Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pinewood Derby!...

Last week was Josh's FIRST Pinewood Derby!  Todd lucked out when a guy in our ward announced that he would have a workshop to help dads who didn't have all of the woodworking tools to build their cars.  Todd and Josh went over with a drawing of how they wanted the car to look, and came home with the car all cut out and ready to sand and paint!  The hard part was out of they way--but oh my, you don't realize the details that have to go into a Pinewood Derby car to make it complete!  Not only did they have to sand it, paint it, and put the wheels on, they also had to figure out where to put the weight and how much to put in.  The hard thing about building your car is it's hard to know how it's going to actually perform on a track without trying it out...well, on a track!  The car worked great on our kitchen floor...but I'm sorry to say, it didn't translate very well to the race track!  The first two races Josh got 2nd, but it was downhill from there, and his car took 3rd on every race (there were 3 cars in every race).  In fact, when they were handing out the little trophys at the end, Josh was telling his Dad that he thought he won 3rd place, because his car took 3rd place the most!  OOPS!  Oh well, Josh's car won the award for "Best in Show", even though it wasn't the fastest car, he still had a great time.  Todd was a little deflated...(pinewood derby reflects more on the dad's manliness than the boys you know...) but was a good sport, and vowed that next year we would do better--which shouldn't be too hard!  Love you Josh!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Faith and Trust...

Sometimes, Heavenly Father has a way of pounding home a message to us, and today was one of those days!  I went to lunch with a beautiful friend today who has so many struggles right now.  I was thinking about her last night when I was down at the store, and I saw a little frame with a message in it that I thought was so poignant, it said:  "God doesn't give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given".  We talked a little about struggles and trials, and how sometimes all we can do is endure and trust in the Lord that things are going to get better. I came away from that lunch grateful for a good friend who is an example of faith and trust, even when it's HARD!  It's so wonderful when God puts people in your path who are just what you need!  I am so grateful for that.

Then, tonight for family night, we read the talk HERE, by President Henry B. Eyring given in last October's General Conference.  I had read part of it earlier in the day, and it was particularly touching to me given our current situation.  We have been very frustrated as of late, trying to decide what to do, and where to go from here.  Our lawsuit is moving along at a snail's pace--it seems the wheels of justice don't turn very quickly--and are quite costly.  Our other business is closing, but still not making much money--even with a large percentage off everything.  Our home is for sale--at quite possibly the worst time to sell a house in the history of selling houses, and frankly we haven't had many lookers.  We traded in both our cars and bought clunkers for both of us--but we have two cars that we own free and clear, and right now that is a great blessing.  Now, we are wondering what we should do next, and we have come to an impasse where we really are having to take a step into the dark and trust in the Lord to take care of our family, and help us find a way through this mess.

President Eyring taught that we need to trust the Lord that He knows what is best for us, and then when we know His will, we need to go and DO what He wants us to do.  This was a great lesson to teach the kids that sometimes all we can do is TRUST.  The Lord knows what we need better than we do.  We need to trust Him, and be willing to do what He asks.  We also had a great talk tonight with Todd's parents, who came over to the house to check on us, and give us some counsel from the scriptures.  It is so wonderful to have family who love and care about us enough to pray for us and help us when we need it!  Our discussion solidified, once again,  the fact that Todd and I need to excercise faith--and trust in the Lord to help us through our trials. 

Lastly, this reminded me of another blog post I wrote quite awhile ago on my Old Jerusalem blog--called "Faith".  It was neat to look back on it again tonight with renewed perspective, and realize Heavenly Father was preparing me for this trial--even before it happened by the experiences I had.  The thoughts I shared then were exactly related to the struggles we are having now.  Funny how sometimes the answer was there all along, you just have to be reminded of it!  Here is that post:
Faith...

"I found this plaque a few weeks ago, and I loved what it said about faith.  "Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that God will."  Faith and trust go hand in hand.  If we have faith, then we need to have trust in the Lord knowing that He will do what He says He's going to do, and that no matter what happens to us, He will help us through it.  Many times, it is easy for me to say that I have faith, but then when a trial comes, I find myself doubting, wondering whether the Lord can or will really help me.  I feel like the father in the scriptures, when he says, "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."  Sometimes when it gets hard, my faith is weak, and I struggle to trust in the Lord.  Saying that we have faith is easy...showing it, is sometimes more difficult.  I think another good example of faith and trust is Peter.  When Peter asked to walk out on the water to the Savior, Peter didn't hesitate.  Peter had faith in Christ.  But as the water got rough, and Peter got closer to the Savior, he took his focus off Him, and as he began to sink, the fear crept in.  Peter's faith was strong, but he struggled with trust.  He wasn't sure that he could do what Christ told him he could do. Thankfully, the Lord rescued Peter, as He will rescue us if we will just ask.  All we need is a little faith, and a lot of trust!" 


