Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baptists at Our Ward Christmas Bash

I have a story to tell.  It's about a really special lady that made her own Christmas Miracle happen right here in our little town.

I want to write about this because I learned a few very important lessons today, and I feel more prepared for Christmas and it's true meaning than I have in years.

DeeDee Merrill, in our ward does everything big.  Not just big, huge.  She worked for/with Disney World in Orlando for many years and she brought her big ideas to our little town.  I mean, showmanship is so big in her family that one of her daughters married an Osmond.  (Yes, for about two weeks we had an Osmond in our ward.   Coolidge just wasn't their thing though.... I digress...)  She thinks creatively and "out of the box."

She was put in charge of our ward party this year and wanted to do something special, so she prayed and prayed, and came up with an idea.  She felt like she wanted to find another church congregation in Coolidge to celebrate Christmas with, and to make a service project for our ward.

One Sunday she felt impressed to go to the Baptist Church in our town.  This church is a small, run down, dilapidated building that has actually been condemned, (literally) and the congregation is almost entirely African American.  She arrived at their Sunday Service and sat in one of the back pews where she is completely sticking out.  The pastor gave his sermon and respectfully asked her if she has anything to share.  DeeDee proceeded to tell them she'd been praying about where to be that day and that she felt inspired to be there.

After the meeting, DeeDee met with the pastor and some other folks from the church to find out if they would be willing to come to our Ward Christmas Party and asked how we could help them.  They emotionally told her that they'd been praying for a miracle from the Lord.  They have many needy children in their congregation and didn't know how they were going to take care of them.  Needy like, need clothes and shoes - toys weren't even on the list.

So DeeDee shared her experience in our Sacrament Meeting, and shared her testimony of how wonderful this experience would be.  And then, we were all given "to do" lists. 

I'm serving in the Primary Presidency right now, and I have to admit.... after I got my "to do" list, I was feeling a little cranky and not so ready to participate.  The primary was asked to be in charge of all the children for about an hour and a half, during which time we were to prepare a nativity while the rest of the adults listened to musical numbers and did crafts seperately. Yikes!! SOOOO many reasons why that seemed like a hard and difficult thing to do.  Between both congregations, we were expecting 95 children ages 3 to 12 - and those numbers were almost certain.   After adults and children did activities, families would hayride together over to the Baptist building and everyone would sing and do the Christmas Nativity. 

We worked on our part of the assignment with (I'm ashamed to say) a lot of angst.  This time of year is so busy anyway, so to be asked to take on such a large responsibility seemed like a burden.  I know I wasn't alone in feeling a little frustrated and "put upon."

Today, like expected, we had a minimum of 95 children show up between both congregations.  There was quite a bit of hari kari: we lost children, had a hard time keeping their attention, it was chaotic as you would imagine.  We could only prepare so much for that many children in such a small space... as Primary leaders we were ready to be "done" when the hour and a half was over. 

After the activities our children hopped on the hayrides and I hopped in my car (it was raining - I have my limits) and went over to the other church.  As we were helping unload and organize children in that teeny uneven building all I could think was, we're almost done!  I was bossing kids around, getting after a few just trying to keep them in one place for the music and then slowly, the atmosphere changed. 

A few of the Baptist folks began playing the piano, drums, and singing a catchy gospel song.  Our primary children started clapping and enjoying the music.  Everyone in the room started to quiet down, sit still and listen to the music.  I mean, it was totally different music than we're used to in sacrament meeting - but the spirit entered the room with all of us enjoying music together. 

The Nativity started.  Our children made a rainbow of colors representing Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men.  They sang their musical numbers and their voices were strong and beautiful.  In that tiny building filled with at least a hundred plus people it was quiet, and everyone sang the Christmas hymns together.  While we sang, our youth decorated their Christmas tree and placed donated gifts under it.

Finally, the Pastor and our Bishop got up and spoke a few words.  Our Bishop reminded us that it wasn't the nails that kept Christ up on the cross, it was all of us and his love for us.  Their Pastor got up and spoke: "today we had a rehersal for what Heaven is really like.  It doesn't matter what color you are, it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, it just matters that you are children of God." Amen.

(He also said that he already decided he was going to Heaven, he was just trying to get as many people as he could to come along with him. I loved that - me too then...)

DeeDee herself was raised as a Baptist.  She closed by saying that there was one hymn that she knew both churches sang, and she wanted us to sing it for the closing song: "How Great Thou Art." The feelings of love we all felt seemed to make the entire place glow.  I don't think there were many dry eyes in the room.  The spirit filled that little run down building and it was warm and strong.  It really felt like we were part of a piece of Heaven. 

So, a few thoughts.  First, I remember just like going on a mission: the bigger and greater the spiritual ourpouring, the bigger and greater the adversary will work against you.  So I should've know how awesome the day would end with all the adversity that came with it. 

Also, THIS day, and maybe for the first time in my "grown up" life, we celebrated the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.  Giving, Sharing and Remembering Jesus Christ with our brothers and sisters.

Merry Christmas Everyone.... and "Come Let Us Adore Him."

Monday, November 28, 2011

AND.... One Month Later...Happy Thanksgiving!!

Exhibit A:

Is the reason I am eating only grilled chicken and salad for the next few weeks.

But ohhhh was it good.  This ended up in the oven, covered with marshmellows.  Why no "after" picture?  Well, because we were all taking little tastes out of the top of it as soon as it came out of the oven.

And here:  Exhibit B

MMMMM.... More butter.  I told mom she was out of practice because she only bought two pounds and we were out by the end of dinner.  We barely had enough....

And finally,

Exhibit C:

Exhibit C is the reason why we love living in Arizona!!!  70 and sunny two days after Thanksgiving.   Beautiful day and fun holiday!!  Makes all of those 115 degree days worth it...  I promise, it's a dry heat  :) 

I love being with family and friends.  Can't wait for Christmas!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

What a fun night!  Homemade root beer, cheesy soup, family and friends. 

Poor Bella was so terrified of Matthew's costume which looked kind of like a Star Wars "sand person" (don't know how else to describe it....) But seriously trick or treated for two hours because she wanted to see the "Purple Zombie House."  Whatever that is.  Bless Michael's heart, he went out trick or treating with her over and over again, trying to help her find it...  Oh well, maybe we'll come across a "Purple Zombie House" next year.

This picture is soooo bad. But I didn't know how poorly it turned out until several days after Halloween so this is what we're ending up with for posterity.  Better than nothing, right?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nightly Routine

I had an epiphany today.

Every night, while I'm doing my "nightly routine" (face wash, teeth brush, make up removal), I have this little girl glued to my side.

