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[Not So] Silent Night


Sing it, Gray! [the first 30 seconds or less are really it. just fyi!]

Pure Joy + Comfort

It is the first weekend in October. I don’t know what a lot of you have going, but my family and I are going to be watching General Conference.

I have a firm testimony that we have a living prophet on the Earth today. I believe that God continues to speak to us, His children. I know from personal experience that following the teachings of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and our other appointed leaders brings the sweetest joy, peace, comfort and confidence I have ever experienced. This weekend is a wonderful opportunity to listen to what counsel our Heavenly Father has for us today.

Please take this as a sincere invitation from me to you. I would love to share with you something that has brought such immense joy, comfort, and happiness to me and our family. A real kind of happiness that doesn’t ever leave. It is incredible. It is such a strength to me. If you are looking for answers to a question no one seems to be able to answer or are in a rut and don’t know what’s wrong, or just feel like the world is continuing to become a place you just don’t want to be a part of, please take a bit out of your day to listen.

Sessions are: 10am & 2pm today and tomorrow [MDT] So here in Texas, we’re watching at 11am & 3pm. I am the worst at timezones…so I hope that makes sense. Just click the image below for more information!
Come listen to living prophets

As always, I encourage and welcome your respectful discussion and questions. I sure love my readers. It would be such a joy to me to know this was able to help you in any way.

Six Months Old

Six months. Today my boys are closer to being a year old than they are to being newborns. That is crazy! [It is also my goal for breastfeeding them, so I’m pretty proud of that! Anything from here on out is just a bonus. Good job body!] I have had my first twinges of “they’re growing up so fast!” I really am loving the stage they’re in right now. We are finally settled into our own home and I couldn’t be happier. The boys have their own nursery, something I’ve dreamt about for years. They are goofy, mischievous, sweet, kind, hilarious, flirtatious BOYS. It is a blast. They have experienced a whole lot of “firsts” this month and watching them experience new things never gets old.

My thoughts lately have been turned to teaching. I have always believed that children are more intelligent and perceptive than we give them credit for. I try to remember that everything that I do teaches them something. Without saying a word I can teach them that they are important to me, that I love them, that their daddy loves them, that sometimes it is time for work instead of play, that we do not ask for food by screaming, that we must be kind to our brothers, that church is a reverent time, that we do not roll over in the bathtub, that sometimes mommy is sad, that God is real, that it is important to learn how to be patient, that sometimes a few tears [from both me and my boys] is worth it if it means we raise independent, strong, decisive men rather than clingy, insecure, boys. They are always learning. I am always learning too. Because isn’t that how it always works? The teacher learns more anyhow. I sure think so. I’m learning every day what each of my boys needs. And I am learning how to balance all the demands on my time. I’m learning how to be the best mom I can be. And that’s all I can expect of myself. Not realizing there’s a learning curve is a fast track to the guilt train. I have better things to do with my time than wallowing in self-pity. So I do my best, and give each day a fresh start to try again. And if I do better tomorrow than I did today, I call that success.

My Nash boy loves music. He could listen to Cameron play the piano for hours. He is quite particular though and will definitely let you know if he doesn’t like the song. I love how they have preferences and opinions already! It makes me so happy. It also makes me wonder how other people see my boys, because until I had my own children, babies were all the same to me. Now that I have my own, I see them for the people they are. And it blows my mind how complex they are. Nash has also taken a major liking to his Daddy. For a while there I had two momma’s boys, but I have since been trumped. Nash LIVES for when Cameron comes home. He will get through the day. Flash me a smile every now and again, but when Dad walks through the door? He is a whole new guy. Smiles and laughing and talking non-stop. He kicks his legs, demands to be held by dad, and doesn’t care what Dad is doing, he needs to be right there. It is so fun to watch.

I talk a lot about loving to watch my motherhood dreams come true. Well, a big part of that is also getting to watch Cam do the things he’s always dreamed of. And this month he got a double whammy. He’s always wanted to have a yard to take care of. He loves working outside. So he was on cloud nine when he got to mow the lawn with his son.

Cloth diapering took a bit of a hit this month. We went to Lake Powell and I wasn’t about to do laundry on the lake, so we used disposables. It was a nice break, but honestly I still prefer cloth. It is not a whole lot of extra work, and the financial benefit is exactly what we need right now. Also, they are CUTE. And I’m so happy with how they’re holding up. It makes me giddy to see my boys in their “pirates’ booties.” Cutie Patooties. We have also taken to sucking on everything. Fingers, arms, mom’s hair, necklaces, toys, blankets, etc. Gums are nice and swollen and we’ve run a few fevers, but nothing has broken through yet. And they have only had a few extra fussy days. I’m sure the worst is yet to come, but I can’t wait to see their cute little grins with baby teeth in them!

