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Monday, July 29, 2013

Stand Ye in Holy Places

Here is my talk I gave, in lieu of a high councilman, on July 28, 2013 in the Jordan Willows 4th ward:

Stand Ye in Holy Places

When they asked me to speak today on the topic "Stand Ye in Holy Places" I immediately rejoiced in my heart.  Before being called as the Stake Primary president, I served as the Beehive counselor in my ward.  I loved that calling immensely and the theme for the youth this year is "Stand Ye in Holy Places."  "This will be easy!" I thought,  “I know exactly where to go to get all the resources I could possibly want!”  When I think of holy places, my mind immediately goes to the temple, church, my home.  But when I got to the youth website, while I found some references to the temple and home, the majority of topics were things like the Plan of Salvation, the Godhead, and the Atonement.   There was a beautiful video of a youth group in Las Vegas teaching the message that even in Sin City, you can bloom where you are planted.  And while all of these are wonderful topics that I'm glad the youth are learning, they weren't what I expected for a site dedicated to the theme "Stand Ye in Holy Places."

I decided to read the scripture the topic came from, D&C 87:8.  "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.  Amen."  The part that stood out to me most was, "and be not moved."  If this scripture is only referencing the holy places that immediately came to my mind, the temple, churches and home, then I'm going to live a very boring life, as I apparently not even supposed to move in between those places.  Clearly the instruction to stand in holy places and be not moved cannot solely apply to singular, stationary places.

In the October 1994 General Conference, Elder Lance B. Wickman of the Seventy said, "through the years I have come to appreciate the wisdom of a dear friend, a patriarch and temple sealer. “Lance,” he said, “the joy I receive is more than just being in the temple. The temple is in me! And when I leave the temple, its peace goes with me.”  So it can be for every righteous soul. When we visit the temple as often as distance and individual circumstance permit, the temple will be in us. Then, despite the buffetings of life, we will always be in a holy place."

By attending the temple often we can make our lives holy, no matter where we are.  Striving to live temple-worthy lives will also help us to always be in a holy place.  With this new definition of holy places, "be not moved" does not mean to physically not move, but rather to not move your standards, your actions, or your morals from your holy place.

Standing firm in your holy place, by nature, is difficult, for the natural man is an enemy to God. It's easy to come home from church, having learned something you need to apply to your life, then make a declaration to live by that principle.  What is infinitely harder is to actually make the change.

In grade school I participated in the D.A.R.E. program, which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.  As part of the program we had to decide right then to never take drugs or alcohol.  We were taught that by making a decision now, before the temptation arose, it would be easy to "Just Say No" when the offer did come.  I’ve learned to apply that same principle to many aspects of my life.

For example, when I was growing up, I went through a period of time where I had to figure out what my dress standards would be instead of just living my parents’ standards.  I eventually chose to always have a wardrobe that would cover temple garments, whether or not I was yet endowed.

Years later I went to China to teach English.  Some girls in my group discovered a photography studio that thought it was great fun to dress up the Americans and do glamour shots.  My roommate and I decided that we wanted to do it as well, so one day we joined a group of other girls and went in to be glamified, Chinese-style.  At first it was all great fun.  Getting ridiculous makeup put on, then laughing as they tried to figure out what to do with my very thick, very coarse hair.  Then they started to dress us up.  My roommate and I quickly realized that most of the dresses were off-the shoulder, spaghetti strap, or completely sleeveless.  We exchanged horrified looks as our dilemma settled in our minds.  We had already paid for our photos and we already looked rather ridiculous.  We didn’t want to just walk out if we didn’t have to, so we tried to explain that we wanted our shoulders covered.  Now we didn’t speak Chinese and they didn’t speak English, so we played a grand game of charades trying to communicate our standards.  What made it even more difficult was that up to that point, no one else had requested to have their shoulders covered.  Even the girls we went with didn’t have any problem with it.  The common justification was that it was a costume, and thus didn’t need to stand up to their normal dress standards.

We spent probably 10 or 15 minutes trying to get our point across.  Several times I considered just giving up for the sake of convenience.  They didn’t understand our dress standards, so what would it really matter?  None of the girls in my group would judge me.  In fact, I feared many were judging me for making such a fuss about it.  I wanted the other girls in the group to like me, but having made the decision years before helped me realize that my standards were more important than what some random Chinese photographers or even the girls I was to live with for the next 3 months thought of me.  Both my roommate and I stuck it out and eventually they understood that we wanted our shoulders covered.  They were obviously confused, but they found some dresses with off-the-shoulder sleeves that fit well enough and figured out a way to pull the shoulders up.  We ended the shoot exhausted, but happy that we managed to figure out how to stand firm in our resolves.

Look into your own lives.  Is there an area in your life that is not as holy as it should be?  Decide now to stand firm and to keep your holy place strong.  Satan and others will try and tempt you to weaken your guard, to break your promise.  At first it will be difficult.  At times it may seem impossible.  We live in a world where your word of honor or a promise don't really amount to much.  Who is it really going to hurt if you slide a little, just this once?  Do not compromise your integrity and your word of honor.

Karl G. Maeser, former president of Brigham Young Academy once said, "I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!"

His conviction is astounding to me.  Really consider that quote.  Your word of honor, to others, to yourself, to God, is less physically tangible than a chalk circle drawn around you.  In most instances, no one will know if you put a toe over the line.  However you will know, and God will know.  If your integrity and honor are worth so little to you, how can God trust you with His pearls of great price?  How can you build a holy place around you and be not moved from it if you are so easily moved from your circle of honor?

At times the commitments we make by living the gospel are hard, plain and simple.  Sometimes we don't understand why we have to do it.  Sometimes the pressure just seems to great.  Sometimes we feel like Job and that despite everything we are doing right, everything bad is happening to us.  Sometimes the peer pressure and ridicule we get are too much to bear and we want desperately to just be liked and accepted.  While those may seem like justifiable reasons to slip from our commitments for a time, they are not.  We must stand firm and strong.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Twelve has said, "We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of that eternal plan. Remember Nehemiah, who was charged with building a wall to protect Jerusalem. Some wanted him to come down and compromise his position, but Nehemiah refused. He was not intolerant of others; he simply explained, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease … ?”

“… Ironically, standing strong sometimes means avoiding and even fleeing from the world. The Savior declared, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Joseph of Egypt ran from the temptations of Potiphar’s wife, and Lehi left behind Jerusalem and took his family into the wilderness."

As Elder Hales pointed out, sometimes we must flee in order to not be moved from our holy place.  While the notion seems a little ridiculous, we must realize that the key to having a holy place is to have the Spirit reside within us.  When we are places that drive the Spirit from us, our holy place is also driven from us.  We move from our holy place the moment we put ourselves in a position to compromise the companionship of the Spirit.  The only way to return to our holy place and "be not moved" is to flee.  Whether that's fleeing from a party, from a rude joke, or to flee more permanently from a job, a group of friends, or a bad habit, we must flee as quickly as possible.

