Monday, July 21, 2014

Maggie's Hello Kitty Party!

For Maggie's 7th Birthday party last October, she decided on a Hello Kitty theme. I was 100% on board because when I was a youngster I was pretty obsessed with the little feline as well. She is seriously cute.

I made these cute little favor bags for the guests. Inside we put a little kitty ear headband that Mags and I made and a cute pair of sunglasses with a bow on the side. We also left room for candy since Maggie wanted a pinata. Why wouldn't you want a piñata for your 7th birthday?

Speaking of piñata, here it is: 

Although it's not a complete masterpiece and wonder of the world like that {floating eye of death one}, I think it turned out fabulous. I made this one with the {cardboard method} (as opposed to the paper maché method I used before). I just cut out the shape from cardboard, tossed in the candy, taped it up, and then decorated it in the traditional way with fringed crepe paper and construction paper for the cute kitty features. This one was about an hour of work compared to the 8 hours for the Floating Eye of Death. I really enjoyed making each type of piñata, but if you're thinking of making a foray into the fabulous world of piñata making, try the cardboard. It was pretty simple. 

One of my other favorite party details was this window:  It is at the front of our house and I thought it was a great way to welcome guests. It was so cute I left it up for a few days. I was really sad to take it down--could have been a great addition to the neighborhood and a local landmark ("go east and take a right after the Hello Kitty house").

I printed out a lot of cute Hello Kitty coloring pages for guests to color when they arrived. My adorable niece Mary did an excellent job on hers.

So did Maggie and her bff Maiya.

Maggie chose chocolate cake with pink frosting. I got the sugar Hello Kitty cupcake decorations at Walmart. 

I made this banner using a cursive font that reminded me of the font used for Hello Kitty. 

This was the very first "friend party" I have ever allowed my children to have. And maybe I should have started a little smaller? We had a house (or trampoline rather) full of giggling, jumping, squeeling girls. Maggie loved every second.

Maggie requested a photo shoot. All the girls (and two younger brothers) brought out their inner model:













The Dudes

Say hello to all of these cute kitties!

After the photo shoot we went out to the garage to bust open the piñata.

Then it was time for dinner! 

We had goldfish crackers (kitties love those!), sandwiches cut out with hello kitty cookie cutters, strawberries, strawberry soda, and of course cake and ice cream.

We watched episodes of "Hello Kitty's Fairy Tale Theater" while we ate. In case you wonder, that just might be one of the dumbest shows ever made. But these kitties sure did lap it up. ha ha. 

Happy 7th birthday sweet girl. We love you and are so proud of the beautiful, smart, helpful, and hilarious girl you are.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crying about Neymar

Our family has been cheering for Brazil pretty hardcore during the World Cup this summer. Coleman in particular has been really into it. Neymar is his favorite player. He talks about Neymar. He asked Dan to give him a haircut like Neymar. He kind of wants to be Neymar.

So, when Neymar was injured, recieving a fractured vertebrae during the game against Columbia last week, Coleman took it very hard. 

Though, maybe not as hard as this poor Brazilian baby:

But pretty hard. 

Today is Coleman and Will's birthday. I've been pampering them (breakfast in bed, restaurant for lunch, skipping out on football camp, no chores, etc.) and I think its been a pretty great day. But i found Coleman crying today on the couch saying "This is the worst birthday ever."

I asked him what was up.

He looked at me with a look that said duh and cried, "Mom! Its because of Neymar."

I didn't have the heart to tell him about the Brazilian massacre at the hands of the Germans that was on TV in the next room. No birthday kid should have to deal with that.

Neymar, we love you. Get better so that kids around the world can stop crying.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jesus Said Love Everyone

I had a chat this week with Hillary, one of my best friends from growing up. She texted me wanting to have an intelligent conversation about recent events about the Mormons in the news. We talked about our understandings and opinions of things and how sad we were at the portrayal of the church in the media, and the hurt feelings and heartache on both sides of the divide. We ended our conversation with expressing our hope that Mormons could just be nicer to each other in general. Hillary said, "I think they should sing 'Jesus Said Love Everyone' at church for every song." Amen, Hill. That'd be great. Plus, its short so my kids would like that.

After I talked to Hill, I got to thinking about the presidency lesson I needed to give in Relief Society--I decided to teach about kindness.

Here is my lesson:

Our world is very diverse. Our church is diverse as well. We have members throughout the world. We speak many different languages. We have many different jobs. We believe in the same doctrine and sustain the same prophet but we also have different ideas and convictions. We belong to different political parties. We may think differently about the things we eat. We may think differently about the media we may choose to use. We raise our children differently. We think differently about what type of behaviors and manners are appropriate and acceptable.  We are just very different.

The differences we have used to really bother me. I used to wonder how it could be that all of us don’t feel the same way about ________________________ (fill in the blank). Shouldn’t we all feel the exact same way about everything in the world? We are members of the only true church--we should be the same. Or should we?

