Monday, September 12, 2016

DIY: Gospel Art Book PUZZLE


The Gospel Art Book is a fabulous resource. I love having church pictures all together that my Little Loves can look at. It is printed, bound and an affordable purchase.

But let's be honest. It takes my four year old maybe 2.5 minutes to look at it and get bored. If I tell him to turn the pages slowly, we can draw out the picture looking for maybe 4 minutes. Maybe. Somehow, I needed this book to engage him more so it could be his entertainment instead of me.


I was inspired by one of the numerous kid books we own. This was a "mix and match" book where the kids could purposefully make silly pictures and stories. Well, if that kept their tiny fingers turning pages and minds thinking, why not try something like that with the Gospel Art Book.

Attempt One: (Please note... learn from my mistake and DO NOT USE THIS METHOD) I took out the spiral binding and measured to exactly the third point and cut each picture myself. Then rather than rebind it, I placed it in a three prong folder. The idea was great but the use was terrible. I swear I cut them exactly on the line which I measured ever so carefully. However, it was not a perfect cut. And turning the pages would rip and brush against the others because it was not exact.

So I bought another book and went to Office Max. I explained what I wanted to have happened and how all the pages had to be cut precisely so they would turn easily. I had no idea if they would be able to cut the pages so exactly but I was hopeful! And it worked! They used a laser cutter to cut the entire book at once. I was charged around a dollar per cut!! Wahoo. I now had a puzzle book that only cost about $2 more than the regular book.



Reccomended Steps to Create a Gospel Art Puzzle
1. Purchase Gospel Art Book and take to office store
2. Carefully take out binding and keep the cover pages (so they are not cut)
3. Discard (optional) all the text at the front describing the pictures in different languages.


4. Do not cut picture one (Jesus). Instead, once I was home I trimmed off the border then glued it to the back of the front cover. This completely hides/ removes all the text.
5. Have the office store cut all the other pages into exactly thirds. Note: It doesn't have to be perfect as in the exact same size for each third (but I wanted it close) but rather precise with the cut.


6. Place the covers back on the book.
7. Insert the coil.

Tah-dah! A puzzle book for your own Little Loves!


Just a caution... the pages are much more fragile. My almost two year old is not allowed to play with this book yet....





Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Can Do Hard Things

One of the best things we have done as parents was taking a "Love and Logic" class. Serious. Even better, we were able to take it together and it was free. I love free! But this is something I would be willing to pay big bucks for--it is that worthwhile!

Anyway, one of the things we learned was to not get into arguments with a child. Seems obvious. But at least for me it was not. Devin keeps asking questions to bug me or he tries to argue or whine or complain or beg. He knows it will get a reaction out of me and he wants that attention.

Love and Logic taught us to calmly repeat a short phrase in response to the child's grumblings... regardless of what they say. You just keep saying the same phrase (or mix it up with a few phrases), lovingly, back to them. The goal is to neutralize the arguments while remaining calm. It sounds crazy. But it works. And Devin now responds with, "I hate when you say that!" and drops it. Yes! Parenting win!

These are a few of my favorite phrases I use....
* That's so sad
* Ooooohhh (kind of like a sigh)
* Nice try
* I love you too much to argue
* What did I say?
And my very favorite... that was not learned from the class but rather something I say and realized it fit this argument stopper perfectly...
* You can do hard things

Most important! Remember when you speak any of these phrases, you have to do it calmly and lovingly. With a smile helps!

Let me give you a few examples of this in practice and then I will share my favorite phrase.
But I really want to watch Paw Patrol. (After I already told him no once.)
What did I say?
But Mom! Please! I will clean up my toys.
Nice try.
But I really want to watch it.
Nice try.
Please, please.
I love you too much to argue.
If Devin persists, I won't continue at this point. Instead he gets a count towards going to timeout. Honestly though, he normally drops it by the second or third whine. You can use the same phrase over and over. You can change it up. I do some of both.

Now for my *favorite* phrase in my mom toolbox.


Why do I love this phrase? You can do hard things. It builds his self confidence and I still do not engage in a battle. Here are some examples of what Devin would say when I would use this.
I can't do it. (Said as whiny as possible. You know the voice!) 
It's too hard.
I can't wait.
I don't get it.
I don't want to.
My feet hurt.
It's too heavy.
I'm too tired.
I think you get the picture. To all of these and countless others, I simply and sweetly respond with, "You can do hard things." I don't get into a debate about how he really can do it or it is not that heavy. I don't try and argue with him about how two minutes ago he was running around like crazy. No verbal battles on my part. Only confidence building assurance that he really can do it. And then normally he does it. He knows I believe in him and that gives him courage to try.

And you want to know. I use that phrase for myself as well. When I think of something I would rather not do. Or I'm tired and loosing my patience. I just tell myself, "You can do hard things." And set off on the doing rather than the dreading.



