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Saturday, December 27, 2008

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

WELCOME to my (Chris') attempt at internet blogging, that is, if you haven't been here before.
                        
We had a great 2008!  We spent our vacation this year visiting all the places nearby that we never seem to have time to visit.  The rest of the year was spent figuring out how to live, love and laugh with each other. 

We've watched Hyrum (1 1/3) grow from underweight baby to a very healthy-weight toddler. (See previous post.)  

Sammie (4) is our own version of "High School Musical".  She even sings when using the potty.   She loves preschool.  She is learning to be an immaculate coloring book artist.  I find her at the table coloring morning, afternoon and evening.  Aunt Carolyn made all three girls' dreams come true by getting married and letting them attend as flower girls.                

Kayla (7) is proficient at teasing and can get a rile out of just about anybody.  Hint: The smirk on her face at the end usually gives her away.  She is in first grade and feels very lucky to be in a class with all three of her "bestest" friends.  She'll try just about anything, even new foods and rock climbing.  She's been reading up a storm ever since she discovered she could do it.  Playing the piano is also one of her many pleasures.  

Ally (9)  had fun performing in a small children's musical theater group.  Aristocats was Benji's (an aristocat) and her (an alley dog) favorite performance.    A brown nose suits her, especially when it comes to her elementary school teachers.  :O)  She has spent many hours directing many of her creative, make believe adventures.    Music is also one of her loves--singing, playing the piano or just listening.

Benji (10) has officially become Pack family babysitter extraordinaire.  He loves scouts and fishing with his Grandpa Moss.  He can't wait to be in scouts with his Daddy as the leader.  He makes a great cook or cook's helper.  (There are some perks to being the oldest?)  

  Ben's glad that the grass grew in before the first usual frost.  Mother nature cooperated by keeping Jack away for many weeks after.  When he's not busy with his hands, he's scheming up how to be financially independent.  He also loves being a dad, probably because he has the most wonderful children in the world.   

I'm (Chris) becoming more unsure of the whole parenting thing, especially as the oldest is getting closer to teenage-hood.  But, I wouldn't trade any of our kiddies for the world.  If it wasn't for them I would never learn as much as I do.   When I'm not parenting I escape to my blog, book or bed--the 3 B's of sanity.

We wish all who have come to visit us a wonderful new year!   

Friday, December 19, 2008

Before I forget...

I have to write down all of Hyrum's newest antics.    His most memorable was just two days ago when he put our digital camera in the tub (where Sammie was taking a bath).  I was wondering where he got the camera from, since it is "always" store on top of our piano.  I couldn't believe that turning my back for just one minute would give him time to cause havoc.  We all survived, however (even the camera...thanks to Canon's waterproof? design)!

He came walking down the hall the other day making smacking sounds.  When he rounded the bend I saw he was carrying Kayla's dolly.  Her face was pressed against his kissing lips.  Too cute!

He'll also try to mimic everything I say..."Ayee (Ally), Buh (book), Eeee (eat, and any alphabet letter after pointing at it)."

It's fun to see him help by throwing garbage away, putting his binkie back in his bed, or cleaning up toys.

He's also learned the stinky sign--squeezing your nose shut--with an "Eeeooo" attached.

He calls his binkie "Dehdis" since I always say "There it is" when we find it.
Yesterday when Benji was trying on the Santa suit he started giggling and saying "ha, ha...ha, ha."  He wasn't too sure about Daddy wearing it though.  He definitely prefers Daddy in his daddy costume.  


Oops!

I was informed that I forgot the funniest thing that Hyrum (one year old) did.  (I'm changing the post time so that it will stay in the right order.)

See, we have this Fisher Price family minivan.  Normally Hyrum pushes it around and plays with the interactive buttons--"Are we there yet?"  Then one night when Ben and I were talking, we saw his foot move towards the car.  We both stopped and watched...with all four doors open and a little grunt, he attempted "to get into" the minivan, starting with one foot.  He repositioned and tried again. When he finally resigned that it wasn't going to work he put on his frustrated face and moved on to the next adventure.

