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Friday, August 29, 2014

Little Things

So many things have been happening, I've scarcely had time to write things down although my mind has been filled with moments I wanted to record.

This week was Sarah's first riding lesson. We found a neighbor who was interested in bartering art lessons for horse riding lessons, so we struck a deal. Sarah and I both take lessons once each week, and it's safe to say this is a highlight of our week. This week we learned how to saddle and bridle a horse, then rode in a round pen to practice posture, rein control, and basic commands. Sarah was delighted and couldn't restrain herself from giggling. This is significant, coming from my child who has always been the most reserved Kingsley regarding public display of her emotions. I'm thankful we are blessed with this opportunity to do something she loves so much. Our friend is such a great teacher, full of encouragement and praise, so this experience was absolutely delightful.

Prior to our lesson, we had a bit of a hunt looking for riding boots. We checked thrift stores and couldn't find any lace-up riding boots, so we settled on cowboy boots. I never thought I would own a pair of cowboy boots, even though we live in Texas. It just hasn't been my style. Ah well, these were a great find at the thrift store and are in almost-new condition, so I'm hoping to get a lot of use out of them.

Moving on to other Little Things-

Joseph LOVES to say the family prayer at mealtime. Whenever I ask who would like to pray, he throws his arm in the air and yells, "I will! I will! Pick me!". His prayers are so predictable. Even though I try to teach him repeatedly about what types of things we say in a prayer (like thanking the Lord for our food, for our family, for any blessings)....he almost always says the same things. He says, "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank thee for blessings, thank thee for (and here he ramble a list of whatever we are going to eat for the meal), in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

The food list is a bit comical, since he always peeks at the table to make sure he listed every single item, and he often points with one finger (while his arms are still folded) to tally the food while his arms are still folded. Sometimes his wishful thinking for dessert gets in the way, like this:"Thank thee for pasta, and beans, and carrots, and water, and cookies- oh wait. (Here he peeks at the table hopefully, shrugs  his shoulders in disappointment, and continues in a whisper.) Nope. Not cookies."

And sometimes he doesn't know what a particular dish is called (such as Nathan's bacon-wrapped figs). In those situations he just waves his hand in the direction of the food and says: We thank thee for this stuff and that stuff over there.

It's so funny, and we often have to hold back a giggle during the prayer.

This summer Joseph's been sporting a bright blue manicure, since he begs and begs Sarah to paint his nails. I relent only if they stick to at least boyish colors. Sarah loves painting his nails and dressing him up like a princess. She gets all the fun of playing with a surrogate 'little sister' but has the added perk that she doesn't have to share a room with this playmate since he's a boy. It's pretty perfect in her opinion.

She also puts together the neatest crafts for Joseph any time she babysits. They make all sorts of clever creations, then she hangs it up in his room in his special section called "Joey's World". She carefully made a sign out of bright yarn that spelled out the letters, and under that hangs a mini art gallery of all their projects. Joseph is so proud of his little corner and is discovered sometimes just standing there admiring his work. He  has a variety of paintings, drawings, and collages. Our favorite collages are a fish aquarium made out of construction paper, and a rainbow made from dozens of cut-out hand prints in different colors. She loves looking for new craft projects online each time she prepares to babysit. Last time they made a jellyfish with a paper plate and brightly colored ribbons. He was SO excited to show me his craft.

Earlier this summer Nathan and I worked together to build another level on the boys' bunk bed, turning it into a triple decker bunk. Joseph's crib was taken apart and removed, and he moved into the bottom bunk. The boys were so excited to have more floor space in their room, and I'm glad we're using more of their ridiculously abundant vertical space. (In this picture you can see a little peek of where Joey's World was moved into Joseph's bunk area.)

Last month the Big Kids were able to go with Nathan to work for a day. They were so excited to have this special day with him. They had fun classes all day, learned how to program simple robots, made some crafts, enjoyed yummy food, and brought home goody bags and matching Tshirts.

