Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Still Going at It

We've got the realtor coming tomorrow, so we're in a frantic rush to do as much as we possibly can beforehand. This is the way our living room looks now (minus the 2 white patches on the wall which are now painted over). We took out the smallest couch, ottoman full of toys, and rearranged things a bit. Did a little shopping at Target (or as I like it called for those of the European persuasion, pronounced 'Tar-jay'). Got some nifty greenery and whatnot to spruce the house up a bit.
The kids love to be the ones to get Mira up from her naps. Micah/Ella (or both!) will sometimes climb into the crib with her. Micah wanted to read to her, so I caught this on tape with my mom in the room. Too bad it's so short. The memory on my card was full. But you get the idea. Darling!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Getting Closer!

The time has come. Finally! I think about a year into living in this home is when I started thinking about the next move. We originally had a '10 year plan'. That was out the window a few years into this. We've stuck out nearly 5 years. They've been a good 5 years. We've seen the birth of our two beautiful girls, started the boys in their public school education, started Chad on his career path. A lot of memories are here. But the time has come.

Chad and I have suddenly had the fire lit in our bellies to get on this. We weren't initially planning to move quite this early in the spring, but something's changed. I think it's meant to be. We are doing everything we can to get our house in shape. We've done a lot of painting and repairing. And we've been keeping up with utahrealestate.com to see what homes are in our price range in the South Jordan area.

Tonight we saw several we liked. One in particular! 3700 sq feet on just over 1/3 acre. Just about 600 sq ft unfinished. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. And it shows really well from what we can tell online. The backyard has a nice covered patio and a big deck. And it's in South Jordan, not too far from Chad's work. We are feeling excited about this one! But I have to keep a positive perspective. We are doing all we can in our power to get our home ready. If that home is to become ours, it will. If it's not meant to be, then we'll find something else equally as good or better.

We also tried to find comparables to see what we might price our home as. Here's what we found: http://www.utahrealestate.com/860039 and http://www.utahrealestate.com/846584
Our home is just under 1/3 acre, just under 1800 sq feet and was built in '93. These 2 were the closest things we could find. These 2 are within 1 mile of our place. And I think our home compares favorably to these. What's you opinion?

We've spent time over the last couple of weeks weeding, prepping, etc. Saturday we went all-out painting and repairing. Dad Barnett came over to help us out. We took a bunch of stuff up to my parent's house to store (Hopefully very temporarily!!). We've got a little more work to do, but I' think we're just about there. We've got the realtor coming Wednesday. We've asked our moms for their help in watching the kids while we spend considerable time house-hunting. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Recreation

Chad went with the boys, his sister and mom to a Real Salt Lake soccer game at Rio Tinto Saturday. They had a great time. The boys were thrilled with Grandma having bought them each a soda and ice cream. Doesn't get much better than that! Here are Mom Barnett, Micah, Colin, and Chad:
Isn't this sweet?
Aunt Amber enjoying every moment, being the sports fan she is!
Chad picked out an arrangement of Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter to learn. Colin has spent time recently trying to learn it. He enjoys the progress he sees.
Here he is performing...nevermind that I'm supposed to be the page-turner and hold the camera at the same time. Colin was glad it was me screwing it up.
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I don't always notice if I've been neglecting someone on the blog. Thanks for pointing out the need for more on Colin, Maren. I think a lot of the pictures I take are when he's still in school.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Little Things

Mira's favorite activity lately is doing watercolors. She will spend an hour doing it, if I let her. I've noticed she seems to really like the blues, purples, and greens the most. She'll do page after page. It's when she starts painting on her forehead and belly I put an end to it. She's on cloud nine with her creative juices flowing!
This morning I made crepes and bacon for breakfast. I looove crepes! Put creme cheese and jam in the middle and that's a little slice of heaven, folks. Today was Sunday, so we had time to sit around together as a family, relax and eat. Nice. On school mornings I try to have good breakfasts for everyone. I love having something warm and filling to start the day. We do egg/cheese wraps, waffles, sausage, bagels, pancakes...doesn't have to be difficult. But I know the kids enjoy it and it's a little love comin' from Momma right to their bellies!
Today Micah was feeling a little poorly, so I kept him home from church (you'll notice his bright pink cheeks from fever). We worked on shoe-tying. He got it! It actually didn't take much...I'd begun to teach him a while back, but he was having trouble with it. He was ready this time. Picked it right up. He was so proud. I told him, now that he's got the shoe-tying down, he can conquer the bike riding. He wasn't too keen on that. But that's our big goal this spring for him.
He insisted I get a close-up of his newly tied shoe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Erin Go Bragh

This morning I awaken and remember it's St. Patrick's Day. (FYI: it's St. PaDDy's day, not PaTTy's) Oh, I was going to have something cute for the kids to have for breakfast. Hmm, the boys are up in 15 minutes. Not much time. I throw together muffins and add green food coloring. Voila! Everyone's happy and festive.