During my elementary and middle school years I had the same group of friends.  I grew up in a very small town, so it was common to keep the same friends from preschool to graduation.  At the time, I was happy with my friends and saw no problems.  Looking back I can see how they were a very bad influence on me.  I recall conspiring with some of the group to come up with a truly awful nickname for one of our friends that we were mad at at the time.  We even came up with a nickname for the bad nickname so that we could use it in front of her without her suspecting.

When I started high school, I ended up taking classes with more of the girls I knew from church than the group of friends I had grown up with.  Without conscious thought, I transferred from my old group of friends to my church friends as my main friends.  It wasn’t long before I realized the difference it made in my life.  Where before laughing at others was a main form of entertainment, I found myself surrounded by people who spent their time helping everyone around them feel good about themselves.  As soon as I realized what was happening and the effect it was having on me, I quickly let go of the remaining ties I had with the old group.  I was still friendly with them, but I very rarely spent large amounts of time with them.

Now I can look back and see the long-term effect of my unintentional drift and then intentional choice.  The old group of friends have never gone to college.  Most are single moms, some divorced and some never married.  None are active in the church.  Most spend their free time in bars and partying.  In contrast, my church friends are all still active in the church.  All have temple marriages.  None have been divorced.  I am so grateful to the Lord for nudging me in the right direction, then allowing me to see that I had a choice, allowing me to chose to flee in order to stay in and build my holy place.

Spiritual Habits
Now that we know how important it is to stand in our holy places and be not moved, how do we build our holy place to stand in in the first place?  We first must start building our holy place on a strong foundation.  Helaman taught his sons, "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

If we build our holy place on the "rock of our Redeemer" and draw our circle of honor around it, we will never be moved.  No matter what Satan throws at us, no matter the peer pressure, no matter the temptation, we cannot fall.  But how do we build upon the rock?  It is one thing to think of theological analogies and see that we have room to improve.  It's quite another to figure out what the realistic steps to achieve that ideal actually are.  But I'll tell you a secret—there is no magical formula.  There is no complicated path we must follow.  The gospel is one of simplicity.

We are taught from the time we are young what we fondly know as "the Primary answers".  We tend to dismiss those as the “easy answers.”  However, those simple and pure answers are the path we must follow.  They may seem simple, yet I'm sure we can all agree that doing the simple things continuously is often harder to do than if we were asked to do one hard and complicated thing once.  Sincere prayer, studying the scriptures, attending our church meetings, attending the temple often, bearing our testimonies, you know the list.  Individually and once in a while, none of these are hard.  But all together and regularly?  Much more difficult.  But all are necessary if we are to always stand firm in our holy places.

President Monson taught us in October 2011 conference: My beloved brothers and sisters, communication with our Father in Heaven—including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us—is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life. The Lord invites us, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me.” As we do so, we will feel His Spirit in our lives, providing us the desire and the courage to stand strong and firm in righteousness—to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved.”

The only way to build our foundation upon the rock of our Redeemer is to draw near to Him and allow Him to draw near unto us.  We cannot build upon something far away or upon something we do not know and understand.  We do so through those simple, repetitive Primary Answers.  The goal of the gospel is not to prove that we can overcome insurmountable trials.  Our purpose on earth is to cement in ourselves Christlike attributes that make us good and righteous people.  We do so by living the simple principles during the good times and the hard.  By staying true to our standards, no matter the cost.  It is through constant repetition that we firmly set those Christlike attributes into our very soul and draw closer to him, all the while building our holy place around us.  That is how we gain the integrity to stay in our circle of honor.

I bear you my testimony that it is through the small and simple things great things are brought to pass.  Christ is aching to draw near to us, to help us build our foundations to house our holy places, if only we will draw near to him first.  Every time we do Hard Things and stand firm in our standards, it becomes a little easier.  I testify that when it becomes too hard for us, we can cast our burdens upon the Lord and He will give us rest, allowing us to pass through our trials and come out the victor.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I am now again a mother of two

Dear Jessa ~

Kessa finished swimming lessons this week.  She continues to love them.  But, unsurprising to anyone, she's nervous to do things on her own.  One day she came home, super excited, because she got to wear a life jacket and go out to the outside part of the pool.  She said, "My teacher let go of me for just a second, which was cool!  But she grabbed me again really fast because I was so scared."  Part of the requirements to pass her level (preschool level 2) are to do things like "front float for 5 sec unassisted" or "combined arm and leg action on front for 3 body lengths unassisted."  Instead of marking those off, they got stars with a note on the bottom indicating that those are things she can do, but needs assistance."  And her comments at the end were simply "She just needs a little more time to get it unassisted."  Which doesn't surprise me at all.  She's learning fast in several areas.  She doesn't need someone to hold her hand to get in the pool anymore.  She doesn't need me to stand in line with her at the beginning anymore.  She can dunk her own head under the water 10 times!  So she's definitely making progress.  She just needs time to warm up to the idea of doing things alone.  So we'll put her back into swimming lessons again this winter and again next summer and just keep working at it.

Tamra, Kessa, and Kristen on Uncle Travis' hammock
Kristen and Tamra have both been so jealous of Kessa going swimming every day without them.  But they tried very hard not to be wicked little girls about it, so to reward them, we went swimming on Monday for FHE.  They had a great time!  It was the first time we've been where they've had the outdoor pool open. Mostly it just extends the lazy river outside and adds a little splash pad.  Not much, but it's still fun.  I'm pretty sure that's the longest we've ever stayed at the pool without the girls (mostly Abby) just being done.  We ended up leaving before anyone was ready, simply so we could still get dinner and to bed on time.  They kept exclaiming about how our pool was better than theirs, because theirs was just a big pool of water.  But then they asked if we could go swimming again and we told them no, because it cost money to go.  That surprised them.  "But at our pool we don't have to pay.  We just have to write our name on a piece of paper!" After that they decided that their pool might not have as many fun toys, but it's still good, because they can go to their pool a lot more than we can go to ours.  Heh.  Kristen also decided to try the big water slide.  She climbed up by herself and we watched for her to come out at the bottom.  The pool there isn't deep, she could touch, but there's the current of water from the slide, too.  She came out and was immediately thrust under a little.  She quickly kicked herself back up with eyes wide with fright and tried to swim straight to us.  But we were off to the side and the current was trying to push her down the pool.  She fought and fought it, trying to get to us and finally succeeded.  But the poor girl was traumatized, I think, because she refused to go down again.  (Don't worry, she was never in any real danger.  You can tell, because I, Madam Overprotective Mom, found the whole thing humorous and never freaked out.  Not even a little.  Though, I was a little annoyed at the life guard who wasn't even watching her at all, but spent his time yawning and looking utterly bored out of his mind.)

