Back to school time!

The last 2 weeks have been crazy!!  We have been to 8 doctors appointments (doctor, dentist, eye doctor and urologist), cleaned out our bedroom and put in a new bed set, had a great birthday party for Kayla, started soccer practice, met Garion’s teacher, had Kayla’s kindergarten assessment, School started for Garion, I ran a half marathon,I jammed 51 pints of plum jam from our tiny tree in the back yard (and we aren’t done yet!!), Jason paintballed in Idaho, and Garion had pack meeting for scouts, etc.  I am out of breath just remembering our schedule!!  It seems like the two weeks before school each year get really busy, but this year has been the busiest yet by far.  I am just hoping and praying that this isn’t a trend of increased busyness each year.  If it is, then next year will kill me for sure and I won’t even have Brynn in school yet. 🙂  I am really beginning to understand and appreciate the importance of calendaring.  Without it I would have been lost.  Because of this new appreciation, I have added a new phone to my Christmas list. 🙂  A smart phone so that I can have my calendar and address book with me at all times.  And, probably most importantly, a calendar that I can add to when I am out and about.  I do almost all of my phone calls while I am in the car and almost all of my appointments are made when I am NOT at home.  Anyway, I am very excited for life to settle down into the school routine and get back to normal.

Well, normal for this year anyway.  It will be quite different because Kayla is starting kindergarten!!  As I mentioned above, she turned 5 this last week and we had an awesome birthday party for her.  It was a princess Barbie themed party complete with a barbie cake that I made with a real barbie doll.  (I will post pictures later this afternoon.)  We started with a craft of making necklaces and bracelets and headbands.  This was really fun, but a little too advanced for 5 year olds.  All 9 of them needed help at the same time.  In spite of it all though, they came out with several very cute pieces of jewelry.  We then moved to the pinata which was a unicorn.   This didn’t turn out exactly how I had it planned either because it broke open on the second person to hit it.  Nice hit Allison!!  Luckily, the plethora of candy that then became available dispelled any complaints from the girls that didn’t get a chance to take a swing at it.  🙂  Next came Kayla’s favorite part.  The presents.  She got every thing from jewelry, to makeup , to a gumball machine, to stickers with her name on them and a personalized notepad.  She was very excited!  She is still trying to carry everything around with her that she can all the time.  I can understand, sometimes it is hard decide what to play with!  So why not play with it all at the same time. 🙂  Last, we did the cake.  This was hard for me.  I had a little bit of drama making the cake, so it was hard to cut into it.  But that is the point and to my delight, it tasted very good!  It was my first time making and decorating with homemade butter cream frosting.  It was excellent, if I do say so myself. One last note on Kayla.  She started soccer practice this week.  She has 2 more practices next week and then her first game on Saturday the 29th.  She is on a team with only 3 other kids, all girls.  She is the only one without previous experience, but I Think she is going to really enjoy it.  We are going to spend some time this week as a family playing so that she can get a little more practice before her next practice.

Garion started third grade on Thursday.  This is the first year that we have had to supply supplies for him for class.  Not much, just a binder a dry erase marker, and pencil box.  He was very excited to go to the store and pick out his stuff for class.  As I am sure you all know, there is a TON of stuff for the kids to choose from.  It gets hard to explain over and over again why he doesn’t need the $20 camo binder with fifty pockets, a ruler, pencil case and built in flashlight for third grade and only the $.97 one. 🙂  But in the end, we found some great stuff and off he went.  He is riding his bike this year again, only this year he is riding with his friend Tyler who has started 1st grade.  I am much relieved that he has a riding buddy for the year.  His teacher is Mrs. Jackson, who happens to be the wife of his football coach from last year.  It is a small world!  🙂  His first day of school went well.  He likes his teacher, his best school friend, Joshua Callahan, is in his class and he eats lunch before he plays this year instead of the other way around  (like it was last year, which I didn’t know.)  Garion is also starting soccer, but his practices start this week.  His first game is also on the 29th.  Luckily enough for me, both games are at the same time at the same place on boardering fields.  So I can stand in the middle and cheer both of them on.  Hopefully!  Garion has been working hard in scouts.  In the last 2 weeks he has passed off a wolf requirement and earned his compass and map beltloops.  Good job Garion!

Brynn has been doing a good job being happy as we drag her all over the place with us.  She is turning into the epitome of a 2 year old.  She tells everyone that she can that she is 2, she loves to giver her opinion and pretend that Kayla’s new things belong to her, and she loves to talk to me.  Beware to those who don’t answer her on her first calling of your name.  The second and third time calling turns into screaming and it is almost as cute as it is annoying.  Almost.  Brynn has had a growth spurt over the summer and is now wearing 2T and sometimes 3T.  She has also grown in her vocabulary.  She is talking in complete sentences most of the time and her articulation is becoming very good.  I was a little worried that she would be bored once Kayla starts school, but the more I Think about it, the more I am SURE she will be happy to have some solo mom time!

Jason has been crazy at work.  I guess this time of year just has stress written all over it whether it is at school or work.  To make matters worse, he has been battling a sinus infection.  He finally went to the doctor and got on an antibiotic so he is feeling much better.  He left almost as early as I did Saturday morning to drive up to Idaho for the day to paintball.  I was glad he was able to go since he hasn’t had a chance almost all summer.  He had a great time, despite the heat and came home with some nice welts on his back to show off. 🙂  Jason has been busy this summer getting some major yard work done.  We are expanding our BBQ pit so that it doesn’t block the gate to our neighbors house, and we are trying as always to grow a garden.  There is a definite learning curve here.  Jason is more knowledgeable than myself and because of this, he does the majority of the work out there.  He has also been busy helping me get the house organized.  As I mentioned above we got a new bedroom set that we inherited from his mom and so to get it in the room, we had to organize and clean out the old set.  We are also in the process of organizing the basement to move in a new desk and the garage as we clean out all the baby stuff.  For some reason (probably because we have been gone traveling for most of the last 2 months), most of this organization has had to happen in the last two weeks.  I have no idea what I would do without him.  Thanks for putting up with me and my craziness honey!