I made a couple more ties for my boys out of my sister’s silky pink pajama material. I absolutely adore white shirts and ties on my boys for Sunday. They look so handsome. And I hope it helps them learn that we show respect on Sunday and that Sunday is a special day. I don’t even begin to think that our Sundays are super restful, because they’re not. A couple weeks ago, I sent my mom a text about like this, “Mom, WHY do I even come? I can nurse and wrestle my boys at home, and they will probably take better naps there.” But, it’s about consistency. Her response was, “We did our time. :)” And she’s right.

We. Are. Squirmy. Gray has declared mutiny on his car seat. He hates it. And he will wiggle out of it whenever we give him the chance. He does, however, love the high chair because that means food is coming. Both boys are moving around like crazy. Scooching everywhere. I love it. Wrestling has also begun. Nash will roll over until he’s laying across Gray and they both try to grab onto each others arms for a snack. Hilarious to watch. And they have the best time.

This is the closest picture I have of Nash’s “bird lip.” He absolutely can’t hide any of his emotions. I love that about him. When he starts to get mad or sad, and doesn’t want to cry, he sticks out his lips like a little bird. They get all pointy and he scrunches up his face. He always ends up crying, but bless his heart for trying. Those beautiful blue eyes don’t hurt either. Oh what a handsome boy!

My sweet Gray baby. Gray has taken to talking. And he likes it a lot. He will also grin and give me the one eyebrow raise. It makes my heart just soar. Sometimes he gabs in this adorable babbly voice, and other times he talks like a growly frog. Normally when he’s talking like a frog, he is talking to his hand. I just love watching him explore his world. I can’t wait until he can tell me what he thinks about everything.

Ah, food. We introduced “real” food to the boys this month. Shortly after moving to Texas actually. It took Nash a little while to get used to a spoon. He was quite suspicious of the whole thing. But now, we have had Bananas, Oatmeal, Apples, Peaches, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Avocado, and Carrots. And we love them all. I read somewhere that you should offer a new food 10 times before deciding that your baby doesn’t like it. We have yet to even act like something doesn’t taste good. Mostly, Cameron and I move as fast as we can to get the food in their mouths fast enough.

And Gray. Gray was never suspicious of a spoon. He greeted it like a long lost friend. Whenever we put him in his high chair, he gets this look on his face like “YES. I was MADE for this!” And he was. He is such a good eater! It does get tricky every now and again when Cameron gets stuck in traffic on his way home from school. I’ve learned that the boys are smart. And they are smart enough to learn patience, so long as they know the food is on its way, we can get through dinner without a total meltdown. To accomplish this, I count. “One…and Two for my Nash; One…and Two for my Gray.” If I count, all is well. I think they’ve learned the rhythm and understand what part of the rhythm is their turn to eat. I tested my theory and tried just giving two bites to each boy without counting. And mass mayhem ensued. So yeah, they know. Smart cookies.

The couch is a favorite. We love looking out the window at the trees in our front yard. There is also a train that goes by 3 times a day right outside our backyard fence. That is a favorite part of the day. So much so that even if the boys are eating, we stop and take a moment to experience the train. Once the rumbling stops, the meal resumes.

Bathtime! Along with real food comes a bath every night. I put a few inches of water in the bottom of the tub and just let the boys play for a while before we soap up. They kick and splash and suck on each others’ limbs. We’re working on not drinking the water. They love the dinosaur squirters Grammy bought them and sucking on the washcloth. It crossed my mind that sucking on the washcloth is…gross. And I took it away once or twice, but it is not going to kill them! And they are boys. I vote they get messy. There are too many things that childhoods miss out on these days because of how society has changed and the creepers that are living in neighborhoods across the map. A washcloth? It’s not going to make it on my worry list. This approach to bathtime [letting them play] has resulted in a few more peeings in the tub. They get so excited and after they pee they just crack up. It is too fun to watch.

Nash is a rolling machine. He can flip over so fast. However, he refuses to roll back the other way. Instead he just gets mad. When I get the boys out of the tub, if I’m by myself, I just drain the tub and get one out, wrap him in a towel, and get the other out, so no one is in the water unattended. The first time I did this, I got Nash out, wrapped him up and laid him on the bathroom floor, and in the time I turned around to get Gray, Nash had flipped over and wriggled out of his towel so his cute nudey-bum was out for the world to see. Cute kid. And he was so proud of himself. These boys sure love being naked.

