Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy, Happy Halloween

A year ago at this time we had just finished remodeling the kitchen. The last thing I wanted to think about was Halloween, but we came up with some sewing-free costumes and even carved a pumpkin.

This year I was so excited to sew costumes. Some of the kids settled on their costume plans months ago, so I had lost of time to plan and prepare. 

Megan was the last to decide what she wanted to "bee". I was so tickled with her decision, and it was fun to plan how to make it. The wings made out of tulle are my favorite part. Well, that and her darling smile. 

 This was my first time ever making a costume just for Kit. So much fun!

Michael has now officially been three students from Hogwarts. This year he chose Cedric Diggory.
Hufflepuff Prefect

Quidditch Hero

Hogwarts Champion in the Triwizard Tournament

Nathan also wanted to be a Hogwarts student.
He chose Neville Longbottom . . .

Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . . . 

because by getting rid of the snake, Neville is a huge part of getting rid of Voldemort.

Liz chose a character from one of her favorite books, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.
I found the hat and shirt several months ago, then made the skirt last week. She crocheted the goose.

She even just bought the entire Books of Bayern series for herself.

 And Molly even got a costume too.

The kids love Halloween and dressing up.  

And they are pretty silly.

 Brian and I kept it pretty simple this year. Our X-ray shirts show what is in our stomach. Ice cream for me, and bacon for Brian.

Monday night for FHE we went to visit the great grandparents. I wish I had taken a picture at Calls. Nathan played some violin (Hedwig's Theme and a couple of hymns) and it was fun to visit. Grandma had little bags for us to fill with cookies. Yum!

We had a nice visit to Grandma Houghton's too. The kids had an impromptu costume parade and enjoyed plenty of treats.

We loved visiting Grandma. She sure loves Halloween.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fire hats and Fur Elise

Mike might hate me one day for posting this picture, but it was so typical of him that I had to record this occurrence somehow. 

Last week the cub scouts went to the fire station for a field trip. He came home with this fire hat. He loves his fire hat! A couple of days later he was doing his piano practice and obviously he wanted to wear his fire hat at the same time. It wasn't until he started practicing Fur Elise by Beethoven that I grabbed my camera. There was something about the irony of that hat and that song being somehow combined that made me smile. Or maybe it was just so fun, as a mom, to see Michael's interests and talents combined, even in an uncharacteristic way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ogden Temple Open House

ON Friday we took the kids to the Ogden Temple open house. In 2010 it was announced that the Ogden temple would undergo major renovations. It is so exciting to be able to take the kids to a temple open house. And all six of us will be able to attend the dedication this time (since Megan is eight and has been baptized).

They showed us a video before we went in the temple. It talked about why temples are important to us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I loved how it talked about how temple unite husband and wife and their children for eternity. Elder Holland talked about how heaven wouldn't be heaven without his wife and children. I agree completely.

Walking through the temple was a wonderful experience. Everything was so beautiful, beyond description even. The artwork on the walls was a combination of some of my favorite well known paintings as well as many that were new to me. The details in each and every room were absolutely stunning. 

As we walked through the brides' room I whispered to Liz that this is where brides get ready to get married, and I told her how the grooms just change in their locker areas. She smiled. I am sure that day for her will come in the blink of an eye.

The baptistry was one of the favorite spots. It was so bright and beautiful and it was neat to see how the paintings on the walls belonged together.

The sealing rooms were gorgeous. Brian had been holding Megan's hand for most of the tour, but I snuck in and held his hand for a bit, as I remembered kneeling across the altar from him. Miraculous things happen in the temples every day!

When we walked into the Celestial Room it was amazing to see how people naturally slowed down and became even quieter. Megan slowly whispered to dad in a very awed and reverent tone, "What do they do in her?" He told her about how this is where we can feel close to God, where we can catch a glimpse of what it will be like to return to his presence, where we can pray and seek inspiration and where we can feel the peace that the temple brings. Nathan commented later on how he noticed how people's walking even got quieter as we went through the celestial room. I wanted this moment to last forever.

As we left the temple Mike said, "What a perfect way to celebrate you anniversary . . . in the temple!" Yes, Mike it was a great way to celebrate, since that is where our marriage started, in a temple.

Temples are sacred and holy places. We do not take pictures while inside, but the church has posted images of the inside of the Ogden Temple. The Church released some images before the open house and they can be found here. The entire temple was absolutely stunning!

We enjoyed some time on the temple grounds after our tour.

The temple was absolutely gorgeous in the morning light, as the sun came over the mountains.

