Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas

So Christmas redeemed itself for my family and I after my little rant on a previous post and I've happily overcome my Scrooge feelings. To explain; this year has been one of the most difficult years of my life since we've struggled financially due to the home market pretty much crashing and nobody wanting to buy a log home, Dave's job and our primary income. As we've shifted from unrewarding job to unrewarding job, continuously overcome huge amounts of fear with faith, and learned how to survive this torment, we knew Christmas was going to be about as dissapointing as everything else that involves money in our current lives, but were we ever wrong.

We started out the Christmas season as usual with a tree and decorations because we already had them and didn't have to purchase anything to put them up and meanwhile wondering how to make Christmas magical for little ones without money. We began to think creatively and had some friends donate used toys to us as well as found some decent toys at local second hand stores for minimal costs, thinking these things would just have to suffice because in all honesty, our bills would come before Christmas gifts in the financial department.

But then a few weeks before Christmas, the true spirit of Santa began in our lives. We received gift after gift from loved ones, most anonymously, of generous amounts of money to allow us the opportunity to have a splendid Christmas. We even received a few bags of presents wrapped and labeled for our children and ourselves. As a result of all the kindness of others, our Christmas was just as good, if not better, than any Christmas we've had as a little family for the last 8 years. The children had no idea that our past response to their pleas for things, "because we don't have any money" could have also affected their Christmas because it appeared as if it didn't. It was as if for a day we were able to pretend there was no struggle in our lives and we were at ease watching them open each gift with surprise and wonderment, as well as for ourselves, since we didn't know what the presents were either. It's hard for me to put into words the effect this experience has had on Dave and I. One thing we do know is the frustration we've felt in not being able to appropriately thank those generous givers that magically changed our world for just a moment, at a very special time. My cousin Braden put our feelings best, when he wrote on his own blog:

I Believe in Santa Claus
I'm 37 years old and I believe in Santa Claus. I really do. Let me tell you why--and then maybe you will also. It seems a good thing to do for a Christmas Eve post.I didn't always believe in him. In fact, while I was growing up, I didn't believe in him. My sweet mom really wanted the focus to be on Baby Jesus (and rightly so), consequently Santa just wasn't a big part of our celebrations.I was never anti-Santa, I thought he seemed harmless enough, but he just didn't figure in to my life much. Until I was married with children.A lot of you know the next part of the story. On my mission, I became quite ill. I managed to struggle along through the complete two years, but I came home severely weakened and exhausted. I fell in love, got married and we started our family. Then I relapsed and the sickness came back with a vengeance.Those years are a blur for me. For basically three years I could do nothing but lay in my bed and sleep. On good days I was able to watch a little tv. I had to drop out of school and it was impossible to work. Poor Mere was a single mother for all intents and purposes--two little boys to take care of in addition to a sick husband. It was terribly, incredibly, perpetually bleak during those years. There was not much to cheer us as we trudged through the soul-numbing bleakness that was always there.We're coming up on the anniversary of my healing, and for those interested, I'll write more about that as we get closer to that. Eventually, though, I was healed. But what I learned was that the absence of illness did not make me strong and healthy. That was a process that came slowly. I went back to school and work. But after three years, we were in a pretty deep hole--financially and emotionally.Christmas came the next year. We were grateful that I wasn't sick any more, but there were a lot of residual effects. I was way behind in school, we had no money, and Christmas was going to be fairly sparse for our kids--and now there were three of them. That was ok. We weren't miserable or anything--but it wasn't exactly terribly festive, either. Then, one night we heard a noise outside. Someone left a beautiful artificial Christmas tree on our doorstep. That was followed by decorations and some other things. That really brightened our holiday. Then, several nights before Christmas, we heard the distinct sound of bells outside. I opened the door and went to see what it was. I opened the door and Santa Claus walked in.
I'm not joking. Just like that. He came in and asked if he could sit down. He had a helper then bring in several laundry baskets full of gifts, all wrapped beautifully. The new tree, by the way, is in the background. David and Spencer were in bed, but we ran and got them. Thankfully, we had film in the camera! Their eyes were like plates. Sadly, Toria was a baby and was asleep, so she missed out. There were lots of gifts for all of us--things we wanted, things we needed, and everything was in the right sizes, too.
Of course, the gifts were nice--really, really nice--but the greater gift was the way our hearts were lifted up and the love that was so clearly manifest. To this day, we aren't sure who was behind this. We racked our brains and went over every possibility. But we never found out. And they made that Christmas for us. We remember--and relive this--every year. Whoever you are, thank you so much.
And then I realized that we didn't need to know. Santa Claus was behind it. He was responsible. That was when Santa became real to me. And what is Santa? I believe that he is the embodiment of the kindness we show each other. He is the name we give to the urge to do something nice for someone else. He is the incarnation of all the good will that we feel during this time of the year.
I've never felt a conflict between my belief in Santa and my belief in the Savior. To me, Santa is the name for doing what the Savior would have us do. Ultimately, the Savior is the source of the goodwill that finds an expression in the acts we perform as Santa. Perhaps that's redudant. I don't know. But it works for me.
All I know is that Santa is real. I met him many years ago on a cold night in Wymount Terrace.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Our hearts go out to all of those of you who have helped others or us because we know that it is because of that kindness and love that we were able to have an amazing Christmas! Thank you for your kindness, all of you! Dave and I are so excited for the future so we can find ways to help others as we've been helped. What a glorious opportunity to portray the Savior in his kindness in doing for others what has been done for us. What a glorious holiday!

Besides the many gifts given to our children from others for Christmas, we were able to give them new bedrooms in anticipation of our new arrival this coming February.

Harris and his new bedroom in his new pajamas.

Brigden and his new bedroom (shared w/ Harris) in his new CARS pajamas.

Halen and her new bedroom in her new pajams

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bah Humbug, Merry Christmas!

Ahh! I want to scream. Have you ever wanted to scream? I know it's the holidays and it's a wonderful time to remember the reason for the season, make gingerbread houses, enjoy time with loved ones and family, look at the beautiful lights on houses, listen to glorious music, bake goodies for friends, and get excited to give gifts to others, but why can't all this bliss be accompanied by little children running around the house with smiles and giggles instead of whines and complaints and instant tear jerking moments of frustration due to complete exhaustion from late nights, sugar overload, and high expectations?

I've vowed to myself from day one to keep my posts as realistic as possible so I feel it only necessary then that I equal out my positive grateful posts with a real "Bah Humbug" post....hence, beware and stop here if you are feeling the joy of the season and life is blissful for you because I might just temporarily ruin it!

My mom had a plastic door knocker that she put on her door every year for Christmas that was a molding of Scrooge and when you pushed the button with the door knocker it would say, "Bah Humbug! Merry Christmas." Of course as kids we all got a kick out of it and now I have it on my door and get to watch kids enjoy it the same as we did. It is fun to have, but so truthful to my heart at the moment because I feel like shouting "Bah Humbug" to my little ungrateful awnery ones every 10 minutes.

Today is the first day they are out of school and given my 7 month pregnant tired state, I am not excited for the fact that I get to entertain them all day long as well as the next 2 weeks. I'm not really sure that threatening the placement on the Naughty List is really cutting it because in the end will I really shrink to giving my kids coal for Christmas. Oh, how scrooge is that, but sometimes I feel it might well be deserved by the actions of these awnery little ones. The worst part is knowing when they instantly go into fits after some seriously minor event takes place, that they are merely doing so because they are so tired themselves they can't even see straight, or feel straight for that matter.

Hence, I am just feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all and felt I should share my frustrations with you all so you could know that yes, I am not perfect, as well as my children, and although I love them and this season dearly, for these 10 minutes, I am done with Christmas and want mundanity back! No fear, I'll change my mind when I get some time to myself or someone in my home does something Christlike or nice to bring back the Christmas spirit, but seriously, a little bit of reality never hurt anyone, right?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chaos and Cars!

