Thursday, February 25, 2010

So Random

So yesterday we talked about weather in preschool and I had the kids dress up in different clothes for different weather and I took pix of them for a little weather book we will make on Friday. I went to upload the photos today and found about 15 minutes of ridiculousness videotaped by our kids. I kept one of the clips, just because it's funny to see what they want to record, but they always forget the camera is on and they spin around and run with the camera and it is painful! I also found these gems of us just hanging out being couch potatoes this weekend, taken by Heidi. I am posting them so you can see my glasses and my anniversary rug: one downstairs couch & the new rug
Silly James
Mommy/Jabba and Addie watching a movie downstairs.


James, Lydia. and Ashley--
this pic was taken Wednesday during preschool--it's a sneak-peek of the weather book. the kids are demonstrating what we wear when it's sunny and hot: sun glasses, hats, sunscreen, and we take water to drink! James looks like Samuel L. Jackson.
***
I'm still in my February Funk, but it's almost over, right? I may sneak in a little road trip to break up the stifling lameness...we'll see. Today I am doing 3 miles if it kills me and I am finishing my basement organization project, cuz we start sanding and refinishing furniture this weekend and move the new craft locker into the basement. When you hear angels shouting the hallelujah chorus, you'll know it's finished.

PS: I super-loved THIS POST from kelly today. The February funk, it's epidemic...but K puts it in perspective.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I kind of hate February

It's prolly because I'm all hormonal, but I can't get THESE photos out of my head. Something about them--I can feel the sunshine, I can smell the desert blooming, and then I feel so homesick, I could cry.

I love my home and surroundings here in MT. I wouldn't move for a million bucks. But I would take a million bucks and put it in the bank so I could spend every future February of my life in the sun. I am feeling almost better, but I have a lingering cough and the girly flu, I can't get warm, and I just want to stay in bed. I went to do my 3.3-miles-in-60 minutes again after nearly 2 months and I felt sad and disappointed in myself when I could only do 2 miles in 33 minutes...I went faster than usual because I just wanted to go back to bed. After soem Classical Stretch and some lunch and some laundry (while watching "Whatever It Takes"), I DID go back to bed--I took an hour-and-a-half nap with James (who is still coughing, too--we are quite the pair).

So I guess I am just gonna give up on gettin' my mojo today and give up til tomorrow. I will daydream of AZ sun and make hubs make me laugh. And I'll start over, better, tomorrow!
PS: It was even sunny and near 40 degrees today...it's not really "the weather..."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What I Learned at Stake Conference

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Happy, happy birthday to my Dad Post and nephew Sam Post today! We love you both so much!!!
And another PS: Rich reminded me of MORE things that made Saturday great...we got "financial aid" on our remaining balance at the Billing hospital for my surgery last year--$700 knocked off, leaving about $500! YAY! And even better, my cutie-cousin Maren is expecting a baby in early September (and as we all know, babies are wonderful, but September babies RULE)--CONGRATS, Allreds!


Stake Conference was fabulous again. It was so nice to sit down last night and just relax and listen! It cost us $15 for a babysitter, but it was worth it. Last night the theme was effective teaching, with many references to THIS talk by Jeffrey R. Holland (I’m a fan, have you heard?). Every talk was excellent and Richard and I both commented on the way home about how subtly the Spirit taught us during the session. He was inspired with a word-for-word conversation he should have with one of our children; my inspiration came more in pictures of moments I need to create with the children and Richard, and ideas for organizing and being better prepared for teaching moments. It’s so wonderful to know we have so much support on the other side in this huge project we’ve undertaken called raising a family!

The most touching stories for me were straight from the Book of Mormon, specifically the stories of Enos and of Alma Jr., who serve as shining examples that it is never too late. Their conversion stories teach us that no teaching moment is wasted, no testimony we bear goes unheard, even if we are mocked/ignored in the moment. Someday, some way, when our wandering children find themselves sinking “in the gall of bitterness,” we have to have faith that their minds will catch old, as Alma’s “caught hold” (read it HERE) upon the testimony of his father.

