Friday, December 24, 2010

Have a Merry Christmas

Today has been completely nuts.  I guess that is what happens when you decide to leave everything for the last day.  I have been in the kitchen all day.  All friggin' day. I did get most everything done. I baked and baked and baked. Then I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped.  I was going to sew and sew and sew but I guess that the people receiving my sewing projects will have a New Years present to anticipate instead. It is just the way it is going to have to be.

Anyways, we are leaving for St. George tomorrow and then I will not be blogging again until the new year.

So, I just wanted to say to all of you out there...

Have a Merry Christmas. Take time to ponder the real meaning and that so long ago a little baby was born in a manger.

Truly, Christ the babe was born for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Meadows Christmas Program

I have finally been able to get back on track with a Christmas tradition Rinar and I started many years ago.  We shared a Christmas program at my grandmother's retirement home tonight.  We haven't done one the past three years because I have had two pregnancies in three years. It just wasn't going to happen.  But it did tonight and it was wonderful.

My grandmother lives in a nice little retirement home in St. George, Utah. Rinar, Raef, Zach, and Linda (Rinar's mom) all participated.  Linda was awesome. She just jumped right in a played the piano for pretty much all the numbers. Rinar usually plays all the accompaniments, but she did it this time instead. She also played a beautiful piano solo by Sally Deford that incorporates Still, Still, Still and Silent Night.  

But the best part was watching my little boys do many different musical numbers so confidently and with pizazz. It was neat.  They played 5 different songs on their violin/viola.  They sang two duets, Little Drummer Boy and Away In a Manger in perfect harmony. Raef recited the Christina Rossetti poem "What Can I Give" and then sang a solo, The Nativity Song.  Zach plopped himself down on the piano and played some jazzy number he likes to play at home with a lot of his own Zach improvisations. It was neat to see how they would just keep going or adjust if they messed up a little bit. It didn't phase them at all.  They love an audience and they have no fear.  I don't think many people can say that about 8 year-old boys, but I definitely can about mine. 

I  had to drop the babies off at the babysitter's house, so I got there 10 minutes before we were supposed to start and the kids were already standing up there playing pieces they have been working on for the past few months. They took turns and they played and if they messed up a little they just kept going.

Oh yeah, I also sang several songs and then we did a quick sing-along of Christmas hymns at the end.  It was funny but I sang Silent Night with an arrangement by Sally Deford and I got all choked up and almost couldn't finish. It just touched my heart so much. I have no idea why, nevertheless I was grateful for the feeling.

Both of grandmothers came to our little concert and many residents were there as well. It was a lot of fun. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Rinar played a really great version of Jingle Bell Rock on a saxophone he rented for the month from the music store.  He is such a ham. It was a lot of fun seeing him play and work the crowd.  I begrudgingly admit that it stole the show.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spiritual Gifts

I have heard about this a lot this month, spiritual gifts. I wrote the Christmas program for sacrament meeting next week and the theme is gifts. Brother Richards talked about spiritual gifts at our Relief Society meeting last Tuesday night and my lesson on Sunday for Relief Society was on spiritual gifts. I have been bombarded with this idea for the last month or so.  

And it is a good thing!

It came in handy yesterday.  I finally got my hair done. It has not been done since the spring. My hairdresser moved to Oklahoma. I found a new lady in my ward who does hair and I was able to bring my kids to the appointment at her house. Shelly has the cutest house ever. It was so clean and perfectly decorated. Just enough stuff, not too much stuff. There were calming colors everywhere and so many fun projects she has completed like reupholstering sofas and chairs, hand-painting lampshades, etc. etc.  Then she has trained her kids to play with toys one at a time.  She got out a fun train set and they all played and it was a lot of fun.

Here is where every woman falls guilty of the whole comparing and coveting trap.  I came home to a chaotic house, crumbs, toys, paper EVERYWHERE!!  Things were falling in on me and I felt like I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over. Oh why can't my house be like hers?  Yep, those thoughts started to creep into my mind.  Then it was like...STOP!  SHUT UP!  

