My Family

My Family

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baptism Day

Bekah's baptism was in July...almost a full month after her birthday.  She chose to sing a song as her musical number and did a fabulous job.  
She loved every part of the day.
With her siblings. 
And her parents.


Alone, and a close-up of her special pearls.  She had a matching necklace.

Auntie, Grandma Jennie and Grandma and Grandpa John were all able to be there.

She was baptized with 3 other children from our ward.  Here's a picture of the 4 of them. 
(l-r: Rebekah John, Paige Jensen, Emilie Potter, Teagan Lunt)


As we left, she and her Auntie traded shoes.  They wore them like this for the rest of the afternoon.  

I love you, my dear sweet girl!  
Thank you for choosing to be baptized.  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to School 2010

A couple of things strike me about these pictures.
1)  My kids have grown so much over the past year.
2)  Breaking out of the summertime routine of sleeping in/taking it easy is rough.  I can see the tiredness in my kids faces.
3) Stephen needs to pose for a back to school photo!  He started way back at the end of July and I didn't take his picture then.  I'll plan on doing it in the morning.
4) Emily and Nathan's pictures were lost as I edited this blog for publication in book form.  :(
Thomas--4th grade
Rebekah--3rd grade
The first time for Sam getting a picture on the first day of school.  I don't remember what he was mad about!

Samuel--First day of Kindergarten!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sweet Freedom's Song

Independence Day.

It is a day that fills my heart and soul with joy and pride, honor and respect, and remembrance. 

I desire to open my heart and pour the feelings I harbor within myself into my children...and yet, I know that it is only through the things I do, and the things I say, and the things that I teach them that they can begin to experience the feelings that I treasure each year as this day arrives.

I remember the Fourth of July celebrations of my youth. 

The parade, viewed annually from my great-aunt's home situated conveniently on the main street (West Cleveland in St. Johns, AZ) was one of the highlights of the day. 

I distinctly remember my grandmother, and my mother gently teaching me, and then reminding me in years to follow, to honor the flag and those who bore it as it passed. 

My hand rested over my heart, and I stood, straight and attentive, as the breeze played the cloth from the flag forward, creating images that are still vivid in my memory today. 

I did not know at such a young age that my great-uncle had died in World War II, or that my great-aunt, whose steps and curb I frequented each Fourth, had served as a cook in the United States Navy. 

I did not know that my family had given their service and their lives in defense of my very freedom.

That knowledge, even today, swells my heart and brings a lump to my throat. 

I am grateful for the sacrifices, large and small that countless numbers of men and women have made, and continue to make, EVEN TODAY, to ensure our freedom. 

I love the words to this song: 

God Bless The U.S.A.
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA. 

The knowledge we impart to our children, our friends and our neighbors must be strengthened by the assurance that we have been given this land of freedom by a gracious God, who desires that we defend this land of beauty and liberty, not only with righteousness, but also with courage and strength...even in the face of controversy.

I had a hard time singing the final verse to our national anthem on Sunday, simply because I know there are men and women that stand today between their loved homes and war's desolation. 

Star Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

May our trust truly be in God, and may we wave our flag proudly o'er our homes, o'er our hearts, and o'er our families, today and every day.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I laughed...

Not when my husband looked at me and said, "I didn't get you anything for our anniversary tomorrow."  But when I replied, "I didn't get anything for you either."

The good part about that whole conversation...I really don't need or want anything from Pat for my 17th anniversary tomorrow.
A date, like we have planned, will suffice quite nicely.
Being with him is the best gift I've been given.
Being with him eternally...even better.    

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Year 17

In 1993, I made one of the best decisions of my life.
I chose to marry my best friend.

This year, this month, we celebrate 17 years of wedded bliss life together.

It wasn't until last year that we discovered how wonderful it was to spend an extended amount of time together.
The only time we had spent away from our children overnight, together, was in the hospital as I was giving birth to another sweet child.
As wonderful as those times were, they weren't romantic by any stretch...and our minds were very much preoccupied with the event of that day.

Last year, for numerous reasons, we made the critical decision that in order to repair, preserve and strengthen our marriage, we needed to spend time together...alone, as a couple.
Truly, it was probably one of the best decisions we have made as a married couple.

This spring, we knew that going on a "couples retreat" was imperative.
It wasn't a question of IF we would go, but simply WHEN we would go.
We set our budget, discussed places we'd like to go, and discussed which dates would work best.

It was at the end of April that my sister sent me an e-mail stating that tickets to Hawaii were at rock-bottom prices.
We have wonderful friends (Dawn and Jeff Peterson) who live on Kauai, and although we had often talked about visiting them while they lived there (over the course of the past 3 years), we knew that it was outside of our budgeted realm, and we'd just have to wait.

It only took one phone call to Pat to tell him that tickets were within our budget to start planning for our get-away to Kauai.

