Monday, February 18, 2019

Sunday ponderings...on a Monday afternoon...thoughts on changes

I am writing from Claire's President's Day volleyball tournament where she's reffing for a few games before hers begin.  And I figured now would be a good time to share some thoughts that have been rolling around in my brain.  Because there are lots of things to ponder about as many things in our church are shifting gears a little with our new prophet, President Nelson.  I think these things have been in the works for a long time, but we are in an exciting time with lots of changes.  And I want to remember how it felt "back in the old days" when we had three-hour church.  Ha!

There was an announcement made last conference that as of 2019 we would go to a 2-hour block rather than our regular three hours.  I wasn't sure how I felt about this because I am one of those weird people who really like church...all three hours.  I love having that time to stop and re-focus each week, to be handed all kinds of new ideas to connect with Heaven.

But this new 2-hour deal is proving to be pretty nice.  Not because church is over and wrapped up with speedy-quick each Sunday.  But because it leaves more time for family connection...with each other and with Heaven.  There's a new Come Follow Me program that I LOVE.  (Check it out HERE.)  I adore it because it is so filled with ideas and scriptures and studying Christ's life to help each of us with our own "born again" experiences.  And that is essential in today's day and age in my opinion.

The idea is to spend that "third hour" as a family at home studying, connecting, learning, doing.  I figured this would be a cinch because that's what we already have built into our Sundays (we come home and have our own little Family Home Evening to plan and connect and have a little lesson...we've done this for years).  

And at first it was easy.  That first Sunday in January we walked through the neighborhood with some gardening tools, investigating different soils.

There are some that are so firm seeds cannot take root.  There are some that are too shady (especially in the summer) where they can't get enough sun for grass to take root.  There were some perfect soil conditions that we found that had proven perfect for helping seeds take root.  We talked about how we need to make our hearts like the soft soil, give it enough sun and water in order to let the seeds of faith flourish there.

From there I thought, ok, this is going to be easy peasy.  Yet it's proven to be more tricky than I thought.  Maybe because I want to step it all up a notch.  I want so much for my children to connect themselves with Heaven.  Dave and I can't do it for them.  So we've been trying to assign them more of the lesson each week, as well as working to have them teach our little devotionals each morning.  And you know what?  They can do it!  They are great at it!  Sometimes we don't give them enough credit.

(in case you didn't guess, and even saw that little watermark at the bottom, these are supposed to be marked as 71toes...
that Chase Sevey watermark is from the wedding pics we just got back that I hope to post this week!) 

But it's sure a work in progress.  This is one of the reasons we chose "connect" for our word/motto this year (back HERE).  One of the biggest ways we hope we can all improve connections this year is with our Savior.  With Heaven.  I personally feel that there are promptings and love and lessons to be learned being pouring down from God for us all the time.  So often we keep our "umbrellas" up, whether they be distraction, forgetting to "remember," needing to repent and renew ourselves from the big and little things that go wrong, etc....and that umbrella guards our hearts from letting all those little whispers and promptings from Heaven sink into our hearts. 
(I really feel that angels are trying to help us too...more on that HERE)

Bottom line, I LOVE this new program.  It's requiring a lot more work from my mother's heart to transfer to my children, but I love the challenge.  More thoughts coming on that hopefully next Sunday.

And now I have to go, since I think Claire's game is starting in a moment, but it deserves at least a little mention that missionaries can now talk to their families EVERY WEEK!  Craziness!  You know how we could only talk to Max on Mother's Day and Christmas?  All that is changing.  (lots more about that HERE.)  I'm such an old-school kind of a girl, and those talks with my family when I was a missionary in Romania, and our talks with Max filled to overflowing with excitement were so precious to us.  It's been interesting to discuss this on our little family text, as well as others, just letting that new idea roll around.  But I'm SO happy for families that get to talk to their kids more often starting today.  WOO HOO!  So much more to say about this but I gotta go so I'll wrap up with this:

Change is good, and crazy and growth promoting and it's a beautiful thing that so many exciting and interesting things are happening right now.

Friday, February 15, 2019

off to volleyball weekend and some thoughts

We are full-in to volleyball right now.

 

Loved when this picture popped up on all our phones last week and we just went crazy with excitement in our family text :)

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They finally had another home game last night and we were dying that we couldn’t be there, darn it!  Yes, Max is red-shirting and not playing but we are all pretty excited.

