Preparation

It has been a long time since I posted. I can not promise that will change. If I thought life was busy before, I was wrong. Life for the Craiker family in 2016 is the busiest it has ever been. You may be wondering why. It is a combination of things. A new job (me), taking another Bar Exam (Anthony), a middle schooler (Bella), a new student (me), one child in a play, taking piano, in math club, in Harry Potter club and starting Robotic team (Natalie), and one starting golf and just generally wanting to be entertained (Ethan). Are you tired yet? I am. Life is busy but, life is good. And, I am learning things along the way.

On the first day of school this year I began a part time job. It is a blessing. I had realized I that with the kids all in school I had a good amount of time that I could use to contribute to the family in a financial way. I wasn’t sure if I would find a job that would meet my criteria (I only wanted to work while the kids were in school) but, I decided to make a go at searching for one knowing I never had to accept a job offered. One week before school started everything fell into place and I began a job working 9:30 am – 2:30 pm Monday through Thursdays with some flexibility to that schedule. I will work in the summers, but remember that flexibility?

Now that I have been working for four months I decided obviously, I had a few hours left in my week to fill – why don’t I use them to go back to school? Makes sense right? An opportunity arose for me to go back to school at an amazing price, mostly online and at my own pace/time. It was an opportunity too good to pass up. This program is through my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and through BYU-Idaho. This year I take one general studies course and one religion course for a total of three semesters. In January, I will get to decide just what I take and what I want to major in. I have no idea at this point what that will be.

We are currently in the fourth week of this program. So far there has been an overriding theme to me in both my religion and my general studies course. It is that of preparation. More specifically the idea that the Lord provides ways for things to be accomplished that come from righteous inspiration or desires. This is seen over and over in the Book of Mormon in the story of the prophet Nephi and his family. In my studies this week, I came to the conclusion that it was the lesson of Nephi. Reading it in the scriptures has helped me to recognize the principle but seeing it come alive in my life has helped me to understand it.

Just a few recent examples of this in my life are:

  • Finding my job. I looked for over a month with little to no response. I had been praying to re-confirm this was what was best for our family and to find something that worked for our family. In one weeks time, I went from giving up the idea of starting a job when the kids started school to having found a job that was during the hours I wanted to work, required no weekends, still give me one day a week to complete household tasks and began on the exact date I desired. It was an answer to my prayers.
  • The Pathway program becoming available in Orlando. Over a year ago Anthony and I had a conversation about the idea of me going back to school. I never thought it would actually happen because I never saw it being within our reach both with my time and financially. This program solves both of these issues for us.
  • Making my time seem like more. Adding something else to an already packed schedule took a leap of faith. The amazing thing that has happened is that I actually feel like I have more time. I have become more organized and more productive with my time. I have found time to serve others more and even spend time with friends and family because I don’t take for granted any of my time.

The Lord provides and prepares a way for us to accomplish that which He would have us do. It doesn’t mean we wait on Him to do it all, we work and we prepare but He provides.

 

Lets Play a Game

Today on my blog we’re going to play a game. It is called: “This is what it would say if I had made a 2014 Christmas card/letter.” Ready? DSC_4018 COPYFrom left to right: Bella (11), Ethan, (6), Anthony (age unknown), Jennifer (18?), and Natalie (9)

We hope all our friends and family had a very merry Christmas holiday. This year our family has enjoyed the opportunity to see all of our extended family during our summer trip and a holiday family reunion. With this being the final school year all 3 of our children will be in the same school it seems change is upon us. We feel blessed everyday to be their parents and are enjoying the growing up years. We wish all our friends and family and very happy 2015.

Love,

The Craikers

Christmas Thoughts

Christmas is just one week away. This year’s Christmas will be the busiest one to date with 32 family members flying in, a full blown family reunion, and loads of fun with little rest. So in the days leading up to the fun and the crazy I have tried to take a few moments to reflect on the season and why we celebrate it.

I was really touched by this video and wanted to share it. If you haven’t watched it take a minute.

For me the part of the video that “got me” was the end when the angels appear. Ever since I was a little girl I have wondered what it might have been like to be an angel welcoming the birth of Christ. It was powerful to see and experience the multitude of angels appearing and praising. I think I have watched it 5 times now and each time when the angels first appear I get a lump and my throat and a tear in my eye.

I am thankful to know that Christ did come. I am grateful for this season both to reflect and refocus ourselves towards Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Tradition

DSC_3674 copy

Each year on the night before Thanksgiving our family takes our annual trip to the Bass Pro Shop to visit Santa. I have always thought of Thanksgiving as the kick off to the holiday season so while some talk of skipping over Thanksgiving I think it all just goes together. Plus, we discovered years ago if you get your visit with the “Big Guy” in pre-Thanksgiving the lines are nearly non-existent. It really is a little parenting genius mixed with family fun.

