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

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

An Impromptu lesson on being who you are

Last night we had a surprise chance for a lesson with our children. 
We were sitting at the dinner table when someone suggested we go for a walk after dinner.  Josh and I said that sounded great, but that maybe we should spice it up a bit by dressing up for our walk (we were just being silly). 
Well, our 11 year old daughter's eyes nearly bulged out of her head.  She is becoming very conscious of being cool and about the coolness factor of the things around her.  I realize this is normal, but it is an important thing for us to address.
Aubrey got up from the table with a bit of a glare at me and said, "Mom.  Don't."  And then she skulked off to get ready for our walk.
Well, that sounded like a dare to me and those of you who really know me know that I can't really pass up a dare.
Now, let it be said that I had no real intention of walking the neighborhood in this ridiculous get up because I don't ever intentionally embarrass my family...ok, almost never.  However, Josh and I thought it would be a little bit of fun to tease our daughter.  We thought we would all get a good laugh in our living room.
So this is what I did.

When Aubrey came upstairs she was mortified.
She actually started crying -- which was not our intention -- but now Josh and I felt like we were facing a bigger problem.  This girl is so worried about what other people think that she is sobbing about going on a walk with her dorky parents.  That's a problem.
So, we invited her to sit on our front porch with us (which, to her credit, she did even though she wasn't exactly happy about it).  We asked her what it was going to hurt to be seen with freak show parents. 
She said, "You guys look like weirdos!"  We reminded her that we actually are weird and that we aren't afraid to let pieces of that show from time to time.
She explained a bit of her feelings of embarrassment and we had a really good discussion about the importance of being who you are no matter what anyone else thinks.  We talked about the person you are inside and how much more that matters than what you look like outside.  It actually turned into a really fabulous moment. 

By the time we finished our chat we were ready for our walk.  I stripped off my superfluous clothing and looked as normal as I get by the time we left the house.
But the big surprise was that when Aubrey came up from her room she was wearing a fuzzy pink hat, gigantic movie star sunglasses and my bulky brown scarf.  She walked the neighborhood that way and I could not have been more proud of her.
It turned out to be a wonderful evening....until Ellie peed all over Josh when we stopped at the park.  But that's another story.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Just call him bishop...(weird!)

This week has been a tough one.  We've been spending a fair amount of time at the hospital with Josh's dad (who is making improvements, thanks for the prayers and support from so many).
On top of that, we have been dealing with some stress because our lives were going to take a dramatic turn.  On Sunday, Josh was set apart as the new bishop of our ward.  He is terrified and excited and willing to serve and I am really proud of him for being the kind of man who is true to the priesthood and who has a desire to bless the lives of others. 
The only real difficult part for me is that because of his calling I will need to released from my calling.  I am currently serving as the relief society president of our ward and I have really come to love serving the sisters of this ward.  They are incredible women and have taught me a ton.  They have been supportive and kind and I could not be more grateful for the chance I've had to work with them so intimately. 
I was guided to the most fabulous ladies as my counselors and secretary and I will miss the constant close interaction with them.  In our seven months together we have visited dozens of homes, planned many activities and meetings, taught bunches of lessons, prayed for and given service to families in every way we could think of.  On top of that we've done a lot of laughing and story telling and have come to really enjoy each other.  It has been a busy seven months, but busy in the very best way possible.  These are amazing women and I have been very blessed to serve with them. 
So, for Josh it is the start of something overwhelming and new, yet wonderful at the same time.  For me it is the close of a beautiful chapter, but both of us are excited to face new adventures and do it together.  Our family has been very blessed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dad DeMoux

This is Josh's dad.
This is the man who taught my husband how to be a man.  He did an unparalleled job on that front. 
He is pretty incredible.
This week he had a stroke.  It was pretty severe and is taking its toll on our dad.  It has been a difficult week for our family, and especially for Josh's parents.  We don't know how things will turn out just yet.  Life will not be the same. 
I cannot say we are grateful for this turn of events.  It's hard.  No one wants to face tragedy like this.  It is not on anyone's list of fun things to do.  However, I am intensely grateful for this amazing family that I am blessed to be a part of.  There is such power in watching these five brothers swarm around their parents to comfort and love them and attend to their every need.  It is comforting to see their trust and care for each other as they joke and tease about happening to keep the timbre of life upbeat despite the glaring hitch laid in front of them. 
These are amazing men -- every one of them -- and much of that is due to the man who raised them. I will forever be in his debt.  He molded the man who has helped me form my family. How do you thank someone for something like that?
As we face this challenging path, I am grateful to know that we have a Father in Heaven watching out for our family.  I am grateful to know that through temple ordinances our family is eternal so despite our struggles we will be able to be together forever.  I am grateful for the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the comfort and peace that His sacrifice lends to our lives when we trust in Him.
I don't know what will happen.  The future is not clear right now.  But one thing is certain, our family will pull together and do our best to get through this together.  And no matter what else, we'll forever cherish our dad.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Let's fix her up

