Rise and Shine, Miss Charlotte!

19 January 2017

These are a series of photos I took all in a row this morning to send to Ryan. 
They are priceless!
I can't stop flipping through them and laughing over and over again.



Miss Charlotte is just barely waking up for the day.  



 I greet her, and she smiles back at me.




 Charlotte accidentally hits herself in the head.



HAHAHA!!!  It kills me every time!

Upward and onward,


In spite of, I Have a Dream!

16 January 2017

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties
 and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

(I took this from NieNie's blog.  Love it! .. both her blog and the quote) 



Happy Martin Luther King Day! 
 

Upward and onward,

Happy Birthday, Handsome!

15 January 2017




Ryan's birthday was on Friday!

We eased into our celebrations with some Mexican food and the Disney movie Hercules.  It was so classic, and the night was such a reprieve from our busy, stressful week.  A perfect sing-a-long movie.  Then the next evening, we took Charlotte to a neighbor's house, and we went out on a true date!  Joe's Crab Shack - just like last year for his birthday dinner - where we celebrated with lobster, crab, and a waiter who was all too much fun.  Then we went and saw Passengers in the very front row of a sold out theater.  Basically we were laying flat on our backs and flipping our heads back and forth to see what was happening on the other side of the screen a mile away.  We drove home and raved about the movie.  Perhaps my expectations were set low, because I was blown away.  I really enjoyed it.  Then on Sunday evening, we celebrated just a bit more with another Disney classic - Mulan.  I made sure to sing all the songs as I cooked dinner.  



And some of my thoughts on Ryan.... :)

I actually wrote these out a couple weeks ago when I felt so overwhelmed to have Ryan as my helpmeet.

When I used to hear snippets of people reflecting on their marriages, it seemed that they were offering small warnings to brace yourself on all the annoyances you will discover upon living with someone.  I've found quite the opposite to be true.  Since I've married Ryan, I've found him to be more of a man, a partner, a best friend, a confidant, and a supporter than I even realized when I was first getting to know him.  In so many ways, he has exceeded my expectations since we've been married.  Sure, we are still two individuals who practice the art of cohesion, but it is never without love and security.

What I love about Ryan:  

- I love that he is so even-keel.  Things just roll off his back, and he lets life come and go so easily. 

- I love that he only focuses on the good and reflects on that as he shares his days and experiences with me.  He chooses to pocket the positive and let the rest go.  I believe this is why so much good comes to him, because that is where he places his awareness.  It's powerful to be a witness of his life.

- I  love that he is sooooo wise.  so intelligent.  so professional.  so focused.  so hard-working.  so ambitious. 

- I love that he is so patient.  It takes quite a bit to rile him.

- I love that he can emotional engage with me and support me and love me, at any time of day or night!  He is always there for me.  His love is freely given and never withheld.  I am so SO grateful for that.

- I love that he is completely non-judgmental.  I don't think others are aware of how safe they are to be a comrade of Ryan's.  He not only doesn't utter anything negative about anyone ever (because he doesn't even see that side of people), but he actively stands up for people who's names may come up.  (Except for when I'm telling him about girls on the Bachelor cast.  He laughs and mocks at them right along with me). 

- I love that he lives his passions.  He has so many interests and hobbies.  He is never afraid to try something new or dive into learning about something.

- I love that he is a man of God.  A few weekends ago, we drove to Moab for his brother's mission farewell, and Ryan got up during the Sacrament to join his dad at the Sacrament table to give the priests more hands in preparation.  I loved that he was aware of the ordinance needing more assistance.

- And also, he is always willing to lend a hand.  As we stopped in the middle of a winter storm, climbing up a bitter mountain pass in freezing weather and terrible awful roads to help a poor couple pull their car out of the snow:





I love you, Ryan.  



Upward and onward,


Around Here Lately | Love and Farms




Around Here Lately.  What have we been up to?  

Well, we've all been acclimating to becoming a family of three.  

