Friday, May 30, 2008

Way To Go Megan!

Our family celebrated our last high school graduation yesterday as Megan barely =} graduated from Viewmont High, the same school as the rest of us. Cool, eh? Anyhow, it was a great ceremony and we cheered so loud for her that the people in front of us gave us very dirty looks as they turned around in shock and horror upon surprisingly hearing our cheers. Grandma Bell even thanked us for the warning beforehand since she was able to save her hearing by covering her ears during our cheers. Megan did a fabulous job of walking and we were so proud of her! She also looked beautiful! What more could you ask for?

Way to go Baby!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Conversational Confusion

It amazes me how you think you can be communicating so clearly with another person, whether it's a friend, a family member, or your own children/husband, and by their response you quickly learn you're not getting through. I'm learning very slowly never to assume that what I feel may be clear communication on my part, does not directly result in clear understanding on another's part because we all think so differently and if we do understand each other perfectly, I fear it is just a situation of pure luck.
For example, just yesterday as we were driving home late from my soccer game, my children were tired and ready to go to bed, since it was 1.5 hours past their bedtime. I was firmly telling each one of them their instructions immediately upon entering our front door, "1. put pajamas one and 2. get in bed. The end!" Halen responded, "Can you read us a book?" I, of course, quickly turned her down and explained it was because it was already so late and and hour and a half past their bedtime. She didn't really understand the great significance of how late it was and therefore I felt it necessary to "communicate more clearly" by saying, "Honey, your bedtime was an hour and a half ago. That's like 3 Sponge Bob Shows." Then I proudly silently praised myself for coming up with terms she might better be able to understand, but only to abruptly hear her say, "But, I didn't watch Sponge Bob today!"
I quickly realized it wasn't worth explaining and reverted back to the good ol' "Because Mom said so!" excuse. Although I hated hearing this very excuse as a child, I now recognize it just makes more sense and would rather "communicate clearly" with a dead end excuse like that, then fail miserably in detouring my children completely into thinking their daily tv agenda corresponds directly with their bedtime. What a joke!
I've been reading a few books lately on life after death and The Spirit World and have learned a lot about their form of communication. They communicate not only through words via their thoughts, but also through their entire being of feelings. Therefore we won't need to wonder what our motives are or our true intentions because we, the recipents, will be able to feel the message as well as hear the message. This would have been helpful in the experience above, but I fear will be detrimental to my marriage in the here and now and hope I can learn to match up my feelings more with my actual statements in situations like "Honey would you like to go hunting with me?" "Sure, dear I'd love to." I reply as my heart pounds and my brain quickly racks up all the reasons why I won't be able to go when the time to quickly arrives. Or theres, "Honey, is this outfit good enough?" as we are heading out for a special evening with family or friends. With my reply, "Sure, dear, you look great!" as my thoughts really think, "yeah, it'll have to do even though I wish it was more dressy or prim & proper, I don't have the energy nor time to fight with you on it or prove my thoughts and wishes."
Oh, I have a lot to still learn before the afterlife suddenly presents itself to me, don't I?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keep Me Laughing!

So every once in a while one of my children will say something that just "keeps me laughing" all day, or even for days on end. Usually I forget to write them down, but this one stuck with me, so I figured I had to write it down asap.

Halen, Harris, Brigden, and I were riding home from a very exhausting trip to Grandpa Chris' as I helped him prepare his home for an upcoming showing. The kids had accompanied me on many of these trips in the last few weeks and were therefore just plain sick of going down to watch Mommy work when they could have been playing with their friends instead. As a result of their frustration with the repeated visits, they were, let's just say, not on their best behavior and as awnery as could be. As we had just began our transport, very sweaty and sticky from working outside in rare 90 degree May heat, Harris yelled up to me that Halen had drawn on the window with her crayons. Halen then took the opportunity to clarify his statement by saying, "No! I didn't color on the window, I colored on the soft part of the car below the window!" (As if that bit of information would save her from her emminant doom!) I then, as patient as I could, said, "Halen! You know we don't draw on our car, any part of our car!" She then replied that it was an accident. I immediately questioned this, of course, because coloring on a car is not usually top rated on the accidental list. I said, "Halen, (pause for effect) Are you sure it was an (pause for more effect) Accident?" to which she replied with a sad pouty look on her face, "Well, sometimes my brain just tells me to do bad things and I do them because I don't know what to do." I then replied, "Well what should you do then?" because we had gone over this scenario before. She said, "I know, whenever I hear them, I just walk away." (As if to say, leave the scene of the possible crime, but in actuality meaning ignore your bad desires.) I slightly smiled and said, "Yes, just walk away (wondering how she would walk away from the desire to color inside a traveling car, but not curious enough to ask). Well, then just seconds after she had come to her resolve, Harris decided to jump in and help by saying, "Yeah! Halen! Use your brain!"