I am grateful for a loving and kind Heavenly Father--who loves me enough to put people in my path to pound a message through my thick head, and help me to know He is mindful of my struggles.  I know that with His help, and me excercising even a tiny particle of faith and trust in Him, that things will work out, and our family will make it through this trial, and be stronger because of it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bus Trip to DISNEYLAND!

So a few months ago, Todd's parents started to float the idea of chartering a bus for our whole family to go to Disneyland for Spring Break.  With 9 married children, and now more than 40 grandchildren--making this trip happen was no small task!  We managed to get most of us here (we missed Billy who is in an oral surgery residency at the moment & couldn't get away), and found a bus that would fit us all--and away we went!  I can't tell you how excited the kids were when the bus pulled around the corner to pick us all up!  It was HUGE!  What a way to travel!  The men could relax, the kids could all ride together (they are always fighting over who gets to ride in who's car when we travel together), and we could sing songs, and watch movies the whole way to Disneyland!  We had such a great time on that bus--and it wasn't even as loud and crazy as I thought it would be!  I wasn't sure if the bus driver would be able to handle the 40 kids under age 17--but he was GREAT!  Our kids were amazingly well behaved, and kind to one another--and miracle of all miracles--NO ONE THREW UP!

Disneyland was super crowded (economic recovery?), but tons of FUN!  We rode rides, got fast passes, got stroller swap passes, and rode some more.  I love Disneyland because there really is something for everyone!  The kids settled into waiting in lines, and really didn't complain much.  The hardest part was staying together, and making sure I knew where my kids were, and who they ran off with!  The teenagers pretty much did their own thing this time--there were about 10 of them, so they just stuck together & conquered the parks themselves.  I think they had a great time together--and they even picked up a few friends along the way who happened to be there the same time!  All three nights we were there, the park was open until midnight--although we only actually made it to closing one time!  My kids were POOPED!  Sue had the cutest T-shirts made--they were bright RED and made it easy to find everyone in the crowd!  With over 60 people in our group we sure stood out!  The saying she put on the front was, "The family that prays together, and PLAYS together, stays together!"  This definitely describes Todd's family!  We love to pray and play together!

On our way home, David and Jessica knew a place where you could go in Orange County to ride a hot air balloon for FREE!  We got to go in groups in this hot air balloon over 350 feet in the air!  It was so much fun and a once in a lifetime experience!  There were some rides, and a park to play in while the kids were waiting--it was perfect to get them tired before our LONG ride home!  We arrived in Gilbert around 11 on Thursday night!  It was the vacation of a lifetime, and I am SO grateful for Todd's parents for making it happen!  I am so lucky to belong to such a beautiful family, who love to spend time together, and make wonderful memories!  My kids will NEVER forget this amazing vacation!  Thank you so much Grandma and Grandpa for making it happen!  We love you!

As usual--I took WAY too many pictures...so here is just a sampling of our AMAZING time!
























Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good Things to Come...

Last Sunday, Ashlie wanted to go up and bear her testimony for the first time, and asked me to take her.  I asked her if she could do it herself (I have that funny rule...you have to be able to do it yourself--I am not going to help you), and she said yes, so we went up.  She was a little nervous while we were sitting up there, I'm sure that seeing all those people from the FRONT of the building was a little nerve wracking--I know it is for me every time!  She was so sweet as she bore her testimony.  Some people don't really think kids have a testimony--they are just rehearsing what people tell them to say... I think about it differently.  We learn the gospel line upon line, precept upon precept.  A testimony evolves as children learn about the gospel at home, in primary, and on their own as they have experiences making choices at home and in school to see how the gospel principles work in their lives.  I believe that Ashlie does believe that the church is true.  She does love her family, and she loves Jesus.  She has learned about Him, and been taught about Him out of the scriptures.  I believe that a child's testimony, as simple as it may be, is truly amazing!  I am so proud of her for sharing what she believes, and what she loves. 

