Sunday, March 26, 2017

Making a Case for Easter: Favorite Holiday Status

When you ask the question, "what's your favorite holiday?" How often do you hear Easter?

Honestly though. It's never up there.  Christmas usually wins, Halloween makes a surprising showing (surprising to me anyway, since I'm NOT a Halloween person) even Thanksgiving has a following, but Easter? *crickets*
It's not too surprising really. There's less candy than Halloween, fewer presents than Christmas, a lot of girly pink and pastels, new clothes (booooring), and a bunny that leaves a bunch of plastic eggs.  Bunnies don't even lay what's the deal with that one anyway?

(I just got curious and looked it up and apparently the German immigrants to America brought with them an Easter tradition of an egg-laying rabbit called Osterhase. There you go.)

If I lay out the meaning or true spirit of each holiday we celebrate, there are some pretty special reasons.  The birth of the Savior, patriotism, gratitude, love, family history, freedom, new beginnings, parents, and divination/haunting (oh wait...yup still don't love that one.) If we take away all the traditions and emotional connections we've developed to certain holidays and are left with just the purpose of the celebration, Easter wins the day by a long shot.  The celebration of our risen Savior, the new life we are given through Him, The most important event in all history upon which every truth is built. Pretty important.  Almost intimidatingly so.

Now if I were Satan (there's a weird way to start a sentence) I would probably want as little attention on this holiday as possible.  I'd even be okay with Christmas in comparison.  How much less important was the Saviors birth in comparison to his Atonement and Resurrection?

As Austin and I grow this little family of ours we take each family tradition, hold it an arms length away, and study it.  What purpose is it serving? Does it bring us to Christ? Does it teach something true? Some traditions have fallen away and others have been given new life.  With the precious little time we have on earth and the even shorter time we have to teach our children, the things we spend money, time and energy on will make a big difference.

We very quickly determined that Easter needed a bit more time and energy (and maybe even money) to make it big, emotional, and memorable.  My kids won't be forced to like Easter best of all, but you can be sure it will be in the running.

I took some time to ponder, how do I go about making a holiday special? Why do I love Christmas so much?

Christmas has a certain amount of anticipation involved.  We start talking about it at least an entire month before it arrives.  There are sights, smells, colors, sounds, and tastes that we associate with that time of year.  Every one of our senses is treated to something so unique that eating a gingerbread cookie or seeing a Christmas tree in July seems out of place.  There are traditions of service, giving, family time, story telling, decorating, and eating that give the whole experience beauty even if you have no idea what the holiday is really about.

For my part, I'm on a mission to create meaningful sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and colors for Easter.  Maybe that means a little less pink and a little less fluffy bunny.

I want to start talking about it sooner, decorate for it in a bigger way, collect Easter songs (fun ones and reverent ones,) maybe we will make a resurrection garden, have a Passover meal, make matching jammies, deliver cookies, establish "Easter colors." The possibilities are endless.

What have you done in your families to make Easter special?  Impart your wisdom friends!

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I wish there was a font that made every word in this post read in a contented sigh.

I'm a happy mom.  

James and I have completed "how to play with toys not mom and dad's stuff" boot camp.  He is still James, but has rediscovered his legos, 'struction site trucks, and fort building instead of take apart the house, destroy, and waste. 

Most noticeably different, however, is my attitude.  I've rediscovered self care in a way that is changing my attitude toward motherhood.  Not just physical care, but mental, spiritual, and emotional care.  For everyone reading this who has seen or talked to me recently, you would be surprised by how much you do for me, just by being my village.  My world of people.  

Thank you.

Other success:

Family mission statements are where it's at!  I had no idea what peace and joy would flood into my mothering as a result.  Instead of closing my eyes and pointing in a direction each day, I have a clear picture of what is important to our family burned in my mind.  The unimportant things fall away and the things that matter to our little Austin and Tikla Fife family are at the forefront.  

This was taken moments after he walked right into the reflection pool

Even good ideas and wholesome things can become overwhelming distractions from the true direction we are headed.  Our goals are messy, authentic, striving.  Best of all they are in phases.  

I good friend shared a quote with me:

"We are human beings, not human doings"  

That rings through my head as I take time to just "be." 

Then there's this powerful affirmation from Jeffery R. Holland, "You are doing God's work. You are doing wonderfully well." 

When I sit next to a pile of deliberately dumped crayons gently insisting over and over, that yes, James, you do need to pick these up, no you don't need help, no your fingers aren't broken, you just went potty, and  you may have a snack after and only after they are picked up and he writhes on the floor while poking the nearest crayon with his pinky inching it slowly toward the bucket.  I can chant in my mind, "I am doing God's work" and suddenly that tedious task, is shown in true colors. I am teaching accountability, work ethic, boundaries, proper care of items, persistence, breaking down a task into manageable steps, obedience, and probably more.  What a meaningful, important way to spend my afternoon.  

