Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

This week is practice for what is coming up in my life: I'm an empty-nester.  It's a strange thing when your children grow up and leave the nest.  I don't think I was completely prepared.  I miss their smiling faces.  I miss their crazy, loud music.  I miss them exercising with me, cleaning with me and learning with me.  It's quiet... too quiet.
But, I know they are doing good things.  I know they are strong in their faith.  I know that they are sweet, and capable and motivated.  I'm truly proud of the beautiful young women they have become.
This growing up thing is hard.  But my girls make it easy.
Last week Kotten Kandy spent an entire week in Bowling Green at EFY (Especially For Youth).  After fasting and praying whether she should she attend, she decided to pay for it herself ($400+).  According to her:  "It was one of the best experiences of my life!"  She came home extremely motivated, happy and spiritually fed.
Her roommate, Eclair, is now a "life-time friend!"  She truly loved her.  They prayed together, ate together, attended classes together, laughed together and stayed up WAY too late talking and laughing together.  She wishes they were in the same ward.  She also strengthened her friendship with Almond.  She feels that both girls are "kindred spirits!"
She also made lots of guy friends... (Glad she only thinks of them as friends right now! - Although I think the boys definitely had crushes on my sweet daughter.)
She participated in the choir during her free time.  And loved learning about the gospel in all of her classes.  She was also super excited about attending TWO dances during the week.  She really likes a couple of line dances that she has taught our entire family to do!
I am super glad for her experience.  She is truly an amazing person.  And I really like who she is becoming.
(Unfortunately, Kotten Kandy doesn't take as many pictures as mom would like... but I managed to get one picture of her company!  Kotten Kandy and Eclair are right in the middle.)
Key Lime Pie also had an eventful week last week.  We deep cleaned her room!  It looks AWESOME!  And I think she's truly happy with it.
Then on Saturday, she participated in the 2nd Annual A Capella Festival!  She loved it!  And she had a great time with her good friend, Lemon Drop.  The growth in my daughter between last year's festival and this year's festival is incredible!  Last year she was serious and worried about the music.  This year she just had fun!  And it showed!  Her personality really came out on stage.  She sang, smiled and it translated to the audience.  Speaking as a music theater person (and not as her mom) she was the most fun person to watch on stage because of her smiles and overall stage presence.  The leaders in the group also told her she had "perfect pitch" and is really musical.  (Which I already knew.)
Oh... one more picture:
Look how happy my girls are when they were reunited!  Key Lime Pie squealed and ran to the front of the stage to give her sister a hug.  All Kotten Kandy could do when she got home was say she missed her sister.  I'm glad they are best friends.
I am really a proud mother.  (And a lonely mother this week since they are in Ohio learning to crochet and quilt with Joyce this week.)  I'm keeping busy though....

Friday, July 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEWS

Book Bingo has me reading like a crazy person.  :-)  And I LOVE it!  Here's my review of the last two books I just finished reading:
Despite an abundance of natural history and the syrupy style, "Freckles" by Gene Stratton Porter is a sweet book, with some fun, surprise plot twists.  My little brother recommended this book to me and I'm really glad I read it.  The hero, Freckles, is an orphan who lost his hand as a baby.  The story is about how he determines to prove himself despite the missing hand, no family and low self worth.  Through determination and hard work he comes to love the wild limberlost where he works as a guard for the trees the logging company will later remove.  His relationships with his boss who unofficially adopts him, the MacLeans with whom he boards, and the Swamp Angel who loves the wilderness as much as he does makes the story come to life.  This book reminds us not to judge people by the outside, but to let their actions reveal their true nobility.  It was a good and easy read.
Although  C.S. Lewis published "The Screwtape Letters" in 1942, its theme is every bit as appropriate today.  I read them as a teenager when my father lent me the book.  And now I am re-reading it with my daughters this summer.  Lewis is an imaginative writer.  This book is a collection of correspondence from a veteran devil to his apprentice nephew.  Throughout this work of fiction, real advice is present.  Simple tidbits such as Screwtape's simple statement that "the safest road to hell is the gradual one" should serve as a gentle reminder for many readers.  This book has wit, ingenuity, reverence and humor.  It is a timeless classic and very much apropos to today.  The only problem with "The Screwtape Letters" is that there is so much thought provoking stuff packed into every paragraph in this book, that I frequently had to stop reading and think about what I've just read, then go back and re-read.  It made reading this SHORT book take a lot longer than it should have.  C.S. Lewis is a genius!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WOW! LET ME CATCH UP...

