Friday, September 21, 2012

Touching the Temple

I feel so blessed to live in such close proximity to a number of LDS temples. I remind myself often (especially in those moments when my attitude is poor and I don't feel like making the sacrifice to get there) what a tremendous gift it is to be able to go less than 30 minutes in either direction and attend a temple. If we ventured a bit further, our options become even greater. Man alive, I'm thankful for that! I truly love the temple and feel it a true sanctuary of peace and perspective. I have no doubt it blesses my family's life, and I'm even more blessed because my dear husband appreciates it just as much as I do and so we attend as regularly as possible together.

This summer our family looked forward to the time when we could go to the Brigham City Temple Open House and walk through another of these amazing, holy places together as a family. Last November was one of the most sacred, special days of my life as we all entered the Bountiful Temple and had our adopted baby, Berkley, sealed to us for eternity. It was an experience I will never forget. The air was thick with the spirit and I wept constantly from feelings of joy and gratitude so strong I thought my heart would burst. Here was now another opportunity to go as a family, although not for quite as special a reason.

Here was a little brochure about the temple. Isn't it so beautiful?
When we arrived at the temple, it was buzzing with people. My first objective was to somehow get a family picture in front of it. Just my fortune, a dear friend of ours, Cassie White, was there with her family and we ran right into them. Even more fortunate, she's a fantastic photographer and offered to snap some pictures of us with her camera. We were off to a great start!

Following our quick photo shoot, we went around back and got in line. Although it was extremely hot and a bit stuffy, the short video they showed us was a beautiful preparation for going inside. And walking through that beautiful structure with my kids in tow absolutely made my heart soar. I just kept wanting to stop and tell them how much I loved each room and how meaningful it all was. I wanted to take a moment right then and there and share with them my testimony of the sacred work that goes on within the walls of each temple and the blessings and promises from each covenant made. But, of course, there was not time for such a personal experience, so I had to be satisfied with simply walking through and enjoying each beautiful painting and chandelier and feeling in every space. I hoped my children were able to take it all in and set personal goals to go there themselves one day when they are old enough to understand and make promises to God. Oh, how I love my children and husband! To know I can be with them forever is the source of my greatest joy.

After we walked through the tour and refreshed ourselves with some water and cookies, we proceeded to go outside and walk around the outer walls. I remembered hearing a talk once about the powerful spirit that surrounds the temple, both inside and out. I don't recall all the specifics but one thing stuck with me--if our children can even simply touch the walls of the temple, they can feel some of the spirit that is there. I watched my children as they walked around and then I got some pictures that just moved my soul.

That last one is my favorite. Even Berkley is looking up. It is so symbolic to me. Tears stung my eyes as I thought to myself, If I can only teach my children to look up--up to God for all things--they will be okay. My heart took a picture right along with my camera.

We ended the day with homemade pizza at a pizzeria and shakes from Peach City--not at all healthy, but wow, was it all delicious. It was definitely an excursion worth taking. And taking it together as a family was especially memorable. I know many people who aren't Mormons wonder what in the world takes place in these incredible buildings and why only church members in good standing can go inside. All I can say is, each temple is a holy, sacred place of learning--learning about God and His plan for His children and how we can return to live with Him again someday. Our hearts have to be humble and prepared for such tutelage and so it's not open to just anybody, but for whomever does choose to live in a way worthy for entrance and participation, it is oh, so worth it. The invitation is truly open to all. I hope and pray I will always accept it and never take it for granted. I truly love to see the temple!

One more picture of the whole edifice as we walked back to our car. It was such a beautiful day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer in Summary

Whew! Now that we are full-swing into the hectic school schedule, I am determined to record what I failed to do as summer went along. So, here goes . . .

Baseball. For our family this year, summer meant baseball games. Nate played on a competitive baseball team for the first time, the Davis Dawgs, and boy, did we get our fill of baseball! Truthfully, I loved it (once school got out, that is--it was a bit too much with everything else involved when school was in session). I mean, I have never been a baseball fan; in fact, it was only a year ago I told my husband something had to give, and I thought it should be baseball. That's when he told me he thought our son might be really good at it. Oh, great! I'm sorry to say that's exactly the expression that went through my mind. So, we thought we'd give this a go, and I have to say I'm glad we did. Turns out Nate is pretty good at baseball and he really loves it, so we spent a few afternoons and weekends each week at the ball park.

He had such great coaches. This one is Scott Robinson, the head guy. He's so passionate about baseball. Nate loved him and all the coaches.

Such a cute team of boys, I just have to say. They won second place in their league.

This was in Park City at some major national baseball tournament. Teams from all over the western United States were there. It was a ton of people!

The boys had a chance to trade pins with players from other teams.  It was cool. Nate was really sick with a double ear infection and strep throat (we found out later), poor boy, so he's not looking his best.