The last few weeks I have spent getting ready for Christmas by decorating/painting rooms. Dave and I decided to cut back on costs for gifts so the major present we would give our children is their newly decorated bedrooms. Given the quick coming arrival of their baby sister in 8 weeks, they've known they would be shifting around their belongs to different rooms to make space for the baby, but we thought it would be fun to surprise them with finished rooms earlier than they expected. Halen will be getting her own room merely only due to circumstances of being a girl older than her next two male siblings and Brigden will be moving in with Harris in what was Halen & Harris' room. This room was meant for Halen alone, but due to basement remodeling issues, it became Harris' as well and as a result he had to sleep with large flowers on his wall for almost two years. Occassionally he would remember his girly room and ask for dinosaurs on his wall someday to which I would reassure him of high hopes for the future. Anyway, as a result of the chaos in trying to paint and prepare two bedrooms without the kids clueing into the entire surprise, I've had to work while they were at school which left just Brigden at home with me. As a direct result of having only Brigden to occupy I did what most mothers would do in desperate circumstances, gave into his every desire to keep him occupied and out of my way so I could maximize my limited alone productive time. Here is the agenda of one of his days just last week....

9:00 Put together Cars Puzzle by himself (he loves puzzles and puts this one together at least 2 times a day)
9:30 Watch the entire Cars Disney movie, using the remote to skip the commercials when they came after I taught him how to do so.
11:00 Restart the entire Cars Disney movie, until actually tiring of it half way through.
11:45 Put together Cars Puzzle again by himself.
12:15 Play Cars Computer Game with my help as I prepare lunch for he and Harris.
1:00 Nap Time with his Lightening McQueen car.

All I can say is, "Thank Heavens for CARS!" And as if to mislead you into thinking this was an irregular day it in all actuality is not far from the norm. He doesn't watch Cars 1 1/2 times each day, but sure would if I let him. He loves his CARS puzzle, his CARS cars, his CARS jacket, CARS shoes, CARS toothbrush, CARS pajamas and amazingly enough we've just happened upon all of these things as gifts and hand me downs from others so this crazy obsession of his hasn't cost us more than the price of a puzzle which I actually bought for him. Now I know that there is such a thing as addiction and he needs to be relieved of his obsession, but as far as I'm concerned I need to get these rooms done and we can work on that and potty training after Christmas and before the baby comes. All in good time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Accepting Discomfort; Gaining Confidence!

This morning as I was catching up on my emails and studying my scriptures I was affected by two similar issues; the current protests of Prop. 8 in California against the LDS Temples and members and the past issue of the last days of battle in the Book of Mormon, specificially that in Mormon 1 & 2.
I felt such sadness for those in California who have had to deal directly with the persecutions for their beliefs against homosexual marriage and the thought arose 'if the church didn't take a public stand on their position on Prop.8 then none of these protests would have had to happen.' I also then quickly realized that while the protests may not have happened, neither would have come forth the opportunity for the sifting process between the weak, mediocre, and strong believers in Christ. I believe this situation really leads us to all ponder on where we stand. Sure, we can all put on our pretty clothes and go to church every Sunday, but what do we do when our homes, families, and careers are attacked because of our beliefs? Do we shrink away in humiliation for fear of what will happen to us temporally, or do we stand strong in our beliefs and firm in our faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ knowing that it really only matters what he and our Heavenly Father think of us. As noble as it sounds to stand firm in your faith, the huge amount of pain, similar to that experienced by the Pioneers years ago, is a reality and nothing to be excited about.
In Mormon 2:25-26, I was struck by the firm foundation the Nephites appeared to have when the Lamanites ran from them in fear, but when the Lamanites actually encountered the Nephites in battle, the Lamanites found the Nephites were not as strong as they had previously appeared, but rather were weak like unto their brethern because they did not possess the strength of the Lord. Therefore, my thoughts lead me to wonder; is my appearance of strength enough in preparation for the future battles of my life? Would I stand firm in my faith even when my family was under persecution? Would I be willing to fight for my beliefs, or just profess them comfortably among my friends and family who share the same beliefs? How strong is my testimony, really?
Finally, I realized, as the kids and I read our short scripture story this morning during breakfast about Christ raising Lazerus from the Dead; days after he had passed, that while Christ may save us from our trials and our afflications, it may not happen until days after the fact. That, of course, is not what I wanted to hear, but the important thing I learned from that short story and these other thoughts is that there really is a very important reason FAITH is the first principle of the Gospel. Where do my loyalties lie when I am tried, publicly or privately? Where do I allow my thoughts, fears, and attitudes to rest during these crucial times?
I've learned a lot these last few years, and while a break from learning due to intense life changing trials is extremely enticing, without these trials I never would have been prepped for the last day, and nor could I even have had a chance at being "lifted up at the last day" if it weren't for such discomfort in my life. What a blessing the gospel of Jesus Christ is to me in peace and in peril!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter! Like Father, Like Son!

Before I share this story you need to know that I love being married to my husband all day long, but as soon as my bedtime hits, I absolutely hate having to sleep in a bed with him or any other person, ask my bedroom companion of many years; my sister Brynn. He loves to cuddle, touch, or even breath in my space and it drives me nuts. I am actually a huge grump when it comes to this issue because sleep is so important to me and over the years he's learned to be patient, yet persisitent. He still tries to go to sleep while touching me and I do all I can to have nothing of it for many reasons, but mostly because he is a human heater. He just radiates heat and I can't concentrate on sleeping with a heater touching my arm or leg. Anyhow, it's been a battle for many years and continues to be so. Evidently, our children have caught on...
This morning as the kids and I were chatting about their night of sleep, Halen, 6, was a bit grumpy and I asked her why. She replied after much thought (as if she wasn't sure, but she needed to search deep for a reason to excuse her behavior), "Well, last night when I was trying to go to sleep Harris kept asking me to let him sleep with me in my bed and I just kept telling him, "No" He wouldn't listen so finally I yelled, "No you can't sleep with me; I need my space!"
I had the hardest time not laughing at her comment because it was so similar to my own feelings with Dave. Hmmm? Halen is the cold hearted independent sleeper and Harris is the warm cuddly bear looking for a friend. Just like their parents. How ironic!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Happy Halloween!

This Halloween was the first Halloween in years that I've thoroughly enjoyed because my kids thoroughly enjoyed it. In years past, Halen has been too timid to actually go and get candy at the doors of our neighbor's homes and therefore Harris wasn't too fond of the idea, thinking his sister knew something he didn't. Brigden was too young to understand the concept to begin with. This year everything changed. After the first house, Halen ran back to me on the sidewalk yelling, "Mom I did it. I said trick or treat." Just a reminder, she is 6. Not your typical 6 year old, eh?
Anyhow, Harris and Brigden followed her example and within an hour or so they were running from door to door. Brigden was not afraid at all and his only problem was that his candy bag weighed more than he did near the end of the night. He wouldn't allow me to help him by carrying his bag, but it did put him in last place at every door and he even had to skip a few doors so he could catch up, but did so with a huge smile the entire time. They loved it and I loved the parent tax (1-2 candy pieces of my choosing) at the end of the night! We had a blast being together, but were sad that their Daddy, Dave, couldn't be with them since he had to work. Such is the life of a responsible Daddy sometimes.

Halen was Sleeping Beauty, I was Malificent (Sleeping Beauty's enemy), Harris was a Pirate, and Brigden was Spiderman.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jesus is watching you!

Over the last few years, I've tried to instill in my children that whether or not I personally witness them making their own choices, whether to tell the truth, say their prayers, etc, their Heavenly Father is watching them. I've never really known if my words were sinking into their little heads or not until a few days ago I realized Harris had lied to me in telling me that he had completely cleaned up his room after quiet time, only to find one of the boxes still left out later that evening. I pulled him off to the side and reiterated the importance of telling the truth, i.e. he would not be able to be with his family in heaven if he continued to be disobedient (pretty harsh eh, but this kid needs harsh realizations to get it) and even though I didn't see him leave the box out at first, his Heavenly Father sure did so he wasn't fooling anybody.

