Friday, September 25, 2009

Therapy session: My aversion with the OUTDOORS

Bear with me if you dare... lots of random thoughts coming together to try and make sense!

Over the past two weeks I have spent some spare "thinking time" pondering my aversion with the outdoors. Now, it's not everything outdoors. During the day I love to be outside. This summer I would do everything in my power to plan an activity that was outdoors with the kids if weather allowed. I love the sun!

I also love to hike... but day hikes only. I love participating in water sports, going to the beach, and I have fond memories of sitting around campfires in the evening with a marshmallow on a hanger and some graham crackers nearby :) There's nothing quite like sitting quietly watching a campfire crackle and burn to make you really reflect on your life and how blessed you are!

BUT, my aversion with the outdoors covers THREE main areas:
(literally - if you would like to torture me, just put me in one of these situations!)
1. Cold temperatures... I used to really like skiing, but that was when I was younger and had no sense of the unpleasantness of numbness or a frostbitten face. Oh - and sitting on a LONG chair ride up to the mtn with your fingers and toes freezing. TORTURE!
2. Spending the night outdoors without the comfort of a comfy mattress, clean bathroom and four walls. (all MUST be included)
3. Running outside. Yep - I love to exercise... but HATE to run outdoors. Give me a treadmill and a TV with the news on any day! I only run outside a couple times a year and it's a momentous occasion. My annual or traditional outdoor run is on Christmas. I've done it the past few years and have truly LOVED each run! The streets are quiet, the air is crisp, and the conditions have been just right! The other times during the year when I run outside when there is ABSOLUTELY no chance of me getting to the gym.

That was today... hence the post. I had the kids all day/night today so no gym for me! But, this afternoon the stars in heaven aligned for me and I was able to run three miles... around the same short four blocks because I couldn't leave the kids unsupervised! Every time I passed the house I would run to check in and make sure all was well :) Silly, probably, but I felt SO good after my run!

As I ran, I thought. Why don't I do this more often? Here's what I decided:
1. I bore myself. I don't have enough cool things to talk about with myself to keep my thoughts away from any body aches or sores
2. I HATE not knowing how far I've gone. I LOVE seeing the treadmill show me!
3. The weather conditions need to be PERFECT for me to go. Yesterday, a run in the humid, hot air would haven't even crossed my mind no matter how much I would have wanted to go! Today it was just the right temp, with a slight breeze and a little cloudy so the sun wasn't beating me down!
4. Knowing that tomorrow I can go to the gym if I would like :)

Now as for camping. I AM SUCH A CHICKEN... but I am definitely OK with that! Last weekend was my ward campout. I went up on Friday evening and proceeded to return a few hours later to the comforts of home. Saturday I went up again, this time with stuff in hand to spend the night. I convinced myself during the day that I could hack it for one night. Maybe it wouldn't be the most pleasant thing I've ever done, but these types of things build character, right?

Well, come eight o'clock... sun was down... everything was dark... the temps turned cold (very cold in my opinion... but others would differ)... doubt crept in. Fear, almost! I kept thinking WHY would I choose to torture myself if there was another option, but then I really did try to do some positive thinking. I KNOW that can have a HUGE effect on our attitudes and actions. BUT, by ten pm I had let the doubt get the best of me, convinced myself that I didn't care if others thought I was a complete wimp, and jubilantly agreed to a ride home when it was offered.

As I went to bed that evening, I had no regrets! I was a much happier person and I know I can challenge myself in other ways!

There's not much I can do about cold temps besides making sure I have top-notch gear... and moving to a warmer climate (which I did!!!) so hopefully this winter will be better :)

Did I solve anything by writing this post? No, I have not overcome my aversion to the OUTDOORS as mentioned above... if anything I have justified my intense dislike even more :)

So, it's back to the gym tomorrow for me... but grateful for the running experience I had today. And, I look forward to my next run outside... which will hopefully not be until Christmas!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tender Mercies

Recently, in a conversation with a friend, I was reminded of the phrase "tender mercies" and specifically, "the tender mercies of the Lord." I love those two words when they stand alone and when they stand together! "Tender" and "Mercy". They're calming, peaceful and reassuring words to me. I liked this one definition of "tender" that I found: "considerate and protective; or given to sympathy or sentimentality". I think that suits what the Lord is really doing!

But, as I think about my life, especially recently, I feel like I have had many "tender mercies of the Lord" and it has been very reassuring and comforting. To me, it's mostly the small things that happen in my life... things that happen not just by coincidence... or things that work out when I previously saw no possible way for it to do so... or people being in the right place at the right time... or having unplanned for conversations that are beneficial to me in one way or another.

Mostly... it's just how things seem to work out... really, for the best. Oh - Wow! Did I just really say that?!! Did those thoughts come from MY HEAD? I was so doubtful over these past few months... lacking faith... and really questioning what I was doing. When, yet, I still had moments of peace that all would work out! And, it's still "in process" but it's looking pretty good! Maybe it's not working out how I imagines it would back in March or April... but I'm happy with how things are. Very Happy!