She pulls up her potty chair and uses it for a step stool.
NOTE:  This is the only thing her potty chair is currently used for.  Someday I'm hoping it is used for "good" and not "evil"... I digress.
She grabs whatever bottles I am using: face toner, empty lotion bottles, contact solution and she puts these items on her face just like me.  Then, she puts on my bright red lipstick that rarely sees the light of day.  (Or the dark of "date nights" for that matter.)

Most nights I call for someone, anyone to rescue me.  I mean after all when I've had the little chicka shadow me all day I figure that I should at least be able to put on my jammies and have a little "me" time in peace.  Nothing fancy here, just a few minutes.

But tonight I was pondered the situation.  I'm so thankful I've done this blog to chronicle her "growing up."  I realized that she is already growing out of  making big messes.  When she does make them, she says "sorry Mommy" and cleans them up.  I know I wanted her to grow out of that phase, but wow that was quick. 

SO, I decided that I wouldn't be in any rush for her to get past this one.  I'm going to happily accept and enjoy this addition to my nightly routine.  Maybe I'll even buy her some of her own bottles of lotions and potions to use.

What a great way to end every day... with a little red lipstick.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Heavenly Father's Plan

Over the summer we had the chance to visit the Church Welfare Square.  It was such a wonderful experience.  My testimony of people of the earth being in a large family was strengthened.

A few conferences ago, an apostle explained how the Welfare system of the church is here on the earth to be a blessing to Heavenly Father's children. During our visit we were able to see firsthand how it works. 

There was a Japanese family touring with us, mom and dad and daughter and they asked the sister missionary if humanitarian kits were delivered to Japan after the most recent earthquake and tsunami.  Our missionary assured them they were, only the instant potatoes were replaced with rice because the potatoes aren't eaten in Japan.

Heavenly Father loves his children so much He even cares about making sure you get rice instead of potatoes if it's important.

That was moving, but one of the most touching things I saw, was picture of children drinking a special drink created to help with the famine in Africa during the 90's.  Scientists at BYU came up with a nutritious drink for starving people to be able to get used to nutrients again, and to eat solid food after nearly dying of starvation. What a wonderful gift that God was able to give His children through the folks at BYU.  HE really does help us all.

Yesterday in testimony meeting, a sister in our ward got up and bore her testimony about the gospel and how we are all truly family.  Our ward members were going on a big camping trip in Colorado and had a suburban pulling a flatbed trailer filled with camping gear.

The car broke down in Albuquerque.  She and four of her children were stranded on the side of the Albuquerque freeway in the rain while her husband and oldest child went for help in the tow truck.  Not one person stopped. 

It started to rain, so she pitched a tent from her camping gear and got on the phone with information to reach the local church leaders.  An hour later, a local bishopbric member had her trailer hooked up to a borrowed suburban and had the children safely in the car.  These church members watched kids all afternoon while Peterson's went to find a car at a dealership owned by a local ward member.  This family fed them and let the Peterson's stay the night at their house.  They went from stranded to back on their way in 24 hours. 

Her point is, we are all family in the gospel.  Where does that kind of thing happen anymore?  In Heavenly Father's church, as part of His family.  I'm so thankful to be a part of this church and all the blessings that come from it and I am thankful that we are able to be a part of blessing all people in the world!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog A Thon - Someday

Is what I should be doing right now.
This very minute.

But instead, I'm going to make a Booster Club Flyer, work on next week's sharing time and catch up my calendar so I don't miss something important like I did twice yesterday.  Mom's should just NEVER get sick... just sayin.  No matter how awesome and wonderful your spouse is, (and mine is super awesome and wonderful), there are just some things that only you keep track of....

Like open houses, dance class, curriculum night (that's this Thursday honey), Activity Days, Sonic Night fundraiser, grandparents day, Scouts, orchestra practice....  Oh, I could go on, but you can see where this is going.

To his credit, anything to do with sports he is on top of. 

But being the CEO of Samuel Family Inc. is a very big, full time seven days a week job and "The Mother" has to be checked in for things to run smoothly and not be forgotten.  (Derek is CFO...  it's a thankless job but someone has to do it.)  BUT I love that our children are all striving to learn their talents and want to learn - everything.

So hopefully my kids will see the above list and know that just because I haven't journaled anything about our family for the past month, they have been VERY busy.  And hopefully before I forget all the fun things I want to share with my loved ones, I'll get a chance to do my "Blog A Thon."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kids and Work - My soapbox

Sharon (my sister) and I had an interesting conversation last week about teens and working.  While we were on the phone I got a call from my husband saying that Tyler was being asked to work at a local farm on Saturday.  HAPPY DAY!

This brought on an interesting conversation.  Somewhere in the back of both of our minds, it seemed ridiculous that my fifteen year old son and her boyfriend's sixteen year old daughter didn't work all summer.

While we were being raised, my sister and I both somehow if not through words or osmosis, maybe by example we were taught that at a certain age, you were old enough to go out and make some money and contribute to your family.  I mean,  I didn't have to turn my paycheck over to my parents.  In fact, the only thing they did do was occasionally give me a ride to work and help me open my first bank account.  Other than that, they had nothing to do with my money.  I had complete control over where it went and how it was spent.

What a great feeling that was!  There were eight children in my family!   My parents always made sure our needs were met, and the things we had were nice - I never felt deprived...  BUT if I wanted to get designer shoes, jeans or "Units" to wear.  (If you don't know what a "Unit" is, don't bother asking.  I still can't believe those were considered clothing items... that is it's own blog entry.) I had to pay for those things myself.

So, fast forward to my teenager. He's been fifteen for eight months and he FINALLY landed this Saturday job.    (Okay, so we found this job and didn't give him an option - I think sometimes you have to do that kind of thing, just so they can get over the fear and uncertainty of not knowing what to expect.)  He brought forty dollars cash home after four hours of bailing hay in the Arizona summer heat.  Forty dollars.  Ten dollars an hour.  Not too shabby for a "little boy." 

I asked him how it was to have all that cash on hand.  He's was pretty whiny about the whole thing for a day or so but came home from the first day of school yesterday excited about the prospect of having some of his own cash.  He bought himself some sugar cookies and gum. 

That kind of thing is empowering!

So my message about teenagers is... it is so important that they learn to work.  This is not a job friendly economy.  I'm not sure it's going to be SOOO much better when Tyler gets home from his mission in six years.  I mean, I hope it is but our economy's long term outlook isn't pretty.  These kids are going to need some skills, even if those skills only include waking up and making their bodies move to accomplish a task in a timely manner. 

Teach work and respect of money.  Don't get caught up in "letting them be kids."  There is still PLENTY of time in a teens life for downtime.  Tyler's does seminary, school, football practice, chores and still has time to come home and play basketball for an hour or so in the evening.  In this day and age, I'd say that is a perfect amount of downtime!

Alright, off my soapbox and off to do carpool....  It was great to talk to you Sharon, you are my "people."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to School 2011-2012


That's how I'm feeling today.  I miss my kids already. 