To carry on, I had bought a corned beef to prepare. Thing is, I've never made it, and don't think I'm much of a fan. But we gotta keep the theme going, don't we? So I've got my crock pot stuffed with the meal, as you can see here: (yes, I know it's purple cabbage)
An hour or so later I walk into my kitchen wondering what in the world smells so bad. I take out the garbage, go sniffing around everywhere, when I realize what it is. Ever cooked cabbage? That's the stinkiest stuff around (next to cauliflower). Smells like we've got a break in the sewage line. I don't have high hopes for this meal.

Speaking of Irish food, I have been asked what strange foods I had to eat on my mission. Really, I never had anything bizarre. No tripe or anything like it. Lots of bad cooking. Waaaay too much chocolate. An excess of fried food. And potatoes. But I did discover a true love there. Indian curries. One of my companions, Emma (then Ferguson) Siddy, introduced me, she being from Manchester. It was a fantastic companionship in many ways, but our united love of curry solidified it!

Hope your St. Patrick's Day was pinch-free and fun. Having children in grade school brings back many memories from my growing-up. I take the threat of pinching very seriously! :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Potty Training Day 1




It seems like it's been harder for me to get online and spend time on my blog. Not that it's a bad thing. But with homework, housework, time on the potty, etc., the day flies by. Sometimes the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is sit down and put together a coherent post.

Today I took the 3 younger kids to Toys R Us. Micah and Ella each had money they'd been saving, so they bought a couple of items each. Then Ella found a 'beautiful Barbie Rapunzel' that she just adored. A painful $25 later it was in our possession. I had to explain to her that it wasn't hers today (Well, I did explain that before she picked it out). We came home and made a chart which, using my unique creative talents (insert sarcasm), I drew up a gumball machine with about 75 colored gumballs. Each time she uses the potty and has dry underwear, she gets to mark one gumball off with an 'X'. (Stickers would be cuter, but I don't have any!) When she gets all of them marked off, she gets the doll. She's been dry all day. But I'm also reminding her a lot.

As for Mira, she gets a Swedish Fish each time she uses the potty and is dry. She's liking that. It works better for her because it is instant reward. In a couple of days I'll begin tapering off and give her a fish for every, maybe, 2 or 3 times she is dry when it's potty time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Teaching Responsible Behavior

This evening we had some great discussions about the importance of teaching children responsible behavior. The goals Chad and I came away with were inspired in part by this lesson. One was this: we have made a pact that we will not watch any TV before 8:30pm. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but we've been known to be in a rush to get the kids in bed by 8 because a favorite show was on. No longer. Shows are aired online, and they can wait. This way we can get a more favorable routine going with Chad reading to the boys before bed, and myself reading to the girls. One great addition to the bedtime routine. And Chad has had some very meaningful discussions with the boys about different subjects when they have his undivided attention (and vice versa) at bedtime.

I'll share with you a couple of powerful paragraphs from our manual (which, by the way, is entitled "Strengthening the Family" distributed by LDS Family Services).

Many parents tend to overindulge their children and shield them from the responsibilities they once had to go through--experiences that helped them become capable adults. When parents dole out goods and services for their children while requiring little in return, their children lose the motivation to become self-reliant and responsible. Instead, they tend to become lazy, selfish, and self-indulgent. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: "Those who do too much for their children will soon find they can do nothing with their children."

Teach your children to work alongside you, starting when they are young and have a natural desire to help. Assign your children routine chores according to their abilities. Family work activities can become daily rituals of family love and belonging.

Teach your children to serve others. Elder Derek A. Cuthbert of the Seventy taught, "Wise parents will provide service opportunities in the home for their children from and early age." Teach them to do their best and to try again if they fail.

