EASTER PARTY

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It’s hard to believe, but the clouds parted and we had another sunny and warm Easter party. We had originally planned to be in Texas this year, but with some school, church and work conflicts, we had to put our Texas visit off until June. While disappointing, I’d like to be able to stay longer than just a week, so we’re looking forward to lots of cousin time this summer! Once I cancelled our flights, the next words out of the kids mouths were, “Now we can have our Easter Party!”

I was feeling a bit sluggish this year and hesitant to plan just because it’s still been quite chilly in the mornings and April has been sooo busy. Monday rolled around and I checked the forecast. The ideal forecast for this party is two sunny, dry days in a row, and lo and behold, there they were. Nothing lifts my spirits like seeing lots of big sun globes on the forecast. I gave myself a little pep talk, sent out the evite and got to work. Well, the actual work commenced on Wednesday. We store all our outdoor furniture in the winter so we got most of that out on Wednesday. We tidied up the tree house area, inflated lots of balls, did some light weeding, and the kids started the process of stuffing hundreds of eggs. Thursday I did all the shopping, Friday I cooked, and Saturday was the party! Yay!

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Thanks to all our friends for the absolutely delicious food! I’m always amazed at how it all comes together. This year I was in the mood for savory so I made a quinoa salad, curried chicken salad (thanks Jen P for the recipe!), a carrot apple beet salad (I thought I’d be the only one to eat it but surprisingly there are many people who like beets!), two quiches, roasted asparagus, croissants with homemade strawberry jam (I think I forgot to put the jam out), vegan banana coconut mini muffins, Ginger-walnut zucchini bread, and coconut cupcakes. We had bagels and spreads, snap peas, and fruit. Friends brought warm beignets, the most amazing deviled eggs, gorgeous fruit platters, overnight French toasts, challah bread pudding, herb roasted salmon, beautiful desserts, festive bird’s nest Easter cookies (the kind I always want to make but haven’t yet!) , carrot cake, salads, etc. It looked so amazing, I actually sat down to eat this year!

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Friends, food, and sun. Hard to beat that combination!

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Have I mentioned that Evan wants a baby?

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Have I mentioned that Nina wants a baby?

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Zig attempting to put the Egg Hunters into groups. We don’t have a perfect system for this. We try to group the kids in similar ages and send them to different parts of the yard and that works pretty well most years. I always stress about everyone getting plenty of eggs but have yet to go totally socialist and have a redistribution party at the end. This year every little basket I saw looked pretty full so I was very happy! We put the tiniest egg hunters in the garden so they had a nice mellow hunt away from all the older kids.  Zig hid some golden eggs which took the kids forever to find, and had a whole gang of kids running all over the yard for about half and hour. Unfortunately, both Nina and Rollin ended up finding them. Nina gave hers away, but Rollin doesn’t part with money easily :)

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Zig invited a few families from work with young children and we all enjoyed getting to know them.

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Candy trade negotiations in progress.

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Getting everyone with their eyes open proved to be an impossible task!

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After everyone left, we stayed outside and did some cleaning up.  We played a kickball game and finally called it a day.

SPRING FLOWERS

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Spring is here in the Pacific Northwest. The air is sweet. The birds are singing. The daffodils and tulips are in bloom and our magnolia tree is full! Some years we only have a few blooms, but this year one of our trees is just loaded. They are already starting to fall, but they sure are beautiful while they last. DSC_3399 DSC_3406 DSC_3403 The kids are playing outside again. Evan is helping the petals to fall a bit faster than they should. InstagramCapture_214d1835-90e1-45b2-9dfb-6fe027070fb8_jpg
Sunday drives have started up again. I was dying over the gorgeous trees in some of the Seattle neighborhoods we were exploring.
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The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom. They line the neighborhood streets on Capitol Hill where the kids go to writing class.
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Spring snow fights! We’re all hoping this weather sticks around!  

CHECKING IN WITH CADE

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Cade’s been in Chile for several months now. We love getting his letters and Rollin decided to write back to him today. Writing isn’t his favorite, so he’s been working hard on keyboarding so he can say what he wants to say…faster!

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Hi cade.How is your mission? Is it hot there?  I really miss you all ready. How many more months is it?
And I am 8 now. And I’m a cub scout now.
Have you been too any houses yet?
And we did awesome paper air planes.
One of them was just a circle and it flew sooooo far.
And your shoe is untied.
Just kidding. April fools!!!  hahaha, got you!
And I got sooooo many people!! And I was planning to put salsa in my dads tea but it didn’t work out :(
Did you do any April fools jokes on your mission?
And I can take 31 steps walking on my hands:)
Did you feel the earth quake?  
Well I cant wait until I see you again bye.