P.S. This skill takes forever to master. I still don't have it down. Sometimes Devin will sneakily engage me in a debate. It takes practice. And time. But try it and stick with it!!



Monday, August 15, 2016

I Was The Stranger

I was the stranger. 
And I felt every sense of that word.
Let's rewind a bit first though.



March 26, 2016.
General Women's Broadcast.

I sat all by myself for the broadcast. I was at our old stake center. It was extremely dark. I stood by the door awkwardly straining to try to find anyone I knew. I don't know if it was because very few people from my ward were at the broadcast or because the room was so dark that I couldn't find them. Likely some of both. I finally decided to sit near the back so someone would see me and come join me. It never happened and I sat by myself for the whole meeting. (And just a note... being by myself is not a terrible thing. I still had no children crawling all over my lap. I was able to concentrate.) However... Knowing that we were moving next Saturday, I already felt lonely. And sitting there made me feel so alone.

At this meeting the topic of "I Was A Stranger" and helping the refugees was introduced. A few things were mentioned about how to help the refugees. One that I remember was that they needed a friend. Now. Lets just be clear. In no way do I consider ourselves refugees. We are blessed beyond measure with a lovely house that is quite honestly pretty close to my dream house. Casey has a wonderful job. And we can afford to keep me home as a full time mommy. No. I'm definitely not in the same boat and can't even imagine. But... in that moment... the only thing I needed with the upcoming change was a friend.



April 1, 2016.
Moving. (And General Conference.)

That morning after sleeping so little the night before in our new house, I woke up crying. I felt so alone. Casey was at our old house trying to clean and finish up. The kids were asleep. And my body ached. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to lift a single box. I was completely drained from loading everything the day before. I was overwhelmed. Exhausted. Alone. And scared. 

What if my new ward was clique-ish and I never fit in? What if my kids don't? What if I never make friends? What if I'm not accepted? What if I never feel at home?

To say I was scared would be such an understatement. I was a stranger.

And then the whole army appeared. More people than I even can remember came to help us unload. We were able to park our cars in the garage that night because these strangers took us in instantly. They moved everything out of the garage and truck and into the correct rooms. Somehow, I'm honestly not sure how, they squished the couch down the stairs. Casey claimed it wouldn't fit. But somehow they wiggled it in and out of the rooms until it magically appeared in the family room. (And just for the record, it is a super great thing that the couch is nearly brand new. Because it is seriously never leaving that room!)

Later that night, blessings poured down from heaven. I was still a stranger.

A dear, dear sister showed up with dinner and salad and these amazing blondies. She thought that we might need a home cooked meal after moving. Words can't even express how much this meant to me. It was so much more than food. It was love and acceptance and comfort. We saved the food for the next day, Sunday, so we could have something to eat when we couldn't go out.

Two other sisters came and wanted to make sure that we had beds to sleep in and basic things unpacked. I was the stranger and they just came. Angels is what they were honestly.



Fast forward a week or two. 
I was a struggling stranger.

The excitement and adrenaline of moving had finally worn off. Casey had gone back to work. Due to General Conference then Stake Conference, we still had not really gone to our ward. I was home with our Little Loves. And once again I was crying. With the timing of conferences, I was not making many friends because we were not attending "normal" church. And I felt alone. I prayed for someone to come to me. I had no idea who I could call for friendship. So I prayed.

And the missionaries came. These missionaries kept coming. We were far from inactive. But they saw the need. And so come they did. So many hours of service. I'm not sure when we became old enough to have the missionaries help us. But service with a smile they did. 

Another day a sister called to invite me to go with her to RS.
I swear someone always sat by me in RS on Sundays.
Hugs.
Kind words.
Text messages.
Treats.
Personal play dates.
Dinner.

The other memorable experience was while I was sitting at a near by park for a mommy and me ward play date. The park is in walking distance to our home but is not within our ward boundaries. We were considering buying a house that was right by that park. While sitting there and chatting I mentioned that we had thought about a house up there. Without even missing a breath, the sweet sister right next me commented how grateful she was that we didn't buy the house near the park. I still felt vulnerable and outsider-ish. But. That day. That comment. Something changed.

I was accepted. I was loved. My kids were as well. We all were making friends. Friendships to literally last a lifetime because no one plans on moving out.

"...I was a stranger, and ye took me in." (Matt 25:35)


Four and a half months later. 
August 15, 2016
The moving dust has settled. The boxes are far and few between. Our old insurance has finally canceled. (Ugh! Insurance....) Weeds have been pulled and air vents cleaned (granted both could probably use it again). Closets are filled. Furniture arranged. Homemade bread.

And truthfully... truthfully we are home. I can't explain it. I don't know what it is exactly. But somehow it just feels different than anywhere we have lived. We are home. Our ward is home. I was taken in. I was welcomed. I once was the stranger.

