Benefits of Family Life

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A news story caught my attention this morning. Gwen and I were excited to watch because, as she put it, “We do that every dang day!” The story was about the benefits of eating together as a family. Or at least that was how they teased the story before the commercial break.

I was a little surprised and disappointed with the way they addressed the story. The focus seemed to be more on parents cutting themselves slack over not eating together more often. Families are busy after all. “It’s impossible for some families to get together for dinner.” That is a quote from at least two news anchors. My head hurts from rolling my eyes.

My irritations have been mounting lately. I have heard far too many moms complain about their kids and wish for more ways to get a break from them. Of all my many many pet peeves, this has to be my top one. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why people want families when they end up looking for escape routes the second they get one. As far as dinner is concerned, it’s not impossible. It’s a matter of priorities. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. We spend our time doing what matters most. Period.

Whining parents irritate me to no end. If you feel like you don’t have time and all you do is ferry your kids from one activity to the next, stop the madness! Cut back on some of those activities.

I wanted to be a mom. Not only did I consciously choose to put my body through the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, I wanted those kids to be a part of my life afterwards. I love being around them. I love reading to them. Even though one is a teenager and two are tweens. I love talking to them. I love laughing with them. I love spending time with them. Some parents can barely stand to spend an entire hour with their children each day. Now that my kids are getting older, I would do anything to have more time with them.

My kids may spend more time with friends, or time pursuing their own interests. They are entitled to do so. One non-negotiable in our house is dinner. We eat together. Every night. It connects us to each other. We also pray together. Every night.

Gwen listened to that news story and said, “We read the scriptures together after dinner.” I will admit we’re not always consistent with it, but it’s obviously important to her. This is how we enjoy spending quality time together. I have even seen on websites that eating out counts as eating together. Good because those are the nights we have the best conversations and laugh the hardest.

I know the news story was only about eating together each day. It makes me think of the social problems that plague our society. I have a sick fascination with watching TLC shows like Hoarding: Buried Alive, or My 600 lb. Life. The backstory is what interests me the most. The people have been abused, neglected, or were raised in a single parent home after their parents divorced. Although the hoarders tend to have backstories of intense loss. Their compulsions fill a void in their lives.

What if families didn’t treat their relationships as disposable? Or even an obligation that takes them from something “more important” and entertaining? What if families spent more time together and found love, self-worth, and best friends living under their same roof? What if we stopped rationalizing divorce, time apart, and the impossibility of spending an hour together each day as normal? But instead we put in a little more effort to actually be a family?

Maybe the world is actually too afraid of being happy.

Shall We Meet Again?

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The first track meet came with no pictures. It was a conscious choice. Heath never fully enjoys any meets since he sees them through a camera lens. I struggle to find pictures that look different from the last meet. This is Gavin’s third track season. We decided it wasn’t important to create more pictures of running. Please forgive!

This meet was held at the high school. I was excited. It’s nearby and very easy to find. Gavin will attend there next year. Nothing to worry about. Next week’s meet will also be at the high school. Circumstances being as they are, I get to do this meet without Heath. The first meet would be good practice for me.

We still had to get Gwen and Parker out of school early. The buses deliver them home too late. It’s not worth the hassle of after school traffic to not pick them up early. Even with school buses those parking lots still fill up with parents. The buses help though. I get Parker out 15 minutes early. Every time I do it, I’m grateful I can find a parking spot and go in. Parents would haunt the schools where we used to live 30-60 minutes before the final bell. There was no getting your kid 15 minutes early unless you wanted to park in neighboring cities and walk in. I exaggerate but not much!

We go from the middle school to the elementary school to get Gwen out 30 minutes early. There is no sense of urgency in the elementary school! Then we head to the meet venue. This time it was the high school.

We arrived early which contributed to the feeling of being in the wrong place. I have been to many track meets for Gavin. I have never in my life gone to a meet like that. The high school has an all weather track, which Gavin loves. As fun as it is to run in mud … it’s kind of not. There was one small set of metal bleachers. That was it.