The irony in his statement in relation to Halen's previously described Brain's bad desires was too much for me to bear as I tried my best to hide my laughter for the remainder of the ride home. Thank heavens however , because if it weren't for my laughter, I might have continued to be an awnery Mom along side her awnery children.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I should, but I can't believe it!

This afternoon as I was working on my neverending list of chores, I realized this was too beautiful of a day to pass up spending some quality time with my children outside. I wasn't sure what to do since we had already been to the park various times this week and I wanted to do more than go on a walk and then it hit me. "I know, I'll teach them how to ride their bikes without training wheels!" I felt it was a slightly overly ambitious task, but figured it had to be attempted sometime and why not now at the beginning of the summer. One of my favorite things to do is to enjoy the beautiful weather on a Sunday afternoon and I am so excited for the day when I can go on a leisure bike ride with those in my family who will choose to join me. Therefore, I was pumped to get Halen and Harris riding their bikes without training wheels.

I decided to start with Halen, since she's the oldest, and took off her training wheels first. We took a trip down the street, past a few houses, and then returned with me holding onto the handle bar as well as the back of her seat. She struggles with a huge fear complex. She's afraid of anything and everything!

Then it was Harris' turn so we took off his training wheels. He was crazy all over the place the first time, but definitely didn't lack confidence, desire, and ambition. This is one thing that in the past has been a frequent complant of mine; Harris never stops to think to ask permission before he heads into whatever task he so desires to accomplish. I am constantly finding him getting into things and food without asking. He just thinks to himself, "I want to do ...." and then he does. Although it is usually a complaint of mine, in this particular instance it was an amazing advantage.

I then spent the next 30-45 minutes alternating turns with Halen and Harris running along side them down the street and back. Halen tired easy because of her constant necessity to talk her out of her great fear. She was actually very close to riding on her own, but I promised I wouldn't let go, so she hadn't actually done it alone just yet. Harris, on the other hand, after only receiving help approximately 6 times down the block, decided to just go for it as I was getting ready to run Halen down the street for the last time. Dave had joined us at this point and yelled, "Honey, Honey, look!" His tone was so stressed and amazed that I was scared I was about to run somebody over, but turned around to see Harris taking off on his own down our driveway and into the street without any help or training wheels! We cheered loudly when he stopped and he beemed from ear to ear! I was so shocked, but when I stopped to think about it, I shouldn't have been! This was just right up to par with his personality style. He then spent the next 30 minutes riding down the driveway and then peddling on his own in front of our home. We were so thrilled!

Halen saw this as motivation and although slightly jealous and embarrassed that Harris was already riding on his own, decided to try a few more times for good measure! The cutest part was how she would verbalize to herself, "I can do this!" and "Balance!" as she was riding. I had made her repeat these phrases before she began each practice run!

What a beautiful afternoon and a great beginning to Spring and Summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My 33rd Birthday!

Well, one more down, many more to go! As many of you know my mother was the queen of birthdays, or as she really called them, birthweeks. I learned a lot from her when it came to celebrating your special day and making the most of it for yourself. This meant not waiting for others to celebrate it for you, but taking things into your own hands. For example, Mom would change her answering machine message on her actual birthday and sing to herself for each person that called the day of. She would also then tell them that if they wanted her to pick up the phone, they'd have to sing happy birthday to her in the message before she'd even consider it. What a woman! It is for this reason that I started my own tradition of my birthday agenda. Each year I put together an agenda of what it is I want to happen on my birthday so Dave doesn't have to wonder or come up with any ideas of his own. His only requirement is to help me fulfill whatever is on the agenda. Surprisingly, even though this process sounds very rigid and forceful, he loves it because he doesn't have to do any thinking or fail at whatever ideas of his own he might have. In the last few years it has worked wonderfully and I've had some great birthdays. It always amazes me that so many people shy away from such a great opportunity to make one day out of the year their very own. To do whatever they want, what more could you ask for!