I hope and pray every day that my children will avoid the path that leads to the gall of bitterness; I pray they will spare themselves and everyone who loves them the heartache. But if they do go there, if they wander to places we cannot reach them, I pray that our testimonies and our actions will serve as that last shining rope of hope that they can reach for in their darkest hour, like Jacob’s testimony helped Enos and Alma’s directed Alma Jr. to Christ. THIS talk by Elder Eyring and THIS talk by Elder Holland pretty much sum up last night’s message…every member, especially every parent, needs to be an excellent teacher!

Today there were many messages I found inspiring (even amid the cacophony of children), like Mission President Gardner’s message that LOVE is the foundation of all successful conversions, and of all gospel living. But I wanted to write down President Heap’s analogy cuz it was such a gooood one.

President Heap first reminded us of that book titled “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People,” and remarked that we might ask ourselves more often, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” To answer that question, he sent us to the story (found HERE) of Christ hanging out with the publicans and sinners. When he was asked why he was with those people, he answered, “They that be whole need no physician” (and that response has always moved me; I love that quote and have applied it often, like HERE). President points out that this was another response that in itself condemns the questioner (“A trick answer”)—the tricky part is that, “there was only one WHOLE person in the room! I submit to you that the greatest sin is not to be aware of sin.”

He then went on to talk about how he often sees in our behavior efforts to live as if we are being judged on a scale: that our good deeds will be weighed against the bad and we'll be exalted if the good outweighs the bad. This is simply not the case. It never was. Consider this scripture: “For I, the Lord, cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31). But consider this one, too: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Grace is a gift—there is nothing you can do to earn it, but you must be humble enough to accept it.

Then he shared an analogy that came to him yesterday as he witnessed a baptism. He imagined each of us entering into a covenant with God. You are waist deep in a font of water and God says, “Here’s the covenant: I am going to give you 100 ping pong balls, down there, in the water. If you can keep them all submerged, you’re saved! You’re exalted!” This sounds like a good deal to you, so you make the covenant. The 100 ping pong balls are poured in and bob along the surface of the font. In this analogy, the ping pong balls are our sins and our trials in life—the things that separate us from our Heavenly Father. Some of them are self-inflicted wounds, poor choices we made ourselves; some of them are heartaches beyond our control that we need outside help to deal with.

You reach out your hands to submerge the balls, but only 6 or 7 stay down. So you start to use your forearms, your armpits, your body, your chin. You think and you try everything, but the most you can do is 50 or 60 balls, and then they start popping up again. The task is clearly beyond you by yourself. You spot a trusted friend and say, “Hey, can you come in here and help me?” Your friend loves you and says, “Sure—I’ll be right there!” So your friend hops in the font, but he’s made the covenant, too, so now there are 200 balls for the two of you to submerge, and it’s not going to work. So what’s the solution? Who can help you keep your part of the covenant and keep the other ping pong balls submerged?

Some one who has no ping pong balls, that’s who. And we all have a trusted friend who carries no ping pong balls—the lamb without blemish, the Only Begotten Son, our Savior and elder brother, Jesus Christ.

He concluded this analogy with the following quote by Sheri L. Dew: “The Savior isn't our last chance; He is our only chance. Our only chance to overcome self-doubt and catch a vision of who we may become. Our only chance to repent and have our sins washed clean. Our only chance to purify our hearts, subdue our weaknesses, and avoid the adversary. Our only chance to obtain redemption and exaltation. Our only chance to find peace and happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come….The Lord knows the way because He is the way and is our only chance for successfully negotiating mortality. His Atonement makes available all of the power, peace, light, and strength that we need to deal with life's challenges--those ranging from our own mistakes and sins to trials over which we have no control but we still feel pain" (April 1999 conference).

After a few more remarks, President David Heap closed with the words, “Remember that grace is a gift—you can’t earn it. You can’t submerge the ping pong balls. But I testify that He can.”

Beautiful, no?
I welcome your thoughts! Happy Sabbath, y’all!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Four Good Things...

