Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For Jane... and the girls!

When our bestie from Boston visits during her birthday week, we ladies rally!
The guest of honor requested uniquely "Utah-fare"
and La Jolla Groves never disappoints...
Every dish is de-lish!

(Shannon, Susan, Jane, Becky, Caryn {who apparently did not get the stripes memo!}, Summer with Baby Graham & Me)

Since movie picks were a bit on the scarce side, we opted for pedis instead!
(They sort-of turned out to be "mini-pedis", really,
and only for just half of us...
but the evening was really just about the company, anyways!)

(Me, Caryn, Becky, Shannon, Daphne, Jane, Susan, Summer & Lil' Graham Cracker)

And please forgive me,
(maybe I'm feeling overly-sentimental..?)
but I just can't help saying
as I look at these ladies, I count myself blessed to be amongst them...
I see mothers... daughters... sisters... friends...
balancing so many things and doing so much good in our circles of influence,
no matter the size...
whether relatively small, or literally global in our reach.
I see creative energy that has no bounds.
Ever changing.
Unintimidated and unabashed.
Talent. Tenacity. Ambition.
I see true beauty, both inside and out.
We are loyal and kind.
We love fiercely...
(A lot!)
And listen.
We have suffered unspeakable, unimaginable loss.
Both individually, and even collectively.
Have struggled and overcome.
Have stumbled. Have risen. And continue to press forward.
And to thrive.
I see strength.
Raw, undeterrable discipline.
With grace. And unassuming poise.
I am amazed at breadth of experience we embody.
Such a spectrum...
Each our own heartaches. Disappointments.
And yet... Inconceivable triumphs.
And through it all, we smile,
Warmly. Genuinely.
With gratitude.
Committed to ensuring that the best is yet to come!
Oh, how grateful I am for each one of you, girlies!
How very grateful indeed!
My friends.
I don't see you all often enough, but oh how dear you are to me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In the Spotlight...

Our boys were featured in the Primary Spotlight section
of our ward's January Newsletter.
The write ups are so darling, I just had to share...
Our Primary Secretary is amazing!
(Thanks, Susan!)
Their interviews were a crack-up!
No shortage of personality in our house!
{Hee hee!}
But I do get a kick out of hearing their perspective on things
and I love to hear their budding testimonies...
So... Here's for posterity!
Ten year old Kaden Staker likes "The Hunger Games" series
because "the idea is so cool!"
He also likes the writing with it's twists and turns at every chapter.
Kaden would like to either be a computer animator or a football player.
He loves steak...
Closely followed by spaghetti, orange chicken, quesadillas and french toast.
"I Love to See the Temple" is his favorite Primary song.
The humble and brave missionary Ammon is his hero.
He admires the way Ammon "served King Lamoni
and taught him that Heavenly Father was real."
He also thinks that it is "pretty cool that he cut off all the bad guys arms."
As for a mission, Kaden has narrowed his choices to either New York or Nevada...
New York because "there are lots of non-Mormons there to teach
and lots of cool things to see."
Nevada because "Las Vegas is there... and it needs help!"

