Thursday, August 20, 2015

The End of Summer

 It's that time again.  Today was the first day of school and I was one of those moms who got teary eyed for their kid's VERY FIRST day of school.  Tank is in Transitional Kindergarten now.  If you don't know what Transitional Kindergarten is, you can get more information about it HERE.  We feel this will be very good for him because it will give him the additional support he needs to go alone with his speech therapy so that when he gets to 1st grade and above, his speech won't be such a hindrance to him.  He may still have to take speech for a very long time but T-K will definitely help.  So for this little guy he will go to T-K, Kindergarten, then first grade.

Princess is a big 2nd grader now.  She was super excited this morning and all I had to do was help her fine her classroom and she was good.  Big Brother (Formerly known as Golf Boy) didn't want my help.  He said he could find his class all on his own.  So . . . off he went.

Last Friday we did one last fun thing before school started.  Bryce had the day off from work so we went up to Shaver Lake.  We pretty much spent all day there and had a great time.

It was a fun, relaxing day.  Now we are back to the school grind.  We're hoping for a great year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Joy In His Plan

11 years of marriage
 I wish I had a picture for today.  Today was one of those perfect days full of tender moments where I just knew I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing in that exact moment.  Life's been full of those for me lately.  Before you go thinking that I'm bragging about how perfect my life is, just know that I'm not.  There's so much that is difficult right now.  Bryce and I have felt hindered at nearly every step and that nothing we were wanting to do was working out.  We were having a stupor of thought if you will.  Then we finally made a decision about something and my mind at least, has had peace.  That doesn't mean that everything is better now, but things are going to be all right.

Today though . . . was beautiful.  The weather was amazing.  Overcast, cool, slightly breezy, no smoke . . . The kids were playing nicely together and I was hanging laundry out to dry.  As I hung clothes on the line, I was listening to some beautiful cello music and this moment of peace washed over me.  In that moment my life was perfect.  I thought to myself how much I love my life.  Now I don't love the underemployment and I certainly don't love how nothing seems to be working out how we want it to, but I do love what I am doing .  I'm loving my family and doing exactly what I'm supposed to right now.  It's hard to describe, but it's a peace that comes with knowing that I am doing what God wants me to be doing.  Yes, we aren't doing some of the things that WE want to do, but that's ok.  Heavenly Father has a plan for us and as long as we can align our will with His, we will continue to have these moments of absolute peace, moments of perfection and moments of joy.

Joy in eleven years of marriage.
Joy in motherhood.
Joy in His plan.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Clothesline: Symbol of Hope and Self Reliance

I am so happy right now.  We have been living in this home for almost three years and in that time I haven't had a clothes line.  We just couldn't figure out how to put one up or where.  Finally this morning as I was doing laundry, the idea of how to do it came into my mind and I went right to work while the idea was still fresh.  The clothes line extends all the way around this shade structure and as I was hanging up some sheets, my soul was filled with peace.  I know I've written about it before, but there's something very therapeutic about hanging clothes on the clothes line.

I've been doing a lot of things the old way lately -things I used to do but moved away from because of convenience.  We are trying to save money where ever we can so that we can make it through  this trial of underemployment as Bryce gains experience and education for his new career.  Everything he is doing is absolutely worth it because in the long run it will be better for him (because he will be doing something he loves) and we will be better able to support our family.  So in the mean time I've gone back to making our own tortillas instead of buying the pre-made-you-cook ones from Costco (aren't those delicious by the way?), making our own bread (sometimes I would get lazy and just buy it), back to making my own laundry detergent, making our own granola bars, homemade yogurt and anything else that I can make rather then spend the money to buy it.  

So, enter the clothes line.  I know that perhaps drying clothes on the line won't save me that much in the long run but for me it's a symbol of hope and self reliance.  I have hope that things will get better and hanging the clothes on the line brings peace to my heart and a sense of being self reliant.  We can do all we can to take care of our family even when things are tight and our family will still have everything they need -love, shelter, food and clean clothes.

Another thing that was magical as I hung up clothes was the fact the Taz (Baby H) was so excited.  I hadn't realized before today that he'd never experienced what it was like to have a clothes line.  The other three kiddos have memories of playing through the sheets as they blew in the breeze.  It was so sweet to listen as Princess explained to Taz what a clothes line was and how we used to have one at "the old house."  

