Monday, June 30, 2008

Plan for the Day

Well, back from Girls' Camp and time to get back on the ball. So many things to do today. I guess my biggest priorities are redoing the family budget--with gas prices being so amazing, I need to reassess just where we stand. We're thinking we might need to figure out a different car situation. The Suburban is such a guzzler, but we really need its size for toting around our crew. Hmm. We'll have to see.

I need to get some more studying done. I kept up pretty well before camp, but I now have a portfolio to prepare and a midterm to study for. I can't order the midterm until I have the portfolio returned to me, so I'd better get moving. I wish I could go to the library to have some uniterrupted time, but I just don't think that's going to happen.

We head for the beach tomorrow or Wednesday to spend the fourth of July. This will require laundry to be done and the house to be cleaned. I'm glad I have kids that will jump in and help with a lot of this, but that will mean that I have to get some lists together and help Aedan get moving in the right direction.

I also have an orthodontist and an eye appointment to make for Quinlan. Brevin's been complaining about his throat again, so I will probably have to get him in before we leave. I really don't know what's up with this kid. With his ADHD, he tends to be compulsive about certain things--biting his nails, picking at scabs, that kind of thing. I'm wondering if something he's doing is causing so many bouts with strep. Zan's had it once, Dierden's had it once, but the rest of us haven't gotten it. I'm going to go over the door handles and phones and such today with antibacterial wipes and see if this will help. I've changed out his toothbrush each time he's gotten it, so I'm not sure what else to do.

Oh, I also think I'm the lesson for FHE tonight.

So, with all of this to do, and what am I doing? BLOGGING of course. Hee hee.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why I Go to Girls' Camp

Quinlan and I just returned from five days at Girls' Camp. This was my seventh year to go as an adult. I have been blessed enough to attend three of the times even though I didn't work in Young Women. Now that I do, it's just kind of a thing I can jump right in and say I'm planning on going and be pretty much assured a spot.

This year, I had the opportunity to work as what is known as a counsellor advocate with two girls from my own ward. They are very mature young women, and I knew I would have no problems. They had eight 12 and 13 year old girls to watch after in our cabin. Debra May (one of my favorite people) and I were the "grandmas in the closet." We had a small area in the back of the cabin (really like a closet) where we slept. That way we were out of the way, so the girls could lead without us being too intrusive, but we could be there at a moment's notice if necessary.

It was a wonderful week!

Some women, especially those with little children, don't want to go to camp. I must admit, each time I go I feel a twinge of guilt for leaving my little tribe to fend for themselves, but what I come home to, reminds me why I go time and again.

Today, as I sat in church, I figured it out. When I get back, my family loves me so much more. they want to do everything they can to please me and make me happy. As I've listened to Zan in dealing with the kids in the past twenty-four hours, I have noticed an increased patience. As I leave him to be a single parent (a role I feel I've carried many times in our married life as Zan has had busy times at work and in callings), he has learned to be a more creative and loving parent. Don't get me wrong. He is a great dad, but it just has a different, more polished quality.

This past Monday, I went on the high adventure with a group of youth camp leaders. We who went were told to let the girls make all the decisions and just drive them around. If they asked for our opinions, we were to direct them to think for themselves and to learn from their own mistakes. As I'm getting older, this seems to be a recurring theme. We can only truly learn if we're allowed to make choices and have successes AND failures.

As I went to camp, my family was allowed to learn from their successes and failures. I wasn't there to coach or direct (a role that it feels like I fill a lot lately). It looks like they did a beautiful job without their coach.

So, will I go again next year? If I have my way, I will. I hope this new improved family I returned to stays this way for awhile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Images from Last Summer

Gannon was attempting to create a new post last night, so we got to looking through all of our photos to find some for him. As we got searching, we came across a file of photos from last summer. Amazing how far we've come in one short year.