Since I haven't been able to post for awhile - and now I can again...  Let me catch everybody up on our busy lives:
Kotten Kandy is now 14!!!!!!  When did my baby girl think it was OK to grow up?  We joke that she is 14 in body, but 17 in Spirit.  She is amazing!  She is bright!  She is spiritual!  And she is a beautiful, talented, young lady!  I'm so glad to be her mom!  For her Birthday, she wanted to go to the temple and then go out to eat at Texas Roadhouse.  So that is what we did.  We also took in a movie at the $3 theater: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."  (GREAT movie - and I like the fact that Steve Rogers is a man that young men can actually look up too.  He's not a "bad boy" or "stupid" or "evil.")  It was a fun birthday!  And she was spoiled rotten.
We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the 4th of July at our house!  And this year was REALLY fun!  We spent the entire morning at the Bishop's house.  The ward social was totally fun.  We ate well, but more importantly, we enjoyed the company!  I love my ward.  Visiting with friends and dressing in our firework shirts (home made by us 2 days prior) made the morning truly wonderful!  Then we went to the Bettenhausen's for BBQ and games and fireworks.  It was laid back and fun all at the same time!  The entire family agreed that this year's celebration of America's Independence was truly WONDERFUL!
Our "Firework" shirts - We made them!   :-)
Jelly Bean, Kotten Kandy, Amy, Apple Pie, Marmalade, Me and Key Lime Pie
Scott hung out with his best buddy the whole time!
Jelly Bean adores his "Dott!"
Me and My Girls
Daddy and Daughters
Me and My Man
Playing Badminton?!
Scott decided to dance for us...
Key Lime Pie is so weird!  We sure love her craziness!
This girl couldn't be any cuter...  Right?
I really like this guy!
The following week we decided to make another craft with the kids.  Our "Finding Nemo" snow globes turned out so cute!
Marmalade, Apple Pie, Key Lime Pie, Kotten Kandy, Nuts, and Juice
Key Lime Pie and Squirt
Kotten Kandy and Squirt
The girl's participated in Youth Conference last week.  It was a total success!  They came home excited about the gospel, their strengthened friendships, the experience, and of course: boys.  They really enjoyed the Jericho Road concert.  They liked all of their classes, especially the Missionary Prep class (zone conference) and the Shepherding class (discussing how Christ is our Shepherd.)  The girls LOVED their host families and especially liked the little "extras" they provided like games and "tea parties."  The dance was a highlight - Since it was Kotten Kandy's first dance, Key Lime Pie made sure she had fun.  They both danced a lot and had a great time!  Both girl's LOVED the service project: they beautified an elementary school; pulling weeks and mulching.  And both girls said the testimony meeting was very Christ centered and wonderful.  I'm grateful for good leaders, and everyone who made it such an amazing experience.
Almond Joy and Kotten Kandy - being silly in the coat closet
Key Lime Pie and Hershey
Chocolate and Key Lime Pie
Kotten Kandy and "Random Guy Who Wanted a Picture and Mom Loves the Picture But Doesn't Know Who He Is"
Kotten Kandy dancing with Doritos
On Sunday, Key Lime Pie played a violin duet with her friend Nutmeg.  They played a beautiful rendition of "If I Could Hie To Kolob" in two different wards.  It really brought the Spirit.  President Spencer W. Kimball said, "We are in a position, as musicians, to touch the souls of those who listen."  Key Lime Pie is truly blessing all of us with her talents!
Nutmeg and Key Lime Pie
Scott had surgery yesterday.  He is doing well.  But he's definitely hurting more this time.  Dr. Duffy said his nerve was "red and very angry."  He couldn't even dress himself after the surgery.  He tried to put on his clothes over his hospital gown.  I laughed hard and then took control.  It was like dressing an over-sized doll.  Poor guy!  He'll be back to "normal" in a few weeks, but until then, I get to zip his pants and open his pills and tie his shoes and drive him around.  He's actually a really good "patient" and doesn't complain.  But it is worse this time.
Before Surgery...
After Surgery...
Well, I guess I'm caught up.  I'll try to keep posting regularly...  :-)

GIRL'S CAMP PHOTOS

FINALLY!  My wonderful, talented, sexy husband finally got my blog to "work" again....  (He's even highly medicated and a little loopy and one handed, but he was able to fix my computer any way!)  Scott rocks!  Here are the pictures from last month's girls camp!  We had a total blast!
"Our" girls rocked!  (or should I say "smurfed?")
 
