Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Place Like Home

Some of you know we made some tough decisions recently and moved.  We are now in a bigger home, it sits on a 1/4 acre, which has been the greatest blessing, especially for our children.  Shortly after we moved in, our sweet neighbor from our previous address gave us a card, it said:

“Home is that precious place where your heart feels safe to live, love, grow….and simply just be.” 

It captured how we have felt in this new place.  For the longest time I felt almost like I was on vacation because I loved being home so much.  It wasn’t so much the extra bathroom or the space, but the feeling here.  I felt peaceful, safe, and calm.  It had been somewhat of a struggle for a long time before we decided to move.  And when we did, I found this place.  And the longer we live here I know it is where we’re supposed to be.  It’s a short (2 minute) walk to the Church – which for us is big since we try to get by with one car and that’s hard when Church is a bit of a drive when either one of you has to go early or stay late for responsibilities or the children surprise you with something Smile.  It is right across the street from the bus route that Andrew (just before I found this place) named his favorite one because it’s a straight shot – that means 20 minutes as opposed to the 45 minute we had previously (or longer than an hour if a bus was late).  He wants so much to be a good dad and spend time with the kids and this helps so much.  There’s also a park right across the street – a HUGE one – swings, slides, trees, sports fields!  So despite the jungle of weeds that continues to plague me, I have a very soft spot in my heart for this home because I truly believe it was meant for us.

I found some sparkly red shoes at Target just Emily’s size and couldn’t resist dressing her up as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.  It worked because Luke was going to be a scarecrow) which he of course decided not to be right before we left to go the ward trunk or treat…  Anyway, Emily loved it, everyone telling her she looked so cute, and they were all handing her candy to boot!  We tried to help her with her basket when it got a little heavy and were told in no uncertain terms to keep our hands off!  Oh sure, she looks sweet but she knows how to put you in your place Smile

So there you have it.  There really is no place like home, no place at all! 

Credits go to Grandma Mackrory for helping to whip up the Dorothy dress the day of!

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I will take more interior pictures of the house when I get it tidy…and mail off all my Christmas stuff…and finally get to the bottom of my to-do-list…

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Falling for this time of year…

Fall has come to mean everything from foggy mornings and blue sky afternoons, crunching leaves in the park, to baking gingerbread men and picking the perfect pumpkin.  I’m completely falling for Fall. 

Since Andrew has been the recipient of several comments that he looks “really tired” at work, he took the day off recently and we all went up to The Farm in Snohomish for a day of picking pumpkins and getting in touch with our farmyard selves.  The kids just loved the baby pigs, the hay maze, and the old tractor.  Luke wouldn’t go on the hayride for anybody, but had a great time with the wheel barrows and it was very sweet to see the kids faces as they petted a tiny kitten and a big highland cow!  It was fun to watch the kids coming down the slide in the old red barn only to go flying off the end as Luke did or to watch Emily’s very lady like plop on the hay as she reached the bottom clutching her daddy’s hand.  It all added up to two “really tired” kiddos falling fast asleep on the way home – hooooray!

A few days before, Luke and I got the urge to make Gingerbread men.  Since it seems all my friends and sisters in law are either pregnant or just had babies, I thought it was the least I could do, you know, because I’m all about multiplying and replenishing, even if for me right now that’s just the cookie jar.  Luke is such a good helper – testing the dough every now and again to make sure it still tasted good, and making lots and lots of “gingerbread men babies” – his term, not mine.  Even though this was a first for me, they came out really well – super soft and just so yummy I may have to make more little babies in time for Santa’s visit (I know he would appreciate the gesture too).

Although I’m not a fan of the cold, I just love what it’s doing to the trees, and from my kitchen window, as the sun comes up behind the house, the trees across the street light up as if they are on fire – the reds, oranges, and yellows brighten my morning and remind me of how much our Creator appreciates beauty.

So even though I’m not looking forward to the icky mess that I’ll have to pull out of my pumpkin in the coming days or these chilly mornings, I am very quickly falling in love with the Season.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Family Home Breakfast

Anyone who has tried to have Family Home Evening with toddlers knows that it is more like the “impossible dream” than a spiritual pick-me-up of family togetherness…  Andrew’s sister Rebecca recently shared with us a wonderful idea of having your spiritual lesson over breakfast when the kids are a little more spry.