Don't get me wrong, they were really making me bonkers by the end of last week.  Really crazy!  It seemed like there were seven kids in the house because I sort of became one.  Whiny, "yelly,"  fussy and grouchy.  You know what I mean.  But I didn't actually want this day to come.  Now I have to figure out what to do with myself! 

Maybe my laundry will get completely done for the second time this summer.   Nope, not kidding - I know it is pathetic!  I just don't love laundry, I always have LOTS of it.  You know, it's in my blog's name.

Everytime school starts I feel like I'm experiencing a life changing event also.  Every year brings new experiences, my kids grow bigger and get a little more mature.  I get older... if not more mature  :).   But I always go through a few weeks of "panic attack" before I get settled into a new school year. 

Feeling better already here.  Thanks for listening! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sun Block (and a Fish Taco Recipe)

That is what I am calling my current "writer's block" going on here this summer with my blog.  We've done so many fun things this summer and I'm hoping I can go back here and write about it... I noticed I did the same thing last year.  I just get distracted playing during the summer... I turn into a kid every year when school is out!

I don't have so much to say tonight except that I haven't forgotten about my blog and I totally plan to go back and write over the next few weeks about some of our little vacations. 

I do want to write down my fish taco recipe really quick in honor of Christina who loves them.  She just had her twins, Anna and Jackson.  They are BEAUTIFUL!!  I love them and I love you Christina!  Good Job!!

Fish Tacos

Ok, so my favorite fish to use for this is "Treaures of the Sea" Breaded Flounder that you find in the Freezer section at Sam's Club. Bake according to the package.  This is the easy way (and yummy!)

However, if you accidentally buy the unbreaded flounder, (obviously this happens to me sometimes...) here is how I season it:
Use equal parts olive oil and butter in a skillet and add fish fillets.
Season fillet with garlic salt, onion powder, celery salt and BBQ seasoning.  Brown the fish on both sides and squeeze lime and lemon over the filets when they are done. 

Mix equal parts sour cream and mayonaise.  (You can use plain yogurt instead of sour cream and it actually tastes more like authentic fish tacos.)
I season this mixture with garlic salt to taste and it's ready to go.

Put fish in corn tortillas that were warmed in a skillet, and use both the cabbage salad recipe and the tomato and avacado recipe listed in this blog.  Dress with the sauce...

You won't need to go to any restaurant to get fish tacos after this, they are delicious and authentic!!

(And Christina,  I will make them for you when you get home...)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Big 4 - 0

It happened.

And it wasn't horrible... and the world didn't end...

And I am FORTY! 

And I had a party.

And it was AWESOME!!!

Really, Derek and my friends pulled off the greatest surprise party EVER!  He said he had to lie his face off to make it happen, but he made it happen and I get all warm and fuzzy and happy just typing it here.  My life is blessed. 

How did he pull this off?  LOTS of help from our friends and, just, he is awesome... what can I say?  Love him love him love him...

Seriously, even with the sombreros, when I walked into the cultural hall, and the lights flipped on and I saw all of my family and friends sitting there, all I could think was "this is a little piece of heaven."  Very emotional... very cool.  Definitely a "peak" in my life. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Basics" and "Staples"

The adult session of Stake Conference was last night, and a few comments really stood out to me.

You know, we've all heard we need to pray, read the scriptures, go to church, Family Home Evening, Temple attendance.   And I've heard them referred to as "the basics."  We all know that we need to be in the habit of doing those things to get by spiritually.   But to refer to them as "staples" brings renewed significance to me.

Staple:  something one relies on because it is a basic necessity for them.  Not only are those things a basic, they are a necessity. 

In the same talk, she also talked about different "levels of spirituality."  She explained that we start doing things because we want to be obedient, but at some point, we do them because we've learned to love the Lord.  I guess I think obedience equals basic and staple equals Love the Lord.  When you really get to that point, you HAVE to obey because you just can't not.  You feel too strongly not to.

How inspiring...  Now I just need to keep on practicing to get it exactly right...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tina's Grandma's Salsa

I spent my entire morning looking for this:

Above is a copy of the recipe for the best canned salsa you will ever eat in your entire life.  No really, in your ENTIRE life!

This exact copy holds sentimental value for me.  The first time I canned salsa, I was at a good friend's house, Tina.  We were sitting at her kitchen table, wondering what in the world to do with the ten (in total) bushels of tomato we'd ordered to do well, something with.  We just didn't really plan on what that "something" would be.  We were trying to be good "doers" and be prepared for you know, whatever - we would have tomatoes.

Somewhere in Tina's memory was her Grandma's wonderful canned salsa that used veggies from her garden.  (Tina remembered that everyone raved about it and she loved it too.)  So, one phone to her grandma and a quick trip to the grocery store later and we had everything needed to make up a batch of her Grandma's salsa recipe. 

I've canned this recipe over the years with different friends and made new memories every time.  This copy now has sentimental value.

I was a stress case when I couldn't find it.  I literally pulled out all of the stops going through piles and piles of recipes.  I was sure I put it, you know, in a "safe" place.  Of course I couldn't find it in ANY of my "safe places"  I finally called one of the people  I made this salsa with and as luck would have it, it 's my neighbor.

She reminded me that I submitted the recipe for a canning cookbook a few years ago (hooray).  But, BONUS, she had an original copy of the recipe that my friend wrote down years ago.  So here it is, now, documented on my blog for safekeeping.  I'll never have to go on the hunt for this salsa recipe again.

And now you can all make your own FABULOUS canned salsa.  (And maybe some memories with friends and family...)

Here is the recipe in nice, typewritten print:

Tina's Grandma's Salsa  (Makes about seven pints.)

About 30 medium tomatoes

Place in a pot and heat until the skin starts to break, then plunge into icy water to stop the cooking. 
Peel and core the tomatoes, put in a large pot.  (Very large).

6 long green chili  (For a yummy "smoky" taste to your salsa, roast your chili first.  Read directions listed on my blog.)
3 bell peppers
2 peeled onion
For Heat (Optional):
6 jalapenos  (You can add these or not, it's to taste.)
1 or 2 habaneras  (The hottest pepper on the planet.  I never add this but I may someday.... )

Cut up all of the ingredients.  Boil tomato and veggies together and stir until onions are transparent.  Pour mixture into blender and blend for about 30 seconds until ingredients are combined.  You can process them for longer if you like your salsa less "chunky."  Wash your cooking pot, pour blender mixture back in then add 5 tbsp. salt and 1/2 C vinegar.  Boil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Follow instructions for getting jars/lids ready to can.  Fill jars and process in hot water bath for 55 minutes.  (Processing time starts after the water is at a full boil.)

Now you're ready to enjoy the most fabulous, delicious canned salsa I've ever had...  and I am a pro!  (Insert smiley face here...)