Kristen went down this one
While we were at the zoo I discovered that the girls had no idea what a splash pad is.  This had to be remedied, especially as they're free.  So we got Kessa's friend, Audrey (and her mom, Melanie) and tromped off to the Highland Splash Park.  (Audrey's aunt, Eileen, who lives with them, was a champ and offered to babysit Abby and Audrey's twin baby brothers so we didn't have to worry about them there.  She basically wins.  Her prize?  Abby actually crawled into her lap and fell asleep in her arms!  Awwww!)  It was great.  I really hoped that Kristen and Tamra would help Kessa enjoy it more, as she's never been a fan of splash pads.  But what really helped was that this particular splash pad has an ankle deep lazy river!  No splashing involved!  At first she wouldn't even do that by herself; I had to hold her hand.  But after awhile, when I just stopped and talked to Melanie for too long, she decided to go off by herself.  Woohoo!  We played there about an hour, then I had to hurry home for swimming lessons.

That night I went to my cake decorating class!  When I first signed up for the class I thought it was horrible timing to do it while the girls were here.  But honestly?  It was so nice to have a good excuse to have one night off every week.  Plus, there were extra bodies to help eat all the sugar!  Hooray!  This week was cupcakes.  We learned how to do several different kinds of flowers to put on our cupcakes.  Mine were by no means perfect, but they were fun.  I'm glad to know how to do them and hope to get to practice them more someday.  I also learned how to fill cupcakes.  So I made some cream cheese filling and filled my chocolate cupcakes with that.  If you look in the picture, you can see I cut one in half so I could see what it looked like inside.  I think I should put more in next time.  :D  We ended up taking them up to your parents' house for the 24th of July and let everyone else help us eat them.  :)

That night Kessa woke up sweating and super hot (though didn't feel very feverish.  We later discovered she had a low-grade fever.)  She had to go to the bathroom, so we assumed that was the reason for her waking up crying, and I got her back to sleep. But 5 minutes later she was awake again and BJ ended up bringing her into our room to sleep.  (Ever since BJ went to California, we've kept a blanket on our floor for Kessa to sleep on.)  She woke up again around 3 am, desperately needing to use the bathroom.  She wasn't nearly so hot, but I was still a little worried.

The next morning she acted perfectly happy and fine, though, so for the 24th we woke up and went to our ward's breakfast at a neighbor's house.  It was fun and there were lots of kids to play with.  But before long, Kessa informed me that she really wanted to go home, and crawled into the stroller.  That's unusual.  She's usually complaining about having to leave.  We were going to do the Lehi Resident Appreciation Day, but BJ and I were both tired, so we just lazed about at home and I took a nap until Kessa insisted that we go to Mama Homer's house.  So we went up there and we all had a great time.

While we waited for Nick and Chelsea, Resa took the girls outside and helped them draw on the driveway with chalk.  She even helped Kessa write a message to Chelsea (Resa wrote it and Kessa traced it. Chelsea later said that she felt like she must be coming home from a mission because when she got here she had a whole welcoming committee and signs on the driveway for her.)  Kristen remembered Nick from babysitting her on my birthday and immediately took a fancy to him, much to his surprise.  His response was, "Is this normal for her?!"  According to Jalin, "usually not.  It takes the right person for Kristen to come out of her shell.  But when she does, watch out!"

Before long, though, Kessa became clingy and ended up falling asleep in my arms.  So she slept on the couch in the living room while the rest of us ate.  (We were joined by Grandma Goddard, Aunt Jan, Katie, and Chelsea.  And not by Shawn until later as he had to work.)  She slept all the way through dinner and we were just dishing up dessert when she finally woke up … and definitely had a fever.  So we gave her a little ice cream (she was so sad not to get dessert) and headed home.  She kept a low-grade fever through the night, but then the next day was acting just fine again, so I let her go to swimming lessons.  Where apparently she spent the whole time wanting mommy.  :(  I felt like an awful mother.  We got home and got everything packed up to take the girls home… then found out that Jalin and Co. were delayed due to the need to get all new tires.  Oh, and in great news, while we were at swimming, the freezer guy came and fixed my freezer!  IT WORKS AGAIN!  HOORAY!

Kristen helped make most of our dinner
BJ needed to keep working, so I packed up all four girls and headed up to Tremonton.  Kessa was still feeling sick and Abby needed a nap.  We weren't even to Bangerter Highway when Kessa started asking how far away it was.  Then every 10 minutes or so she'd say, "I don't want it to be a long way away!"  Oh boy.  But we eventually made it to Tremonton (with only one emergency potty stop where I had to truck all of the girls in) where we got Frosties and waited for Jalin to meet us.  We said our good byes, then headed back home.  We brought Tangled to watch on the way home, but ended up just listening to the Little Women audiobook while Abby napped the whole way home.

Don't worry, though, Kessa is feeling great again and all is well in Zion.  :)

So, my calling isn't busy enough, right?  Not only do I have to be ready for baptisms this weekend, and have scouting meetings on Thursday, as well as be planning a primary appreciation dinner for next month and a cub scout training for October… but they asked me to speak in church today, too.  (I'll post the talk so you can read it.  Once I make all the edits I made on my printed paper.)  Yipes.  But I did it, and was 16 minutes exactly.  (Yes, I had my stopwatch on my phone going on the podium to make sure I stayed on task.  Haha)  So my church meetings today basically consisted of two sacraments.  Mine and the ward I spoke in.  But exciting news back in my ward… Abby is in nursery now!  Hip hip, hooray!  BJ stayed in with her as they needed another helper, and she wanted to be held most of the time, but she did love the toys, so we'll see how that goes.  We'll be in Idaho the next two Sundays (which will be interesting as far as blogging to you goes…) so we'll see what affect that has on nursery.

Abby checking out the toys in nursery

The garden is doing spectacularly!  We have 3 cantaloupe.  I discovered two rotting tomatoes hiding in one of our tomato plants (after it was so top heavy that a wind blew it over, so I had to trim it to get it to stand back up again!),  I picked 4 zucchini and 6 yellow squash.  (I made a chocolate zucchini cake with one of the zucchinis and froze 5 more cups of shredded zucchini!  My goal is to shred the rest as well and be well stocked for zucchini bread and cake all winter.)  I've got one more cauliflower head that is huge and ready to be harvested.  The last two I harvested still had the plants there, so I decided to pull them out and compost them.  In pulling them up I discovered that there were new cauliflower starts under the leaves!  I had no idea that cauliflower plants made themselves new starts.  And our broccoli plant that bolted and flowered a month or so ago that I've never gotten around to pulling out seems to have little seed pods that kind of look like a pea pod.  So now I'm going to leave it and see if seeds grow inside!  How exciting!  And holy cow.  We have peppers galore. I really need to start harvesting and freezing so I have them for wintering, which is why I planted so many.  I even have onions ready to harvest!  I didn't expect that.  Guess I don't have to buy onions anymore for awhile.  And my poor carrots are completely hidden by the insane amount of kale (that I rarely eat) and the giant tomato plant growing on either side.  I think I'll have to plant more carrots elsewhere so they have a chance.  These might have to stay in until I pull everything else out and just eat them all winter.  Oh!  And our flowering plum trees out front?  Turns out, they're not just flowers.  They actually grew plums!  They're only cherry-sized plums, but they're delicious.  :)

Top-left: The whole garden, going crazy.
Top-right: The baby cauliflower starts coming out of the old plant.
Bottom-left: The tomato plant fell over and can't get up
Bottom-right: We picked all this in one day.

