40 Years

The BIG 4-0.  What does it feel like?  Honestly, not that much different than 20 or 30.  For some, turning 40 is quite the milestone.  I wondered as I approached my birthday if I would suddenly feel older or “old.”  Nope.  I make jokes about it, but I don’t feel any different.

There are a few minor differences that prove I’m not 20 anymore.  I have some gray hair.  I already wrote about my burgeoning skunk stripe (Age and Conformity).  I’m the cutest skunk you have ever seen.  Actually,  I dye my hair even though I didn’t think I wanted to.  And sometimes I let it grow out quite a bit and then one of the kids comments on my stripe.  It’s odd that it’s just in that one place, so maybe I could grow it out and pretend I’m going for a modern, yet dignified look.  Besides the gray hair, I’m 15 pounds heavier than before I was pregnant with Gavin.  The weight just never went away in spite of the fact that I’m much more diligent about exercise.  And there’s another change–I’m more aware of my health and trying to stay in shape–not because I think I’ll actually lose that 15 pounds, but because blood pressure is a concern and I don’t want to have a stroke.  I want to be able to serve a few missions with Rick and have the energy and stamina to be involved with our grandkids and even great-grandkids.  I also want to enjoy our children as adults.  Something that hasn’t changed over the years–acne.  I don’t have horrible skin, but I do get flare-ups now and then.  I think there should be a rule that once your first gray hair comes in, you should not expect to see another pimple on your face for the rest of your life.

Other changes are not visible in my appearance.  I think I am more mature, more thoughtful, more patient, and more prayerful.  I try to give other people the benefit of the doubt when they say or do things that hurt me or my family.  I don’t get too upset over little things, but I’m not perfect.

Here’s a 40th birthday example of my imperfection–I purchased post-it notes specifically for Primary as we prepare for the Primary program.  I planned to write the kids’ names on the notes and put them where they are supposed to sit on the stand for practice.  The notes are color-coded.  I paid for the sticky notes with church funds and put them in a special place.  Last week, I came home from the temple to find that my family had opened the package of sticky notes and used them.  I was annoyed. Why can’t anybody just leave my stuff alone?  Is there nothing that can be just for me? (Doesn’t that sound like immature and faulty logic?  I mean, come on, they’re for church and they’re just sticky notes.)  I shouldn’t have been angry over such a little thing–especially when I realized what the stick notes were used for.  The kids (under Rick’s direction) wrote notes of things they love about me and put them all over the house for me to find them throughout the week.

Nice, huh?  Gavin even wrote his own special note and stuck it to his stomach.

So, being 40 years old isn’t all that bad.  In fact, it’s great.  I love my family.  I’m healthy and happy.  My life isn’t void of problems or disappointments or stress, and I’m sure I could complain about so many things, but I know I will be a much happier and healthier person if I look for the positive and avoid dwelling on the negative.  Grace and dignity are found in one who can accept challenges as opportunities for growth.  Maybe I’ll get good at that in the next thirty to fifty-something years.

A Birthday Story

My mom sent me this cute compilation of memories for my 40th birthday:

From Journal Entries of Mary Price Allen Gudgel:

April 24, 1978

We have moved to a house on an acre (Castle Road). It took us quite a while to get the other house sold (Edward Ave), and everything settled with it.

Scott has remodeled both bedrooms and the kitchen, also the foundation, as the house is an old farm house of 50+ years and had settled making the floor crooked and unstable. We are still remodeling, but I know everything will be nice when it gets finished. Cathy is almost 2 years old now and really growing fast. We are expecting another baby on about August 31st and looking forward to the arrival. bd 1

Turns out Bonni wasn’t ready to come until almost a month later September 29, 1978. She basically stood on her head for 4 weeks being all stubborn about entering the world. Maybe she was getting extra instructions for her life’s mission here or didn’t want to leave that pleasant place living in peace with her grandma Isabella and other heavenly family members.

When she was finally born, my mother shed tears of joy, and called her a bonny sweet lass. She had a special bond with Bonni from the beginning. It’s as if she recognized her, or perhaps they knew each other in the pre-existence. I suppose we’ll know one day.

Back to the original journal entry . . .. We have quite a garden – grapes, asparagus, artichokes, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, beans, cucumbers and corn. I hope everything keeps on growing. Scott is quite a gardener and works hard keeping the yard up.

Update found in journal #2:

On September 29, 1978 Bonni Ann arrived. She was four weeks late, and that last month was really rough! I must have eaten at least 50 pounds of Hostess cupcakes during that time! I was so tired and bored with being pregnant – I couldn’t seem to do much of anything else.

