The Peace of a Good Idea

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Every once in a while a perfect day comes along. There was minimal fighting. (I have to be honest!) The TV didn’t even get turned on until I started making dinner. Minimal fighting with no TV is kind of a big deal. The kids played happily together this morning while I mopped the floor. Parker played by himself while I read Anne of Green Gables out loud.

Gwen stumbled across the cartoon on PBS one morning. I told her I have all the books and that they were my favorite books to read when I was about Gavin’s age. She has been interested ever since. Parker wanted me to read Frindle out loud, which I did and it was fun. I love that book. When that book was finished Gwen asked for “the brother and sister book.” She remembered that Matthew and Marilla were brother and sister. I have been reading it quite quickly considering how often I stop to check comprehension. There are a lot of big flowery words in that book!

Gwen likes the story. She gets tired of it by the end of our hour of reading. It’s hard for her to understand. The fact that Gavin likes the book surprised me. Parker wants nothing to do with it and that’s fine. He just doesn’t get to mark two spaces in his library reading book. I think Gavin identifies with Anne and her wild imagination and spirited disposition. The two G’s will color quietly while I read. It’s been really fun. And a little hard for me to not pick up the book and read ahead. I LOVE these books!

After reading we had lunch and then headed out to the pool. I always just float around listening to the silly games the kids come up with. Today was extra nice because nobody fought. At all. That never happens! Everyone was excited about Gavin’s character game. There were so many funny lines but I can’t remember all of them. My favorite was:

Parker: I don’t want to play the game Gavin! I wanna play under Mom! I wanna play under Mom!
Gavin: Well that’s weird.

I had to laugh out loud at that one. What my innocent nearly 9 year old meant was that he wanted to swim underneath me while I floated. He’s pretty good at doing it without me feeling anything. Gavin not so much. Gwen just stuck her legs under me and basically tickled me which I did not enjoy.

The sun was shining. The water was warm thanks to our greenhouse bubble wrap cover. Life was good. It felt like we had been out long enough that I better grab snacks and reapply sunscreen if we were going to stay out much longer. That’s when utopia shattered. A bit of a tiff ensued while I was inside momentarily. It resulted in a kick to the face and an angry scream. Everyone was mad enough that pool time was over without me even having to call for a time out. So that was the imperfect moment of the day.

I considered making popcorn and putting a movie on for a quiet afternoon. Then the idea hit me. I would have the kids write stories. They were coming up with such imaginative stories in the pool. I figured I could reference that and ask them to write and illustrate a story. But my idea got better when I couldn’t get this post out of my head by TP Hogan, a fellow blogger I found during Writing 101. She talks about how her stories are inspired by answering the question What If?

The kids grabbed notebooks and pencils. I explained that I wanted them to write a story answering what if. What if a mermaid lived next door? (Gwen’s eyes lit up.) What if (Parker finished the sentence) aliens took over the world? What if you didn’t have a brother and sister? What if what if?

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They wrote for a solid 30 minutes. Okay, Gwen finished a little early. She’s only 6 so her writing attention span is limited. I thought it was cute that she had to bring Val down so she could spell princess. After 30 minutes I gave them each a fresh sheet of printer paper and told them to illustrate their story. Gavin continued to write. He wrote for almost another hour before scribbling out an illustration. The picture wasn’t required. I just figured Gwen and Parker would want to do that.

I just sat in a chair reading my book. The house was silent minus the quiet buzz of engaged minds for nearly two hours. I am not even kidding. We started at 3:30 and everyone was respectfully quiet, with the occasional whisper, until well after 5:00. That’s when they all took turns reading their stories and showing their pictures. The stories were really good too. I should post them. That was so much fun.

Then of course I made dinner. I made enchiladas all by myself and it was easy! I hate cooking and it feels like whenever I make anything technically all I end up doing is warming something up. It may look fancy like the broccoli stuffed chicken I heat up in the oven and the rice a roni I add water to and heat up basically.

Enchiladas seem like they should be hard. The hardest part was browning the meat. That was only hard because the meat was pre-seasoned so it was hard to tell when it was cooked since color wasn’t an indication. Heath won’t make fun of me out loud but he did say the next time we do enchiladas he will work with me on my rolling technique. Apparently I made the low carb version since I stuffed the taco sized tortillas with so much stuffing all I could do was fold them into little squares. There was no rolling! There were only ten little enchilada squares. But they were good.