As for myself, I have been going crazy trying to keep up with everything.  I have discovered about myself that I do not do well under pressure.  When I get tired, I fall to pieces.  Hence the importance of calendering.  If I am organized in time, I am happy while I work.  Yesterday, I ran the Hobble creek half marathon with my best friend Michelle and it was totally fun!  There really isn’t a greater feeling than crossing the finish line 20 minutes faster then you thought you would and knowing that you gave it your all and the months and months of training have paid off beautifully!  It is quite an emotional experience.  My sister in law Heather ran it as well and did a great job coming in at 2hours 6 minutes.  Michelle and I came in at 2 hours and 32 minutes.  🙂  Now that the race is over and school is underway, I am on a quest to finish the processing of all our plums, and then move on to our apples.  I am pretty sure the rhubarb needs to be harvested as well as some peppers, garlic, and onions.  Another personal revelation that I have had this summer is that I really don’t like to garden.  It is hot and their are spiders and I usually am really behind on my house work, which goes even more to pot when I have to work in the yard.  Then all the produce becomes ripe right around the time school is starting and it is one more big and time consuming project to harvest it all and then preserve it.  So, I don’t like to garden.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I love to look at all the pretty jars of preserved food on our shelves and see the rewards of our labors.  It is satisfying!

In Loving Memory of Laurene Williams Hall

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On Monday, May 25th, 2009 Laurene Williams Hall died of natural causes.  This weekend, on Saturday June 20th, she was laid to rest in the Ammon Cemetery in Ammon, Idaho. She is survived by her three children and their families, Jonna Lhyn, Jeremy Lee and Jason Lyle Hall; and her two brothers, Duane and Ron Williams, and their families.

I am honored and pleased to have known Lauri for 10 and a half years.  She was a wonderful woman full of wit and humor and selfless love for her family.  Her greatest joys were in spending time with her family and serving others.  Lauri was very intelligent and a wealth of knowledge that she shared freely.  I learned more about sewing, gardening and family history from Lauri than I have from any other person!  Not to mention current events.  Lauri read the newspaper from front to back everyday.  I was always amazed at how Lauri was able to remember the smallest details about my interests and the interests of those that she came in contact with.  Whenever we were together, she would constantly ask about me and my activities and then at seemingly random times she would remind me of a conversation we had had days or weeks before and ask how that particular project was going.  I was usually really hard pressed to get Lauri to talk about herself.  But when I could, she would tell me all the stories she could remember about her time as  a child and Jim (her husband) and of course, about her children.  I will never forget the smile she would get when given the chance to reminisce about the past.

I know that the last couple years of her life were difficult for her and she was not very happy with her circumstances.  But through all the trials she was able to keep her head up and doggedly push through the tough times.  She would always say to me and anyone else who tried to help her that she “didn’t want to be a burden.”  Well, Lauri, I hope you know now how much you were NOT a burden to me and how much I love you!  Serving Lauri has given me a new perspective on life.  The love that is given and gained in service is unlike any other kind of love in the world.  It is deep, and full of understanding and tender admiration for the strength of spirit of those we succor.  Lauri has taught me that life is not complete without this kind of love.

I return from this weekend with a spirit that is lightened and grateful for Lauri’s presence in my life.  I find myself with a feeling of emptiness each day as the time comes and goes without having spoken to Lauri.  She has been such a constant in my life since Jason and I married that it is very strange to not have her here anymore.  Neither Jason or I are very teary people, but the tears seem to come unbidden and at random times lately.  My poor husband, has lost his mother in addition to his father now, at a very early age and I marvel at his courage and faith through this hard time.  The services were wonderful.  There was a time at the end for family and friends to get up and share their thoughts and memories of Lauri and her life.  I loved this!  Between the memories that were shared and the things we have found in her house after her passing, I have come to know Lauri in an even newer light and I cannot wait to see her again so that we can talk and laugh together unhindered by the problems of this world.  I know she is healthy and happy now being back with her beloved husband and though I will miss her dearly, I am glad that she has finally found peace.

See you soon Lauri!

Though the weekend brought us together under sad circumstances, it was really great to see family we haven’t seen in a long time!  Years in some cases!  We arrived in Idaho Falls Friday evening and went right to Ron’s shop so that Ron and Jason could make the urn.  Ron made Lauri’s Urn out of stainless steel and did a great job!  While they were working on that, I took the kids to a nearby park and we played for about an hour.  It was a great park that had everything from a huge sand box to musical instruments to swings and a gigantic play set.  The kids had a ball.  By the end though, Mom was sure ready to go to the hotel!  We picked up Jason from Ron’s shop and went to the hotel were we met up with Jeremy and Heather and Granny Deanie.  Dinner was from Cafe Rio and after we ate, the kids and Jeremy and Jason swam.  Heather (luckily :)) forgot her Sunday clothes, so she just had to go shopping!  She let me tag along with her and we had a fabulous night at Kohls and Target.   The kids were going to sleep when we got back so Jason and Jeremy and I sat in the lobby and talked until late.  It was fun!