How to Roast Green Chli

Green chilis are usually called anaheim or hatch chili.  They are long and green, like the color of a green pepper but long like a huge jalepeno.  Roasting them really brings out all of their very best flavor.

How to roast green chili:

First I have a story to explain it. One of my dear friends that lives out here had just moved into her neighborhood and didn't know very many people. Early one morning she went out her front door and saw a brown paper bag. In that brown bag was a very suspicious looking pile. She thought, "who hates us so much that they would put this in front of our house!" She was sad about it for a few hours until she got a phone call from a gal in the ward who said, "hey, did you get that bag of fresh green chili we roasted for you this morning?"

Enough said.

That's how your green chili should look after you've roasted it properly. You can use a grill, gas stove, or iron skillet. You just want the chili blackened all over. Place in a brown paper bag for about fifteen minutes. The skins should come right off, leaving you with just little black bits of flavor. MMMM I can almost smell the chili now.   Pull the seeds out also, (unless you love spice), there is definitely lots of heat in the seeds.

You can use green chili in roast for green chili burros, scrambled eggs, quiche, tamale, chicken, just about anything!  You can also pack it into zip lock baggies and freeze it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Corn Soup

Here is my story today.

I wanted to use the fresh produce that is in my fridge, and I didn't want my veggies served the traditional way.  I've been craving Navajo Fry Bread so I had to think of a way to eat them that goes with bread. 

It is not NEARLY as warm as it normally is here.  For example, the high today was 95 degrees.  I know that sounds pretty hot to most of my family that reads here, but in all our years in Arizona, I can never ever remember when it wasn't over 100 degrees on June 1st.  (Really, never ever!) So it seemed like it wouldn't be too awfully weird to make soup.  Like, I almost made a cold corn salad and I am sure that I will someday but for today, soup just sounded good.

Derek said it was his favorite soup I've ever made, so I want to write it down here before I forget what I did.

Summer Corn Soup

4 ears of corn
2 small sweet vidalia onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
6 cups water
3 tbsp. powder chicken bouillion
one can Hunts tomato with oregano and basil
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
garlic salt
one tbsp. butter/2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh basil (about 8 fresh leaves)
roux of corn starch and water to thicken

First, cut the kernels off four ears of corn. 
Then, in a dutch oven warm up the olive oil and butter, then add in cut corn, onion and green pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until softened, then add chopped garlic cloves.  Stir until you can smell the garlic. 
Add in water, make sure you get any carmelized veggies bits off the bottom of the pan.
*Tangent here... if I had an immersion blender, I would've saved myself a LOAD of trouble during the next step...
Pour tomatoes and about four cups of your soup mixture into the food processor in case you don't have an immersion blender either, blend.
Add back into your soup pot.   If you like your soup smooth, you can process the entire pot in batches- it's up to you.
Add softened cream cheese and stir until melted into soup, season with garlic salt.
I like thicker soup, so I added a small slurry of corn starch and water to thicken.  (Sorry, no measurement here....  you can make it as thick as you would like.)
Simmer for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally
Finally, chiffonade the basil and stir into your soup.  The basil really makes it.
(Preferably from your fresh basil plant on your front porch.  I've discovered there is no reason every person shouldn't have one.  I kill almost everything I grow, but the basil is beautiful.  I don't have an immersion blender, but I have fresh basil!)


PS.  Tyler and Michael are at Scout Camp this week, I really miss them!  My house is much quieter...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Being a Mother

I got my hair done Friday.  It seems like for the most part, the women I go to for hair-care are young, worldly and their "children" are normally of the canine variety.  They live with their boyfriend(s) in a home they purchased together and plan on marrying "someday."  (I'm serious, that past three women that worked on my hair are in the same situation.)

 It seems like women who can actually work on my hair without ruining it are all in the same place in life.

It gives me a kick to say that I have six kids.  It is so shocking to them.  I know I look young, but there's more to it than that...  I think they don't really come across many people with soooo many kids! (By the way, with my "so many" kids I REALLY don't know how my mother did it with eight!!  Props to her!)  I feel like I'm a missionary for motherhood.  When they ask "how do you do it?"  I say, "it's just what I do!  It's my job and I love it!"

When I call motherhood my chosen career path, they seem to "get" it, and appreciate it.

With my blog entries I've written the past few weeks, I just feel that it's important for me to say that I truly love being these kids' mom.  No matter how busy or crazy I get, I do it all because I love my family.  I am one lucky lady...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our Awesome Characters

Once again, terrible picture taking skills here...

But Matthew was picked as "Character Student of the Year" in Mrs. Diaz's class.  He was picked because he is always kind to others, always holds doors, and helps kids that need help.  He got loud cheers from the entire audience.  I promise, it's not just me being his mom, he DID get loud cheers.

Then, not pictured here is Julianna, who was picked out of the entire K-5th grade as "Character Student of the Year" in Physical Education.  Mr. Mills said she displayed great sportsmanship, stayed after class to help pick up and looked after others.  Unfortunately, he forgot to tell the person in charge of the assembly about his choice, so I don't have any proof - yet - that she won this award.

Needless to say, I am SO proud of my children. 

We're still doing respectable business here at "Samuel Family Inc."  :)

Happy Memorial Day!

I am watching Glenn Beck today, Memorial Day and he is talking to "Nienie" (Stephanie Nielson).  Stephanie is a popular blogger that survived a horrific plane crash that burned 80 percent of her body.  In speaking, Glenn told a story that I loved, that feels really appropriate to my blogging the past few weeks.  (Glad I tuned in today, I haven't watched in FOREVER and he goes off the air soon.)

The President of CBS news wrote a book about people that survived tragedies.  All kinds: mountain climbs, plane crashes, these tragedies are varied.  The one thing this writer found survivors have in common?  God.  Heavenly Father helped them survive it all. 

Let that be a lesson to me.  Next time I think I'm too tired or busy to pray, I will remember that while I'm playing my silly non life-threatening "Survivor" game, I will remember to turn to God and I am sure I will find more to be thankful for than whine about...

I appreciate the reminder....


Thank you Brent for serving our country all of these years.  We are ALL so proud of you!  We love you!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

National Anthem

Tyler and Michael sang at the Imagine High School ground breaking ceremony yesterday and I was able to upload their video to Youtube.  (That's the only way I can have video on my blog - that I've figured out.)  They are so talented!  I mean, not to brag or anything... just saying.  I'm going to link the Youtube post below.  It just amazes me how far their music teacher brought these kids in one year.  They just started this Jazz choir, about eight months ago!  So impressive....

FYI, Michael is directly behind the podium and Tyler is the very tall child you see to the right of Michael.  FABULOUS!  (Just ignore the very bad lighting and picture taking.  My kids can't help it that their mother is a very lame picture/video taker.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Survivor: Last Week of School

My house smells like urine.  That is probably ranks up as my number two worst smell that happens in my house.  (I will leave number one to your imagination.) 