Sela’s Talk on Service

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In our church, the first speaker of the meeting is always a youth. I love that we have the opportunity each week to learn from the youth. It’s also pretty fantastic learning experience for the young speakers as they get practice in researching and preparing a talk and then present it in front of over 200 people…adults, children and their peers. I know I learn so much from these amazing kids.

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Sela gave her first talk last year and was asked to speak again a couple weeks ago. It was an extremely busy week and she finally had time to work on her talk on Saturday. Zig and I heard it for the first time on Sunday as she stood in front of the congregation.  She did an absolutely fantastic job sharing her thoughts on service. She engaged with the audience and made eye contact frequently. All those things that take many of us years to learn. I can tell she actually enjoys speaking.  She is so calm. Much less nervous than I am on the rare occasion I have to speak.  Most people assumed she had help in writing her talk, but it was her efforts 100%. I gave her one suggestion before she started preparing, but she didn’t even include that.

The girls and I went to a service project a week later to help do some yard work for an elderly couple. There were lots of the older men from the church there, many of them grandparent age and one-by-one they kept coming up to Sela to compliment her. They recognized her. They knew her name and they were so sincere in their comments. It made my heart swell with gratitude for this wonderful supportive network we have in our church.   A place where we learn from everyone, regardless of age. It’s pretty special.

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This week she had to go up to the front to welcome a new young woman into her class and present her with a necklace. She actually had to put the necklace on her and she said she was so much more nervous to do that than to give a talk. She kept practicing with the little clasp as she was waiting to go up. Pretty funny.

Good morning, 

My name is Sela Serafin and today I was asked to speak on the topic, “How Service brightens my life.”  Everyday, we receive countless opportunities to serve others.  Picture this past week in your head. How many times did you see someone struggling, stressed, worried or maybe just needing an extra hand? How many times did you choose to serve and how many opportunities did you walk away from? 

About a year or two ago, the church posted a video about young Heber J. Grant, titled “The Coat.” The short story depicts a young boy, whose mother had sewn him a new red coat. Heber runs out into the snow to play. While he is playing he spots a small, poor boy who is shivering. Empowered by the spirit, Heber selflessly took off his coat and gave it to the cold boy. Heber acted as the savior would act. Matthew 25:40 reads, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me. When we serve our fellow brothers and sisters, we are doing nothing less than serving out lord.

 Now, you don’t have to give up your coat or start up a whole fundraiser to effectively serve, the smallest things can brighten someone’s day, even just a smile or a simple, “hello.”    I have noticed that when I serve in small ways like thanking someone, giving a compliment, helping carry something, or showing my appreciation for a person, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when someone else does a small act of service towards me, I remember it and it means a lot. So how hard is it to show a little bit of Christ like love, when you know what an impact it could have on someone?

 Often, service towards certain people can be easier than others. For example, it’s easy to be willing to help out a friend on a job than perhaps a sibling. However, once you serve, you feel a stronger love towards that person. Why do we feel this way? Happiness comes when we obey God’s commandments. Jesus Christ taught the first and the second commandments. He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” Then He said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). We can obey these commandments by serving others. That means we do something kind for them or simply BE kind to them. When we serve others we can be happy. We realize that we have the power to make a difference. The key to being happy is service. Jesus Christ served everyone and he loved everyone, he is a perfect example of how selfless service leads to true happiness.

So when you find it difficult to love someone, the solution is simple; serve them.   

 We often fall into a trap of thinking a new car, having the best clothes, a job promotion, beauty makeover or fame can make us happy. And often they do—for a time. But it never lasts… because wealth, power, beauty and fame simply can’t bring happiness, as much as we wish it would. Like myself, we are often tempted to aspire towards worldly things which we believe can brighten our life, and are unhappy when we fail to reach them or even when we do reach them but fail to have that happiness. 

Michael Steger, a psychologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, conducted a study to see which behavior makes people happier—seeking pleasure or doing good? To find out, he and his colleagues asked a group of 65 undergraduates to complete an online survey each day for three weeks that assessed how many times they participated in pleasure-seeking behaviors, versus meaningful activities, such as helping others, listening to friends’ problems or service. 

The surveys asked the subjects how much purpose they felt their lives had each day– and whether they felt happy or sad. The subjects also completed two sets of questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study to assess how they felt about their lives more generally. 

They found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt. Pleasure-seeking behaviors, on the other hand, did not make people happier. 

 “A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself,” mentioned Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester. But “it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.”  

