Sunday, November 1, 2015

Family Fun

"Motherhood is joyful. It is exciting, challenging, and fun; it demands all our best efforts. Motherhood is creation of children and of the homes to nurture them in. Motherhood is partnership with husbands and the Lord. May we all catch a glimmer of the splendor we can create in our own outposts of the kingdom of God."
Petrea Kelly
Here are a few pictures to play some catch up for the Grandparents, whom I neglect too often! :) We miss and Love you Grandpa and Grandma Great!
School in our house includes hatching baby chicks! So far we have three hatched and three more breaking through.  We are sooooooo excited.  I will have pictures in a day or two.
Halloween this year was Narnia themed. E was Susan, H was Peter, L was Lucy and P was Edmond.  They are in love with the series.  It was a fun crazy weekend with cousins and extras too.
Pumpkin Carving FHE
Didn't want to forget the cute elephant.  I thought he would hate the costume, but he loved it! Wore it all night and got really mad at Mom when she tried to remove it for bed time.
Another School project the kids have finished up. James and the Giant Peach Diorama.  I actually don't ever remember reading this book growing up.  It was really fun to read with the kids. 
This is E's
H's Diorama
One of my best students :)

And here are some pictures from our family vacation this fall.  It was the best family vacation yet!
Thomas Family Mini Reunion.
A trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats after some heavy rain.  It was incredible!
A hike up the Menan Butte's
Visit with the Great Grandparents! H left his shoes behind just so we could go back and see them again. :) Well played H!
Our first trip to Lagoon. What a blast!  The kids had so much fun.
My parents are serving a Mission in Salt Lake in the Family History Mission.  They live right across the street from the Conference Center.  It was the best view!  We toured different parts of Temple Square every day.
We LOVED being in down town Salt Lake.  We walked to the Capitol Building, hiked Ensign Peak, explored the Mall, the Splash pads and many more wonderful things.  We are anxious to return.  E says she will live there some day!  I Loved running up the street to Ensign peak in the morning. About 45 minutes up and 15 down!  haha I am not a strong hill runner!  What a view!  It is so filled with the history of the church and the spirit of the Lords work; it's hard not to enjoy it.

Our most recent family hike, Reflections Lake.
E was enjoying friends at her old school Halloween Party.
Even though they don't look like they are enjoying it, they really had fun. I promise!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Patience is A Virtue I lack

Elizabeth. Oh Elizabeth. She's growing faster than I can keep up with her. This past week we revisited with the eye Doctor, Dr. Keen.  He's responsible for the vision therapy in Eagle River and the Valley, he's wonderful!  In just the past few months, Elizabeth's eye has gotten stronger, to the point they have revised her eye glass prescription. The reading and comprehension program she started is helping her to catch up with where her peers are supposed to be.  And after Stake Conference today we practiced her solo. Next week in church she gets to sing her very first solo. "If the Savior Stood Beside Me."  I am hoping to sneak a video.  She's so nervous, but she has a powerful voice when she really sings.  I am excited for her, and nervous.  