“My dear brothers and sisters, may the laughter of children gladden our hearts. May the faith of children soothe our souls. May the love of children prompt our deeds. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Ps. 127:3.)”  Thomas S. Monson


 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gratitude

On Sunday someone admonished us that if we want to show God that we are thankful we should give of ourselves.  I'd like to add...we should express our gratitude. 

I am grateful for kids who are helpful, forgiving, patient (even when I'm not), outgoing, optimistic, giving, and loving.  My husband beats all with his compassionate and understanding nature.  I love my brothers and sister AND Mom and Dad for helping my life have depth and purpose.  My adopted family (meaning all in-laws) make me grateful for the spice of life--without variety, life couldn't be as exciting. I feel very undeserving of such wonderful people in my life, yet I am so grateful to/for them.  

I'm thankful to live in a country where I can practice my religion, not fear for my or my children's safety (most of the time), and strive to reach our dreams.  Thanks to those who help preserve these privileges.  

I am grateful to know who I am, and where I am going if I live up to my side of the bargain.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fabulous Fall

The weather this Fall has been extremely warm. Even our newly planted grass has been able to thrive for longer than normal. Halloween night was warm enough to wear costumes without two layers hidden underneath. The leaves on the trees seem to be hanging on just a little bit longer. I just wish it could last forever, but I guess that would eliminate the reason why I love the seasons. Change is what makes the seasons so great!

This past month we found time to take a few family photos. (Thanks to the great weather!) Our photographer, Stephanie, renewed my faith in family photography--fun, not overdone. It excited me to see how she was able catch the true essence of our family.
We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a trip to the Hogle Zoo. Once again, the ideal weather conditions put summer visits to shame.










Halloween was a hit as usual. Daddy took the kids trick-or-treating, while I stayed home to hand out candy. This year, I must admit though, that I got a little spooked by the lights turned low and the haunted noises playing in the background. (As you can see, I finally convinced my husband to dress up. However, that meant that I couldn't go without dressing up myself. How do you like our Peter Pan clan?)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Life's Greatest Joys Come From...

...being married to a wonderful man and of having five exceptional children. Even though other states are contesting the issue of marriage, I felt a need to stand with those striving to protect the divine institution of marriage. I believe the statement that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Issued by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sep. 1995)



Like Elder Bednar, I desire that my children, my grandchildren and my grandchildren's children have the opportunity to find these same great joys. They come only from living God's divinely appointed plan--the plan of happiness.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chillin' Out

Kayla just celebrated her 7th birthday.
Her cake of choice was an ice cream cake shaped to look like a swimming pool (that broke a leak)...yummy, and very chilly! Hyrum liked it so much that he even tried to eat the plate.With cousins looking on, she got a fun book that will help
with practicing her newly acquired reading skills. LUCKY ME!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Right Place

This week I was privy to an amazing event. I showed up to a women's meeting for my church called Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meeting. (Usually we get together and learn how to improve our spiritual and temporal lives. We also share with each other our talents and tips to great living.)


Well, this particular night I sat listening to the spiritual message when my cell phone rang. (Note: My cell phone never rings except when I expect it too. My kids, calling to just say hi, was not expected.) Feeling embarrassed I remained in the foyer of the building. I intended to stay there until I saw a natural break in the proceedings. A few minutes had passed when I noticed several people exit the meeting room. As I walked toward the door to rejoin the other sisters (a name we call each other in the Relief Society), I overheard a friend telling the Bishop about her newest grand baby. I didn't catch the details, but heard enough to note that the news wasn't good. The baby was sick.


I joined the rest of the sisters for the other practical-tip sessions and then we all sojourned to another room to enjoy some craft-time. Before I got too involved in my craft I asked my friend if her grand baby's condition was life-threatening. She said they didn't know what was wrong. The baby was born healthy. Then a few hours later started showing signs of shallow breathing--his nose would flare with every breath. Nose flaring? Wow, that sounded so familiar...too familiar. I immediately cut her off and shared with her the experience I had with my oldest son. Just a few hours after his birth he was showing similar symptoms. The doctor was not sure what was wrong with him either.


