Sunday, May 29, 2016

Caroline's Talk on Prayer

I remember being a child and saying my bedtime prayers. I'm sure there was some variation, but I remember asking for 3 specific things every night. One was “please don't let there be a tornado.” One was “please don't let our house burn down.” and the third was “please forgive me for everything I did wrong today.”

Now, there was certainly an element of faith shown in my prayers as a child. I knew Heavenly Father was there. I knew He was all powerful and could help in any situation. I knew I could ask for His help, and I didn't doubt that He could give it to me. I knew the atonement was real and that I could be forgiven of my sins, and I sincerely desired to be forgiven. These were all great building blocks, but I have learned that prayer is much more than a wish list and a catch-all. I have come to learn that there is so much more to prayer than I realized as a child.

To understand the great power that prayer can provide in our lives, we must understand our relationship with Heavenly Father. We know that God is the father of our spirits. He loves us more than we can understand, and He has the strength, direction, knowledge, peace, and power that we need to successfully navigate this life. What's more, it is His deepest desire to share those with us, so that we may one day return to HIm, clean and worthy.

Revelation 3:20 reads:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and values us so greatly, that He will not force anything upon us. He will knock. He will invite us to open up to Him, and He will stand, ready and waiting for us. When we pray to our Father, we are opening the door that will allow Him into our lives.

Now there is an entire spectrum of prayer, as I'm sure we all have experienced. Sometimes our prayers are those of immediate needs that we desire help meeting. Sometimes they are prayers of repentance and sorrow for mistakes. Sometimes they are prayers of gratitude. Sometimes they are sincere, and other times they are hurried and said out of duty. I have learned that the quality and sincerity of our prayers determines how much we are opening the door to our Father. If we can understand how to fully open that door, He will, like the scripture in Revelation said, “come in unto [us], and will sup with [us], and [we] with [him]. “

I have been a member of the church all my life, and was taught to love Heavenly Father and to pray to Him. As an adolescent and as an adult, I rarely, if ever, missed a morning or evening prayer to my Heavenly Father. So when I was asked to speak on prayer a couple of weeks ago, I thought that I had it down pat. After all, I was consistent and dedicated in saying prayers, a real prayer veteran, if you will. But that evening after life calmed down at our house and my children were all tucked into bed, I finally had a few moments of quiet to myself, and a thought came to me, “Okay. Now you need to figure out what sincere prayer really is so you can actually know what you're talking about.” The thought surprised me, because I was pretty confident that I knew what prayer was all about. But I then felt impressed to spend 20 minutes sharing my thoughts and feelings with my Heavenly Father, and then to spend 10 minutes listening for what He might have to say to me, and to write it down. So I did. And I have done it every day since, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

If I were to sum up what I have learned through this experience, it would be that prayer is really about connecting with our Father in Heaven. I feel like I knew that before, but I didn't truly understand it.

Our lives are busy. They are wonderful and difficult and full of both little tasks that must be accomplished and large eternal goals that we must strive towards. We love others, and carry their worries and burdens on our shoulders along with our own. We learn and succeed and fail miserably and get up the next day to do it all again. Our Heavenly Father knows this. He knows each of us by name, and knows perfectly the struggles we face and the burdens we carry. He stands at the door, ready to help. And oh, what help He can give, if we will take some time to connect with Him!

I have come to imagine that I have a pitcher inside of me, and I feel that it is always full. Sometimes it is full of gratitude. Other times it is full of worry. Sometimes it is full of confusion. Sometimes it is full of faith. Most of the time, it is a great big mix of all of these things and more.

In the Book of Mormon, in Mosiah chapter 24 verse 12, the people of Alma “did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.”

We approach our Father in prayer not to inform Him about our lives—He already knows us perfectly—but to pour out our full pitchers to Him. As we pour out our joys, our concerns, our confusions, our pain, our gratitude to Him, we forge a connection with Him, and He, in turn, can fill us with something infinitely better.

