Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Gifts

So, Christmas season is upon us. For me, every year is a real roller coaster of emotions. When the turkey from Thanksgiving has been put away and we begin to focus on Christmas, I start to think of what I will give each of my children for Christmas. To be honest, it is becoming more and more difficult to come up with any " needs " my children have.

They are almost all teenagers, they all have employment or odd jobs, and usually, when they really, really want something, they will find a way to earn enough money to purchase the said need/want.

This year has been more difficult than ever. I added up the goods in Alex's back pack the other day: iPod, cell phone, Netbook.... not cheap people! I never carried anything expensive to school, ever. I don't think any of us did in the old days. Boom boxes were forbidden and Walkman's were a luxury. We would have never considered taking one to school. It is now commonplace for kids to walk around the halls of their school with literally hundreds of dollars worth of "stuff " in their pockets and backpacks.

So, I start out with the predicament of not knowing what I am going to buy and find myself suddenly sliding into the " it's not enough " mode. I quickly loose focus on what we DO have and start to lament what we DON'T have. "If only I could buy.... instead of this cheap old.... I would be so much happier with Christmas".

How do I loose my focus so quickly?

Last night as we were perusing the aisles of Costco, being lured in with all of the fancy electronics I found myself becoming more and more depressed. Gosh, we can only afford a lame-o LCD flat screen TV instead of this nifty $3000 3-D 70" TV. Poor me, I can't have this SLR camera, my life is so stinkin' hard, sniff sniff. On and on I went, spiraling further and further down, until it hit me square in the face...

I have totally lost the true meaning of Christmas. Seriously, how did I check my sense of gratitude for my Savior and all that He has blessed me with at the Costco doors? I couldn't help but feel ashamed of my rotten attitude. And boy did I do some adjusting. My goal for the rest of the season, and hopefully all future seasons, is to remember. REMEMBER... what this season is truly about.

As I have watched my children look under the tree and shake their gifts, it makes me think of our loving Heavenly Father. Brandon is one who does not have a gift under the tree, yet. He asked me " Will you buy a gift for me too? " The spirit touched me as I pondered the meaning of his question.

How many times do we look at all of the gifts of others around us and wonder if Heavenly Father has a gift for us? Did He somehow forget how badly we wanted a gift? Did He realize that our brother or sister has a really huge gift all wrapped up and pretty, and we have nothing?

Little do we remember, our Heavenly Father would never forget us. He has numerous gifts for each of us, some tucked under the bed or in the closet, just waiting to be wrapped, and then opened, and most of all, appreciated. No child in our family would be forgotten at Christmas and no child of The Father, will ever be forgotten.

So, in the early hours of Christmas morning ( which aren't so early anymore now that we have teenagers ), each one of my dearly loved children will look around with delight amid all of the ribbon and wrapping papers and recognize the gifts, chosen, especially for them individually. A symbol of my love for each of them.

And, one morning, when Christ has come, each one of Heavenly Father's children will look around, and realize we were not forgotten. Although one gift was wrapped in different paper, and another may have had more bows, or was larger, we were each given the gifts that our Father chose for us. We will no longer wonder if we were remembered. The true meaning of Christmas will be the one and only gift that matters, as it is the greatest gift ever given.

Be Grateful!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

All about Alex

So I looked up one day and I had Senior in high school! I am not quite sure where all of the
time went, or how he grew up so quickly, but here he is, all tall, dark and handsome.
It kind of hits you in the face when you get requests in the mail for number
of tickets needed for graduation,
exact spelling for the diploma, and senior pictures being taken.

Then, for a while, you forget you have a senior, except when he stands next to you and
you have to constantly look up. That is, until the band has
"Senior Recognition Night" Then you remember,
that's right, I have a Senior!

Alex has been working hard for a year, rebuilding his monster of a car. It
went from this....

To this...


So, if you have to have a Senior, I would probably choose one
that looks something like this. You can't get much better.
Sorry, this one is already taken and I hear the
knock off's are no where near as good as the original.
Too bad they broke the mold after making
this one!

( Seriously, the underlining thing is really annoying!
And now my font is in two different colors, neither of
which were chosen by me!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

September In A Snapshot...or two

I have no idea where September went, here are a few
quick pictures to show you what I spend most of my
time doing....

This is what I wish I could be doing. Brandon was so tired
after his football and then soccer game, he actually
fell to sleep while trying to call a friend to see
if he could play on the ride home. He finally gave in to sleep,
but he will swear to you he is NOT tired!

A picture from the above mentioned game.

Okay... if you look really close for the best looking, best
trumpet player in the group ( second from the left ) you will
see our Alex. Front row of the band... cool!

A picture of Kyle and his friend at the Sporting KC soccer game. James
took Kyle, Tyler-- the friend, and Brandon to the game.
They had a great time. I would have more pictures,
but James thought I wanted pictures of the game, not my kids
so I'm using what I got.

I LOVE finding random pictures like this one on my camera. I never
know what my girls have been up to until I take a look at
what is on my memory card. LoVe this picture of Mikenzie.
She is beautiful.

