Homeschool Conference!!!

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

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Last days as a teenager

It's BIRTHDAY TIME for our Sweet Girl this week...
I was lucky enough to spend a little time emailing with her this morning.
She told me she thinks that instead of moving up to 20 
she'll just go back down and claim she's "18 with 2 years experience".

I really cannot believe she's going to be this old...she is one beautiful young woman...check out the pictures below...she just looks wonderful and so happy.

I sent off a package for her birthday ~ wish I could see her open it...I filled an entire journal with quotes that I just know she will love...some were serious, some were humorous, some will cause her to think and some will just remind her how much she is loved.  

Okay...let's get to her letter!

Last week was my last full week of being a 19 year old Sister Missionary. 
I'm not sure how I feel about turning 20 this week. 
We'll see if I follow through with it :) 

Halloween joke! 
What does a ghost get when he blows his nose?

I've told that joke to my bishops son about 3 times in the past week. 
He laughs harder every time I tell it. 
I absolutely LOVE their family! 
Jordan is 13 and autistic, and each time I see him I ask, 
"Jordan, what joke do you have for me today??" 
And he tells the same silly set of jokes, and laughs SO HARD at them. 
It makes my day! 
This week, I'll be spending my birthday dinner with them!
And I couldn't be happier! 

Bishop Knecht pulled me into his office yesterday for an interview, and he said, 
"You and Sister Stradling hold such a special place in the heart of this ward. No matter how many missionaries come through after you, you two will always be our first Sisters, and you are family to us." 
They have such a great family. 
 This week we also had a mission wide Sisters Conference! 
It was soooo good! 

We are up to about 80 sisters, 
(we had 20 a year ago) 
and will be at 100 soon. 
How cool is that?? 

I love how committed the sisters in this mission are to real growth and helping people truly feel the gospel in their lives! It's wonderful!!

My comps and I 
dressed up as Elders for the 
Ward Trunk or Treat 
(best costume ever
totally mission appropriate too!) 
Pictures to come. 

Look up D&C 64:34. EAT ZION! 
It's awesome. New theme for my mission :) 

Life is good! 
Miracles happen everyday, if we will only look for them!
Keep on smiling!
Sister Lytle 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Living a "Newly-Wed-Like" life FOREVER...

YES, it happens!!!
And here are some tips to make it happen in your "Happily Ever After"...

Last night I spent some time with one of my very favorite people in the world, Corrie!!!
It was a party night for her daughter...

When my invitation arrived in the mail,
I was assigned a room  ~
can you guess which room I received??
Yep, the BEDROOM!!!
soooo many directions to go with this one...

I knew I wanted it to be good,
I knew I wanted it to be memorable,
I knew I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the beauty of marriage with her...
I decided to combine it all into a
BIG Happy Package!!!


Here are the words that go along with all the little gifts inside the BIG Box ~

Dear Rachel ~
I want to share a few tips that can help you to
live a "Newly-Wed-Like" Life FOREVER --


1.  A Treasure Box to help you remember to always "treasure" one another
and a perfect place to keep the treasured love letters, cards and special moments of your life as husband and wife.
(I found a box that I just loved...I have one that I keep all my "Sweet Stuff" from my Sweet Man in, so I just had to get one for her!)

2.  Two Candles for your bedroom to help you remember how important it is to keep a flame alive in your marriage.
(Who doesn't love candles???
And the thing I love to tell others about love when they feel it is lost or gone...
I ask, "Was it ever there???"
If they can answer yes,
then it's repairable...
all they need do is rekindle that flame!
So, if you are finding yourself in that position, read on...these little tips will do the trick!)

3.  Paris ~ Always share your dreams and together make them realities!
(This was a little trinket that had "Paris" on it...Rachel loves Paris so this was fitting for her)

4.  Diamonds ~ There will be dull days and hard times in your marriage, these diamonds are here to remind you to focus on all the Shining Moments you have together!
(A little bag filled with "diamonds"...unfortunately for Rachel, I am not a rich person, so they were quite fake, but they sure do sparkle!)

5.  Hugs & Kisses ~ Because a day should never pass that you don't share love and affection with one another.
(I wrapped a pretty red bow around the bags of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses...perfect!)

6.  A Pillow ~ "Pillow Talk" each and every night will keep you close, remember to have that communication and never go to sleep angry...stay up until sunrise if necessary, but talk out your differences and end on a happy note with each other.

7.  Throw in a little "Sugar and SPICE" every now and's sure to bring a smile!
(Yes, I did....
I embarrassed both Rachel and her sweet Mom...
I had to do it!
I snuck in a little pair of "SPICY Undies",
okay, two pair...should have taken a photo...the cheeks were bright red on these sweet girls!)