As I said earlier it was Stake Conference today.  For Latter Day Saints that means we gather as a Stake, all members of the Wasilla Alaska Stake, to hear counsel from our local leaders.  Since we have grown so much, the conference is televised to all the local chapels.  Two hours of counsel and guidance, it's like a mini general conference.  The only problem is, it's two hours of televised church with Five kids under the age of 9.(By myself, spouses schedule doesn't allow him to come with us anymore, I don't appreciate shift work right now.)  Sitting through one hour of sacrament meeting quietly is a lot for them. Now it's two hours with out being able to look forward to primary or nursery!  So I pack a bag with books and paper and coloring crayons or pens.  This works very well for the older kids most of the time. The baby is at that age of freedom, he just wants to run and play! So I brought some crackers and a bottle.  (I never bring food to church! I hate it! So much mess and so much fuss from the older kids!!!)  But two hours required added measures.  I arrive 45 minutes early, so I can make sure we have a good seat. (So it becomes almost three hours!!)  As the meeting starts, the children ask if it's almost time to go home.  (OH this is gonna be a great meeting!) Technical difficulties didn't even allow us the opportunity to sing or pray before it started... chaos! 
And when someone is speaking (Brother Ramirez, now a bishop, one of my favorite speakers, my kids always remember what he speaks about!) about something I am sure I need to hear, the kids get louder and more obnoxious! I silently pray for help, that they will be quieter, that I will be able to hear.  I ask the Lord why it's so hard?!  Why go?! Every mother asks this question I am sure!  I know it's not about me, I know attending every week is strengthening my kids and I don't really want to be anywhere else on the Sabbath.  I don't want to dump my kids off and go by myself (They hold a Saturday night session for just adults, which I was able to attend thanks to my wonderful sister in law.). They will get older and they will soon sit quietly, so quietly I will wonder if they are actually listening. What are we supposed to learn? Why if I know it's gonna be hard do I still get stressed out? Why don't I expect it? Why am I ready to pull my hair out?! Why do I want to cry?!  
My kids are fantastic during church normally, really I have to give them some credit.  I can leave with the baby and I know they will sit quietly and behave.  But today was just the perfect storm.  I will miss the crazy, all mothers tell me this, and I am sure I will.  I just wish the guilty feeling of disturbing everyone around us would go away.  I wouldn't care so much if it wasn't affecting other people. Maybe I am just embarrassed for myself, that I haven't taught my kids how to behave.  Perhaps it's all really selfish of me, expecting perfection from five kids under the age of 9.  
For now I am going to bake in my kitchen (my calming center).  
I love being a mother, I love my children, and I love the blessing of going to church each week.  We are so blessed to live in this free country! Motherhood is hard, but I wouldn't give it up for anything.  It is my life's greatest work. And with the Lord's help I will survive, and so will my kids. 
Love you all! Hope you had a wonderful Sabbath! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Conference weekend

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year!  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we gather all over the world to watch and listen to the leaders of our church.  They speak to us the words of the Lord himself.  Their mission is to watch, to warn and to witness of the divinity of Christ.  They speak to us about things that we are facing now in the world, about things that will be happening in the not so distant future and they encourage and uplift us.  I am filled with the spirit of the Lord.  I feel as did the Nephites in the Book of Mormon; as they sat at the risen Christ's feet, I do not want it to end, I want to sit at their feet and continue to be filled.  I want to feel this overabundance of the spirit every day. 

I heard encouragement from Elder Holland: "God Bless You {Mothers}. You are doing better than you think you are." The whole talk was a tribute to the divine calling of Mother.  I couldn't resist sending my own Mother a message of thanks for all she did for me.

From Sister Neill F Marriott; "He takes us as we are- and makes us more than we ever imagined." and "It will all work out."   From Elder Lawrence "What lack I yet?"  Ask the Lord what it is that keeps us from progressing.  He will answer us very personally, one thing at a time.  I can't wait to kneel at my bedside and sincerely ask the Lord "What lack I yet?"

The Lord is always aware of our desires, of our concerns, questions, frustrations and our heartaches.  He lovingly encourages us and then pushes us to do better. Lately I have been struggling with a few things and was feeling like the answers and personal revelation weren't coming.  Today I received answer to one of my questions and guidance for the other.  When we seek for revelation or counsel from the Lord, we must be ready and willing to ACT, or He will not answer.  I have been desiring to do better, but wasn't willing to do the work to actually be better.   "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Motherhood is a divine role and I want to be worthy of the calling to be a Mother in Zion.  I want to truly emulate the love that the Savior has for us.  I want to give my all. I know the most important thing I will ever do, is to be a righteous wife and mother. 

I have learned so much today and anxiously look forward with excitement to tomorrow morning.  Our house was full today, seven kids, six adults and although there was a bit of noise at times, I was able to sit and be filled.  My older kids are really learning to appreciate the sacred and wonderful weekend that General Conference can offer.  We required a bit of Conference bingo for the afternoon session, and Conference Notebooks to write and draw in, but all was well.  And while they draw pictures of the prophet and his words I know they are hearing them and hoping they will remember them.  Can't wait for Monday night!! Conference Collage Time :) 

We Miss You Grandparents!!  We will be posting pictures soon.... don't give up on me yet!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wraping up Summer