We were in the process of remodeling the bathroom while I was pregnant. What a mess it was all the time! Scott took out, rather knocked out the old concrete shower so we could put in a shower/tub combination. Above the shower was an old original chimney that was no longer in use, so when Scott took it out soot went everywhere!  I couldn’t even scrub it out of the floor! Good thing we were going to put in a new one . . .

The day in July when my father was helping Scott carry out the last large pieces of the shower, a high councilman came and called Scott to be a Stake Missionary. Boy was it HOT that day! The two of them wanted some privacy so my dad and I waited outside. What torture! We were hoping they wouldn’t take very long. (I remember I had this cotton house robe that I had made to wear when I was home. I was pregnant, the weather was hot and humid, and I couldn’t hardly stand to wear shorts or regular clothes. The robe was short-sleeved, of light cotton, zipped up the front – and was the only comfortable thing I had. I might have had that on when we were outside, not sure . . .)bd 4

During the time of “no shower” Scott took his showers at the gym at work, and I took mine at my mom’s house. Cathy used the wash-tub with my help. Sometime that summer there was a terrible humid heat wave, so me being pregnant, no shower, and then our air conditioner broke down! I was miserable! I remember making a pudding angel food cake for Cathy’s birthday in July the day the air conditioner quit working. We were having family over later for a little party. Scott had the day off, so he hurried and set up a new water-cooler in place of the air conditioner – wow! I can’t tell you how good it felt when he finally turned it on. The house was so hot with the oven going to bake the cake and all. . . .

Gradually, the bathroom got finished. When I came home from the hospital with Bonni, I sent my dad to buy a curtain rod and shower curtain, so I could use the new shower at home. Scott had picked me up at the hospital and then gone to work the patrol swing shift. He had also just poured the cement for our new front step and I was instructed to keep it moist while he was at work. I remember being beside myself thinking, “How can you ask me to do that! I just gave birth yesterday, the shower has no curtain nor rod – never been used, and you want me to go outside and squirt the concrete step every hour!”

bd 5 I couldn’t believe the audacity of asking me to do that nor the situation I was in! But, my dad set up the new shower, Cathy went with Ed and Lucille during the day, and came home at night, and my mom brought food over, so I survived. . . .and so did the new concrete step. It was beautiful and not a crack in it, thanks to my care. Hahaha!

Bonni was a sweet baby – a little more sensitive than Cathy had been, and so was not as good a sleeper as Cathy was, but she brought a happy sweet light into our lives. Bonni didn’t like sleeping in the cradle at all. She preferred the plastic car seat or our bed. So, after having absolutely no sleep the first night home – I was exhausted! When Scott came home about 3:30 AM I told him I was exhausted and couldn’t go on unless he took care of Bonni and let me sleep. So, the good father and husband he was, he took his new little daughter out to the living room and took care of her all night while I slept. I don’t know if he slept at all, but I know I did, and I felt so much better. By the time I got up again about noonish, my mom was in the living room taking care of Bonni and Scott had gone to work again. How does anyone survive without good family or friends to help them? Well, the first few nights were hard, but as time went by life returned to normal, and Scott started on his Stake Mission.

Note: I looked for Bonni’s blessing from when she was named and blessed by her father and can’t find it, although I think I wrote down what I could remember – but don’t know where it is. Anyway, I still remember him saying that Bonni would grow to womanhood. She would suffer some health issues, but the Lord would watch over her and she would be sustained by Him throughout her life.

Addition of present thoughts written September 24, 2018:

Now this sweet sensitive child has grown to be a beautiful woman with seven of her own children. She is kind, strong, brave, intelligent and a true daughter of God. Yes, she has had health issues, some very painful and challenging, but the Lord has, and continues to bless her according to her needs. She will turn 40 this year – Her father and I love her dearly and I consider myself privileged and blessed to have been her mother on earth.

Happy birthday to our dear sweet bonny lass!

 

Cursed By a Skirt

Skirts are stupid.  OK, maybe that’s a little harsh.  Skirts are okay.  I like cute skirts.  They’re a good option on hot summer days, and switching from shorts or pants to a skirt takes you from casual to dressy in two minutes (I’m all about efficiency).

Skirts without pockets are stupid.  In fact, pants or shorts without pockets are stupid too.

I have had a rough couple of days.  My ill will toward pocketless apparel is the culmination of a lot of stress and exhaustion and a horrible hour and a half long ordeal which I will blame on the dumb pocketless skirt I am currently wearing.

Why am I wearing a pocketless skirt if I hate them so much?  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’m sorely behind on laundry.   There was my trip to Disneyland with Brooklyn and Gavin and hurrying home to a chaotic house and a husband in the hospital.  I was able to get partially caught up on laundry just before heading to Provo to pick up Emily from school, but apparently, I took care of everybody else’s laundry and neglected my own because this morning I found myself stuck wearing the hateful construction of flowy material whose only utility is to cover me.