Teagen's grown a bunch. Here's a before (last year) and after (May 2008) photo for you. Although, it was great fun to keep him calmly sitting in a laundry basket. Alas, those days are gone. He's everywhere and into everything. Just as an example, this morning, while I was laying in bed pushing the snooze button way more than any human being should be allowed to, I heard someone come into my bedroom and go into the master bathroom, open a drawer, walk back out and head back down the hallway. Thinking the worst, I jumped out of bed and headed to the door. Sure enough, there was Teagen standing near his bedroom door down the hallway with a tube of toothpaste in either hand. I grabbed the toothpaste tubes and put Teagen back to bed--with much better smelling breath, I might add.
This was my plight at this time last year. On May 26, 2007, I was playing glow in the dark volleyball at Mutual. As I headed around a corner and planted my foot, the rest of my body didn't get the message that I was stopping and kept going--such awesome momentum. I heard a snap and a pop and went down. I couldn't get myself up off the gym floor. After waiting a week for swelling to go down, they put me in this cast for six weeks and then a boot for two more.
These are my berry pickers. We picked nearly every kind of berry available in our area last year. We've been doing this since they were tiny little people, and we all love it. I will never forget the year that my childcare situation fell through and little Brevin (then less than 2 years) went picking Boysenberries with us. He had an amazingly full container and then proceeded to trip over a stray vine that was running across the path. He got up and fell again the other way and then fell a third time. By the time he got up, his berry container was nearly empty. It was soooo sad, but he just started in again.
Last August was when our construction started. We rennovated our office and hot tub room into two bedrooms and a bathroom. We finished in October. We are grateful to have it done and now wonder how we lived in our house without these rooms.

Last summer, we took a trip down to the yurts in the Umpqua National Forest. Our dear friends the Beasley's go there yearly. It just so happened that a mutual friend offered us--the Beasley's and us--the chance to rent these yurts, so we went down and played and had a blast! One day, we rented a dune buggy and the kids and the dads went and ran it around in the sand.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Best Kind of Friend.....the Kind that God Gives You

This was a very sweet story that was in today's lesson. It made me think of all the times I've felt that a friend came along right at the right time to offer just what was needed to my life.

"Emily Ellen Swain Squires was born in England in 1852. Her mother was a member of the Church, and when Ellen was eleven years old, she was sent with some Church members to live with her mother’s sisters in Utah. The rest of her family planned to join her when they had enough money. The journey was very long and hard, especially for an eleven-year-old girl who had left her mother and family in England.

"She walked the entire distance across the plains to Utah, carrying a sack in which she gathered buffalo chips and sticks of wood for fuel. Her shoes wore out, so she was barefoot during most of the trip, and her feet were often cut and bleeding. Her dress was ragged and dirty. She was so lonely and the trip was so long that she wondered if it was worth even trying to keep going each day.

"One day when she felt that she could go no farther, something happened to help her. She saw an abandoned ox standing by the trail watching the wagon train pass. No one stopped to look at him or talk to him. But Emily stopped and patted the ox’s bony back and gave him some water. The ox willingly followed her, for he was lonely too. Emily was delighted that she had someone she could call her very own. She spent much of her time hunting for grass or other things for him to eat. He stayed by her side throughout the rest of the trip, and Emily found herself more cheerful than she had been at any other time on the trip. She was so absorbed in her new friend that she was able to partly forget her sore feet and tired body, and the trip did not seem so long. Soon she had arrived in Salt Lake City and was met by her relatives.

"The ox became lost soon after she got to Salt Lake City, and she often wondered what happened to her strange friend. She grew to womanhood, married a righteous member of the Church, and had children. She continued to have opposition, but she overcame it all and served the Lord valiantly for many years." (See Laura Squires Robinson, “The Child’s Journey,” in Treasures of Pioneer History, comp. Kate B. Carter, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1953], 2:115–18).

Overcoming Opposition

Today's Young Women's lesson was on Overcoming Opposition. In the October 1974 General Conference, Ezra Taft Benson spoke on this topic and gave a list of things that can help overcome feelings of sadness and depression. I'm definitely going to peruse and use some of the ideas from this list next time I'm feeling blue. Thought it might help someone else too.

1. Repentance: “Sin creates disharmony with God and is depressing to the spirit. … Every law kept brings a particular blessing. Every law broken brings a particular blight. Those who are heavy laden with despair should come unto the Lord, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.”

