Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Magical Moments

The Christmas Program at church today was so beautiful...I think I cried through most of it! The talents people are blessed with amaze and delight me! I feel so much gratitude at the blessing I have of attending church each week and mostly the weeks prior to and just following CHRISTMAS, as well as EASTER... What special times ~ time to awaken ourselves to the things that are our greatest gifts.

Days like today take me back about 15 years ago to the first Christmas that we celebrated after my baptism...
the first Christmas that I truly felt what Christmas really means...
for the first time in my life
it wasn't all about Santa Claus
and gifts
and stockings
and food
and friendly, busy little elves hurrying about
to bring all the special packages to Santa's sleigh
and we can't forget those amazing reindeer.
That year it became so much more for me...something within me came alive or rather was re-awakened, I believe it had always been there.
It was too familiar, too sweet, too comforting to be "new" to me. It was a part of me that had been deeply suppressed just waiting for the right time to come out.
Going back to our greatest gifts...
I had no idea the gifts I had been given until that day.
I really didn't know of the love and gratitude I had in my heart for my Savior.
I think it may have been that very day that I realized the love He and my Heavenly Father have for me.

What a refreshing thought ~
what a lovely moment ~
what a perfect start to a new life honoring My Savior.
It was that day that I vowed to myself and in a silent little prayer that I would always make sure my children know that this special day we celebrate each year really isn't all about SANTA CLAUS. Santa Claus is fun and jolly and every child deserves the magical feeling that comes with such a plump, happy ol' soul...I want them to enjoy those little extras of the holiday, but most importantly to me is that they
KNOW that CHRISTmas is about the BABY JESUS
that was born in a lowly stable to a sweet young mother...
It is a day to remember and to honor His birth, His example, His words, His sacrifice for each of us, His love, His divinity, His Perfect Life, His Death, His Resurrection and His promises...

Today was all of these things for started out perfectly, there was a soft blanketing of snow on the ground this morning.
We drove to church and were then given a special gift of beautiful music and inspiring messages of the birth of our Savior.
We sang Christmas Hymns, oh how I love them!
This is truly my favorite time of the year!
People are happy, they smile, the love and generosity freely flows from so many.
We are aware of others, we think of others and wish to bless their lives with just a little more joy at this time of year.
There is a feeling of joy that emulates from so many faces, especially little faces that are giddy with excitement and anticipation. I think I could sit endlessly and enjoy the happiness that I see...
In my last class of the day (Young Women's) we enjoyed a beautiful message set to music and pictures ~ so many thoughts of gratitude surged through my body as I watched and listened...and the thought I was left with was, what is my gift to my Savior this Christmas? (Hold that has required some pondering time...)

As we walked out of church this afternoon, the most wonderfully enormous snow flakes were piling up as they dumped from the sky was magical ~ the kind of magical feeling that many of us forget we can feel.
The kind of magical feeling that a child is able to feel at the simplest, sweetest little things can also be felt by us, if we only let ourselves be enchanted and delighted by such magical moments. I'm so grateful that I can feel those magical moments without being a child...maybe I feel them because I look into the eyes of my children and I want so desperately to still feel the wonder and awe that they enjoy so easily...I really believe it is because I allow myself to feel this magic, I crave and need this magic to feel real, to feel alive, to feel the Spirit, to feel the Love and Joy that I know My Savior and My Heavenly Father desire for me to feel.
These magical moments remind us of who we really are ~
I don't have to just be the Mom, (even though I love that more than anything)
I can still be just like a little child
and I can marvel and relish in the beauty that lies before me...
in seeing that beauty that lies before me,
I can see the beauty that lies within myself and within others...
isn't that what our Savior does for us?
He sees our beauty,
our talents,
our divinity ~
our faults
or our failures
or insecurities...
He sees that Little Princess that is in us
and He also sees the Majestic Queen we will one day become...

As I sit here tonight in front of our beautiful Christmas Tree, comfy on my couch, propped up with pillows holding my warm laptop while typing away, I go back to my thought I left church with earlier today...What is my gift to my Savior this Christmas? What is my offering?

President Thomas S. Monson said the following, "WHAT WILL YOU AND I GIVE FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR? Let us in our lives give to our LORD & SAVIOR the gift of gratitude by living His teachings & following in His footsteps."

