...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chop, Chop!!

This weekend my boys were in desperate need of haircuts.  They were looking pretty shaggy.  Several years ago thanks to a how-to video and lots of trial and error (sorry, Josh, you were the best guinea pig ever!), I taught myself how to cut boys hair.  This is great because taking five boys with varying degrees of cooperativeness to pay for haircuts is an expensive endeavor every 6-8 weeks. 
Anyway, this time around Aubrey sat watching me and then asked me if I would cut her hair too.  I volunteered to use the buzzer like I do with the boys, but she declined (she's smart like that).  Instead I watched a couple Youtube videos and set to work on her.  I've trimmed her hair many times, but haven't ever REALLY cut it and she wanted it SHORT! 
So we did it and I think it turned out pretty cute. 

After seeing Aubrey, Ellie wanted a turn too.  I wasn't sure how that would go.  She has always had really curly brown locks which her father deeply adored, but we plunged in and she chopped her hair nice and short just like her sister's.
Sadly, we did lose all the curl.  Apparently those springy ringlets were only held in the lower part of her hair because there is pretty much not even a wave in what is left.  I'll miss that (and I was a bit worried her dad would be heartbroken), but since she looks absolutely adorable with her new do I got over it pretty fast (and her father loves it so it all worked out).

I know the sides look uneven, but they really aren't, we had just pulled a section
back and that made it shorter than the other side.
Then I thought it would be good to trim my split end infested head.  So I did, but I accidentally trimmed one spot a bit more than the rest so I ended up lopping off about 10 inches of my hair too.  Aubrey did have to help me level off one stubborn spot at the back and I was grateful she was willing to do it because my arms just couldn't quite get there.  It's nice and light for spring and summer and I like it even though it isn't what I planned.

So the girls all got chopped, but we are all pretty thrilled with the result.  The boys look good too, even if some of them whined and fussed and fidgeted the entire time I was trimming.  That's just the way it goes.
Eight haircuts given in one weekend.  Not too shabby if you ask me. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Master of the House

You might not think that this guy....

...would be the type of guy to put aside silliness and buckle down to earn a masters degree.

But you would be WRONG!!

For the past 19 months Josh has been working hard on his Masters of Education Administration degree.  He has put in hours upon hours for classes and homework and while balancing family life, church callings and two jobs as well as coaching girls soccer at the high school.  Yeah, he's been crazy busy the last couple years.

It has been rough on all of us.  Dad has not been available for every single event that crept into the children's lives, but through it all this amazing man made sure that our family came first.  When we needed him, he dropped everything and came to our rescue.  That doesn't mean we had him nearly as much as we wanted -- the rest of us had to sacrifice as well and we attended many family, school and church events without our father in tow so that he could have time (and quiet) to finish writing papers or doing research.

However, this temporary bother should be a great benefit to all of us in the long run and I am grateful that our family is important enough to Josh that he would put himself through struggles and trials just so that we have a chance at a better way of life.  I really do adore this guy.

I am thankful for all of the mentors and teachers and administrators who helped Josh along the way.  He had support coming out his ears and I am intensely grateful for all of the people who cheered him on and helped him through the process.  This is not the kind of thing you do on your own.

But most of all I am thankful for a husband who adores me and our children.  He would do anything and everything to make our life better and is -- very honestly -- one of the most selfless people I know.  Some people think he is arrogant, and he can come across that way sometimes.  But he has one of the purest hearts I have ever encountered.  He has a deep love of people and a strong desire to serve and bless the lives of everyone around him.  Becoming a teacher was a perfect fit for this man.  His whole soul is soaked in a need to help his students find success and he is willing to go to great lengths to make that happen.

Anyway, the point is, I am super proud of this guy.  And soon he will have a paper that labels him a "master" but to me he is already much much more than that.  I am thankful that I get to spend my life with this guy as my partner, my lover, my best friend, the brunt of my practical jokes, my biggest support and my favorite person to be around.  I hope I can give him even a small measure of the joy in life that he gives me.

Congratulations, Joshua Kerr.  I am really really proud of you!

Josh, a little less silly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Soccer mom once more

Soccer is part of our family life.  

Our boys each played several seasons of soccer while they were in elementary school, however, the last few years they have opted to play basketball.

Still, Josh has been a girls soccer coach as Murray High School for the past four years so soccer winds its way around our lives whether the kids are playing or not.