We were blessed to go over Memorial Day weekend, and suffice it to say, it was FABULOUS.
We both have Kauai fever...we would go back in a heartbeat if we had the finances to take our family.  Our friends were AMAZING tour guides and hosts.  THANK YOU PETERSONS!!!

Here are a few pictures of our trip:
                                                        Dear friends, Dawn and Smith's luau                                                                                        (where we were serenaded by a Love Boat like singer... :-/ ).                                                       Na Pali Coastline...only accessible via hiking.  It's GORGEOUS!                                                              A close up of me and the top part of the sand castle Pat and Jeff built at Hanalei Bay.  
                                                        And the full castle...along with a little kissing.  :)                                                                                                                                           A Hawaiian sunrise...over the ocean.                                                         The second sand castle of the trip.                                                            The greenery and growth on Kauai was amazing.                                                                                            I snapped this shot after we had boogie-boarded through a long, dark irrigation tunnel that came out at a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole.  

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Blogger's Aside

It used to be that I thought of my experiences in blogging terms and phrases.
I viewed my life through the "bloggers lens".
Many conversations and situations were either deemed blog-worthy or not, and respectively, either found their way to my blog or were abandoned and forgotten.

In the year since I have moved, I have found that my blog is oft forgotten.
I can contribute it to a number of things:
The ease and instant gratification of having a facebook account,
The acquisition of a new laptop and consequently a loss of my numerous pictures (because it's just SO much harder to sit down at the desktop with all of my pictures on it, AND there is no easy way to download my pictures to my current laptop, and I have the opinion that you can only blog for so long before you NEED a picture or two to brighten the entries),
The loss of my anonymity amongst my readers (living in a place where so many more people blog, most of my readers now actually know me, and for some reason that intimidates me),
And finally,
I've lost my original motivation to blog.

I am a comment lover.
I am grateful to know that what I write has an impact on someone else, on YOU.

I read a few blogs,
And yet, I don't comment often on the blogs I read.
Call me a hypocrite then...I know I sow what I reap, especially on the comment front.

And so, as an aside, I have some decisions to make regarding my blog.
I can step it up, and put a little more time and energy into it.
That would mean changing my original focus from feeling like I have an impact on others and turning my focus inwardly toward my family and myself.
I can abandon it altogether.
(Ok--I don't like that option...forget I mentioned it).
Or, I can leave it as it is...sporadically posting here and there...when I feel like it.
Or...maybe there's a thought I haven't encountered you have a different thought that could influence me?
I'd love to hear it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Disneyland/Huntington Beach

After 5 years of dreaming of the day that we would be able to take our children to Disneyland, we finally were able to make it happen!  
In January of this year, my good friend, Rachelle Allen told me about the 
Disney sponsored "Give a day, Get a day!" program that had just begun.  The program required that as volunteers, we sign up for an activity that benefitted the community in some way, complete that service, and then, in return, anyone 6 and older who helped would receive a FREE day at Disneyland or California Adventure or Walt Disney World.  
I was ESTATIC  to have such an opportunity.  Every time I had worked up the cost of going to Disneyland for our large family, I would end up shaking my head and thinking, "I don't know how we are ever going to make that happen!"  
In February of this year, we went to glean citrus fruit to be donated to a food bank.
We worked for 4 hours as a family, picking every fruit we could reach (and then some), and filling a huge food bank box (about 3 ft tall and 4 ft wide) 2/3 of the way full.
We had the 5 oldest children with us and got a babysitter for the 2 youngest (which was odd, I haven't had to call for a sitter for a very long time!)
The excitement of helping others, AND knowing that we would benefit with a day in Disneyland made the day extremely memorable. 
Once the tickets were in hand, we debated about when the best time for our family was to go.    
It didn't take long to settle on April...and we started looking for the specific dates we could go.  
Then...we waited...excitement mounting...for the day we could leave for DISNEYLAND!  

It felt surreal walking onto Main Street, USA in Disneyland the morning we arrived.
To say that it was a dream come true is not an exaggeration, and it was was heartwarming for me to know that my children would be able to build lasting memories with their siblings at Disneyland.  (We also got to see the Rob and Tracie Halliday family one night while we were there!  Talk about the ultimate play date.)  :)

The pictures we took were minimal.  
Even when I wore the camera around my neck, my thoughts were on keeping track of my children, not on capturing the moments on camera.  
Our family did wear the same color of shirts while we were there, so keeping track of the kids was easier than if everyone had worn random colors...but still, ensuring the kids were all safe and accounted for was a job that took all of my time and energy.