But then we thought, hey, let's not restrain ourselves, so we also got seven chickens and four rabbits.  And now, along with about eighty eggs, we now have six baby bunnies in our spare bathroom right now, haha! 

And if that's not enough to picture Ryan learning about rabbits and taking care of all our animals, well I've taken up studying the benefits of fermentation and a healthy gut.  And I've been in the kitchen, barefoot with a baby snuggled into me, making natural yeast and baking bread from my sourdough starter, which seems to multiply every morning I wake up to feed it.  The first loaf of bread came out a slab of cement, but the second was quite nice and so very healthy.

So, we are growing at all ends here, between Charlotte's adorable belly, the fuzzy bunnies, and the bubbly natural yeast.  Give this family a baby, and now they have a farm!


Also, Ryan and some of his family picked all the grapes from the vines in our backyard and pressed them into a thousand bottles of juice.  It's delicious!  Then Ryan and his mom bottled two million jars of meat from Ryan's elk, deer, geese, and salmon. That makes for some really easy cooking.  We are very happy to have such clean, hormone-free, antibotic-free, and organic meat to raise our family with. 

 

Oh but that's not all - it's the dawn of my favorite season.  RUNNING SEASON!  And marathon training has begun.  But guess who is running my next marathon with me?

Ryan!

And maybe all our bunnies.


Also, I've taken up boxing!  Ryan hung a punching bag in the garage as a means for me to release excess emotion, namely fatigue frustration.  Kelli sent me a BuzzFeed link recently about the hilarious things tired mothers of newborns have done.  One of the woman beat the heck out of her Roomba because she was so mad about how tired she was; she exclaimed it was a very expensive temper tantrum.  Haha!  The punching bag has proven to be brilliant, and I've enjoyed it so much that I've enrolled in a boxing class.

Also, I've done a bit more decorating around the home.  I love making our home peaceful, serene, and safe.

This is a wall in our family room that Ryan helped me with last week.  *in love*


And here is my desk space where I work everyday and where I write to you now.  I sit to the side of our beautiful front bay window, and Miss Charlotte rocks next to me.


As for Charlotte, she is a happy, easy baby.  I have a hunch that I have quite an extrovert on my hands - always wanting to look around and gurgle at anyone who looks at her.  She most definitely prefers to be in a room with people.  She sleeps seven hours a night, and when she wakes up in the mornings, she's happy to kick and coo in her crib until I come get her.  We work out together in the mornings.  She does so from her rocker, kicking and flailing and laughing at what I'm doing.  Then we have bath time and breakfast time and sun time and singing time.  In the afternoon, she'll conk out for a solid two hours, and I breeze through all my work.  Then we quickly do a bunch of cleaning and chores, while Ryan drives home for work.  Then it's time for more grinning and play time and kicking, kicking, kicking!  Then around eight, she's out like a light.  She's such a bright joy to our days.

 
 
 
 

Here's to our love, farm, and safety!


Upward and onward,







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Charlotte's Baby Blessing


Last Sunday, Ryan blessed Charlotte.  It was such a special blessing; I really loved listening to his words for her.  And I loved seeing my brothers and my dad stand in the circle around her.  They braved some terrible weather to drive down for her blessing.  After the meeting, we were all laughing about how high the men bounce the baby during the blessing.  Then afterwards the baby is always held up like Simba on the Lion King.  Charlotte's debut in front of the congregation was so classic.  Her dress was long and beautiful, and her little face was looking all around with her lips pouted out, just like usual.  So cute!

Days like yesterday really highlight the Plan of Salvation, families, love, and eternity.

Below is her blessing, which I've recorded so Charlotte can look back on it when she's older.  I love that my mom recorded mine to read back on.

