Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another Baby is on the Way!

(February 16th, 2016) We're so excited that another sweet baby will be joining our family this September! We go in for our first prenatal appointment this Monday, and we can hardly wait to hear the baby's heartbeat and finally see them on the ultrasound! We should find out then when we'll be able to learn if they are a boy or a girl too. :) Grace and Bethany are so excited to be having another sibling and love seeing "pictures" of the baby and touching my tummy. They have also already decided what they want (Bethany, a brother, Grace, a sister, and both of them, triplets ;)).
And since it was so much fun to take weekly pictures to see my belly grow during my pregnancy with Kaylee and Cambree, I'd like to do that again with this baby too.

7 weeks:

8 weeks:
 
9 weeks (and so excited to see and hear our baby for the first time on ultrasound this week!)
 
10 weeks:

11 Weeks (and excited to see our baby again and hopefully find out the gender!):

 12 Weeks
 
13 Weeks
 
14 weeks (2nd Trimester!)

15 weeks


16 weeks
 
17 weeks

Thursday, March 31, 2016

30 Day Challenge: Day 25

Question: What should I teach about in my lesson for singing time this week?

Answer: Alma 37:36-41

My Interpretation:
Verse 36-37: Interestingly talks about "let(ting) all thy doing be unto the Lord" and "counsel(ing) with the Lord in all they doings, and He will direct thee for good." (It was like a confirmation from Heavenly Father, that it was good for me to be seeking His will in this, as I strive to do each week for my lesson).
Verse 38: Speaks of the Liahona, or compass, that God prepared for Lehi and His family.
Verse 39: Says that the Liahona was "prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness."  At first I was like "Liahona?" Then I thought "What is OUR Liahona today?" And I realized it was the scriptures. Like with the Liahona, the scriptures have been prepared by Heavenly Father as a guide for us, so that we will be able to travel the path of life safely back home to Heavenly Father. As I pondered, the words of the song "The Iron Rod" came to my mind "the iron rod is the word of God (scriptures), will safely guide us thru."
Verse 40: Speaks of how the Liahona worked according to Lehi's family's faith in God. If they had faith that it would point them in the right direction (to the promised land), and diligently heeded it, they were guided aright.
This made me think about our reading in Book of Mormon Stories yesterday from Alma 32, which teaches that if we have the desire to believe the scriptures, and plant even just a seed of faith in our hearts, then experiment on the scriptures teachings, we will come to know that they are true, for they will lead to good works, feelings of joy and peace, and bring us closer to God.
It also made me think about the story we read from The Friend yesterday that talked about how we gain a testimony (or help that seed of faith grow into a tree).
After reading the scriptures, I turned to read the sharing time lesson for this week, and these words stood out to me: "tell the children that we can find Heavenly Father's plan for us in the scriptures."
So, I felt like I should make that my theme: that we can find Heavenly Father's plan for us in the scriptures. That to go with that, I should read the story from the friend, and talk about how the scriptures are our modern day Liahona, and discuss the things that the scriptures teach us about Heavenly Father's plan (those things we must do while on our mortal path).

Question #2: The other question that had been on my mind last night and this morning was "How can I forgive myself for my mistakes?" (as inspired by Tia's thoughts from her Daily Question #20 and the inspiration I was reminded of yesterday for how I can overcome my depression and be happy: (1) forgive myself (and not look back at past mistakes), (2) recognize my blessings, (3) trust in Christ and His Atoning power and grace, (4) remember that I am loved perfectly and have inherent divine worth).
Answer: This morning, as I was reading Book of Mormon stories to the kids, I read about how "Alma had suffered because of his guilt. Then he remembered his father's teachings about Jesus and he knew his sins could be forgiven. Alma prayed for forgiveness, and joy replaced the pain of his soul. He was forgiven because he had faith in Jesus Christ and had repented. Since then Alma has taught others the gospel so they could feel the same joy he had felt. God had blessed Alma because of his trust in God."
Then I read to the kids from the Friend about how Enos had prayed about what was worrying him (including for forgiveness, etc.).
As I read these stories, I realized that I haven't been fully trusting in God's ability and desire to forgive me. And that I need to have faith that he truly has forgiven me as I have repented of my mistakes, to trust in His unconditional love (that I am loved no matter what I do), and to allow His cleansing peace to wash away my guilt.