Well, the very next day after Harris triumphantly announced he had cleaned his room completely after quiet time, I skeptically said, "Harris, are you sure?" He frustratingly responded in a tone exemplifying his surprise that I even dare question him, "Yes, Mom and Jesus saw me!" With that the conversation was over and he knew it. He was right on.

I love those moments when you realize, "Hey, I am making a difference, and how cute are my little stinks!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy D-Day Mom!

Yesterday, October 27th, was a big milestone for my family and I. It was my mother's passing date, of now 2 years ago. It would actually be a benefit for me to express this and the same date last year as being the only really hard days in the last 2 years of her absence, but the truth is almost every other day is a hard day as I continually strive to readjust to life without one of my very few best friends, my mom; Karen.

It's hard to explain how much she meant to me, but in barely skimming the subject surface, I would say it's mostly difficult because she knew me so deeply given she gave birth to me, reared me, shared similar genetic qualities with me, and regardless of knowing me so deeply, she loved me unconditionally and exemplified it daily in her selfless self-motivated actions to sensitively care for me. I have no doubt she does the same today in her spirit, but honestly, there is just nothing like the actual touch in comparison to the spiritual touch somedays!

My sister has written her own feelings very well concerning our current loss and therefore I find it easy and convenient to piggy back upon them until I can find the time to appropriately do my love and respect for my mother justice!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Watch out, I'm getting religious!

So this year I've tried really hard to revert back to my excellent mission study habits and daily devote time for myself to seriously study the scriptures, instead of just read them. I have found over many years that I really do love learning about Christ and His gospel, but in order for me to truly do so I have to put in the time and effort. Last spring I decided to do something about it since I hadn't been learning too much about the gospel in stinky diapers and late night feedings. I signed up to take an institute class at the local LDS Institute. The class was on the second half of Isaiah and believe it or not; I was ecstatic. I remember my mom attending such classes while I was in high school and college and how she would excitedly teach us things she would learn. As I enjoyed remembering those fond memories, I realized I should still be doing something to be learning and knew a class on Isaiah would definitely be something I could learn from.
The class is now over, but I can't believe how much I looked forward to it and loved learning all about Isaiah's writings. Unfortunately, this fall I missed the boat on signing up for another institute class, but one day stumbled upon the BYU channel that we've had for quite a while. I've always known we had it, but somehow never really registered in my crazy head that the BYU channel actually broadcasts current and old devotionals and talks. I realized that I didn't need to get in my car, find a volunteer sitter for my children, and rearrange my schedule to be religiously educated. I just needed to turn on the tv!
Since then, I've listened to some really inspiring talks that have helped me either bring or keep the spirit in my home and feel enlightened and educated during my special quiet time of the day. One of my favorites was a talk given by Sheri Dew at Education Week. She spoke on how living the gospel really includes sharing the gospel. She said we should be using all of our means to share our feelings for the gospel and actually mentioned using our blogs for a religious outlet. Ever since she said this my conscience has not let me rest.
I've decided that although different from most blogs that I see, I'm going to try to include my own spiritual insights or learnings occassionally because not only do these things truly excite me, but also because I'd love to hear those of others, and I figure why not, there's more to me than kids and cleaning house.
Given this post is already really long, I'll keep my first insight short. As I was studying the upcoming Book of Mormon chapters a few weeks ago, I read in the Book of Mormon Institute Manual something I always knew, but never really pieced together in my head before so clearly.
In 3 Nephi 2: 5-8, there is reference to 100 years passing since Mosiah, king over the people of the Nephites, and 609 years since Lehi left Jerusalem, and 9 years since the sign was given of Christ's birth or "coming." Because I've never been a great historian, I haven't previously paid much attention to dates in the scriptures, but the manual laid it out very clearly for me.
It explained that the Nephites used three systems of reckoning time: 1) the number of years since Lehi left Jerusalem used from 600 BC to 92 BC (see Mosiah 29:44-47, Alma 1:1), 2) the number of years from the beginning of the reign of the judges used for about one hundred years, from 92 BC to AD 9 (see Nephi 2:5-7), and 3) the years "to reckon their time from [the] period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ" (3 Nephi 2:8, in reference to his birth) which was the system used for the remainder of the Nephite record. Now I knew the BC and AD systems, but the 2nd one of the 'reign of the judges' always kind of left me puzzled and now I feel like the puzzle pieces fit so much more clearly because they overlap. It's a lot like standard time and army time, i.e. using 17 instead of 5 pm. Anyhow, there it is, something new or maybe not and the "click" in my head went off a little later than it did for the rest of you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The good ol' days!

When Halen and Harris are both off to school, it is a very sweet time in our home with just Brigden and I. Usually so I can get something done and he can be entertained and educated, I'll put Sesame Street on TV. As soon as he notices it is on, he'll grab his blanket, pillow, and binky and lay down to watch the entire thing without manipulation or being easily distracted. Just looking at him enjoy the show brings such a peace to me thinking of what it was like in the good ol days when I did the same. Sometimes, very rarely, I'll even sit down and enjoy it with him. What a sweet time we enjoy together! I think these are the moments people are referring to when they say their young parenthood years were their sweetest and to relish in them because they go fast!

Monday, September 22, 2008

6 out of 8!

This last Sunday my brother Kevin spoke in his new ward after returning home from his LDS mission to Nashville Tennessee. He gave a wonderful talk and we were all very impressed. We were also very excited to have 6 out of 8 siblings back together again. It's been a while since we've been able to have so many together given missions, move aways, etc.

Megan, Mandolin, Brandon, Kevin, Collin, and Corbin (missing Brynn & Cardin)

It was wonderful to be together after the meeting as we all hung out and just enjoyed one another's company. There's just nothing like family sometimes!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's a GIRL!!!

So, the secret is finally out. I held off from telling my kids of our "expecting" status so I wouldn't have to discuss it every five minutes during each day. As a result of this when I took Halen to my OB appointment, she didn't even know I was pregnant. Therefore, when we got into the room to wait for my doctor, I told her why we were there and that we were going to get to find out what our baby was at the same time.
Being Halen, she didn't give even a third of the reaction I was hoping for and assumed she'd give since she'd been asking me for at least 3 years for a baby sister. She merely smiled and shrug her shoulders as if she were embarrassed at the news. Even though her reaction was quite a dissapointment, I was able to deal with it better than I would have 7 years ago since I've now gotten used to the minimal reaction type due to my husband's low key personality. For instance, when I got home, he said, "So?" and I said, "It's a girl." and he said, "Huh. Good." Without even breaking a smile. It's just one of those things that my "cheerleader" personality has had to learn to deal with as I find myself easily giving away overly excited reactions like screaming and jumping over my neighbors new curtains. Seriously? We are all very different, aren't we?
Anyhow, it wasn't until I returned Halen to school that she semi-excitedly told her teacher her absence was due to her visit to see her baby sister at the doctors as she sheepishly cracked a smile.
Anyhow, we are very excited we are getting a girl. We're 18 weeks along and she is due on February 20. Maybe we'll have a Valentine's baby, who knows?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kevin's coming home!

We can hardly wait! It's been a very long 2 years and while very much worth the wait, we are so excited to welcome our sweet fun loving younger brother and uncle Kevin home. He arrives this evening at the SLC airport in from the LDS Nashville Tennessee Mission. Halen and Harris have been counting down the days every day for the last few weeks and we're so excited, did I say that already? For a blast from the past, here's a pic from his farewell. A lot has changed and therefore, with as few local family members as we're experiencing lately, we can't wait to have another one back with us again!

Kevin is such a joy to have around and his smile always brings such happiness and warmth to the room, hence our excitement to have him back. While he's been gone, it's been a little strange to have a daily reminder of him as I've found quite a similarity in his baby pictures and our son Brigden. I've enjoyed seeing the same looks I see in Kevin, but it has also been painstaking to constantly be reminded of his absence, but more. He's home...almost. Yay!!!!!
Side note: If you haven't been notified yet, he'll be speaking this Sunday at my Dad's ward in Kaysville @ 9:00 am. Call me for details.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

He did it!!!

