Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Laurie

As I’ve been doing this feature, it has made me realize how connected we can feel to each other even though we are strangers.  Obviously, in some cases, random online friendships can be a bad thing, but I love the opportunity to observe good people out there living good lives.  It reinforces my faith in humanity, my hope for the next generation, and a sense of widespread community.  Today, I get to introduce you to Laurie, who I have “known” for a couple years simply through blogging.  I am still trying to figure out why in the world I have so many readers who are homeschoolers.  They are all such fabulous women who impress me so much with all they are able to accomplish, and I’m a little baffled about their draw to my blog.  My best guess is the mothering piece, and how so many of us value the same things.  Anyway, meet one more fabulous woman out there in Blogworld:  Laurie.

My name is Laurie, and I’m a 29-year-old, stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I have 3 little girls that keep me plenty busy! We live in Arizona – which means we’ll be going on a road trip to cooler weather for most of July and August! 🙂

I’ve lived in the same city my entire life. In fact, I’ve only lived in 3 houses – where I grew up, an apartment for the first 4 years of marriage, and our current home for 4 years. I’m the youngest of 7, and yes, I was the spoiled youngest child. 🙂  I’m proud to say that I have a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Child Development – although the first half of my college life was dedicated to Early Childhood Education. I went to school while I had my first baby. (I had a test the next week!) And I graduated when she was 15 months old. I was also about 2 months pregnant with baby number two! I don’t mean to brag about it, but that’s probably the one thing I’m most proud of in my life. Next to my family, of course. 🙂  And it just happened to be the PERFECT education for becoming a homeschooling mom later on!

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of motherhood is being their when they discover new things. It’s so cool to watch their little minds think, and to see the light bulb go on in their heads! Putting babies to sleep is also a favorite. I love to just look at their peaceful little faces.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

This is definitely a wish that probably won’t become reality, but I’d really like to travel the world and photograph all of the temples. I love photography, and I especially love photographing temples. A related bucket-list item would be to actually go INSIDE all of the temples. Again, both of these would take forever, so maybe I’ll just have to settle with the first 20. That would be all the ones dedicated before I was born, so that’d be cool!

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

Like most of you, this is a hard one for me. But when Stephanie asks, you obey! 🙂

Let’s see… First would be the piano. I started playing when I was 6, and I absolutely love it. I wish I would make more time for it, but being a mom always seems to crowd in! But that’s probably how it should be at this phase of my life. It’ll gain a larger time slot when I don’t have a baby in my lap 24 hours a day.

Something else I’m good at is covering my walls with quotes! Seriously, I have at least 25 index cards taped to my office wall at this very moment.

The last one I’ll mention is that I’m pretty good at becoming friends with little kids. My dream calling is nursery. (I know! A few of you probably just fell out of your chairs.) But seriously, I LOVE little kids. And for some reason, they seem to love me back. It makes me feel so special when someone’s baby just walks right up to me and wants me to pick them up! 🙂

 Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

My favorite scripture of all time is D&C 64:33. It says:

 “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

I have this plastered all over my walls! (It’s even taped on the wall facing the toilet!) This scripture keeps me going on those crazy days. Whenever I feel like pulling my hair out, this reminds me that all the little things really are adding up, and that I shouldn’t give up. It’s like that talk (by Elder Bednar??) about all the tiny brush strokes that make up a beautiful masterpiece in the end.

 What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

The computer is my downfall. But when I discipline myself enough to not check my email one more time, I love to read. Classics are my favorite. Books like Anne of Green Gables and Ballet Shoes. I also really love books about child development.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

Not that I don’t want people to know this, but I just don’t go around pointing it out. But my “something” is that I have a NEED to serve. I’m not happy unless I’m serving people. Friends that I’ve lost in the past were people who really didn’t need me. I didn’t feel like I had a place in their world, because they didn’t need me to help them in any way. My best friends are those who will let me help them whenever I can, and who will also help ME whenever I need it.

 Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately?

Oh, where do I begin? It’s actually been a VERY long week for me and my 7-year-old. Our family is in the process of moving (back to my childhood home), and she’s definitely taking the whole process the hardest. I love her dearly, but if she slams the door one more time, I just might throw it in the dumpster! I understand that she’s just venting her fears and insecurities, but moms have fears and insecurities, too. It’s hard dealing with my own stuff AND hers. You know?

