Wednesday, April 15, 2015

If freckles were kisses, he'd have a lot more

 What a happy day today is.  I can't help but love today because it is the day we celebrate Eli's birthday!  I just love this kid so much.  He bring so much joy to our home.  He has the best laughs ever.  He is kind and helpful.  He is a fun big brother and a good little brother.  He loves his brothers and loves Piper.  Eli is a little bit of a tormentor too, he can dish out some teasing to Piper that leaves her in tears.  Eli loves to color and draw.  He draws a new picture every night before bed.  His dresser is covered in papers, markers, crayons, and pencils.  He is quite artistic.  I love to find his artwork slid under my door on my pillow or taped to my mirror.  He also loves to be outside.  He loves to explore the woods behind the house and find big sticks and rocks.  Eli is brave.  His brothers sometimes get worried about things but Eli is the one of the three that lets them know things will be fine with his calm demeanor during scaring situations.  He isn't really a calm kid--if you know Eli you know that he is passionate and has a lot of strong feelings--but for some reason when it comes to being brave, he knows how to stay relaxed and calmly tackle the situation.  Eli has not always loved to read.  He really didn't have a desire to read at all so learning to read has come slowly for him but all the sudden his reading has just taken off.  He is so proud of himself for reading his very first chapter book all by himself!  He even asked his Richards Grandparents if they would buy him some Magic Treehouse books for his birthday!  I love to see his interest in reading finally grow.  Eli is a whiz at Math.  He can fly through his problems with no help from anyone.  Eli is still working on the piano and even though he doesn't love to practice he does it without complaint and is making improvements.

Did I already mention that I love this boy?!  Recently he sat down on the kitchen table bench with a loud sigh and told me he wished he didn't have freckles.  He said, "One day I'm going to be one big huge freckle because they just keep coming and coming.  I'll have nothing left on my face but freckles.  I hate them."  It made me so sad to hear him tell me he was unhappy with his appearance.  I love Eli's freckles.  I told him each freckle was a kiss mark from me.  Every time I kissed him he'd get a new freckle.  I don't think that made him feel better.

My Eli is seven today.  He is growing up.  I hate having my kids grow up.  One day Eli is going to be such a wonderful young man and I'm so excited to see what his future holds.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dogwoods

Knoxville is known for the dogwoods that bloom in the Spring.  The story goes something like this:  A famous reported visited Knoxville many years ago.  When he went home he wrote a scathing article about how ugly Knoxville was.  He reported it to be the ugliest place he had ever seen in his life.  The people of Knoxville were mortified and angry that he would say such horrible things about their city so they had a great big meeting where they discussed plans to beautify Knoxville.  One way they decided to make Knoxville more beautiful was by planting Dogwood trees.  The town is covered in Dogwood trees now and they are so gorgeous.  I had never seen them before we moved here and I had been told how beautiful they were and now that they are in bloom I'm so happy to experience Knoxville's Dogwood trees.  

I mentioned that our Relief Society memorized The Living Christ by Easter.  We decided to celebrate our accomplishment by having a nice dinner for all the Relief Society sisters.  We decided to use dogwoods as our decorations and spent literally hours (8!) cutting out dogwood paper flowers for our decorations.  We decided that we wanted to have pictures from the cards we used to memorize the document on the tables so Mike and I cut out some picture holders with dogwoods etched into the top.  We also gave each woman a booklet with all of the cards in them and a bookmark with a dogwood pendant.  For our dessert we had cupcakes with dogwoods made out of molding chocolate on the top.  It was a beautiful evening.

Planning this meeting has kept dogwoods on my mind!  It was a pleasant surprise to discover that I have three Dogwood trees in my yard and then the woods behind our fence have wild Dogwoods in them as well.  I love it.

Tonight after dinner we loaded the kids in the car and drove the Dogwood trail.  You just turn down a road and follow the arrows to drive along roads lined with Dogwoods.  It was a beautiful drive.  I took my camera and snapped pictures along the way.  Spring in Knoxville makes me very happy.  

Also, I included some pictures of our drive home.  I drive the road where these pictures were taken weekly.  It is a big main road outside of my subdivision.  We have to drive it to get to church each Sunday, the doctors, the grocery store, etc.  It is such a picturesque drive so I snapped a couple of pictures on our way home.    





























Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Living Christ/Easter 2015


Each Easter since Laila died has been bittersweet for me.  I feel a deep gratitude for the truth of the resurrection and the knowledge that we will see Laila again and I feel excited for Laila for the day that she will get to be reunited with her body.  I understand that death is a part of our existence and necessary for our continual growth and path towards exaltation.  I am grateful that the Savior has overcome death, both spiritual and physical.  Easter comes and those truths resonate deeply in my heart but sometimes I feel sadness that I am celebrating a day about the chance to see Laila again when really, I'd just like her to be here now.  So it is a little sorrowful as well as joyful.  Often my heart feels a little heavy on Easter.  