...that make today AWESOME:
#1: We got our first letter from ELDER JEFF ELREY (Mexico Veracruz) in the MTC! He's alive and kickin'!

#2: Uncle Jess (Rich's Bro) is visiting for the weekend (under the guise of Wind Energy Exploration) from Florida.

#3: I AM GETTING A NEW NIECE/nephew (NIECE, NIECE, NIECE!!!!!) in OCTOBER-ish!!!! (Have her on my birthday!!!! Or Sam's!!!!) I'll let the parents be the first to reveal themselves, though.

#4: Stake Conference tonight and tomorrow with our stake president who is, hands down, the greatest teacher since Neal A. Maxwell (except maybe David Bednar). I AM SOOOO READY TO FEAST!

I'll return & report tomorrow, y'all...have a fun Saturday Night!

(PS: I hope my cute little nephews, Owen Layton and Sam Post are having super-fun birthday parties today! We suer love you super-boys!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Again?

Here's a quickie--I keep forgetting to blog when facebook is so easy!

Anyway, we went to celebrate our 9th anniversary in Billings--temple, dinner, hotel, shop--the annual tradition, on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was still feeling pretty wiped out, but we had a fun time. The nice little 6oz steak I had at Texas Roadhouse was to.die.for...I was surprised, pleasantly. And I had a ball with my husband, who we all know is hilarious and thoughtful. I miss hanging out with him, and while I totally love my mommy job, I am reeeeally looking forward to graduationg from it, getting these three squatters out on their own, and having a string of days like Wednesday. On the way, we listened to "The House at Loon Lake"on the ipod, a cool old episode of This American Life and it was FUN. On the way home, we read parenting books. We know how to party, I'm telling you.

I have begun some deep spring cleaning/re-organizing. The kind where I pretend like I am moving and pack everything up and clean the shelves, counters, drawers, etc., then take things to the trash and thrift store, then put all the good stuff back. My house looks like crap, but it's gonna be great in a few weeks. And Rich is building me a new piece of furniture, one that matches THIS set he built 5 years ago. I call it a Craft Locker, but it's basically an old-school wardrobe-style piece to go in between the bookcases (the TV cabinet part is in storage since we got the flat screen). It'll be cool.

I have to go now. Heidi is home sick from school and she and James are about to kill each other. Later!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hallelujah

I had a facebook chat the other night wherein we are all lamenting the over-exposure of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, culminating in kd laing's performance at the Olympics ("how is that song appropriate for hte Olympics in any way?" "It's a Canadian national treasure", etc.). Anyway, her version sounded different from my favorite by Jeff Buckley so I looked up the lyrics after my facebook chat. In the comment section, I found this comment that was so beautiful, I decided to post it here (with many kudos to the author). This, along with a listening hiatus, will restore my love for Hallelujah.

In my most familiar version of this song, I see so much more than either blasphemy or lust.
As someone who finds the Bible the be all and end all of faith and literature, I do not take offense at this song at all. The imagery and metaphor are rich and the experience is true.


[Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair,
she broke your throne, she cut your hair
and from your lips she drew the halleujah]

It begins with David's temptation. David, whom the Lord called a man with a perfect heart before God. Human. All humanity fights with temptation. This is not something to judge or or find fault with. It is pure, Biblical, and actual fact. Cohen uses David's perfect heart to display all humanities' experience. What was David? He was a worshipper of God and he was a King.
Being tied to a kitchen chair is not some s&m image--it is the breaking of the most lofty and bringing him down to the level of everyman. But the Samson image expresses how that same transgression creates a breach before God. You are not in the same position before God after a fall as you were at first. You lose your throne. You lose your glory.


But that is okay, because the throne and the glory belong to God, and it is only in our weakness that we look up and find Him. He is the One to whom the cold broken Hallelujah is sent. It is the cry of repentance, not maybe at the sin as it could and should be, because we are ignorant of Him , but at the breach between you and your God. All humans were made to partake of the beauty of human love, but if we rest in it and don't put God's love first, our Hallelujah never reaches the Holy. It remains cold and broken.