I was with  Isaac and Sam while the others went to Space Mountain.  We waited in line to get on It's A Small World.  The boys LOVED it...and Sam was singing the song for most of the morning.  It was very much as I remembered it, although I didn't have a high tolerance for the repetitive nature of the music.   
I loved this "postcard" at the end of the ride.
It's a great reminder for all of us.  
We quickly learned that any means of saving our feet was not only recommended, but also necessary. My kids were very excited to climb up to the top of the double decker bus and save themselves a few steps down Main Street.  We also discovered the train that goes around the entire park, and loved riding that.  (Did you know that there are mini-shows along that track? I actually didn't remember that, but I do believe that I rode that same track and saw those shows as a young girl...funny, huh?)  
Stephen caught this picture of me and Nathan coming down Splash Mountain.  I'm at the very back and my hair is flying out straight behind me.  Nate is right in front of me...and the rest of the family was...
eating ice cream.  
They had already ridden Splash Mountain and were hanging out with Isaac.
They even got some for us, and kept it in the cooler until we got back.
For my Bekah, seeing the princesses was a must.  The line was LONG (1 hour, 15 minutes) line...but she was insistent that it was something that was very important to her.  The rest of the family went on Small World, (making Bekah the only one who didn't get to go on that ride), and then went to ToonTown.  Emily was told that they were heading to the Dumbo ride, so she opted to stay with us, saying, "I guess princesses are better than Dumbo." (I know that neither of them were on HER list of things to do.) 
Princess Jasmine was the kindest and most sincere of the princesses that Bekah met.  She really made "Princess Bekah" feel very important.
As we were leaving, Beks looked up at me and said, "Is that all?"  She had expected that all the princesses would be together and she would get to choose which 3 she got to meet.  (It was a lesson on expectations being different than reality.)  She did choose NOT to stand in a 45 minute line to see the fairies in Pixie Hollow later that afternoon.  (Whew!)  We walked up and peeked through the leaves around Pixie Hollow and she saw the fairies that were inside...she was very happy when Silvermist waved at her.  
In ToonTown, the girls and I were looking for the rest of the family and decided to do a quick tour of Mickey's house. 
We had a chance to meet Mickey Mouse in the back of his house.   
I talked a lot to the older kids that while they thought the characters were silly, that they had to "respect the Mouse".  No disrespecting Mickey was allowed.  Although the girls didn't want this picture with Mickey, they stepped in when I did.  
I personally think it's amazing that all of so much has come from the initial cartoons that Walt Disney created of Mickey Mouse and I need to teach my children of the contributions that Disney made to the world of entertainment.  Their exposure to Disney is only animated movie related...and they don't ever remember a time when they had to wait to see a movie only in the theatre or on The Wonderful World of Disney.

We knew when we planned the trip to CA that we needed to take the kids to see the ocean.  
None of them had ever been to the beach, so we took them on Saturday morning.  
Their joy and excitement is so apparent to me in this picture.  

My favorite man.
Isaac didn't want to get his feet wet for a very long time.
The whole kid crew, lined up for the "family" photo.
        Pat realized it was our first trip to the beach EVER as a couple.
When we first arrived, the tide was coming in and the waves were a quite choppy and high.  
By the time we left, the ocean had calmed dramatically and was beautiful to see. 
Isaac finally got his feet wet.
Everyone except Isaac and I played extensively in the water.
It was truly amazing to see my children experience one of God's amazing creations for the very first time.  I love the ocean and how I sense the reality of God and His hand in creation every time I see it. 

As trite as it may sound, I know that the Lord has a hand in our lives.
I view this entire trip as a blessing, a miracle, and a dream come true.
To be able to share it all with Pat and the kids...even better.  
I will treasure this vacation for a lifetime.   

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Responsibility

Two lunches sitting on the counter at home this morning.
One homework folder on the coffee table in the living room.
Three kids that will remember next time because Mom is teaching them there are consequences to their (lack of) actions.

**As a note: (It is quite odd that it happened to be all 3 of them this morning is so seldom that any one of them in a day leaves anything behind!   It wasn't even a chaotic morning.  And yes, I made the decision a LONG time ago not to fix every issue that came up because a child left something at home.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Family Pictures 2009

Between October and December of every year, we make the effort to take our new family pictures.  
This year we decided we would go to two spots:  The Mesa Arts Center and the Mesa Arizona Temple.  
As we drove past the MAC, we discovered a local festival going on, with large numbers of people scattered throughout the area.  While we were sad that we wouldn't have some fun backgrounds for our family pictures, we were excited to go the temple and feel the peace that permeates the grounds.  
These are some of the fun pictures that we captured while we were there!  
There were over 1000 shots when we finished...with more than 200 of our little 2 year old Isaac!  (Any tips on how to get a 2 year old to look at the camera? I just kept taking multiple shots of him...a ton at a time, and finally ended up with some really fun ones.)  
By the time we got to our family shots, we were all worn...and it was more difficult to get a great family shot.

                                                         I loved that my sister came to help us and be part of our family pictures!
Daddy teaching juggling to Nathan.