Monday, November 21, 2011

How-To ideas for increasing gratitude!

I spoke in church yesterday about gratitude, specifically how to have a grateful heart. I wanted to share with all of you a list I compiled from LDS talks and devotionals of "how-to" ideas for cultivating a grateful heart. Since it is Monday of Thanksgiving week, today would be a perfect time to pick ONE THING (Don't overwhelm yourself!!!) and work on it for the week. See how it will make your week better and make you so much happier! And it doesn't require any crafting or preparation! Just pick something and start doing it. One last note - Make sure it is something you feel you can do. A couple weeks ago, I started out by trying to keep a journal and that lasted for one day. I’ve never been a good journal keeper so I chose something else to try that worked better for me.

1 Keep a gratitude journal. Record daily or several times a week 3-5 blessings or “tender mercies” you have felt or experienced, such as good health, a positive relationship with someone, improvements, or lessons learned. Include your thoughts and emotions about them rather than just cataloguing them. This will help you relive and savor the experiences and will help you notice blessings in your life on a daily basis.

2 Write thank you notes. Buy or create thank you cards to keep on hand. When someone does something nice for you, write a note of thanks as soon as possible. Even an email will do! The point is to acknowledge quickly and kindly the act of kindness. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like receiving a thank you note!

3 Express gratitude to those who you have never properly thanked. For example, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers, coachers, employers. You can call them on the phone or write a letter or email. Be specific about the details of kindness toward you and how it affected you. This will lift both you and the person receiving the gratitude.

4 Create a gratitude catalog. Make a comprehensive list of all your blessings. After listing obvious blessings, shift to “smaller” blessings such as running water, a phone call from a friend, and so forth. You do do this on a regular basis - daily, a few times a week, once a week. You could make your list on a google document if you use a computer for a lot of the day, on a piece of paper posted on the fridge, in a little notepad carried in your purse, or on your handy dandy smartphone.

5 Express prayers of gratitude. This has two parts. The first is to remember to start your prayers by expressing gratitude. This is my favorite part of praying because it helps me realize every single day that I truly am richly blessed and that all my blessings come from Heavenly Father. A song that I have been listening to constantly, as it is on my Thanksgiving playlist, is “A Thankful Heart” from the Muppets Christmas Carol. I love the line that says “And every night will end, and every day will start, with a grateful prayer and a thankful heart.” The second part is to regularly dedicate an entire prayer to your expressions of gratitude. Don’t ask for anything. Be specific; go beyond the obvious. See how exhaustive you can be. Discover the truth in the lines “And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

6 Repent and open your heart. Let go of negative emotions that bind your heart. Anger, resentment, and bitterness stunt our spiritual growth. Elder Wirthlin said, “You can repent of uncleanliness. That is the miracle of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Begin the process today.”

7 Verbally express gratitude for your blessings throughout the day. Verbalizing really does make a difference than just thinking about it. There are so many little things every day to be grateful for. When you first become aware of a blessing, your feeling of gratitude can be strengthened by immediately expressing thanks out loud. You could even keep a list of these things on a google document if you use a computer for a lot of the day, on a piece of paper posted on the fridge, in a little notepad carried in your purse, or on your handy dandy smartphone.

Lots of people complain. Most people complain about their problems, but miserable people are different-they complain about their blessings. If their car breaks down, they complain that it isn't new. If their waitress is slow, they complain and withhold a tip. If their cell phone drops a call, they complain about their service. That’s like complaining that you missed a call on your miniature computer attached to your ear, which is connected to a multimillion-dollar satellite circling the earth hundreds of miles away, thanks to the work of many talented scientists.They're like the people in the Old Testament who got free food from heaven and said, "What? Manna again?" By contrast, happy people are grateful to have a car, thankful they can afford to eat at a restaurant, and stoked that they have a cell phone. Most people in the world don't have cars, can't afford restaurants, and have never sent a text message. Happy people count their blessings, while the miserable complain about theirs." John Bytheway and Jeffry Larsen

8 Make expressing gratitude a family tradition. Before family prayer each night, or at dinnertime, share with each other blessings you noticed throughout the day. You can just take turns verbalizing them, or you could have each person write them down on a piece of paper and put them in a "blessing" basket. A fun idea might be to read them aloud once a week, possibly as a Sabbath-day activity.