The bleachers were so small there wasn’t enough space for a whole team to sit there shoulder to shoulder. We’re talking small bleachers. The host team came and dropped off backpacks and stuff on the ground behind the bleachers. Several students, not in uniform, took up the bottom row to watch the meet.

I looked around and realized that not only was there inadequate seating, but there was quite literally nowhere for spectators to watch. Fans bring camping chairs and set up wherever at cross country meets. There was nowhere for chairs. There was barely any space for people to stand around one corner of the track. The rest of the track was surrounded by a retaining wall or the beginning of a large hill down to the softball field.

Stranger still was seeing football uprights on either side of the track. There was plenty of space for football to be played, although now that I think of it there were no lines in the grass. I couldn’t imagine who would attend a game that was so fan unfriendly. I was already questioning whether or not I was really invited to watch the track meet. To the point that I told Heath several times that I would only go there to pick Gavin up next week. It was just too weird. Plus, it was cloudy and windy so I was freezing.

When Grandma and Grandpa came they said they noticed the lack of seating on Google maps. They explained that most of the events in our school district take place at a different stadium. So really the high school track and field are better for practicing than actual meets, or football games. They also said it’s best to bring a blanket because the bleachers are almost always wet. It is the Northwest after all.

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Gavin raced in the 1600 and the 800. Heath timed him because Gavin has a tendency to not care about his time. He just likes to run! We learned to time him ourselves. This was his time for the mile. He ran the 800 in 2:43.15

He started out in the middle of the pack. Not unusual for Gavin. He didn’t pass as much as I thought he would so he ended up finishing toward the end of the pack. Then Heath told me his time. It seemed like a good mile for Gavin. The other boys must have been faster than I thought if that was Gavin’s time and he was near the end.

I asked him how he felt about his races. He seemed disappointed in himself. He said something about hoping to PR. I reminded him that this was the first meet! There was nothing to PR against. Maybe he meant his California mile times. He also said that the kids here run faster than he’s used to. And he admitted it’s colder here.

The 8th grade boys annihilated the other two teams! We won by a good 60 points. The 8th grade girls tied for second. The 7th grade boys and girls both took second. Not bad. Sixth graders only practice here. They aren’t allowed to participate in games or meets.

This is a good opportunity for Gavin to push himself. He loves running and seems to only really care about competing against himself. He has specific goals he wants to achieve, both long term and short term. I’m sure he will PR next week. That was always the case before. He improved with each meet. He will get used to the cooler temperatures, the soggier weather, and the faster pace. He loves running!

The cross country coach, from our ward, is also a track coach. There are several other coaches as well, each specializing in specific events. Gavin has been practicing with a different coach. The workouts have pushed him further than he thought he could go. That’s a good thing. Sometimes you need a little soreness to realize you’re alive.

The high school runners have also come to help with many practices. They helped with a lot of cross country practices too. Gavin loves running with them. He is very excited to join their team next year.

One meet down, five more to go.

Post-it Note #419

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rainy

Sometimes in the middle of a rainstorm the sun breaks through. The rain continues to pelt the ground while the sun reflects off of the wetness. When that happens, turn around.

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That’s when you will see the rainbow.

Rainbows are God’s way of reminding us He is still there. The Biblical promise is that a rainbow signifies there will never be another worldwide flood. Sometimes rainbows are more personal than that.

The bright sun twinkling through the raindrops brought a peace to me. The storm will still rage on as long is it needs to. But God has not forgotten His children. The smiling sun was a sign that things could be worse. At least the sun was still shining. Outside was bathed in an ethereal glow. Everything would be okay.

An answer to a completely unrelated matter came out of nowhere the next day. I went to the drug store to pick up a prescription they claimed they had for me. The last time I did this I was told that the insurance refuses to pay for my test strips. They will only pay for the strips that go with the old and outdated meter I used to use. After refusing to pay hundreds of dollars of my own money for a one month supply, I asked my doctor to fight for me.