Given Harris' one week delay in beginning preschool, since Halen started school a week ago, he has been on edge every day wondering when his school was going to start. At first it was an adjustment for him to understand that he didn't get to go to kindergarten this year and that he would be attending preschool again. We had to rename his preschool to 4-year old preschool because then he felt better knowing he had progressed given last year was 3-year old preschool. Then each day he would sing the days of the week so he could recognize how much closer his big first day was. Finally, he awoke today, with puffy eyes after a long night of needed rest, only to realize with a large smile, "Mom, today is the day." We got his chores done, with minimal resistance (a huge plus) and assembled all his necessary items in his new backpack and off he was. He was so thrilled. I just love it when my children are happy. It makes my day so lovely!!! His smile says it all.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Will it make you strong?

Each time we sit down to have a meal together as a family, I am bombarded with "I don't want that, that, or that" from Harris. He is extremely picky and it has been very difficult to get him to eat even the plainest of things, like carrots, potatoes, or even corn. Well, with time I knew I had to figure out a way to convince him to at least try these foods and after many failed attempts, we finally came up with a winner; "This will make you strong."
We found Harris' motivation. He loves sports, especially football, and if I can somehow relate his food to football or another sport, then he's miraculously game and his attitude turns 180 degrees. Just today for lunch we were having quesadillas, carrots, and oranges. He refused to eat the carrots until I explained that carrots will make your eyes really strong so you can see the football from really far away. No lie, he listened, and within seconds said, "Ok!" and ate all his carrots and then asked for more. After eating his carrots, he then pointed to his quesadilla and said, "But this won't make you strong, will it?" I replied, "Yes, the cheese inside will make your bones strong so you can kick hard and the tortilla will fill your tummy up so it won't hurt while your playing." He again then shifted gears and ate all of it. He even turned to Brigden and told him he wouldn't be strong because he hadn't finished his oranges yet.
Hmm? Is this logical or emotional? What a joke, so now each meal my mind starts turning before he even sits down asking myself, why is this meal good for Harris and how will it make him strong? I need a course in nutrition for I fear I might be running out of good sports related explanations soon. Well, at least for today, lunch is over and eaten.

Two of a Kind

This week has been quite a shift of gears as Halen has been gone all day for first grade and therefore left Harris and Brigden home alone with me. They have quickly adjusted to her absence in becoming best buddies and playing really well together. This morning as they were getting ready Harris wanted to get dressed just as Brigden so he went and picked out his clothes to match Brigden as best he could. I think he did a pretty good job. They were so proud of their "matching" selves.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Halen's First Day of School & Birthday

This week has already been a busy one. We were so excited to send Halen off to her first day of First Grade on Monday! She had been talking about this day all summer and thought it would never arrive. She was really bummed in the beginning of the summer because she didn’t know anyone in her upcoming class, but at the last minute, one of her best friends was moved into her class and therefore she felt a little more comfortable at the thought of going back to school. We went and visited her classroom last week and were able to find her desk and this really helped calm her jitters and let her know she was welcomed and had her own place in her new classroom. She was so excited! When the actual day came she was up and ready to go; dressed and with her chores done at least an hour before she even had to leave. She couldn’t wait.

When she returned home she was still glowing, literally. "It was a great day" she said and gave us a report on all the upcoming fun she would be having in her class with her new teacher. She didn’t go a full day on the first day, since everyone had an early out day, but went for her first full day on Tuesday. This could have been an interesting experience, but wasn’t because to break up her first long day she was able to celebrate her birthday at school with her class. Tuesday was her 6th birthday. She’s been counting down to this day for months. She was able to open her presents in the morning and then even had time to play with them before she had to head off for the bus. Then at school she got to hand out treats and receive cards from all of her classmates.

When she got home, we continued the celebration as she played with her new toys and made her cake. It began as a real disaster. So much, that as I was making it, a friend who was over just sat and laughed, with me of course, and wondered how I would ever pull it together in the end. I just reassured her a couple inches of icing can fix and cover up anything! I learned from my mother that it doesn’t matter what the cake looks like as long as you just add more icing to smooth out the rough edges. Well, Halen was worried too as she watched me, but alas, it turned out good enough. I wouldn’t say superb, but just good enough for a 6 year old who just wanted a beautiful blue Cinderella like gown on her Barbie doll.

Here she is just six years ago as we were getting ready to bless her in her blessing gown in October of 2002.

Here are a few fun specifics about our current Halen:

Her favorite foods are shredded bbq chicken w/ rice, mac-n-cheese w/ hot dogs, top ramen noodles, reeses pieces cups, and chocolate ice cream.

Her favorite toys are her barbies and polly pockets.

Her favorite television shows are Hannah Montana, Full House, Super Why, Spongebob Squarepants, and So You Think You Can Dance.

She loves to organize her dolls on her bed, color, please her parents, play with friends nonstop, dance, and sing. She will make up her own songs and music and dance the afternoon away as her friends watch on as her audience. She’s not as shy as she lets on.

She is a huge motherly sister and watches over Brigden and Harris constantly.

Even though she is always asking for a friend to play with, she loves her alone time as well and can color by herself for quite a while when she’s in the mood.

She loves unprovoked attention.

She has a red skirt that she would wear every single day with her brown boots if her mommy let her. She’s not much of a tennis shoes kind of girl, regardless of her mother's endless attempts.

She is extremely thoughtful, kindhearted, service oriented, and a pure jewel to have in our family.

We are so blessed to know her and look forward to many more years.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Oh My Mozarella!

So lately as I've been trying new recipes that won't break the budget and I thought it might be fun to try to make homemade pizza. My mom made it every Friday when I was a kid and we loved it so I figured since I love restaurant pizza so much, I could at least try the homemade stuff and see if I could do it or if it would be worth it. Well, luckily I have a breadmaker that had a recipe so I just threw the 5 ingredients in, pushed a button, and then 1.5 hours later I had fresh pizza dough and 20 minutes later after adding toppings, each to our individual desires, we had some great pizza.
Now, I won't say that it was gourmet, but it was actually really good. What surprised me is that it only cost me a few bucks a pizza, literally, I did the math because I wanted to make sure that my work would be worth the effort and savings. It was. A really large pizza only cost me like $2.50 Crazy!!! Anyway, my second greatest discovery in the process was Mozarella Cheese! As strange as it sounds, I have never just had a bite of a chunk of Mozarella cheese. Now, I've had string cheese, and cheese cubes and whatnot, but not a chunk of a soft moist block of Mozarella purchased at the store. After I shredded the cheese for the pizza, I took a bite and without realizing it I was immediately transformed to some peaceful tropical beach with the warm sun blazing on me as the rushing waves serenaded my relaxing moment chewing cheese! I know...I know, get a grip! Crazy, eh? But hey, I think I've found my latest food craze...a bite of Mozarella Cheese! Wow Baby!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Major Catchup on Posts!

So I know this is crazy, but I had the time and energy and so I went for it. I've updated my blog with 9 posts from the past two months and if you're bored enough you're welcome to read them and catch up on our little family life. Get yourself a good snack and Happy reading! Thanks for your patience on my absence!

Say Goodbye to Sweet Centerville

Over the last year, I've been able to help my dad go through the boxes in his house as he prepares to sell our family home. We moved into the home in 1991 and had tons of wonderful experiences including energetic fights, teenage parties, family home evenings, door step scenes, porch sitting evenings, volleyball games, movie nights, schmoozing, quick breakfasts as we rush out the door to the bus stop, and just plain living.
Dad was able to finally sell the home and therefore closed on the deal this last Wednesday. As we were packing up the final odds and ends, it was not only difficult to say goodbye to the house itself, but it was also difficult to say goodbye to one more piece of my Mother. Not only was the house decorated by my Mom, but the house was made a home by my Mom. It resembled her in almost every way. It was also was to say goodbye because she passed from us in this very home. I never thought I would see a house where someone had passed as so special because the movies make it out to be as something spooky and scary, but in this instance, it wasn't. It a very special house to me. It was sad to me to think that while in her bedroom that I was standing in the place where she had last been on earth alive and I would never stand there again. Once again, losing one more piece of her. It's interesting because it's almost as if my Mom didn't just die on October 27, 2006, but dies over and over again as I encounter these types of experiences. I know depressing, but true.
Anyhow, it was a wonderful place to grow up and very difficult to say goodbye, but so we must. Here we are as we are finishing helping for the very last day at that house with Dad and Megan.