8.  A Blanket ~ because every day is a good day to snuggle up together!

And finally...

9.  Do your very best to make every day your "Happily Ever After" and it will be!
(I gave her a little metal sign with these was super cute!)

***Something to think about...***
Our spouses may never be "Perfect"...
there will be times they will disappoint us.

None of us are perfect,
but Happily Ever After is still possible!

YOU be as perfectly in love as possible
and be perfectly willing to share that love at all times
and something magical will happen ~
your spouse will wish to be just as perfect as you are and
your marriage will become perfectly wonderful...
thus the "Happily Ever After"...   Perfectly Beautiful!

What a lovely night for such a lovely girl!!!
Best wishes to you always, Rachel!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Family Work

My sweet missionary girl is almost 20!!!
What a blessing she is to the world ... I LOVE how sweet and tender her words are...
MONDAYS are truly one of my favorite times, she lifts my spirits and my heart is so full each time I hear from her.  Check out the amazing things happening in her world ~

 Isn't she just darling in her scarf???  Such a beautiful girl!
AND I CANNOT WAIT to meet her companions someday...

Reason #1 for being a missionary,

This is family work! 

We're all brothers and sisters, 
and being a missionary is sooo great because all I do every single day is 
invite my family to feel loved, 
to feel invited, 
and to feel the spirit. 
How could life get any better?
This week has been crazy. 
Crazy good! 
We have had awesome success with members of the church inviting their friends and loved ones to activities where they can meet the missionaries (us!) and it's been so cool. These people that the members are bringing in are SO fun! I love it! This week we had an activity for all the women in the church about living providently, and we ate a ton of pumpkin snacks :) 

"I hope you have some good pills in there- I could sure use some!" 
(shouted out during the middle of the provident living seminar from a super goofy lady named Miriam, PS: she loved coming to relief society!)

This week we also went out with the Spanish Elders to help clean someones home. 
The Latinos are the most humble, faithful people I have ever met. 
The man was blind and could only speak Spanish, and so he struggled to support himself. He lived in a building with several other families, where each family had a room, and then there was a main living area. The main area was falling apart, and the floors were so old that they were at a major slant. In his room was a dirty little mattress and some broken appliances that he stored things in, like food. 
Food in a broken microwave instead of a fridge. 
It was so sad. 
He had no idea how to clean or care for things. 
So the five of us were there to help him learn how. 
At the end of our stay, he was nearly in tears. 
We all knelt on the floor, and he prayed and prayed and prayed. It was all in Spanish, so I have no idea what he said, but it was powerful and I could feel it. 
We have the super awesome blessing of bringing all the Spanish families from the area into our ward! And we are sooo excited to be with them. They bring such an awesome spirit with them, and we can't wait to be able to interact with them more. They are such a blessing. 

Yesterday we went to the Temple Visitors center for the first time!!!!! 
It was AMAZING! 
Apparently, the Washington DC Temple is the tallest temple, 
and possibly one of the most incredible! 
I ran into a sister I knew from Middleton who was serving in the visitors center, it was so cool! 
Well, it'll be the day before my birthday, but we get to go through with Sister Dove this next week for her first time, it's going to be so wonderful!
Family is forever! 

Sister Lytle

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


News from Danielle this week ~ she cracks me up...
find out why she believes the East Coast drains people of their humor 
and her definition of 100% humidity!!!  
Love this girl so much!  :)

Dear Familia/friendilas (that's Spanish for friend), 

This week has been a crazy week! 
On Monday of last week, we found out that we were going to be driving into Ellicott City on Wednesday to pick up a third companion. 
That night, we sat in on two Spanish lessons, and I understood NOTHING. 
It was insane. 
I suddenly had a panic and thought, 
"I have to learn Spanish... Cruuuuudddddd!" 
I found out that not only were they sending a third sister to the area, they were also sending Spanish elders to the area! 
We now have SEVEN missionaries serving in one ward. 
Is that crazy or is that crazy? 
This area is booming. 
It went from two to seven in less than two months. 
God is preparing his people. 

On Tuesday I found out that the East Coast drains people of their humor
There is a little girl in the area who wants to come to church, but her mom won't let her go because she doesn't have a dress. 
So the missionaries who were working with them were trying to tell the mom that it really is okay, and that they would be allowed to come to church no matter what they wore. 
As a sarcastic suggestion, 
I told the missionaries that I'd be more than happy to wear jeans to church if it'd make the family more comfortable. 
I was met with a room full of blank stares, and a, 
"Sister Lytle, you will not wear jeans to church." 
My companion and I died laughing. 
Turns out, very few people understand sarcasm. 
And so I'm hoping that I haven't left a trail of offence behind me for the past three months hahaha. 
I laughed so hard reading this because it is so Danielle...I swear I could truly hear her voice as I read these words...funny thing is that she'd never really wear the jeans, but she'd harass people forever about it just to see if she could get under their skin...crazy child!!!  She' got a whole lot of her Daddy in her.  ;)

Life here is good! 
The rain here is wonderful, and weird! 
It just mists constantly... I think that might be what they define as "100% humidity" but I don't know. "100% humidity" sounds like being submerged in water to me. 