DSC_3681 copy

And Bass Pro is a great place to go because they charge you nothing and are happy to let you take your own pics. (Even if for some reason this year the lighting seemed weird. The warm in the front and cold in the back.) Plus they have other games and toys out for the kids to play with as much as they want. This is totally my plug for Bass Pro at Christmas time.

My favorite thing this year is when Ethan asked Santa for a dog for Christmas Santa wisely said, “I think you had better think of something else just in case.” Thanks Santa. ;)

DSC_3672 copy

A Little Gratitude

Last night 6 young women at church, 1 other young women leader and I had a discussion about gratitude and journaling. We discussed the story in Luke about the 10 Lepers and the one who returned to thank Christ. We discussed what it meant to have a grateful heart and how it wasn’t that Christ wanted the praise of the other 9 but rather he wanted other 9 to experience a grateful heart. That saying “thank you” maybe of benefit more to our own heart than to the person that we are saying it too. It really can change our lives if we live with a grateful heart. Then we discussed how journaling plays into that. How by journaling we take the time to think and evaluate ourselves and our lives that we may not otherwise do if we weren’t journaling. We discussed how it makes us more self-aware and helps us become better people because we’re more likely to be thinking about our actions and the effects of them. It was a great little discussion. I left with much to think about, and hopefully maybe they did too.

So today I thought I’d work off last night’s theme and share a few things I am grateful for this week along with sharing the rest of what we did last night. So first, two pictures of what we did last night.

  IMG_0939

We first made these gratitude journals so they could spend some time in the next few weeks thinking about what they’re grateful for and recording it. They’re made out of 3 paper bags laced together with twine. You don’t have to cut the bags or anything and then you use the openings of the bags like pockets. This could work for things like camp or a trip too b/c you could use those pockets for tickets or handouts, etc. We slid pieces of paper in them with ribbons attached like a tab so they could list out the things they are grateful for. Then on the paper bag parts they can draw and print quotes or scriptures about gratitude on them. It was fun and everyone went home with a really cute journal. (Here is the link to the instructions I used in making the journals:HERE )

IMG_0946

Then just for fun we put together these cute turkey cookies. They’re super easy and so cute. The girls loved them.

Lastly here is a list of the 5 things I am grateful for this week:

1. The Beehive Class. These girls are so much fun. I spend a lot of time planning and preparing to be with them and they make all that time so worth it and so rewarding. I love them. They teach me, make me laugh and love me back. Its a great blessing for me to be able to serve them and to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

2. My mom. I put my mom on a plane Tuesday. She’d been here for just less than a week. We got to go away together and experience sunsets like this:

IMG_0923 IMG_0919

It was fun to be in a beautiful place, but really more fun just to hang out with her. I only see her 1-2 times a year. This year it will actually be 3 and I am grateful for that. Plus, she helped me prepare everything for the young women activity and more. Its fun to create with her. I’m not a crafty person on my own but with her I am and its fun.

3. My husband. When mom came I left for 3 days. Not only did he handle everything at home but I came home to a spotless house, happy children and a husband who missed me. I think it is nice to be missed.

4. Florida. I love this place. I can’t say enough good about it. Sure there are some crazy things too but this place has my heart. I’m so glad life led me here.

5. My children. Each are different which keeps things lively in our house. They make me laugh (and cry), smile and keep me from ever being bored. They are the reasons I do most of anything I do. They are both my motivation and my inspiration.

6. Okay…its a bonus one. My friends.  And I don’t want to be mushy or drawn out but lets just say I see my friends as a true blessing from God. Every one of you.

So now I need to go fill my gratitude journal so I can show it to the Beehive Class at church on Sunday.

What are you grateful for?

One Cool Nana

Yesterday at 4:30 PM me and 3 very sad kids drove away from the airport. We had just left Nana there to go back to Texas after 6 days of being with us. Other than the first year and a half of Bella’s life we have not lived near Nana. However, since then (a total of about 9.5 years) she has made every effort to visit often and be a very important presence in our children’s lives. And her visits are so fun because she is such a cool Nana, and here are the pictures to prove it.

nana

Most of these pictures are from phone cameras. Like above. Who is cooler than a Nana that gets on and surfs with you?

nana3

Or the Nana who brings crazy eyes for everyone, including herself?

nana5

And she didn’t even forget the mustaches. See, she’s cool.

nana4

One thing that is cool about Nana is she always spends weeks before her visits on pinterest planning fun and seasonal things to do with the kids. My children are literally entertained from the moment she arrives until the moment she leaves. And THAT is cool in my book.

nana2

She won major cool points in Ethan’s book with these Minecraft paper projects.

nana6

And she brought so much washi tape the kids covered pumpkins with them.