Well, this year Bryce started jr high and a few weeks ago he decided he wanted to try out for the soccer team.  I was thrilled, I love it when my kids work to be involved in extracurricular events.  My mom used to say "don't let school interfere with your education" and I buy into that.  There is much more to school than just classroom work (although, don't get me wrong, classroom work is intensely important!).  

Anyway, Bryce made the soccer team.  We were all pretty excited for him and he has been working hard at practice and running drills at home with his dad almost every day.

And yesterday was the first game of the season.


Bryce is quite a bit smaller than most of the other kids on the pitch, but someone forgot to tell him that because he got into the mix and fought for balls and went toe to toe with anyone who took him on.  He is easy to pick out, just watch for the cute little white kid in blue.

He has plenty of room to improve (they all do), but I'm very proud of my oldest son.  I hope he'll stick with this for years to come and make soccer an even more intimate part of our days every spring.

Go Matheson soccer team!!

Bryce right after heading the ball to a teammate up the field...way to attack it buddy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love my guy!

Did I ever tell you I love being married to this oddball?
Well I do. 
He makes my life incredible.  I'm awfully glad to have him and to be able to call him mine.
He is one amazing husband and one fantastic father and even though I get super annoyed at him from time to time (which happens in pretty much every marriage I know of) I still wouldn't trade him for anything.  I really do love this guy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Slowly getting back to normal with Crohns

Today I tackled one of my used-to-be-regular exercise routines for the first time in over two years. 

I know, I know, that doesn't really sound like something that is blog worthy.  It sounds a little more like, "Well, lazy bones, how come you've put that off so long and how come you feel a need to shout that embarrassing feature of your life out to the world?"

Let me explain.

Two years ago this month I started experiencing the early nastiness of Crohn's disease.  Several months before the abdominal pain started I had stopped exercising regularly because I was just too tired all the time and because I was losing weight anyway (not huge amounts, but a few pounds a month) so I just didn't have the incentive to keep it up. 

For the past two years I have been up and down on flares and medications and the fatigue factor has followed me around every step of the way.  For two years it has been difficult to yank myself out of bed in the morning and by early evening I am exhausted.  I've tried hard to keep up with my kids, but that's about all I have had energy for.

Most women worry about getting rid of the pounds, I had the opposite problem.  I had a hard time keeping weight on.  I knew I was below a healthy weight for me, but I just couldn't do anything about it.  I ardently refused to buy pants smaller than size 6 because that is the lowest size that is ok for me.  My pants became a measure for me to keep an eye on my control of my Crohn's disease.  For a while those pants were huge.

But lately they are getting a bit snug...and there is something beautiful about that (although there is another part of me that doesn't want to graduate up to a larger size either).  The fact that I am getting a bit more pudgy in all the soft little spots on my body is something I can't be all the way sad about. 

I have been on Humira injections for nearly a year and I LOOOOVE them!  I honestly look forward to stabbing myself and feeling the bee sting as the meds ooze their way into my stomach.  The shots keep my gut in check and I have very few twinges of Crohn's symptoms anymore.  I am still cautious about what I eat (I am not sure I will ever eat pizza again), but overall I feel really good.  I only occasionally treat abdominal pain with a hot bath and very rarely throw up my meals (both of thee events made regular appearances in my life for a good, long while).

At my last visit with my GI she asked me if I felt I was in remission.  She explained remission is having absolutely no Crohn's symptoms so my life is free of Crohn's related issues.  I almost laughed, I had no idea that was what we were going for.  I don't wake up dreading standing up straight because I know it will pull at my gut, I don't dread eating, I don't head to be at 7:00 pm, I don't have to keep a toothbrush with me everywhere I go in case I throw up...I am feeling pretty good about where things are even if Crohn's likes to remind me it is around from time to time.  I'll take it!

So, it's time to get back on the regular exercise bandwagon and get my rear in gear. 

This morning was my first attempt and I'll admit, I am pretty sore now.  These sad muscles have sat around not doing much of anything for a couple years and now they are throwing a tantrum about my choices.  But I'm not listening, I am enjoying the satisfying echo of some good, hard work.  It's a lovely bit of ache that I am reveling in.  It's nice to get back to life the way I want it to be. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Break 2013

Last week was spring break.
And miracle of miracles, for the first time EVER Josh's spring break matched up with the kid's spring break.  It was pretty awesome. 
And despite having Josh work his 2nd job three nights we were able to do lots of fun family things and we had a wonderful week.
First of all, the weather for much of the week was lovely.  The kids were thrilled to be able to wear shorts a couple of days and even sported their new Easter flip flops for much of the week.  We took several walks and spent some time playing at parks and that was really great.

