Mar 31, 2014

Random Pics

I know you are all excited to see some of my random pics from years past (that means I can't think of anything interesting to write about...) And hopefully it will give you some insight into our crazy life.

This first one is a trip we made to Lagoon in 2007. That cute little blondie in the red plane is Crafty. My kids love amusement parks like Lagoon. I've made many trips to Lagoon although it's pretty expensive for my family. When we make a trip now it is only because we are going for a company party and someone else is paying.

When I was a kid, my dad used to get tickets for Lagoon and the Hogle Zoo through the school district. We would go to both places on the same day if you can imagine that. We were certainly tired on the trip home!! When my sweetie worked for one of the companies in the valley, they used to pay for the entire family, lunch, and give away prizes at the Lagoon Company picnic. That was one of the perks I definitely missed when he changed jobs.

This second pic is of Scout's 1st birthday party. Can you believe she used to have that beautiful auburn hair? My sweetie's grandma was a redhead and he has a brother that has red hair so we always hoped one of the kids would inherit it, but Scout only had it for about 18 months and then her hair changed to blond. When the Gym Rat's beard comes in it is totally red even though he has light brown hair like most of the rest of us.

This last pic of the Dog Walker is a mystery to me. OK, not completely. I do know about the prism. When we first built our house, we decided that our rather large living room should be half formal dining room. (Now the whole thing is an informal dining room when all the kids come over...) So we put a beautiful chandelier in half of it with these prisms that hang all the way around it. The kids loved them! They loved to take them off the light fixture and walk around with them just like this pic. They would cast rainbows or just walk with them so they altered the vision of the floor.

The Dog Walker is clearly enjoying the prism. I have no idea about the colorful socks on his ears. Maybe it's because he's autistic. And maybe it's just because he got tired of listening to me talk. Or this one's a stretch...maybe his ears were just cold.

With the Dog Walker, it could be anything. If by chance he remembers, maybe he will post a comment and let us know.

Mar 30, 2014

Guest Blog: One Webelos Story by Bossy

Nothing to do with scouts, but I love this wedding pic of them!
Okay here is a story I want to share with you about Heavenly Father knowing and caring about each of his children personally.  Let me start by telling you this.  When Gamer and I were called to be Webelos leaders, I was disappointed.  I really wanted Gamer to be Cubmaster like my dad.  But as soon as I saw the role, I knew why we were called.  One of the boys on the list I didn't like at all.  K... was always bullying Burrito and I didn't have a very high opinion of him.  I thought he lived with his grandma, but it is his mom.  She had him really late in life and then she was divorced so his entire life he has been raised by a single working mom.  Okay enough background.

When Gamer and I were called, I didn't know where to start.  There was a lot of confusion with the blending of the wards and to this date I still don't know what the 5th ward boys earned prior to us being leaders.  So Gamer and I sat down one night and prayed and wrote our introductory letter and schedule.  We had no idea what would be review or not for these boys.  I expected K.... would be super behind in his Faith in God and religious requirements and as we decided that we had to do whatever we could as though K.... didn't have any support at home to help him. 
I don't know how much you know about Webelos, but the LDS church takes an 18-month program and crams it into 12 months so the boys can be 11-year-old scouts.  It makes it super intense and we have to basically pass off 2 activity pins a month in order to do everything.  Plus we have the prep for Boy Scout requirements and the Arrow of Light stuff.  So duplicating stuff while we merged dens would be terrible for the boys with staying on track.
Two weeks ago K.... announced that they were moving and he was selling his house. I must confess I was relieved (he is a really hard kid) and skeptical.  Well this weekend they put up a for sale sign.  Nevertheless, Sunday the other ward leader finally brought over the progress charts for two of our Webelos.  To start with I was surprised to learn that K.... and Gamer have the same birthday.  But I can't even tell you how completely blown away I was by the tender mercies our prayerful schedule planning resulted in.  Not only was nothing duplicated in our meetings, but the pins we worked on are the ones that K.... was missing to earn his Webelos patch.  And if we finish up his religious knot over the next month, he should be able to earn his Arrow of Light and 2 compass points.  That is huge for an inactive 10-year- old.  Heavenly Father really does know everyone individually and we never know how we impact someone's life. 

