Friday, June 30, 2017

Walkaholic

This morning just before 8 am, I headed down to Lehi with Daniel to pick up three of my sweet nephews. My little brother Grant is moving to Texas, and today they were loading up the van. I can't help with that much cause of the little ones in my care, but I can take more little ones! So Taden, Edmund, and Eli came to play at our house for the day. After I got back home, I woke up Joseph, Ethan, Hyrum and Wesley, and sent them down to help load up the truck. I heard they were good helpers, and received a few pictures via text for proof. Good job, boys! Nice to be able to lend out their services.

Mel was gone at her flute forum again, so Abi was my helper here at home. She was very attentive to Eli. I think Eli was the one that threw us off the most - we kept doing double takes, cause he looked so much like Owen, but was smaller like Daniel, so we'd do double takes throughout the day - Is that Owen, no, Daniel? Oh yeah, ELI!" I took Owen and Eli on a walk - they could easily pass for siblings, and I'd say they could pass for twins! When I take Owen and Daniel on a walk, some people ask me if they are twins, to which I think "Are you kidding? They don't look a thing like each other!" But Owen and Eli, they really could be twins! With their big blue eyes and little blonde heads, super cute.
We take Owen on a walk every day, several times a day. I try to take the night shift after the temperature has cooled and the sun's gone down. This past week I've walked for like an hour as I listened to youtube videos on health. Daniel is usually out after one lap, Owen can take as many as 3 laps around the block. The kids have been joking that Owen is almost like a dog that needs to be taken on a walk every day. He loves it, and will cheer "WALK!!!" if we ask him if he wants to go. He'll put his little fists up in the air and run to the door. He loves going on walks. He's a walkaholic. aren't you, Owen?!
It's a little dangerous sometimes going on a walk with Daniel, cause he likes to pull himself up and grab Owen's hair.
I know I don't need to share 6 pictures to convey the gist of what walks are like, but Daniel looks so funny in these, I couldn't decide which one to post.
So I have to share all of them!
And Owen, look at that cute smile!! He's such a sweet little boy. My little almost two year old, I love you!
I actually think this one below is my favorite cause they're both smiling.
But I'll keep all 6 here anyway. I'm so grateful to have these two little boys in my life.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Prove Faithful

The funeral for Abraham today was beautiful. They live in Preston, Idaho. This is the first time I've been up there. I've been to Logan before, but driving further north, I just thought about what a beautiful area it was, such a pretty valley. Right below Preston is Whitney, ID, where President Ezra Taft Benson was born, which I didn't know before. I can see why President Benson loved his farm, it is such beautiful country!

On the freeway as we drove up, before we got to the Brigham City exit, there was a mother duck and her ducklings crossing the freeway. They were in the middle lane moving west when we passed on the left of them. There were so many cars and the cars were coming so quickly. No driver could see the ducks until they were right in front of them. We passed by and I looked behind to try to see what happened with the cars behind us. I didn't see them get hit, but I felt sick thinking about them, as I was sure they didn't make it all the way across alive. Those little baby ducks! Just following their mother with complete trust! Or maybe it was more complete dependence... maybe they were like "Uh, Mom? This doesn't seem like the best idea..." but they didn't really have any other options but to go along. Anyway, so they're probably all dead, so sad. I don't like death. And since we were on our way to a funeral, we talked and thought about death. None of us escape it. I'm so grateful to know that our spirits live on, that animals have spirits and they live on too. If they did die, they are like our little baby bird, enjoying each other's company in the perfect meadows of heaven. I have a sure faith that Christ has overcome death and I am so grateful to know that!

