Friday, August 29, 2008

Shelli's Amazing Feat!

Is this not true? As women, we have a tendency to put others before ourselves. Nowhere is this more evident than in our bedrooms! Since this is the last place people see, this is the last place that gets our attention. Wrong thinking! The bedroom should be our little paradise.

So, with that in mind, I dedicated my first back to school week to my bedroom. It only took me three days of less than an hour of work each day. What heavenly results!

Click to play Shelli's Amazing Feat
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Daughters of God

What a great Relief Society lesson I had on Sunday! What a great and welcome topic! To begin with, I challenged all the moms, especially those with young children, to have their HUSBANDS teach this talk for Family Home Evening: Daughters of God, Elder M. Russel Ballard, May 2008 Ensign.

I recently read about a survey that said that childless couples were 6% more happy and satisfied with their lives than couples with children. Hmmm. I imagine the pollster first calling the childless wife at home about 6 pm. She left work about an hour ago. She is getting ready to spontaneously go out to dinner with her husband to celebrate the raise she just got at work. Apparently, the project she just finished was really appreciated by her boss. The house, of course, is neat and tidy, because there was no one to mess it up while she was gone -- and her husband already picked his clothes up off the floor this morning. She responds positively to the pollster.

The next pollster again calls at 6 pm, and this time he gets this: Just Leave Me to My Hormonal Rage!

Being a mom is hard! Elder Ballard says, "We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother’s emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives."

He then goes on to offer several things that we can do, as young mothers, to reduce the pressure and enjoy our families more. "First, recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction."

Take a moment to think about some of those shining moments. I remember about two years ago, Rom took Gavin (who was about 4) with him to buy me See's candies for Mother's Day. He told Gavin it was a surprise. Later, when I was in the car with them, Gavin started to say, "We bought you some choc --" Rom cut him off, "Whoa, buddy, that's a surprise!" Gavine then said, "Yeah, it's a surprise ... but it's not chocolate!" Nice save, Gavin!

If you're having a hard time calling to mind those joyful moments, then it is time you start looking harder for them. This is especially important for those of your children who may be going through one of those "difficult" stages. Find the joy in each child.

"Second, don’t overschedule yourselves or your children. Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together." Overscheduling also makes it difficult to find the moments of joy.

"Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it."

We had the best discussion about this! I appreciate the warnings. If you are tempted towards substance abuse, then you are trying to be superwoman, and that is impossible! It's time to lower your expectations and start saying no! If you spend a lot of time on the Internet (like I often do), that could be a signal that you are not getting the "me time" and enriching activities that you crave. As you add meaningful activities to your life, you will naturally find yourself less immersed on the computer.

Some sisters mentioned the guilt they feel when they take time for themselves. Here is a prophet of God telling you that not only is it OK to take care of yourself, but it is essential! I love my book club. I love indulging in my passion, reading. I love discovering new and interesting books that I normally would never read, because someone else recommended it. I love the mentally stimulating discussions we have afterwards. I especially love the friendship, love, and admiration I feel towards these women. Again, as Elder Ballard says, "Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it." No guilt allowed!

"Fourth, pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, 'We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.'"

I would add a fifth suggestion. Don't compare yourself to others! Elder Ballard says, "There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family."

There are sacred moments you have when you are alone, holding your newborn in your arms. I remember one moment when Romney was born. I was alone, holding this little one fresh from the arms of his Father in Heaven. The impression came to me from the Spirit, very distinctly, that Romney needed exactly me to help him back to his Father. No one else could do it; no one else would love him quite the way I do; I was here especially for him.

I believe that children are given to us, not in spite of our weaknesses and faults, but because of them. They need us, complete with strengths, talents, weaknesses, and faults, to help them get back home to Heavenly Father.

I would like to see another survey done. I would like to have the pollsters follow up with those couples twenty years from now. I think they would get a much different answer.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Me, Anneli!

Just to let everyone know that doesn't know I made a blog now you know! If you want to see it(it's not as exciting as this one of course but I made like four posts today!) go to because it's so awesome! If you're not looking at my blog you're missing out! Please look at it! I had no idea what to name this title!