Saturday was a nice sunny day in the morning and after breakfast we all headed over to the cemetery.  The flowers were delivered and the chairs were set up and at just after 11am the services started.  It got steadily cooler as the services went on, but luckily it stayed dry until we were getting in the cars at the end.  Perfect timing!  After the services, we all headed over to Smitty’s, the traditional family gathering place, for a brunch.  The food was excellent and the conversation was even better.  After Smitty’s we took the kids swimming for a while and Jonna and Eric joined us.  We all swam, played, dunked, and tossed each other for about an hour and a half.  I think Jeremy and Jason are still bleeding from the girls long fingernails. 🙂  As for me, I got so cold at the services and in Smitty’s that the warm spa water was heavenly and I had a hard time leaving it to play!

After swimming, Jeremy and Jason headed over to Duane’s for some more family talk time, and Heather and I stayed at the hotel with the kids so they could all talk in peace.  We ordered a pizza and watched a movie and then went to bed!  Sunday we got up and dressed early so that we could go to church with Duane.  With everything happening this weekend, I forgot it was Father’s day until they announced it.  Don’t worry, I told Jason we would celebrate next weekend under better circumstances. 🙂  The speakers were excellent and the kids were quite for the most part. It probably seemed that way to me because Jason spent half the meeting in the hallway with Brynn.  What  a good daddy!  After church we checked out of the hotel and then went for a walk around Idaho Falls and took some fun pictures.  Thanks for the photography tutorial and letting me borrow your lens Jeremy!  I totally need to get me one of those! 🙂  The last thing we did was meet a Duane’s again for some lunch before we headed out to come home.

All in all the weekend was good and I am so grateful that we were able to spend so much time with our family!  The drive home was pleasant, I read while Jason drove.  He came home and crashed, can’t say that I blame him!

Mother’s Day

I have to say that this was a FABULOUS Mother’s Day!  It started off with my 5k (see previous post) and just got better from there.  🙂  When I got home from the 5k, I was surprised by Jason and the kids with a bucket load of flowers to fill all my pots and planter beds with; including a beautiful hanging basket full of petunia’s and a lawn chair so that I can sit out in the back yard and enjoy the weather comfortably while I watch the kids play. 🙂  So I spent the day in the yard planting all my flowers and I have to say, I have quite a bit of yard pride now!  It makes me excited to finish all the projects we have planned so that I can fully enjoy the yard for the rest of the year.  It is great how much more I love the yard when I put hard work into it.

After I planted most of the flowers, Jason and I took the kids to my nephew Taylors 13th birthday BBQ at Jeremy and Heathers house.  It was really fun.  Heather provided sloppy Joes and some excellent cake.  All the neighbors, friends and family who came each brought a side dish to share.  This has become a tradition for them when Taylors birthday comes around.  I love it!  The weather, which had been wonderful and hot all day, cooled off just for the BBQ.  Cooled off a little too much.  Most of us were cold n our t-shirts and shorts, but even with the cold wind. it was a great time!  Happy Birthday Taylor!!

On Sunday, Jason REALLY pampered me by taking the kids and letting me sleep in until 9am!!  I woke up a new woman with more energy than I really new what to do with.  Even despite the fact that my legs were so sore I kept waking up all night long. 🙂  Then, while the kids watched a Veggie Tales movie, Jason and I had a lovely breakfast on our deck with all our newly planted flower pots and talked about our future yard plans.  At church, it got even better.  The last hour of church, the bishopric gathered all the women in the ward and had the men take over their responsibilities.  This means, that for me, I didn’t have to teach my primary class.  🙂  They took all of us into the gym area where there were tables (complete with nice table cloths) set up and they served us cake and cheese cake!  It was fabulous!  After church, we again went to Jeremy and Heathers and had dinner.  Jason made steak fajitas for us and Heather provided a strawberry salad, strawberry and goat cheese baguettes for appetizer, stuffed potatoes, and then Dulce de Leche cake with strawberries on top for dessert.  Of course, it was fabulous!!  The day ended perfectly.

I love mother’s day!  I feel very appreciated and loved and I am so grateful for my family!  I love every minute I get to spend with them.  I am so grateful for my husband who is so thoughtful and understanding of my needs.  He is my best friend and I couldn’t live without him!  Thank you Sweetie!!!

Lightroom is Awesome!

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a workshop on Lightroom taught by Scott Jarvie.  I am just getting to know Scott through Jason; my brother-in-law, Jeremy and Twitter.  He is a well known wedding photographer in Utah and extremely generous in the sharing of his knowledge for amateurs like myself.  🙂

The workshop was free and hosted at East Bay Studios in Provo.  There were about 50 people in attendance and most of us were new to Lightroom.  In fact, several people downloaded the free, trial version of Lightroom right at the workshop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my laptop with me so I was forced to write down my thoughts on paper and bring them home for future reference.  Scott did an awesome job teaching the basics.  He has a great sense of humor that made the time both instructional and entertaining.

I am really new to the photography stage and I am just beginning to understand the importance of a good photo processing program.  However, I like things to be simple.  Photoshop has always seemed extremely complicated to me.  After last night, I think I will be investing in Lightroom.  Scott briefly went over the whole of Lightroom and explained the 5 modules, but spent the majority of the time teaching us about the Library and Develop modules.  I found it all very user friendly and self-explanatory.  Scott told us in the beginning that he wanted to teach us the basics so that we would be able to go home and use that knowledge to solve our own problems.  He accomplished his goal.  I feel that I have a very good base to get started in editing my photos.