As I went up to bear my testimony, I was relating an experience that I had last week, and some insights I had while I was in my side yard doing some work in my rose garden.  We have a rose garden on the side of our house that has about 10 huge rose bushes.  When we moved into the house 2 years ago, in the springtime, it was a mess, and I thought the bushes were all dead.  I didn't know what to do with them, so I just pruned them all down to stubs, and left them to see if they would grow back.  Since our boat is parked right in front of them, the rose bushes are often out of sight, out of mind.  However, a few months later, during the summer, those roses grew back beautifully, and the kids would go out with scissors all summer long and fill our vase on the table with beautiful multi-color roses.  This winter, again, those rose bushes were out of sight, and out of mind.  When I went out last week to look at that sad mess of rose bushes again, I decided to prune them down to the nub once again, and hope they grow back like they have every year.  I'm sure that those of you who read this who are gardners are shaking your head!  I'm sure there is a better way to take care of these roses than to butcher them every year and start over--but thus, here I am again doing just that. 

As I was sitting there with my pruning shears cutting the mangled, dead bushes away, I thought about our current situation, and the struggles we have had since selling our business.  I thought about how me pruning those rose bushes was a lot like what happens to us as we have trials in our lives.  Heavenly Father prunes us, and sometimes it really hurts.  Yet, it is necessary to help bring about new growth, and to strengthen our faith and our testimony.  I am determined, even when it hurts, to grow back stronger, and bloom again.  Even though we don't fully understand why we have to face the struggles that we do, God knows the end from the beginning.  He is making us into what He would have us be, and sometimes he has to prune us in order to do that.  I also noticed as I was pruning those rose bushes, that over the years there are more and more parts of those bushes that never grow back.  Dead, dried up parts of the stump, that will never see new life--scars, probably because of my lack of experience, and lack of care in grooming them.  However, in our lives, I think that we all have scars from our experiences that we can never fully recover from here on the earth.  Scars that can only be healed by our Savior, and can only be healed when we return to Him.  I can only hope and pray that I can keep my faith strong enough, and do the things I need to do to return to Him one day and I know at that time, we will understand the reasons we had to face these trials, these prunings if you will, and we will understand why we had to feel the pain here on Earth that we did.  How can I become closer to my Savior without feeling some of the pain that He felt?  So I must be willing to submit my will to His, and try to grow from this experience, even when it is hard, and even when I don't understand. 

During our Relief Society lesson, we talked about overcoming the trials in our lives, and the teacher showed this video.  It is taken from a talk that President Holland gave years ago (1999) called "An High Priest of Good Things to Come".  I actually remember sobbing during this talk as it was given, because at that time we were going through another trial that seemed just as hard at the time as this one does now.  Funny to think that back then, we had only been married 6 years...and our lives were SO different!  We need these timely reminders, and I sobbed again as I watched this during her lesson.  As much as I am hurting right now, there are reminders all around me of my Heavenly Father's love for me and my family.  I am so grateful for an apostle of God who reminds us once again--there are always Good Things to Come.  My favorite part:  “Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” And this:  "Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come."  Love that!  The text of the talk is HERE, and it is phenomenal!  Love it! 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

S%*# HAPPENS...

Sorry for the questionable title to this post...but sometimes, you just have to tell it like it is!  I had one of the most humiliating days EVER at Costco this week while shopping with Jack--and I have to write it down, so my kids will actually believe that it happened to me when I tell them later when they have their own kids.  You think that when you have 6 kids, you have seen it ALL--boy do I keep proving my own theory WRONG!

 I took Jack to Costco to buy some things for our trip next week, and also to buy some desserts for Kelsey's baby shower that night.  I loaded up our cart, FULL of groceries, and proceeded to go to the checkout and load my groceries onto the conveyor belt.  At this point, Jack is crying to get out of the cart, and he keeps saying "You need to CHANGE me."  "I want to get OUT!"  I already have stuff on the belt, ready to check out, so I keep shushing him, and telling him--"Just a minute"!  Anyway, I get all the stuff out, and the only things left are the boxes on the bottom of the cart, and he is still crying, so I decide just to hold him as I check out, then take him to the bathroom when I am done.  I grab him and start to take him out of the cart when CRAP!!!--No, literally CRAP (awful diarrhea) falls down his leg, all over his shoes, onto the floor, the seat of the cart, and down into the bottom of the cart onto a box of chips down there.  I quickly sat him back down into the yucky seat, realizing that I was going to do more harm than good getting him out of the cart, and he proceeds to start crying again.  The lady helping me load groceries realizes my plight--but the guy has already started checking me out--and doesn't notice what is going on.  He even started to take the box of chips out of the bottom of the cart not realizing there is POOP on it!  OH MY GOSH!  Is there a HOLE in this store that I can climb into and hide right now?  So I tell the guy my problem, and then not only do I realize that I have NO WIPES in my purse to wipe up the mess on Jack or the floor--but I also can't find my CREDIT CARD in my wallet!  HOLY CRAP!  Are you KIDDING me?

