My Family

My Family

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Mother's Faith, Hope, and Prayers

What do you do when your old-enough-to-get-married son meets a lovely girl and is falling in love?
You PRAY, pray, and pray some more. You HOPE that you've taught him everything he needs to know - about how girls are daughters of God, about the sanctity and importance of marriage, and about the necessity of family. And you have FAITH that he'll make the right decision when the time comes, and that he'll remember God in his planning for the future.

What do you do when your preparing-to-go-on-a-mission son meets a his soul mate, and knows he'll love her forever?
You PRAY, pray, and pray some more. You HOPE that you've taught him the importance of commitment and service, that you've taught him patience, and all about obligation and duty. And you have FAITH that he'll follow through with his goals and dreams, and then carrying on with his life.

What do you do when your 15-year-old son encounters peer pressure, finds out that not everything on the internet is good, and is buried to his eyeballs in homework pressures? You PRAY, pray, and pray some more. You HOPE that the lessons you've tried to teach him about being strong under pressure, and the importance of morality and chastity have sunk deep within, and that he'll make the right choices when faced with opposition. And you have FAITH that he'll remember how it feels to be good, and that he'll listen to that still small voice. And that he'll understand that repentance is a good thing - just like it is for his mom and his dad and his brothers.

What do you do when you worry about your youngest son and his self-esteem, and how everyone, including his own brothers, treat him, and wonder if he'll ever smile and be genuinely happy. You PRAY, pray, and pray some more. You HOPE that he'll grow out of those self-conscious feelings, learn to stand up for himself, and become someone who his brothers can't live without. And you have FAITH that he'll know, deep down, that he is a child of God, that he is of infinite worth, that he can accomplish anything, and that he'll be happy.

Just though I'd share my most important tools in my "MOM" kit: PRAYER, HOPE, and FAITH. Because, after all we do as mothers, there are just times when you have to turn it all over to God, and let Him lead and guide your children.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've been waiting for my husband to help me hang some pictures up for quite awhile now. Believe it or not, I've never hung pictures (formal) of my kids up before. I know... BAD MOM. So... (1) I scheduled a photo shoot with this amazing photographer (Matt Clayton), (2) I had prints made of 5 of the photos, (3) I picked two walls that were glaringly blank, (4) I bought the cool iron decoration, and (5) I laid them all out, and told my husband exactly what I wanted.

Just so you know - I'm not stupid... I know how to hang a picture... but my husband is an engineer - one who likes to read ALL the instructions, take AGES to shop for something, and is CRAZY stressed about getting pictures hung the correct way. After going to the store to buy a whole NEW kit of hanging nails and other paraphernalia, and leaving it sitting on the table for awhile - with no luck - I decided today that I would venture into the world of hanging straight pictures. (I figured, since I was able to create and hang this... hard could it be? I know, you're astonished by my amazing skills - picture finding and printing skills, frame buying skills, hanging skills... you know... skills!)

So, here's my journey... in pictures:

Here's all the "stuff"

Just look at all those nails - I could hang things ALL OVER!!!!

First you hang the two bottom pictures and DON'T FORGET the most important tool in picture hanging - the level.

Then you center the iron thing.

Then you hang the left upper picture where you want it

After CAREFUL measuring and leveling, you hang the final picture up. (They are really very straight - just my camera is crooked.)

The end result! SWEET!

Then, after screwing in the hanging things, and wrapping the wire around, and around, and around some more, I hang the last picture up.

I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself right now. I mean, it's been almost 10 years with blank walls. Now those disgustingly handsome boys are all hanging around. And talk about stinkin' cute... here are some close-ups of that first picture project...

Talk about skills!... cute-baby-making skills, perfect-handsome-boy-raising skills... skills, I tell ya... SKILLS!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So many books... so little time!