30 Day Challenge: Day 19 part 2

After I finished reflecting on my 30 day challenge question this morning, I turned and began reading for my daily scripture study. The first scripture that popped up in my LDS app was my ponderize scripture for the week. Normally I save my ponderize scripture for last, as a inspiring end note to my scripture study, but for some reason I felt that I should read it first today. Afterward I realized why.
My ponderize scripture this week is Alma 58:10-11, which says : "Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that He would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people. Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that He would deliver us; yea, insomuch that He did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in Him."
I was struck as I read it that this ponderize scripture was an answer to my fervent prayer from the last two days that while I am pregnant, I will still be able to have the strength to fulfill my responsibilities, both at work and especially at home, to properly take care of my family. These scriptures then were like Heavenly Father's words of peace, comfort, and assurance that I WILL be delivered, or strengthened physically to continue to teach zumba and be an effective and loving mother, and that I can have faith and hope in this (as the end of verse 11 promises). What a tender mercy of answered prayer and comfort! I have been SO worried that I would need to take it very easy physically, and that I wouldn't be able to teach zumba (as I had received answer to prayer a few months ago that I should continue to do), or exercise (which I would love to be able to do for my current mental and physical health and for post-partum healing), or lift my children during pregnancy (and thus not be able to fulfill my responsibilities or care for my children the way I want and need to). But now I know that I can have comfort in His promise of health and strength. This had been another question on my heart this morning, and Heavenly Father was so good to answer it as well.
I realized after this that if I had left my ponderize scripture for last as I had planned, I probably wouldn't have paid close enough attention to be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit. I felt so grateful to Heavenly Father for answering both my specific daily question but also my "unofficial" prayers.
And my spiritual experience didn't end there! I then turned to 3 Nephi 14:7-8, which speaks of asking and seeking and consequently receiving and finding answers to our prayers. It struck me as I read these verses that this has truly been my experience this month as I have asked my 30 Day Challenge questions both officially in prayer and in my heart--that I have asked for answers and guidance and that I have in turn found and been given them.
Then in verses 9-11 it speaks of what a loving Heavenly Father we have. I had felt after receiving my answer to my second question this morning that God was so good--too good--to answer even my unspoken prayers, and here I was taught that of course Heavenly Father desires to answer our prayers and to bless us! He is our FATHER, and like any good parent, he desires to "give good things to those that ask Him (His children), and even more so because He is a perfect parent and perfectly loving. It was such a beautiful realization. And it made me think that we so often live below our privileges as God's children--that there is SO MUCH more that God is anxious and willing to bless us with if we will just seek to do His will and ASK.

30 Day Challenge: Day 19

Last night, I went to a friend's birthday party. I got back from it late, and Travis had already gone to bed, but he left me the sweetest note on the kitchen table, telling me that I make our house a home. I decided to make that my question for the day:
Question: How can I better make our house a home?
Answer: Ether 6:17, 30 and Ch.7: heading and verse 1

My interpretation:
I opened to the page and the first line I read was from the Ch. 7 heading which said: "reigns in righteousness." Then I read a little further and in verse one it says "execute judgment upon the land in righteousness" Then I looked over and saw that v.17 of Ch. 6 was highlighted, which says to "walk humbly before the Lord (footnote: walk with God)" and tells how the people were "taught from on high." Then in verse 30 (looking at just above where I had first felt prompted to read), it again speaks of walking humbly before the Lord and remembering what great things God had done for them. And in the footnotes for verse 17, it says "divine guidance, revelation", like a confirmation from God saying "What you have been reading is your revelation for this question", which was really cool. After pondering about these verses some more, I decided that:
*righteousness/walking with God = keeping the commandments and submitting to God's will.
*remembering = recognizing our blessings with gratitude (including noticing how God is blessing us and showing us His love through the kindness and service of others), and allowing the memory of them to build our faith in God and His love.
*righteous judgment = judge/discipline as a parent righteously, fairly, and calmly (including setting and enforcing boundaries with love and empathy)
*taught from on high = live worthy of and heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Also read the scriptures as a family more reverently.
*reign in righteousness = be a righteous example. Also be considerate of my family members needs and desires and give them choices (share the control and decision making).
*D&C 108:7--"Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings." (Be uplifting in all these ways--in my conversations with my family members, in my prayers with and for them, in my teaching, and in my actions/example.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hoppy Easter 2016

This year we decided to do our "fun" Easter traditions on the Saturday before Easter so we could reserve Sunday to focus on the true meaning of Easter, so the kids woke up Saturday morning to find these Easter baskets waiting for them from the Easter Bunny. 
 

They were so excited! (Here Bethany is hugging her Ariel socks and exclaiming "It's just what I always wanted!" lol)


On Sunday morning, we made our traditional Resurrection rolls. I love this tradition, and the opportunity it gives us each year to teach our kids the story of the first Easter and to focus on Christ.



All of us girls in our pink Easter dresses, ready to worship at Church:

After Church, we had a scrumptious Easter dinner of vegan eggplant parmesan (which was divine!), pasta, salad with peach dressing, croissants, homemade pesto parmesan bread, and apple cider. It was a wonderful Easter feast!
 