It worked. Yesterday the pharmacist pulled the plastic bag in my name. Inside were three boxes of test strips with the name of the meter I have been told to use. The pharmacist hesitated and I braced myself for bad news. She read off the paperwork inside the bag that she was supposed to ask me if these were the correct strips. I confirmed that they were. She said the insurance cleared them for me.

I started to pull out my pharmacy insurance card and medical credit card to pay. She told me there was no copay. What? What! Getting approval for the strips was blessing enough. But no copay?

A goofy smile spread across my face that I could not wipe off. Heath said two words as we walked away from the counter. “Tender mercy.” The images I had captured of the sun breaking through the rain and the vivid rainbow immediately came to mind. Tender mercy indeed.

The storm is still pounding with other trials. Sunbreaks help give us the strength to carry on. And rainbows, especially that vivid, are a Post-it note from heaven that He is aware and is still there fighting for us.

 

Phase 1: Complete

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backyard

Remember this? This is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in. A small weed patch. Because of the small size and the fact that it doesn’t see much sun, we decided to forego plants in favor of a paver paradise.

This idea has not been very popular until now. We have heard it all, including how our house will have low resale value because pet owners will want grass in the backyard. First of all, I’m not moving. And after years of renting, I want to enjoy where I live. Change what I want to change and do what I want to do. Resale value! I could not care less. I’m not moving!

It is worth noting that the naysayers have changed their tune. I think people are catching our vision and they are impressed. The neighbors on this side of the street complain that their backyard grass is a swamp. It’s difficult to mow because it is so soggy back there. Some neighbors really can’t use their backyards at all. They definitely like the direction we have gone with hardscaping the whole backyard.

It has been a journey.

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The first thing we noticed with our backyard was this sheer cliff in the back corner. (Pictures don’t do it justice.)

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The slippery slope ran along one whole side of our yard rendering this space completely unusable. The builders refused to do anything about it. They said the slope was up to code, including the 6 ft. hole in the back corner. We were left to wonder if this is why no one had chosen this lot. We were also left with the financial obligation of fixing the issue. Which, as it turns out, is more expensive than we thought and therefore our yard will be finished in stages.

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We hired someone to build a retaining wall. I can’t say enough nice things about him either. He was quick, efficient, friendly, and an overall joy to work with.

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These concrete blocks were so heavy he and a buddy moved them two at a time in a wheelbarrow.

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The completed retaining wall raised the land 4 ft. in the back corner. He left a gradual slope up to the rest of the backyard because we are going to float a deck over it. The deck is Phase 2 of the backyard. It will give us a beautiful place to relax and entertain with spectacular views of the natural growth area our property sits next to.

When you look past the initial challenges of this yard, we really do have the best lot in the neighborhood! I still don’t know why this lot was never chosen and ended up with a spec home that we serendipitously stumbled across and love.

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The retaining wall leveled our side yard. We went from a precarious walkway alongside the house to a nice 9 ft. wide stretch of flat land. We will extend the deck along this side of the house. I want some chaise lounge chairs for sun worshipping in the summer. This is probably the only part of our yard that really sees a significant amount of sun.

We plan to build a shed in the front corner of this side yard. It will be the perfect storage for bikes and other outside equipment. Since this was the side that needed the retaining wall, Gustavo put a gate in on that side. It made his life easier with getting all his equipment and materials to where he needed them. We were pretty excited since we wanted to put a gate there anyway. Now we’re thinking of putting stepping stones up to the gate since this is the better entrance to the backyard for entertaining.

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Gustavo built a nice foundation for a shed in the other back corner. He built a small retaining wall under the fence on that side of the yard to fill the large gap between the fence and the ground. Our next door neighbors were willing to help pay (a retaining wall under the fence was their idea when we first moved in) since their yard was basically rolling into our yard under that gap. You have to understand that the land in this neighborhood is very hilly. Their yard slopes down to ours.