 Isn't it beautiful?
 Key Lime Pie is such a cutie!
Kotten Kandy got the top bunk... Key Lime Pie got the bottom bunk.... 
Despite her extreme eczema, Kotten Kandy LOVED canoeing.
 My silly girls!  I sure do love them!
 Lemon Drop and Key Lime Pie - I'd adopt Lemon Drop as my own in a heartbeat, if her mom would let me.
 Kotten Kandy - Love this girl!
 Key Lime Pie, Kotten Kandy and Lemon Drop - I think I'll call them the 3 Stooges!  :-)
 I'm glad my girls have so much fun together - I'm glad they are best friends!
 Bishop Tincher with his crazy Young Women!
 Key Lime Pie with 4th year hiking buddies!
Kotten Kandy wrote our script for the skit...  :-)
Fun Girls!  Fun Times!  Fun Memories!

Monday, July 7, 2014

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS

I have been trying and trying to blog for a few weeks now.  I'm pretty discouraged, because I can't get pictures to upload.  So I'm trying again... on a different computer.  We'll see... (if all else fails, at least there are words!)
I have been reading a lot lately.  Every summer we do Book Bingo.  I choose 9 books for everyone to read.  If the girls can get a blackout before August 31st, they get to purchase $20 worth of new books for themselves.  They love it.  Scott and I participate too, but we don't get the incentive.  (Maybe I should complain to management... oh, wait.  I am the management.)
So here are 4 books I have recently finished:




"Dude, Don't Be a Lemuel: A Teenage Guide to Avoiding Lemuelitis" by David Bowman was a fast read.  I bought this book because of the amusing title and I thought it would be a fun "church" book. 
It was.  It's very teen friendly, with occasional comic strips and "what ifs" that add humor (like what if Laman had a cell phone and was texting Lemuel from inside the city...)  It's interesting and humorous how two people can see the same situation, and based on their attitude, have a totally different perspective.  I had fun reading this book.




"The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World" by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart was much more difficult, but an amazing book that I highly recommend.  (In fact, it was recommended to me by my parents - so I knew it would be good... and it was.)
The book grabbed me in the first chapter when it stated, "a student asked the professor, 'how did slavery start,' and the professor replied, 'that is the wrong question.  You should ask when did freedom start.  Throughout recorded history there has been slavery, and it has only been in the last 1-2% of recorded history when freedom was wide spread.'"  The book explores seven points when the survival of a culture ultimately ends up spreading the news of democracy, the worth of the individual, and freedom.  Examples include WWII, the invasion of the Mongols, etc.




"Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson was a great book to read.  Throughout my life, I have often felt like a failure because I couldn't be the PERFECT person I wanted to be.  This great book assure me that no one is perfect, but that the goal is to become more Christ-like in our everyday life, striving to improve and become closer to Christ, having the belief and faith that we can do the things he has asked of us.  After reading this book, I realized that WITH Christ and His Atonement, I am perfect right now... and can become perfect later.




If you like "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, you'll like her book "Eight Cousins" too!  13 year old Rose Campbell has been left an orphan by the death of her father.  Shy, sickly, and depressed, she is shipped off to live with her many relatives, including several aunts, uncles and seven boisterous male cousins.  The experience is, at first, overwhelming.  Rose blossoms under her Uncle Alec's care.  There is a lot of insight, humor and human nature in this book.


So far I haven't been disappointed in my summer Book Bingo.  I have 5 more books to go!  :-)  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

GIRLS CAMP 2014

For some strange reason - I can't post pictures.  :-(  I've tried and tried.  So here is the post... and I'll post pics later...


Girls Camp was wonderful!  I loved being with my daughters (and my 8 adopted daughters!)  Despite the fact that I was the unofficial ward camp leader, everything seemed to go off without a hitch.
The girls loved the “Be the Good” theme.  We changed it to “Be the Smurf” for our ward.  We also had Secret Sisters which was a huge hit with the girls.
Key Lime Pie was a 4th year.  Her 11 mile hike was “extremely difficult.”  But she survived.  Apparently, she struggled with breathing during some of it, but her “awesome YCCs” helped her.  She grew a lot.  I watched my oldest daughter become a strong leader this week.  She stepped up and lead the 1st years in singing primary songs and hymns.  She made new friends.  And she bore a beautiful, Christ-centered testimony during testimony meeting.  She is an amazing young woman!
Kotten Kandy was a 2nd year.  I got to chaperone her age group.  It was fun to watch her love some of the girls who were a bit more difficult to love.  She shared insights in the scriptures with her peers, she bore a beautiful testimony of Christ,  and she made everyone smile around her.  Her YCCs even recognized her sweet spirit and said they learned from her insightfulness in gospel topics.  She also wrote our skit and made Smurf hats for all the girls for the skit.  It was super cute!  I can’t believe she is growing up so fast.  I wish she would slow down.
We had 8 girls in our cabin (including my daughters).  We also “adopted” 2 other girls from other wards – Ms. Blech and Fred!  They are all such amazing young women.  I loved them all.
I had a great time bonding with these fabulous girls!  I really love them!  But I am SUPER glad to be home in my own “bed” and with my own shower.  I missed my cute, adorable, handsome, truly amazing husband!!!!!! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