We arrived in time for the viewing. It was an open casket. It was hard to control my emotions as I looked at him as I held Owen in my arms. I gave him to Wes and then lifted up each of the girls to see Abraham's sweet little body. A little blonde two year old boy, I could only think of Owen as I imagined being in their position. The Royals are burying part of their heart today. Such a heart wrenching experience. Melanie and Dannan were out in the hall as people left the viewing. I gave Melanie a hug first. She said "You are so blessed! Your children are such a gift, cherish them!" I gave Dannan a hug. "Thank you for coming. There are no words. What can you do? The Lord called him home, and we have to be tried even as Abraham...." That was a quote by Joseph Smith that Dannan also shared during his talk, a quote that I am familiar with:

"You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God. God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God."

Our very heart strings wrenched... a fitting description for this test. Then we watched a short picture video of Abraham's life, saw beautiful pictures of him being hugged and kissed and loved by his family. We went into the chapel and waited for the funeral to start. Owen had the runs, so I took him out for 4 diaper changes before the services concluded. One my first outing to the car, Rachael saw me. She and Jacob came and sat by us and held Daniel. Rachael said they were going to sing a quartet with Melanie and Dannan and she hoped they could actually sing and not just stand up there crying. Dannan gave a beautiful talk. As I listened I thought it was so beautiful, so I began to record it. I'll try to transcribe it later. I also recorded the song. They were able to keep composure as they sang through it. Their voiced blended perfectly and they had heavenly smiles on their faces. They sang Dearest Children, God is Near You. I thought of Melanie and Dannan as the "children" in the song. In verse two - "...Holy angels Watch your actions night and day, And they keep a faithful record Of the good and bad you say." Though this is the trial of their life, they are speaking faithful words and are not condemning God for letting this heart wrenching experience come into their lives. They are powerful examples to everyone who knows them! Their stake president spoke too. I recorded his talk and should transcribe some of that too. He said great things, like how they all will be able to feel Abraham's spirit and presence with them throughout their lives. He also warned them that they will be tempted by the adversary to blame themselves or to feel guilty for what happened, so they will need to fight off those temptations cause they are lies from Satan who wants to destroy our hope. We will continue to pray for our dear friends that they and all of us can "...prove faithful, Oh prove faithful! To your God and Zion's cause!" It was a lovely service. Hyrum and Wesley came up, Abi and Lily stayed for an activity they had with neighbors, and I took Sophi, Natalie, Owen and Daniel. It was a long drive and we got them up early. Natalie fell asleep before the program was finished
...which was good cause she was being a bit of a stinker. Owen and Daniel were wiggly and noisy - again I had like 4 diaper changes for Owen during the services and Daniel was noisy, but I knew that my friends would give anything to be wrestling with their little boy instead of burying him. I hope I can always keep that perspective. But I know that their tears will be turned to joy in a glorious coming day. This picture was on Dannan's facebook. (Painting by Howard Lyon)
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
-Revelation 21:4

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tears and Prayers

I just found out that our friends' little boy passed away over the weekend.
He was the seventh and youngest child of our friends from Costa Rica, Melanie and Dannan Royal. He was just two years old, a month older than our Owen is. I can't even imagine facing a trial like that. Last time they were here was in 2015 for Thanksgiving, Melanie had her little boy Abraham, Rachael had Adam, and I had Owen. The funeral is tomorrow morning in Idaho. I'm going to try and go. I'm heartbroken for them! Prayers for the wonderful Royal family. We love you! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Food Logistics

I just found out today that Stephanie Nielsen, who I've always admired, is a vegetarian! She just posted about it on the 15th! We're a little like them. Joseph ate just whatever meat wise while he was at BYU last week, taking advantage of what could be his last opportunity to pig out on all the taste bud addictions of the SAD - Standard American Diet. That was okay by me. Like Stephanie said about her and her husband: "We are not meat sticklers, I don't care who eats meat- including my children. If the Little Nies are at friends houses for a meal, or choose to go out with friends to dinner, they are free to choose what they eat- no judgment from Christian or I." I don't mind what the kids eat when they are on their own, that is their choice. But I don't buy that stuff, and we eat healthy here at home. So that was kinda neat to find out, I feel a little more supported in this new life of ours. Another thing that is helping is our new food and fridge arrangement.