Mar 29, 2014

Letters from Teach

Teach passed her one year on her mission this week. It was fun for her, they bought her a little smash cake. She even sent me pictures! But I will let her tell you about it.

Happy one year mark to me! I guess there is a tradition of burning a shirt on your one year mark, but we decided to smash a cake instead! (:
When I asked her more about it, she said:
I definitely just stuck my hand right into it. And I ate a bit. Then... I threw it away. It went against everything I'd ever been taught and done. But.. I didn't need to eat it. I didn't even want to eat it. I felt obligated to, but I realized... I wasn't. I wish I could have given it away, but... my hand was all up in it... so it didn't make sense. but yes. It was fun. (:
And she wanted me to share the following with all of her friends.
Greetings from Texas. Things are fabulous here! I am loving my life and I love teaching the gospel!
I have such a strong understanding and conviction that the Messiah came into this world. His name is Jesus Christ and He lives. He is at the head of this church and it is by His power and authority that I was able to be baptized. I know that I am headed toward eternal life with my Father in Heaven and my Redeemer.
To explain the words of my heart I will use the scriptures.
After the agony of repentance that Alma the Younger faced he was relieved as "his mind caught hold upon the thought" that Jesus Christ was his Redeemer. His pain was swept away and he was comforted by exquisite joy. Then the Lord blesses him with a vision of God.
Alma 36:22
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God, yea, and my soul did long to be there.
I have a lot to still do here on this earth, but when the time comes I will kneel before the feet of Christ and thank Him, for He has saved me.
His atonement is real. He is real. He is the only way to salvation. I love Him.
Thank you for your love and support! My time is limited as a missionary- so I will proclaim the truth. God lives! He has restored His church to the earth and we are guided by His prophet! 
Amen, Sista C.

Mar 28, 2014

No Soliciting

I'm seriously considering putting up a "no soliciting" sign. Do those things actually work?

I've hesitated about doing anything that drastic for years because I don't want to discourage my cute little neighbor kids with their school fundraisers and of course I need to buy Girl Scout Cookies. :) But I just get so tired of those random rude salespeople that refuse to get off my porch until I slam a door in their faces.

OK, maybe I'm not that mean. But sometimes I think I should be.

So today I was working on the computer when the doorbell rang. My little ones are off track so all four of them immediately ran for the door. "Mom! Door!" Scout yelled, but I was already halfway across the office, heading in that direction. The kids had quickly backed away from the stranger and his half-used bottle of cleaner, and he wisely kept his distance until I appeared in the doorway.

This one was easy, I thought. I only bought stuff from the "cleaner" guys one time. They had this amazing product that took oil off my driveway and tarnish from my door knocker. I shelled out over fifty bucks when we could hardly afford to buy milk! Yeah, that salesman was long gone when I discovered that my "magical formula" was nothing more than tap water.

I was so disappointed! And annoyed... those guys would never get my hard-earned money again.

I tried to get rid of this guy politely, after all, he is not the one who scammed me a dozen years ago, but he just kept asking stupid questions and no matter how nicely I declined, he still stood at my door.

I finally but firmly told him, "I don't like cleaning that much anyway." I started to shut the door, but he put a hand against it to give me his parting shot. With a nasty grin he confirmed, "Yeah, I can tell!"

Even sharing this story with all of you makes me angry all over again. He had no right to judge me just because I wouldn't buy his worthless cleaner...

Now where can I find me one of those signs?

Mar 27, 2014

Using Their Imaginations

I am a firm believer that kids need to use their imaginations. I will probably take a lot of flak for this, but I am NOT a fan of video games! I want my kids to work with their hands, not their thumbs.

For many years I outlawed them in my house completely. Then when the Gym Rat was a sophomore in high school, we gave him a challenge we never thought he would accomplish. We told him that if he would complete a full season with the Color Guard in the marching band, we would buy him a playstation. He agreed and he learned to spin a flag with the best of them! When the season was over, as promised we bought him that coveted gaming platform and we have had them in our home ever since. That was in 2001.