LAST DAY OF SEMINARY, RECORDING STUDIO AND SCOTT'S 41st BIRTHDAY

Well, the school year is over.  And seminary is over until fall.  (We are still "doing school" during the summer, but a simpler form of it.)  Brother Turley was a wonderful teacher and the girls really loved his lessons.  Here is Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy's seminary class on the last day...
The following day, I took five of my music students (including Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy) to a "real" recording studio.  Each kid got to record 3 pieces.  They really seemed to enjoy it.  And the recording studio was really kind.
Key Lime Pie sang "Hold On" from the musical The Secret Garden
Kotten Kandy sang "The Wind" - I LOVE that song!
Key Lime Pie played "Many Meetings" from The Lord of the Rings
Kotten Kandy sang "Elusive Butterfly"
Key Lime Pie - Kotten Kandy - Muffin 
They LOVED the recording studio!
Scott's Birthday was Sunday.  It was a beautiful day.  And I think Scott enjoyed his cake.  We had some good friends over and the girls and I gave him a new video recorder.  He was pretty excited.  He also got chocolate and a Thor DVD.
Some pics that were too cute:
Scott, Jelly Bean and Key Lime Pie
Apple Pie
Kotten Kandy and Jelly Bean
And Kotten Kandy spoke in sacrament meeting.  Once again, she did a fabulous job!  She thinks she might want to be a public speaker when she grows up.  She writes fabulous talks and delivers them well too!  Check it out:
DISCIPLESHIP
            Happy Birthday, Dad!  Today is a special day, because I get to celebrate a man who has taught me a lot about being a true disciple of Christ.  My daddy is always reading books about the Savior and trying to understand His sacrifice and His life.  Dad shares with me thoughts and scriptures about Christ and teaches me what it means to continue learning about the Atonement and Christlike attributes.  I’m glad I have him as a dad!
L. Tom Perry said, “The word disciple comes from the Latin [meaning] a learner. A disciple of Christ is one who is learning to be like Christ—learning to think, to feel, and to act [like] he does. To be a true disciple, to fulfill that learning task, is the most demanding regimen known to man. No other discipline compares … in either requirements or rewards. It involves the total transformation of a person from the state of the natural man to that of [a] saint, one who loves the Lord and serves with all of his heart, might, mind, and strength.”  
So how do we become like Christ?  How do we become a true disciple? We learn about him.  We study his life by reading great books (like my father has shown me.)  We ponder and we pray to develop the relationship we should have with our Savior and our Heavenly Father.  In essence, we try to be like him.  
I have been studying Preach My Gospel.  My favorite chapter is chapter 6.  It talks about developing nine Christlike attributes.  To become a true disciple we need to develop and study these attributes.
The first attribute we should apply is Faith.  Alma 32:21 “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”
Wally, a character in a novel called Children of the Promise, is a great example of this attribute of faith.  This book takes place during World War II, and follows the life of a fictional LDS family. It shows their trials during the war and what they each have to face. This family, the Thomas family, has a son named Wally who leaves his home to join the Air Force. Just as the War begins, he ends up at a base in the Philippians.  He is taken prisoner by the Japanese, and he survives the Bataan Death March.  For three years he endures different work details that nearly kill him.  He suffers with starvation, multiple sicknesses, and broken bones. In the long run he makes it home, but throughout the whole ordeal he remains strong.  He doesn’t give up.  He continues to pray, and to sing they Hymns he had been taught as a little boy in primary.   Despite everything he remains faithful, and that’s what we need to do.  Remain faithful until the end.
The next attribute in Preach My Gospel is Hope.  “Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future… The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death”  
We studied the Book of Mormon in seminary this year.  Brother Turley taught us about Mormon and Moroni.  They are huge examples to me of that Hope.  They were in one of the worst circumstances ever.  Imagine knowing the truth but not being able to share it with anyone, because everyone was too wicked.  Mormon and Moroni had to have great hope in the plan of salvation in order to endure this trial.  They could not share the gospel with their peers, but they could share it with us through the Book of Mormon.  Their hope is evident in their writings.  I hope that I could have that much hope in the face of danger.
Charity is one of my favorite Christlike attributes.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.  In a world full of hate and sorrow, charity is desperately needed.