As for the verse about the dove, we have cleaned up religion to this place where it is unrecognizable. Have you ever read the Bible? It does not disguise the human love at all! It reveals it. Totally. Human love is supposed to be comparable to God's love. Human love is a metaphor for God's love. God wants to have a relationship so close to people that He dwells inside of them. Human love is able to reflect that. And it should, but it doesn't because we had, historically, made all sexuality to be secretive and shameful. Then we liberated ourselves and made every kind of pleasure both acceptable and sanctioned. It isn't. Not by God. But there is still a love between a man and woman that God respects, because it echoes and resounds His love. There is no shame in Hallelujah for that. Each one emphasizes and clarifies the other.

Our lives are are a musical composition of cycles and resonances of that same hallelujah, your relationship with God determines which hallelujah will triumph. Even Samson's being cut-off was not permanent. When his hair grew back, his power with God was restored, the original contract still stood. But, it cost him his life to know it. It costs us our lives to obtain a Holy Hallelujah. I think what we believe we know of Cohen himself, is that for him the Holy hallelujah was unreachable, and he contented himself so far with the broken, with the music and human love satisfying that cry. But there can never be a Holy Hallelujah without first a broken one. But most people don't want to be broken first.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day at Pine Creek

Rich only had to work a half day today, so we headed up to Pinecreek campground at 2pm to roast brats and marshmallows...Addie kncoking icicles off the shelter
James being a snow puppy
Heidi trying to make a "snow couch."

Sadly, Rich got stuck in the deep snow at the turn-around. He eventually got out, but here are the tracks we made to get out.
The mighty Lexus!
Heidi's adorable snow crab

Roasting marshmallows and drying our gear

(James loved putting sticks in the fire)

Addie's Uggs got wet, so she wore Rich's gloves while her boots dried.

This is how the valley looked as we came down Pine Creek Road

Around this bend is the engagement spot, blanketed in clouds.
All in all, a magnificent Family night (afternoon) (except for the getting stuck part, but it's all good, right?). I am so thankful to be feeling better and thankful for a wonderful husband who likes to do ambitious things and delight his children, and I am thankful to live in a free and beautiful country founded on inspiration. Yay, health! Yay, Presidents! Yay MelinFam!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day 2010!

{Yet another year mommy gets off her deathbed to celebrate...}
The girls woke us up at 7:13, excited for our Valentine's breakfast. So we cooked raspberry stuffed french toast and thick bacon and orange juice and grapes. While I cooked adn set the table, Rich gave the kids the Valentines he bought for them:
Addie, Heidi, and James with stuffies from dad.
Mommy setting the table, sorting out Valentine treats
(see that envelope? We got it yesterday from the Smiths in Pinehurst, NC! We opened it today over breakfast--thanks for all the sweet Valentines, Hila & family!)
James and Daddy
Addie and Daddy at the table
Heidi with her squirt gun from the Smiths.
After breakfast, we got ready for church and were even 20 minutes early! Amazing what getting up an hour early with enthusiastic children can do for ya! I'll come back and post pix of them in their cute church clothes today...
***
Last week, the kids spent lots of time with Grandma and Uncle Mike because I was sick. Heidi built a tiny snow man at Uncle MIke's house on Friday (yes, we need some NEW snow!)...
Also, last Tuesday, poor Cousin Danny (age 7, first grader at the same school as the girls) fell on the playground and broke his arm. He had to have surgery and get screws in his arm. Addie and went to visit after school.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Update

I have received from several sources complaints that I haven't blogged in a while. I am still sick, my ear is still swollen and infected after 11 days of augmentin. The antibiotics are taking a toll and I have had a few days of nausea and vomiting (a la pregnancy) over the past week. I've also felt nearly normal a couple of days, but then I crash the next day. I just saw my regular doctor and after an exam she scheduled a CT scan for my head and x-rays for my back at 1:30. She scheduled a consult with another doctor and will call me late this afternoon with another plan of action.