And, I guess I look cute–don’t get me wrong.  But I’m more concerned with getting things done and that’s challenging when you’re always wondering where you put your phone or keys because you don’t have handy pockets to slip them into.

Bringing Emily home from school was not stressful.  I was happy to do it and we had an enjoyable (though long) drive together. There are some blackmail-worthy videos of our silliness, but videos take forever to upload, so here’s a picture of cows crossing the road near Monument Valley.

Fun, huh? Taking care of a house full of kids is not easy and I salute Rick for all he got done, but even SuperDad can’t do the work of two people.  I had planned to spend the day yesterday catching up, but then I saw the list of items Emily needs to obtain by next week to start obtaining visas for her mission. This is in addition to what she has already done to get her mission papers in (ecclesiastical interviews, medical and dental check-ups, etc)

Lest you think I’m being dramatic about the requirements, here is a copy of her “to-do” list.

It’s a lot! And much of it is difficult to get. We live 35 minutes from downtown Tucson where the police station and government offices are, and many of these documents require official government certification and authentication.

You might now understand why I feel a little scatterbrained and overwhelmed.

So, I found myself in a pocketless skirt and guess what happened? True to character (because skirts can have character, right?) the skirt let me down.  No, it did not fall down–it disappointed me when I needed it.

I got up early, got myself ready for the day, fed kids and got them ready, made five lunches for school, took the elementary school kids to the bus stop, dropped Ricky at seminary and took Makayla and Gavin to the orthodontist.

Gavin has a little group of friends he has home preschool with and it so happened that it was a preschool day. What a blessing! After dropping him off late (because of the orthodontist appointment) and taking Makayla to school I had one kid-free hour to get groceries (because according to the kids we had “no food”) and clean and vacuum the van.

I decided to hit the car wash first. I have a favorite–Surf Thru Car Wash on Pantano and Broadway. After years in Iowa without a good full-service car wash, this place is a dream come true. It’s inexpensive–like $3-4 per wash and they actually ask you to go through again for free if your exterior isn’t sparkling. Before you drive through, they shower you free dash wipes and cute little garbage bags and after you go through (more than once if necessary, but it’s rarely necessary except when I drive the big van), you can pull into their parking lot full of vacuums and suck all the garbage and dirt out of your car. It’s wonderful!

Today, they gave me a bunch of extra dash wipes and I happily wiped everything down while the car glided through the wash. I pulled up to a vacuum spot to suck up the nastiness that was scattered throughout the car.

This is the moment when the skirt let me down.  It didn’t have pockets for my keys or phone, so I put the car keys and my phone on the driver’s seat while I vacuumed.

I have a system to make sure I don’t forget any part of the car.  I start with the driver’s seat and move around clockwise.  As I approached the end of the circle, I tossed my backpack onto the driver’s seat.  I usually keep my backpack on the floor just behind the driver’s seat, so I moved it so I could get that last section of family detritus sucked up.  I closed the passenger door, hung up the vacuum, and reached out for the driver’s side door to be one my way.  I was so proud of my efficiency.  As I inwardly praised my quick and thorough work and considered my grocery list, I noticed the passenger side door was locked. What? That’s weird. I walked around to the other side. Locked. I tried the sliding doors. Locked. The trunk? Locked.

What happened? I looked in the driver’s window? Where were my keys? Under the backpack. Oh, no! Did my backpack lock the door when it landed on the keys?!!  Or did I bump the lock button when wiping down the doors with my extra complimentary wipes?

Well, this was very inconvenient, but not a catastrophe.  I would just call Rick for a rescue. I reached into my pocket for my phone. No pocket. Cursed skirt! I peeked in the driver’s side window again.  My phone laying forlornly on the floor of the van, having been knocked there by the bully backpack. Great!

So, I went around to the entrance of the car wash and they let me use their phone.  I called Rick.  No answer. Left a message telling my situation and asking for a rescue.  I called Emily.  No answer.  I left a similar message with her.  What now?  I only know a few phone numbers by memory.  There wasn’t anybody else to call.

Can I just pause at this point to tell you how friendly, patient, and kind the staff at Surf Thru was??  The girl working at the main entrance was so nice!  She told me to have a seat in their air-conditioned break room, offered me some water, and let me keep their phone by me in case somebody called back.

