Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Vision for the Future - Amazing Traveling Plans!

So, Summer is around the corner. For those of you who don't know, Leif will be graduating with his Bachelors Degree in Public Administration in May. Not that his education journey is complete (that's for another post), but I think he, okay -We, deserve a moment to celebrate the achievement. After all, Leif has been going to school full time and working full time consistently for the last, good heaven's, almost five years! Amazing!

With that in mind, today Leif and I played a game. Well, it actually started with me daydreaming about some grand surprise for Leif. I randomly told Leif that I wanted to get to know him better (true). I asked him to give me some ideas of fun things that he would love to do/see if given the opportunity. His list consisted of the following:

  • Visiting theme parks and riding several great roller coasters
  • Going to a water park
  • Bowling
  • Mini/Real Golfing
  • Body boarding
  • Playing Ping-Pong
  • Fishing
  • Camping for a few days
  • Participating in the arts (a big production concert, a play, etc.)
  • A cruise
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Traveling to a famous place, thing, event, etc. ("the Statue of Liberty, Italy... the worlds largest potato in Idaho... :)"
  • Attending a concert... Andrea Bocelli, etc. 

So with this in mind, I went to my trusty friend, Google. The first thing I searched was "Andrea Bocelli" and I discovered this:
FREE CONCERT WITH THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC TO TAKE PLACE AT CENTRAL PARK’S GREAT LAWN, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 Internationally acclaimed tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform a free concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn, Thursday, September 15th with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by its music director Alan Gilbert, as a special gift to New York City (tickets required for entry). 
Uhhh, WOW! Need I say more?
Then I googled "Jon Schmidt." He's another one of our favorites and I thought maybe we might find something neat just a little closer to home.  Well, he's going to Israel this Summer, does that count? 
So then I googled "Paul Cardall." Our boys' sleep music was Paul Cardall's music for years. His music very-well may be the background music to my Mother Heart. He has an amazing story to share. HERE it is. Well, it was with Paul Cardall that I found a "Dream Come True - Traveling Extravaganza" type journey for Leif and I to envision.  Take a look at this (keep in mind that Leif served his mission in Milan, Italy):
Join us this autumn as we explore the beauty of Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Milan, the Lake district in the Lombardy region, and Cinque Terre along the coast of the Mediterranean sea.  This trip offers it all – main historical cities, quaint villages and hill towns, the beautiful lakes up north, and breathtaking sites on the coastline.  The perfect combination of cities to experience the many different landscapes, cultures and cuisines of Italy.

 Oh Dear, Dear, Dear, how we would LOVE to join this tour!

Before I showed Leif my "Vision for the Future", I encouraged him to join me in the fun (without giving him any idea what I had come up with.) I gave him one hour with his computer, $3,000, and any time frame within this year to come up with a trip for us to enjoy together. He had some fun too. He came up with a cruise to Mexico and a tour to Italy.  But I still won! 

When I showed him what I had found I won the game, Hands Down!

- Some day we will travel the world together! Our Vision is Set! -

Until then, We'll stay the course and take an occasional break a bit closer to Home:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Brothers Indeed! -Photo Comparison-

Look at these boys at 7 Months old. Brothers!
From Boys At 7 Months
From Boys At 7 Months
From Boys At 7 Months

Can He Really Be Turning 3!?

Yes! My Caleb is turning three years old. Things have been interesting with this birthday. I'm a bit weepy about the whole thing. My babies are growing up. And it's not like all of the other birthdays where I know that another baby is just around the corner. As a result I've just ended up avoiding the whole thing. I've done well about talking to him and helping him try to grasp the concept that he has a birthday coming up and now when I ask him how old he is he's going to say "I am 3 Years Old!" But I've slacked on the birthday party and it won't be until next weekend. Funny, I know...

Ah my sweet Caleb! He's been snuggly lately. He only wanted ME today after nap, NO ONE else. Yep! I felt loved.;) Oh how I love this special spirit. We will celebrate him tomorrow. We are so very grateful to have him. He was healing for this mama's soul during a tender time. Mama's Bright Eyes... Love Him!
From Mama's Bright Eyes
From Mama's Bright Eyes
From Mama's Bright Eyes

Monday, April 04, 2011

Can Being Grateful Really Help Me? Yes! Here's How.

I need the blessings that come through expressing gratitude tonight. As I was pondering the subject of gratitude I came upon a wonderful article written by a LDS Psychologist. He talks about how and why expressing gratitude can in a very real way ease the burden (physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) of Depression and/or Anxiety.  The Article is titled The Value of Experiencing and Expressing Gratitude, BY VAUGHN E. WORTHEN, PH.D.  Associate Director, Counseling and Career Center, Brigham Young University

