Monday Morning Quote: The Spirit of Christmas

"The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love. 
The way to increase the Christmas spirit 
is to reach out generously 
to those around us and give of ourselves. 

The best gifts are not material things
 but gifts of listening, 
of showing kindness, 
of remembering, of visiting, 
of forgiving, of giving time."

~Bonnie L. Oscarson

I have to tell you, I absolutely adore the glitter and sparkle and twinkle and jingle of Christmas time! I start listening to Christmas music around mid-November and don't stop until my family decides they're officially done (I usually extend the holiday until the New Year, you?). 

I am as drawn to the white lights and the candle-lit tables as I am delighted by the green wreaths and the hanging mistletoe (c'mon, who doesn't need extra kisses from the person they love most?). I love the way our home feels with the music, the light glows, the sparkling decor, and the busy baking kitchen (tonight we made a batch of sugar cookies and bread to give away tomorrow!). I close my eyes and I can SEE Christmas. I cherish the traditions and family time and merry making. And it is Christmas. 

It is here. It is in the way we make the days different, and it is in the way we make OURSELVES different--by focusing on our Savior Jesus Christ. And in the end-- as we focus on Him, we look outward and find ways to give His love to those in our circles of influence.

Our family has had amazing experiences this month with our church's #LightTheWorld celebration--not that we've done really huge things (and we've even missed a day or two!), in fact, they have mostly been small and simple--but there is something beautiful that happens when you are daily looking to do something nice for somebody else.

And now (somehow) we have one more week! 

My bigs wake up and rush down the stairs to  find the "Shelf Elf" who has a note. His note has a clue to find "the kindness elves" somewhere in our home. The Kindness elves also have a  note--this time giving encouragement and an idea for an act of kindness to do that day, either inside our home/family or out among our friends/community. 

Every morning they follow the clues, find the notes and rush up to me (usually in bed feeding the babe) to tell me what we should do that day! It has been magical for them and for me, and we are learning how to make a daily focus in giving.

Now...if only I can add a few more hours to the day to organize my closets  (ahem...find all the presents I've hidden--tell me I'm not the only one) and get everything wrapped before the weekend...

Merry Monday-before-Christmas!



Thankful Thursday: February 16, 2017

First of all, I'm totally annoyed that it has been a full month since I last posted Thankful Thursdays--but in my defense my life is kind of a whirlwind right now (colicky baby=little sleep + winter sickness in my house + hibernating fog).

That said, I really do *NEED* to take time to focus only on the thankful thoughts--otherwise, all the other comparing and wishing and hoping and wondering and doubting--it all creeps in, and can feel ridiculous, overwhelming, and defeating. And ain't nobody got time for that. Seriously.

So! Today is Thursday AND it's the 16th, so this little guy? 


I can't even handle it. 
At his well visit today he weighed 13 lb 9.5 oz. and the doctor suggested 
we move up to size 2 diapers already...sheesh!

I'm Thankful For:

-my friend Erin S. who is consistently checking up on me, and sending words of encouragement--we barely bonded before our move but I really appreciated a bossom-buddy like connection and her words and advice have been so sweet for me during the last few months
-my friends the Lichtenbergs (they are in our ward, and she was our realtor) who came over today to hang out with the 4 so I could take B to his appointment...they read books, played games, and MADE CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES. who does that?! *sigh* They do. And I've been eating them. 
-all of the people who brought meals, sent prayers, did some grocery shopping, and reached out over the last two weeks that we've been sick (ahem: walking pneumonia for me and this virus thing for everyone else), it has been humbling to be taken care of, especially after we've already been served so fully after B's birth and when we had to go back to the hospital with him after Christmas
-the swing, bless it (B loves it and is currently napping in it)
-cozy socks
-swirly snowflakes--even though we've missed out on most of the major snowstorms this winter (which I'm always sad about, I love the snowstorms!)--we've had lots of days with swirly snow that has made me smile
-read aloud time with our family...we are currently reading The Green Ember and loving it
-limbo games (we've been playing them after dinner clean up and everyone loves the game!)
-nap time (bless.)
-our van that keeps chuggin' (17 years old now!)
-the good feeling of a made bed and organized drawers
-my Mom, ever offering advice and good thoughts and encouragement (I've needed it so much lately)
-sunny winter days
-the quiet glow of the white lights in our bedroom
-epsom salt soaking baths
-my handsome Valentine, who seriously does so much for me and puts up with all my me-ness
-my sweet little Valentines--who covered our home with punched out colorful paper hearts and made Valentine's day so special!
-my dishwasher & washing machine & everything else that makes my life easier and simpler and cleaner
-medicines (currently taking prednisone and antibiotics for the walking pneumonia)
-probiotics (to counter any gut imbalance)
-tissues (we've gone through wayyyy too many with all these runny noses around here)
-my friend Brittany who's daughter loves Miss N & who Miss N loves and who picks her up early in the morning for fun girl time
-awesome giggles from the toddler
-packages on my porch
-powerful scriptures
-cuddles with the 8 year old
-drawings by the 6 year old
-dance parties with the 5 year old
-snuggles with the babe (which is kind of all the time

I'm sure I have more. Much more.
 Every day is a gift.