After walking through the temple we attempted a family picture. Unfortunately we were facing that before-mentioned rising sun. It was painfully bright and we got a few lovely squinting pictures. Megan was so cute in one of them though. 

I loved this Christus statue in the small visitors' center tent next to the temple. What a great reminder that the temple helps us Come unto Christ. 

We got a family picture on the west side of the temple. It was fun to get the entire temple in the shot too.

I LOVED the reflecting pool.

There were ropes directing the tours going in and coming out of the temple. I didn't know if we would be able to get close enough to do our traditional temple touching pictures, but I thought it was worth asking. The volunteers were more than happy to oblige. I was so grateful. This is one of my most favorite traditions. 

I know I posted this quotation at the end of my last blog post, but I thought about it a lot this weekend.

"As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (President Thomas S. Monson)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Temple Memories

The temple has been on my mind a lot this week. Tomorrow we are going to the Ogden Temple Open House. It is a wonderful chance to see in side the temple before its rededication next month. I love any chance we have to take our children to the temple, and for these special opportunities for them to see inside these holy buildings. I am so excited for tomorrow! We have taken the kids to two other open houses in the last five years and they were both special and wonderful experiences. 

Another reason the temple has been on my mind is because this week marks 14 years since I entered this holy building, made covenants with my Heavenly Father and received my endowment. (For some great information about what this means go here. The second paragraph under the first question is a great explanation.)  

It was a special day! Something I had planned for and looked forward to from the time I was young. I was blessed to have a few special people with me; my parents, grandparents, an aunt, my brother, Brian, his parents and his older brother.

This week is also our anniversary. Fourteen years ago tomorrow is the day that Brian and I returned to the temple together and were married. Because of the sealing ordinance available in the temple (there is a paragraph about this at the link above) it is possible for us to live as husband and wife and for us to be linked to our children for eternity. I was very grateful for these possibilities on the day we were married, but fourteen years later that gratitude has only increased as our love and family have grown. 

I have many other cherished memories of the temple. I was able to be there when my older sister received her endowment, and when she was married. When my younger sister went to the temple for the first time and received her endowment it was the first time I was in the temple with all of my siblings, which meant that my parents were in the temple with all of their children. I felt like I witnessed a piece of heaven that day. After all, that is what temples are for, to help us return to heaven as families. 

When my brother was married it was the second time that the four kids in our family got to be in the temple all together (with our parents too), and even more amazing was when my younger sister was married. There I was with my parents, my wonderful husband, my three siblings and their spouses, my grandparents. All of the members of my family had partaken of the blessings of the temple. Brian and I walked out of the temple to our happy children, enjoying the wonderful morning with their cousins. That day was full of so much love and joy, I cannot put it into words.

Two of our children are old enough to go to the temple. While they are not old enough to make covenants for themselves they are able to do baptisms for their ancestors who passed on without receiving the essential ordinances of baptism and confirmation and the ordinances available in the temple. They are able to feel the power of the work that goes on in the temple. When Nathan attended the temple for the first time (Liz was there too), I watched Brian performing the ordinances with Nathan and Liz taking turns to stand as proxy. Tears rolled down my face into my lap. My heart was so full.

The temple is all about families. Our Heavenly Father loves us, his children, so much that he has given us the way to return to him. I am so grateful. The temple brings us closer to Jesus Christ. When I go to the temple I feel my Heavenly Father's love, and it increases the love I have for Brian, for our children, and for those around me.

I found this quotation by President Thomas S. Monson that I love. "As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thankful for Fathers

I have thinking so much about fathers recently, and how vital and important they truly are. Not long after Brian and I started dating we had a conversation about what we were hoping for in a spouse. For whatever reason, I couldn't really put my thoughts into words. All I could say is, "I want to marry someone like my dad." Brian had never met my dad and he asked what I meant. I explained myself with two simple requirements; someone who loves his family and loves the Lord. 

I was blessed to grow up with a wonderful father, a dad who always reminded us that he loved us. He taught me how to ride a bike, to swim and to love math. I will forever remember a day in junior high when I came home and aksed him what calculus was. We pulled out the markerboard and he showed me. He took the time, even though I didn't understand much of it. A few years later, on my first day of calculus I sat in class as the teacher drew the same diagrams my dad had years before, and I understood. 

My dad supported me in everything I did. He sat through countless gymnastics meets and watched me cheer at endless ball games. He even came to math meets to help my team in between rounds. He couldn't be at every single thing, but when he couldn't be there he found ways of letting me know that he was thinking of me. And now he is a grandpa. Despite living thousands of miles away he is an important part of my kids' lives. They love to share exciting things with him. He loves to take time and play games with them when he is here. And he is still never shy about letting them know that he loves them.