When my mom came over on Saturday, she and my dad delivered a fridge. We already had two fridges in the garage, (so the one in the house, then two in the garage...) but our 3rd fridge doesn't work well. It used to be in the house, but it would freeze our produce. So we ordered this new one in Sep 2015 (I remember that date cause it was delivered on the day of Abi's baptism) We kept it in the garage for bread and other things that didn't matter if they got frozen or not. But now we have one that works, so I'm going to put the broken one on the classifieds and it will be gone soon.

So, I arranged it so that now we have a.... (drumroll) Vegetable fridge and a Fruit Fridge!
I feel like it's already helped me know what we need to buy when I went grocery shopping yesterday. And we also moved them against the wall, so we have a bit more room for the car doors to open without getting banged up.
I also spent time on Sunday going through my recipe book. There is a lot of stuff that I need to throw out. I don't think I'll buy or make salmon anymore. I mostly did it cause I thought it was a healthy meat option, and cause of course we needed a meat dish as the main meal at each dinner, right?
Yeah, that's what I used to think. But I haven't had salmon on our date nights anymore. I don't miss is that much. I like eating plant based more than I ever liked meat. I also threw out most all my egg recipes.
 And a snap shot of an old weekly menu from our previous life.
That is how we used to eat before June 2017. I'm excited to continue this new way of thinking about food and meals. I just need to sit down and plan out the menu like I did in that picture above. I can do it, now, going to do it soon. Meals feel much more simplified now and I know it will be easier. I just need life to slow down for a little bit so I can get on top of it!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Wesley is 12

I woke up early yesterday (well, early for a Sunday)... The kids had all put so much work into making Lily's birthday special, I wanted to do something for Wes. Abi had asked me to wake her up, so Abi and I made Wesley breakfast in bed.
It was a breakfast of blueberries, , and more blueberries! Cause Wes LOVES blueberries. Sometimes after my Costco run when he's at New Bop, I'll pick him up and I'll have a clam shell of blue berries and he and I will eat the whole thing on the drive home. :) So Wes ate his breakfast, got dressed, and then opened his presents.
Most everyone else was still in bed. Joseph dragged himself into Wesley's room to sing happy birthday to him. And we see little Natalie here, who is always up for a birthday party. She got up quick when she heard we were having cupcakes for breakfast (Ok, I'll buy one junk food think on birthdays).

One more cute picture from Saturday - Owen loves Wesley. Wesley was reading on Saturday and Owen got on his back and wouldn't let him leave or get up.
 And then Owen fell asleelp on him. "Mom, can you please take Owen!"
Wesley is such a patient big brother, Owen loves him so much. We all do. Happy birthday Wes!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Birthday Weekend Report

It's been a birthday weekend. So, for Lily's birthday last night... So had started a new tradition this year where we take the birthday kid out with us on our date night. But we didn't do it with Lily last night, cause instead we all went down to BYU to see Joseph in a concert.
He's been at Summerfest all week and having a fabulous time (he stayed in the DORMS and had a meal card, which he was really excited about!) So we went down there and will give Lily a rain check for her date night dinner... Not sure what Ethan is doing here. But it's the only picture I have of the crew in the audience.
I took a long video of them playing "Jazz Police" where Joseph totally rocked his solo (at 2:17)

