Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Snow on Snow on Snow

 Funny that my last post was "A Sunny Winter," 
because shortly after I wrote that the weather took a serious turn!
Things started to get pretty intense on the evening of Wednesday the 10.
Ice storm warnings were everywhere and school was cancelled in anticipation.

Sure enough, temperatures plummeted, and we spent the night listening to one of the loudest rainstorms I've ever heard. The thunder was booming and shaking the house and Sam and I spent much of the night on the living room couches--Sam holding Benson, and me holding Elsie.

In the morning, there was ice and hail everywhere.
Tiny icicles were hanging from just about every surface--from every leaf, from the basketball hoop, from the fence...Talmage and Wesley braved the frigid cold and went outside with hammers to enjoy breaking ice off everything!

Unfortunately, we had made plans to leave that day to go out of town for a little vacation, and the ice was throwing a bit of a wrench into our plans.
We did end up going on our vacation, but it was a bit more, um, adventurous than we planned on with the weather!
More on that later.

We came back into town on Saturday night, and Memphis was abuzz with the news that snow that was supposed to dump on us the following week.
Plans were being made for school to be virtual, devices were sent home (the kids' school is an "Apple School," so they all have their own iPads or Macbooks), and we all hunkered down.
On Sunday, just as we were leaving for church, the snow began.
We were elated when it actually was sticking to the ground and the snow did not stop after just a few minutes, like it usually does!
By Monday evening, we had accumulated several inches on the ground.
The weather was COLD (the "feels like" was -10!), and our good winter gear is stored in Utah, so we didn't last very long at all out in the snow, but we did manage to get out a little bit.
Except for Maxwell, who was content to stay inside.
Even though snow is his favorite food.
We discovered that our masks come in very handy to keep our faces warm!
And the boys used a couple of pairs of my boots to keep the snow away from their feet. They actually worked pretty well for them.

The following day was sunny, but no more snow came.
But on Wednesday, about 5 more inches of snow dumped down, giving us a total of about 8 inches of snow on the ground!
That is the most snow Memphis has had in about 40 years!!!
We were so grateful to be able to experience it.

Obviously, the cities just are not equipped to handle that kind of snow, so everything kind of shut down and we all pretty much stayed home while the roads remained covered in snow. There was virtually no traffic down our street, other than the occasional ATV roaring by through the snow.
The kids had two more snow days and then virtual school began and lasted for the remainder of the week.
By Saturday, temps had warmed up to a nice, balmy 34 degrees, so naturally Maxwell donned shorts, a t-shirt, adult-sized gloves, and a tiny baby hat my sister got in Peru and ran out to play.
And then complained when, 30 minutes later, the snow made his fingers "wilt."
Go figure!

Church was cancelled on Sunday since there was still lots of snow and ice on the roads,
and school was virtual again yesterday.

Today the kids finally went back to school and temperatures shot up to the 60s. We had the best time playing outside, having a snowball throwing contest with the little snow that remained in the shady spots.
Sam played basketball with the boys while I made dinner and we all rejoiced in the little taste of spring.

But we thoroughly enjoyed that week of "real" Winter we got to enjoy!
Eating snow (and snow cream!)
Making snow angels
Delivering cinnamon rolls to friends in the twilight while the snow was dumping the heaviest
Sucking on icicles
"Snowcer" (soccer in the snow)
Hot chocolate
Snowball fights
Stunning beauty

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A Sunny Winter

 Weather-wise, this Winter has been delightful.
We've had more than the usual number of warm days and lots of sunshine.
I used to really dislike the brown grass that hangs around for 6 months of the year here in its dormant state, but then one day I decided that I was going to think of it as "gold" instead and it totally changed my feelings! I know it's silly, but looking around in the Winter and seeing fields of gold against the blue sky is much more tolerable to me than seeing drab, dead, brown yards.