Ribs, Fajitas, steak, chicken nuggets, pizza, spaghetti, tacos & hot dogs
are all Trevan Staker's favorite foods.
As a future Fire Fighter he'll need all that protein to help repair his worn out muscles.
He wants to be a Fire Fighter so he can "save people and drive a big truck with lights...
and go really fast!"
Trevan likes to read "The Lemonade Wars" by Jacqueline Davies.
He also likes to read "I Love You Stinky Face" because it is his family's favorite.
Before he heads off to firefighter training, Trevan would like to serve a mission to New York.
He thinks New york is "awesome and there are so many people he could teach!"
Trevan's first scripture hero is Jesus-- "because he sacrificed His life for all of us."
He also admires Alma "for the way he changed his life after he saw the angel"
and "because he was an awesome missionary after that!"
"I Love You, Stinky Face" is also Daynen Staker's favorite book.
It's a good day when you get ot read your favorite book
and have "Macky Cheese" and "Chicky Nuggies" for lunch.
When Daynen grows up, he wants to be like his oldest brother, Kaden
and have big muscles like his daddy.
Daynen can't limit his favorite Primary Song to just one.
Currently, he has 3 favorites:
"I am a Child of God", "I Love to See the Temple"
and of course that old Primary hit
"You've Got a Friend in Me."
Daynen says he'd like to serve a mission in Disneyland with his green back pack
and quickly added, "Don't forget my green backpack, Mom!"
One day, Daynen's mom asked him to name his favorite scripture hero.
The conversation went something like this:
Mom: Daynen, who is your favorite scripture hero?
Dayne: Buzz Lipe-year! And Woody!
Mom: No, sweetie... Those are toys. Who is your hero from real life?
Dayne: Ummmm.... Justin Beiber!
Mom (and brothers, all laughing hysterically): No! Your scripture hero, Silly!
Dayne: Ummmmm... Spiderman!
Mom: No! He's not in real life or n the scriptures!
Dayne: Spiderman is too in real life! And he should be in the scriptures!
(Guess we'll keep working on that! Ha!)
"Kwinko, Kwinko Yiddo Staw" is wee Bronson's favorite Primary song.
Bronson's barely 2, but he already knows he wants to be a dad when he grows up.
He thinks chocolate milk, chips and ice cream are yummy in his tummy.
His favorite books are "I Love You, Stinky Face"
and "Good Boy, Fergus."
He says he likes it "cuz I knows all da words."
Bronson's scripture hero is his friend Jesus.
When asked where he wants to go on his mission,
he replied, "To infiniddy and beyond" Just like Buzz "Lipe"-year!
Way to go, Boys!
We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Lightyear...

To say Bronson is obsessed with Buzz Lightyear might be an understatement.
If he didn't have a mother, he would watch Toy Story 1, 2 & 3 on a repetitive loop.
But Buzz is special...
Maybe because they've both been to "Infinity and Beyond",
I dunno.
He was, hands-down, B's favorite birthday gift.
He's his bedtime buddy. His playtime pal.
And no one.
I repeat
NO one
Well, in all the loving,
Buzz's back panel has popped off.
It is somewhere in the Play Loft and is yet to be found and replaced.
Which leaves him with a bum wing that occasionally swivels loose and ends up dangling.
This is unacceptable.
In. Every. Way.
Bronson becomes hysterical.
Nearly unconsolable.
He cries so hard sometimes he has actually passed out.
Needless to say, we try to fix Buzz quickly.
Well, this morning on my morning rounds,
Buzz was having... issues.
And our poor Little B was not a happy guy.
He did not sleep well last night, so he was a bit... unreasonable.
Quite so, actually.
But I handled it well, if I do say so myself.
Patiently, I took Buzz and quickly fixed the wing.
Easily popping it back into place.
Each time quietly showing Bronson how to do it himself.
Quietly reminding him to play a bit more gently.
To be a bit more careful.
And each time I hugged and kissed and rocked that sad, sad little boy back to happy.
Reminding him to breathe.
Stroking his head and cheek,
and eventually patting him gently on the bottom and sending him back off to play.
This went on for an hour.
I fixed Buzz a couple dozen times.
But each time Bronson broke him,
he was equally as hysterical.
Equally as quick to run him straight over, right to me.
And equally anxious for me to fix him.
I seriously began to consider just replacing him!
If Bronson hadn't eventually worn himself out in this process,
I might have actually given in...
The wiser "big-picture" side of me
had to talk the "helicopter-mom" side of me
out of running straight to Toys-R-Us for a new Buzz.
Several times.
At that point, it seemed a reasonable, if not necessary solution.
But Bronson finally curled up on his beloved Puppy Pillow and drifted off to sleep,
broken Buzz and all.
And then the lesson sunk in.
How many times have I done this?
Made the same choice, over and over expecting a different result?
Hoping I could haphazardly use the same carelessness
and not experience the same heartache?
And how many times have I run, broken wing dangling,
right to my Father in Heaven,
desperate for Him to fix it...
yet again?
Wondering if He could?
If He would?
And yet always His constant, loving reply.
Unconditional patience.
Peace for my troubling soul.
He straightens the wing...
Then straightens the girl...
Then sends me back out on my way.
Oh, Buzz...
Dear sweet, Buzz...
Buzz Lightyear
Thanks for the lesson today.
What more do you have to teach me?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sparkling afternoon...