There are people who have probably walked into my house, on a good day, and thought the same things.  Then I remembered what I had taught on Sunday about seeking out the best gifts.  The Apostle Paul admonishes us to "covet the best gifts" (1 Cor. 12:31) and here I was coveting things that were not important. Yes, they are nice things but they are not the things I should be coveting.  

I learned that I need to find out what my spiritual gifts are and I can do that by fasting and praying.  Once I know what they are, I can harness them in my daily life.  With all of the chaos I have to deal with, I need those things the most. Perfectly decorated houses do not last, and at my house they only last about 10 minutes.  But the spiritual gifts that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with are eternal.

I love this quote by Gene R. Cook.  "It is part of the gift of charity to be able to recognize the Lord's hand and feel His love in all that surrounds us. At times it will not be easy to discover the Lord's love for us in all that we experience, because He is a perfect, anonymous giver. You will search all your life to uncover His hand and the gifts He has bestowed upon you because of His intimate, modest, humble way of granting such wonderful gifts."

Isn't that a wonderful thought to ponder? He has blessed me ten-fold and I must remember it. He has blessed me with wonderful gifts and talents. I feel His love daily and my heart is constantly touched by His influence and guidance.  Am I really going to squander that by worrying that my house isn't clean or pretty enough?  That really would be a waste of my time.
So, this Christmas season really is a season of gifts. Think of all of the gifts that you have been given and most importantly, the gift of a little baby in a manger who grew to be a perfect man, a perfect teacher, full of love and grace, who has paid for our sins that we might live again.

When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit. -anonymous

Therefore, think of the poem by Christina Rossetti...

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wise man,
I would do my part, -
But what can I give Him,
I will give my heart.

I hope that I can rededicate my life to giving my heart to Christ and searching out those gifts from that anonymous giver, even Jesus Christ.

I hope you will all strive to do the same thing...and have a Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Busy Week

This is in front of our condo in St. George. There have been tons of leaves and it is better than Disney land. The kids have been in heaven playing in the leaves. We don't really have anything like that here in Las Vegas so it is nice to get away.

It is especially fun to bury one year-olds in leaves. Well, it is fun for the older kids.

Zach has rediscovered his love for the piano. I love it.

Julia and Harry got new pjs, thanks to Black Friday.  Don't you love the stripes? Does this  mean they belong in jail?

Look what Raef made at Cub Scouts.  Yay! One Christmas thing I can check off my list.

The boys played with NSA at the mall.  They played for an hour...especially Zach. He had to play every single song and I was so proud of him. He didn't do anything embarrassing. He has come a long way.
Eli came with us. Yep, that is Jamie with his newly fianceed Leah. They are getting married in March in Oregon. Leah was the maypole in this picture as Eli and Jamie ran circles around her. Then Eli discovered the escalator. It was an Elf moment. It was hilarious. We must have gone up and down that thing 30 times. He was in heaven. If you are ever trying to think of something fun for your toddler to do, just go to the mall: escalators and elevators!

We had a ward Christmas party Saturday night and I decorated a table. Yay for me!  Thank you Leah and Heather for helping me.
Heather came to visit as well. She stayed for 4 days. She thought she was going to get a break.  MWHA HA HA! I think this was more stressful for her than what she has in Arizona.  But she seemed to have fun. We just hung out and did the regular, boring things. She is such a good auntie.

She even played Wii with Raef and Zach. I don't even do that!

Then we decided to decorate the Christmas tree. Eli decided that he would put all of his Christmas spirit into these math manipulatives. I could not pry him away. By the way, it would seem that this shirt will be making a lot of appearances in my blog for now. He will not wear anything else. The kid's got style.

The boys loved decorating the tree.

