believe that BB is my best case scenario. I believe I am his. I believe we were brought to each other. And I think that the Spirit was very serious when it warned me that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't choose him. 
I'm so glad I don't have to carry that regret. 
I'm so glad that I could watch our son carry the sacrament tray for the first time with tears in my eyes, that the Double B could watch our son carry the sacrament tray for the first time with a big smile on his face, and that we could have the following sneaky text exchange:
Him -- Man, we are getting old. KJ passing the sacrament????? It seems like yesterday he was playing with those trains. 

Me -- It's so true. Bless our hearts. 

And... scene. KJ really did a good job. He even handled running out of bread. He was by his primary president and whispered "I don't know what to do!" She let him know to go exchange the tray. And when they lined up in the back they were right behind us and Benson looked up at him with great big eyes, like "what in the heck are you doing, Bubba?!" It was pretty much great. 

Big times around these parts. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

KJ Receives The Priesthood

Somehow, my little boy turned twelve. It really does mystify me, but nevertheless, he's twelve. 
On Sunday, his father, grandfathers, uncle and bishop stood in a circle with their hands on his head and ordained him to the office of a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.
We were blessed to have his grandparents and Uncle Nick and Aunt Sil come down to celebrate with us. Living close enough to have family share these moments totally rocks. The only thing we were missing was the Tates! 
KJ is extremely blessed to have such amazing examples in his life, and to have such wonderful people who love him and will continue to help him as he grows. 
KJ's priesthood line -- I know I will treasure this picture forever. KJ is 12, his Dad is 35, his Grandpa is 91. I'm so grateful for these fine men that stood in the circle to bless my son. 
I guess I'll never really get over that tiny little boy with his chicken hair, so happy and considerate and sweet. Even when he is a grown man with a family of his own, that little boy will live in my heart. I am blessed to be KJ's mother. He is a truly unique and good individual, born to do great things with his tender heart. I am thankful that he has a desire to serve, that he holds this priesthood office to do good with it, and to honor God. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sabbath Report

Here's a common sight at our house:
KJ practicing his viola and Benson pretending he is a big kid and "drawing." We have several visual artists in our household, so there is always paper and writing utensils everywhere. He's started carrying some around with him because he's a big boy, too. I'm sorry, but that's cute. 
KJ is loving viola even more then last year. Right now he is talking about getting good enough to pick up the cello in a few years, too, and being a musician when he grows up. That's awesome. He recently asked me if you can study music in college and was mighty excited when I said yes! He is excited because Dad told him if he is dedicated and committed, we will buy him his own instrument in a couple of years. I actually think he will be ready for private lessons by then and then the budget is going to have to magically grow. He really is talented and the passion is certainly there. 
I love the arts and know how soul expanding they are; I am happy my children appreciate them. 
Benson has an honest obsession with the missionaries:
It's pretty serious. He just loves them both SO MUCH he can't handle it. The Elders love this, thankfully, but it gets a little tricky for them to share their message with such an ardent and enthusiastic fan. 
You can see Benson also has a problem with books being on the bookshelf. He feels a personal responsibility to take them off, and the stacks are getting stranger. Drives me crazy. I like my books more than... say... the average person. So it's a problem. He just thinks he's hilarious, too. It is frustratingly cute. 
Friday he was so funny. He was just cracking up at everything all day, and was being so sweet to me. He was loving the cuddles, then would lean back and just give me the most enthusiastic kisses ever. They were so heartfelt (and so slobbery), it was just turning me into a puddle of goo. What a joy he is. 
Poor guy is teething, and his bottom left molar has just tortured him. Thankfully, it was finally poking almost all the way through tonight, but he is so miserable (and such a pill), you just feel bad for him. The Double B spoke in church today on the law of the harvest. He did great, but wrestling Benson was kind of an act of Congress. Sheesh! 
Taught my class today on the good Samaritan, which is one of my favorite bible stories. They are the cutest little ragamuffins you'd ever meet. I love them, both the naughty and the nice. 
Liv had a huge five hour stake activity days yesterday and it was totally amazing. I've never seen such an all-out event for little girls, so that rocked. (Girl power, people.) It was Star Wars themed and super elaborate. She had a blast, and today they sent home a picture of her face superimposed onto Princess Leia with the phrase "Princess Olivia, I am your Father. Remember where you come from!" It is so hilarious looking! We have all just laughed and laughed about it all day. I LOVE to see that it was a major event (and financial investment) for the little GIRLS. It is exciting to see a shift happening! Yahooo for my daughters! We are making progress. 
Katelyn has had a bit of a roller coaster week, but she and I had the most peaceful evening snuggling on the couch watching Living Scriptures tonight. She is really such a smartie and is catching on to both reading and math in an amazing way. I just love hearing my children learn to read! So much power for them in that! I adore that little girl. 
I know, this is a huge post, sorry, but one last story. Olivia came down the other night before lights out with a letter she'd written to Santa. It said very close to this: "Dear Santa, the only thing I want for Christmas is a guitar. Love, Olivia. P.S. I used to have one, but my parents threw it away. They didn't care, and now I am sad." When I read that, I laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. It just really hit my funny bone. Tragically, since Olivia was serious about all this, my reaction did cause a tear to be shed. I felt bad about that, but honestly. I had no idea her dad and I were such unfeeling people! That same night katelyn cried herself to sleep because "when I farted in class, the kids all laughed! And I didn't want them to laugh!" To be fair to her classmates, the girl can fluff. 
Big things happening around these parts, let me tell you! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Basketballs And Pumpkins

