Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Temple Tour

We were there the day that ground broke for the construction of the new Gilbert Temple. We had packed up our 4 little kids and a few water bottles. Cali was tucked into my waistline about 5 months along. Branson was grouchy and we all got super dusty. A nice man saw me holding my sleeping 3 year old and found me a chair. I loved the talks and the music and if you asked me I would tell you the truth--that it was a huge hassle to be there on a Saturday, it was hot but it was totally worth it.






























We were there again the day that the Angel Moroni was placed. It was REALLY hot. But I loved the sight of all those school kids and spectators running and climbing and excited to get a glimpse.





















































We have, quite literally,  seen almost everyday of the construction of the temple. We have seen the trucks and construction crews and cranes and delivery trucks and landscapers. Piece by piece and day by day.

Then we saw the trucks and the crews disappear and they were replaced by throngs of people walking up the sidewalk and across the street in their Sunday best. On the first day that the temple was open for tours I had a 10pm cleaning assignment. The next day I sent this email to my family.

I had the 10pm to mid-night shift last night. It was an amazing feeling to actually be inside after being at the ground breaking on November 13, 2010, being at the placing of the angel Moroni and then watching the progress literally every single day. I felt so grateful to get to vacuum all the sealing rooms. As I worked, I  looked at myself in the reflecting mirrors and thought about how grateful I am to have a forever family. It is worth any sacrifice! I also got to polish the glass stair ways and doors. After we were done we quietly toured all the rooms, the detail and workmanship is breathtaking but it was when we entered the baptistery that I was just overcome. It is a sacred place and we were perfectly silent except for the sound of the water softly filtering through the font. I couldn't help but picture my kids standing there, all in white doing this ordinance for people who have been waiting so long for it. It was a powerful experience. And it made my love for Jesus Christ even stronger. He truly loves us and wants ALL of the human family to have access to these ordinances.
 
And last week, we at last took our kids to see the inside of the temple that they have seen the outside of everyday from day one. (so sad that Kaden had a wrestling tournament and missed our tour, he will be attending this week). It felt almost surreal to be taking my kids through at last. They loved it and I am so thankful for the chance to be there with them.








Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthday in the Sunshine


In the very same year that I lost my Grandma I gained Scott's Grandma. The timing was perfect and Grandma Mag has filled such a special place in my heart and in my life for all these years. She is gentle and kind and has the most sweet voice any grandma has ever had. She loves children and their messes, noise and silliness never bothers her at all. She has lived in the same house for decades and that little house still holds the same sturdy toys that her children played with. I love how the generation Grandma came from take such good care of their things and I love that they are content with what they have. We have so much to learn from them. The best thing about Grandma is her testimony and her faith. That testimony just shines through in her eyes and I just can't say just how much I love her.

Last week us girls got together and ate lunch in the sunshine to celebrate Grandma's birthday. She looked so pretty there in the sun and I was so glad to be there with her.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Full Days

This week has been a doozy. Kaden and Branson are in the thick of their sports seasons, Ella was sick, we have had dinner guests and carpools and huge papers and book reports and Relief Society meetings and at last our new temple opened. Just two shifts into my facilities assignment and I have already had such tender experiences that I need to write much more on later.






























I spent most of last Saturday down in Tempe with Cali packed up and lugged along at Kaden's wrestling tournament. He has only been wrestling for a total of about 6 weeks but he loves it and I tell you what, thanks to my brothers he has wrestling coursing through his veins. My brother Josh met me down at the tournament and was a HUGE support to Kaden and to me.

Later that day he sent me this,

"I'm very proud of the way Kaden acted today. When he won he didn't jump up and down like a fool and when he lost he didn't lay on the mat and pound the ground like a baby. Win or lose he acted like a man."

Awh so nice. Kaden is lucky to have all those uncles to help him learn the sport. And to encourage him along the way. Those little brothers of mine are priceless to me and I worry about them and hope for them just like I do with my own kids. They are all so busy in the thick of school and young family life but they have taken time to check on Kaden's wrestling over and over. It is such a blessing.

Scott spent his day at Branson's first gymnastics meet of the season where he was sick for all 6 events. This Saturday we will swap.

Phew! We are running and running these days! I am not a fan of it but between school, work, church and letting the kids even do one extra thing, we are booked. On one of the busy afternoons last week, Ella and Brylee were playing outside together. Ella came in for a "pomatoe" which she then ate like an apple. But the sound of those two girls, just relaxing and playing and being perfectly happy sisters, calmed my soul and gave me a real moment of joy.





































Such cuties, I sure love them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cowboy and Mother

Last Saturday I got to spend part of the day at the park with my West family. It was such a beautiful day. Blue BLUE sky and perfect weather. My kids played their little hearts out like only kids can and they really had fun being at a different park. I mean we go to the same park every time, this was like a trip to the moon as far as they were concerned.




