Bye Heather. Thanks for spending time with us. I don't think we will see you for a couple  of years.  That is how long your nap will be to recover.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When a Two Year-Old Decides

We went to St. George on Friday. It was a quick trip. Heather is here and she wanted to see the condo and the Grandma's.  We accomplished all those things.  The funny part of this was on the journey to St. George.  When we were five blocks from our destination I heard an urgent call from the back of the car.

"Go potty Mommy!" 

Eli's face was strained and he looked like he might burst.  I reassured him that we were almost there and stepped on it.  I didn't want an accident when I was so close to the end!

I pulled into the driveway and Eli started screaming. I unbuckled his seatbelt and he only got more irate.  I decided to ignore him and pulled both of the babies out of the car and put them in the condo. Then I went back out and Eli was still sitting in his seat and he was not happy.

"Eli, let's go potty! Come on."

I decided to extract him and I really had to. He went rigid and so I put him down. He proceeded to climb back into his seat.  What the heck was going on?  I asked Heather if she could understand him and she was just as stumped as I was. Finally, he put together a cohesive sentence.

"Eli potty on road!  Potty on road!"

What the heck?  Oh, then it finally dawned on me. He wanted to potty on the road.  When we drive to St. George and they have to go potty there is absolutely nowhere to stop. So, we just pull over somewhere and get the business done.  He wanted me to drive him out to a deserted road so that he could pee properly.  I offered to let him pee on the tree in front of our condo but he wouldn't have it.

I luckily had a lollipop and I bribed him that way.

You never know with that kid.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gold, Not Silver Boys!

Two exuberant 8 year-old boys give me a definite advantage. Christmas decorating is done. They left me no choice. I couldn't procrastinate any longer. We had a lull yesterday when we finished school and they were driving me crazy and I didn't want them to veg in front of the television or video console, so I told them to bring in the Christmas boxes. I was talking to my sister on the phone. Then I told them to start getting everything out. I was still on the phone.  And because I was closely supervising them (wink, wink), I told them to start decorating stuff.

And look what those little rascals did?

I mean, they have a lot of nerve, don't they?  I told them the colors were red and gold this year, not silver.  But their creative juices could not be contained.

Besides this dresser that is totally in my house by the way, it looked like a Christmas bomb had exploded in my kitchen.  I was forced, FORCED to clean it up and do some darn Christmas decorating.

Fine. I did it!

Unfortunately, it is late at night and I am too lazy to take some pictures. But believe me, it looks way better than that silver scheme my kids did.

Heather also helped me. That's right, my little sister came up from Arizona to visit me.  So fun.  I didn't bother to clean anything for her arrival. If you want to know the truth, I rarely clean for anyone's arrival anymore, generally speaking. It is what it is. That's all I am saying. Since Heather came, I had a really productive day today. I took the babies to their 6 month-old appointment. Oh wait, they are 14 months-old. Well, whatever. I cleaned a lot of stuff with Heather.  I couldn't stop her from cleaning so I didn't bother trying.  We cleaned together while the babies napped, Eli sang, and the boys played in the orchestra. It was quite lovely.

Then after dinner I went to Spender's Saver's to find a few things. Boy, did I ever!  Got a bunch of toys there and with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, they will be good as knew. 

Look, babies don't care if stuff is brand-new.  Then again, why should we, right? But I have to sell this "new" idea to Raef and Zach because it has to be from Santa Claus.  Raef is still on board 100%, but Zach is getting suspicious. 

I think I will save the Santa Claus blog for another day.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Funny Part is at the End of the Post

Unfortunately, this post will not be accompanied by any pictures, but I would like to share with you anyways. We had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. That is always a lot of fun and then we headed to St. George in the evening.  Friday is Rinar's family Thanksgiving dinner. We surrendered Thursday to spouses' families and it seems to work out really well.  During dinner Rinar presented me with an envelope and in it was a stack of papers with pictures to give me clues to a big surprise he had for me.