This weekend we got to go up to Utah to watch Aunt Sil play in the alumni game for her alma mater. It was so awesome to watch her out there doing her thing! She was awesome. It reminded me, once again, of what an absolute wimp I am, because those girls are TOUGH. it really was just like watching her when she used to play. Didn't look to me like she's missed a step! 
Matt and his family were down for the weekend, and the cousins all had so much fun together. (Katelyn is in this picture, she was just protesting. So she situated herself perfectly behind Liv so I couldn't get her, ha ha. Oh, Katelyn. You win again.)
We packed a lot into Saturday since we needed to be here for church today, but it was still relaxing and fun. We went to the pumpkin patch and explored and played. 
The kids got to pick out their own pumpkin, which was fun for everyone but -- well, you guess. Which of my children would find a reason to not feel joy picking out a pumpkin? I will give you a hint. She has a classic case of third-child syndrome (or TCS), like her mother. Though benevolent looking, she seeks to rule with an iron fist. Any guesses? No one? 
Katelyn did finally find one, and I found it very telling. We'd all been looking for a perfectly formed little pumpkin, but that's not what she wanted. The one she picked has curves and bumps and ridges and is perfectly unique. See? There's a lesson in that. I think I will spend all of my life seeking to know my children. KJ was feeling the effects of picking such a big pumpkin by the end, and Liv loved her little one. Benson had a marvelous time being carried around on daddy's shoulders. So much fun to be there with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Matt's crew. 
We then visited the famous Fry's with the B clan and Benson once again was living the dream, eating all of Grandma's sweet potato fries and drinking her drink. Good thing he's so cute. 
We finished the night with some delicious homemade chicken noodle soup (which no one makes like my Mom) and a long drive home, where the Double B was emotionally disturbed at the Cubs losing Game 1 and I was psychologically disturbed, fairly certain he was driving like a maniac and was going to kill us all. I am happy to report we made it home alive. 
Which reminds me, I taught my six year olds today, and they were fun. I told a story about a storm with the lesson and Josie asked me "Did you die?" Very seriously, actually wondering if I was dead. Ha ha. I just said "nope, since I'm here today, I am alive." She was relieved. Ah, primary. KJ had the talk today, his last talk in primary. He has his interview next Sunday to prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, which I know you are in as much denial about as I am. I mean -- how? 
I'm not ready for this, if anybody asks. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tall Trees

