Monday, January 28, 2008

President Gordon B. Hinckley 1910-2008


Even though I know that President Hinckley is happily reunited with his beloved wife, Marjorie, I can’t help but miss him. He passed away last night on Sunday, January 27th about 7:00pm.
He has been the prophet since 1995 and so it feels like it has been for most of my life. I still remember standing in my parent’s home and sustaining him while we watched a general conference session when he was sustained as prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I loved President Hinckley because he was good to the core. I can only imagine the happiness he must be feeling as he meets our Savior Jesus Christ. I know it will be a glorious meeting because President Hinckley was one of the most Christlike people I’ve known.
I remember many things about our dear prophet. I remember his voice and when I read any of his many sermons, I can often hear his voice. I remember how he smiled and encouraged laughter. I especially remember when he encouraged all of us to be a little kinder and a little better. He was always so loving of everyone, no matter what faith they belonged to. I am so happy to be a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so glad that our church is led by a prophet and organized as Christ organized His church when He was on the earth. I am so grateful to have the peace the gospel brings to my life, the direction and the comfort it provides in times of trials. I can’t imagine my life without the gospel and the example of so many great leaders, such as President Hinckley. I will miss our prophet but I can honor his memory by trying my best to live those gospel principles he exemplified so well.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This is why mother says to pick up your toys!

I am a slow typist today and a little sad about it because I was hoping to get caught up on some projects.
Yesterday I went downstairs to get a bottle of applesauce and when I came back upstairs I stepped on a miniature My Little Pony. I think those things really are magical. I didn’t even see it. It must’ve jumped right under my foot! I had my tennis shoes on and so it really sent me off kilter. I went flying forward and tried to catch myself without breaking the bottle of applesauce but my momentum was too great. I ran into the chair, the wall, and landed on the extremely hard, unyielding tile floor. PAIN! My right thumb felt like it had been pulled off and my knee was throbbing, not to mention the rest of my body. But I didn’t break the bottle of applesauce, (which actually still hit the floor kind of hard.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve been hurt bad enough to cry, but I did and my four-year old was pretty worried to see her mommy crying. She didn’t know what to do for sure. On my way through my tremendous fall, I had also kicked a garbage can over which I was planning on taking downstairs later. Gracie looked at me and said, “Well you should’ve put the garbage can away.”
I think I can almost laugh about that now, but since it was her pony I tripped over and was in great pain because of her toy, it didn’t go over real well at the time. After I calmed down, we had a little talk about what you should do when someone gets hurt. Even if you’re scared you should check on them and say, “Are you okay?”
I am okay. I iced my thumb and my knee. I have a big bruise on my knee and I had to eat left handed and it doesn’t really feel good to type, but I’m a writer so I needed to vent a little at this whole situation which has delayed my writing projects.
So if it would have been you, would you have just dropped the applesauce and caught yourself? One thing’s for certain, I’ll never look at a My Little Pony the same way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Invisible Mother


My mom just sent this wonderful story to me and she said she wanted me to read it because I am the mother of her and my dad's grandchildren. I loved it! This is a picture of my mom a few years ago. Isn't she beautiful?My mom is beautiful to me because she has made me who I am. I love you Mom!

Invisible Mother...... .

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Cha rlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

A t times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!
Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know.
The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Ideal Day

