Aug 28, 2020

Guest Blog - Diamond Painting 101 by Princess

I cheated a little in getting Princess to write a blog post for me. As you know, she has turned into an amazing Instagram Crafting queen. She also has her own blog that has changed if you notice the link on my sidebar. If you haven't been there in a while, you should check it out so you can see how big my little grandsons are getting! Princess has them in their Halloween costumes (with one already made for her baby girl who may or may not be blog-named Dutchess...)

She took the time to teach my younger kids how to do these diamond paintings and they have turned out to be quite amazing! Scout actually finished hers recently.

Anyone surprised that it is a volleyball?
These are an inexpensive and fun craft that pretty much anyone can do. You just have to have lots of time and most importantly, tons of patience!

Aug 26, 2020

Guest Blog - There is Peace by Teach

I didn't want to move far away. When the idea was brought forth back in September, I cried for hours, days, even weeks. I didn't want to move, but then Andrew and I came to New Jersey for Christmas and saw the potential house we could live in. We struggled back and forth with the decision, but I am a firm believer in the power of God and His ability to direct us through His Spirit. When we received confirmation that we needed to move to New Jersey, it didn't matter what I wanted any longer, because I follow the Lord. 

The weeks and months of packing and moving were exhausting. The day of the move was ridiculous to say the least. The drive was long. The kids were sick. The dog. The cat. Felicity went to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere so we could push for just a few more hours. We missed the 4th of July because we just drove through it. However, there was an overarching feeling of peace. 

We made it to the house. It is the house Andrew grew up in and it is beautiful. My in-laws have worked hard to update and beautify our home. I am very grateful for all the hard work they have put in. We have worked our way into a routine, with Andrew working in Pennsylvania (1 hour commute each way). He leaves early in the morning and makes it back for dinner time. 

I spend my days with the kids and the animals. We create, we dance, we sing, we get lost around town, and we celebrate when Mama finds her way home without the GPS. Every night we have had scripture study as a family (something we NEVER were good at before). My kids are happy and I feel peace. 

There is an ache in my heart for the life and family that are in Utah. That is my hometown. Those are my "stompin' grounds" and I pray for my people everyday. There is a reason we are here and with all the changes I know that I am where I'm supposed to be. There is nothing that can replace that peaceful feeling. 

Yet there are some weird things that exist here They call Otter Pops, Ice pops. The beach is called the shore. The roads are filled with potholes and I hit a dip so bad I thought I broke my van! Don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of the carwash I went through. If you want more on the weirdness.... that's another post! 

I gotta say prayers and help Felicity get snuggly. 

That's what we do here.

 We're doing it. 

Aug 24, 2020


We had a family birthday party tonight for my sweetie, Little Warrior, Curly, and Drama Queen. My sweetie did a dutch oven dinner for us and it was nice to get together.

Then Bossy and Gamer presented their gift...

Yay!!! Best..Gift..Ever!

Aug 22, 2020

UVU Graduation - COVID-STYLE

Scout made this video overnight for the Dog Walker's graduation party. I thought you might like it. She is amazing!


Aug 20, 2020

Guest Blog - It's Not Easy Being Green by Dog Walker

This has been the most amazing moment of a ceremony that I've ever had in my life or for anybody else, because my wife, my parents, my younger sisters and I went to the graduation ceremony that was supposed to take place in May, but ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it had been postponed to August. I was really upset about it when Utah Valley University and many other colleges throughout the country had to be closed up ever since the pandemic started. Ever since that time was announced of the postponement, I assumed that I could never have graduated without receiving my bachelors degree in university studies. On the contrary, Mom kept telling me that I still graduated, even though there wasn't a ceremony at the time to attend.

It had been a long time ever since, but then the day had come for me to wear my cap and gown and go to the ceremony. This time, instead of having to sit by a lot of graduates and listen to boring speeches from the college faculty members, this ceremony turned out to be an entertaining event for people of all ages. There were graduates in their cap and gowns driving in their cars decorated as a graduation parade and then coming out to get their picture taken and be greeted with respect and support. At first, since the pandemic is still going on, I thought I had to wear a mask, but then, they gave me a UVU mask that was really green and light. Mom was hoping she could get one of those. And I also got the diploma cover.