We’ve settled into a really great bedtime routine. After the boys eat dinner, they play while Cam and I eat. And then we all go upstairs for baths, lotion and jammies. Then Dad reads us a few stories while I nurse each boy, [unless he isn’t home yet, then I read the Dad Book to the boys] followed by scriptures. Then we have family prayer, and learn about folding our arms, and bedtime kisses, then lights out. And the boys generally sleep for 11-12 hours. It is wonderful. I love them so much. They are such amazing kids. One of my favorite parts of the day is when Cam and I go back in to the nursery before we head to bed. We give each boy a kiss on the forehead, and then Cam pulls me close and kisses me on the forehead too. Everyone should get the opportunity to watch their sleeping baby. It is the most peaceful sense of amazement and wonder I have ever experienced. The love that abounds in that room is so sacred to me.

Gray has this new “trick” that he is so proud of. He just loves showing off his bottom gums. And then he bites, over and over and over again. He is a talker now too, which makes me so happy. He is my quiet one right now. Nash loves the loud and crazy, and Gray gets his giggles over quiet, sneaky things. If I sing doop de doop de doop de do and kiss his nose, he goes wild. Nash, however, likes it when I pound my head into his chest, or tickle him HARD. I love knowing my boys on such an individual level. They are my SONS, not just “the twins.”

We have discovered the wonder that is “Busytown Mysteries.” The boys love the themesong. And it is the reason I can shower and make our bed every day. And, if I do a crossfit workout that day, or just the Back on Pointe circuit from Pinterest, I can get a workout AND a shower in one episode. Half the time I come back downstairs, and Nash has started a wrestling match, so they don’t really watch it for more than 10 minutes or so, but it sure is nice to have that break!

Dad is a boy too. And boys like to be outside. One time I came home from the store, and Cam had the boys in our backyard on the picnic blanket. It makes me so happy to see all three of my boys having fun together. I married such a good man. He is the best dad. He has been so patient waiting until the boys are strong enough to play rough.

And like every good dad, he has started the Star Wars education early. You should’ve seen these boys listen to him read “What is a Wookiee.” I am in little boy land over here, and I love it. So much fun.

The boys have gotten so much heavier, that when dad mows the lawn now, they sit in their high chairs and watch him out the back door.

We are also now in size 9 month clothes. Actually, Gray fits a lot of 12 month stuff. They are BIG boys! I need to find a pediatrician out here so we can schedule their 6 month appointment. I’m curious to know where they fall as far as height and weight go. I love my big tall boys. Another thing I have come to love is singing my boys to sleep. If Nash is fussy, a primary song or two will help him calm down almost instantly. And if that fails, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey is considered our “heavy hitter.” I love feeling needed by them. I love that they know my voice. I love being able to calm them down and help them sleep. I love being their mom.

This picture was taken the morning they turned 6 months old. Right before church. We were speaking in church that day and I was nervous about leaving them with friends in the congregation while I gave my talk. They picked this Sunday to be absolute angels. Just played and sat with their hands folded the entire time. And then when we got home, they took a monster long nap before dinner. Can’t ask for any more than that! We sure are the luckiest.

Custom Design: Home Management Binder

I am so excited for this post. I have been working on this project all summer long. Figuring out a system that really works for our family took a while, but I can’t even begin to explain to you all the time this has saved me. Introducing, my home management binder!

In this post, I’ll talk about the framework of the overall binder and its sections. Each section warrants its own post, though, so over the course of this week, the sections below will turn into links where you can get more information about each one.

Daily Docket
Scripture Study

First, I want to talk about the start of this project. My life is crazy. With Nash and Gray getting more and more active and Cameron starting Chiropractic School, I knew I needed to get myself organized. I started the summer with a motto of “set yourself up for success.” That idea really influenced how I thought about this. I looked for things that I did over and over again and figured out ways I could streamline those processes [i.e. menu planning, chores, projects, etc.]. I also combined things that I knew worked for me [my six-list], and trimmed them down to fit my new lifestyle. I also used this as an opportunity to set new goals [better scripture study.]

I knew I wanted a binder because I love having a new docket for each day, I love things to look clean, which means I need to be able to throw away yesterdays docket, and start today’s new. And I need it to be the first thing I see when I open the cover. I also don’t want any of those annoying paper shreds stuck in the binding of a composition book/coil-bound notebook. Also, I have to be able to give myself a day off once in a while. This is why I didn’t want a Franklin Covey planner. I used those when I worked full time. And it was great, because I went to work every single day. I was planned out. I was efficient. If I slip up, I don’t need the guilt of a stressful/messy/gross house, a stressed/gross me, AND the paper reminder that I slipped up. It’s highly discouraging. So, I nixed a calendar altogether in mine. I might add a monthly one/perpetual one in the future so I can keep track of birthdays and other special events, but for now, I’m doing just fine. [This is not an excuse to be lazy for me. Last week, Wednesday was HARD. I was so sad over something personal. And I could hardly function. So, I called the day off. I snuggled my boys. We watched movies. We ate leftovers. The chores didn’t get done. I didn’t fill out my docket for the day. The house was a nightmare. etc. But by Saturday, everything was back to normal. This is why I don’t want a calendar. Because I needed that day to just be. But MOST of the time, I need my binder. :)]

