Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013



December 8, 2013

Dear loved ones,

As I sit at home this morning with a child who isn’t feeling well, I am grateful to have time to ponder my blessings.  Time is a hot commodity these days, isn’t it?

2013 has been good to the Kent family.  The very first day of this year, instead of our usual hike or walk on the beach, we were able to unpack boxes and put together beds for our children in our new home. We love it!  The first year of home ownership is a little stressful, but we have made it and have loved it. I love hearing Jonathan working on his self-inflicted “honey-do” list.  We have enjoyed working on projects and dreaming together as we combine our tastes and design interests.  The kids have been working on their paint choices and d├ęcor wishes for their rooms.  Elina and Isaac have the biggest challenge (how do you combine camouflage and princesses?) We love our neighborhood with the bike path and park and lots of children.  Our neighbors are wonderful people! They are great examples to us of Christ-like giving.

One of the biggest highlights for us this year was a family trip to Oahu to see my sister Else and her family.  Twenty-six Lassen’s traveled over for the occasion.  It was so much fun and very memorable.  I feel at home in Hawaii, wrapped up in love and warmth when I’m there.  My favorite is Laie and the North Shore, of course! Many people helped make this trip possible for us. 

Audrey has had a busy year, turning a big 13! The cheer coach approached her and me after a Baila Folklorico performance at school in April.  Mrs. Tedrick said, “I’ve got to have her on the team! Try outs are on Monday.”  Audrey has really enjoyed cheer this year.  She’s a great addition to a good team.  They will go to Nationals in February.  It has kept her working hard and I’m so proud of her.  She has spent some time working at Lassen’s and babysitting to earn money for all the fun things she wants to do. Audrey’s favorite past time is cooking treats.  She made me a turquoise birthday cake and a delicious pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving.

Adalyn is 11 and continues to move us with her angelic voice. I love hearing her sing all through the house. She was really nervous to start middle school, but found it was a lot of fun and she is doing quite well.  Her older sister’s friends have made the transition easy.  They love her.  She’s pretty easy to love, such a cutie.  Adalyn is starting to babysit also.  She is anxious to do more of it.  She really goes the “extra mile” when she does anything.  Speaking of miles, she’s a good little runner.  Yesterday, she cranked out 3 miles with a nice stride.  She averages about 8 ½ minute miles.

Isaac is 8 now and was baptized a member of our church yesterday, by his dad.  It was a great day.  We moved Isaac to our neighborhood school this year.  He has struggled with the move, more than I could have imagined, but is coming into his own.  He did great in Tae Kwon Do, making it to his blue belt.  We are taking a break from that for a little while.  Isaac loves playing with his friends.  Anything to get away from all the girls, sometimes!  He is a sweet boy, with a cute giggle.  He really likes science in school and math is pretty easy for him.  We are encouraging that!

Elina is as cute as they come at 3 years old.  She’s such a big talker with a huge imagination.  I make the mistake to think she’s older than she is because of this sometimes.  She is BUSY!  People say, “Everyone’s got to have one”.  Well, she’s the one.  As busy as she is, she has a sweet disposition, is quick to say, “I’m sorry”, and wants to be good.  She likes to make potions, sing songs, and make up dances.  Audrey and Adalyn teach her ballet. It is so cute. She loves all things princess, but really likes Legos and Pokemon, too.  Poor girl!

Jonathan got to take a trip to Toy Fair in February with Uncle Milton’s.  It was held in New York City.  He worked hard, but got to do a little sight seeing at night and on the last day he was there.  His favorite place was Ground Zero.  He continues to be absolutely amazing.  Last night, I was so tired after a long week (as was he!).  He sent me to my bed and after a Nerf gunfight with Adalyn and Isaac; he had them help him do the dishes.  That’s just the kind of man he is. 

So, as you can see, we are happy and have so much to be thankful for.  We have our difficult days, but we are thankful for a Savior who hears our “soul’s complaint… and lives to bless in time of need”.  He lives! We are so thankful for Him. We hope you know how much we are thankful for you and the role you play in our lives. Merry CHRISTmas!