I was reading through the post that I'm putting up tomorrow on my Incredible Women blog - it's about DeNae Handy's favorite authors. I commented on how much I love to read. Then, while I was standing upstairs in the hallway, trying (like I do every night), to beg my teenagers to go to bed, I started looking through the books on one of my many bookcases. These things prompted me to take a walking tour around my house, looking at all of my bookcases. I decided that I just had to post pictures of my bookcases here - you will not believe how many books I've got! I think maybe I should clean up these bookcases, straighten the books, look for books that I haven't yet read, etc. So, that's my next "project" in my house. Here are the before pictures... (and suggestions for some great reads on each of those bookcases)

Ok, this is the book case in my office - it's WAY too small. It holds mostly my "bookclub" books. I've read probably 95% of the books on these shelves. Some of my favorites here?
Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
1776 by David McCullough
Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This is a small set of shelves that I bought for my business, but it's slowly being taken over by my books - yikes!
Favorites here?
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull
Complete Food and Nutrition Guide - 3rd Edition
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
My Fair(y) Godmother by Janette Rallison

This bookcase is in my living room, and it holds mostly church books - or fiction by LDS authors. Some of the best books here?
Jesus the Christ by James Talmage
Prelude to Glory series by Ron Carter (about the Revolutionary War)
Rachel & Leah, Rebekah, and Sarah - books by Orson Scott Card
Righteous Warriors by John Bytheway
Glimpses in the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley by Virginia H. Pearce

This bookcase houses my overflow of book club books, plus more church books, and some of my favorite fiction series. (Notice the statue of Dumbledore on the top shelf!)...
Harry Potter collection by J.K. Rowling
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Hal Iggulden (comes in handy with 4 boys!)
It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong (read this while I was fighting breast cancer)
Shakespeare Stories, I and II by Leon Garfied and Michael Foreman (if you want Shakespeare that's a little easier for kids to read - the stories without all the hard to understand words - these books are perfect)
Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro (one of my all-time favorites)

When I was newly married, I went to a used bookstore and bought tons of classics - I really felt like I wanted these books out where my kids could see them - so the top two shelves are stuffed with classics. This shelf also includes some collections by favorite authors, along with Rick's college textbooks.
A few of my favorites?
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Lots of Agatha Christie books
My wonderful Jane Austen collection, of course
Several Ayn Rand books - among them... Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged
Several books by one of my family's favorite authors - Orson Scott Card... Ender's Game (and all the subsequent novels), the Red Prophet series, Homebody, Stone Tables, etc., etc.

This bookcase - my third upstairs, has books by authors such as Tom Clancy, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, etc. Plus, it has my entire children's picture book collection. Here are some favorites...
The Jericho Sanction, Mission Compromised, and The Assassins by Oliver North (that's right, THE Oliver North - excellent books!)
How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) by Ann Coulter
Eat Smart, Walk Smart and Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone

This last bookcase is my "children's books" bookcase. It also holds lots of CDs, DVDs, and VHS videos. I LOVE children's books. My youngest is almost 13, and I just can't bring myself to get rid of any of these kids' books. Here are a few favorites...
Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne
Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein
Flipped by Van Draanen
Jolly Postman books by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Castle in the Attic (and Battle for the Castle) by Elizabeth Winthrop

Of course, there are boxes downstairs full of Dr. Seuss, and Mercer Mayer, etc.

I hope this has given you some good ideas for books to read. Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures. Now, I've got some time - it's midnight and everyone else is in bed, so I'm off to continue reading one of the books I'm in the middle of... either A Patriot's History of the United States OR Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - oh, which one?! Eeny, meeny, miny, mo...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ALMOST WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - Two of my all-time favorite pictures

My Grandpa Anderson took a dip with me, my sister, and my cousin, Amy - his wallet got soaked!

With cousins. I'm the second from the right - check out my sister, Kris. She was throwing a tantrum. Guess which one she is?!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Accountability - Laundry Room After Pictures

Can you believe it?! I actually finished cleaning up the laundry room. Posting those before pictures a few days ago really helped motivate me.