But just because we have game stations, that doesn't mean we have to allow the kids unlimited free access. Other than the exercise games, Just Dance and Dance Dance Revolution (and even with those they ask first), the kids have to earn the right to turn on a video game and in my house it only happens maybe once a month for an hour or so.

Oh, it's not that the kids don't want to play. They just know that isn't our culture here. If we have free time, we spend it doing other more productive things. Let me give you an example. I told you yesterday that Sport works at a preschool during his off-track time. Well, today he helped the kids make little cars that fit over their bodies out of cardboard boxes. The kids always love this project and Sport loves vehicles, so it was perfect for him.

When he got home, he went looking for a box to make a vehicle of his own. But he wasn't satisfied with just a tiny single-seater one. Oh no, he wanted to make a bus!

He had already asked his dad for a box he spotted yesterday in the garage that housed a nativity set (although I think in hind-sight that box probably belonged to Bossy... SORRY!!) and he first covered it with green paper. He wanted it to look good.

Then he cut out the windows and the bottom, added paper plate wheels and some other accessories. The kids have been having a great time "driving" the bus around the house. Sport gets on his knees and he is always the bus driver while the little ones walk behind in the back "seat" and enjoy the ride. And they always have huge grins on their faces.

What did he learn? A lot about engineering and structural stability. We had quite a discussion about how big the windows should be and where he should place them so the box didn't collapse. He asked me to help once, but I politely declined and suggested a way he could easily do it without me. I wanted him to feel the euphoria that comes from completing a project that he conceived and executed all by himself.

You can't get that from a video game.

Mar 26, 2014

Off Track Party

Did I tell you my kids went off track on Friday? We have a whole month for them to be home this time! I just love having them around. Other than the fact that the house gets messier. You would think it would be just the opposite, and sometime during their time off I usually get them to clean their rooms, but they love having time to do all the things they miss when they have school every day and sadly, chores are not on that list!

So Monday was their first day off. It was also the Chick-fil-A off track party, so we headed out there for a free breakfast for the kids. Baby Doll and I had to use our free coupons from the Safety Fair, but it worked out great.

This off track party was sponsored by a Dental Office, so we spent part of the time learning how to care for our teeth. The kids also made these fun mouths out of marshmallows, but they were terribly offended when they had to glue them with actual glue!!  They would much rather have eaten them.

They also had some fun pics for the kids to color, and if you know my kids, they take coloring VERY seriously.

We could only stay for the first half of the party since Sport had to be to work at the preschool at 10:00, so we don't know if they had the Cow out or anything else interesting, but we certainly enjoyed the time we were there.

Thanks, Chick-fil-A.

Mar 25, 2014

Studying China

Remember last week when we were studying Ireland for Family Home Evening? OK, it was St. Patrick's Day too, but it was also the beginning of earning the International Activities Patch for Sport. This is actually one of my favorite cub scout patches to earn because it gives me an excuse to teach the kids about different cultures.

When the Gym Rat was a cub scout, we chose the first option of immersing ourselves in one culture. My grandma had a friend from Japan and she stayed with us and cooked us real sushi and taught us all about Japan. We thought that was super-fun although none of the kids liked sushi.

Then when it was the Dog Walker's turn, our Japanese friend had moved to the east coast, so we had to do the second option which is to plan 4 weeks of international activities. We could either immerse ourselves in one culture of choose 4 different ones. We decided to go for 4 different ones and the kids loved it! The format works great for a month of Family Home Evenings.

So when it came time for Sport's turn, we decided to do the same thing. Last week we had a great time with Ireland, and this week we decided to learn a little about China. My sweetie didn't have time to cook a fabulous meal for us and I was also out with Prima Donna (getting approval on her Gold Award project!) until after 7:00, so we budgeted and planned to do Chinese take-out. It wasn't really authentic, but it was the best we could do given the circumstances.

You can only imagine how excited the kids were about that! We eat out so rarely and we almost NEVER bring food home like that and if we do it is generally pizza, so this was quite a treat for them. After we ate dinner and they all practiced with their chopsticks (Curly figured out how to simply stab the sesame chicken with one of his sticks and eat it like a skewer...whatever works, I guess!), we headed for the living room to learn a little more about Chinese culture.