After a few minutes, another worker asked if I would like him to try to jimmy the lock with the company break-in kit.  At first, I laughed because they had a kit, but maybe locking your keys in your car at the car wash isn’t so rare.  They even had a release form for me to fill out!  I was desperate–I had to be back to pick up Gavin from preschool in 30 minutes and even after multiple calls to Rick and Emily, I hadn’t gotten through.  I let him try, but my van was just too secure.

Dejected, I went back to the break room and tried calling Rick and Emily again.  This time, I instructed them to please just pick up Gavin from preschool first and then maybe rescue me?

I’m not going to lie–I felt like crying.  If the staff had been even the slightest bit grumpy to me, I would probably have lost it.  It’s a little thing to be locked out of your car with no cell phone, but I was already so overwhelmed and behind with things at home that I didn’t feel like I could handle this inconvenience.  But what was there to do?  Nothing.  And crying would only make me look pathetic and give me a bigger headache.  So I read through the magazines that were on the table in the break room and prayed that my friend who had Gavin would be patient with me and that Rick or Emily would finally respond to my desperate pleas.

An hour later, I was back in my car and on my way home.  When I got home, I put a running belt/fanny pack thing on over my dumb skirt so that I could have a pocket.  I look like an idiot, but I will NOT lose my phone or keys again today!!

Epilogue:

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and forgot about it until yesterday.

Things have settled down.  Emily’s mountain of paperwork is in and now we’re working on mission clothes and necessities, travel to MTC plans, and other things.

I was so frustrated and upset when I wrote the post, but looking back I can see it was truly a small thing.  Now I am thinking about how many little things happen to me every day that I overreact to.  I am a fairly mellow person, but everybody gets grumpy and lets that feed into how we treat others and how we see ourselves and our potential for success.  Little setbacks can leave us feeling hopeless, burdened, and inadequate.  Those feelings are expected and OK.  I know very few people who are completely happy and positive all of the time.  Sometimes circumstances aren’t ideal and things just don’t go as we expect them to.  I am so grateful for how sweet and kind the staff at the car wash was to me.  I hope that I can recognize when others are struggling and respond with just as much kindness and patience.  I want to see other people’s struggles as opportunities to give them extra love rather than as inconveniences to me.

In conclusion, I will share a few nuggets of wisdom from the Great and Wonderful Bonni Mergenthaler

  1. Don’t wear clothes that don’t have pockets.
  2. Be patient with others when they’re not at their best.  Your response to them can either help or hurt.
  3. A clean car is a happy car, but a locked clean car is useless.

Have an excellent week!

Untold Good

I had a dream that I was a super top secret government agent who had done “untold good” for our country and saved the lives of many of my fellow Americans.

I had been released from my secret duties because the government had found a replacement so that I could be with my family.

I had a lived a glamorous lifestyle–going to fancy restaurants and meeting with important people. I had a lavish wardrobe and an unlimited budget for anything I might need to accomplish my very important work.

In my dream, I was telling my family and friends about some of the cool things I was able to experience (without giving away any pertinent government secrets, of course).  They all stared at me in disbelief, and shot hurtful comments my way:

“No way, Mom.  Not you.  You don’t do important stuff.”

“That’s ridiculous.  You don’t know any important people.”

“Honey, you don’t even know how to order food at a restaurant without getting flustered.”

“Flip flops and t-shirts are not glamourous clothing.  You wouldn’t know how to put together a professional looking outfit if you had to.”

I was so frustrated in my dream.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t see me the same way I knew myself.  I kept saying, “But I have done UNTOLD good!  I have SAVED LIVES! I am a COVERT HEROE.”

The laughs and jabs continued.

“You’re just a Mom.  You don’t go anywhere.”

“You haven’t had a real job since Emily was born 19 years ago. You don’t know how to be gainfully employed.”

I persisted. “You guys don’t really know me!  You don’t appreciate everything I have done.  I can make amazing split second calculations, plan undercover missions, and read facial expressions to determine if I’m being lied to.  I’m much more than you think I am.”

They laughed and said, “Don’t make up stories to feel important.”

I woke up with feeling sad, frustrated, and beaten down.  It was horrible!!  I often have bad dreams where the stress from my days perpetuates into nightmares where I’m continuously doing loads of laundry or dishes or I have fifty unexpected guests at 2 a.m. and I just want to sleep but I have to make them all food.  This dream was like that, but worse.  My stress dreams usually dissipate after a couple of hours, but this one stuck with me through the coming weeks.  As I write about the dream now, I feel the humiliation and shame in my gut–or maybe that’s the ice cream sundae I just gobbled.

Why does this silly dream bother me so much?

Because there’s so much truth in it!

Now you’re waiting for me to divulge my secret CIA past, right?  I know it seems almost believable based on my laudable physical fitness and incredible mental capacity, but that’s not where the truth is.