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He also put rock on both sides of the yard and over that back corner where we expect to build a deck. First he laid down landscape fabric so there would be no weeds. It’s like he knows us or something! He buried the French drain under the rock and sloped the land so water will still drain as the county expects. Since our grass out front was decimated by this project, Gustavo put in fresh sod when he was finished. We now have the nicest lawn in the neighborhood!

Feel free to scroll through those pictures again noticing the uneven fence. We were lucky enough to have our fence installed for free by the home builders. It may have been a little premature since the recently leveled ground now makes the uneven fence look funny. It once followed the ground perfectly. Now you can use the fence as a measuring stick to see how much we had to build up certain areas to achieve a useful yard.

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On Friday a cement truck backed into our driveway to deliver concrete to our backyard. Once upon a time we considered doing the concrete ourselves! While it’s a small yard, concrete is a BIG job.

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For a couple thousand bucks we were able to watch a family of burly Polynesians do it for us. They built forms and wheeled in rock to build up the land. One wheelbarrow load at a time, they brought in the cement. Our patio is now extended from what the builders put in originally. I’m just wondering how soon we should report missing family members after concrete is poured! *wink*

It is worth noting that Friday was supposed to be a mixed sun and rain day. Not a drop fell from the sky. I know people have learned to just work in the rain here. When it rains so much of the time it would be silly to stop everything for rain. I felt like it was a blessing for the guys to put in our concrete under such favorable conditions.

Late yesterday afternoon was the first we saw rain since we had our patio extended. Rain has been pelting down hard off and on all day today. So far no puddles on the patio. A sure sign it was poured well.

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The slab on the left is the foundation for an outdoor kitchen. The deck will be built from the back door straight out. The rest of the patio will be covered with outdoor patio tiles that snap together. It will look much prettier than a concrete patio.

So outdoor kitchen and deck to the left, patio and dining to the right. Gwen and I want a swing back there along the back fence next to the shed. All in good time.

In a couple of days we will have our heat pump installed. Our home will be comfortable year round!

After the egg hunt on Sunday we had a couple of neighbors walk through our backyard. People were asking about the cement truck they had seen. It was easy to invite them over to see for themselves when their kids were walking to the park by our house anyway. Everyone who has seen our yard is so impressed. I love the glowing response to only Phase 1! People seem to love our future plans. Our backyard is going to be epic.

I agree with our neighbors that we will be able to use our backyard for most of the year based on our plans for roofs and such. We have made good lemonade with the lemon of a yard our beautiful home came with. It will be wonderful to be out there enjoying the quintessential view of the Northwest we call home.

Some Bunny Loves You

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Warning: There are no pictures in this very long post. Just the memories in our heads.

Easter was completely different this year than anything we had ever done before. Our stake conference landed on Easter Sunday this year. Right away I wondered how in the world we would do Easter. There wouldn’t be time to do an egg hunt. I’m kind of over those anyway. Well, the idea of another mythical creature that has nothing to do with the true meaning of the holiday, leaving gifts for my children.

My kids are getting older and I wonder how long these traditions will last anyway. Okay, truth be told, I can’t wait for Gwen to catch up already and figure it all out so we don’t have to do any of this silliness anymore. Although I have to laugh about something Parker said. I forgot that a couple years ago his friend found my blog and reads it (not sure how often). This got Parker excited to read my blog. Again, not sure how often. He said he read a post where I talked about Easter presents. So Parker went to his dad and said, “It’s you isn’t it?” Funny, I thought he already knew that.

Hiding eggs full of candy that my kids eat until they puke is one thing. The really hard part of executing our Easter traditions is the fact that my kids have outgrown my favorite tradition. Since they were babies they have always gotten new gospel themed books for Easter. Only they are getting too old for the books. None of them read through Sacrament Meeting anymore. Gwen would find time to read a book at home but the boys could not care less. The last thing they need is a book they will never touch.

