Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's a New Year! 2015 Review Part 1

We are already to a new year! Last year was incredible. It was very, very full, tiring, fulfilling, exciting and somewhat unpredictable.

Edward turned 3 on Valentine's Day (so he is now almost 4!). He is gentle, kind, and has the biggest heart. He loves playing on the computer these days (his favorites are snail bob and wheely and watching Dean and Walter play Castle Crashers), and watching/memorizing/reciting cartoons such as Clifford, Charlie and Lola, and Curious George. He is in my Let’s Play Music class this year and has been doing great even though he is technically too young for the program.
What a sweet and thoughtful brother!

On his birthday. He wanted a tool cake. This was the best I could do.

First day of Red Balloons for Let's Play Music!

In February I was able to attend my first training for the program I would teach in the fall. It is called Let's Play Music.  It was exciting to get my first taste of what teaching would entail.

Vivian is now 1 ½ years old. She is probably my most independent child yet, and she has a knack of getting into anything. Though she is our smallest child, she does not lack for bravery, curiosity, or ingenuity, and sometimes those all combine for the perfect storm of mess, broken things, etc. She can get into just about anything low or high (she makes great use of stools, chairs, piano, and countertops, to reach what she wants) and makes great use of her facial expressions when she gets in trouble. She loves to dance, climb, read with mom/dad and dismantle my purse.

This sad face! 

She sure loves her daddy.

Basically...nothing is safe in my house.

While we were renting in Cedar Hills we were building a house in Pleasant Grove.  We visited about once a week and it was fun to see how much (or little) progress was made in that time. Here are a few photos along the way.

There are tons of rocks in our yard. It's going to be super fun to landscape...

We closed in May and I had about a week to paint as much of the interior as I could before we moved in. I was able to finish the piano room, two bedrooms, and a living room wall. After moving in I painted the master bedroom as well.  It was so nice to know that we shouldn't have to move again in a very, very long time. We've moved a lot in the last few years. Our 3 year old has lived in 4 houses and our not yet 2 year old has lived in 3 houses!

Moving kind of threw me for a loop. I felt so disorganized, alone, frustrated, and excited all at the same time. It took me a few months, but once most of the boxes were unpacked, it started feeling real and like home. In June I was able to go to a corporate symposium in San Diego for Let's Play Music and had an absolute blast. It was a perfect weekend getaway to clear my head of all the stress of moving and summer. It was extra fun because I was able to go with two of my cousins who are also teachers.
At Symposium with my cousins. This is a FUN company if you can't tell!
In June I ran a half marathon down the American Fork Canyon. I signed up for it thinking it would motivate me to run more consistently, but I didn't get the amount of training I needed. Between moving and my LPM symposium, I was grossly under-trained. I rocked the first 8 miles and was set for an amazing PR. Then the sun came up and I was feeling massively too hot and dehydrated despite drinking water, powerade and dumping water on me at every station. By mile 11 I was feeling HORRIBLE. I ended up sitting in a chair at mile 12 at a water station and dumping 4 cups of water on me. Once I felt like I wasn't going to pass out, I got up and finished the last 1.2 miles, 2 minutes slower than my personal record. So even with the obstacles and poor training, I was super close to my best time. Man, to think how it would have gone if I'd trained properly!

End of Part 1

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Testament in Ninety

In January I joined a challenge group to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days. 30 days in I was so inspired by it that I challenged the women in my ward to do the same thing. So I kept going and read another 60 days on the schedule. I ended up reading it through 1.5 times in 90 days and it was awesome. I decided my next scripture reading goal would be to read the New Testament in ninety days. A few ladies from that first challenge are joining me as well. It has been great so far. Honestly, I have actually been doing a combination of reading and listening, and I have really liked it.

I'd love to give credit to the artist,
but my search has come up empty...
Tonight as I was listening I thought of something I've never considered before. When Peter started to falter after getting out of the boat and walking on water, Christ told him it was because he was of little faith. Now, Peter was the chief Apostle. In my mind he had a heck of a lot of faith if he was willing to get out and even TRY to walk on the water. But here is what I'd never considered: Peter had total faith in Christ's power to save. He called out for Christ to save him. Where his faith wavered was his faith in himself. Or I guess in His ability to be made powerful through Christ. It happens again when the leper was not healed by the apostles and then Christ heals him. Their problem was that they didn't believe that they could be endowed with the same power that Christ possessed. They were learning what sort of faith was to be required of them when Christ was no longer physically with them to perform the miracles. Do you believe that the Lord can work miracles through you? Through the priesthood? 