Just the other day I turned 30 years old and that seems like a really big number to me! I was pretty excited for my birthday because my husband always treats me like a queen. Lots of my family called the day of and the next day to wish me happy birthday and ask me how my day went. They wanted to know what I did on my special day. The question made me realize how lucky I am and how blessed I am because almost every day is my ideal day.
I love being home and I love being a stay-at-home mom of my two sweet daughters. My sister likes to tease me and calls me a hermit, but I’m proud to say she’s not far from the mark. I’m happiest when I can be home.
Here’s what I like to do on my ideal day. I like to wake up before my girls and have prayer/scripture study time. Then I like to exercise, usually doing power yoga or running on my treadmill in the winter and outside in the warm weather. Sometimes my children join me during the workout when they wake up. The funniest thing is when they try to do yoga poses with me. I wish I was that flexible!
After that a shower is great, but if they’re up, breakfast for the urchins must come first.
Then the rest of my morning is usually spent playing/taking care of the kids and working on my Story Time Felts business by making phone calls and taking orders etc. I also usually have some work to do for Relief Society as I am the counselor over enrichment. I take turns taking Gracie to pre-school and also teach her pre-school every few weeks (we do a type of joy school).
Not too much excitement the rest of the day, maybe a few errands to run, lunch and then….Naptime! During naptime I love to take a few minutes to read a book and then work on my writing. I also love to take a 15 minute power nap which is my saving grace. I enjoy cooking and I like to make homemade bread, and home-cooked meals. I love being at home and listening to some beautiful music and just noticing all the wonders of my children as they grow.
Sometimes I do complain or get frustrated with kids, work, housework, etc. and sometimes my day just doesn't go as planned, you can look at my post about house cleaning for a perfect example, but that’s what’s birthdays are for—my husband took me out to dinner and a movie and it was nice to talk without being interrupted.
But as I answered the question of what I did on my special day it really hit home that this is where I want to be, enjoying the simple aspects of life with my family.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My New Story

I am very excited to announce the first story of a set of 12 that I am writing for Story Time Felts! I'm thrilled about this project and I even was able to have a hand in choosing the illustrators! They are darling and I hope you like them. Each story will be printed and include some kind of learning extensions for the story. For January a goal sheet will be included. The figures are printed on our beautiful felt so that children can interact with the story.
Here's a little blurb about the January story.


2008 Hostess Exclusives!
This year we have original stories and artwork centered around a different value each month. Your children will love the adventures that our little creatures go on and what they will learn. The stories are written by Rachelle Christensen and the illustrations are by Jenni and Heber Sheffield.
Here is a preview of January’s story




Ant’s Happy New Year
By Rachelle J. Christensen
Ant was bored and getting tired of being in his small room at the end of the tunnel. He crawled out to the main tunnel and found his mom.
“Now that Christmas is over there’s nothing to do. It’s just winter. Nothing happens in January,” said Ant.
“That’s not true!” Mother Ant said. “Don’t you know that January is one of the year’s most important months?”
“Why? There’s nothing special about January.”
Mother Ant looked at him and smiled. “But there is—January is the start of the New Year.
“Why does that make it special?”
“Because we set goals in January.”
“What are goals?” asked Ant.
“A goal is something you are trying to achieve or do.” Mother Ant said. “You could have a goal to keep your room clean for an entire week. We can make a chart. Each day we can mark off if you keep your room clean on the chart. At the end of the week, if you marked off every space, you achieved your goal.”
“That doesn’t sound so special,” Ant said....

That's all you get to see right now. Let me know if you're interested in hearing the rest of the story.
I'm really enjoying this and already have February's story off and March's will soon be on its way!
See more Story Time Felts here

Friday, January 11, 2008

Feeding the Birds


I took a picture this morning of one of our 3 bird feeders. I started feeding the birds last summer when there were some tiny baby finches born in our neighbor's tree. It was so fun to watch them during the summer. I have continued to feed them and been amazed that they have hung around through the winter.


About a month ago, I ran out of bird feed and couldn't find any--Finches like thistle seed. Finally, this week I found some and I was so excited!
My family and I watched as the black-capped chickadees came quickly to eat and I hoped that the finches would return. Yesterday I looked out and saw their tiny yellow bellies and I was so excited! I clapped my hands and squealed to my daughters, "Our birds are back!" Gracie looked out the window and said, "Okay mom, you don't have to be so excited." She is four, what am I going to do when she's ten?

Our kitchen/dining area is situated so we can look out our sliding patio door onto the back yard and we like to watch the birds while we're eating. I like to watch them while I'm in the kitchen making cooking messes and then my husband can watch them while he does the dishes for me. Did I mention that I love my husband?

Anyway, the next few pictures are of our clever little kitten.


Patches climbs up into the tree on a regular basis and tries to catch the birds. Don't worry bird-lovers, she hasn't caught any yet!



It is so hilarious to watch her and our other cat try to hunt the birds. Our other cat is a tomcat and he's way to fat to climb around on skinny apple tree branches, so he tries to maneuver through the snow and pounce.