I couldn’t find gospel themed anything that the boys would enjoy. Last year we gave Gavin a football tie tack from the BYU-Hawaii bookstore. He wore it once. We gave Parker a tie that he also wore once. Gwen still likes her book! So now what?

The boys got new white shirts because they grew out of their old ones. And they weren’t very white anymore! Gwen got a little sweater shrug. All three knew about these clothes beforehand.

A neighbor had posted on our neighborhood Facebook page that she wanted to have a community egg hunt. Several people eagerly offered to buy and fill plastic eggs. At least we were off the hook with the egg hunt. Our “Easter Bunny” was too lazy to write a note to the kids. It’s like he waited till the last minute on everything. We passed on the message that the small baggies of candy in the baskets were in lieu of a family egg hunt. The kids could join the neighborhood kids later.

This is where I may be the worst mother ever. I told the kids that they were a little old to greedily grab as many candy filled eggs as possible when there are so many little kids in the neighborhood. I suggested they help small children gather eggs. My kids were allowed to keep a couple of eggs but I really wanted them to be helpful to the little kids before taking candy for themselves. The boys wanted to just stay home.

It’s true that our kids are among the oldest in the neighborhood. I don’t think the middle school girls “hunted” for eggs. They had helped “hide” the eggs. I use quotes because it’s not like there are many places to hide hundreds of eggs in the neighborhood playground. When we drove home from church we saw that the grass was heavily peppered with colored eggs. Several older boys grabbed eggs along with all the little kids.

Gwen seemed to have fun despite the restrictions I put on her. She kept two eggs. One had a dollar bill in it along with some candy. I was glad she found a money egg. I really hated myself when I realized some eggs had money inside. There were other games and activities after the egg hunt. Gwen had a blast with her friends. We even gave her special permission to stay at the party with her friends as long as she helped clean up at the end. Sundays are not play outside with friends days. I think Gwen enjoyed the social aspect more than the candy.

We had family over for a pasta bar on Saturday. Grandma loves egg hunts and hid eggs for the grandkids. I love that none of us knew she was doing it until Kirk found an egg with a piece of candy inside. He asked if it was ours. When Heath and I said no, he immediately realized where it came from. He had to apologize to his mom!

I don’t know how many egg hunts there were or how much candy there was. By the time I went out front, there didn’t seem to be any candy. The kids just loved hiding and seeking eggs. The kids separated into girls vs. boys. Grandma gave prizes to the kid who found the most eggs and also to the kid who found the golden egg. I have to admit, I must have been raised under a rock because I have never heard of golden eggs until this Easter. There was one at the neighborhood egg hunt too.

Even though I am the Wicked Witch of the West, especially when it comes to holidays, I think my kids enjoyed Easter. Gwen cracks me up though. We were watching Hidden Figures, a movie the Easter Bunny left, and Gwen was eating all her candy. She offered me a Dove egg.

Gwen: I didn’t really like this chocolate. It was too rich. But I ate it all. This is my last one. Do you want it?
Me: You should have said you didn’t like the chocolate! I love it! Dad and I could have helped you out.
Gwen: Oh.

Points to my martyr for eating chocolate she didn’t care for. Apparently she is under the impression she is a member of the Eat All Your Candy Club. We wouldn’t want any of that to go to waste. Or last until the next day. Kids are awesome.

It was definitely a different Easter. It turned out well and we had fun. I do love living in the best neighborhood ever! It’s the best.

Our stake boundaries were changed which caused a lot of change in auxiliary presidencies. The talks were great but I feel like they took a backseat to all the changes. Those boundary changes affected several areas, including Heath’s family. His parents are now in a different stake than Kirk and Dayleen. So weird since they live within a couple miles of each other in the same city. It’s like we’re in Utah or something! Five stakes to one mile. I’m kidding of course.