Doctrine and Covenants section 19 verses 38 and 39 reads

“ Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth...Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?”
I have experienced this great blessing in my life. As I have connected with my Heavenly Father and poured out my heart to Him, He has poured out His spirit upon me in countless ways, that there has not been room enough to receive” the blessings. I can testify that it is indeed greater than if I had obtained treasures of earth, and I have felt so much joy because of it.

Here are a few of the specific ways over the past 2 weeks that I have felt the Father's inspiration as I have listened for His direction:
Sometimes I have felt sweet assurances that I am His daughter, that I am just right for the challenges before me, that I am capable and that He loves me and will help me.
Sometimes I have felt specific answers come to questions I have asked, that come in the form of an idea, like a little flash of inspiration, and then I know what to do or say or change.
Sometimes I have felt him teach me as a feeling, without words, who I really am, how He feels about me, and how I should feel about myself.
Sometimes I have felt the need to repent, and have had specific moments brought to my mind that help me realize my error and how I must change.
Sometimes He has helped me realize where I can go to find answers or help or strength and helped urge me to go and find it.
Sometimes He has taught me about the Savior and His role in my life.
Sometimes he has brought words of scripture or words of a hymn to my mind to answer or comfort me.
The way, however, that He has most often spoken to me is through a feeling of love and peace and warmth.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson likened it to sitting by a fire and feeling its warmth. He said,
“I think that is a lovely metaphor—just sit with the Lord and let Him warm you like a fire in winter. You don’t have to be perfect or the greatest person who ever graced the earth or the best of anything to be with Him.
I hope you will take sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior's Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, of your offering, of your life. Sit quietly with [Him] and come away spiritually strengthened and better prepared for all that is going to come later. Let that moment be one of rest and refreshing and reassurance and renewal.”
I love that metaphor, and it rings true for me. As I have sat with my Father, just feeling and listening and enjoying His presence, I have come away feeling warmed, prepared, refreshed. I have come away with a far greater gift than I could have thought to ask for.
In each of these cases where I felt the Father's presence during my prayers, if I had not taken the time to open that door, and to open it wide enough to let my Father in, and if I had not made room in my heart for Him, I would not have received that precious direction and knowledge. Our Father will give us as much as we will allow Him to give us. The amount is up to us to decide, and we make that known to Him through our actions.

So now that we have talked a little about what it means to connect with our Father and what blessings can come from it, I wanted to talk about what I feel are the three important steps associated with it. First, establish that connection with our Heavenly Father. Second, keep the connection. And third, Let it change you.

First, what does connecting with Heavenly Father look like in practice? For me, it didn't necessarily take the place of the regular morning or evening prayer, but it was me setting aside some time in my day when I could spend time with my Heavenly Father without distraction. Sometimes I spent that 20 minutes on my knees in my bedroom. Sometimes I sat quietly by myself somewhere. Sometimes I was doing chores alone and talked with Him then. Sometimes I did it while I was mowing the lawn. Think about how we would build a relationship with our earthly father—spending time talking together! They wouldn't care where or when, and neither does He. We can connect with Heavenly Father in our lives by opening up our hearts to Him anywhere and at any time. However it requires that we give Him the attention and focus of our minds and hearts. After I poured out my heart to Him, I would find a quiet place to sit for a while and listen for His answers and inspiration.
Find a time where you can spend an extended period of time connecting with your Heavenly Father, even if it's not a time where you are necessarily kneeling in prayer. It can be out loud or whispered or thought. It can be anywhere. When you run out of things to say, start thanking Him for things, and I guarantee more things will come to your mind to talk about. When I pray to Him, I imagine Him sitting next to me, with His arm around me, as a loving father would. Picture Him. Try to imagine what He looks like. Imagine Him there with you. When you listen for His answers, remember that they might come as feelings. Think about those feelings and try to examine them. Enjoy that feeling of warming yourself in your Heavenly Father's presence. Then take time to write down your thoughts and impressions.

