• David was in a car accident that totaled our car (not his fault, and he was injured, but not severely, the car I received as a HS graduation gift when it was new).
  • We were given a used car from my SIL and BIL.
  • David’s maternal grandmother passed away.
  • David was hired on as a regular employee at his work.
  • We have health insurance after many years of having none.
  • I had my thyroid checked, levels were normal; growth on my chin and arm were sebaceous cysts which went away on their own.  Hurray!
  • I sang my first public solo performing two Women at the Well songs, “Day of Tears” and “He Came For Me” – and LOVED it!!!
  • I went on a girls night with my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law, saw my first concert since I was in college, and enjoyed a sleep over!
  • We got new next door neighbors (on both sides of us).
  • Helped with The Briana Project by cutting out and sewing lots of mama pads for women in Senegal, Africa.
  • Ella walked 13 miles to the temple with our ward youth group.
  • I created a banner for David’s maternal grandfather’s 90th birthday party (the banner had names on each branch).
  • Ella went to Oakcrest Girls Camp for the first time as well as YW camp for her second year.
  • Lightning attended Cub Scout Day Camp for his second year.  This year as a Bear.
  • Aurora and Lightning participated in the Days of ’47 Children’s Parade.
  • David surprised me on our 15th Anniversary and took me on a journey down memory lane by taking me on a tour of some of the places that have been significant in our lives together. Of course, we took pictures!
  • My kids all had the chicken pox, except Ella (her titers came back immune).
  • My girls and I got lice…and eradicated them!  (It still makes me itch when I think about it though!)
  • I stepped down as a Young American Stateswoman Association (aka YASA) co-advisor.
  • After 19 years of driving, learned how to drive a car with a manual transmission. (Thanks, sweetie!)  I still won’t drive it though. lol
  • David’s maternal grandfather (the one that had just turned 90) passed away.
  • David got a second job.
  • I sprained my right ankle (again), on the first day of David’s second job no less.
  • I participated as a Board Member for Moms’ Retreat, as the registration/website go-to gal.
  • I participated as a Board Member for Knights of Freedom Summit*, over equipment.
  • Lightning attended the Knights of Freedom Summit for his second year. (He’s the one in the center looking at the camera.)
  • Our family attended a “Royal Ball”.
  • I took my kids up to the Brigham City Open House with friends.
  • Our family had our annual trip to Silver Lake.
  • I joined my ward choir after a sabbatical and enjoyed singing for the Christmas Program.
  • We visited friends in Honeyville.
  • I finished mentoring Art in our Excelsior Scholars  group and began to mentor Music. (ES is a transition to scholar group.)
  • Aurora joined Excelsior Scholars.
  • I learned how to make caramel that I can eat! (Hey, I’m happy about it!)
  • David and I attended the sealing of our dear neighbors to their angel children.
  • I was voted in as Administrative Coordinator for the Eliza R. Snow Association (ERSA), again.  :)
  • I had another successful year as a Liberty Girls Advisor thanks to lots of help from the moms in our group.
  • We visited some extended family on my dad’s side for Thanksgiving.  (It’s been years since we had any sort of vacation.)
  • Aurora babysat more than Ella did this year, and not just for me.  She is definitely my helpful mommy-in-training.  It helps that she passed out business cards to the ladies in our ward.
  • I went to Savior of the World with my good friend, Andrya.  It was a good girls night out!
  • I made photo books for the grandparents again for Christmas.  It may just be a yearly tradition now that I’m caught up on photos for them. :)
  • We had a lovely Christmas.
  • I discovered the source of my growing fatigue that has been plaguing me for the past few years.
  • David and I attended an “End of the World” party, and you know what, the world didn’t end!

I’m sure I’m missing things, but it’s overall been a pretty good year for our family.  I look forward to having an even better one!
{*Update 4/11/2015: Knights of Freedom Summit is now owned by Heroic Youth and is called Mastering Knighthood.}

We’re still alive and well. David has been working a new job. Ella has been reading her favorite books again. Aurora has been playing in the sprinklers. Lightning has been enjoying cub scouts and day camp. Wendy has been running around in skirts–daily. Peter has been getting into the sunscreen. And I, well, I’ve been doing the every day things as well as going to girls camp, planning out Liberty Girls, planning for my art class for a Transition to Scholar group for Ella, figuring out Knights of Freedom Summit* Family Activities, and enjoying the summer thunderstorms…the result is always worth it!

{*Update 4/11/2015: Knights of Freedom Summit is now owned by Heroic Youth and is called Mastering Knighthood.}




A new wooden playset has been on my husband’s vision board for a month or so, and we weren’t sure how we would get one in our current situation. He never gave up on the idea even when I was struggling with believing that it would happen anytime soon. I’m very happy to report that it came off of his vision board this weekend!