The Seattle Temple used to service all of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and part of Idaho. I remember hearing that before. I learned yesterday that there are now eight temples between all those states. Three are in Washington state alone. The work is definitely marching on.

Fields of Gold

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Spring-Break-234

Last week we went to the Tulip Festival.

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Normally it looks something like this. On the news they said that this weekend the tulips are at their peak. Almost as an afterthought, or the quickly worded fine print of a commercial, they said it will be crowded.

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We saw a lot of brave little tulips, proudly showing their colors among all their still sleepy friends.

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And we walked in fields of gold … daffodils.

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Heath used to take dates to the Tulip Festival. He would buy disposable cameras so they could click away as they tiptoed through the tulips. Later they would have prints made at a one hour place. They would compare photos over dinner. So romantic, right?

Spring-Break-205.jpgIt would have been romantic but we went as a family. The kids were … bored I guess.

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They were properly impressed by the flowers that were out. For the most part they had a if-you’ve-seen-one-you’ve-seen-them-all kind of attitude.

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I wouldn’t say the magic was lost on them. It wasn’t as impressive to them. The people there didn’t help. People would ignore the signs saying to stay on the paths. They would walk right into the flower beds and rows of flowers to get the perfect shot.

People also liked to follow us. We would go somewhere full of flowers but not people. Heath would kneel in the mud lining up his shot. Soon we noticed people coming in droves hoping for the same shot with their i-Pads or cell phones! It’s the price of wearing an impressive camera around your neck. That and we’re natural trendsetters.

Heath bought two bouquets of tulips. One for his mom and one for me and Gwen to share. The flowers were beautiful and lasted a full week. I was impressed since they had spent a few hours in the car with no water while we had lunch and hit the outlet mall before heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We still had to drive home from there with our flowers.

It was a lovely day. Maybe not quite as romantic as the dates Heath went on. Porta potties with no TP certainly don’t say romance either. I enjoyed the Tulip Festival. Next year we can try again without kids.

 

Courage

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Courage is the willingness to act in spite of fear
~Michael Hyatt

Some people are thrill seekers. Others are much more content to keep their feet firmly on the ground. These two ideals compete. It’s interesting to see who wins and why.

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On our way to the Seattle Aquarium, we saw the large Ferris Wheel. Gwen wanted nothing to do with it. The rest of us really wanted to go on it. It was a stalemate for most of the day.

Sometime after lunch we ran into friends. Jared had his baby girl on his shoulders as he walked along the waterfront. It was the most unexpected sight. We know him and his family from the Road to Nowhere. We never expected to see them in Seattle of all places! We greeted each other in surprise and then followed him back to the restaurant where his family was finishing up.

Avalon and Gavin talked about track and cross country. Claire is running this year as a 6th grader. Parker told her he wants to try track. I still need to get him a sports physical. He can only practice as a 6th grader. Which makes it easier to test out the running waters.

Anyway, our families talked for a minute. Jared took a picture of all of us before he needed to get back to work. (I should have asked him to email me a copy) His family had joined his business trip for something fun to do over Spring Break.

One thing we talked about was the Ferris Wheel. Alex said her older kids loved it but the little ones weren’t as happy to be forced to ride. We told Gwen that she should go because Solana and Sydney went and they were fine. *wink*

Gwen still wasn’t convinced. We tried to tell her that this Ferris Wheel was smaller and more mild than Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Disneyland. She still remembers the Wheel of Torture stories from when I accidently took Gavin on a swinging gondola. Funny that those stories are what she remembers and not that she happily and easily rode Mickey’s Fun Wheel the last time we were at Disneyland. I seem to remember she even poked fun at her oldest brother while we were on the ride!

After a few novelty shops Heath made the decision that we were going whether Gwen liked it or not. We would have just left her behind but I was afraid we would get off the ride and find her with a couple of angry police officers ready to take us away for good. It was an all or nothing proposition. Heath made a deal with her.

If she hated it he would make it up to her.
If she loved it we would all get a special treat.