Recently, we headed to the park to play tennis.
Sam and the boys rode bikes over while I drove over with Elsie (she wasn't quiiiite ready for a baby bike seat yet!). Some of the boys played tennis while the rest of us played on the playground.

And the day was topped off with a gigantic leaf pile in the backyard.
It's not the same as snow, but the boys have fun regardless!
I was raking leaves and Benson was playing in the dirt. "I made you a birthday cake!" he exclaimed.

And then I teeter-tottered with Benson while watching the clouds become cotton candy pink.
It was a lovely day.
There's just about nothing like brisk sunshine-y air and yardwork to give me a boost!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Ode to Elsie June

 This girl...
we were so unsure about having another baby when we started talking about it about a year and a half ago. Sam said he felt like it might be the final nail in his coffin. We're just so tired!
But neither of us wanted to be done, either.
We stewed over it for several months before we decided it was time to add another to the family.
Little did we know how much this little piece of sunshine would brighten up a dark, dreary time!
She has been such an incredible blessing in our family over the past 3 1/2 months.

Her smiles can make us smile big, genuine smiles even when we are sad or frustrated.

Her cheeks are so perfectly squishy and comforting.

She has the brightest eyes that are exactly the same color as mine.

She is becoming a bit demanding. She seems to just get bored when she is left to her own devices and wants to be on the go, learning and interacting!

She is incredibly social and almost always stares at people over objects.

She has an adorable little giggle but has occasionally belly-laughed, too.

She is our hungriest baby and is already showing a huge interest in solid food. She loves fruit but gave full-body shudders over avocado and mashed potato.

She loves to play with toys and has gotten pretty good control over her hands.
She also loves books and will totally crane her head around to see if I am reading a book to someone.

And she still has the best fan-club. The other day I came out of the bedroom to find Sam and all 5 boys gathered around the swing, where Elsie was sitting, clapping and cheering for her!
Believe it or not, there is actually a baby underneath these boys.

How we love this happy ray of sunshine!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

More Sunday Musings

 Today was our ward's first day back in-person since December.
At-home church has its perks, but I have missed hearing from others, too.
Maxwell and Benson have often been pretending to bless the Sacrament throughout the week. They are so serious and cute about it that it feels acceptable to me to let them pretend. I think there was a water bottle under this towel and they both took a drink after their little prayer.

I've been studying Preach My Gospel, but as a parenting manual. I replace the word "missionary" with "parent," the word "companion" with "spouse," and the word or form of "investigators" with "children."
Because really, is not our primary parenting goal to bring our children to Christ?
I find this method of study to be eye-opening and I gain many insights.
Today I was particularly struck by the things I read about success:

"Avoid comparing yourself to other [parents] and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that [children] have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make an informed choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation. You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith...

You can know you have been a successful [parent] when you:
-Feel the Spirit testify to your [children] through you.
-Love your [children] and desire their salvation.
-Obey with exactness.
-Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
-Develop Christlike attributes.
-Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring your children to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve.
-Help establish and strengthen the Church wherever you are assigned to work.
-Warn your [children] of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments.
-Teach and serve your [spouse.]
-Go about doing good and serving your [children] at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message.

When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you."

I love that every bullet point is focused on my OWN actions. My success does not depend on outcomes or the choices of others--my success is entirely dependent on my own efforts! That is a tremendous comfort to me as we navigate this tricky road of parenting.

In other news, Lincoln told me that on Friday his PE class got a 15-minute time-out because a few kids were misbehaving. He and his friend were not misbehaving and were upset that they were being punished regardless. So Lincoln turned to his friend and explained to her that it was okay because the 2nd Article of Faith says that we will be punished for our OWN sins...so they wouldn't be punished unfairly in Heaven, even if they were in PE. :D
That boy's thought process can always make me smile.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Talmage Receives the Priesthood


Talmage received the Aaronic priesthood on the evening of January 10 in Family Home Evening.
Because of COVID restrictions, Sam ordained him in our home and he taught a lesson about the priesthood.
The following Sunday, Talmage passed the Sacrament for the first time in our at-home church meeting.
I was surprised by the misty eyes I got as I watched him carefully bring us the bread and water. His brothers stared up at him with the biggest smiles on their faces as they recognized the important step he had taken. He is such a wonderful role model to his younger brothers and I am so grateful to see his growth and development.

