Jun 30, 2015

Party for Prima Donna - Happy 17th!

The Dog Walker did an excellent job on his mission report on Sunday as you can tell from his talk he included yesterday. I was so proud of him! After the meeting we had our clan gather on the stage so that Sport could be ordained a deacon. It was so fun to look around at all those familiar faces and see the love and support they give my family.

We adjourned to the house for a fun family breakfast party. I have no idea why I didn't even think to take any pictures. We had plenty of food and fine conversation. Things wrapped up about 1:00 and I had a few minutes to think before it was time to get things ready for Prima Donna's party.

Teach and I put together a meatloaf while my sweetie whipped up a batch of rolls. I was pretty pleased with my cake, what do you think? Prima Donna loves My Little Pony, and I was excited to find one for her that she didn't already own. Drama Queen was afraid we would catch it on fire, so she took it off before we lit the candles...

Swimming lessons started this morning for Sport, Scout, Curly, and Baby Doll. Crafty is also helping with a couple of classes. I have to confess that I took a 3-hour nap this afternoon. I seem to be catching a summer cold with an irritating cough, sore throat, runny nose... the works. I have a much slower week other than getting Princess ready to leave for Washington DC on Saturday (remember when she earned her FCCLA trip?)

Oh yeah, and I'm taking my girl scout troop to Antelope Island on Friday. Sport has golf lessons, we are in the last week of tennis lessons, and swimming goes 4 days a week for 2 weeks. Can you believe that June is pretty much over? Where did it go?

Jun 29, 2015

Guest Blogger: Mission Report by Elder Dog Walker

I’m so excited to give my report about my mission to all of you, blog followers. The mission has been a wonderful blessing for me and for my family. I didn’t always want to serve a mission. I have to admit I was a little afraid to leave my family and all the people I know and serve somewhere far away. When I turned 19, I went downtown to take a test to see if I could serve a full-time mission. I’ve been autistic my whole life, so I wasn’t surprised when they told me that they just don’t send people on full-time missions if they have autism.

So we started looked for a church service mission. It was hard to find just the right thing. Then we talked to someone who had served in the special needs seminary program and it sounded like just the right fit. We met with Sister Great at the Granite Seminary and she told us about the Young Church Service Missionary program.

It’s different from the Church Service Missionary program because missionaries have to get a call before they are 25 and usually they have reasons they aren’t able to serve full-time missions. I got to attend the first real meeting of Young Church Service Missionaries when we had a group picture taken for President Monson and then we had a fireside at the Conference Center. It was so interesting to see all of the different people who were serving as Young Church Service Missionaries like me.

While I was serving my mission, I was able to go to a few of those firesides and they always felt like zone conferences for us. You probably know that my sister, Teach, was also serving her mission at the same time I was serving mine. We talked a lot about the differences and the things that were the same about our missions. But I think the most important thing was that we were all trying to share the gospel with other people, be good examples, and build our own testimonies at the same time.

So ever since I started the mission, I knew I had to be a good example to the special needs children in the seminary buildings. My mom and dad were worried that I might not get the hang of children drooling all the time. However, I never had a problem with that, because when I was little, I was around lots of kids doing actions like that. And we’ve had lots of babies at our house…

Anyway, each of the children in the seminaries were very happy to see me be there every day. The teachers and the fellow missionaries were good to work with. At first, I wasn’t quite sure if I could remember the names of all the children, but with Heavenly Father’s help, I started to learn a lot of them. One of my favorite students was named Awesome Boy and he attended Kauri Sue Hamilton. I was so surprised that he moved onto our street and started coming to our ward! Now that my mission is finished, I still enjoy seeing him every week at church since I don’t see him at the seminary anymore.

When I was at the seminary buildings helping the children learn about the gospel, it made me feel like I was starting my whole life of seminary again. It was a blessing for me to start seminary over again, because when I was in high school, I slept through all of seminary. I was a miss-outer all right!