I am loved.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Divine Intervention with Closing

Exactly one week ago on March 6th, I wrote on my facebook
"I remember all the miracles and prayers it took for us to move to our current house. And because of a loving Heavenly Father, it all worked out. Right now we are praying for miracles again. It is going to take some major help from the other side to have everything for both houses come together at the same time."
I can hardly believe that it has only been one week since I wrote that. It seems soooo much longer because so many things have happened. I thought I would recount the story of our divine intervention simply because so many in my ward today wanted to know the details.

So let's back up a bit...

And first define a couple of things. It is in relation to us.
1. "Seller" means the person who currently owns the house we want to buy (and will be buying).
2. "Buyer" means the people who are going to be buying our current house.
3. "Our Realtor" mean the best of the best. Most patient and amazing and knowledgeable realtor helping to deal with all the problems and such a unique situation.

When we originally placed an offer on our new house, it was conditional that our current house would sell. We had the settlement date written as March 31st with the understanding that it would change based on how fast our current home sold. The seller and seller's agent agreed that the settlement date would likely change.

Our house went under contract fast and the settlement date that the buyers gave us was March 15th.  Our realtor contacted the seller's agent. And everything was agreed to March 15. Verbally. We never sent a revision to change it. But everything seemed fine and so we all went forward.

Inspections. Appraisals. Underwriting. Etc.

Realizing how quickly and smoothly everything was proceeding, we asked to change the settlement date from the 15th to the 9th. With the reason being we would not have to pay our mortgage for March. Instead we would use our March mortgage money to help with the down payment.

The buyers agreed. The seller said he would see. No one responded quickly though. Finally the seller said that he could not close that soon because his loan for his new house could not be processed but he agreed to the 15th. Verbally. We changed the date back to the 15th with the buyers. Everything was still going forward.

This brings us back to around a week ago. We learned that the seller's loan had not even been sent to underwriting yet. Let alone come out and sat its government required waiting period. It became clear that there was going to be no way the seller would be closing on the 15th. And because everything was agreed verbally; legally he had until March 31st for settlement.

Our only hope for our buyer's to grant us an extension that released us from their date of the 15th. Then we would extend it to match whenever the seller would be able to close.

Well. That was not happening. The buyers had already moved out of their apartment. And they refused to give us any more time than what was the written agreement.

We were going to end up homeless. And my stress level started to rise. Our realtor started trying to figure out any kind of a plan. Long-term motel? Rent a POD or storage unit? Oh my goodness the extra costs would add up quickly with those.

I changed my prayers. Instead of praying for everything to work out on the 15th, I (1) prayed for peace and (2) prayed that we would blessed with something better.

No matter what our realtor tried or asked, we were getting no where. Buyer insisted on the 15th for closing. Seller could not do it.

March 10th. Turned into a super disappointing evening. Our realtor relayed messages that he finally received from the buyer. I cried. I wondered if we just needed to back out and loose our earnest money and the house we wanted to move too. As well as having to pay the buyer for us backing out. At this point, that began to seem like what was going to have to happen.

I again just prayed for peace. And my prayers were truly answered. I slept perfectly peacefully. For me having insomnia, and having to deal with so many nightmares before bedtime, I did not think I would be sleeping that night. But I did. And I was peaceful.

My sister texted me this quote that evening. (I made it pretty the next morning.)
I so needed these precious words from Elder Holland. I seriously think once we do move, I'm going to be making a permanent wood sign (paint? modge podge? etc) of some sort with this quote on to hang in our new house. I need this reminder in my daily life because life is always hard... regardless of if you are moving or not.

Which finally brings us to Friday March 11th. The day we learned that our prayers have been answered.

Our buyers' agent finally contacted our agent on March 11th. (Remember how I said neither party was awesome at responding quickly... it is frustrating on our end!) But, our buyer's loan (theirs, not ours) got stuck in underwriting. They couldn't figure it out. Supposedly they were going to be ready by the 9th and therefore were refusing to let us extend the settlement deadline.

But. Their was divine intervention.

And the buyers' loan became stuck in underwriting. They are now having to ask us to grant them an extension.

We are counting our blessings and offering prayers of gratitude that we will not be homeless. I paid our mortgage for March. Simply grateful that we have a place to call home and not worrying about the down payment currently.

So... that brings us to the big question of when is closing? And when are we moving?

The answer... we don't know. No idea.

Sometime between now and March 31st. Hopefully sooner than later. Probably in the 20s somewhere. And not on a Sunday. Hopefully we will learn more tomorrow when the underwriting is back at work. We are living in boxes. Most things are packed. And yet we are so blessed and so ok with living in boxes. Heavenly Father is so good and somehow things will work out!