Well, so far we’ve done it for 3 Mondays in a row and each of them has been such a sweet start to the week I only wish we’d discovered this wonder sooner.  I get up early…er..earlier….and make something special for breakfast, and then Andrew and I trade off teaching a little lesson including a picture and a song to go with it.  One morning I taught about the Creation and as I explained that Heavenly Father and Jesus made the animals and the flowers and trees and this beautiful world for us, Luke responded with “for me?” – yes Luke, He made it for you.  And you, and you, and you.  The kids both sat intently watching the picture of the creation and listening (over and over as requested) the song “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.”  I felt like I wanted to just capture that moment and hold onto it forever.  What an awesome responsibility and privilege to teach these sweet children about where they came from and about their God who is mindful of and has a plan for them. 

I love when I find something that really works especially when it makes my job as a parent more fulfilling, and this does.  Right, now that I’ve got that one figured out, what’s next?  Oh yes, trying to gently explain to Luke that we don’t say the sacrament prayer in lieu of a blessing on the food before dinner.  But you know, he meant well, and hey, he’s paying attention!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I am Mommy; cleaner of messes!

I did not cry, I didn’t even yell (well not until I thought Emily was really going to burn herself), I think I handled myself in a pretty orderly way really.  There were messes, two of them, and they were big.

The first one happened right as I was going to have achieved an almighty feat – making dinner with two kids clamoring for food at my knees “me some, me some.”  With no husband in sight yet, I was desperately trying to get a quiche in the oven so that we could eat at 6.  Well, as I opened the oven I reached over to shield Emily from the door “don’t touch, it’s hot” I kept saying.  Suddenly, the contents of my quiche dish emptied almost entirely into my oven, spreading it’s chunky, milky, cheesy contents over most of the door, down the crack onto the floor and partly into the oven itself.  Let’s not forget the oven drawer which aligns perfectly so that the mess also enters it, spreading the love all over several cooling racks and pans.  NICE!  Where do I start?  Oh, and I still have two curious kids who are standing in amazement that mommy hasn’t lost it yet.

Well, the egg mess is cooking on the door and I’m trying to think about all the places I need to get with the paper towel, when Emily reaches out and places her palm right down on the door!  Aaaaah!  Well, Luke lost it.  He just doesn’t deal well with screaming, poor kid, I don’t either (by the way, I screamed, Emily sympathy cried for Luke).  Andrew walks in the door a few minutes later to greet a sorry pile of distraught people consoling each other on the kitchen floor.  We ate dinner at 6:15pm and mommy didn’t even hit the chocolate…well until later.  Thank you PF Chang’s for some good desert on a very well timed Girl’s Night Out with my wonderful friend Brandee.  Good timing would continue with the purchase of a baby gate to keep the kid’s out Smile

The very next morning I’m scoffing a bowl of cereal before it hits the soggy stage and I hear an almighty crash.  I knew the kids were by the TV but there was no sound of commotion so I still don’t know how it happened.  When I ran in, there lay the entertainment center door in about a million pieces on the floor in between two very surprised looking children.  I reached over and picked Emily up instructing Luke to stay put.  When he was reunited with her in his bedroom I told them both to read books or play until I’d cleaned up.  “Right…” what was I thinking, there was no way they were going to do that after what just happened?!?  I turned around to see the answer, my baby gate still in the box (I thought the kids had knocked that over when I heard the noise,) “thank you!”  A few minutes later it was installed and 30 minutes of kid free time later (apart from the pleas for freedom) we had a safe living room.  And you know, I kinda like the TV stand better this way…it’s just as well the floor needed a sweep, the door needed cleaning, and I needed another experience to practice keeping my cool.

I am grateful for husbands who offer to go get dinner when it spills all over, paper towels – costco style – baby gates, and the fact that in all of it my children escaped unscathed even though there was at least one shard of glass that had impaled the wood of the TV stand itself.  Tragic stories, lots of tender mercies….

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Turning the page…

Sometimes we spend time guilt tripping or complaining when we could be spending that time and energy doing…hmm..interesting thought.  Maybe I’ll apply it to blogging! 

Recently I sent some pictures to my parents of our kids and they were amazed how much they had changed since they last saw them and it made me really want to commit to posting more pictures and posting more stories because I don’t want them to miss it.  I left my kids for a week once with Grandma and was amazed how different they were when I came back.  They looked older to me, and I felt like I had missed it.  So, this goal is dedicated to the Grandparents, who love so much and yet as much as they want to be here, can’t.  I don’t want them to miss my kids growing up.  Here goes…we’ve got a little catching up to do!

