March 27, 2019

the luckiest

I feel as though I am the luckiest.

To spend my days with this beautiful little one.

To see brothers playing side by side on the soccer field. (numbers 6 and 25)

To soak in this sunset.

March 25, 2019

or i’ll put you with the goats

Perry thrives off of routine. And the structure of school and the influence of peers. So by the end of two weeks without school things get a little wild around here. 

This afternoon there was a big tantrum. I can’t even recall what set him off. But it was 40 min of anger in the car while we picked Kacin and a friend up from the mall—yelling, bad words, threats to unbuckle his seat belt, etc. I tried all the tricks I could while I was driving: Let’s listen to your favorite song, here’s a juice box, here’s a snack, strikes to lose privileges, talking about something new, and ignoring. Nothing was working!

After we dropped Kacin’s friend off we had to go pick Kyler up. And this is the point that Perry’s threats to take his seat belt off became more than threats and he unbuckled while I was driving down the main road. So I dug deep and got creative and told Perry that he had to the count of three to get his buckle on or I would be taking him to the goats. He knows our friends just got two little goats. And he is not a fan of them. He asked if the goats would bite him. And he told me he would hit them. So I told him that goats kick back. I counted to three and he put his buckle on. 

We got Kyler in the car, but Perry was not settling down. Rather than continue the tantrum at home, where I knew destruction would happen, I decided to let the tantrum continue in the great outdoors of a local park. 

I stuck by Perry for a good half hour trying to keep him away from the rest of his siblings and get him to calm down. (Though I know he hit each of them at least once.) I chased him, tickled him, ignored his mean words, held him, walked with him, pointed interesting things out to him, gave him more strikes which equate to loss of screen time this week, and while there were moments of calm, he raged on. 

Eric called when he left work and we decided the best course of action was for him to meet us at the park so I didn’t have to stick him in the car with his siblings again. 

When Eric showed up, Perry decided he just wanted mom. The mom he had been running from, biting, and calling “a fool” for the last hour and a half. Isn’t that funny how that works? He went and hid on the other side of the park so he wouldn’t have to go with dad. Can you find him? :)

While Perry kept himself hidden, the rest of us sat on the ground and took a moment. To breathe, I guess.

We listened to songs from the Hunger Games soundtrack. Because I’ve been in the mood for that. 

We enjoyed a few minutes in the shade of the first truly warm (in the high 80s) day of the year. 

And I did not have to threaten to drop him off with the goats again. 

from the weekend

My hurt back and the development of Shingles (which apparently is quite common after chemo and radiation) kept us close to the house all weekend. But even our low key weekends seem pretty full sometimes.

This little love! She insisted to put these on when she found them outside.

Perry had opening day for Little League. Eric took him while I stayed home with the other kids. It’s hard to see him in this picture, but there he is parading our with his team and his amazing coach. He loves playing baseball on the Challenger team!

I forced Kacin to buy shoes on Saturday. His tennis shoes had a big hole in them. Since he pays for all of his clothes now, he told me he was making them last as long as possible. And that some kids around the world don’t even have shoes so a hole in his was no big deal. I let that argument hold until Saturday until I dragged him to the shoe store. He found a pair on sale and we had a coupon on top of that. He is much more careful about what he buys now that it is all coming from his own hard earned money. I think that’s because he knows he’d rather spend his money on his frequent walks to Taco Bell and Dairy Queen with his friends. Haha.

Since our spring break trip, Kyler has been keeping “collective family” alive. Collective family refers to a mashup of a group of friends who we hung with all week. And apparently I get to be the official “collective mom” to the group. At first I was flattered and thought it was because I was the coolest and their favorite. And then Kyler told me the truth. They decided on the collective mom and the collective dad based on which parents got after them the most. Oh well, what can you do? Somebody’s got to do it.

So the reference to CF and collective family and collective parents here is all in reference to this running joke since the trip. But since I wasn’t feeling well and I had another doctors appointment on Friday and then Saturday night I was asked to speak a little bit in RS, Kyler creatively surprised us with this hunt. E and I had gone on a walk and came home to this note on our bedroom door.

We followed all the clues and found the key to our room.

There was this obstacle course. (Which in reality was not much different than how our house looks on a daily basis, ha!)

I loved the note spelled out on the floor!