It was such a peaceful day today. The kids can’t stop talking about the stories they wrote. I love good ideas!

Say What

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If you have never had the rare privilege of parenting a 5 or 6 year old girl, then you should read Junie B. Jones books. Those books are hilarious. They are so true to life. My favorite part of reading them to my own young daughter is that she will act out the scenes as I read them. If a character shrugs she shrugs. If someone makes a face or huffs or anything like that she does it too. Which tells me that the writing is descriptively clear and honest. Those books are too funny. Here are a few of Gwen’s latest Say Whats.

Gwen: This is the Pacific Ocean? What! Mom! This map says that this is the Pacific Ocean! Wow!

Gwen: My wings broke!
Heath: That’s what you get with cheap stuff.
Gwen: They aren’t cheap! They came from the dollar store!

Gwen: What’s your favorite word?
Heath pointing at me: Sexy!
Gwen: I can’t write that. I’ll just say love.

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One night we kept hearing this strange sound. I couldn’t tell if Gwen was crying or if it was a cat outside. Finally Gwen came downstairs.
Me: What’s wrong now?
Gwen: I thought you guys were dead!
Me: Why would you think that?
Gwen: Because you weren’t hearing me cry!
Me: We heard something but it sounded like a cat. Why are you crying?
Gwen: Because I’m thirsty.
Me: You remember where we keep the water right? In the faucet where it’s always been.
Heath: Rowwwr!
We teased her with cat sounds for a while. She was laughing but pretending to be upset. She got her drink and went back to bed. Every night it’s something with her. This night was pretty funny.

Gwen: Didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?
Me: Yes, I wore this t-shirt to bed.
Gwen: Oh, I thought you stayed up all night blogging or something. That would be boring!

Gwen: Dad … scared … the soul … out of myself!

Evidence-of-Gwen

Gwen: What does an ego look like?

Gwen: I’m sorry I used the F word because I said fat. But I didn’t say it about anybody!

Gwen: I’m through with scared of Ghostbusters. I guess my shadow was just made to fly. Because Peter Pan’s was.
Then she jumped and hopped away.

When having the best time means doing nothing

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I can’t believe Gavin is 11 years old. His life has come at a normal pace and I have been fine with every age. The other two kids seem to be on some warp speed track to adulthood. Not my Gavin. Each year of his life has felt like 365 days. No more. No less. Until now.

In many ways I can believe he is 11 and about to start middle school. What I can’t believe is how tall he is, or how mature he is becoming. It kills me that he is at that awkward in between stage. He’s caught somewhere between being a child and not a child. I can see the ambivalence on his face. Should I play like a kid or be boring like an adult? Am I too old for this? But I’m too young for that! I guess I feel bad for him. This is a tough age.

Gavin has always been satisfied with less. It makes him hard to shop for. When we asked him what he wanted for his birthday he gave us a list. I was pretty impressed that there was a list. One thing he really wanted was a Lego set “that my siblings won’t play with.” The set he really wanted was one of the larger sets from The Lego Movie. The request to have no other hands building, playing with, or tearing apart the set was a fair one.

We got him the set. He could not be happier about it.

Lego-set

And because Gavin is a sweetheart, he let his brother and sister help him put the set together.

This is basically all we did yesterday to celebrate Gavin’s birthday. Since his birthday was on a Saturday and nothing else was going on, we decided there was no reason to wait for gifts. We gave Gavin his present while he ate breakfast. When he was done eating the three of them started building. They built and played all day. There were a couple of minor skirmishes but for the most part they were content all day.

In the past we have bought gifts in the name of our kids. They are little and don’t have jobs so we bought extra stuff and put their name on it. It feels like it’s time for that trend to pass. I told Gwen and Parker that they could spend their own money on a gift for Gavin or they could think of something else to do for him to make his birthday special.

Gwen has a talent for paper crafts. This girl doesn’t just draw pictures. She cuts things out and glues the pieces together. She has made some pretty cool things. I saved a very large girl she made out of paper. The girl was so big Gwen would actually clip one of her hair bows in the girl’s paper hair. She has also made a house with a paper flap as the front door. When you open it you see the family she drew inside. Cute stuff. For Gavin she made a paper Gavin and a paper Gwen with a paper dog. It was so cute. She also made him a card.