Some of our funnest moments came as we used our pass of all passes.  I bought passes for the family for Christmas and it has been one of the best purchases I've ever made.  We LOOOOVE these.  (You can find all kinds of awesome deals for them.  We bought ours for $20 a person from CityDeals but my sister in law recently bought some for $30 a piece and also got a $20 Walmart gift card for each pass as well so look around.) 
Earlier in the year we attended a couple of hockey games and had a total blast (Gavin was thrilled to see himself dancing on the Jumbotron). 
But this week we opted for some more hands on adventures.
Early in the week we headed to Planet Play.  The kids had a lot of fun playing glow in the dark mini golf, laser tag, miniature bowling and driving go carts.  Ellie's favorite part was playing on the jungle gym and slide.  We had a great afternoon.

Josh all dashing as James Dean.

In the middle of the week Parker lost his two front teeth.  We told him he should have waited for Christmas, but he didn't want to.  It's fun to hear him whistle when he talks.  What a cutie. (No pass of all passes required for this bit of fun.)

Later in the week we packed everyone up and set out for Hollywood Connection.  Again, our pass of all passes let us in for a bit of fun (although it is only for the month of April that Hollywood Connection is included). 
We headed for roller skating first.  When I was growing up skating was one of my favorite things to do.  I loved to strap on a pair of skates and zip around my neighborhood.  So, for me, it is thrilling to spend some time in the skating rink. 

My littles all saddled up for skating.
For Josh, that is not quite true.  There is no love lost between him and skating.  However, he is a good sport and he loves me so he laced up his skates and tottered around the rink anyway.  He did spend most of his time with Ellie so he wasn't too put upon. 

Ellie getting her skate on.
The other kids had a great time.  Bryce even won the rink wide limbo contest.  Yeah, he rocks like that.

Notice the vague look of trepidation on Josh's face.  This is me skating past him because he refused to hold my hand while we skated so that he wouldn't accidentally drag me to the ground with him.

After skating, we played a round of mini golf.  It would have been very pleasant if there hadn't been the RUDEST family behind us who constantly started playing before we were even off the hole and who only spoke Portuguese (where's my Portuguese speaking brother then I need him) so they just kept saying "It's ok, it's ok" every time we tried to speak to them about it.  We did eventually just tell them to go ahead of us only to find a set of rude teenagers behind us who did exactly the same thing (at least we could chew them out in English).  It was not the most pleasant round of golf I have ever played.
We rode rides for the rest of the evening and the kids had a fabulous time.  Again, Ellie's favorite part was the jungle gym and slide.  She's pretty easy to please.  It was a lot of fun.

Logan and Gavin insisted on riding in their own car on this one and then
were terrified and buried their heads in their hands for most of the ride. 
Poor sweethearts.

G all ready to tear it up in bumper cars.
But not all the fun was had in activity centers.  Josh bought me a tree.
I do love trees.
This spot has been pretty empty since the tree we had in this spot was split in a snowstorm a couple years ago.  I've wanted to put something new in since then and Josh bought me this lovely serpentine weeping cherry tree (oh, he's so romantic) which the boys helped me install in the yard.  I LOOOVE it!  We still need to name him (the tree I mean), but I'm sure something will come to us.

The kids had some fun on their own as well.  Bryce and Aubrey went swimming with some friends from school, Parker attended his first sleep over, and we had a couple of birthday parties.
One party was for a friend of Aubrey's.  We had a hard time picking a present for an 11 year old boy who has everything so we went with cash.  But to make it memorable we froze it into a hunk of ice so he would have to work to get at it.  It was a pretty big hit at the party.  So much fun.
Then to top it all off, we were able to watch general conference on Saturday and Sunday.  I always hearing teachings of living prophets and the kids were amazing.  They tuned their radios to conference all on their own and voluntarily listened while coloring conference activity packets. 
We had such a great week.  I think I could take another spring break sometime very soon.  Good thing it's only 9 weeks until summer vacation.  Oh the fun we will have! 
(Of course I imagine by the end of the summer I will be very ready to ship the kidlets back to school during the day.  Or maybe not...I guess we'll see.)
It was wonderful to spend a whole week, all day, every day with my little family.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of bacon and obedience

So this topic has been on my mind for a while, but this weekend has really pulled it to the front of my thoughts.

The other night Josh and I were watching an episode of "Blue Bloods" which is one of our favorite TV shows.