Second, Keep the connection. As I have felt that closeness to my Heavenly Father, I have noticed something—it feels so familiar to my soul to draw near to Him. I feel a comfort and peace that simply feels like home. This makes sense to me, as we all lived in our Father's presence before coming to earth. We knew Him there, we felt of His love and we learned of His plan. I am convinced that we knew Him well. If our earth life is just a small moment in eternity, then it makes sense that, eternally, feeling our Father's presence is the rule, not the exception. The natural state of our soul is to be connected to Him. We must learn to seek after Him, to take the necessary steps in our lives to connect with our Father and then to cleave unto that connection.

Jeremiah 29:13 says
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

As we develop a love for our Father and a deep desire to find Him, and to be with Him, we will find Him. We will enjoy that feeling of coming home, spiritually, and feel His comfort and peace in our lives. Feeling that connection should not be a rare occurrence, but a regular feeling in our lives. As we come to realize this, we deepen our understanding of who we are as children of God, that we have a right to be connected with Him, and we will do all that we can to keep that connection vibrant in our lives.

As we make this connection a habit in our lives, something wonderful begins to happen. We begin to recognize when we are missing those feelings of peace and love and comfort, and we are ready to do something about it so that we can restore those feelings.

In Alma 32:14 it reads:

And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?”

We will be more blessed as we develop this habit in our lives—as we humble ourselves and compel ourselves to repent and align ourselves with our Father, so that we can fully enjoy his presence in our lives. This cycle will repeat itself again and again, and we will find that we are able to keep ourselves connected to our Heavenly Father.

Third, let it change you. When I was a junior in high school, I moved from my hometown in Michigan to Eagle, Idaho. It was a big change for me, and I felt unsure of myself as I struggled to build a new life with new friends. I met a few girls who became my friends, but it was an emotionally and spiritually exhausting time. I felt that I was always refereeing arguments, helping them fix problems, trying to help them stay on the right path and trying to be a good friend to them, and I felt glad to help, but at the same time I knew it was not sustainable, because I felt constantly upset and depleted. My mother noticed my exhaustion and I explained the situation to her. As she talked with me, she used an analogy likening friends to pitchers or sponges. We are a bowl, and our friends are either sucking up our water, like a sponge, or pouring more in, like a pitcher. She encouraged me to look for friends who were pour water into my bowl, not deplete it. She was right, but I still didn't know where to find such friends.

After this had gone on for a few months and a new semester in school rolled around, I found myself sitting in a new class next to a girl named Kristen. She was friendly and kind, and before long she and her friends were inviting me to spend time with them. That wonderful group of friends changed my life. They worked hard to do what was right. They were smart and funny and kind. They were uplifting. Suddenly I was being filled! I could pour water into others' bowls without a care—I could even handle some sponge friends, too—because I, in turn was having others fill my bowl. I felt whole and happy and capable, ready for whatever life had to throw at me, because I was constantly renewed emotionally, and if I ever had a day where I was feeling depleted., I had wonderful friends to help fill me up again. These wonderful girls became my roommates when I went to college at BYU, my bridesmaids, my friends as a young mom, and are still my friends today.

I tell you this story to illustrate a point. Being renewed in spirit will change us from night to day! Our Heavenly Father is the perfect example of a faithful friend who will always be ready to fill us again. If we will draw near unto Him through sincere prayer, we can be whole and happy and capable, armed with a knowledge that we can serve and fill others, always returning to our Father to be filled again. If we will adhere to this process, it will change us! We will progress towards our potential to become like our Father in Heaven.