(It was hard to hold the phone up for that long!)
We never saw Joseph after the show. He was off for more fun. So we went to the BYU Wilkinson Center where Corey treated the kids to some bowling fun. I passed Daniel off to the kids where they would hand him off as they took turns up to bowl, and then I took off with Owen. We played a lot of Skee ball, which he loved. It was actually just one game, but we spent a good half our with our last 3 balls and just rolled them up and down the lane.
And then we took the skee balls over to the air hockey table. Those were easier for Owen to hit than the air hockey puck.
Then Owen and I continued to wander. I had a hand full of MnM's that I used to keep him busy. We ate them everywhere in the Wilk.
I'd put the MnM's on tables and chairs and he'd come find them. This Reflection Room was a new addition since the last time I was at BYU. A quite room that felt like inside the temple, where the names of BYU Alumni who have died in our country's service are remembered.
We killed a good hour and then went back to the bowling alley where they are all still going strong.
There was some kind of wager or prize if the kids were able to beat Corey's score. So after they were done bowling we headed to the cars and drove over to the BYU Creamery on 9th where Corey bought cones, an ice cream scoop, two (3?) half gallons, and donuts. Then we drove to Rock Canyon park where they all pigged out in the dark. Not a bad birthday bash for Lily. But the party was not over yet! My mom wasn't able to come over before we had to leave for BYU last night, so the party has continued today!

Corey headed down to BYU around 11 am to pick up Joseph, but then J decided to stay and get a ride with someone else. While Corey was gone, we watched a few Netflix videos - We had started Fat Sick and Nearly Dead a week or two ago and finally finished watching the second half. (trying to counter all the birthday junk food) We were really proud of Phil! Then, in the sequel, we find that Phil gained it back and was starting over again! That's gotta be rough. You need support. The kids get excited about being healthy after watching health videos, so I'll probably have to show them something atleast once a month. So, after our morning of watching about juice fasting, I ran out to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a juicer. We made some Mean Green Juice. I'm on Joe Cross' email list now. It's fun to try new things. It helped me use lots of our veggies that were about to go bad, so that's good. But I hate throwing out all that fiber.

So, after getting my mind focused on eating healthy, I was able to resist the birthday cakes that my mom brought them over. Happy Birthday yesterday, Lily! Happy birthday tomorrow, Wesley!
Lily is our sweet 8 year old. She's going to be baptized next month!
And this young man is turning 12! So he is going to receive the priestood tomorrow! My little kids are growing up.
Lily opening her presents... her 4th fidget spinner!
Wes opening his gifts. 
My mom and dad both came over to deliver their fridge, they've upgraded. So we rearranged things in the garage quickly, and that was our Saturday. It ended with me taking Owen and Daniel on a walk around the block... something I've been doing a lot of lately (we all have). I went 3 laps. I like it cause I get to listen to conference (Tongue of Angels tonight) or more youtube health videos. Daniel was zonked out after half a lap, and Owen finally crashed on the last stretch of the 3rd lap, hooray! To bed they go, and I get to blog! I have done better this week - I blogged 5 times, yay! Of course I still need to catch up May and June, but I'll get there. Happy Birthday to my cute creative kids Lily and Wes.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wii Mornings

This week Hyrum suggested that he would like to begin again our tradition from last summer of free Wii time from 7-8 am each morning. It was a good way to get them out of bed. So I said sure. This morning they (Hyrum, Wes, and Abi) got up extra early (6 am) to make Lily breakfast in bed. Then they went down to play the Wii. I went on my morning walk and my little friends (Owen and Daniel) were awake when I got home. I took them down to the kids playing the Wii so I could get breakfast ready. Then Natalie woke up and joined them too. I thought it was a pretty cute sight to see the seven of them sitting there together.
I took a quick video of them too. It's cute... Wes let Owen hold his control, cause Owen likes to hold it. And just sit there (such a good big brother). Wes tells Hyrum to look for "the mini" whatever that is, and when Hyrum goes there, he dies and all the kids say "Nooooo...." (:49) followed by Owen with a five second delay before he imitates them... (:55)

I loved how Hyrum held Natalie as he played, and how they take turns passing Daniel around. They are great little helpers and siblings to each other (most of the time!) I'll post later with more of Lily's birthday festivities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Birthday Eve Pampering