Somehow, the teachers had great ideas on how to help the special needs children understand the gospel, like using buttons called prayer aids. It’s when they push the button and it makes it sound like they’re praying. They made their own devotional boards with pictures of each job on them and then they do their part. They also have scripture mastery rhymes and they do their signs for them. For example, I liked doing the rhyme on Alma 41: 10. They say, “Alma 41, Unhappy Wicked One!” That reminds me that wickedness never was happiness. I knew all along that it never was, nor will it ever be, no matter how much Satan tries to make us justify that. That’s an important lesson for all of us to learn.

Now that I’ve told you about how a young church service missionary can serve, I have to admit that I’m actually glad that I don’t have doors slamming in my face or being persecuted in some other way. Although during my mission, I didn’t just go to the seminary buildings to help the students there, but I also served by doing splits with the other missionaries who were doing their full-time missions here in Utah. I didn’t know that part of my experience as a Young Church-service missionary was not just helping children with special needs, but I could also help other non-member families learn about the gospel. The missionaries were happy to have me teach the families about my testimony of the gospel and how it has blessed my life.

One time we had the opportunity to teach at Spigarellis, and the missionaries were having a hard time getting their name pronounced right. I was glad to be there to help them, since I knew the Spigarellis ever since they came to live in our neighborhood.

I also tried to share the gospel on my own whenever I got the chance. Mom bought me a stack of copies of the Book of Mormon and I carried them every day to school in my backpack. I don’t know if you all know I was going to Salt Lake Community College the same time I was serving my mission, but most of the time I had to wear my suit to school and people would ask me why I was always so dressed up. It was a good time to talk to them about the church. I got to give away a few books and sometimes even bear my testimony to them. I hope some of them will join the church.

Sometimes, during the mission, missionaries have to be transferred to a different location. For instance, the first months of my mission I helped at Hartvigsen in Taylorsville. I really enjoyed working with the teachers and students there. I only got to serve over there until the summer started and then I was transferred to Granite Seminary downtown. I sometimes hate policies, but the teacher from the Granite seminary told me that I shouldn’t be serving at seminaries that are further away from my home. I was a little disappointed about that, but I knew that it was part of experiencing what it’s like to transfer to a different location during my mission.

For the whole mission, I helped out at Kauri Sue Hamilton and then at the beginning of autumn, I started to help at Transitions Academy, which it’s not a seminary, but an Institute for children with special needs. One student named Annie, really liked me and wanted to follow my example by going on a mission in her future. I’m sure she would be an awesome Young Church Service Missionary someday.

There were a lot of other things that happened during the mission, besides helping the children. The seminary teachers, including the missionaries, got to do a special production called a Choirside. It’s kind of like a fireside, except there is more singing that talking because a lot of children can understand the gospel by music and lyrics. As missionaries, we also got to be in the Choirside but we had to rehearse a hymn by narrating the words. That means we never got to sing the verse, but we got to read the verse like a narrator while the music of the hymn is playing.

Sometimes, children and even adults have a hard time understanding the scriptures and why we read and follow them. I had a feeling that would be the same for special need children, since they might have hard times understanding things, just like I did in my childhood. So, I made a gigantic book full of pictures with scripture references at the bottom of each one as a way to better understand the scriptures. You can even compare the scriptures to family photos, church history sites, movies, etc. For instance, in one of my favorite movies, called The Lion King, I found a perfect reference that goes along with it. It’s found in Helaman 5: 12 of the Book of Mormon. “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” That reference is an analogy of the character in which the devil bringing all those things to all men is like Scar bringing all those horrible things to Simba, but Mufasa tells Simba the most important advice, “Remember Who You Are.” All my life, that advice has been so powerful, it feels like Heavenly Father’s telling me that same advice and I try to always remember who I am, when I’m serving the mission and even when I’m not. I am a child of God and my Heavenly Father loves me and I love Him.