 

Luckily Abby was there at the game though, and sent us some reports, as well as the new BYU volleyball poster:

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Ok, HAVE to get a better look at that:

2019 02 14 iPhone 215048There we go.  HA!  I’d love to have been in on that little photo session watching them tell Max how to pose. 

 

They have another game coming up tomorrow night.  Excitement.

Meanwhile Claire has her own tournament coming up this weekend.  Here’s her scrimmage I caught the end of the other night.

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It hit me how strange it is that this is her life so much.  She is there on that exact court for hours every week.  Such a different world from mine.  Isn’t it weird how kids grow up and expand and learn so many things, experience so much that you as the parent are never even aware of?  Interesting to think about.

 

Here we are at volleyball pictures the other day too.  I have no idea why we took this pic…maybe because it was just feeling so good to be on that little date with that girl of mine.

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Ok I’m skipping all around here, but if I wait to do a whole post about each of these thoughts I’ll never get there.

 
My family started doing Marco Polo (Dave and I have done it with our family for a while now, I love it!  But now the Eyres have a group and it’s pretty awesome to stay in touch that way.)

 

My brother sent this picture from Switzerland:

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I’m pretty sure every single little tiny thing is gorgeous in Switzerland.

 

Sharp contrast to what’s going on here in the desert:

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Which is SO gorgeous too!

I love that we have one of these pear trees in our front yard and it is just drenched with beauty right now:

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Takes my breath away every time I pull into our driveway.  (Causes allergies like nobody’s business, but I’ll still take the beauty!)

 

And then there are my favorite neighborhood trees, all about to burst with little green pompoms of leaves just itching to explode.

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Ah, I adore them.

Ok, and one more different subject to end on…love this quote my friend posted the other day:

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Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

chicken & vegetabel tostadas

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a little Valentine’s gift…for blog readers as well as to my future self who is going to be looking for this recipe, I’m sharing a little gem of a dinner idea my friend gave me that I fell in love with.
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Notice how I left the “summer” part out of the title in this blog post…because it’s February.  And these vegetables aren’t necessarily summer ones to me.  Maybe you don’t get quite in the mood for a chicken tostada when there’s snow falling outside?

BUT whatever your food mood, this chef is a mastermind because this is a really, really good simple and easy meal that we all fell in love with when I made it a couple weeks ago.  It’s from myrecipes.com and you can find it HERE, but I switched up a couple things so I’m writing the recipe here as well.

Here you go!

This is what you need:

1 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

12 ounces chicken breast tenders cut into bite-size pieces

1 c. chopped red onion

1 c. corn kernels (can use fresh, which would be yummy and maybe the reason for “summer” in the title, but I used the sweet frozen kind from Costco and it was delish)

1 c. chopped zucchini

1/2 c. green salsa

3 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro (divided)

9-10 Mission “extra thin” yellow corn tortillas (the recipe calls for 8-inch fat free flour tortillas, but I love these ones)

1/2- 1 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Season chicken with the first three spices (cumin, kosher salt and pepper) and sauté in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat for about three minutes.

Add onion, corn, and zucchini, sauté for a little longer until chicken is done.  Stir in the salsa and 2 tbs. of the cilantro, and cook for 2 more minutes (until liquid almost evaporates).

In the meantime, arrange tortillas in a single layer on a cooking pan, spray with cooking spray, and broil for a couple minutes until lightly browned (every oven is different on timing, but broiling is fast so keep an eye on them!  Spoon the chicken mixture evenly divided onto the tortillas, sprinkle with a little cheese and return to the oven to broil for a couple more minutes until cheese melts.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot and delicious.

See why I want to keep that one?  SO simple, yet so much flavor.  Add some black beans and avocado to add a little more oomph if you want.  

LOVE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

a Valentine's Day quiz for kids

Tomorrow is the big day.

I was talking to two of Claire’s volleyball teammates yesterday who were telling me all about their ideas for their Valentines, and it made me realize I have not taken my preparation for this day very seriously, I need to get busy!  Not just for my Valentine, my #1, but for love in general.  Isn’t it awesome to feel love? 

In the “olden days” I went so far as to send out Valentine’s cards like this each year in the mail:
Valentine s card2
I totally think we need to reenact that one some day :)

But for reals, (since my kids would never do that nowadays...and is nowadays really a word?  No spell check so maybe, or maybe I made up a new one…), I just thought I’d share this idea from Brooke Romney.  Does anyone follow her Instagram?  If not, check out BrookeRomneyWrites.  She's filled with all kinds of good ideas…I particularly like her “teen talk Tuesday” ideas…lots of good conversation starters to talk about good things with kids.