We hold this infant in our arms to give her a name and a blessing.  The name by which she will be known on the records of the church and throughout her life is Charlotte Rae--.  Charlotte, at this time, we wish to give you a blessing.  We bless you that you will always be able to know of and feel the incredible love that your Father in Heaven has for you, the love that your parents have for you, and the love that your family and friends have for you.  I bless you that throughout your life, you will be able to place your value not on what the world thinks but that you will place your value on the fact that you are a Daughter of your Father in Heaven and to always know and remember that you have a divine birthright.  Charlotte, I bless you that you will be able to have a bright mind, a bright intellect, that you will able to do well in school, that you will be able to learn a lot throughout your life, that you will be able to have a strong and healthy body, that you will be safe from serious harm and injury.  I bless you that you will able to be close to the Spirit throughout your life, that you will able be able to be in touch with the guidance that your Father in Heaven has for you.  I bless that you will be a woman of faith, that you will be able to trust upon your Father in Heaven, that you will be able to trust your parents.  I bless you that you will be able to be patient with your parents as we learn how to raise you, that you will be an example to your younger brothers and sisters who are to come, that you will be a help to your parents, especially your mother, with younger siblings.  I bless you that you will be able to stay close to the Gospel, that you will be able to have a firm testimony, that you will marry in the temple, have a happy marriage, and children of your own.  And that when the time comes when you leave this life that you will be able to stand before your Father in Heaven and hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."  I bless you that you will be a powerful force for good in the world as we prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior, that you can do your part in the Abrahamic Covenant to help bring your Brothers and Sisters unto Christ.  I bless you with these things and all else that your Father sees fit to bestow upon you at this time.


   


Upward and onward,


Sunday Corner | 14 & The Holy Ghost




I have been switched from teaching the 16-17 year olds to the 13-14 year olds.  I was so bummed because the switch happened midweek, so I never got to say goodbye to the teenagers I had come to know and love.  I just disappeared as their teacher, and I really, really miss how much they made me laugh every week.  I am still in grieving, so I wear lots of black.  However, I am enjoying my new class and the new personalities, and I have a co-teacher who I really like named Amanda.

Today was my turn to teach.  I drew a giant 14 on the board, as I asked, "So what age are all of you turning this year?"  FOURTEEEEN!!!

Then I had the boys guess a well known man in the scriptures who was also 14 at a significant time.  I gave them clues until they got it.  Joseph Smith - when he prayed in the Sacred Grove.  Then I had the girls guess a well known woman in the scriputres who was 14 at a significant turn in her life.  Mary -- when she gave birth to Jesus.  The girls' eyes were so wide-eyed.  Mostly with fright.  "She was OUR age???"  Amanda and I explained that women were married much younger in those days.  And the boys reaction to Joseph Smith ... meh.  Keeping their focus is our challenge.  Example - two weeks ago, one of the boys randomly shouted in the middle of Amanda teaching --- "GLITTER DONUT!!"  Then he points at the ceiling where he found a sparkly donut sticker on the ceiling.  Hahaha!

Anyway, so I had them sit and ponder for a second about Mary and Joseph Smith, and how much they must have lived by the Spirit to be a part of something so grand at 14- their age!  The girls still looked so shocked at the idea of giving birth.  The boys... haha, I don't know.  I can't read where they are at when I'm teaching.  So if Mary and Joseph Smith had that much Spirit in their lives at 13 and 14, shouldn't everyone in our class be capable of having that much Spirit as well?

We spent some time reading specific scriptures and learning more about the Holy Ghost:

He brings us truth.  We distinguished truth as the Gospel principles, and also other truths like everything being made of molecules and atoms, and our bodies are better when they are healthy.  So He can bring us Truth not only with the Gospel, but He can help us understand all the truths in many subjects.

Then we read another scripture and talked about how the Spirit enlightens us.  What does that mean?  It means the Spirit helps us be happy and have a good attitude; it helps us have clarity and discernment when we are overwhelmed and confused; it helps us be more capable to do more things.  Yes!

