Posts Tagged With: advice

Beauty in EVERY Moment

My husband’s Grandma Jane made the BEST cinnamon rolls in the world. years ago on one particular visit I decided I was determined to learn her sticky bun magic. Pen and paper out, I jotted down everything, from the type of spoon she used to the number of times she stirred the dough. How she sprinkled on the sugar and cinnamon and the color of the pan she cooked them in. With my careful calculations and particular care I took in writing everything down I just knew I would be pulling out the most golden, soft, moist cinnamon rolls when we got home.

The batches that followed never quite measured up. Rock hard. Too crunchy, too doughy, not sweet enough. Even when following the directions I so carefully jotted down that day I have yet to master her perfect rolls.

Every spring I make a Little Shutterfly book for the previous year. Last July Grandma Jane passed away quickly and unexpectedly. While I looked through pictures to create our annual book and tried to decide what to say for the summer months, I thought about all that I wished I had learned from her before she left. If I could have watched her make those cinnamon rolls one more time I just might have discovered her magic. Just maybe.

IMG_0414But as amazing as her cinnamon rolls were, they dimmed in comparison to the other life lessons I wish I could have learned. In her funeral program is something she wrote.

“Every moment is beautiful and captures the attention.”

Right after our third son was born I remember feeling exhausted, exasperated, and at the end of my rope. Our then four-year-old and two-year-old had demanded one too many things and made far too many messes. I took the baby and locked myself in the bedroom. I could hear the two little criminal master minds contemplating how to break in as I sat with the baby in the rocking chair and cried. Whoever came up with the saying not to cry over spilled milk must have understood mother-dom well. That cup of spilled milk has reduced me to tears far more often than I would like to admit.

THAT moment was not my prettiest, nor what I would have called beautiful.

For months we fought a whitey tighty war against our middle son. Every time he woke up, every time he used the bathroom, every time he escaped my view I had to ask him, “M, are you wearing underwear?” and that was always, always followed by, “Please go get your underwear on.” Sometimes my response was anything but beautiful. Sometimes I was so tired of the constant questioning that it was downright mean. One day M came running down the stairs. “DAD! DAD! Guess what?? I remembered underwear! Wanna see?” With that he pulled down his pants, revealing a naked little bottom. His shocked face was priceless as he yanked up his pants and scampered back up the stairs.

As a mom I can’t say that I find every moment beautiful. Sure, it often captures the attention, but all-too-often in a “You spilled your milk AGAIN?!” sort of way. The scraped knees, the toddler tantrums, the cleaning up after every single messy meal. The legos that I always manage to step on and the beds that never get made. Frankly, motherhood often leaves me a grumpy old witch.

But Grandma Jane didn’t just write that every moment was beautiful. They were so much more than words. I have no doubt that she felt it. She really and truly believed it. Every moment DID seem beautiful to her and did capture her attention. She had an incredible way of finding the best in even the most rotten person or crummy situation. Grandma Jane left behind a legacy of finding beauty.

HPIM0657Some moments might not seem beautiful as a mom. Some moments are downright dirty. But I am sure that with effort we can, like Grandma Jane, find beauty in even the ugliest moment.

Maybe it will take a healthy dose of humor.
I’m sure we will have to seek for a good measure of forgiveness.
We occasionally will have to throw common sense to the wind, forget we’re adults and jump in the mud with the kids.
Sometimes it might mean taking a step back and just being thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was. We might have to be grateful for those that help us through those particularly hard days.

Beauty is there for the finding. We often just might have to look extra hard. And eventually I hope it will get easier and easier for the beauty to capture the attention instead of the mess.

Someday I will master her cinnamon roll recipe. It might take years to achieve the ooy-gooy Grandma Jane-y goodness, but someday I’m determined to serve up a plate of the best rolls you have ever tasted. And today, today I’m going to try to look on life with such Grandma Jane optimism, such happiness, such joy. And I will try to find beauty in every moment.


Categories: Happiness, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Terrible/Wonderful Twos–Loving Whatever Life Throws Our Way

Our youngest son recently turned two. TWO! Every time I’ve had a two-year-old I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Could I possibly love this kid any more?? If I could only freeze time, I’d freeze him at this age, right here, right now.” I LOVE two. It is my favorite, favorite, favorite age.


Yesterday was a moment I would have froze if I could. We were putting Christmas decorations up, and N (that cute little two-year-old), enthusiastic about all the festiveness in a way only a two-year-old can be, grabbed the angel from a Melissa and Doug nativity set and ran to my husband. “See, Daddy? See? This Mommy! Mommy a angel.”

My heart turned to mush.

Obviously he’d totally forgot about how I was the meanest mom on the planet an hour before for not letting him try a bite of the uncooked chicken I was cutting up for dinner…

While I would freeze each of my children at the age of two for eternity if I could, There’s no doubt in my mind that the “terrible twos” are real. Oh, so very real. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” It was the age of pure joy, it was the age of temper tantrums. It was the season of laughter and squeals, it was the season of never-ending potty training. It was the time of ‘do it myself’ (hooray!), it was the time of ‘do it myself’ (ahh! No!!). Two is, without a doubt, a paradox. It’s a year thick and thin with inconsistency.


But, the more I’ve thought about it, maybe that’s just life. We live in a world of ups and downs. Mountains and valleys are ever present in all of our lives, wether we are in the thick of raising a child in the terrible/wonderful twos, or if our children are states away with families of their own. Some mountains in our lives may seem so incredible they touch the skies, some valleys may seem so deep we feel we may never rise again. Regardless of where we find ourselves, a lesson I learned years ago from a talk has stuck with me.