With a morning frost on the grass and garden, I believe Fall is here. 
This summer has been amazing! Warm and full of adventure.  The cold weather must be due to the fact that our President is here for the "Climate Change Conference."  A hearty "Welcome to Alaska!"
Back to Our Family...
We had the pleasure of going flying with Grandpa and Grandma last week.  It was the most beautiful day.  We finished up homeschool and went out to Scott Rd., to Moffit's field.  What a view!  And we have pretty amazing stunt-flying Grandparents.  The kids were loving it, but not quite as much as the open fields to run and roll in... Sorry Grandpa.
Actually Calvin was the most enthralled with the planes.
That and Grandma's lunch.
Grandpa had to make some adjustments to the biplane, it was worth the wait. 
End of Summer Reading Program at IDEA. Henry and Lydia were top readers in their grade, and I missed at least half of Henry's reading minutes.  He's a voracious reader, I love it.
The reading program partnered with Bricks for Kids.  They were able to build their own Lego men/women and a merry-go-round that ran off of a battery pack. 
So I didn't grow up with Lego's, and I haven't gotten any for my kids either.  I was amazed at how able they were at following directions and building working models.  Especially Lydia, she kept getting irritated at me for helping.  It was a great day! Guess I will have to invest in some Legos.
Our next great adventure was Hiking in Eklutna.  I have only been out there one other time, last summer.  It was beautiful! There's a hiking trail up to Twin Peaks, about 2.8 miles to the top.  There was supposedly a look out half a mile up the trail... 2.3 miles later... we found the bench and the view was well worth it.  Next year we are planning on hiking up to the top and into the bowl.  There's supposed to be amazing blueberries up there.  (Not many people want to hike the three miles to get the blueberries and then haul them down)

Our best friends showed us a great spot up in Hatchers Pass for picking blueberries.  We went twice and found the mother load :)  It was a very successful pick.  Daddy even got to go with us!
Other berry picking was less "fruitful".. But we were taught a new way to "pick" raspberries by our youngest.  Skip the middle man!
And these are the fruits of our labor! 
17 quarts of Jam
Rhubarb Blueberry
Raspberry Rhubarb
Rhubarb Cherry
Rhubarb Lemon
For now... More to come :)
More summer time adventures.. we hiked the Butte nearly every week.  Next summer we are planning bigger and better adventures. Maybe some winter hikes too... Summer time we will miss you! 
My baby isn't so much a baby!! UGH!
What a ham!
My successful Hunter!!
He went out to get a Moose, the Lord provided a Caribou.  Which we accepted gratefully.
And the next week a friend got a moose, too much meet for his family, so he gave us a leg and some ribs.  We didn't have room in the freezer for a full moose and caribou.. thus the mass jam making.  But now we have both.  The Lord blesses us with miracles daily and we are ever grateful for his hand in our lives. 
There are great blueberries up in Denali too I guess :)
Fresh Blueberry oatmeal for the hunters.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

So it begins...

(Baby Elizabeth) 
 Tomorrow we begin a year of home School for Elizabeth, Henry & Lydia!
I was really excited and then hyperventilating, sure I was going to ruin their brains... and now after a night of prayers on my knees and lots of tears... I think I am ready.  
Saturday is Elizabeth's 9 birthday!! 
This year will be a wonderful, eye opening year for her I hope.  
 And this kid begins his second year of home school and is still excited to do it.  I love sitting down with them and discussing their interests and what they want to learn about.  
I LOVE learning! I wish I loved it as much while I was IN school! 
But seeking out good books and learning is exciting and fulfilling. 
I started reading "Famous American Women" by Hope Stoddard last night and forgot to get the kids to bed :)  American History, here we come! 
(Henry age 1)
While I still worry about failing my children, I know that with the Lords help anything is possible.  I have been counseled, as we all have, to keep our priorities aligned, and the Lord would bless me in my endeavors. Put the Lord First, Marriage second, Family third, Church callings and then all else.  We learned this scripture in Primary today,  "But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe."  Faith in the Lord produces Miracles.  

Friday, August 7, 2015


 I can't believe how much he has grown in the last few years, well months even! 
We looked at pictures and ate red velvet cupcakes with tons of friends and family
His visit was great, he's a normal healthy boy! 
He does still have high Ferritin levels and low Transferrin and TIBC(something like that... the things responsible for taking free iron out of the body).  So he has lots of iron in his body and the guys responsible for cleaning it up are tired or out to lunch :)
Normal levels of iron range from 20-330 or something like that and Henry is at 838.
So a bit high. 
We are waiting to hear back from Seattle, if they want any further action taken to remove the excess iron.  
He lost his first tooth, is starting 2nd grade and healthy!
He's amazing! Loves being a missionary to his friends, telling them all kinds of bible stories.
And reads as much and as often as he can.  Right now he's reading "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe."
I testify of the Lords law of compensation, Elder Scott spoke of it once, that every tear would be repaid an hundred fold... and it truly has! The Lord doth visit his people in their time of affliction, and carries the load so that even they cannot feel the weight of it.  I can look back with great joy and happiness and mostly forget all the heartache and struggle.  We can go through struggles and hard times with out the Lords help, but with His strength and support we can bear our burdens with ease and with joy.