I also knew that the cover needed to inspire me. Over the summer, I heard the perfect quote to use on the front. It explained my homemaking philosophy perfectly. It resonated with me completely. So I made it look pretty and outlined the page in Washi tape from Mindy Mae’s Market. I couldn’t be happier with it.

To download the printable, just click the image below.
For the rest of the binder, I used a half page binder. It measures about 6×9 and fits pages 5.5 x 8.5. I love how small it is. It fits in my diaper bag, fits on the checkout thing at the grocery store, fits in my scripture study stack. I also bought a package of 5 divider tabs for half page binders. They’re sold right by the binders at any office supply store. [I did check if you could find a half-page binder + dividers at Walmart and Target and didn’t have any luck, so if you’re looking to make you own I would stick with Staples or Office Max.]

To make my dividers cute, I just added a strip of the same Washi Tape along the edge of each one. It polished it up so great that I didn’t even mind the handwriting on the tabs!

Next Up, I’ll go into the Daily Docket. It’s the most important part of the binder. I’ve been asked before how I “do it all.” And honestly, I don’t “do it all.” You can do anything you want to do, so long as you sacrifice something else. But you can do more if you are organized. And this little binder is my secret.

GIVEAWAY: Arise & Shine Forth EFY 2012 CD

This blog ran off and grew up before my very eyes. I posted about getting to go back to EFY a while ago, and ever since getting to visit during a session, I have been wondering how I can have the same feeling in my everyday life that I enjoyed while I was a counselor 4 years ago. I was so dang excited to get an e-mail from LDS Radio asking if I’d be interested in reviewing and giving away this year’s EFY CD on my blog. Um – YES. I love ALL things EFY. And man, this CD is a good one. [oh, and Your LDS Radio streams music like this 24/7 online or on your phone. Rad.]

As soon as we put the CD in our player for the first time, I turned to Cam and asked “Why don’t we just listen to music like this all the time? It makes you feel so good and you don’t have to worry about any of the garbage that sneaks its way into the rest of the media.” Part of me honestly wonders what I’m afraid of. Am I afraid of missing out on something if I just decide not to listen to popular music? Am I afraid of being “too good?” Regardless, the EFY CD for 2012 is awesome. For real. Good enough to make me even question needing popular music? That’s pretty good.

I am a lyrics person. Cam is a music person. Together, we appreciate songs in all their glory. I have to say, though, that the styles on this CD are pretty varied. It was really refreshing to jump out of that Janice Kapp stereotype and into something more modern. The theme song is great – Arise & Shine. But I think my favorite track at the moment is the song “He’ll answer back.” It has a Missy Higgins vibe and invokes confidence in your personal testimony. I love it. I could listen to it over and over again. And every time I hear the chorus my heart just burns. I love the reminder that my God has confidence in me.

He sees the heart inside me.
He knows the strength I have.
He’s always there beside me.
When I kneel down, I know He’ll answer back.

The gap between followers of Christ and followers of the adversary is widening. The gray area is almost completely gone. It will cease to exist before we know it. Sometimes I panic because I don’t know how I’m going to be able to raise my boys in a world that is so evil. Sometimes I smile with a confidence that comes from a higher power because I know He is watching over us and that we are steadfastly on His side. Anything to help me keep my feet firmly planted on His team is exactly what I need in my life. The lyrics from the Arise & Shine Forth CD help empower and remind me of the responsibility I have. I love that.

There’s a song called “All Great Men” on the CD that also just brings me so much peace. I hope my boys will listen to it and understand it and strive to live up to its words. I feel like young men nowadays are either rockin’ or total losers. Cam is rockin’. Lucky me. :) I hope my boys will be rockin’ too. WANT to get married. WANT to have a family. WANT to work hard to provide, preside and protect. Having media around that encourages that can only help.

I know the CD is aimed at the youth. Maybe I’m immature, but I couldn’t help but connect with it on a totally personal level. It came into my life during a bit of a rough patch and it was exactly what I needed.

So, want a copy for you? I thought so.

Enter below and I’ll pick a winner next Friday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full Disclosure: I received compensation for this post in the form of a CD to keep and a CD to give away to one of my awesome readers. All the opinions are completely my own. I’ll tell ya if it totally stinks! Don’t worry. :)