And as a totally unrelated topic, but I thought you might be interested in hearing, JK Rowling decided to write a mystery novel under a pseudonym, I assume to see how well her books could sell without her name selling them.  But a guy in her law firm (!!!) told his wife's friend who tweeted it.  Of course it went viral and the book became a top seller overnight.  Needless to say, Rowling was Not Pleased at the breach in privacy in her law firm.  Seriously.  I can't believe a lawyer was so unprofessional.  But … now I kind of want to read the book.  Haha.  I'll wait and hear reviews first, though.

Speaking of books, between Audible and Kindle I've been reading a lot more lately.  I'm currently listening to Little Women (which is so much more than the movie and I love the characters so much more!) and reading a book I think I told you about called Wielder's Awakening.  I also have 4/5 books in the Eragon series done.  And I read/listened to A Little Princess.  Which I'm pretty certain should be on the Must Read list for every little girl and I love it oh so much.  Like, so much.  You should read it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A busy week

Jessa ~

Another week with nieces is over.  They leave on Thursday and honestly, I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, there will be far less whining and errands will be faster and I'll have about a billion fewer questions to answer every day (turns out, questions don't end when the "why" phase passes.  They just become more complex!) But on the other hand, I will have to be the one helping Kessa do everything and I won't have anyone to ask to help me with pretty much anything.  Chores will take a lot longer to do and I'll have to be far more involved.  I'm very scared about how well Kessa will react when she doesn't have cousins taking her potty and sharing her room with her.  Life will be far less busy (we've been trying to do fun things while the girls are here), but we won't be doing nearly as many big, fun events.  I've just accepted them as two more daughters and it's both made me excited for more kids and more frightened.  Haha.  I guess that's just how kids go, right?  They cause far more work and sacrifice, and yet they somehow make up for it with helping and being overall adorable.

This week has been made even more crazy because Kessa has swimming lessons.  Yeah.  We're insane, I know.  But by the time we decided not to go to Lake Powell it was too late to do it earlier in the summer and it was the only option left.  My choice was either to do it with the nieces here or make her wait till Fall. And since she has been asking about when she gets to do it for the last forever, I couldn't bear to make her wait months and months more.  Especially as that will just start interfering with school.  So every day at 11:30 I pack up Kessa and go to swimming lessons, spend a half hour at the pool reading on my Kindle (reading Wielder's Awakening by T.B. Christensen who is in my ward!), then I pack her up and head home.  Thank goodness for BJ working from home. He's just been taking an extra long lunch break and coming up and feeding the other three girls while I'm gone.  What an awesome guy, right?

She's been learning to float as flat as a pancake on her back and belly (still with support), do various kicking strokes (?) while her teacher pulls her along on her back, walk across the pool while doing ice cream scoops with her arms, kick her feet and make big splashes in the shallow end, and chase rings and bring them back like a good dog playing fetch.  She's in a class with two other boys who are far less, uh, slow, so their rings get thrown really far while Kessa's go maybe 5 feet away.  And the boys usually beat her back.  Seriously.  That girl can be so ridiculously slow.  She's also learned how to put her head under the water all by herself.

The other day we forgot her towel (oops!) but luckily had an extra pair of pants in the car.  So I wrung her out the best I could until she declared, "Mommy, stop! There's no more water in me!" Then I put on her extra pants and my undershirt (which I had removed during lessons) and laughed heartily at the result.  She thought it was great, so we were all happy.  And now we make a special effort to remember her towel.  We have one more week of that and she's loving every minute of it.

Sometimes when we're gone, BJ sets up a sprinkler a neighbor gave Kessa for her birthday.  It wiggles everywhere while spraying water.  He put it up on our climbing dome last time and the girls loved it.  (Kessa still doesn't really play *in* it, though.)  Other times the girls have put on their swimming suits and gone "swimming" in the bath tub.  We're taking them swimming in a real pool next week to thank them for being so patient with Kessa going to swimming lessons without them.  Other times they just play the Wii with BJ, which is one of the best treats of all.


Speaking of BJ with the girls, he's pretty great.  (Which, I'm sure, comes as a great surprise.  [rolls eyes])  All of the girls have been very clingy to me lately.  For example, in sacrament today I had Kessa to my left, leaning against my arm, Kristen on my right doing the same, Abby on my lap, after climbing over everyone from Daddy, and Tamra trying desperately to wedge herself between Kristen and I and mostly managing to half sit on my leg and lean her body up against my chest.  None of them would consent to go to BJ, so he had to look on helplessly.  At that point I busted up laughing.  In the middle of sacrament.  It was really hard to keep quiet and not disturb everyone.  I had tears in my eyes.

But despite their clinginess, BJ has managed to wiggle into their hearts as well.  He almost always does bedtime and reads stories.  The other night while we were camping (more on that below) he took a page from your mom's book and started telling them a story about Twinkie (for those not in the know, Twinkie is a tiny little girl who is about the size of a kids' thumb who gets lost a lot).  I was on my phone reading something, so I was only partially paying attention, when I heard Kristen ask, "But how does Twinkie ride in a car?"  "In a car seat."  "Where did they get a car seat that small?"  "They had it specially made.  … in Taiwan."  At which point I busted out laughing.  I couldn't help it.  He told another one last night that I recorded on my phone, but I don't know how to attach a voice memo on here, so you don't get to hear it.  Sorry.  But the girls are fully enraptured by him and his stories.

Today (Sunday), as I was starting to type this up, Kristen crawled up on his lap and somehow got him telling her bible stories. She's so full of questions that one story kept leading to another.  As he was telling about the Jews and Philistines in David and Goliath, she asked if we were Jews.  How do you answer that for an 8-year old?  I had to deliver something for my calling so I missed the actual story, but it took him probably 15 minutes and she seemed satisfied by the answer at the end.

BJ also has found some fun games to get them to do things.  One is Obedient Dog, which has been a favorite for years.  I got a text from him a few days ago while I was at the store exclaiming that it's the Best Game Ever.  "They're currently rolling the purple ball around with their noses."  Hah!  The other is when they don't want to do something (like start brushing their teeth), he has them all line up and they have to stay perfectly still.  When a person moves, they have to go do whatever it is.   It's amazing how long they can stay quiet and still.  I don't know that I'd believe it if I didn't see it.