The answer to my question or thought is that I will do ALL I can to live my life the way He would wish me to and that I will follow His example and love others and do my very best each day to reach out to someone who could use that little hug or word of encouragement. If I can be an instrument in His hands to bring Joy to another, then I believe that would be the very best offering or gift I could give... "What will YOU offer or give this year?" Please share your thoughts with me ~ I Love so much to hear from you!!!

My wish for YOU, whomever you may be, whether I know you or not, I wish YOU the Merriest Christmas Ever...I wish you joy and wonder and magical moments...I wish YOU the knowledge that Your Savior loves YOU and Cherishes YOU...I wish YOU the Peace and Comfort of this beautiful season...I wish YOU a very Merry Christmas filled with the joy of a little child.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Great day

What a fun day...

First, I slept in and when I finally decided to open my eyes there was SNOW blanketing everything in sight ~ oh Happy Day...I LOVE THE SNOW! Just makes me happy.

Next, I was lucky enough to hold such a sweet new little baby ~ Chad's youngest sister, Bethany, just had her second baby yesterday afternoon...there is just something about holding a newborn that makes my heart so full! Especially when they are just tiny like our little ones were...he was just a little over 6 lbs ~ oh brings back such sweet memories!

Then, Chad and I were able to spend a little time alone, it was so nice to just drive around taking care of things and visit and laugh, he makes me laugh every single day - love that man!

Then, came home to all my adorable kiddos, made some treats for them and got ready for our Elder's Quorum Christmas Party...way too much fun!
We played a silly little game, I guess you'd call it horse racing, but it's really not horse racing at all...but you have to name your race horse and stand up and compete against all the other horse's a little complicated, someday I'll explain it all...
but I was the WINNER ~
(my prize was a package of Red Hots!)
Fun Night, laughter is sooooo good for us!!!

The only problem was that I think maybe I had a little too much fun...completely lost my breath from all the excitement of winning and had to do my darn little inhaler to breathe well again, but how do you have fun without a little whoopin' and holorin'??? I just can't seem to manage that one very well.

And guess SNOWED even more while we were at the beautiful outside. Sure beats all the dreary rain we've been receiving ~ Bring on the snow!!!

My last thought for the day...
In my kitchen, I've hung a sign (actually hung it several months ago) that reads:
How Happy Did You DECIDE To Be Today???
I believe we have so much power over how happy we are and how happy we can be, just by deciding each day if we wish to be happy, or otherwise ~ I Choose Happiness, I Choose Joy!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Finished Product

Well, our Christmas Tree is now miraculously standing rather than lying on its front side in the middle of the living room floor...I am hopeful that we have fixed that little problem ~

redecorating a tree can only be fun so many times and then you start to wonder if it is worth it...but as I say that, I can't help but think of the fact that there are just some things that bring peace and happiness to me and our tree is always one of them...what an incredible sight in the evening with all the lights shining so brightly. After the kids are all asleep I love to sit on the couch with my hubby and just look at the tree, it is completely mesmerizing.
As much as I love the tree all lit up, I also love it during the day when you can see each ornament and the detail that goes into them. This year is even more fun for me, we chose to not hang up all of our regular ornaments and instead to have our kids make them from paper adding things that they are grateful and thankful for...
We really wanted our kids to focus on Gratitude and not so much on the gifts and such. The gifts are all well and good and yes they are fun, but there is so much more and it is our job to help them see that. It has been beautiful and I truly think it makes a difference. This is something we have typically done for Thanksgiving...we ususally draw a large Fall Tree with bare branches that we fill with various colored leaves listing our things we are thankful for.
Well, this year my hubby and I decided to change it up and carry this over into our Christmas Season... it's been great and it is so sweet to see the little treasures that ornament our tree!
The sweetest things are written on these little ornaments ~
thankful for Momma and Daddy
thankful for Jesus
Heavenly Father
close (clothes) :)
Yummy Food
Grammy and Poppa
Grandma and Grandpa
Onie and Rocket (our horses)
Motorcycles and Bikes
my blanket and pillow
one of ourboys made a candy cane and in the white sections he listed each of our names, it's as sweet as can be
Each day there are new little treasures put up...makes me just smile as I look at the things that mean the most to them!