While serving as a missionary, even if it were easy to act like a Child of God with the special needs children, sometimes it was really hard to act like it at home. Sometimes, I end up having to deal with anger management issues with some of my younger siblings who are occasionally snarky and envious, but my mom would tell me that I should have a missionary voice instead of a coach voice. Most of the time I get along with my younger siblings, but sometimes I don’t. That helped me learn that sometimes it is easier to be nice to people who aren’t related to me, but I should still be nice to people who are related to me, because Heavenly Father loves all His children and He knows that we make mistakes. Even when serving the mission, I still made mistakes while serving, like watching a rowdy TV show or being angry when I’m not serving in the seminary or being on splits with the other missionaries. That’s when I try to find time to go to the temple. I love going to the temple and serving in the House of the Lord. I always wear my missionary badge when I am there and it makes me feel so close to my Heavenly Father that I never want to leave the temple.
As a missionary, I tried to influence and serve my family by giving them gifts that would help them to build their testimonies. For instance, I made each member of my immediate family scripture journals with a packet of references from the scriptures, the Friend, Family Home Evening, and much more. Every time I read the scriptures, I always write down in my journal what I’ve learned from the scriptures and see if it can help me in the future and I wanted my family to experience the same thing. To show my love on Valentine’s day, I bought Scripture Mastery cards to help everyone in the family to know the important things they can find in the scriptures. I hope I have made a difference in their lives by reminding them what is important.

Besides educational opportunities, I also had a fun mission opportunity to enter into Kauri Sue Hamilton’s Cupcake Wars competition. My idea of cupcakes was to make “Book of Mormon Blueberry” and I won the Most Creative award for it. That was an easy chance to remind everyone that I am a missionary and I am happy to give them a Book of Mormon.

I’ve also learned that missionaries can face trials, more than just being spiritually persecuted and causing contention. For example, last Christmas, when I was going throughout the week of serving the children, I started having an irritable headache and it wouldn’t go away for a few days. My mom tried to help me by giving me Ibuprofen, but it didn’t work out as well as I thought. Before Christmas ever came, and I still didn’t feel well, I had to stay home from serving the mission until I felt better and that made me sad. I asked President Happy, my Mission President, to see if he would give me a healing blessing. He brought a companion since my dad was out of town and they came when I asked and gave me the blessing. Right after the blessing, I started to feel almost better, until later that day, I was cured, because it was the Holy Ghost telling me that President Happy and his companion were called to help people. And that missionaries have been called to serve and teach the Gospel in the world and Heavenly Father wants his missionaries to be healthy and not sick.

I tried to write a letter every week to my mission president, just like a full-time missionary. Every letter I wrote to President Happy, I always asked for advice on how I could become a better missionary, especially when residing at home. I asked him for advice on controlling my temper and even how to find more appropriate comedies to watch while on break, like Studio C. By following his advice, it made me a happier missionary which is why I extended my 1-year mission to 18 months. Not because it’s awkward to end during a school year, but because it helped me realize that it has been a blessing for me to help children with disabilities. I decided to because a special education teacher mostly because I like working with these special people.

I would just like to bear my testimony that I know that the church is the only true church on earth. I’m grateful that our prophet Joseph Smith restored it and it continues on today, led by President Monson. I’m also grateful that I had the opportunity to make a difference for the children that Heavenly Father asked me to serve. I love them and I loved being a missionary. I love my family and friends who supported me during my mission. I love our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jun 28, 2015

Busy, Busy Weekend

Busy, busy weekend...

On Friday we had a friend birthday party for Sport. He had about 18 kids there and it was totally crazy! They played dodgeball and basketball at the church, ate cupcakes and we herded them out the door with a gift bag. Sport was happy and cleanup was quick.

After that Bossy convinced me we could go to the Welby carnival. I wasn't real excited about it since it was so hot, but we spent an hour there and the kids had fun in the bounce houses. Then my sweetie and I attended a viewing for my sister's FIL.

This morning Drama Queen and I took the 4 youngest to Cowabunga Bay for the Girl Scout cookie party. We got there at 9:00 and waited in a long line before we finally got into the waterpark. The kids convinced me to go on a couple of slides and around the lazy river. We also got lunch which turned out to be hot dogs (and hamburgers) again...

