Monday, April 29, 2013

Words that Fill my Soul

Often times I find myself experiencing life through two types of goggles:

Eternal Perspective and Tunnel-vision. 

 I think it's natural to experience this, and that it's part of the test of mortality.  I have realized that when I'm experiencing a tunnel-vision moment in my life, I tend to still be going thru the motions of everything I know to be right because I've developed good habits over the years of staying dedicated to things that I believe in.  But when I am in an eternal perspective sort of vision, I have more peace and I remember the REASONS I do all the things I do, and then I really WANT to keep on going, but it doesn't feel like going through the motions, it feels like "living after the manner of happiness".

Here are some of the things I learned at a training meeting tonight for all the people in our Stake who have callings with little children in the Primary & Nursery:

" we give, we find that ‘sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!’ And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all." --Spencer W. Kimball

  • What do you do with a difficult child?
                                                                     The Answer: LOVE them to death.

  •  With a problem child, sometimes the answer involves cookies.  --Pres. Carmichael

  • Our job as teachers is to place words of truth in their hearts; they will open their hearts when THEY are ready. --Sis. Tilley

  • You are Christ's daily delight.  Make your children your daily delight!

  • When we need and seek for revelation, we must PRAY for it, EXPECT it, RECOGNIZE it, and ACT on it.

  • "Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord. is essential that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family." --Quentin L. Cook

  • Make connections outside the classroom.  Go the extra mile, and pray for the children you influence by name, and the Lord will help you help them. 

I am so grateful for the church and for the temple.  I love Sundays--going to church is my life-line.  I so desperately need to have words of truth fill my soul on a regular basis so that I can be the best me with a better perspective when I face my personal responsibilities day in and day out.  I know deep down...even when I might be in a tunnel-vision mode...that there are deeper, eternal reasons that are more important than many of the things that cause us stress in life.  When we focus on the things that bring us inner peace and hope in the Lord and serving His children, everything else falls into place, because our Spirit can better recognize priorities that matter in an eternal perspective.  I love the Lord, and I know the gospel is true.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Little Lizards


Over Spring Break we decided to go to the Rock Gym to use our passes that Mitch won way-back-when. We rushed over there for a family night and drug my little bro, Heber, along.  He had a pass, too.  It's been years since I have been rock climbing and it was my boys' first time.  They are NATURALS.  The second their ropes & little carabiners were tied and latched they just scuttled up the wall as fast as can be.
See that tiny little speck in the yellow?  That's Tyson--he started to freak out because he didn't want to repel down--can you blame him?  He's only 5, and we didn't really think about teaching him how to come down until it was time for him to come, his first repelling experience included his father climbing up to get him and help him along the way.  :)   By the end of the night, however, he was a little natural at repelling down the wall, too. 

See that larger, tiny speck?  That's Heber.  What a STUD!  We were so GLAD he came with us to belay, share time together, and show off his MAD rock climbing skills.

Emmett finally decided to climb about 20 minutes before we left.  He had fun, too, and this time around, Mitch held him off the ground by the rope to teach him that he can be safe leaning back into the rope and pushing against the wall on the way down.  Emmett didn't climb as high as Tyson, but he's only 3, and I'm telling you, he is a NATURAL at repelling.  Cute kid!

I know this picture is WAY posed, but I'm telling you, you don't want to see photos of our buns while we were climbing the walls.  Haha!  Mitch is amazing, just like Heber, and can climb the hard courses using only the correct colors of tape.  I, on the other hand, can make it to touch the bar at the top, but I don't care about course difficulty or following colors (for me that doesn't count as cheating).  Haha! 

Life is good.  Someday I'll insert a group photo with Heber, but he has to give it to me first.

{Insert group photo with Heber here}

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Angels in Heaven

My cousin posted this picture of her and her mom on her facebook wall tonight.  It brought a tear to my eye and I wanted to share it.  This is my Aunt Amanda.  Isn't she lovely?  She's holding her daughter, Tenney (who reminds me a lot of my sister Erin in this picture). 

The honest truth is that I've been thinking about my Aunt Amanda for almost the entire last year.  (I've been meaning to write my thoughts down, but haven't until now.)  She died when she was 28 from a brain tumor, and she had 3 little kids.  So this entire year that I've been 28, with 3 little kids, I have contemplated what that means.

Having 3 little kids is so hard.  Somedays I think I've completely lost all sense of who I am because I'm so focused on the kids.  It might sound dramatic, but I've had to redefine myself in ways that helps me cope with my "new life", and yet doesn't erase the talents and parts of me that have made me who I've always been.