She reluctantly agreed. At first she was excited to keep the card/ticket to scrapbook later. Then we realized we had to show them to the person just before we boarded. We never got them back! *sigh*

We all agreed that Gwen could hold our new harbor seal pet. He didn’t have a name yet. Gavin had suggested Mario while we are on the ride. Later we decided on Elliot because of Elliot Bay. It was a better reminder of where he came from. Gwen held onto our new pet tightly with one hand. I told her she could squeeze Gavin’s hand with her free hand. He patiently let her.

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Gwen pointed her thumbs sideways to show she was kind of all right.

Soon she was a full thumbs up and giving the ride a google plex on a scale of one to ten.

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The ride was really cool. It was fun to see the Seattle skyline from up so high. Gwen was grateful we had talked her into going. She had found her courage. She learned that courage and bravery are being afraid but doing it anyway. I hope she remembers the exhilaration she felt from finally facing her fears.

Sometimes we have to do scary things. We do it because we feel we have to. Then we realize how great the experience was. We also realize how often we let our own fears stand in the way of our happiness. Yes, I’m talking to myself as I say this.

Conquering fears is reward enough. Ice cream cones also help.

Power of a Good Book

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Besides adopting Elliot, we found other treasures on our day in Seattle. Gavin found a book that he wanted. He promised to pay his dad back if he could just get Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. Parker read the book out loud when we were at Red Robin on the waterfront.

He had us all transfixed and his deadpan delivery had us in stitches. The style is similar to Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books. About a month or so ago we were wandering through a bookstore. The kids and I found our way to the children’s section. I pulled out an Elephant and Piggie book and started reading out loud to the one kid standing nearby. Soon the other two joined. The four of us stood there in a tight clump laughing hysterically.

Joyful memories of Elephant and Piggie books filled our minds as Parker perfectly read a Narwhal and Jelly book. Gavin read the book to us again as we drove to the Ballard Locks. Gwen read the book to us on the way home. We heard the book several times that day. I love that Gavin bought it. It is such a Gavin book!

Also at the Seattle Aquarium gift shop we found a book that Heath bought because he was mad. That sounds funny but it’s true. He and his mom have been talking about writing a children’s book for years. Ever since Heath was a young boy. Parker noticed the book first. It looked like someone had stolen their perfect idea. It’s a little different so they probably still can write the book.

We went into several little novelty shops along the waterfront. Parker found Goodnight Pirate Ship. I love that boy! He likes to collect things and therefore loves to help other people collect things. I don’t quite know how it started but we somehow started collecting Good Night books. We have some that Heath bought on business trips. We have others from family vacations. Parker insisted I add the pirate book, from the pirate novelty shop, to our collection. I’m a sucker for children’s books and couldn’t say no.

Maybe it was all the books we bought on that sunny day in Seattle. Maybe it was the nagging realization, always in the back of my mind, that I may never get to read to my kids anymore. After our two days of having Heath all to ourselves, the kids were bored. It was rainy and friends were all busy for Spring Break. I missed the days when I would read to my kids. I pulled Where the Red Fern Grows off the shelf.

Gavin read the book a few years ago for school. He loves hearing the story again. Gwen and Parker weren’t so sure at first but I think even they have enjoyed the story. It helps when they have something to do while I read. That was always how we did it before. The kids would draw and color while I read in the summer afternoons. Now I read for about half an hour in the evenings when we all realize there is nothing worth watching on TV. Heath has been really enjoying the story as well.

I think I will have to build in some reading time this summer. I love that the kids can walk out the front door and find friends immediately. I can’t wait for them to be able to go out until they are hungry and then go back out until the street lights come on. But I think I will have to insist on some reading time. Maybe in the morning when we’re all still pajama clad and lazy. We love reading too much.