I usually have one or two - give or take rooms - that take on that particular funk, but today, my entire house smells.

I can't wait for school to be over.  Then I will be home in more that one or so hour stretches.  You know, long enough to get something done besides breakfastlunchdinnersnacktencupsperperson dishes and one - on a good day load of laundry.  Sadly that one load is usually NOT clean clothes for everyone.  It's the last week of school and a few of my kids haven't changed their clothes in a few days now.  At least they make it out the door! (On time if not very clean...)

SO.... in the past 24 hours
I've had a Primary Presidency meeting, canned ten jars of Salsa, been to a concert, made and delivered invitations, attended a groundbreaking ceremony, emailed and sold bricks for Booster Club, and I still need to:
Count money for the PTO.... and

I just got a call from Derek saying he was at the school to pick up the kids...  I can suddenly breathe... my list is much longer and every day is pretty much like that past 24 hours BUT I will be okay.

It's a good this you are on a team in Survivor!!  (Thank you Derek, that was a wonderful you!)

PS.  Much thanks to where it is due.  Mom and Dad have been FABULOUS this week!!  I've needed about an hour of babysitting every day to make life more doable.  Dad has been awesome to the point that Bella is now requesting him to make her "soup" (top ramen) whether I need help or not.  Today, after she already played at their house for an hour, I was taking her back and I told her she was going to Grandpa's and she said "YAYY" with a happy dance.  So cute.  Dad says he's just her "slave" now...

P.P.S.  I hope when I'm home a little longer - I can find and get rid of all the funky smells!

P.P.P.S.  (If there is such a thing.....)  Found the smell, I'll spare you the details.  I guess that I need to be a bit more specific with my children about where poopie diapers go ie:  NOWHERE IN THE HOUSE!!! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I started blogging for several reasons: journaling, a place to save my favorite recipes, keep important family memories, and a way to share our life with family and friends.

I've been thinking lately about my interest in Mexican food.  I decided that it's not only my favorite food to eat, it's a hobby that I enjoy.  I enjoy learning new recipes and trying new things.  As luck would have it, our house is less than two hours north of the border so getting access to authentic recipes and ingredients is pretty easy. 

My brothers and sisters always asks for a "Fiesta" when they come to visit, so I'm going to add all of their favorites recipes, and maybe I will learn some new ones for my blog. 

It's just another way for us to stay close... I'm going to make sure that they can all have a "Fiesta," whether I am with them or not...

I love you all!

Here are a few of the recipes I can think of off the top of my head.  Any requests or suggestions?

homemade enchilada sauce
sonoran enchiladas
green chili
mexican rice

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Simple Salads

So I've been asked for this recipe several times, and I thought I added it on this blog somewhere but I've been doing some blog "cleaning" and I can't find it, so I'm adding a few simple salad recipes.

Cabbage Chopped Salad

Half a head of cabbage, chopped.
About four green onion, white and green parts, chopped
Fresh cilantro, about five sprigs chopped finely.  So good to know about cilantro; there is a lot of flavor in the stem, so chop the entire sprig.
One lime

Chop the cabbage, add chopped green onion and cilantro toss together.
Add the juice of half the lime, adding the other half as needed.
Salt your salad.  Salt is key in this little salad, it brings out the flavor of all the vegetables so don't be afraid of the salt.
Toss again thoroughly.  Taste, add salt or lime if needed.
Let your little salad sit for a few minutes, and then you can have it on literally anything Mexican:  tacos, burros, enchilada.  My kids will eat bowlfuls of this stuff... it's that good. (And it's cabbage, bonus!)

Tomato Avacado Salsa

My sister, Christina served a mission in Chicago, and one of her members would always serve a cubed tomato and cubed avacado with her meal.  My sister adds a little bit of olive oil and salt for seasoning, and it's a delicious salsa!  As an option, add juice from the lime half leftover from your cabbage salad for a little flavor and also as a preservative for the avacado.  Once again, serve on any Mexican dish you like, or over a green salad or over chicken.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I'm just sayin...

Sometimes that's what it is.  I feel like I play the survivor game lots of times in my life.  I'm sure that part of that is my own fault for not being more organized, and maybe for trying to give myself five more minutes in bed, or for not remembering everything I'm supposed to be doing, or because I'm actually trying to do too much.

It is probably some combination of "all the above."

But I play "Survivor":

Primary Presidency  (I could really go on for a minute here, but I'll spare you)
Bella's Mom  (She deserves her own Survivor title...)
Booster Club

Occasionally "Wife" too, but if I was to compare how many times Derek plays "Survivor Husband" to my "Survivor Wife"  well anyone who knows me well knows who is in "Survivor Mode" more...

(Hint.... isn't me....)

Well, another school year is almost over, my kids just got a year older and I still don't feel like I'm close to winning this "Survivor" game.  My guess is, I'VE got a few more years to go...  Hopfully I'll "Survive!"    :)

PS.  The PTO put on a fun talent show this morning, and our family made a GREAT showing!  Tyler played another "original" song.  I need to post that one also.  Mike played a WONDERFUL piano solo.  They both won awards. I'm very proud of my children...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

What a great Mother's Day I had this year!

Derek and all the kids did such a fabulous job.  I am so blessed...  They cooked and served me, mom, Kathy and Christina a delicious steak dinner.  They treated us like we were at a five star restaurant.

And I have to say, the older I get, the more I love all the homemade cards and gifts my children bring home.  It makes me feel very sentimental.

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you!

I am thankful for ALL of you wonderful women in my life that have "mothered" me...

Love you and Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blog Therapy....

There are some days, I just need to write here for my own sanity.  What you see above is a picture of Bella's nails, just after she painted them.  You read that right, after SHE painted them.  In fairness to Bella, she asked for "makeup" and "pretty toes" hours before.  Guess mom just didn't deliver in time.

This was at the end of a day when she tried to change her own poopy diaper.

Then she drank a few ounces of mouthwash.  Luckily it was childrens mouthwash so it wasn't a toxic amount.  Poison control was very nice.  Good thing I called them, I'd been trying to make her throw up (PS. that is wrong.)  Michael (the good Scout) was home sick and he was there with his first aid book telling me that I should stop, but sadly I didn't listen until I talked to Poison Control.  That will teach me, I should know by now that Michael IS, in fact, smarter than me...  :)

I would like to note here that I also tried to call Derek several times because he is, technically, 911 but he wouldn't answer.  (Oh the ironry!)  When I finally DID reach him, he said "I could have told you not to make her throw up, and with kids mouthwash of course she is ok....  Well that's just what happens when I am left to my own devices in an emergency!  Now you all know.

