Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Inspirations May 31, 2009

Every once in a while I get a bit restless. Well, in a creative sense...and perhaps it’s more than just “a bit.” I’ve come to realize more and more these days it happens when I’m witnessing the remarkable accomplishments of those around me, and sadly feeling left behind.

Right before this I posted about two wonderful men who have worked hard to make something of their extraordinary talents. They are not the only ones who are having success.

Steve’s younger sister Catherine also has a cd out. Their older brother Matt and his string quartet are in a lot of demand. One good friend, Stephanie, has several children’s books out now which she has illustrated, while another friend Mike (who I dedicated a post to several months ago) recently had his work commissioned to create an exquisite portrait of a scene from the Bible.

One friend is finding success with her recent foray into sewing, and has opened up an Etsy (online) store to sell many of her skirts and aprons. Yet another puts her creative juices into making crafts to put on display in a boutique. As if this weren’t enough, there are those whom I have known since my high school days who are accomplishing what I’d always hoped to do…have books published.

There are moments when being surrounded by such extraordinary and creative people makes my heart positively sing! Their successes are well deserved and I would never for a moment begrudge them the achievements for which they have all worked so hard.

There are so many things my Heavenly Father has blessed me to be able to do, I just feel left behind. And when I feel left behind I get restless, and I forget what it is I’m supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Fortunately I have this loving Heavenly Father who grants me gentle reminders.

In the last two weeks I’ve received multiple compliments on my children, on the home I have helped to create, on the time I take to focus on my children. Last Sunday I posted one of these experiences, one that has still has me thinking about our home life. This week I was given a few more. The first one came from my own son.

We had brought a friend home from school to watch until his parents could come pick him up. I didn’t realize it at the time but they were pretending something when B yelled out the door that no one could come inside. I told him to play nice, but apparently did it in a tone unlike my normal one. B made certain to mention this a little later.

“You didn’t sound like yourself, Mom,” he said. “You didn’t sound nice.”

I could have gone straight to, ‘I’m a horrible mother who snapped at her son!’ Instead into my mind came the thought, ‘He thinks my normal self is nice, and I slipped a little.’ After the year I’ve had battling with depression, this was an unexpected blessing to know.

One night my hubby and I had taken the kids out to eat. It was a buffet style restaurant (since no one could decide where they wanted to eat), and our waiter was kept quite busy. After all, there were six of us! As everyone was finishing our youngest ended up with a stinky diaper, so I took her out to the car to change her, knowing the others would follow along soon.

As everyone climbed into the car my hubby pulled me aside and said, “The waiter stopped me as we were leaving to tell me we had some of the best behaved children he’s ever seen working there.” WOW, what a compliment.

The last experience came just last night. We’d come home from a dinner at my parents’ house. My younger son, B, was so tired and sunburned from a busy day in the sun, but also too wound up to simply go to sleep. I took some time out to apply a thick layer of Aloe Vera, then did something we hadn’t done in a long, long time. While all the other kids were playing outside we laid down on the bed and read a book together. B thrives on this one-on-one contact, and with three other kids it’s something that rarely happens. As we finished the chapter he turned to me, gave me a big hug and a kiss, and said thank you.

Yes, it’s true in some ways I’m feeling left behind, but I know my turn will come. In these last few weeks I’m being gently reminded that the area I need to be caught up in has nothing to do with my creative side, but my mothering side. This is what I’ve wanted to be since I was a very little girl, and I cannot forget it.

If you’re not where you’d planned to be at this time of your life, that’s okay. Maybe it’s not the Lord’s timing, because there is something so much more important for you to be focused on right now. Take a moment to look for the gentle reminders.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Love Story" Meets "Viva La Vida"

Once again I want to share with you something from UTube, but have to post the link as I'm not yet Internet savvy enough to figure out how to post the actual video.

I first met Jon Schmidt years ago when he and his wife moved into my neighborhood. He was my Sunday School teacher for a few years and his wife was my youth leader. The two of them loved and supported an insecure, awkward teenager and gave me more than they can possibly know.

Jon has been building a remarkable piano career. I own most of his cd's. His brilliance on the piano is loved not only by me, but by my children as well. I've had many an extraordinary experience happen while listening to his musical creations.

Paired with him is Steve Nelson, another long-ago friend of mine. We were both in high school orchestra together, where I listened to him make magic with his cello. Recently he's come out with two cd's of his own, and has made quite a fantastic name for himself in the musical world as well.

Listening to the two of them play, I find myself both humbled and grateful to be able to claim I knew them when. I hope you enjoy their creation as much as I do.

LOVE STORY (Taylor Swift) meets VIVA LA VIDA (Coldplay) - piano cello - by Jon Schmidt

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Inspirations May 24, 2009

As my littlest and I went to go pick up B at school the other day, A was doing her typical tricks of finding ways to walk right in front of the path of everyone around her. One of those people happened to be a particular woman with whom I’d never really been able to “read.” For the most part she kept strictly to herself. She’s older, maybe in her mid-sixties, and taking care of her grandchildren.