Our house has been in need of some help for a little while.  Some of the issues are things we can take care of on our own, but some of them are things we needed to find someone a little more experienced to take care of.
One of our major issues was with the soffit and facia around our house.  The stuff that was there was a composite sort of wood (it felt more like really sturdy cardboard) that has probably been there since 1970 when the house was built.  It had gotten pretty nasty.  Plus, because it was warped and separating we were having issues with creatures trying to build their homes in our home. 
So, after getting a couple of bids we settled on a fabulous guy named Terry Thompson who works with his son (who teaches school with Josh during the school year) and did a fantastic job.  We would hire him back in a heartbeat (and we probably will in a few years when we redo the roof -- if you need work on soffit, fascia, rain gutters, siding, roof etc you might want to give him a call at 801-266-4823). 
After two days of hard labor and humid heat our house got a superb facelift and we are amazingly pleased.  It turned out really really well.
New soffit, fascia and rain gutters....HOORAY!!

Looks so nice (pretend like we've already painted the trim at the top...we'll get to that pretty soon).
 While these guys were working their magic on the outside of our house, Josh and my dad were busy working on the inside.
After a July family paint party where my brothers, their wives and our children helped to paint our cabinets and a downstairs bedroom, Josh and my dad took on the job of hanging tile for our new back splash. 
I have envied back splash owners for years because I hate how gritty things get by our stove and sink -- and that when I wipe up spills and drips the wall tends to show where I've wiped because the rest of the area is not quite as clean (am I the only one with this problem?).
Old cabinet color which was ok but kind of dark and we were young and
stupid when we painted them the first time (they were already painted white
and we did want SOME color) so we settled for the cheapest paint there was
which was a really rotten idea.  Don't do that, it is worth it to buy good paint.
Josh and my dad did a fantastic job on the tile and I am super pleased with it.  I love how it all turned out.
Our new kitchen.

Fancy, bright, happy new paint (thanks family, we sure appreciate you guys!).

My tile back splash -- aka evidence that my husband and dad really do love me.
I believe that a house is always a work in progress -- at least it is for us -- but I am glad that bit by bit things seem to be getting better and better around here.  It may be a slow process, but at least it is headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Happy Gummy Worm Day!

Yesterday, our doorbell rang early in the day.
We were in the kitchen painting (which is a story for another day). 
When we got to the door we found this on the step.

Who knew it was National Gummy Worm Day!
We instantly fell in love with this three pound gummy worm.
He is beautiful...and also tasty.

So, our children have been eating him segment by segment (they would just plain dive in but their mother is not thrilled with the idea of that much sugar in one sitting). 

(Thanks Brian and Paula for totally making our day wormy!  We love you guys -- with or without the worms.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Family New Mexico Vacation

So this past week we took a family trip to exciting New Mexico.
You may wonder what drew us to New Mexico and the answer is simple.  There was a condo from the list of those we could choose from that fit eight people there (thanks Mom and Dad for letting us swap your time share week so we could head off on an adventure). 
New Mexico here we come!

The drive was about 14 hours total from Salt Lake City, Utah to Ruidoso, New Mexico and my rule of thumb is any drive over 10 hours earns an overnight stop to rest.  So, we schlepped along for 7 1/2 hours that first day and then bedded down for the night in Farmington, New Mexico (thanks Hotwire for a great deal on a hotel).
So after 6 more hours in the car we landed at our condo at the peak of a mountain in Ruidoso.  It was FABULOUS!  We stayed at Crown Point Condominiums and it was a perfect fit for our family.

Exciting living area.

Exciting kitchen/dining area.