I was pleased that he took the time to explain some seemingly very basic things to the group that I didn’t have a very clear picture of, even though I am sure the majority of the people there already understood these concepts.  Things like, what exactly a preset is and the difference between a raw photo and a jpeg.   As I said earlier, I think Photoshop is complicated, but I was happy to learn that Lightroom can be used in conjunction with Photoshop should the need arise.  And I LOVE the ease and organization Lightroom provides to speed up and enhance work flow.

Half way through the night, everyone had the opportunity to pitch in for pizza and root beer floats.  The food was good and the conversation was even better.  I just want to thank Scott for his time and willingness to share his expertise and help us to learn what fun photography can be!  I also want to thank East Bay Studios for their hospitality!

Scott is teaching an intermediate workshop on Lightroom Thursday night at 7.  You can get all the info from Scott’s blog.  I am looking forward to attending and learning as much as I can from one of Utah’s most talented photographers!

Influenza? For Real??

Let me start this post by saying that when I think of the flu, I think of a runny nose and headache, maybe a fever and stomach ache possibly diarrhea and anything else that can go wrong with our bodies from a virus.  How many times do people get the “flu” and it is actually influenza?  Hardly ever.  At least in my experience, never.  I have only know one person ever who had the “flu” and it actually turned out to be influenza.  Everyone else was sick, but it was a virus of some sort or other that we all call the “flu” because we don’t know what else to call it.  Now I know two people who had the flu and it turned out to be the real thing.  Who knew?

On Monday morning, Garion woke up and got ready for school.  I have taken to sleeping in until about 7:20 lately, so he is usually dressed and eating breakfast by the time I make it to the kitchen.  As was the case Monday morning.  But he didn’t look right.  His clothes matched and his hair was brushed, but something was off.  He was really pale and kind of slouched over his bowl of cinnamon toast crunch.  Which was almost untouched.  Totally weird!  I asked if he was okay and he sad his head hurt.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing Garion these days when he says he doesn’t feel good.  It has become one of his favorite excuses to get out of school work, chores or anything else he doesn’t want to do.  Kinda like the boy who cried wolf!  So, Monday morning I told him to finish his breakfast and that food in his stomach would probably help him feel better and he better hurry up about it so he isn’t late for school.  What made me stop and take notice was his immediate agreement to my statement in a dead like voice.  The agreement would have made me do a double take anyway, he never agrees with me lately.  But the dead voice was really something.  He is either turning into a really gifted actor, or he is really is sick.  I went with the sick theory.  I got out the thermometer and took his temperature.  Sure enough, he had a fever.  So his head ache and dizziness were legit.  He stayed home from school and slept.  Around 3 pm he woke up and his face was so red it looked like he had been out riding his bike in 100 degree weather.  His fever had spiked to 105.2!!  Needless to say, I took him to the doctor the next day.

If I had more then a few minutes of speculation in the doctors office, I could have really panicked!  She was very concerned about his high fever and was ready to take blood tests for appendicitis, x-rays for pneumonia and she was feeling his neck up and down for spinal meningitis.  Then, after all this, she says “before I order any tests, we will test for the flu.”  Does the flu and spinal meningitis even fit in the same category of illness?  I consider one a “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” illness and the other a “Quarantine, I might die!” illness.  I was very confused.  Luckily, they swabbed him for influenza and it was positive.  A test that usually takes 5-7 minutes to test positive was positive in less then 2.  I was relieved, to say the least.  But then reality hit.  The doctor says 5 days of of and on fever and he should stay home from school.  5 DAYS!!!  This was only Tuesday!  What am I suppose to do with 3 kids home all week?  And since we don’t want to spread influenza around the other kids can’t play with their friends either.  So there are 4 of us in the house without outside influence until Saturday.  If we get lucky and no one else gets sick, we can emerge victorious on Saturday, hopefully because we will all still be in one piece, and hug the beautiful outdoors!

Dentist Drama!

About one month ago, every person in our family had an opportunity to go to the dentist and have our bi-annual cleaning.  I have always hated the dentist.  Ever since I left home and got married, I have had one bad dentist after another.  I have had painful and bad fillings and really poor bed side manner.  But finally, after about 8 years of searching, we found a dentist with expertise, good bed side manner, and a gentle hand.  He is even good with the kids.  But after yesterday, if you didn’t know this about him and were sitting in the waiting room, you may question what you were doing there!!

Lucky for us, Jason and I escaped the dentist with no cavities.  However, Garion and Kayla were not so lucky.  We try to get them to brush well!  We have tried to teach them and guide them in good dental hygiene.  But it is like talking to a blank wall sometimes.  🙂  Not all the time, but apparently more often then we thought, they are skimping on their brushing.  We kept telling them their teeth would fall out if they didn’t brush well enough.  Maybe we should have told them the truth though.  It is almost more scary.  It could have gone something like this.

“Garion and Kayla, if you don’t brush well, then you will get cavities in your teeth.  If that happens, then we have to take you to the dentist who is going to take x-rays by putting really uncomfortable square thingys in your mouth in a whole bunch of weird positions that keep you from closing your mouth without getting poked painfully in the jaw.  Then after they look at the x-rays and find all your cavities they are going to have to fill them.  Only they won’t fill them right away.  They will make you an appointment to come back in a week or two and then leave you to your imagination, dreams and horrible anticipation for all that time until it is time to go back.  On the anticipated day, you drive to the dentist (hopefully on a full stomach because you won’t be able to eat or feel or taste anything for several hours afterward), and they lay you back in the chair and put a nice orange mask on your face.  This is the gas that is suppose to help you relax.  I works wonders until they pick up the long and incredibly torturous looking syringe that they plan on shoving into your mouth.  When you heart is beating so fast you think you are going to have a heart attack, they stick it in your mouth and tell you not to move while they jam it into your gums and wiggle it around.  All the while, pulling on your lip like they want to take it off your face.  Once they are done with the shot, they leave you alone for awhile so you can get your heart back under control and wait for half of your face to go numb.  Then they come back with big smiles and tell you to open wide again so they can drill.  That’s right kids!  They pick up a drill like the one daddy uses to put holes in the walls and they put holes in your teeth to get rid of the cavities.  Once the cavity is gone, they fill the hole with some weird stuff that looks like tooth, only it isn’t and tell you to have a nice day.  And by the way, please be sure you don’t eat anything or you might just bite your tongue off since you can’t feel it.”

