Trying to Be Quiet at Church

Two separate Sundays.  Two separate methods to try to keep these girls quiet.  Forget about helping them feel the Spirit or understand what is being said.  Just hoping to keep them quiet enough to not distract those sitting two rows in front, behind, or to the side of us.

I’m sorry for the ones who sit just one row in front of us.  Or behind us. Or to the side.  Y’all get to enjoy the show Sunday after Sunday.

This is five minutes into the meeting and Daddy has miraculously wrangled both little tyrants onto his lap to color pictures in a teeny tiny notebook.  Sacrament meeting went swimmingly that day, for fifteen minutes.  Too bad the meeting lasts for one hour fifteen minutes.

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Next day in question, we brought toy tractors on a complete whim from me as I was hurriedly throwing toys in the diaper bag, since our regular fare of books, lacing cards, snacks, pens, and coloring books was not working out.

And these happy faces made it all through the first half hour of sacrament meeting.

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What am I going to have throw in the bag to make it all the way through the 75 minutes of quietude required?!

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Bath-time Happy-Time

Becca and I had a few moments alone a few weeks ago while Henley was out working with Ty and the little miss had the chance to take a bath all by herself.  She loved the water as always and was excited to look at the darling baby in the mirror afterwards.

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My beautiful girl is all grown up now, a big, bad one year old.  Pictures of her birthday party to come soon!

Diversity

The following is my final paper written for my Diversity 598 class required for my masters program.  Excuse the formal tone and academic citations, this is a blog after all, but I hope you’ll enjoy this memory of a very precious and intriguing experience I was able to have.

The assignment was to experience a person or culture which is different from my own, to really step outside my comfort zone and become more familiar with diversity in action.  After the experience, I was assigned to write a paper describing the event and relating it back to the content studied throughout the course.

I chose to attend a Friday service or Jumu’ah at the Islamic Center of Boise and interview one of the female members of the congregation for this assignment.  Initially, I considered attending a Catholic church in my small town which offers meetings in Spanish, as I do not speak Spanish fluently, but I was already familiar with the Catholic faith and the congregation and really wanted to step outside my level of comfort for this assignment.  Having been raised in small-town, rural, United States, I had never met and rarely seen any Muslims in person.  I was thrilled to be able to attend the Friday meeting held on June 8, 2018.

Prior to attending services, I was extremely nervous concerning what I should wear and how I should move through the building and church meeting.  I contacted the center via email and was referred to one of the older female members named Dalia.  Dalia instructed me to wear modest clothing and to bring a head scarf for the meeting.  She invited me to come a little early to the meeting, to stay afterwards to discuss beliefs with her, and to participate in the evening meal to break the fast as my visit fell on the second to last day of Ramadan.  I invited my sister to attend with me, and we had several conversations and internet-searches between us as to what was appropriate to wear and do during a Muslim church service.  We were both very afraid of offending the members and of doing something inappropriate out of ignorance.

Once we had our head scarfs properly situated, we entered the center after removing our shoes and were greeted by Tyler (he has chosen to use an Americanized name) who is a refugee from Africa (he did not specify which country).  He shook our hands, a gesture I waited for him to initiate thanks to the work from Al-Mutawah (2016) and introduced us to Dalia.  Dalia led us into a room separate from the men and found us seats near the back so we could view all the proceedings.  She provided us a brief outline of the service and left us to pray and socialize with the other women.  We viewed the imam leading the prayers and giving the sermon on a large television screen.

There was a mixture of African and Middle Eastern women and several adorable babies participating in the service.  The African women, as explained later by Dalia, were primarily refugees from various countries and cultures.  As Mutua (2016) explains, I as a member of the host community held pre-conceived ideas of refugees as desperate, impoverished, and potentially harmful.  What I actually encountered were mothers, much like myself, who struggled to keep their small children content and quiet during worship services. The small children drew shapes in the carpet when they were bored of the sermon.  Much of the sermon was difficult to understand as well as all the prayers as so much of the language used is Arabic.  We were unsure of what to do during the prayers and chose to stand with the congregation once then remain seated for the duration.

Afterwards Dalia, my sister, and I discussed what we had experienced and Dalia answered questions regarding her faith as well as her culture.  She shared with us the story of Muhammed as well as of Abraham and Ishmael from the Islamic perspective.  We discussed the dress and health code, religious obligations, family dynamics, contraception, education, prejudice and politics.  I have a follow-up appointment with Dalia to discuss more questions which came up after I had left the center, we will be talking on the phone on June 26, 2018.