I had another week with my cake decorating class.  I'm so glad I decided to take it with people I know. It's so much more fun when I can comfortably make fun of my skillz and lack of memory with people I know.  :)  This week I made a chocolate cake and decorated it as a butterfly.  I used an outline that I found online and just kind of made up how to decorate it based on methods I've learned in class.  This week I'm taking cupcakes and am learning flowers.  I'll be honest, this is the one that scares me the most.  So… we'll see how that goes.

We discovered squash bugs on our yellow squash.  :S  They're gross.  And in the words of my friend, Sanna, "They come with an owner's manual right in their name.  Squash them!"  So we have been.  BJ and I go out weekly and find all the eggs (which, of course, are under the leaves, so we have to really search for them) and squash them.  As well as any adults we find.  It's gross.  But despite those, our plants are thriving.  We picked a dozen gigantic yellow squash and zucchini the other day.  My freezer is (still) broken, so I didn't want to shred them to freeze, so I offered them up in my neighborhood Facebook group with the threat that if no one took them I was going to ditch them in people's cars at church.  Hahaha.  I got lots of takers.  So we took a walk and delivered them to 5 different families around the neighborhood (with about 5 more takers lined up for next time).

We camped in our back yard on Friday night.  The girls loved it.  We set up the tent, filled it with sleeping bags and pillows, then even made tin foil dinners on the grill.  It was great.  And delicious.  For dessert we made s'mores by putting all the ingredients together then wrapping them in tin foil and putting them on the grill.  So the marshmallows weren't browned, but they were still gooey and delicious.  As far as camping goes, it was fun, but my womanly hips make it far less comfortable to sleep on the ground. I need to invest in a cot or a thick mat.  Haha.

“I'm pretending I'm a little otter!”
Last time we went to the zoo we missed the whole last section, so BJ and I took them back up on Saturday.  Of course it was over 100º… :/  But it ended up being really fun and didn't seem too hot.  We made them drink lots of water, so there wasn't heat stroke and throwing up this time around.  Yay!  We did the zoo backwards this time, just to make sure we got the end this time around.  I think I actually like that better.  It put most of the worst hills towards the beginning when we still had strength. lol.

The carousel was a hit, of course.  Abby saw it and got ridiculously excited.  We got all the girls seated together and they loved it.  Until, of course, the ride ended and Abby was Not Pleased.  I tried to get a video of it this time but only succeeded in getting her Pterodactyl scream.  Seriously. I think we could record her scream and have her be an audio track for a dinosaur movie.  Not kidding at all.  Watch the video (when you get home) if you don't believe me.


I've now taught all the girls (and two neighbor girls) how to finger crochet.  Kristen, I think, has now made probably 5 necklaces, 3 belts, and a handful of bracelets.  Tamra and Kessa have each made some as well.  Abby adores wearing them. It's not uncommon to see her wearing 3 or so of them at a time.

Abby has finally gotten into books.  It's great, because they now entertain her for more than 30 seconds at church. (And next week she gets to go to Nursery!  Hooray!)  This week she's discovered that she likes to "read" the books.  It's adorable.  She'll sit there and flip the pages back and for and babble on and on.  I got a video of it, which ended with her repeating several words and then me dropping the phone.  She can now say Daddy (which sounds more like doggie, which the girls think is funnier than anything) and Mommy (which sounds like "Nah-nee").  But she only ever says Mommy when I ask her to.  And even then she usually just says, "No!" or laughs at me.  She's really developing an attitude early.  She can also find noses and sometimes eyes and ears.  And is super proud of herself.  She also ate a bowl of Cheerios (with milk!) this morning for breakfast.  I think she was jealous of all the other girls eating cereal while she was stuck with a banana and yogurt.  So hopefully we can get more dairy/fat in her that way.  She's also learning how to kiss.  SO CUTE!  We got a video of her kissing my stuffed raccoon, Racky.  And it's so cute.



  • Tonight I said a longer-than-normal prayer with BJ. And finished to find he was holding in a bloody nose. Oops!

    And then as he was cleaning it up he said: Of course you would pick tonight to say a longer prayer. [pause] At least it was a slow one. Me: What? BJ: At least it wasn't a bad one. Me: My prayer? BJ: No! My bloody nose!
  • BJ: Wanna hear a funny story? Abby just washed her own mouth out with soap.
  • Tamra: Everyone is good except Satan and robbers.
  • BJ to me: You're wonderful, even when you're mediocre.
  • Kessa: Why not more oatmeal?!
    BJ: We want to save some for another day.
    Kessa: But we can go to the store on another day!
  • Tamra: Does Kessa knowed anyone who died in the 80s?
  • Kessa: You don't know everything, Daddy. Jesus does!
Kristen: I don't think any underpants would fit this one.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day One was featured in the App Store

Wednesday of this last week was the 5th anniversary of the iPhone App Store. Apple ran a big promotion where they negotiated with developers of five games and five other apps to make those apps free for the week. Apple then featured those apps heavily in the App Store. Day One (which is my new full-time job) was one of those apps.

It looked like this. Except it said "Free", if you hadn't downloaded it yet.

On Monday, our app (which usually costs $4.99) became free. By the end of the first day, we had roughly 900,000 new downloads. Over the week, we've picked up over 3 million new users. That's insane. The companion Mac app wasn't free during the promotion, so it was still selling at $9.99. Sales picked up on that quite a bit too, so that was nice. Our Mac app was in the top 10 paid apps in a number of countries around the world; in Japan we were #4 for most of the week.

Hopefully, this will translate into lots of people telling their friends about the iOS apps and buying the Mac app. In the meantime, our support load is up quite a bit, and we've got a few bugs that lots of new people have found, so we've got work to do. Overall, though, most people absolutely love the app. We have lots of people recommending us on Twitter and Facebook.

It's awesome to be part of a product that is used and appreciated by so many people.

In which I start my fourth decade… which makes me sound very old.

Dear Jessa ~

So, my birthday was this week!  I'm old, Jessa.  I'm 30 now.  I hope you still like me.  Haha.  Just kidding.  Unsurprisingly, 30 doesn't feel much different from 29.  Funny how that happens.  I woke up at 6:30 am to Kessa standing by my bed and announcing that there was something hanging from my bedroom door!  I looked over and sure enough there was a ribbon with a paper taped to the bottom.  So I acknowledged it, then tried to go back to sleep.  No dice.  I managed to stay in bed probably 5-10 minutes longer, then knowing I had to get up and go running anyway, I got up and looked at it.  By that time Kessa had fallen asleep on our floor.  Go figure.  :)  The paper said, "1. I love you because you make me feel loved."  For the rest of the day (and ever since) I've been finding papers in random places telling me reasons he loves me.  30 of them, in fact.  It was pretty much adorable.  :)  I'm still missing one.  #20.  I'll have to find that one somewhere…

I took the three older girls (remember I have Jalin's girls?) to the library, then to a park that is right next door afterwards while Abby napped (yay for BJ working from home!)  I love this park, I've decided, because it's under a billion trees and very shady.  haha.  They have a slide that they turned upside down and is carved (well, molded.  It's plastic) to look like a tree trunk.  Kids can climb up or down it.  It's a little nerve-wracking for me, as there aren't any sides like a slide normally has, but the whole time I was there, there were no fatalities.  :D Kessa really wanted to go down, but she wasn't brave enough.  I worked with her for about 15 minutes and I only got her to scoot down maybe 2 inches.  I think it'd be easier with BJ there, because he's taller and could reach her easier.  Next time, maybe.