Nice, big, exciting deck.

Incredible view from the deck.  The forest was literally just feet away.

Aubrey and Ellie's bedroom.

Gavin and Logan's bedroom.

Master bedroom (someday we HAVE to work an en suite bathroom into our house at home).

The condo was very spacious (we've stayed in many and this one didn't feel tight like some do).  The one downside was that there was  no air conditioning in the unit.  However, since the hot day while we were there was a whopping 81 degrees, as long as we left the windows open and the fans going the temperature was lovely. 
Now, the drive to Ruidoso was not actually my favorite ever.  While we loved, seriously LOVED, the areas we explored, much of New Mexico seems to be coated with unobstructed miles upon miles of parched dessert nothingness.  Now, I'm from Utah and we have dessert here.  Our desserts are a lush arena of loveliness compared to these desserts.  In fact, one day we took a drive from Ruidoso to Roswell (seriously, how can you pass on a trip to Alienville USA when it is so close) and that drive left us parched as we stared out the window at NOTHING as far as the eye could see (except vultures...for real).
Anyway, Ruidoso was a beautiful little resort town and we loved it there.  We were greeted on our arrival by a couple of elk grazing on the side of the road.  It was rustic and wonderful.  I honestly thought the town was great. 
Anyway, after getting settled and sleeping off the first night we got to the good stuff. 
Our first adventure took us to the Valley of Fire.  This is a lovely, hardened lava flow in the middle of the dessert.  While there was a great trail we could wander and read signs about plant life, animal species and lava facts we were also encouraged to climb all over the flow and explore the cracks and crevices.
So we did!

I am a lover of geology and this excursion was right up my alley, and it let the kids climb and wander and explore so it was great for everyone.  The only real problem was that course black rock is not super nice to skin on a hot, summer day (this was down in the valley not our mountain retreat so temps were much higher).
We came home to relax after our day in the heat.  But, as Aubrey went out on the balcony the quickly scuttled back inside and called us all out to glimpse our newest neighbor.
It was a bear.  He was beautiful and we were thrilled to see him.  Josh and I had a more personal introduction a few days later when he woke us up by chomping on something from a garbage bag near our front door.  It was pretty awesome.

One major part of our trip was the condo pool.  It was a great way for us to relax and cool off after our outdoor exploits.
(Plus, as an added bonus, it helped wear our kids out more so they slept well each night...and we got to enjoy the hot tub so it was a win win.)

As a side note, it rained every single day we were there, but it was never a problem.  The amazing part was that we could watch the clouds roll in and slowly swallow the mountains across from us.  It was beautiful.  We also got to watch a couple lightning storms and that was pretty incredible as well.

On with the show.
I mentioned our desolate and possibly death defying drive to Roswell.  Sadly, no one from our group was abducted by aliens so our stories are not as thrilling as they might have been.  But, we still had fun.

We also visited the Billy the Kid Museum (that was back in Ruidoso).  We learned a lot about the guy, it was interesting.

Then we visited the Museum of the American West.  There was a lot to see and we enjoyed that as well (we do love museums...except Ellie...she generally complains about fake stomach aches and Josh and I tag team trying to keep her from fussing too much.)  We do, however, tend to make museum curators nervous (six kids under 13 around priceless antiques -- yeah, I get it) and on this trip one particular gentleman discreetly followed us around the whole time (he seemed to try to sort of hide but was never very far away).  I think he was relieved when we finally left.  Poor guy, he may have hyperventilated if we had stayed longer.

All the boys LOOOVED the dozens of firearm displays.  They all look like guns to me.  Whatever.

Thankfully, this place had a great kids area where our sprites could enjoy some hands on fun and that spot was definitely the favorite (except for Bryce who is 13 now and is waaay too mature for things like that).

Parker the Kid.

Ellie and Logan all dressed up and cooking.

Josh and I, very posh!

Aubrey.  Ride em cowgirl!

Pretty cool mining display.

Off for a picnic.

 And what would the west be without horses.  I really do love horses and these gigantic statues were fabulous.  Ellie, in particular, loved them like I did. 

Our next journey took us to Three Rivers Petroglyph area.  This place was rockin'! (he he, cause there are rocks...get it?)