Here is Jeremy and a few pictures of his first Homecoming Dance.
Isn't he a handsome fella? Oh, alright, his date
is pretty cute too!

Yep-- Alex is 18, eighteen... EIGHT-TEEN!! Can hardly believe it myself!
He loved his cool Beatles shirt.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Random pictures showing the randomness of my life

Brandon's first football game of the year

Our awesome QB-- he really can throw a bullet, he is
the starting QB ya know. I love the fact
he is still wearing his soccer cleats and shin guards
from his game. He ran from one to the next--
we keep him busy so he doesn't drive us all
crazy with his fidgety, wiggly, hyper little self.
You should try sitting by him at church, we have to take turns
each week-- he is non-stop energy.

Jeremy's completed Eagle Scout Project!
Sorry for the blurry pic

Baylie's 11th Birthday

Sunday afternoon on the back deck,
I have such a handsome son.

Alex in his typical texting pose. I was
lucky to get him to look up at me long enough
to take a picture.

Brandon at his first soccer game of the season

Baylie at her first volleyball game of the season-- see how she is smaller than most?
That's what happens when you are a year younger than everyone in your class.

Two of my Blue Jay warriors- Kyle is in his soccer jersey and
Mikenzie is in her volleyball jersey on game day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to school-- my how they'e grown!

Yay!! School is back in session. As I took first day of
school pictures I couldn't help
but think of how quickly my kids have grown.
Here are some family pics from 2006 followed
by the most recent 1st day of school.

First Day of School 2006
Alex= 6th grade Jeremy=5th grade Kyle= 3rd grade
Baylie= Kindergarten Sophia= 1st grade Mikenzie= 2nd grade

Brandon and Matalynn= Preschool

Baylie= 6th grade

Brandon= 3rd grade

Kyle= 9th grade ( Freshman!! )

Mikenzie= 8th grade

Jeremy= 11th grade ( Junior !! )

Yeah, I know I am missing one. My camera shy SENIOR started a day after everyone else and I am still trying to catch up with him to get a picture!! One to follow shortly.

Any-hoo, they all grew up so fast! I remember the day the picture
from six years ago was taken.

1- We hustled all eight kids out the door, dropped Alex off at the middle school and got to the elementary school just in time to take each child to their new class.
2- I literally cheered as I drove out of the school parking lot. I almost cried tears of joy... then I felt horrible for being so totally thrilled to have all of my wonderful children ( not counting the two three year olds in the back seat ) outta my hair for at least a few hours a day.
Then I cheered again!
3- Arrived home just in time to receive a phone call from the school informing me Baylie had NO shoes!! We were all in such a hurry to get out the door, she forgot to wear shoes to school!
4- Felt totally embarrassed and humiliated for a moment and then laughed at the crazy life I call motherhood. Took Baylie her new shoes and once again, cheered on my way out of the school parking lot.

Be Grateful!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some thoughts on pioneering

Tomorrow is the first day of school year 2011-12. My oldest is a senior. My oldest... is a senior!! It seems like just yesterday I was a senior. Now here I am, a battle weary mother of teenage boys, pre-teen girls, and a feisty 8 year old.

Life is harder than I had hoped it would be at this stage in life for me and mine. It seems we have encountered one trial after another over the past year. It has left me wondering WHY? Why me? Why can't this road I'm on be a little easier to travel? Why can I catch a break, just once?

Sometimes I think my life is likened unto the pioneers crossing the plains. You see, some were very smart and left in late spring/early summer and arrived in the valley in reasonable time. Others were a little foolhardy and left in late fall, thinking they would be blessed by the Lord, despite their poor choices. Their story is a faith filled, heroic one, but filled with trials that could have easily been avoided if they had been a bit wiser. And then the third group, well, they didn't fare well at all and turned on one another, literally eating each other up.

We don't really know the names of the pioneers who had a fairly wise and easy trip across the plains. We don't want to know a lot about The Donner party, and we hear a lot about The Willey-Martin hand cart company.

I often wonder, which one I would have chosen to cross the plains with, or if I would have opted to stay in beautiful Nauvoo and not cross at all. I think James and I would fall into the Willey-Martin company. We seem to frequently choose the more difficult route in life, then meet up with folks who have traveled a similar path and after comparing our travels, wonder why we weren't as smart as the ones who left in early spring. We often look back and realize a hardy winter coat would have come in handy, or maybe we really should have opted for the extra flour instead of the 25 pounds of lead we thought would be important. You never know when you could use a hefty helping of dead weight, right?

So, how did I end up in the middle of Wyoming, in the middle of winter, in the middle of a rock? Why not an easy-peasy path for me? Is it one of my own making? Is it one to help me grow?

Some quotes from Women's Conference ( which I loved ):

Righteousness has never precluded adversity. Heavenly Father provides opportunities during times of adversity that cannot be gained otherwise.
Connie Zwick Allen

Every experience can be a redemptive experience. If we stripped ourselves of the learning and experiences of life, we would be left with an empty shell.
Jeffery R. Holland ( quote of a quote of a quote )

Seriously though, I still just want to whine and complain. This is not what I signed up for!