I think that is the story I will go with when it comes time for Brynn to go to the dentist.  Maybe she will listen to me.  Kayla refused to let me help her brush until after her dentist experience.  Now she practically begs me to help her brush every night!  And Garion brushes for a full 2 minutes or longer now if he can spare the time.  Kayla had 2 cavities and they had to be filled on different days because they were on opposite sides of her mouth.  She had both filled before Garion went in for his appointment.  I was really proud of her!  She didn’t want me next to her so I waited out in the waiting room with Brynn and watched a movie.  She didn’t cry or whine or whimper or scream or anything.  She did fabulously.  Both times.  Although, with her increase in brushing, I am sure she doesn’t want to repeat the experience. 🙂

Garion was a completely different experience.  The funny thing here is that he has had one other cavity filled in the past.  He was in and out of there the same as Kayla.  No tears or fears and I don’t even think he knew they drilled on his teeth.  They just “tickled” the cavity away. 🙂  This time, he either figured out what was happening ahead of time, or has out grown the silly terminology the dentist uses to put kids at ease.  Again, Brynn and I were in the waiting room watching a movie while Garion was taken back to the room.  About 5 or 10 minutes later, I started to hear the screaming.  Not just one scream, but several.  After about 40 seconds of non stop screaming I decided to go see what was happening.  I didn’t want Garion to be in pain, but I was more worried about the dentist.  We have always taught Garion that it it okay to defend yourself if someone else wants to hurt you.  I wasn’t sure if he would apply this lesson to the dentist with the torture syringe.  I got to the room just as the dentist was finishing and in time to hear him tell Garion that if he grabs his hands (the dentists hands) then he can’t hold the shot steady and it huts more.  Turns out the assistant had to restrain him for most of the injection.  I retreated back to the waiting room so the dentist wouldn’t feel like I was going to hang over his shoulder.  He gave me a look like I was the one at fault here!  Pshahh!!  I am not the one shoving needles in peoples mouths!  Anyway.  The rest of the appointment went pretty well.  I only heard him one other time as the dentist started to drill.  Not as loud and definitely not as long.  Then it was over.  He had a numb mouth probably until bedtime with a birthday party to go to in the  meantime.

And we are dentist free for 6 more months.  In one year, we take Brynn for the first time.  I wonder if she will be the quiet type or the screaming type?  I am sure I will be surprised.  I certainly was with the other two! 🙂

8 years old and Baptized

Almost two weeks ago Garion turned 8 years old, and 2 days later he was baptized.  It is amazing to me that time goes by so fast!!  It makes me feel a little old to have a child old enough to be baptized!  I have not blogged about this even yet because I wanted a little while to ponder the event in my mind and really be able to express my feelings about it.

Garion was born at 5:50 in the evening on March 5th and the minute he entered this world, I knew he was special.  He has a very calm spirit that reflects peace and a certain maturity that is beyond his years.  He has always been mellow and open to our counsel and obedient to our rules.  At the same time, he offers our family all the fun of a boy!  He loves transformers, bionicles, swords, guns, his pocket knife, reading (especially Captain Underpants), strawberries, playing the Wii and computer games, camping, Pokemon, playing with his best friend Tyler every chance he gets, and traveling.  He is spiritual, sensitive, caring, obedient, learning to be a hard worker, an excellent student, funny with a good sense of humor and has a happy disposition.  He is a joy to have in our family and I thank Heavenly Father for him in every prayer.

Of course he is only 8 and is still learning about the world around him.  He is a little like an open book.  You can always tell, quite clearly, how he is feeling by the look on his face.  He is becoming independent and responsible.  It has been incredibly gratifying over the last few years to watch as Garion’s testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has grown and strengthened.  He knows that Jesus Christ lives, and knows him by name.  He recognizes the blessings he has been given in this life and is learning how to be grateful for them.  He chose to be baptized and has already made some changes in his life in the way he treats other people and the way he prays.  He does it more from his heart.

For those of you who may have questions, I just want to clarify  that in our church, we wait until a child is 8 years old to baptize them.  We believe that by 8, they are old enough to know right from wrong and the consequences of their actions.  Because of this, they can be fairly held accountable for the choices they make.  There are 13 Articles of Faith that summarize the beliefs of our Church.  The 4th Article of Faith states “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Second, Repentance; Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Garions baptism was a very significant and meaningful experience in my life because he is the first of my family to gain a testimony of  the gospel and join the church.  My mom and I joined the church 16 years ago, together, and it has brought purpose, meaning, joy, peace and direction to my life.  My relationship with Heavenly Father and the guidance of the Holy Ghost has helped me weather every storm I have encountered in my life.  Heavenly Father has given me Jason.  He has helped me to see past this life to the beauty and serenity that I can have in the eternities with my family by my side.  I ache for the rest of my family to find this peace.  To find the certainty in their hearts that they are children of a Heavenly Father who loves them.  Garion is the first and I pray he is not the last.  I am so grateful that my Mom was able to come to his baptism and share in this exciting time in Garions life with us.