After that, we were told to pull into one of the parking lots facing the school. They were setting up a concert, but a lot of graduates had to have their cars social distanced from one spot to the other. It was a really hot time and I almost thought off taking my cap and gown off just to be in my extra casual clothes, but then, I had the feeling that I should keep it on just for this whole event, because something amazing might have happened. This whole event kind of reminded me and my wife of a county fair and a drive-in. So we might as well have called this a county-fair-drive-in.

They had a little band to come perform a gig for us while we were waiting for the commencement of the commencement. It was quite a blast, because at most graduation ceremonies before, we hear the "Pomp and Circumstance" music, but this time, as doing an applause, the performers didn't just want people clapping, but they also wanted them honking their car horns. For some reason, there were some cameraman who kept on coming to me to put me up on the big screen. Mom just thought it was because a lot of the faculty are seeing how amazing I am for graduating at such a big university and especially for an autistic person. Or, I just thought it was because we were up close to the cameramen who are shooting off the shots of the event. But the biggest thing that was caught on camera was when I kissed Puppy Lover and a lot of people were cheering to see a kiss on the big screen, especially with a graduate kissing either their boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. But that's not the only thing that has happened, after the faculty have made their personal appearances and said their speeches, they directed every graduate to stand and remain standing to represent the college that they're graduting from. I was in the University Studies group. And after congratulating the graduates, fireworks were blasted into the sky and that's when the President of the University came up to me to congratulate me along with her paparazi. I sure enjoyed celebrating that moment.

My parents, wife, and sisters have said that this was the best graduation ceremony that has ever happened and that it was better than the past ceremonies. I ought to admit that it really was, so that you won't have to get bored with long speeches and you get a little bit of entertainment to watch. Whenever I heard the speeches from the faculty members during the commencement, they said that graduating from Utah Valley University is one of the biggest challenges for any college student to attend and be able to graduate from. It got me into thinking about that quote by Kermit the Frog from the Muppets, "It's Not Easy Being Green." When I heard of that phrase before in my life, I never understood how being green isn't easy, but after thinking about all these years of hard work and perseverence with attending Utah Valley University and the color theme is green, it got me thinking that it really makes sense why it's not easy being green. I had to go through a lot of time, patience, and effort to graduate with a bachelor's degree at a college like Utah Valley University. I even received a medallion for graduating Magna Cum Laude. It wasn't really the highest graduation award, but it was the best one for me, because it was showing that I'm smart about a lot of things and I can use this bachelor's degree in the future for myself and Puppy Lover. And this will be a memorable gradutation for the rest of my life and I can hardly wait to tell it to my future children.

Aug 17, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 9 - Dead Horse Point

Last day of vacation and we just couldn't resist one more stop to see something amazing. My sweetie decided that Dead Horse Point in Utah would be the perfect place to go. None of our younger kids had been there and honestly, I couldn't really remember it either.

 It was only a short drive off the main road and a fee (of course) before we were driving to the overlook.

It was so beautiful!

On every side!

I love the Grand Canyon, but this was nearly as spectacular if not quite as large. It was almost as if what we were seeing there could not be real. After walking around the end of the rim, we made our way back to the van. It had been a long trip and we were anxious to get home.

Not really, but it is only possible to ignore the real world for so long.... right, Baby Doll?

When did you get so grown up anyway?

Aug 14, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 8 - Mesa Verde

We have been to Mesa Verde before, but it was so long ago that my youngest kids didn't remember anything about it. Some of the sights were closed, including the Visitor's Center and the Spruce House, but that didn't surprise us much. COVID has affected pretty much everything. We were able to pick up Junior Ranger books from a table set out in front of the Visitor's Center so the kids could at least work on getting one of their cool pins.

Then we entered the park and got on the Upper Mesa driving loop. It seemed like the best way for us to show the kids lots of different things mostly from the safetly of our car. People were required to wear masks in Colorado just like in New Mexico, but we saw only about 50% compliance.

We were only the road less than a mile before my sweetie shouted, "BEAR!"

Wait, what??

I had missed it! Since there was no one on the road behind us, I encouraged him to slowly back up about 100 yards so we all could see this phenomenon. We had never seen a bear up close in the wild.

 He was not fully grown, but bigger than an average cub. Thankfully, there was no sight of his mama, as he calmly ate berries right on the side of the road.

