Sunday, July 8, 2018

Surprise Sighting

Look who Spencer saw on his first day in his new area -- grandma and grandpa Stowell!! What a fun surprise. This made my day and I'm guessing I'm not the only one. Spencer was just transferred to Iona, Idaho. He's in his third area and his 10th month. He looks so healthy and happy. Just what my mother heart needed to see. ♡

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Laddie Wha Lived

We all like Harry Potter so I was excited when my friend told me about a Scots language edition of the first book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane."

It's a riot to read out loud, and somehow that seems to be the only way we can read it around here. It makes me miss my bonnie Scotland more than usual. The best part is when my kids attempt the accent. Sometimes they sound Indian or Irish. Sometimes they get it just right. Sadie is hooked and is getting pretty good at it.

We were hooked from the start. Page one had us all laughing, especially the paragraph describing the Dursleys:

The whole book is like that! It's pretty great and a fun investment.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sterling's Spring Recital: Praeludium from Partita No. 3 in E Major

Sterling started working on this piece in January. Right up to the end, he was worried he wouldn't be ready. There are a lot of 16th notes, like the whole piece. It's fast and it has plenty of tricky parts, but if you ask me, he nailed it.

So enjoy Praeludium from Partita No. 3 in E Major by Bach/Kreisler. It's a good one!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Just a Mom

I know, I know. It's been forever. Like WAY too long since I last posted. I could go through a laundry list of excuses, but really I miss this. I've never gone this long without posting and it makes me sad to think of all the things that have passed without a nod to how great they were. My loss. 

I've been thinking about Mother's Day and how it can be a hard day for so many. I don't want to be that person. I love being a mom. It's what I've always wanted and now I'm living the dream. Sometimes that thought makes me laugh, especially when motherhood isn't as dreamy as I sometimes wished it to be. But I do love it and don't wish I was doing anything else. 

I read a great article today about how, sadly, Mother's Day can be a minefield of emotions. Guilt, regret and longing often get in the way of gratitude. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and life circumstances. To "mother" looks different in different situations and that's okay. Mothers should be celebrated regardless. So ladies, let's embrace that instinct and opportunity to mother, whether we are mothering our kids or someone else's. 

I love me a newborn. It's one of my favorite stages. Recently a friend was struggling with her baby who wouldn't settle down no matter what she tried. We were in a meeting together so I told my friend I'd be happy to walk the halls with her baby. She gratefully accepted. After about 10 minutes, baby was sound asleep and I got to enjoy a snuggly warm baby for the rest of the meeting. Afterward, someone who had been watching me in the hallway called me a "baby whisperer." It was the best compliment. 

As much as I love newborns, I have to admit that though teenagers can be hard, I have some pretty great teenagers and I love the stage where each of my kids are now. We have our struggles - everyone does - but I am so grateful I get to be the mom. Their mom. It's my favorite job ever. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Here's Your Change

After missing for the past few months, I finally attended our community writing group again last night. I don't know why I've stayed away. It's a really fantastic group of people who are very encouraging and funny and kind.

Last night, the assigned topic was change. I had a busy evening so I knew I'd be quite late to the meeting and I thought about missing again, but as I pondered the topic, my paper pretty much wrote itself so I went and shared it with the group. Here it is.