A very fine mist of snow has been gently falling since the wee hours this morning
and has continued silently into this afternoon.
It's so fine that you'd hardly even notice it
if it weren't for your windshield needing an occasional swipe.
It helped when the sun started to peek through a few hours ago,
because now it sparkles as it cascades down from Heaven.
And everything previously gray and dingy
has suddenly been covered with a fresh, sparkly clean coat.
You gotta hand this one to Mother Nature...
The effect is quite stunning, I must say.
(The pictures don't do it justice at all.)
Well, a little bit ago,
as we backed out of the garage on our way out for a couple errands,
Dayne looked out the window and gasped, "Oh, my!"
I chuckled because it sounded so funny and so old-fashioned...
not one of his normal expressions...
"What?", I asked.
"The sky is glittering!", he said.
"Ha!", I laughed out loud.
It really did look exactly like glitter!
I looked back at him,
watching intently out the window as we pulled down the street
and smiled to myself,
so thankful for this little boy...
his enthusiasm,
his happy, pleasant, optismistic nature
and his utter and absolute zest for life and all things in it.
Just then he whispered,
"And it is so bea-U-tee-full, Mom!"
Yes, Daynen... It is beautiful.
LIFE is beautiful!
And I am so blessed to see it through your eyes!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Only for Jane...

Only for our dear and beloved friend, Jane...
could I talk my husband into basically abandoning our beloved boys for over half a day...
ignoring the freshly powder-laden mountain, softly beckoning...
braving the snowy roads...
and driving "all the way" up to Salt Lake for a Movie Marathon,
not to mention "strange" exotic food and entertainment.
Trust me...
My man had to be well-bribed!
(Sitting through TWO movies in a day
and the uncertainty of dinner at a new, somewhat questionable-sounding restaurant
is NOT his forte!
He'd much rather have chosen an afternoon of skiing!)
But alas, he let me win this one...
And off we went.
While everyone else in our group saw "The Tourist",
(which we saw and I LOVED a few weeks ago)
we opted to meet Danny and Angi for "Country Strong"
which I thought was great, and Matt thought was... well, grueling.
In my defense I make 4 points.
First, I do love Gwyneth.
I just do.
Second, she made me want to be a Kelly Canter fan.
She was darling.
How could you not love her rockin' those leather jeans in this scene
with that eat-him-up cute little Travis?
Third, I found myself, against my better judgement, really wanting
her to pull her mess-of-a-life together and get well...
(Which must mean she did a very believable job of being a mess in the first place, right?)
And lastly...
I am almost ashamed to admit how much I LOVED that gold dress from the Dallas Concert...
I could totally wear it at the kitchen sink doing dishes, right?
Or while I fold laundry?
I guess it is best that my life holds no event worthy of me ever wearing such a gown.
Temptation gone.
But on to dinner...
To try something different, Dusty chose Cedars of Lebanon,
which turned out to be a cozy little place with great ambiance,
fun, not-your-ordinary-everyday entertainment
Here are half of us...
Our party of 13 included the Blanchards, Us, Rhodes, Taylors, Birchalls,
Danny & Angi and Becky.
Who knew we'd be fans of Lebanese?
But yum!
It makes my mouth water and my tummy rumble just remembering it!
We will definitely make a return visit!
We also learned some very valuable life lessons...
Always wait to tip the belly-dancer until the music tempo slows...
And never accept an invitation to share a hookah
with the aging gentleman at the next table over.
(Seriously, Angi... what were you thinking?)
And lastly, that 35 can look amazing if you welcome it and accept it with grace.
So Happy Birthday, again, Janey!
We loved sharing it with you!
(And please forgive me for swiping these pics off your blog...)
Our evening concluded with full bellies,
grateful that only the birthday girl had to participate in the belly-dancing spectacle,
a darling birthday cake
(Way to go, Dusty!)
and then off to another movie.
The late show was this little number...
which I still can not ever remember the name of
and was surprised not to love.
I thought it was just... ok...
But interestingly enough, Matty actually liked it better than the first!
I guess we're keeping things even, at least!
So chalk up another super fun evening, friends.
Great company!
My belly still hurts from laughing so hard!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday afternoon was simply smashing...