My celebrations began on Mother's Day, the day before my birthday. I am the YW Secretary in my ward and part of my calling is to bring each girl up in front of the group on the Sunday following her birthday so we can sing to her. Well, this Sunday, they turned to me to see if I had anyone to sing to or any announcements and I said, no, because there weren't any birthdays in this last week, but then it hit me, "Hey, wait, it's my birthday tomorrow, they can sing to me." So I stood up and said, "Wait! It's my birthday tomorrow, let's sing to me!" They all smiled and laughed, because they know how crazy I can be. I was so excited to have them sing to me because they are all so adorable and fun! I think they thought I was kidding or were just in shock so I started leading them as I sang to myself and they jumped right in! They were smiling the entire song and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present because of all their smiling beautiful faces! What a joy! They, of course, think I'm crazy, but as I've said, "You can't wait for others to celebrate you, you must celebrate you first!" Then after we sang to me, someone asked, "What about the mothers?" So, of course, I made all the mothers come up front and we sang "Happy Mother's Day" to all of us mothers. It was awesome. The girls were such good sports, as well as the mothers, as we all sang "Happy Mother's Day to Us!"

Then my actual birthday started of with my children letting me sleep in as they were quietly and secretly drawing pictures for me for my birthday. Halen was so happy to show me her many versions of SpongeBob she had drawn for me. It was so great to wake up to her drawings because it was as if my mother had given me her own little present in helping Halen draw fabulous SpongeBob Squarepants. She had never drawn him before and I was honestly shocked at how true to form her drawings were. (My mom would rarely miss an opportunity to sit down and watch SpongeBob Squarepants with my little brother and sister, Kevin & Megan. She would even frequently walk through the house singing/yelling the theme song to "Sponge Bob Squarepants!")

This is the Mommy SpongeBob Squarepants!

This is the Daddy SpongeBob Squarepants.

And this is the SpongeBob Squarepants Family!

Then later I went to visit my Grandpa and Grandma Harris, as we celebrated Grandma's Mother's Day, Grandpa's upcoming Birthday, and my birthday together. Then I was able to enjoy my favorite 'fast food' from Cafe Rio. After this, I put the kids down for quiet time and headed out again for a movie by myself, "Emma." Dave was at home so he took care of the kids for me. I really enjoyed it and really respect Emma for all she went through in supporting her husband and The Church! What a woman! Then I returned home to receive a visit from our wonderful home teachers, and then just as I was about to try and figure out what to make for dinner, Dave told me my brother Brandon & wife Andrea had arranged for our dinner to be made and paid for at our favorite pizza dive! What a swell brother! Great idea Brandon & Andrea. Thanks guys! I also received many happy birthday calls, cards, and even a beautiful flower pot for the very scared beginning gardener in me from my s-i-l Diane.

Then after that my cousin Andrea Wright and I had arranged a get together with all my Bell cousins at her place. We arrived a little late and stayed late too. It was so much fun! I just love my cousins! I am so blessed and was so happy to spend my special birthday time with them! They are awesome! We had a great time! Thanks Ang for hosting!

Anyhow, all in all, my birthday was great!I must say, however, that I am glad it is only one day and not a week (Sorry Mom!) because it is exhausting work to take care of myself and keep the focus on me for an entire day! I was ready for a very normal day the next day! What a great day, but I'm done until next year! Happy Birthday to Me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

We Removed the Forest!

Before: There are about 15 more trees to the left of this picture, blocking all of our windows on the east side of the front of the house.
This last weekend Dave and I spent our Saturday cutting down a portion of our forest in our front yard. We cut down 6-7 trees and still have at least 8 in the front yard and about 12-15 in the backyard. They are all either trash trees or poorly placed and therefore needed to go to make way for a beautifully landscaped yard, we hope? Anyhow, the difference is amazing and althought there hasn't been much landscaping yet, we're very excited to at least be able to see our house out from behind all the forest! And here is the after picture. A whole house!

Friday, May 9, 2008

What Defines You?

