Friday, October 31, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

If you think...

...I've been ignoring my blog and my Facebook page, you're absolutely right. Real life has taken over the front seat and blogging has been kicked to the curb. For now.

Just to reward your patience, here are some snapshots from our yearly outing to the Roslyn harvest festival. You can check out the snaps from last year's festival if you want to see how much Jimmy and Audrey have changed this year.

Here's a little recap of what's new with us in October:

Audrey: walking is now her preferred method of transit. She talks constantly—still mostly jabbering, but with a few words like "banana", "kitty", "Mommy", and "Daddy" mixed in. Oh, and she just gave up her morning nap this week, so we're figuring out how to readjust our schedule accordingly.

Jimmy: after taking Columbia Virtual Academy's placement testing, we determined he's between first and second grade in both reading and math, but technically he's enrolled in kindergarten so we don't have to log twenty hours of teaching per week (the state requirement is 10 hours of instruction per week for kindergarten, and at first grade it bumps up to twenty). Homeschool is more work and more fun than both Jimmy and I expected; right now we're studying vocabulary for colors in Spanish, animals in science, vowels and consonants, and writing numbers from 100 to 200.

Jim: got a new job. We're ecstatic because he will soon have a four-block, five-minute walking commute (instead of driving forty-five minutes each way on roads that are very icy in the winter), better benefits, and a higher salary (not to mention what we'll be saving on gasoline!)

Me: got a new haircut and started going to Overeaters Anonymous. I've always had a rather skeptical-bordering-on-derisive view of twelve-step programs, but I'm over that. After just one month, it's already been life-changing. And yes, it is partially to blame for my scaled-back blogging, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Station identification

You've been warned in my last post; I'm in an introspective frame of mind. So when I say I'm going to pause for station identification, I mean I'm going to take a post to talk about who I am and what I believe. If you'd rather run for a bathroom break or check what's on another channel, feel free. I'll get back to my regular programming, but not just yet.

I'm Mormon, and although I don't bring it up often in this blog, my faith is a big part of who I am. Twice a year, Mormon leaders broadcast a General Conference via satellite for church members around the globe. Back when we first moved here and Jim was trying to talk me into switching from cable to sattelite dish television, being able to watch the conference on television was his big selling point. It worked. The first weekend of each April and October, I'm glued to our television for all of the sessions; I even recorded it on our DVR while I was at Jimmy's soccer game yesterday morning so I could watch it later. Each conference, I come away with something different, based on the talks given and what I've gotten out of them. This conference it's all about prayer.

I mentioned in my last post that this coming year I'm going to be working on some things I've been putting off and struggling with, and one of those things is prayer. For several months now I've been praying more often, asking for strength in areas I feel weak, but just in the last two weeks, I've been making a concerted effort to pray every day, no mean feat for me. What's amazing is, as I've been working to do better myself, I've had several opportunities to teach my son about the power of prayer, that his prayers are heard and answered. Just in the last two days, I've seen four separate instances where he has prayed, received a specific answer, and I've been able to talk with him to identify the answer and that it came to him from God. Each time we then prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for answering our prayers.

I think if our planet could harness the power of faith in a five-year-old's prayer, we could end hunger, achieve world peace, balance economies, and probably even stop global warming. Lack of faith is really a grown up problem. I'm getting used to being schooled by my kids.

One of my favorite talks from this weekend's conference was by Elder David A. Bednar, who is the junior member of the Mormon church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles. As I listened to his eloquent talk, it pierced my heart and seemed directed at the very core of what I'm trying to do with my life right at this moment. He touched on the topics of both prayer and gratitude, and of the former, he said this:

"...meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

"Please consider this example: there may be things in our character, in our behavior or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings recieved, we plead for understanding, direction, and for help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone.

"For example, as we pray we might reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most; recognize that we know better than this but we do not always act in accordance with what we know; express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly; determine to pattern our own life after the Savior more completely; and plead for greater strength to do and to become better. Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day. Then during the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance, even as Alma suggested: 'Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord.'

"We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendancy to speak harshly, and we do not. Or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength, and humbly recognize answers to our prayer, even in that moment of recognition we offer a silent prayer of gratitude. At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent, and with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow.

"Thus, brothers and sisters, our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer, and our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer. Morning and evening prayers, and all the prayers in between, are not unrelated, discrete events. Rather, they are linked together, each day, and across days, weeks, months and even years. This is, in part, how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to pray always."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Countdown to thirty-nine

That's right: a week from today I hit the big 3-9. Which feels like more than just the runner up for a major milestone, because I'll have less than a year to think about what it means to be forty before it smacks me across the head.

When I hit my last decade marker, I was depressed because I hadn't reached some important goals I hoped to accomplish by that point: getting my bachelor's degree and starting our family topped the list. Fortunately, Jim's birthday present to me was a pair of diamond solitaire earrings, which immediately yanked me back from the brink of despair because, hey, who needs some lousy piece of paper to hang on your wall when you have diamonds, right?

My thirties have had a great run. I did get my degree. I swam, biked and ran a triathlon. I learned (and forgot a lot of) Spanish. I traveled to Mexico. Twice. I read several hundred books. I gave birth to two wonderful children. And I'm still married to the same sensitive, intelligent, generous guy with great taste in jewelry. Oh, and handsome. Did I mention handsome?

I've been pretty introspective about it over the last couple weeks, because I want to be at peace with being forty, which means this is the year to get just a few more things done before the decade ends. I've got some big things in the works, too. Things I've been needing to do, putting off, struggling with. But I can feel it: this is the year.