And then, be still my heart! The sweetest note of encouragement because he knew I was having a rough day. I love this boy so much. I love surprises like this. But I mostly love knowing that he is there for me. I am so lucky with him as my oldest. 

On Sunday afternoon, during our family calendar, we were discussing ministering. It was mostly with the older boys since they have specific families that they are assigned to. Layla wanted to know her part in ministering and was pretty insistent that she go to help someone clean their house. So she invited a friend along and we went to both of her activity day leaders homes. These leaders were so sweet to let the girls come in and give them a simple task to do (unpacking books onto a bookshelf and dusting). Layla and her friend were thrilled with their ministering!

Now the weekend is at its end and we are enjoying one more day of spring break before school starts again tomorrow.

March 24, 2019

FMSC with the boys

I filled up our van and took all these great boys to serve at Feed My Starving Children one morning. Teenage boys, especially, have so much energy and I love to see them happily and willingly channeling it for good. 

I’m glad for opportunities like this to serve in different ways and to help people around the world.

But I’m also trying to notice the opportunities to serve the people around me in small ways. To be better at ministering, with joy and love, to my children and to friends and to the people I continue to meet at doctors appointments. Looking in someone’s eyes and sharing in their sorrows and joys and fears and thinking about and praying for them connects me to God and fills me up.

“Every act of love is a work of peace, no matter how small.” —Mother Theresa

March 23, 2019

spring break ordinary days

Spring break is winding down and it has been full and fun. But there is something near perfect about the ordinary moments at home in between all of the adventures we’ve had.

Like these girls grabbing all of the cutie oranges and taking them outside for a picnic. And then squeezing them by hand to make their own orange juice.

Those smiles!! It’s the simple things like trampoline jumping, pool playing, and cookie making. I do love the ordinary days.

March 12, 2019

these days

We are thoroughly enjoying the beautiful weather here in arizona this month. Brinna and I had a morning at the zoo with a couple of friends.

She would not go near any statue. She clung to my leg and screamed when I tried to coax her to sit with her friends and the orangutan statue for a picture.

She wasn't sure about the goats either...

But she warmed up.

No goats were actually impaled or sacrificed like it appears here.

But their ears were pulled a few times.

Perry had a second grade performance at his school as a culmination of their Around the World study. Perry was super engaged and focused and sang the right words during most of the songs. I was impressed with how far he has come in a few short years. He makes me so proud!

Many of our evenings are spent at the park across the street. Layla decided we needed to try out some sledding down the grass hill. I don't think it went quite as well as she envisioned, but B loved the rides.

Brinnie is still a big fan of going outside to "bounce". There's usually a lot of laughter and throwing herself down and rolling around. She loves the trampoline.

These two have a special friendship. We love that she comes with her mom a couple of days each week. They are the biggest blessing to us right now.

We went got some puppy snuggles in one evening. Our friends have 22 puppies and Layla was in heaven and is thoroughly convinced we need one.

Brinnie gave lots of hugs and kisses to the puppies, too. And then she tried to step on them

Last month, Kyler and Kacin got to attend a special meeting in Glendale. Our dear prophet, President Russell M Nelson held a special meeting. E and I were so sad we couldn't go with the boys that day because we had to leave for CA, but we were so grateful the boys got to attend with some wonderful friends.

From a night at a RS activity..

A few of Layla’s recent creations. Kapla blocks continue to be our favorite!

March 9, 2019

what I’ve been reading

I'm so excited to be reading more this year. I love books!

In order to make sure I stay on top of my goal of 52 books this year, I pulled a bunch of books I've been wanting to read off of our book shelf and put them in a pile next to my bed. That way I never have to take time to figure out what to read next. I can just grab the next book from one of my choices. I have a good mix of nonfiction, fiction, and children's lit so on the weeks I need something lighter or heavier I can pick what I feel like. I also got a kindle for christmas and I love that it gives me another option to make reading easier and accessible. Though I still prefer a copy of a book in my hands, I can easily fold laundry while I read with my kindle. I've been reading more books with Layla now. And when we go to goodwill every couple of weeks on half off day to get Perry new shirts (he is chewing through all of his shirts right now) I always spend some time browsing the books and walk away with some good ones. Book club each month also keeps me reading. It's been wonderful!