An Epic Milestone - A Quiet Day

I have been hearing jealous whisperings from many of you who still have babies at home, wanting to know how my day went yesterday, wanting perhaps to live the moment vicariously -- so, here in all its juicy detail, was my wonderful, fabulous, fantastic day!

I woke up to a whirlwind of activity as six excited and nervous kids got ready for school. Kyara drove herself and Romney to school. I took Gabe and Gavin to make sure they found their classes OK. Rom took Johnette and Ana to school on his way to work.

So, at 8:30 a.m., I had the house all to myself! I immediately took a vow of silence -- no TV, no music, no sound effects on the computer -- just quiet all around me! Let me pause for a minute to remember the feeling: ahhhhh. OK, I'm ready to continue. I started my morning with yoga, spending extra time on the corpse pose. Again: ahhhhhh. I took a quick shower, read my scriptures, and said my prayers, completely uninterrupted!

I threw a load of laundry in the washer on my way downstairs, feeling very proud of myself for this domestic accomplishment. I then got on the computer, read my blogs and e-mails, checked out some news headlines, and did my daily crossword puzzle.

I now confess that I played a computer game for two hours! Yes, that's right, I am revealing my guilty pleasure. It's a secret shared by myself and a few other women in the ward, but we like to play World of Warcraft. Completely mindless entertainment. Once again: ahhhhh.

I ate my lunch, swapped out the laundry, felt a little bored. Boredom is so underrated! I got a wild hair and decided it was time to return my bedroom to its original paradisaical glory. Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't going to ruin my day with a cleaning frenzy! Nope, I just cleared out the area around my nook, rinsed out my fountain for the first time in months, and cleaned the little table it sits on. I then sat in my chair and ate some See's candies. One last time: ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

So, was I sad? Nah, I did that last year when Gavin entered kindergarten. This was just pure bliss! Ladies, pay your dues, enjoy your babies while you can, but in the back of your mind, remember -- you have this to look forward to!

CBEST - or at least CNOT-SO-BAD

As many of you know, I took the CBEST (California Board of Education Standards Test, I think) a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I got my test scores back, and I passed! There are three parts to the test -- reading, math, and writing. They score you from 1-80 on each section. A score of 41 is passing per section, or a total of 123 (although, my question is, who are those people, and why do we want them to teach our children?). I passed all three sections, and my overall score was 198 -- not bad!

So, what does that mean? It means that I can now go down and apply at the district to be a substitute teacher! Substitute teaching is very flexible -- I can choose when and where I want to work. Also, it will give me a taste for teaching and let me decide if this is something I may want to do on a more permanent basis.

Now, for those of you who think I'm crazy, because after 17 years of kids, kids, kids, I finally have the house all to myself, so why would I mess with a good thing -- the district's hiring process is a little lengthy. Maybe by the time I'm cleared, I'll be a little stir crazy and ready to get out a little more. And if I hate it, I never have to go back!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Survivng the First Day of School

Well, it was a little too hectic to get pictures taken before school this morning, so I took pictures after they got home.
Poor Kyara! According to her, she had the worst first day of school ever! That's saying a lot, since last year she got her finger caught in the car door as she was just getting to school. She doesn't know hardly anyone in any of her classes, and she didn't have anyone to eat lunch with -- she drove to Del Taco by herself. Walking from math class, she was caught in a wall of torrential rain. She got soaked clear through to her brand new Vans. In the parking lot, she set her notebook on top of the car while she fumbled for her keys ... and forgot it there! When it dawned on her what had happened, she went back to search for it. She found it, but all her work for the day was soaked, and the ink bled through the pages. She had just enough time to come home and change before heading off to work. The bright side -- she's dropping her math class, so her school day will end at lunch time. Also, her classes are pretty easy, except for her AP Language Arts, but that's her best subject, so she'll do fine! It can only get better from here!