The background story…Unfortunately our next door neighbors, Amanda and Ben, are moving. We’re all sad about it, and yet excited for them and their new adventure. Our children all get along and love playing with each other. We’re praying for good neighbors because they’ve been fabulous ones. (If anyone’s interested in living next door to me, let me know and I’ll set you up! You’d have awesome neighbors on both sides!)

These wonderful neighbors made a treehouse platform in their globe willow tree a few months ago. I think my kids played in it more than their children. When they decided to move a few weeks ago, she offered to sell the treehouse to our family. My kids were all outside when she and I were talking about it, and they couldn’t have been more excited! They were so excited that they pulled their resources together and paid for 80% of the cost–all while my neighbor and I were still talking. I was quite surprised and grateful at the same time. I didn’t think we should spend the money. Then they came through with almost all of it, and we found a way to pay for the rest.

We knew that Independence Day weekend wasn’t going to work to move the treehouse, so David decided on the following weekend. He called Blue Stakes to make sure we weren’t digging into a power line. Then on Friday, David picked up the supplies he’d need and he began mapping out the area. He dug the four holes he needed. Our neighbor, Ben, raised the platform on some load locks and another support so we could use the same support posts in our holes. David and Ben then put the poles in the holes and squared them up. David was up until midnight pouring cement.

I wasn’t much help due to my feeling light-headed all day. My kids all wanted to help though, and to some extent they did whether it was holding a post, getting a screw, or staying in the house. I think all of them were finally in bed by 10:30 that night.

The cement was set enough by Saturday morning, and David got up and called some neighbors to come and help move the platform over the fence and up onto the support posts. Gratefully, there were seven strong men handling the situation, and everyone worked well together and accomplished the job. We’re so blessed to have such wonderful people in ward! (Another shameless plug for moving into my neighborhood!)

David and I both prayed that they would have strength, wisdom, and safety though neither of us talked about it before we said our own prayers. It was just what they needed too! Originally the plan was to just lift it off and move it over the fence easily. Then they found out how heavy it was and they ended up flipping it up and over the fence. (I can only describe it like a wheel turning or a somersault–only it’s not round at all.) They all said a prayer together and then did the job. I couldn’t watch, so I just stayed inside and prayed it would all go well.

We considered putting it in our tree, but it’s sort-of dying and we didn’t want it to be a main support to the structure. We just put it near the tree instead. It’s the only real shade we have in the backyard now. lol I’m excited for the adventures they’ll have in our backyard.

David finished putting up the toys and the side rails near the posts before leaving it so the cement could finish curing on Saturday. I’m grateful it was set up when a big rain storm hit on Sunday. I hadn’t watered my lawn for days, and it was getting pretty dry. Another blessing in the whole experience.

My kids were so anxious to play on it come Monday morning when David put the ladder on. It was great motivation to get them to so their chores and do it fairly well! I now have a clean quiet home since they’re all outside playing in it! Simple pleasures! Now that’s what I call a nice Monday!








Have a great Monday!

We had a lovely Independence Day, though it started off slow for me. I didn’t sleep well, so everything seemed “late.” Then I chose to just move forward, and I was able to keep going the rest of the day.

We went to our local Independence Day parade and had a nice spot near the beginning of the parade. The benefits: get a good seat, get to leave before the made rush, kids don’t have to wait another 10 minutes to see the beginning. The downside: lots of candy for the kids. This particular parade doesn’t usually have a lot of floats, and the kids don’t seem to mind. We managed to find the same area we had last year, and it was just perfect. Some friends joined us, and fun was had by all.


Ella and I

Peter playing “freeze ray” – he likes to freeze in a funny position, even if he wasn’t in it before someone said “freeze!”

Peter and David

Aurora

Lightning

Ella

Peter

Wendy

The ponies were one of the kids’ favorite entries.



I love that you can see our reflection in the Copper Car. Click on the picture to see a larger size. Then if you click on the larger image it should zoom in more.

Wendy “fanning” her friend.

The tractors were also a kids’ favorite.




Fireworks sure are hard to photograph!

We had a nice barbecue with David’s family, and then we headed home for some neighborhood fireworks and socializing. Our next door neighbors are moving in a few weeks, and we wanted to spend another holiday with them. They have generously hosted our Independence Day gathering for the last few years, and we’re really going to miss them.

I’m grateful for God’s tender mercies and answered prayers. I had a prayer in my heart for the safety of my children and loved ones. I also asked to see God’s hand in my life that day, and He provided! I’ll share a couple of them:

  • I forgot the squirt bottle for keeping us cool at the parade, and it didn’t matter because Heavenly Father provided the cloud cover, a light breeze, and sprinkles of rain throughout the parade. What a blessing!
  • Then at the neighborhood gathering, we had an incident with a firework. Out of the two aerial fireworks in the whole display, one tipped over and shot two rounds at our crowd. I can see God’s hand in keeping everyone safe. They shot near two adults who would know what to do. In one case, an adult ended up getting hit with it and he flipped over before it popped and injured him. If he hadn’t been there, the child behind him on a chair could have been hurt. We’ll either not use them again or secure them better next time. I used to get really freaked out by things like that, but I was amazingly calm and so grateful.
  • Isn’t it wonderful to have a loving Heavenly Father who answers prayers and shows His hand in our lives if we just seek it!?!