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I should have scanned the “Super Heroes” yesterday. Super Gwen has lost a shoe and her hair is a little sparse. Super Gavin never did have any hair. Gwen said he was an old man! The dog is sticking his tongue out panting. Gwen is crazy.

With no prompting at all, Gwen made Gavin breakfast. She put a piece of bread in the toaster and spread peanut butter on it when it was toasted. She also gave him an orange and asked me to pour him some milk. It was the sweetest thing!

For lunch we went to 5 Guys. Originally we wanted to go there for dinner but it would interfere with fasting for Fast Sunday. A true fast is for two consecutive meals. We have found it easier for those fasting (I can’t) to fast for dinner and breakfast. Anyway, so we went for lunch.

Gavin loves 5 Guys and I think I understand why. Those burgers taste very homemade. Gavin loves his dad’s burgers more than anything else in the world. More than any other food in the world too. The burgers at 5 Guys are delicious and incredibly messy. Gavin loves that mushrooms are a burger topping choice. That’s his favorite part. I say no to the mushrooms but yes to the rest of the toppings.

Heath scooped some peanuts for our family to share. I have never paid attention to the peanuts before. Gavin hates French fries but he loves peanuts. Parker was a little grumpy and complained that the peanut smell was making him sick. Ugh! Someone is always annoyed by something when it comes to food in our family! Gwen and Gavin had fun shelling their peanuts despite Parker’s dirty looks.

Parker really didn’t want to go out at all. I’m not sure why. I guess because the spotlight wasn’t on him and he was crazy jealous. So he complained about the peanuts. Then our food was ready. Heath ordered fries for everybody to share. It’s not a typical burger chain where the fries are part of a combo meal. Parker accidentally dropped a couple fries on the floor. After that he was so grouchy he wouldn’t even eat the rest of his burger. He just sat and glared at everybody. Every few minutes he would growl “Is it time to go yet?” Fun times.

Gwen got a junior sized burger but it was still too much food for her. She ate about half of it. Parker had maybe three bites of his burger. Now I remember the biggest reason why we hardly ever go to 5 Guys – it’s not worth the money! The burgers cost about $7 each. The total bill for our family of five was a little over $50. For lunch. That two of our kids couldn’t (or wouldn’t) eat. *sigh* Gavin was happy though.

When we got home Heath fell asleep on the couch. I was so bored I went upstairs to read. I fell asleep too. Nice nap! The kids were content to build Legos. I was feeling bad that we didn’t do anything for Gavin’s birthday. It was the most boring Saturday ever! Heath pointed out that we scored as parents. He said that Gavin hates Saturdays because we always drag him all over town. All he wants to do is stay home and do his own thing.

Without realizing it we gave him the best birthday ever. He sat on the living room floor all day happy as could be doing pretty much nothing. That was all he ever wanted. He would have freaked out if we took him anywhere other than his favorite restaurant. Heath is right. Happy birthday Gavin! You got the birthday party of your dreams!

Gavin chose to have an ice cream cake. We picked up a cake from Cold Stone Creamery after lunch. The five of us stared into the freezer at all the choices. Gavin chose the most chocolaty cake available.

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It was made of devil’s food cake with chocolate ice cream. It had the creamiest, richest chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles around the edge. Holy that was a lot of chocolate. I don’t really like chocolate but that was a good cake! Really good. Normally I don’t eat frosting. It’s too sweet. This frosting was incredible. I saved it for last! Oh wow it was good cake.

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Both of Gavin’s grandmas called to wish him a happy birthday and to tell him to check the mailbox. He loved talking to them. He needs a little more practice on the phone. The phone was never really over his ear so he kept asking my mom to repeat herself. I was trying to slide the phone in place. He didn’t seem to understand how it should all work. But he had a grin a mile wide. He loved all the love and attention on his special day.

I wish all my kids could stay 4 years old forever. They can’t. I’m not okay that Gavin is 11. Maybe if I don’t think about it everything will be fine. In the meantime I will just love him.