9 Eliminate ungrateful thoughts and complaining. When something happens and you want to complain, immediately find something to be grateful for. I worked on this for the past couple weeks. Here’s one experience I had: Our son, Tanner, is a horrible meal eater outside of our house. We were at a community event and he wouldn’t eat. I was getting frustrated with him. Instead of expressing that frustration and making him and myself unhappy, I caught myself. Instead, I said to Makenzie, “I’m so grateful that he will eat meals at home.” It was a simple statement but it changed by whole outlook on the situation and released my frustration. I have been noticeably happier by recognizing my blessings instead of complaining when something goes wrong.

10 Think of your talents and spiritual gifts. Pray with gratitude for these gifts and ask for ways that you can use one or more of them to bless the lives of others. He has given you these gifts for a reason and will use you to bless lives. Also, choose one of your talents that you would like to cultivate and come up with an action plan to increase your skill in that talent.

11 Endure trials well. It’s easy to recognize our blessings when things in life are going well. But having gratitude through trials will have a greater positive affect on you during times of hardship and help you gain greater perspective. President David O. McKay observed, “We find in the bitter chill of adversity the real test of our gratitude.” We learn from Nephi in his great afflictions during his journey through the wilderness. He said, “I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” Make a conscious effort to thank and praise God during hard times. There are definite blessings to be found during these times. This past May, Tanner was hospitalized because of his asthma. As I was following the ambulance that was taking him and Eli to the hospital, I said a desperate prayer to Heavenly Father. As part of that prayer, I asked that I would focus on my blessings throughout this experience. Eli and I did just that and it made a world of difference in the way we felt throughout the whole ordeal. There were many blessings and tender mercies that happened that helped me know Heavenly Father was aware of us. Elder Robert D. Hales expressed that, “Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure.”

12 Open your arms in service to others. We render thanks to God by loving and serving those around us. The blessings that come from opening our arms to others are among the choicest this earth has to offer.


I'm grateful for my two little happy darlings and wonderfully amazing hubbaloo!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oh hi blogging world!!!

Hello blogging world!!! I have been on a blogging and facebook hiatus for a while as a detox from the virtual world. Last week I sent a link for our family photos to my mom who forwarded them to my aunt. My aunt said that she was glad she got to finally see a few pictures of us. So it made me realize that I probably should utilize my blog more often so that our family scattered all around can see what we Vermonters are up to here, and how our cute kiddos are growing up. I seem to seek out lots of extra things to add into my life and make me even busier than I probably should be sometimes. So journaling and blogging about all of our summer and fall adventures has been put at the bottom of the to do list for the past few months. (And I am so wanting to physically cross it off my list, or many lists, that float around my house and google docs!) Now I finally have some free time to spend sharing photos and stories with you, so get ready, because Eli and I love taking and sharing photos! But you'll have to wait a few days because my dad is visiting from Colorado right now (yay!)

So I'll just leave ya with a link to our fall family photos for now: The photographer is a good friend of mine and I think she is just such a wonderful, fun, creative, and talented person (and she's from Colorado so that makes her even cooler!). And we love their cute fam and are so glad that they moved here. Anyways, I think the pics are pretty darn awesome, primarily because I think our kids are so stinkin' cute. Isn't that one of Kenzie just to die for?! Love it! I can't wait to see the rest.

OH and Vermont is just finishing it's fall color show, which has been INCREDIBLE. I love what my friend Christy told me: "Jesus was showing off when he created Vermont." Christy, I totally agree! It is breathtakingly beautiful here and the colors are so vibrant and varied. When my sister, Kristie, was here visiting, I kept saying words to describe how beautiful everything was and the words became cliche. So we started thinking of words in other languages to give new expressions to the amazingness all around us. It's like being in a storybook, everything is just stunning. Christy got some awesome photos and you can check them out on her blog:

Is everybody watching The Sing-off on Monday nights?????? You totally should! It's so good! And it's super good because my future brother-in-law is in the group from BYU, Vocal Point. Check him out singing the solo for Footloose: He's the soloist who sings really high and totally rocks! That reminds me, my sister is getting married!!!!!! Aly and Ross Welch are getting married in Littleton, CO in december and it's gonna be so fun to celebrate with them! And it's going to be so fun being with my WHOLE family for an entire week. That hasn't happened in two years! The house is gonna be crazy with 5 little kiddos under the age of 3 running/crawling around. And we can't wait!

