Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Late Start

I woke the girls up around 10:00 this morning,
school was cancelled again due to black ice conditions.
Mr. Nielson and I took the Little Nies to the gym in our chapel
where I won about 50 games of "speed".  
I mean, I don't want to brag, but I'm pretty good.
And every so often I would announce that it was Lottie's turn to
have the entire floor to do whatever she wanted since she was
 super bored watching us play basketball.
She would run circles around the gym floor while
 Nicholas played amazing piano pieces on the
 electric keyboard in the corner, (on the memory function).
Anyway, we got in a few hours of playing around, and releasing
 tons of stir-crazy energy--which we all needed.
When we were sweaty and gross we cleaned up and left the gym.
  Mr. Nielson left to a work meeting so I drove the Little Nies,
 into Raleigh to pick up lunch.
Pizza for Claire and Jane, a sandwich for Nicholas,
 and burritos for Lottie and Ollie.
All three of our favorite restaurants are in walking distance, 
which made lunch easy.
Then we picked up a dozen of donuts for on the way home.
At home I dropped everyone off with the donuts
 and drove to my favorite park where Angus and I wandered the snowy fields.
The shadows are long and the days short, 
and I know it sounds weird, but I love it.
And it was nice to be alone to think and contemplate my life, 
my children, my future, my family, and the
 things I can't change (but wish I could), 
things I hope never change (but I know they will),
 you know, things like that.
My favorite time of the day is when we are all around
 the dinner table together sharing food and conversation.
I love lighting the candles, setting the table, and listening to my children talk
about their day, their teachers, and their friends. 
Tonight we talked mostly about the piano music 
that Nicholas played in the gym,
(it was so funny) and about dinner (the lasagna was a little rubbery).
Each night after dinner we read from the scriptures
 (we're reading in the bible right now), and then we read a short
section from the For the Strength of Youth, booklet.
It's creating some fantastic conversations.
Tomorrow we will finish the booklet and then we'll 
start reading it over again.

 It turned out to be a wonderful fulfilling day.
Then the phone rang--it was the school district.
The Little Nies held their breath,
would school be cancelled again?!

but we did score a late start!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

One pair

This morning I woke up to glorious snow!!
Mr. Nielson and I carefully drove to the my favorite park
with Angus so we could wander through the trees and hear the
quiet snow fall (it really does makes a sound!).
Chapel Hill has shut down.  
We didn't see cars driving on any roads and businesses are closed.
It's kind of cozy.
On the other hand, the Little Nies are a bit stir crazy-
 especially Lottie and the boys.
As the snow piled up outside our home I rummaged through
 our meager snow gear to outfit Lottie, Ollie, and Gigs.
All of our snow/ski gear is in the storage unit in New Mexico, 
which made playing in the cold fluffy stuff a little tricky.
I found our gloves, hats, and coats, but we used plastic
sacks and duct tape to help aid in our bad snow gear dilemma.
It worked for like 5 minutes then wet bodies marched back inside
for reinforcement, (Lottie sobbing).
 I was a little bit out of patience the third time this scene played out,
and out of dry gear.
Inside my house, snow was in watery puddles all over the floor and 
wet gear strewn throughout the hallways.

Then I got a phone call: school cancelled for Tuesday.
I should have been happy, but instead I felt exhausted.
Visions of the boys kicking Angus's fetch ball around the tiny kitchen,
the girls yelling at them to stop, and
Lottie crying and through her tears blubbering:
 "Everyone has someone, but me.....
Claire has Jane, Ollie has Gigs, and you have dad, 
who do I have?"
Around 5:00 I prepared dinner and we had a
 lovely Family night and lesson.   
We talked about our family Christmas promise to:
make others happy first, and a game plan to make our Tuesday 
  a little more pleasant for everyone.
I also summarized this beautiful talk  by M. Joseph Brough,
 and as a family we discussed what obedience means,
and how "strict obedience" to God's laws and commandments can bless us.
 I shared with my children the experience I had when our Prophet
President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled the women in the Church:
“We discourage tattoos and also ‘the piercing of the body
 for other than medical purposes.’ 
We do not, however, take any position 
‘on the minimal piercing of the ears by women 
for one pair of earrings’—one pair.”
I was 19 years old when I heard this and engaged to be married.
I remember coming home from the conference with my mom and sisters
to find Christian on the couch in the living room waiting for me.
I remember the excitement that I felt as I retold him what I had learned, 
and better yet; what I was going to do with this knowledge.
Right there in front of him I took out my extra piercings.
I remember feeling excited that I go to follow the prophet in 
this very specific way.
I could show the Lord obedience right then and there.
I didn't need to think about it, and I wasn't even sad.
Then Brother Brough shared his wife Emily's experience
 when she too heard President Hinckley's counsel almost 20 years ago.
"To some of us, that may seem insignificant because it is such a small thing.
 That is true. However, I do not remember the Savior saying,
 “If ye love me, keep my commandments that appear important” (see John 14:15).
One clear voice of warning we must always heed comes from
 the Lord’s chosen apostles and prophets. 
It might not be popular by the world’s standards, 
just like that small thing requested by President Hinckley. 
But you can—you must—trust that it comes from Heavenly Father.
 I know my experience was small, and perhaps insignificant to my children, 
but I know that when God promises miracles and blessings, 
those miracles and blessings are NEVER small and insignificant.  

“Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Snow at the Harlow House

Early Sunday morning around 4:30, I woke up to a
 warm little body snuggled up to me.  It was Charlotte-
she nestled under my arm and with her big brown eyes,
asked me if I had seen the snow that was falling outside.
Together we scampered to my window to find that
snow had covered our neighborhood, the rooftops, and roads.
I don't think we went back to sleep: too excited.

On Friday afternoon Mr. Nielson and I took Angus to the vet to get his 
booster shot, and we noticed that salt covered the parking lot. 
I  heard there was supposed to be a big 
snowstorm and school could possibly be cancelled for Monday,
but I have never heard of preparing for a storm like this,
almost three days in advance!
Sunday morning we were alerted by our Bishop that church
was cancelled, and when daylight broke, 
our neighborhood was a buzz with families
and kids playing in the snow and in the roads.
The Sabbath day is still the Sabbath day regardless of cancelled church,
and we stayed inside as a family listening to beautiful Christmas music,
reading scriptures as a family, and discussing the
beautiful miracles Christ preformed
while on earth, and miracles we see still today.
We did some cooking, napping, journal writing, 
reading Christmas picture books, we wrapped presents for friends,
and had a family coloring session.
Before dinner we watched "A Wonderful Life", and I am convinced that
they don't make movies like that anymore.

Just before dinner I got a phone call from the school district
alerting us that school was cancelled for Monday!
If there is anything in the whole world that would make my
Christmas complete, it would be snow.
I am in heaven!
Welcome Christmas!