Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Arizona Christmas Slideshow

Move your mouse over the photo and to the bottom and press pause of you want to linger longer...(it goes pretty fast...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Many Days, Few Photos

The combination of navigating Windows 8 and navigating our minimalist dwelling space has made it kind of hard to do photos like I used to. But I think I am getting my mojo back, so here are the only photos I have taken of 2013 thus far. I hope to do better now that we are temporarily settled.
We came home from Christmas in Arizona to enjoy a visit from the Texas Melins.
We had a New Years Eve Party at the ranch house and the dads put on a fireworks show to ring out the old year as the rest of the family watched from the deck. It was pitch black and I was trying to maneuver the camera with gloves on, so the pictures aren't great, but it was magical. L-R: Liana, Adeline, Sariah, Samantha, Aunt Elena, Heidi, Grandma Melin, James, Jared, Uncle Mike, and Niles.

James & Sariah watching the fireworks.
I wish I were a good enough photographer to capture the beauty of the
fireworks glittering on the river.

New Year's ooo's & ahhh's

Liana & Addie

On New Year's Day, we met at Pine Creek to sled and cross-country ski, roast dawgs & marshmallows, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy the family. Here is Grandma Melin with her girls on the trail...four pretty girls!
Jared & James, cousin buddies

Jared & James eating hot dogs

James pulling Niles on a sled

Daddy kept everyone way to start the year!
Once the holidays were over, we had to get packed and ready to move. We had to say goodbye to Heidi's paper elephants...

I made them for her room back in 2007, but it was time to throw them out.

On Monday, January 28th, Addie had her first band concert, playing my old flute.
She's a natural!

On Presidents' Day (2/18) I took the kids to the new Rainforest Adventure exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies, then lunch at Burger King (the only place with a playground for wild Niles), then some groceries at Costco & Walmart and home for naps. We got some bubbles while we were at Wally and enjoyed the sunshine for a while...spring is only a few blizzards away!

More photos soon...until then, here's the official song of February & March...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine Wish

I just came home from a Valentine’s Day lunch with my boys—I took James out of his first grade class at lunch time and had Niles with me as usual and we had such a good time (Heidi is at a class party and Rich went skiing with Addie's class). I was reflecting on what made lunchtime so sweet and I realized that it was watching the boys share and laugh together.  I think that good sibling relationships might be the sweetest reward of parenting. More than anything else that happens around here, seeing my kids play together, laugh together, share, help each other,  or support each other brings a huge wave of mamma joy.

A corollary to this thought is that I love people more when they love my kids. For example, I have a dear friend who is always so good to me, but she is even awesomer to my kids, especially my middle child. I have this one child that needs the love and attention of, like, four mommies but God only gave her one. So in her case, it really does take a village. Or maybe just one exceptional “auntie” who does the work of three other mommies. This dear friend has lived near us since my girl was 3, but she moved away last year and we missed her much more than we expected to.  I got to thinking of all the ways she helped to make my girl feel special and how I could never do it without her. I got a little choked up  thinking about all her thoughtful, inspired acts of kindness and I felt another wave of mamma joy, and gratitude, too. I realized I love this friend because she is good to me, but I love her more for all the ways she serves my children—for doing the things I wish I could do but can’t.

Then I had a “light bulb” moment. I thought to myself, This is what God is talking about in the scriptures. This is what he means when he says, “Insasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). I mean, I am sure He appreciates our worship and faith and obedience, or whatever we bring to the altar, but I think He is most touched and honored when His children do things to help each other that He can’t do for them Himself right now (maybe by “can’t do” I mean “Is not allowed to do” right now,  as part of the plan of salvation and agency and all that). I think of times when I can’t (and shouldn’t) be with my kids—during school, during activities, etc.—and think of the challenges they face there without me, and I appreciate the teacher or the friend or the sibling who sees their need and extends kindness and comfort  I would give if I were there. I am profoundly grateful and moved. And I believe that is a taste of what our Father in Heaven feels when we love one another.

