Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip to Utah and Banana Girl's Artwork.

I just got back from taking my son out to BYU. It was a fabulous trip (the 43 hours in the car NOT included, but survived!)

Trip highlights:
Visiting with my sisters and my husband's wonderful (and hilarious) family, hearing my adorable niece speak in church before she leaves for the MTC in Brazil, being at the cabin at Bear Lake!, spending the night at a dear old friend's home and gabbing nonstop the whole time, meeting my daughters boyfriend (he's approved!), watching my son be nervous 'cuz it's been a while since he was in school and knowing he's gonna simply fly, and spending a week straight with my youngest (the logistics of leaving a kindergartner behind were just not worth tackling so she came along).

I only took two pictures the whole trip (what was I THINKING?!) they were both of my sweet mother-in-law. Here she is:

Heart of gold, that woman has!

I came home (so sick of the car I could scream) and THRILLED to be back where I could see my man's face again (and Bikey-boy's and Banana-girl's).

Upon returning home, I found this piece of artwork, made by my almost 12 year old daughter. It made me happy! Click on the picture to see the detail and read the labels.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays! #3

My first two installments of Christian Connection Thursdays, found here and here, have spotlighted women who have turned to God in the midst of extreme circumstances and found joy and peace. Today, I spotlight a woman who, instead of facing extraordinary trials, faces the normal, day to day difficulties that slow us down, stress us out and stop our progress, (if we let them).
Meet Ann Voskamp. From her bio @ (In) Courage:
"Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife. She homeschools their six farm kids. She deals with a lot of dirt. Especially in her own heart. When the kids and the washing machine sleep, she scrubs the real dirty laundry with words and The Word."
My three favorite things about Ann, (without the fanciful "e.") are:

1. She writes of commonplace difficulties. The kind that we feel we should deal with on our own, but can end up being the starting block of a backsliding heart. Reading about another's struggles with the "mundane" is consolation to my heart as it strives against the grind that wears me down.

2. She's made gratitude a way of life. Her list of 1000 blessings is up to 1489 and counting!

3. Her words wash pictures over me. I'm there, in her home watching her strugglings to praise God in the arduous moment. Oh, to be able to write like that!

Here is my favorite post! Click on over and settle in for lovely prose and thoughts that lift out of the mundane to the divine.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays!

Today I want to introduce you to Sara Frankle; a lovely lady with some thoughts on life and God that are a fresh breeze on a hot summer day. I'm not gonna go into her background info here, (you can poke around on her blog to learn her circumstances). Suffice to say that she can no longer leave her home without severe repercussions. Now if I were in similar circumstances, I would feel downright justified in an all night pity party that hung around for a year or two. But Sara chose instead to find joy and light and beauty and God... everywhere.

I know I linked to her profile, but just in case you didn't click on over here's a quote from it:
"Just a girl who used to write for a magazine to make a living, and now writes a blog to make a life. Extremely blessed, well-loved and choosing joy while learning that homebound doesn't limit your life, just your location."
I was pretty determined to only link up one specific post, but I can't choose so you're gonna get two.

This post is a whole new twist on the trite, "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade" concept. Nothing trite here. Just a fresh look, whole lot of faith and hope, and a sense of the goodness that Heavenly Father extends to us as we seek him.

This one is her Easter post this year. I love it when a post makes me gasp with a new insight! This one did.

Mosey on over to her blog. You won't be sorry!

Monday, April 19, 2010

One of my Hero's

Today is my sister's birthday (we're both at an age where it's not polite to ask). She's the one who surprised me and flew 1300 miles to cheer me on when I did the Triathlon last year) Over the years, she has become one of my heroes. Here are a few of the reasons:

1. She's so thoughtful. She's one of those people who is continually doing small deeds that show her love. Example: I couldn't find any decent drainer spoons and mentioned it to her in passing (you know, the kind that let you dish up the corn, but leave the liquid in the bowl). The next time I saw her, she handed me one. She happened to be in a store, remembered what I said and picked one up for me. That's just the way she rolls. She remembers small details and does something about it if she can. I wish I were more like that.