And you have to see the sweet gift my boys made for me this past weekend...they couldn't agree whether they should give it to me for Christmas or if I should get it early...Lucky me...they just couldn't wait!!! I'm so glad, because now I have the pleasure of enjoying it for the next few weeks.

Is that cute or what??? They took an old ladder and decorated it with lights, pine sprigs and "snow." Then they made some little shelves to hold some of my decorations. Can't wait to get it all set up. Maybe I'll add another photo when I have it all together. What sweet boys I have (and what a sweet mother-in-law who helped them come up with the idea...thanks!!!)

Before ending this little post on our Christmas Tree, I must tell on myself...

Sometimes, don't you wish you could just go crawl back in bed and start your day over? Well, that is exactly how I felt just a few days ago...

I came downstairs to see our beautiful tree, not looking quite so beautiful. All the ribbon was in one big heap on the floor. Two of our kids were downstairs and guess what I did? Yep, you are right, I did it, I accused them of pulling off the ribbon...I could not fathom WHY on earth they would do such a thing...but it had to be them, no one else had been downstairs ~ so this lousy mom accused two adorable little people of destroying the Christmas Tree...

It gets worse, when they denied it, I re-questioned them, adding that "I don't have a cat, I only have children, and YOU two are the only children that have been downstairs this morning, so unless your Dad had some strange little fit and yanked all the ribbon off the tree and left for work, it MUST have been one of YOU!!!"

Well, after looking at their completely innocent little faces...faces that seemed entirely crushed by my accusations, I thought I should give that hubby of mine a quick call to see if he was the guilty one...

He laughed when I told him what I had done and said, "Dear, the tree was laying in the middle of the floor when I came downstairs, I stood it up but didn't have time to put it back together before I had to leave for work."

I thanked him and then gathered my thoughts and prepared for a little touch of humility as I went to ask forgiveness of those sweet little kids of mine that I had just thought were little stinkers...sure glad kids are so kind and forgiving ~ they just kind of giggled and said, "Told you we didn't do it Mom."

The next morning we came down to the same sight, only this time, we found it laying in the middle of the was a moment of chuckles and giggles between myself and those two little people.

I LOVE BEING A MOM...days are always filled with some wonderful little surprise! Sometimes it's me surprising all the kids ~ they just think I'm a crazy lady ~ and I guess I can't deny that times I am just a touch crazy and they always have to witness it!!! Maybe it's a good thing for kids to know their mom isn't perfect...and maybe even a better thing for their mom to have to suck it up, apologize and ask forgiveness for being such a dingbat. Guess we're just all in this together, learning and growing. Can't think of anything better than to be learning life's lessons with all these adorable little kiddos I've been blessed with.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our Christmas Tree Journey...

For the past many years we have had the pleasure of journeying out to find the "Perfect" Christmas Tree...

not to some silly old lot down the street filled with trees pre-cut just waiting for you...

but to the mountains! I guess we feel the need to go traipsing through the deep snow, searching for that one tree that will fill our every whim and desire!

Now mind you, our desired tree is sometimes less than what some may say would be what you might call "Desirable" ~ many of our trees have been the little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, some have been taller than our roof, some we could put on a table, and some have to be cut in half just to fit in the front door, but I have LOVED each and every one of them...they have so much character and when you add the touch of a child, they become priceless!

Our thought or main goal of this special day we venture out on each year, is more about the journey and the experience than that of finding the ideal tree...if what we Really wanted was the ideal, perfectly shaped, beautiful tree...we'd go check out one of the lots on every corner and grab one there, but that just doesn't cut it for this family we pack up enough food to feed an army, because we usually have a small one there ~ make sure to have plenty of hot cocoa and marshmallows and a few sleds and all the kiddos are delighted the whole day through!

Is anyone hungry???....Hot Chili, Hot Dogs, Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows and Cookies!!!

Here was the tree for our family...everyone else is off sledding at this point, but we had to have a picture of the "perfect Lytle Family tree" One of our little girls wondered why we picked a tree that was covered in ice and snow...well, what do you say to that???
There's Myles and Matt feeling just a little worn out after dragging back their tree. Shealyn hung out with her little ones while they went in search of her perfect tree...we were starting to wonder if they were lost in the snow somewhere or if they just felt they couldn't come back until finding just the right tree for her...It was a beauty!