*Photo taken by my talented sister, Mette Griffith*

Monday, April 4, 2011

34 Things I Love about Jonathan


Today is my husband's, Jonathan James Kent, 34th birthday! To celebrate, I thought I would post 34 things I love about him:

I love:

1. His smile
2. His voice -- especially when I get to sit next to him at Church and he is singing
3. That he watches romantic movies with me
4. That he is so handsome
5. That he likes to spend time with his family
6. That he rubs my back even when he is SO tired and not feeling well himself
7. That he doesn't get too mad when I break or lose or throw away something important
8. His great memory
9. That he falls so gracefully
10. His MAD dancing skills
11. That he is an amazing artist
12. His patience when disciplining our children
13. That he is a great teacher
14. That he is good with details
15. That he is thoughtful of others
16. That he is a man of God
17. That he is frugal
18. His humility
19. When he makes me laugh
20. That he is a great listener
21. That he takes creativity to another level
22. That he likes to read manuals and instruction books
23. That it is very hard for him to lose his "cool"
24. That he likes my cold feet. I know...CRAZY!
25. That he is good with the elderly
26. His talent at working smoothly through difficult situations
27. That he is great with colors and design
28. His curly eyelashes
29. That he doesn't stink! :-)
30. How he tells me I'm beautiful EVERY day and I believe him!
31. That he likes to surprise people
32. His love of toy stores
33. That he is a snazzy dresser
34. His gentlemanly manners


Happy Birthday Juanathan, Joan from down the street, JB, J-Bird, JJ, Babe, Sapo Guapo, Daddy, Dah-Dah, Dad...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gus's baby blessing--Santa Barbara California

On June 13th, we visited the Santa Barbara ward to support my cousin Ben and his wife Alex. Ben blessed his first baby boy, David Augustus Shadle (Gus for short). It was a really beautiful day in Santa Barbara. Ben did a great job. It is fun to see this friend of mine be a daddy. Alex is an amazing mom. They are wonderful! And now they've moved away to Fresno. I miss them! This was kind of a last hurrah as Ben also graduated from his residency for Surgery that weekend. I really wanted to get some pictures of Gus and Elina since they are destined to be best cousin friends! They cooperated very nicely, even held hands.




Beautiful Alex! Gus has mommy's eye's and daddy's smile.






They seemed so happy to be holding hands. Elina is 1 month older than Gus. She is almost 4 months in these photos.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What I've been up to

This is what has been keeping me busy lately:


Yes we are foster parents to a dog. I've never had a dog. I am so insecure in my abilities to care for a dog. But she is cute and good. Too bad our neighbor is coming into our backyard when she thinks we aren't home and talking to our Lady about what a poor job we are doing taking care of her. Ugh. Anybody want a dog?
Audrey likes to cook. She is good at it. I LOVE her creativity. I don't like the explosive messes she leaves behind. Workin' on that...

Isaac and Elina keep me busy. Jonathan is my DREAM!
Adalyn keeps me busy. My motto with Adalyn: don't take it personally. I wrote it in my journal.
Holy cow, laundry grows exponentially with each child!
My kitchen keeps me busy. To be honest, looking at this picture, it doesn't seem so bad. I think things have gotten worse since I took this photo.

Feeding the "brutes" (as Jonathan's Gram would put it) keeps me busy.

There's more, but I don't want you to kill me from overdoing it or boring you to death.

I just re-read a talk given by an apostle about motherhood. If you have time, skim it. It helps me remember how fortunate I am to be doing what I am doing. I am happy to be busy! Love love love my "treasures".

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Liahona, May 2008, 108–10


Brothers and sisters, recently my wife, Barbara, had back surgery and could not lift, twist, or bend. Consequently, I have done more lifting, twisting, and bending than ever before—and it has made me more appreciative of what women, and especially you mothers, do every day in our homes.

While women live in homes under many different circumstances—married, single, widowed, or divorced, some with children and some without—all are beloved of God, and He has a plan for His righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity.

This afternoon I want to focus my remarks primarily on mothers, particularly on young mothers.

As a young father, I learned the demanding role of motherhood. I served as a counselor and then as bishop for a period of 10 years. During that time we were blessed with six of our seven children. Barbara was often worn-out by the time I got home Sunday evening. She tried to explain what it was like to sit on the back row in sacrament meeting with our young family. Then the day came that I was released. After sitting on the stand for 10 years, I was now sitting with my family on the back row.

The ward’s singing mothers’ chorus was providing the music, and I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.

As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling. I learned for myself to more fully appreciate what all of you dear mothers do so well and so faithfully!

A generation later, as a grandfather, I have watched the sacrifices my daughters have made in rearing their children. And now, still another generation later, I am watching with awe the pressures on my granddaughters as they guide their children in this busy and demanding world.

After observing and empathizing with three generations of mothers and thinking of my own dear mother, I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. I am grateful that today many fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. But I believe that the instincts and the intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be a major key to their well-being. In the words of the proclamation on the family, “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother’s emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives.

As a Church, we have enormous respect and gratitude to you mothers of young children. We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve. So today, let me ask and briefly answer four questions. While my answers may seem extremely simple, if the simple things are being tended to, a mother’s life can be most rewarding.

The first question: What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?

First, recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.

Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).