Romney, on the other hand, had a very good day. Was it that his teachers promise to be fairly interesting? Was it that he has lots of friends in all his classes? Was it that he had a lot of friends to choose to sit with at lunch? Was it that he spent most of the day in the halls "getting his books" and didn't have to do any schoolwork all day? Was it that he passed a lot of his water polo friends in the hall? All true, but no, that's not why it was such a good day. In Rom's words, "The chicks at Hemet High are HOT!" Ah, priorities!

Johnette and Anneli's day was mixed. Johnette looked particularly hot and styling (even the shoes were fab)! She has some good friends in her classes, she has good teachers, and she had plenty of friends to eat lunch with. It was pretty crowded at lunch time, though, so she barely had time to eat. Overall, not too bad. Anneli thought the day was rather boring, and she missed her old elementary school. However, lots of people kept coming up to her and asking, "You're Johnette's sister, aren't you? You look just like her?" So, by the end of the day, her friends were saying, "Boy, you're already popular!" Nice to know your sister has your back!

The best day, however, was had by Gabriel and Gavin! Gavin's teacher, Mr. Feigum, was very funny. And, apparently, he's "magical" -- a good skill to have when entertaining first graders. Gavin sits next to a little girl named Princess. She was the topic of much speculation before school. Alas, after meeting her, Gavin said she was neither beautiful or nice, like a Princess should be. Although Gavin doesn't know very many kids in his class, he does have a few friends, and he sees more of his friends during recess. It was especially nice to see his best friend, Timothy, on the playground, since they're not in the same class.

Gabriel had a great day, too! He had tons of old friends in his class; in fact there were only two people he didn't know, Destiny and Hunter. Hunter was new to the school, so Gabe made him his friend. Gabe is ready to get down to business. He brought me home a registration packet to fill out. There were a few areas he had to sign as well, so he got started in the car. He is a very responsible boy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Defeated Before We Start!

Well, we've had a fantastic "puzzlemania" summer! We've finished nine out of ten of our nature puzzles. The kids were great -- they helped me out when I got stuck, got me over the hurdles, and put on the finishing touches. It was really fun! We now have just one puzzle left. It's a herd of zebras. Nothing but black and white stripes. Hmmm... anyone think we can do it?

Click to play Puzzlemania!
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52 Weeks Blessing

A final ode to summer -- I am thankful for starry summer nights! Whether I'm out late running errands or taking a walk with Rom, I love the feel of summer nights! It cools down to the perfect temperature, which feels so good after the day's heat. I love the stars shining down on us. It has such a calm, peaceful feel. Summer nights embody the laziness of summer for me. (This is a picture of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Perfect, I thought!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Endless Summer

This was our last day at the beach! Well, we are going to try to squeeze in one more Saturday after school starts. It was such a nice day! The weather was gorgeous, but the water was a little cold. The tide was coming in, but the waves weren't too choppy. The kids played and played!

Gabe came up with a game called "Castle Wars." He created a castle complete with guards and fortress and an invisible force field. Rom then had to create his own castle with whatever materials he could find (he didn't know about the invisible force field, though!). They then proceeded to war with various attacks, moves and defenses. I think Dani can relate to this with JR -- Gabe is very creative, pretty dang smart, and he comes up with a rather complicated set of rules. Rom would try to keep up creatively, but it often just earned him a disgusted shake of the head from Gabe. Rom tried to claim victory, but Gabe said he was the one who "powned" his dad. The other kids all joined in, just for fun, and just because Rom was in on it. I, who had been cornered last week, chose to sit it out.

We love the beach! I think it is our family's favorite place in the world. We are so blessed to be able to enjoy it as much as we do!

Click to play Endless Summer
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Pageant of the Masters

Last week, Mom and Dad invited me and Rom to come with them to the Pageant of the Masters. I had been to the pageant in Utah before, but I had never been to the one in Laguna Beach. It was fantastic! The art was beautiful and the commentary was fun and entertaining. It's amazing how the actors can recreate works of art so close to the original. I loved the section on art from Paris. Rom's favorite was the fountain (the women were topless), but there was something for the ladies as well (Apollo was wearing barely a diaper!). I'm just kidding -- we didn't know the women were topless until Kristi pointed it out (a little too late for Rom, sadly). It was lots of fun, though, and I'm glad Mom and Dad invited us. As a bonus, it was the only time we were able to see Kristi and Aaron the whole time they were down! We'll have to do better next year.