I think that is all we have eaten this week. We got back home just after 1:00 and I had to rush around getting ready for Sport's family party that was at 5:00.

Drama Queen made my many trips to the store for me, thank goodness, while I made dinner, a cake, and wrapped gifts. My sweetie was installing my new dishwashers!

The party was a success and by 7:00 we were finishing up and getting ready for the next big event. Tomorrow is the Dog Walker's mission report and Sport's priesthood ordination. We are planning to feed quite a few people breakfast after church, so we put up the canopies outside and set up tables and chairs.

The Dog Walker gets to speak in Sacrament Meeting for about 15 minutes, so he spent a couple of hours writing his talk and then doing some rewriting to make it longer. Drama Queen has been cutting melons and fruit and now she is working on our "breakfast casserole" made of hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, and cheese. She is such a lifesaver!

As if that weren't enough, tomorrow evening we are celebrating Prima Donna's 17th birthday...

Jun 26, 2015

Another Party

At least I wasn't in charge of this one this time. Sport's baseball coach arranged for a BBQ in his backyard. He grilled burgers and hot dogs and we all had to contribute something. The kids had so much fun in his pool and on his trampoline that I could hardly get them out to go home!

Can we ever go to a party and not spill a cup?
It's been a great baseball season, and as always, maybe a bit too short. I love my time at the ballpark. I wish I could say it is my de-stress time, but that wouldn't be true. There's an awful lot of stress involved when Sport is pitching or Curly is standing at bat, or Scout is throwing to first base, but I love it. I love the smell of the field and the crack of the bat.

When I was a child and even a teenager, softball was my life. I would have played every day and I was good at it. Now my arm can't remember how to throw, but I can still catch that fastball and my bat still works. As long as I am able, I will spend all my spring days at the park watching my kids play ball and dreaming of the days when I was fielding at shortstop and throwing my fastball to first.

Jun 25, 2015

Double Duty

I know you are all dying to know how the baseball games turned out for Taco and Burrito!

I went out to the park just in time for the second batter in Burrito's game. His little team was playing for the 8-year-old tournament championship. They did well, but it was SOO hot! I don't know how Burrito could stand catching that first inning. Wearing all that padding had to add 5 more degrees to an already sweltering day.

They played well, but in the end, they lost 12 - 15. Burrito was sad, not because they lost, but because it meant baseball was over for the season. The huge 2nd place trophy helped quite a bit.

Taco's team was in the semi finals and their team lost a heart-breaker right at the end. So now we are all finished with baseball. I love the kids' sports programs because it helps channel their energy into something other than movies or video games. Sport was been taking golf lessons this week. It was a major part of his birthday gift and besides, it will help him earn the Golf merit badge.

The five youngest start swimming lessons next week. They will run for 2 weeks and keep us hopping. But guess what?! When Sport is finished (assuming he does well), he will have also passed off the Swimming merit badge. I'm all in favor of making our activities count in as many places as possible.

Jun 24, 2015

Heading for a New Sport

Baseball is finally over for my boys, but not for Bossy's family. Both of her boys are still playing. Burrito's team is in the championship game tomorrow and Taco also has a game. His tournament is single elimination so if they lose, he is done too.

Curly was pretty heartbroken over their loss tonight. We were assigned to play the toughest team in the Herriman 7-year-old league. When we arrived at the field, they didn't look that intimidating. In fact, we scored a couple of runs in the first inning and things were looking pretty good.

Then they scored 3, but the game was still close and the boys were excited. Coach had been playing Curly on third, but all of the balls were being hit to shortstop, so the second inning he moved him over there.

We were finally ahead, but it didn't last long. Their boys could hit and they scored 6 runs, ending the inning without 3 outs. Curly did an amazing job at shortstop, stopping every ball, the problem was that his friends were not paying attention when he made the throw to the base. Not that every throw was perfect, but some of them were highly-catchable balls.

Curly has become an awesome batter this season and hit the ball hard every time he was up. We scored 4 runs total to their 15 and they called the game in the bottom of the 4th using the mercy rule. Curly cried most of the way home. He didn't really understand that a loss meant the end of the season. Only team parties left to try to schedule in.

