Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas isn't the same without my parents. My mom LOVED presents (some might say she would go overboard) and my dad went along for the ride.  It was always filled with excitement and love. Christmas day is filled with family and tradition and without my parents it just didn't feel the same this year.  We made the most of it and had the best Christmas that we could have without my mom and dad.

On Christmas Eve we always went to my parents church.  It is filled with music and much more entertaining than we are used to. This year, Paisley was in the choir and did such a great job. We got there late and she was singing and got so excited to see us walk in. It was so cute and so fun. There weren't seats left so the 6 of us crammed into seating for about 3. Blake didn't last long sharing my lap with Parker so we spent about half of it outside.  We went to my mom and dads grave which was nice. 

After we went to Heathers, with her in-laws and aunt and uncle.  It was really nice. We ate a lasagna dinner and the kids had fun opening presents.  The boys loved legos and kira and paisley loved their barbie biking while walking her dogs. Quite the set-up.  Everyone had a great night.

Christmas morning the kids woke up before 6. I told them to go back to bed, which they did. We ate a great breakfast with bacon (always a treat) and had a relaxing morning. It is so nice to have DAnny home and just spend the day with the family.  That afternoon we went to my parents home to have one last feast.  Betty, Heather's mother-in-law made a great dinner which was a gift to all.  It was nice not to have to make anything.  Her gift to us and so appreciated.   

We visited Carl's grave. How grateful I am for his quiet, yet undeniable strength in my life. How grateful I am for our Savior to know that we will all be together again because of him.  

It was a sad, happy, wonderful holiday. This year it was special to be in their home and celebrate one last Christmas where we have spent Christmas for the past 20 years. Next year we begin new traditions.  Knowing me, I have to start planning and thinking about it now. I am such a last minute, spur of the moment type person, that traditions is hard for me. So that is a goal I have for next year.  How to make December Christ centered.  How to make it about family.  How to fill our home with the spirit of Christmas.  We will see what I come up with.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Grief is such an interesting emotion.  I am not the most outwardly emotional person, but have come to know grief intimately in the past couple of years.  It affects everyone do differently, at different times and in different strengths!

I remember when my Grandma died, my mom was overcome with grief, sadness and depression.  She did fine for a couple of months and then her loss hit her like a ton of bricks.  She couldn't function, was in extensive therapy and trying to mend her broken heart.  It was real, debilitating, horrible to see.  Nobody could take it away.  It was a process she needed to work through.

When she was ill she was so sad to leave behind everyone understandably so.  She got the most joy and love from being with people and it just broke her heart knowing that she had to leave us.   That was so painful to watch.  So painful at holidays to experience the joy, but also the extreme sadness that his would be the last birthday party of a grandchild, last thanksgiving or christmas celebration.  Especially because those events brought her so much joy, so much happiness.  I remember leaving, holding it together and then just sitting in my car crying for how sad I was for her, for us, for the grandkids.

My dad's illness was so different.  So much quicker, which is what he wanted.  He didn't want to be sick.  He didn't want to have to be cared for.  He was logical and so much at peace with the life he lived.  He didn't want to have emotional conversations.  It was too hard.  The one thing that brought him peace was knowing that everything was in order.  What a blessing that he was so organized so that he could be at peace.

There was really only one day that I saw him upset and that was hard for me but taught me a lesson that will stay with me for the rest of my life.   I came to realize that the greatest gift we can give to our loved ones is what they want.  It might not be what we want, need or even what we think they need, but it is a time to be selfless and fill them with what they want.  For my mom, it was spending time with her, just sitting by her side, for my dad it was reviewing paperwork and taking care of business items.  So different, yet equally deserving of what they needed and how they dealt with grief and illness.

Loosing my parents is surreal in so many ways.  I look at pictures from a couple of years ago of how healthy they were, how youthful they were and just can't believe what cancer can do.   I am so sad for my grandkids.  I am sad that the two greatest supporters in my life, two people who believed in me 100% aren't here.  I got so sick last week and I really missed my parents.  I missed my mom just calling to check up on me and my dad bringing me whatever I needed.  I missed that they would drop everything to come and be with my kids.  I am beyond BLESSED with amazing friends who bring in meals and watch my kids, but sometimes I just want that to be my parents.

Death doesn't make me super sad.  I have extreme peace knowing that they are in a better place, they can watch down on us and are a great strength from the other side.  I feel like that has been a gift from God.  It does however, make me feel so sad at the grandkids activities.  Things that they would be at.  It makes me sad that Parker will not remember my parents.  It makes me sad when the kids bring up things like going to Marine World or Chuck-e-cheese with my parents.