“Come what may and love it.

“…every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.” —Joseph B. Wirthlin


Having a two-year-old around again has reminded me of that advice. Most days are the absolute best. My mountain seem higher than the clouds. Others, well, I’ve simply had to remind myself to laugh…

“The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”

…and “seek for the eternal.”

“Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others.” –Wirthlin

Whatever our lives bring, I hope we can tell ourselves, “Come what may, and love it.” I hope we can laugh at our blunders, at the little frustrations, at the uncomfortable situations. And when our valleys are deep and we are too far down to laugh, may we look up and seek for His help. Only through Him can we be made whole.

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Categories: children, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

And They Lived Happily Ever After (why marriage has been worth all the work)

This past weekend my husband and I loaded up our car with snacks, games, books, and music and buckled our kids in their car seats for a nine-hour drive. Our boys could hardly contain their excitement to play with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, and grandpas. This wasn’t just any visit either. My brother-in-law was getting married, and my boys were getting a new aunt! The beginning of Uncle J and Aunt M’s ever after. We were all thrilled to share in their love and excitement. The handsome couple could certainly rival that of any fairy tale. Love radiated from them the entire day and everything about the wedding seemed picture perfect.








In all of the tradition that comes with weddings, I was reminded over and over that tying the knot comes with plenty of advice. Everyone knows the secret to a successful marriage and is eager to share it with the new couple. As I watched guests spill their wise words onto the pages of the guest book, pull the newly-weds aside to inform them of what is to come, and slip it in with their congratulations at the mic at the family dinner, I was reminded of the same advice my husband and I received years ago when we were the ones starting out.

“Never go to bed mad.”

“Go to bed mad because everything always seems better in the morning.”

“Always talk things through, don’t bottle them up inside.”

“Some things are better left unsaid.”

“Always assume the best in each other.”

“Put your spouse and his/her needs above your own.”

“Make sure to find time and do things for yourself.”

At the time those years ago I felt bombarded with news of this doomsday that inevitably would happen. We would fight. That’s what everyone said, and I hated to hear it! Here we were, newly-weds, so in love. In my little naive mind that was just NOT going to happen. Not to us, not never. I’d found my prince charming and we were headed off into the sunset of our “happily ever after” and all anyone could tell us was, “Congratulations! Now brace yourself. Things are going to get rough.” I just didn’t want to believe it.


It took about a month or two before it was clear to my husband that he didn’t marry a Rachael Ray, and maybe a week longer for me to discover my sweet husband was no “Chef Fantastico” himself. He hogged the covers at night, I fell asleep mid-sentence, and we both totally disagreed on what time the alarm needed to go off. I was always running late, he was always 15 minutes early, I asked too many questions, he didn’t ask the right ones, he drank whole milk and I was used to skim, and (worst of all) he liked vanilla ice cream flavors over the triple-ripple-fudgy-oooy-gooy-chocolate flavors I preferred. We had a few late-night discussions, a disagreement or two.  Dog-gone-it, all those well-meaning, kind, thoughtful people concerned for our future were right.

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During the family dinner this past weekend my mother-in-law shared a great quote with the lovely couple. “Marriage is two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.” That first year of marriage (and every year since) happened to be just that for us. It was a year of sacrifice and learning, of compromise and forgiveness. My dear husband, after two summers of lessons (even a solo flight) and a lifetime of dreaming, postponed working to get his pilot license. I no longer took trips up the canyon to go snowboarding every weekend after class. We bought two percent milk, worked together to develop some sort of cooking skills, and agreed on vanilla ice cream with the fudgey ribbon in it. I learned to live with a cover hog and he grew to accept only hearing half of a story before I fell asleep.

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Truth is we still are learning, sacrificing, and compromising. Always trying to forgive, cause both of us mess up. A lot. It might take an eternity for us to truly understand each other and get it right. Somehow in my little world of fairy tale weddings and happily ever afters back then I thought if we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, if we had disagreements, or if we got upset, we must not love each other. I’ve thankfully learned over the years that nothing could be further from the truth.


The events of Saturday were dear to my husband and me for more personal reasons than just our loved ones getting married. Nine years ago we started our “forever” in that same town. We drove by where we met. We took the kids on campus (we were young and in college back then). We walked by the building where I first saw my husband holding hands with another girl right after we met and nearly lost hope. We walked by spots we liked to study together, around the park where he first held my hand, by our first home, up the hill that we’d ride our bikes, down the field to where we played ultimate frisbee and on to where we cheered at many basketball games. We drove through the canyon where we spent many days hiking and exploring and many nights counting stars. So many memories! I wouldn’t dream of  trading those wonderful times for all the late night discussions, all the silly arguments, and all the sacrifices we had to make. Those sweet moments amidst the more tough ones, that’s what marriage is all about.

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seven years and three kids later…


Aggies all the way, go Aggies, go Aggies, hay hay hay!

We are certainly no experts. Just two very imperfect people working hard to make it last. But in our short experience, marriage has been about sacrifice, forgiveness, and unconditional love. It’s a journey that always presents new challenges, new experiences, new blessings, and surprises. Marriage is most certainly not without hard work, but I would never, ever go back. So, for what it’s worth, this is our sometimes frustrating, occasionally exasperating, unclear, trying, wonderful, sweet, worth-every-minute, happily ever after.

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Categories: Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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