Smelling the Fireworks

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Our Independence Day was pretty fun. We spent some time in the pool. Heath says his ear hurts now. He spent the entire time swimming around shark style with his snorkeling set. I hope he doesn’t have swimmer’s ear because I am so sick of antibiotics!

The plans were to grill up a holiday feast. When Heath went out to start the grill he realized he was out of gas. So he cooked the tri tip in the oven and used the stovetop to boil the corn on the cob. In the morning Gwen and I made Jell-O with fruit. It was a tasty meal in spite of the spilled milk that was mostly my fault.

Earlier in the week we had a playdate with some friends. Abigail told us they were planning on parking in the church parking lot to watch fireworks from the county fair. She invited us to come. It sounded fun. That day she called to say the firework show would start at 9:45 and she understood if it was too late for us. I gave her an ambivalent maybe.

After swimming I decided I didn’t want to think of going anywhere else. After mopping up spilled milk before dinner even really started I definitely didn’t want to go anywhere! The kids only expect to do Pop-Its in our driveway. That means 4th of July celebrations for them.

When the sun set we went outside to do our driveway festivities. The kids kept handing me their used firecrackers so I could smell the used gunpowder. That’s my favorite smell! The firecrackers were simple cardboard shapes with a string to pull. They would pop and paper streamers would come out. And they smelled lovely.

As much as I didn’t want to go anywhere I started to change my mind. I asked the kids if they wanted to go see big fireworks. Two immediately said no. When we explained that it would be like seeing the fireworks at Disneyland two readily agreed while Parker maintained his no status. He had no reason for not wanting to go so we loaded everyone up. I think he’s too much like his mother and just doesn’t like doing things with a lot of strangers when he doesn’t know what to expect.

Apparently the trees in the church parking lot block too much of the view so we had to walk almost to the next intersection to watch from the street. The sidewalks were full of people. We found our friends and squished in. The kids were able to sit on the grass on a blanket. The sprinklers had been coming on all along that strip of grass. Everyone freaked out when Heath told the kids to put a blanket on the grass. Then people were impressed when they found out our blankets have plastic on one side and are meant for such conditions.

We didn’t have to wait too long before the show started. It was really fun watching the fireworks with so many people. Maybe not fun enough to make it an annual tradition. But definitely worth our while to have gone last night.

It reminded me of when I was a kid on the 4th of July. We would have breakfast at Magna Park. The Lions Club made a big pancake breakfast every year for the entire community. Then we would find a spot to watch the parade. After the parade we would either play at the park for a while or sometimes we would walk along Main Street. Then we went home to kill time until it was dark enough for fireworks. That was always my least favorite part of the holiday.

Some years we had our own firework show in our driveway. Sparklers and ground flowers and things like that. That was fun even though I hated sparklers. I was always afraid of the crackling sparks and was secretly relieved when we finally ran out of sparklers. They did smell good though.

If we didn’t stay home we would go back to the park to watch the big show there. We would find a spot of grass in between all the other families to lay down a blanket. We would lie there watching the show that went on almost straight above our heads. That’s what I thought of last night as we watched fireworks explode just above the horizon across the street from where we sat.

Abigail said that when she was a kid her family would climb out a window and watch the Fair’s fireworks from the roof. Then the trees got too big so now her family does what we did last night. Heath said that one year his family went to Stadium of Fire in Provo. I always heard it advertised but had never been. Maybe we’ll time our trip to Utah next year so we can go to the Stadium of Fire. That could be really fun.

We got home after 10:30 last night. The kids fell asleep really fast! They didn’t sleep until noon like I expected but we all slept in, which was nice. We’ve been enjoying Gavin’s happy birthday all day.

In God We Trust

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In God We Trust

This country was founded on religious freedoms. There is a lot of religious controversy right now. Too many people are trying to change the laws of morality by saying there is no God and He wouldn’t care anyway. I believe this nation’s founding fathers were divinely inspired. I believe God cares about the affairs of this nation.

While everyone has the right to worship how they choose, too many politicians have ignored the laws that govern the land. They have ignored the voice of the people as they change those laws to meet their own personal agenda. I believe that we have lost sight of who we are as a country in the name of tolerance.

I believe in God. I live my life according to that faith. That’s the wonderful part of being a United States citizen. I am so grateful for the blessings I enjoy here, particularly the blessing of worshipping God. On this fourth of July, I am grateful for the tremendous efforts others made to make this nation free. I am grateful to the men and women who fight so hard for freedom today.