I hadn't realized the memories I am creating for my kids.  We may not be able to always go on awesome vacations and my kids certainly don't have the coolest toys, but they have something pretty unique to a lot of other kids their age.  They are learning what to do when you run out of propane for a week and have to heat all your water for baths and washing dishes (yes, that recently happened). They are learning how to take care of animals and have respect for the contribution they make through eggs or meat.  They are learning the importance of clearing brush for fire protection and the role it plays in the health of the trees and plants we leave to grow.  They are learning so much by being able to live out here in the country and learning more as we make efforts to save money.  Hopefully these will be lessons they can take with them into adulthood and be more adaptable and capable because of it.  

So, clothesline=hope and self reliance.  That's my take on it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Day of School 2015

 Last day of school!  Last day of school!  No one was singing this chant more enthusiastically then me today.  It's been a good and challenging year for each of these guys.  They all grew so much and learned a lot.  There's just one thing . . . they were so burnt out at the end.  Now they don't have to worry about homework or tests or people being mean at school (something Princess is experiencing -sadly I think she's going to take after me in that).  And now they get to relax -and drive each other crazy in the process.  It's going to be a great summer! (Scroll to the bottom for a first and last comparison)
last day of school 2014-2015 school year
1st day of school 2014-2015 school year (yes, the best we could do that day)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Full of Life

It's been over a month, almost two since I last wrote a blog post on here.  Sorry.  Life's been full and crazy and I honestly haven't had the time to put together this post.  So let's do some catch up.  At the end of March, some very dear friends of ours were having a baby that they had just adopted sealed to them.  A few  years back they had moved all the way to Washington.  My friend Allyson and I were able to drive up together to share in their special day.  The special even took place in the Columbia River Temple and let me tell you, it is amazingly beautiful.  Wow!
 As Allyson and I headed back home, we decided to take a little bit of a scenic rout.  We stopped at a couple of waterfalls as we went through Oregon.  As a side note, Oregon and Washington have so much water!  It was a sight for sore eyes to us parched Central Valley, Californians. 
 I don't normally take a lot of selfies but I wanted to send a picture to Bryce and the kids to show them where I was at.  This is Horsetail Falls.
I can't remember the name of this water fall, but it was beautiful.  It reminded me of a couple of scenes of Rivendale in the Lord of the Rings.

Easter weekend (April 4th-5th) was a wonderful weekend.  I stayed up to take pictures of the rare blood moon eclipse.
 That Sunday, our ward Choir performed a special musical Easter Cantata.  It was such a wonderful experience to sing about the life of Jesus Christ.  Even now, over a month later, I am still singing some of those songs.  Sorry no picture for you.

During the last couple months, we were also very involved in track.  Track this year was a struggle.  While the coach was awesome, the track meet line up wasn't all that great.  Golf Boy ran the 100m, 200, and did the long jump.  Here he is coming in third place for the 200m.
 Then there was other school stuff.  Each year the schools in our area put on what's called the Pine Needle Festival which is all about reciting poetry, like one big poetry jam.  I actually participated in it several times when I was a kid.   Crazy hu?  Anyway, Golf Boy and Princess were both performing in it.  I had to juggle trying to be in two different places at the same time.  Luckily I was able to catch both.  Sadly, the pictures didn't turn out.

Towards the end of April, my grandma had to go in and have some work done on her pacemaker.  I think it was either replacing the battery in it or replacing the whole thing.  Anyway, it was an easy surgery but took longer then she expected.  So on a rainy and gloriously thundering afternoon, I went up to her house to take care of her dogs.  Look at this place!  Can you believe that this is where I grew up?  Is it any wonder why my favorite color is green?  I love being up there, especially when it's raining and thundering.  The thunder echoes through the canyon and when the rain falls, it's like an orchestra as it pelts a thousand different kinds of leaves.  I had mentioned on my writing facebook page that I got to run here.  Imagine joyfully running through the rain and thunder on this absolutely beautiful and serene road.
Baby H, or as we now lovingly refer to him, Taz, turned two years old.  We had a quiet celebration at home with homemade pizza and cake.  This little guy is so sweet and precious.  Our lives have been so blessed because of him.  He is so kindhearted, smart, loving . . .
and mischievous, climbes on everything and a bit of a daredevil.
Yes . . . he's found the stash.  And yes, he climbed up there all by himself.

You know, life is awesome.  Right now life is so full and I couldn't be happier.

In other news, Bryce is graduating!!!!!