 What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

This year, I’ve learned a lot about repentance and forgiveness and the Atonement. My testimony of the Atonement has grown exponentially as I’ve had people in my life forgive me without showing any resentment afterwards. I never truly understood forgiveness before. I don’t think I was ever able to truly forgive myself for things. Even little things. I would beat myself up for past stuff all the time. But through a loving relative, I learned a LOT about the Atonement and about forgiveness. I have a strong testimony of the Atonement and what it can do for us if we’ll just let it!

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?

The Grilled Chicken Salad at Texas Roadhouse – with no onions, no tomatoes, and bleu cheese dressing. Of course, it would have to include Cheese Fries for an appetizer, and their awesome rolls with cinnamon butter. 🙂

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

I think laundry would be the winner. (I’m pretty sure Stephanie just fell out of her chair!) But seriously, I love it when the huge heap of dirty clothes disappears. Not that I’m great at putting it all away, though. Maybe that’s why I love it so much when it IS all put away. I don’t have laundry baskets of clean clothes all over my bedroom, and my girls can actually find their own clothes in their OWN rooms! That’s the satisfying part. When I don’t have to hurdle over all the laundry baskets.

 If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan?

I would love to plan a game night! I love playing board games, but we hardly ever do because my husband got sick of losing. (I can’t help it if I’m good!) But seriously, we have a whole game CLOSET – full of games we hardly ever play. 😦  I’d love to play Scattegories or Scotland Yard with a group of awesome ladies!

What are you loving lately?

Lark Rise to Candleford. Seriously, I’m in LOVE. (Does anybody else think Laura should have ended up with Fisher Bloom??) Thank goodness for fans who put the WHOLE series on YouTube. (Start here.) I highly recommend it. The blend of characters is wonderful!

 Tell us about your blog.

My main blog – the one where I spill whatever’s in my brain – is private. But you’re more than welcome to email me (ldslaurie@gmail.com) for an invite! But I also have two public blogs. Unfortunately, they’ve both been badly neglected. But maybe after the move, I’ll be able to update them more.

Anyway, the first one is I Have a Testimony. It’s kind of my testimony journal. It’s also where I post church videos that inspire me.

The second one is I’m Just a Girl with a Camera. I started that one just before life went into warp speed, so it’s REALLY being neglected. But I started it when I realized that ALL of my hobbies involved my children. I wanted to get back to one of my pre-children hobbies. It’s fun looking for opportunities to photograph things that may have otherwise slipped past unnoticed.

Thank you, Laurie, so much for participating.  Feel free to leave a comment for Laurie here or at one of her blogs to say hello and share what’s common between you.  Believe it or not, we have not run out of wonderful women in the world, so we’ll be back again next week.  Have a great weekend!

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I almost didn’t post this because I don’t want to be on Good Morning America.

Some of you may have (or have had) 6 year olds that you think are pretty cute and clever and all that.  With all due respect to your own wonderful children, my Clark is really something else.  He has this unabashed enthusiasm about things.  He feels stuff all the way.  His happy is bouncy-like, and his sadness is of the weeping and wailing variety.  Today the tears and tragic cries flowed freely when his post-baseball game brownie fell out of the package onto the ground below the bleachers.  Oh, the suffering.  He loves to laugh, giggle, scheme, and grin mischievously about things.  He also likes to sneak food, hide his clean laundry in the back of his closet instead of putting it away, and make way too many jokes about underwear and other bathroom-related topics, but that’s all fodder for another post.  Clark is a boy with heart.

So we made this video a little over a week ago because he kept singing this song over and over again around the house and it occured to me, You know, I really ought to record this for posterity’s sake because it really is kind of priceless.  So I convinced him to come over to the computer camera and sing his song for me.  Unfortunately, the stupid program kept cutting off the recording partway through, so he had to start over many, many times.  By the time we got to the final (and first complete) recording, he had somehow come up with a whole bunch of “actions” to go along with his singing (oh, the actions!).  And maybe it’s just me, his proud and totally amused mom, but I think this is a classic.  It’s definitely classic Clark, and maybe I’m delusional thinking that anyone else will find it as equally endearing and awkwardly hilarious as I do, but I decided to share it anyway.  But then I thought, What if it really is as great as I think it is and it goes viral and then I’ll have to go on those early morning talk shows?  I’m wearing my pajamas and yesterday’s mascara in this video.  I don’t even have anything to wear on TV, and I need a haircut, plus we’d be sitting there on national television and Clark would crack some joke about underwear or something and I’d be mortified.  So enjoy the video, but not too much.