Yesterday I had an interesting experience as I was shopping at the grocery store. An older gentleman was working in the store next to me in the produce department when I noticed some spilled milk on the floor. (I, of course, noticed it as I unfortunately slipped on it and tore my already injured hamstring from playing in a soccer game the night before. The irony?)
Anyhow, I said, "Sir, there's a spill here." He immediately went to retrieve a mop to clean up the spill and after mopping the mess up he came to my side, placed his hand on mine and said in a sweet voice, "My name is Antonio, please call me Antonio, instead of Sir." I giggled and said, "Of course." Then Antonio said to me, "I must also tell you how beautiful you are!" I grinned from ear to ear and said, "Wow! Thank you!" He then asked me if I was married and my heart raced because of my fear he might be hitting on me. I said, "Yes" and then he said sincerely, "Will you please go home and tell your husband that he is a very lucky man to have such a beautiful wife!" I again smiled from ear to ear and said I would do so after which he walked away and I continued gathering fruits and vegetables, but now with a large smile. After another few minutes, Antonio returned and I must admit, my first thought as he approached was, "Oh, no he really is stalking me, maybe I shouldn't be so easily impressed by his comments." He came up to me and said, "I must also tell you that when I touched your hand I could tell you have a warm heart and are a special person!" ....Um! "Wow, thank you" was my reply as he walked away.
After my shopping trip, I headed home to do just as Antonio asked of me, tell Dave how lucky he was, as if I don't already tell him enough, right? Anyhow, this time he agreed with Antonio and was quite impressed at this Old Man's genuine comments! Usually, he, Dave, teases me relentlessly if I even talk to another guy because of my, what he calls, 'flirty personality'.
Upon thinking of Antonio's comment towards my "beauty" and my "warm heart" I came upon the question, "What defines me?" I have had a lot of soul searching the last few years of my life with my mother's passing, the blending of a new family, renovating our new home, moving, and becoming recently financially tight as the economy slows down and makes it harder for Dave to sell Log Home Packages. One thing that I've learned is that each of us have different motivators that help us make our daily decisions. For example, what to wear? I will admit that there have been times in my life when I was Defined by what I was wearing. Or by what my home looked like, or my children, or the cars I drive, or dream to drive (LOL =} Brynnie!) As I've pondered this question for a while now, I've noticed myself upon seeing a particularly beautiful, well put together Mother of many perfectly dressed and mannered children and feeling discouraged and dissappointed at my feeble attempt to appear exactly so in society. It is in these moments that I have learned to ask myself, "Yes, but did she read her scriptures today?" I do this not to judge her, but merely to remind myself that while these worldly beauties can bring temporal happiness, beautifying my spirit and building up my light source within will bring eternal happiness. My mother always said of herself, "You just wait because, I'm a babe in disguise." and given her earthly overweight issues and her overwhelmingly large and extremely educated spirit, I doubt it not, and nor did she! What an example and testimony to me!
Therefore as Antonio, told me I was beautiful, I grinned, but as he told me I had a warm heart, it swelled. I was more affected by his feelings for my warm heart than those for my earthly beauty in his eyes. I realized in this moment that my spirit is what defines me and I must remember that daily!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Peacegiver

This last weekend I did something I haven't done in years...I finished a book. As most of you already know, I don't spend much time reading because I, an A Type, Red, super organizer, find it very difficult to sit down and spend what seems like 'wasted time' reading when I should be cleaning under every nook and cranny of my home or organizing the meal menu for January 2009. Well, after gradually ceasing from ignoring a small desire within to 'relax with a book' and recognizing my great desire to learn more of the Savior and his gospel, I fell upon "The Peacegiver" by James L. Ferrell. It is on "How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes" and James does a superb job at explaining this possibility and process. This book was so wonderful for my spirit and my understanding of Christ and The Atonement. I know that I have heard lesson after lesson on The Atonement and have been truly touched in all my many years of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After reading this book, I would dare say, however, I have never been so intensily enlightened and educated on the full effects of The Atonement, even during my mission, as I was while reading this book. Not only did it reteach me of the importance of His Atonement, but it also taught me how Christ's selfless love for us can be such a healing power and motivator for me in my daily interactions with myself and others.
I've decided to include one of my favorite paragraphs of the book. Here the author is referring to Jonah from the Bible and how after he is unhappy as he sits on the hill after teaching the Ninevites. Here is the passage:
"Jonah is unhappy for one reason and one reason alone, and it is not the reason he thinks. Like David, he is unhappy not because of another's sins but because of his own. This understanding is available merely from pondering the Savior's atonement, for no amount of mistreatment and suffering was able to take away the love of One who was without sin. By contrast, we who still struggle with sinfulness, struggles as well to cover our sins. And one way we do this, the Savior taught, is by finding sinfulness in others. The beams in our eyes get us looking for the motes in others. Our own failure to love another causes us to see the other as being unworthy of love. So we end up sitting beneath our own canopies of sticks-irritated, angry, hurt-blaming our lack of love on the Ninevites we are failing to love. The Savior, by contrast, with no sins of his own to clutch, cover, and excuse, remained free to see all of mankind-each of us Ninevite in our sinfulness and in the pain we caused him-mercifully and gratefully."
I know that this passage may seem like a real "Duh!" statement to most of you, but it really hit me hard that we must love others because we choose to do so unconditionally as Christ has done for us and not because they have earned it by the way they do or don't treat us. Nobody earns our love, we choose to give it to them regardless, not because!
Therefore, does this mean that I must love my husband with all my heart whether or not he remembers to sufficiently celebrate mother's day and my upcoming birthday? Yes, I guess it does, wish me luck for I fear I may fail miserably!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Removing Wallpaper Deemed As Therapeutic

