Apr 29, 2014

Easter at home

Our Easter weekend was simple and quiet this year. We had some fun activities for the kids, bought new dresses for the girls, and Garry participated in the annual Easter Cantata (the boys and I attended both nights). I was busy on Sunday with Primary sharing time and accompaniment for a solo in sacrament meeting. Overall, the holiday was very nice.

A couple of weeks ago I planned an Easter egg hunt at the park with lots of the moms in the ward who have preschool kids. Doing this was part of our Easter tradition when Zach and Tyler were little, and I have wanted a similar experience for my little kids, too. On the Friday before Easter, lots of people came to the park, the weather was perfect, and I think everyone had a good time. Success!

The next day, we invited one of Gavin's friends and his mom to join us for our family egg hunt and egg coloring. I filled the plastic eggs and Garry hid them. The kids had a blast tracking down 24 eggs each (they were color-coded).

After that, we decorated hard-boiled eggs with shaving cream and food coloring. That was a fun change from the traditional dye cups. Too bad Garry and Lexi are the only family members who like to eat rubbery eggs. We have lots! We had a very fun morning and were glad to have our friends along to play with us.

On Sunday morning the kids enjoyed their Easter baskets. The Easter Bunny hides baskets at our house, and the hiding places were a little tricky this year, but everyone seemed to enjoy the search, their candy, and the one small gift they received.  That's our Easter in a nutshell...or would that be an egg?

Apr 28, 2014

35 for 35

My birthday came and went without much fanfare. I'm touched by the family and friends who remembered me, by the special birthday dinner and cards that Garry and the kids made for me, and the gestures of love all around.  It was a good day.

Like last year, I set out to make people glad I was born by doing 35 acts of kindness during the week before my 35th birthday.  Here's what made me happy this week.

1-4: Driving extra kids to and from school every day last week (we had Monday off).

5: Rocking and singing Kate to sleep when she was sad at nap time.

6: Putting a gas card on the pump at King Soopers.

7: Donating lots of FHE ideas/packets for an upcoming Relief Society activity.

8: Talking to a friend who was sitting alone at a stake meeting.

9: Helping a friend's daughter with a really difficult piano piece.

10: Taking bell peppers to a friend who loves them.

11: Visiting an elderly friend.

12: Taking extra kids home from mutual.

13: Mailing a thank-you note to a supportive friend.

14: Sorting and delivering donated baby clothes (not from me) to a soon-to-be-mom in need.

15: Returning something to a store for a friend who just had surgery.

16: Rehearsing and playing for a musical number at church.

17-18: Attending two baby showers.

19: Taking one of "my" Beehives to a store when she needed a ride.

20: Making my kids' beds one morning.

21: Mailing inspirational quotes to a very sick, pregnant friend in Washington.

22: Going visiting teaching.

23: Watching a little girl before school.

24: Putting quarters in several vending machines at Walmart.

25: Giving up my seat at a middle school meeting for a hugely pregnant lady who was sitting on the floor.

26: Writing thank-you notes to all of the kids' school teachers.

27: Taking dinner to the family of a crazy-busy friend.

28: Talking to and suggesting resources for a friend who needed support on a bad day.

29: Delivering homemade rolls and strawberry jam to four friends (would have been five, but the kids raided one of the plates).

30: Giving the kids a pass on Saturday chores.

31: Indexing.

32: Assembling thank-you gifts for teacher appreciation week at the elementary school.

33: Setting up the sprinkler for the first time this year, just because the kids wanted me to do it.

34: Writing love notes on the bathroom mirrors at home.

35: Donating fabric and cardboard for Cub Scout Day Camp forts.

I'm not gonna lie: I had some hard days last week, and sometimes it was a stretch to think of things to do for other people when consumed by my own frustrations. However, my stressed-out heart always warmed up when I was helping people, particularly those I love. Last year I did more things for strangers, and that was great, but I really enjoyed serving people, often spontaneously, in response to specific needs that I recognized. Some of my acts of kindness, like taking extra kids to and from school and talking to my friends, were things I do every day, but it made me feel good to realize that I help my small, personal community in my regular life. I was also more aware of the ways that people serve me every day.

This particular birthday feels harder than turning 30. I've been feeling old and ineffective lately, so this project gave more purpose to my life for a few days. I hope it brightened a few other souls, as well.

Apr 22, 2014

The latest Landshark

It is FINALLY Gavin's turn to participate in the school's running club, the Landsharks. Oh, man. He has waited years!

From Zach and Tyler's first season in 2009, when he was just a wee lad.... our most recent in 2012...

...Gavin just could.not.wait for his turn to officially run with the Landsharks. Yesterday was the first race day, and he was pumped!  He ran a quick 50-meter dash with his fellow kindergartners, followed by a 400-meter race later on. He ran toward the front of the pack in both races, grinning and waving at spectators the whole way. Gavin had a great time!

Hopefully in the coming weeks I will have the presence of mind to take a nicer camera and really capture his running experience. Go Gavin!

cutest girls ever!

Oh, how I love these little beauties.

Lexi & Kate
Easter 2014

Free spirit

Well, folks...I have purchased my last box of diapers!  That's right. Kate is well on her way to big girl-hood, and I couldn't be happier. Actually, that's not true. I could be happier: I am still scrubbing undies more than I would like. Eventually Kate will decide that 100% toilet commitment is the way to go. Until then I am trying to be patient...but also savoring the (away-from) baby steps that are happening.

