If you have found me through Mother Letters, welcome to my house. Feel free to make yourself at home and look around.
Put your feet up on the coffee table, see what I have in the pantry, and enjoy our time together.
If you would like to read my entire Mother Letter, click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"They Forgot Thanksgiving"

I had a rather satisfying moment the other day as I walked through WalMart with the kids. As Freckles looked at all of the Christmas decorations that had been put up the day before Halloween, he shook his head and said, "They forgot all about Thanksgiving." This helped me to realize that the thankful lists we made, our thankful tree, and the many Family Home Evening Lessons about gratitude and Thanksgiving had touched them. I am glad I stayed strong in my refusal to put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, no matter how tempting. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! However much there is to be grateful for at Christmas time, how many people we can serve, and how much thought we put into our gift giving, I want to maintain the importance of a day specifically dedicated to appreciating all the blessings God has given us. Just because the world does not commercialize Thanksgiving, I don't believe it has any less importance. I firmly believe that many problems of the world could be solved with a little more gratitude and less selfishness. If I can teach my children to count their blessings and feel true gratitude, I feel I will have given them a wonderful gift.
"May we be found among those who give our thanks to our Heavenly Father. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed."
--Thomas S. Monson, "
Finding Joy in the Journey", Ensign, Nov 2008, 84–87

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Gift Giving Philosophy

I have a rather old-fashioned view of gift giving. I look at giving gifts as an opportunity to think about the things I admire and appreciate about that person. I want to consider what stage of life they are in, what may make their lives a little easier or bring moments of enjoyment for them.
I have received many, many thoughtful gifts over the years. Most of them weren't particularly expensive or extravagant, but most of them showed thought and planning. I admire a person who has the talent for being a thoughtful gift giver. Some of the most memorable gifts I have received:
  • As a poor college student, my sister sent me a whole roast beef dinner in the mail including the potatoes, carrots, onions, etc!
  • At the airport, leaving for my mission, I received a warm homemade loaf of bread which was wonderful for the verrry long detour we had to El Salvador and couldn't leave the airport. The only other thing to eat was out of a candy bar vending machine. What an inspired gift.
  • When I had the February blues, I was given a beautiful bouquet of spring colored roses that brought spring into my kitchen
  • For Christmas one year, we were given a small, golden, lighted Christmas tree made from small dodads that had meaning for us (seashells, smurfs (loved them when I was little, many a story there), our initials, glasses etc.) We learned that the giver had spent much time searching the thrift store small toy bins for just the right objects, glued them onto a foam base added lights and spray painted it gold. It is beautiful and makes me smile every time we unpack it
  • Another Christmas we received a handmade story quilt and a story book. Reading stories on the quilt every night of December has become a family tradition.
  • A hot, homemade apple pie for my birthday was an unexpected pick me up.
  • The last season of my favorite guilt show on DVD (nope, I won't tell you what it is and you can't make me!)
  • My frugal, practical mother always had a bunny for anything... I especially loved the Groundhog Day Bunny, or the St. Patrick's Day Bunny. Any occasion was free license to give a gift. It wasn't expected, just a nice surprise. She even bought "bunny" gifts for herself sometimes.
  • My Daddy made me a beautiful handmade dollhouse complete with a post banister and hand split shaker wood shingles. Unfortunately, I did not appreciate it like I should have at the time, something I regret as I wish for a dollhouse for my girls.
I want to teach my children thoughtful gift giving. I think thoughtful gift giving inspires gratitude for gifts received as well. On those rare occasions, when I am on top of things, I talk to the kids about what they think the recipient of their gift would like. Sometimes we have to emphasize that their 5 year old girl friend would probably prefer a Polly Pocket set over a robotic transformer or set of pokemon cards.

I strive to be a thoughtful gift giver, though I am not as successful as I would like. I guess it is the procrastinator in me. It is difficult to find a truly thoughtful gift at the last minute. In fact, more than once, I have found myself at a superstore 15 min before a party or wedding frantically searching for SOMETHING to give.

I appreciate having my gift lists made in advance to enable me to ponder through the haze of my life and thus attempt to show others that I value and appreciate them. Now, I must give a disclaimer.... If you receive a gift from me that makes you go hmmm and wonder "WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?", know that I must have had a moment, day, week, month... and I will attempt to do better next time and still value you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Road Trip Fairy

We have a wonderful little fairy that visits us on road trips. She has an irridescent rainbow dress, violet hair, beautiful wings that fly fast enough to keep up with us on our trip, can be invisible when she wants (Mom has only seen her once), and of course a magic wand! She purchases and wraps small gifts (usually dollar store items) that can be played with or occupy children in the car. Each child's gifts are wrapped in a specific paper so they know which are for them. When we stop for a rest, every couple of hours or so, the kids can search the car to see if the Road Trip Fairy visited. This keeps our children occupied and surprises that are ongoing. It also cuts down on the "are we there yet?" and "He's touching me!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Little Schemer

Tonight at dinner #1 said.... "Mom, will you try to do a back handspring so we can videotape it? Then if (said with little doubt) you mess up we can send it to America's Funniest Home Videos and win! You could get a lot of money...."