Prima Donna shared a synopsis of China's history, then I told how they had a contest for their flag and what all the parts of it mean. Princess read a Chinese version of Cinderella and then we made fans out of large pieces of paper.

After our craft it was time for games. The first one was a silly game of strength and cooperation and we figured out that not everyone can do it. Crafty and Princess were the only ones to do it successfully. The idea was to link arms while standing back to back and then to sit down on the floor. Then without unlocking arms, they had to stand up together. They managed it multiple times, but none of the other pairs of kids could get it to happen. It was pretty fun though.

Then we played a game similar to marbles where the kids each rolled a quarter down the wall and then the one that landed furthest from the wall got to be tossed at the other coins. If the owner hit one, then he got to keep that coin. We weren't any good at that one either.

Finally it was time for treats. Princess had put together some Chinese Almond cookies. They were definitely a hit!

All in all, it turned out to be fun and I think the kids learned a few things too. I think we will choose Mexico for our last country, but I"m still looking for suggestions for next week. Anybody got any good ideas?

Mar 24, 2014

Girl Scouts at Curves

I'm always looking for new ideas for my Girl Scout troop. It's a real challenge keeping 10 girls interested in projects and activities. They all have such different personalities. I think I told you already that I decided on health and nutrition for our spring activities. We did that fun Zumba class a couple of weeks ago with the Curves Zumba instructor, and this week we actually went to Curves.

Because the girls are under the age of 18, I had to get their parents to sign waivers, so that was a bit of a pain, but other than that, it was all fun. My good friend and the owner of our Curves, Margaret, started with a nutrition game where there girls talked about healthy food and how to eat better, then we got a chance to all work out on the machines. She had each girl demonstrate one machine and how to do it properly and they she just let the girls go. For the most part they did really well and they absolutely loved it! I couldn't hardly get them to leave, especially Scout.

We did the circuit once and then Margaret taught the girls how to use the stretching machine, but it
wasn't long before they all drifted back to the machines.
I wish I had that much enthusiasm for exercise!
Way to go, Scout!

Mar 23, 2014

Riding the Train

Waiting at the station.
A couple of weeks ago my Little Sis called me on the phone, "Hey, want a free Trax pass?" She is all about a bargain and she always seems to know when something is up. I thought for a minute. What in the world would I do with one free Trax pass? Now if I could get one for everybody, that might be worth something...

She must have known what I was going to say because she just started talking. "You know how much my little guy loves trains, and kids 5 and under can ride for free." The excitement in her voice was rising, "And it's good for the FrontRunner too!"

Here comes the train!
Her enthusiasm was contagious. Ever since we went to see Thomas the Tank Engine last year in Heber City, my two little ones have loved the trains! Trax wasn't all that exciting, it could just get us around downtown, but the FrontRunner was a huge train that ran from Provo to Ogden. We could have some real fun with that.

Getting ready to roll.
She quickly entered my information into her computer to get my pass on its way. When I got home, I decided to check her link anyway since I had not received a confirmation. Turns out I had to use a different computer since hers had already ordered one, but they still had some left, so within minutes, my pass was really on its way!

These passes were courtesy of Utah Ride Clear and they were good for one week from the day they were first used. They were probably not intended for people to just play on the trains, but we were ever so grateful for the opportunity. We had never been on the FrontRunner before although Little Sis and her kids had been on it several times.

We planned the trip for March 21. My elementary kids went off track on that day so we would have to pay for them to go with us if we waited any longer. Besides, the passes expired on March 31 so we had to get going.

Little Sis graciously made all the trip plans which was good since she knew what she was doing and I didn't. We met at the South Jordan Station at 8:50 am. We only had a few hours since Curly had to be at school by 11:15. The train arrived right on schedule and we quickly climbed aboard. Our plan was to ride the train to Provo and then ride it right back again.

The kids loved the spacious seats and would have happily danced in the aisles if we had allowed them to. Baby Doll loved looking out the window and sharing treats with Sami and Aiden. Curly had a huge grin on his face the entire time! We looked for stores and houses at first, then school buses and finally rock formations and farms. There was always something to see. The kids loved being so close to Utah Lake and watching a small river meandering nearby. We saw horses and sheep and lots and lots of houses.