Anyway, I’m not so hot at Instagram these days, but I’m glad I checked it this week because she had this idea: a Valentine’s Quiz for kids.  (I found a blog post with more information HERE) And someone with kids who had moved away had the extra idea to send out this quiz to kids who have left the nest and offer a small cash reward to anyone who gets back to them with all the answers correct by Valentine's Day.

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I think it’s so important for kids to know our love story.  The story that brought us together.  The story that brought THEM here.

SO i’m sending this out to all my kids (plus adding a few extra questions) and we’ll see who “wins."

We have lots of Valentine’s traditions…the pink pancakes, the kitchen heart attack, heart-attacking someone who may be a little lonely, the kitchen table filled with love in the morning, all that jazz.  But there are so many great ideas out there…send some along if you have great ones!  

And now I’m off to get all those ideas set into action.  There’s something about finding ways to show love to those around you (doesn't have to be a spouse or your own children...so many people to love in the world!) that is a beautiful thing.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

my favorite gifts I gave at Christmas -- how to make a Blurb book from Lightroom

Giving is the BEST.

I remember one Christmas years ago when I made a photo quilt for my parents.  It took me hours upon hours with babies crawling over me to make that thing and my heart was beating so hard when I finally had the opportunity to hand over that wrapped up treasure.  They adored that quilt.  It holds pictures of so many family memories and I worked so hard to carefully pick out beautiful colors that would match their house and sew them all together.  Oh I put a lot of work into that thing!  They knew it was more than the pictures...it was a bundle of deep love and adoration from their daughter.  It still hangs on the wall at their house to this very day.

Yes, they loved it.  But I still think the giver had more joy than the receiver that day.  That's when giving gets pretty fun.

This Christmas I had a similar opportunity in giving.  Because I put lots of blood and sweat and tears into making some photo books.  They weren't something that was asked for.  They were something made directly from my heart.  And that's what makes the giving all the better.

First and foremost I made two volumes of mission books for Max.  One for the first year of his mission and another for the second.
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Here’s what the front of the books looks like:
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And here’s the back:
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Some of the inside pages...
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…filled with all the pictures and emailed letters he sent us.
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It took hours upon hours to put together those two volumes. 

If there is anyone out there with a kid on a mission, START THIS NOW!!

Compile as you go, and you will be so happy!

Or maybe you won’t really know how happy to be because it was so simple and you won’t really appreciate the fact that you have that gem to record such amazing things.

And maybe you’ll be missing out on that second opportunity to re-live your son or daughter’s time out there serving a mission, going through all the letters and pictures and experiences that changed that son/daughter’s life in so many ways.  

But if you’re really on the ball and do this a week (or even a month) at a time, I’m pretty sure you will still think it is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

And that way you won’t turn into a stress ball trying to do this thing right before Christmas in the midst of trying to get that same son married.

Ok, how was that for some digression??

I think I might have been the happiest lady on the whole planet when I was done and hit “order” on that website.

So what did I do?

I started another one.  Because Lucy needs a baby book you see. And also because I’m a sucker for punishment.

But really, every year when birthdays come around we pull out the baby books that I painstakingly cut and pasted together with the “cutest” papers and quotes back in those scrapbooking days.  And every year on her birthday Lucy laments that she doesn’t have one of those things.  I gave up on those by the time I got to her.  Oh I have pictures all right.  Never-ending pictures of that sweet last baby of mine.  I just have never put them together.  And I figured that right there jam-packed in between stuff in December that I should probably get going on that thing.  Sometimes I work best with a deadline.

So the special book Lucy and I have both wished we could pull out and look through became a reality:
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Check out that little beauty.
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Although I didn’t do a scrapbook for Lucy, I did write in my journal about how much I adored this child.  So I cut and pasted in excerpts from that online journal.
2019 01 19 winter 2130642019 01 19 winter 213068Took pictures of documents and keepsakes like her hospital bracelet and blessing certificate:
2019 01 19 winter 213069…and birth announcement:
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And once again, I was a pretty happy mama when that thing was ordered.  

Then it was on to wedding plans and Christmas prep, but when those things came in the mail I was pretty much dying of excitement to give them away.

Max and Abby were going to be gone on Christmas, and things were so busy before the wedding, but as luck would have it they dropped by before they left for California, and I had an opportunity to give them this early Christmas gift (it was for Abby too, of course, because hey, she wants to know about those two years her husband spent in Taiwan too!)2018 12 22 Max s wedding 210979

I was so excited to finally give away those things my heart had been yearning to give.2018 12 22 Max s wedding 210985

And I it was so fun to have their excitement match mine.
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Lucy got hers on Christmas and she loved it too.
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She has been carrying that thing around in her backpack and has read every word.

