Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Latest Happenings

Family breakfast. I remember lots of cold cereal mornings growing up, and in the earlier years lots of bran muffins. "Cooked" breakfast was reserved for lazy Saturday mornings. But Ben grew up in an eggs-and-bacon-daily family. So I'm starting to explore the world of breakfast, because I've learned that the fastest way to a man's heart is definitely through is stomach. 

Imagination is starting to make its way into this household, one of my FAVORITE parts of having kids. This baby, with a wipes container for a seat and an Easter basket as a table is eating some crackers.

Dinner seems to be the favored imaginary play

There is nothing cuter than a sleeping baby, with their long eyelashes against their fat cheeks and their chest rising up and down.

Speaking of sleeping babies, I went in to take a Sunday nap with Ben but found I had been replaced! The replacement sure is cute though.

That top tooth is the cutest thing ever. And yes, she's got a nice scratch courtesy of her sister.

My little sister Cassidy (left) was on her high school spring break so came down for a visit. My sister Haley's (middle) husband Greg had spring break from grad school. We were so happy for the visit! Even our little photo-bomber Cheyenne.

I mean, who wouldn't love Uncle Greg when he gives free horsie rides?

And there's no point in having cute babies around unless you can dress them up in matching clothes and take a picture. Here is Delaney and Cheyenne with their cousin Emily. Emily is two months older than Delaney.

We had a lot of fun with Aunt Cassidy and got to show her the Provo Tabernacle construction.

Let's take a closer look at that floating building.
An engineering miracle to preserve this old structure.

We had a fun photo shoot with Cassidy on her last day. Wearing my clothes of course, what are sisters for? We have been mistaken for each other many times.

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

I have mentioned before that we love having my little brother live close and have him over weekly for Sunday dinner. This particular Sunday happened to be St. Patrick's Day, so my brother and I decided to have some fun with it and invite some friends over.

I had a lot of fun planning the party! Everybody got a shamrock to wear.

Cheyenne even caught a leprachaun! He is actually quite large. 6'4" to be exact.

I made up these fun party favors with gold coins and a real dollar!

We even got to show off our new record player. Ben's dad sent us the beautiful record player that used to belong to Grandpa D. We haven't figured out its exact age, but we think it's about 1930. A perfect fit with our 1930's house!

This record is practically indestructible. 

Everyone had fun dancing to the "jigs and reels."

What a fun party!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sister Bethany

Today is Bethany's birthday. Happy Day!

One attribute of Bethany's that I love and want to emulate has been brought out by their current status in life. They have had to move around a lot for different school and job responsibilities and are even moving in June to DC for an exciting summer internship. It has really allowed this quality in Bethany to shine: she is good at making friends, and is a great friend herself. When she moves to a new place, she gets right to work. Meeting people, making connections, seeing where she can get help and where she can give help in return. It is beautiful! She is somebody you would LOVE to have as a next door neighbor. You'd never worry about your kids hanging out with hers because you know her kids are taught good morals at home. She's not afraid to ask when she needs a favor, but would be more than willing to help you out in your time of need. She's interested in others and they in turn love her. You can't go back to one of Bethany's former homes without somebody singing her praises.

And I do too. Happy Birthday Bethany!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A house like my dream house

It's still a long way off until Ben and I will ever get to build our dream house out in the country (that is, if that ever comes to pass. I understand life doesn't always turn out how you plan it).

One of my favorite websites is this one. She often showcases old, beautiful, or brilliantly done houses. I found one the other day that hits the mark on so many things I want in a house. Obviously I am still young, so what I want in a house could change over time, but it's still fun to dream.

One thing I love about old houses is that the spaces are very separate. However in most old homes the spaces are so tiny you feel like the walls are closing in on you. The great thing about this house is that the rooms are very separate, yet they still look big enough to give an open feel. I've never been able to show Ben what I mean by "separate but open" so this house is a rare treat.

The house is made out of brick, which is something Ben and I absolutely love about old houses. You don't see many all-brick houses as new construction these days. Siding is way cheaper and easier to put up, but in our dream world our house is made out of brick. This house (below) was built in 1906, and has the beautiful red brick.

This entryway is not my dream, I would opt for a more open entry that showcased the stairs. But I do love the sunrise window above the door, and that the door is flanked with windows. Also, the use of arches is just beautiful and gives a soft feel to the house.

I love big windows, and lots of them. I want the fireplace to be the focal point of the room, and love the paneling on the walls.

I LOVE this dining room. Isn't is just gorgeous with all that dark wood? I would love to have a formal dining room that made dinner feel like a special event, and the dark wood especially lends itself to formality. I also love the interior window. This is one reason this house has a "separate but open feel."