As I have pondered our differences and why they exist I have realized that Heavenly Father puts great trust in us. He directs us on the important things and has blessed us with the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, prayers, prophets, and our smart little brains to find and live the truth that we seek about things. Some things, no matter how important they may seem to us just are simply not that important in the grand scheme of things. They don’t have any eternal consequence.

What are some things that you or other people have strong opinions about that probably don’t really matter in the eternal scheme of things?
·      Breastfeeding/bottle feeding
·      Sports team loyalties
·      Comparing yourself with other’s accomplishments
·      Political parties
·      Being vegetarian

Okay, I have established that we are very different. And we are very passionate. And some of the things that we are passionate about are not eternally significant.

During the General Women’s Meeting this spring, Sister Bonnie Oscarson said:

 To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us. Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. The Lord has said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”2

The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another. He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another. You may love to exercise vigorously for an hour each day because it makes you feel so good, while I consider it to be a major athletic event if I walk up one flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator. We can still be friends, can’t we?
We as women can be particularly hard on ourselves. When we compare ourselves to one another, we will always feel inadequate or resentful of others. Sister Patricia T. Holland once said, “The point is, we simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another—or ourselves—so harshly.”3 She goes on to say that there is nothing that is worth us losing our compassion and sisterhood over. We just need to relax and rejoice in our divine differences. We need to realize that we all desire to serve in the kingdom, using our unique talents and gifts in our own ways. Then we can enjoy our sisterhood and our associations and begin to serve.
I love that! We are sisters. Raise your hand if you have a sister in your family. Raise your hand if you are exactly the same—same opinions, same problems, same accomplishments. Raise your hand if you sometimes can’t believe how different you are having been raised in the same house. Now, Raise your hand if you LOVE your sister. Sisters are the best thing. Nobody makes me laugh as hard as my sister. I joke with my sister that I have to borrow some of grandma’s depends when we get together—I laugh that hard. My sister and I don’t always agree but nothing can or will ever change the love that I feel for her or the support that I hope to be to her throughout our lives.

When we were getting together for presidency meeting a few months back, Teren texted this to Melissa, Raquel, and me:


We all agreed that we feel that way about our sibling sisters as well as about each other—sisters in the presidency and sisters in Relief Society.  As Sister Oscarson said, “There is an unbreakable bond between us... there is nothing worth us losing our compassion and sisterhood over.”
And yet I see so often on facebook and elsewhere on the internet (chiefly in non-face-to-face communication) such ugly and unkind ways of communicating. When addressing those with whom we share a difference of opinion, we often let the difference of opinion overshadow the “friend” we are communicating with. We are often disrespectful, rude, and hurtful and I think we must do it without thinking. I think it is easier to say unkind things when you are hiding behind a screen and not looking the person in the face. When I disagree with a statement made by a friend on facebook or an article or post on the internet I ask myself if I really need to state my opinion in response? And if I decided that I need to how I can do it in a loving way. 

How do you respond when a friend states an opinion that you don’t agree with?

My kindergarten teacher had a poster of Thumper the Rabbit from the movie Bambi hanging in our classroom. Does anyone remember the great quote that Thumper’s mama taught him? “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”  It is a simple thing, but one that I try to think of more often.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said:

When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” 4 He also taught that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” 5
“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?”
Love them.
“If they are obnoxious?”
Love them.
“But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?”
Love them.
The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.
Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” 
Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?

There are quite a few primary songs that go along with that same message. These are the songs that we all probably still have swimming around in the backs of our brains somewhere. My friend Hillary does and she sings them to her cute baby.

-Jesus said love everyone
-I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus
-We are Different
-Kindness Begins with Me

These songs remind me that one of the greatest lessons Christ taught was the importance of being kind.

Can I have someone read Matthew 22: 37-40?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 38 This is the first and great commandment.
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Before I go on, I want to clarify that I am not advocating that we never speak up when things are contrary to our beliefs. When others are engaging in activities or beliefs contrary to the doctrines and policies of the church we should not go along with it just so as not to be rude. However, I see the need for us to consider more carefully how we respond. This has been on my mind a lot lately.

President Hinckley said:
“Let us reach out with love and kindness to those who would revile against us. I think frequently of the words of Edwin Markham as he put them in that little verse:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

In the spirit of the Christ who advised us to turn the other cheek, let us try to overcome evil with good.” 
While I was on my mission it often helped me in my teaching to think of my own sister or brothers and imagine that the person I was teaching was actually my brother or my sister. When I would become frustrated with an investigator or wondered if my visits to a less active member made any difference to them I would think, “if this was my sister would I want missionaries to give up on her? Never.”

We are all brothers and sisters. We need to draw a circle of love around our differences.