I can sing "popcorn popping" and read "hand, hand, fingers, thumb" for the bazillionth time and know that I am doing His work.  The work He would do in our home if He could be here with us physically every day.  

The best part, is when I do these things, with singleness of heart, with purpose, He is here.  

Our little Isaac had a birthday! 

He's two.

 The busy, adorable, once in a lifetime, and yes sometimes terrible, twos.

We deliberately didn't invite any of James' friends to the party since some of the favorite games they play often involve picking on Isaac. (insert stern mom face) It was super fun to get to know the families, of Isaac aged friends, better.

He inherited my enthusiasm for opening surprises.  No matter what was under that wrapping he was giddy about it.

He loved all the attention, "bayoons" and blowing out the candles.  He has been an expert blower for a while now. ;)


I'd say that makes the stuffed animal party a smashing success.

There is comfort and sadness knowing this phase will end.  He is still such a baby for all his big boy-ness and probably will be until his little sister arrives.  I'm holding on to it for as long as possible. 

His plea for "a kiss and a hug," the way kisses fix "owies" instantaneously, the way he says, "uhhhhhh, nope!" or "SURE!"

The way he interrupts conversations with James to carry on his own with as many words as he can remember from James' and then throwing in a few things about birds and trees and bears.  

Today at the park he saw some adorable white fluffy puppies on a walk with their owners and he pointed and begged, "mama! Cuuuuuute, dog, I kiss them??"  That and waving and calling out "hi!" to every neighbor on the walk there.

He is in a sweet spot right now.  His mischief is predictable.  Washing his hands with the whole bottle of soap, suddenly reclining the couch when you least expect it, unloading the knives from the dishwasher, taking off his pants (and diaper), giving his bear a bath in the sink, throwing food, dumping liquids, stealing James' toys, getting out of bed, and sometimes he will wake up from naps on the wrong side of the universe, 

but let me tell you. This boy will go to nursery or be left with a babysitter without a fuss.  He loves people.  I dropped him off to a play group with a huge dog the other day and he gave me a kiss and said "bye mama!" He is a champion snuggler.  

I peaked in the room to find him out of his crib, happily doing an alphabet puzzle. I couldn't even be mad.
 He isn't picky, he loves his brother James, he uses his napkin, wipes up his messes, tells "jokes," sings songs, grabs my face and pulls it inches from mine when he's really getting into a story he's telling, he throws away his own diapers, he is a happy light to our family.

"James take a picture of us being cute drinking this."
 James is difficult to photograph.  I was laughing as I scrolled through pictures because most of them are him in the middle of speaking or busily focused. Now and then I get a good smile, but you know, sometimes he is most happy when he is focused on a project or explaining things to me.

I finally got some paint for the kitchen with a little sheen to it, I was sick of trying to scrub food off matte walls. 
 He and his brother are both clothing adverse.  It's been even harder with all the rain because sometimes we just HAVE to play outside anyway, which means mud, which means baths, with means I have to decide whether to dirty a new outfit, get dinner on their pajamas, or just let them be breezy until bedtime.  Underwear and diapers usually win.

 James has started a hilarious new line of reasoning.  Some background is required. He created some characters a year or so ago for our bedtime adventure stories.  Every night we tell a made up story about Grass the bunny, Deese the Squirrel, Garner the bird, Pickles the puppy, and cleany (or stinky depending on the story) the sock.

This hilarious cast of characters goes on adventures with him in the stories we make up.

So lately, he will involve Grass the bunny as the authority in situations.  "Sorry mom, I can't go to primary class today, Grass the bunny put up a sign that says, No primary today." or "Grass the bunny says, we need to make cookies today because he loves cookies."

Oh and the ever hilarious use of the letter "y" at the end of words to illustrate his mood.  "Mom, I'm feeling very orangey right now. Can I have a clementine?" or "I'm feeling Curious George-y," "reading time-y," "milk-y" etc.

inspecting the mud on his shoes

"Can't go to the library today mom, I've got some work to do." 

"mix mix mix mix"
 Ha, I know I already did an ode to Isaac above, but this picture reminded me that anytime Isaac brings me a pretend food item, he will wait for me to "taste" it and then say, "a sour" meaning, it's sour, so I taste it again with a sour face and he scampers off to make some more.

eating grapefruit.

These are wonderful days.  They won't last forever, but I will never forget them.  This is my glory.