He took me to Salt Lake City. And he told me we were leaving in 15 minutes. All of his siblings took the kids for us, plus my good friend Debbie from Atlanta. Then we hit the road. He had rented an SUV for the trip because the roads were treacherous.

And why did he take me there? That's see Utah play their big rivalry game against BYU. We stayed at Jared's hotel, had dinner with my brother and his fiance Leah, and then went to the game the next day. Let me tell you it was cold and I was miserable. Not because of the weather, but because Utah was playing terribly! Ach! Then they came alive in the last quarter and we ended up winning by one point, because we blocked a field goal in the last seconds of the game.

It was GLORIOUS!!!!

We then went to an art exhibit at BYU (ironically) with our old friends from Salt Lake, Brian and Kristen. I had actually seen him at the game and we set it up when we were there. It was an exhibit on Carl Bloch and it was very moving. We got burgers and fries afterward.

The trip was a big success and even though there was a pretty significant snowstorm on the trip home, we were only delayed by about an hour.


Now I am back to the grind. In other words, we did a lot of schoolwork today and on a completely unrelated topic to that, I did a lot of yelling today as well.

Eli joined in on the screamfest and I finally banished him to his room for a nap. He told me emphatically, “Eli no nap!” but I was not convinced. I checked on him about 90 minutes later and sure enough he was asleep...sitting on the toilet...half naked...slumped down to the side frozen like a statue. Even when I moved him, he never cracked an eyelid. Mommy knows best.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

15 Years

What do you do when you have been officially married for 15 years?

Well, I don't know about you, but today I did my mom stuff: diapers, sick babies, homeschool, grocery shopping, etc.  Rinar stayed home today and he got to help me. He took the boys to their music lessons and helped with the kids. I even had him do geography with Raef and Zach while I went to the store. 

Then we planned to go to dinner tonight. He was going to take me to a nice restaurant. However, my friend Amy had invited me to come to the home birth of baby #5. The baby was overdue and finally I got the call this evening around 5:30.  I was so happy I would be able to come. So Rinar and I did a quick dinner at Cafe Rio and as I was halfway through my chicken tostada her sister called to tell me she was dilated to a 5. I was glad because I knew I would be able to finish my dinner. 

Then we went over there and Rinar waited out in the living room with the kids. Amy was sitting on the toilet and I had no idea how close she was to giving birth. Sure enough, 10 minutes after I got there she calmly (and I really mean that) eased out a baby boy.  Yes, the kid was born on the toilet.  But gravity was a good thing tonight.  It was amazing. I am so grateful I could experience the miracle of birth the natural way and that it wasn't me.  She looked fantastic and the baby is beautiful. He has a lot of hair and a nice loud cry.  The name is yet to be decided.

We talked for a little bit and then went to finish our date at Cheesecake Factory for dessert. Then when we got home I spent some time drawing with Raef.  He is quite the kid.  

So now you know what you do when you celebrate 15 years of marriage.  The good thing is that I will always remember the birth date for Amy and Stan's 5th child, November 24, 2010.

Happy Anniversary Rinar. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were married, and yet it has been in a blink of an eye.  Time really does fly. I am a totally different person than that 19 year-old girl you married. You make me a better person and you are my love for eternity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Walk and Dive

It was a momentous day today for Miss J.  She took some significant steps. As we were doing the walking game, Eli decided he wanted to join in as well so he carefully walked from me to Rinar several times. I informed him that I knew he could walk, but now it was Julia's turn. He went back to playing with his cars.

Julia started out by taking a step or two and then falling into our arms with a delightful squeal. She thought it was great fun.

Harry has got the whole walking thing down now and he now chooses to walk 95% of the time. By Wednesday, I am sure crawling will be a thing of the past.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

To My Auntie Heather

Hi, my name is Julia. I am definitely a girl. My mommy loves me.  Look at my perfectly coiffed hair. It is just the way it comes, no hair cut or styling needed. Isn't that amazing?