This experience was completely new, intimidating, exciting, and eye-opening for me.  I understand on a deeper level why Delgado and Stefancic (2001) as well as Chin and Rudelius-Palmer (2010) focus on storytelling and actually experiencing diverse peoples and cultures as the only true way to practice inclusion.  I understand the Muslim religion and culture far better than I did before this experience, and have the beginnings of a friendship with Dalia.  I will admit that I was nervous and fearful about attending a Muslim service.  I was concerned I would be offensive in some way or seen as an ignorant and materialistic westerner.  My pre-conceived biases stemmed from nothing other than snippets and pieces of news headlines that mainly centered on terrorism and Muslim extremism.  I was so unfamiliar with Islam that I was a little fearful to attend the Jumu’ah. What I encountered in the Islamic Center of Boise and in the individual Dalia was completely different from anything I had learned through headline news.  The story of Dalia and her culture have indeed brought understanding between two cultures: mine and hers (Chin & Rudelius-Palmer, 2010).

I plan to join the Muslim community and my new friend Dalia for a day of Ramadan next year and also plan to attend the Jewish Synagogue in Boise; the comparison of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is just too tempting to resist.  Kahil (2016) states that “The more people travel, establish diverse friendships, and experience the richness of each other’s cultures, the less likely they are to bomb them (p. 338).”  Not that I have ever wanted to bomb anyone, but I have found that the more diversity I experience, the more diversity I want to experience, which is how I interpret Kahil’s (2016) words.

This experience with Islam and Muslim people has forever change me and the way that I view the world.  There is a vast religion and belief system which I know little about and want to know more.  I realize now how lacking my understanding of politics and history is on this subject, and I cannot afford to simply rely on news headlines—highlighting conflict and terrorism—to shape my view of such a large portion of the world.

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I did, in fact, have a follow-up call with Dalia on June 26 and was able to explore and learn even more about Islam.  Dalia is one of the most gracious women I have ever met and was so kind to answer all of my questions, including those which must have seemed very naive.  Diversity 598 has been the most difficult class thus far in my masters program, as it challenged me to analyze and question every belief or world view I possess and compare it with other’s perspectives and experiences.  This class changed my outlook and helped me to see there is such a vast richness of culture to be experienced and appreciated, even in my small community.  I loved this class and look forward to exploring and learning more about other cultures, faiths, and belief-systems in years to come.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

We love to be outside.  Absolutely love it.  The one weather phenomenon that constantly foils our ability to be outdoors is the wind.  The wind is so hard to dress against and find enjoyment in.  But sometimes, just sometimes, we find ways to enjoy even the wind.

Like a few weeks ago when we went to Grandma’s and flew kites!  Remember the part in Mary Poppins when the children are trying to explain to their father that the kite got away and they were simply trying to get it back home but got lost in the park and that was why they ran away?  My wispy daughter Henley almost was carried away with the kite.  It’s so fun to see the wonder and amazement on her face as she experiences so many things for the first time.  Miss Becca was far more impressed with the barking dogs than the kites flying.  To each her own!

Library Trips

One of our very favorite activities is attending our small town library’s storytime.  Henley and I have been going to storytime since she was 13 months old.  We’ve become one of the regular “mommy and me” couples, and have passed the bring-your-toddler-to-storytime-or-pull-your-eyelashes-out-with-needle-nose-pliers-since-it’s-basically-the-same-amount-of-torture test.  As you can see below, Henley has learned to sit nicely by her friends and actually listen to the story.

She can also check out our books all by herself.  She pushes the heavy book bag over the counter, scoots a chair over, and hangs over counter to chat with the librarian as she scans the books.  It almost makes me a little sad to see how grown up my first-born is; then I am dragged back to reality by my second-born who is now capable and oh so willing to pull every single book off the shelves and drool on each one.  Each stage is fun, and I tend towards looking forward to each new one and the progress of the child rather than bemoan the fact that they can’t stay little forever.  Sure the little stage is fun and sweet and cute and doesn’t last forever, but the getting older (hahahaha as if three years old is “older”) stages are fun too.  And they open up a whole world of possibilities.  Like passing the torch of checking out the library books.  With each passing day, Henley is taking over more and more tasks for me.  Pretty soon I’ll be able to lay in bed all day, reading and napping while she runs the household…

 

 

Not likely, but it is nice to daydream about sleeping (haha).

Family Pictures

We took family pictures right before driving over to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a very foggy morning, cold, and clammy, but I think our photos turned out very well.  I am so in love with this family of mine.

Here is my big “number three helper.”  I tell her every day that she is my number one helper and she quickly corrects me, “I’m three!  I’m your number three helper!”  She is such a joy and challenge to have in my life.

Can I take a moment and give a shout out to her amazing, curly hair!  It is so beautiful, wild, and fun, just like her whole being.

Here is our best attempt at a family picture.  Babies and cameras have a love/hate relationship.

Me and Mr. Rancher.  I love this guy.  He makes my whole life better, busy, and beautiful.

Heehee.  If this isn’t the best picture EVER to describe my two girls, then I don’t know what is.  Becca is less than impressed with the camera-toting-mama trying to get her to smile.  Henley is a little ham as always.

Ah, there it is!  The most two most beautiful girls!

On to our little squirt.  This girl has been such a fun, challenging, and sweet baby to have in our home.  I smile as I write this, thinking back to the days when she couldn’t move from the location she was placed…oh the ease of caring for a baby that can’t crawl into mischief!