Thankful Thursday: January 19, 2017

I'm Thankful For:

-a slow moving Thursday morning (no one was up until 9am, my favorite way to start the day)
-Mr. H getting home from Chicago last night--exhausted, but still worked on a puzzle with us, was front-and-center for bedtime, switched some laundry, cleaned out 2 vacuum cleaners, and held Mr. B to help him get to sleep
-foggy mornings
-going to Target by myself
-newly organized spaces (pantry! bathroom closet! hallway closet!)
-soaking baths
-clarity in stepping away from a situation
-clean babies
-dance parties
-painting afternoons
-crafting mornings
-slippered feet
-surprises in the mail
-my parents--oh my goodness. Breakfasts, clean ups, lunches, clean ups, diaper changes, toddler wrangling, baby holding, big kid playing, bedtime routine-ing, read alouding, errand running, ice playing, snow shoveling, snow sledding, scripture discussing, rock painting, book reading, couch cuddling, movie watching, gingerbread building, cookie baking, dinner making, food buying, early morning holding, floor sweeping, dish washing, holiday celebrating, all-around-dream-make-come-true-ers--yesterday was *the goodbye day* and we are missing them like crazy!
-Mr. H's job (it's not our favorite, but it provides, so I'm focusing on gratitude)
-my (desktop) Mac turned back on!
-easy breakfasts
-Sunday night brownies
-skits with the kids
-big feelings on busy days
-clean spaces
-our washer & dryer--that are running almost every day! 
-big, juicy oranges
-happy babies


January 16th: ONE MONTH of Baby B

8:05am on the 16th

*One month ago* today, the waiting and growing phase gave way for untapped strength. 

Time stopped--a new person was officially introduced to the world and, as it universally does, that moment changed everything. 

Outside, new snow fell from the sky like confetti and we, warm inside our watery cocoon, we cried in relief & joy. Celebration all around!

L: The last days of waiting...41 weeks, plus  R: The first minutes of holding...after 4 hours of labor (VBA2C water birth)

Dear Baby B,

We've been staring at you for one spectacular month now. You are abundantly loved. 

We adore your squooshyface, your squeaky sighs, and your head o'red. You have 4 little people around you all day who think you are the most amazing baby in the universe and 2 doting parents who are smitten. 

In fact, we even think you are cute when you crinkle your eyebrows, give your best grouch impression and cry (except at 2am...OK even then you are super cute). We are excited to cheer on your milestones and be part of your becoming.

Be patient with us, we are still becoming too♡

Yo Mama Bee


Thankful Thursday: January 12, 2017

It's January's 2nd Thursday!

And I'm full of grateful goods.

I'm Thankful For:

-my parents who are still, wonderfully, here from Tennessee...entertaining my crew, cleaning up messes, changing diapers (my Dad!), encouraging goodness, and guiding the days
-my Mr. who is ever encouraging and trying so hard to think of how to support me in my post partum hot-mess-ness
-my 8 year old who is such an obedient soul and willing helper
-my 6 year old who is such a creative genius and gentle baby holder
-my 5 year old who is such a spark of energy and happy dancer/entertainer
-my 1 year old who is morphing more and more into a BIG TODDLER every day
-my baby boy who completes our family in all the sweetest ways (and gave us a rare 5 hours of sleep one night!)
-our warm home
-our van that fits (just!) our family and keeps on keepin' on (since 2002)
-Mr. H's's not his favorite or my favorite, but it provides for our needs, wants, and wishes and really, what a blessing!
-my phone, on which I have hundreds, thousands of photos of memories and moments that make me smile and feel grateful for the days
-hot water to take soothing baths
-our neighborhood for my daily walks
-friends in our ward who have been so supportive and helpful
-uplifting messages and articles that give me hope and perspective
-friends that remind me of who I really am
-genius inventions
-homemade bread, grass-fed butter, and local honey 
-our king sized bed (this is the first time we've had so much space with a newborn at night--dreamy!)
-the family who has been picking J up for cub scouts so I don't have to get out on Wednesday evenings
-exciting changes and blessings for my brother B
-sweet cards in the mail from family and friends who've been praying for baby B
-baby B's healing fingers and toes
-our baby swings (yes we have two, yes we are using them both, yes our baby is a bit on the needy side)
-the way I feel when I look at the moon
-the awesome hoot of an owl that we noticed from our bedroom window last night
-the recliner that helps on heavy crying nights
-clean counters
-organized drawers
-the hope of a future day when I can clean more counters and organize all the drawers! lol
-the power of the Holy Ghost to inspire and enlighten
-the Book of Mormon and it's message of Christ's love and power, if we let Him in
-God's love, as seen in little moments all around.