Having 3 little kids is also so amazingly beautiful, celestial, and sweet.  When I'm at the end of my rope and am so exhausted that I think I don't know how I'm supposed to keep going on with all the responsibilities of being a mom, they'll do something to make me laugh or say something only an angel child could say and it's like magic that makes me forget how hard I thought everything was.  Then there's the endless imaginary games and hilarious ideas they come up with that keep me on the edge of my seat wondering what awesome memory we're going to make next.

After we had our 3rd baby, we bought a mini-van.  The reality of that situation hit me like a ton of bricks--just a few short years ago, I was looking up to friends and family who were moms with 3 kids.   I remember driving around in shock for days thinking, "Oh my gosh. I am a mom with a mini-van."  I felt so old!

But then I'd think about Aunt Amanda and her 3 darling, kids.  All of a sudden, at this amazing cross-roads sort of moment in her life, everything was cut short, and that's when you realize that 28 is JUST the beginning.  There's so much life ahead of us, so much to miss.  Even when it's chaotic and exhausting and hard, we can't ever wish these moments away.  How much would she have paid if she could have bought just another day with her husband & kids?  There's no price for the blessing of having a family and being able to be here to see them grow.

What's interesting is that even though I have never met her in person, I have felt close to my Aunt Amanda and love her (especially because of the way my dad talks about her, the stories of others, and the pictures Grandma took).  There have been moments in my life that I felt like she was watching over me and helping me from the other side.  Because of those impressions, I really do believe that there is life after death, and that angels are watching over us.  Aunt Amanda has been one of those angels for the Tenney-11 family, and we all love her and the lessons she's taught us.  And boy do we love all 3 of her awesome kids, Tenney, Gordy, & Garrett, who pay tribute to her name by the good lives they live.

I hope to posess all the qualities my dad has told me about my Aunt Amanda.  She was beautiful person inside and out, she was fun, she was bright, and she walked in the light of the Lord.  I also hope to never take for granted these beautiful days with my husband and kids, because this moment in time is everything I live for.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Only Emmett

About 6 months ago I remember wondering if Emmett would EVER make it out of his terrible three stage.  I felt like he gave me a run for my money every day of my life, and I just didn't know how to handle him.  The doctor summed it up at his 3 year visit, "Feelings get hurt VERY easily at this age," she said.  You didn't have to even be mean to hurt his feelings--LITTLE changes in the day would shatter his tranquility.  I am so happy that we're finally past that...tantrums and bawl-fests don't happen every hour anymore...maybe once a day.  And he's finally able to understand the rationality of consequences and can make agreements.  With the maturity that comes with this stage, his hilarious personality is shinning through more, too.  Here are some favorite recent quotes:

D-Jo:  You're so cute.
Emmett: I'm not cute, I'm awesome.
Mitch:  You're cute in an awesome way.
Emmett:  NO.  Cute is cute, and awesome is awesome.

Whenever something doesn't go his way, or when he doesn't want to do chores anymore, you can find him saying, "I have no energy.  Carry me."

I love to kiss his cute little face, but he tells me, "I'm allergic to kisses!"

Mitch got a laugh out of this one first:  Emmett was heartbroken about something that Mitch wouldn't let him do (it was probably something a good parent would say, like, "No, you can't eat the entire bag of butterscotch chips and skip out on dinner" or it could have been over sharing a toy or something), and Emmett had a MELTDOWN.  Now imagine Luke Skywalker's facial expression in Star Wars when he gets his arm sliced off and finds out that Darth Vader is his father.  Emmett will make a face like that in his melt down and point with all fervency, "See my face?  THIS IS A SAAAAD FACE!"  It's so funny!

When the kids are not quite asleep, but pretend to still be asleep, Mitch calls them "Faker Bakers".  The other day, Emmett was being a faker baker as I was bringing him in from the van.  I could tell he was tired and wanted to fall asleep.  I took it as an opportunity to tell him things I want him to know at a moment I knew he would hear me & not talk back.

D-Jo:  Oh, I'm so lucky!  This is such a special boy.  I love EVERYTHING about this little Emmett.  I'm so lucky to be his mom.  There's no other Emmett in the world that could ever make me happier.  I know his daddy feels the same way about him, too. (Kept saying mushy things like that.)
Emmett (eyes still closed--methodically moves his thumb from his mouth):  LAME.
D-Jo: What?  You're awake?  Did you just call me lame?
Emmett:  Yes!  Haha!
D-Jo: Do you even know what lame means?
Emmett:  Lame is stuff you want to throw away.
D-Jo: Take it back!