Megan with her styling new haircut, Dave, Me looking my best after long days of moving and cleaning, Brigden, Harris, Grandpa Chris, and Halen.

A Soccerific Father's Day!

This year I was able to give my father a father's day present that was different than most of my previous presents. I included a letter to explain the gift, which I've included below:
June 13, 2008

Dear Dad,

I’ve been amazed at the growth in our relationship over the past 15 years, maybe that’s because that is when I finally grew up and became more adult-like, who knows? Anyhow, I just wanted to tell you how much I love, admire, appreciate, and need you! You have intensely helped me in so many ways these last few years through so many different trials as well allowed me to be there for you when necessary. I thank you for both of these things. You’ve been my rock in my stormy life, besides Dave, of course.

I’m so grateful my children have such a wonderful grandfather that loves them and even demonstrates it. I’m so grateful my husband has such a loving father figure in you that he feels so comfortable to come to when in need of help, advice, or just plain friendship. You are a great example to him. He loves you dearly!

As I was preparing this gift, I was able to reminisce on my youth and enjoyed it very much. I want to thank you for all the sacrifice you made for us, your very large family, in every aspect, food, shelter, necessities, as well as sacrificing your time and energy for us in our extra curricular endeavors. My heart swells when I think of my past activities because I always knew my parents were there for me on the sidelines! That meant a lot! Thank you!

So that you will fully understand this gift, this is something Mom actually had started for you. She told me about it once and was extremely excited to give it to you. In helping you clean out the storage room, one day I came home with various boxes of old items that you no longer needed. Upon going through these boxes, I found this “project” of hers amongst scrap material and knew instantly what needed to be done. Therefore, this is not only from me, but actually from Mom, since she had already started the project and, interestingly enough, left behind notes on how she wanted the project finished. I finished the project exactly as she had designed therefore you can know that this is the gift she wanted you to have, but just wasn’t able to give to you herself.

This is a picture of the quilt my mother designed for my father of one or more soccer jerseys from each of their children and most were coached by him. What a family heirloom! We love soccer as a family and this quilt shows it! Now the only question is which jersey(s) belongs to which child?

Halen looses 2 teeth

In June, Halen lost her first tooth. It became loose very quickly, but painfully loose at dinner time. She wanted it out because she couldn’t eat without crying, so I called my brother Corbin and asked him how he pulled his daughter’s tooth out. Here were my tools. What do you think I did?

We used the floss to tie around the bottom of the tooth and then wound the floss around the hammer so I had something to hold onto as I quickly yanked the tooth out of her gums. We counted to three and then it was over. She was so scared, but barely even felt it happen it happened so quickly. The only problem was that it flew across the room and we had to go searching for it. We did find it though. That evening she placed it under her pillow awaiting her prize from the tooth fairy. It was so unexpected and late in the day, that all the tooth fairy had for her was a $5 bill and was too lazy to leave for the store to change it into single bills. The tooth fairy did tell me she hoped Halen wouldn’t recognize the difference between a $5 and a $1 because she didn’t deal with money very often. The tooth fairy gave her the money and then gave the tooth to Halen’s mother to keep.

A few days later, Halen lost her second tooth using the same surgical procedure, but this time, the tooth was lost! We couldn’t find it anywhere, but then I realized I could replace the lost tooth with the first saved tooth and then sent Halen to look in a certain corner of the room for the placed tooth. Halen did so and retrieved it and then later the next morning couldn’t find the prize from the tooth fairy. Well, that was probably because the tooth fairy forgot! As I realized what had happened as she came out of her room that morning I told her we should go back and look again. I picked up the pillow and slyly handed her the pillow with a pillow case and told her to look in the pillow case because the prize might have slipped in the pillow case. It had, this time the tooth fairy was prepared with a few dollar bills. Wow. That was a close one. Thank heavens we get a break from the tooth fairy for a bit because we are obviously not very good at it, but becoming better and better at saving close calls.

Halen's Dance Recital

This last June, Halen participated in her dance recital. She just loves it and I love watching her. It brings back such good memories. I’d love for her to continue in dance, but struggle knowing exactly how to go about it without building a large ego while we’re at it. Such is the quest. Anyhow, here she is all decked out and in her own inspired ‘striking pose.’

Dave laughs at me as I excitedly tell him how well she did in her dance at the recital. He warns me not to become a "Wanna Be Dance Mom."

Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Sometimes I have such proud moments when I see Halen taking after me and my freakishly organized nature, but then other moments I feel real sorry for her because I hate to have to see her be prisoner to such expectations of herself. Regardless, she has them and ‘like mother, like daughter.’ Here she was so proud of her perfectly cleaned and organized room that she made me take a picture of it. She even pointed out how she placed her slippers perfectly next to her bed so they were ready and waiting for her.

Oh, sweet "stuck in her mother's perfectionistic personality prison" Halen!

6 kids, ages 5 and under

Blake, Harris, Niki, Marissa, Halen, and Brigden

Wow, there’s a reason that people don’t usually have 6 children within a 4 year time span. Around July 22nd, Dave and I took care of Corbin & Diane’s 3 girls while they vacationed in New York. Although it was a ton of work for us, the kids had the most amazing time of constant play with their cousins! Here is one shot of them in our backyard swimming, excluding Maliya and including our neighbor Blake. It will be fun in 10 years and look back on this picture and see how they’ve grown.

The End of the Tree Cutting Era!

As I’ve previously mentioned, Dave and I spent almost every Saturday, and many other weekdays, this summer cutting down trees. We counted the stumps when we were finished and found we cut down a minimum of 35 trees with an average 2-3 foot stump diameter and a height of about 50-60 feet each. After each tree was cut down with the help of a long cord, an enduring chain saw, and a 4-whe

eler, Dave would then cut the tree into firewood as I would collect and transfer the cut off branches and fire wood to the backyard separated piles. We were able to cut down approximately 2-3 trees each day of 8 hours or so of work.

Within the next few weeks we’ll be renting a chipper to chip all the branches and then we’ll be able to have Dave’s brother come over and pull all the stumps out with his excavator. We can’t wait because putting in a sprinkling system seems like child’s play compared to this other stuff! I can’t wait to only have to put in a sprinkling system and plant seed. Let’s just hope it happens before the winter. If not, what’s another winter with no grass, eh? I’ll tell you, annoying and frustrating but very patience building, cuz sometimes that’s all I need to learn is another patience building trial! (Sarcastically said!)

Here is Dave cutting off the branches of a fallen tree.

Here is our backyard of many tree stumps. The builders of the home decided to plant approximately 35 poplars along the east side of our .45 acre lot. We figure they were trying to create a wind barrier since the wind blows from the east to the west, but are sure they weren't sure what they were doing because the large poplars didn't stop any wind and not only did they perfectly shade our neighbors entire front and back yard from 2:00 pm on each day, but they provided us with mountains of leaves to collect in the fall. It only took one fall of cleaning up leaves for us to confirm our decision in getting rid of all of these purposeless trash trees.

Here is Dave forcing a smile as I force myself to document these tragic tree removal memories!

This picture was taken when we only had 6 trees left. We were so excited to be close to being done. It took us about 3 Saturdays to finish cutting down those 6 trees.

Here is Dave starting his angle cut which allowed us to determine which direction the tree would fall.

Wow! What a change. I can actually stand on my front porch and see my neighbors to the east of me. I love it. I can watch my kids ride their bikes and know where they are without having to hope they'll return after they pass into the forest's view of my past tree border.