So grateful. So much. And so tired.


Q&A: Kids

Noelle (age 5)

*What is something I say a lot? “Put away stuff”
*What makes me happy? “When I smile at you”
*What makes me sad? “When I do bad examples”
*How tall am I? “This big! (reaches up)”
*What's my favorite thing to do? “work on your computer”
*What is my favorite food? “carrots and apples and pie”
*What is my favorite drink? “juice”
*If I could go anywhere, where would it be? “Costco!”
*Do you think you could live without me? “no”
*What is my favorite TV show? “Mommy & Daddy shows”
*What is my favorite music to listen to? “I like to eat apples & banoonoos”
*What is my job? “Your job is…let’s see…ummmmm…holding your baby Bennett!”
*How old am I? “16 years old”
*what's my favorite color? “pink!”
*where was I born? “with Jesus”

Nathan (age 6)

*What is something I say a lot? “Go to bed!”
*What makes me happy? “When I smile”
*What makes me sad? “When I do bad choices”
*How tall am I? “25.”
*What's my favorite thing to do? “Take pictures!”
*What is my favorite food? “Peaches.”
*What is my favorite drink? “Peach juice”
*If I could go anywhere, where would it be? “To your house”
*Do you think you could live without me? “yes”
*What is my favorite TV show? “Ummmm…Pirates of the Caribbean”
*What is my favorite music to listen to?  “Hmmm…I don’t know”
*What is my job? “To protect me”
*How old am I? “I already did that. 25.”
*what's my favorite color? “yellow”

Jackson (age 8)

*What is something I say a lot? “I love you”
*What makes me happy? “When I am kind to my brothers & sisters”
*What makes me sad? “When I’m not kind to my brothers & sisters”
*How tall am I? “ (counts using a book to measure) “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…7 ½ of these books tall”
*What's my favorite thing to do? “I don’t know…um…to help us!”
*What is my favorite food? “I’m not for sure. Strawberries.”
*What is my favorite drink? “Juice”
*If I could go anywhere, where would it be? “You’d go to the beach”
*Do you think you could live without me? “no, I’d love to live with you forever”
*What is my favorite TV show? “I don’t know…you mostly watch grown up shows”
*What is my favorite music to listen to? “peaceful music”
*What is my job? “to take care of us”
*How old am I? “Hmmm 24?”
*what's my favorite color? “yellow!”


Thankful Thursday: January 5, 2017

2017! HELLO!

My goodness, I only have a few minutes. 
My new boss keeps strict hours these days.

But he's so cute
And so cuddly
And so squeaky
And so warm
And so squooshy
And tomorrow marks our 3 week 
relationship together

So, it's a new year, I've got a new little person in my world, and I am THANKFUL!

I'm Thankful For:

-swirling snow flurries (the snow globe looking kind)
-my parents (who are here entertaining & helping in all the ways!)
-winter walks, even just for a few minutes
-wool socks on cold days
-burp cloths and washing machines
-pacifiers and sleeper gowns
-diapers and wipes
-remote controlled lamps
-my brothers (two of which were here to hang out for a few days!)
-my Christmas gift to myself: a special 2017 calendar from a Swedish artist
-late breakfasts
-cozy pants
-Mr H's 2 week paternity leave (bless you, Liberty Mutual)
-white sheets
-my doula
-baby bee's water birth that was perfectly what I'd wished for
-baby bee's recovering from rare disorder/infection--the experience as a whole is not what I'd wished for, but his healthy healing is definitely what wishes are made of
-little blue hats
-patience at midnight
-Mr. H's patience with me
-all the meals that were brought in by our church friends
-tiny toes
-a beautiful, low key, slow moving Christmas with our little family
-friends in our neighborhood who are ready and willing to help at a moments notice
-all the prayers from all the loved ones
-the power of priesthood blessings
-warm soaking baths
-bright sunshine
-quiet time (it doesn't come too often, so I focus on it when it happens)
-somewhat self sufficient big kids
-daily napping toddler
-baby blue eyes
-surprise packages
-new Solly wrap
-tiny kisses
-giant prayers
-the shining, new year

Time's up. 
The Littlest Mr. needs me,
and I am thankful!