Yesterday as I sat and watched my children's' swimming lessons, I noticed a mother and a little girl. The mother had brought the girl to her swimming lessons and the girl was ready to go in her swim suit and goggles. Her mother asked her to get in the pool. She refused. Her mother urged her again, even walking to the side of the pool with her. Still she would not get in. She dipped her toes in the water but continued to refuse to get in the pool. The mother calmly argued her point. “But we paid for these swimming lessons so you could learn to swim, and if you won't get in the pool, how will you ever learn to swim?” “You can do it, I know you can! You teacher is right there to help you!” This went on and on. Finally, the little girl entered the pool, but would only go on the stairs, and she stayed seated on the top stair until it was time to go home.

It occurred to me that we are often like this little girl. Our loving Heavenly Father wants us to learn to swim. He cannot force us to learn, and he cannot practice the skills for us, but he has prepared the pool, the teachers, the life guards, the floaties, the goggles. He gently asks us to get in the pool and learn how to swim. He does not require that we figure it out on our own, he has provided every means for us to learn what we need to learn, if we will just jump in and get to work learning. Jump in the pool! Leave the comfort of the stairs, even if it feels scary. As we turn to our Father in sincere prayer and maintain that connection with him, through our daily efforts, He will guide us! Our leaders will teach us the techniques and the strokes, if we will listen to them. They will teach us the dangers that we may face and what to do in those situations. As we practice those skills, we will, over time, learn to swim so well that it becomes second nature to us. All the while, our Father is there ready with a watchful eye, anxious to help, to advise, to comfort, to encourage, to celebrate with us. He is never far away, if we will but open the door to Him, and keep it open.

In conclusion, I want to leave you with a passage from my journal, speaking of my experiment with sincere prayer:

“I have felt such an incredible connection with my Father in Heaven. As I have poured out my feelings to Him, He has laid my burdens upon His own shoulders. I feel light and happy and determined. He has filled me with peace and with understanding, and I am so very grateful. When I have struggled, He has lead me to comfort and to help. I have seen His had in my life and I have felt His love in abundance.”

I testify that as we make the effort to connect with our Father through sincere prayer, keep that connection vibrant in our lives, and allow it to change us, we will be blessed above measure. We will have all that we need. As we pour out our hearts to Him, they will be filled again, “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over”. We will feel his love permeating our lives, and we will have the capacity and desire to go out and share it.

Calvin turns 8!

Well, our little Calvin bear is 8 years old!  I cannot believe how old he is!  Calvin had a great birthday this year.  As per our tradition, he woke up to streamers around his bed and was happy, happy, happy!  After a hand selected breakfast of donuts and fruit, Calvin was ready to open presents!  He got a rock hammer, protective eye wear, his own scriptures and journal, and swim lessons!  He was very excited.  Then it was off to school with the kids and birthday party prep time for myself and Hannah. 

Calvin had told me that his one birthday wish was to go to the soda shop and get a soda and play pinball for his birthday, but our day was so packed, that the only solution I could think of was to pick up from school to play hooky for a while!  So I picked him up and we met Grandpa Ernie, Christy, AnnaMarie, Tyler, Jack and Aiden at the soda shop where we all played pinball, picked out sodas together, got Calvin some fun candies, and then headed to Wendy's for lunch!  Calvin was so very happy, and it was such a nice time to spend with him!

It was so funny when we walked into the soda shop.  We had a sample near the front, and then Calvin spotted a worker we have seen here before stocking bottles in one of the aisles. He ran up to him and in an excited but hushed voice he asked, "Do you remember Michael Richard Moore?" The worker, who was kind and had a great sense of humor, said, "Oh, yeah, I think I do!" Then Calvin said, "Well, I used to be his son!" Then the worker chuckled and said "Oh, you USED to be? How does that work?" And then Calvin said conspiratorially, "Well, I still am, AND it's my BIRTHDAY!" The man then informed him that on your birthday you get to pick out one free birthday soda of your choosing. That plus free pinball? Calvin's birthday heaven!

After Wendy's we dropped him back off at school and AnnaMarie and Christy were lifesavers and came over to help me prep for Calvin's party!  Seriously, I would never have gotten it all done without them!  We got the cake finished, the house cleaned and decorated, and all of the games ready to play!  Whew! 