The guy put all my groceries in another cart, and said for me to come back and pay for them later when I found my credit card, meanwhile I take Jack, and all of the GROSS stuff in the cart back to the bathroom to try to clean up this HUGE MESS!  When I got him out to take him into the bathroom--despite my efforts to do it carefully--AGAIN--poop falls out onto the floor, and I lay him down on the changing table thing and go back with paper towels to clean up the floor leaving him laying there.  Not sure what the people in the bathroom thought--at that point can you really worry about that?  I have already been humiliated--so oh well!  Cleaned up that mess--then I come to JACK.  Oh my CRAP!  There is really no nice way to describe trying to clean  up this mess.  It took me 20 minutes--I threw away the clothes he was wearing, and thank GOODNESS I brought a diaper so that at least he had that to wear out of the store.  A lady came in 5 minutes into my cleaning efforts, and was waiting there to change her son--I told her, "You are NOT going to want to use this until it has been CLEANED!"  She realized I was right, and said she was just going to change him in her car.  After I clean him, I move on to cleaning up the diaper changing table the best I could and went to call the people to come in and disinfect it (I am NEVER using one of those again BTW--how many times does this happen every day and no one cleans it....BLAH)!  I managed to also get the lady to get me some wipes so I could clean the mess in the cart--which took another 15 minutes!  UGH!

As if I wasn't humiliated enough--I THEN had to go back having found my credit card stuffed back behind my driver's license, and PAY for my groceries.  With Jack in nothing but his diaper--and grinning ear to ear, I went back and waited in line to pay for my food.  By this time, I would rather have crawled under a ROCK than faced these people again!  I may never go back to that Costco again--I can hear what they said when I left right now, "Can you say WHITE TRASH?"  Oh my--that is what I felt like!  I come home and try to explain to Todd what just happened--but let's face it--he will never understand fully the humiliation that you sometimes feel when it comes to kids and what they do in public (much less at home)!  I was trying to imagine what he would have done in my situation--and I just can't see him dealing with something like that!  Sometimes it's amazing the things we have to do for our kids sake!

Oh well, what can I say?  Sometimes S*%# HAPPENS!

FAVORITES NIGHT!...

This week was our annual Favorite's Night--where all the girls get together and share with each other our Favorite Things (like Oprah).  I got this idea a few years ago from Todd's cousin--and we have enjoyed doing it.  It is fun to see what each person comes up with--and you get to take home FREE GIFTS!  HOORAY!  This year, we got together at Olive Garden (YUM), and had such a fun time!  Here are pictures of most of the favorite things (except for the Reese's PB cup that I ate for dessert before I got home and took the pics!).  This year, I brought the framed Widow's Mites and scripture verse that I made to sell at the store.  I really do love these--I would also be willing to make more for people if they want them.  They are two authentic widow's mites from Israel framed in a brown or black frame with the scripture verse in Mark where the Savior talks about the Widow's sacrifice.  What a beautiful story!  I LOVE trying new things--and I will let you know if any of these things become my FAVORITE!  Thanks ladies for such a FUN night and for so many FUN gifts to try out!

Highland Jr. Orchestra!...

