Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nine Years Ago Today

Nine years ago today I was standing on the top of Hill Cumorah in Palymyra, New York with my boyfriend.  It’s funny to think of my husband as a boyfriend nowLooking back, I laugh a little at the fact that I flew out there, to New York – alone.  I must’ve really liked him.  ;)

We had been dating since the previous summer after our dads set us up on a semi-blind date.  Jared and I grew up in the same hometown, but he was older than I was, and we didn’t really know each other.  I didn’t really like Jared after our first date; he didn’t think we were much of a match either.  I thought he was arrogant, and he thought I was too churchy.  He gave me a one arm hug after the date, and pretty much said, “Maybe I’ll give you a call.”  I kind of laughed and said, “maybe so.”

I told my Dad the next morning that I didn’t like him much - he was crude, and I couldn’t stand the music he was playing in his car.  My Dad asked if that was all, and I hesitated before saying, “I think so.”  My dad suggested that ‘maybe I ought to reconsider throwing him out so fast.’  (Sorry Jared, this is sounding really bad).  Later, I found out that Jared told his mom I was too spiritual.  I’m still laughing about that, but I guess something she said made him call me again. 

The second date was pretty much full of romance.  Horse riding, hair glistening in the sun, heads turning just the right way at just the right moment, and laughing to tears.  I’m not sure how everything magically switched that summer night, but it did, and we were struck by love.

I spent the next year on the phone, literally (my deepest apologies to my faithful roommates).  He had to go back to Cornell, across the country, and I had to go back to Paris, across the world, to study The Arts.  j/k – I went back up the road to BYU-Idaho, but still.

Love was in the air, and the following February, I left the freezing metropolis of Rexburg with wild abandonment (somewhat of a surprise trip) to seek out my true love in Ithaca, New York.  He in turn surprised me with a marriage proposal on the top of Hill Cumorah, on Valentine’s Day, in a blizzard.  He did get down on one knee.  He did open up a jewelry box with a beautiful ring.  He did tell me all sorts of wonderful things about me.  I did laugh and say YES, three times actually.  It was the perfect Valentine’s Day and the start of something wonderful. 

1-Ice Fishing- Valentines Day 04 023The day we were engaged - February 14, 2004

Dear Jared, I love you so much!  Please hurry home to me.  I’m sad that you’re in a different country today, but I know this won’t go on forever.  Be careful, and eat at my favorite restaurant for us.  Love, Me

 

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love Affair

With Valentine’s Day in mind, I convinced my mom to send me some photos of her and my dad back when they were high school sweethearts in the late 70s.  Oh man, this is great.  I love how happy they look.  Almost 35 years later, they’re still just as happy.  I’m so lucky to have these two as parents.  For real, check out my dad’s hair.  It may or may not be longer than my mom’s.  One word dad – stylin’

1-Photos1

And I’m so grateful to have a mom who shares memories and insights with me in the form of Mommy Memos.  I love reflecting on her example as an ambitious mother who created a magical childhood for me. 

Mommy Memo No. 7

I remember my daughter asking me once, "Mom, what is Valentine's Day anyway?"  My answer, "It's a day to celebrate Love.” (Yes, love with a capital L).  A day when you go the extra mile to remind those we love that we do in fact love them.  Yes, this is something we do everyday but let’s get real, life happens and we sometimes go days without reminding the ones we love how much they mean to us.  So what’s wrong with a day dedicated to doing just that?  Nothing, I say, nothing at all.

Valentine's Day for me, as a child, was my Mom receiving a beautiful hand-written letter from my Dad.  It was always taped on the mirror in their bedroom so it would be the first thing she saw when she woke up that morning.  It was her wonderful, moist, delicious, heart-shaped Red Velvet Cake for all of us.

When I was in grade school, it was macaroni necklaces, cards made of paper lace doilies, love notes, marbles from LaVell Loosli, and of course decorating my own individual box to hold anticipated valentines.

When I was 16, it was making a GIANT heart-shaped cookie with my Mom to give to my boyfriend (my husband now).  We had a great time together, flour on us both from head to toe!  I remember the recipe had honey in it.  My mom said, "to make it sweeter."

Mom and Dad’s first date…looking cozy:1-Photos2

1-Photos3
When my children were preschoolers, I tried to teach them that this could be a day about giving back.  My daughter would tell me that the Valentines never had enough room to write notes.  My sons on the other hand, were perfectly content with writing the names of their classmates and their own names over and over again.

Me, my brother Kyle, and Mom:scan0001I know I’ve posted this photo before, but it was just too fitting.