Then we read a scripture that the Spirit unfolds the mysteries of God.  What does that mean?  The kids couldn't think of an answer, so I had them think of an onion.  Half of us thought of Shrek, and we laughed, so I changed my mind and said I didn't like that analogy.  Amanda suggested a cinnamon roll.  I had everyone close their eyes and imagine a big fluffy, buttery roll with frosting oozing down the warm sides.  Imagine taking a bite of the outside piece of dough and slowly eating inward, the bites getting squishier and sweeter, until you reach the center piece bite that is just exquisite.  That's the Gospel.  We can dig deeper and deeper into the layers of the Truths of God, and the Spirit helps us see the increasing sweetness of it all as we unfold and learn more.

Then we talked about ways we can increase the Spirit in our lives:

When are some times that we feel annoyed or tired?   Before math class.  After my last class period.  Any class I have with Landon.  (whoever Landon is).  Well, if the Spirit is meant to enlighten our minds, wouldn't a perfect time to pray be right before math class, before you see Landon, or in your last period of the day?  They all nodded.  So I challenged them to pinpoint the hardest, most tiring parts of their day and promise themselves to hit pause in that moment and say a prayer.  They said they all start a new semester of school on Tuesday.  So I said, perfect!  I want every single one of you to kneel down before you leave for school on Tuesday and pray for the Spirit to be with you.  They said they would.

I asked how many of them know the Spirit is real?  They raised their hands.  Do you believe the Spirit can really help you?  They raised their hands.  Do you ever struggle with how to get the Spirit's help in the moments you most need?  They all nodded.  We all know the Spirit is real, and we want His help, but we don't feel very good at getting it.  Then I asked them if they could feel the Spirit in our class right now.  They nodded.  Do you feel the Spirit when you are at home and your siblings are fighting and it's your turn to do the dishes?  They shook their heads.  It's hard to summon the Spirit when you are already at your tipping point, huh?  We know more of what we need from the Spirit in quiet moments like these than in the hectic moments when we are actually needing it.  So, in these moments when the calm feelings of the Spirit are so strong, we must take advantage of that.  We can use times like this as preparatory time for the later stressful moments when you feel anything but the Spirit.  So I held up the paper of my lesson and asked - what if you had a prayer cheat sheet that would help remind you of what to pray for in those moments?  We talked about how they should all take a piece of paper and write down what they most want.  I would like helping making friends.  I would like help enjoying my math class.  I would like help being patient with my siblings.  Write it down even on just a 1/4 sheet of paper, an 1/8 sheet.  Just write it down.  Then next time you are struggling, pull your paper out and say, "Heavenly Father, could I have your Spirit to help me....." then read your script.  I told them that I once made a list of things I enjoyed praying for and hung it by my bed.  It helped me immensely.  So I challenged them to do that, and they nodded.

Then we ended the lesson by saying that even though the Spirit is absolutely willing to help us, we still have to put in our best effort.  Amanda pointed out that when praying for help on a test, He won't tell you the answers, but He'll help you remember what you have studied for yourself.  So I told them a saying I heard once:  Get on your knees and pray like everything depends on God, then get up and work like everything depends on you. 

I told them to think of the Prophet Thomas S. Monsen and asked if his level of the Spirit is like a flashlight or like a flood light of a football stadium.  They chose the latter.  Yes!  And he uses that light to lead a world of 8 billion people.  And each one of us is eligible to that much light to lead our own lives.  That's A LOT!  President Uchtdorf once said that we are far undertapped in how much we use the Spirit for how much of the Spirit we are allowed.

I asked them what they were going to do this week to help live a greater life with the Spirit.  They listed the ideas we came up with.  Then I told them how confident I felt that they would have an amazing week because of the Spirit.  And I was going to pray that they would recognize the Spirit's help and feel such a distinct benefit that they will turn to Him time and time again, taking more and more bites of their cinnamon roll.

Then Amanda said that maybe she'll bring cinnamon rolls next week :)

And now, I must eat my own pudding... hmm.. that's not an idiom is it?  Oh well.  It is now.

I am going to make a list of relevant things I could pray for to help me get deeper in the Gospel cinnamon roll right now.  And boy, there's a number of them.

I'm so grateful for the Spirit and for Amanda and for my sweet class.  And, that glitter donut that's still on the ceiling.










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