This last week, I've spent my free hours working for my Dad in preparing his home for a quick sale. The main portion of this time was spent removing wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom and in Megan's bedroom. The downstairs bathroom was the central location for all of us teenagers growing up in the basement of my parent's home. The bathroom is designed specifically for use by many people at one time and it held true to it's design as all 5 of us teenagers would get ready for school each morning, side by side. Therefore, I have many memories from that room, including the great memory of my mother's constant desire to provide a warm and loving environment for her children where they could make their multiple daily stops and, strangely enough, also receive spiritual inspiration or spiritual reminders of their purpose on earth. She always knew how to get into our heads and when a girl is standing, waiting patiently for each section of her hair to curl in the curling iron, she has nothing else to do, but let her eyes wander around the room and read these thoughtfully placed spiritual words.
As I look back now on these wonderful days, mostly because they included my mother who has now since passed, I have such good feelings. Therfore as I removed each section of wallpaper I encountered a great mixture of emotions. If you can only imagine the conflict of emotions including a lot of anger, because wallpaper is never fun to take down, a warm feeling of being loved and cared for by such a wonderful selfless mother, and great sadness because of her absence. Throughout the removal process, my emotions cycled as I alternated each section of wallpaper with a different emotion. One section I would be yelling inside my head, repeatedly; "I will never hang wallpaper in my home! I will never hang wallpaper in my home! I will never hang wallpaper in my home! Ever Ever Ever!" Followed by a verbal cry to my sister Megan, "Megan, don't you dare ever hang wallpaper in your home in the future, no matter how in style it may be!" and then, "I'm going to write a post and hope that I can save anyone who reads it from hanging wallpaper and having to remove it in the future!"
Then the next section would be thoughts such as, "Wow, this piece was put up by my mother's hands." Then imagining her left hand drawing the line that showed her where to put the piece up to while also thinking, "She was so wonderful to go to so much work in providing such a warm and beautiful environment for her children." "I always felt so loved by her!"
And the next section including feelings such as, "How dare she leave me and us? Oh, how I miss her so much! My life is so much less fun and enjoyable without her! Sure there is purpose and my testimony is stronger, but I still need her friendship and I miss her undying love and support so much! Oh, earth is so much lonelier without her physical presence!" Ok, so those thoughts are sad to me even now as I write them, but therapeutic none the less. Strangely, each time I suffer through them, it gets more and more common and therefore a little less painful, but not much.
Now if that isn't a mess of emotions, I don't know what is. The truth is after I was finished, I was happy because although it was definitely needed to update the home, it was quite an emotional roller coaster to ride, and especially since it was such a mess including wallpaper remover, old liquidated wallpaper paste, soaked and shreaded wallpaper pieces, and the shedding of lots of tears.
Therefore, the moral of the story is....Don't ever hang wallpaper! It's always physically easier as well as less emotionally painful to just redecorate using paint! It takes less time and therefore if you're ever in my situation and have to cry over a loved one while doing so, there will be less time to endure the pain!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Martini Bed & Breakfast

Usually when I return from my too early visit to the gym, I find Halen and Harris lying on the couch holding their starving bellies while watching TV and waiting for me to return and provide them with breakfast. I used to leave out their cereal with cups of milk in the fridge for them to pour into their cereal when they awoke, but found they weren't disciplined enough to remain seated at the counter and actually finish the cereal or at least half of it. They would frequently take two or three bites, realize this filled their urgent hunger and then return to watching TV until I returned to howl at them because of their wasted soggy cereal. Well, this morning as I returned from the gym I was a little later than usual because I stopped to buy some taco shells for tonight's dinner and entered to find The Martini Bed and Breakfast! Halen had taken little pieces of paper and written each of their names, including "dog" and "cat", on them for their name cards, gotten Brigden out of his crib, poured each of them cereal, gotten the milk out of the fridge, poured the milk into their bowls, and got each one of them a glass for milk as well. I entered to find them all happily eating their cereal.

What a character, that Halen! She was grinning from ear to ear when she saw the surprise and pleasure on my face and ate up, without trying to appear so, each showering compliment I gave her as I happily surveyed the display. How adorable!

It really helped me to have such a good moment to start off the day with my children. I was just even thinking to myself as I drove home that I should give each one of them a hug each morning and tell them how much I love them so I can start my daily interactions off in a positive fashion because it seems like they too often turn negative quickly as I am shouting, Clean your room!, Get Dressed!, Brush Your Teeth! etc. I now understand the urge I feel, as they each leave the house each morning, to yell, "Have a Rotten Day!" as if to say, "and here's my one last growl for the morning, but please know that as I growl each morning that I love you!"