Speaking of parties, today is Sport's birthday and he turned 12 years old. I took him to Chick Fil A for breakfast and when I told them it was his birthday, they comped the whole meal! We are mostly celebrating his birthday on Friday with his friend party and Saturday night with the family.

Princess, Prima Donna, and Crafty are leaving for a simulated pioneer trek tomorrow. Last time they had an activity like this we stayed up all night and then took them to the church at 4:30 in the morning. This time just Prima Donna and I decided to stay up. They aren't leaving until 6:30, and I'm starting to get tired. I just finished making 3 bonnets, a skirt and an apron.

I know, nothing like leaving it until the last minute. The more I try to get ahead, the more I realize how behind I really am. And how is your week going?

Jun 23, 2015

Five Percent Power

I feel like my phone tonight... at about 5 % power.

It's been a long weekend that didn't get much better as the calendar rolled over to Monday. Not that it was necessarily bad things, just things. Like Sport, Curly, and Scout have been taking tennis lessons on Monday and Wednesday evenings. The problem is that they sprung this baseball tournament on us and we have stuff colliding with stuff everywhere.

So I made arrangements for them to go to the morning class at 10:00. Except that I forgot I was giving Sport golf lessons for his birthday on Tuesday and they started today. I remembered about 15 minutes into his first class, and then we were pulling on shoes and racing out the door so that he didn't miss the entire lesson.

Of course that made him late for tennis. I tried to accomplish things in between the chasing all day. Like after I picked them up from tennis, Sport and I stopped by the tire store to borrow 8 old tires for our Obstacle Course at pack meeting tomorrow.

Sometime in there, I fixed The Beast's pants, made a trek skirt for Crafty, and sorted through all the laundry (clean and dirty) to find Curly's baseball shirt. It happened to be in the dirty (Sport's was in the clean), so I threw it in the washer. It ran the cycle and I got it dried just before Curly and I took off for Sport's game. That's when I noticed that he had spilled brownie batter all down the front of it.

I kept score through two baseball games (Sport's team lost, so they are out of the tournament, and Curly's team won so they have a game right over the top of pack meeting). Then I quickly drove to Beauty and The Beast's house for Beauty's birthday party. Thankfully, Princess made lemon bars and brownies, so my only responsibility was wrapping the gifts which I did between other projects this afternoon.

I took care of a Tupperware customer, tried to work out parking and other issues for pack meeting, and helped the girls pack for trek which also included a trip to Wal Mart for stuff we were missing. Of course we couldn't get everything we needed so I will be making another trip to Sam's and Walgreens tomorrow. I also have a bunch of stuff to do for pack meeting before 7:00 and the girls were hoping I could whip them each up a bonnet and an apron before they leave early Wednesday morning.

Time for some much needed sleep.
So I can put myself on the charger and hopefully get my tired body to 100%.

Jun 21, 2015

Happy Fathers' Day

Church seemed SOO early this morning! I was tired, but Teach made breakfast in bed for Dad and of course that included me too. :) It was delicious! We had bacon, eggs, blueberry pancakes, and orange juice. The little ones got to sing in church, so that was fun.

I managed to sneak in a nap and then we made dinner for my sweetie. He feasted on au gratin potatoes made by the Drama Queen and loaded chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon and rolls. Sport even grilled up some hot dogs for the kids. Grandpa also joined us in our festivities as did Bossy and Gamer's family and Beauty and The Beast. I just love having all of my children around me!

We finished off dinner with gifts and ice cream drumsticks for everyone.

Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there. Hope you had as much fun as we did, maybe even more!

Timpanogos Cave

I did it!

OK, it wasn't just me, but I took my girl scout troop to Timpanogos Cave and lived to tell about it. Honestly, the hike itself was much harder than I was expecting. We started the morning at 10:00 as the troop gathered at our house. Soon we were on the road.