I apologized when A stopped right in front of her, laughing it off but feeling a bit awkward at the same time since I hardly knew this woman, but she just smiled and walked on, leaving us to follow. To my surprise she stopped, turned, and smiled again.

“Do you know,” she said, “Your children are such happy children. I always see them smiling and laughing and happy. That really goes to show what their home life is like. You must all be very happy at home.”

What a compliment! I thanked her profusely, thinking that would be the end of our conversation, but she continued.

“You know, I’m raising my grandchildren right now because my daughter can’t seem to get her life together. She misses them so much, but doesn’t get that if she’d clean herself up she could have them back. The two older kids, now teens, are in all sorts of trouble and just plain mean because of the way their mom and dad handled them. They started out so sweet as little children.” She shook her head, obviously saddened by the paths her progeny had chosen. “You mark my words. Your kids will turn out to be happy teens because they have a happy home.”

I couldn’t have been paid a more beautiful compliment. Of course she could have no idea of what our home life is truly like – the fights and arguments and tattling and other “normal” growing up pains of life. She may not have realized that even in the happiest of homes we all have the agency to choose who we will listen to most, and many a sweet and wonderful child has opted to listen to those who would lead them down dark paths.

I thought about what this woman had said to me again yesterday as our family headed out to Costco to look for glasses. As anyone who has visited Costco around lunchtime with children knows, their thoughts will immediately turn to the little booths of free samples they can go through and enjoy….or spit up into Mom’s hand ‘cause it didn’t taste as good as they thought it might.

My B, who is so famous for saying words wrong in our house, calls them “free examples.” Every time he says this I come back with, “But honey, every example is free.” He’s learned to ignore this reply and still calls it examples. Silly boy.

It’s true, though. Every example is free. We have only to watch those around us, to listen to what they have to say, to decide who to follow. The most formative years in a child’s life are in those first six years. In our family, this means times up for three of them, with only one (rather stubborn) child to go. But continuing to teach and help children learn how to put what they’ve learned into practice is every bit as vital.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

This scripture has come to my mind repeatedly since that day at the school. Most especially yesterday as tempers between my children grew fierce. At one point J pushed B just a little too far, but instead of using his words to let J know how he was feeling, B hit him. I’d simply had it by that time, most particularly because we were all in the car and the noise level had grown a little too loud.

“When I get mad at you, or when dad gets mad at you, do we hit you? Do we kick you? Do we pinch and bite and hurt you? Do we slap you?”

Of course the answer was no. Very rarely have we taken a hand to one of our children.

“Then why do you all think it’s okay to hit and hurt each other?”

I have to say I was honestly surprised to see they all really stopped to think about it. I have no idea one of them will push another to the point he/she lashes out with a hit or kick, but the teaching continues on.

I am not a perfect parent by any means. The list of ways in which I feel like an inadequate parent is too long for words (and very frankly would depress me too much to type out). But for the most part I sincerely hope my kids know they can look to both their father and me as good examples of how to handle life – as well as how to handle ourselves when we do something wrong.

As I learned a few days ago, it’s not just our children that are watching. There are others around us, those we may not even think are paying the least attention, who are looking to see what sort of people we really are.

What sort of free example are you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raising Insecure Children in a Few Easy Steps

It's not an easy thing to do, you know, instilling a sufficient sense of insecurity in one's children. Especially when they're so confident to start out with. But I, the most extraordinary of mothers, have apparently managed it! Want to know my secrets? Today is your lucky day, as I'm ready and willing to spill it all.

You have to start early in life, like when they're first born, by doing everything for them. Of course they seem to expect this as a natural occurence so it's not too difficult to accomplish the first step. They key to heading into the second step is to keep doing everything for them!

This can be difficult, as too many toddlers are under the impression they can do things for themselves. One should certainly allow them to accomplish a few things, you know, to keep them from realizing what you're really doing. For example, I let my kids pick out their own clothes. But then I look them up and down, shake my head, and say, "Do you really think that goes together?"

Suddenly they're filled with doubt, ask Mom's opinion, and begin to rely on me just a tad more than before. Sneaky, I know. My methods are truly subtle.

As they get a little older you keep doing the same thing, but add a new level. Every time they ask to help, you allow them to do just a little, then suddenly take over when they think they're getting the hang of it. The next time they ask to help you shake your head and say, "Maybe next time, honey. I know what I'm doing and can do it faster." This way kids eventually stop asking to help and find themselves convinced Mom really can do it better and faster, and should continue to do so for the rest of her life!