2. Prayer: “Prayer in the hour of need is a great boon. From simple trials to our Gethsemanes, prayer can put us in touch with God, our greatest source of comfort and counsel.”

3. Service: “To lose yourself in righteous service to others can lift your sights and get your mind off personal problems, or at least put them in proper focus. ‘When you find yourselves a little gloomy,’ said President Lorenzo Snow, ‘look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, and then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.’ (Conference Report, 6 Apr. 1899, pp. 2–3.)”

4. Work: “Work is our blessing, not our doom. … We should work at taking care of the spiritual, mental, social, and physical needs of ourselves and those whom we are charged to help. In the church of Jesus Christ there is plenty of work to do to move forward the kingdom of God. Every member a missionary, family genealogy and temple work, home evenings, receiving a Church assignment and magnifying it are but a few of our required labors.”

5. Health: “The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early.”

We should eat nutritious meals, get proper rest and exercise, and use wholesome recreation to provide a change of pace and lift the spirit.

6. Reading: “Many a man in his hour of trial has turned to the Book of Mormon and been enlightened, enlivened, and comforted.

“The psalms of the Old Testament have a special food for the soul of one in distress. … The words of the prophets, particularly the living president of the Church, are crucial reading and can give direction and comfort in an hour when one is down.”

7. Blessing: “In a particularly stressful time, or in the anticipation of a critical event, one can seek for a blessing under the hands of the priesthood. … The sacrament will ‘bless … the souls’ (D&C 20:77, 79) of all those who worthily partake of it.”

8. Fasting: “Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. … To make a fast most fruitful, it should be coupled with prayer and meditation; … and it’s a blessing if one can ponder on the scriptures and the reason for the fast.”

9. Friends: “The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. …

“Ideally, your family ought to be your closest friends. Most important, we should seek to become the friend of our Father in heaven and our brother Jesus the Christ.”

10. Music: “Inspiring music may fill the soul with heavenly thoughts, move one to righteous action, or speak peace to the soul. … Elder Boyd K. Packer has wisely suggested memorizing some of the inspiring songs of Zion … [to help] crowd out debilitating, depressive thoughts.”

11. Endurance: “There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you.

“… While you are going through your trial, you can recall your past victories and count the blessings that you do have with a sure hope of greater ones to follow if you are faithful.”

12. Goals: “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short- and long-range goals. A man who is pressing forward to accomplish worthy goals can soon put despondency under his feet, and once a goal is accomplished, others can be set up.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wonderful BYU Devotional by F. Enzio Busche

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You Go Billy!

As I was studying the scriptures this morning, I got interested in the word "condescension" as found in 1 Nephi 11. It's really not a very positive word, so I'm sure because it's referring to the Savior that it's meant in the most positive way possible, so I went searching for the most positive definition I could find.

I ended up at the Encyclopedia Brittanica online and for some reason ran across information on Billy Graham (listed under the word "condescension?"), who my mother says is a cousin through my great grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Graham (a very religious person in her own right). I just thought it was interesting what I read.

"Born November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Oldest of 2 sisters, 2 brothers. Father: dairy farmer. Parents both lived into his adulthood. Raised Presbyterian. Schooled through college. Childhood distinctions: gregarious, energetic. 1934 answered altar call from revivalist Mordecai Ham."

May not seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but I just thought it was funny how the man who got Billy doing what he does so well is a man named Mordecai HAM. Margaret Elizabeth Graham married George Robert Hamm, whose father was George Ham. Now, Margaret and George and all of them were from Missouri, but the Graham's came out of the Carolina's to get there, so is there some relation between the Graham's and the Hamm's other than mine? Could Mordecai be related to me also? I don't know. It's just funny.

Zan also has a great grandmother with the last name Graham--Mary Ann Graham. She sits in the same spot on his pedigree chart as my Margaret Elizabeth. Don't know if these women are related yet, their backgrounds are so different--mine Presbyterian and his LDS, but I suppose they could be. I'm sure someday we'll find out.