The Campbell's came back with a beautiful tree ~ don't know how it's going to fit in their house, maybe it will be one of those you cut in half to fit in, but it sure looks nice! :o) What sweet friends...we just love their family!

And the Munson's...That's a gorgeous one! I love it!!! Corrie and I sat back and commented how much easier it is now that our babies aren't little babies anymore...they can walk around and drink hot cocoa all by themselves...aaaahhhhh....

Speaking of aaaahhhhh, I have a very thoughtful husband...

I'm not supposed to be out in the cold or breathing any cold air,

this can be a bit challenging when trying to get a Christmas Tree in the forest in December, it is cold! And on top of the cold of our day, we were blessed with a beautiful snowfall...perfect day...but, I do have to admit, I was feeling just a tad sorry for myself that I was going to have to spend much of my day sitting in the car to stay warm, but then right before my eyes, pops up this wonderful little tent with a heater, chair and blanket...aaaahhhhh!

I was so happy to be out with my family and friends, I was right in the mix the whole day, toasty warm and nice and dry. I didn't help pick out or cut down the tree, I just made sure to take photos and drink as much hot cocoa as possible ~ Perfect Day!
My sister and her family joined us for some sledding fun...aren't they cute??? They even brought along Hope, their little dog, the girls were lovin' on her!!! I can't even believe how big my nephew are...time goes by so fast!

Much to my dismay, the boys all tried their hand at hooky-bobbing behind Shealyn's car...I just closed my eyes and smiled and told them all, "PLEASE BE CAREFUL, I REALLY LIKE THE WAY YOU LOOK AND I'D REALLY LOVE IT IF YOU STAYED THAT WAY!" They think I'm crazy, and maybe I am, but I just love 'em all a little too much!!!

What's a day in the mountains without a little sledding??? Even our little grand-daughter had a ride down the hillside, so cute!

Here are some of my favorite shots of the day...

Soon I will post photos of the final product...The Decorated Christmas Tree! That is unless it falls over again and the decorations are all over the floor. I can only re-decorate a tree so many times!!! We just have to keep laughing when we come down in the morning to the tree lying in the middle of the floor...just doesn't seem right!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So, what are you supposed to be learning from all of this?

I have a friend who has asked me 2 or 3 times during my bout with pneumonia, "So what are you supposed to be learning from all of this?"
Well, to tell you the truth, the first time she asked me it took me a little by surprise...
I don't really think I gave her a response the first or the second time, and I cannot even recall if I responded the third time...BUT, it has given me a lot to think about. So thank you for prompting some brain activity.
I still don't feel that I have a complete answer to that question, I think it may be more of a process, it may take some time to really answer it fully in my heart.

A few of the things I feel I am supposed to be learning, doesn't mean I HAVE LEARNED THEM yet, I am just supposed TO BE learning them...again, a process...

Patience, Acceptance, Listening, Watching, Relaxing ...