This was his team walking down Main Street in the parade. It was such a fun experience, even in the rain.
Swim Lessons: Boston and Regyn absolutely love to swim. And since we have great friends who invite us over nearly every week of the summer to swim at their incredibly nice pool, it's imperative these kids learn to swim well (this coming from a mother who never did learn to swim well and is basically scared of water). This year was especially fun because their cousins came up to have swim lessons with them. It was great fun.
Wow--she looks like a swimmer!

Are these two cute or what? I can hardly stand it!

Beautiful back float

These three girls are the best of friends--I hope it lasts for life.

This photo might not look impressive, but I'm telling you, some of these girls were scared spitless of the water at first and wouldn't even stick their noses in. By the end of the week, this is what they were doing for fun. What growth!

Regyn loved her teacher! She was truly awesome!
Perkins Family Reunion: It's not very often that my mother's side of the family gets together, so when my Uncle Larry, who lives in Kansas, suggested a little reunion at the Pine Creek Ski Resort in my hometown of Cokeville, Wyoming, we just had to go. It really was great seeing people I haven't seen in years. And all the kids quickly became good friends. I know it meant a lot to my grandpa. It was worth it just to see him soaking it all up. He's such an important person in my life and always has been. He lived right next door to us growing up, so I went over almost every day. My grandma passed away three years ago and I will always miss her, but I'm sure glad we could get together and share memories and laughter with everyone else who could come. Oh, how I wish I would have been able to get a picture of the whole gang!

My Grandpa. What a guy. 

My parents talking with my cousin, Celeste (woman on the right) and her college-age son, Jaden. Wow does time fly!

Here is my mother with her younger brother, Craig. My poor mom had an eye infection and so had to wear sunglasses.

These two are a hoot! They were born just hours apart, but their personalities are night and day. I got the biggest kick out of listening to their conversation. Olivia and Paisley--what little darlings!

This was my husband pretending to be having a good time.

Kamille and Nate. These two have been best pals since I can remember. I hope it never changes.

I can hardly stand how cute these cousins are.

They all wanted to eat together, so they just kept scooting over to make room. I wondered how many plates that one little table could hold, let me tell you!
Upstairs Neighbors: One fabulous benefit from our family moving to the basement is that a darling family moved upstairs from us, the Wardens. We truly love them! They moved here from Alaska, and because the mom of the family, Smadi (shes' from Israel--I love her name), got deathly ill with a pregnancy right after they got here, they spent six months back in Alaska where her mother could help her out. She was totally bed-ridden (what a sacrifice to bring a child into the world, let me tell you). Finally, in May they moved back (after the baby was born) and we sure enjoyed spending time with them this summer. Especially the kids. It's like they had cousins move upstairs or something. They all get along great and have a ball together. I think it's an amazing blessing. I need to get Paul and Smadi's picture taken so I can add it here. Also, I will try to take one of the baby, Jordan. Such a cute family.

Nate and Nathan (nothing like two Nates running around together)

Daniel and Boston--do these two look like trouble or what? Daniel makes us laugh so hard. 
Cousins: I know I posted a whole lot about cousins not long ago, but right before school started, some of our favorite cousins came for one last visit. As always, they played until we forced them to stop for sleep. They just never tire of each other--it's amazing! Here is what they looked like at the end of the day, however. Since we live in tight quarters there isn't a lot of room for guests. Four of my sister's kids slept together in one bed--see below. You have to sleep landscape style (rather than portrait) when you have them many sleeping partners.

Then there were my kids.

I have to show this a little closer up. I could not believe Boston could sleep this way.

Hyrum Dam: Our last big bang the weekend before school started. Our insurance agent, who just happens to be Dan's old neighbor from Hyrum where he grew up, invited us to bring our family to Hyrum Dam to go boating with him and his family (everyone needs an insurance agent like this, I tell you). We had a fabulous time! It was such a gorgeous day and my kids got to do stuff they don't normally get to do. I was happy to simply enjoy the breeze and the beauty and the boat. It's always so much fun to watch your children have a good time. I never understood that until I became a parent, but it's truly better than having fun yourself. Such was this day.

Beautiful Hyrum Dam

Five darn fabulous kids, I just have to say.

Is it a bad sign if my 10-year-old is often checking his muscles out?

We even got brave and went as a family on the water rocket. Berkley loved it (the boat pulled us very slowly).

Nate got his first shot at knee boarding. He had a great time.

Hallee and Berkley--I love Hallee's smile.

Berkley really enjoyed the boat (and the other kids enjoyed the pop). I was happy  just to be there.

This is Eric Derr, our insurance agent. I feel bad I didn't make it home with a picture of his wife and boys. He was so much fun. He had a hat on that said FBI (Farm Bureau Insurance) and told us about a time when a man came up to him and asked if he would pretend to be an FBI agent for his grandson, who was enamored with the FBI. So funny!

Love that smile!
 And then there was the car ride home . . . needless to say, we wore them right out. I love days like that.