The twins-oh these twins- they played with and tracked Cali and Ella the whole time, it was so nice to catch up with my aunts, uncles and cousins with the twins on the watch. Love them!





































It was January 11th exactly 63 years to the day that my Grandma and Grandpa were married. While we ate lunch, I sat next to my Grandpa and asked him a few details about that long ago day. Referring to my Grandma as "Mother" like he always does, he motioned toward our pack of kids and said, "all of them came from Mother and me." Then he asked me if I thought she was there at the park with us. I told him that of course she was, with most her family there, where else would she be? He smiled and one lone tear rolled out from under his thick shaded glasses.

I am so thankful for my Grandpa and Grandma West, it seems like they were part of every single day of my childhood. Grandpa was a cowboy and a fireman and he often came to our school to give presentations, he even went with me as a medic to 5th grade science camp-I loved that. And I spent many hours with my Grandma, grocery shopping at Luckys and visiting on her bed while she folded her towels--perfectly. Maybe they weren't part of everyday, but my memory says they were. They had a little bit of a feistiness to their marriage and I kind of like that about them. I will never forget one afternoon, as a teenager, I was feeling really sorry for myself about something that I cant even remember now. I walked through the back gate and into my Grandparents yard, tip toed across the wet mud left there from the irrigation the day before and climbed into the big rope hammock that hung between two huge shade trees, to pout. After a few minutes my Grandpa hollered out at me that I shouldn't have walked through the mud and that it would leave big dried up divots in the yard. Grandma was hot on his trail, snipping at him from the back door, "you leave her alone, she can go out there whenever she wants." I love that story and somehow the love Grandpa has for Grandma seems to have deepened and deepened over all these lonely years.

How I love them.



Monday, January 13, 2014

My Miss Mae


























I woke Ella up this morning by rubbing my hand over and over her warm back, like I always do, only today her skin under my palm felt more like hot than warm.

She whimpered through droopy eyes and a down turned mouth that she didn't feel good. I have this strange happiness when one of my kids isn't feeling quite right. I know that sounds pretty mean but I do love the excuse to keep one of them home and spoil and pamper them all day. I just get this thankful feeling inside that I get to be the one here with them when they need me most. I like staying home and seeing socky feet poking out from under a blanket on the couch. I like bringing sips of water or a tissue. I like adjusting the pillow and feeling their foreheads for temperature changes and I like finding a good cartoon to watch. I am so thankful that I don't have to take them to a babysitter when they need an unexpected day at home from school and I am so thankful for a comfortable house that shelters them and keeps them warm.

Each day even with life's challenges and sicknesses is just filled with so much to be thankful for. And I could not be more thankful for my Miss Mae, I love her so.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Little Friend

I had an especially hard time sending everyone back to school yesterday. We had such a good, relaxing break that schedules and homework seem really annoying. From 6am, until Scott pulls out of the driveway at 7:30, is crazy time. Scriptures, prayers, clothes and hair, breakfast, smoothies, lunch packing, planner signing, back up to brush, a last minute flurry of jackets, shoes and kisses good-bye and they're off. I always sneak out at about 7:20 to start the car because I cant stand the thought of my family climbing into a freezing cold car.

Almost always just as the door closes on the pack of kids leaving I hear little feety jamies coming down the stairs. Pink cheeks and crazy hair and Buzz Lightyear tucked under one arm. Man oh man does she ever feel good to snuggle up with on the couch in a quiet house. I sing "are you awake birthday cake?" like I have for all the days of her life and she wraps around me like she hasn't seen me in days. It is a great way to start the day and it takes the sting off of the others being gone all day. I just cant say how much I love my time with this little friend.

Monday, January 6, 2014

More Pics Please

I took very few pictures in 2013. I mean relatively anyway. I still took hundreds of pictures but you know my grandma probably only took a total of about 50 in her whole entire life. Sometimes I think they may have enjoyed events more than we do because they weren't worried about taking pictures and the few they did take are such treasures.

But there is not much I love more than going back and seeing love and fun and sometimes event giant fits captured on camera. I plan to do better this year. I didn't take ANY pictures during Christmas break. I am regretting it now. I had that yucky back to school pit in my stomach when I woke Kaden up bright and early to head out for another semester. I hugged him a little long and a little tight in the door way and then I crawled back into bed with the others for one more day of slow before we head back to fast. Yuck.

So like I said 2014- take more pictures, write more stories, finish the house and make the details count for something, exercise and hike more, keep eating healthier, read the Bible, never miss Home Evening and never yell at the kids. Ha!