Somehow this is the only picture I can find from that day:

I was reminded today how it's the 'little things' that can make a big difference to someone. I saw a very pregnant lady at the store, and felt the Spirit whisper I needed to compliment her even though I had no idea who she was. I told her sincerely that she was very beautiful. She became emotional and thanked me repeatedly for the compliment, saying she had just come from a very difficult doctor's appointment and was having a very rough day. I was so thankful I heard the prompting to compliment a total stranger.

I had complimented strangers often before, but this was different. Like my heart connected with hers the moment I said the words. Usually my heart doesn't reach out in quite the same way as it did today, it felt almost like a spiritual embrace. I didn't know her story or her name, but for that moment I had a powerful glimpse of the love God has for her and the truth that she was priceless to Him. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Little Things

Today Sarah volunteered to be a Mother's Helper for a friend who had a new baby. She has three other daughters, and Sarah thought it would be fun to go play and give the mother a break.She packed a bag full of storybooks and themed crafts, and was SO excited to go babysit for free for over six hours. As we drove over, she mulled in anticipation, "Should I start off with cleaning the toy room or teach the girls a craft?" She is such a cool babysitter.

She read them stories, made beaded bracelets, made paper towers with colorful yarn descending from the window (as Rapuzel), washed dishes after dinner, read bedtime stories, and helped all the girls brush their teeth and change for bed. She was delighted with the experience and loved playing with the girls.

This past weekend we worked as a family to pick up garbage along our neighborhood's country roads. We trekked along the wide county easement, collecting several bags of trash. The kids did a great job working together even though it was hot. Joseph's job was to stay in the wagon and hold open the garbage bags for everyone. It felt good to serve our neighborhood as a family.

Earlier this month we attended a Joe McDermott concert. He's a great kids' musician and we love his music. We actually listened to his music during our Big Trip earlier this summer. Two months of Joe McDermott songs should in theory get old really fast, but we never grew tired of it. We would sing at the top of our lungs and dance to the music while we covered the dusty miles of our trip. The kids were SO excited to see him live, especially since they don't remember attending his concerts when they were toddlers. We arrived early and scored front-row seats (er, front'row spots on the floor I guess). The kids were so happy to sing along and enjoyed all the comedy Joe weaves into his live shows. Joseph really got into things and danced up a storm right in front of the stage for the entire hour. It was such a fun way to spend a summer afternoon! (Okay, I realize the picture is pretty lame, but it's all I could snap without losing my seat during the show. Work with me here.)

Lately I've been very engrossed with family history research. I have found such satisfaction and joy in this service. It's almost like a game to hunt down and locate family members on old census records, birth certificates, death certificates, or immigration books. I get such a delightful feeling of euphoria when I find missing siblings or spouses and can connect families together after so many years apart. I wonder about the story behind every marriage I finally reunite. Were this man and woman dearly in love during their lifetimes? Has it been a source of anguish to be apart all these years, and are they rejoicing now in heaven that I have finally discovered a missing spouse? Or did they have more cool, distant relations with each other? I wonder. 

Every name is full of meaning to me- I think about them. I wonder what their life was like or what struggles and triumphs they experienced. Sometimes I get a little glimpse into their lives through bits of information gleaned from census records- parents who were poor farmers and couldn't read would sacrifice so they could enroll their children in school. What a neat story to think about. Some ancestors were influential plantation-owners in Virginia and had towns named after them. I wonder about their story...were they kind landlords? Did they reach out to others from their place of privilege, or were they more concerned with their own affairs? What did they struggle with? I wish I knew more details about each person I discover in our family tree. I puzzle over some of the scant details I find. I am very eager to do their temple work and allow them the choice of whether to accept Christ's teachings in the spirit world. I won't know whether these people accepted the gospel or not until I cross into that sphere of life myself, but I look forward to providing them the option. I have had strong feelings that some of these people have already accepted the gospel and have just been waiting for someone to find their name and do their ordinances on earth. What a privilege it is to be a part of this saving work.