In this episode the main characters (a strongly catholic family) were seated around the dinner table talking about different religions.  One young boy stated that he wanted to become Jewish because he'd been to several bar mitzvahs and they were a lot of fun and the kids involved received tons of fabulous gifts.  The dad chuckled and then pointed out that if they were Jewish they wouldn't be eating the pork roast that was on the table and they'd have to give up bacon as well.

Then came the bit that I loved, the grandfather sagely shook his head and said, "Ah, bacon -- the ultimate test of faith."

Josh and I laughed out loud.  It was pretty hilarious, but it was also kind of true.  Devoted people of almost all religions are asked to adhere to rules or commandments and to demonstrate their faith through obedience.

Now, our religion (we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) does not require that we give up pig meat (which is nice because I love those little oinkers), but it does offer us many opportunities for obedience in areas that people of other faiths may not understand or agree with.  We have commandments concerning alcohol and coffee and modesty and profanity and chastity and on and on.  You get the picture.  There are a lot of "fun" things that we are taught to keep out of our lives.

However, obedience is not a shallow, wasted effort.  It is not just a masochistic desire to appear pious by avoiding pleasurable offerings from the buffet table of life. It is instead a desire to qualify for blessings and peace that can only come to us as we obey the commandments of God.  When we choose to be obedient there are freedoms and choices offered to us that are not available any other way.

For example, by choosing to avoid alcohol, drugs and pornography we are not tied to their addictive tendrils and ensnared in their venomous trap. By attending church weekly, reading scriptures and praying we qualify to feel the influence and protective power of the Holy Ghost guiding our lives.  By obeying the Lord's law of chastity we can become co-creators with Him in molding happy families (ok, maybe not every moment, but overall) which can be eternal if sealed in God's temple.

Will others think our choices are ridiculous?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Will they turn up their noses and maybe even mock and jeer at us?  Maybe.  We hope not, but maybe.

However, God's commandments ask for no justification.  They simply are.  Believe them or not, follow them or ignore them, they are still His expectations for us.

In general conference this weekend Elder L. Tom Perry of the quorum of the twelve apostles (Sunday morning session at the 1:08:00 mark) pointed out that in today's society most people still believe in maybe four of the original 10 commandments outlined in the Bible.  Avoiding lying (#9), stealing (#8)and murdering (#6) and then caring for our families (#4) are still pretty universally accepted as important principles.

However, the other six commandments have pretty much been thrown to the wind.  We (as a society) worship many secular things before we bother to think of God (like fashion, jobs, sports etc), we use God's name however we feel like it, we treat the Sabbath day like a joyride, we commit every kind of adultery and sexual sin imaginable and we not only desire but demand that we have everything anyone else has if we want it all the while expecting to be supported in our transgressions and excused from judgement because "that's just the way I am" or "you just don't understand my needs" or some other such nonsense.

It's important to remember that we are all struggling along this road.  We all fumble our way through to some degree.  We help each other by offering love and kindness and understanding even when one of our fellow travelers is choosing a path which laughs in the face of God's laws. We can care about the person without accepting his or her choices.

I -- like you -- have struggles and temptations in my life.  I wander off God's path just like everyone else does.  I'm not proud of that, but it is a fact of life.  I am faced with issues that are difficult for me and places where I simply do not measure up to the standard my loving God has set for me (which, incidentally, leaves me grateful for the atonement because it gives me a chance to repent and work to improve).

However, my weakness is no reason for lowering God's standards.  God does not alter His eternal principles just to make it so we don't have to try to overcome anything.  Heaven forbid we stretch our spiritual muscles to strengthen ourselves and grow (note the deep vat of sarcasm there).

We can make every excuse in the book as to why we do not have to be obedient, but what we are really doing is excusing ourselves from the blessings God promises us if we choose to follow His ways.

We have agency.  We can choose to do whatever we want with our lives.  However, we cannot choose the consequences of our choices.  If we choose to be obedient we will be blessed (no choice on that consequence either, although I guess we don't normally complain when we're given blessings).  If we choose not to be obedient we will not receive those blessings and we are also subject to guilt, loss of the spirit, anguish of soul, and other unpleasant consequences (all tools God uses to help us want to return to His path).

We do not get to change the commandments if they are inconvenient for us.  They are not ours to change.

Our choice comes in whether we will be faithful and obedient and live the standards God has set and therefore choose the rich blessings He yearns to give us, or whether we will excuse ourselves from His blessings and choose to follow another path.

(Also, check out President Thomas S. Monson's talk on obedience from the Sunday morning session of general conference...it pretty much rocks -- starts about the 1:28:00 mark.)
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