Back when the Nauvoo Temple was being built, we were asked to find if we had ancestors that were there at the time and assisted with its original building. We found that my ancestors, the Riddle's (yes, Harry Potter readers, there is a Tom, but he's John Thomas, so I'm safe, right?) made the shingles for the temple. Zan's ancestors, the Hess', laid the roof. We have laughed about that since, and how they must have known each other, but more than that, how symbolic that is of our current life. I'm at home making the shingles, so he can go out and lay the roof.

It seems that the Riddle and Hess lines are the ones that, when followed back, end up being related again through the Miner/Minor line. There was another Miner descendant, who is also related more directly to Zan's Holmes line that we assisted in learning the Gospel. She joined the Church.

It just all seems to ironic, so coincidental that all these things are so interrelated. It's these things that help me understand that nothing is coincidental. It's all part of a bigger plan. Do you have similar stories to these? I think someday when we understand all things, we'll be surprised just how much our ancestors knew each other and how they affect our lives today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Randomness from These Past Two Weeks

These photos of the boys were taken this morning. We made breakfast for dad. Each of the kids chose something and made it for him. He had bacon made by Quinlan, granola with milk provided by Gannon, sunnyside up eggs by Dierden, Brevin made a card, and orange juice by Aedan. After they got done making their course, they each wrapped a present and we took them up to celebrate Dad.

I think he was surprised by such a feast. I have dragged him onto the Weight Watcher's bus with me, and he has lost 8 pounds in two weeks. He gets twice as many points as I do, which is a total rag for me as I get his meals ready in the morning to go to work with him, but I'm so proud of him for doing it. He frequently asks if things are "legal." I don't think he quite has the idea yet that he can eat anything he wants it's the serving size that matters.

Okay, so some funny stories to share...
This kid is Casey. He played the tuba in Mountain View's eighth grade band. I guess Casey lives on a farm and raises a pig and rides horses. He's hilarious! While we were at Wild Waves, after the band competition last Saturday, he got ready to get in the water. It was hard to ignore how buff this kid was. Quinlan says it's just from working on the farm.

At one point during the trip, he said, "Real men don't say that they're cold." Another comment he made was, "Real men don't need a towel." A little while later he was asking for his towel and telling us how cold he was. We were razzing him about not being a "real man" (at all of 14 years of age). He turned to Tyler (the other boy in our group) and said, "Tyler, do you want to hold me?" Tyler ran away as fast as he could. I dont' think I had laughed that hard in a really long time. What a blast we all had!

The band brought home two trophies. An error was made and although the director had signed the kids up for competition, the choir director, when she signed up Mountain View's choir, signed them up only to be judged. Somehow both were entered as just going before the judges. The first trophy was for receiving superior marks with the judges. The second trophy was the biggie--the esprit de corps. It was because the band went and cheered for the choir. It was because they were respectful and kind to the other groups; kind of the good sportsmanship trophy.

That was the one thing I was more impressed by than anything else. The kids were so polite. I decided that I really like 8th graders. I thought about it later, and realized that I've really been in the right calling these past three and a half years.

As we got on the bus to come home, the band director shared the judges scores and comments with the students. It turned out that if they had been entered as competitors, they would have won the top prize. Their scores were 96/100 and 98/100 from the two judges. the other band that took home the winning trophy got 95/100 from both judges. It really has helped the kids to have band everyday. There aren't many middle schools that make that a possibility.

This is Tyler. He's a great kid! We were given a free meal at Wild Waves. It was a choice of chicken fingers or a cheeseburger. With the Weight Watchers thing, these weren't very good choices for me, so I ordered the chicken fingers and ate one of the three. I gave one to Casey and one to Tyler. I then, when she wasn't looking, took a big ol' handful of fries and plopped them into Quinlan's basket. This is Tyler helping consume the rest of my fries.

With Quinlan ending her middle school career, there were a baffling amount of volunteering opportunities. I tried my best to grab every one I could. I appreciate all those who helped with the kids, so I could do this!

Quinlan's a blast to be around and my most dearest, best friend. I hope it stays this way forever. Of course, I'm still the mom and the final word, but it's just such a bonus that we get along well.