Thanks for reading my mommy's blog. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, November 19, 2010

O'Callaghan Park Friday and the Runaway Wagon

 We had a great day today. I was so productive and I am even posting these pictures from our visit to the park today. I take the kids to the park every Friday to be a part of a homeschool playgroup. You know, got to get those kids socialized and everything.  Apparently, all homeschoolers are terribly awkward and unable to be a part of society, so I have to schedule in the socializing so that they can learn how to do it.

Therefore, we go to park day with all the other "weird" homeschoolers.

I actually participate in two homeschool support groups. We meet on Tuesdays and Fridays and this is my Friday SEEK group.  SEEK is a homeschool co-op. We get together on Mondays and do school together at a private school that is closed on Mondays. It is great. We have met the last two Fridays to discuss some restructuring we plan to do with our group. I am excited for the new program and how it will be implemented. It is going to be awesome and it will set a strong framework for my entire homeschooling week. It is based on the classical model. We will do history, with a hands-on project each week, science (with experiment) class, Latin (I get to teach this one), art and music appreciation, with an art project and then some elective classes in the afternoon like musical theater and an additional art class or choir.  All of the morning classes will coordinate with each other and the kids will put things into their timeline book so that there is an order to everything.  The timeline book will be used over the years and we will also use it at home. I went ahead and made mine and we have already started. It is going to be great.

While I was meeting with Ann Marie about the history portion of the program, I had Zach take the babies on a walk in the wagon. It was his turn to pull them around and they needed a change of scenery.  He pulled them up the hill and was playing with them and went to the bathroom, etc.  Everything seemed to be going great. Then I see the wagon coming toward me at full speed and Zach running behind the wagon, chasing it.  It didn't dawn on  me at first what was happening and then I realized that my babies were in a runaway wagon!!! Holy CRAP!  Luckily, I was in the right place and I caught the wagon as it was gaining momentum quickly.

Harry was all smiles. He thought it was lots of fun.  Julia didn't think so...and neither did I!!!

What do I say about Zach? I really have no words.  Actual I have a lot of words but I will just keep them right here in my little noggin.  {{SIGH...}}

He was being so cute. I tried to catch him with his big toothy grin, but alas, the light turned green.

Nevada School of the Arts Twinkle Sculpture

On Saturday night, Rinar and I went to a reception and concert at Nevada School of the Arts. It was a treat because we got to see Grace W. play in the Vivace group. They did a great job. Hopefully, Zach will be in that group someday soon. It is just for violins, so I don't know what aspiration Raef has for the future. Maybe he can do chamber music.

The kids played "Twinkle" in the plaza while we went into the lobby for the big unvieling of the twinkle sculpture.
I I like the sculpture. It is simple, but relevant to the school, that is for sure. "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" is the national anthem of the Suzuki Program. If your kid is in suzuki, you will probably hear that song about 20,000 times at least, before you are through.
This is the dean, Shakeh giving her little speech.

A Pirate Party

Rinar's co-worker Taiya hosted a pirate party for her son Kian.  He turned 2.  So, she invited our three little ones to the celebration. They had a lot of fun. Eli still talks about it and it was last week. It makes me realize that his birthday is coming up soon and I better plan on doing something special. He will really appreciate it.

He is walking frantically towards the camera!

Apparently this little tub of balls kept the babies busy for a long time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I was watching the last part of "A River Runs Through It" and I was moved by this line, a sermon given by the father in the movie...

"Either we do not know what part of ourselves to give, or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. So it is those who we live with and love and should know that elude us. But we can still reach out to them, we can love completely without complete understanding." -A River Runs Through It"

I think that we all struggle with certain relationships in our lives.  No matter how you try to shake it or brush it off, you just cannot.  I am constantly revisiting that idea repeatedly. There are people in my life that I love and who have affected me deeply but I still feel like an alien to them. I just don't understand them and what they do or don't do. It is hard and sometimes it is hurtful but I try really hard not to take it personally. However, it is difficult to not take it personally, when it is so personal.