That evening Nick and Chelsea came and babysit while BJ and I went to dinner at Gloria's Little Italy then went and watched Despicable Me 2.  It was cute, for sure, but wasn't my favorite movie of all time.  I'd rank Monsters  University higher.  But it was still cute.

Overall, it was a very good birthday.  I'd do it again.  (Assuming I could stay 30, of course.  And not age each time.)  Oh, and I got over 100 birthday wishes on Facebook and only one on Google+.  Clearly G+ has some work to do.  :)

Speaking of running (back in the first paragraph), did I tell you that I started running?  Again?  I know, I know, I'm flaky.  :D  My neighbor, Jenna, said she really wanted to start running outside, but needed someone to be accountable to.  I do too!  So we started running together three times a week.  I was nervous about running with someone else, because I didn't want one of us to feel held back by the other, but I think so far we're pretty equally matched.  So that's nice.  We've been doing it for 3 weeks now, I think.  Hopefully we'll be able to run a 5k in about a month.   I'll have to start looking into 5ks.  There's a Color Me Rad in September.  Except… I just checked and that's the same day as stake baptisms.  So that's not going to happen.  Also, Woodbadge.  Which they want me to go to this year.  :/

I started my cake decorating class this week.  I forgot to take a picture of my sugar cookies I decorated. But don't feel too bad.  They were nothing amazing.  It was white icing and we were just practicing stars, so I did three letters (one for each of the girls' first names) and three pictures.  One was a snowflake, one was a spiral, and one was a flower.  This week we're decorating a cake, so I'll be sure to take a picture.  :)

Tuesday and Wednesday my parents were in town for a reunion, so Wednesday morning we took the kids and my Aunt Grace to the zoo!  They loved it.  We didn't have enough time to see everything, though, so we're going again later.  I'm not sure when, though… life is so busy!  Of course, everyone loved the carousel.  I let Abby ride this time and she thought it was the greatest thing ever.  Let the picture be your judge.  Of course, that was before the ride started.  During the ride she was solemn and cautious.  The second it stopped (I didn't even realize it had stopped), she burst out crying.  She was not at all pleased when I made her get off.  She and Kessa definitely have something in common.  Maybe one time I'll buy a pass and let them ride it 5 times in a row.  :)  We got a wagon and pulled it.  I hate those hills.  Aunt Grace helped me for most of it, though.  So that was wonderful.  Towards the end I was doing it myself, which was fine, I need a muscle workout, but that last hill is horrible.  I wanted to die.  Ahhhh!

That night we went to my family reunion (my dad's siblings).  It was fun seeing everyone again.  My brother, James, and his family was there.  We don't get to see them often, so that was fun. It's crazy to see how much his kids have grown.  Of course, Tamra had to test the boundaries of her new guardians.  We told her that she had to eat half of her hamburger before she ate ice cream.  We finally settled on that or 25 bites.  Two bites later she claimed to be done and her hamburger was nowhere to be seen.  She even said it was only two bites.  Forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical.  :)  But I couldn't find it anywhere to prove her wrong.  So we compromised.  She took two bites of hamburger, so she got two bites of ice cream.  Which, then, led to weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  But I knew if I caved she'd just learn that I cave and it'd make the next 2.5 weeks miserable.  So instead we took our ice cream to the car and ate in there until she was ready to be calm.

Logically, I knew it was a legit punishment, that she would hate it, and then she'd put up a fuss.  And yet, emotions aren't logical, so by the end of it, I was drained and trying very hard not to be upset.  On the way home I was thinking not just about that specific event, but about life with kids in general and how this always seems to be the case.  Why do emotions get in the way of logic?  And more importantly, how do I stop it?  I mean, emotions are good, but how do I discipline and handle cranky kids without letting it dampen my mood?  I brought it up to BJ and we had a good conversation about it, but at the end he presented me with a horrifying and very intriguing scenario: "Let's say your boggart is a whiny/disobedient/patience-trying child. What do you do to laugh?"  My reaction to it must have been priceless, because he laughed quite a lot at the look on my face.  But it is an interesting thought.  I just need to plan in advance how to react to the situation and keep my mood chipper.  I need to incorporate humor more often.  And thanks, BJ, for using Harry Potter to teach me.  :D

That night Tamra woke up throwing up.  Hooray for my mom still being here.  Then after I started getting back to sleep, Kessa came into our room.  She had a nightmare that a butterfly was eating her.  (hahaha.  Sorry. I shouldn't laugh.  And I never have to her face.  About that anyway.)  So she fell asleep on our floor.  Then Abby woke up, but thankfully fell back to sleep on her own.  Then just as I was finally falling asleep again, Tamra threw up again.  Blessed BJ got up before I consciously processed what was going on.  So he and my mom cleaned it up.  (I'm glad I got the first one.  The second one got the wall and all the way down to the carpet.  :S )  I was very, very tired the next day.  But we survived.  And Tamra was happy and healthy the next day.  I'm wondering if she got heat stroke from all the time outside the day before.

The freezer repair guy came this week.  Turns out, we have a bad defrost timer.  I learned new things about freezers.  Apparently a frost-free freezer turns on a heater every 6-10 hours, warming up the freezer a little, enough to melt any frost buildup.  And the defrost timer tells it when to turn on and shut off.  Well, ours turned on, and it forgot to tell it to turn back off.  No wonder it wasn't cold!  Unfortunately, he has to order the part.  So it won't get fixed till next week.  :(  Oh well.  We've lived this long.  We can live a bit longer.

We took the girls to the Discovery Gateway last night.  We have a 3-month pass and we got Jalin's girls in for $5 each on a promotion, so it seemed good timing.  THEY LOVED IT.  At first Kristen was always interested in what was next, but after I explained to her that it's better to enjoy what's here now, she stopped looking forward and enjoyed what we were doing.  They loved the balls, building with giant blocks, riding in a helicopter, making their own fossils, etc.  I think my favorite picture we got was of our own mad scientist.  There are just so many things great about this picture.  The magnifying glass.  The Einstein hair.  The white lab coat.  It's. Just. So. Great.  We ran into an old friend, Rusty, which was fun.  I love finding old friends in random places.  Abby found a mini piano in the tiny house and she adored it.  She played on it for probably 5+ minutes.  The three older girls got to be on a newscast.  They're not very good at the green screen.  Mostly they just danced and pulled faces at it.  (video below)  It cracked me up.  Give them a few years and maybe they'll figure out how to be real weather girls.


