December 14, 2015

Gifts That Matter

The Christmas season can be one of excitement and happiness. It may be a time chaos and stress. For many it is a time of impulse shopping, financial indiscretion, and materialism. Some may find it to be a time of mourning and of loss for those we love who are no longer with us, and without whom there is a void in our lives.

It can also be a time of great peace. This season can bring contentment and healing as we focus on the love of Jesus Christ, and on his birth which brought hope and joy to our world.
The Savior spent his life, his ministry, giving. He gave sight to the blind, he raised the dead, he healed the sick, he calmed the tempests; he forgave sins, he gave peace to the soul, love to the world. He suffered for each of us, and then he gave his life that we might gain life eternal.

I have no doubt that the gifts you open on Christmas morning will bring excitement and happiness. Those emotions will be fleeting, they may last minutes, or they may last months, but they will fade. The joy that objects bring to us always fades. There is always something else to want, to need. There will be something more exciting, you will change and that change will bring new interests, new desires, new excitement, new passion. I'm excited for the opportunity to watch you grow and change and to see your wishlists evolve, that's a wonderful part of life. However, I want more than to give you toys, games and treats.

I would that I could give you something more lasting. 
I would give you confidence. 
I would give you kindness, generosity and selflessness. 
I would give you a happy disposition, the ability to lift others and bring them joy. 
I would give you faith and hope. 
I would give you integrity. 
I would give to you a desire to work hard. 
I would give you a heart so big, and a love so strong that it would change the world. 
I would give you peace in your soul, quiet in your mind and contentment in your heart.

I can't. You have to live and grow and experience and seek your own gifts. Through your trials you will have the opportunity to grow and gain your own gifts and talents, and through my words and actions I can try to ease your path and help guide you along the way.

I can show you kindness, fill your world with laughter. 
I can encourage you when life is hard, and teach you to seek for the positive. 
I can explore with you and discover the world at your side. 
I can be patient and hope that you learn from my example. 
I can praise you and hope that praise sinks deep into your mind and teaches you to believe in yourself. 
I can labor with you and show you by my attitude what it means to find work rewarding. 
I can share a smile and a kind word and express the joy it feels to lift another's spirit. 
I can share my faiths, my beliefs and hope that they resonate with your soul.

I will fall short, I will make mistakes, and hopefully as I work to improve and reconcile my actions with my beliefs you will learn to apologize, to forgive yourself, and to keep on trying. I will give you my love, and hopefully in my words, in my embrace, you will find the peace that will fill your soul.

I love you.

Let's make this season a season of gratitude. 

November 28, 2015

Lillebaby Sale!!!

If you've been wanting a baby carrier Run, don't walk...Lillebaby Carriers are on SALE!
They NEVER go on sale. I finally bought one on Ebay last week because I've been watching for a sale for months and had finally given up. I was excited to find an airflow for $100. Now the airflow carriers are $93.74 normally $125 (and the original is $89.99), and I could have chosen any color I wanted, I'm kicking myself for pulling the trigger one week too soon.

Here's the catch, this was supposed to be a ONE DAY SALE, YESTERDAY, but for some reason it's still going. I have no idea when it will end. So if you want one, HURRY!

Lillebaby carriers are a soft structured carrier like Ergo, Beco, Tula, etc.
With a Lillebaby Complete carrier you can Front carry with baby facing In or Out, Hip carry, or Back carry, and there is no need for an infant insert. (The Essentials needs an insert in order to use it with an infant and has fewer carrying options)
Most wearers find Lillebaby to be more comfortable than other brands of carriers.
You can compare the different carriers here.

October 25, 2015

The Laborers in the Vineyard

Today as I was preparing my Sunday School lesson I watched Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's April 2012 Conference address The Laborers in the Vineyard (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can learn more about my church here, and more about general conference here).

I remember hearing this talk and loving it. However, today it resonated with me differently than it did 3 1/2 years ago. When I first heard it I found encouragement and a message that I was doing OK and to not be so critical of myself, today I found inspiration to work on self-improvement.

I believe that's one of the reasons why the Savior taught in Parables, the stories help us to remember his teachings, but they also apply to us differently at different stages in our lives, and at different places in our path of spiritual growth. Elder Holland's three different interpretations of this parable are a perfect example of that.
I found Elder Holland's interpretations of the Savior's Parable found in Matthew 20:1-15, so inspiring I wanted to share it with every one, so I am... go watch it HERE.

I created a few pin-able images for those of us who would like to have a visual reminder for the future. They're simple, I'm not an artist or a graphic designer, but I thought that as long as I was making them for myself I would share them.

I'd like to note that if following a particular person on social media causes you to feel envious, unfollow them. The negative feelings you find in your heart, the discontent, are not worth it. In our day to day lives we must, and should, associate with people who may be a source of our struggles. That's good, trials help us grow. In social media we can be more picky. Don't bring things into your feed that increase feelings of envy and discontent.


Feel free to share these images if they have inspired you, but please link back to this post, or tag me [@the.carter.crew] on Instagram.

October 10, 2015

Shards of Glass

I don't remember why he was throwing a tantrum, I can't keep track of all the things my children get frustrated about, but suddenly a glass was flying through the air at my head. I stepped out of the way. It shattered on the floor. I took both my kids to another room where they couldn't be hurt by the broken glass and then I began to clean up the mess.

As I picked up each shard of glass placing it into a bag I thought about our interaction. I wish I could clean up the broken pieces of my children as easily as I cleaned up those shards of glass. This world is a hard and confusing place to these little people. There are so many things they don't understand; so many rules, restrictions, changes and frustrations. There are things they can't do, can't have, can't touch, and just when they're most frustrated the people around them become frustrated too.