Dear readers, this is my Clark:

Be my brain, thanks.

We start our summer schedule today.  School is out.  Most of the big plan is all worked out, but I need help with a couple parts of it.  And who better to tap in to than my brilliant readers?

Twice a week, I want to set apart a little time to “Learn a Skill.”  My children are 8, 6, and 4, and I think they’re capable of learning to do lots of new things.  So far, I’ve come up with ideas like how to sew a basic stitch on the sewing machine, ironing, plant a bush or tree, maybe paint a wall, properly clean a toilet, peel potatoes,  I don’t know….   I need more ideas.  What would be some useful skills for children to learn that I’m not thinking of?

Also, on Mondays we’re going to do meal planning and shopping.  I’ve collected several recipes and should be fine for this week, but my repertoire is seeming kind of dull right now.  Would you give me one recipe for a simple dinner that’s a big hit in your family?  I’m sure the collective group of readers would love to get some fresh ideas, too.

Anyway, I’m expecting a little turbulence the first couple weeks as we all get used to the new routine, but I’m mostly looking forward to it.  The only thing I could do with out is the blasted requirement of sometimes wearing a swim suit in public. Seriously.  Anyway, thanks in advance for the great ideas I know you’ll share.

Happy Summer kickoff!

GCBC Week 10: “Face the Future with Faith” by Elder Russell M. Nelson

Week 10, people.  Ten.  In a time when there seems to be so much turmoil, both worldwide and within communities and families, it’s so important to cling to our faith and let it sustain us.  Elder Nelson talks about how our families must be a force for good and a refuge from the forces of evil.

“Face the Future with Faith” by Elder Russell M. Nelson

What stood out to you as you read?  In what ways do you think he’s asking us to apply this message?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Becky

Today I get to introduce you to one of my favorite people I’ve met through blogging.  Becky and I blog-visited for quite a while before we actually met you each other last year, and I immediately liked her.  She is down-to-earth, funny, and has a deep heart and mind.  Once you get to know Becky, I’m convinced it’s impossible to not like her.  Here’s Becky:

First, an ode to Stephanie:

Okay, after sitting at my computer for several minutes, it is apparent I can’t write an ode. Shakespeare I am not. How about a haiku? They don’t even have to rhyme! Ahem.

The real Stephanie

Is as real as real can be

And she makes me laugh.

Okay, so I’m no good at poetry. How about this: I love Stephanie, and if you’re reading this, then you do, too. She’s down-to-earth, hilarious, and intensely spiritual to boot. I feel like I’m treading water whenever I read her blog. And when I met her, I was quite confident that we could have talked for a week straight if she hadn’tve gotten strep throat.

Reader, you have excellent taste. Good job.

So, have I put off writing about myself long enough? Yes? Okay. Let’s jump in.

Name: Becky. Code name: That Girl. Age: I’ll-be-thirty-in-less-than-a-month-and-I’m-super-excited-about-it. Blood type: O+.

Married nine years to my perfect companion, four boys under seven. Life rocks.

Grew up in Michigan, went to BYU, majored in Family Life Education with big dreams of teaching marriage prep, communications and conflict resolution, and parenting. Blogging is a great place to spout my ideals; then my listeners can just click off the page, rather than grow glassy-eyed in my presence.

After we’d been married for two years, my husband was transferred to Brazil for work. He’s a finance guy. We loved it, and two of our sons were born there. I blogged about it on The Misplaced Americans. We lived there for five wonderful years, then moved to Arizona for the past two. I love Arizona more than I ever thought possible (people probably get glassy-eyed about that, too ….)

I keep busy exercising, reading, writing, building Lego monstrosities, serving, monitoring foam sword fights, long bike rides, and recently learning to cook with a Sun oven.

I love my family. I love the gospel. I love carbs. That’s pretty much my life.

1. What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

Getting to know my children as people. Laughing at their jokes. Having the same interest in books. Appreciating their insight. I feel so incredibly honored that I get to be part of the process – and yet I feel like I’m not doing a dang thing, either. My kids are just naturally awesome, I think. (Note: I am not currently potty-training anyone …)

I’m also very partial to their toes.