Then it was off to get the kids from school!  We had the party right after school, so by the time we got home, we already had friends here!  Calvin had requested a dragon party, and it turned out really fun!  We made How to Train Your Dragon-style helmets to pass out to everyone and had them get started on their dragon hunt in the back yard.  Next we played a few more games like "cross the moat" and "dragon races" in the back yard, which were super fun.  By then everyone was hungry, so we took a break for hotdogs, fruit and chips, and everyone was happy to sit in our (empty) kid pool together and eat :)

After that we did cake and ice cream, and the dragon cake was a big hit!  I was pretty proud of the way it turned out.  After we had served everyone and weren't paying very close attention, Lucy figured out a way to knock the rest of the cake off of the table and gobble the rest up!  Oh, Lucy!

After cake and ice cream we opened presents, which was a lot of fun for Calvin.  Next we played a game where there was a poster of a dragon covered in balloons and inside each balloon was a piece to a puzzle.  The kids had to pop the balloons, find the puzzle piece, and put the puzzle together.  It ended up being a photoshopped picture of Calvin as a knight in shining armor.

It was a great little Calvin party, and he had a great time having his friends over!  We spent the rest of the night relaxing and playing with new toys.  It was a great birthday!

Calvin asleep after we put up his streamers:

Big happy 8 year old!

Opening his presents:

Checking out his rock hammer:

Happy guy!

Playing pinball at the soda shop:

Lunch at Wendy's!

Me and my great big boy:

Enjoying their sodas:

Party time!  A bunch of dragon trainers in a boat :)

Dragon cake:

Singing to the birthday boy!

Cutting the cake:

Opening presents:

Playing games:

 Playing with Lucy:

 Here are some things I want to remember about Calvin at 8 years old:

-Calvin LOVES rocks.  He loves to collect them, read about them, fantasize about owning a mine and having tons of gemstones someday, you name it!

-He is becoming a pretty good shot at basketball, as long as the rim is lowered :)

-Calvin still has his emotional highs and lows, but he has evened out a lot lately, and isn't quite the hot and cold kid he used to be.  He is growing up!

-Calvin is really smart.  He reads a lot and remembers what he reads, and is always ready to add a fact or two to the conversation.

-He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and really tries to do what is right.

-He is 100% easily distracted by a Calvin and Hobbes book.

-He is an animal lover--a friend to creatures large and small!  But most especially Lucy.

-He looks up to Ryan, and especially excited to be in scouts with him now!

-Calvin cares about peoples' feelings.  He is observant of them, and will sacrifice to help others feel better.  He is a really good little friend.

-Calvin detests hot sauce or spicy things, with the exception of Bufalo Hot Sauce.  He will put that on just about anything!

-Calvin's favorite foods and pancakes, waffles, fruits (especially pineapple!) and edamame.  He really hates beans and bananas.

We love our Calvin.  Happy birthday, buddy!  We are proud of the young man you are becoming!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sophie's Golden Birthday

Well, it was Sophie's much anticipated golden birthday this year--she turned 6 on April 6th!  When I say "much anticipated", I mean mostly by Calvin, who makes a big deal about golden birthdays, mostly, I think, because he is grumpy that he has to wait until he is 22 for his :)

We ended up having Sophie's party on the day before her birthday after school at our house, and it worked out really well!  She decided that she would like to have a puppy dog party, and so that's what we did!

Sophie has delightful little friends, and I can honestly say that it was a pleasure having them all over!  She has a little friend from school named Harper who has the same birthday, so I made them each a shirt with a golden "6" on it so they could be matchy-matchy on their golden birthday.  Sophie was over the moon!