Quality #5 - Happiness

From Suze Orman's Women and Money.

Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.

When you find the courage to live your life in harmony and balance, when you understand and practice generosity in the truest sense, happiness spontaneously appears. You are open and accessible; you tend to be more optimistic. You approach new challenges with a clear mind that seeks positive solutions. You see possibilities rather than problems.

If you are not happy, then I would ask you to try to find the place in your life where there is discord and not harmony. Then, find the courage to change.

This is such a good exercise! As women, and especially as moms, we sometimes get pulled in a million different directions and we get caught up in pleasing the ones we love. Sometimes we lose ourselves in all the mayhem. It is wonderful to sit down in a quiet place, write down your feelings, and discover where you're out of balance. Just being armed with clarity brings a sense of peace and direction.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back to School Ruins Summer!

My kids go back to school on August 25th. I know, those of you already back in school must think I shouldn't complain, but I hate back to school! I'm so stressed out! I've got six stacks of forms to fill out, Romney's sports physical to do, four sets of registration to attend, hair cuts for everyone, school clothes to buy, backpacks to go through and replenish, a field trip and play to University of Redlands with Kyara, and a meet and greet for the boys. And all I want to do is lounge by the pool, work on our puzzles, and squeeze in one more day at the beach.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Watch The Roads!

Kyara got her driver's license! Everything went very smoothly. We arrived in Riverside a little before her appointment time, so she drove around to familiarize herself with the area and the speed limits. There was no waiting at the DMV (gasp! did I read that right? yes, you did!). Her instructor was pleasant and helped to put her at ease. She zipped through the test and was back in about 10 minutes. Her instructor said it was a good ride -- she had made only four minor mistakes (you can get up to 15 minor and 3 major mistakes), and she passed! Of course, blogger mom was ready to capture the moment!Kyara and her instructor before the test.

Kyara with her test results. Doesn't she have a fantastic smile?

Kyara with her actual interim license! Bonus -- I caught her infamous eye-roll!

Congratulations, sweetheart!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Y'All Need to Lighten Up!

OK, I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, and we are all stressing out! For good reason, I know -- life seems to be piling on right now, dang it! So, I stole this from my friend Ryan's blog. You know you need this! Enjoy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grand Re-Opening

All right, all you family and friends that were starting to worry about our little venture... We can all breathe a little easier! Rom and I have finally re-opened Sleep Prozz at our new location! Wahoo! We have moved to a new building right on Florida Ave (Hemet's "main drag"), across from Mimi's Cafe. There is a lot of new development going on all around us. There's also a lot of traffic, and we are highly visible. So, do you think moving did any good? Well, let me tell you! Our first weekend open, we did almost as much business as we had done the full three and a half months at our old place. We're off to a great start, and we're only going to get better!

Click to play Grand Re-Opening
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A Bad Day at the Beach

It was a little overcast. The air temperature was already cool, but with a constant breeze, it was downright chilly. The tide was coming in, so the waves were choppy and increasingly mean. The water looked a little nasty -- brown and frothy, you had to wonder where that came from! Definitely a bad day at the beach! So, do you think I heard a single complaint? Do you think anyone whined that they wanted to go home? OF COURSE NOT! Shivering and blue, I still had to drag them out of the water as the sun was going down. Because a bad day at the beach is still better than a good day anywhere else!