Owen likes to go on walks. Corey takes him on walks, Wesley does, Hyrum does, Abi does... Owen could go for a walk all day and all night. Owen was pretty clingy tonight with Corey, but Corey needed to get some more work done, so luckily Owen consented to let me take him on a walk. Sophi came too. It was dark outside and was a nice summer night.  I had taken Owen and Daniel earlier but Daniel cried most of the time, he doesn't like walks as much as Owen. But Sophi and Owen were a pleasure to push. I decided to push them till they were ready to go to bed... I figured maybe 4 laps. But then I stopped and visited with one of our lovely neighbors on my first lap. We stayed and talked for probably 30 minutes. Owen and Sophi got out of the stroller and had races with each other up and down the sidewalk. We finally said goodnight, then we walked home. When I came in, the house was still but not quiet. I put Owen to bed, Daniel was already asleep, I walked around the house to see where everyone was. Mel and Ethan were practicing their instruments (this was at 10:30 at night mind you! Yes, they had had all day to practice, sigh) As I looked around the house, I couldn't find where Hyrum, Wesley, Abi, or Lily were. I asked Corey. I looked in the rooms again, this time I didn't pass by the rooms with the light off, as I had previously passed by the girls room cause it was dark. I turned on the light. And then I laughed out loud at the surprising sight.
There was Lily in her pampered birthday glory. And I am thinking this will definitely be a new tradition that all the kids will want to cash in on! Abi was rubbing Lily's tummy, Wesley was massaging her feet.
Hyrum, I was told, was "the butler", hence the bowtie! He was at her command, playing her music and Studio C sketches with his phone.
Hyrum might have been starting to feel a little tired, Lily looks high on energy though. Tomorrow is her big day, she's turning 8 years old! The kids had a great day to day from my parenting perspective (we have a little competition going on). They were pretty helpful around the house, much better than most of their days this summer. It gave me hope for the next 2 months and with my job at trying to run this house. Wesley won 1st place, Abi 2nd, Mel 3rd, Ethan 4th, Hyrum 5th. Hyrum usually does better with cleaning, but he and Ethan got really into legos today and so they didn't clean much.
Plus he didn't do music again. Tsk tsk! But the castle they've been whippin' up is really cool. They decided to do away with the Lego houses and have been making a really fun castle for their little sisters. They call it "Lego Kingdom." I think your little sisters are going to have fun with it! Atleast until they accidentally break it.
Ethan also was clear to let me know he was not "playing legos" - he was just "building legos". He does not "play" legos, he's too old for that!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Plant Based Breakfast

So, just a little bit about our family's new diet. It's basically vegan I guess. I didn't know the different between vegetarian and vegan until this past week. So we're newbies here. So it's pretty much vegan, but we could also call it "Nutritatiran" via Dr. Fuhrman, or whole food plant based, which is what it's called by most all other doctors in the field of nutritian.

When I used to go to Costco, I'd load up on milk and make sure we had about 7-8 gallons for the week. The last time I did that was on May 29th. Cause I didn't buy any on the 5th, and then we watched Forks Over Knives on the 8th, and that sealed the deal. So the last of that was used on the 14th. The kids really stretched out that last gallon, I kept saying "Better enjoy it cause that's the last of it!" The little kids and Ethan still used it, most of the other kids switched to rice milk and almond milk. Before our whole food switch, in May on one day following a "normal" grocery trip (for orange chicken and cold cereal and such), we had a discussion where I was jokingly accused of being at fault for the junk we eat, cause I'm the one that is always buying the garbage/junk food around here (cold cereal). "I never buy that stuff!" Corey said. Yes, I agree that I do the shopping, but I'm trying to keep the kids happy. (I've always been so conflicted with food around here!!) And hey, you did buy junk cereal! You and Ethan just went to the store and YOU bought Fruit Loops! "Oh, just once, but not like you!" Ok, fine. I'm not buying it anymore! Ethan scoffed "You've said that before!" Yes, that is true, but so help me, this time I really mean it. And I haven't bought the bags of cereal since.