Here are the after pics...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, for Valentine's Day, my husband gave me a really nice gift. It isn't new. It's not something he went out and bought. But, he spent his time on it, and I really appreciate it.

My grandmother left me this very cool hanging lamp. It was in pretty rough shape - the cord didn't really work - it was coming apart. The chain that hung down (that the cord threaded through) wasn't looking too great anymore. I mean, this lamp is probably 50 years old. It's important to me - I've wanted it for a long time. It just reminds me so much of my grandparents. (It reminds me of my grandma, because everything she had was so well taken care of, and besides the cord, it is in beautiful shape. And it will remind me of my grandfather, because he loved to read - and that's where I'm putting it... just above my reading chair.)

Using stuff we bought a few weeks ago, Rick replaced the cord, and chain last night. The lamp is now working - he then hung it in my office for me.

Here are the pictures (I don't have a before pic, because Rick fixed it without me knowing)...

In the first two pictures, you can't really see how awesome the glass shade it. So here is a close up of that.

Here are close-ups of the wooden pull ball and the wood top. I LOVE this lamp!

I love flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. on Valentine's Day, BUT, this meant more than any of that. Thanks Rick!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding Joy in Serving Others

I found something out at Christmastime that is changing my life. My family picked a family from the Starlight Foundation and bought and delivered Christmas to them. It was a really young woman, with a 2-year old little boy. When we showed up laden with packages and groceries, she just started sobbing. I hugged her and asked her to do the same for someone else someday. She promised to do that. I felt so good - it's wonderful to help and serve those less fortunate. The kind of funny thing about this particular delivery, is that when we walked up to the front door, there was a sign that said something like: "Absolutely NO Mormon stuff!" Rick and I looked at each other and kind of laughed. (Actually, Rick said "Ok, well let's go then!" ;-) I thought she might have been really surprised that Mormons provided her Christmas and were so kind to her. Funny.

For the past several days, I've been working with Four of Hearts (the non-profit foundation I'm part of), to gather supplies for an orphanage in Haiti. A friend of one of the foundation founders did this for his Eagle Scout project and so we helped. We sent the word out and people started bringing things over. I'm sometimes stunned at the generosity of people - I shouldn't be, though. I know these people, and they are always wonderful. We filled about 20 boxes with clothing, blankets, cloth diapers, and sandals. Plus, we sent tents and lean-to's. My sister, Kris, and I went through all of the donated clothing and folded and separated the clothes into sizes 0 infants - size 6. Sometimes we would open a bag, and almost everything we pulled out was badly stained or ripped. Plus, we got a lot of adult clothing (we only asked for children's). We wondered why some people feel the need to clean out their junk and send it to us?! We threw away all damaged clothing, and sent the sizes we couldn't use to the D.I. We had so many items for 0-9 months, and 12-24 months, that we went through everything and kept anything that we thought we could sell in the JBF (Just Between Friends) sale in March. The proceeds from that sale will go toward the Guatemala trip. Any left over clothing will also go to the orphanage in Guatemala with us. Here are some pictures of the work we did for Haiti...

Spending all of this time on service is fun - it makes me feel lots of joy. But Monday night, when I told Rick that I was going out to Kris's house to deliver our collection of donations, and help sort through stuff, he very gently asked me if I have noticed things in our house. Weird question. He said that I've been spending most of my time either on the computer - working on blogs, with my Cherish Bound customers - making books for other people, or doing things with the foundation. Did I notice that the box the mixer came in at Christmastime was still sitting in the kitchen? Or that the crock pot that we borrowed from the Spears was still sitting there? Did I ever finish the task I started when I tore our bedroom apart several weeks ago? He then said, "You are spending time serving everyone else except your family."

Well, I probably don't have to tell you how bad I felt. I was mad at first - I said, "So, the people of Haiti have to wait for relief until I clean my bedroom?!" Of course not, Kara. I'm just sayin'.