Second, don’t overschedule yourselves or your children. We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows. One mother told me of a time that her children had 29 scheduled commitments every week: music lessons, Scouts, dance, Little League, day camps, soccer, art, and so forth. She felt like a taxi driver. Finally, she called a family meeting and announced, “Something has to go; we have no time to ourselves and no time for each other.” Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.

Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

Fourth, pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, “We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.”

The second question: What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?

First, show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you.

Second, have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child’s needs and what you can do to help.

Third, give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does. You may do a lot of lifting, twisting, and bending!

Fourth, come home from work and take an active role with your family. Don’t put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.

The third question: What can children, even young children, do? Now, you children, please listen to me because there are some simple things you can do to help your mother.

You can pick up your toys when you are finished playing with them, and when you get a little older, you can make your bed, help with the dishes, and do other chores—without being asked.

You can say thank you more often when you finish a nice meal, when a story is read to you at bedtime, or when clean clothes are put in your drawers.

Most of all, you can put your arms around your mother often and tell her you love her.

The last question: What can the Church do?

There are many things the Church offers to mothers and families, but for my purpose today may I suggest that the bishopric and the ward council members be especially watchful and considerate of the time and resource demands on young mothers and their families. Know them and be wise in what you ask them to do at this time in their lives. Alma’s counsel to his son Helaman applies to us today: “Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

I hope all of you dear sisters, married or single, never wonder if you have worth in the sight of the Lord and to the leaders of the Church. We love you. We respect you and appreciate your influence in preserving the family and assisting with the growth and the spiritual vitality of the Church. Let us remember that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). The scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles help all family members to prepare together now to be together through all eternity. I pray that God will continually bless the women of the Church to find joy and happiness in their sacred roles as daughters of God.

Now, in closing, I want to add my witness of President Monson’s prophetic call. I have known him since he was 22 and I was 21. That’s 58 years. I have watched the hand of the Lord prepare him for this day to preside over the Church as the prophet and President. And I add my testimony, along with all of the other testimonies that have been borne through this conference, of his special calling as President of the Church, and add my testimony, along with all of the others, that Jesus is the Christ and this is His Church. We are doing His work, to which I testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Audrey and Savannah

My good friend Annie Thunell was telling me tonight that she reads my blog and I was feeling bad because my blog has been pretty darn boring lately. So, here's a new post I promised Audrey and her friend Savannah I would do SO long ago, I can't even remember.

Audrey and Adalyn got American Girl dolls for Christmas and they enjoy playing with them, especially when the Thunell girls come over.

Here's a few photos of the girls and their dolls.


Adalyn and Elizabeth
Savannah and Kirsten (such a great choice!)
Audrey and Natalie

Cute girls!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Us

We are existing nicely. To be honest, as we drove away from my parent's home last night: Elina was screaming, Audrey and Adalyn were fighting in the back seat, and Isaac was singing at the top of his lungs to compete with it all, and I was smiling inside, knowing that my life is FULL of this little family that is growing in size and numbers. I remembered to when our Lassen van would pull away from Grandma and Grandpa Beecroft's home at the top of Victoria in Ventura, full of 6? little ones, all screaming and fighting and singing, having left with our tummies full and our heads a little tired and happy memories are all that exist. And now I am the mommy driving away from Grandma and Grandpa's house with screaming, fighting, singing children....ahhh. For just a moment, I was loving it.

Trust me, I don't always have this perspective. Especially when I am tired. I think last night I was beyond tired!

Here are some photos with a recap of our full, busy lives:

February


My sister-in-law Emily came to visit and help take care of my little ones. She spoiled us crazy. This is Isaac marrying cousin Gracie in our backyard chapel. This has happened twice now!


Adalyn releasing her Christmas butterflies



Audrey is holding squishy Elina (1 week) in backyard

March:



Elina at 2 weeks



Elina's first trip to Carpinteria

Jonathan's...
Mustache...


March...
(P.S., I thought this was fun, but don't tell him, 'cause I don't like kissing facial hair). Doesn't he look like a 70's movie's star?





Unkie Erik took us all flying in his friend's Cherokee plane. What a great uncle!

Elina was given a blessing by her daddy in church



Audrey and Elina
Adalyn and Elina
Don't make fun of my smile! It's a fake "smile for the camera but don't be so gummy" smile. I'm working on it!

April
Easter:
Adalyn



Atalie, Cozette, and Audrey checking out their loot

Scotty and Ditte

The dads made their kids jump through loops, literally, to get their Easter eggs this year.

Stay posted for more on US. Maybe in a few months, I'll do this again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Elina Jane Kent

Here's some photos of our newbie: Elina Jane Kent
Born Thursday February 18, 2010 at 10:08 am in the Pleasant Valley Hospital
She weighed 7 lbs 7 oz. and was 21 inches long





It is so wonderful to have a little newborn angel in our home.