The ride was about 42 minutes each way. When we got to Provo we had a few minutes to regroup so we decided to take the kids into the upper car of the train. Yeah! These trains have two stories in them! The upper level had tighter seats and some of them had tables in the middle and there were people working on computers and Ipads. There were other families on the train at that hour and lots of little ones, so we weren't the only ones trying to keep our kids in their seats.

When we rolled into the Draper station we took that quick minute to take all the kids back to the lower level so we would be sure to get off on our stop. They were sad to leave. It was a fun train adventure and thanks to UTA and my Little Sis, it didn't cost us a thing!

Mar 21, 2014

Guest Blog: Choirside on Sunday by Elder Dog Walker

I know I've been asked to Guest Blog and talk more about my mission. There's something new about to happen that the Riverton seminary asked me to be with this Sunday. I've been asked to be in a Choirside with the missionaries who are part of it. It's about narrating a hymn and the choir sings the last two verses of the hymn. The hymn that we'll be doing is in hymn number six. Redeemer of Israel. I've been asked to narrate the 4th verse of that hymn. Then the fifth and sixth verse will be sung. I wish that you can be able to see me and the missionaries perform in the Church Choirside. I hope that if there was a picture of it or not, then I could show you of how the Choirside went and how it is a great activity for a missionary.

Mar 20, 2014

Letters from Teach in Texas

If you remember, Teach was just moved to a new area a week or so ago. She was nervous about the change because although she would be a senior companion, she would no longer be a STL or Sister Trainer Leader. But it appears that she has adjusted well and she is happy in her new place.

I love serving here. I feel like this area is a culmination of all of the various lessons and skills I have learned over the last year and they are all being tested and exercised in a wonderful way. I realized that the Lord has helped me to become a good missionary and that as I follow His Spirit I can be led where He needs me to be. Each day has been it's own missionary roller coaster. We have wonderful highs and lowly lows, but the Lord is right there with us. For example, the other night I was feeling that this area had busy missionaries but there wasn't really any focused direction in the area. There were people we weren't seeing and we kinda were circling around the same pool of potentials, investigators, and less actives. As we knelt in prayer for our planning session I pleaded for direction. We needed something to change so we could not merely maintain the status quo but progress.  Sister Ames would say it was a pure flow of intelligence. I knew immediately that I needed to look at the area map. I knew immediately that we needed to organize the Ultimate Source and Area Book and find where our people are. We had been wandering swiftly from place to place, but now because we have a clear direction on where we are and who is around us we are more open to the revelation the Lord is giving. I took time to pour over the ward directory. I don't know the people yet, but the Spirit can't draw from an empty well- so I filled it up. I learned these skills in Arlington and I feel so blessed to know them now. 

She has learned so much on her mission! It is amazing to see the growth.

When I was a new missionary serving in Chapel Creek I remember specifically needing to know and be ok with the fact that change in myself would occur. I needed to know that those I loved back home would be ok with this change. I needed to know how to make Teach and Sister Teach mesh together as a personable and real missionary. I prayed. I prayed very hard and I pleaded with the Lord for help. He answered my prayer and slowly overtime I have come to realize that I have been blessed with a gift to be myself with a calling as a missionary. Does that make sense? I was able to separate the world that was in me from the Godly that was in me and turn the Godly part of me into a missionary and still be myself. That is probably the most confusing concept to explain- but I know it's true.

 I am so proud of her and I know she is making a difference in the lives of the people in Texas. She is such a good person and I know that goodness just shines from her countenance and it draws people to her.
I love being a missionary. This is truly been some of the greatest time on my mission so far. I guess because it is simply so rewarding. I am seeing the change as the members feel the missionary spirit and I am watching as our investigator Marta changes. She is progressing and the difference is night and day! The Lord has blessed us with referrals from members and other areas. The work is progressing! This week each day I am studying a verse in D&C 4. Today is obviously verse 1 and I feel that the marvelous work is maybe no longer about to come forth but now it IS coming forth! It's a great day to be a missionary!