Most importantly, my dad showed me what it meant to be a righteous holder of the Priesthood. I watched him serve faithfully in various callings. I watched him as he left to go home teaching. I watched him support my mom as she served in various callings. He and my mom led us in family scripture study, family home evening and family prayer. He gave blessings when school was starting, when we were sick, or even when we just needed one. I remember watching as he taught my brother to consecrate oil. He has been a part of each of our children's baby blessings and baptisms. We feel privileged that he could be there each time.

It was easy for me to see what was important to him. He showed me as he served God and served his family. 

As I have thought about all of these things this week I have realized that in all of these ways, and more, my dad was helping me understand not only his love for me, but also my Heavenly Father's love for me. Knowing that I was a special daughter of my earthly father helped me to better understand my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

My baptism day, April 16, 1988

With the statue of famous mathematician Simon Stevin, Bruges, Belgium - May 1999

Dancing at my wedding reception, August 2000

Our kids with Grandma and Grandpa Call in Salt Lake - June 2012

When Brian and I decided to get married I knew that he loved me (and that he would love the children that would join our family) and I knew that he loved God and had a desire to serve Him. It was easy for me to see that. Over the years I have seen more and more how much like my dad he really is. They share a similar sense of humor and are both fun to be with. But more importantly I see the ways that he helps his family understand their divine origins, and their divine potential. He feels such love for his family, and makes sure they know it. He works so very hard to provide for the temporal needs in our family. And in word and deed he is leading our children to Jesus Christ.

 "HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. . . .

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

I am so grateful for these two wonderful men in my life and for all they have done, and continue to do for me!

Friday, May 23, 2014

I must not become complacent

I have had a couple of experiences lately that have taught me the importance of always being on my guard. The first was a very physical experience, the second was more spiritual.

Our family was at an event recently where treats were being served. A few years ago if I knew there would be food I would make sure Michael had his allergy kit on his back before we even left the house. But, he hasn't had any allergy trouble for years, and I have gotten out of the habit a bit. I did throw the epipen in my bag, though it is funny because Benadryl has really been our first course of action the three times he has needed something. I didn't bother to search for it though. The event ended and the kids got in line for treats. A few minutes later Michael came to us. He had thrown up on his clothes. He said that he had eaten a couple of cookies. My niece threw up the first time she ate peanut butter before they knew she was allergic, so I thought that might be what was going on. Brian headed home with him to get him cleaned up. By the time they got home Michael's lip had swollen quite a bit. Brian gave him some Benadryl. We got home a bit later and Michael was feeling miserable, but wasn't having any toruble breathing. I thought we were in the clear. Just as we were getting the kids into bed Michael threw up again. He was also sneezing, coughing and his nose started to bleed. He still was breathing just fine, but we thought a trip to Instacare would be a good idea. He was so groggy on the way there. I was so worried that something was really wrong. I tried to keep him talking (if I had remembered that Benadryl makes him really drowsy, I probably wouldn't have been quite as anxious.) He mumbled off a list of as many states as he could remember. That made me feel a bit better. Before we actually checked him into the instacare we talked with a nurse to see if there was anything they could do or if we would really need to go to the ER. She checked his oxygen saturation and asked about symptoms. We told her all that had happened. She asked if he had hives. We said no. She went to talk with the doctor. By the time she got back to the room Michael had hives all over his arms, legs and back. She turned right back around to pass this info along ot the doctor. We talked with him for a minute and he said that we should check Michael in, but that he still couldn't promise that we wouldn't need to go to the ER. After another little wait we met with the doctor again. He checked breathing and listened to Mike's lungs and heart and stomach. He let us know what we could do to help the hives. Poor Mike was so tired! The doctor asked him to cough at one point and Mike mumbled, "I don't feel like it." He just wanted to sleep. The doctor sent us home, telling us to check on Mike every two hours throughout the night. Michael was asleep before we left the parking lot. I was so grateful that a friend came and helped give Michael a priesthood blessing. What a comfort that was! The night was still hard. There was more throw up, and it was just hard to sleep, knowing we had to check on him. Oh, how grateful I was to see him pop off his pillow this morning saying, "Mom, I feel so much better!"