Well, I'm running low on time, but the church is true! 
This life is the best life. 
My companions are both wonderful! 
I love them. 
I'm happy! 
Sister Lytle

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Transfers, Tornadoes and Teaching

News from Danielle ~ I've been asking her a million questions lately and I'll share some of her responses for those that are interested in her world.  ;)

I'm doing super well!! 
It's transfer week this week....
and I have news! 
Sister Stradling and I are STAYING! 
AND we're picking up a third sister on Wednesday...Sister Hendrix! 
How exciting is that?!
I'm in Virginia, right outside of Winchester, in Stephens City area.
Danielle expresses each and every time we hear from her just how much she loves this area and all those she is serving and serving with...she is the happiest I have ever seen her!

I LOVE being able to see where she is and wish so much that I could be there soaking up all of the amazing history that is surrounding her.  I need to remember to ask her if she has been able to check much out...I'm thinking not, that girlie is busy as ever sharing her love with others.  Guess we'll just have to take a trip back when she returns home to us!!!

General Conference was great. 
received SO much revelation for my area ... 
holy cow we're about to be busy!
It was really weird being a missionary though! 
I'm used to comfy clothes and whatnot haha :) but it was still good. 
The french toast was good....but nothing like crepes :) 
It was a little strange not having our Miss Muffer girl around to help us eat up all the Conference Crepes...I told her I'd be sure to make her up a special batch when she gets home...I think I ate her share!

On Saturday morning, I received a text message from Sister Goutchkoff with sweet notes of was such a wonderful start to our Conference Weekend.  We couldn't have Danielle with us, but it was so nice to hear from those who are with her.  On Monday, I asked Danielle about her, not certain of who she was and how well Danielle knew her...her response was precious!
Sister Goutchkoff is THE BEST! 
She's the Relief Society President and takes such good care of us. 
I love being in their home. 
Her family is from France, and she promised to make us crepes soon :) yay!! 
It is a beautiful thing to know that others love our daughter and are being so good and kind to her!

I get updates on my phone about the weather where danielle is, so I frequently check in to make sure all is well...after asking her about tornadoes in her area...this was her reply ~
t's stormy here, but nothing scary. 
A few miles away there were some pretty high winds that  tore some shingles off a roof, but we are totally safe and fine :) 
I'm a missionary, we're safe :) 

Vincent is our new investigator. 
We taught him once on Sunday, and he LOVED IT.
Monday we went back and finished teaching the Restoration, and he decided that he wanted to be baptized on November 9th
He is so great! 
Since then we have taught him several times in members homes, and he watched conference with us yesterday. He has such a strong testimony and it's beautiful :) 

During a long meeting about the needs of those we are teaching, 
"Have you ever BAKED tater tots?" *blank stares* "It's so good." *dying laughter* "You get a freezer pizza and bake some tots and then put them on the pizza and roll it up." 
Yep. Boys will always be boys.

Doesn't she just leave you with a smile on your face???  Love that girl...

In Search of a Well-Balanced Life

Sustaining a comfortable balance while homeschooling is NOT easy, but it is possible! 
I've had friends comment that they wish they could be more efficient . . . 
my reply to that is, 
“Being a mother isn't always efficient! 
There will be good days, 
there will be not-so-good days; 
life will get in the way! 
So, relax, hold on and keep smiling--you will make it!”

There is a lot required at our hands, and it can feel overwhelming and unconquerable at times. 
We wonder how to keep it all together, 
how to make sure the kids are getting all they need 
(and deserve from us), 
how to balance the school work and the house work, 
how to keep the mountains of laundry to manageable small piles, 
how to put healthy, nutritious meals on the table 
THREE. Times. A. Day! 
Also, how to be a great wife, a great mother, a great visiting teacher, a great friend . . . 
and how to have any time at all for ourselves and for our sanity!
I want to share a couple of thoughts with you to help you achieve this balanced life we all desire.
As mothers, we spend our days running from the child most urgently in need 
to the next most-urgent event
and on to the next 
and the next 
and the next . . . 
In the midst of all the craziness, we tend to lose sight of the big picture. 
It’s hard to maintain your balance when you have tunnel vision. 
Widen your focus; 
keep your eyes and heart open to what is most precious, 
and you will be living that 
Well-Balanced, Intentional Life 
that we all want, 
but that looks different for each of us!