And, maybe things don't always work out in the time I'd like it to, but with time and retrospection... things work out and to me that is a combination of many "tender mercies of the Lord."

So, I decided I wanted to learn more about this phrase this week and see what I could find. In the scriptures I found in the Book of Nephi that tender mercies are given to everyone... because of their faith. I think this also goes hand in hand with BEING WILLING to recognize and acknowledge it's a tender mercy and not something I did solely on my own... or just by chance/randomly! The timing of the "tender mercy" can also help me recognize it... if I am willing to be humble and acknowledge it.

I LOVE how Elder Bednar defined the phrase when he stated: they are the very PERSONAL and INDIVIDULAIZED blessings, strength, protection, ASSURANCES, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, SUPPORT, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. What is a tender mercy to me might be something silly and unmeaningful to someone else. I like thinking that.... because that reassures me that the Lord knows me individually!

The 46th section of the Doctrine & Covenants confirms this by stating that the Lord suits "his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men." Hmm... that phrase gives me a strong feeling of responsibility because if I want to continue to feel these PERSONAL and INDIVIDUALIZED blessings, I need to be living my life in order to recognize and accept them!

When I think of the multiple tender mercies in my life everyday it can be overwhelming. The gifts of my faith, forgiveness, persistence and peace of conscience I have in my life everyday! Then, add to that the specific tender mercies that change as the day goes by or my life moves forward. The simpleness of it... but the constancy... is so reassuring and comforting!

But, through all of this, I need to remember to not take them for granted. Because if I do, I will become lax in my diligence in making sure I am living worthy of them and recognizing them... and forgetting to express my gratitude to the Lord for them!

Maybe I should start a book like Oprah's gratitude book and write down a few tender mercy's that I saw in my life that day... hmm... that's a good thought!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pinata Time!

All summer I REALLY wanted to be a "crafty nanny" and do inspiring, creative things with the kids. Well, after some internet searching... and then some soul searching, I realized this wasn't going to happen :)
However, I did find one craft recipe that I thought I could handle... and the kids would enjoy. Making a pinata!! It took almost the whole month of August from start to finish (many days of drying and then the kids went on vacation) but we did it! It really was fun to make and easy to set up for the big event!
Here are some pics:
Leo before the swing

Align Center

Cecilia and J before the swing!

It took a few rounds of hitting because we made it pretty strong! The kids were so happy to have all the candy and i was so happy because I did ONE craft thing with them this summer!!

Why should I be sure my life is right? THIS IS WHY!

We had a lesson on Sunday and this was a quote that was given to us. It's from a talk by Spencer W. Kimball that he gave many times on marriage. Just thought it was worthy of note... and I wanted to remember it!

"President Lorenzo Snow gives us a picture of the importance of celestial marriage: “When two Latter-day Saints are united together in marriage, promises are made to them concerning their offspring that reach from eternity to eternity. They are promised that they shall have the power and the right to govern and control and administer salvation and exaltation and glory to their offspring worlds without end. And what offspring they do not have here, undoubtedly there will be opportunities to have them hereafter. What else could man wish? A man and a woman in the other life, having celestial bodies, free from sickness and disease, glorified and beautified beyond description, standing in the midst of their posterity, governing and controlling them, administering life, exaltation and glory (D&C 76:112) (Lorenzo Snow, The Deseret Weekly, 3 April 1897, p. 481.)

Can you conceive of the vastness of this program? Can you begin to understand it? But remember this: exaltation is available only to those who become righteous members of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, only to those who obtain their endowments and are sealed for eternity as well as time, and who then continue to live righteously. This is not man’s interpretation. This is the program of our Heavenly Father and is made clear by the scriptures. It is not futile formality nor empty ritual. If we do not understand, it is an indication that we need to get close to our Heavenly Father so that we may understand it, for the things of God are understood by the Spirit of God.

The Lord’s program is unchangeable. His laws are immutable. They will not be modified. Your opinions or mine do not make any difference and do not alter the laws. Many of the world think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give to them unearned blessings. Mercy cannot rob justice. College professors will not give you a doctorate degree for a few weeks of cursory work in the university, nor can the Lord be merciful at the sacrifice of justice. In this program, which is infinitely greater, we will each receive what we merit. Do not take any chances whatever.

Be sure that your marriage is right.

Be sure that your life is right.

Be sure that your part of the marriage is carried forward properly.

I pray the Lord will bless all of our people as they face the normal decisions before and after their marriage.

And I bear testimony that our Heavenly Father will be our greatest source of strength and help in all of these important decisions that affect so greatly our happiness and fulfillment.

Summer memories

Life has been busy, BUT FUN! I haven't posted much about what I've been up to this summer... but here it is in a snapshot.

While I feel, at times, that all I've done this summer is:

1. Look for a job

2. Look for housing

3. Prepare AND actually, eventually, move my stuff from Boston in a trip (and a truck) I'd like not to remember

and 4. Look for a job

I can't deny the fact that I have had THE BEST TIME playing with these kids!! (pictures below)

Every day is a new day. New advantures await. I had so much fun doing research online and finding out new places to go and visit. We discovered we had some favorites we went to more than once... but we kept exploring because the world (or this immediate area) was ours to discover. I wish I had taken more pictures, but here are some of the highlights.