I had a fun afternoon out with some of my favorite ladies...
It was Janey's Birthday Lunch.
She is a gorgeous, graceful 35...
And she does it oh so well, already!
She's just smashing! Simply smashing!
Which is fitting since she chose SmashBurger...
(Yes, the pun is shamefully intended...)
I'd never been...
But my Harvest Chicken Salad was de-lish!
And the company was even better!
Here are a few of us,
(Left to Right: Jane, Daph, McKenna, Suz, Shan, Caryn, Me, Summer, Becky)
courtesy of Jane's i-phone and her super-fun, oh-so-retro Shake-It Polaroid Ap,
(...which if you ask me, makes Jane and Summer look like oompa-loompas and me look like Raggedy Ann!
Hee hee!
Ah, well...
That's what I get for not packing my own camera, eh?)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How $17.99 may just save our sanity...

So they say, "Drastic times call for drastic measures."
Well, this drastic measure may have just saved our sanity...
Certainly, a good night's sleep...
(And quite possibly also our marriage!)
So I did it today!
Took our drastic measure...
I've been thinking about it for a week, but couldn't quite bring myself to do it.
But today I finally broke down and bought it.
A nice, plush 42"round... Puppy Pillow.
Why, you ask?
Are we getting a puppy for our puppy-crazed boys?
Oh, no!
(We're not THAT desperate!
They are still just begging for now...)
Oh, no.
You see...
The puppy bed is for my son.
My baby.
The boy we all love...
It is for Bronson.
My sweet 2 year old who has decided he is done taking naps.
The very same child who I am convinced sleeps less than any other toddler on the planet.
Now, to be clear, this Puppy Bed is not meant as any sort of statement, for heaven's sake.
It actually represents a very diplomatic compromise.
One that has been months in the making.
Bronson, you see, has been battling with us for quite some time
over what he apparently feels are unacceptable sleeping accommodations.
Namely his C-R-I-B...
Yes, that's right.
It is definitely a four letter word.
And we have outlawed it in our home
to prevent the inevitable melt downs that even its' mere mention induces...
And so, as the kind, loving, accommodating parents that we are,
we naturally offered him the alternative of double-bunking
in his brother Daynen's full-size bed.
This worked for several nights
and these two little peas in a pod were as snug as bugs in a rug...
Until Bronson rolled off in the middle of the night.
He wasn't hurt, thank goodness...
In fact he landed on pillows
that had been carefully placed on the floor
in case of just such an occurrence.
But it bruised his pride
and his confidence just enough
that another alternate site had to be located.
This time to big brother Kaden's side he went.
...Until he wore out his welcome.
And so the real battle began.
A turf war.
Waged on a king-sized mattress between two sheets, beneath our comforter.
It's not a new battle.
It's as ageless as the family itself.
Mommy and Daddy separated by the toddler,
who insists on sleeping horizontally in the middle.
If you have kids, you know...
No matter how many times you try to turn the little tike upright,
he always makes an "H" of us by morning.
And while Matt gets the warm, steamy breathing, half an inch from his face,
I always get the feet.
And usually to my head.
Or face.
Or both.
Now, let me stop here to say how very grateful I am for this arrangement.
It is certainly preferable to many, many other alternatives.
And believe me...
I am NOT complaining...
It's just that, well... it is a bit... tiring...
after many, many,
Let me also invite anyone out there who thinks they have a better idea,
or one that we haven't already tried...
consistently for several weeks...
to come right on over and sleep-train our toddler...
I assure you.
We are very aware that it has become a battle of will.
That we, quite obviously are losing.
I also assure you,
it is decisive, selective and adamantly expressed.
And there IS no other acceptable alternative location.
Trust us.
A couple of times we have joked that we should just change bedrooms.
Or go sleep in our spare bedroom after he falls asleep.
But no.
Instead, we have decided to embrace the opportunity.
Knowing it will eventually run it's course.
And that someday we will miss those wiggly little feet.
And that atrocious morning breath.
And the little boy they belong to.
And so we have conceded...
To something we would never have allowed from his brothers.
And been a crowded party of 3 for quite some time.
Recently, we have taken to making a little bed of pillows on the floor at the foot of our bed.
We even brought in a Bean-Bag from our Theatre...
But then he'd end up all sticky and sweaty (it's "pleather")
and all slumped over...
It didn't look comfy, at all.
But it did give me the idea.
"A giant pillow", I thought.
That could be stored under the end of our bed.
Out of sight, beneath the bedskirt, by day.
And loved, by all, at night.
Just an extension of our bed, really.
An annex.
But safely at floor's level.
And with room enough to spare for all of us...
I smile, yawn and stretch just thinking about it!
Surely, I am not the first to think of this,
but still, I felt proud of this brilliant solution.
And further more, I would make one, the crafty side of me decided.
But alas, the busy-mom-at-Christmas side of me has not quite gotten to it yet.
And then...
Then, I saw the Puppy Pillows at Costco.
For the very low price 0f $17.99.
I could not buy the fabric, let alone the stuffing for that!
But it was a DOG BED!
And this was my SON!
I just could not quite wrap my mind around that...
And it has been pure Puppy-Pillow LOVE all afternoon!
In fact, I only narrowly escaped Costco , without a matching set!
(Dayne wanted one for himself and I nearly had to buy two!)
It might also be the new favorite movie spot!
And aaaah!
I can feel a good night's rest coming on, already!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Humble Abundance"...

