Sunday, April 10, 2016

Easter 2016

I have been blessed in the last year by many experiences that are spiritual in nature.  My faith in God and His miracles has grown as the voice of His Spirit has testified to me.  I know better than before of the reality of an unseen world and the love that reaches out to me from that place.

Because of that growth, Easter held extra meaning for me this year.  Christ's triumph is real to me--and so is the hope I felt this season.  Hallelujah.

Our family's celebrations this year included:

1. Soren and I kicked off the season by watching the world's largest virtual Hallelujah chorus, a project
produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That was an amazing way to get into the celebratory spirit.

2. This was our first Easter in our own home.  We set up the Easter table in the dining room.  This is one of my favorite traditions: we decorate a table with symbols that remind us of Christ and keep a candle burning there in the week before Easter.  On Good Friday, we use a red candle instead of a white one and let it burn out.  On Holy Saturday, the candlestick is empty.  But it is relit on Easter morning, to remind us that the light of the world lives again.  This small corner of our house dedicated to remembering the Savior really helps us all to focus on His reality and His relationship with us.

3. Thursday evening we had our Passover dinner.  The missionaries came and we brought the Easter candle to the dining room table.  I made flatbread, as usual, but also bought some pre-cooked lamb slices that we could wrap in it.  So the dinner was more like a feast than usual.  The older kids remembered the bitter herbs from previous years, which was neat.  I like that they are starting to make connections from year to year.  Eating bitter herbs is one tradition that never fails to provoke discussion--why make a tradition of eating something unpleasant?  The reason is because it helps us to remember the bitterness of bondage or in other words, the bitterness of sin and death.

4. The weekend was a time of preparation.  The boys dyed eggs and I made Easter bread.  I filled the Easter baskets (with new underwear, socks, and chocolate bunnies) and the plastic eggs (with lots of jelly beans).  Even with electric lights, we noticed that our Easter candle was not burning.  After having the energy of real flame in a room all week, you notice when it is gone.

5. The night before Easter was also the Women's session of General Conference.  It was an inspiring conference that focused on ministering to refuges.  I especially loved Sister Marriot's talk called "What Shall We Do?"  In it, she encouraged the women of the church to create a safe place where everyone can belong.  She said that love means making space in your life for someone else.  I felt reminded that night, as I was preparing to symbolically receive the risen Lord the next morning, that Christ calls me to receive Him by serving those He loves.  "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

6.  Carl was very excited about Easter this year.  He couldn't wait for the big day.  So his excitement on Easter morning was very gratifying.  No one was more pleased with a breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and a basket with new (LEGO movie) underwear than him.  But Sven did make a close second; he liked the letters on his underwear.

7. My mom left Easter treats for everyone at our house the last time she visited.  Breaking into all those goodies was a fun part of the day--especially for Scott and I.

8. I played the harp in church.  At the request of Bishop Sands, I played "I Wonder When He Comes Again", one of my favorite primary songs.  Unfortunately, we were in a big hurry that morning and I didn't get to church early enough to tune.  So I had to tune quickly in the middle of the meeting, which took about 2 minutes.  I have never tuned with such a large and quiet audience before.  It was unnerving.  I hope the music was worth it in the end.

9. Carl invited Daniel and Amber Long to join our family for the Easter egg hunt after naptime.  It was a little rainy, but not bad enough to drive us indoors.  There were lots of eggs and I stuffed them more than usual, thinking that the teenagers would want to participate.  But they only helped, which I was very grateful for.  Maddy and Carl were a little competitive but Soren got the most eggs.  Sven and Leif were quickly satisfied with just a few eggs--but Daniel and Amber kept encouraging them to go back out and get more.  Afterwards, we went inside and the kids poured candy all over the floor.

10. The Longs stayed for dinner.  They brought a grapefruit punch that was the perfect addition to the meal.  Usually our ham and cheesy potatoes are way to heavy.  I also made a strawberry and spinach salad that helped.  We used our china and silver, which made it feel special.