The Eye

 This day has been a day of tender mercies and incredible learning.
Miss E had vision therapy today.  Wednesday she got her first set of glasses! Don't have a picture yet... not sure why.  I was so excited for her to "see" a whole new world, however, the glasses weren't as "corrective" as I thought they would be.  Thus the vision therapy today. 
Tender mercy: Neighbors plans got canceled at the last second so she was able to take all my kids while we went to therapy. 
I learned so much about the human eye!!
And my poor sweet daughter's struggles everyday of her life to be able to "see!"
BINOCULARITY: the ability for each eye to consistently and equally input information to the brain.
Fusion: the ability to use both eyes together comfortably for sustained periods of time.
Tracking: the ability to move the eyes accurately to process visual information quickly
Visual Discrimination: the ability to automatically recognize small differences in similar objects
Visual Memory: the ability to store, retain and retrieve visual information
Eye Teaming/Aiming Flexibility: the ability for the eyes to automatically and comfortably make the numerous aiming adjustments needed to maintain clear, single vision
Our eyes do incredible tasks, involuntarily, more often then our heart beats every day. That is, unless there is some sort of imbalance. Her eyes can't consistently do any of the above tasks!
When asked what her favorite subject in school is, she will reply reading. Yet it is the most difficult task for her to accomplish!  I can't wait to see her reading explode when she is able to do all of the above mentioned.  Imagine as a reader, you read the word "country," it's a new word, three pages later you see the same word, "country," our brains remember the form of the word, and read from sight the same word.  Miss E's brain can't do that, yet.  She has to sound out this "new" word all over again. 
I have been fighting back tears all day! Excitement at finally understanding what she was struggling with, and heartbreak at not knowing sooner.  All the frustrating homework sessions, my angry words at her because she wasn't understanding something her younger sibling could.  Forget that I automatically receive the bad mom award, my heart broke for the frustrations she was having and that I was unable to understand or listen or help her understand why everything was so hard!  She's amazing in my eyes, because she's done so well, and persevered through it alone.
This year we are homeschooling all three school age kids! :)  Another tender mercy: going through therapy and relearning all of this at her own pace through homeschool.  I will be able to understand her frustrations, give her the support she needs and watch her grow leaps and bounds. 
Truly the Lord is in our every day lives, constantly there to support and assist us, even when we don't know we need it. What peace and joy I receive from know that.  And what an incredible creation we have been given in the human body!  These things that function and do more than I ever realized they could and needed to do. 
We will be reporting back Soon, with progress :)     

Monday, July 6, 2015

Alaskan Summers

Well these pictures loaded in a completely random order and I am not savvy enough to correct it, so....
Our Summer has been fast paced and wonderful so far!

We have been camping with friends at Man Made Lake, our new favorite place on hot days.

This little man turned 1!! Seriously he grows an inch a night!
Since there are soooo many birthdays that one week in June at our house we did a combined birthday party on Fathers Day.  So instead of his own cake, he got ice cream, which I am sure he prefers.
Summers in Alaska are all go. go. go!  We have hiked the butte, gone to the lake, camped, finished swim lessons, tried to organize home school and do some work, at the end of the very long day our little ones are exhausted.  But you gotta soak up all the vitamin D you can, and use all the day light there is... which is a lot! AND we LOVE it!

Quite frequently this little girl steals my phone and adds at least a hundred self portraits, not a single pore is missed... but some of them are worth keeping.  Oh how I Love this little girl!

Dad sent me a flash drive of ALL the family photos they have, thanks to much work on my aunts part I am sure and my parents, I have several generations of family gatherings on my computer.  I can't wait to tell my kids all the stories that accompany them.  But while browsing the pictures I found this little gem... Our very first is almost 9, and growing into such a beautiful girl. Our lives are like an Alaskan Summer, go, go, go... and before you know it, the summer is gone.  So I am trying to savor and enjoy every moment I can with these sweet kids I have been entrusted with.  Oh the joy they bring. 