I am not making resolutions this year...
Not because I know I'll fail,
but because I want to succeed without their limitations.
Instead, I am adopting a theme for the year...
A guideline.
One adopted from the words of a new friend, spoken a few months ago.
She paid an unexpected compliment.
One that I hope to someday deserve.
She said, "When I come into your home I feel immediately "at home".
I feel embraced by the humble abundance you have created within it."
I'm not going to lie...
I was flattered.
And yet felt somewhat, if not completely, undeserving.
But her words have stuck with me.
I've thought so much about that phrase...
"Humble abundance."
And that is what I hope to acquire this year.
A feeling of cherishing and embracing that which is most dear...
And loving it like crazy.
Over the top.
All the way.
I am not going to pretend to try to simplify.
I'm no good at that.
I'm just not a simple girl, I guess.
I'm all or nothing.
I have big ideas.
And an excess of energy.
And unfortunately, I am tenacious (maybe even stubborn?) enough
to actually see them through.
I've come to realize I'll probably always be an overachiever.
Certainly a pleaser.
Always a giver.
It's my love language.
But I aspire to chose wisely where to spend myself...
Not to be stingy,
but to be thoughtful.
And balanced.
And to embrace and share the abundance all around me.
In every realm.
So cheers!
It's a New Year!
May your 2011 be as wonderful as the one we hope to create...
And may a "Humble Abundance" be yours.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Hoo-hoo" has an opinion?

I LOVE that my boys are strong willed.
I LOVE that they are driven, assertive and know what they want.
I LOVE that they stand up for what they believe in, without backing down, I really do.
I even LOVE their over-stated, sometimes quite surprisingly, very strong opinions...
Especially the ones that make me chuckle...
Well, we've been meaning to see this movie for a while and just hadn't made it yet.
You know, other priorities first.
But somehow it finally snuck up to the top of our list.
So we took the boys out to the Buck-Flick...
We thought they would all LOVE it...
Well, the big boys sat glued, as expected...
And Bronson, wild monkey,
took advantage of the nearly empty theatre
and ran up...
and down...
and back...
and forth...
and through...
the aisles...
just his little blonde head silently bobbing up and down,
glowing above the seat tops in front of us.
Who ARE his parents to allow that sort of behavior?
So anyway, he and I missed half of it...
But it was our D who was the surprise!
...He is such a movie buff!
He'll watch anything!
And he has LOVED every other 3D movie that he's seen,
which is why this came as such a shock!
Halfway through,
upon my return from yet another run to the Lobby
with my crazy little maniac,
I found D slumped and scowling in his booster,
glaring at the big screen over the tops of his 3D glasses.
"D, what's wrong?", I whispered.
He gruffly and not-so-quietly whispered back,
"I want to go home!"
"What?", I asked, genuinely surprised.
"I hate this movie!", again, not-so-quiet.
"Why? What's the matter?", trying to soothe him.
Then this, increasingly louder and with pure and unmistakable spite,
"I HATE owls!"
Snickers from the handful of other theatre-goers within a few rows' vicinity*...
Well, there you have it...
Hooooo knew?
*My apologies to anyone who was there, trying to quietly enjoy their night out...
But hey!
Glad we could help entertain you for the evening!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All...