I am proud of you Garion!!!

January and February Update

I was kidding myself when I thought I was going to be able to write a series of blogs catching up on the holidays.  I hardly have time to keep a current blog, let alone one making up for past time.  I have tried several times to write a blog post, but every time I get on my mind is filled with anger and indignation about what is happening in our country, that I get writers block.  I want to write about my family, but I get clouded over with other things and can’t focus.  It has gotten so bad for me that in order to make sense of my thoughts, I have had to take a break from the computer and the articles and the commentary for a while.  I am hopefully back now and can write coherently.

I will start with my family.  We have had Strep throat going through our house lately.  About a week and a half ago, Brynn had a UTI, 3 days later I got Strep and 5 days later Garion got it.  He is home from school today still trying to get better.  However, if you could hear him playing with Brynn right now, you would never know he was sick. 🙂  Guess he will be going back to school tomorrow after all.  He won’t be contagious anymore and with his amount of energy, it will be good for him.  We are counting down the days to Garion’s Baptism.  It is insane to me that he is this old already!  But time does move on continuously and doesn’t give us any leeway to stop and smell the flowers!  That is why it is so important to live in the moment!!! Garion is really excited about it.  In our religion, we wait to baptize until the child is 8 years old.  We believe that infants and babies are innocent and unable to understand the difference between right and wrong.  We believe that by the age of 8, they are able to not only understand the difference, but act on it as well.  We have been given agency by Heavenly Father, and we believe that by the age of accountability, 8, they can start to use their agency with respect for the consequences that come from our actions, be they good or bad.  It is a big day and we are looking forward to it!!  In addition to his baptism, he will be having a birthday party too.  Although, at this point, I have no idea what it will be.  He wants to go to Jump on it, a trampoline place for kids.  But I am not sure that will happen.  It is still in discussion.

I am starting to get a little frustrated with Brynn.  She is so cute,  that most of the time it is too hard to stay mad at her.  But she is truly a toddler in every since of the word.  In the last couple of weeks and even into that last month or two she has really started coming out of her experimentation and exploratory shells!!  She is into EVERYTHING!  Just about every wall in the house been colored on, almost every book has been scribbled on, and the furniture is colored as well.  She has learned how to climb and loves to get into the glass cabinet in the kitchen, or wave around a steak knife (Which have been moved to the top of the fridge, by the way).  She loves to make messes with anything she can get her hands on, from Mommy’s makeup to her breakfast to her brothers Pokemon cards to her sisters lip gloss.  Nothing is sacred.  If you value it, it needs to be hidden.  That is about where things stand.  The problem is that she gets so happy to have discovered something new or to have helped “do” something that she gives this completely beautiful smile and it is impossible to reprimand her.  Most of the time. 🙂  Then again, she is also learning self defense and has started hitting and pinching when Garion and in particular, Kayla, do something or take something from her that she doesn’t want to give up.  She has serious control of her eyebrows.  And when she is upset she has this way of pulling them down and over her eyes to give the “evil” eye.  It is hilarious!  But her meaning is very clear!  I am trying to get a picture of the “eyebrows” to post, but I have lost the battery charger for our camera.  When it is found, I will get and post a picture.

Kayla is still Kayla.  There isn’t much new to tell about her.  Her obsession with puppies is getting a little out of hand and I am ready for her to move on.  It gets a little tiresome, even though it is still funny, to speak to my daughter when she is pretending to be a dog.  She responds by barking at me, crawling on all fours, licking her food and water with her tongue, and saying she can’t do her chores or anything she doesn’t want to do because a dog wouldn’t be able to do that particular thing.  Yes, definitely ready to move on from the dog obsession. 🙂

I am trying to get back into running.  I haven;t really run for months and I miss it!!  The weather is killing me.  My bravado and usually tough (tough for me) skin for the cold is seriously resisting the cold.  I just can’t seem to get myself out the door for a run with snow on the ground.  My brain wants it but my body refuses.  I would almost kill for a treadmill!!!  So I am still trying to workout in my basement with videos, etc.  They just don’t hold that much interest for me.  I like to work them into my routine with my runs, but all on their own, I get bored.  Oh well.  Winter can’t last forever.  I have become unusually obsessed with politics.  I have also discovered that very few people want to discuss the happenings of our country.  I have a strong suspicion that it is because I get pushy with my opinions when I start talking about it.  It is frustrating to me though, because if no one will talk to me about it, then I have no where to vent my thoughts and no where to learn new things or lines of thinking.  That is the beauty of a good conversation, both sides walk away enlightened and hopefully more respectful of the other party because of their thoughts.  I really want to become more involved with politics somehow so that I can feel like I am making a difference.  However, there is very little I can do personally.   Plus, I am just not sure I have the backbone for politics.  So I have retreated to my house.  I figure that I can prepare my family for whatever may come.  Good or bad.  That is my job and how I can make the biggest difference.   But if there is anyone out there who is in the mood for a little political discussion, send me a line. 🙂

Jason is still working.  He has paintball practice once a month and PLUG once a month and Scouts every Thursday.  He teaches a primary class at church on Sundays and, of course, is still the head of our household!  🙂

Man, listen to this post.  It is almost like a Christmas letter.  I guess that is what happens when you don’t write about your family for a month!

The True Meaning of Christmas

Well, the Christmas season is upon us in force!  I love this time of year.  Especially this year, with the good weather.  If you ask Jason he would say the weather stinks.  We should be covered in snow with unbearably cold temperatures.  But being from California, I love the more mild weather.  I know the snow would be good for us as far as the drought goes, but I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I LOVE the nice weather.  It is December and I can still walk outside during the day with bare feet and a t-shirt on!