This is my group from the zoo trip I took with Quinlan's hall. Again, such great kids! Four girls and one boy. I told Robert he was the luckiest guy in the whole school. He didn't argue with me.

These are Q's best friends:
Tracy (who has been on Quinlan's soccer team since 1st grade)

Megan (her very BEST friend)

Samantha (who lives in the neighboring ward)

Kris (the other Hess in the school; besides Gannon)

It's been so nice to see her develop some really good friendships this past year.

Dierden and her Errol Hassell Battle of the Books team--Justin Tran, Spencer Gardiner, and Brandon Mortimore--went to Cooper Mountain for their final battle against Cooper Mountain's winning fourth grade team. The Errol Hassell team won. It was very exciting. This may be the first time that the fourth grade Errol Hassell team has won against them.

To wrap up all this randomness, just thought I'd include this photo. Just thought Maggie looked so cute here. Thought I'd share.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ah to Arrive!

We had a friend who graduated from college today (congratulations, Dan!); we were invited to attend. It took place at the Rose Garden Arena. I haven't been to a college graduation since Zan's back in 1995. Although he has his masters, he hates the whole pomp and circumstance thing, so he didn't walk.

There were some wonderful speakers. The first I was impressed by was the young man who represented the student body. He was Ethiopian-born and has lived in the U.S. for the past 8 years. He has overcome great odds to graduate from college. What I was most impressed by was his focus on making things possible for others to succeed too. He shared a famous Ehtiopian quote. I don't remember it exactly, but it was something like, stay away from those whose knowledge stays within themselves. It was clear from his whole demeanor that that he was not one who kept all that he knew to himself. He shares all that he is daily and is genuinely concerned for those around him.

The other was the key note speaker (is that what they're called at a graduation? I don't think so, but you know what I mean, right?). His name was Richard Pimentel. He was sooo good. He started out by quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes (a relation of Zan's, btw), he said, "Alas for those who never sing, but die with their music still in them." He shared a lot on finding their music, finding a venue to use that music and finding an audience to listen. He said, "The shortest distance beween two points is illuminated by your dreams." He emphasized that everyone should walk their own path, not one laid out by someone else. He was just so good.

I've been cramming about as much information as one little, feeble brain can handle full of child development information for this psychology class I'm taking right now. I just want to get done with it. But, today, as I sat through the graduation, I realized that all of those students had probably been through a class or two that they didn't love and yet they made it. They had arrived.

I someday want to arrive too. The sad thing is that I won't get to wear the gown and get to shake someone's hand to signify that I've arrived. Sigh. That's all pomp and circumstance anyway, isn't it? I wonder if I want that just to gratify my pride.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Little Thanks to James Taylor

On Sundays, our house is filled with a different kind of music than other days—MoTab, Hilary Weeks, my fave—Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” (a Christmas song that I just can’t get enough of. On the link, is a church produced video about the birth of Christ. It’s left an indelible mark on me). This last Sunday, soon after waking, I found myself faced with a song that although not our usual worshipful tune, had me thinking deeply about my life at this point.

I woke at 5:45 and realized that I had too much to do to fall back asleep. Having just returned from an all day trip to Seattle with the 8th grade band late the night before, I was surprised to find myself so awake at such an early hour and faced some very swollen eyes in the mirror. Ugh! I got myself ready, and when Teagen woke at 6:30, got him out of his crib and headed downstairs so everyone else would remain asleep.

After going downstairs, hugging Teagen as he has me grasped tightly around the neck (one of the truest pleasures of life), I realized that someone's alarm clock was going off, a fact to which it's owner was oblivious--a common Hess trait. As the radio played, these words struck my heart, "Show them the way you feel. Things are gonna be much better if you only will.” These were the most important words I could have heard.

I spent the entire morning contemplating this message. "Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way you feel. Things are gonna be much better if you only will." The word "will" to me means it's a choice.

My life is blessed with people I love more than I could ever say. I know that very few of them know how much they mean to me. I wish I were better at showering them with love and letting them know how I feel.