Poor Benson hasn't felt that great the last few days and is making his unhappiness with the world known. I think it's his teeth, as his gums are swollen and he has the usual symptoms. Poor guy. Poor me, because I'm really the one he saves it all for. The Double B will say he does just fine until I'm around again, then it's all misery. Bev used to say he'd do the same thing with her, and I'm a little perplexed by this. I have a theory which consoles my wounded ego: I think, because I am the Mommy that is supposed to make everything better, that he needs to let me know he doesn't feel good so I can comfort him -- and then gets frustrated when I don't fix it. I think this is a good theory, don't you? He and Daddy had a wonderful snuggle last night:
The Cubs and Royals are both in the semifinals in baseball. You can imagine this is like the biggest deal ever at our house. I'm getting concerned, though. What if they end up playing each other in the world series? Um...
Being in KC last year while the Royals were in the World Series was my favorite time period out there. They LOVE their teams. It was so exciting! And the Double B is just beside himself about the Cubs. He has loved them his whole life. I'm excited for him. 
I took the kids for a walk this evening, it was so beautiful and cloudy, with a pleasant breeze. We saw eight fighter jets fly over us doing training while we were just moseying on down the street. They've been flying really quite low the last couple days and it's awesome to watch. I'm always so glad they're not coming after me! My Dad would get nothing done if he lived in Vegas, he loves fighter jets so much. Nellis definitely gives us some good shows. While we were walking, we passed this tall tree that Katelyn just found so amazing. She was sure her Dad would be so sorry he missed it, so she snapped a picture for him to enjoy later on:
I thought that was pretty darn cute that she was thinking of him. 
The Double B got moved to a new department today, and we're super excited. He loves where he's been, but this is a very strategic move for his career. He'll have access every day to the top three managers in the warehouse, and that opportunity to be mentored is super awesome. We feel like we're in the right place at the right time for his career, and that's so good. He's worked so hard to get to this point! I'm really proud of him. The kids are doing awesome in school and have adjusted really well. We've been blessed, that's for sure.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Special Features

Benson and I got our grocery shopping done today, and he was such a good boy. Charms people. Charms his mom. Just goes around charming people! We got some halloween cookies for daddy because we're just so nice, and daddy shared his cookies with Benson. Benson is a BIG fan. 
Wherever we go, we get comments about what a cute boy Benson is and what a BIG boy he is -- they can never believe he's just one, much less just barely one. A very cute old man and I had a lovely chat about this in the pasta aisle at Walmart today. "Well how big is his dad?!" He was surprised that BB is not a circus giant, but like I told him, our kids are all awesome, solid human beings! He was a really sweet guy. Seriously, with the exception of our ward, the people in Las Vegas are just amazingly friendly. I rarely go anywhere without having a wonderful conversation with a stranger. I appreciate that. The Midwest has a well earned reputation for friendliness, but dangit, I am surprised to say that I think Vegas has them beat! 
There is a great big map of the United States painted on the ground at the girls' school, and we often spend time "exploring" before drop off. I've kind of become obsessed. I just have to know where every state goes! It was even infiltrating my dreams last night, so I put this map on my phone so I can get those pesky little upper eastern states in my apparatus. Geography or death! 
I guess I'll move on to the state capitals next. I knew them in the fifth grade -- does that count?
The Double B is in cross-stitching mode right now, so when he gets home from work he wants us to sit down with a movie and he'll happily stitch away. It's very cute, but not so productive for me and my house. But it is a fun little phase, so I'm just going with it. Today I was in charge of the movie, so I chose the special features from 'Return of the King.' Just as entertaining as the movie, really. I am a special features junky. 
Did I mention I'm a primary teacher? CTR 6. They called me the very first week, before they'd met me or even had our records. For all they knew, I was a serial killer. Nevertheless; they put me in charge of the six year olds. It took me awhile to really come around to the fact that primary is my auxiliary and life fate, but now that I've adjusted to the idea I'm feeling pretty good about it! Plus, since I've been in there I realize I'm happier there then in the very strange (sorry, it's true) grown up meetings in this interesting ward. While I may never meet or become friends with anyone but six year olds, I'm starting to think they might really be where it's at, anyway! Last time I had one of my rambunctious boys tell me "you only have ten more things to do to prove to me that you really are cool, and one of them is playing at my house." Marie was slayed. I do have a team teacher which is great. She is pretty intense, but I think she's new to primary. I've learned in my most recent four year stint to just reeeelax. We will probably turn out to be a really good team. Love those cuties! Primary + Marie = Eternal Companions.