Ah, summer. There really is nothing like it. Ours was so carefree and happy and just the right amount of busy. Of course I couldn't record every little event and moment, but man, it was good. Now we are back to a grueling schedule and I feel tired all the time. How grateful I am for so many happy memories, though. Life is good. It is just so good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day

I thought this day would never come. I know how bad that sounds, but let's get real--when school doesn't begin until AFTER Labor Day, it's like anticipating Christmas the first of December, and it simply feels like it will never arrive.

Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely love summer! And after nine months of a rigorous schedule, I want nothing more than to lay low and enjoy my children, which is exactly what I did (more on summer to come later). But then there's this inevitable itch that starts forming inside of me around the first part of August--the itch to have organization again. It might have something to do with the fact that my children seem to run out of creativity and enthusiasm for free time, resulting in a lot of TV watching. Or maybe it's due to the fact they all start whining to me about how bored they are. Then again, it might be that I am tired of picking up Popsicle wrappers and other snack residue all over the house. Whatever the reason, school starts looking enticing again.

When everyone else in the world started school and we still had nearly two weeks of summer left,  I thought I might go crazy. Football was in session. Soccer had started. Volleyball was underway. Still no school. But alas, the day arrived--finally!

First off--Jr. high! Hallee was so excited she could hardly sleep. Talk about ready to move on in life. She came home from school the first day and told me she didn't know how she managed to endure elementary school all these years:). Here is a picture of her with her good friend, Zowie Robinson. Poor girls--I made them stand with the sun in their eyes.

An hour later, my elementary kids were ready to go. No, I can't believe Nate is already a fifth grader, Regyn a second grader, and my little Boston is in kindergarten. Wow! It just happens so darn fast. We decided to have a little more fun with their pictures. And apparently Nate had already spilled something on his shirt and had tried scrubbing it off since it wasn't hot enough that morning to sweat that badly.

This one is my favorite.
Man alive, I love these kids! And I'm not like some moms. You know, the ones who cry when their kids enter school. I have always felt like each child was so ready to take that step in their lives, I couldn't help but feel anticipation and joy right along with them. Sure I missed them. And yes, I felt a little nostalgia at the fact my baby had grown right up without even asking me if that was OK, but overriding all of that was the sheer excitement that he/she was ready to be away from home for a few hours and learn like crazy.

After waiting weeks for this day to come, you would think I would have it all together that first morning, but golly darn, I sure didn't. Of all the days, I woke up that morning with a severe headache and couldn't even get out of bed. My husband came to the rescue with some medication and tried to take over until I felt I could force myself up, but I felt behind schedule the entire day. Still, determined to make it special for my kids, I managed to hand-select a cupcake for each of them at the bakery to put on their plates at dinnertime. Plus, we drank lemonade instead of plain old water with our dinner. I know. I know. I really splurged. But let me tell you, the kids thought I was the best thing since Velcro! They told me I was the best mom ever when they saw the lemonade. I couldn't help but chuckle inside, thinking how nice it would be if lemonade for dinner would always be such a treat to them because something tells me it won't.

Regyn couldn't help but pose, pretending to ogle over her tutu donut.
If school starting wasn't enough of an adventure, wouldn't you know, it was also Dan and my anniversary that day. Fourteen years. Man, have they flown! I knew I had to pull something out of my hat for my sweet husband, but I had been so absorbed in preparing for school, I hadn't thought ahead to come up with something great. I've learned when you don't have something great, you do the next best thing--something ungreat. So that's what I did.

My dear friend Sara volunteered to watch Boston and Berkley so I could take Dan to lunch. Looking horrid (not really the way you want to look on your anniversary--it's kind of one of those days you'd like to pull off stunning, just so your husband has some inkling of a remembrance of why he was attracted to you all those years ago), I picked Dan up at work with thoughts of grabbing a quick lunch together and smiling at each other over milkshakes or something.

Wrong. He got in and told me we needed to go to the DMV to register our new car while he was on his lunch break. Not exactly what I had in mind, but being as flexible as Elastagirl, I went with it. As luck would have it, everyone else in the county had the same idea and the DMV was swamped. We took a number, stood in a long line to get food at Zupas, ran back to the DMV to find they had already called our number, got a new number, and shoved our sandwiches in while sitting in our car in front of the DMV. Very romantic, let me tell you.

All in all, I survived the day, which I felt was no small accomplishment. Now we've been in school three days of school, and by golly, I'm feeling a little more stable every day. I just might get in the swing of things yet.

One more thought--today marks the two-year anniversary of my brother losing his wife, Zoe (more about that back here). I never want to forget her or what I learned through losing her, and so I just want to end today by saying how grateful I am for every day I have with my husband and children. Some days are just hard and some days feel like utter failures, but mostly, this life I have is so fulfilling and so amazing and so worth it. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart to be a mother to my five children, to have that privilege and opportunity, because it forces me to be better and to live life to the fullest. So, if anyone reading this blog is a mother, know you truly are irreplaceable and that the work you do every day really does matter. So, soak it up. Make today count. Find all the little pieces of pure joy and satisfaction this day brings because you just never know about tomorrow.