I am not in love with this kitchen, especially that table taking up the middle of the room. But I love the fact that has an old feel yet looks very new.

Lots of windows and BIG windows even in the kitchen! I love it.

This house was actually featured in a movie which explains this screen shot. I love the idea of a swing door from the kitchen to the dining room. It just screams "old school" to me. If you will notice you can see those french doors in the hallway which lead to the dining room (you can also see them well in the living room shot above), another feature that adds to the "separate but open" feel.

The master bedroom! I love that it has a fireplace in the bedroom, something that was completely necessary for heat back then but now you hardly see it. His and hers lamps mounted to the wall, also and old school detail that I love. Nice big windows that open to let the breeze in.

Last but not least the library! I would love to have a library in my house, not an office but an actual library with floor-to-ceiling books. This one is on the smaller side, but it's cozy and has one of my favorite features...lots of windows!

My favorite way to see an old house is being used for its intended purpose: someone lives in it! Which happens to be the case with this house (above) in Dover, Massachusetts. And it's actually for sale! The only problem is that it cost 5.9 million dollars. But if any of you would like to buy it and let me come visit, I'd be happy to oblige. I told Ben he should take me to Massachusetts for our 5 year anniversary and then we can trick the realtor into giving us a tour (it's been on the market for several years already). A girl can dream!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Meaningful Life: The Inherent Joy in Work

In our modern world, life is lived after the work is done. Cue some catchy country songs “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” or “I Don’t Have to be Me ‘til Monday.” I have lived this way for 25 years.

I put the dishes off until after the guests leave, because I wanted to “enjoy their company.”

I feel the most alive during naptime, when I am free from the “work” of taking care of my children.

I count down the hours until Ben gets home, when I can “let loose.”

I try to distract the children when I want to get work done.

I try to find fulfillment in crafts, writing, or other “escapes” since housework seems menial, trivial and unfulfilling to me. (Perfect example here)

Work is a burden. Housework is a chore.

No wonder I was having a hard time “finding joy” in being a stay-at-home mom. I had subscribed to the idea that “just a housewife” was somehow not enough.

What I didn’t realize was that this was a modern idea. Long before I was ever born, mothers took pride in their home and the work in it. I don’t mean the magazine picture-perfect models of the 1950’s. I mean back when mothers and families literally had to make each piece of their home. They had to grow the wheat to make the bread. Harvest the cotton to sew the apron. Pluck the bird to fill the pillow. Cut down the tree to build the cabin.

But out of the beauty of modern technology, there were some ugly side effects. We lost the idea that there was joy in working in the home. Since technologies could speed up the work, we had more “free” time. More time to worry about me me me. More time to do what we “really” want to do.

And slowly, imperceptibly, we decided that I am more important than my work. Work is a means to an end. Life begins after the work is done.

The first experience I had that challenged my understanding of work happened when I met Ben's family. Running a dairy farm, many of them worked 60 to 80 hours a week. At first, I thought that was horrible. Where was the "family time"? What kid of "life" did they have? But as I've observed this lifestyle over the years (and as it is deeply entrenched in my own Ben), I've realized that work is a way of life. They work together, are involved, and support each other in their different roles. "Work" and "family time" are not two separate ideas, and joy does not "start" when the work is over. "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved... [through] work." (Proclamation on the Family)

To work as a family as our ancestors did. I’m not trying to “find” joy in work. I feel like the word “find” implies that it was not there to start with. But I believe work is godly, and there is joy inherent in it. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. I don’t need to “find” the joy, I need to see what is already there. To feel it. To open my eyes a little wider, to notice more, to be aware of what is in front of my face.

I came to this realization the other day and then Cheyenne came up to me. She was smiling, like she always was. That big smile that’s in her eyes as well as her heart. And I noticed her.

I noticed her little hands and her baby teeth. I saw her chest rise up and down with the breath she has been given. She was alive. She was two years old. She is here, she is mine. We are in this together. She’s not a hindrance to my chores. She is not a monster who throws tantrums about baths and getting dressed and everything in between.

We are here to work. Together, as a family.

So then, I smiled back at her and touched our foreheads together and we laughed. And I got up to do the dishes. And I slid her stool up next to me and said, “I need your help” and she jumped up and flashed that toothy grin.

No more counting clocks and waiting games. Instead, working, together, until the sun goes down.

“For the field is white already to harvest, and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with all his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.”  I know that serving with my family is the greatest joy on this earth. “Therefore if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” May we all have the opportunity to do so and find joy in godly service. (Doctrine & Covenants 4, vs. 4& 3)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yellow Roses

President Monson wasn't kidding about those yellow roses. They are absolutely beautiful!