. . . and if you are intersted, I have a short story up on Random Outbursts of and Excited Writer.  Check it out and comment on it.  It's part of a blogfest that my writing group is putting on and we are trying to get enough entries to have it be a charity fundraiser.  If it gets to that point I'll give more details.  There's still time if you want to participate too.  Cut off is May 23rd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Muddy Tubs and Fuzzy Heads

One of my great joys in life is to watch the kids play outside in the sunshine and dirt.  It just seems natural -organic.  They are always so happy to dig holes and push cars over dirt mounds.  I think my kids could win the gold medal for dirt accumulation on their bodies and I don't mind one bit.  It gets in their clothes, all over their face, in their hair.  Ok, in the hair isn't as much fun.  Something else I love, is to bring them in when they are all done playing and to wash the dirt off of them.  As the mud rolls off of them, they transform from little gold mining dwarfs, to my fuzzy headed little boys who are happy and full of life.  Is there anything better?  Well maybe, but for now, I'll take this.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What a Morning Without Power Has taught Me

This morning, our power was out.  We live in the foothills and it isn't unusual to experience the occasional power outage.  Growing up in the mountains, power outages were a frequent occurrence and my grandma always taught us to be prepared.  We always had portable water storage for washing and flushing toilets, a supply of drinking water, a way to heat water and food, a way to stay warm in the winter and anything else to be able to wait out the outage.  Sometimes they would only last for a few minutes but sometimes, as in the case of the winter of '99 (I think anyway), we were snowed in, without power for a full week.

This morning the power was out for about six hour (at least, that's our best guess).  And you know what?  It really wasn't a big deal.  Here's what I came to realize:

1.  My grandma taught me well.  We were very prepared.  We had water for drinking and bathing (sparingly) and a heating source for that water.  We had oil lamps and flash lights to light the dark places and our freezers were stocked with frozen water jugs to help keep the temperatures low when the power was out.

2.  A morning without the noise of the T.V. or other electrical noise, was really nice.  For once, the kids actually played nicely together.

3.  It's easier to conserve water when there's no power.  We don't have a gravity feed for our water to the house so after Bryce had run some water to get ready for his early church meeting, there wasn't much pressure left in the lines.  No big deal though.  We warmed up some water on our camping stove and used buckets to wash.  This helped us use much less water then if I had jumped in the shower or put the two youngest boys in the both after particularly smell messes.  I was much more water conscious because I didn't know how long the power was going to be out and I knew I needed to conserve.  What was interesting, was that as soon as the power came back on, I went back to using water exactly as I had before.  I noticed this.  When water flows freely, your usage becomes automatic.  You don't think about it.  Since we are in such a severe drought, this is something I need to be better at. 

4.  It's always good to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  All day yesterday, I was prompted to do certain things.  I was prompted to make sure the animals had adequate water (usually one of my morning chores).  I was also prompted to check on our in house water storage.  I was also prompted to wash my hair (confession, I don't wash my hair everyday), and to make sure I watered the little garden bed I had just planted.  By doing all these things yesterday, I didn't have to worry about them this morning.  Animals were taken care of, the garden bed wasn't going to dry up, and I was able to be clean and presentable for church.  Had I not done these things, it would have been a stressful morning.

So to sum it up?  If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear (or worry, or stress).  Oh, and it's not so bad to be without electricity.  However, I am very thankful for the blessing of electricity and electrical devices.  They make my life easier, allowing me to do much more with my time.  Also, I think it would be very frustrating to write as much as I do without a computer to write on.  Oh! Also listen to your grandmas who try to teach you what life was like back in their day.  Their wisdom can be the thing that gets you through a power outage.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Birthday Hike

On Monday, I celebrated a birthday.  It was nice and quiet with no fuss -just the way I like it.  After I had spent the day running errands in town, my mother-in-law came over so that Bryce and I could go one a quick hike.  I've lived in this area for most of my life and had never seen the top of Table Mountain and neither had Bryce.  We set out about 4:30pm, right from our house and started walking.  This first picture is near the top as you are heading up the trail.
Apparently mother nature is confused because Spring has arrived in our area, as evidenced by the abundance of wild flowers.  There were so many wild California poppies -our state flower.
This is a shot of the very top.  Since I know how the Table Mountains were formed, I had always imagined  a stark expanse of obsidian or lava rocks.  I never imagined a beautiful plane of grass with scattered trees and wild flowers.  It was as if I had stepped into a whole new world.
We walked around for quite a while, just enjoying the amazing views.  In this picture you can see part of Millerton Lake.  Please pray for rain.  The lake shouldn't be that low, especially at this time of year.
We stayed up at the top exploring until the sun set and then walked back home in the twilight.  It was a fun, quick and invigorating hike and a great way to celebrate my birthday.