Her party was just right!  It was an hour and a half long, and we started out with "Doggy, doggy, where's your bone?", "Mama dog" and "Pin the bone on the dog", and then we moved right along to pizza, cake, ice cream and presents, and then played for a little while longer until it was time to go!  Sophie loved it, and had so much fun celebrating with her friends.  It was a great 6 year old party!

The next day was Sophie's actual birthday, and her breakfast request was "balloon sprinkle pancakes", so that is what we had!  Sophie opened presents in the morning, and was SUPER excited about her swim lessons, and liked her game and brand new pillow with pillowcase that I made for her.  So she skipped off to school in her golden birthday shirt and had a great day.  Hannah and I visited her at school for lunch, and it was fun to do that with her.  I brought some little golden baggies and fake jewels and gold coins, etc., and made little treasure bags for her to bring to school to give as a birthday thing for her class, since they no longer allow you to bring treats (insert parental grumble).  But she loved them and was so happy about them!

After school we headed to AnnaMarie's house where we met up with Grandpa and celebrated again with dinner Sophie's pony cake that she picked out for me to decorate and some ice cream.  It was a great day to be a 6 year old Sophie!

Sophie's dirt and bone cupcakes:

Playing with some friends at her party:

Sophie and Jane, two peas in a pod.

Pin the bone on the dog!


 Doggy, doggy where's your bone?

Sophie and her sweet friend, Eleanor:

Cake time!  We sang and did candles for both Sophie and Harper, and they were so happy!

Opening presents at her party:

I left to get kids from school and asked Michael to put up a few streamers.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but I came back to a crepe paper engineering masterpiece!

After Sophie opened this card, she looked at the envelope and then turned to Michael and me and said with a genuine, excited smile, "Here, this is for you guys! For when you need to send a card to someone else you know...named Sophie!" For some reason, Michael and I thought it was so hilarious.

Sophie on her birthday eve, after we put up her streamers:

Birthday sprinkle balloon pancakes!

So excited to be 6!

Opening her presents:

She was really excited about this shirt:

Sophie and Harper in their golden birthday shirts:


The treasure bags for school:


Sophie and her pony cake:

This birthday song is so Sophie!  She has a plan for how things are supposed to go, and if they don't go that way, watch out!  The birthday song "extras" were making her mad as a little birthday hornet. Oh, Sophie!  We love you!

Here are some things that I want to remember about Sophie at 6:

-Sophie is really growing up into a young lady.  She is more patient, more understanding, and more mature than she has ever been, and I constantly look at her in amazement.

-That being said, she is still 6!  And still fairly dramatic!  Especially when things don't go the way that she was planning, like the birthday song!  It takes quite a bit of effort to redirect her at that point.  Usually talking gets us 80% of the way and tickling takes us the last 20%.  I don't know what I am going to do when tickling stops working!

-Sophie loves school.  She is doing great with Spanish and really loves being there.  She adores her teachers, and I am constantly getting good reports about her.  One teacher stopped me in the hall one day and said "I am just amazed by Sophie!  She is just so thoughtful and mature for her age!"  We are proud of her!

-Sophie loves to eat yogurt, fruit, fish, meat of essentially any kind, and likes mustard on just about everything, and still does not care for mayonnaise, ketchup, creamy dinner foods, or sometimes chocolate.

-Sophie is a natural at making friends.  Everywhere we go and every situation we are in, Sophie just magically makes friends.  She doesn't care if they are older, younger, or different in any way, she just is a great friend maker.

-Sophie is a tenderhearted girl.  She cries when people she loves leave, even for just a little while.  She even sometimes cries if I visit her at school lunch and then have to leave after lunch is over.  She is a sweetheart.

-Sophie is a great singer.  I like hearing her sing.

We love our Sophie girl!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hannah Turns 3!

Goodness gracious, time goes by so fast.  I can't believe this little lady is 3 years old already!  It seems like only yesterday she was my squishy-cheeked little baby.