The truth is that value and contribution of motherhood to the good of society is frequently underestimated and often mocked both overtly and subconciously–even by moms themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I have come to the end of an emtionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting day feeling like I have simply run in place while others sprint by without noticing my plight.  I end the day with no evidence for my suffering or sacrifices.  The only thing I can do is go to sleep and hope the next day is a little better and that some of my disappointment and frustration will dissipate as I rest.

On evenings like this, I try to remind myself of what I know to be true about motherhood–that it is noble work–even that I am doing UNTOLD GOOD like I tried to tell people in my dream.  I tell myself that my family is grateful for my sacrifices and even if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter because I’m doing the right thing.

Mothers are the covert heroes of our world.  Though much of our work isn’t glamourous and we don’t have unlimited resources to accomplish our assignments, we do deal every day with important people.  We make amazing split second calculations, plan complicated missions, and can tell when we are being lied to.  We accomplish untold good and we save lives.

When addressing the women of the church in October 2006, President Hinckley said, “Now, my dear sisters, just a word in conclusion. I remind you that you are not second-class citizens in the kingdom of God . . . Without you, our Father’s plan of happiness would be frustrated and have no real meaning. You are 50 percent of the membership of the Church and mothers of the other 50 percent. No one can dismiss you lightly.”

In the same talk he shared and commented on this poem:

You are the trip I did not take;

You are the pearls I cannot buy;

You are my blue Italian lake;

You are my piece of foreign sky.

“Many of you are mothers. You are responsible for the nurture and upbringing of your children. When you grow old and your hair turns white, you will not ask about the fancy clothes you once wore, the cars you drove, or the large house in which you lived. Your burning question will be, “How have my children turned out?”

He tells a story of a young mother of seven children.  Every time I hear or read this story, my eyes get misty because I have felt like this too many times:

“As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.

“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? I’ll come back in the morning.’

“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. You would never wish to come back. But I can come to you.’”

Heavenly Father loves and blesses his covert heroes who are doing untold good in their families and communities.  We can keep moving forward knowing the truth about our divinity and value.  And sometimes, we can surprise our families with our ingenuity, energy, intelligence, and glamour–because we are much more than we appear to be.

Since every good post needs pictures, I hope my niece won’t mind me sharing the pictures we have of her sweet baby boy. I guess I’m a great aunt now? Sounds old.

Disneyland

My friend, Karitza, talked me into meeting her at Disneyland for a couple of days just after school started. I took Brooklyn and Gavin. Brooklyn had not been and she is at the perfect age. She was a little short for a couple of rides, but rode everything she could. She likes the fast rides the best.

Brooklyn and Aunna were cute together, holding hands through the whole park.

Gavin was a trooper. He loved seeing characters.

Brooklyn was brave at Jedi training. Somehow, she got on stage twice, but I only took pictures of the first time. The weather was very hot–about 100 degrees each day. We were pretty sweaty.

The kids talked about meeting Elsa and Anna all the way home.

Gavin was in awe at the parade.

By the end of the first day, the kids were pooped. On our second day at Disneyland, Brooklyn woke up with a swollen and bruised ankle. She couldn’t remember injuring it. After an hour of limping around the apartment, she determined that she would go to Disneyland no matter what.

As the first hour went by, her ankle must have warmed up because she was limping less and less and not complaining one bit. I knew she would be fine when spotted Captain America and ran after him to shake his hand.

Brooklyn was so fun to be around. Even with a sore ankle and chafing on her legs from all the walking, she was excited about everything. She loved the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

After getting off that ride, she got to dance with some of the actors.

On one of the slower rides she asked, “When does this get fast?” She is definitely a thrill seeker. She didn’t like the Haunted House because it was creepy. And she didn’t like the villains and big dragon in the Fantasia show. Bad guys are scary, but fast rides are fun.

Gavin was pretty good for a 3-year old. He liked the rides, but got grumpy waiting in line sometimes and wanted to be held a lot.

He loved the carousel and being with friends.

Our trip to Disneyland ended more abruptly than I thought it would. We had planned a beach day for third day, but Rick ended up in the hospital with appendicitis, so I hurried home to care for the rest of the family.

The drive home was stressful without information about when Rick would be in or out of surgery. I got stuck in traffic in Phoenix and spent a lot of time on the phone trying to manage the kids and get a surgeon’s report. I didn’t even know which hospital Rick was at!

Things eventually smoothed out after a couple of days. Rick felt pretty good after his surgery and I got unpacked and caught up on all the things that fell behind while I was gone. I did all that and planned and carried out a family birthday party for Gavin before driving to Provo the following weekend to pick up Emily from BYU. But that’s another story.