Here’s Your Change

I was selling tickets last week on opening night of my daughter’s school play. Ticket prices were four and seven dollars which meant I repeated the line “Here’s your change” dozens of times as I handed back various assortments of bills.
As I thought about the topic of change, that phrase “Here’s your change,” kept running through my mind. If only it were that easy, I thought.  But as I reflected more and more, I realized that maybe it is. Maybe change isn’t as elusive as it sometimes feels.
Recently I was listening to a podcast when the speaker said something that was so inspiring that she may as well have reached through the internet to say, “Here’s your change.”
She pointed out, in short, that circumstances are neutral. It’s our thoughts and the meaning we give them that determine our feelings which determine our actions. So if we can change the way we think about something, we can change the way we feel and ultimately act.
This goes along with my belief that we have been put here on earth as agents to act, not objects to be acted upon.
Let me share a simple example.
Let’s say my preschooler spills her milk during dinner. I immediately get mad, thinking (and saying) that she is so irresponsible and if she would pay more attention to what she’s doing, I wouldn’t have so much work to do. I get up in a huff to clean it up, fuming the whole time.
Is she irresponsible? No. That’s only what I think about her, but it doesn’t make it true. The only fact here is that there is milk spilled on the table. What is she then? Well, she’s a preschooler. Sometimes preschoolers spill their milk and that’s okay. If I can slow down enough to change my thinking, I may even find some compassion and reassurance for my daughter to let her know that she’s normal and that spilled milk is no big deal. Do you see the difference?
So if, for example, you don’t think your husband is doing a very good job making you happy, stop and change your thinking. That’s not his job. It’s yours. No one can make you happy because you are not an object to be acted upon. It’s what you think about the things your husband does and what meaning you give to those thoughts that determine your feelings of happiness…or not. It’s also important to realize that it’s not your job to make your husband happy. It’s his. Because we’re agents to act, we have the option to choose happiness. No one can force it upon us. Release other people to feel how they feel. You can’t control their feelings. And know that you are free to feel how you feel and that you can change your thinking and the meaning you give those thoughts to arrive at the feelings and, ultimately, the actions that best serve you.
This is potentially life-changing stuff. I know it has changed my perspective. I have realized that when I react negatively based on other people’s actions, I am giving them control over me. I have learned that I can change my thinking and it will, in turn, change everything.
One other thought.
As I pictured my podcast friend reaching through the internet with my “change,” my mind’s eye focused in on another picture. It was one of the outstretched arms of the Savior. I could see the marks of the nails in his hands as he said, “Here’s your change.”  I had to catch my breath because that is exactly what the Savior offers to each one of us. “Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you,” (Alma 5:33).
Repentance means change. It’s not always easy, but change is what will allow us to return to our Heavenly Father and feel comfortable in His presence. We will never achieve perfection on our own, but through the Savior’s Atoning sacrifice, we can become perfect through Him. He can change our very hearts. This is available to each one of us, but He always honors our agency and will never force us to choose Him. But if and when we do, we will see Him waiting there with outstretched arms.
“Here’s your change.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Maximum Forte sings "The Greatest Show"

Sterling is a member of his high school a cappella group, Maximum Forte. Last weekend they competed in the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) Midwest Quarterfinals in St. Louis. They competed against ten other teams from high schools in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Here is a video of the third and last song in their set, "The Greatest Show," from The Greatest Showman. This is my favorite of the three songs they performed.

The top two teams advance to the semifinals next month. Sterling's group got third place and they were really happy about that. They have a commitment that would have prevented them from competing in the next round of competition anyway so third was perfect for them. They were also awarded "Outstanding Choreography" for "The Greatest Show."

This is a great bunch of kids and I'm excited to see where they go from here!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Saying Goodbye...Again

We said goodbye to our beautiful Savannah this morning. She's on her way to the Missionary Training Center for a few weeks before heading to the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission for 18 months.

Savannah has been home from BYU for a month just waiting for this day. As hard as it was to say goodbye, I know she's ready which made it a lot easier to let her go. There is so much about Savannah that will contribute to her being an amazing missionary. She's funny and smart. She doesn't hold grudges. People feel safe with Savannah; she just loves everyone. She has an amazing testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and isn't shy about sharing it. We miss her already, but I know she's going to be just fine.

Over the last few weeks, Savannah and Sterling have been working together to record an A Cappella cover of "This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman. Sterling wrote the arrangement and the two of them laid down all 8 tracks. They finished it up just in time. It is admittedly amateur, but I think they did a great job!! It was fun and very satisfying as a mom to see them working so enthusiastically together to complete this fun project. :) Here you go:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

High School Christmas Concert

The other day, I said I'd share a couple of videos from the High School Choir Christmas concert. I realized today that it's now or never if I want to get this done before Christmas!

Here are three of my favorite numbers.

Sterling had a solo in The First Noel, performed by the school a cappella group, Maximum Forte.

White Winter Hymnal is a song they got from Pentatonix. Maximum Forte learned the hand motions and it's so cool! I wish they were sitting farther back on the stage so we could see the whole group at once. They were sitting on stools really close to the audience so the camera was only able to get so much, but the sound alone makes this worth posting.

This last one is all the choirs combined, singing Variations on Jingle Bells. It's super fun. Soren is tucked behind someone near the front. Sterling is easily seen.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Choose Happiness

Spencer has been doing so well on his mission. He's had 2 great companions so far and he's really been embracing his experiences and learning all he can. But last week was hard and some discouragement and even a little depression started to set in. During a routine interview with his mission president later in the week, Spencer was given some very wise counsel. President Nelson told him that when he's faced with a decision of how to feel, he will always choose happiness. Spencer said, "I really like that, so I wrote on a sticky note and put on my desk: 'I will choose happiness. -President Nelson' so I can always remember that."

The video for Day 19 of the Light the World campaign really touched me. It's the journey of an autistic young man named Aaron Jepson. At the end of the video are the words, "In the face of adversity, Aaron chooses happiness." It's a needed message and one that I've been hearing from many different sources lately.

"Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think." I don't know who said it -- it's been attributed to several people including Buddha, Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar, but I believe it. It's our thoughts, not our circumstances, that determine our feelings.

Just taking a minute to reframe things may be all it takes to see the blessings and happiness right where we are. Choose happiness. :)