2. Eleven-ish years ago, I watched her help her husband through cancer treatment, lose him a year later and then proceed to be a single mom to her six kids (ages 12 years to 18 months), with grace, a sense of humor and continual faith.

3. After her husband passed away, she did a remarkable thing (actually she did MANY remarkable things, but I'm only mentioning one here). You know how there are always people who don't know what to say and so don't say anything. Then three or four months later, they still haven't talked to you and so can't even look you in the face? She didn't let that happen in her ward. If there was someone whom she hadn't talked to since her sweetheart's death, she would initiate the contact in simple ways. She'd walk up to them at church and mention that she'd seen their son playing soccer the other day and was amazed at how he'd grown, or something like that. People soon realized that she was fine to talk about his death, or not, she just wasn't fine with not talking at all. (BTW, she's since remarried and really great guy)

4. She's one of those people who is happiest if she's serving and so does it continually. Family, friends, ward members, acquaintances, you name it, if she can help, she will.

Here we are in July of last year.

Sis, I sure wish I could give you a big hug on your birthday. Will you settle for next friday? Can't wait to see you this weekend!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Christian Connection Thursdays

This is the first of my Christian Connection Thursdays where I spotlight a blog post from a Christian woman that has impacted me.

Some of you may already know Angie Smith. I discovered her only recently but she already feels like a dear friend (no, she doesn't know me from Adam, (her blog has almost six thousand followers), but spend some time on her blog and you'll know what I mean).

In January of 2008, Angie learned that the daughter she was carrying would not live. Some of her doctors recommended terminating the pregnancy, but she and her husband, Todd, chose instead to carry little Audrey Caroline, hope and pray for the best, and accept God's will.

She started her blog Bring the Rain, the story of Audrey Caroline as a way to keep friends, family, and even complete strangers who wanted to help and pray for her little family, informed about their journey through this difficult time.

Wesley (The Princess Bride) was right. "Life is pain." There is no shortage of people going through excruciating circumstances, but what sets Angie apart from the norm is her deliberate and conscious decision to choose belief and faith again and again in the midst of sorrow. Her absolute determination to look for the beautiful, the spirit filled, the healing, always with her face uplifted to her Maker is simply breathtakingly beautiful to read. That her prose is real, thought provoking, and tender makes her blog just that much better.

I stumbled upon her blog and an hour, and half a box of tissues later, I emerged. Fortified in my faith, grateful for her example and with great desires to be a more present Mom to my sweet brood.

Navigating her sight to find her story is a bit cumbersome so below are links to four of her posts that knocked me over.

This link is to her first post in January of 2008

If you only have time to read one post, make it this one. It's a tender letter she wrote to little Audrey a few days after her birth. It recounts the experiences of the pregnancy and birth. Bittersweet's the word. Yes, there's sorrow, but there is also joy, peace, and an abundance of faith.

This post is twenty two days after Audrey's birth. A dark day when light found it's way in via a sweet daughter.

Click on this link to read Angie's most recent post on Easter. It's a sweet perspective on the resurrection that she discovered after a conversation with one of her daughters and some time in the scriptures.

Do spend a few minutes with this strong, faithful woman. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Number Four

Fifteen years ago
today, this boy came into my life.


It was a nightmarish labor and delivery -- (delivery is never a modest proposition, but if it's a teaching hospital, a lot more people see all of you, and if yours is the delivery on the floor that everyone's worried about, that number goes up exponentially) -- but it's been fab since then.

He's my calmest and the happiest kid I know. He's slow to anger and quick to volunteer to help. He sees the best in everyone and loves with a pure heart.

Happy B-day Bikey-boy!!! We sure love you!

Announcing Christian Connection Thursdays!

With great excitement, I announce the start of a weekly feature here at Hunyville Happenings, it's a new step for me in the bloggy world and I'm very excited about it! Every Thursday I will feature a post from a Christian woman's blog that has impacted me. I'm calling it Christian Connection Thursdays (I'd love a better name, but I'm not gonna hold the whole process up another week just because I don't love the moniker.)

Here's the background behind the new feature. 
Growing up in northern Utah, I had very little direct experience with anyone who wasn't LDS. Because of that, all of my examples of powerful women of faith were Mormon. Now, I knew, intellectually, that there were people of great faith in every religion, but knowing it in your head and experiencing it in real life are two very different things.