This year our Relief Society made the decision to memorize the sacred document The Living Christ.  I do not memorize things well and I was concerned about being able to actually get it memorized but I decided I'd accept the challenge and put in my best effort.  I have read, re-read, and written each weeks paragraph over and over.  I have written them on my bathroom mirror and on the white board in my living room so I could see them each time I walk by.  I've taken paper and pen and written it over and over while I wait for the boys in the carpool lane at school.  I've randomly recited the paragraphs while washing dishes or made dinner.  I've had the boys pop quiz me.  I've listened to this video a billion times.  I can't listen without getting chocked up.  I do not have it perfectly memorized but I only stumble in a couple of places.  

As I've memorized this document my testimony of the Savior has grown and my feelings for Him and his sacrifice have been so tender.  Last night it was my turn to pray for our couple's prayer at bedtime and I found myself crying as I thanked the Lord for sending His son to the earth.  It has been a blessing for me this year to focus on the living instead of the dying.

My favorite quote from the document is the final testimony that I leave on this Easter Day:

"God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine son!"



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This month we have been busy making and selling Eastertivities.  We have had at least one of them in our home at all times as we've gotten them ready to send off to individuals.  It has been wonderful to watch the kids play with the different pieces and I've loved holding each piece in my hands as I've cleaned them, a regular reminder to me of why we celebrate Easter.  



Piper and I had a little fun with some Easter crafts.  She enjoyed helping me cut out the bunny ears.

Today, Easter, is General Conference so we won't be getting all dressed up to go to church but I wanted to snap a quick picture last week before church.  Piper has grown out of her church dresses so I had a good excuse to buy her a couple new dresses and I found this pretty white one on sale.  Piper loves it and she looks so sweet and precious in it.  Don't be fooled however, she was a beast at church that day.

Today after Conference we are having our Easter dinner.  I feel spoiled because our dear friend Laurie Tindall is making the majority of the meal.  She eats Sunday dinner with us each week and the boys always ask me, "Is Laurie coming over tonight?"  It has been awesome to have her in our home each week.  The kids all love her and she always washes my dishes each week and helps make dinner.  

Mike was out of town last week but I braved dyeing eggs with the boys and Piper by myself.  We had a great time and it actually was a good experience with little mess.



Finally, we had our ward Easter Egg hunt this past weekend.  I took pictures and they were kind of dark so I tweaked them on my other computer but now that they are uploaded I dislike the editing.  It is much too "bright" and fake looking to me.  Oh, well.  I had to snap some pictures of the gorgeous view that the Cruze family gets to see every day.  About half of the family lives together on this farm--they all have some land and homes of their own.  I get to drive to the farm each week for the my Relief Society Presidency meeting and I never get tired of the country roads, the trees, and quiet feel of the country.  It was a great place for our Easter egg hunt.





Last year the bunny did not come to our house per our request.  The boys were not taking very good care of their things and we just felt that it wasn't necessary to add more "stuff" to their lives.  This year they have really grown.  They are still not as clean or as good with their things as I'd like but they are making good improvements.  They are doing their chores each week, cleaning their rooms and just being more responsible in general.  We did tell the bunny to come this year but he only brought one small basket with a game of Uno for the boys, a coloring book and bubbles for Piper, some candy to share, and three eggs each with coupons for more computer time, reading a book with dad, and getting out of one chore.  It's been a good Easter so far and I'm excited to listen to Conference.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Spring Day

Spring is here!  Everyone has told me I will LOVE a Tennessee spring and so far they are right.  All that rain is bringing the most beautiful flowers.  One of my favorite plants in my yard was our hydrangea bush by my front porch.  I was pretty sad to leave it behind.  Happily, we have a climbing hydrangea bush in the backyard and a couple of bushes along the fence.  They are not ready to bloom yet but I can see the smallest buds popping out.  I also see buds on the rose bushes in the backyard and a couple of other bushes.  My backyard is going to be amazing in a couple of weeks!  In the meantime, I love walking out of my door and seeing this beautiful tree.  It pretty much has a swarm of bees around it all afternoon but I can't help but think of the song "Popcorn Popping" every time I see it.  
 When we moved here there was this great big area right by the front door with big bushes of beautiful blue flowers.  When winter came we were left with a bunch of bare sticks and one day I looked over to see this white clump among all the sticks.  I thought it was litter and went to inspect only to find this funny little sculpture hiding among the bushes!  It has been hiding all summer and fall and I never saw it until the leaves and flowers fell off.  I tried cleaning the area up a bit and had to grab a picture of my little sculpture!
 I snapped a couple more pictures of the pretty spring flowers in my yard


 Pretty much every tree and bush in my yard has a bird's nest. You an barely see the nest in this picture
Eli and Piper have been making beautiful artwork on my front steps.  I love Eli's drawing lately.  
 Piper, Mike and I went for a walk this morning because the weather was gorgeous.  Piper had to wear her tutu, her blue polka dot socks, sparkly red shoes, and winter hat.  She is such a princess.  I love it.
 We regularly see snails on our walks.  This particular one is double the size of the ones we usually see.  They are usually so tiny.

 I love all the snail paths that shimmer in the morning sun.