Eventually kids begin to think their friends know more than their mother. I know...but kids are just silly. This can be used to your advantage as well, as their friends will utterly be proven wrong at some point. So the next step is a little more complicated, for you have to combine argumentative with patience. All the time you're chirping in your child's ear how wrong his/her friend is, you have to wait until that friend is (at last!) proven to be wrong. Or mean. Or more wrong! Then you can take your child in your arms and say, "See? I was right all along." Not only will you come across as loving, but your child will begin to realize in ways never to be proven before how much you really do know about the inner and outer workings of this crazy life. Dependance upon your constant wisdom will be secured!

The last step is to be all knowing. Not too hard for us moms, right? This is as easy as finding a missing shoe/backpack/book, etc. We all know kiddies aren't the greatest searchers (unless they're looking for your stash of chocolate), so the last step is to hide one of the shoes. They'll search their room over, becoming increasingly frantic, until your assistance is at last called upon. Then you swoop in, distract them by making them look under the bed, then magically find the shoe right underneath the blanket they've all ready searched. It's brilliant I tell you! Before you know it, they won't even bother looking under blankets. They'll just make a cursory search of the obvious, then immediately call you in for help while they finish watching the last few minutes of kids shows before school starts.

Before you know it, your child will look to see what you think of every outfit. She'll immediately change her opinion to meet your own on any subject. He won't even try to look for a missing shoe without first enlisting, then entirely depending upon, you! Your mission will be comlete. You will have an entire posse of children who believe they can do great things like sing in front of everyone at church, can even make their own bowl of Double Noodle Soup, but when it comes to basics like having enough confidence in his/herself to know he/she can ace a math test, read a book, or tie their own shoelaces, your mission will be complete. They won't be able to do any of it without your constant supervision!

I had no idea this was my ultimate goal, but I've apparently done a really good job of it. I just thought I'd pop in and share my wisdom with the world.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Inspirations May 17, 2009

And here I thought you’d gotten enough of me this last week, lol. I was really quite excited to start writing about something I myself began doing around this same time last year, something I learned about in a class.

The women of our stake (a stake is several church congregations grouped together) were invited to attend different classes being put on by other women in the stake. It was a hectic Saturday morning, I felt bad even going because it meant leaving my husband with four very ornery children, but one class in particular refused to let go of my heart, in particular because I’d been getting inspirations to begin doing precisely what this class was all about: Scripture Journaling.

Keeping a scripture journal, unlike I at first thought it might be, is not difficult at all. It is, however, a really good idea. Have you ever read a verse in Matthew and had it hit you in a way you’ve never thought of it before? Have you listened to a hymn and found insights to a problem you may have been experiencing?

We are given inspirations and revelations all the time as we search the word of God. How many times do we write those inspirations down? Or do we instead think we’ll remember them and all too soon forget the little morsels of knowledge we’ve been granted? I certainly fell into the second category for too many years.

Last year I began to feel like it would be a good thing to begin writing things down as I read through the Book of Mormon again. Sadly, I have yet to do it, but I am happy to say I’ve begun keeping the journal. It’s really quite easy to do. In fact, many of these Sunday Inspirations have come from what I’ve learned through keeping the journal.

To give you an example of how it works, I’ll share with you what I wrote at the encouragement of the teacher. She had placed a small picture at the front of a class. In it there was a little girl, dressed in white, on a mountaintop. She held a candle in her hand and a journal in her lap. The little girl’s face was turned away as she looked at a warm, bright light behind her.

“Write anything that comes to you,” the teacher said. Sounded simple enough. As she watched us, I noticed her noticing how my pen flew over the paper. I didn’t even have time to write everything down in the few minutes we were given. As time was called she asked me to share what I’d written. I’d like to share it with you too.

“Our journals can act as a spiritual light to others who may read them. No matter how obscure we feel in our lifetimes, our words, especially when inspired through the Holy Spirit, can change a person’s life. The gift to write, the inspiration to share our knowledge and insights with others, is an extraordinary tool in furthering the Lord’s work. We all carry one small light. When you think of all the small lights coming together…wow!

“Sometimes the biggest miracles are the smallest miracles. Sometimes to make the biggest happen we have to be listening for the whisper. Sometimes it’s that one light – as gentle as the flame of a candle – that can guide us to the greatest miracle of all. We can find ourselves back with our Heavenly Father.”

All this from one little picture.

The steps to keeping a scripture journal are so simple. As you read, sing, ponder, and pray, think about what you hear, see, and feel. Write all impressions down in a journal you carry with you. Whether it’s hand written or typed, doesn’t matter.

I’ve written down answers to prayers, things I feel it’s important to study (like the gifts and talents of those in the twelve tribes of Israel), or things that strike me hard when in my church meetings. You’ll find as you begin keeping a scripture journal, your ability to pick up on those little inspirations will increase.

Why might it be important to keep track of these inspirations and revelations? Think of it as your own personal scripture. Think of it as what the Lord needs you to know, and remember.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our 2009 Rockin' Awesome Vacation...Days 3 & 4

I figured since day 4 didn't hold much in the way of exciting times I'd tie these last two together.