Summer Fun

I am behind on updates. I blame the Family Tree app.

When we were in Washington, I found myself with a little more down time than I’m used to. I decided to use some of that time wisely by seeing if I could familiarize myself with Family Search. I know genealogy isn’t rocket science, but it seemed too overwhelming to take on. What if I sat down for five minutes and got sucked in? Hours later, my family would be foraging for food in the wilderness. What if I made big mistakes like a few years ago when Rick was “helping” me update our family tree and turned my Grandpa into my dad?

Though I was afraid to get sucked in or make silly mistakes with unfamiliar software, I have been inspired by President Nelson’s encouraging words to the youth of our church to gather Israel. Family history work is a big part of this. I decided that if I want my kids to do this kind of work, I can’t be afraid of it. So, I dived in.

Guess what I learned? My worries were valid–I get sucked in sometimes and neglect my family, and I make mistakes. But I have also learned that it’s very fulfilling and very doable–even with only 10 minutes a day in captured moments waiting in the car or at appointments.

My favorite thing to do is spend one or two minutes at a time attaching sources to family names on my tree. Sometimes census records show a child I don’t have a record of or a marriage date that wasn’t previously listed. I also like to merge duplicates to “clean up my family tree.” A lot of the merging I do is from dumb mistakes I made when learning how to use the app, but I’m getting better. I’m going to sound like a commercial, but I have to tell you–it’s so easy with the app! I can spend 5 minutes at a time. If I get stuck on something, I take a screen shot to remind myself what to come back to and pick it up another time. I have learned a ton in only a month.

But time is a limited resource and my 10-20 minutes here and there are 10-20 minutes I don’t spend uploading pictures or writing. So, now I’m going to get to some of that.

We did have a great summer. Summer break can be a challenge with lots of kids with a wide age span, but we found a good rhythm just in time to go back to school.

Ricky is funny. This picture has nothing to do with summer except that it happened in July. He’s just a funny guy. And he’s growing a ton! He’s taller than me now!

The kids spend a lot of time outside–even when the weather is hot. Monsoon season is super fun. The heavy rains and thunderstorms are exciting.

They still love their dog even though both Rick and I curse the work that goes into take good care of her–especially since I carry that burden.

At the end of July, Emily flew in for a weekend to get her endowments out at the temple. When I picked her up from the airport, she made me stop at a taco truck for lunch. It was fun having her home to play for a couple of days. They don’t get sunsets like this in Provo. The temple was nice. I was a little sad that she didn’t experience finding family and friends waiting for her in the Celestial room because it was just me and Rick, but it was a good and peaceful experience. She has continued going to the temple each week in Provo and now she can help with more there.

Brooklyn had swimming lessons this summer. A super great girl came to our house for a few weeks in the afternoons to teach her the basics. She is a pretty good swimmer now. Having a pool is such a blessing! We had a few 105-107 degree days that required swimming time to get through. Winter uses her pool all the time.

And just over ten days ago, the kids started school again. I had a hard time getting good “back-to-school” shots. Ricky and Makayla aren’t even in any of the pictures. Rick tried to catch a picture of Ricky one day, but it didn’t turn out well.

I haven’t gotten into a good rhythm with school yet because I took the little ones to Disneyland and then Rick ended up in the hospital with appendicitis. This weekend, Gavin and I are off to Provo to bring Emily home for a couple of months before she goes on her mission. I’m hoping to get settled more in the next few weeks.

I suppose I should share a little about our Disney trip and other stuff in another post. For now, be happy I took some time from my righteous family history work to share an update with you.

Washington 2018

Grandma’s pictures are better than mine, but I’ll share what I have.

We love the 4th of July in Anacortes. The weather is perfect and the small town atmosphere is fun.

We went to the parade,

ate pizza in the park, visited a beach, andwatched fireworks. Gavin and Sean were scared of the fireworks. I was surprised at Sean’s reaction because he is eight years old and has seen fireworks before, but maybe we just haven’t been as close to the loud booms as we were this time.

Gavin enjoyed it as long as I covered his ears.

Brooklyn was in awe. When Ricky was four years old, he was terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms. He spent much of the summer of 2008 wearing earmuffs over his ears. It’s funny the things that bother some kids and delight others and how this changes over time.

Whenever we visit Grandpa and Grandma, we try to hit as many beaches as possible. The kids love searching for unique shells, skipping rocks, and exploring the tide pools. I have a million beach pictures, and I bet Rick’s mom has a million more.