This is our new breakfast: The kids may have their grain of choice topped with the daily selection of fruit. Here we have my breakfast from June 6 - oats and peaches, strawberries, blueberries~
June 16 - wheat berries and raspberries which made for a very sweet pink milk (and I got the star spoon!)
 Wheat berries and brown rice with raspberries and blue berries.
So that is our new standard breakfast, cause "all grain is ordained for the use of man... to be the staff of life" and "wheat is for man" D&C 89:14-17)

For lunch, the kids are still using up some of the bad stuff we had on hand, aka corn dogs and top ramen. We're slowly working that out of the house, cause we still don't want to waste food, cause pigs did die to make those corn dogs. But we're having lots of cut up veggies and melons and fruit and I'm almost ready to get a new recipe book in order.

Dinners... I'm still working on that. I did a good meal one time, made a sweet and sour tofu coconut veggie soup and a barley veggie soup. I need to get a stack of recipes for things that I buy. I am doing an eggplant marinara tomorrow. And roasted veggies are on the menu for this weekend. I need to get organized though. Working on it! A few websites for my personal reference to check out:

Health 4 Life Cooking
- Fitfully Mormon
- Green Juice and Smoothies at Reboot with Joe (we started watching Fat Sick and Nearly Dead last week but we need to finish it to see what happened with Phil!)
- I ordered The China Study Cookbook - got here yesterday, but need to go through it and make a plan!

I think I'd also like to learn how to make bread, but that's probably still a year out, one step at a time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beautiful Summer Morning

There was such a beautiful sunrise this morning!
Which was followed by seeing beautiful roses on a morning walk outside.
I just love roses! 
I'm glad we have neighbors with roses, cause we haven't had any big ones yet... the deer keep eating them I guess. I haven't see the deer, but all our rose bushes are just clipped/bit off stems. :(
 Sooo pretty!
Then I came home to see this beautiful creature asleep in my room.
(Why are babies so beautiful?)
I finally got a pac n play crib out for him. Yay, Daniel, you lucky boy, you have a bed! Are you excited you have a bed? 
...not that anyone else around here uses them... as evidenced by these four girls who were also asleep on our floor this morning...
That makes six kids in the room... plus two adults. I think we could rearrange things around here and do something else with all that space we use for "beds" and "bedrooms"... who needs those?!?! 

Shortly after I got home from my walk, the kids got up early to play the Wii. That is a "please wake up" strategy carried over from last summer that Hyrum wanted to start again. They were up at 7 playing, then at 8:00 they helped me cut up fruit for breakfast. Most of the kids are enjoying eating healthy. Except for Ethan, who likes it in theory but not so much in practice. He was trying again to scrounge up money from his siblings, again, to order pizza.

Something weird that happened today was that a huge bird, I swear it was a condor or vulture (I have since found out that it is a turkey vulture), and a hawk (Cooper's hawk) were close together flying down really close to our house and they looked like they were attacking each other, and then I heard a big splat and felt some splatter and ugh, then I saw that there were guts all over the car and driveway! At first after the sound, I thought one of the birds crashed into our house and exploded, but I didn't see it's dead body on the roof. Then I saw the hawk fly away and eventually figured out that they must have been fighting over some animal corpse and the splat sound was that hitting the van. It smelled sooo bad. Like there were flies swarming around the splats within seconds of it landing. The kids came over to see what was going on and all reacted the same way - covering their noses in disgust and turning on their heels as they smelled the grossness and as I cleaned it up with the hose. And I'll pretend, children, that it can serve us all as a little reminder to not eat dead animals. Ugh. As I was cleaning that up, Wes came out to tell me that Sophi thew up all over the ottoman. I didn't mind, cause I was sure it wouldn't smell as bad as the animal guts on the car and driveway. I was also glad she didn't get any on the carpet, yay. So that was my lovely morning and weird gross evening. Hooray for summer days ~ :)
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