The second experience happened tonight. The kids had received a new movie. They watched it while Brian and I went to the temple. After we got home and they were in bed we thought we would watch it. (we both remember seeing some of it when we were young, but didn't remember much.) We watched for a few minutes and then some things happened and some things were said that we were uncomfortable with. We certianly hadn't expected those things, but we turned it off right away. But on my mind was the fact that the kids had seen the entire thing. We will talk with them tomorrow and in the future will do all we can to be more educated about the movies we bring into our home. It is so important that we are ultra careful about what we watch and see and listen to. Those are things that are hard to forget.

I have felt some "mom guilt" because of these two isntances. In both cases I feel like I should have done more to protect my kids. I wish I could turn back time and do it all over, and do it better, do it right.

And as I type this I realize that I need to get over the guilt. I need to know that I can't redo what has already been done, but I can do better. I am grateful that each day we can do better than the day before. And I am grateful that these reminders came to me now, in ways that are relatively minor.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Armor of God Dodge Ball

The Beehive class (Young Women, 12 and 13 years old) in our ward were in charge of the weekly evening mutual activity Wednesday night. It was for all young women AND young men ages 12-18. I always get a little nervous when I am responsible for this combined activity. Coming up with an idea is always the hardest for me. Well in March I woke up one Sunday morning after having a dream. In the dream I had been at a youth activity, and as I got out of bed I thought, "That could work!" It evolved over the last couple of months, but I consider last night a success. 

Here's how we did it.

I created a matching game. I used these images from to create the special matches. I found other similar images (free coloring pages online) of other activities like hiking, fishing, dancing, TV, computer, homework, mp3 player etc. and created similar cards for them. In total there were fifteen matches. 

We assigned each youth a number from 1-6 and each group was given a set of the matching game. (Our groups had four to six youth in them, and that seemed to work out well.) They mixed things up, spread them out and played the game just like any other matching game (though we did cut out the rule of getting another turn if you got a match. Play just moved from one person to the next.)

When all of the groups were finished we gathered everyone together to hand out armor. They called the people forward that had earned one of the special matches above, gave them the "armor" and explained what benefit it would have in the upcoming dodge ball game. One person in each group earned each piece of armor. Youth could earn more than one piece of armor (if they got more than one of the six important matches), and many youth didn't earn any pieces of the armor. 

Helmet of Salvation (bandana, tied around head) - If the dodge ball hit them in the head they would not be eliminated from the game.

Breastplate of Righteousness (t shirt) - You can get hit in the torso without being eliminated from the game.

Sword of the Spirit (Plastic bat) - Gives you two hits before you are out. Turn in bat after 1st hit, then leave game after 2nd.

Shield of Truth (Cookie sheets) - If the ball hits the cookie sheet, you are not out

Loins girt with truth  (long strip of cloth tied like a sash around waist) - Protects from your waist to your knees

Feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace (bandana tied around ankle) - Protects BOTH legs from the knees down (shins, ankles and feet)

This items were simple to gather and were essentially free. And they worked well during the actual dodge ball games. We put three groups onto each side of the gym and they formed the two teams for dodge ball.

The adults were referees as the youth played dodge ball. It was played like a normal game, though we didn't use the rule about catching a ball that was thrown is a way to eliminate someone on the other side. It was fun to see how the youth benefited from the "armor" they had earned. It was also nice that not everyone had armor. It provided good contrast and helped in teaching the lesson we were hoping to teach.

After the dodge ball game had gone on for a while, most people were out. We stopped the game and gathered around for a moment to talk about what we had done/learned. Here are the questions we used and some scriptures and quotations that we found applied.

 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

How did the armor affect our dodge ball game?

What would our game have been like if everyone had all of the armor?

How can the Armor of God help us each day?

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

What can we do to put on the whole armor of God?

Staying on the gospel path of covenants, commandments, and ordinances protects us and prepares us to do God’s work in this world. When we obey the Word of Wisdom, our agency is protected from addictions to substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. As we pay our tithing, study the scriptures, receive baptism and confirmation, live for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, partake of the sacrament worthily, obey the law of chastity, prepare for and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and make sacred covenants in the temple, then we are prepared to serve.

Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes. Then, if pornography or other challenges do strike our families, we can petition the Lord for help and expect great guidance from the Spirit, knowing that we have done what our Father has asked us to do.

I think the youth had a great time. It was sure fun to watch them play, and to have there be some important meaning behind the activity too. I was struck (again) by how the best ways to protect ourselves and our families from the evil influences of the world are not new things, but rather the small and simple things we are taught to do from the time we are very young. Sometimes we might disregrad pryaer or scritpure study because it may not seem to make much difference at the moment, but by daily participating in these habits of personal righteousness we are strengthening our armor little by little.