I was able to read 12 books in January and February (most of them are pictured above, but not all of them).

Before We Were Yours: I do love historical fiction. And this is a good one. I had never even heard about this part of history before I read this book. It is sometimes hard to read, but man these stories need to be told.

Felicity: an American Girl- I read this with Layla. It brought back happy reading memories from when I was younger. Especially because this was my own childhood copy.

Of Mice and Men: This was the first time I read this book. I skipped and skimmed a little. I kind of wish I didn't read it, but I think it's a story that will stick with me. So maybe the author achieved his goal.

A Town Like Alice: We read this one for book club and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. It was a loosely based historical fiction and a really great read.

Sometimes You win--Sometimes You Learn for Teens: How to Turn a Loss into a Win- I like the principles and the ideas of the book, but it was pretty dry. Especially being geared towards teens. I'm pretty sure my teens would zone out and fall asleep. But there were a few good stories and lessons and it's worth it to talk about the ideas of the book.

"Sometimes you will win. Sometimes you will lose. But every time you will have the opportunity to ask yourself, "What did I learn?" If you always have an answer to that question, then you will go far. And you will enjoy the journey."

No Ordinary Women: Elaine Dalton is one of my heroes. This was a quick, but great inspirational read.

"It is an interesting thing that as human beings, we seek comfort zones. Based on everything I read in the scriptures, I don't think the Lord likes us to be in a comfort zone. He repeatedly takes his choices disciples out of their comfort zones and challenges them by their circumstances, their trials, and their opportunities to become more and to do more." 

Peter Pan: I loved reading this classic for the first time. And knowing a little background about the author helped add so much more meaning to the story.

Thursdays with Zoe: I think there could have been a more fitting title, but I loved so many of these stories. Zoe was a sweet, incredible person, yet completely relatable. The stories inspired me as a mom and a person and helped me think about how I want to live my life.

"Oh! That's my LAY-deeeeee!"

"One thing that helps my perspective is to remember that the 'things' in our lives pale in comparison to the Real Power. You see, there is no possession in the world--not the biggest house, not the fastest car, not the most extravagant outfit--that can bring tears to my eyes just by thinking about it."

"You must remember that the only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks of you. Is the Lord pleased with you, April?"

How to Train Your Dragon: This was book club pick. I read it to Layla. Though, she didn't listen most of the time. It was a fun book. Not too deep. I've never seen the movies, but I think I will finish the series sometime before watching them.

"It is a lot easier to be brave when you know you have no alternative."

"I have helped the problems of many a Supper. Sometimes meeting a Really Big Problem like myself seems to put everything else in proportion."

My Father's Dragon: a classic a used to read out loud to my first graders when I was teaching. I read it to my own first grader this time.

L. Tom Perry, an Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation: I was excited to read this book because Perry's name was somewhat influenced by this great man. However, I had a hard time getting into the book and I don't think it dove in to L. Tom Perry's life much deeper than what I already learned about him from reading his conference talks. There was a lot of background about his family, but that didn't interest me too much. I'm sure if I were related to him that would've been more valuable though.

"...whatever any of us give up in service to the Lord is returned to us a hundredfold."

The Glass Castle: This book sums up why I want to keep being a foster parent. Her story stays with you. It is shocking and so important that it is told. and I think it is a testament of how complicated life can be. Life isn't always black and white. Even crazy people have some good. And while people can rise up from circumstances, and it is incredible that she does, so many people do not and carry on the cycle.

"Years from no, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten,' Dad said, 'you'll still have your stars."

"No child is born a delinquent,' Mom said, They only become that way, she went on, if nobody loved them when they were kids. Unloved children grow up to become serial murderers or alcoholics. mom looked pointedly at dad and then back at me. She told me I should try to be nicer to Billy. 'He doesn't have all the advantages you kids do,' she said."

"It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty."

"Everyone has something good about them,' she said. 'You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.'
'Oh yeah?' I said. 'How about Hitler? What was his redeeming quality?'
'Hitler loved dogs,' Mom said without hesitation."

"I think that maybe sometimes people get the lives they want."

"It's sort of the city's fault,' Mom told me. 'They make it too easy to be homeless. If it was really unbearable, we'd do something different."

"Never did build that Glass Castle.
No. But we had fun planning it."

Happy reading!