Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Father/Son Campout 2014

Back in May, Marcus attended his first ever Father-Son Campout as a father...with his son.  Though Callie was looking forward to a Girls' Weekend with me, Sammy, and herself, she really really wanted to go camping.  But, she smiled, gave hugs, and the boys were on their way.

I just think this is funny because Micah looks so bored.  It wasn't the case.  He had a lot of fun, but it's a funny picture.

Micah playing ball with the boys.  Here AJ is playing soccer with him.

For a kid who goes to bed at 8:30 normally, this was an evening of too much fun.  He fell asleep at the campfire with Daddy.

The next morning enjoying breakfast by the fire.

All in all, I'd say it was a success and the boys will be looking to another campout next year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

School Beginnings 2014

Sammy started 3rd grade!  WHAT?  I know it's crazy to see our kids grow and get older...and each year it's crazier and crazier to think our kids are movin' on up.  But with Sammy, it really does blow my mind (almost literally...I must always be cautious), because she doesn't grow too quickly.  She's been with the same teacher and in the same classroom, doing the same curriculum...basically...for the past 3 years!  And talk about physical growth...I pulled out our family growth chard (that's been packed away for the past year) and the last date I have for Sammy is 12/17/12.  She has grown 2 inches since then.  So, my little twerpy girl, moving up, it seriously boggling...and heart wrenching.  3rd grade.  In a new school...a new school district in teacher, school therapists, aides...but same students!  Eight of her classmates moved with Sammy to this school.  They make up the entire class, so I'm pretty excited about that.  

I so love this little girl.  Oh Sammy.  What would I ever do without you?

Sammy getting much needed beauty sleep.
If you look closely, you can see some of her hair against the wall.
She's cozy.

Ready and waiting for the bus...with her new braces and kicks.

And this was her after school report....
She liked it.

Callie started school today.  And I'm telling you, I had a hard time keeping it together.  There are so many things swirling around in my mind with this school year.  I've really considered pulling her out of school and homeschooling (another post some other time).  She liked the idea actually.  But Callie...oh dear Callie...watching her grow and develop is so overwhelming.  It's happening too quickly.  She's finding her talents and becoming this little person with whom I'm so happy and immensely in love.  She and I, I think, are a really great team.  We laugh a lot.  Play.  Cook.  Work.  If it were last year, I would have picked her up from school already and we'd be having lunch.  This morning, before leaving for school, we read scriptures and knelt down to pray.  I cried during the prayer.  (sigh)  I love her so much.

This year Callie moves to 1st grade with Ms. Borreli, her Kindergarten teacher.  She is so excited about it.  I love Ms. B and she loves Callie.  We've gone up to school a few times and Callie has given her big hugs.  The other week, as I chatted with Ms. B, I had an overwhelming confirmation that this year Callie would be good.  That my decision to keep her in school this year was the right now.  I find peace in that.  And so...first grade, here we come!

Callie getting her beauty sleep.
She came into our room at 4:37 am.
"Callie, is everything alright?"
"Is it time for school yet?"
She was really excited!

She loves the small rose bush we have in the front.

And she was happy I let her wear a pair of her church shoes to school.  Only because it's the first day though, She does have recess this year, and I fear for those shoes!

Must do a goofy shot

This about says it all.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

'Tis a Gift to be Simple

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd, 
  To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight, 
  Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

The picture in Sammy's bedroom

I have a tendency to over-complicate things.  Am I the only one?  It seems that each year, my resolution is to simplify my life to some degree.  Can I get an Amen!?  And I think I do a really good job of it, until I re-evaluate at the end of the year and think, "I need to simplify my life."  mmm hmmm  And so, I try again.  

I believe I'm improving.  I'm working on it.  I'm trying to focus on what is most important.  Yes, I fill my days with extras, but I am doing better in my choosing.  Better.  Still working at it.  

One thing I've realized lately in my personal studies is that there is something in my life that will always remain constant.  Uncomplicated.  Clear.  Straight forward.  Simple.  

And it is a gift.  

The picture in Callie's bedroom.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple.  It may not be easy all the time, but it's simple.  I am a daughter of God.  I was before this mortal life, and I will forever be His.  Because I was with him once, I can be with him again.  He spoke to His children before; He speaks to his children now.  There were commandments before; commandments are still set to help keep us on track.  When we fall off course, we are given tools to get back on track.  Repentance is a true, real process that puts us back on the trail's a process of turning back to Him, and humbly admitting we need to be better.  We are all just trying to be better.  Yes there are ordinances that need to be done here on earth.  There are things that we need to do.  But it all boils down to this: we are His.  His children.  His babies.  His most precious treasures.  And in the most respectful way, He's just our daddy.

The picture in Micah's room

I think it's all pretty black and white.  We're his children or we're not.  There is a plan for us here, or there's not.  We are left alone to wander and figure it out, or we're actually given exactly what we need to make it through this life so we can be home again.  

I have received answers for myself that make it impossible for me to say that it's not true.  I am His daughter.  I know the path.  I am not perfect...nor does my loving Father expect me to be.  But what he does expect is for me not to give up.