I was a combination in many ways of my mom and dad.  I had the energy of my mom, love being on the go and doing too many activities.  I miss that she understood that.  That she was there at all the activities cheering, helping, and loving our little family.  I miss that my dad understood me.   I am not the most emotional person and either is he, but he didn't take that away from me.  He never thought I needed to be more emotional or someone who I wasn't.  I was fine just being me.  What a great lesson and attribute I want to pass onto my kids.  They are all so unique.  Some have similar attributes to me, Danny and are just so unique in many ways.  I want them to know that they are perfect just the way they are. My dad never tried to change me.  I am grateful for that.  He understood that I liked being independent.  My dad had total confidence in me and Danny before he died.  That was such a gift to us.  He was so proud of Danny's business and how well he was doing.  He was so proud of the mom I was and confident that we were going to be just fine.  When I am not sure if I can do it on somedays, I remember that 100% confidence he instilled in me and believed in me.  He was so proud of each of the kids and how well they were doing in school and how much they loved school.  I will forever cherish those conversations and reassurance that he gave me to before he passed away.  What a gift to have those months, weeks, conversations and time.

I go through a period that I don't feel like doing much.  I don't really want to be around a ton of people, socialize, do sports with kids.  That is unlike me.  I feel like I am just coming out of that.  I signed up Scott for running this week, signed up kira for gymnastics, blake and tyler for baseball in the spring.  It was so fun going to the park with the kids while Scott was running.  I feel like I am starting to want to do things again.  That is a great thing!

One of the hardest things in the journey of loss and grief is that when you are taking time to sort through emotions, depression, grief, some of which you aren't even aware of and how they are affecting you, everyone else in your family unit still needs you.  Your kids need you and your spouse needs you and at the moment sometimes you need you and that is all that you can do.  I am grateful that Danny is being patient with that.  Wanting to write again is therapy to help me process.  I have't wanted to write in a long time so I am grateful that I wanted to write to start processing my feelings and emotions.  Time to start giving more to them!

I am excited for the new year.  We have so much to be thankful for this upcoming year.  My kids are all doing great in school and love their friends and teachers.  What a blessing!!  Danny loves his job for the most part and is doing so well.  I love our home and neighborhood.  A lot of good things to come next year and I am certain my parents will be close by!


One of the most amazing things about the church is that ordinary people keep it running.  I love that we all have callings to serve on another, grow, learn knew skills and get to serve alongside people with different talents, skills and personalities. 

I have now served in every auxiliary in the church and loved them all for different reasons.  Relief Society I love because I love serving other women.  When I was called to be over homemaking back in the day, something I have zero skills with, I learned how the Lord always blesses you with people who are AMAZING to serve with.  I learned what committees and callings are all about....letting everyone serve with their strengths, unique abilities and talents.  

Compassionate service is my love language. I still have great memories of throwing together baby showers and the blessing of organizing funerals.  Families coming together from all over the country to honor a family member. It is a really unifying and humbling thing to be a part of.   Visiting all the sick and afflicted who I grew to love.  There is perhaps no better calling of service and love.  

I didn't think I would love primary, but I DO!!  Primary is so much fun.  I learned primary songs, I got to teach kids, I got to be a fly on the wall and watch my own children grow and progress.  It was perhaps the most fun calling I had.  I have never been in primary as a child so it was such a wonderful program to be a part of.  

Cub Scouts Administration... To be honest, didn't love it but learned that I need to be more organized.  Definitely not my strong point or what I love doing but I survived. I would much rather be working with people than doing the paperwork and organization, but someone has to do it.  Glad for all the talented secretary's and organized people in life!! 

Young Women is such a unique calling because you grow to love those amazing young ladies.  My young women are now on missions and doing amazing things in life.  You really do feel like they are a part of you.  You learn so much from their strength and love and faith.  

Family History.  Something I love.  Something I want others to love.  Something that really does give you strength beyond your own.  

And now I get to teach Gospel Doctrine and be on the enrichment board.  Our enrichment leader is AMAZING!!  Has an amazing heart and love for women.  What fun to work with her and the other board.  Gospel Doctrine is so much fun! I get to teach alongside an amazing teacher and man.  I look forward to the weeks I get to teach.  It is fun and such an amazing gift to dedicate time each week to prepare for the lessons.  It makes me realize the power of really preparing for lessons.  You get so much more out of it and I am usually not great at doing that.  I have grown to love the New Testament this year.  I have grown to love Paul, John, Peter, Christ and so many of his disciples. They are amazing men and women!!