" Current case studies and research show that cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater satisfaction with life. 4 Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of the good in their lives. 5 Those with higher levels of gratitude are viewed as more empathetic and supportive, more forgiving, and more likely to assist others. 6 Grateful people also report feeling less envious and more generous with their possessions. They thus enjoy better quality relationships. 7
Gratitude also helps in coping with adversity. Those who practice it in times of adversity are more likely to seek and find a “silver lining” in their experiences. 8 Finally, those who try to feel greater levels of gratitude report fewer physical complaints, more time spent in physical exercise, and better sleep duration and quality." 
 Yes, I need these blessings tonight!
I love the Blue Sky and the Sunshine! I love that Caleb's word for Outside is "Sun." I too Love the Sun/Son! I am so grateful for the ability to go walking again. For the strength to get out the door. For the weather that invites us out, for the friend who is motivated with me. Thank You Father for this!
I am so glad that I can count on the many fruits and vegetables available to me not to cause me uncomfortable side effects from eating them. I am so so glad that my children appreciate and are excited about eating an orange a banana or a salad. Thanks You For This!
I am so very very grateful that the house is quiet at the moment. The children are asleep and ahhh, I can regroup. Peace and Quiet. Thank You For This!
Thank You Father for inspiring us to make the small sacrifice for a comfortable mattress. Oh how it helps during times like this. Thank You For This!
And Thank You Dear Father for pain and confusion. For it only brings me unto thee. Thank You Dear Father For THIS!  

General Conference With Little Ones - Review

This evening I get to take a minute while the photos upload to think about this LDS General Conference weekend. I took enough time this month to plan ahead. That made all the difference. Leif and I were able to get enough out of the different talks to make the efforts that we put in to the occasion worth it. I'll share what we did and my thoughts:

HERE is where you can read about our General Conference plans.

Click HERE for Photos

Conference Tent: We set up our actual camping tent this year. And though it seems extreme, when you have little boys boundaries are a very helpful tool. Jakob (6) was able to sit and listen through both sessions of Saturday's conference. Caleb (almost 3) handled things well for his active little self. He stayed in the tent for the first session of Saturday and napped through the second. The BEST help for Caleb was an idea that I actually came up with myself (I'm happy to say this because I "stole" all of the other ideas from .:) I got a poster board for each of the boys, brought out all of the Friend magazines, a pair of scissors, and glue. Caleb enjoyed trying to cut (with a lot of help) and then gluing the pictures on (mostly backwards.) But the key was that he was focused on something and we were able to listen to the speakers. Jakob actually ended up doodling in a notebook for the huge majority of conference. He finally worked on his poster the last session of Sunday conference when we opened the tent door and let them spread their posters out into the kitchen. Before going to bed Saturday night (after setting up the tent) we read about King Benjamin in The Book of Mormon. Jakob perked up right away as we read about the people facing their tents toward the temple to hear King Benjamin speak. Leif and I smiled as Jakob said, "Hey, this was a great chapter to read tonight!:)" Yes, indeed!

Conference Baggies: These will definitely be a must in the conferences to come!! I printed off pictures of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. I taped their photo to a gallon size ziplock bag. In each bag I put a snack or a fun surprise. I did better this year with cutting back on the sweets. But I actually think I will cut back even more next time. I think I will put sweets in the First Presidency  baggies and fruits, veggies, and trinkets in the others. This year we enjoyed: Strawberries and cool whip, veggie platter and ranch, sliced oranges, two different Chex mix, modeling clay, markers, dried fruit, etc. Having the snacks in the bags helped spread things out and it helped Jakob pay attention to who was speaking. There was a space under each photo to write what they spoke about. During the less hectic moments we were able to recap and fill in those lines.  Over all I think we all got something out of the conference.

Conference Packets: I printed out a few pages from the many AMAZING conference packets available to us through the internet. But my boys don't actually use them as much as I would like them to. They did doodle on each page a bit and do an activity here and there. So I think I will keep trying, but really they just like to draw and create on their own. When Jakob is 8 years old we will encourage him to stick to the topics being spoken at the moment (meaning he will need to REALLY listen.;) So the packets will be helpful at that point.

What We Will Take Away:
As Leif and I were "taking down camp." we had a moment to discuss our "ah-ha" moments. Leif said that he felt like he was experiencing Elder Bednar's "Sunrise Theory" where the spirit whispered to him slowly but surely. And in the end he felt strongly compelled to serve more diligently. To MAKE the time to give service. I had a few concerns and thoughts rolling around in my soul that were calmed and validated especially by the talks given by Elders' Nelson, Oaks, Uchtdorf, and Bednar. In the end, I was reminded that we must act upon our faith. Faith is a Hope for things that are unseen (or unknown.) We must have faith to make good choices and Father will bless us as we do.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Foto Friday April Week 1

Jakob caught Mama and JJ on Candid Camera
Ahh, he caught G&G Baron too!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
Visiting after a yummy steak BBQ
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
Precious Times! I'm pretty sure that he's well-loved!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
LDS General Conference is in the air!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1

From Foto Friday April Week 1
Caleb's making sure we have plenty of sharpened colored pencils!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
Papa's making sure the computer and internet are hooked up.
From Foto Friday April Week 1
And let the party... oh! I Mean Listening begin!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
Welcome to our home Mr. Turkey... Can I eat you for dinner!? 
From Foto Friday April Week 1
"Word has it that they will only call me Turkey instead of Tom because I'm Thanksgiving Dinner!" 
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
I hope we won't cause too much upset for the kids come Harvest Season!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
Time to clean out the chick brooder, Jakob's Chick-sitting!
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
From Foto Friday April Week 1
And this is Natures Gift to us to close a wonder-filled week and weekend!

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