Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More Fit for the Kingdom

A few weeks ago I was able to spend lunch with 6 of my oldest and dearest friends. Oh these women! Such faith, such strength. One of these sweet old friends is going through the heart break of divorce after 4 kids and 20 years of marriage. She has turned over every leaf and forgiven a million times and yet when she received the answer to go she listened.

It was wonderful to surround her with our love. All of us made a promise long ago on our 8th birthdays that we would "mourn with those that mourn" and I sure hope she felt that our hearts are breaking with hers and that our love and faith and prayers are with her. I think she did.

This is why I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It isn't just a decision that we will love others and be Christian, it is an actual binding covenant. A promise that we will do those things and that as we do we have the assurance that angels will be our guides and that we will have the help of heaven. I love being in covenant with the Lord. I love that I have figuratively signed my name on the dotted line and promised to never turn back. I love that becasue I have entered into these covenants I am entitled to certain wonderful and amazing blessings that I can get in no other way. And yesterday, sitting at the table with these faithful friends I was reminded of just why these covenants are essential and I am so thankful to have made them.

We had a wonderful summer. The condo in June...

And then Scott and the boys took off on their 3 week adventure, 3 years in the planning. They did so many amazing things. Sacrament meeting in the Kirkland temple and a church service with Elder Holland just to name a few.

The girls and I stayed behind and had our own fun with a cabin trip, Arizona Grand, SunSplash and lots of lazy days swimming in the pool.

I loved having that time with the girls but it was wonderful to be together again after 3 long weeks apart.

School is in full swing and we are having so much fun chasing the big kids to all of their games and meets. Branson is a starting receiver on the Freshman football team. Kaden is on the varsity swim team and Brylee is on varsity swim AND varsity cheer. She was only one of three Freshman to make the varsity squad so she was pretty excited. We spend Wednesday nights at Branson's game, Thursday night at the swim meet and Friday nights watching Brylee cheer. I love this. I really love this.

In all this running and going I am constantly repeating these words in my head:

More fit for the Kingdom, more used would I be, more blessed and holy, more Savior like Thee.

Even though we are constantly doing more and our family is constantly on the go I want to remember that the only thing I truly need to be more of is like the Savior. I love my family, I love my covenants and I love the gospel.

Monday, June 19, 2017

18 Summers

I wish someone would have told me when I was a young Mom that my summers would be numbered. 18 summers seems like a lot but let me tell you it wont be 18. Once these kids hit 12 they start leaving you. Scout camp, girls camp, EFY, friends trips, sports camps. Long gone are the days when I thought summer would never end and filling the days with all my kiddos home was HARD. Long gone are the days where summer meant my kids were all mine all summer.

But oh how fun it is to see them grow and GO and fly!

Brylee has hardly sat still all summer. She started with girls camp with her cousin Belle and then off to EFY. One thing I so love about Brylee is she is not afraid to be in a setting where she doesn't know anyone. For girls camp she literally only knew her cousins and they were not in the same group but that didnt phase her a bit, she went, made new friends and came back with great memories. She went to EFY with a cousin and two friends but came home with a whole crowd of new friends. Plus those sweet friends did a great job taking care of her on her birthday. We all cracked up when Brylee and her cousin ended up accidentally packed the same dress. Twinners!

Kaden took off to surf camp with his Priest quorum and I literally ended up with 1 (you heard me 1) picture and that's it. Branson had a camp as well but chose to miss it as he is pretty dedicated to his Freshman football team and didn't want to miss practice. But both boys will be leaving for a LONG three week trip that has been in the works for a couple years and I will MISS them like CRAZY! It really deserves a post of its own if my heart doesn't break in the mean time.

I LOVE my teenagers even if they are determine to leave me!

These Twins

My twins are 15. These little baby twins are 15!

They are the best and I am so thankful for that very special day when we saw two little figures on the ultrasound screen. Brylee decided to LEAVE us on her bday and spend the week at EFY with her friends but we did slip in a few fun things with her before she left of which I have very few pics. She went ice-skating with her friends and we were able to sneak some birthday notes into her EFY bag. I have decided that Brylee is the kind of girl that everyone needs for a daughter. MAN she is good. She is kind and easy going and even though she loves her family she isn't afraid to stretch her wings. She has never held back from trying something new, going on an adventure or making new friends.

Branson spent the day off at a water park with his friend but then we were able to take him to dinner. I love being with Branson because he loves to have deep important conversations and he is ever aware of those around him, holding doors, carrying heavy things and making his sisters laugh. I also love how he loves Brylee. He'd choose Brylee over just about anyone when it comes to hanging out. They truly enjoy each other and the older they get the more I see the security that has developed in them from always knowing the other one is there.

Football, volleyball, cheer, track and swimming keep these two busy but I am so happy to be their mom and I love who they are becoming. Twins is seriously just about the best thing that can happen to a Mama and I'm so thankful.