This two is mile trail wanders up a hill and is surrounded on both sides by hundreds of ancient petroglyphs.  The Ranger on call told us to wander the whole hillside and get hands on with the petroglyphs and we had an amazing afternoon.  It was super cool.  What a great way to spend a day. 

Do these things look cool or what?

I told you it rained every day we were there.  It also hailed two days. 
And -- mean mom that I am -- I dared my kids to run out onto the balcony to be pummeled by frozen balls of pain.  Parker and Bryce both braved the weather and we all got a good laugh as we cheered them on. 

Well, after our near death and hail experience, we set off on another epic day trip.  We journeyed to White Sands National Monument.  It was incredible.  I have never seen anything like it.  Rolling dunes of super fine, bleached sand stretch as far as you can see.  It is beautiful and amazing.  We ended up with shoes full of sand (although it really is very fine so it didn't grate on your feet like normal sand), a car full of sand, clothes covered in sand and sand in all of our unmentionables as well (that might not have been quite so friendly).
The point is, the place was GREAT!

Gavin and Logan lovin' on each other on the top of a dune.

Josh and I enjoying one of the dunes with a bit of life.  These trees grow down more than 40 feet below the dune but only stretch a few feet tall on top of the sand. 

Some of the dessert life -- can you see the lizard in this picture?
If you can't see the lizard in this picture you might should have your eyes checked...but he's pretty so I thought I'd show him off.

While we were playing poor little Ellie got a bit hot so I improvised by
using one of our sleds to make a mini shelter.  I also dug down into the sand a bit because just
under the surface the sand it moist and cool so it turned into a great little retreat for hot kidlets.
Anyway, we explored the sand on foot but then we also did some wicked sliding on the dunes using snow sleds. 
On top of the dune ready to slip slide away.

Logan sliding on the sand.

 Having spent time on sand dunes before (Utah girl, remember) I talked Parker into some leaps from the peak of the dunes into the soft sand below.

 We even got Josh in on the action.

On the way home from our trip to the dunes we also made a stop at a pistachio farm where we got to see the little pistachio trees and sample some of the goods and even get a picture with the worlds largest pistachio. 

Good stuff!

 Our final day trip took us to the Lincoln national forest.  Did you know that Smokey the Bear was a real bear and his persona originated following a fire in this very forest many years ago (a bear cub was orphaned and adopted by fire fighters and named Smokey and became the safety mascot we all know today). 
Anyway, as we were driving up to the area we wanted to find we came across this clutch of vultures hanging out together.  We had seen several single vultures during our trip, but there were 10-12 in this tree (although you can only clearly see 5 of them here).  It was sort of freaky.  We worried that death was in our forecast (ok, we didn't really, but it sounds more dramatic that way).

The road was closed, but friendly Rangers at the station where we stopped to check things out had told us we could walk to our destination which was Monjeau Lookout located on the tippy top of the forest.  This is an old fire lookout and you can literally see every piece of the valleys on every side of the mountains from this spot.  It is awe inspiring. 
Ellie called it a castle and I can't really say she is wrong.
 The surrounding forests have been devastated by major fires the last couple summers and it was sad to see the skeletal forest rolling over the hills, but there was something peaceful and beautiful about it as well.  We climbed on rocks and explored the "castle" and just had a great time.  It really was an remarkable and memorable place.

Exploring the rocks...which ended in a steep drop off that you can't see.

The fam.  Yup, the kids are all in flag shirts, it was how we celebrated the 4th of July.  Because of the fires there were no fireworks allowed so we had to make our own excitement.

A little piece of the damage done by fire.


Josh and G.

Bryce and Parker by the remains of a huge tree.
 And all too soon it was time to head for home (actually not really too soon, usually a week away is perfect for me, by then I am satisfied with vacation and ready to return to real life at home).
We waved to the water wheel as we headed out of town (apparently it is an important part of their history but we never could find anything to tell us why they love it so much).

We were glad for the chance to get away for a minute or two and create some memories that will hopefully stick with our little ones forever after.  I love spending time with these people (and this people with me right here is my very favorite).

Thanks, New Mexico for sharing your wonders and beauties with us (even if I don't particularly appreciate your more barren areas).  We loved it all and are so grateful for the chance to explore and discover and learn and play. 

What a fabulous vacation.

The whole crew on our back porch.

Yeah, now that looks a little more natural.  Gotta love these nut jobs!
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