2. What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?

Tcha. Laundry. No contest. And perhaps potty-training. (Although I could TOTALLY write a whole post just on how laundry is NOT part of motherhood. Anyone else agree?)

3. Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Oh, gosh. Travel more. Europe in particular. I’d like to finish my kids’ scrapbooks some day. I have a goal to make quilts for all my grandchildren. Hot-air ballooning sounds fun. So does Lasik.

But I can’t die until I see all my children in the temple.

4. What are you loving lately?

Learning! We are told to “seek learning by study and also by faith,” but I never really knew how to apply that principle on a daily basis once I’d graduated from college. But I’m taking a class now that has really opened my mind, helping me see opportunities for growth in everything. It’s thrilling. I feel more alive than I have in a long, long time. It’s good to use my brain for more than memorizing Elmo’s latest CD.

I also think I’m finally starting to figure out this whole mothering thing. (My poor, poor first child….) I’ve calmed down a lot about things that used to send me over the edge. And I’m starting to understand my responsibilities as far as education is concerned. It’s overwhelming, but inspiring. I’m glad I don’t have to teach them alone!

5. What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

Reading. And compulsively checking my email.

Recently I found myself without any kids for a couple hours. Two were sleeping (and Grandma was home to watch them), one was at school and one was on a playdate. And once handed this private, unexpected luxury … I ran errands.

I’m so boring.

6.  What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. Wholly and undoubtedly. I may not know how or why, and I may not know much, but I know it’s true. It is true and it is good.

7. Desert Island Question.  If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 items with you, what would they be?

Am I allowed to bring my husband? No? Then mascara, a hygiene kit, and a library. I’m sneaky. ;o)

8. What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

Hmmm. That’s a toughie. Really – if ANY part of my house is clean, I am most definitely satisfied. Be it the dishes, the bathroom, or yes, even the laundry – I get a bursting, bubbly feeling when it’s DONE.

Yes. Done-ness makes me happy. Doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s clean, I’m happy.

9. What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

Well, my parents got divorced last year. Not entirely unexpected, but most certainly unwanted. (“Sad” doesn’t really cut it here, does it?)

The end result was that my mother and little sister (she’s sixteen) have moved in with us. This has been … hard.

(Gosh, I need a thesaurus.)

At first it was not fun. Really, REALLY not fun. And I found myself “venting” all the time. But I had to learn that “venting” was really just “complaining,” and that I just plain felt worse afterward. I’ve stopped venting, and magically stopped being annoyed.

But please don’t ask about it, because I’m still in recovery from Venting Anonymous, and I don’t want to be tempted.

10. Tell us about your blog.

Well, I started the whole Blogging Thang way back in 2008. (I actually had to look that up. How sad is that?!) Back then, I was living in Brazil, and feeling mighty lonely for all things American. (Including friends. And Target.) So I started a blog. It kinda sorta took off, and eventually landed a job for my husband in the States. There was much rejoicing.

Now we’re back in the States, my blog lost more than half of its readers, and I’m thoroughly okay with that.

I’m pretty boring now. I talk about my kids. Our weekly dates. Attempts at organizing. Blah blah blah.  (You can find Becky’s blog at Pensievity.)

In addition to which, I’m taking a Summer Sabbatical from the blog, so this is kind of a hard time to get to know me through the internets. Read the Brazilian blog. I was way funnier then, and I had a lot more interesting things happen to me than, say, cleaning the garage.

11. Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).

Routines. Deciding what’s important to you, and creating time to make it happen. I’m big on piano, reading, outings, friends, service, cleanliness, cooking. I’m not a fan of boredom and TV.

I also have a very strong testimony of snacks. And naptimes.

12. Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.

Don’t listen to all the advice!

No, really – decide what’s best for you and your family. Discuss. Talk. Communicate. (This includes prayer.) Then follow the inspiration you receive! We all get hung up on “right or wrong” ways of doing things. When to start cereal? Co-sleep or crib? Do we divide up household chores the way our parents did it? How often is it okay to have pancakes for dinner?

The answer is – there is no answer. Don’t worry about what your neighbor or your sister or your old college roommate is doing. Love your family unselfishly and unconditionally, and you won’t go wrong.

 Thank you Becky–  first, for participating in Find-a-Friend Friday, and second, for being so cool.  Go ahead and stick her blog in your reader list because you won’t regret it once she stops playing around all summer and picks the blog back up again.