Another must-do when we visit Washington is to visit the Davis family. The kids have taken to calling each other “cousins” and on this visit we used the Family Search app to prove that we are actually related! Who cares if it’s 10 generations back. We had a great time visiting and playing games at the park. I loved listening to the kids share their memories of good times together. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since we moved away. I’m glad they could add some fun new memories to the mix like Ricky catching a water bottle in the face and Gavin yelling, “Gavin’s out!!!” Oh, and Ricky climbing on Rick’s shoulders to retrieve a frisbee–that was funny too.

Nice wink, Darren.

We missed Emily, but I sent her a picture of her “cousins.”

Seriously, we love this family.

So, that was our trip to Washington. One of the more wonderful things about this trip for me was the ease of getting to Anacortes from Tucson. Traveling from Iowa was rough and very expensive. I think the traveling portion of our trip this time took halfthe time at maybe sixty percent of the expense compared to when we lived in Iowa. We are blessed to live on the west coast now because it makes visiting our families so much easier and, therefore, a more pleasant experience.

June 2018

Is it OK that this is mostly a place I dump pictures? I haven’t gotten digital prints in a few years, and the prints I do have from the past ten years are in boxes and drawers that sometimes the kids get into. The little rascals like to dump the pictures out, mix them up, and throw them back together so that I have 2009 with 2015. It annoys me, but not enough to reorganize them chronologically. So, the blog becomes a safe place for pictures but also it’s kind of boring because instead of great writing you find pictures with short descriptions. Oh well, maybe this will keep my readers checking back for quality work in between the boring family updates. You’ll never know if a post is going to be insightful and witty or just another news report. Lucky you! And lucky me because I don’t know either. Honestly, I could spend time being a little more witty and creative with my captions, but that sounds mentally exhausting and I just want to do something worthwhile with all these cute pictures.

I plan to write about our trip to Washington last week, but a few other things happened between our Moab and Washington trips.

Raingutter Regatta is one of those fun Cub Scout activities that can get out of control with crazy crafty parents and aggressive competition. Thankfully, our troop’s Regatta was all fun. I threw Sean’s boat together in about 15 minutes, wrote an “S” with permanent marker on the sail and called it perfect.

It wasn’t bad either.

I’m glad the activity wasn’t anything more than a fun race and a swim party.

Gavin is just cute lately. He’s super talkative and has strong opinions. He insisted on wearing Ricky’s socks all day because they were his “basketball socks.”

Ricky left me some nice selfies on my phone a couple of Sunday’s ago. During family scripture study one evening, Gavin sat on a stool by the back door and took care of his baby.

I’m not sure if I have said much about Sean’s swim team experience. This kid can swim! He’s fast. He only participated in two swim meets because of family conflicts, but still ended up with two first place ribbons, a second place ribbon, and a third place ribbon. He has improved a ton since April–swimming every weekday for an hour will definitely help you improve. He hated swim team at first because practices were hard and he didn’t want to go every day, but once he got a “taste of the glory” (Nacho Libre) at a swim meet he loved it.

Here’s a picture of his arm with his swim events written in permanent marker.

Here he is on the block, ready to race:Cheering on a teammate in a relay:Having Sean involved in swim team was quite a sacrifice for me The meets were very long and late at night and they fell on evenings when Rick was out of town. This meant I had all the kids with me at the pool from 5:30-9:30 pm. Luckily, we had friends there.

I think Brooklyn will participate in swim team next year and Andrew has expressed interest. We shall see if I’m ready to make the sacrifices to get them to practice every day and endure those meets. I do think it’s important for the kids to be good swimmers and this definitely teaches them skills.

These last pictures are of Brooklyn and Gavin being friends. These two play together so well. Brooklyn starts kindergarten in just three weeks. Gavin is really going to miss his playmate.

Here they are “making notes” on the office door.

And here they are digging in the dirt with Winter.

Sometimes they make big messes, but I love that they can play for hours without any interaction with a screen. Brooklyn is especially creative in her play and she’s great and inviting Gavin along.

So, there’s some random “summer of 2018” pictures for you.

Get ready for a Washington Trip picture dump.

OK, Let’s Go To Moab

Ricky went to his first EFY in Flagstaff with a friend. About a week before I drove them there, I got a crazy idea–Flagstaff is halfway to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Moab. Rather than driving the boys to Flagstaff and home again, why not visit my parents? Rick and Makayla stayed home to care for Winter and work while I took the younger kids on a road trip.

Before I share pictures from our trip, observe Ricky’s first haircut from an actual barber.

He had a few special requests for EFY: nice clothes (besides his usual basketball shorts and t-shirts), sunglasses, Axe body spray, and mints.

With those things and some candy from Target around the corner, he was ready for a great week.

After dropping the big boys off, we drove another 5 1/2 hours to Moab. What a fun visit!

We went to the community pool.

