Sunday, July 31, 2011

Backtracking to March: Everything else

As a continuation of my last post, here's what's left to share of March's madness:

Ryan stopped "napping" somewhere around February/March.  This was actually an improvement from Chloe, who gave up naps before her second birthday!  Why do kids do this?  Don't they know mom needs that two hour window of peace and quiet each day?  While Ryan suddenly refused to take naps, that didn't necessarily mean he no longer needed them.  And this was (and has continued to be) demonstrated time and time again by the many afternoons I'd discover him asleep on the floor, couch or wherever else.

Aside from refusing to take scheduled naps but still taking plenty of unscheduled naps, we found additional ways to occupy our time... licking strawberry syrup off the floor.

...discovering new places to hide.

...exploring the pantry.

...and cleaning the bathroom!

(Couldn't help but smile and think of THIS when I discovered Ryan with the Comet.)

It was also a triumphant month for the potty trainers in the household.

Oh, and hello there, fashion statement!  Who knew underwear over the pants could look so cool?

While we're talkin' potties and underwear, I should also mention that we helped encourage other little boys (ie, Ryan's cousin, James) to use the potty, too!

"See!?  It's easy!"

And for those of you who still claim that Ryan looks bald,this one's for you.

Love those toes.

We took advantage of the blossoming orchards and snuck out one afternoon for pictures.

And as you can see, my subjects took their jobs very seriously.

We baked cookies with Janea and Tay...

...then worked them off with some good old Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.
(Notice the cans on the floor, which were used as "weights")

We climbed the ladder into the attic -ALL BY OURSELVES- and played "house" while Ryan took an "unscheduled" nap and daddy carried up and stored storage bins.

We enjoyed some "girl time" one afternoon following preschool while sick Neil and tired Ryan napped inside.

Chloe picked the snacks.

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with green jello, some peek-a-boos...

...and a yummy new recipe: Sloppy Joe Spaghetti Cups

(I used shredded chicken, not ground)

And speaking of food, we also had a picnic at the park.

...and shared lots of laughs over staticky hair and whatever else may have seemed funny at the time.

We planted an orange tree for Family Home Evening.

(Currently we have 2 oranges.  They both look like limes right now, but it won't be long...)

I became a California driver...
...for the second time...

...passing the much dreaded, written test with flying colors (well, I missed 2). There's a really funny story behind this photo, which ultimately justifies it. After all, what adult, who's been driving legally for 13 years has her husband take a picture of her holding up her temporary California license? Let's just say it took 3 trips to the DMV to register my car and obtain a license successfully.  In my defense, the list of documents needed to register a car were not up to date on their website, which explains one of my wasted trips.  As for the other, they wouldn't accept my marriage certificate, even though we never received an actual license when we got married.  So I had to go back and get my passport since I had nothing else to prove my married name was legit.  Then, finally, on the third trip when I had everything I needed for my license and went to take the test, I ended up doing the front and back pages (18 questions on each side, 36 total), only to learn when I completed it and took the test up to the grouchy DMV lady, that I was actually only required to answer 18 of them (one side). So, in essence, I did twice the work that I had to, and, thankfully, passed BOTH times!  Needless to say, I was pretty relieved to finally be done with the silly process, hence the photo.  I know, I'm a nerd.  But if you had any idea how much I hated tests (or the DMV) you'd understand.

Now, onto the next event of the month.   My good friend, Tami put together a workshop for some photographers in the area. She lined up the models herself, did their hair and makeup (because she has multiple talents), and then let us loose with our cameras. It was a fun way to break the ice, learn from one another, practice without the pressure, and just have a good time. I'm not gonna lie. When we first moved to Ripon last Fall and I learned there were two photographers in our ward, I wasn't thrilled. But this experience was a good slap on the hand for me. I realized that I was being completely unreasonable and ultimately allowing my insecurities to get in the way of building wonderful relationships, which I've since done! Tami, Janea and Misty have grown to be some of my greatest friends, and certainly my closest here in Ripon. Since March, we've gotten together to let our kids play, we've had girls' nights out, we've done other shoots together, and we've talked endlessly about photography.  It's been a huge blessing for me on many levels, and I'm grateful to Tami for opening that door and bringing us all together. She is an incredible photographer and person. She's also the first friend I had in Ripon, seeing that our husbands work together, so she'll always hold a special place in my heart. I'm fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful and talented circle of women.

Here are a few I took at the workshop. Still have a handful more, which I'll get to some day.

And here we are, hunting our prey. Misty took this.

It was a cold, rainy, windy day, and by the time we finished our feet were soaked from walking around in the tall, wet grass. It was worth it though.

{Of the photographers, Janea is second from the left, Misty is fourth from the right, and Tami and Amber are on the end.}

And I guess I ought to, in closing, mention this fun fact too (are you still awake?).  During the month of March, the kids BOTH became obsessed with... 