Our little one sure had a rough night heading into day 3. She began coughing and coughing so much she made herself throw up. At the same time she was still so exhausted. Once I got her cleaned up and headed over to clean up the bed she just laid down on the floor and went back to sleep – all the while still coughing. My hubby came in and gave her a priesthood blessing. Something in the blessing told me I needed to turn off the air conditioner. It still took another two hours or so, but she finally settled down enough to go to sleep, which of course means I also slept.

In the morning we were all so excited to head out. All the little shops and towns we saw along the drive were unbelievably tempting to me (it’s probably a really good thing the car was full of kids who wanted to go see Zion’s, and not the shops, lol). One of these years I’d love to go back and spend a few days enjoying it all with my hubbs.

The first thing we did when we got to the beginning of the tour route was get the kids t-shirts, which they all wanted to put on directly. We also made sure to take a bathroom stop. I didn’t mention it up ‘till now, but J has a really nervous bladder (yes, the teen-to-be will one day thank me SO much for adding this). If there was a bathroom nearby, you can bet he had to go. We also picked up some new disposable cameras for the kids, as they’d used up their previous ones. I wanted to have a heart attack when I saw how much those dumb cameras were, but thought that might put a damper on the vacation. So I didn’t.

One of the craziest things I never expected to see was crawling all over the ground/benches. Little fuzzy caterpillars were everywhere. I mean that literally. And their colors varied as well, from purple to red to brown to yellow and green. They were so prevalent too many of them could be found on the bottoms of tramping shoes. Even stepping with care, I’m sure our own family came away with more souvenirs than we’d planned.

The shuttle buses all traveled the same route, making up to seven different stops. We could get out at whatever stop we wanted, spend however much time we wanted there, and then wait for the next shuttle bus to come along. It’s such a marvelous way to go, especially when one thinks about how much those buses save the local environment.

Our first stop was at the museum. We watched a short movie on the history of Zion’s, looked a little at some of the displays, then headed back to the shuttle. From there we hit up my absolute favorite sight of the entire trip: The Court of the Patriarchs. The three peaks, which I’ll point out in the next post, were named after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were absolutely breathtaking. I could have spent an awful lot of time simply gazing at them.

Next we went to the Lodge stop. There were a few things available here. Riding horses was an immediate “Yes!” for the kids…until we found out how much one horse would cost to rent for an hour. Yikes! So instead we headed out to one of the hikes offered. Along the path there are the three Emerald Pools. The lowest pool was the shortest distance, so we opted for that one. Hubby wanted to go further, but I figured we might want the kids to make their way out of the canyon not being carried on our backs. Still, the lower pool was a little over half a mile in, and was totally worth it. Beyond beautiful. I’ll show a few pics of that as well.

As we headed back to the lodge M heard a Mockingbird, and began whistling to it. SO FANTASTIC! It would whistle the exact thing back. We had so much fun listening to M play with it for a few minutes.

We went to the lodge for lunch…which I’m sorry to say I don’t recommend. It was overpriced considering how much food we got, and the service was horrible. Not until later did we find out there was a little outdoor grill we could have gone to instead. Still, the food was good and we all felt restored afterward.

By this point the kids were ready to head back to the hotel. Wimps! Nah, just kids. My hubby knew how much I wanted to get to (what I thought was) the top, however, so we dragged them along. This meant we didn’t take the next several stops, choosing instead to go straight to the last one.

This took us on a very long walk - the kids words, not mine. I think by the time we made it back we’d gone another two miles. For hubby and I this wasn’t too big a deal, but our poor kids were beyond exhausted. It was worth the effort, even though it didn’t end where I thought it would. My kids were seriously awesome! Especially M and J, who walked the entire distance. Of course it took Daddy pushing and encouraging all of us. I kept thinking, “My kids are going to get sunstroke!” Of course they didn’t, and we did get to dip our feet in the incredibly cold water of the Virgin River at the end of the hike (going in. Then we had to hike back out).

We were all so grateful to climb back into the shuttle bus and head back home. The bus was extremely crowded, and we’d had to separate a bit to find seats. I was so pleased when both M and J gave up their seats to an older couple who’d climbed aboard without even having to be asked. Such a Proud Parent moment! Along the route back we even got to see some rock climbers – I believe I got at least one picture of that.

Our littlest fell asleep within minutes of getting in the car. I thought for sure she’d wake up when we got back to the motel, but no. She slept for another three hours! I thought for certain she’d never sleep that night. Daddy took the kids out to swim for a while, then we got some dinner, some dessert, and chilled the rest of the night. Actually, J and M – even as tired as they were – did a bit of homework as well. Like I said, awesome kids!