It seems that every so often, a day will go by, and I feel like I didn't even really look at my children not to mention showing them how much I love them. Even though I felt the importance of this message on Sunday, here it is Tuesday, and I feel like this has been one of those days; kids are in bed, and I've missed some important chances to express my love for them.

Thank goodness that tomorrow is a new day and that repentance is available. This is such a busy time of year. Zan's work life is nuts, the kids have a million fun activites as the school year ends, and I'm rushing around trying to make it to the next volunteering opportunity and getting the house ready for the kids to be in it all day everyday.

So, here's my little reminder for myself for tomorrow... "Things are gonna be much better if you only will."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sheer Madness

I haven't been reading others' blogs lately. I just haven't had the time, so today I decided to get caught up while I was making dinner. As I read Tonya's (always entertaining), I saw that a friend of her's tagged her and she was supposed to take a photo of ten different things and post them. Those things couldn't be staged beforehand or fixed in any way. As I neared the end of that post, I realized that she was going to have to tag five people when she was done, what I feared came to pass. There was my name among the five, so you may read on, but beware. You might just be listed in my fab five.
1. FAVORITE VACATION. Any vacation for me is a favorite vacation. I think this last spring break at Mount Rainier was my favorite. So relaxing and time just to get away and be together.
2. LAUNDRY PILE. Well, I finally got a few loads done today, so this is all that's left to wash. The washer and dryer are running as I write and there is a load to fold and put away yet. This work is never finished.
3.THE FRIDGE. Nothing too exciting here. Oh, I might note that the fruit and veggie bins are full. I have, as of today, lost 10 pounds!4. THE CLOSET. This is half of my closet. I have never been fortunate enough to live in a house with a walk-in closet, but I feel fortunate to have what I do--a closet to myself; Zan's is on the other half of the wall. 5. THE TOILET. The mark to the left is a chip where the finish came off the seat from a really long reading session or something.6. THE KITCHEN SINK. We made no bake cookies today--a new tradition, so the smaller sink has those dishes waiting to go into the dishwasher.7. FAVORITE ROOM. I love my bedroom. The comforter is in the wash right now, so it's not looking all that grand, but I just love that I can go into my room to escape. The new window makes this room so much more cheerful. I love hearing the birds through it first thing in the morning when the weather is nice and the window is open. 8. FAVORITE SHOES. I love these shoes and look forward to wearing them. My sister bought them for me for my birthday last year.9. WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE DOING RIGHT NOW. Quinlan, Dierden and Aedan were watching "Princess Diaries 2" together in the family room. Brevin was in his room, and Gannon was at the Potts' playing Guitar Hero, I'm sure.
Zan had just arrived home, so Teagen was entertaining his dad. Since it has taken me so long to get this post done, here's what Teagen was doing three minutes ago....
Zan called me saying, "Julie, you've got to see this." When I first arrived in the front hallway, there was Teagen, dog crate in tow, with the dog inside. As the crate started to tip, the dog jumped out. Now, you have to understand, Maggie thinks Teagen is her pup, so Teagen can get away with losts of things the rest of us can't.At this point, Teagen is trying to figure out why the dog's out and how to get her back in.He opens the door and starts motioning where he wants her to go.She's not so sure this is what she has in mind.Zan gives the command, "Crate," and in she goes.You can see the sweet little girl in the crate. She puts up with a lot from this little boy, but she sure loves him.
10. SELF PORTRAIT. Yep, that's me...the chief inmate of the madhouse.

So, it's my turn to tag....
I tag Lindsey, Christy, Megan, Melissa and Jenny! Don't fix it up, just start snapping those photos.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Feeling down? Give these ideas a try.