Hannah's birthday was great, though, and we had a lot of fun celebrating with her.  We had her party during the day on Friday while the big kids were at school, and it was nice just having Hannah's little play group friends along for the party!  She was so excited to have them over!  We played some games like "Mama Cat" and duck duck goose, and then we really just let everyone run around and play until it was time for cake!

Hannah loves Batman, and so we made her a Batman cake this year and gave her a Batman shirt to wear!  It was especially fun because her good buddy Colton wore his coordinating Batman shirt :)  Hannah sure does have some sweet little friends, and it was fun to watch her get so excited for her celebration!  After cake we opened presents, which is always fun, too.

On Hannah's actual birthday she woke up bright and early to streamers on her bed and we had toast and eggs and frozen blueberries for breakfast, which she was super excited about.  We also let her open presents right away, and she was very excited to get a Batmobile toy with Batman and Robin, a new book, and probably something else, but I can't remember what it was right now :)

After that she played around for the morning while the big kids and I got things going for their Jump Rope for Heart cocoa and muffin stand!  Then we drew with chalk on the driveway while the big kids advertised for and ran the bake sale.  Hannah was happy to tag along for the ride, and the kids had fun.  Our neighbors came out to support, which was so nice.

Hannah's birthday was also general conference, so we came back inside for that and ran the bake sale some more in-between sessions.  It was a nice, sweet at-home kind of a birthday, but we had a lot of fun together.  It was a great day.

Hannah's Batman Cake:

And her matching shirt!

Hannah and Jack and Aiden waiting for friends to arrive:

Hannah and her buddy Colton in matching shirts:

Playing in the basement with friends:

Hannah with her friends Keaton and Jillian:

She was very solemn during the birthday song.  No messing around.

Here's a video of her birthday song:

Opening presents:

Party favors:

Playing around:

Playing with her birthday pandas from Grandpa Ernie:

Good morning, Hannah!

With Sophie and the Batmobile:

Excited about her streamers:

I thought this was cute:

Watching the bake sale from the window:

Drawing with sidewalk chalk:

Bake sale!

The boys watching conference:

Hannah and Daddy snuggling:

Here are some things I want to remember about Hannah at 3:

-Hannah has decided how her day is going to go from the second she wakes up, and it is night impossible to change her mind once she has decided.  If she woke up happy, then the bounds in and snuggles us and giggles and scampers off to play and has a great day.  If she wakes up grumping from her bed, well, she's going to have a rough go.  She is definitely a threenager.

-Hannah has a knack for music.  She remembers lyrics really well and even gets the tunes right a lot of the time when I find her singing to herself.  The other day at my parents' house she was playing with a toy guitar that had a pre-programmed beat going and she was dancing to the beat like there was no tomorrow. 

-Hannah's favorite foods are yogurt, milk, cheese (sensing a theme?), bananas, pickles, turkey, grapes, spaghetti and pepperoni.  She does NOT like whipped cream, sandwiches, or when I tell her she needs to drink water :)

-She loves Lucy to pieces.  Lucy is my parents' dog that we are dog sitting for a month.  It is Hannah's dream come true, and she is so happy every morning when she wakes up and finds Lucy here, and especially when we come back in the door and Lucy greets her with a wag. 

-Hannah loves to collect leaves when we are outside.  I think it stems from me telling her that she could pretend to feed some leaves to her stuffed animals.  Now it's kind of an obsession.

-Hannah loves to pack a bag full of whatever tickles her fancy and cart it around with her wherever we go.

-At bedtime instead of a song, Hannah loves to have a story.  But what she really loves is to help tell the story.  Michael or I will start "Once upon a time there were 3 _______" and leave a blank.  Then she fills it in.  Last time I told the story it was "3 little pickles!"  It's always something new, but, at least when I'm doing the story, there is usually a mommy and a baby of some kind having an adventure together.

-Hannah loves to run and loves to be outside.

-Lately she wears her light up cinderella slippers as often as occasion permits.

We love our Hannah girl!