How's that for goals!

I did get started on the house by moving my church pew in-(found on craigslist for $100 and refinished by my brother in law), painted the dark frame in the entry white and changed the dark rug for a light one and I feel better already. I like simple clean d├ęcor but I have learned I need a lot of light and bright.




































Stairway trim, paint the bench and finish the bedskirts are next.

But for now I still have one day with my 4 younger kids so everything else will have to wait.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Start, Finish, Repeat

The scriptures and I had a conversation last night. I mean I wasn't really saying anything but they were talking to me and when the scriptures talk, one should listen. They talked so firmly that I even sat down in the first morning light coming from my window and listened to them again. Oh Abinadi. Brave, brave Abinadi. The courage there is really just something to behold.

Anyway.

Abinadi was boldly and confidently telling King Noah and his minions what is what. My mind exploded with pictures of a story I have read many times but somehow this time it WAS REAL. This really happened and holy cow and oh my and all of that! I wondered if Abinadi and his brave soul had any doubts going in or if he had put those terrifying doubts away long before he stood there, his face aglow, facing death without flinching and evil without fear. Was his faith so solid and his vision so extended beyond the here and now that fire and death seemed small in comparison?




























And then the if only. If only a shard of that faith was inside of me. Oh I could do stuff with that. But here is where I felt sure--sure that Abinadi earned every ounce of that huge faith. Sure that he probably had spent a life time doing hard things and preparing for the day that he would need courage so solid that a whole army of King Noahs could not stop him. Sure that I want my children to know about Abinadi and sure that reading the scriptures with them is worth any inconvenience.

A few days before Christmas I sat on the end of Kaden's bed like I always do and read the last page of the Book of Mormon with my kids. We had read every page together for the second time and it was a priceless feeling. I am pretty sure that most days--most of them weren't listening. I am pretty sure that most days they were glad when our morning scriptures was over. And you better bet that at times I was glad when it was over too.  But someday when they need huge faith I hope that all the little bits of courage that we dripped into their souls morning by morning, verse by verse and page by page will solidify into a giant golden testimony that is immovable--like Abinadi-glowing and powerful.

The very next morning we started over. Because I want Abinadi to talk to my kids. (And Nephi and Jacob and Alma and Moroni and Jared and Ammon...) I love the scriptures and I am so thankful for the priceless counsel to read them with my children everyday.

If you will read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God. Pres. Hinckley

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas


It's a new year and I am already behind. Behind on laundry and housework and keeping this record that I love. But! I am caught up on sleeping in with the kids, visiting old friends, hiking and playing with cousins ALL DAY.

With so many fun and far away cousins in town we are completely worn out but happy for the time we got to spend with them.

Christmas Eve was a beautiful sunny 72 degree day so we packed up with some good old friends and drove out to the mountains for a day of rock climbing. I sure love getting my kids "out of the world" and into the mountain, it is so good for the soul I tell you. My big kids and Scott even got to do an actual climb up a steep rock face! (just look at that big blue!)










































We rushed home showered off and made it to the Magnusson Family Christmas Eve dinner just in time. The traditions at this Christmas Eve program are rich and solid and I am so thankful that my kids get to feel the spirit there. The whole night is about Jesus Christ and I just love it. Thank-you Grandma for starting these traditions so long ago and for being the glue that holds them together!

It goes like this: Dinner, the children's nativity, music and scripture, testimonies, the bells, Aunt Maureen speed version of The 12 Days of Christmas, matching Christmas t-shirts, pictures and bedtime.






















In Grandmas testimony she mentioned how much she loved Kaden's choir concert and how she hoped he would keep developing his music. It was such a tender moment and Kaden was beaming with love for his Great Grandma Mag!

































We also got to help provide and pack a huge pile of "sleep tight" bags for the shelter. These bags will go to  children who have very little to call their own. Each bag has a book, a toothbrush, a stuffed animal and a blanket.


























Christmas morning was quiet and slow which I love! My favorite part was the minutes I got to spend in bed with my kids singing Christmas Carols while Scott went to check if "Santa came".


























In the days since we celebrated Christmas we got to see my brothers girls in from Oregon, my sisters kids in from Surprise and Scott's cousins down from Idaho. I don't know why its fun to stay up all night when your cousins visit but that is exactly what they do. Man! These 3 sure love each other.

Kaden also went to his first dance on New Years Eve and I wish I would have taken a picture of him all ready to go. He looked so cute and smelled good too. Like toothpaste and soap. I would have danced with him for sure.

If feels pretty good to see 2013 go. It was a trying year but also filled with so many happy moments, tender mercies and warm peaceful memories. But I am still glad that it's over and starting something new feels so good.

Happy Day it's 2014!