I bought my parents a mesh bird-feeding bag and then my dad built a little tray feeder and they enjoy feeding the birds too. My dad calls it the welfare farm and since their "farm" cats are more adept at hunting some of their birds have fallen to the crafty felines. When my dad told me that and I said, "Oh dear!" He said that's the price they pay for free food.




So if you've ever thought about bird-watching or feeding the birds, I encourage you to try it. For only about thirty dollars, you can pick up two different kinds of feeders and a big bag of seed. We have several varieties and I'm not an expert but I can identify a few of them. Yellow-bellied finches, black-capped chickadees, woodpeckers, and if I had better retention from my bird-watching/discovering nature course I took in college I could tell you the rest of them.


Hope you enjoy the pictures, it's fun to have something to brighten up the dreary winter scene!

Monday, January 7, 2008

BIAM Challenge

I’m taking part in Tristi Pinkston’s book in a month challenge! I’m excited because I love to start off January really working hard on my goals. I’ve already written up a page of writing goals and I’m excited about the progress I’m going to make this year.
For my book in a month, my goals will be a little different than some of the other writers in the challenge. Instead of focusing on word count, I will be focusing on finishing my nonfiction book. I have been working on this book for what feels like FOREVER, but really it’s only been about a year!
My nonfiction book is on miscarriages and how LDS women can cope with this experience. I’ve felt very strongly about writing this book and completed a ton of leg work by researching, sending out surveys, reading tons of other books, and more. I am so close to finishing the first full draft that I can taste it and so I’m entering the BIAM challenge to keep my fingers moving and get it finished and start submitting my first three chapters to publishers.
Wish me luck! I’ll need it because this is a very specific book so I've got to work hard to convince a publisher that it is needed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It's Cleaning Time!

Ahem, Ahem. I am clearing my throat and rejoining the land of the living. My girls and I have had the most awful cold bug that has been going around. My husband somehow escaped its nasty clutches and has had to listen to us all cough our lungs out for the last few weeks (we’ve been taking turns you see). So I am sick and tired of coughing and decided that today we were all going to be better and clean the bugs out of the house.

I decided I needed to disinfect every surface in our home and started in the bathroom. My four year old, Gracie, helped me for a little while to disinfect door knobs. She had a rag and a bottle of lemon spray and wiped several door knobs before she was distracted by her dollies and began playing house. I didn’t mind this because then she kept her two year old sister, Maggie, entertained as they both played dolls together.

Of course when I moved on to the next bathroom and noticed that they had pulled blankets into my closet with their dolls to play, I thought—How cute! And then I saw that they had pulled all of my husband’s ties off his tie rack into a big pile on the floor.

After I finished the second bathroom it was time for the hobbit’s second breakfast, so I whipped up some Spaghetti-O’s and Maggie had to have her standard yogurt too. They were happily eating so I headed downstairs for the third bathroom.

I’m grateful for good hearing and a sense of interpretation so when a few minutes later I heard a kerplop and Gracie saying, “Oh no, Mom! Look what Maggie did.” I knew that either the yogurt or Spaghetti-O’s were splattered across the kitchen floor. I grabbed an extra rag because I knew that these substances both have the same splatter/projectile rating and headed back upstairs.

Not only had the yogurt splattered on the floor but it had also made a wonderful pattern up the wall and the patio door as well. While I finished cleaning up that mess, Maggie very nicely dumped out the totes of toys in her room.

After I finished with the bathrooms I had the task of changing all the bedding. By the time I got the stupid crib sheets changed I was sweating. Why does the smallest bed have to be the hardest to make? Do you know what a pain it is to move those bumper pads back and forth and shove that little mattress in and out of the crib?

Well, the beds got made just in time for my children to pull all the cushions off the couches and create some imaginary island walkway. I’m glad they are having fun and it’s almost nap time, for one of them at least.

Anyway, my house is somewhat cleaner if you don’t count all the messes that were being made while I was cleaning…

I used to own a cleaning business where I cleaned seven houses every week and also cleaned hundreds of apartments with a crew after the college students moved out. If that’s not enough experience, I grew up with the “white-glove test” mother of all cleaning so I know what clean is. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that my ideas of cleaning are very different from my two and four year old’s ideas.
Look me up in ten years Martha Stewart.

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