I feel like Christmas is different for me in more ways than the weather this year.  As the kids grow and their understanding about the world changes, Christmas is changing.  I  should preface this next paragraph by saying that I love to shop.  It is very easy for me to get caught up in the whole materialism and “things” part of the season.  There are really great sales that make it sooo easy to buy things and spend lots of money!  I love to think about the looks on peoples faces when I give them the perfect gift.  I have long since realized that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on someone to give them the perfect gift, but at Christmas, there are just so many people to buy for that before I know it, I have a closet FULL of stuff and an empty bank account.  I am very lucky to have a frugal and grounded husband who keeps me on track and out of debt.  Before we started any of our Christmas shopping this year, we decided to set a budget for each child, since this is the area that I have the hardest time with.  I love to spoil my kids! 🙂  A dollar amount that is significantly smaller than in previous years.  I have been bound and determined to stay within my budget.  I feel very strongly, more so this year than in the past, that we need to be more concerned with the true spirit of the season than the things we get.  There are so many people in need and we have the means to really help others.  But also, I am feeling so strongly, almost anxious, that my kids need to learn that Christmas is about Christ and not about gifts.  It is hard to teach that lesson that when they get so much stuff!  My Mom, bless her heart, does the 12 Days of Christmas for my kids each year.  It is wonderful!  But that means that the 12 days before we even get to Christmas, they are opening a gift.  Then a gift Christmas Eve, which is our tradition.  And then of course Christmas morning there is the gift frenzy with all the rest of the gifts under the tree.  We are soo blessed!  We get so much stuff!  But I want my children to realize that our most important blessings come from Heavenly Father in ways that we can’t unwrap on Christmas morning.  Anyway, even though I have tried very hard to stay in my budget for each kid, we have exceeded it.  Doubled it in fact.  I am disappointed in myself.  I can return several things and get smaller versions…but that won’t decrease the amount of things they are getting.  I can just return a few things and not buy anything to replace it.  I don’t think I can express how difficult it would be for me to return the things I have bought.  The kids will LOVE them so much!  So where does that leave me?

I have really been trying to pray and do some soul searching.  I think it leaves me still focusing on the gift and “things” aspect of the season.  I am talking with Jason about what we can do to get back on track monetarily, but I am still left with how to teach my kids the true meaning of the season.  I need to change my whole perspective.  Stop focusing on the gifts myself.  Just giving my kids less isn’t going to teach them how to serve those in need or how to appreciate what they have been given.  The only way to do that is to set the example and really serve those around us.  And to involve the kids in that service.  That is really hard sometimes because they can’t keep a secret and they have no tact in their speech about other people appearance and situations.  They just call it how they see it and in not so quiet voices.  Also, it takes time to teach and lead and show them how and what to do.  It takes patience.  But, therein is the true meaning of Christmas.  Teaching, serving, loving and giving time.  I have started with baby steps in bringing this stronger spirit of Christmas into out home.  We read a scripture and Christmas story every night before bed and most nights we talk about what we have learned and how we can apply it to our own life.  Through our neighbors we have found a family with 8 kids that may not be having a Christmas this year because of some really terrible circumstances.  We have talked with our kids about it and are going to do secret Santa for this family together with another family or two.  We are really increasing the amount of Christmas activities that we do.  I had the opportunity to go to The Forgotten Carols with a friend last week and it was FABULOUS!!  I am totally taking my whole family next year.  Last night Jason and I went to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and it was excellent as well!  I love our first presidency!  They are so inspired!  I am trying to go to the temple more.  We are taking the kids to shop for the secret Santa family and then going to see the lights at temple square in a week.  Anyway, you don’t need to hear my whole schedule.  But my point is, that this season, I am trying to give the kids more experiences as their gifts than presents as their gifts.  It is hard because the really spiritual things have age limits of 8 years and up.  So, we are trying find spiritual things to do without the age limit.  I would LOVE to serve with Garion and Kayla (if she is old enough) in a soup kitchen.  If anyone has any other ideas on activities we can do as a family to teach the true meaning of Christmas either this year or in years to come, please let me know.  I would love some ideas!  My next goal, will be to carry the attitude and acts of service throughout the year, with the kids involved!

It is funny to me, because it seems like I am going to be learning more than my kids this year about giving and serving and loving.  But I guess that is how it goes.  The teacher almost always learns more than the student at first.  If Jason and I  have done our job and taught them well enough, then they will learn from our examples what is truly important and when the time comes for them to teach, their experiences will deepen their understandings and increase their testimonies of Christ.  “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” -Mosiah 2:17

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Daddy and BRynn playing Patty-Cake

Daddy and Brynn playing Patty-Cake

I love this holiday!  It gives us all cause to stop, reflect, acknowledge and then express gratitude for our blessings.  I have so many blessings in my life.  Too many to name here.  But a few of them are a wonderful, supportive, loving husband who is my best friend and soul mate.  3 beautiful children who are my light and joy.  An awesome mother who is my guiding light, my example and my other best friend!  I have a great family!  Even though most of us are separated by large distances, I know they are there for me and I hope that they all know I am there for them for anything!  I love them all dearly!  I am surrounded by friends on all sides.  I am so grateful for my girlfriends.  We laugh, cry, commiserate, and party together as mothers, women, wives and friends.  I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, clothes on my back and good health.  I have the gospel of Jesus Christ, without which, I would be lost.  I am so grateful for my Savior!  I know He lives!  I know he knows me by name and he loves me!