Luke started Joy School a couple weeks ago and loves it.  I catch him singing “I got Joy…I do…do you?” and today I caught him checking himself out in the mirror with his backpack on after which he rode his tricycle around with it on.  He is speaking much more and we’re getting little glimpses into his wonderful mind now and again.   He is a very sweet little boy, ready to kiss it better when mommy has a boo boo.  And will share and hug Emily even though she still gets chased down and belted over the head now and again.  He loves our new home and is often found making mud out front with the hose and gawking at the lawnmower in the garage.

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Emily recently discovered language and dress up.  Her favorite word is “yes” but she can even say “can you help me?” and “can you hold this?” much to our delight.  She is often strutting around in various kinds of boots and loves to put on her fairy wings and skirt, with the boots of course.  Although she loves to be “pretty” she loves dirt just as much and would live out in the garden if I let her.  She’s quite the little woman, going from the baby in the stroller to the lawn mower in a matter of minutes.  This busy little garden fairy still takes 3 hour naps some days and is such a good eater, the last to leave the dinner table.   

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Over Yonder in Ohio!

Let’s back track a little to April (yes, I know full well it is June but I’ve been vacationing, procastinating etc etc etc.) SO, back to April.  Our family took a little trip over to “the Ohio” to visit Andrew, KaraLynne and the Mackrory cousins.  Over the course of changing plans several times as to who would go and who would stay (since flying across the country is so not cheap) we were able to find a sponsor to help get our whole family over there albeit on separate flights.  I flew with Emily, and Andrew flew a day later with Luke.

We had such a super time with Andy and his family.  We met little Ruby for the first time – and everyone in turn then met sweet Emily.  The Grandparents were there too which made things extra good.  We went to Lyman’s first soccer game where we all froze our toes off in between the occasional Mexican wave.  I think we all were intent on making sure Lyman knew we were having a great time so he would be convinced it was a good idea to be playing soccer in those conditions :)  What a sport!

The Arnott kids loved being in a real house with a basement full of toys and a backyard full of grass!  And we enjoyed the sunshine, the catching up, and the hospitality of the Ohio Mackrorys.  Oh to live closer….  My favorite picture is of Luke and Emily eating ring pops – Emily the “binkie queen” was in her element as she finally found the binkie to top all the rest – and Luke enjoyed sharing his with her, so precious.  Luke will forever remember the little blue motorbike that he got to ride up and down the driveway.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother’s Day 2010 sacrament meeting talk

As I considered what I could talk about that would be appropriate for Mother’s Day, I decided on these few things:

1. Help Mothers and motherly sisters in the ward feel the love Heavenly Father has for them for the divine work they do, and that they are appreciated by their families and by the ward.

2. Help educate those who support mothers on the magnitude of the motherly role, so their families can better appreciate and sustain them.

3. Prepare young women to be mothers.

Feel good

I’d like to start then, with a statement issued by the First Presidency:

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”

In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 6:178

Nurturing children

When a woman chooses to become a mother, she chooses a course that will change her life permanently. My mom still spends time on the phone with my 32-year-old sister, and still raises my youngest sister at home who is just 13 who now is an “only child”. If my mom quit being a mom after my youngest sister reached 32 she would have been a mom for 51 years; but of course I know she’ll keep on serving her children for the rest of her life. She will be coming up from California with my sister to babysit our two kids while Cheryl and I take our first week-long vacation.

The March 1976 Ensign explains why motherhood is so important:

Motherhood is a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s work, a consecration and devotion to the rearing and fostering, the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit of those who kept their first estate and who came to this earth for their second estate to learn and be tested and to work toward godhood.

The role of mother, then, is to help those children to keep their second estate, so that they might have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.

Mar 1976 Ensign “Mothers Had Taught Them”

Elder N. Eldon Tanner in his article “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role” describes the impact mothers have on the family:

A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family. It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

I wonder how many Eagle scouts there would be in the Boy Scouts of America, if it had not been for mothers. I know my mother was critical to keeping me on the track to earning my Eagle. How fitting it is that with each rank advancement in scouting, that traditionally the mother also receives a pin alongside her son’s badge.