She said they thought her grand baby had some sort of infection. I told her my baby was first diagnosed with a heart defect that warranted further testing at a more sophisticated facility. She wasn't sure what tests they had given her grand baby.


When I related my baby's final diagnosis, she quickly called her son to make him aware of the possibility that it could be the same thing--Beta Strep or Group B Streptococcus. We started working on our crafts hoping that the "coincidence" of information was not such a coincidence after all. Hopefully they would discover it was Beta Strep and be able to treat it sooner than later.


Re-living the emotional roller coaster that I experienced with my first baby started to invoke my own anxious feelings. I prayed that everything would work out for this new mom and that she wouldn't have to experience the same. Emotions weren't the only things revisited though, I was able to recall more details of the illness. I realized that with my baby the doctors were shocked to hear that the Beta Strep was passed to him after I had tested negative (after a routine screening). It was also curious that he was infected with the virus when he had been born Cesarean. In order to "cover all the bases", my friend informed her son that the testing may have been incorrect for her daughter-in-law as well.


As she left me that night she mentioned that she felt more at peace than she'd felt in several hours and just knew things would work out. I petitioned her to call me and let me know as soon as she could about the outcome.


Two days later...


My friend called me and told me that her grand baby had been diagnosed with Beta Strep. He had been treated with antibiotics soon after her son had talked with her that night. The baby responded immediately and was now perfectly fine. One more day in the hospital and it was Home, Sweet, Home for this new family.


Coincidence? No, God knows our needs. I feel so grateful for having been at the right place.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thank God for Kids

My husband and I just heard the song Thank God for Kids. So we decided to make it our "wake-up" song. That way we can start out the morning on the right note (excuse the pun). Yesterday I was thanking God for my kids...let me share just a few examples.

Sammie was walking to the car with me and said, "Mommy, I'm glad God made houses, cause the rain might get us. Or the snow. You can just get cozy in your bed with your blanket and be warm."

Kayla was headed for a friends house but stopped a few feet away and came back to give me a hug (O), a kiss (X), and an "I love you".

Benji dropped what he was doing to "save" Hyrum from inevitable danger (that he seems to be getting into a lot lately). And with his sweetest voice distracted Hyrum into doing something safe.

Ally took an ordinary soda can (from Benji's science experiment) and turned it into a pig that is sure to make you SMILE.

Hyrum gave the best "loving" with his arms around my neck, his head on my shoulder and a little tap-tap with his hand on my back. Or better yet, he climbed to the top of the table, stood up and complimented himself on a job well done with a squeal. (He's keeping me busy now!)

So "get down on your knees tonight...[and] thank God for kids!"

http://www.jango.com/stations/35946671/tunein?proxy_id=25435243&song_id=149095

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Big Enough?

Kids...some seem too big, while others don't seem big enough. Sammie just went to her first day of preschool. I can't believe she is only one year away from kindergarten. Technically she is the right age for preschool. I am just wishing she would stay little.

video

All too soon she'll be off to "big kid" school like the rest...





I have been told so often that these little ones grow up "too fast", "don't let the good times pass you by, they'll be gone before you know it", etc. So true, so true!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nine Years Going on 16

Ally had her 9th birthday this past week! She finally got the friend birthday she has been begging me for. Luckily she likes taking charge. She planned/carried out the whole party. She may as well be 16 with the way her mind works. (*Note...her "friend birthday cake" was SMORE cake...the real cake came later, see below):











On her real birthday we surprised her with breakfast in bed before school and a real birthday cake that night! We, Ally and I, put our creative juices together for the cake. I think it turned out pretty cute.






HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALLY!!!!

Sweet start to my morning

I was having a hard time opening my eyes this morning, when I heard a tiny voice in my room say, "Good morning, Mommy!" I replied, "Hi, Sam." Then she asked the cutest question: "How are you feeling?" "Fine," was all I could say in my shock. Really I should have been able to reply with a "great" or something. I guess I was just caught off guard. She's only four!

Kids do the darndest things, don't they!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Almost over

Summer is almost over if you can believe it! School is starting earlier than usual this year.