So as that glass came hurtling through the air I may have yelped in surprise (after all, I quite like my head, it is very functional) but I didn't yell, berate, or belittle. I simply said "Uh-oh" and showed him the mess he had made, then moved him to safety. He's one-and-a-half, he won't remember that I didn't yell, scream and call him names, but hopefully my reaction was one step toward teaching him not to react in anger and frustration, one less broken piece of his sweet spirit to mend.

I often look back at my reactions and wish I could have a do-over. I lose patience. I say things I regret. I miss opportunities to praise and encourage. I dole out consequences that are too harsh for the situation. Each of these interactions is a break, a crack, a shard. Those shards can't simply be swept up.

I believe in persistent parenting.

Persistent is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:
 "continuing to do something or to try to do something even though it is difficult..."

Parenting is difficult, but it's worth it. It's worth continuing to try and do better, it's worth starting over when we make mistakes. It's worth being persistent, and starting over no matter how many times we make mistakes.
It's worth saying "Sorry", giving a hug, saying "I shouldn't have ______", "You were wrong, but I was wrong too, let's both do better next time".
Because even though I constantly fall short of my own expectations I know what my goal is, and I will be persistent; I will stop, regroup, apologize, think through how I wish I'd reacted, and try to do better next time.
After all, repentance and forgiveness apply to Motherhood every bit as much as they apply to every other aspect of my life.
What better way could there be to teach our children how to right their wrongs, than by showing them ourselves?

September 13, 2015

Braver, Stronger, Smarter

We all are, each of us. We are children of God. And because of that he strengthens us in our trials, he grants us courage to serve beyond our capacity, and he strengthens our faith at our asking. He fills our hearts with love and peace, our minds with calm and clarity, and our brains with knowledge beyond our own to guide us in our decisions. 
He's given us his Spirit to prompt us and teach us as we share his truth and his love with those around us, and as we listen to the Holy Ghost and share the things we are prompted to say the Holy Ghost can testify to the listener.
He loves us, and because of that he comforts, strengthens, and inspires.

You can find more about my beliefs by clicking the link below:

I'm a Mormon.

September 6, 2015

For the Love of Reading: Tips and Great Books for Young Listeners

I love to read.
For me reading is a source of calm, it's a wonderful escape from the pressures and stress of daily life, it's a way to travel to places I could never afford and times I cannot reach, through other characters I discover more about myself.
We know that for children, reading helps with concentration, vocabulary building, and speech development.

I credit my love of reading to my mother, who read to me every day until long after I could read to myself. Who provided plenty of books in our home, and who took us on trips to the library. To both my parents, who read. Children learn by example. To my grandmothers, who read to their children, who cherished beautiful books in their home and read to me. To my great-grandmother, who gave me books, many of the books I read to my children were gifts from her.

So when I ended up with a child who did not like to have me read to him it broke my heart. For what seemed like an eternity he would prefer to look through his books and make up stories than have me read to him. We would get 2 pages into a book and he would take it from me, or wander away. I was sad that I was missing out on that connection with him, but also frustrated because I know how reading is important it is for development.

For anyone also struggling to encourage a love of reading in your children, here are my tips and our story:

  1. Be Persistent
  2. Read even when they don't listen
  3. Try different books until you find one that connects with your child
  4. Make reading a reward
  5. Work reading into your daily routine
  6. Rotate books and add new ones so you don't burn out

I spoke with my mom numerous times (she's a kindergarten teacher) during this struggle and she kept telling me to be patient, to keep trying, to read out loud even if he seemed not to listen, and that it was great that he was making up stories and how wonderful that creativity was, it did little to console me. I strive to be the best mom I can be, and he was thwarting my efforts :)

Then, one visit my mom introduced him to Otis, and everything changed.

He LOVED Otis.
But sitting and listening were still difficult. Then, I began reading to him after we went through the whole bedtime routine, suddenly he loved reading. It felt like he was getting to stay up later, breaking the rules ;) and so he loved it. After a while it became part of the routine and now he can't sleep without having a story.

We keep his favorites right by his bed so it's easy to choose, and when I get really tired of reading a particular book I return it to the bookshelf and replace it with another one :)

Here are some of my now four-year-old's favorite books, in case other moms are going through the same thing, or for those who are simply looking for a list of books Boys will like. Not all of these are "BOY" books, in fact I'm sure that many girls would love Otis and the other books also, quite a few of our favorites are favorites from my childhood.
They are all well written, enjoyable reads, most are published by Scholastic so if your school does a book fair you could find some of them there, I have also linked to each book on Amazon.

The Friendly Little Tractor trying to find his place on the farm.

Otis and the Puppy
Facing fear to be a good friend.

Otis and the Scarecrow
Being Brave

Otis and the Tornado
Being Brave in order to be a good friend to someone who doesn't like you.

An Otis Christmas

Mighty Dads
Big Construction Vehicles teaching their little ones to work, the last line of the book is "I Love My Dad"

The Classics:

Where the Wild Things Are
Imagination, and Behavior.

The Foot Book
A rhyming way to learn left from right.

Goodnight Moon
The classic goodnight story.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
A fun way to learn the Alphabet.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Problem Solving, and an Old Fashioned Excavator.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Because EVERYONE has bad days, even in Australia.
A great book for talking about the things that upset us, and choosing a good attitude.

The Story of Ferdinand
It's ok to be different.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant
It's ok to be different.

Being loved the way you are

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Drummer Hoff
Sequence, Repetition, and Crazy Cool Illustrations

Being true to yourself. This one makes me think of my sister, it was her favorite for years.

What are your favorite story books? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

And if you're looking for more, for you or your children, visit Amazon's list of 100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime (Column 2, Row 2). Many of my favorite Chapter Books are included on that list.
100 Children's Books