What would Jesus Christ do? What does he want me to do? Or more importantly, what does he NOT want me to do?

Then I was watching this movie and I was struck by this realization.  Christ wants me to love unconditionally.  He wants me to always have an open heart. When it is open, I know that I am more vulnerable to getting hurt, but it doesn't matter. It is his will and no matter what happens to me, Christ makes me whole. He binds up any wound and he strengthens me. 

Also, I do not understand everything. There are people in my life whom I love but I do not understand. They baffle me, if you want to know.  But once again, it is not for me to understand. Christ commands me to not judge, but to love completely, without complete understanding. 

Just love them.

There is so much that I have to give, but you cannot give what people are not willing to take. But I am going to try very hard to have my heart completely and utterly open to them always. Maybe someday they will.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Snow Canyon Half Marathon

Several months ago I came to a stark realization. I was never going to lose that baby weight or find time to exercise unless I had something to train for in the future. It just was not going to happen.  So, with flippant comment to Carolyn at a Relief Society Meeting, we both decided to run a half marathon.  On Saturday, we accomplished our goal and completed a half marathon.

Rinar also decided to join in the fun because he has gone all "Olivia Newton John" on me these days.  He is so into running and biking and swimming.  It is like he is possessed.  It is cool and I am glad we have something we can do together.

It was a beautiful day Saturday morning, perfect conditions for running.  I wasn't nervous at all.  I was ready to get it done.   The three of us decided to hit the potty one more time at the start of the race and every other racer must have thought the same thing. The line was ridiculous!  We all finally made it out and as I turned to start for the line, they started the race.  It was a good thing we had a timing chip so the race didn't really start until we crossed the starting line.  

I felt incredible the first 6 miles. It was so easy.  I had been diligent in getting all of my training runs done, so I knew that I was prepared.  But you never know how your body will react.  Unfortunately, I got a cramp in the 8th mile and I had to walk for a minute to get it out. Then I made sure to walk again at the 9-mile water stop.  I drank a full glass of water and some gatorade and then got going again. I really wanted to stop at mile 12 for some more water, but I decided it wasn't worth it. Either way I was going to hurt and I just wanted to get done!  The race finished on the track at Snow Canyon High School. I didn't know if we would have to run around the track, but I mentally prepared myself for any possibility.  Sure enough. We had to do a lap around the track. Whatever.  It was over soon enough.

And I ended up with a great time:  1 hour, 53 minutes and 2 seconds.  That equals out to 8:38 mile splits.  I am not going to complain about that because I never trained strenuously. It was a nice surprise.  Rinar got in at 1 hour 45 minutes and Carolyn finished in 2 hours and 6 minutes.  We all did great.

Sunday was not so good.  So. Sore. I. Couldn't. Walk.

We both looked like penguins waddling around.  But I am ready to do another soon. Watch out. Maybe I can do it faster. We shall see.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Cake, FINALLY!

Okay, we did this yesterday.  That means it was in October and since the babies were born in October it totally counts.  Plus, their due date was October 30th so I was probably more accurate in doing this yesterday than on the 5th anyhow.

As a side note, as I was making the cakes Eli came into the kitchen. He made his very astute observation while I was licking the frosting spoon. Hey, I had to test the frosting to make sure it tasted okay.  It is what any good baker would do.  
Eli said, "Dinner?"

Ha, ha. What a riot?  You think I would actually feed my kids cake for dinner?  Okay, never mind.

Raef insisted on decorating the tops with a 1.  I relented and it turned out as good as I expected.

Right after this he pushed it away. Sugar must have been overloading his brain.
But then he got a second wind.

I thought for sure Harry would be my cake champion. But I think I am going to have to give the title to Eli. He did a much better job of wreaking havoc on his birthday cake.  Harry was a solid second place.
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