A couple of thoughts that I always keep tucked in the back of my mind to keep me focused and on the right track are:

~Mothering must come before Math 
and LOVE will always be more important than Language Arts.
~In the end, what will matter most, will be the relationships you have with your children . . . 
their secular education will not be your first concern.
~ No child ever died because they couldn’t find clean socks or underwear!
We wish only the best for our kids; 
because of that we add in various activities and obligations to our daily routine. 
While this is not a negative necessarily, if we choose to add too many things to our plate, the load begins to feel burdensome and our attitudes may wind up reflecting a touch of negativity. We start feeling a little out of whack and long for a day away or a week away from the challenges of an overwhelming routine. 
This feeling of “needing a vacation” is a red flag for me; 
it is my first “a-ha moment” indicating that I am hitting critical mass and need time to reassess and restructure to find balance.

When planning all those amazing and educational activities for your kids, don’t forget about leaving time to take care of you and your relationships. 
We have the tendency to get so caught up in wanting to provide the very best for our kids that we suffer personally.

How do we create change? 
How do we find and maintain balance in our lives?

Grab a piece of paper, get a cup of tea, and sit for a spell . . . we've got some work to do.

If you could make your life look any way you want it to, 
what would it look like? 
What things would you want to include? 
Start at the end by writing your goals, 
and then figure out what you can do right now to start on the path that will end with you achieving them. 
Imagine it,
 dream it; 
then write it and even draw it! 
It is all part of the process to help you live it!

Start that “Wish List” for your life . . .
Do you wish for more time (real, enjoyable time, hanging-out-time) with your kids?
Do you wish for more time with your spouse? 
With your friends? 
With yourself?
Do you wish for time to do a project or two? 
What would those projects be?
Do you wish to read a certain book? 
Do you wish to go explore and uncover the wonders that surround you? 
Do you wish to start a new business? 
Do you wish for time to read your scriptures each day? 
Do you wish to take a yoga class? 
Do you wish to teach classes? 
Jot it all down . . .

By jotting down our wishes, 
we create a list we can prioritize and from that--make a plan. 
Intentional Planning time is a fabulous thing to do . . . 
as you look at your wish list, 
you can dictate what you do each day, 
so go for it . . . make it amazing!
Use this list of priorities over and over—
change it, 
add to it, 
but never give up on it. 
It is part of what restores peace and balance to your mind and your heart.
We all have our “Own Way” of how this will look . . . here’s a suggestion for you if you are struggling with creating your own:

Consider breaking your day into blocks of time ~
Early mornings /Late Morning to early afternoons /Afternoons / Evenings

Consider plugging in one or two priorities from the wish list you created into each space 
. . . STOP . . . 
I said to plug in ONE or TWO, only! 
Be good to yourself!

Early morning might be a nice time for you to fill your own cup; it might be time for a little relationship building one-on-one with a certain child who needs your undivided attention, or it might be time for planning and preparing for the day.

Late mornings to early afternoons will likely include schooling your kiddos; 
remember to be gentle on yourself and don’t add in 5 other things during this time. 
Be PRESENT IN HEART AND MIND with your kids during their time
I promise the time will be well spent, and you will all walk away feeling pleasantly happy.

Your Afternoons might include a few household chores and dinner prep, 
maybe some time for playing with your kids; 
(Make your play time with them memorable...
Mom can hoopla!
or it may be the time for running kids to lessons or activities, or a brisk walk in the fresh air.

Evenings might be the perfect time for relationship building, 
time to work on things your heart needs, 
and maybe a little blogging time or reading time.

These blocks of time DO NOT have to stay the same each day . . . 
and these are just ideas for how to create a little balance in your life.

I think you’ll find that if you take the steps to set some priorities and intentionally make room for them in your life, you will be more peaceful and less frazzled in this ever-busy life we are all living. 
Be willing to let things go
and trust yourself. 
Part of creating a balance, is not trying to keep everything in the air at once.

During our DHSA Homeschool Mothers' Meeting for October, I talked with all the sweet moms about what is on their plate, what load are they responsible for...
we wrote them down on balloons 20131012_113023.jpg
~ enough to fill the room 
and then together we tried to keep them all in the air...20131012_094856.jpg
I finally asked them to just let them go 
BE willing to let some things drop...

with the exception of 
that I continued to hold in the air...
The most important one we must consistently keep going 
and be so careful to be mindful of is the "ME" balloon...
our families are counting on us, 
we keep the balance and the focus for our families,
so we must remember to take care of ourselves first 
so that we are able to give and keep giving and keep giving...

Wishing you a beautifully balanced life!