 Happiness and a brighter life isn’t rocket science, Jesus Christ is proof. If we follow his example of selfless service it will lead to new feelings, love, and a stronger testimony. To serve, you aren’t limited to donating your clothes, money, and food. One of the most effective acts of service is your time, time is precious and when it is spend serving others, not a minute is wasted. It’s easy to drop a plate of cookies by someone’s door, but to spend your time with and get to know that person, that’s pure Christ like behavior and love. 

 Recently,  I went to my first BYC meeting to plan for youth Conference and it was eye opening to see all the hard work and service that our leaders put into that short weekend, this has given me a new perspective on service. Often times, service is hidden and we don’t recognize all the hard work that is put into something that might appear small. The planning that goes into each little detail of that weekend was remarkable, from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes to sleep. This made me think about when I went to Girls Camp last summer, how much work all of the leaders must have put into that week, they chose to serve the lord, knowing that he was proud. Not once did I hear any of them say how hard they worked and all the time they had put into it, it didn’t matter to them if they were praised by us, but that heavenly was proud. When we serve for others, we are serving for our God.

I know that Jesus was a true example of what can happen when we serve others.  I know that a brighter, happier life is truly possible if we follow Him.

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I love you so much, Sela, and I feel beyond blessed to share this life with you.

WILDWOOD BOOK CLUB

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Nina started a book club last year with girls in 4th-6th grade. It’s very low key but gives the girls exposure to books they might not normally choose and a chance to get together and enjoy good books, food and friendship. They also get a chance to learn how to host an event and practice in leading a simple discussion. We meet every 6 weeks or so and the girls do most of the planning. Nina’s book selection this month was Wildwood. This book was so much fun to read. The illustrations are amazing and the writing is really fantastic, although quite challenging. The author, Colin Meloy and illustrator, Carson Ellis, are married and  have some delightful interviews discussing the creative process  behind the series on their website. This quick summary describes the book better than I could.

“In Wildwood, Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood. Wildwood captivates readers with the wonder and thrill of a secret world within the landscape of a modern city. It feels at once firmly steeped in the classics of children’s literature and completely fresh at the same time. The story is told from multiple points of view, and the book features more than eighty illustrations, including six full-color plates, making this an absolutely gorgeous object.”

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An illustration from the opening scene.

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I do believe March might be one of the busiest of the year but we were able to get 5 of the 6 girls here on one night. Because Wildwood takes place in the forest, the girls met in the tree house. Nina, Evan  and I did a little spring cleaning earlier in the week and vacuumed the cobwebs and swept the floor to prepare. We had so much fun making a few simple treats together. Acorns, mushrooms, owl crackers, twigs and berries. The mushrooms had to be the easiest thing ever and turned out darling. I don’t have time for anything too elaborate so this was perfect.

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Welcome to Wildwood with Micah and Nina

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This picture was taken before the other girls arrived. We made the mushrooms out of apples and little marshmallows and “planted” them in a big brownie.

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Acorns

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Mushrooms

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Owls

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When the girls arrived they worked on a map of what they imagined Wildwood to look like.

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Evan tried to spy on the girls and really had his eye on those yummy acorns and mushrooms. You can bet he wants his own special club with fun treats!

SATURDAY

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Last Saturday we stayed home most of the day and worked around the house. It was so nice to have a free Saturday to sleep in and get stuff done. In the early evening I went to a wedding reception for a darling girl from our church. I was so happy to see our dear friend and the kids’ favorite babysitter, Andrea, who was in town from BYU for about 12 hours for the wedding.

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This is how we do Saturday chores. I can never stick to any sort of complicated system, but this always works for us.  I make a list of what has to get done which is different from week to week. The kids get incredibly motivated to check things off so they can get on with their day. Except Evan. He’s good for about one item on the list and then suddenly it’s “I’m so tired.”

THRIFT SHOP PARTY

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Nina has some really fun friends who decided to have a “Thrift shop” party. Many of the girls dressed up like Macklemore but Nina recycled her outfit from Xanadu for her thrift shop look. They rented a huge, white, 80′s looking limo and cruised around town. The limo picked each girl up at her home and then they stopped for pizza and ice cream. I hear they drew lots of attention and Nina had such a fun evening. Sela helped Nina get ready because we all know I can’t do hair or make-up. I’m so glad Sela is picking up the slack. I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but I had to watch a youtube video this week to learn how to do a classical bun for Nina’s first ballet class. I’m more of a messy bun girl so something slick and perfectly smooth is new territory. Hairspray and bobby pins…who knew?

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I had a birthday too, although not near as exciting as the groovy limo party. Zig and I went out to dinner at Black Bottle, but before we left we thought we would see how many eye rolls we could get from Sela by doing a “couples selfie.”  There’s a first (and last) time for everything!

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Two of my best birthday gifts.

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Nina is now a ballerina….with a bun.