A snap shot of our run up the "new" side of Butte, the little ones climb like champs!  P man was getting a bit worn out and said his legs were hurting.  I told him that meant his muscles were getting stronger... never heard a whine out of him again! He ran up and down laughing the whole way. 
Our friends invited us to a family carnival, OH so much fun, way better than the state fair... even when you lose you get a prize!  Mr. C helped clean up the scraps.
A little face paint and a lot of fun.
He loves this little pack, I think last trip he slept the whole way up.  Oh the life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Catch Up

So here we are.  We have failed at the blog thing, but the persistence of family members has squeezed another post out of me.  For those who complain... where is your blog?  But I digress.  This is more or less family history, journal, and generic letter writing all in one. 

So here are some pictures and explanations.

This is an ingenious mouse trap we began using a few weeks back. Simple and effective. Slather the can with peanut butter, put a board angles up to the bucket edge and sit and watch the mice climb out to the peanut butter like its a drug they cant resist. The can is balances and spins on the wire, the can spins as the mice start putting weight on it and the mice fall into the water and drown.  I was standing 5 feet away when one raced up to the peanut butter and fell in. Henry got a pair of binoculars for his birthday and one night we sat in the house watching from the window as 4 mice met their demise. Great entertainment.

Porter Wray making funny faces.

Calvin just hanging out.

This is my dumpster bear and antlers.  I need help from my brother Tim to polish my story but....Long story short. There was this bear in a dumpster along with some antlers.  I might have watched the bear and antlers go into the dumpster, but when no one was looking....I confronted my fears and battled the dumpster to release it's hold on the antlers, I then used the antlers to fight the bear until it succumbed to injuries and was lifted free from the dumpster.

It was soaking wet and a mangy mess.   But I thought to myself, bears get wet all the time fishing and such, the fur should survive some water and unknown gooey substances.  With careful attention and skill I threw it in the back of my car and took my spoils home.  It spent 2 weeks on a picnic table drying and working it's magic on Lisa. What started as "you wont bring that thing into my house" came around to letting me put it in the basement in the new movie room. But as movie rooms go, it was dark and didn't fit the d├ęcor.  With careful scheming and persistence, much like those family members persistent in getting me to post here on the blog, I won Lisa over and she allowed me to hang my dumpster bear on the wall along with the antlers used to rescue it.      

I got about 10 feet from a wild hare this last week slowly sneaking.  Not sure if it is truly albino or a late changer.

The neighbor's turkeys have gone wild for the summer, we currently have 3 female turkeys hanging around with about 10 baby turkeys.  I use them for obedience drills with Chevron. I send him after the turkeys and then call him to stop before he reaches them.  Takes a lot of discipline to stop a few feet before the turkeys and return without the prize. But this is necessary discipline or he becomes a unfunded liability.  

Elizabeth participated in a pirate play at school. She makes a good pirate!

The kids have been taking swimming lessons 4 days a week for the last 3 weeks. Its part of their home school this summer and a good skill I think every kid should learn.

I turned 32 recently, Porter turned 3, and tomorrow Calvin turns 1. Porter is such a fun kid, he laughs at everything and has just enough spunk and courage to make him dangerous.

Other updates..... We are in the process of selling our other house down the street. We have passed all the inspections and just waiting on the buyers financing and closing next month.  We have been blessed and if the sale goes as planned, we should be able to pay off our last remaining debt, the mortgage, and become debt free.

I plan on working much less overtime at work and enjoying more time off with the family.

We are considering buying a Harvest Right home freeze dryer... if anyone has used one and can give us advice please let us know.  

Our friends R & L have moved out of the apartment above our garage and into their new house.  We spent the last week cleaning and painting the apartment for our new renter who moves in this coming Friday.

The pigs are about 100 lbs each now and still growing. Chickens are still giving us about 12 eggs a day, and the raspberries seem to have survived the transplanting and new shoots are coming up all over. In a few years we should have a real nice raspberry patch. 

If anyone wants to ship us some blackberry roots I will pay the shipping (hint hint Tim)  I hear you just dig them up and wrap them in wet news paper and stick them in a cooler or wax box.

Well that's it for now.