Patience...I THOUGHT I was getting this one, but I guess not. I have found that I am extremely frustration while being sick has been at an all time high!!! I am sooooo frustrated that I cannot do ALL the things I used to do, I still cannot even read to my of the things that most Moms just take for granted -- I know I always have, and now I can't do it and it stinks just a little bit! But what I have been able to do is to sit back and WATCH my kids do more of their own independent reading and more reading to one another, this may not have happened had I been able to continue on doing what I did each WATCHING and LISTENING to the beautiful things my kids do has been a blessing. I have found during this time that I am not as Patient of a Mother as I'd like to be, or that I should and need to be...I want my kids to jump when I ask them to do something and do it RIGHT then, sometimes, they don't jump as quickly or as high as I'd prefer and my patience is tested...and guess what? I fail each and every time, instead of letting things happen peacefully, I jump, not up, but right down their throat and I hate that I am so impatient. So this is one I am supposed to be learning, not one I have mastered...with myself or with my family :( But I am more aware and I believe that is the first step because I can recognize when I am being impatient and take that deep breath (okay, I can't take super deep breaths yet, but I can imagine taking that deep cleansing breath and then think before I speak or act) I really hope I can be done being sick before I learn this lesson, or I may be sick for way longer than I'd like...
Acceptance is a biggie...acceptance of myself, of my abilities and of my LIMITATIONS. Acceptance of my best not necessarily being THE Best. Acceptance of my children's best and sometimes accepting that they don't always WANT to give their best. Accepting that I don't have to always have it all together. Accepting that I don't have to fix everyone, maybe even deeper than that...that I cannot fix anyone, but I can love them and let them know I am there and that I care and let that be enough. Accepting help from people who love me...this should be so easy, but I find it so much easier to help others, there is no guilt associated in helping, only in receiving...I have found during this little period of time, that I have the very BEST FRIENDS in the whole world...I have people who love me and want to help...
I think I am also learning Gratitude in a whole new light, I have always been grateful, that one is pretty easy, but when you are the recipient of so much love and kindness, the gratitude is exponentially higher, so I'll add Gratitude to my list of things I am supposed to be learning (and I actually thought I had that one under control)
And speaking of Control...I might as well add that one, too...I cannot be in control of all situtations, I thought I could control my own little world, not everything outside of it, but at least those things that I love and cherish the wrong I have found myself to be. I have absolutely no control of anything, or at least that is how I have felt this past month. I feel that I am learning that it is okay to not be in control, it is okay that I don't have everything under control, I don't have to control each day of my schooling, I can't control how my house is cleaned or not cleaned, or control how the towels are folded and put away or the dishes are cleaned and put away or, or, or...
This is such a hard one for me...while being sick I have had to sit and watch and listen and relax and let others do, I haven't been able to be up to say what needs to happen and how it needs to happen and when it needs to happen and then finally if it all happened okay...I think I might be a little sick in the head after taking a good look at myself! I think I'm a tad bit scary ~ I might even go as far as calling myself a Monster - oh, those are such ugly words...I really don't want to be ugly, I don't want to be a monster, I don't want to control everything around me, I guess I just don't want Chaos, I need order and happiness and joy and maybe I have been stifling those very things that I cherish by trying so hard to make them happen each day...hmmm, this growing and learning is a little painful!

Relaxing was the last on my list...maybe because it is the last thing I ever do...I am much better at being busy than at relaxing and putting my feet up. I think I've had enough relaxing for the next several years. But as I write that and I think about the word "RELAXING", I don't know that I really mastered that one either. I did a lot of complaining while I had to sit, instead of enjoying having the time to sit and relax... so darn, I think I failed that one, too! Maybe I still have to sit so often, because I haven't found any joy in the act, I have only found frustration. Wow, writing is sooo good for me! I learn so many things about myself as I write, my brain and my heart seem to open up together...I should do this more often.
So, as I am sitting to catch my breath, I will be joyful about it and I will not complain again! I will not worry about all that is being left undone as I sit, I will just grab a fabulous book and be grateful for my time...
It's painful to take a good, hard look at yourself and think about what lessons in life you are to be learning, but I am grateful that I am aware of my limitations and my failures because now I can only grow and become closer to who I know I can become, to who I have the potential to be. What a fantastic morning...I'm so happy to know ME a little better!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Magical Days...

There are not too many things I find more beautiful and peaceful than a blanketing snowfall...
I could sit and look out the window for hours on end just enjoying the piling white softness that covers each branch and blade of grass, that reaches up to the bottom rail of the fences surrounding the pastures, the glorious white that sparkles atop each surface...

How could anyone not love winter and marvel in the beauty of it?

Winter is the perfect reminder of slowing down, enjoying all that is good and beautiful, reminiscing our childhood memories...and relishing in the joy of making new memories.

Who doesn't smile when they think of making snow angels, catching snowflakes as they gently fall from above, sledding and building that enchanting snowman?

The familiar smell of a winter day is almost as magical as the day cocoa and cookies, pipin' hot chili and fresh cornbread, or a scrumptious pot of chicken and noodles with homemade rolls...

And then the adornment of winter fun...gloves, boots, scarves, hats, coats, snow pants, ear muffs, carrots and top hat for the snowman lay scattered from the front door clear to the fireplace where you'll find little people warming their bodies for the next round of fun...

Red cheeks and cold noses, crazy wild hair, frozen little finger tips and hot cocoa kisses...
These are the things that make me smile today ~ Happy December!!!