He has been learning some hymns on the piano, so he accompanied the closing song for our Sacrament Meeting as well. I never thought I would really enjoy other stages of life as much as the little-kid stage, but it is turning out to be quite remarkable to see our children bloom. I'm loving this stage just as much, but for different reasons.

In other Sabbath-day news, the contention in our home has really peaked over the past month or so.
I think the combination of colder weather, being cooped up inside, and COVID has the kids at each others' throats. 
Sam gave a great talk last week about how "a soft answer turneth away wrath." This week I wanted to piggy-back off of his talk and talk about how charity "seeketh not her own."
We've had many issues lately over silly matters of selfishness, like one person setting a toy down and then going to get it one minute later and another person having it, claiming, "You set it down!"
Or someone getting up to get a drink and another person taking their spot while they are gone.
These little issues quickly build into a big explosion.

So I talked to Sam about my plans before we started church, and then when it was time for my talk I said I needed to grab something from the other room. While I was in the other room, Sam sat down on the piano bench--which is where I had been sitting, and where the person giving the talk always sits.
I walked back into the room, holding a plate, and stopped next to the piano bench. 

"Um, is it okay if I sit there? I was sitting there." I said.
"No, it was empty when I came in here," he said. "You weren't here."
"I just left for a minute! I had to go grab this but I was coming right back!"
"You weren't here! It was empty!"
"I need to sit on the piano bench so everyone can see me! This is where the person giving the talk always sits!"
We continued back and forth for a few more rounds before I sat down on the piano bench and tried to push him off. In fury, I threw the plate on the ground and it shattered.

The boys were giggling so hard. We tried hard to make it look like we were having a real disagreement and didn't take on childish tones to our voices, but they were not fooled in the least--not even when the plate broke!
"This is part of your talk!" they were saying.

And so it was.
Sam cleaned up the broken plate while I talked to them about how our anger and our contentious words can break things even more important than a plate (which I had broken for shock value, hoping they would remember this message). I mentioned various creations that had been destroyed and injuries that had been inflicted (see Maxwell's black eye below). And then we talked about how, most importantly, our hearts and our relationships can be broken by unkind words.
I talked to them about a chain that is built link by link until it leads to a bomb that explodes when both participants in an argument stand their ground and neither chooses to be a peacemaker. I encouraged them to try to "break the chain," and Sam and I acted out two scenarios of what could have happened. 
First, I walked in and saw him sitting on the piano bench, so I chose a different chair to sit in.
Simple. No broken plate. No angry words.
Next, I walked in and told him I had been sitting there, and he quickly apologized and got up and moved.
Simple. No broken plate. No angry words.
We discussed how we don't always need to seek justice--because charity "seeketh not her own."

And then I informed them that I would be making a kindness chart that, when filled up, would result in a family ice cream sundae party.
I reminded them of the catch phrases we would be using to remind them.
Like, "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
"Break the chain."
"Remember the plate."

And I closed with my testimony about the peace and love that can fill our home when we choose to not have contention.
Here's hoping this helps...because we've really been at our wits' ends this past month.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Black-Eyed Club

 A few days after Lincoln's broken tooth incident, Maxwell was having a dispute with one of his siblings (hint: it wasn't Elsie) and he ended up getting pushed in the argument. He fell and hit his eye on the edge of the (carpeted!) stairs.
It immediately started swelling and the next day he had a pretty impressive shiner.

Poor kid.
I guess he was just getting initiated into the black-eyed club.
We've got a nice little collection.

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