I definitely have a testimony that Priesthood power is real and that when exercised and called upon by righteous men and women of faith, that miracles can happen. On our end we must "be clean" so that we may indeed "bear the vessel of the Lord".  We must "Cleanse [ourselves] from what is dishonorable, [that we] will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." 2 Tim 2:21.  our vessel, our bodies, are temples that house the Spirit of the Lord. When we are clean, the Spirit can remain with us, guide us, and empower us that we may do more with His help and aid than we could possibly do on our own. 

The other thing I noticed tonight was how a few times it specifically said that Christ didn't do many mighty miracles because of the lack of faith in certain places. They doubted Him and because of that doubt they were not blessed with the same miracles that others witnessed and received.

"Faith in God is more than a theoretical belief in Him.  To have faith in God is to trust Him, to have confidence in Him, and to be willing to act on your belief in Him.  It is a principle of action and power." Mormon.org

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

All things new

I've recently been going through old blog posts trying to put together a baby book for Edward, but sadly I find my posts all but stopped when we made our move from our first Texas house to our second when he was only 6 months old. Three kids, a move, tons of piano students, etc. did me in. I am sad for this. Another move and another kid later and it hasn't much improved.

But here it is, my birthday, and it was a great day. I met my sisters Julie and Amanda at a near by park with all of our kids (even the teenagers came since they needed to go clothes shopping afterward!). We had lunch, let the kids play, and it was beautiful weather. I was worried because just an hour earlier it had been pretty cold and really overcast, but the sun peeked out and it was great.  I started potty training Edward (3) on Sunday, and I was quite worried about him having an accident at the park. But he went 3 times without telling me, for me to discover him walking out of the bathroom (our picnic bench was right by the bathroom) half naked telling me he had gone potty. "Mom! I pooped and I flushed!" Now that was momentous because he'd never even done that at home yet! Great birthday present.

After the park we all caravan-ed over to our new house. That was fun, though I was little worried taking such a big group in during the day. Luckily no one was doing major work at that time. I nearly had a heart attack when my 7 year old, blind nephew tried sliding down the brand new banister with concrete below. And Dean tried to follow. No, no, no, no. The house is looking great. We are set to close May 15, though I bet they could have it done sooner. We just didn't want to have our rent and our house payment overlapping. I am amazed how fast it is moving.

When we got home I let the kids watch some TV while I cleaned up a little, and my friend across the street came over to say happy birthday and she gave me some European chocolate. Yum. =) Our boys had a little play date in the street while we visited. Another neighbor whom I had not yet met came out for a few minutes. I found out that her son is serving a mission in the same exact mission as my parents!! What a freakishly small world I tell you.

Matt got off work a little early to make some Indian food for us. He made chicken Tikka Masala and he also picked up some Mali Kofta and Naan since that's one of my favorites.  He also made the traditional chocolate cake he has made the last 12 years for my birthday. Dean made me a paper airplane and a card, Matt got me some sour candies, I bought myself some new clothes, and my sister Julie bought me a new Temple dress since she knew I'd burned a hole in my other one. oops.

All in all it was fabulous. Life is good. 34 is looking to be a good year for us. Lots in store.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

February Follow Up

Yes, yes, I know I posted my January resolution in February, but I did so mainly so I could follow up on how it's been going.

The first week was amazing. I was so filled with faith and hope that I found amazing strength, peace, and calm.  During moments when my kids were frustrated they pushed me, all the same buttons they normally push, and I was able to find a different way to BE. Not just ACT.  I felt different. I was different. I feel like I was really able to keep that same calm and attitude for 2 more weeks after that.

And then there was this last week. It was hard. My initial resolve started slipping. My period seemed to throw me off balance and hormonally out of whack. And on top of that, Matt was working a ton of overtime last week. I felt like he was on a work trip but sleeping at home. I was tired. Really, really tired. And I had moments of frustration and weakness and I said things in tones I shouldn't have and I could feel the difference. That initial hope and calm was missing.

Thankfully I am feeling a little more revived after church and the scriptures I read today. I've been participating in a challenge issued by one of my friends to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days. I've read it this fast before in college, but it's been a long, long time since I've read a full 30 minutes every day. It has been good for many aspects of my life. Because I started in the middle of the Book of Mormon (where I had currently been reading), I finished it last Sunday and issued the same challenge to the sisters in my current ward. It has been great to hear many people have the same kind of response I had to the challenge. That it has given others the focus and direction they needed, even amid the blaring face of the adversary. 

