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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dia de Muertos -- Day of the Dead masks

There is something incredible about celebrating holidays...even if they aren't holidays you normally ascribe to.

I know because we did just that with our crew on Monday night.

So, for family home evening this week Aubrey had the fabulous idea for us to learn a little bit about another culture for our activity.  She taught us what she had learned about Dia de Muertos -- Day of the Dead, a holiday we don't really keep up on around our house.

Then she passed out these awesome Day of the Dead masks she had prepped and we each got to color one for our activity for the evening.

Oh.  My.  Fun.

Um, I don't know how often you get a group of kids, both boys and girls. ranging in age from 15 to 6 as well as their parents to sit down and color something for a period of time, but it doesn't happen real often around here.  

Parker threw on some music through our speaker and BAM, the fun was on!

Everyone had a different vision for his/her mask, but that is what made them so incredible.  I loved that we all got to get creative and enjoy ourselves and even learn a little bit about people in another part of the world all in one activity.


Great job, Aubs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Circus as the Trunk-or-Treat

This past weekend was our ward trunk-or-treat activity in preparation for Halloween.

I love this night!  

It is so fun to get all dolled up in something crazy and give candy to kids and see the creative way they have put together costumes and talk to people from our ward and neighborhood and just have a bunch of fun.  

Plus, how often do you really get the chance to decorate the back of your Suburban.  Seriously, the world needs more of that.

Here's a little peek at the fun.

This year, I opted to go with a circus theme for our display.  I mean, when you have a striped, pink vest hanging around in your costume box I think it is some kind of rule that it must be used or else you turn into a Gremlin or something (or maybe that's if you get it wet when you wear it, I can't remember).  We decorated ourselves and our car and even used our Big Jambox to play big top type music for our sugar-seeking patrons to enjoy.


But, despite my long gone dreams of our entire family dressing with a single theme, such shenanigans are not to be.  We have very independent thinkers around here (which is good and bad all at once) so we diversify. 

And while Aubrey joined in my kaleidoscope of circus excitement (we used her concession box to hand out our candy...so great!) my other kidlets went their own way and that was great too.

Logan donned some skeleton get up, Ellie was the cutest flapper I have ever seen, Parker was Scorpion (I think) from a video game, Gavin and Bryce pulled out some stuff they liked and threw it on at the last second (Bryce because he wasn't originally going to dress up and Gavin because he just cannot make up his mind what he really wants to be so he changes really often).

Sadly, Josh didn't get to hang out with us this year because he had to work that night (secretly, I think he was thrilled because I ALWAYS make him dress up for my theme with me and while he does do it I am pretty sure he doesn't appreciate the opportunity very much).

Mostly, thanks to our ward and neighborhood friends for a great excuse to be silly and have some fun.  We live around an incredible array of people and I am grateful to know every single one of them.

Hope your pre-Halloween celebrations are as fun as ours have been.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Spooks infest my camera

Yesterday I went hiking in Millcreek canyon with some adorable cub scouts.

They aren't particularly spooky, mostly just cute.  But let me get to the spooky part.

Right after I took this fancy picture, I accidentally dropped my camera in the little streamlet that was flowing under my feet.

I retrieved the camera but quick and fast popped out the battery and memory card -- nothing seemed horribly drenched but I stashed everything in my backpack wrapped in a spare shirt hoping to prevent any additional damage.

That night (after a semi-crazy day), I remembered the camera issue and pulled all the pieces out of the bag to see how much damage was done.  After installing the battery and memory card, I was thrilled to find that the camera seemed to be working just great -- no problem at all.  Hooray!!

I wend to bed around 11:00 thinking everything was fine.

Little did I know, my camera was now possessed (it is, after all, October -- just the time of year for a good spirit-takes-over-inanimate-object moment).

Just after midnight -- oooooh, spooky -- I woke to a bright flash in my bedroom.  


No clouds outside, no tv or computer in the room to have a screen misbehave.

I closed my eyes again.

Another flash.

Now my sleep addled mind started conjuring stories about intruders with flashlights and police flash bangs.

Yeah, no.

So I sat up and waited.

And that's when the innocent looking camera on my night stand suddenly sparked a shower of light into the darkness.

The flighty thing was turned off, it had sat quietly for some time, but as time ticked into the witching hour the spirits that now live within its electronic prison could no longer hold their peace and they burst out in an array of cold brightness.

So I did what any lover of Halloween and sleep would do.  I snapped the battery out and asked the ghosts to get some rest and maybe play with the camera in the morning.

Good compromise.

And that was my night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bryce shines on an October weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for us.  Aside from Logan's baptism (hooray!!), we had a few other events and  a couple of big ones related to our oldest son, Bryce.

On Thursday and Friday, Bryce performed with the school orchestra in a Disney oriented evening hosted by the choral, instrumental, and dance groups at the high school.

I took the family on Friday so we could support our brother/son and spend some time enjoying music (and, let's be honest, an evening of Disney is probably more enticing to small people than a regular, classical orchestral performances).  

Bryce's group performed two pieces and they sounded really great.  This video does not really do them justice (that's what happens when you sit at the very back of the auditorium so you have quick access to bathrooms for small people who will need them) but you can get a taste of the impressive talent of these young people.

Then, on Saturday, Bryce spent the bulk of the day at a debate tournament.  Sparked by his father's involvement in debate last year (Josh was the debate coach for one year before they learned his degree didn't qualify him to coach debate) Bryce joined the team this fall and has participated in two tournaments thus far.  

His first tournament, he managed a second place finish in his event (spar).  He and the first place winner actually tied by points but the decision was given to his opponent.

This latest tournament, Bryce competed in Lincoln/Douglas with an unexpected, momentary appearance in policy (because someone's partner didn't come).  