So what can I do to repay her for her coolness? Well, the best I can do is take some fun pictures of the kids for her. So here they are….someday I hope to be as cool to my grandkids as she is.

DSC_2748 copy

DSC_2739 copy

DSC_2821 copy

DSC_2850 copy

And really, the kids don’t have to be sad long….Grandma comes next week.

(And she is cool in her own ways too!)

4 Years There + 1 Year Here = 5 Florida Years

Five years ago this week the 5 of us arrived in the sunshine state. To me this is an important anniversary. It is the anniversary of us finding our place.

I wrote about it on my 3rd Florida anniversary HERE.

A year ago this week we changed homes. We moved all of 3 miles, except because of protected wetlands and the fact that you have to drive around them rather than in a straight line it feels more like 15.

For Anthony and I that move was positive. Closer to Anthony’s Orlando hearing location, closer to all shopping, and closer to church. For the kids it was a little more rough. Their everyday changed dramatically as they changed schools. I remember well the night before the school change happened and my heart was breaking as Bella cried herself to sleep.

Change is hard.

Now here we are, 1 year later, in a new school year. We have maintained friendships from our previous school and the kids have made so many new friends in their new school. They have acclimated and really flourished there. Thankfully the tears of that night are long gone and they now love their new school as much as their old.

Change is hard. Moving here was hard. But it in both cases there seems to be so much positive.

Happy Anniversary Florida! Here’s to many more beautiful years of memories. I love you.

A Family First

football6

Last Thursday night we had a family first. Our first football game. None of the kids had ever been and they were so excited.

Uncle Rob had come in town with his son Jackman just for the game. Wednesday we got to go out to their hotel and play at the awesome pools and Thursday night was the big game. It was like having a weekend in the middle of the week.

football1

football4

This picture (above) cracks me up. Jackman and I were taking a selfie but our team was currently not doing so hot. Look at the lady over Jackman’s shoulder. LOL. Luckily things didn’t stay that way.

football3

BYU came back and got ahead. The kids had so much fun cheering. Ethan is still doing the chants 5 days later!

football5

football2

In the end we lost in OT. It was a late night but SOOOOOO much fun. As we were leaving the stands we saw the BYU mascot, Cosmo, and grabbed a quick picture for memories. It really was a great night and I think the kids will always remember it. Thanks Uncle Rob!

If I Could Go Back

DSC_2367 internet copy

Last night as Anthony and I were going to bed we did our usual check on each of the kids. Their rooms are on our way to ours so one at a time we peek in, see what sort of weird way they’re sleeping, cover them up with their blanket and say a final good night. As we were doing this I asked him, “If you could go back in time to when they were younger would you?”

His answer was an immediate, “Yes.” Then he followed with something like, “I wouldn’t go back to stay but just to remember and experience it again for a little bit.”

I totally agree with him, so this got me thinking – what ages would I like to revisit?

#1: Infancy. I would love to go back to when each of my children were first born and spend a good few hours just snuggling them, remembering them as an infant, feeling their soft skin, hearing their coo’s, and even their cry again. How beautiful it would be to experience that all over again just for a few hours.

#2: 18 months. The world is still so new to them at 18 months and I’d love to experience a few hours of wonder with them again at that age. I’d love to hold their chubby little hands again, to remember just how they sounded when they spoke, and to get some hugs and kisses from my toddlers again.

#3: 3 or 4. I can’t decide which. There are so many quirky little things each of my kids did at these ages that they’ve completely grown out of and I’d love to hear and see it all again. Ethan had made up words he used regularly like they had meaning, Natalie changed clothes constantly and Bella had a phrase she used all the time that to this day Anthony and I still say and crack up about. I miss those kids.

All this being said we are currently at a pretty great time as parents. Our children are old enough to be self-sufficient but young enough to still want us around. They’re smart and caring individuals who are getting more and more opportunities because of their ages and while that means a busier life for me it means excitement for them. Life is pretty great where we are but there are times I long to re-experience the days of our past just one more time.

Dear Anthony,

DSC_0526copy_thumb.jpg

I just came across this picture of us on our 10 year wedding anniversary cruise.

We must do this again. It has been almost 3 years (2 years 9 months to be exact).

Lets not let another 10 go by before we run away again.

Love, 

Me

XOXO