And to all...
A good night!
(In case yours hasn't arrived yet, here's a peek at our Christmas Card...)

We love you all and are so grateful for your love,
prayers, friendship and support, this year and always!
Here's hoping this finds you happy, healthy
and enjoying the best of this glorious season!
Much Love~
The Staker Family
(...All 6 of us!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HERE is a good place to be...

I know it has been forever since I've posted...
More on that another day...
But it suffices to say that it has been out of necessity...
Partly because I needed a bit of a break...
But mostly because we have just plain been busy enjoying life!
And enjoying it to it's fullest!
(And when I say FULL-est, I do not believe it is an overstatement!)
Also, {sigh}...
As unreasonable as I know it is,
I can not seem to give up this crazy notion that I somehow need to "catch up".
At this point, I know that is not realistic, so I am going to try to just jump in.
Right here.
Right now.
Right. Where. We. Are.
Because where we ARE is a good place to be.
A very good place.
Today I am preparing for a Family Christmas Party, here at our home.
Tonight I will see Aunts, Uncles and Cousins I have dearly missed.
And as I tidy up and primp and polish our home to prepare for guests,
my gratitude for where we ARE overflows.
I have six beloved stockings hanging from my mantle.
Santa will fill ALL of them in just a few short days.
And we will ALL be here to enjoy watching one another
open the gifts we have so carefully selected for one another.
I could not be more grateful.
I feel as if I might burst.
A pile of Christmas Cards sits anxiously next to me on my desk,
waiting for me to find the time to finish addressing the envelopes.
I will get to them... I will.
For now, I am content to read "The Santa Claus Book"to 4 rowdy little sets of eager ears... Again.
Oh, yes.
The cards can wait.
They are darling, by the way.
The cards.
I can not wait to finish sending them.
The front is a surprise.
(If I told you here, it would spoil it.)
But I will say this...
A new, current family portrait adorns the back.
I adore it.
I gush with gratitude that we are ALL together to have it taken.
To preserve the memory of the year that changed us... FOREVER.
And that, in the end, despite what has crumbled behind us,
We are still standing... Together.
And this might just be my favorite image in all the world today.
No further explanation needed.
There are 4 very sweet faces smiling up at me from the bottom of the card.
ALL of them growing, learning, thriving. HERE.
Yes, HERE is a good place to be.
Home. Together.
Listening to Christmas tunes caroling out through our intercom.
Watching the snow fall through the fog outside.
In our jammies, making soup to serve to those we love.
Who will be here to see us and visit in just a few short hours.
I can't wait!
...Guess I better go shower!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Tower of Cups and a Wheat Field...