We all slept soundly that night, and decided the next morning it was simply time to come home. Actually, Daddy and I decided it was time to come home after listening to the kids bicker for an hour. M wasn’t too thrilled about it and pouted for quite a long time until we thought of something to do that cheered her right up: we’d go to the Olive Garden for dinner! Food works on everyone in this household.

The trip home went a lot faster than I thought it would. I guess it makes sense when one doesn’t make a billion stops along the way. We did go through quite a rainstorm along the way. I almost had to pull off the road for a few minutes. Not fun.

In no time at all we found ourselves back in our house, everything put away, and so happy to be there. Yep, even M found out coming home a day early can be a good thing.

Like I said, this was a rockin’ awesome vacation!

Zion's Canyon Pictures

Here we go, the last of the pictures from our trip. I put the least vibrant here at the top. I promise they get better from here. I wanted to start with this one simply because it gives us a first glimpse of the creation of a magnificent canyon.
Here's another patch of cactus amid so much greenery.
For those who read my post leading into this, I talked about my favorite sight along the way. Here it is, the Court of the Patriarchs.

This first one was named for Abraham.

This peak was named for Isaac.

This one, in particular the more ivory point, is named for Jacob.
That's right, I actually allowed myself to be photographed with the kids. Now there's proof I actually exist.

What a fantastic color, don't you think?

This little guy was so funny - he actually just sat there next to the walking path and almost literally posed for pictures!

I call this one, "Do we have to pose for another picture, Mom?"

The next several pictures are of the area around the lower Emerald Pool. The water itself wasn't looking too green, but everything else around it was so pretty. We all loved walking under the water.

(I thought these flowers looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland!)

Rest stop!

Ah, the happy couple :) And yes, that's a pencil in my hair, not my ear. I actually had three of them, lol.

It's absolutely incredible to me to think this was created by nature.

How fun are these little red flowers?!

These next two are just lovely to look at.

Oh how I wish you could see these in person. The rounded four columns were beyond breathtaking to behold.

Here are those rock climbers I wrote about earlier. Thank goodness for digital cameras, otherwise they'd just look like little specks along the canyon wall!

I just thought this one was pretty :)

There's a technical name for these dark streaks down the sides of the canyons. These next two pictures show how the face of the canyon are still changing with every drip of water.

The lighting felt off here, but I couldn't help thinking how incredible all the greenery looked here.
I thought this picture summed it all up. The variagated colors, the dramatic height, and the absolute beauty of God's own creative hand.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our 2009 Rockin' Awesome Vacation...Day 2

The room we slept in had two queen beds plus a couch with a hide-a-bed. Hubby and I got one queen, while the boys took the other, and the girls took the third. It was no surprise when M came tapping on my shoulder to tell me her little sister wouldn’t go to sleep. I’d been waiting for it (years of experience told me exactly what to suspect). So M and I switched places. Of course within five minutes baby was asleep.

Unfortunately she had a rough night. Round about two or so she began coughing horribly. When I cuddled with her I thought she felt a bit warm, but didn’t know if it might be a fever or just getting warm as she slept. Turns out it was a slight fever – it was still there in the morning. So we gave her a bit of Tylenol and hoped for the best.

We all woke up a little before eight – not too shabby if I do say so myself. Of course lights out occurred a little before 8:30 the night before, so not exactly shocking. I don’t think I've ever gone to bed that early without being feverish or, well, feverish :)

It was at this point I realized there would be no awards for Mother of the Year headed my way. I’d been so careful when packing. I made sure everyone had lots of shorts and underwear and socks and pants and swim stuff, toothbrushes and toothpaste were abounding, even a few cotton swabs…but I neglected to make sure the boys had more SHIRTS! My poor boys had to wear some of big sis’s shirts (fortunately they were just t-shirts).

All moms are required to heave a giant sigh for me right now.

I kept A with me while the others headed out to breakfast to began packing. It didn’t take too long before we were ready to head out. Now we really were in unfamiliar territory, not to mention having no idea what to do with ourselves. It’s not like Beaver is hours away from Hurricane.

It was so exciting to see the turning of the rock color from what we’re familiar with here up north to the bright reds and oranges of the south. I was saddened with the pictures I was coming out with, though. This next comment will make a lot of sense to those who know even a smidge about photography, but there was a lot of “atmosphere” in the air. It kept dulling what I was really seeing, but at least we all got to see it.

As we drove along there was a sign leading us to the Kolob Canyon scenic route, a part of Zion’s. At the ranger’s station we paid the $25 fee to enter anywhere in Zion’s Canyon for the next 7 days, so long as we kept the receipt.

Now, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I sure got the impression from what we read and were told that Kolob Canyon would take us further down into the heart of Zion’s. It didn’t. It looped around near the top and we had to go back down! Okay so this isn’t exactly a tragedy, but it would have been nice to know beforehand.