My family and I watched a movie called The Saratov Approach. The movie is a true story about two missionaries who get kidnapped and held for ransom in Russia.  While they are in captivity, the Elders begin to not only pray for their families back home, but also for their captors. Elder Probst and Elder Tuttle pray that they their captors can have a change of heart.  They go from wanting to hurt them, to leaving their lives in God’s hands.  They showed true charity when they remained in captivity instead of possibly taking the lives of their kidnappers.  Instead of hating the men who planned to kill them, they relied on charity.  When I have been wronged, I use their example of praying for charity.  I have prayed and I have felt that peace and I have felt that love.
The next Christlike attribute is Virtue.  “Virtue originates in your innermost thoughts and desires.  It is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards….  What you choose to think and do when you are alone and you believe no one is watching is a strong measure of your virtue.”
For the Strength of Youth is a great guide to being virtuous.  If we strive to live by the guidelines set forth in this inspired pamphlet, virtue will follow.  One of the guidelines in to dress modestly.  In the booklet it states:  “Your body is sacred.  Respect it and do not defile it in anyway.  Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is.  You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.”  My mother truly internalized this principle.  She decided when she turned 12 that she would NEVER EVER wear anything that was not temple worthy.  She made sure that every article of clothing that she owned she could wear after she was endowed.  She never wanted to be embarrassed in front of Heavenly Father because of the way she dressed.  Her example and guidance has taught me what it means to be modest. 
I LOVE the next Christlike attribute: Knowledge.  Learning is something I REALLY enjoy.  In D&C 88:118 it states:  “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
My mom and dad say that I love knowledge almost as much as Grandpa Mac.  My grandpa spent his entire childhood reading everything he could get his hands on.  He read the entire Old and New Testament about 5 times before he was a teenager.  He still consistently learns.  Whenever he comes to visit, he brings books for us to read, takes us to the book store to get new books to learn from, and teaches us what he has learned.  He has taught me how to take care of bees.  He has taught me to play the ukulele.  He has shared his knowledge of gospel principles with me.  And he inspires me to learn more.  I am grateful for his example and his sharing of knowledge.
Patience is the 6th Christlike attribute mentioned in Preach My Gospel.  President Monson said, “Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature.  There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all.  Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”
Amy Bettenhausen is one of my school teachers.  She show constant patience with me and my sister as we learn grammar, writing and discuss concepts in the novels we read together.  She also shows tons of patience with her own children.  She is a great example to me of patience.
Humility is the willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished.  It is also the 7th attribute to becoming a disciple.
Many of you may be acquainted with Corrie ten Boom’s book entitled The Hiding Place.  It is the true story of two Dutch women who were imprisoned during World War II for harboring Jewish refugees.  Corrie and Betsie (her sister) lived by the precepts of Christ and found great comfort in reading the Bible.  (not the Book of Mormon, because they didn’t have it.)  Their prison cell was infested with fleas.  Remembering that the Bible says to thank God for all things, Betsie told Corrie that they should thank God for the fleas.  Corrie did not want to, but Betsie insisted.  Weeks later they found out that the fleas were indeed something to be thankful for.  It was because of the fleas that they were able to keep their Bible without the guards finding it.  They were humble enough to give God honor for the fleas even when they didn’t realize how much the fleas were a blessing to them.
Diligence reminds me of my 41 year old dad.  He is steady, consistent, earnest and energetic in doing the Lord’s work.  No matter what life throws at him, he continues to pray, read his scriptures and ponder upon the things of Christ.   Just like in D&C 58:27, my dad is anxiously engaged in good causes, and does many things of his own free will and choice to bring to pass righteousness.  When my dad was out of work for a year, he studied his scriptures daily and attended the temple weekly.  At an early age, I learned how diligence blessed his life and ours. 
The last Christlike attribute is obedience.  Christ is the ultimate of example of obedience.  He set the example to be baptized, even though he was perfect and had never sinned.  He was baptized to show obedience to His Father.  He Atoned and was crucified to obey the law.  Despite the difficulties of these tasks, he did it.  The least we can do is obey His commandments and strive to be like him in all we do.  This is discipleship in it’s fullest.