You can look up tutorials on the internet on how to make Blurb books that will be much more detailed than this, but I want to give a few little hints to get started if there’s anyone out there who is interested.  (I was so grateful my friend showed me this…thank you Nichole!!)

First you put all the pictures you want to include in a “collection” in Lightroom (see left arrow below):
Screen Shot 2019 02 11 at 11 07 56 PM

Then you select “book” in the upper menu (next to “library” and “develop”…see red arrow below):
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You can look at the book to arrange it either in a large grid to see lots of pages (above), or you can look at just one or two pages like the view below:
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You change the view by clicking on the small little icon of the one you want in the red circle on the lower left in the screenshot above.

You can add more pages by clicking on “add page” in the middle of the right column (also circled above).

There are all kinds of page layouts you can chose from if you click on the little arrow that shows up if you hoover over the bottom corner of one of the pages you’re working on…this is the same screenshot as the first one, but check out the second red arrow on the right side:
Screen Shot 2019 02 11 at 11 07 56 PM
That’s where you click to give you the options for which page spread you want.  It will pull up a blank template with the number of pictures selected, and you can drag in the pictures you want to use from the bottom row of pictures in that collection.

See where it says “text pages” in that menu up there (next to where the right arrow is pointing)?
That’s what you select if you are pasting in a letter from an email (it just gives you a blank page you can paste text into).

There are lots of pages in Max’s books where it is a full page of text.

When you’re done, you click “send to Blurb” and then you do a little celebration and wait for that precious book to arrive in the mail.  There are all kinds of deals and specials that Blurb runs, so I figure as I go forward I’ll get books made and ready to go, and then order when a good deal comes through.

And oh my goodness that right there just sounded so much like a sponsored post.  And I have to say that I wish it was!  I wish Blurb would give me all kinds of free stuff for writing about this whiz-bang program that, if practiced, could make a world of difference in my life.  But alas, they have no idea who I am.  I just want to share a good thing when I find it:)

Ok, so did I confuse more than I helped?  It is midnight so that could very well be the case.  Maybe I’ll come try to clarify tomorrow.  But for now I just wanted to share a little snippet into that world of making printed books because in our day and age, there are SO many digital pictures.  They are filling up our hard drives, our phones and computers.  And what’s going to happen to them?  Will we ever see them again?  Will our kids ever see them?

I think there are some pictures that deserve to be printed.  To have sitting on a coffee table or a night stand.  To be loved and to trigger memories of beautiful things, or of what our children are too young to remember.  Things that make them THEM.  

And if you can put those memories together in a book and give them away to someone who will love them, it will make your heart beat with love and excitement.  And I think that’s good for the soul.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Claire's 15th bday

 
My fourth child is fifteen.  
 
Sometimes I feel like I'm in the twilight zone with all these kids turning into young adults like wildfire. It's just plain weird.  Good and sad and exciting all wrapped up together.  I just want to hold tight as this girl inches up to match her eyes up with me.
 
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(she is growing like a weed)

I wrote all about the fifteen things I adore about her back HERE, but here's what we did on the big day.

Lu assigned herself to the candy bar poster duty and got this all prepped to give to her sister on the big day:
Let's get a better look at that, because I think she did a pretty fabulous job.

We made our family's most often requested birthday/special occasion breakfast: ocean pancakes.  Here they are after they were all shrunken down:
And the recipe is back HERE, for those who will ask :)

I think I've finally succeeded in teaching myself to like that stuff after all these years.  Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...

We did our traditional present-giving and giant hugs over breakfast:

 
(love how Grace wrapped hers)
 


Our neighbors are the BEST birthday celebrators in all the land.  Check out what they left on the front porch:

Claire's friends all gathered over here after that...

They went out to lunch and I was the driver...which meant I took a few pictures too...
 
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Grace and her friends are some of Claire’s closest friends as well.
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Boy she is going to miss them lots and lots next year! :(
 
We, of course, had cake.  Elle FaceTimed just in time to join in the festivities.
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These girls were distracted by that Hawaii sister a little bit!
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And then we blew out candles.
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Our favorite birthday cake recipe is back HERE.
 
A bunch of friends came over to help celebrate that night...
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We sure love this girl of ours.
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Forever and always.
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