Kate makes me laugh every single day. I am charmed by all the leotards and tutus, and even the way she runs around the back yard in nothing but underwear.

The other day she took no fewer than 300 pictures with my phone.  Many were selfies, which crack me up.

Kate tells me every day that she hates naps (in those words), but she still takes them most of the time. Sometimes if she doesn't get a TV fix, she's impossible to deal with, so nap time is a token of sanity on hard days. But then I usually have to wake her up to pick up the boys from school. Sad. This first picture is on such a day. The one below happened on a day when she didn't take a nap, and then fell asleep on our after-school run. I left her in the car in the garage, and then after she woke up she was so ornery that I wrapped her in a blanket and she fell asleep again. She slept almost two hours, waking up at 6:00 p.m. Yeah, that wasn't the best.

Kate gets a lot of press on the blog, but I guess that's the nature of babies. I'm not sure I'll ever get to her memory book past age two, and the chances of this blog post making it to a book are small, but it's not because I don't want to capture my silly memories of this delightful little girl.

Easter in Primary

Now that I have a few weeks of experience, I have decided I like to teach sharing time.  Last time the object lesson with dishes was really fun. I think this week's Easter lesson turned out well, too. At the urging of my president, I am documenting the lesson here (you're welcome, Sandi).

I wanted the kids to learn about some of the things leading up to the Savior's death and resurrection, and to make the lesson interactive and meaningful. I wanted to teach doctrine and invite the Spirit. I think all of those things happened, so I consider the day a success.

In Junior Primary, I passed out word strips that said: (1) Triumphal entry; (2) Jesus prepares the sacrament; (3) Jesus washes the apostles' feet; (4) Garden of Gethsemane; (5) The crucifixion; (6) The tomb; and (7) Jesus shows his wounds.  In Senior Primary, I taped these papers under chairs, along with about a dozen papers with scriptures that corresponded to these seven events.

We talked about each event in order. The child with the word strip came to the front, read it to the group, and then looked at a table where I had displayed objects that correlated with each event. They chose the object and showed it to the group. In Senior Primary, the children came to the front and read the scripture verses, but in Junior, I summarized the stories. I also had pictures from the Church's online image gallery that I used to tell the stories. I asked questions and the kids gave some very thoughtful responses. We sang songs for each topic, as well.

Here is a summary of each discussion.

Triumphal Entry: The object was a plant, used to represent the palm leaves that believers waved as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem during the Passover.  I used this lesson as a reference for the story (which I obviously simplified), and displayed the picture below. We sang "Easter Hosanna" (Children's Songbook, 68). While the children sang the chorus ("Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the most high God!"), a few of them waved scarves in the air.

Jesus Prepares the Sacrament: The objects were a plate with bread and a cup of water. I told the story of the Last Supper, and how Jesus told his apostles to partake of bread and water to remember his body and blood. The children actually explained these things to the group when I asked them questions. They sang "The Church of Jesus Christ" (CS, 77). I showed this picture.

Jesus Washes the Apostles' Feet: Sandals and a towel symbolized this event. Not as many children knew the story, but they quickly understood its meaning--we can serve others as the Savior served his disciples. We talked about ways to serve each other, and then sang "As I Have Loved You" (Hymns, 308). The kids linked arms and swayed together as they sang.

Garden of Gethsemane: The object for this topic was a borrow of soap, which represents the gift of repentance made possible by Jesus' suffering in the garden. I used an example from this talk by Merrill J. Bateman (I remember sitting in the Marriott Center when he gave this devotional), that highlighted how the Savior took upon himself our sins one by one. I love that imagery. From this discussion we went straight into the next one without singing.

The Crucifixion: The children quickly picked the right object: a hammer and nails. I explained some of the events leading up to the crucifixion. I showed the picture below and we talked about some of the details of the story. I told them about the storms and darkness that happened both in Jerusalem and in America. Then the children sang, "To Think About Jesus" (CS, 71).

After this, we watched an excerpt from the video, "Finding Faith in Christ." The clip (from 19:20-22:53) depicts Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his "criminal" sentencing, and his death on the cross. The children were riveted to this sensitive portrayal of events and I think everyone was touched. We sang, "I Stand All Amazed" (Hymns, 193), and I wasn't the only one who was emotional.

The Tomb: A flat rock and a folded white pillowcase were the symbols for this story. The rock represented the stone rolled away from the entrance to Christ's burial tomb, and the pillowcase symbolized the folded napkin found within the empty tomb on the Sabbath. We sang, "Jesus is Risen" (CS, 70).

Jesus Shows His Wounds: I brought a statue (like this one) of the resurrected Christ as the object for this topic. It shows the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. We talked about Mary Magdelene seeing the risen Lord outside of the tomb, and others who saw Jesus, including the people in America documented in the Book of Mormon. A few weeks ago I gave a lesson on the resurrection, so we referenced that, as well. We sang, "Did Jesus Really Live Again?" (CS, 64). 

Then I shared my testimony of all the things we had learned and shared together. We closed by singing, "He Sent His Son" (CS, 34), which I think had more meaning after talking about Easter for 45 minutes.

This sharing time lesson wasn't perfect. The kids weren't always quiet and a technical glitch prevented us from watching the video in Senior Primary. Some of the scripture excerpts were too long to read and should have been summarized (Primary children aren't Young Women... sometimes I forget to shift my expectations). But overall, I think the spirit was present enough to make an impact. All of my studying certainly prepared me to have a more meaningful Easter, and I hope that at least one child or teacher benefited from that, as well.

pass it on!

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