Yesterday we had another family wedding. And since Hyrum was sick on Sunday I was worried that we wouldn't be able to go. At least not without difficulty. I prayed that Hyrum would feel okay and that the rest would stay healthy. Through a small miracle, Hyrum didn't show he was sick until the end of the wedding luncheon. And the rest? Well, Sammie got sick in the car on the way home and Kayla showed signs of it when we got home. Oh, and don't forget Ally. She spent the night awake with the same stomach flu. I guess it's good timing for all of my kids to be sick this week instead of during the first days of school. ("Good" is relative though, seeing that stomach flu is never good.)


Aside from the summer's "crash landing", we've had a good "flight"--fishing with Grandpa,
fun with the cousins, Hyrum's 1st birthday and weddings galore!


And so I conclude with...Happy Summer to all and to all a good-Fall!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Walking, Weeds and Weddings

The only thing these three words have in common is that they all start letter 'W'. Other than that it's just what's been on my mind lately.

Hyrum (11 1/2 months old) teased us yesterday by walking 4 mini-steps without help. He was just standing on the picnic blanket and decided it would be easiest just to walk to me. It was a happy moment for me, his siblings, an aunt, and a few of his cousins. When we tried to show Daddy his new skill, he refused to do it. Instead he collapses to the ground and crawls whatever distance is required of him.

Last night I tried helping my husband with the yard by pulling out a few weeds. Pulling them out was no easy task since the dirt was holding on to them so tightly. I gave up after a quarter of the work was done (of just one section). I decided that the soil has to be cultivated. It has to be moist. It has to be giving. When relating that to my life I realize that we, humans, have a difficult time giving up our weaknesses when we aren't willing to let them go. We have to cultivate goodness into our lives. We have to feed ourselves the word of God and counsel of his living prophets. We have to pray and seek God's forgiveness. Then we can feel the change happen within us and we can give up those undesirable "weeds".

Lastly, weddings! It seems that my immediate and extended families have an unusually high number of weddings this year. Four of them are coming up in August. As I told my nephew, weddings are a great way to lift the spirits of all in attendance and gives us cause to rejoice!! It helps us to remember the promises we've made to our Heavenly Father. It renews our desire to keep our side of the bargain, so that God's promised blessings will be fulfilled in this life and the next. (Hopefully my husband will want me around that long.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Love Zeli

I'm sure you're wondering, what is zeli? It is the Czech version of sauerkraut. They make it a little sweeter and add caraway seed (same flavoring used in rye bread). You're probably also wondering why I bring this up now? Saturday I cooked 1 1/2 gallons of zeli for the Wallace Toronto Foundation Family Event. (By the way, this Foundation I'm talking of donates its time and resources in helping the people of the Czech and Slovak Republics. If you would like more information please visit http://www.torontofoundation.org/about.html.)


When I volunteered to help I was counting on my husband to be here, but he ended up having to go to the 11-year scout's adventure camp. So, I was on my own. Thanks to some kind neighbors and my oldest helping with the youngest I was able to do it! I was even more shocked when...by a stroke of pure luck...native Czechs complimented me on a job well done. They wanted the recipe and everything. I can't take all the credit since I was taught by a wonderful Czech cook. Here's the recipe if you feel brave enough to try it:


ZELI

1 12 oz. can sauerkraut (drain, if desired; leaving liquid makes zeli more tangy)
1/2 large onion (sweet or vidalia)
1 tsp flour
1/8 cup water (alter amount if leaving sauerkraut liquid)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
caraway seeds to taste


Simmer all ingredients together until onions are clear and tender.
Serve with brats (bratwurst), smoked sausage,
pork loin (see picture below), and other meat dishes.
Try substituting this sauerkraut for the traditional kind used in Reuben sandwiches.



One of the best things about eating zeli is the great memories that come flooding back from the time I spent in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia). I served for 18 months as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I learned to love some amazing people and was able to share with them the greatest blessing in my life--the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sammie's FOUR! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Sammie turned four yesterday. As you can see from the pictures she had a "groovin' good" time with her friends.