Finally, sometime after 7, we decided we really needed to leave.  We hadn't had dinner and we still needed to drive home.  We were definitely going to be late for bedtime.  So, of course, things had to go wrong.  Isn't that what always happens?  We got back to the car to find that some nice person had left us a note telling us our tire was flat.  Sure enough, it was.  So we all sat in the car while BJ changed the tire.  It was taking awhile and the girls were getting frustrated (being bored and hungry will do that) and Tamra finally burst out, "How long is this going to take?  Can't we get a taxi or something?"  Hahaha.  (Jalin, how does she know about taxis?!  Surely you don't have taxis in the middle of nowhere…)

Of course, it was now 7:30 on a Saturday night, so no tire stores were open.  So we drove on the spare to Litza's Pizza, ate dinner, then took the backroads home.  It was a very long drive that led to a late night.  We didn't even get home till 10.  So much for 8:00 bedtime.  :S  Needless to say, they weren't pleased about us waking them up for 9 am church.  So I guess I'll have to get that taken care of tomorrow.  As well as get a new drivers' license (I forgot that it expired on my bday.  Oops!)  And take Kessa to swimming lessons.  While BJ works.  And I have 4 girls.  Fun!

Day One promotion (editor's note: Oops!  I bolded this to remind myself to have BJ talk about this.  And then I forgot.  So… I'll make him write another blog post about it and link to it here.)

In other random news, we've decided to name the cow Voldemoo!  That makes me happy.  We'll go see it again in August when we take our friends who are splitting part of it with us up to the cabin.  (Did I tell you we're probably not going to Lake Powell?  Just not safe with Abby.  She just doesn't have a cautious bone in her body.  So we're going to the cabin a few weeks earlier instead.)  I'm excited.

Having Jalin's girls here have been fun.  Kristen is adorable.  She's 8, the age where helping is fun and she's actually helpful.  I've asked Jalin at least twice if I can pretty please keep her.  I'll put her in school!  I'll be a good mom!  But she won't let me.  :(  Tamra is adorable.  She's got a smile that can light up the whole room.  Of course, she's expert at flashing that smile when she's done something mischievous and if you don't know her, you would never suspect her.  :)  Abby is starting to warm up to her.  Tamra has learned that she has to give Abby more space, and thus Abby is learning that Tamra can be fun, too.  I've caught them several times playing/dancing together.  Which is adorable.  The other day they were taking a bath together and Abby went and sat on Tamra's lap and let Tamra wrap her arm around her.  Then they just played together.  Then when we tried to take Abby off her lap, she threw a fit and wanted to stay.  Hooray!

Speaking of the bath, can I just say that it's totally my favorite time?  We stick all 4 girls in my garden tub with a bunch of toys and they just play forever.  They're (generally) nice to each other and entertain each other.  Which means I get 30-60 minutes to do whatever I want in my room or bathroom.  Read a book (BJ got me a Kindle for my bday!), put away laundry, clean my bathroom, etc.  It's great to have some "alone" time.

I also discovered "My Chore Time".  I help the girls with their chores (we have a fun magnet chore chart on the fridge) in the morning.  Ish.  I mostly make them do it themselves, but sometimes they need help.  But it also means I get nothing done.  So when I really need time alone to get my chores done, I send them outside or upstairs.  They have to stay in one or the other, or they have to help me clean.  It's fantastic.

And now for random misc. things….

This picture just totally cracks me up.  She's reading the zoo map.  And I have no idea how she got the hat in 98º weather...

Here's our up-and coming pianist.  Seriously.  She loved the piano.

Kristen built a robot.  It has two stomachs: one for health foods and one for not-health foods.

And then she built a whole robot family!

I made another wreath for the raffle at my family reunion.  This time wrapped in fabric instead of yarn.  I tried to make it Summery with the butterflies.  And then Tamra won it!

Kiddisms (sorry, the name has to be changed now.  Too many other kids/adults.)

  • Kessa was climbing up a rope ladder and her confidence was waning halfway up. I was encouraging her but making her climb it by herself. “That's silly! I'm not scared, but my foot is scared!”
  • The girls were awake but BJ and I were lingering in bed, not wanting to get up.
    Kessa: Daddy! You need to come downstairs. Someone needs to come downstairs to make sure we don't get into trouble.
  • Kessa: Is today garbage day?
    Me: Yes, it is.
    Kessa: I thought today is a play day.
    Me: It is a play day.
    Kessa: That means you stink.
    Me: Whaaaat?!
    Kessa: If it's a play day [giggle], that means you stink!
  • Tamra just told us that it was raining hardly. I don't think that means what she thinks it means. (For context, it is raining pretty hard outside.) :)
  • Tamra: I wish I was no one.
    Kristen: Why?
    Tamra: Because then I wouldn't get stung by a bee!
    (Note: she got stung by a wasp in our house!  She went to the bathroom to wash her hands and came back screaming bloody murder.  I had a hard time believing her wild tale about being stung by a bee in the house, but sure enough, she had a big red welt on her leg and BJ found a wasp in the hall (which he thankfully removed to the great outdoors.  The girls now have better motivation to keep the door shut as they go in and out.)
  • Kessa: I lost my big girl voice, but I still have my big girl body.
  • Me: BJ was probably about your age.
    Kristen (age 8): Did they have cars then?
  • Kessa: When I watch shows it makes me lose my patience.
    Kristen: How does that make you lose your patience?
    Kessa: You watch the show and you get tired and it sucks the patience out of you. But now I'm sitting back here {in the back seat of the car}, and the air is blowing on me, and it's giving me patience. There are little balls and they are full of patience. And when they touch me, they get cracks. And then the patience falls on me. {Apparently I need to go sit in the air-conditioned car more often…}

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Idaho and nieces

Dear Jessa ~

July came and I realized that I didn't have any 4th of July decor up!  So I spent the morning of July 1st putting up decorations and finishing up the wreath I've been working on.  And I got it all done!  Hooray!  It's kind of fun doing one or two new decorations for every holiday every year.  I'm starting to reap the rewards of it this year, as I suddenly have several decorations and my house actually looks a little festive.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm still happy with it!

So, of course, the crafting bug got me, and when I should have been packing/cleaning/laundrying for our trip to Idaho, I made Kessa a plastic canvas money bank instead.  I'd had the stuff for several days and Kessa kept asking me to make it … so I did.  The day before Idaho.  Haha.  Go me.  But I've been wanting to make it for awhile because I realized it's actually hard to help her pay tithing right now.  She gets a quarter and … what?  She doesn't understand that it's actually 25¢, so breaking it up to get two cents just doesn't make any sense to her.  So instead we made two boxes, one with three compartments.  When she gets money she'll put it in the first compartment.  When she gets 10 of one type of coin, she'll put one of them in the middle compartment (tithing), one in the last compartment (savings) and the rest in the other box (spending).  When she gets older and understands money better, we'll probably up the amount she puts into savings.  But for now we'll get her into the habit.

