Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Act 3; Scene 46: Watching

This past Sunday I had the chance to lead Singing Time in primary.

I was a little nervous because a) I was called last minute on a very busy Saturday for us; b) I had never heard of one of the songs I was supposed to lead; c) I have never actually led Singing Time before, and d) there are 50+ kids in Jr. Primary and about 50 kids in Sr. Primary (seriously).

It all went without a hitch, thankfully, but that's not really what this post is about.

This post is about watching Primary kids watch.

Singing Time is the last 20 minutes of Primary, and is therefore preceded by Sharing Time. Since I was leading all music, I sat in the front for the entire duration, looking out at the sea of children. This week, Sharing Time was viewing 20 minutes of a Joseph Smith restoration video.  So I got to watch the kids watching the videos that I could not see.

And boy did they watch.
Minus the very little ones who wiggled and picked their noses and counted their fingers.
I looked out and saw all of those clear, wide eyes taking in the light, sound, and story on the television. No--they weren't just taking it in, those kids slouching in their chairs and sitting on the floor were soaking it up.

You could almost see the wheels in their heads turning as they tried to put together the pieces of the story. I don't know exactly what the videos meant to them or what they gathered, but I do know one thing--they were believing what they were seeing. It was as simple as that. They were seeing something--it was right there in front of them--why shouldn't it be true? No hint of doubt or cynicism lurked on those faces; they weren't even capable of that. Just wide-eyed wonder and learning. Listening. Putting it together. 

Seeing that really made me think. There are a brief number of years between the nose-picking, wiggling age and the know-it-all, cynical age. Those few years are pivotal in creating lasting beliefs, impressions, and feelings. And what they see and hear is what will shape those things. I realized as I watched those faces with innocence written all over them (however sneaky/naughty they may have been in class that day) that they were shaping the foundations of their beliefs right that very moment--and it didn't matter if it was good or bad or true or if they liked it or not--they were seeing it, and so they were believing it. 

It hit me like a slap in the face what a responsibility I have to help my kids see and hear good things. The right things. So they have a solid foundation to shape the rest of their lives. Obviously I can't shield them from seeing and hearing things that aren't the best, but what will they see and hear and feel at home? What will I present them with to understand their worth and value? How will I help them gain a testimony? What can I do so they can see and hear and feel how to recognize and listen to the Spirit?

I can't get over those wide eyes just watching, watching that Joseph Smith video. What else do those kids watch and learn from the TV?

This also reminded me of some of my favorite Sondheim lyrics:
Careful the things you say, children will listen
Careful the things you do, children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say, 'Listen to me' 
Children will listen 

So I guess what I'm saying is this: teaching children is easier than you think; and you are teaching children in more ways than you ever thought. And that is really scary. And also kind of amazing. 

Let's help them watch and learn something good.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Act 3; Scene 45: Happy Birthday, Robert!

This year, Robert's birthday started out very uneventful.

He knew what his gift from me was--in fact, he selected the very one himself.

He knew what kind of cake he was getting--he watched me get the ingredients and start making it in the morning before his work.

No special lunch treat in his lunch box, not even a note.

He even had to take care of the baby while I showered before he left for work.

Birthday morning, just before leaving for work

Not even a fancy dinner outing planned--just home made pizzas (though one of his favorite meals). 

After a quick bowl of cereal and taking care of Tommy, Robert left for work, thinking he might be stopping at the store on his way home to get some pepperoni. 

And then I set to work.

I worked very quickly to pull this together:

His lemon blueberry cake.

Then I went to work packing up the diaper bag with meals for Tommy and everything he would need for a day out. I put the pack-n-play in the car and gathered all of Robert's gifts into the car as well. Then I fed the baby and we went to the post office to pick up his final gift.

Then we headed down to Provo to surprise Robert at work.

We got to the main building and the receptionist sent Robert an email telling him he had a visitor at the front desk. Two visitors, actually.

He was very surprised to see us there--especially since we didn't even have any balloons or anything. He said, "You came all the way to Provo to say happy birthday to me at lunch?"

Not exactly.

I informed him that he was coming with me for the rest of the day. When he gave me a look that said, "I have lots of work to do," I told him that I had already cleared it with his boss. 