Me and my girls.  I’m the luckiest wifey/mama on the planet.  Even amidst the day-to-day struggles that come from this wonderful existence here on earth, there is so much joy and beauty in my life.  Though I tend towards despair and stress over the little things, when I step back and really take a good look at my life, I realize that I am so very blessed.

I came across a very refreshing and reassuring scripture yesterday, during one of my frequent “freak-out” moments, I would like to share it with you:

“And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.  And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.” 1 Nephi 17:3

Oh how true this rings in my life.  I often feel like this journey to building a ranch from the ground up is a “sojourn in the wilderness.”  But when I really look at the journey, I can see that the Lord has indeed nourished, strengthened, and provided means for me personally, for my marriage, for Mr. Rancher, and for my family.  I’ve made a pact with myself and my hubby to make gratitude more of a conscious effort each day.  I would encourage each of you to do the same, the benefits are so worth it!

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Christmas Letter 2017

I just found this little gem in my drafts box……So here is our 2017 Christmas letter….brought to you at the timely time of March 7.  I chuckled reading through this again, some of the facts have changed already!  For example, Henley is back to taking daily naps, Becca now weighs 20 lbs, and Becca can now crawl anywhere and everywhere!

I was inspired by my older sister who posted both her Christmas card and family letter to Facebook this year, due to the craziness and busyness of the season.  I’ve never done Christmas card or letters but decided to give it a whirl on my blogging platform.  Thanks for reading!

Ty rang in the New Year with load after load of hay hauled from Weiser to Fruitland, Idaho.  Thanks to the many feet of snow we were cursed blessed with last year each time he drove into a stack yard he had to put chains on the semi to avoid getting stuck.  Putting chains on and taking them off several times a day in -14 degree weather is something he hopes to never do again.  Once Ty made it through the freezing winter weather, he acquired two new farms which brought our farming operation to nearly 1,200 acres in size.  Add to that 150 cows and a 500 acre custom operation and you can begin to glimpse just how busy Ty has been this year.  He is leasing a brand new John Deere tractor and is in love with all the features and luxuries it offers. He continues to enjoy farming, ranching, and everything that comes with it.  He is excited for 2018 and the chance to improve and expand the farm/ranch even more.  He also enjoys cooking anything over an open fire or on a wood stove and is the designated steak- master.  He loves teasing his three girls and taking us on adventures.

I started working on a Master’s degree from Arizona State University in Family and Human Development in January.  I have enjoyed and detested the program at varying times throughout the year.  Homework during the summer is a real buzz kill.  Henley and I spent the first six-and-a-half months of the year preparing for a new baby and soaking up plenty of mommy-and-me time as well.  I bought a paddle board this year and am excited for summer 2018 when I can use it without a pregnant belly.  I have tried to dedicate as much free time as possible to reading this year; some of my favorite books from my 2017 reading include: Hillbilly Elegy, Caddie Woodlawn, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Trumpet of the Swan.  I love taking a walk every Sunday morning, completely by myself and spending the rest of my week with my family.  I have tried to integrate more service into my daily routine with the girls and love seeing Henley become more aware of the needs around us.

Henley is the same as ever, full of energy!  She is quite the helper, teaser, boss-er, and question-er.  She is beginning to write her letters and string them together to form words.  She loves to read to her dollies and to listen to books I read aloud.  She absolutely adores her baby sister and tells us daily that “Becca is fabulous!”  Henley turned three on November 28 and is determined to act older now.  She no longer naps and is learning to ride her new bike with actual pedals.  She has quite the imagination and loves telling us stories with made-up characters.  She also loves to swing and would spend all day every day on our new swingset if possible.  She continues to hate wearing pants and can often be found outside in a shirt, undies, and mud boots just talking to the guys.  She loves helping me in the kitchen and is perfecting the art of cracking eggs.  We love her precocious and vivacious spirit and pray daily for the strength to parent her.

Becca was born on July 17, 2017.  She has been such a joy to have in our family.  Her birth was smooth and uncomplicated, for which we are very grateful.  We still can’t believe she just had to be born in the very middle of the summer in the very middle of our 5-times expansion of the farm, but are grateful she made it here and is happy and healthy.  She is a big girl, weighing in at nearly 17 lbs and 27 in tall.  She thinks her big sister Henley is hilarious and will smile or laugh at everything Henley does.  Becca is a water baby and demands a bath every night.  She loves her daddy and is always excited when he comes home.  She is a great sleeper…except when she is sick.  She can roll over in both directions and uses her feet to scoot herself.  She sits up in her high chair and is trying very hard to like food.  She loves to nurse and absolutely refuses to take a bottle.  She also loves to blow raspberries.  We are so grateful for the sweet and happy spirit she is in our home.

As 2017 draws to a close we are filled with gratitude for the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Throughout this difficult and demanding year, we have seen His hand in our lives and felt of His love for us.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May you all be blessed and watched over as we have been.