I have lived in the midwest for almost ten years now. I count strong women of faith, who are not LDS as some of my dearest friends and their examples are a great blessing to me. Recently, I've jumped into the world of Christian women bloggers more fully and have loved, loved, loved what I've found there. The beauty and grace and example of good, strong, holy Christian women is something that we, as Mormon women, should be aware of and share, and savor, and celebrate and allow to bless our lives (because it will, in beautiful ways).

That's what Christian Connection Thursdays are all about, acquainting ourselves with these good ladies. Check back tomorrow to meet a truly amazing woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One More Egg

I had a brain blip the other day and failed to post a picture of the coolest Easter egg of the day. Hubders only decorated one egg, but it's quite the egg! He dyed it and then used permanent markers to make this replica of a mosaic from one of the side chapels in the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. He downloaded a picture from the internet and then drew it free hand. Yup, that MY man!!!

Perusing the Page

Oh the joys of reading! It's one of my very favorite things, and so crucial to academic, social and spiritual growth. So, as a mom, how do I pass my love of the written word on to my children.

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

1. Read with them. Often! From birth to the day they leave home.

2. Read good quality children's literature. I have only one criteria for determining if a book is good quality, but it's served me well. If I can enjoy reading a book repeatedly to my children, it's good quality. If the second or third reading makes me want to put it through the shredder, it's not. I try never to buy poor quality books. Why spend money on something I will loathe reading to my munchkins?

3. Make it interesting and fun. We've all been stuck in that history class where the aging coach reads the textbook day after day in his monotonous drone. Don't ever do that to your kids. You're in the privacy of your own home, ham it up, for heaven's sake! Give unusual characters funny voices, use lots of inflection, pause at the right places for maximum suspenseful impact, etc. Your voice will bring the story to life if there's life in your voice. Don't know how? Don't worry, it's a skill that can be learned with practice (and you'll never have a more forgiving audience than your wee ones). Note: Did you know that the concept of silent reading is a modern invention? In ancient times reading was always done with both your eyes and ears. Have you experienced the fact that your ears can tell you things about a story that your eyes can't?

4. Start reading novels to your children at a young age. Picture books are one of my favorite things. However, children as young as 4 can start to participate in the world of chapter books. You may need to talk frequently about what is going on and review the plot each time you pick it up. All the better! Encourage your children to ask questions. It will improve their communication skills. And don't be afraid to read books to your children that are a little above them. It's good for them to listen "up".

5. Have books in your home. Use the library on a regular basis. Purchase books for birthdays and Christmas*. You'll be surprised how fast your library grows! Having books in your home not only sends the message that books are important, it gives children the opportunity to peruse books at their leisure.

6. Read yourself. If you're like me, you don't need to be told this. Instead, you need to get your nose out of your book a bit more and take the kids to the park (or wash the dishes). But too many busy moms never seem to find the time to lose themselves in the written word. It's truly one of life's joys and our little ones should see our passion for reading.

The essence of my philosophy is this: A young child who has been to far away places, experienced thrilling adventures, overcome daunting obstacles, witnessed hilarious antics and met fascinating people, all as your voice brings the words on page to life, may still have difficulty with the mechanics of learning to read, but they will not need to be convinced that reading is important. The desire to read will a part of them. They will be eagerly anticipating the day when they can enter the world of books on their own.

How do you help your children develop a love a reading?

* Books are expensive, so unless you know it's good quality, check it out of the library first. I almost never buy a book from a bricks and mortar store (although I love to look at books there). Most of my purchasing, however, happens at websites such as this one or this one, and even this one, where I can find new and gently used books for bargain prices.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eat up!

It's either feast or famine with me. No posts for a long time and then BAM two in one day. But reading has a particular hold on me at the moment and it's time to blog about it.

I adore, with my whole heart and soul, reading to my children. We've read from day one and I don't stop until they leave home. Some of my sweetest memories are connected to the books we've read.