It is such a selfish calling because it doesn't take much time away from your family, which is a blessing right now with young kids, and something that give you such strength and knowledge and the spirit.  I LOVE it!!  Grateful for my calling!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Heidi's Christmas photos

All Heidi wanted for Christmas was a family picture.  So, after I returned from work on Saturday, we climbed into the van and went to the library in Clayton.  I've written about getting another lens and blah blah blah, but we had to just make do with the 50mm 1.8 and 28-135.  Most of these were shot with the former.  When the focus is on, it's tack sharp, but it's not the best at long focal lengths and wide apertures.  

Thank goodness for the tripod and self-timer.  

I like these because the background looks like it's a green screen add-on or some kind of Olan Mills painted backdrop.  But that's the real landscape.

Scott got to bed late and woke up early just so he could "play piano, get it out of the way, and then do video games all day."  I mean, he was up and at 'em at 5:53 am, which is about when I left for worky.  Well, his attention was waning and he was not in the best of moods for family photos but at least we got this closed-mouth semi-smile.

I played around with the fill-flash on the camera on manual.  I would have liked a little darker background, ie, faster shutter, but everyone was pretty much done with photos.

Scott has been into making hash browns.  He makes them at least three times a week.  The other kids like to grate the potatoes but Scott doesn't like to share that part of the process.  I'm glad he's into cooking because being able to prepare what I want has brought me a lot of satisfaction.

My rolls, however, were a fail.  I started the yeast and then realized I didn't have any powdered milk to do the rolls.  I tried removing some of the water and just putting in some cow milk, but I was kinda expecting this.  I haven't tasted them yet.  Gusteau would be pleased.  Heidi commented that compared to Rhodes, these aren't worth it.  I mean, it's cool to be scratch and all that but the time it takes to prepare and clean them up is significant.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Parker Jack

Parker, We love you so much!! The first 2-3 months were rough!  You were unhappy all the time.  I never had a colic baby, but you were that.  Never feeling good.  It was so sad not to be able to comfort you or make you feel better, but after that, you have been the best baby.  

You teach yourself how to do everything and it seems like you are beyond your age.  Your happiest day was learning to crawl.  Once you were mobile and able to keep up with your siblings and get to your destination, made your world so much happier.  You love being around your siblings and being out and about.  You go with the flow are generally content.  

You love your crib.  When you are tired and we put you in your crib with your blanket, you go right to bed.  You love your thumb.  You hate bottles.  Have yet to take one.  It took mom getting sick to sleep train you.  You used to get up several times every night and when you were 8 months, I got so sick and decided to let you cry through the night for 2 days.  After that, you slept from 8-5 every night.  

Your siblings love you and you love them!!  When you see them or your parents, you always give a huge smile.  Your laugh is this old man belly rumble.  It is so cute! They take good care of you! Love helping and love cuddling you even though you are always on the move to be cuddled.  

We are so grateful for you!!

Blakes Year in Review

Blake has been angry this year.  We aren't sure why he is so angry.  It could be the new baby, the new home, Pop going to heaven.  It is hard to see him so angry so often.  When he isn't angry, he is so silly, goofy, strong willed and determined.  He says the funniest things. Lately he says, " we have a situation here," when there is a problem.  Not sure where he got it from but it is so funny.  He is serious most of the time.  Even when he is playing or having fun, he has this very serious, concerned look on his face.  Don't tell him he is cute, nice, silly or goofy, he will just get angry.

Friends have nicknamed him the hulk but that usually leads to the unleashing of the hulk.

He became a great swimmer this summer!  Tyler took him while I worked and they were so cute together.  Tyler was such a great helper and so proud of himself to take care of his brother.

He enjoys anything sports.  He does a tennis class at the gym and loves it.  He also loves doing art projects. He started a little joy school which he really loves.  He loves his little friends and doing little projects with his friends.

Tyler's Year in Review

Tyler has had a good year this year.  He loves going to school and being with his friends.  He has a great group of friends and was blessed to loop up to 3rd grade with his teacher and many classmates from last year.  He is sweet, quiet and reserved at school.

That is not the Tyler we know at home.  At home he tends to be an instigator and often explodes.  Not sure if he holds it all in at school to leave us with the fireworks.  Still working on trying to control his emotions.  

His health is doing well.  He continues to live an amazing life, free from oxygen, surgeries and hospitals.  He truly is a miracle and we are grateful for his very normal, active childhood.