An Amazing Water Transformation

Halen and Harris have always had a fear of water. It was only just a year ago that I was able to pour water over Halen’s head in the bathtub without her screaming bloody murder. They have taken swimming lessons for years at local public facilities, but haven’t seen much growth in overcoming their fear of water. It’s been a huge frustration of mine because I would find myself wasting my money as I took them to local large water parks only to watch them not even dare go down the baby slides, go any deeper than knee deep water, or much less let water splash on them by other participants actually enjoying the water. Well, this year we encountered a huge transformation! A friend of mine in my neighborhood put on her own swimming lessons and she did a phenomenal job. Harrris and Halen went from the previously explained condition to jumping into a pool unassisted and therefore covering their entire bodies with water and having to swim to the side of the pool in only 8 lessons. Just this last weekend we went to the Roy Aquatic Center with my brothers and sisters and it was such a drastic change from our past. They were so safe, happy, and wet!!! I loved it. I took a bunch of pictures because I was just so in shock and so happy! I couldn’t believe my children were acting like normal children.

Halen couldn’t stop asking me to watch her swim with her face in the water and then turn over and float on her back. Harris couldn’t stop asking me to watch him go underwater and open his eyes underwater. It was so much fun! We stayed there for 6 hours and would have only lasted, after me coaxing them into staying, about 2 hours in years past. What a change!!!

Halen went down a small water slide for the first time ever!

Here Harris is lying face up while the water pours down on top of his face. Huh? Crazy!!! What a difference! Thanks Angie, our wonderful swim teacher and friend!

June 27th Visit to Lagoon

I know this happened a while ago, but as I slowly catch up on the past, I came across these pictures and just had such great memories of such a wonderful evening at Lagoon. My brother Cardin was in town and we chose to spend our afternoon at Lagoon for our Stake Lagoon day. Corbin and Diane taught me how to enjoy Lagoon for FREE. We joined them as the kids rode the carousel at least 5 times each, the train at least 3 times, and then enjoyed all of the Lagoon shows. It was a little difficult explaining to the children why we couldn't ride the other rides since they weren't on the FREE list, but after a few tries, they finally let it go. I would love to go in the future on a full ride pass, but for our first family Lagoon trip, this was awesome! The kids loved the carousel, and I was even surprised how much I loved the relaxing ride just being with them. The joys of parenthood!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Too Deep!

To be brief, my life at the moment is just too deep! There is too much going on that is just not fun and interesting and weighs down on me tirelessly, therefore I have obviously not had the desire to post over the last month, but am now newly motivated as I recently read one of my sis' posts; 114 things about her. I really enjoyed reading it because I learned interesting things about her that I never would have known, had she not posted this post and therefore figured since I'm not very inclined to write about my deep and stressful life, I can still enjoy writing about something I know very well, me! So here goes:

1. I wish I were a really skilled cook, but am not.

2. I love to have a full planned out day with many events.

3. I have always struggled just sitting down to read a book, but am working on it and am starting to learn how to enjoy reading a book.

4. I have highlighted my hair about 4 times, and each time I've returned to the stylist to have my hair colored to cover up the highlights. I always feel like a zebra when it's highlighted and can't handle the change.

5. I wish I were adventurous, but I'm really not. I don't dare to do very many things. I hate taking risks.

6. I hate making my bed in the morning, but I love walking into my bedroom during the day when the bed is made. It's a daily struggle of delayed gratification or instant gratification.

7. I love to watch romantic comedies, but rarely do because I hate fighting for it with my husband.

8. I've played soccer all my life and after taking a 3 year break after having my 2nd child, I started up again and played on a team this last month and thoroughly enjoyed it, but seriously hated the fact that I am no longer as young as I think I am or want to be. My mind is there, but my body isn't.

9. One of my weird habits is that I type the things people are saying when I'm listening. I do it all the time without even knowing it. A few years ago I realized I did it and decided I needed to stop this bad habit, so I worked really hard at it until I was successful, but also then realized that I wasn't really successful because while I had stopped typing with my fingers what others were saying, I just started typing with my toes instead. Weird, eh? I know, but hey, I'm a really fast typist!

10. I hate to fly on planes! I hate to fly on planes! I hate to fly on planes! I almost always throw up and have a really hard time not getting nauseated!

11. I have really weird dreams! Last night I dreamt I was listening to Dave on our wedding day at our wedding luncheon and he was giving a sermon on anti-homosexuality. HuH?

12. I don't mind cleaning my house, doing the dishes, washing the windows, cleaning the bathrooms, or most chores, but I hate to fold laundry!!!! It will quite often sit in a large pile on my floor for a few days until it's just ridiculously yelling at me, "Are you kidding you lazy slob, get a grip and fold me, how irresponsible are you?"

13. I still reminisce about my trip to New York with girlfriends 2 1/2 years ago!

14. I cannot believe that I have such a beautiful daughter. I'm secretly jealous and wish that I could have been so strikingly beautiful with long blond hair and piercing green eyes. (Thou shalt not covet, woops!)

15. I am afraid of an empty event less day on my calendar. Seriously, I hate the unexpected and unplanned!

16. My favorite shows currently are "So you think you can dance," "The Bachelorette (was)," "Bones," and "Deadliest Catch."

17. I wish I were more expressive in high school and not so afraid to be myself or friendly.

18. I am so so so sick of cutting down trees and renovating our yard and home.

19. I hate that my mother passed away almost 2 years ago and would much rather go back to life 3-4 years ago.

20. It drives me nuts to have to prove my love to others, when they should know after time and time again of showing my love through my actions, but they consistently forget the second after I've left the premises.

21. 2 of my all time favorite movies are Knight's Tale and The Cutting Edge.

22. Dave makes fun of me because I love the movie "Titanic" and feel the scene with nudity is truly art!

23. I am a huge scaredy cat and cannot handle scary movies at all. Dave won't even take me to haunted houses because he values his arms, my saving grace as I walk through and cling to him during the entire haunted house.

24. I dream of romantic dates and moments with my husband.

25. I love warm and fresh mac and cheese and hate making it for my kids because it is always a struggle for me not to eat it.

26. I love tuna fish sandwiches.

27. I love to study my scriptures about 30-45 minutes a day, I said I love to, I didn't say I do.

28. I hate to bear my testimony, but love to give talks. It's the impromptu stuff that makes me uncomfortable.

29. I hate talking on the telephone, unless I'm folding laundry or doing my dishes.

30. I hate doing my hair, but love the days that my hair is actually done, just like my dilemma with making my bed, what a joke!

31. I love a decorated room and feel like a failure each time I walk into a room in my home that isn't decorated.

32. I have really high expectations for myself that I am constantly working on lowering.

33. My minivan is almost always dirty and it drives me nuts!

34. I love my calling as Young Women Secretary because I get to relate to the young women on my own terms since I can't always be in attendance, but am able to go occasionally.

35. I am so grateful I am no longer single, but secretly wish at times I were.

36. I hate roller coasters.

37. I love shows and musicals. Wicked was Wicked!!!

38. I had bunion surgery 2 months before Dave and I were married. It was difficult because I had it done on both feet and therefore couldn't walk for weeks and Dave had to do therapy on my toes each night bending them as far as possible while I would scream into a pillow in pain. My toes work great now, but oh the painful memories. Dave loves to rub along my scars now as I yell at him because of the numb sensation I feel as he does so. I hate it.

39. I love my husband and my children!

40. I love Cafe Rio Grilled Chicken Salads, but always hate that I finish the entire thing and am so incredibly full that I feel sick each time.

41. If calories didn't count, I could live on Cold Stone Sweet Cream w/ Raspberries in a plain waffle bowl every day!

42. I love starting my day with a 5:30 AM workout, I know I am very abnormal.

43. Just last night, I realized I might have a very small inkling of what Christ felt like as he cried to his father while on the cross, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" as I relate it to my own feelings occasionally with my mother.

44. I am a RED-BLUE, but was once a BLUE-RED until I met my husband who is a BLUE-WHITE/RED and most of my blue is now in hiding since I am bombarded with such a great amount of my husband's blue every day.