So we blend a lot of smoothies here at our house...
Several per day, usually.
We put them in clear plastic cups so they are easy to take when we are on the go.
Which is often.
But in an effort to be conservative
(and since they melt in the dishwasher),
we wash and rinse the cups out,
then place them in the windowsill to dry
so that we can reuse them.
There are usually one... or two... in the corner of our windowsill.
But since we've had houseguests this week, we've made quite a few extra smoothies.
Even more than normal.
So we've had this little pyramid going...
Well, this morning, after breakfast,
I lifted Daynen up to the kitchen sink to wash his hands.
He looked at them and said, "Cool! Are doze Jesus cups?"
I wasn't sure I understood what he meant...
My mind was puzzling over whether he meant,
Mmm... like really big sacrament cups, er what?
So I said, "What kind of cups?"
He repeated, "Jesus cups! Let's do the trick!"
Still confused, I said, "What trick? Show me."
He reached for the center cup on the bottom row and pulled it out,
explaining, "Like when Jesus dies and dey awe come tumb-wing down
and da choo-wuch cah-w-ashes."
(Toddlerese to English Translation: ... and they all come tumbling down and the church crashes.")
I couldn't help but smile as I caught on and realized what he was saying.
I guess he really WAS listening at Family Home Evening last week
when we had our lesson about The Great Apostasy...
We labeled some of those same plastic cups and then stacked them,
creating a tower to represent the Church as it was when Jesus Christ was here upon the earth.
Then we pulled out the bottom cup (representing Christ as the foundation of the Church)
and talked about how it all fell apart after his death and the martyrdom of the apostles.
We showed the boys how many of the same principles and ordinances of the gospel remained,
but explained that some were lost, distorted, misinterpreted or even forgotten.
We told them how these scattered pieces were used to build other doctrines
throughout the ages, but remained incomplete until The Restoration.
The big boys seemed to understand the object lesson,
but of course the little ones were way more interested in just building and crashing towers.
The rest went right past them.
Or so I thought...
So imagine my surprise when my sweet, barely-3 year old replays the message to me.
All on his own!
Almost a whole week later!
It was one of those far-too-few-and-far-between "Parent Pay-offs".
You know...
When you realize something you thought went right over their heads,
actually stuck.
Even just a little!
...Guess we'll keep at it!
It also reminded me of a particularly touching talk from last fall's General Conference...
Reaffirmed to me the total and absolute truth of it.
Like many other moms, I sometimes struggle with feeling like I just try SOOO hard...
And for what?
The job often feels overwhelming and fruitless.
Trying to get everyone to cooperate and do the right thing
seems like a lot of hard work
and often even ends up feeling counter-productive.
Sometimes I feel like I. Just. CAN'T. Do. It.
So Elder Bednar's talk pierced me to the core
and warmed my very soul with a rekindled commitment for consistency.
Despite the sometimes discouraging individual instances.
I remember sitting in my car in the Costco parking lot.
Too paralyzed to get out and go inside
as I listened to his words stream in over the radio.
I could not move.
Feeling so filled that my emotions were spilling over.
Streaming silently down my cheeks.
I heard... really HEARD... his words.
Spoken as if straight to me.
It felt as if the teardrops spotting the bosom of my t-shirt
were imbedding them indellibly upon my heart.
So as a reminder to myself,
and to share with anyone reading, who may also benefit,
here is the part that I just loved:
"As our sons were growing up, our family did what you have done and what you now do.
We had regular family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening.
Now, I am sure what I am about to describe has never occurred in your home, but it did in ours.
Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered
if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile.
Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts
such as “He’s touching me!”
“Make him stop looking at me!”
“Mom, he’s breathing my air!”
Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking.
And with active, rambunctious boys,
family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification.
{Uh... ya think? This sounds oddly familiar...}
At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated
because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster
did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.
Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember
about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening,
I believe I know how they would answer.
They likely would not identify a particular prayer
or a specific instance of scripture study
or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson
as the defining moment in their spiritual development.
What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.
Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content
of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome.
But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn together.
The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson—
a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time.
In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field.
The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—
none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive.
In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass
of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint.
However, as you gradually move away from the canvas,
all of the individual brushstrokes combine together
and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field.
Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together
to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study,
and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls.
No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable.
But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other
and produce an impressive masterpiece,
so our consistency in doing seemingly small things
can lead to significant spiritual results.
“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing,
for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.
And out of small things proceedeth that which is great”
Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes."
That message and that image of the wheat field has stayed with me.
So, here, in this simple stack of plastic cups drying in my kitchen windowsill,
I realized...
I am painting.
Still painting.
Ever painting.
One. Stroke. At. A. Time.
Painting the portrait of my own ever-growing, testimony
and imprinting it upon the hearts of my children.
Helping them to paint their own.
As artists of their own souls.
One prayer.
One scripture study.
One Family Home Evening.
One heart-to-heart chat.
One teaching moment.
One plastic cup tower. At. A. Time...
And THAT...
Well, THAT, I CAN do.
For today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Alright, already...