So if any of you decide to take the Kolob Canyon scenic route…it loops ;)

That being said, it was beyond breathtaking! It would have been amazing to see how it changed throughout the entire day. We were in a lot of shadow that first morning, but we still got a bunch of pictures. One of the first scenic stops took us on a little hike. We didn’t make it very far but there were some really neat things to see along the way. We saw several lizards and giant bees (yikes!), and fun little patches of cacti mixed in with trees and bushes. All the kids filled their pockets with “way cool rocks.” And they were pretty fantastic. In the next post you’ll see a gorgeous rock that’s got both white and red swirled together.

Little A was so taken with the red sand, all her “rock-a-babies” (to her all rocks are rock-a-babies), and being carried across the small stream as we hopped over rocks and prayed we wouldn’t drop her. I didn’t realize it wasn’t her we needed to worry about, lol. For those who know my family it won’t come as much of a surprise to hear J was the one who took a nice cool dip in the water.

Fortunately no one got hurt on our little hike. Nope, instead M waited until we were trying to get back into the car. My poor girl got her fingers caught in the car door, fell to her knees because it hurt so bad, and then scraped up her knees really well. It was such a sad end to a lovely walk, but we bandaged her up and dipped her fingers in some cold water, and before she knew it life was good again.

The kids finished off their disposable cameras on the canyon. As it was nearing lunchtime and everyone was showing signs of tiredness and hunger, we headed back down and continued on our way to Hurricane. It didn’t take too long and we found ourselves at a local Super 8 Motel in connecting rooms. The boys took one while the girls took the other. Knowing we’d be there more than one night I went ahead and put our clothes in the drawers.

My hubby had been in considerable pain all this time (problems with his neck and shoulder), so I left him and A in the rooms to rest and took the others to the outdoor swimming pool. We only swam for about an hour, since I’m a redhead and burn far too easily. Besides that, the little one didn’t take too kindly to being left behind.

Fortunately the motel had a laundry room, so the boys were assured to have their shirts back, not to mention giving M's back to her, for the next day. That evening we just tried to rest up and enjoy ourselves. We let the younger three watch cartoons in one room while M, my hubby and I watched a movie in the other. All in all, a great second day!

Kolob Canyon Pictures

I thought I'd start it off with the picture of the red/white swirled rock I was telling you about. It was pretty darn big, like bigger than my head, or else it might have ended up in my own pocket, lol. Isn't it too cool?

Here's a tiny spot of cacti. They were all so cute and completely unexpected.

Here's a closeup of a lizard. He was honestly tiny, barely three inches or so.

One of our stream crossings. My kids love "walking sticks." They sure came in handy.

Our little one was burying her "rock-a-babies" in the sandy parts of the trail.

It's a bit dark, but I loved all the giant divides in the canyon.

You can kind of see what I meant about the atmosphere, but this was one of the better pictures.
And here are all of my angels at the top of the route :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Our 2009 Rockin' Awesome Vacation...Day 1

Going on vacation. With four kids…all under the age of twelve. Sounds like a good time, right?


Our first day out was so much fun. My hubby and I hadn’t planned anything for certain beyond our final destination, as we wanted this vacation to be as relaxed as possible. We said, “If the biggest thing we do for the kids is make sure they get to swim in the hotel swimming pools, we’ll call this vacation a success!” We definitely made it into the pool a few times, but it was by far not the most exciting part of the trip.

Of course, as we approached Provo (barely an hour’s drive) all the kids were asking if we were there yet, ha ha. They didn’t seemed to happy to hear we were “no where near” the hotel.

For our first stop we went somewhere totally and completely for my own nostalgic pleasure. Several years ago I went to Snow College for a whole year (impressive, I know), and I wanted to take the kids so they could see Mom’s old stomping grounds. I could immediately tell it was not what the kids were expecting. Of course, when you’re entire experience is the big single buildings of elementary schools, seeing all the individual buildings and entire campus area of a college is quite daunting.

We didn’t go in any of the buildings, but I pointed out what little I remembered from way back when. I was sad to see the fountain (into which a few of my roommates and I had been tossed a time or two) was gone, but at least the bell tower was still there. We even got to hear the bells chime.

We went running up and down some of the stairs (got my cardio in!), and then headed toward the stadium. My kids seemed very impressed to hear my friend Marti and I used to run the track a few times a week. (These days the only running they see me do is away from spiders.) The kids had fun playing a bit on the bleachers as well as the field.

We took some lunch in Manti, the next town over, then headed to the temple to take some pictures. Next to the temple is this really steep hill, which the kids all had to roll down. Of course, rolling down is way more fun than walking back up, but they didn’t find that out until the fun part was done. My husband told us all how his grandmother and step-grandfather used to live in some apartments right next to the temple when they worked there. That was an awfully fun connection to make.

We finished heading around the temple. I got some cool pictures in, but didn’t see the most awesome sight until we were in the car headed out. I honestly would have stopped to take a picture right there in the temple driveway if there hadn’t been a car right behind me! Ah well. Another day.