When I planned it with her a couple of days before she started counting "#1....play with my friends, #2....uh....ring-o-rosies, #3....uh..." Her seriousness and "maturity" brought me lots of smiles.
I asked what cake she wanted--chocolate. What frosting? Strawberry! Favorite food? Strawberries. Drink? Strawberry (giggle, giggle, giggle). She found the recurring strawberry thing very humorous, as did I, AND that's exactly what she got!




HAPPY
BIRTHDAY,
SAMMIE!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day almost as good as Mother's Day

With a husband like mine, who could go wrong! Father's Day almost felt like another Mother's Day for me. He even made is own towering cake--triple layer chocolate with cream cheese frosting. We (meaning the kids and I) were able to return the love with breakfast in bed and a small showering of gifts.



You know, I've been thinking about how expectations can really make or break a situation. When we just do the best we can to serve one another that should be enough, right? Regardless of what our expectations are we can always find that even the smallest intentions of doing good replace the grandest of expectations.
Thanks, Ben, for making all of our lives complete!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Not so perfect

I asked my husband the other day how he thought my blog was going. "You sound like the perfect mother," he said. I replied, "Really?" He responded: "Well, I wouldn't expect you to write about your bad moments."


My intent with this blog was to share life experiences, along with my thoughts and lessons learned for all of us who aren't so perfect.


Today has been one of those not-so-perfect days. It started out okay as I watched my kids swim their hearts out. Grandpa's Cafe snack hit the spot too. Then I realize as I drive home that I've got piles of laundry waiting for me. I don't feel like doing it (since it's by far my least favorite chore), so I decide to get some "business" done. I have to make sure my payments at the dentist are all accounted for, then I call for an appointment to have our attic evaluated on insulation needs (since the utility companies claim that they'll give rebates to a few energy savers). So far so good. As soon as I start talking with a representative from my phone company though, I realize that my day's luck is swaying. I explain my problem and their response makes my feel like I'm living through "Honey, I shrunk the kids." I am telling the long story made short and it's too unbelievable that it brings retribution instead of recompense.


What's the scoop, you say? Well, someone called (back in early May) from our telephone company saying that we had been selected as a valued customer and offered to upgrade our Broadband speed from 256K to 1.5 M. Being the skeptic, I asked him if this upgrade was free of charge. He answered that it would be and that it was merely in thanks for being such a valued customer. Still thinking how absurd the offer was I asked again if the upgrade would affect mine or my Internet providers charges. Again he answered that it would not. Who could pass up that offer, right? I told him to go ahead. When billing time came around, you guessed it, my charges had doubled for Internet service. Feeling like an idiot, I called and explained the situation and expressed my disappointment for being misled in my first conversation with them. (Okay, your probably thinking exactly what I now think in hindsight--dumb, dumb, dumb!) He said that he would refund the mistake and offer my preferred rate for the 1.5M Internet speed (You'd be happy to note that I've kept my cool through all of these conversations.) This month's bill reflected the refund but I don't see where the preferred rate was applied. So today I attempted to get the record straight THREE times. All three times the phone reps had a hard time believing me. (You probably don't either.) But they also said the bill looked accurate to them. I can barely discern what charge goes where, etc. There you have it, what's done is done!


After spending hours on this one issue and having my patience tried, it was inevitable that I would turn into "monster mommy" as I so affectionately call myself when I'm not being very nice. (I should have been taking my power nap instead.) My patience was not only thin but it was hanging by the tiniest thread. Then I had to face making dinner, finishing the laundry, supporting my husband in doing the yard work, getting kids to bed, etc., etc. AHHHH! Life can be so overwhelming!


...But, guess what, tomorrow's a brand new day!


P.S. Having a bad day yourself? Listen to this by Daniel Powter:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Trenches? or Mazes?

Ben (with a lot of help) has successfully turned our yard into a maze. No really, he was able to transform our dirt into a maze of trenches. Okay so maybe it's not just for the fun of it...it's really so he can lay pipe for our sprinkling system.
While doing so the kids had to try out "Daddy's toy."

How can Mommy possibly compete with that?!?! Whatever it takes to get a fully functioning "garden of eden." (It's actually more appropriate to call it the "garden of eating" with around twenty fruit trees planted already!)