 
 After dinner, we went on a walk around the neighborhood, enjoying the perfect Easter weather. Then we had an egg hunt (since we hadn't gotten to it on Saturday):

It was Kaylee and Cambree's first real egg hunt, and it was fun to help them learn the ropes.

Kaylee:
 

Bethany:

 
 Grace:

Cambree:


It was a wonderful Easter. I marvel at my Heavenly Father and my Savior's great love for me and all mankind. And I feel so grateful to our Savior for His Atoning sacrifice, death, and Resurrection, and to our Heavenly Father for sacrificing His Son. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that they live, and that my family and I will one day also.
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Grammy and Poppy's Visit 2016

We were so glad that Dave and Anita could come out this spring for one last vacation with us in Youngstown!
We picked them up last Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland, then came back to Youngstown, where they treated us to a yummy dinner at The Phoenix, a restaurant that we had been wanting to try (and that had a delicious filet and mushroom appetizer and zucchini parmesan).
We spent the rest of the evening playing with the kids, then watching Parental Guidance and talking after the kids went to bed.
 
On Thursday, we had a yummy breakfast of cinnamon roll pancakes, then headed to the Valley (Amish) Marketplace to explore and pick up our favorite treats (caramel apple and sprinkle donuts, apple fritters, caramel pecan rolls, and dutch oven pizza). 
After the Marketplace, we went to Boardman park and had lots of fun playing in the sunshine with some new friends.
After the park, we came home and had lunch and rest time, then started the project that Grace and Bethany had been anxiously waiting for: painting a tea set that Dave and Anita had brought for the girls' Easter gift. Grace, Bethany, Grammy, and Poppy and I had a great time painting the set (which we baked later that night so we could play with it the next day). 
 



After painting, Dave and Anita and the girls played outside, then we had a scrumptious Italian dinner with my parents (fettucini alfredo with parmesan pesto bread and bruschetta salad for dinner). After our dinner, we played some more inside, then sat around and talked after the kids went to bed.
 
On Friday, we went to our other favorite marketplace, White House Fruit Farms, and picked up our favorite cake donuts, apple cider, apples, and other local goodies. After the farm, we played at the Canfield library, then came home for lunch and rest.
After rest, we had our tea party! I suggested that the girls dress up for the tea party, and these were the outfits they came up with. I thought they looked so fancy and adorable! They helped me come up with our menu, which I prepared as they finished their rest: croissants, crackers and cheese, orange slices, raspberries, and donuts. (Don't worry--we shared with Trav and Poppy too. :)) It was such a fun and tasty little party!




 
After our tea party, we went to the historic Canfield Village and explored, then came home and made some yummy alfredo, BBQ, and pesto pizza for dinner. I love our tradition of having a pizza party whenever we're together!
After dinner, we introduced Dave and Anita to the local favorite ice cream shop--Handel's--then came home and put the kids to bed.
My parents joined us after the kids went down for snacks and a rousing round of Scrabble (which Trav and I won. :) ).

On Saturday morning, we finished off our donuts for breakfast, then went to the cemetery in Columbiana where Dave's great great grandpa and grandma, Isaiah and Hannah Holloway, were buried. It was neat to wander the cemetery and find their grave stone (Grace was excited to spot it first!), as well as lots of other Holloways that we hope are related! Travis has been really interested in family history lately, and it was neat to find that a piece of our family history was right here in Ohio!



After the cemetery, we visited another Amish Marketplace (Das Dutch Village in Columbiana), and explored their furniture and country d├ęcor shop, bookstore, and market.

After the market, we came home and visited for a bit, then headed back to Cleveland, where we had a delicious early dinner at Red Robin (to redeem Travis' free birthday burger).
After dropping Dave and Anita off a the airport, we did some nostalgic sight seeing in Cleveland, driving by our old houses, mall, library, and playing at our old playground.



We had such a wonderful whirlwind visit with them and look forward to seeing them again at our family reunion this summer!

Terrific Travis' Birthday

Travis' 31st birthday fell on a Sunday this year, but we still packed it with lots of fun! For breakfast, we had our favorite vegan cinnamon rolls with cashew frosting...yum!
 
After church, we had a birthday dinner of vegan lentil and eggplant manicotti with garlic bread and salad, and a delicious vegan chocolate mousse cake for dessert. Travis has amazing taste! Everything we made for his birthday tasted delicious! 
 
 
 
 
 
After dinner Grace and Bethany did "heavy heavy hangs" with him for all his presents...
 
 
 
...and helped him open them too :)

A new blue tooth speaker, superman shirt, football blanket, and a lodge skillet/dutch oven set for our favorite guy.

 
 I think the dutch oven set is everyone's favorite present of his since he has already made three yummy artisan breads for us in it! It's like the gift that keeps on giving. ;)
 

 
 Happy happy birthday my love! We are so blessed to have you as our husband and father, and are so grateful for who you are and all you do for us! We love you!