As soon as we got in the car A promptly fell asleep. It was definitely a well-deserved nap. Of course she awoke a mere half hour later and began yelling at everyone. I’d say she absolutely takes after her mother when it comes to waking up from naps. The kids began laughing at me every time I’d point out sheep or cows or horses. We even got a kick out of seeing the local turkey farms.

Our big stop for the first day was much further south, a place neither my hubby nor I had visited before. It’s an LDS Church historical site called Cove Fort. The exit led us to a short stop on the road, which we passed thinking, “There’s got to be more to it than this! And where’s the hotel we thought was here???” The very short road led us right back to I15 heading back to Salt Lake. Hmm. Not what we’d planned, exactly.

So we took the first exit we could find, turned right around, and headed back to the Cove Fort exit. Sure enough it was the little stop on the very short road. We got out of the car and were immediately met by the missionaries called to give tours. After a quick potty break we all got out our cameras and followed our guides.

The fort was actually created as a stopping place for travelers as well as the telegraph. A man by the name of Ira Hinckley was asked by President Brigham Young (then leader of the LDS – or Mormon – Church) to bring his family and live at the fort. The missionaries showed us a short video and then took us through all the rooms. The kids and I took loads of pictures of some of the bedrooms, the giant kitchen, and the courtyard. I couldn’t believe how tiny the furniture was. From the beds to the chairs everything looked to be in miniature. The missionaries told us people were simply shorter back then.

What struck me most, however, was how well they utilized everything. For example, when the coverings for the mattresses wore down, they’d be made into pants for boys. When the pants wore out, they cut up the material to weave into rugs or use as rags or make into patch quilts. How amazing is that? These days when we get a hole in something or they wear out, we immediately toss them. I’m really going to have to start looking at our “worn out” things differently.

After that we were done for the day and tried to find a hotel…with a swimming pool. Who knew this little condition would have us looking through three different places? The first two had pools, but neither pool was in working order. When we finally found the Comfort Inn, I found the name quite fitting. We unloaded the car, immediately put on swimsuits, and headed straight for the pool. Yes, even I – queen avoider of all things swimsuit oriented – had found a suit and dared enter the swimming pool. It was such a blast! We all had a really good time. As we swam I realized it was A’s first time in a swimming pool. She enjoyed it, but holy cow was she freezing. Still, it was a fight to convince her it was time to get out. Only the promise of food convinced her it was a good idea.

Just add dinner and we complete our first day. Whew! Are you as exhausted as I am? Really it was great and we knew the kids would all sleep so well that night. At least…that’s what we hoped ;)

I promise I've posted pictures, just head to the next post. I decided to separate them, or else these would be very time consuming...well, more than they already are :)

Day 1 Pictures of Our 2009 Rockin' Vacation!

Here's the Bell Tower. Can you see my kids in the shadowy base? It sure gives you an idea of just how tall this is!

My boys at the top of the stands.

And here? TOUCH DOWN!
I don't know if you can see it, but J just threw B's teddy bear through the goal posts.

The Manti Temple. I couldn't get the picture exactly right, but I do think it's pretty.

Here's a cool shot at the back of the temple.
And here is the outside doors of Cove Fort.
Though you can't see them, the giant wooden doors are the originals.
Here is the telegraph.
I wanted to show this dress because it was so beautifully made, but it was also so little! Even shorter than me (and that's saying something!).

A short view of the kitchen.

I included this last picture because of the cradle to the right of the picture. The way it was made, when the baby was done with the cradle, it could be flipped over and used as a bench. So cool!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Inspirations May 10, 2009

I had planned to spend this week posting loads about our way fun vacation and literally spending hours trying to put up pics as well. Instead I found myself busy doing what we spend this very day celebrating: being a mother.

There are three scriptural accounts that tug my heartstrings perhaps more than any other when I think of a mother and her child/children.

The first actually has to do with a mother and her daughter-in-law. Yes, I'm talking about Ruth and Naomi. The love shared between these two women is not unusual, but the fact that it is recorded for generation upon generation of people speaks volumes of the importance of what family is really all about. These two women are not united by blood, but rather through a love so intense and so pure Naomi refused to be parted from her beloved mother-in-law. This love makes them more of a family than many other mothers and daughters in the world. What a remarkable woman Ruth must have been to have pulled such sacred feelings from another.

My second mother/child relationship comes from the New Testament. Of course my thoughts went to Jesus Christ and his earthly mother, Mary. The truest testament of what an extraordinary relationship these two shared can be seen even as he hung from the cross. When so many had turned their backs on the horror, this mother stayed as close to her son as possible. How her heart must have ached. How her arms must have wanted nothing more than to save her beloved son. She would not be removed from him.

Christ was aware of this. He saw His mother, and instead of wallowing in His own misery, He desired to know she would be taken care of.