Brooklyn jumped off the high dive about ten times. The first jump took a little cheering and convincing from the kids waiting in line behind her, but she did it.

We visited my parent’s property near Monticello called, Mountain View Terrace. It was fun seeing the ingenuity, planning, and work that has gone into that place. The kids thought the camping trailer was so cool!

The pond level was low because of drought. We ate dinner at the Moab Diner and watched Incredibles 2 at the movie theater.

We went to a new rock climbing park.

We also went to Moab Giants, a dinosaur park. The weather was hot, but the park was nice.

On Friday, we drove back to Flagstaff to be prepared to pick up the boys on Saturday morning.

We stopped at The Hole In the Rock Visitors Center in Bluff, Utah to eat a picnic and take a break from driving. What a great place!!

The kids panned for gold.

They dressed up like early settlers They practiced roping cattle (Gavin chose to ride one instead).

The bathrooms were clean and air-conditioned and we were able to have a delicious snack of ice cream and cookies before getting on the road.

As we continued our drive to Flagstaff, Emily called to let us know she had received her mission call!

She was so excited to open it, we had one hour once we got to Flagstaff to get settled, eat dinner, and be sure we were connected to Wi-Fi for a video call.

Emily has accepted a call to serve in the Port of Spain Trinidad Mission and the Suriname Mission Region speaking Dutch! She reports to the Provo MTC on October 31. We are super excited for her and are enjoying learning about the area and doing what we can to help her prepare.

Comic Relief

The kids are always asking me to tell them funny stories from when they were little. This is a good place to put some of the funny things I have observed over the past month.

Here, we have Gavin wearing Ricky’s basketball shoes and trying to make a serious “baller” face.

Winter grew out of her puppy crate. The new crate is pretty big because I’m not sure how much she will grow. It’s big enough for Ricky. So if he’s bad, he can go sleep outside with her.

Brooklyn is taking swimming lessons from one of Makayla’s friends who comes to our house and teaches her in the afternoons. Brooklyn was so excited for the first lesson, she sat on the front porch like this for a half hour watching for her teacher’s car. Here’s another funny story from Brooklyn and Andrew.  Do your kids wipe boogers on the wall or sides of the couch or car?  It’s disgusting!!!  My older sister did this.   Emily used to have a nice collection on the wall by her bed . . . gross!  I wonder if she has any on her wall at BYU.  Not all my kids have this disgusting and very inconsiderate habit, but Andrew does.  When I found a new collection on the wall near a light switch, I berated him.

“Andrew!  You come here right now and scrub these boogers off the wall.  It’s disgusting!  You’ll clean this and then you will also clean a toilet for being inconsiderate and gross.”

Andrew claimed innocence with all kinds of excuses. I call him my excuse arsenal. He even tried to blame Brooklyn!

I said, “There’s no way Brooklyn can reach that high with her boogers!”

Brooklyn said, “Ya, and I never wipe boogers on the wall! I eat them!”

Gross. And funny. But mostly gross that we even had to have this conversation in the first place.

Gavin got my phone during family scripture study and took about a hundred pictures. These are a couple.

On the day Ricky was scheduled to leave for his preparing for his backpacking trip he realized he didn’t have a floppy shade hat that he could smash into his backpack.  So, off to Walmart we went and he insisted on buying this beauty:

I tried to talk him into a more practical tan hat, but he was in love with that one.  He wore it proudly all week.  He’s a funny guy.

While Ricky was backpacking, Rick and Makayla were at girls’ camp.  Rick took the big van, so because I had less kids, I took the little black car around town.  At the grocery store, we spotted a small plastic pool that would work to help keep Winter cool (she’s scared of the big pool and we don’t really want her dog hair plugging the filter).  I bought the pool before thinking about how I would get it home in the little car with four kids.  We made it work . . .

And she loves it.  We had been spraying her off with the hose a couple of times a day, but this works better because if she’s hot, she just gets in all by herself.Later that evening, the kids talked me into taking them to the park as the sun was going down (I refused to go any other time of the day because it’s too hot).

Andrew and Brooklyn tried out the baby swings.

Andrew has been begging me to take them to this park for a long time because he loves this spinny thing. He talked Sean into climbing up there with him and begged me to spin them fast. I warned them that it might make them feel sick. Sean was worried, but Andrew kept goading him on.

After the big spin, Sean had to have a long rest.

A couple of days ago, Gavin showed up in the kitchen dressed as a “bad guy,” complete with a fierce weapon.  I was successful at dodging his jabs with the spoon.

Gavin:  “Sean pinched me!!”

Me:  “Oh no!”

Gavin:  “Oh YES!!”

Kids are funny.