Tyler does well in school.  He is a great reader even though he doesn't love to read.  He is great at the piano even though it is struggle to get him to play. Doing minimal homework is usually a struggle.  He loves playing baseball and had a great season playing short stop and first base. 

He is a very confident and social kid.  He will talk to kids and adults, make new friends anywhere he goes and talk with adults with ease and confidence. He likes to do his hair like his brother.  He likes when others are proud of him.  He loves his cousin Roman.  He misses his Pop who he had a special relationship with.  He loves his kitty Mel who always snuggles in his bed.

We are proud of Tyler and the young man he is becoming!

Kira's Year in Review

Kira got an award, "always doing her best" in school and that pretty much sums up Kira.  She is this tiny ball of energy that will do her best in playing, partying, dancing, being a friend and just enjoying life.  She is a FIRECRACKER!!  

This year has been an amazing year of growth for Kira.  Her favorite part of kindergarten is learning tubs that she gets to do 'fun learning stuff'.  During free choice, she loves to draw mom and dad pictures of hearts and our family.  She is my first child that actually loves doing her homework and learning.  I am just starting to read with her and she is picking it up so fast.  

She LOVES playing with other kids.  She will bounce from one friend to another to another and considers everyone her friend.
She is a strong, confident little girl.  Sometimes we need to reign that in.  She enjoyed doing a little swim class this fall and can't wait to start gymnastics.  She is one athletic little girl, climbing walls, doing flips on the trampoline and balancing on anything.

Kira loves her brothers!  She loves when they include her and are kind to her and gets her feelings hurt when they are not kind to her. 

She does this things with twinkling her fingers and hands when she gets excited or is proud of herself.  It is like there is too much excitement to be contained her little body.
We love Kira so much and are so grateful for her energy and love of life she brings into our family.  She is such a reminder of my mom in our life and that is such a special little gift from above.  

Scott's Year in Review

 2015 has been a great year for Scott.  It is a year that he has truly become confident and true to who he is, what he wants to do and wants to become. That is an amazing thing to see.

Scott loves his teacher Mrs. Sutherland and going to school.  His teacher said he is always helpful and patiently helps his classmates.  That made me so proud of him.  He has such a good heart.  He loves math and reading.  He is reading at the 7th grade level and Harry Potter and Gregor the Overlander were his two favorite series.  He got into the GATE program with 10 other kids in his grade scoring 99%.

He tried out for historian this year, made a great speech and had fun campaigning.  He was so proud that he made it on the council and has really enjoyed his leadership role.  It is perfect for Scott.

He continues to love swimming.  He had a great 9 year old rec season going a 30.5 in free, 37.5 in back, 121 in IM and excited for next summer.  He was competitive but ok with defeat.  He had fun with his friends and had a lot of fun during the season.  

He is excited to do track this upcoming spring for the first time.  He got the running bug in P.E. tying for the top spot at the school with a 6:37.  I think it will be a great sport for him to try out.

Scott loves hanging out with friends.  Sometimes it gets rather annoying to hear, "I am so bored! Can I have a friend over?  Can I go to a friends home?"  He would rather hang out with his friends than his siblings so the struggle begins with him wanting to be with his friends over us.  He is pretty independent on his bike.   I watch him from afar at school as the girls take his hat and he chases them which is a whole new parenting era as well certain to never reverse.

Scott gets up every morning on his own to practice his piano. Such discipline and he is becoming a great little pianist.  He performed in the primary program and did great.  

Scott likes Scouts.  He has great leaders and enjoys hanging out with his friends.  He is doing odyssey of the mind this year and making new friends.

He really likes his hair long, spends about 5 minutes styling it in the morning that pretty much just looks like a 'perfected' hair sprayed mess.  He loves wearing long socks, athletic shorts or pants and a t-shirt.  Getting dressed up any nicer than that takes bribing. Nike is his brand of choice and instead of asking for toys this Christmas, he has asked for Nike shoes. And so an expensive shoe habit begins.

Scott is really helpful in watching his siblings.  He is a great helpful.  He is a peacemaker.  He can get moody, when he is at his limit will yell but that usually takes much aggravating.  We love Scott so much and are so proud of him!!    

Monday, December 7, 2015

kiss the clock

Got home from a long day at work today.  I go inside and the kids jump up and run toward me!  I thought, Heidi must have told them to hug me.  Then, one by one, they run by me and kiss the clock without even acknowledging my presence.   It was 5:55.