As a young Mom, Valentine's Day was a really good opportunity to teach my children about the value of being kind to others and putting yourself in another person's shoes.  One rule at our house was that EVERYONE in their elementary class received a Valentine.  Children who are concerned that someone might be left out truly have the Valentine's Day spirit and a caring attitude.  Learning compassion for others at a young age is important to the development of a well rounded adult.  Making Valentines together as a family taught the importance of supporting each other, doing things together, and service to one another.  One of my personal treasures is a hand-made Valentine that came to me in the mail from my son when he was serving a two year mission in Resistencia, Argentina 10 years ago.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day in your family?  What effect does it have on your children?  I remember 20 years ago spending several hours with my children making "the perfect" recording on our answering machine for "the perfect" Valentine's message.  Playing the piano and singing together was fun and exciting.  We anticipated coming home to hear the messages left on our answering machine and the response of special friends and neighbors.  Family love is part of this holiday.  Visiting Uncle Leo and Aunt Lenore in her wheel chair, exchanging Valentines with them, and eating red peanut M&M's together will always be precious memories.  Such special family members, dear to our hearts, who have passed on.

A card, or a small gift to a child on Valentine's Day helps a child feel appreciated and loved.  When children watch you as a parent give gifts of kindness, time, compassion, respect, and thoughtfulness to the people you love not just on holidays but throughout the year, they will learn that "I Love You" means so much more than three words inscribed on a candy heart.  James M. Barrie, author of the classic Peter Pan suggested that "the secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes to do, but in liking what one has to do."  With that in mind, keep those red construction paper hearts coming!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Earthly Father, Heavenly Father

Mormon Messages

Happy Valentine’s Week!  We’ve been celebrating all month, but yesterday the kiddos & I kicked off the festivities by making a yummy rainbow chocolate cake, one of President Monson’s favorite desserts.  We discovered it in The Friend magazine.  We love The Friend around here – my girls look forward to it’s arrival in the mail every month.

I’ve been trying to make an effort to get to know our neighbors better.  There are 30 units in our building (15 floors, 2 units p/floor).  Occasionally, we run into residents at the pool, but we are one of the few families with children, and most people here in our building live a very private life.  We have a family goal to make contact with every apartment, and although we’ve made progress, we have a long way to go, BUT…our goal is the important thing, right?  Valentine’s week is a good opportunity to take a plate of goodies over, so…we’re staying busy with our little neighbor project this week. :)

I came across this video yesterday that reminded me of my husband and brought tears to my eyes! 

He is a hard worker.  I love him.  I am grateful more & more each day for the decision we made long ago (when we were engaged) that we would do whatever possible to allow me the opportunity to stay home with our children.   I am thankful for the strong desire I have to be a stay-at-home mom, the love of the home as the Argentines call it, but more importantly, for the efforts my husband puts forth to make this a reality.

Have a great Monday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Carlie flies, Driving, & a boy named Ariel

1-DSC00059

I’m sure Carlie is not the only 3-year-old girl who runs around wildly with reckless abandonment, but this little girl truly is fearless when it comes to anything athletic or physical.  It scares me sometimes – she’s undoubtedly little and strong, exactly as her name defines. 

And I love that she wears a fancy dress with fancy shoes through it all - most days changing at least three or four times each morning before she gets it right.  Luckily, she finally ditched the pink Sleeping Beauty high heels that were her obsession for the month of January.   

We’re doing our best to channel her energy.  Have you ever read the children’s book, “Alice the fairy?”  Oh my, it fits Carlie to a tee.  That girl…

Last month when we went to Buenos Aires, we found ourselves in front of a car rental place advertising how many days it had been since their last accident.  This seriously cracks me up!  It looks like they don’t even use that first slot.  I can’t help but wonder if this is bragging rights or not…

1-DSC09915

And finally, I have to share a few thoughts about this sweet 11-year-old boy named Ariel; he really is amazing.

Ariel lives with his mother, step-father, and four younger half brothers, all who have a different dad from each other.  Ariel was recently baptized into our church, the only member of his family to do so.  His younger brother is following in his footsteps this Saturday.  We are so happy for him.   

In December, the youth of our branch presented the nativity scene for a Christmas fireside.  I asked Ariel to play the part of Joseph, and he gladly accepted, but seemed a little nervous. 

On the night of the nativity fireside, he showed up dressed exactly like Joseph Smith.  He was a little confused, but we laughed with him, made a few alterations, and proceeded to present a very tender nativity scene. 

Yesterday during our testimony meeting, he shared a profound thought that struck a chord with me.  He simply stated, “I believe in Christ, and I know He believes in us.”  I’d never really thought about that before, but isn’t it so true?! 

In reality, if anyone is our advocate, it’s Him, the healer of our hearts, the One who marked the path, led the way, and opened the gate for our return.  Sometimes as we suffer about our imperfections, it’s natural to feel inadequate and incapable, but Ariel reminded me that Christ believes in us.  He will comfort us and suggest areas of improvement if we go to Him in humility.

1-DSC09878

I hope I can always remember that.