The less we trust in God the less God entrusts to us.

Quiet Submission

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For all my “You’re fine! Shake it off!” parenting when one of my kids is sick, we ended up at the doctor’s office after all. I should know that if Parker is involved I should assume the worst. He is my son. I was always the one with all the medical issues as a kid. So is Parker. Two peas in a pod for sure.

Parker was fine all the way until about 3:00 this afternoon. Then he complained that he was cold and wrapped up in a blanket. He said his head hurt and he was dizzy. I checked his temperature. It was 102. That’s not fine. So I had to get on the phone.

Only our phones weren’t working. There was a busy signal. The TV stopped working too and the internet was down. Heath confirmed that there was an outage in our area for all three services. Awesome. At least I had a cell phone. By the time the appointment was made everything started working again. That was nice.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics. She left it up to me whether or not I wanted to pick it up today or leave it on file. She said if his hand showed signs of infection then we should use the antibiotics. As the meeting went on she changed her mind. We’re coming up on a holiday weekend which could limit my ability to pick up the prescription. Also we’re going out of town soon. If we just do the antibiotics now then the timing will all work out.

Parker is pretty bummed. It feels like he just finished a round of antibiotics for swimmer’s ear! We both hate remembering to take the medicine. It always takes ten days which gets really annoying after a while. Oral antibiotics aren’t as bad as the ear drops he had for swimmer’s ear. At least that.

Well, here we go again I guess. The doctor did say he can take antibiotics plus Benadryl plus Ibuprofen as needed. I figure if I pump that kid full of meds he should be back to normal in no time! He was very mellow today. It’s the mellow days that I realize I should be grateful when my kids are bouncing off the walls. That’s normal. Lying on the couch all day looking pale and pathetic is not.

Funny story about where my parenting comes from. My parents were the same way obviously. We needed to be bleeding or dying before anyone was concerned. My brother and I were recently reminiscing about this very thing.

I fell off my bike when I was about 7 years old. Gracefully fell on my face eating asphalt. I got up crying my eyes out. My brother was trying to see how bad the damage was. For some reason I kept turning around and around. Anyway, he grabbed me by the shoulders and looked at my bloody face. “Oh. Go show Mom.”

She had to take me to the hospital to get stitches. She was so embarrassed by my crying that she wore her sunglasses inside! She worked in the X-Ray department just down the hall from where we were and didn’t want to be recognized. As Tyson and I were retelling this story, my mom remembered her side of it. She said I was crying a lot. I asked, “Have you ever had stitches in your lip? It hurts!” Maybe you had to be there. That was a fun night of reminiscing.

That’s how I was raised. Nothing was a big deal until it was proven to be. We were tough as nails. That’s how I raise my kids now. They’re good kids. I just wish Parker didn’t have to be just like me. My Murphy’s Law kid. Poor guy. He should be fine soon though.

Downtime

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Parker was stung by a bee yesterday afternoon. For some reason the bees are very attracted to our pool. We don’t like having bees buzz around our heads. We try to encourage them to leave but they insist on staying. Parker said that the bee was in the water so he was trying to scoop it out. He thought it was dead on the ground. But no, the bee had vengeance on his mind and came back to sting Parker in the hand between his thumb and forefinger.

I pulled the stinger out with tweezers per Heath’s suggestion. Then I gave Parker an ice pack. He didn’t really use it for long and we didn’t insist he use it after dinner. We did give him Ibuprofen. This morning he was not feeling well. He said his hand hurt and the pain was all the way up his arm. He also claimed he was nauseated.

His hand was red and swollen but there was no sign of infection. The swelling was localized around the spot of the sting. It hadn’t grown beyond what would seem normal for the situation. But he was so upset. I gave him more Ibuprofen and told him to eat his dry toast. That was all he wanted for breakfast.

I went online to find the number for the advice nurse and decided to check the symptom tracker to see if he even needed an appointment. It told me I better have him seen soon or the symptoms could get worse. But I kind of got the feeling it wasn’t that big a deal. I have done the symptom tracker thing before. It pretty much always ends up in a scary warning like that. So I call the nurse to make the appointment and can get it all taken care of over the phone. Maybe I’m a bad mom but I didn’t think this was a serious problem.