Click to play A Bad Day at the Beach
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ana's Birthday

Anneli celebrated her 11th birthday Sunday July 27th. She chose taco salad for dinner, and the missionaries joined us for dinner. She had frosted brownies instead of cake and chose mint chocolate chip ice cream to go with it. For her birthday, I had found the perfect gift for Ana -- it was a video game that let you create your own fashions, show them in fashion shows, sell them, and become a fashion mogul. I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up as a fashion designer! I'm so glad she's now 11, because I get another babysitter! I'm so glad Anneli chose our family to be a part of! She is passionate, loving, and fun. I would hate to imagine life without her!
Check her blog for more:

Dance Festival

This summer, I made Kyara, Romney, and Johnette participate in the dance festival in Redlands. Kyara was especially reluctant -- she hates dancing, and all of her friends had gotten out of it. The practices were often grueling, and the adults involved weren't always very organized and sometimes complained more than the kids. However, our ward had wonderful adult helpers, some even without any kids participating. Kyara's partner was fun, even though he was as shy as she is initially. Romney was hitting on chicks the entire time. Johnette is Johnette and approached it with her usual exuberance! The night of their first performance went off spectacularly! They did a great job, they had loads of fun, and it looked fantastic. On the ride home, I asked, "Who is glad their mom made them do the dance festival?" All three voices answered, "Me!" I am so glad they had this once in a lifetime opportunity!

52 Weeks Blessing

Ahhh, the best part of my day! Yesterday, I was shopping at Target, and guess what caught my eye? That luring little black and white sign that says "See's Candies." I had to treat myself. I congratulated myself at the time on my restraint -- I only chose eight of my favorite pieces. Now, with only two left, I am cursing my self-control! I need another buttercream! I'm blaming it on the Jenny Craig shop right next door.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Faith of Our Father

This is from my Relief Society lesson on Sunday. It was taken from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk, "Faith of Our Father." All the quotes are from him, unless otherwise noted.

"I marvel at the different backgrounds of members of the Church. You come from all walks of life—all cultures, languages, political circumstances, and religious traditions. This multiplicity of life experiences has caused me to reflect on the message of one of our hymns, 'Faith of Our Fathers.'”

For many people, this brings to mind their pioneer heritage. Rom's family has pioneer stock on both sides. I think about the Hansen family, newly converted in Denmark in the 1860s, obeying the prophet's call to come to Zion. They sold all that they had, boarded the boat, and began the trek to Utah. Along the way, one by one, they lost each of their four children, including the newborn baby born on the trail. I hope that I could have the faith to sacrifice everything for the sake of what I believed.

For others, this brings to mind a heritage of another faith. I love Mom's description of her father that she shared on Father's Day. "My father never had the opportunity of hearing the gospel message. He died at the age of 42. But the legacy he left was passed on to my husband, and then to my sons and sons-in-law. He loved his children. He loved his wife. He was honest in his dealings. He shunned filth in its every form. He served others. His family was his first priority. My life has been greatly blessed because I am the wife, daughter, and mother of great fathers."

"We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fullness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father."

So, what then is the "faith of our fathers?" Is it the religion we are born into?

"But what of the faith of the ancient ones before them? What of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Are they not our fathers? Are we not of the house of Israel? What of Noah and Enoch and our first parents, Adam and Eve?

"What of the Savior and those disciples who followed Him?

"The faith of our Father in Heaven has been consistent since the beginning of time, even from before the foundation of this world.

"As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, 'we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.' And 'we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.' We believe in the great plan of happiness, the plan of redemption, the plan of salvation, whereby God’s children may experience mortality and return to the presence of the Father—a merciful plan established from before the foundation of this earth.

"This is the plan and the faith of our Father!"

The faith of our Father embraces everything that blesses us in this life and brings us back home to Him. So, in reading through this talk, I finally came to the realization that this is in actuality a missionary lesson! And maybe, it can help people understand the purpose behind our missionary activities.

"Our Heavenly Father loves His children. He hears the prayers of the humble and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments. We joyously proclaim that the faith of our Father is on the earth today.

"We invite everyone on this beautiful planet to taste of His doctrine and see if it is not sweet and good and precious. We ask those of sincere heart to learn of this doctrine and ask their Father in Heaven if it is not true. And by doing so, all can discover, embrace, and walk in the true faith of their Father, which faith will make them whole.

"That is our message to the world."