So we headed upstairs to show off Tommy and for Robert to close up his cubicle. Everyone in the office knew he was leaving at lunch time--except him :-).

We cruised up to Salt Lake and dropped the baby off at Grandma and Grandpa's. Then I took Robert to a fancy restaurant named Trio for lunch. Meatball appetizer, paninis, soup, and creme brulee on the house for a birthday dessert. De. Li. Cious. 

With our extra time we wandered the aisles at Whole Foods and splurged on some local and organic goodies with a gift card we had received. Even Thomas got a treat--some jars of organic baby food.

We made it back to my parents' house just in time to put Tommy down for another nap--and we got to take a little snooze ourselves.

After that, Thomas enjoyed helping Dad open his presents.

After bad traffic time passed, we headed back home, and indulged in the classic birthday candles.

Trying so hard to grab those candles

Don't mind the mom brain who accidentally put the numbers as 32 plus 6 single candles instead of the 23 plus 6 candles...I just decided to give Robert a few extra years :-)

I would say a very successful birthday. I was so excited that I managed to really, truly surprise Robert. He did not see that coming...and it was so fun.

Now...how will I do an even better job next year? ;-)

Happy Birthday, Robert!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Act 3; Scene 43: April Fools!

We had some special guests at our house yesterday so I decided to make a very delicious raspberry cream pie to share.

Mmmm, doesn't that look delicious?

We also tried something new--home made restaurant style French fries with dipping sauce.


Well...April Fools! We enjoyed a raspberry looking shepherd's pie (which was delicious, though not sweet), and for dessert, some sugared bread sticks with raspberry dipping sauce.

The TRUE April Fools' joke here was that I placed the "fries" on wax paper, fooling everyone (including myself!) that it was parchment paper. A few minutes in the oven and we got the joke. The wax paper was burning! The house was filled with smoke and all of the fire alarms went off. And the wax paper melted into the fries, ruining the batch. I had gone to feed the baby, so Robert, Kris, and Mike made sure the house didn't burn down and made another batch--this time sans wax paper.

They really look like fries here!

Thanks for coming, Mike and Kris! Come again for next year's April Fools!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Act 3; Scene 42: Easter at Our House

We're excited around here to start our own holiday traditions.

One of which may be hosting an Easter dinner for the family. We also did this last year, so I think this tradition may be sticking. :-)

I have been very excited planning the Easter spread and table. Here's a look at how it turned out.

Notice Robert cutting the traditional ham...

Everyone got a glass full of jello and a little Easter candy-filled box as a place card. Can you see the salted caramel popcorn in the Easter tin sticking out behind that jello? Yum! Find the recipe here.
And while those are not real flowers, they are the best I could do with the leftovers from making my pretty wreath. There are even some sparkly eggs among the flowers :-).  

My mother said that when she told one of her friends that we were hosting Easter dinner, her friend was impressed that I was cooking for everyone. I would like to clarify something here--I planned the menu and placed the ham in the roasting oven. Robert checked the ham, made the glaze and applied it, baked the potatoes, and readied the broccoli and cauliflower for steaming (although I started them steaming--that counts for something, right?) My mom brought rolls and cupcakes. So really, the only things I made were the jello and the salted caramel popcorn. I guess you can see where my heart truly lies--with the goodies!

But the table looks lovely, yes?

Another tradition--Easter family photos! Only one of us got a new Easter outfit this year. Mr. Spoiled :-).

You can see some of my wreath in the background
We also decided that Tommy was way cuter than us--so he should have a photo shoot of his own. Here are a few of those.

...OK that was a lot of pictures but I just couldn't help it!

And I would be remiss if I didn't post a few pictures from the neighborhood Easter egg hunt we attended on Saturday morning.

While confused at first, once he realized the eggs rattled, he was excited to pick them up. I think he was mostly excited to watch all of the other kids around him, and of course to shove the eggs in his mouth.

I realized yesterday how completely distracted I was by prepping our dinner and spread and fun for the day. I had been so looking forward to it and getting things ready the whole week! However, I had hardly spent one thought on WHY we were even celebrating Easter. 

So here's a little reminder for myself, and anyone else who needs it:

This is something we should remember a lot more than just Easter Sunday, anyway.

We also watched one of these. Very uplifting.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!