But then... in church on Sunday, during the Sacrament, which is usually the quietest time of the entire week for me, I realized something. I have spent most of my life waiting for that elusive state of happiness to find me. Just about 40 years to be exact. I realized, I need to be the one who finds happiness. It will not come to me. It needs to be a choice, a way of life, an attitude.

That little bit of insight brought to me by The Spirit has helped me greatly this week. I am seeking out happiness every day. I am looking for the blessings and goodness that are all around me, just because I am alive. Sometimes the clouds cover my sunshine a bit, but things do seem a bit brighter.

Frances Webster of the ill-fated Willey-Martin handcart company said:

We suffered beyond anything you can imagine... Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities!

I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me! I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there. “Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.

May I have the faith of Brother Webster when I take one last look at the long and difficult trail I crossed, called life.

Be Grateful!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A few more summer pics

Here are a few more pictures of our summer trip...

Having fun with sparklers on the 4th

Me and some of my BFF's from high school

Coolio and Grandpa on the first day of soccer camp-- that's our MVP right there

Having fun at Color Me Mine-- our annual art fiesta

Standing in front of an enormous pile of books/art display at BYU

It looks like a doorway- but it isn't! Another pic from the BYU museum of art

Our yearly picture at Bridal Veil Falls

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thoughts Whilst Running...

I've been living in the miserable no man's land of regret these past days. It has not been pretty... so today I went for an extra long run to clear my head. As I was jogging/walking on a long, flat road many a thought popped into my head. Thought I would share a few...

First, on this long flat road were many walkers and runners, and some old fella's that were more putters than anything else. As I passed some of my fellow exerciser's I realized that the road represented the time-line of my life. And my companion travelers were sorta like the mistakes I have made along the path of life. Some were far behind me, some were like the persnickety speed walker that I would pass, then she would catch up, then I would pass her again. I finally gave up my recovery walking to get her behind me once and for all.

Some of the people were far ahead of me, which represented future mistakes. I couldn't make them out quite yet, but realized, life is full of mistakes and I would need to eventually pass them as well.

Some are in the past, some are sticking with me a little longer than I would like ( speed walker lady with your matching velor suit and perfectly coiffed ponytail that swung back and forth just so ) . And unavoidably, some are ahead of me.

While each mistake/trial/runner is a different shape and size, I need to pass them and leave them behind me. Running back to repeatedly circle around the people/mistakes I have already passed, will not get me to where I need to be. Sometimes, I need to press forward as hard and as fast as I can to get the opposition ( i.e. annoying competition ) behind me. I also need to keep my head up and face the upcoming mistakes, head on.

I need to truly embrace The Atonement and move forward in my life. Stop looking back and keep on running forward, no matter how many other mistakes I have left in my past, or may face in the future.

The second thought came to me as I trudged up the hill going around The Provo Temple. At the bottom of the hill, I saw many missionaries running down the hill as fast as they could. Other people were doing the same with a look of victory on their red and sweaty faces. I kept on trudging up and up.

You know, many times we pass people as they are running down the hill. They look so pleased with themselves and seem to be running at their peak. We do not see the struggle it took for them to get to the top of the hill. I forget most people had to march up one side of the hill, possibly going rather slow as I do, in order to be in the position to run alllll the way down the other side of the hill at top speed. I usually see people running down the hill and compare myself while I am working my way up the hill and wonder why I can't seem to compete.

We all have uphill battles and most likely wish life was all downhill, in a weird sort of way. The thrill can only come if I pay the price it takes to get to the top of the hill. I too get to the top of that old hill, pause and take a deep breath, then run my legs off while getting my best speed of the day. It is exhilarating to have such an excellent time for a good mile or so. It is the only part of my run where I truly feel fast and well trained.

So, I'm not going to look back ( as much as I usually do ) and I am going to enjoy the work it takes to get to the top of the hill, so it can all go down hill from there.

Be Grateful!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


We are having quite the time here in wonderful family-laden Utah. The three younger kids and I have been busy visiting with family, going to sports camps, playing in the water, swimming, family parties, etc,etc,etc...

Here is my cousin Judy with my wonderful Grandma

My persistent little B working on her newly invented pillow- stuffing a bunch of batting into a pillow case and then sewing it shut. Only a Grandma would let her get away with that.

Here is the last day of football camp. This is one of the coaches telling the boys to say thank you to whoever paid for them to go to the camp-- I agree!

And here is Brandon a few hours after his last day of football camp-- they kept those boys busy (thank you-- mom's need someone to wear our boys out)

Friday, May 20, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

Mikenzie and her favorite pet, Rex

Kyle and James sharing a manly, bonding moment

Alex and his scholar bowl team-- he was team captain

The man, doing his favorite thing, playing with a ball, of any kind

Love this pic of Jeremy with his Rugby team-- talk about a happy camper!

Bitter-sweet happy things, Baylie graduating from 5th grade

Mikenzie's feet, I have a lot of this particular shot, don't know why, but it makes me smile

James and Baylie working on the garden together-- luv it

Coolio at his best-- love the cleats!