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

"A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord"

Oh Templeton the rat, thank you for your fair song in Charlotte's Web because it will forever pop in my head when I hear the word "fair!"

The Champlain Valley Fair comes to Vermont the week before labor day. We drive by the fairgrounds many times a week and Tan always talks about seeing the "piggies" run at the fair. I loaded the kids in the jogging stroller, threw on my running clothes, and ran the 1.5 miles to the fair. Instead of paying $10 for admission, I took advantage of the lunch deal and went between 12-2 for free. Sweet!

We cheered on the cute little racing pigs (my favorite part of the fair!)

Tan got to drive a firetruck all by himself. He is WAY into firetrucks and firemen right now so he was in HEAVEN!

(Having fun is serious business for the Tanman.)

We saw lots of cute little animals in the Old MacDonald barn.
I always feel so overwhelmed trying to make a decision about
what to eat at the fair. If I'm going to spend money, it needs to be worth it! Well, I went cheap and got something for Tan and I to share instead of buying both of us something a
nd doubling the cost. We had fried dough nuggets. Very fairish. I really wanted the onion rings but my super picky 2 year old would never eat those!
Kenz enjoyed the fair while loungin' in the stroller. She got really excited when she saw the animals, especially the ones that moved a lot!
Isn't she just darling! I adore my little kenzie koo!

We also saw a juggling family, which Tan somehow remembered from last year without me reminding him. And on my run back home, I popped into a store and found a way cute vase to go on our new kitchen table for $1. Love deals like that!

We'll see ya next year, fair! Tanner will be talking about you everytime we drive by the fairgrounds until you come back again!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer lovin', had me a BLA-AST!

I've been a total blogging slacker this summer. BUT, I have an explanation for it: Eli was out of school for 2 whole months and we played, played, played. Seriously, we had a B.L.A.S.T! But now . . .

The sun has set on our summer of fun with Eli.
(Isn't Lake Champlain gorgeous?! It's only a few miles from our house!)

We have all kinds of memories stored in our brains to pull out when the winter is dark and cold, and Eli is busy studying crazy hours. (Don't get me wrong, I love the winter. But this summer has just been so wonderful and perfect!)

Memories of adventures around Vermont . . .

. . . and Colorado.

And doing lots of summery things like eating incredibly drippy ice cream cones (called creemees in Vermont).

And growing up so much.

And lots of lovin' each other!
(Kenz doesn't look too happy about this hug. She's learned to brace herself when Tan gives her hugs. He tends to squeeze and pat a little too hard.)

Now the future doctor Morey is back in school and plugging away on his road to MD.
(OK, so this isn't Eli, but isn't Tan so darn cute in these scrubs that are oh-so-giant for him?!)

And now that the summer is over, I have the mega task of sorting through our massive amount of summer pictures and somehow journaling and finding a way to show them online to our families and friends. I'm excited!!!! Wish me luck!

P.S. I should probably update my blog sidebar to include our daughter! Ha ha ha!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Evolution of Dance

I love this dance so much:

So if you want something fun to do (and a good workout), recreate it!!

P.S. Thanks Kris for being our coach! And it's a good thing the kids were way upstairs and we were in the basement. They totally couldn't have slept through us practicing this ten million times in a row.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We're alive!!!

Hello friends and family!!! I can't believe it's been over 2 1/2 months since my last blog post! We have been so busy for the last few months! Here's a quick recap and you'll know why I haven't had time to share any pictures or stories about the kids for a while:

Month of March: Kenzie's first month of life, Eli was super super busy with school, I was recovering from my C-section, Tan spent half the month with Gra Gra (my mom) while she was here helping and other half getting used to all the changes in his life.