Biological mothers are not the only women who can fulfill their divine calling to nurture children. Cheryl has expressed to me repeatedly how nice it is to be in a ward with so many sisters that she feels comfortable leaving our children with. Our children adore them, and these women nurture our children.

And girls, don’t underestimate your influence on your brothers and your sweethearts. As you live worthy of their love and respect, you can help greatly to determine that they will be clean and virtuous, successful and happy. Always remember that you can go much further on respect than on popularity. I was reading the other day of a report of a conversation between two young prisoners of war in Vietnam. One said, “I am sick of war, bombers, destruction, prison camps, and everything and everybody.”

“I feel much like that myself,” said the other. “But there is a girl back home who is praying that I will come back. She cares, and it really helps me endure all these atrocities.”

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

Encouragement

Elder Holland said:

In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

If you as a mother feel overwhelmed by raising your children, Elder Ballard has something that may help you:

…even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

I am grateful for mothers groups, which provide mothers with the much needed opportunities for mothers to chat with others at an adult level while children play together. An exchange of ideas on how to parent children often happens here and is often healthy to mother and family. Elder Ballard stresses that it’s important to keep advice from others in perspective though and not get caught up comparing yourself to other women, and to not push your advice on others too strongly:

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

While Heavenly Father and the brethren of the Church understand that circumstances sometimes require mothers to spend time outside the home, they also stress the importance and irreplaceability of mothers. President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it. Hired help cannot do it; kind relatives cannot do it. Only by mother, aided as much as may be by a loving father, brothers and sisters, and other relatives, can the full needed measure of watchful care be given.”

President Spencer W. Kimball

I think the balance between President Kimball’s statement and Elder Ballard’s is the motivation behind a mother’s choice to delegate a portion of her divinely appointed calling to someone else. President Kimball continues…

The mother who entrusts her child to the care of others that she may do nonmotherly work, whether for gold, for fame, for civic service should remember that in Proverbs we read, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Prov. 29:15.)

President Spencer W. Kimball

Sustaining

Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to miss the joys of parents by getting lost in the work of it. She said:

The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less

Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11

Closing

I’d like to close with a quote from Elder Ballard:

There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.

Elder Ballard, General Conference April 2010

I love and appreciate both mothers in my life: my mom and my wife.

Appendix

Letter to Elder Holland:

One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.

“It is this realization,” she says, “that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,” she concludes. “It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.” 7

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

To Young Men

Elder Nelson said:

You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her.

Ensign, May 1999

Chastity of Women

President Spencer W. Kimball stressed the importance of the chastity of women because it impacts their role as a mother:

Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? We affirm the Church’s strong, unalterable stand against innovations or any unchastity or breaking of the laws that could possibly reflect in the lives of the children.

President Spencer W. Kimball

Consider this quote and how applicable it is:

It is of great concern to all who understand this glorious concept that Satan and his cohorts are using scientific arguments and nefarious propaganda to lure women away from their primary responsibilities as wives, mothers, and homemakers. We hear so much about emancipation, independence, sexual liberation, birth control, abortion, and other insidious propaganda belittling the role of motherhood, all of which is Satan’s way of destroying woman, the home, and the family—the basic unit of society.

Some effective tools include the use of radio, television, and magazines where pornography abounds and where women are being debased and disgracefully used as sex symbols—sex-ploited, some call it. Immodest dress, drugs, and alcohol daily take a tremendous toll through the destruction of virtue and chastity and even lives. With modern electronic devices of communication and speedy transportation, much more is being heard throughout the world by many more people than would be possible otherwise, and it is having its degrading influence and effect.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

When do you think this was said? … This quote was by N. Eldon Tanner—in 1977! If it was true then, how much more true must it be today?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Standing for Truth and Righteousness…

There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you read something that you truly believe in.  It gives you a sense of the greatness that is found in each of us if we stand with conviction and determination in a just cause.

I can think of several documents that have stirred this feeling in me…

The 13 articles of faith

The Proclamation on the Family

And the latest…The Manhattan Declaration – read it (and for that matter, read the others too).  It is powerful.  It makes me proud to be part of a nation founded by men who feared God and held sacred these freedoms and rights, and most of all, proud to be a Christian!

I encourage you to read the full version before you sign it, not just to make sure that you know what you’re signing, but because it will make signing it, all the more meaningful – it was the best 15 minutes I spent ALL day – and I had a pretty good day…