Our Tribal Leader

I am so thankful for Scott. He is a good selfless man that strives each day to be who the Lord wants him to be. The best advice I think I can give to my girls is to find a man that loves the Lord. If he does then he will be selfless and he will be good. Not perfect or flawless, not strong every moment, not with out weakness and not mistake proof but good and kind and always striving to be better. Of all the attributes of the Savior, that helped Him live a perfect life, I think His perfect selflessness was perhaps the one that saw Him through the atonement and the cross. He loved God first and He loved us second and that is how He became the Savior of the world. When I think of righteous fathers, carrying the weight of their whole family on their shoulders, spending their hard earned money on others and their time on serving their family my heart swells. Righteous Fatherhood is so selfless and I am so thankful to see that kind of fatherhood in action every day. My heart honestly can not contain the love and respect and devotion I feel when I see Scott act in his God-given role as a worthy priesthood holder in our home.  

 I love this quote from Sam Levenson. Sam was one of ten children and he was raised by immigrant parents during the depression. 

"Friday night's dinner was a testimonial banquet to Papa. For that hour, at least, he was no longer the oppressed victim of the sweatshops, the harassed, frightened and unsuccessful breadwinner, but the master to whom all heads bowed and upon whom all honor was bestowed. He was our father, our teacher, our wise man, our elder statement, our tribal leader."

If only all men (in books, movies, TV shows and in reality) were shown this sort of respect and if only all men lived in such a way to deserve it. The world would be a different place. 

In our home the world is far away as Scott loves and leads our little imperfect tribe and I sure love him for it. We LOVED celebrating him yesterday and I am so thankful for all he does for me and our children.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Enjoy the Magic

One more post to wrap up MAY, I cant write about May without including a little bit about the amazing school year Ella had, I want her to always have these memories to look back on!

Years ago Brylee and Branson were lucky enough to get the famous Mr. Eyre for 2nd grade. I'll never forget another Mom saying to me "enjoy the magic" when I told her that the twins were going to have Mr. Eyre. I thought, "seriously, its 2nd grade, how magical can it be?"

Turns out, when your teacher is Mr. Eyre, second grade can be all sorts of magical.

Branson was a strong willed, hard to parent kid in those days, I struggled to figure out the right ways to Mother him and I often felt discouraged and worried that I wasn't getting it right.  But more than once I remember crying happy tears as I read emails from Mr. Eyre. Here is just one example of those emails from August of 2010:

Branson and Brylee are some of the most amazing kids I have ever known. You can tell a lot about a kids parents when you teach them and you guys are doing a fantastic job. Brylee and Branson are both true leaders and will be for the rest of their lives. They are so eager to learn. They're such a great example to their classmates, not only academically but also in how they conduct themselves, I am honored to be their teacher. 

That same school year Mr. Eyre decided to move up to third grade and take his 2nd grade class again. We were thrilled and felt so blessed that the twins would get another year in Mr. Eyre's class. They had so many amazing experiences and by the time those two years were up their self confidence was soaring. What I have noticed as one of the main ingredients to Mr. Eyre's ability to build up a child's self image is that he shows them by his actions and words that he as their teacher he LOVES being there, he LOVES to teach them, he LOVES to learn with them, He LOVES to be around them. Common phrases from him are things like:

Monday is my favorite day becasue I get to start a new week with my class!
I have the best job in the whole world!
I cant wait for Spring Break to be over so I get to come see you all again!
I am so sad that its May, I just don't want this school year to end.
This is the best class ever but every class is the best class ever because every year just keeps getting better and better.

Its amazing what it does to a child's heart to KNOW and FEEL that their teacher (or parent or any adult) WANTS to be with them.


Brylee often wrote notes like this on her papers:

This last school year it was finally Ella's turn to be in Mr. Eyre's class. She had been waiting and waiting and was so excited. Because of some academic struggles that Ella has Mr. Eyre came over during the summer and set her up on our computer with some learning programs. School hadn't even started yet and Mr. Eyre was already sending the message that Ella mattered and he wanted to help her.

The year was filled with so many fun and unique activities and most of all confidence building for Ella and tons of extra help before and after school. Nothing is sweeter as a parent than seeing your child feel good about themselves. And there is a special kind of love and appreciation that swells in your heart for other people who love your children.

Over the years Mr. Eyre has become a dear friend, Scott was able to help him with his Real Estate needs and he has always made an effort to come to our baptisms and concerts and other events the kids have. This year Mr. Eyre was awarded "Teacher of the Year" and we were not a bit surprised. Teacher of the century more like it.

Excerpts from an end of the year email:

Seriously Julianne and Scott, I can't even put into words how much I have loved being Ella's teacher this year and how proud I am of her. One of my very favorite things this year was after-school tutoring on Thursdays with Ella. It's really one of my highlights of my whole teaching career. The reason I became a teacher was to have experiences like that...when a student is so willing to learn, so eager to learn, and has an attitude that they can learn and understand anything. It was amazing seeing her make those connections in her mind and see so many light bulbs turn on. And to see her be so proud of herself when she grasped the concepts. It happened a lot in class, too, but particularly during those Thursday tutoring sessions I just had some of the greatest feelings I think a teacher can have when a student really grasps a concept and finally "gets it."

She has such an amazing mind and is such a wise soul. There is no praise too high for what she accomplished this year. The crowning moment was when she got 100% on that last math test (probably the hardest test of the year) and we entered it into Infinite Campus together to see what it did to her grade. It boosted her overall math grade to an A- and the look of joy and pride on her face was just priceless. That qualified her for the Principal's list and it was such an honor to give her that award.

To say that Scott and I are grateful for the blessing Mr. Eyre has been to our kids would be an understatement. I'm so glad that this year Ella got to "enjoy the magic".