So..........  then she decided to paint her toes, and arms, and sink, and stomach with a few different shades of nail polish.  Needless to say, I missed my PTO meeting last night AND instead of getting to go on a date before our Temple Recommend interview, we got to take Bella out to dinner.

After her day, I didn't dare leave that child unattended - well I guess I mean without a parent.  (Although, my sweet husband was kind enough to remind me that I was in charge of Bella when she got into so much trouble.... thanks....)

Good news is, today has to be better, right?  Happy to report that so far, she's only colored on herself with magic marker once!  I am happy for any improvement AT ALL today!

Feeling better already.

Meatballs for Whatever You Need Them For...

So here I am, after another sabbatical.  Can't promise I won't take another break, after all Rachel is here to play and Kathy comes this weekend.  Awesome, right?  But out of necessity I created a meatball recipe that turned out so well, I want to write it down here.  My measurements are going to be somewhat of a "guess", but I think it's pretty close...

3 pounds of 80/20 ground beef
1/3 cup ketchup
2/3 cup quick oats
2 eggs
1/3 cup parmesean cheese (the kind you put over spaghetti)
2 tbsp. italian seasoning
salt to taste

Bake these in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

(The time is actually a TOTAL guess, but I think I had them in there about that long...  Let me know how it goes!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Cotton Blossoms, 2011

Awesome....(and Adorable!)

Pretty Julianna, Cotton Blossom 2011

Bella Backstage, Cotton Blossom Pageant

The Cotton Blossom Pageant is Coolidge's own version of "Toddlers and Tiaras".  Ok not really, well, not exactly.  You do dress up and wear a crown, and some moms DO make their kids participate.    What, me?  I didn't actually MAKE them.  In my case, I told the director of the pageant that I was sorry, but Jules wouldn't do it this year because Bella couldn't.  (The rule is, you have to be three to participate and Julianna assured me that she would be happy to participate when her sister could do it with her.)  "What!?  Shona (the director) said, "That girl doesn't know who she is messing with, Bella is going to be in the pageant..."  :) 

So, much do Julianna's dismay and her mom's happiness, both girls were in the Cotton Blossom pageant this year.  As you can see from the photo above, Julianna is actually happier to be there than Bella is.  Really when our girls walked across the stage hand in hand it was, in fact, adorable.  They were both beautiful and their brothers (aunt and parents) cheered for them loudly.  (There are no winners or losers in this pageant, not even a talent contest.  You just dress up and introduce yourself.)

I guess if we're being honest with each other, this one little girl really has us all pegged.  She got up there, said her name, stated her age and then proceeded to thank her parents for buying "this ridiculous dress."  Out of the mouths of babes.  She called us all out....  But it was lots of fun anyway!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homemade Granola

I've been searching for an easy granola recipe for a while.  It seems like most of the recipes I find on the internet include various seeds, grains and nuts that remind me more of bird food than anything else.  Finally I asked a gal in my ward who I heard was "in the know" when it comes to granola.  No kidding, this stuff is basic and good.  I'm sure those of you that want to make it like bird food can, but this is a good place to start.  Warning... I'm pretty sure it's not super low fat, but it is filling and a little addicting... just sayin'.

6 C Quick Cook Oats  (Great price for this at the cannery.)

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes

1 1/2 c. maple syrup or honey (I used honey and it was delicious!)

1 c. crunchy peanut butter

1/4 c. oil

In a large bowl, Mix the first 3 dry ingredients. Add 1/2 t. salt (optional). Set aside.

In a medium microwavable bowl, mix the maple syrup and peanut butter, microwaving them about 1 minute to soften the consistency of the peanut butter. Stir in the oil.

Preheat oven to 300. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. Grease 2 sheet pans. Spread evenly onto the sheet pans.

Bake 25 min. Stir. Bake 10-15 more minutes until light golden brown.

The granola was still soft when I took it from the oven.  I wasn't sure if that was correct but when it cooled, it had more of a "granola" texture.  Also, I didn't use any coconut because I didn't have it on hand.  Instead, I used a half a cup of trail mix that had raisins, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.  If you want to use chocolate chips or something else yummy, add it after the granola is cooled.

This recipe filled 3/4 of a gallon container, and it can double easily.  When you double the recipe, it uses a number ten can of quick oats.

Enjoy it, it's good and I believe that if it doesn't actually save you money to make it - it should for sure save you additives and sugar. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break 2011

San Diego, March 2011

Tsunami?  No worries...  Radiation Cloud?  Who cares....  We threw caution to the wind and just went!

OK, we just can't help ourselves.  (Or really, I can't help myself and my kids are starting to catch on and my husband just spoils me...) 

I love the beach.  I love the sand, the waves, the sounds and the smells.  I was raised by the ocean, I learned to swim in the ocean and it just brings me joy to sit by the ocean.  Add in my kids that now love to get out there and "boogie board" and body surf and I think feel complete happiness.  (OK, I am constantly counting one - six heads over and over, but I'm loving it the whole time.) So any time I think we can pull it off, we go to the beach.

We haven't been to San Diego for ten years, but I have a feeling we'll be going a lot more now... It's an hour closer to my house and the traffic is SOOOOOO much easier to drive in. Derek wasn't ready to give me away by the time we got there.  (Big improvement over the drives into Orange County/L.A.  I'm lucky to still be married after some of those drives... but that's a whole other story....)

I'll post more pictures soon...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Bella Baby!

So, how do you celebrate your Birthday when you are the baby of six in a busy family? 
First, sometimes you don't even celebrate your birthday ON your birthday... sometimes, you celebrate it a day early... because of concerts, or basketball playoffs, or scouts, Mutual or Activity Days or some combination of the above....
THEN, sometimes, your mom is at five different stores in a day and STILL forgets birthday candles, even when the entire day is dedicated to finding stuff for your birthday.  So you end up with two Glade candles to blow out.   I agree, pretty lame!
The fruit pizza was planned, (I promise!) we went with that instead of cake.  I think it will be Bella's tradition.  It's so pretty and pink!  :)
PS.  I am planning to have a little "playgroup" birthday party on Wednesday, but still there will be no celebrating on her actual birthday, just no time!  But isn't that picture awesome.  With that much love and adoration, do you really NEED a party on your birthday?  Didn't think so.
Two years went by so fast!  What would I do without this little girlie.  She just keeps me so busy and happy (and stressed, but that's well documented on this blog... she's getting better...)
I still remember looking at that pregnancy test and crying.  I was so naive.  I just didn't know how lucky I was!  She is such a beautiful little piece of sunshine for me.  Love you Baby Bells!