Once I settled down, I started thinking about what Rick said. You know, Rick doesn't expect a lot from me. He helps a ton around the house - dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry. He spends 12 1/2 hours every day, Monday-Thursday, away from home, and then comes home and cleans and helps. I, on the other hand, am not working now, so I'm at home all day. I do have time to do the laundry, and clean the house, and STILL do everything else I want to do. But, because cleaning doesn't interest me or make me super happy, I've neglected it - partly, I think, because I'm so used to NOT doing it - I was sick for so long, and didn't do anything except be sick for so long - others cleaned and cooked. "You are spending time serving everyone else except your family." That really made me think. He's right. He really is right.

So, yesterday, I told my sister that I could only spend 1 day each week on the foundation. I really need to budget my time. She agreed that she should do that as well. (Because, really, it's something that could completely consume our lives if we let it.) Then, I went grocery shopping, came home, and filled two crock pots with beef tips. I worked a little bit on my business, then I spent some time at Matthew's school. Afterward, I made two Apple Crisps. And starting cleaning my bedroom. By the end of the day, I had made dinner for two families - mine and the Spears (I returned their crock pot FULL, since I had kept it so long). My room was spotless and beautiful (*sigh* - I love it when it's like that). And the kitchen was clean (and smelled really good - roast beast and apple crisp - mmmmmmm!) Everyone was happy. Here are the AFTER pictures of my room (I really should have taken BEFORE pics!)...

I spent the day serving my family and friends, instead of complete strangers. And no, they didn't break out in tears because I cleaned, and they didn't have a look of amazed thankfulness on their faces because dinner was ready. But, every one of them noticed how good the house smelled and thanked me for dinner.

My conclusion: This is a no brainer, I know. But, I've decided that I should find as much joy in serving my family as I find in serving other people. And if I budget my time wisely, I can do everything I want to do.

So, here are my goals (I'm telling you, because accountability is everything - if it's written down, I have to do it): My house isn't dirty, but it is cluttered in some areas. There is a pile of music and magazines on the side of my piano, my office is a cluttered mess, the laundry room needs to be cleaned and de-cluttered. And then, I have the basement to work on.

Mondays - After straightening up, and making my bed, I'll work on Foundation stuff with Kris.

Tuesdays - I promised my mom I'd spend one day each week with her. So, I'll go to her house and teach her piano, paint with her, teach her to use the computer, and have lunch.

Wednesdays and Thursdays - I'll spend half the day on my business, and the other half doing some deep cleaning. Any left over time will be spent downstairs.

Fridays - Rick is home, so maybe we can go to the temple, and then work on the basement (we are trying to finish the basement, so it's a big job).

Saturdays and Sundays - family time. I'll let Rick decide what we do.

Each day also will include some "me" time: exercise, eating right, scriptures, blogging, and learning something.

Today, I think after my doctor's appointment, I'll tackle the laundry room. I'm posting pictures of the BEFORE here, with a disclaimer - this is NOT my fault. It's my childrens' fault. This laundry room looks like this mostly because of them. I've decided that they are completely incapable of folding their clothes. I don't know why - I've taught them to... I keep reminding them and asking them to. FOLD is just not a word in their vocabulary. (I want to apologize, in advance, to their future wives - I DID teach them the right way to do laundry.) Each child does their own laundry (I know - cool, huh?!), and if they leave it in the drier, the next kid that comes along will throw those clothes on the floor and dry their own. Geez. I mean... really. Geez...

Wish me luck!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Football finally makes sense....

In anticipation of the Super Bowl, here's a funny football joke I found on for all you who have no idea what football is:

A guy took his blond girlfriend to her first football game. They had great seats right behind their team's bench. After the game, he asked her how she liked the experience.

"Oh, I really liked it", she replied, "especially the tight pants and all the big muscles, but I just cannot understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents."

Dumbfounded, her date asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it and then for the rest of the game all they kept screaming was: 'Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!' I'm like.... Hellooooo? It's only 25 cents!!!"
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My Gorgeous Boys

My Gorgeous Boys