To seek truth always.  
To talk to him.  
To keep my focus on the eternal joys ahead.  
And he'll fill me with faith, hope, and charity.  
He will give me what I need.  

I don't expect to have an easy life.  I expect my life will be scattered with thunderstorms, but I believe that through the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the sunshine will always cast the storms out.  Because the Son is brighter than any storm in my life.

I guess, for me, the real challenge is in finding that true simplicity everyday.  Remembering the simplicity.  Remembering the simple truth of where I came from, why I'm here, and where I'm headed.  And if that's our focus, as the Shakers sang...we'll all "come 'round right."


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

What a fun book to read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's a light children's book about a flying, superhero squirrel and his friend, Flora.  The characters are all really charming.  I loved them all -- all round and evolving.  I can imagine reading this with Callie one day.  It was fun but also touches on deeper issues in a very approachable way for children.  Friendship.  Family.  Love.  Courage.  Divorce.  Identity.  Self-esteem.  Fear.  Persistence.  Dedication.  Loyalty.  

One thing I loved was the format of the book.  Flora narrates most of the book, however occassionally we get a chapter from the squirrel.  (And the chapters are extremely short so you feel like you're accomplishing a lot by sitting down and reading 5 chapters!)  Every now and then, you get the story in a comic strip style as well.  It changes up the text a bit, giving good variety, but also having these tid bits of illustration.  It's so well done.

It wasn't until the end of the book when I realized the author was Kate DiCamillo (I just got it on my kindle without too much investigation) -- who wrote Because of Winn Dixie, which I also loved reading last year.  She's a skilled children's chapter book author.  If these 2 books of hers that I've read are an indication of how great her other books are...I love her.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

a difficultly beautiful birthday

I've been anticipating Samantha's 8th birthday for quite some time now.  And it wasn't with grand, happy anticipation.  What's so big about the number 8?  In the LDS church, it is the designated age when children have crossed a certain threshold of understanding -- when they are able to more fully understand right and wrong -- and so, it is when they are typically baptized in our church.  It's a significant time in a child's life.  They are old enough to say that this is what they want.  They understand what they are doing.  And, if that child does choose baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then it is something that they really look forward to.  After baptism, they are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  It's a gift and a promise; if this child keeps her end of the deal by following the commandments and truly trying their best to be a representative of Jesus Christ in their thoughts and actions, then the Spirit will be their constant companion.  What an amazing gift.  A member of the Godhead will be with them at all times to confirm truth, to whisper promptings to their hearts and minds, to sanctify their efforts.

Samantha is eight.
She is my oldest child.
The one who typically leads the way, sets the example.

She did not get baptized.

Doctrinally speaking, I don't have an issue with her not getting baptized.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the innocent are protected.  His sacrifice is enough.  When I was younger, I needed to enter the gate through baptism...and most of us do.  But Samantha is perpetually innocent.  She doesn't even have the ability to sin.  She is one of the purest individuals living on this earth.  That is amazing.  And I should have been filled with more love and gratitude because of the simple fact that I live with an angel.  Instead, I mourned the fact that she didn't have the need for baptism.  We talked with our ecclesiastical leader earlier on in the year who informed us that there was no need for her baptism.  I struggled with this for months.  I cried about it.  But it was never about her getting baptized, because again, I fully understand and agree that Samantha is nearly as perfect as they come.  She will never sin.  She has no inkling of what malice or deception even is.  Her baptism was symbolic of how she would also never go to YW Camp, or to a dance, or...tell me how her day was.

So Sammy turning 8 was hard for me.  

Marcus asked if we were having a party for her.
"Yeah, we'll have family over I guess.  It's not like she's getting baptized and there's a celebration.  We'll just do it like we do every year."
I was such a grouch.
But Marcus quickly changed my mind and I got so excited.  All my sadness I put into a little party.
The goal was to have her surrounded by people who absolutely adored her.
We did Hawaiian flowers, pulled pork sandwiches, pineapple/coconut whips, rainbow cake, sensory sand play for the kids and coloring pages.
I was so happy and full of so much love.
Memory Lane
I am so in love with this girl.  Eight years has gone by so quickly.
We didn't have sand, but we had moon sand.  Close enough, right?

This picture was taken precisely .2 seconds before lasers shot out of Nate's eyes!

Not happy about something.

Sammy with Megan

Sammy's birthday cake.

I can try all I want, but I'll never get a really great cousin picture.
(World Cup in the back)

Sammy with her birthday tutu

Oh Sammy girl.  I love you so much.

Best picture of the night.  This moment probably lasted all of 1 second, but Marcus got it just in time, and I'll be forever grateful.
Sometimes you need a break from partying.

Our little family

So Sammy's 8.  And you know what?  It's no big deal.  She's still adorable and great and fun and perfect.  All that anticipation was completely ridiculous and a waste of time, but the feelings were very real for me nonetheless.  Celebrating our girl and the day she was born was just what I needed, I suppose, to remind myself that I really don't care that she doesn't do things like other kids her age...and never will.  What I really care about is that she's eternally mine and that she's here with us.  

That is something to celebrate.

I am so grateful.
My life is so full.


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