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he
loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to
the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto
his own home" (John 19:26-27).

Perhaps my most favorite testament to the power a mother can hold in the lives of those she is given to look after is found in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. There are numerous wars abounding, and a group of young men have offered to go in the stead of their fathers who covenanted to never raise a sword in contention with another again. These young men are known to be the 2000 Stripling Warriors.

When relaying an account of their battles, and the extraordinary faith and strength of these young men, their captain (Helaman) states:

"For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very
young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will
not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our
brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should
overpower the army of Antipus.

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think
more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would
deliver them
" (Alma 56:46-47, italics added).

They had been taught by their mothers. Their faith was so great they didn't doubt deliverance nor fear death, because their mothers had taught them so. This was not the only testament of this from these remarkable sons.

"And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those
two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.

"Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with
exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I
did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught
them" (Alma 57:20-21).

As daughters of God we are given a calling to teach the children and youth to live righteously, to love the Lord, and to have faith in all His ways. I'm not just talking about those of us who have been blessed with children, but every woman. For some teaching children and youth comes so naturally it's almost like breathing. For others there is rarely anything asked of us that could possibly sound harder. Some of the most incredible teachers I've seen looking out for the little ones of this world are in the form of aunts, grandmothers, teachers, and good neighbors. Some of these amazing ladies have children of their own, others do not. It simply doesn't matter.

And so, on this glorious day, I honor everyone who has ever been a mother, who is now a mother, or who has ever mothered someone. You are so precious in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. Know that any child who has ever been treated with kindness thanks you for simply being you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Inspirations May 3, 2009

Our little family has been on vacation the last several days (if you knew us at all you'd know what a miracle that was in and of itself, ha!). We headed down to Zion's with a bunch of stops along the way. It was amazingly fun, and I'll be posting tons of pictures and stories over the next week.

We had an experience on the vacation that really got me thinking about one of the things (yes, among the billion) I absolutely love about being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Before I go into this, I need to make it clear my knowledge of the workings of different religions is by no means great. The few things I do know stem from what I've read and what I've gleaned when chatting online with members of other churches. I thoroughly respect the different religions of this world, even if I don't always agree with them. So if I get something really wrong, or you'd like to take a moment and share with us your own personal experience, I wholeheartedly encourage you to share. I only ask you do so with respect and a sense of getting to know one another better.

As I wrote in the previous post, my husband has been in considerable pain for the last several weeks. Even after going to see the doctor and getting extra-strength-put-you-out-like-a-light pain meds, he's still suffering. Perhaps the harshest part is being in pain no matter what position you try.

My husband is not one to complain, so when he started bringing up the possibility of visiting a nearby wardhouse (church building) just to see if someone there might be able to give him a priesthood blessing, I knew he was doing quite poorly. On the evening of our third day I noticed a church house just down the street from where we were staying. Friday nights at a Mormon church house are typically pretty quiet. We weren't hoping for too much when we drove into the parking lot, but were pleasantly surprised to see a good number of cars there.

He walked in ("crashing" a wedding, lol) and was able to find two priesthood holders who gave him a quick blessing.

What struck me as absolutely beautiful about this experience was the simple fact we knew what to expect. No matter what Latter-day Saint church house we might walk in to, we know what we can expect. Oh sure as we go from culture to culture there might be little differences, but the continuity of this Church can be seen in every building, in every meeting.

In listening to the words of others as they've talked about their churches, they talk about how one might be more traditional while another is more modern. Things vary from church to church, and people so often find themselves having to pick and choose until they find one that fits their own wants and needs.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this isn't the case. Certainly the way certain organizations do things might vary (like what activities the youth do, or whether or not classes are combined due to the number of teachers are available). But when it comes down to the structure of the Church, how things are run, and the way ordinances are to be performed, there is a tight rope of continuity running throughout. What you get in one meeting in one church building is what you'll get in the next. Why?

We are all united under the President of the Church, who is currently Thomas S. Monson. He guides us with the help of the other General Authorities of the Church. When the president of our Church feels inspired to start something new, or set something straight, we know it needs to be followed. To some this may sound harsh, or restrictive, but allow me to testify what a comfort it brings. At least, I know it does to me. If I take a trip from my little home here in Utah and head out to, say, California, or Canada, or South America, I know for a fact when I go to Church anywhere I will not need to worry about what to expect. For the Church is led by one man, who leads us under the direct inspiration of our Lord and Savior.

If someone out there doesn't necessarily believe this to be true of our Church, I say that's all right. I say this for the simple fact that my testimony is not yours, and your testimony - the cumulation of your life experiences - is not mine. We do not have to agree, but at least we can respect one another.

I find great comfort in continuity. I find great peace in knowing this Church is united under God. Most of all I find myself with a greater witness of the amazing Church this is simply because no matter where I go, I can rest assured to find exactly what I'm looking for.