I think as we have been reading more, though, the adversary has been working harder on me to.  I'm not going to lie, this week was SUPER challenging for me. I felt like I was alone, exhausted, and bogged down and I was glaringly weak still. So, when I read this today, it really resonated with me. "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy? Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul." 2 Neph 4:27-28 I guess it gave me strength to know that even Nephi, the non-complainer, the doer, the faithful, had to occasionally give himself a pep talk to overcome. He had to make the choice from day to day to kick out the enemy of his soul. He goes on to praise the Lord profusely, telling the Lord that he trusts in Him. Even if we're not perfect, as long as we're moving in the right direction we're always making progress. "It matters not if we try and fail and try and fail again. It matters much if we try and fail and fail to try again."

Yesterday I came across a conference talk that helped reignite my resolve to move past this week and start again. It was a talk given in LDS General Conference last April by Donald Hallstrom.  He was speaking to the men during Priesthood session, yet it is applicable to everyone.

"Once any of us conclude -- "that's just the way I am," we give up our ability to change. We might as well raise the white flag, put down our weapons, concede the battle, and just surrender --any prospect of winning is lost. While some of us may think that does not describe us, perhaps every one of us demonstrates by at least one or two bad habits, "That's just the way I am."

Well, we meet in this priesthood meeting because who we are is not who we can become. We meet here tonight in the name of Jesus Christ. We meet with the confidence that His Atonement gives every one of us -- no matter our weaknesses, our frailties, our addictions--the ability to change. We meet with the hope that our future, no matter our history, can be better."

I LOVE that quote.  It reminded me of a lesson I gave in relief society a couple years ago that really struck me with force. I quote it in the picture above. I am a work in progress. I am doing all I can to become better each day. I am not perfect, and occasionally I fall or stumble, but the key is to get back up and keep trying. Keep going. Keep looking up.

A New Year and New Beginning

note: I wrote this at the beginning of the new year and am just now getting around to publishing it,

I am not usually one to make serious, formal New Year's Resolutions. Mainly, I think that if we want to change and make goals, we ought to do it more than once a year. I mean, if I wake up and think, "I have got to change this!" I should just DO it rather than plan on doing it come January 1. However, I as I have been mulling over some of my biggest shortcomings recently, I've decided that sometimes changing something at the core of yourself is hard. It's scary. It's something you have to decide you REALLY want to commit to and do. Otherwise you are just destined to fail. Once again. "I've tried to change, but it's just who I am." No. We can change any personality characteristic if we want to, we just have to want to badly enough to keep trying. To remind ourselves daily the importance of the change. I am also convinced that there are some things we can't change purely on our own, but we have to turn it over to the Lord.

Before I had kids I thought I was a pretty decent human being. I don't think I ever really shouted. I was respectful of others. I was pretty in control. But let me tell you, after having 4 kids really close together, I have a new found understanding of stress, work, anxiety, sadness, anger, joy and exhaustion. In my Patriarchal Blessing it says that I will "learn life's greatest lessons in my home." Right now I am learning that "the natural man is an enemy to God...and will be forever and ever...unless he yields to the enticings of the holy spirit and put off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ." Mosiah 3:19

Sometimes I feel very natural. Very raw. Often times I want to blame my anger, short fuse, shouting, and frustration on others. Usually on my children. But that is a problem. Because if my problems are a result of others' actions, then I have no control over the solution. So I will own my problem and become the solution. This year I want to commit to stop yelling. Even if I am tired. Even if my children are yelling. Even if every button in my system has been pushed. I have wondered over the last few weeks if it is even possible. Can I possibly change this character flaw? This occupational hazard? It is scary. What if I fail? But, oh, what if I succeed.

I am willing to give it up and give it to the Lord. I know I will need His help. Oh yes, I will not be on this journey alone.

change card

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Letter and Pics

Well, I have been an absolutely horrible blogger. I have written more in my hand written journal this year than on my blog.  I also tend to over share on facebook as well, so this gets neglected. I did make up a Christmas Letter and Christmas card. However, I lost a lot of my mail addresses, so I ended up not getting out as many as I normally do.  So here it is:

Merry Christmas!  2014 has been an insane year of change for our family. The biggest life changers were the birth of our 4th child but first daughter, Vivian, and our move to UT after having lived in TX for 8 years. It was amazing how fast both of those events went. From the time we first heard of the job to the time we sold our house and left was about 2.5 months! We worked our tails off to get it ready to sell, and we were blessed to have one family look at it and one offer for our full asking price. It was amazing and I have no doubt it was a blessing from the Lord.. We’re under contract to build a house in Pleasant Grove, and that is scheduled to be finished around May of next year. It is a scary and exciting new adventure.