45. I love sitting at a playground watching my kids play.

46. I love to water ski and wish that I were constantly in good enough shape to do it, let alone be seen in a swimming suit as I do.

47. I love to be with people, but only those of my picking.

48. I love to play volleyball at family gatherings and wish I were better than I am since I don't ever make the Bell All Star Team.

49. I wish more Mormons were serious about the gospel and their study of it and could exemplify this in Sunday School each week.

50. I am 33 and don't care that I'm no longer in my twenties, but I have a strange excitement to being in my forties.

51. I love to shop and accessorize, when it doesn't take a lot of time.

52. When I was younger, my brother wanted to play catch with me, but I was playing with my baton so I put my baton in my mouth as he thew the ball at me, which hit the baton and knocked it out of my mouth and chipped my two front teeth.

53. I was a Ricks College Cheerleader and loved it!!!

54. I love cheesecake.

55. I don't like ice cream.

56. Sometimes, I am a very quiet and reserved person and most people are uncomfortable with me when I am.

57. I hate to go to bed past 10:00!!!

58. I struggle with anxiety attacks.

59. I am most relaxed when I am sitting outside at night watching the sun set and feeling a cool breeze on my cheeks.

60. I love watching Pride and Prejudice, the 6 hour version.

61. I hate being charged fees when a check goes over our limit.

62. When I was a cheerleader in high school I was in a stunting accident that led my partner to bit my face around my eye, which left me with a big scar through my left eye brow.

63. I got a 3 on my AP Calculus test and was so happy that I passed, I didn't care that it was a 3.

64. I loved teaching math and look forward to doing it again some day, maybe?

65. I loved being skinny and in incredible shape.

66. I wonder frequently what my mother is doing?

67. My favorite female singers are Allyson Kraus, Shania Twain, and Gwen Stefani.

68. My swimming suit/lingerie drawer is a disastrous mess.

69. I love reading about others lives through their blogs, but struggle finding interesting things in my own to write about.

70. I wish parents were required to take parenting classes.

71. I love pears, soft pears from a can.

72. My favorite flower is a lily.

73. I would have liked to have lived hundreds of years ago.

74. I am actually an insecure person that needs reassurance, yet seems to be overconfident.

75. I love a perfectly taken family picture each year.

76. I hate to watch tv during the day on Sundays and feel terribly disobedient and irreverent if I do.

77. I love to listen to religious music on Sunday and feel completely fulfilled and spiritualized when I do.

78. I love it when my husband helps out around the house and surprises me with a clean kitchen or a clean vacuumed room.

79. I hate to be a passenger in a car because I suffer from severe carsickness due to a messed up equilibrium from a car accident I was in when I was 15. I was thrown across the road from the back of a truck bed, landed on my forehead on the sidewalk. and knocked unconscious.

80. I love the edited movie, "The Thomas Crown Affair."

81. I'm sick of trials and enduring to the end.

82. I wonder frequently why my husband adores me so much.

83. I love mindy mint chocolates from Mrs. Cavanaughs.

84. I'm not a real big fan of flowers.

85. I wish I had a spare car that I could drive on my own without the kids and remember the good ol care-free frivolous days.

86. I struggle with overcoming depressing feelings each day.

87. I love banana bread.

88. Music makes me happy and is the key to my soul.

89. I love a good chart! Chore Chart, Daily Activities Chart, Cleaning Routine Chart, Homework Chart, Reading Chart, Social Schedule Chart, etc.

90. Brigden's dimples make me very happy!

91. Halen's drawings make me very happy!

92. Harris' hugs and kisses make me very happy!

93. I'm a little nervous about Halen being gone all day long when she goes to 1st grade. I will miss her.

94. I miss reading my scriptures in the early morning sun on my front porch on my mission.

95. I was most pleased with myself when I was about 5 weeks from coming home from my mission and decided to fulfill the mission president's new request that all missionaries memorize every word of all 6 discussions and I memorized all of them before I came home.

96. I love a very cold glass of milk.

97. I love having a bowl of cereal before bed, but rarely do anymore.

98. I don't struggle with eating really bad foods frequently, but do struggle with overeating at dinnertime.

99. I'd rather have a few really good friends than a lot of superficial friendships.

100. I am very blessed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Way To Go Megan!

Our family celebrated our last high school graduation yesterday as Megan barely =} graduated from Viewmont High, the same school as the rest of us. Cool, eh? Anyhow, it was a great ceremony and we cheered so loud for her that the people in front of us gave us very dirty looks as they turned around in shock and horror upon surprisingly hearing our cheers. Grandma Bell even thanked us for the warning beforehand since she was able to save her hearing by covering her ears during our cheers. Megan did a fabulous job of walking and we were so proud of her! She also looked beautiful! What more could you ask for?

Way to go Baby!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Conversational Confusion

It amazes me how you think you can be communicating so clearly with another person, whether it's a friend, a family member, or your own children/husband, and by their response you quickly learn you're not getting through. I'm learning very slowly never to assume that what I feel may be clear communication on my part, does not directly result in clear understanding on another's part because we all think so differently and if we do understand each other perfectly, I fear it is just a situation of pure luck.
For example, just yesterday as we were driving home late from my soccer game, my children were tired and ready to go to bed, since it was 1.5 hours past their bedtime. I was firmly telling each one of them their instructions immediately upon entering our front door, "1. put pajamas one and 2. get in bed. The end!" Halen responded, "Can you read us a book?" I, of course, quickly turned her down and explained it was because it was already so late and and hour and a half past their bedtime. She didn't really understand the great significance of how late it was and therefore I felt it necessary to "communicate more clearly" by saying, "Honey, your bedtime was an hour and a half ago. That's like 3 Sponge Bob Shows." Then I proudly silently praised myself for coming up with terms she might better be able to understand, but only to abruptly hear her say, "But, I didn't watch Sponge Bob today!"
I quickly realized it wasn't worth explaining and reverted back to the good ol' "Because Mom said so!" excuse. Although I hated hearing this very excuse as a child, I now recognize it just makes more sense and would rather "communicate clearly" with a dead end excuse like that, then fail miserably in detouring my children completely into thinking their daily tv agenda corresponds directly with their bedtime. What a joke!
I've been reading a few books lately on life after death and The Spirit World and have learned a lot about their form of communication. They communicate not only through words via their thoughts, but also through their entire being of feelings. Therefore we won't need to wonder what our motives are or our true intentions because we, the recipents, will be able to feel the message as well as hear the message. This would have been helpful in the experience above, but I fear will be detrimental to my marriage in the here and now and hope I can learn to match up my feelings more with my actual statements in situations like "Honey would you like to go hunting with me?" "Sure, dear I'd love to." I reply as my heart pounds and my brain quickly racks up all the reasons why I won't be able to go when the time to quickly arrives. Or theres, "Honey, is this outfit good enough?" as we are heading out for a special evening with family or friends. With my reply, "Sure, dear, you look great!" as my thoughts really think, "yeah, it'll have to do even though I wish it was more dressy or prim & proper, I don't have the energy nor time to fight with you on it or prove my thoughts and wishes."
Oh, I have a lot to still learn before the afterlife suddenly presents itself to me, don't I?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keep Me Laughing!

So every once in a while one of my children will say something that just "keeps me laughing" all day, or even for days on end. Usually I forget to write them down, but this one stuck with me, so I figured I had to write it down asap.