Here's a smattering:

I remember reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my first three at the bus stop every day as we waited for Daddy to come home from work. Hubder's said it became every one's favorite stop. They'd watch the daily ritual of the three munchkins running across the grass, big smiles on their faces as they joyfully called to Daddy over and over. Everyone would all hug his knees at once as he stepped off the bus. I loved seeing the whole soul love that my little ones daily showered on their dad. Note: Please, please, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first!!! I mean it. It's so much cooler that way. Your children will thrill to the ah-ha moments when they read The Magician's Nephew, but only if they've read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first. Read them in the order they were originally published. Trust me on this one!

Ruggles was only three when he could quote all of Where the Wild Things Are. I can still hear his little voice, wrapping itself around those words, changing his voice when woarwing his tewwible woarws. Some extended family asked to hear it, but the book wasn't with us. No problem. He sat up on the couch, opened his hands like a book and read the whole thing, turning imaginary pages in the appropriate places. Oh, to have that on video!

My children came to love Joseph Smith as we read the Work and the Glory. And I will never forget the Memorial day when we found Amanda Smith's grave right next to their great, great, great, great, great grandmothers, the very day after we read of the Haun's Mill Massacre. Their eye's lit up as history came to life for a moment.

As we read Number the Stars, I watched my children bristle at the injustice of the Nazi's and savor the bravery of ten year old Annemarie. It's a beautiful thing when a mother gets an insight into the growing conscience of her children.

It still brings a smile to my face when I think of Tough Guy, as a teenager, plopping down on the couch with The Trust Williams Series. He only did it when he'd had a bad day. He'd open the book up to a random page, start reading, laugh out loud for a few minutes, then get up with a smile on his face and move on with a good attitude (what a blessing for a mother!)

I could go on, but this post is already longer than anyone is gonna want to read. Suffice to say, reading has been an integral part of our home. Our lives have been richer and happier and more hilarious because books have abounded.

What are you reading to your kids?

Internet again!

We have a decent internet connection again!!!!! Woo-hooo!

This post won't thrill anyone. It's barely going to get proof read (no extra time today!) No thoughtful ideas, nuthin' funny. Okay, now that all but my family and a smattering of closest friends are left, here are some things that I really wanted to post about and some pics to go along with them.

My oldest, Tough Guy and his adorable wife, Cutie Pie, just did a Mexican cruise with her family. They bought us these hilarious masks. Cutie Pie didn't understand why Tough Guy was insistent that these were the perfect thing to give us. But he knows us and we're just weird that way!
Side note: Hubders taught Jared Hess in seminary, so we, of course own Napolean Dynamite, but, I confess, I don't have any use for it. Nacho Libre, however is hilarious (in an incredibly embarrassing kind of way!)

Here's Girlie Whirl in mask #1
Bikey-boy in mask #2
No cool stories, nuthin' profound with this next picture. But it's a picture of my sis who came and spent a week with us (she's holding my adorable new niece). Muff (we've called her that since she was one year old!) is a fabulous, funny, caring person and having in her my life is a beautiful thing. It's a full 20 hour drive from her house to mine, so visits are few and far between. We had a blast!!! Come back soon, girl!!

No school on friday, so we invited my sis and our neighbors to the north (our two favorite families to play with), to decorate Easter eggs. It was two full hours of creative juices flowing everywhere (yup, some of them even flowed into my lap in the form of blue dye. It washed out of the pants just fine, but parts of me looked like a smurf for days!)

Here are pictures and short explanations of the three methods we used.

These ones were dyed normally and then artist tissue paper (not the wrapping paper kind) was applied to the damp egg. After they dried the paper was peeled off. Very fun way to decorate eggs!! Thanks sis!

Duck tape was used to mask off parts of the egg and then the eggs were dyed. (again, sis's idea)

These were dyed with silk ties. We did this last year and I wanted to try it again. Opening them up once they've cooled is so fun! You never know what you're gonna get.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Our internet connection is having major issues. It can't handle uploading a single picture.

So instead of blogging I'm ranting, and muttering under my breath.

Hopefully we'll get it fixed soon and I can upload pics of my sweet sis visiting and the cool masks from Mexico that my son and cute daughter-in-law sent us and the Easter eggs we made (we had a blast for two solid hours decorating those eggs.)