11. Soren taught a Family Home Evening lesson about the resurrection the day after Easter.  He made his own visual aids: little cut-outs of the people and places involved in the story.
 I was very proud of his clear and correct teachings.

12. I should also mention that the bin with our Easter decorations stayed in the living room for a few days while I gathered things up.  The boys played "Easter egg hunt" several times and it was a big job gathering all the eggs together again.  But the biggest mess happened when Sven got ahold of the Easter grass.  He spread two bags of it all over the living room floor.  Thanks, Sven.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sven Speaks

I am sitting outside the door of Sven's room, listening to him play with duplos.  He has three little duplo people, two boys and a girl, that he has decided are a family.  I can hear him playing with them, making them talk and driving their little car across his hardwood floor.  Here are some of the things he is saying:

"Mom and Dad are getting married!"

"Dad is taking us to the temple.  Where is the temple?"  (He says this in a higher voice.  I guess the "Mom" is talking.)

"It's too far away."  (This voice is deeper.  Must be the "Dad".)

"Hooray!  It's general conference temple!"  (Now his voice is normal.  Does that mean this is the kid?)

"Beep, beep."  (That must be the car.)

"I'm making a ham and cheese sandwich."  (Then all the duplos get dumped out.)

And my personal favorite: "Carolyn, you can call me Scott."  (How romantic.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Best Things about Leif (at 15 months)

1. How he sits on my lap to listen to a board book.  He likes to turn the pages.
2. He also likes to "read" to himself.  His babbling noises are charming.
3. The way he puts his head on my shoulder when he is tired.
4. How ticklish he is.
5. That he can come down the stairs safely all by himself.
6. How pleased he looks when he is wearing Daddy's glasses.
7. That he has learned not to play with the chess pieces.
8. His enthusiastic toddle.
9. The way he smiles at his brothers.
10. That he will eat almost anything--but only if he sees you eating it first.
11. How much he loves Nan.  When she comes, he pants with excitement and practically jumps out of my arms.
12. The way he squeezes his hand to sign "milk".
13. Giving him raspberries.
14. That he likes animals.  He gets excited whenever he notices the cat
15. and enjoys getting licked in the face by Poppy's dog.
16. His smile.
17. And his laugh.  That's really the best.
18. How warm he is.  I love carrying him around and feeling his warmth.
19. That he doesn't squirm when I change his diaper anymore.
20. His blossoming humanity.  He is figuring out the world and feeling more confident in it every day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Soren Speaks

Soren was assigned to read Helaman chapters 10 and 11 (of the Book of Mormon) in school this week.  This is the story of Nephi receiving power from God to do practically anything.  (He prays for a famine, hoping that it will teach the people humility.  It works.)

After reading the story, Soren gave me a great narration:

SOREN: In this chapter, Nephi receives root permission.  He can do anything.  The root user can even destroy the whole system with just six commands.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sven's 3rd Birthday

Sven has been talking about his upcoming birthday for two months.  He knew it was in March and asked me almost every day how far away March was.  And when March came, he became even more impatient.

1. We ended up having an unbirthday the Monday before to hold him over.  He had woken up that morning, very upset that it was still February and that his birthday was so far away.  So I sang him the unbirthday song and we made cupcakes for Family Home Evening.

2. His Grandma and Grandpa came up the Friday before and took us out to Monkey Joe's for pizza and jumping.  That's always a good time.  It was especially fun because Grandpa was passing out quarters for the arcade games.  The boys jumped for hours while I talked with my parents and we passed Leif around.  I loved watching Sven run after the big boys, jumping where they jumped and sliding where they slid.  He has gotten so capable in the last year.

3. My parents bought a headboard for Sven's bed which was delivered on Friday as well.  His favorite part of the bed is that it has shelves in it for his bunny and his books.  They also gave him a really neat set of magnetic shapes that were immediately appreciated.

4. Oh, and there were cupcakes.  That was the second cake.  I hope you're keeping count.

5. March 7 finally came and I woke Sven with a "Happy birthday!"  He was excited.  Fortunately, it was the first day of our term break from homeschool so the boys and I had the whole day to devote to him.  We started the morning with a present: an alphabet book.  We read it right away.  Sven is very excited about the alphabet right now.  He tells me every time he sees the letter S.