He's such a tease!  He was calling me lame, because I was being mushy.  In this family, it's seriously something only Emmett would do.  He's one of a kind, and he makes me laugh. I'm so glad he keeps it real for me--I don't know what I'd do if I had boring cookie-cutter kids.  It's a good thing they all come with their very own ideas and personalities.  It keeps my life interesting, that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pajama Pants

As far as mother-in-laws go, I happen to have the BEST one.  I'm not just biased, either.  You could look the world over, interview millions of people, and still find that Myrna is the cream of the crop.  There are days I sit and contemplate what I can learn from her, and how I can be like her, so that I'll know what to do when my kids get married and I become a mother-in-law.  I think it's probably hard to let your little boys grow up and get married and start families of their own, because that's when everything really changes.  I am personally dreading the separation factor someday--not that I don't want my little boys to grow into wonderful men, because I do.  I'm afraid that they won't come back and visit me all the time.  One thing I'm realizing, too, is that this is the only phase in my life where my little boys will only be MY little boys (and Mitch's).  Someday I'm going to have to share them with other families--which is not a bad thing--I'm just realizing that I need to enjoy this time in my life with my kids for what it is, because it won't always be the same.  It won't always be like this, and they won't always want or need me.  I certainly hope they'll always want and need their mother, but I know it'll probably be in different ways and I know that change can be hard.
At any rate, Myrna made all of her kids and grandkids matching pajama pants for Christmas with matching T-shirts from Hawaii--the ONLY stipulation was that she needed us to take family pictures in them.  Her words have been haunting me for months: "I don't care if you never wear them again, just take a picture in them for me."  That was Christmas Eve--I was ready to take a picture then and there, but it was decided we should take the picture on Christmas morning.  But then the Plague of 2012 happened and Mitch and Tyson were puking for Christmas.  So, here we are.  It's APRIL.  She has NEVER said anything negative, even though she could have.  She could have bawled us out and told us to get our act together and quit taking so long, BUT SHE DIDN'T!  And I'm so grateful for her kindness, love, and patience.  So that she doesn't think we're ingrates, here are our family pictures (Mitch set up the camera and we snapped photos with a remote...we had to get creative to keep the kids interested enough in hopes that we would MAYBE snap one good shot). 




(We moved locations once we realized that the flash brings out the smudges on the glass door of the fireplace.  Oops!  Haha!)
Mitch and I think this one is hilarious.  We're trying to figure out what exactly happened to merit a baby that looks dazed, a 3 year old with a scowl, and a funny smile from our oldest.

Ta-Da!  Mission Accomplished!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Have you ever had anyone tell you how AWESOME an experience is and so you go into the adventure with HIGH expectations and get LESS than you bargained for?   It might not matter that the reason you had a bad experience had to do with the fact that you or your kids were sick when you went, or maybe you just had a bad attitude, or maybe the event wasn't your "cup of tea".  ALL that matters and all that you remember is that it was SUPPOSED to be OUT OF THIS WORLD, and you left DISAPPOINTED.
Well, we had the OPPOSTIE of that situation happen to us!  We were told how HORRIBLE the Sea Life Aquarium was and to NEVER pay full price (so we took coupons), and we thought it was going to be like any other place in the Valley of the Sun, and what we ended up getting was an AMAZING DAY!
The sea life was UP CLOSE & PERSONAL!

We saw a SEA TURTLE!


We put our heads in VIEWING HOLES so we felt like we were IN THE TANK!


We almost got eaten by SHARKS!

We had time as a FAMILY!

We thought we would hardly spend any time there, but we almost didn't plan for enough time to see everything!
We saw lion fish!!!  We love lion fish!
And we saw JellyFish (not pictured), but Emmett is STILL talking about the jellies!

We learned that Daddy seahorses are the ones that get pregnant--which could be the reason they look like they're sick--poor, little, nauseus daddies!  Throwing up might just help them feel better.
Maybe we were absolutely satisfied because our kids LOVE animals, sea life, and nature.  Maybe we were excited because we got a rockin' deal with the newspaper coupon we clipped.  Maybe we were satisfied because we expected NOTHING and got BLOWN AWAY. 

And maybe I should just tell you NEVER to go there unless you get in for pennies, because you'll HATE it--and then maybe you'll wind up like me. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Doesn't Get Better than This

I sat down to document something else, but I just couldn't get past these adorable pictures that Mitch took of the boys.  Could life get any better than this?  No way.  And who needs professional photo shoots when your husband can catch what life is really like with these kids? BLISS.

I actually wasn't here at the park with them--Mitchell was letting me sleep in.  We were supposed to be having a special breakfast for my dad's birthday on this particular morning, but that blew up, because the ONE person who was essential to the celebration had a meeting no one else knew about, haha.  And so Mitch took the boys to the park and they ate their very own, special, cereal-in-a-cup-with-a-spoon-at-a-park breakfast.  And by the grins on their faces, you can tell it was a SMASHING SUCCESS--as is ANYTHING they get to do with their DADDY.