President Hinckley told the following story:

            I have permission to tell you the story of a young man who grew up in our community. He was not a member of the Church. He and his parents were active in another faith.
He recalls that when he was growing up, some of his LDS associates belittled him, made him feel out of place, and poked fun at him.
He came to literally hate this Church and its people. He saw no good in any of them.
Then his father lost his employment and had to move. In the new location, at the age of 17, he was able to enroll in college. There, for the first time in his life, he felt the warmth of friends, one of whom, named Richard, asked him to join a club of which he was president. He writes: “For the first time in my life someone wanted me around. I didn’t know how to react, but thankfully I joined. … It was a feeling that I loved, the feeling of having a friend. I had prayed for one my whole life. And now after 17 years of waiting, God answered that prayer.”
At the age of 19 he found himself as a tent partner with Richard during their summer employment. He noticed Richard reading a book every night. He asked what he was reading. He was told that he was reading theBook of Mormon. He adds: “I quickly changed the subject and went to bed. After all, that is the book that ruined my childhood. I tried forgetting about it, but a week went by and I couldn’t sleep. Why was he reading it every night? I soon couldn’t stand the unanswered questions in my head. So one night I asked him what was so important in that book. What was in it? He handed me the book. I quickly stated that I never wanted to touch the book. I just wanted to know what was in there. He started to read where he had stopped. He read about Jesus and about an appearance in the Americas. I was shocked. I didn’t think that the Mormons believed in Jesus.”
Richard asked him to sing in a stake conference choir with him. The day came and the conference started. “Elder Gary J. Coleman from the First Quorum of the Seventy was the guest speaker. I found out during the conference that he also [was a convert]. At the end Richard proceeded to pull me by the arm up to talk to him. I finally agreed, and as I was approaching him he turned and smiled at me. I introduced myself and said that I wasn’t a member and that I had just come to sing in the choir. He smiled and said he was happy that I was there and stated that the music was great. I asked him how he knew the Church was true. He told me a short version of his testimony and asked if I had read the Book of Mormon. I said no. He promised me that the first time I read it, I would feel the Spirit.”
On a subsequent occasion this young man and his friend were traveling. Richard handed him a Book of Mormon and asked that he read it aloud. He did so, and suddenly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit touched him.
Time passed and his faith increased. He agreed to be baptized. His parents opposed him, but he went forward and was baptized a member of this Church.
His testimony continues to strengthen. Only a few weeks ago he was married to a beautiful Latter-day Saint girl for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. Elder Gary J. Coleman performed his sealing.
That is the end of the story, but there are great statements in that story. One is the sorry manner in which his young Mormon associates treated him.
Next is the manner in which his newfound friend Richard treated him. It was totally opposite from his previous experience. It led to his conversion and baptism in the face of terrible odds.
This kind of miracle can happen and will happen when there is kindness, respect, and love. Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can’t all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Does anyone have a story they could share about how kindness affected their life in a positive way?

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin shared this experience: Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years. One day, when I was in college, a man seven years my senior congratulated me on my performance in a football game. He not only praised how well I had done in the game, but he had noticed that I had showed good sportsmanship. Even though this conversation happened more than 60 years ago, and even though it’s highly unlikely the person who complimented me has any recollection of this conversation, I still remember the kind words spoken to me that day by Gordon B. Hinckley, who would later become President of the Church

I would like to close with these words of President Monsen:

Beyond comprehension, my brothers and sisters, is the love of God for us. Because of this love, He sent His Son, who loved us enough to give His life for us, that we might have eternal life. As we come to understand this incomparable gift, our hearts will be filled with love for our Eternal Father, for our Savior, and for all mankind. That such may be so is my earnest prayer in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kindergarten Boys

I taught kindergarten and my mama was a kindergarten teacher. I love kindergarten. But for some reason when it comes to being the parent of a kindergartener (or two) its a whole different ball game. I get so nervous about sending my babies to kindergarten! I know they will love it. I know its all going to be great. But letting my kids go to kindergarten just about kills me.

When I dropped Maggie off at her first day of kindergarten I cried. The next day I cried, too. And the next day. It was so traumatic to send my baby off all by herself.

But when I dropped my twin kindergarteners off to school, they hugged like this:

They had each other. And I knew that if one of them got nervous or scared or hurt or sad his brother would be there for him. 

These boys were so happy to go to kindergarten together, so I didn't cry at all.

First Grade Girl

My Maggie girl was so nervous about the start of school this year. In fact, she ended up crying and tantruming every day when I would drop her off. After a few weeks she was feeling more confident and less nervous. And I was learning some strategies to help her relax.

After a few rough weeks of anxiety Maggie settled in to a great year in Mrs. Herzog's class!

I love my first grade girl!

Back to School Dinner

Taking a cue from my friend {Erica}, we were inspired to have a back to school dinner to kick off the new school year and having three (3!!!?) kids in school. 

Our theme for the school year is "Let's Rock." One of our favorite movies is "School of Rock" and I really love the handshake that Dewey Finn teaches to Lawrence. At the end he says "let's rock, let's rock, today" while he dances his fingers across Lawrence's hand.  Makes me cry its so inspirational. Just kidding. Not exactly inspiring but it definitely gets you pumped up to go out and stick it to the man! 

I'm so nervous/excited about the school year and to have a first grader and two kindergarteners. I can't believe that my babies are growing up. But let's be honest, they're gonna rock at school.

 Love my kids.


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