Bella's Birthday Fruit Pizza

(This recipe makes one large pizza stone sized cookie)
Two rolls sugar cookie dough 
One 8 oz. strawberry cream cheese, softened
One container cool whip
One cup sugar
Assorted fruit (I used grapes and strawberries.  I was also going to use bananas, but at the store I HAPPENED to remember bananas, they were all green.)  You can use any fruit that sounds good.
Directions:  Bake the dough into a big pizza sized cookie and cool
Beat together cream cheese, cool whip and sugar.  Spread across cooled cookie like frosting.
Thinly slice your assorted fruit and distribute across the "pizza."
Really rich and delicious!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sticker Shock (And a Taco Salad Recipe)

So I went to Walmart today to pick up a few ingredients I needed to make this yummy taco salad meat sauce that I'm getting ready to share, and I had a big surprise.

I needed foil, and the big box that I would normally get, are you ready?  $7.67...  Are you serious?  What is tin foil made of anyway!?  Derek said we must carry weapons grade foil at our Walmart.  Guess so....

But I digress!

Here is the Taco Salad Recipe:

2 large cans of Ranch Style Beans
(I bought a number 10 can of beans.  Once again, sticker shock.  Last time I bought those beans, they were just over a dollar a can.  This time they were closer to two.  So I decided I'd get a number ten can, pay just over four dollars and have double the beans.  I froze the rest.  Once again, I'm sidetracked...)
1 can Rotel, I use mild
1/1/2 pounds ground beef, browned.  For this recipe,  I just cover the meat with water, add garlic powder, salt and one medium onion chopped.  Then let it simmer away for about an hour.   You could just brown the meat, but it is really tasty this way.  I just add in the whole pot of beef/water after it's cooked.
One packet of Ranch Dressing
Two cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all of these ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low for about four hours.

This stuff is awesome.  We usually use it for taco salad.  Have it over lettuce with cheese, sour cream, green onion, corn chips, avocado.  Just delicious!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Back again...

Well, so much for that blogging twice a week goal.  (Or was it three times?)  I've been in a little funk lately.  Just so much going on in life, that it felt like one more thing to do to blog.  Plus, who wants to hear from a big grouch?  I think that I'm getting over it now....  so hopefully the creative juices will start flowing again and my family will give me more stories to write about that will help them to know that I actually enjoy being their mother.  (You know, so if that's in doubt as they get older, they can read the proof!)

Jules is playing basketball and Tyler is their coach.  It is very fun to watch.  Tyler made up a cheer they do before every game that ends with a coyote howl. (That's the name of their team.) The kids on her team think it's the coolest.  Sadly, they've lost every game.  I hope that they can come up with at least one win before the season is over!

My Bella timer just went off.  I've got to take care of her.  Ever since she had pneumonia, she will spike a fever every once in a while that lasts a day or so.  This is one of those days, and she is calling me.  Good to be back!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rare Find

So I saw something in the Walmart parking lot today that was so beautiful and rare in my little world, it actually brought tears to my eyes. 

I saw a little couple, probably in their late eighties, slowly walking together to their car holding hands.

It was awesome.  And I really shed a few tears.  I'm used to seeing "snow birds" but they are busy and young, especiallly compared to this little sweet couple that I saw.

I called Derek and told him that's what I want for us, to grow very old together and be in love. He said "yes, that will be us, holding hands in the Coolidge Walmart parking lot when we're old."  Hmmm... didn't think of it that way.  The COOLIDGE Walmart?!  Not quite what I have in mind but if we're still here then, when we are VERY old....

As long as we're holding hands and walking together I guess that will be okay,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Just Do It!"

I taught at a RS Enrichment (Homemaking?) last week on Family Scripture Study. 

When I think of reading the scriptures with our family every day, this symbol above is what comes to mind.  I dispalyed this during the lesson.  It's just not an easy thing to do Family Scriptures every day, but you have to "Just Do It."  Perserverence, Obedience, Diligence are the words that come to my mind.  Sometimes we have really uplifting spiritual lessons and sometimes, well, we are reading two verses and being obedient. But I know that by being consistent, our family is blessed and WILL be blessed by following through with what the Lord asks us to do.  I feel that every time my children walk out the door, I am in a tug of war with "the world" and "the devil."   I know that as we study scriptures daily, we'll strengthen our children's spiritual armor. 

Tyler missed seminary a day last week - because of me. Bells had pneumoia and wasn't sleeping and I just couldn't wake up.  He got into a little bit of trouble at school that day and while I was lecturing him, he says "see mom, I didn't have my armor on today!" They know they need it, it's up to us to follow through.

Just wanted to share.

HIghlight of the Week

Trip to the DR, 20.00
Antibiotics, 30.00
Second Trip to the DR, 20.00
Antibiotics, 15.00
Third Trip to the DR, 20.00
Antibiotics, 15.00

(Notice a pattern here?)

Matthew at Sushi.... Priceless....

This was the highlight of my week.  One case of pneumonia and two cases of bronchitis later (and a hundred or so dollars), this was awesome.  Sushi is one of Matthew's favorite foods ever.  See that plate?  He ate the whole thing himself, and a salad and fried wontons and some soup.  Watching him chow it down and ask for more was super fun!

PS.  I think I need to go into medicine...  just to take care of my family! Or maybe hire a housecleaner.  You reading this Derek?  We could have Auxy come and SAVE money over the co-pays!!

(Wink and smile here... but think it over....)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year Resolutions 2011

(Or at least some really great ideas that I hope I will be able to follow through with at some point during the year...)

Read my scriptures and pray every day.  (Personal study)  This is always my number one goal every year.  (I won't record here how good I am doing it, I will only say that I am improving...)

Temple once a month (minimum, but until baby is older and the Gilbert Temple is done, I think that continues to be the most realistic.) 

Walk and do weights three days a week.  I'm thinking that is doable.  I haven't been to the gym forever and I have to start somewhere.  Went back to the "Knee DR" - again - and now I have a brace that causes me agony, but the DR assures me that it will be best for me in the long run and should improve it.  Here's hoping!
Maintain my weight is part of this.  I've decided I'm happy with it and I'm going to keep it...  Done having babies and my body is going to be as healthy as I can make it.
To have one booth at one Festival ONCE this year. I have an idea for a booth at one of our little town festivals.  I am wanting to try it out to see if it is successful.  That's a goal I'm setting for myself this year.

"Spread Sunshine" to my children every day.  Find three positive things to say to each of them personally to help them feel confident and happy.  I like to think I do this, but honestly some days are so crazy, you just don't ever know...

Prepare my Sharing Time lessons one month in advance.  The way we have things set up right now, we are each responsible for a full month of Sharing Time every three months.  I want to be more prepared so our Saturday evenings don't have to be consumed with planning and prep work every weekend that month.

Take a vacation with Derek. Alone. Child Free.  (I am turning 40 this year - this is a must happen, we haven't been anywhere together since before Bella.)

Try one new recipe or create one new recipe each month and blog about it.

Write in my blog at least twice a week. 