The questions online are pretty general with general answers. There was no way of saying the answer is yes but …
It was all very black and white for what I feel is a pretty gray issue. I read in several places that redness, pain, and swelling around the site are normal anywhere between a few hours after the incident up to three weeks later. That and the fact that he said his pain level was a 5 made me think he just needed to take it easy today.

The site suggested Benadryl but then a few lines down it said that I better have a doctor’s permission first. He’s had Benadryl before with no problems. Other suggestions included hydrocortisone cream, soaking it in Epsom salt, applying witch hazel (whatever that is!), and my favorite – applying deodorant to the site.

How many of these home remedies should I try? I chose to only give him the Benadryl for now. The Ibuprofen has knocked down his pain level and he has perked up the longer he has been up. I kind of wish I hadn’t woken the boys up this morning. They have been sleeping in really late every morning. I got them up around 8:30 so we could get ready to meet our friends at the park. Given all that happened as soon as I woke up Parker, we did not go to the park. Nor will we be doing our shopping this afternoon. We’re just going to have a down day.

Parker watched The Bee Movie. The last time he was stung by a bee I let him watch the movie. I guess it’s a tradition now. Hopefully he doesn’t get stung by any more bees though. Twice was enough. Poor guy.

On the Menu

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I often go through phases of things to look forward to each day. It’s just one event that sticks out in my mind for each day. It could be whether or not I carpool on a school day or if Heath is working from home. I can tick off the days on my fingers. It’s a quick way to make it to Friday.

This week Friday is coming fast because Heath worked from home today as a result of an early phone meeting, and it’s a holiday weekend. Gavin asked what we’re doing on the 4th of July. I told him it will feel like Saturday but we’re grilling tri tip and probably having potato salad and fun stuff like that. We may go to the church parking lot with some friends to see the fireworks from the fairgrounds. That’s got to be more fun than sitting in the front yard watching the kids throw Pop-Its.

Lately the thing I have been looking forward to the most is dinner. We have tried various menus to get through the week. Most have failed. When they fail we spend more money eating out and ineffectively grocery shopping. We eat whatever is most convenient because we made plans less than an hour beforehand.

menu-board

This is our new menu board. It’s a magnetic dry erase board we picked up from Hobby Lobby. I cut out the word menu from my Cricut. The kids like to point out that the last two letters look the same. I agree. It is a strange font. I still need to cut out the initials for the days of the week.

Every weekend we plan our menu for the following week. It makes grocery shopping easier. Sometimes we still make multiple trips to the store because we don’t want our lettuce or green onions sitting around too long before we are ready to use it. But it sure cuts down on Heath or me running to the store for last minute items. There were so many days I did that after picking Gwen up from kindergarten. Those trips meant buying her Lunchables!

We also plan our restaurant meals. This week we will be going out twice. Thursday we’re taking the kids out to Round Table to redeem their free personal pizza coupons from the Summer Reading Program. Saturday is Gavin’s happy birthday and he requested 5 Guys. I hope those guys are tender! Tough, old burgers aren’t tasty! I’m kidding. 5 Guys is a burger place that’s a little expensive but really good.

Every afternoon I get so excited about dinner. Even the days I have to cook! I eagerly anticipate eating each day’s meal. The kids get it planned out in their minds too. Occasionally plans change last minute for one reason or another. The kids get pretty bummed out about it. Luckily it doesn’t happen too often.

The menu board hangs on the wall by the table. There really isn’t any wall space in our kitchen. One wall is the fridge and pantry. The other wall is appliances with a small square of backsplash. The last wall is windows with a small section of wall next to the sliding glass door. That’s where we hung up our board. So far I like it.

Frog People

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What do you do when it’s 103 degrees outside? Call up the frog people.

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Swim goggles are awesome! Gwen has never worn her goggles for underwater adventures like her boys. While I knew that I’m wondering what on earth she did with them before. Parker is the only one with the full scuba mask type goggles. Gwen wanted to borrow his thinking they would more easily plug her nose. It’s funny how all three have working goggles now, yet they trade (and sometimes steal) goggles all the time. The boys were busy doing their own games under water so Gwen was on her own with her goggles.