Halen, Harris, Brigden, and I were riding home from a very exhausting trip to Grandpa Chris' as I helped him prepare his home for an upcoming showing. The kids had accompanied me on many of these trips in the last few weeks and were therefore just plain sick of going down to watch Mommy work when they could have been playing with their friends instead. As a result of their frustration with the repeated visits, they were, let's just say, not on their best behavior and as awnery as could be. As we had just began our transport, very sweaty and sticky from working outside in rare 90 degree May heat, Harris yelled up to me that Halen had drawn on the window with her crayons. Halen then took the opportunity to clarify his statement by saying, "No! I didn't color on the window, I colored on the soft part of the car below the window!" (As if that bit of information would save her from her emminant doom!) I then, as patient as I could, said, "Halen! You know we don't draw on our car, any part of our car!" She then replied that it was an accident. I immediately questioned this, of course, because coloring on a car is not usually top rated on the accidental list. I said, "Halen, (pause for effect) Are you sure it was an (pause for more effect) Accident?" to which she replied with a sad pouty look on her face, "Well, sometimes my brain just tells me to do bad things and I do them because I don't know what to do." I then replied, "Well what should you do then?" because we had gone over this scenario before. She said, "I know, whenever I hear them, I just walk away." (As if to say, leave the scene of the possible crime, but in actuality meaning ignore your bad desires.) I slightly smiled and said, "Yes, just walk away (wondering how she would walk away from the desire to color inside a traveling car, but not curious enough to ask). Well, then just seconds after she had come to her resolve, Harris decided to jump in and help by saying, "Yeah! Halen! Use your brain!"

The irony in his statement in relation to Halen's previously described Brain's bad desires was too much for me to bear as I tried my best to hide my laughter for the remainder of the ride home. Thank heavens however , because if it weren't for my laughter, I might have continued to be an awnery Mom along side her awnery children.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I should, but I can't believe it!

This afternoon as I was working on my neverending list of chores, I realized this was too beautiful of a day to pass up spending some quality time with my children outside. I wasn't sure what to do since we had already been to the park various times this week and I wanted to do more than go on a walk and then it hit me. "I know, I'll teach them how to ride their bikes without training wheels!" I felt it was a slightly overly ambitious task, but figured it had to be attempted sometime and why not now at the beginning of the summer. One of my favorite things to do is to enjoy the beautiful weather on a Sunday afternoon and I am so excited for the day when I can go on a leisure bike ride with those in my family who will choose to join me. Therefore, I was pumped to get Halen and Harris riding their bikes without training wheels.

I decided to start with Halen, since she's the oldest, and took off her training wheels first. We took a trip down the street, past a few houses, and then returned with me holding onto the handle bar as well as the back of her seat. She struggles with a huge fear complex. She's afraid of anything and everything!

Then it was Harris' turn so we took off his training wheels. He was crazy all over the place the first time, but definitely didn't lack confidence, desire, and ambition. This is one thing that in the past has been a frequent complant of mine; Harris never stops to think to ask permission before he heads into whatever task he so desires to accomplish. I am constantly finding him getting into things and food without asking. He just thinks to himself, "I want to do ...." and then he does. Although it is usually a complaint of mine, in this particular instance it was an amazing advantage.

I then spent the next 30-45 minutes alternating turns with Halen and Harris running along side them down the street and back. Halen tired easy because of her constant necessity to talk her out of her great fear. She was actually very close to riding on her own, but I promised I wouldn't let go, so she hadn't actually done it alone just yet. Harris, on the other hand, after only receiving help approximately 6 times down the block, decided to just go for it as I was getting ready to run Halen down the street for the last time. Dave had joined us at this point and yelled, "Honey, Honey, look!" His tone was so stressed and amazed that I was scared I was about to run somebody over, but turned around to see Harris taking off on his own down our driveway and into the street without any help or training wheels! We cheered loudly when he stopped and he beemed from ear to ear! I was so shocked, but when I stopped to think about it, I shouldn't have been! This was just right up to par with his personality style. He then spent the next 30 minutes riding down the driveway and then peddling on his own in front of our home. We were so thrilled!

Halen saw this as motivation and although slightly jealous and embarrassed that Harris was already riding on his own, decided to try a few more times for good measure! The cutest part was how she would verbalize to herself, "I can do this!" and "Balance!" as she was riding. I had made her repeat these phrases before she began each practice run!

What a beautiful afternoon and a great beginning to Spring and Summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My 33rd Birthday!

Well, one more down, many more to go! As many of you know my mother was the queen of birthdays, or as she really called them, birthweeks. I learned a lot from her when it came to celebrating your special day and making the most of it for yourself. This meant not waiting for others to celebrate it for you, but taking things into your own hands. For example, Mom would change her answering machine message on her actual birthday and sing to herself for each person that called the day of. She would also then tell them that if they wanted her to pick up the phone, they'd have to sing happy birthday to her in the message before she'd even consider it. What a woman! It is for this reason that I started my own tradition of my birthday agenda. Each year I put together an agenda of what it is I want to happen on my birthday so Dave doesn't have to wonder or come up with any ideas of his own. His only requirement is to help me fulfill whatever is on the agenda. Surprisingly, even though this process sounds very rigid and forceful, he loves it because he doesn't have to do any thinking or fail at whatever ideas of his own he might have. In the last few years it has worked wonderfully and I've had some great birthdays. It always amazes me that so many people shy away from such a great opportunity to make one day out of the year their very own. To do whatever they want, what more could you ask for!

My celebrations began on Mother's Day, the day before my birthday. I am the YW Secretary in my ward and part of my calling is to bring each girl up in front of the group on the Sunday following her birthday so we can sing to her. Well, this Sunday, they turned to me to see if I had anyone to sing to or any announcements and I said, no, because there weren't any birthdays in this last week, but then it hit me, "Hey, wait, it's my birthday tomorrow, they can sing to me." So I stood up and said, "Wait! It's my birthday tomorrow, let's sing to me!" They all smiled and laughed, because they know how crazy I can be. I was so excited to have them sing to me because they are all so adorable and fun! I think they thought I was kidding or were just in shock so I started leading them as I sang to myself and they jumped right in! They were smiling the entire song and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present because of all their smiling beautiful faces! What a joy! They, of course, think I'm crazy, but as I've said, "You can't wait for others to celebrate you, you must celebrate you first!" Then after we sang to me, someone asked, "What about the mothers?" So, of course, I made all the mothers come up front and we sang "Happy Mother's Day" to all of us mothers. It was awesome. The girls were such good sports, as well as the mothers, as we all sang "Happy Mother's Day to Us!"

Then my actual birthday started of with my children letting me sleep in as they were quietly and secretly drawing pictures for me for my birthday. Halen was so happy to show me her many versions of SpongeBob she had drawn for me. It was so great to wake up to her drawings because it was as if my mother had given me her own little present in helping Halen draw fabulous SpongeBob Squarepants. She had never drawn him before and I was honestly shocked at how true to form her drawings were. (My mom would rarely miss an opportunity to sit down and watch SpongeBob Squarepants with my little brother and sister, Kevin & Megan. She would even frequently walk through the house singing/yelling the theme song to "Sponge Bob Squarepants!")

This is the Mommy SpongeBob Squarepants!

This is the Daddy SpongeBob Squarepants.

And this is the SpongeBob Squarepants Family!

Then later I went to visit my Grandpa and Grandma Harris, as we celebrated Grandma's Mother's Day, Grandpa's upcoming Birthday, and my birthday together. Then I was able to enjoy my favorite 'fast food' from Cafe Rio. After this, I put the kids down for quiet time and headed out again for a movie by myself, "Emma." Dave was at home so he took care of the kids for me. I really enjoyed it and really respect Emma for all she went through in supporting her husband and The Church! What a woman! Then I returned home to receive a visit from our wonderful home teachers, and then just as I was about to try and figure out what to make for dinner, Dave told me my brother Brandon & wife Andrea had arranged for our dinner to be made and paid for at our favorite pizza dive! What a swell brother! Great idea Brandon & Andrea. Thanks guys! I also received many happy birthday calls, cards, and even a beautiful flower pot for the very scared beginning gardener in me from my s-i-l Diane.

Then after that my cousin Andrea Wright and I had arranged a get together with all my Bell cousins at her place. We arrived a little late and stayed late too. It was so much fun! I just love my cousins! I am so blessed and was so happy to spend my special birthday time with them! They are awesome! We had a great time! Thanks Ang for hosting!

Anyhow, all in all, my birthday was great!I must say, however, that I am glad it is only one day and not a week (Sorry Mom!) because it is exhausting work to take care of myself and keep the focus on me for an entire day! I was ready for a very normal day the next day! What a great day, but I'm done until next year! Happy Birthday to Me!