This year, our family has 5 cousins in the 7th and 8th grade at Highland Jr. High.  They are also all in orchestra!  It has been fun going to concerts and seeing how much all of them have improved!  Erin and Kami play the violin, Cassie, Brecklyn and Austin play the cello.  This concert we were also thrilled to get to watch Courtney play in the Highland High School Symphony!  They were AMAZING!  I can't go without telling the funny story that you will see a picture of Erin laughing at in the collage.  Austin had gone to sit down after his performance and when they all sat down, realized he didn't have a seat so he just kinda sat between the rows by his cousins.  While Mrs. Bennett was getting ready for the 8th grade orchestra to play their song, she noticed Austin crouched down in the middle of the row.  She called him out over the microphone--"Austin--why aren't you in a seat?  There are plenty of seats right up here--get up and move into one."  So Austin gets up--moves to the aisle with EVERYONE in the auditorium watching him.  We were sitting right by Katie--(Todd's sister--Austin's mom) and she couldn't help but yell, "WOOO AUSTIN!" really loud.  Then we hear Cindy yell up front as well.  Austin couldn't help himself and throws the ASU Sun Devil sign like a ROCKSTAR as he goes to his seat up front.  You could tell their orchestra teacher was PISSED (and she let him know that the next day), but I have to admit, we were all laughing so hard at him!  Katie said that his teacher really doesn't like the kids who do sports, and gives him a hard time because he doesn't practice all that much (Erin hasn't touched her violin at home since we bought it by the way!).  She just had to get a little cheer in so Austin wasn't so embarrassed.  We are so proud of these kids for sticking with Orchestra and doing such a great job!  We LOVE you guys--even you AUSTIN!  :)

PARADE DAY!...

This year Abby and Ashlie got to be a part of a dance group called Dance Addiction. They have really LOVED going to dance and cheer classes, and learning so much!  The best part is they got to be in 3 parades this year!  This time I finally remembered to bring my camera!  We went to the Ostrich Festival Parade in Chandler.  My sister was in town, so I brought a few of my nieces to watch the parade with me.  Todd was on a campout--so I was on my own for this one, but we managed to find a parking place, and get to the parade on time (amazing!).  Abby and Ashlie did such a good job, I was so proud of them!  I also LOVE their teacher for finding super-cute MODEST costumes for them to wear.  I know they're sleeveless--but they cover all of their important parts--and you should see some of the dance groups and what the kids wear!  It is SHOCKING to see these little kids dressed up in nothing more than lingerie!  Seriously, they dress them up with little tube tops, and awful short tight shorts--backless, strapless outfits--YUCK!  I am grateful that our dance teacher is aware of this, and tries to keep the kids in cute, modest costumes!  Thanks Tracy!  We got good at doing foam rollers this year--and Abby and Ashlie were good sports to sleep with them in even though they are VERY uncomfortable!  It sure made curly hair easier to do quickly in the morning!  Love you girlies!


Happy Birthday JACK!...

I can't believe my BABY is 3!  Jack's birthday was a lot of FUN!  We started the day with our new tradition...the QT donut birthday cake!  Dad got everyone up early so we could sing Happy Birthday to Jack before Emie went to school.  Later, we regretted getting Jack up that early...he takes after his MOM and does so much better when we let him sleep in!  The funny thing was--he was SO upset all day about his presents.  We wanted to do presents after cake and ice cream--but he did NOT want to wait!  He was asking ALL DAY--"WHERE ARE MY PRESENTS?" He was a little bit of a bear all day, but after a nap, he was rarin' to go!  That night we went over to Bounce U to use a groupon that I had for Open Bounce!  $19 for 5 kids--what a smokin' deal!  The kids (even the bigger ones) had a great time.  We especially loved the boxing gloves, the spider tower, and the hurricane machine!  We came home and had pizza, and Karin's family came over for cake and ice cream.  Here are 3 things that I LOVE about my BABY JACK:
1. Jack is FUNNY!  Lately his favorite movie is the 3 Ninjas--so once in awhile you will get a kick to the shin, or a karate chop to the jaw when you least expect it!  OUCH! 
2. Jack is HAPPY!  Jack loves his brothers and sisters, loves being outside and playing, loves watching movies, loves hanging out with mom and dad while the other kids are in school, you get the idea--Jack just loves life!  And boy do I love this kid!
3. Jack is my little bed buddy--and let me tell you, if he was not the LAST kid--this wouldn't be going over very well!  Yet, I have learned from experience that this stage will not last long, and soon, this baby like the rest of them will be trying to stay as far away from his crazy mom as he can.  For now, each night when I hear him running into my room, slamming the door, and climbing over top of me to get to his favorite position between our two pillows, I give him a kiss, snuggle him, and enjoy the smell of my sweet BABY.  They do grow up too fast after all...it's TRUE!  :(
Happy Birthday JACK!  Love you buddy!


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