6. I got new play dough for all the boys to keep them busy for the morning.  That was a big hit.

7. We invited a friend with two toddler boys to a playdate at the park.  It was wonderfully sunny and I pushed him on the swings as long as he wanted.  Soren also taught him some Latin--because apparently 3-year-olds are ready for Latin.  Plus, we had another cake.

8.  During naptime, I took Carl and Soren to the dollar store so that they could buy presents for Sven.  Soren got him a miniature chess set and a birthday card.  Carl got him
a rubber snake.  They wrapped the gifts themselves and were ready just in time for Sven to wake up.

9. After naptime, he helped me to make another cake.  G
luten-free this time so that we could share it with the extended family.  Since this was cake number FOUR, I served it without frosting.  That extra sugar seemed excessive.

10.  For Family Home Evening, I told the rainbow bridge story for Sven.  But I hadn't prepared myself for it so it was a little lame.  Then we looked at old pictures of Sven on the computer.  There were a few more presents: books from Nan and a new game from Dad (Cootie).  We played Cootie before Scott went to lodge and everyone else went to bed.

11.  When he woke up the next day, Sven was very dismayed to find out that he was still three years old and his birthday was over.  He told me that on his next birthday, he wanted to be two.  Nan had the best answer to his lament; she said that when he grew up, he could have a son that was two and enjoy twoness all over again.  The idea didn't satisfy him but it sounded great to me.
Happy birthday, Sven!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Milestone: Walking

Leif made the switch this week.  You know: the switch to walking.

He took his first steps in January.  I didn't see them; I was teaching Sunday School and he was with his beloved Nan.  But he was happy enough to repeat the feat given marshmallows as an incentive.

After that, "walking" became a game Leif and Scott would play almost every night while I made dinner.  But Leif would try to get away with as little walking as possible.  He would crawl to Scott, then climb up his pant legs and try to reach the marshmallows from the safety of that grip.  It usually worked so he didn't have much reason to improve.

The cutest thing about the process this time was watching the way Sven and Carl responded to Leif's attempts.  Carl liked to playing "walking", too and would offer whatever bits of snack might tempt our little toddler.  We would all laugh whenever Leif clawed up Carl's pants; it seemed like they would both knock over!  As Leif got better, Sven got excited about it, too.  Whenever I was absent for a step, Sven would come get my attention.  "Leif walked!" he would say.  One time he even came all the way upstairs to find me because Leif had taken a step in the kitchen.

And now, after a month and a half of reluctant practice, Leif has finally decided that walking is the way to go.  He still doesn't want to walk long distances but he gets there anyway by taking pit stops at furniture and people.  It won't be long before he discards crawling entirely.

And then he'll be running.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Just Enough is More

They say that later-born children have skinny photo albums.  While parents lavish attention on the firstborn (making certain to record every milestone and in both print and pixels), later children are forgotten and neglected.  So the common wisdom goes.

Maybe its true.  There are certainly fewer posts on this blog about the younger boys than there were about the older ones.  And there's no doubt about it: fewer photos are taken now-a-days.  I don't even want to talk about videos.  Poor neglected Leif.  According to the records, he's hardly even a presence in this house.

Except that's not true.

The paucity of posts and pictures does not reflect an absence of affection.  It does not speak to my feelings about living with children at all.  I find them no less delightful and amazing than I did eight years ago when I first began my mothering journey.  If anything, the little ones delight me even more now.  I know better how to enjoy them.

And the best way to enjoy them is not from behind a computer screen.

Oh, I'll keep taking photos and writing little things here and there.  I do still cherish the memories I've stored up that way.  But when my heart is full of motherlove, I'm much more likely to reach for a cuddle than a camera.  Because you can't smell a photograph.

What I'm trying to say is: I'm spending more time experiencing my little ones than recording about them these days.  Perhaps that's a short-sighted choice.  But today I want to own it.