I'm really into stealing (no, borrowing) others' words lately. Here's yet another one. I just thought this was great advice from

Six Bad Mood Busters
By: The Well Mom (View Profile)
We all have down days. You know the ones when you wake up cranky and even if the sun is shining, you’re annoyed ... or maybe just feeling a little sad or unfocused. You could go on a shopping binge, blow off your workout, or spend your day snapping at everyone around you. But after I went through a little funk recently, I started thinking about how I could have turned it around. What if taped up on my bathroom mirror was a handy checklist of quick ways to boost my spirits? Little things I could incorporate into my busy routine. So I started thinking about some of the small stuff that really does give me a lift. None of the activities on my list require money or much time. I’m not a psychologist or a life coach. And of course, these ideas are no substitute for regular exercise (a natural mood booster), getting enough rest, and eating well, etc. But maybe they can give you another way to see things when you would rather crawl back in bed.
1. Get a change of scenery. It works for small children, right? Ever notice how you can turn the most outrageous tantrum into a giggle fit just by leading your baby into another room and showing her a new toy? We can boost our own moods by doing the same. You don’t have to plan an expensive adventure to some exotic locale (although that helps, too). Sometimes getting a change of scenery in the tiniest, most mundane ways can alter perspective on much bigger things. Perhaps eating dinner at the table instead of the couch? Take a different route on your way to work or school. Stand up while you are talking on the phone instead of sitting at your desk. Shake up the little things and see how it can transform your view.
2. Listen to someone else’s story (for a change). When we are feeling down about something, it can be hard to be a good listener. But many times, pausing to really hear about someone else’s life can do wonders for our own heads. Inspiration hits us when we least expect it. I recently had the chance to sit down with someone who now spends her days telling other people’s stories of triumph. You may remember Daryn Kagan, a CNN anchor for twelve years before her bosses unceremoniously informed her she no longer had a job with the cable network. Instead of staying home with the covers pulled over her head, she turned her energies into, a webcast devoted to “good news.” Her focus on the art of the possible uncovers the victories of everyday people trying to make the world a better place. That’s a message all of us could use—especially when we’re feeling blah.
3. Help a stranger. Hold the door for someone. Offer to carry a heavy package or box. Give directions when asked. A little kindness goes a long way. You’ll immediately feel happier when you take a minute to assist another human being—even in the smallest way.
4. Call a friend. When my girlfriends and I have time to call each other, we attempt to fit in a conversation between naptime and conference calls. It can be hard to feel connected when you are just about to start ranting and the baby wakes up from her nap. Kids display this amazing sixth sense for figuring out the exact time to interrupt Mommy when she is just about to finally talk to another adult about what’s bugging her today. But ... my point is, even if we never get to finish the whole discussion, I always feel better after a brief “Hi/Bye.” And you know what? So will your friend on the other end of the line.
5. Clean out a drawer. Anyone who has either worked with me or lived with me knows that I have a really hard time letting go of stuff. Everything has sentimental value. But as a mom of twin toddlers, with a home growing more cramped by the day thanks to all of their stuff, I am trying really hard to streamline. The best advice anyone gave me is to start small. So take a few minutes and trash the old receipts and broken CD covers taking up space. Clearing out a single drawer, shelf or even your email inbox really does make you feel lighter.
6. Eat something decadent. I’m not talking about scarfing down a package of Oreos. When we’re feeling low, it’s too easy to self-medicate with food. I say, eat something terribly rich but do so in a purposeful way. Take a moment to actually enjoy it and let go of the guilt. For me, it’s all about dark chocolate. Oh—heck, anything chocolate. But it really does taste better when I actually sit down to eat it.

Sent to me by a friend. Don't we all wish we could do this.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ahhh Summer!!!

A friend wrote and asked what our plans were for summer and how we usually plan our life when all the kids are home. so I thought I'd just put it all here. Don't know if it will help anyone with their plans, but I'd love to hear how anyone else does their summer if you'd be willing to share.

I'm glad she asked because although I've been looking forward to it for so long now, I honestly haven't thought out the nitty gritty of what we're going to do. We'll definitely be changing our regular summer running-around-everywhere ways this year because of gas prices, but I think nearly everyone is in the same situation. I tend to be a bit hyper and have a tough time sitting still and being home when my kids are all home. I don't want them to be bored. I want to make sure they are stimulated and learning everyday.