She stuck her face in the water for a few seconds and declared “It’s like a whole new world down there!” Her little body was all curled up while she bobbed just under the surface of the water. In her mind she had become a mermaid and finally experienced firsthand the kingdom Ariel grew up in.

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I love this picture.

Gavin

I made sure to keep everyone hydrated. I had so much water and Diet Ocean Spray cranberry raspberry drink that … well, you know … I was definitely not dehydrated. The kids enjoyed the root beer I made them. Thumbs up for Soda Streams!

More than any of the floats we have, Gwen was most excited about floating around in a life jacket. She looked as ridiculous as I must have looked as a child. I remember wearing life jackets at Mt. Spa in Midway. Gwen didn’t want the life jacket for security. She liked how it allowed her to easily float on her back or her tummy. She would let it hold her as she rolled in the water. I loved doing that in lakes. She said she was dancing.

Give me a hot summer day, my sanctuary in the gazebo, and a pool to float in with my frog people and I’m a happy girl. I can still feel myself rocking on the water.

Counting Blessings

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This morning’s Sacrament Meeting ended early. This doesn’t happen very often. It’s more likely to run over time than end early. It’s always interesting to see how the Bishopric handles the extra time. Today the Bishop called up two people from the congregation to share their testimonies.

These two men were completely put on the spot. There was no prior notice. They both handled it very well and bore strong testimonies of different gospel principles. Both men even had stories that tied everything together and helped illustrate their points. Very impressive, especially considering the circumstances.

It made me wonder. What would I say if the Bishop called on me? For a split second I anticipated hearing my name as the second person. It would have been nerve wracking but I would have done it. The Bishop came into the Primary room before church started to check on me. He wanted to see how I was doing with things. He’s a good guy. In that brief exchange I’m not sure I expressed myself well. So I guess there was part of me that hoped I could be called up to have a do-over! But I’m sure he felt it would be too much pressure for me.

The first man was Tyler H. His testimony centered around how we are all children of God and therefore brothers and sisters. It wasn’t that long ago that we served together on the Ward Missionary Committee. We took turns teaching the Gospel Principles Sunday School class.

It felt like every lesson was the same for me. Even though it was a different topic each week it really felt like there was a running theme. My lessons all came back to the Plan of Salvation and Christ-like love. Listening to Tyler pricked my memory of those lessons. It was another Post-it Note from heaven. The Lord has been preparing me for some time for the challenge of losing my dad.

The news of my dad’s passing made everything real for me. As I put things back together in my own mind, I find comfort in the simple beauty of the gospel.

I am a child of God.
We are all children of God.
He loves His children.
He loves me.

That love is not a generalization. It’s specific and personal. I know because His hand has been so evident in my life lately. There are no coincidences. He has been blessing me in very personal ways; carrying me, reminding me, preparing me. It is real.

As I was getting ready for church this morning I heard a talk on BYU TV about how personal tender mercies from the Lord are. I call those tender mercies Post-it Notes from heaven. It is pretty amazing to realize how perfectly orchestrated some of those blessings are. I think it’s that way so we have no doubt who it came from.

The speaker on TV suggested we write about our tender mercies. It’s a way of acknowledging the blessings from Heavenly Father and showing Him our appreciation for them. It also helps our memory, which can strengthen our faith.

I have already listed many of the blessings my family and I have received this past month. I am so glad I wrote them down. There were a lot. The Lord never forgot us. It has not been easy to go through the emotional turmoil of losing my dad but I have been so blessed. I’m humbled to still find Post-it Notes from heaven. Remembering a common thread in my lessons as a Ward Missionary may be a little thing. To me it means a lot. So does the Primary theme and scripture for June: Priesthood Ordinances and Temple Work Bless my Family “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:18) More Post-it Notes.

There is a plan and a purpose to this life. We were not sent here to fail. It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that that plan is possible. The Lord is guiding us every step of the way if we let Him. He is invested in our lives. He longs for our return home. He rejoices in our successes and He sorrows with us in our disappointments. I’m nobody in the eyes of the world. If I can be blessed in such specifically personal ways, then there is no doubt in my mind that He loves all of His children. He loves you. If you don’t believe me ask Him. Sincerely ask Him in prayer if He loves you. I promise He will answer.

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