So I am learning in a new way what this scripture, which meant so much to me as a missionary, means to all of us:
“Behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

On this “Love Day,” I re-read one of my favorite talks for personal study. You can read it, too, if you click HERE. I want to be kind. I want to assume the best of others and listen to the Spirit’s guidance so I can serve in the most effective, loving ways. I want us to lighten one another’s parenting load by loving all children the way their mamas would, the way the Savior would, if He were physically here. This is WISDOM. I would like to be found possessed of this kind of wisdom, and charity, at the last day and see Him as He is because I’ll be like Him. That would RULE.

Monday, February 11, 2013


This concept is so beautiful to me. I know it is expressed many times in many ways in the restored gospel, but I like the Buddhist words. If you exchange “DOUBT” for “ANGER” or “SUFFERING” and “TESTIMONY” or “FAITH” for “COMPASSION” or “HAPPINESS,” you can read the story of what I have experienced the past few years:

“In Buddhist psychology, we speak of consciousness in terms of seeds. We have a seed of anger in us. We have a seed of compassion in us. The practice is to help the seed of compassion to grow and the seed of anger to shrink. When you express your anger you think that you are getting anger out of your system, but that's not true. When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you. It's a dangerous practice….

“Happiness and enlightenment are living things and they can grow. It is possible to feed them every day. If you don't feed your enlightenment, your enlightenment will die. If you don't feed your happiness, your happiness will die. If you don't feed your love, your love will die. If you continue to feed your anger, your hatred, your fear, they will grow….

“Small enlightenments have to succeed each other. And they have to be fed all the time, in order for a great enlightenment to be possible. So a moment of living in mindfulness is already a moment of enlightenment. If you train yourself to live in such a way, happiness and enlightenment will continue to grow.

 “If you know how to maintain enlightenment and happiness, then your sorrow, your fear, your suffering don't have a lot of chance to manifest. If they don't manifest for a long time, then they become weaker and weaker. Then, when someone touches the seed of sorrow or fear or anger in you and those things manifest, you will know to bring back your mindful breathing and your mindful smiling. And then you can embrace your suffering.”- Thich Nhat Hanh

I have taken long stretches of feeding my doubt; I have followed up with feeding my faith. There is a beautiful contrast. I am happy and more peaceful and enlightened when I feed my faith; I feel restless and discontent when I feed my doubt. Some people like that feeling, so I say to each his own—search on, brother. Some people feed their doubt until faith is totally dead and doubt becomes a sure negative—atheism (which requires an arrogance and a worship of five senses I could never muster; agnostics, though, I can dig. There is a humility in saying “I don’t know” and I love that, but I digress...). As for me— I like the peace that comes to me from acting in faith. This is not to say that I have or ever will go back to my “all is well in Zion,” five-fingered testimony because the truth is I don’t have that anymore. But I traded it in for something else and I am better.

[aside: Did you know I think in songs? Well, I do. Here’s a little song that I sing to myself constantly like a mantra or self-soother; I love it…

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

 I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile

- John Henry Newman]

I don’t know much, but I know to my bones that Christ’s atonement is infinite and eternal, and it is so much bigger than His church or this world or my little mind. Every soul matters to Him; every soul has a journey to experience that will lead back to Him eventually. I know He is that Good Shepherd, that He hikes through the rains and the wind and the dark to save The One, and that He loves that one as much as He loves little me who likes hanging out with the fold, and His atonement will reach into the crevices and speak to our broken hearts in ways that we believe impossible. I know He wasn’t kidding when He said we will come to Him with broken hearts and contrite spirits because that’s what life is. Nobody gets out without breaking. And then He puts us back together—over and over again if need be.

[And this is one of my faves about Jesus:

There is hope for every soul that’s lost

There is a way back home

No matter where you roam

Let His love heal you

And lead you there

There’s a place for every heart in pain

A place where there’s no hurt

And there’s no shame

Let His love reach you

And teach you

Every hour

--M. McLean, from The Prodigal Son video]

So if you’re tired of the negative, stop feeding it. Just try. We are children of The Divine and our thoughts and intentions carry energy and power (faith being the most potent, IMHO). I did the experiment and it worked…what we feed really does grow.



Dear Loved Ones,               The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for us…and now we are 8! We got a new German daughter, Kristin...