We arrived at the visitors' center at 11:00 and I stood in line to check in. I had already bought my tickets online, and it was a good thing because they didn't have very many slots left and we had 23 in our group. Besides the troop, we had most of my other kids and Bossy's kids. We had to take 3 vehicles to get everyone there.

My sweetie took tons of pictures, but I only took a few at the beginning of the trail and one under the arch. It was pretty rough going and for a while I wasn't sure that everyone would make it up the path. I'm sure it's no big deal if you are a hiker, but for us who rarely venture on these sorts of outdoor expeditions, it was hard.

When we finally conquered the uphill trail, we were allowed into the cave. Parts of it were pretty cool and other parts were terrifying because we had to squeeze through some tight places. I tend to be a bit claustrophobic and I found myself watching my feet as I crouched and contorted my way through the cave.

Fortunately everyone returned safe and sound. Then we had about 1 hour to pack our van again and head south. Friday was our only opportunity to see the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti and I didn't want to miss it. We arrived with enough time to drop our sleeping bags and gear at Grandpa's house and then drive the last 7 miles into Manti. Then we got parked and walked to the temple grounds.

We had great seats and just enough time to take some fun cell pics before the show started. It was amazing as usual! We got back to Grandpa's house about midnight and had the kids mostly settled before 1:00 AM. Thank goodness we were able to sleep in this morning.

It only took us about half an hour to load everything up and get on the road again. Our first stop was Terrell's in Mt. Pleasant for doughnuts. Seriously, they have the best doughnuts I have ever tasted! I love their apple fritters.

Princess's boyfriend had to be in Heber by 1:00, so we didn't stay. After dropping the two of them off at the reunion, we drove back to Vivian Park and found a little pavilion where we could grill some hamburgers. Crafty had a homework assignment for her science class so Dog Walker took a bunch of them on a hike.

After lunch and a little more hiking, we packed up and drove home. Princess, Crafty, and Prima Donna all had a trek party at 6:00. More family togetherness tomorrow, so we made several trips to the store trying to get a jump on everything.

We are headed into an incredibly busy week with three birthdays, trek, baseball tournaments, dance exams, pack meeting...

 I'm tired just thinking about it.

Jun 19, 2015

Guest Blog: Burrito's Passion Project by Bossy

Burrito had this fun project for class today.  He had to write a paper, film a video, and present to his class today one thing he was passionate about.  He was so excited to talk about hanging upside down.  We quickly realized it wasn't going to be long enough for his presentation, so he recruited Scout, Curly, Taco and Baby Doll to help him on a tour of the backyard.

Here is his paper:

I am passionate about playing in my grandma’s backyard.  My grandma’s backyard is fun.  I have aunts and uncles close to my age. My grandma’s backyard has many fun things to do.  She has a trampoline, a garden, a sandbox, a basketball court, playground toys, and a place to play volleyball or badminton. My favorite thing to do is to hang upside down on the red and blue spider web. The spider web is five feet tall and seven feet wide. It lives in the giant sandbox!  It is almost one year old. I made a video to show you my passion and teach you how to hang upside down.  

Jun 18, 2015

Princess Phone Pics

Princess and I were talking last night and she asked me if I wanted to see some of her cute pics in her phone. She is much better at just taking the random pics than I am. Some of them are pretty fun so I asked her to share them with you. I'll try to explain them as we go.

On Monday, Princess and Dog Walker went down to UVU for their Orientation. One of the things they could do was join this credit union and then take a turn in the Money Machine. Can you believe each of them grabbed $18?

Princess told me they were trying to build a totem pole, but Baby Doll wasn't too excited about being on the bottom. In her short lifetime, she generally comes out on top!

Love these awesome dancers! Princess is the one in green...

Princess's boyfriend has a bunch of cute little brothers. This is one of them.

Not at all sure what Teach and Crafty are doing in this pic, but it has to be something a bit sketchy, don't you think?

I can only guess that these legs belong to Crafty and Princess. Lots of people mistake them for twins. Even me sometimes.

This last one is my cute dad. Happy Fathers' Day, Grandpa. If you don't like it, blame Princess. I personally love the shades, but my favorite part is that smile. Love you!