On the bright side, I have been able to keep up with the laundry and spend quality reading/cuddle time with the kids while I am holed-up in the basement. I also scanned a bunch of old photos to save on disks. I posted an album of mission pictures on facebook, and when I feel decent, I am working on cropping and color-correcting other oldies like this:
That's Audrey and Willy and me holding baby Tyler at Christmas 1994. Will was teaching Ty to be Rat Boy.

I have also been reading like crazy and creating blog posts in my head. I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell in 6 hours (say what you want about his "glibness", I looove the way he thinks and sees patterns everywhere; I devour everything he has to share!), Half The Sky by Nick Kristoff and his wife, and I am in the middle of The Magic of Encouragement by Stephanie Marston. This is an old book , but it has so many good ideas and exercises to do to make your home a haven and a strength to your children...last night I decided it was going to serve as our family night curriculum for a while. I also watched Food, Inc and it made me cry (for the farmers, not the animals). I typed up a draft of thoughts about it I will post when I get around to editing it.

So I will get back to you after my hospital business today. Thanks for your concern. If anybody wants to play with my kids or take them to the playground, this is always welcome since I have been a terribly boring mama and I am still unsteady on my feet.


Here is some Malcolm...I hope he delights you as much as he delights me. I wish he was my neighbor.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday, yay!

I have been sick all week--Sunday started with a moderate-to-severe sinus headache and Monday it became a full-blown, throbbing ear ache. On Tuesday morning, my left ear was swollen shut, so I saw my doc at 9am and got antibiotics and supplements to kill the infections and stop the general inflammation (fish oil DHA is supposed to help with that)(the diagnosis was double ear infections, with an abscess in the left ear that was infecting surrounding tissue in neck and jaw). The pain was as bad as labor, except maybe worse because it was steady, w/o the rhythmic cessations and definite end (and great reward) of labor. I have never been in that kind of pain. I finally got some pain meds from the doc and had a good night's sleep Wednesday, so Thursday there was marked improvement. I even went to PTO mtg and served as secretary for the first time. Today I still can't hear clearly but there is less swelling. The pain seems pretty bad, but that's prolly because I was trying not to take anymore vicodin. But I am going to, and I am taking a nap with James shortly.


My girls are auditoning for the Firehouse 5 Playhouse production of Alice in Wonderland today--they've been having theatre workshops all week and are very excited. If you would like to come see the shows, they are next Friday, 2/12 at 7pm, Saturday 2/12 at 2 and 4pm and admission is $5, or $20 for a family. Proceeds go back to the PTO, which shelled out a couple thousand clams to give the kids this experience, so COME SEE THE SHOW!!! Anyway, I just wanted to remark again here how much I adore my children and how lucky I feel to be their mom. It has been a hard week, I have been pretty much bedridden, but they have been really good at taking care of me and entertaining themselves and doing their chores. I am thankful for that! One thing Addie has done to help is reading to James. Heidi has to go to sleep around 7:30pm, but James often has had a nap and Addie's bedtime is now 8pm. So Rich will go tuck Heidi in (reading and a "10-minute-lay-by") and Addie has started taking James to his bed and reading to him for a half hour or so. Then she goes up to her room and James just reads himself to sleep. How cute is that? Here are some pix I snapped on Tuesday:






Awww...reminds me of THIS.
***
Meanwhile, Heidi continues to amaze and impress with her artwork. This little marker-on-paper piece just cracked us up:

"Look at your little artist," it says. Indeed. How does she know that artists stereotypically wear berets and carry palletes? and look at that cute little paint brush in her hand. She just kills me.

She drew this pencil-on-paper piece on her lapdesk. Rich and I were cuddled up on the couch watching Harry Potter on 1/23, and she was facing us, "sketching" us on her lapdesk as we watched the movie. Quite a likeness. I was still wearing a striped stocking cap. Rich was thinking about something, she explained to us, but I can't remember what.
Melin Kids Rock.

FAMILY LETTER 10.14.18

Dear Loved Ones,                      This week has been a lot of work. Kids have been home sick with colds, Heidi was home on grievi...