Okay... This is it.
Tonight I feel really yucky.
Out of gas.
And sorta...
Strike that...
REALLY blah.
Blah... blah... BLAH!
I HATE this feeling!
Absolutely HATE it!
And even worse, I know why.
I know EXACTLY why...
You see, I usually eat really well.
By most people's standard, I eat VERY well.
I love fruits and veggies.
I eat them at nearly every meal.
I get a good balanced amount of protein and healthy, whole grain carbohydrates.
And I try to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day.
(Yes... That's 5-6 times per day.)
I LOVE good food...
And I eat a lot!
I also drink like a fish.
I start drinking water first thing in the morning at 5:15.
All day long, I drink and drink.
And I'm not talking soda... I despise it.
Water only.
By bedtime, I've usually consumed over 100 ounces.
Sometimes more.
And I usually have plenty of energy.
Moreso than I sometimes know what to do with!
You know me!
Me and all my big ideas...
{If only I could buy more time at the health food store!}
But this past week, I have been very "off."
No particular reason...
I've just been a bit lazy, I guess.
Slipping up in my usually good habits.
If we are what we eat, then right now, I am the city dump!
With Matt gone, I immersed myself in a project and barely slept.
We had visitors staying with us
and I was not diligent with my planned meals and regular mealtimes.
I've hardly drunk any water.
I am thirsty.
My head aches.
Even my lips and skin feel dry.
I know I am dehydrated.
So this is MY fault!
I know better!
I know what my body needs.
I'm just not giving it!
As of this moment, I am recommitting to take better care of myself.
Because I can.
Because I should.
Because I am worth it.
...And they are worth it!
{Because I know that even when they don't complain,
my boys like me even more when I am feeling good.
And fun.
And like myself.
Instead of like this... yucky... blob.}
So no more being lazy and eating crappy for me!
For crying out loud...
I do NOT need to finish my children's meals for them!
I can not.
I will not.
It is an awful habit!
...One of my worst.
Just because they decide they are "done" eating while there is still food on their plates
(food I worked hard to prepare for them, mind you ),
does NOT mean I have to consume it to prevent it from going to waste!
I do not have to dispose of it!
At least not into my own mouth!
That's why we have a garbage can.
And a disposal in our sink!
I hereby remind myself that I am a big girl.
I have outgrown "kiddie food".
I can not thrive off of the leftover Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich crusts.
Or the last few bites of their Pigs in a Blanket.
I DO deserve to take the time to prepare my OWN real food...
Even if THEY want Mac & Cheese, Little Caesar's or McDonald's
(on the rare occasion that I actually cave in and indulge them).
They are boys.
Little boys.
Growing boys!
With the metabolism of a raging bonfire!
I, on the other hand,
am aging...
I can not eat anything and everything, like I once could, and still feel fine.
And I do not have the self-discipline to deprive myself.
Or the cardio-endurance of a Madman, like my sweet-tooth husband.
{I love you, Sweets...}
So instead, I must choose well.
I must choose better.
It's sort of like the oxygen mask thing...
As counter-intuitive as it seems, it is how we ensure that we all survive.
And how we all thrive...
In order to take care of others well, we must first take care of ourselves, as well.
So for now, that means cracking the proverbial whip a bit, on my eating habits...
I start in the morning!
{I can hardly wait!}

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In-laws, er.. uh...OUT-laws...

Yep... Apparently it started young...
Someone really should have warned me what kind of family I was marrying into!
Hee hee! Just kidding!
(If anyone lucked out in the in-law department, it was certainly me!)
This is so cute, I just had to post it...
if not for your viewing enjoyment, then for their utter humiliation!
(It's an oldie, but a goodie that I just came across in Trevor's facebook pics.)
Don't think I've ever seen it, so it's giving me a good chuckle this evening...
These are the Lowry cousins, somewhere around the mid-80's, I'd guess.
Back row (Left to Right): Mike Staker (Matt's older and oh-so-much-wiser brother),
Megan Staker McMurdie (Matt's little sister) & Matt "Capone" Staker
Front Row: Ty Simcox (Matt's cousin), Trevor Simcox (also cousin),
Mindy Staker Johanson (Matt's littlest sister), & Rachelle Simcox Taysom (Matt's cousin)
Love you guys!
Glad you all gave up your "life of crime",
turned over a new leaf
and became productive, law-abiding citizens!
Wait... You did...Right?
Officer Simcox?