Okay, it is not like me to be so publicly sentimental.  But there you go.  I am grateful for my life!

We usually wait until after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree.  It seems like every year, these two holidays

Jason and Garion with the new tree.

Jason and Garion with the new tree.

get more and more mixed up. 😉  But we decided to buy a new, Pre-lit, tree this year instead of putting up the ratty 6 year old one we have stuffed up in the garage.  On Monday night we went to Cost Co and let the kids pick it out. It has been sitting in the entry way since.  There was no reason to put it away when we were just going to get it back out this weekend.  So, last night while I was cooking dinner, the kids were a little restless.  So we decided to put the tree up a little early.  The kids loved it!  They all helped and after it was up and the lights were on, all three of them ran around the tree, jumping and dancing and shouting!  Even Brynn kept pointing to the tree and yelling and laughing!  It was the cutest thing I have ever seen!  Not long after, we ate dinner and Kayla decided it would be a great idea to eat dinner by Christmas Tree light.  So she proceeded to go around the house and turn off every light she could find!  Soon it was really dark, except for the tree lights.  Not quite enough to eat by, so Jason got out one of our oil lamps and we put on some Christmas music in the background and soon we had a very nostalgic atmosphere.  Kayla loved that we could see the tree lights reflecting in all the windows.  And Garion said “If you make your eyes blurry on purpose, the lights on the tree look like a bunch of fireworks!”  All in all it was a VERY fun evening.  Kayla was pretty upset that we didn’t do the ornaments last night too, but since they are hiding in the garage and we need to find them, it wasn’t happening.  Now that the tree is up there is a sense of anticipation and excitement for the next month.

This Friday, tomorrow :), is Black Friday.  I love this day.  I know it is weird, but I love the crowds, the good deals and the opportunity to shop all day!  Thanks to my sister-in-law, Heather, and her super kind heart, we are able to go without the kids.  They are so excited to spend the night at their cousins house so Jason and I can get an early start tomorrow morning.  Brynn will be staying with us, but Jason is going to drop her off when he goes n the morning.  Since he will be leaving a little later than me.  I am hopefully going to be going about 4:30am with my friend Michelle.  Gotta beat the crowds!  I have a list of stores to go to and items to buy.  SO FUN!!

This last week has been a really fun one.  Last Thursday night, I went to the midnight release of Twilight.  As most

Twilight Group!

Twilight Group!

of you know, I am completely obsessed with this story.  The night was awesome!  There was a group of 15 of us in the end.  My friend Jana and her friend and I went to dinner at Applebees and waited there for the rest of the group to arrive.  They met us for dessert and it was a party from then on!  We made our way to the theater and it was a MADHOUSE!!  There were 20 screens in the theater we went to, and all 20 had sold out midnight showings.  We figured there were over 3000 people there.  Some even dressed up for a prom promotion they had going on.  (At least I am not THAT obsessed.:))  Anyway, the movie was FABULOUS!!  I loved it.  They followed the story line really well.  I was a little worried.  They had to change or cut out a few of the details to make it flow better on the big screen, but it didn’t take away from the story.  So it was good.  It was a little low budget, and you could tell in the special effects, but I still really liked it.  And now that they know they have made enough to make New Moon, we can look forward to better effects and such.  Can you believe they made 70 MILLION on midnight showings alone!  Crazy!

Friday night we went to Tyler’s birthday party.  Garion’s best friend.  They ate pizza and played Kung Fu Panda.  That is a great movie.  I love that the cartoon movies are geared toward adult humor as well as kids entertainment.  It makes watching them a really enjoyable experience for all involved. 🙂

Last Thursday Kayla and I both got injured. 🙂  It is worth mentioning because they were not just little injuries.  Kayla and her friend McKenna decided to play in McKenna’s basement even though it is off limits and under construction.  I am not sure what they were doing, but a piece of framing fell on Kayla’s foot.  It landed on the top of the foot right above the big toe.  There as a nice inch long cut and a pretty purple bruise to follow.  She was, understandable, so upset that she wouldn’t let Michelle near her.  So I had to make the trek across the back yard to get her.  For those of you who don’t know, we are back yard neighbors and we have a gate that connects us.  When I got there, I picked her up and started to walk home.  But I was wearing my red ballet slipper shoes and they have no traction.  So, as I was about to walk down the 3 stairs out of the back of Michelle’s house, I fell.  With Kayla in my arms.  Man, that hurt.  As I lifted my right foot to step off the stair, my left foot sipped off the edge of the landing I was standing on.  So both of my feet were in the air and I landed on my rear end on the edge of the landing and then bounced down a stair, hitting the edge of that stair too before I came to rest on the second stair down.  All this while I have Kayla in my arms so I can’t even try to break my fall with my hands.  She added a nice 35 pounds to the weight that hit the edge of the landing.  I had to sit there for a good 3-4 minutes before I could even breath.  Kayla was screaming “Don’t put me down!”  and I was trying not cry in front of my friend Michelle who saw everything.  I finally managed to get up and carry Kayla home, bandage her foot and then try to asses my own damage.  I had no idea that my body could turn the color of eggplant.  I have a nice bruise that is about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide and the color of egg plant.  I still can’t sit straight and I can’t run or walk fast or do anything will make the muscles back there move.  Ouch.

Well, that about sums up this last week.  My friend Krissy and her boys came over yesterday to play for the morning.  We had a great visit!  And today is Thansgiving.  We are going to Jeremy and Heathers house for dinner and games.  Tomorow I go shopping and Saturday we will hopefully sleep and recover. 🙂