Yesterday being Saturday, we had a list of chores for the kids to do. Well, Ella fell asleep on the couch before we could engage her, so Chad took Colin and I took Micah. I understand the importance of working alongside your child. I know it will pay dividends in the future. Well, Micah and I were working on one of the bathrooms and I'm feeling a little antsy, like I want to be done with it and move on. But Micah was just scrubbing around the bottom of the toilet (the yuckiest place on the toilet--if you have boys, you know!), just singing a song to himself and chatting with me. I had to stop myself and realize what a precious moment that was. Micah was doing hard work and enjoying himself! And we were building a good memory. And he was learning how to do a job well. What a satisfying feeling.

Our instructor, Jackie, said that she and her husband made a rule a long time ago: no gifts are to be bought for them on birthdays, Christmases, or Mother's/Father's days. (Keep in mind they have 9 children!) Instead, they requested that their children either do a service for them or use money they would have spent on a gift by helping out someone who would benefit from it. They said the gifts have been varied and wonderful: a car cleaned and washed for dad, a promise to attend the temple weekly for 1 year, a digital version from a poorly taped copy of their grandmother's funeral, etc. How wonderful is that?

They are firm believers in charts. Jackie said you can take any undesirable behavior and make a chart to eliminate it. I'm making a chart for Ella to help her stay dry all day. I'm going to have to really focus my efforts on getting her to the bathroom every 2 hours, let her put a sticker on her chart, and after she gets them all completed, she gets to have the most awesome (most likely Barbie) toy she picks out from Toys R Us.

I'll let you know how it goes with the pre-8:30 TV ban, and keeping Ella dry. Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Overcoming Anger, Resolving Conflict

Today in our parenting class we finished up the chapter on overcoming anger. I want to share a letter written by a woman because it relates to defusing anger-provoking thoughts. We should look for alternate explanations for the situations we get angry about. This letter is a wonderful example:

Dear Friends,

For nearly a decade I have been among the ranks of I-15 commuters. Each night after work, I usually find myself stopped by the red light of a busy intersection-one right turn and one left turn away from home. At least one or two night a week-almost like clockwork-the driver waiting behind me will impatiently blast the horn, "encouraging" me to make the right turn. Each time this happens, I experience a certain amount of frustration; some nights I have my feelings hurt, and other nights-depending on my day-I am just plain annoyed.

The other night as I sat waiting to turn right, a particularly angry driver waited behind me, honking, yelling, and waving. As I looked into my rear-view mirror, I thought to myself, 'does he really think I wouldn't turn if I could?' Then it suddenly occurred to me that none of the cars waiting behind me have ever known that as soon as I turn right, I have to quickly cross three lanes of oncoming traffic to turn left into my subdivision.

A smile crossed my face as I mused about the possibility of pushing a button to illuminate blinking lights around a sign in my back window: "I'm sorry. I'd really like to make this right turn. However, I am trying to make it to that subdivision across all three lanes of traffic." Almost as quickly as this thought came, another more sobering thought entered my mind. What if we all had a sign hanging around our necks explaining to those around us just what our particular circumstance was at the moment? "I'm not feeling well today." "I'm struggling with depression." "I'm worrying about a wayward child." "I was up all night with a crying baby." "I had my first chemotherapy treatment today." "I just lost my job." "I'm caring for an aging parent." "I'm feeling discouraged." "I'm lonely." The list could go on and on.

With this thought in mind, I began to think how differently I might treat others if I could read their "sign." Sadly, I thought of times when I may have judged others unfairly or perhaps had not been entirely sensitive to another's needs or circumstances. I thought of the Savior-who knows the very depth of our pain and the eventual outcome for each of us as we endure our own "refiner's fire." I thought of a quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson that hangs on the wall in my office: "With celestial sight, trials impossible to change become possible to endure."

That night as I wrote in my journal, I committed earnestly to endeavor to treat others as the Savior would. To really try to see the "sign" another may be wearing. To remember daily the tender mercies so generously bestowed upon me. To live having perfect hope in the Savior Jesus Christ-knowing it is only He who knows our hearts and our trials from the beginning to the end.

How much better would we be if we carried this spirit of generosity and kindness with us throughout each day? This relates to our family, friends, and strangers.

A wonderful article entitled "Love, Limits and Latitude" appears in the August 2008 Ensign. It comes highly recommended related to this topic of parenting: http://www.lds.org/churchmagazines/EN_2008_08_00___02208_000_000.pdf
On the left-hand side of the page is the table of contents. Just find and click on the article "Love, Limits, and Latitude."