Follow a cleaning schedule each week.  I spent hours last week making a new chore chart for the kids.  They do chores every day but they always have "questions" about their responsibilities...  (Arguments, questions, whatever....)  Now I need to make myself a schedule and stick to it.

That's a good list, right?  I am stopping there...  Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tyler's Trek

The Trek turned out to be such a faith building experience.  Not just for Tyler, but Derek and I as well. 

First of all, I had some concerns about Trek as I was hearing little bit about the Stake's Trek plans here and there.  The idea was to keep as many little details from the kids as possible, so they wouldn't be scared off.  Well, some of the details (like how much food they planned to feed the kids) worried me so I took my concerns to a gal in our Ward that I knew was going as a "Ma and Pa."  She assured me that the planners put a lot of thought into making sure that the kids participating were kept safe and not to worry too much.  I relaxed at little after that conversation.  There's other kids in our home that I wouldn't worry as much about if I knew they were somewhat food deprived, but Tyler's not one of them.  He just finished a long and tough football season.  His body was worn down and he was pretty thin.  Starving is not what he needed.

Over Christmas break, my entire family seemed to get the plague.  On Christmas Eve, Tyler had a fever of 102.  We almost took him to the urgent care because he had such a bad cough, but a friend of ours that works in the ER told us that there was a nasty virus going around that matched his symptoms so we decided to wait and see.  By Monday, his fever was gone, but the cough was still bad.  I decided that I couldn't let him go until the DR gave me the OK, so I took him in.  Of course, she said that his lungs, ears and throat were all doing ok, so it would be up to OUR judgement whether or not to let him go on the Trek...

So we let him go another day, he was better but not great.  Meanwhile, the weather says that we are supposed to get rain and a cold front.  I mean, it was 75 and sunny a week before - it even hit 80 one day so we were NOT ready  for cold!   Tuesday night we start making phone calls to Stake leaders and again, to the gal in our Ward trying to get some specifics on the trek.  They had been SOOO quiet on details, that I didn't even know if there were gonig to be tents for the kids.  For all I knew, kids would be laying under wagons.  We were able to get a rundown on the details of the first day, which was the hardest and I spoke with the gal in our Ward again, and from there we made the decision that we would send him, and if we needed to go and get him, that we would but we should at least have him try.

Trek started on Wednesday.  Tyler was in good spirits and LUCKILY, Grandpa B. now lives across the street.  We were able to "shop" in his camping gear and really get Tyler prepared for the chilly weather that was rolling in. We felt comfortable that we had him as prepared as we possibly could.  (Dad even had a "very good poncho" for the rain, so thankful!)

We dropped Tyler off at 7 in the morning, and by about two in the afternoon the wind starting blowing so hard.  I was listening to it and tried to focus on the fact that we had him as prepared as he could possibly be. The way the Stake organized the families was so that each child was supposed to be with adults from other wards.  I felt like my first prayer was answered when I heard that somehow and for some reason, Tyler was put with the gal from our ward that I had been talking to about my concerns all month long.  I knew that Cammi would take care of him.  (She didn't have anything to do with the placement, I still don't know how it happened, I am just thankful!)

 As that first day went on, I just kept praying for him.  I had such a hard time shaking my concerns.  The wind was blowing so hard and it was such a chilly day.  All I could think about was his cough.  I knew the first day would be the hardest.  They were fed a large breakfast, but then they had to hike eight miles with no lunch and dinner was a roll and chicken broth.  (Just kept telling myself to breathe and trust that he would be okay.)

 At about four o'clock in the morning, a huge clap of thunder woke me up, then the rain started.  (In our testimony meeting Sunday, one of the other mom's in our ward said the same thing happened to her, that clap of thunder woke her!)   Loud, driving rain and howling wind.  Once again, I started to pray.  I prayed for them to be protected - that somehow they would have a "bubble" around them!  I was so worried!  I had a hard time sleeping after that. 

I contacted one of our friends Thursday morning to see if she knew how the kids were doing. She said that she heard that they were okay, so it put my mind at ease.  What I found out later, it was actually a completely different story. 

That storm nearly cancelled the entire trek.

Some people pitched tents in washes, their tents were washed completely out.  The wind flattened every single tent in camp except one, Tyler's.  Tyler's tent was the only one still standing.  He slept like a baby all night long, ten hours worth.  He was warm and cozy.  Outside his tent was chaos.  There was actually snow and ice all around the camp.  Most campers had soaking wet sleeping bags and clothes.  One chaperone I talked to said that the word she would use to describe the feeling out there was "despair."  I am SO THANKFUL that for whatever reason, our prayers were answered and Tyler was not only okay, but warm and dry.  SO THANKFUL!!!  I am sure that we're not the only parents who prayed for their child that night, but I feel like we were given a direct answer and blessing and I am grateful. 

At camp, the leaders were questioning if they should just call the whole thing off.  The kids were wet, cold, and miserable, but the kids and "ma's and pa's" said "we came this far, now we have to stay and finish!"  So the Stake President got on the phone, called up the Bishops who called up the Relief Society Presidents who called Ward members to meet at the Stake Center.  Several members met up and took all of that wet laundry home to get it washed and dried.

Derek was part of the help on Friday (New Year's Eve) and he was able to spend half the day with Tyler.  Of course, he was called out at eleven the night before and didn't get home until four am.  To go would mean that he would only get very little sleep, so he had every reason not to go. I am so thankful to be married to a man that is such a great father.  He knew how much it would mean to Tyler, and he also wanted to check on him and see how he was doing so he took a two hour nap and went out to the Trek.  We were relieved to hear that Tyler had slept both nights safe and sound and warm!  Seriously, it was like a miracle to me.  The weather was just getting colder and colder.  (The nighttime temperature out here was 29 degrees.  That is just very cold for our kids that aren't used to such low temps.)  Another huge blessing for us.

Saturday, the parents were invited to go out and see the kids come in.  It was so - awesome.  (I can't think of any other word, it fits.)  It was an emotional experience to watch those handcarts come in through the Desert.  I was so happy to see Tyler! He had a great attitude and after eating a dinner at Golden Corral of nachos, mac and cheese and banana cream pie went home and slept from 8pm until 10 am. 

The next day he bore his testimony of how our family's prayer were answered.  He's also had a great attitude about life in general.  I am so thankful for these testimony building life changing experiences that the church provides!   I'm thinking that bit by bit, "line upon line" Tyler will be firmer and firmer in his faith.   I love it!  (And I am so thankful!!!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, 2011

We are one week into 2011.  I am completely unprepared... This first week with the kids back at school was busy and hectic and whew!  I can't believe it's over.  I am going to post my New Year's Resolutions soon, but right now I am home from church with a "sick" little girl who is not letting me get one little thing done.   :)  I have lots to post!  I'll be back soon.....