We made these shirts for the 4th.  Ignore that Abby has stripped her stripes from hers.

We went to Idaho this week a) for the 4th of July b) to help my dad on the farm, since he's raising a cow for us and c) to get two of my nieces who will be staying with us until the 24th weekend.  It's a lot of detail, so let me sum up:

1. A 27-year old guy drowns in the river. He and his buddies thought it would be fun to swim across treacherous water before the fireworks started.  His two buddies made it.  He did not.  :(
2. Delaying fireworks so they didn't even start till 11. They were still awesome.  I was worried that I had over-hyped them in my head and that I'd be disappointed.  Fear=unfounded.  It was hard waiting with a bunch of kids (my sister had 4 of her kids and my brother had his 4 kids, plus my 2 kids).  But when it started, they were all mesmerized.  Abby was so tired and her body kept trying to fall asleep, but she fought it and just stared at the lights the whole time.  Kessa loved it, too, but conked out 3/4 of the way through on my lap.  Both slept soundly all the way home and even slept through us changing them into pjs.
3. Awhile ago a giant windstorm knocked down my dad's cow sheds (where they'd go to get protection from the elements (Don't worry, no cows were harmed)).  The wood has been laying all over for a year or so now, with weeds growing all around them and composting them nicely.  He wanted to clean up the area so maybe later he could put in a big patch of grass back there for kids to play on and people to camp on when we have family reunions.  While picking up wood*, I stepped on a rusty nail and suddenly remembered that I haven't gotten a tetanus shot since 1998 because I had an allergic reaction to it. But don't worry, it didn't pierce skin. No death here.
4. Then BJ really did step on a rusty nail and there was blood. And his last tetanus shot was 10 years ago.
5. On our way to the doctor the road was detoured due to an accident including a helicopter in the emergency crew.
6. The doctor office was closed.
7. The next one was open, but then we remembered we are between insurances. He still got the shot. (We figured it was worth paying to avoid pain and death.)
8. We were stupid and stayed up until 1:30 playing Ark of the Covenant (which your parents got a while ago, but we've never played, so we played the other day, liked it, and borrowed it to take to Idaho).
9. But turned out to be a good thing because Abby woke up throwing up right then.
10. Which means we don't get to sleep until after 3:30 that morning.
11. And then we woke up to two more kids sick. One of which I we brought home with us.

*While we worked our muscles moving wood, BJ helped us exercise our brains.  We calculated that with just my dad's grain field, we could feed about 1,875 people bread for a year.

(BJ just read that over my shoulder and commented, "I love you!  God thinks highly of you!"  Haha.  Love him.)

Talk about a fun week!  Haha.  Actually, I stayed in a surprisingly good mood despite it all.  The fireworks were amazing.  I got to spend time with Jalin who I don't often see.  I got to see Damian and his family which is always fun.  And I got to be with my mommy and daddy and who does't like that?

We filled that trailer up with wood 2.5 times before we were done.  Yipes!
Also, I was out there, too.  Really!  I  just didn't take a picture of myself.

We brought back Kristen (8) and Tamra (6) with us.  They're going to stay with us until around the 24th.  The date is a little uncertain.  So, about 19 days.  Kessa is super excited about it.  Abby is not so sure.  But, to be fair, Abby is Little Miss Crankypants All The Time.  Seriously.  She's got this screechy "No!  No!  No!" that she spits out whenever she is the least bit unpleased.  Which is often.  And Tamra is a touchy person.  And Abby, turns out, has a bubble.  So whenever Tamra gets within 4 feet, Abby starts screeching.  Tamra is getting better about giving her space, though, so that's good.  So Abby is finding other things to screech about.  Let me tell you, I will be so glad when this phase is over.  I pray it ends.

You can tell that Uncle Travis is a good uncle.  Not only did he ride in back with all four girls on the way home, but he took Abby when she was crying (which usually meant taking her for walks outside.  She loves outside) and letting Kessa help him grate cheese, even though it was clearly easier and faster to do himself.  Awwww.


I'm taking a cake decorating class!  The first class is Tuesday night, so I'll let you know more next week.  But I'm excited!  Now maybe I'll be able to make really cool cakes for birthdays and not make stupid mistakes along the way like I did with Kessa's.  :D

I've decided that if I ever decide to homeschool, I will name it Hogwarts. Just so I can say I taught at Hogwarts and my kids can say they attended there. And I will rename Chemistry as Potions.  A friend gave me the brilliant idea to make scripture study Defense Against the Dark Arts.  Now I kind of want to do it…

BJ and I found this this morning.  I think all the girls have been around too much throwing up.

I just finished a book called The Entitlement Trap.  It's about teaching your kids to have ownership (the opposite of entitlement) over their lives.  Over themselves, their family, their money, their stuff, their grades, their bodies, their relationships, etc.  It's a great book and I've already started implementing some of their ideas.  I also got on their webpage and started looking at Joy School (not just when moms get together and teach their kids preschool, but an official curriculum called Joy School).  The idea behind it is "simply that children, while in their most impressionable years, should be taught life's most important thing, various capacities for joy."  Unsurprisingly, it also sets the stage to help them as they grow to not feel entitled, but instead have ownership.  So now I want to do it.  I have a friend who has been wanting to do it for ages, but where I already have Kessa registered in preschool I haven't really even considered it.  But now I'm seriously thinking about doing Joy School on TTh and still letting her go to preschool MWF.  We'll see how that turns out, too.

Abby loves to drink water out of our spray bottle

I mentioned that my dad is raising a cow for us.  We're hoping it'll be big and beefy (pardon the pun) enough by fall to slaughter it and fill my freezer with meat.  A lot of meat.  Now the question is what to name it and which cow to choose.  (We get one and my dad and Damian get the other.)  My current favorites are Sir Loin, Moe ("Would you pass me some Moe?"), and The Cow Who Must Not Be Named.  Voldemoo for the fearless.  :)  I'm leaning towards Voldemoo…
Our two options for cows

Here are three videos:

1) Kessa and Abby on the trampoline playing Ring Around the Roses

2) Abby walking around as Little Miss Grumpypants

3) Pulling down a gate with the truck

Kessaisms, with many different guest appearances
  • Me: … but only if you're quick to obey.
    Kessa: Ok. But first I need to fix my battery so I can be magic.
  • Abby: Oh cows!
    Me: Did Abby just say “oh cows”?
    Abby: Yes!
  • Kessa: Abby is angry about everything.  {sadly, this is a true statement}
  • Kristen: Why do you have sunglasses?
    Travis: Because my future is so bright.
  • Kessa: We found my baby unicorn! It grew in mine own belly!
  • BJ: We could put sticky notes in the intersections.
    Tamra: Hi C-sections! {Or I suppose it could have been Heise Sections}
  • Kristen: Let's go pick a pea!
    Kessa: Yeah! Let's go pick a poo!