And this time around Bryce earned a first place finish in novice Lincoln/Douglas.  

Way to go, kid!

We are pretty pleased that he is putting effort into these events and working to improve himself and grow in his new found talent.  I look forward to watching him develop this skill and work to be his best as he plunges into this new world of words and ideas.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My smallest son gets baptized

This past weekend was incredible!!

My sweet, little, sprite of a son made the decision to be baptized and I could not have been more pleased.  I have heard people say that eight years old is too young for people to make such a big decision about their future, but that is not how I see things at all.

At eight years old, I see in my children the maturity to begin to make many of their own choices and their desire to begin to become their own person.  I also see the ability to deftly understand right from wrong in almost all situations.  And those choices highlight for me their need for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as a friend and a companion.  They are beginning to make decisions independent of their parents and that sweet, gentle, righteous influence is a precious, treasured gift in their lives.

I want my sweethearts to feel the love and guidance of their Father in Heaven and baptism swings the door for that opportunity wide open.

So, on Saturday, we gathered at our local stake center with friends and family (thank you for those who came to support our little boy) and watched as our small son nearly jumped out of his skin with excitement.  He was bopping along, bursting with happy anticipation saying over and over, "I'm jumpin' in my jump suit!  I'm jumpin' in my jump suit!"  His exuberance made my heart sing and my eye leak a little bit.

After prayers and talks by Logan's cousins -- all close to his age; they were amazing -- I got to watch as my son and my husband entered the water of a baptismal font and my baby boy made covenants with God.  My littlest man smiled incessantly as he was immersed in water to symbolize his commitment and then (after a quick change of clothes) had the hands of his uncles, grandpas, father and friends placed on his head and through priesthood authority was given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  
It was an unspeakably incredible day.

I was reminded of my own baptism lots and lots of years ago and reminded that I have never regretted the decision I made that day.  I am so pleased to see my children choose to begin a journey down that same path.  I know the strength and peace and hope that come with linking our lives to God through covenants.  I pray that they will find joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ as I have all these years.  It has been an anchor to me through anything and everything else that life can send my way.

I love these boys and am so proud of both of them.  They bring such joy to me and I am thankful every single day that my Heavenly Father saw fit to allow them to be part of my life.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Moon over West Valley

We've been pretty impressed with the moon lately.

Our family enjoyed watching the lunar eclipse recently and we kept running into the yard as the moon disappeared bit by tin into the sky.

And then, we got up early the other day and found a beautifully shining moon with this beautifully shining halo around it as well.  This is not a trick of the camera, this is EXACTLY what the moon looked like in the sky that morning.  Lovely (oh, I made EVERY child come out and look at it and was met with varying degrees of care about this beautiful sight).

I admit I am easily enthralled with the features of the sky, and I honestly hope I can pass that trait down to my little ones as well.

Here's an example of what NOT to do when it comes to lovely moons (but I do love the movie it hails from).


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pink mask for my man

Ellie bought a new mask at the dollar store the other day.

So, of course, she wanted her dad to try it on.

So, of course, he did.

I love it.

This guys is a great daddy, never too cool to goof off with our littles.  I'm grateful to have him.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy conference surprise

Sunday morning we had the chance to listen to prophets and apostles of God as part of general conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The session begins at 10:00 am.

Just before the session was set to begin a big, unexpected mess happened in our house leaving me scrambling to handle some issues and a bit behind on getting things settled for conference.

I knew that our prophet, President Monson, would likely be the first speaker during this session and at our house we have a rule that everyone -- no matter their age -- comes in to watch and listen to the prophet when he is speaking.

However, because of our issue, I was knee deep in a problem and was a few minutes behind.  Scrambling out of the very needed shower I could hear the speaker start, and sure enough, it was President Monson.  I called to Josh to have him quick gather the kids (he had been involved in our other concern as well, but was a little ahead of me in getting back to normal) and have them get together to watch.

He came back a moment later, smiling, because when he went to find our children, this is what he discovered.

With no prompting from their flustered parents, our little ones had situated themselves in the living room, handed out conference bingo boards, and focused their attention of the prophet of God.

I could not have been more pleased.  I am so grateful I get to spend every day with this crazy crew of sweet and tender souls.

I am also grateful for my testimony of a living prophet and the enormous blessing of learning God's will for me through this righteous and powerful man as well as the Savior's other sacred servants.

I love general conference and I am thankful that the small people in my home are learning to love it as well.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Parker almost makes me cry (in a good way)

Today Parker came rushing up to me in the lunch room at school (I work at the school part time now that Ellie is in kindergarten).  He was bursting to tell me something and couldn't wait until we got home.

When he told me what he had done I nearly cried cause I'm a big baby at heart.

Turns out that Parker's class had participated in a class store that morning.  Kids can bring used things that they no longer want or need (or new things they want to sell) and auction them off for fake money earned in school for good behavior and good work in class.

When the auction started Parker noticed that someone was selling an old edition of an Ipod (the Ipod 4).  He knew that his sister had an Ipod 4 but the screen was cracked and mottled  and had been for the nearly two years she had owned it (it got broken when it fell from her big brother's pocket when he owned it before her).  

So Parker used a large portion of his classroom money to buy Aubrey the Ipod his classmate was selling.

I asked him if he was going to save it and give it to her as a Christmas present.  He thought about it and then said he just couldn't wait that long because he was so excited to see her face when she got it.

And she was thrilled.

And he was so very pleased.

Oh my goodness, I love these people.  That he was willing to overlook candy and toys and loads of things he would have loved to have for himself in order to do something amazingly kind for his sister is absolutely awesome.

I love watching the incredible human beings my babies are growing up to be.  I feel so blessed to have them around.  I'm grateful for the lessons they teach me and the way they help me grow up to be a better person.

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