That was a great beginning to our adventure and the cliff dwellings were icing on the cake. Most of the kids climbed out at every quick hiking trail except for Scout. She and I had both gotten a little carsick on the way up, so we only walked about half the trails (and then a little one of our own which we fully expected to end with one of us heaving, but fortunately, we both kept our breakfast down). Honestly, I hated to have her sick, but it was nice for someone to understand how motion sickness has affected my life all these years.

As usual, Mesa Verde was amazing! I have the ultimate respect for those people raising families is such tiny, primative homes. It's hard enough raising a family in all the excess was enjoy today.

Aug 12, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 7 - Cortez

After an amazing week at our condo in Ruidoso, it was time to put more miles on the van. We cleaned, loaded, and checked out.

It was a long and mostly uneventful ride. After nearly 8 hours in the car, we pulled in to the exact same hotel we had stayed at the previous week.

The kids wanted to swim so we sent them to the pool about 8:30. Crafty and I got in a hot tub just a little later.

Then a guy in the pool lost one of the lenses in his prescription glasses. He was devastated!!

Curly and Baby Doll helped him look for it with their goggles until some bratty kids got in. Curly promised to come back when the pool closed at 10:00.

At 10:05, he was working with the front desk attendant to find the lens. After floating on his stomach for nearly at hour in the cold water, he finally spotted the lens on the bottom of the pool.

I was proud, but even more proud when he refused any type of reward. Here is his version of the smolder.

Aug 9, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 6 - Side-by-Sides

My kids would argue that our Thursday activity was by far the best, but it was actually something my sweetie has wanted to do for a very long time. We try to do one special thing on each trip and this was it.

We found Back Country Attitudes on the internet and at nearly $100 each, it was more expensive than we would typically spend for our group, but since we only had one other activity planned for the entire 10 days of vacation, we decided we were going to make it happen.

Our journey started at 9:00 on Thursday morning. We arrived just in time for helmet fittings and a quick lesson in driving before we all climbed in the buggies and took off. Since we were a party of 9, Curly quickly offered to ride with our guide, Kevin. He was amazing and he must have jumped out of his buggy 20 times to clean all 3 windshields. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My sweetie drove the second buggy and Drama Queen drove the third. They were a little cautious as they drove through town and out onto the backroads. We were all surprised and amazed at how easily the buggies handled ruts and bumps, dirt, and rocks.

We saw some beautiful scenery and Kevin took lots of pictures.

We droved further and further out into the hills of Ruidoso. Soon it was almost like we were not even on roads. But the favorite part was the puddles. Everytime we hit water/mud/etc., we made it fly! The kids were having a crazy good time although as we were driving back at nearly the 4-hour mark, Baby Doll fell asleep. You might ask how that could happen with all the noise and the wind (there were no side windows), but having that much fun, after a while, is completely exhausting!

Aug 8, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 5 - Two Rivers Park Fairy Hunt

Wednesday was cool and rain; a beautiful day for a fairy hunt. Two Rivers Park in Ruidoso is the perfect place for discovering these cute little creatures.
Curly and Baby Doll were the only two who wanted to come with us so the four of us climbed into the van. After we drove the short distance to the park, the rain started pounding down, bringing with it pea-sized hail.
After about 10 minutes, the rain cleared up so we could hunt for fairies.
The city had placed 10 little boxes (houses) for fairies and 3 trolls with a painted wand on the sidewalk as a clue.
The kids loved this activity and we searched until we found all of the fairies and the trolls too.
Great job, guys!!

Aug 6, 2020

Family Vacation - COVID-STYLE, Day 4 - Flying J Chuck Wagon

We spent our day at the condo, playing games, doing laundry, and mending football pants. Oh wait, that last part was just me.

One of the activities I planned before we left Utah was a trip to the Flying J Chuck Wagon and Western Show. Our older kids had seen the Bar J Wranglers in Jackson Hole and we loved their show, so we thought it might be fun to share something similar with the younger kids.

After the half hour drive, we decided to begin by letting Curly and Baby Doll ride horses.

They loved being on the horses, but the saddle was a bit small for Curly.

After the horses, the kids panned for gold. Scout was super excited to find some tiny gold nuggets!
We all enjoyed the shootout on mainstreet!

Then it was time for dinner. We ate outside to maintain social distancing.
Then we watched the concert.
We had so much fun!! If you get to this area, make sure you add the Flying J to your schedule. You won't be disappointed.