Every year, the day school gets out we head straight to Barnes & Noble and get the kids workbooks just to keep their skills honed; the Summer Bridge series is well worth the money. It covers all topics. We don't make a huge deal of workbooks everyday, but when possible, I use them to have one-on-one with the kids for about 15 minutes a day. We always eat a snack while working on workbooks. Food works wonders for our family--you'd never guess it with our skinny kids.

We are big berry pickers, so I'm sure we'll have plenty of trips to berry patches. We have one just down the street from us. Then we make freezer jam and pie fillings with those that help us remember the fun times of summer as we enjoy them throughout the rest of the year. We started this when the kids were really young. They are now super berry pickers and love doing it. I hope this enthusiasm will continue for many more years.

The free movies are a big hit. I love to go when I have a little baby; it's not going to be so easy this year with a 20-month-old, but it's great to have big kids to help take care of the littler ones if I have to take Teagen out. The schedules are out for this summer, so we've planned according to which movies we want to see and when we'll be in town. We usually switch between three different theatres--Movies on TV, Sherwood, and Tigard--depending on who's playing which movies when. I think these will be the only days we'll run around in the car for the week. For this year, this is our plan:

June 17 – Nancy Drew @ Sherwood
July 1 – Water Horse: Legend of the Deep @ Movies on TV
July 2 – Surf’s Up @ Sherwood
July 8 – Alvin & the Chipmunks @ Sherwood
July 9 – Wallace & Gromit @ Movies on TV
July 15 – Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium @Movies on TV
July 16 – Alvin & the Chipmunks @ Movies on TV
July 22 – Everyone’s Hero @ Movies on TV
July 23 – Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer @Movies on TV
July 29 – Shrek the Third @ Tigard
July 30 – Babe: Pig in the City @ Tigard
Aug 5 – Jonah: A Veggie Tale @ Tigard
Aug 6 – Happily N’ver After @ Movies on TV
Aug 12 – Bee Movie @ Sherwood
Aug 13 – Shrek the Third @ Movies on TV
Aug 19 – Mr. Bean’s Holiday @ Tigard
Aug 20 – Nancy Drew @ Tigard

If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you. Just let us know.

Movies are on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we will probably do the grocery shopping after the Wednesday movie. We also make it a habit to hit the library once a week, so this year we will probably go after the Tuesday movie. Another thing we have taken advantage of in the past and will continue to this year is the library reading program and all of its rewards. Anything to motivate kids to read is a winner in my book.

Another thing we do is go to one of the schools that offers free lunch. Some schools have breakfast also. At Zan's former school, they had their library open once a week for kids to check out books, play on computers, etc. We always used to think this was for low-income families, but when they did them at Zan's school, we learned that it was intended for anyone. His entire PTO presidency would bring their kids and come and eat and then play on the playground afterward. I quickly learned that this really was intended for everyone and it has become part of our summer plans. The kids LOVE it. It's also been really good for our preschoolers to learn how the whole school lunch thing works for when they start eating in the cafeteria in first grade. This year, I think the plan will be to walk to Aloha Huber Park or Aloha High School for lunch.

We don't do playdates all that much because I like to see my kids interact with each other. I want my kids to be each others' best friends. There's also the fact that if one kid has a friend over, they all feel that they have to have a friend over and then the house gets crazy.

I think this summer we'll take advantage of the school's playgrounds near us. Lots of bikes, sprinklers (let's hope for good weather), and lots of popsicles.

One year, the kids wanted to have a huge tag game, so we threw a tag party at the elementary school. That next year Quinlan would be moving on to middle school and was bemoaning the fact that there would be no recess tag games for her, so each child was allowed to invite three kids and their siblings and come to the school to play tag for an hour. We sent out postcards and it was so fun! I think this year I might just have enough energy to pull this one off again. We did it in August, when summer activities had pretty much died down, so most of the friends showed up. A lot of the moms came and stayed too and stood around and chatted, so it was fun for everyone.

In the past, I have assigned a particular activity to a particular day of the week. I still may do this, but without the ability to run on a whim, it will definitely be different from years in the past. I also love the flexibility of summer. If we choose to change plans on any particular day, great. Nothing quite like going with the flow! Bring on summer!

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