April: We watched General Conference during the first weekend in april and it was wonderful! We spent a week in San Diego during Eli's spring break. We went to his brother, Ali's, wedding and now we have a new (and very beautiful!) sister-in-law, Nikki. We spent the rest of the week hanging out with Eli's mom and Ari & Christian at the beach, the zoo, etc. We didn't do too much because Kenz was still so new. But it was so fun to be with family, even if it took 2 entire days of traveling to get there and back from Vermont. We had to run to catch our connections many times! When we got home, we celebrated Easter and Tan loved all the candy, of course! The end of April had HUGE rainstorms in Vermont that caused major flooding all over. Tan definitely got in some good puddle splashing time!

May: We blessed Makenzie Ella on May 1st and it was a beautiful blessing and beautiful day. Her middle name is a combination of my grandma's Eleanor and Stella, and Eli had a great grandma named Ella. Kenz looked like a little precious angel! She wore my blessing dress so it was really special for me to dress my little daughter in it. My sister, Aly, came to visit us on the 7th and Tan spent a few of those days in the hospital due to a bad asthma attack where he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and spent half of his hospital stay in the pediatric ICU. Maybe I'll get around to telling that story later. Thank goodness Aly was in Vermont during that time because she took care of Kenzie a lot while Eli and I were at the hospital. Kenz loved the aunt bonding time! But I also did some Vermonty things with Aly so that her trip out here was worth it, things like a visit to the Ben & Jerry's factory, participating in singing time at the Von Trapp Family Lodge (it was started by the Von Trapp family when they came to Vermont after they left Austria), sampling cheese, apple cider, and maple syrup, eating at "farm to table" restaurants, and visiting Joseph Smith's Birthplace. We even got to sing in my ward together on mothers day! Aly and I flew to Colorado with the kids while Eli stayed at home because he couldn't miss school. We spent the next 11 days with the entire Archer clan, minus Eli :(. It was heaven! Tan had a blast playing with his cousin Wes and Kenz liked meeting all of her Archer aunts, uncles, grandpa, and 2 girl cousins. There was lots of baby time going on in the Archer home! On the way home, the kids and I missed our last leg to Vermont and spent a night in a hotel in New Jersey. It was an adventure! We had a fun memorial day - we watched a parade, I took the kids for a run with our new awesome stroller, Tan played in the blow up pool with his friends, and we had a BBQ with many of our friends.

June: We spent last weekend in Palmyra with our friends, the Clarks, and we had a fabulous time seeing the sites and hanging out. We loved sharing spiritual moments with our children and being in the place where the Gospel began. I really do know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the forest we call the Sacred Grove. The spirit permeates the whole grove, even when it's pouring rain. It was a fun, short trip. And I love our friends and road tripping with my little fam! On Saturday we are going to Boston for a family reunion type of thing with Eli's extended family.

Whew, so our life has just been a whirlwind of adventures for the past few months! Those things combined with normal life have made life pretty busy for all of us. The weather has FINALLY warmed up so we spend a few hours outside everyday. Tan is learning the joys of blow up pools and water toys! We have really missed the sunshine and warmth so we are making the most of it before the cold sets in again in September! It was a BRUTAL winter and spring with tons of snow and rain and cold. So we desperately need a good summer so that we will stil be in love with Vermont!

The kids are good and cute as ever! Tan will be 2 1/2 next week! He is still spunky, fun, sweet, intense, loud, creative, musical, a stick and dirt lover, and happy. He is constantly singing and making up songs. We are thankful that his asthma is under control right now and hopefully it stays that way. None of us want another hospital stay. The goal for avoiding that is keeping him healthy and away from any sicknesses. Kenz is 3 months old and is a smiley guru right now and makes the cutest little happy noises ever! She started sitting in her bumbo at 2.5 months so she is ready to look around and discover her world. But she still has some newborn-ness in her and wants to be cuddled and rocked - I LOVE it! I wish that she would never grow out of it. She is such a chill and calm baby and brings so much joy into our family. Tan adores her and wants to be next to her all the time. I'm excited to watch their relationship develop.

WOW that was a long post. Sorry everyone! And here comes lots of pictures. But you know us, we love photos! They are out of order because there are pictures from our nice camera, our point and shoot, and Eli's iPhone so the file names were grouped together by camera when uploading them. Happy summer everyone!!!