Superman!  It all started one Wednesday evening when I came home from a youth activity to find Neil and Chloe watching Superman IV.  It just happened to be on TV and according to Neil, Chloe was hooked the second he flipped it on.  As I got dinner started and observed her out of the corner of my eye, I couldn't believe how into it she was.  She wouldn't take her eyes off the screen and reacted so innocently and honestly when Superman or anyone else was in danger.  At one point she even started jumping on the couch and cheering, "Yeaaaah!  Goooo Superman!" when he defeated the bad guy.  Well, we just happen to own the Superman collection and let's just say we are all too familiar with it now.  The initial excitement has worn off a bit, but Chloe and Ryan still average a viewing of Superman at least three times a week.  That's better than the twice a day they were requesting back in March and April!  Chloe's favorite is Superman IV, probably because it's the first one of the movies she saw.  Ryan's, on the other hand, is the first Superman, naturally, because of the "chuh chuh gah choo choo twain."  Chloe also started going around repeating the phrase, "No pain, no gain!", which comes from the cheesy gym scene in IV.  And because Chloe repeats it, Ryan has caught on and now says it too from time to time, too.  Chloe has also figured out how to play the theme music melody on the piano AND on Ryan's play saxophone.  No joke.  Funny kids.

Wow, March turned out to be a lot more eventful than I realized!  Hope you enjoyed.

Backtracking to March: New Beginnings

In January and February I was on top of my blog, and planned (or rather, hoped) to maintain that habit for the rest of the year, but quickly fell behind around mid-March.  So here I am, attempting to get back on track and make this blog current once again. My plan (or rather, hope) is, in the coming days, to compile a post for each month, summarizing the events I've failed to share along the way from March on.  Let's see if I can do it.

On March 20th, we had our New Beginnings, which is an annual program for the young women of our church.  Because I work with the young women, I had the pleasure of taking part in the planning and execution of this year's program.  We used Jenny Phillips' Happily Ever After script, which worked beautifully.  The theme was based around President Dieter F. Uchtdorf 's April 2010 Conference address, Your Happily Ever After, and much of his talk was quoted throughout the program.  Here were my favorite bits and pieces:

"'Once upon a time' promises something: a story of adventure and romance, a story of princesses and princes.  it may include tales of courage, hope and everlasting love.  In many of these stories, nice overcomes mean and good overcomes evil.  But perhaps most of all, I love it when we turn to the last page and our eyes reach the final lines and we see the enchanting words "And they lived happily ever after."  Isn't that what we all desire: to be the heroes and heroines of our own stories; to triumph over adversity; to experience life in all its beauty; and, in the end, to live happily ever after?

"Beloved young sisters, stay true to what you know is right  Everywhere you look today, you will find promises of happiness.  Ads in magazines promise total bliss if you will only buy a certain outfit, shampoo, or makeup.  Certain media productions glamorize those who embrace evil or who give in to base instincts.  Often these same people are portrayed as models of success and accomplishment.  In a world where evil is portrayed as good and good as evil, sometimes it is difficult to know the truth . . . We all search for happiness, and we all try to find our own 'happily ever after.' The truth is, God knows how to get there!  And He has created a map for you; He knows the way . . . All you have to do is trust your Heavenly Father.  Trust Him enough to follow His plan."  - Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Your Happily Ever After, April Conference 2010)


"You girls go and find the modest clothes and wear them, make them as beautiful as you can and be attractive and make up to your boyfriends in bright intellect and sweet spirit and attractive demeanor that which some girls can only do with their bodies.  It is a pretty weak girl if she has only her body to attract somebody . . . Any young woman who conducts herself so as to be attractive spiritually, mentally, and physically, but will not by word, nor dress, nor act stir or stimulate to physical reactions, she is a jewel." - Spencer W. Kimball (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pg. 285)

The need for adversity:

"We sometimes wonder: if the plan really is the great plan of happiness, why must we struggle to find the fullness of it in mortal life?

If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during Act II [mortality], you surely will be frustrated.  You will understand little of what is going on and why things are permitted to be as they are. 

Remember this!  The line "And they lived happily ever after" is never written in the second act.  That line belongs in the third act when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right."
- Boyd K. Packer (Mine Errand from the Lord, pg. 3)

"For a moment, think back about your favorite fairy tale.  In that story the main character may be a princess or a peasant; she might be a mermaid or a milkmaid, a ruler or a servant.  You will find one thing all have in common: they must overcome adversity. . .  In stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn ourselves.  Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way.  Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy.

In our pursuit to reach 'happily ever after' we will inevitably face trials and adversity.  We will also face our own weaknesses.  We need strength beyond ourselves to make the journey.  That is why our Heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior.  When the forests fill with darkness, and the wolves seek our souls, when we have lost our way, or when we feel we just can't go on, we can rely on the strength of the Lord.

'Happily ever after' is not something found only in fairy tales.  You can have it!  It is available for you!  But you must follow your Heavenly Father's map. 

Sisters, please embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ!  Learn to love your Heavenly Father with all your heart, might, and mind.  Fill your souls with virtue, and love goodness.  Always strive to bring our the best in yourself and others . . . You are truly royal spirit daughters of Almighty God.  You are princesses, destined to become queens.  Your own wondrous story has already begun.  Your "once upon a time" is now." 
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Your Happily Ever After, April Conference 2010)

I absolutely loved this whole concept about how we write our own story.  Uchtdorf is brilliant.  I just adore the man, and was so happy that the entire program was based on his wonderful talk.

Here are a few pictures...

That's my wedding dress on the far left.

I was in charge of the food.

Here are (most of) our wonderful young women!

I have never been in as much love with a group of young girls as I am with this group of young girls. They are a strong bunch, and I am continuously impressed by the things they say and the choices they make.

All in all it was a perfect evening.  The program was uplifting and inspiring, and I think the leaders benefited from it as much as the girls did.  It's always nice to be reminded of the simple truths we teach about week after week.  After all, we are still writing our stories of "happily ever after."