With regards to resolving conflict, we should be sure to build up a reserve in our children's 'emotional bank account' so we have sufficient funds when we need to make a 'withdrawal'. We should have such a strong, positive relationship with our child that there is no question in his mind how much we cherish and love him. Then the discipline is received and is not harmful to the child. There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 stating we may need to reprove a child "betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost" and then show "an increase of love" so the child is reassured of your love. This reproving should happen rarely and with gentleness. The word betimes means it should happen immediately or soon after the incident, and the word sharpness in this context does not mean with anger or forcefulness, but clearly and distinctly.

Wishing you the very best wishes this week in the wonderful world of parenthood!

Recent Vids

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Can I just say that my husband in continually impressing me? Many times he gets home from work and immediately drops everything to play with the kids. He always comes home cheerful and ready to take on family responsibilities. The top video is one of him playing catch with Colin. The other kids are running around, enjoying the mild weather. Below, Micah is showing off his karate 'skills'. Cute!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Parenting Class: Overcoming Anger

I was excited for this topic in Sunday's class. In raising children and being pulled in several directions at once, at times I can feel the anger boiling inside me. Sometimes I control myself. Other times I'm at my wit's end and give in to the frustration.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, our prophet who recently passed, said, "Temper is a vicious and corrosive thing that destroys affection and casts out love." He also once said something to the effect of, "Yes, I believe you shouldn't spare the rod...the fishing rod, that is." (referring to his aversion to corporal punishment.)

It is helpful to acknowledge the costs of anger. These are things that our anger costs us. It might be that we are training up a child to later become rebellious; it might be the feelings of security your child has with you; peace in the home; closeness with your child, etc. These are things you give up by giving into anger.

Our objectives of this session were:
1. Become aware of the devastating effects of uncontrolled anger on family members.
2. Understand how you become angry and the need to take responsibility for anger problems.
3. Learn ways to control and overcome anger.
4. Develop a relapse prevention plan so that anger problems do not recur.

We received a worksheet entitled, "Identifying My Anger Cycle" which looked like this:

*Describe the typical situations that trigger your anger (for example, spouse argues with me; bank account is overdrawn; house is in disarray):______________________________
*Describe the thoughts or justifications that feed your anger (for example, my spouse doesn't care about anyone but herself; my husband is totally irresponsible):_________________
*Describe the feelings underlying your anger (for example: disrespected, used, ignored):_____
*Describe the physical cues that indicate you are getting angry (for example, sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, tenseness, irritability):____________________________________
*Describe what you do that feeds your anger (for example, dwelling on the offense, refusing to talk about it, drinking alcohol):_______________________________________
*Describe how you act out your anger (including your worst behavior):________________
*Describe your thought, feelings, and behaviors after acting out your anger (for example, relief, guilt, sorrow, contrition):__________________________________________

Below are several principles for helping you overcome anger-related problems. Find the ones that work best for you:

*Pray
*Resolve underlying problems
*Take responsibility for your anger
*Identify your anger cycle
*Keep an anger log
*Defuse anger-provoking thoughts
*Get out of the situation
*Identify activities that calm you down
*Share underlying feelings
*Seek spiritual change
*Prevent relapse

I'm saving the best part of the lesson (for me, at least) for last. This hit home for me. This was one of the homework assignments we received: "Using coping statements." Think about anger-provoking situations you typically encounter. Write coping statements that will help you avoid getting angry in those situations. Rehearse responses to anger-provoking situations using these coping statements. For example, Mira might have put yet another roll of toilet paper in the toilet. My initial thought is one of irritation and "She's done this so many times...I've told her not to do it and she should know better!". Instead, my coping statement might be something like this, "She's only 2. This is normal mischief for this age. I'm not going to accomplish anything by getting angry." Our teacher told us that we should practice these coping statements like an athlete training for the big race. Say them again and again so when the time comes when you might become angry, they'll easily come to mind.

I hope this is useful for you. There is so much information presented in class, in our manual, and handouts. I'm just sharing what stood out most for me. I challenge you this week to pick out something presented here to help you in overcoming anger. I'm working on the coping statements. It's been helpful!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Meat Balls

I know this is, like, the third meatball recipe I've posted. I guess we like meatballs! This is one I got out of a church cookbook and it's great.

3 lb hamburger (raw)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 c oatmeal
1 c saltine cracker crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp chili powder

Mix the ingredients and shape into balls. Excellent for freezing and cooking later. Pour sauce over Meat Balls and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the meatballs).

Sauce for Meat Balls:
2 c catsup
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/4 c chopped onion (if desired)