Since Juliette and David have connections EVERYWHERE, they were able to get special passes for us to have a private guided tour of the WEST WING of this beautiful house!

I have always wanted to get a tour of the East Wing... never dreamed of the West Wing! 
It was awesome. 
Juliette's parents were in town as well as two cousins. So, on Sunday morning we all went into the city and waited outside one of the gate's for our two guides who actually work in the White House to greet us. We had to get security clearance beforehand and dress in Sunday clothes.  It was a hot and humid day... waiting outside, but so worth it!

Ok - a picture I took off the White House website... but it was a lot better than the one I took of the outside!

We were not allowed to take any pictures inside. We got to see the Oval Office, go out into the back courtyard where the Rose Garden is, and just travel all throughout all the special "important people" rooms. We even saw where they go to have lunch! One of the things I learned is that they change the artwork every couple of months in all the hallways. They'll update the walls with recent pictures (HUGE) of President Obama and people who he's met or where he has traveled.... or any big events that occurred.  If I were him I don't think I would like walking through these halls... because literally you'd be looking at almost a life-sized picture of you every where you turn. He's probably used to it by now but I don't think I would like it!!

Anyway, after the main tour of the white house, we were allowed to take pictures in the back... here are some of them. 

The kids... this door leads into his first secretary's waiting room (the gate-keeper) for anyone meeting with him.
The girls waiting outside before we were allowed in
Leo... love that smile :) The toothless one...

Jeremiah entertains himself... literally wherever we go!

At the back door... again. I think we were here for about 30 minutes taking pictures!
Before entering the White House
Me... at the back door!
So, after we left the main building, we were able to go into the Press Room which is attached to the White House, I think... but has a separate entrance. I've seen this room many times on TV before, but I was SHOCKED at how tiny the room actually is. It always looks so big on TV, but it's not.  We got to take lots of pictures and rest in here as well... and cool off. It REALLY was HOT outside. 
See how small the room is. I am standing at the front of the room. 

The kids were getting a bit restless... so we took some funny pictures
Juliette, David and the kids!
So, the next highlight of the summer was the annual summer trip with their two counsins and grandparents. I've gone the past two summers with them to Chattam on the Cape, but this year they went to the Chesapeake Bay because Juliette's family had moved. I only went for two days this year, but it's always a SPECIAL treat for me as well!! Living the life of luxury and resting and relaxing!! We didn't go in the water here because of the jellyfish and the weather was SO humid... but other than that, it was perfect!
I didn't take too many other pictures of places we've been this summer. We've explored parks, water parks, indoor play gyms, the zoo, museams, ... you name it, we went there! The month before I came here I went online and found out about all the places to take kids in the Washington DC area. It was GREAT!  (If any of you are coming to DC and have kids... let me know and I can give you all the info you need on how to keep them happy and entertained!!)

But, we had some down time at home as well... here's Jeremiah. I caught him one day with this on... just playing around!
This little boy is ADORABLE. He'll talk your ear off if you let him and he's got a story and a wild explanation for everything as he tries to put his little world together! He's always running to wherever he's going and can entertain himself for HOURS with trucks, trains and toys. He is such a good little boy!! Getting him potty trained this summer was an adventure... and we haven't totally conquered it yet... but we're working on it!

One of the best museams we went to was the NEW Air and Space museam by the Dulles Airport. This place is GIGANTIC and very cool! We saw planes taking off and landing at Dulles from their skyview observation deck.  You could see for miles! Inside they have over 100 or more REAL planes, from small to large, and you tour the evolution of humans being able to fly in the air (with a machine, of course)! I didn't think I would love this museam as much as the boys did... but I REALLY did. I also took them to their first IMAX movie on the story of the "Blue Angels". If you've never seen them fly or know much about them... go to this website:

Seeing them in IMAX was like we were fling with them! I got a little dizzy as we kept rolling with the plane! I never knew how intense their training was!

Anyway - here's a picture of the boys outside

This is there skyview observation tower. We went up there!!!
As I mentioned above... we went to many waterparks and pools over the summer but I think our favorute was Upton Regional Park in Arlington VA. Waterslides and all... we also loved it that it had batting cages and mini-golf too!
Jeremiah is EXTREMELY afraid of getting water dumped on him or even putting his head under water! He's a work in progress, but last week he did get his hair a little wet as he ran under the water spout. This was a BIG step for him! He can play in the water all day long... just as long as you don't try and get him to put his head UNDER the water! 

These two boys are incredible. SO much fun and so loving. What a true joy it is to spend time with them (most of the time :)

And, finally, I celebrated my birthday in August. Nothing too special... spent the day with the boys at the park, pool, and then a bike ride. Later on in the evening though, I decided it was time to treat myself to my first pedicure! Being a runner, my feet were in desperate need. I don't think the lady who did it realized how bad they were when she said the pedicure would only take about 15 min. I sat in that chair for 35-40!! But, look... cute feet!