Vivian joined our family March 15th. She was a week early. Just hours before I had her, I told my mom I didn’t think I’d have her before my due date. I was just lucky we were able to make it to the hospital an hour away. I was telling Matt to run red lights (at 4 am) to get there faster. It was totally amazing my wonderful doctor was on call and walked in to catch my baby a whole 10 min. after we arrived!! She has been such a joy ever since. She is now about 9 months old. She is extremely mobile, crawls, claps, pulls to stand, waves, babbles, has 6 teeth, and loves music. She is trying her hardest to learn to climb the stairs (luckily she hasn’t made it past the first yet!)  and hurdles any other obstacles in her way.

Edward is 2 1/2, though he is currently wearing 4T clothing! He is by far my biggest kid yet. He is a loving big brother and generally a happy kid. He loves tagging along with the big boys when they go exploring, and he is quite a capable hiker! Never complains. He is incredibly good at remembering people's names, and he is a natural at making friends. While I know he is enjoying the activities and family here in UT, he still pines for TX 5 months after moving   Just this morning he said, “We have to go back to Texas. Utah is the worst ever.” It was sad and funny hearing that come out of a 2 year old’s mouth. He misses old friends and especially our playset and sandbox.  He is into trucks, Curious George, playing with friends, and hitching rides on our neighbors’ motorized toys.

he climbed in her mini crib to keep her company

Walter is 5 years old. We were able to celebrate his birthday in Texas the week before we moved. It was a fun send off for us. He started kindergarten this year and Matt works on reading with him every night. He’s made a lot of progress in the last few months. He loves living in UT “because we get to do a lot more fun stuff and it’s prettier”.  He is currently very into exploring the mountain that we live on. He loves hiking and “mining” and collecting stuff from his explorations. He wants to be a blacksmith, scientist, and an engineer when he grows up. He has really picked up an interest in art since starting school. He loves colorful things and has been enjoying watercolor painting.

Dean is 7 and in first grade. He has made some really good friends since moving here and has one “BFF” that he loves hanging out with as much as possible. A few times I’ve gone to pick him up from the bus stop and he wasn’t not there, so I had to drive across town to find he’d walked home with his friend without telling me.  He has an absolutely wonderful teacher, and I actually feel like he’s learning new things in school even though he’s still quite advanced in math and reading. He finished the entire Harry Potter series this year on his own and has started them over again. His favorite thing to do is play the computer and the game that occupies most of his free time is Terraria.

I, Celia, have had a crazy and emotional year. I wrapped up my spring studio piano recital the week before I had Vivian.  I started teaching again when she was 6 weeks old, but not long after that we heard about this job opportunity and our lives shifted dramatically. It was so hard to leave my students - it had been my favorite bunch to teach in 19 years - but we felt it was the right move to go. I sold my piano right before we left and it has been so hard not having one. Hopefully I’ll get a nice, beautiful dream piano when we move into our permanent house next year. Also, I have been accepted to teach Let’s Play Music out of my home next year. I’m excited for that new adventure!  I ran a half marathon at Halloween with a personal best of 1:42. I am currently serving as a ward missionary in our church. I love where we’re living, and I’ve made some great friends here. I love, love, love being near my sisters Julie and Amanda. It is amazing how fun life can be near family. There are times I miss our life and friends in TX and wonder how we're here, but I know the Lord directed us here.

birthday selfie
33 has been quite a year

While Matt wasn’t actively looking for a new job, he was contacted by a headhunter in June about a job opportunity in Provo. After looking into it more we felt good about applying. After he got his offer, it was a tough decision to make since we were settled and comfortable in Texas, but we were excited about the prospect of living closer to both of our families. He’s now working as a software engineer for Qualtrics programming survey software. So far he has been enjoying his job and programming in more relevant and up to date computer languages. They provide a lot of food, and they have a fun, young atmosphere. He works longer hours and has a longer commute, so we don’t see him quite as much, but overall it’s been a good move. He is currently teaching the 7 year olds (Dean’s class) at church.

We were packing the moving van on Matt's b-day, so this is as good as it got. No table or chairs...

Ate the 1920s themed work Christmas party

 We hope everyone is doing well, The Brasfields