Recently Heath bought a set of hardbound missionary style books of Mormon. His reasoning was that it’s kind of annoying when we say it’s time to read scriptures and the kids scatter for long periods of time. They are easily distracted. By shiny objects, I think. It takes so long just to assemble everyone that the feeling to read is all but gone by the time we’re ready! Now we keep the five copies in the faux window cutout by the dining room table. We read after dinner every night.

Gwen said something cute this morning. I was watching the news and
Wally Weathergirl was saying that today was a lovely day with sunshine all day. She said it would be nice and dry this evening, perfect for taking a walk after dinner.

Gwen: Or you could read the scriptures!

She sounded like doing that trumped any walk on a dry evening. It’s only taken about four years, but we just might finish reading the Book of Mormon as a family!

Killer Plastic: Danger in Your Own Home

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It was an ordinary Friday night. A commercial enticed us to go out for ice cream. Four of us sat in the van eagerly waiting while Heath changed out the windshield wipers. Gwen gawked at him as she crowded me from the backseat. Soon she was outside to be as close to the boring action as humanly possible.

Heath took advantage of her presence. He asked her to throw something in the plastic garbage sack just behind her. She heard the word garbage and walked past the garage threshold onto the driveway.

Heath: No, the garbage bag! Right there!
Gwen: Where?
Heath: The garbage bag is hanging right there. No … Look down … Careful, it will bite you!

Her entire body jerked as she stepped back looking absolutely horrified. Then she leaned toward the plastic bag as if she was inspecting the ground for a rabid killer spider that just ate a snake.

Gwen: Where?
Heath: Right there!

He walked over and touched the bag hanging right in front of her. We all laughed of course. Gwen not so much. She somehow was still expecting a death wielding creature to jump out and snatch her.

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The humor of the situation is still quite entertaining. Parker drew this cartoon movie poster today. Gwen is learning to laugh at herself. The picture is pretty funny and life is too short to take oneself so seriously.

Adopting Elliot

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There often comes a time in life when a family feels they are not complete. Someone is missing. The feeling can be assuaged in different ways. When our family felt the siren call we knew we had to adopt.

Adoption is an adventure.

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Often in foreign lands with foreign customs. We were up for anything.

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The more foreign and strange the better. If the topography resembled the set of a Dr. Seuss story, we were in. Bring on the Wild Things.

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So we set sail for where the wild things are. The pull to adopt tugged us in the direction of the beautifully obscure. A place where most creatures lazily floated through the day and others zoomed around in circles. A man on a mission to nowhere. Gavin tried to follow him. My runner could barely keep up!

 

 

 

 

 

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We thought we were on the outside looking in.

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It was soon apparent that we were the ones on display.

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We were the odd visitors. Everyone seemed to question, “Who were these strange creatures that had come into our world?”

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Gwen won over the hearts of the natives. Her mermaid shirt may have had something to do with that. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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Soon they made us kings of where the wild things are.

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Now let the wild rumpus start!

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Eventually the party had to end. We still hadn’t found the new addition to our family that we had come for. Gavin reminded a creature of our quest.

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The creatures begged, “Oh please don’t go! We’ll sting you lots we love you so!”

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But the kids said, “No.” We got back in our boat and sailed off to the gift shop. Where we found Elliot the harbor seal.

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He was very happy to meet his new family, particularly the aqua pets. For now our family is complete.

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Bottom left to right: Tilly the cow, Sloppy Joe the pig, Cosmo Cougar, Cheer the BYU cheerleading bear, Moe the baby cougar, Seaweed the sea horse, Monty the sea turtle, Frisbee the baby turtle, Marty the octopus, Qualmie the river otter, Becky the sea otter with Baby Einstein, Elliot the harbor seal, Minnie the fox, the Love Expert (we haven’t settled on a name yet), Walty the bear, Olaf the snowman

Top left to right: Betty the penguin, Bill the flight tiger, and Olaf the snowman

Not pictured: Steven the seagull

With this many pets, I hope our family is complete. I have a feeling it isn’t. This is our favorite family fun tradition.