    How was your weekend? Did you see God’s hand in your life?

    Comments welcome!



    Ella
    Ella turned 12 in March and is now officially in the Young Women program. Ella and I will be going to Girls Camp this year. We’re both excited! She’s my “flip-flop” girl and really would prefer no shoes or flip-flops to wearing anything resembling a closed shoe. She hates skirts and is my child who can entertain any little boy and run around with them like she’s one of them. Gratefully she loves being a girl in every other way. Ella is turning into quite the young writer as well as an avid reader. She has been going to a bi-weekly writing group to help her be consistent with writing. She always has a book or art project going. She still loves to draw and create things. She enjoys doing just about anything with her hands (just like her mom): beading, cooking, sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, etc… I’ve been invited to help with a Transition to Scholar group for her and other girls in that phase this coming Fall. I’ll be teaching Art because I know it’s Ella’s passion, and I want to help her with it.

    Ella has her own blog. It is set to private, so if we know you personally and you would like to subscribe to it, just let me know and I’ll send you an invite.

    Ella began violin lessons last March and she plays beautifully.  She had the opportunity to perform at the LDS Conference Center with the Suzuki Association of Utah in October as well as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for Christmas. She received a Superior on her birthday at the National Federation Junior Festivals at the University of Utah. (You can watch her performance here.) She had been feeling stressed about continuing with the lessons though. It was a very big decision for her, and she struggled because she wanted to make the right decision. David and I suggested she pray about it. When she prayed for guidance, she felt okay with stopping the violin lessons. I think I was more sad than she was about it; however, I am very proud about her praying to find her answer.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Aurora
    Aurora turned 10 last week. She had her last Liberty Girl meeting a few weeks ago. She’s reading a lot more, and after David finished reading the Harry Potter series to the family, she became an avid Harry Potter fan. She always has an idea for a club or ways to have fun with her friends. She is coming along well in learning more womanly arts like sewing and crochet and is a very girly-girl.

    Aurora adores animals, and she has made friends with one of the horses on the next street over. She calls it Silver, and the horse comes to the fence when she calls for it. She would love for us to live on a farm (a girl after my own heart), and she talks about owning one quite frequently. She is my super helper and is willing to do just about anything I ask. She loves babies and has become our neighbor’s helper as well–her little boy even cries when Aurora leaves.  She’s growing up to be quite the little mother.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Lightning
    Lightning turned 8 this past Monday. We’re so proud of him for choosing to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a beautiful service, and we had a wonderful luncheon in his honor. Lightning is very excited for Cub Scouts and day camp this summer. He’s keeps asking about scouts and looking through his book, and I just giggle because it’s so cute!

    Lightning has been reading since he was 5–all self motivated–and he still surprises his teachers in church with how well he can read words from the scriptures. He is compassionate and is quick to help someone in need.  He loves to help his dad fix whatever needs to be fixed, and quite often he is found outside in our tree or the neighbor’s tree.  He’s learning how to be a gentleman from his dad and has been opening the van door for me more often. He received a pocket knife and real tools for Christmas. Needless to say he’s been using them ever since.  His enthusiasm for life amazes me, and I’m grateful he’s a sweet, happy boy.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Wendy
    Wendy turned 6 in April.  She is my very happy and very spirited child–a GIANT spirit in a little body.  She can be my best friend and biggest challenge. She gets excited to learn her letters and always wants to help me bake yummy things such as cookies. She makes up her own songs, and she sings all the time. Wendy loves anything girly and especially learning what her big sisters are learning like sewing or crochet. I made her several skirts that she adores more than the other clothes she has–makes this mama feel good! This week, she finally tried climbing to the top of our almost dead globe willow tree. I almost couldn’t get her down because she was having so much fun seeing the world from so high up.  Wendy loves to make friends, and she lights up a room with her huge smile and genuine love for everyone.

    Wendy had a hard time deciding to stay in her primary class at church, but by the end of last year she had decided it was okay to be there (mostly).  She was given new teachers at the beginning of the year, and they work so well with her energy. Her primary teachers said that they were quite surprised at how well she knows the songs because she doesn’t seem to like participating in singing time. She absolutely loves having the Parks for teachers. I’m so grateful for her patient teachers and primary leaders (past and present).  I know that has made a huge difference.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Peter
    Peter is now 3 years old. He is such a sweet, loving boy. He’s getting to be more daring and climbing things he never used to climb…like the filing cabinet in the basement–gratefully not the trees yet.  He has the cutest little voice, and he’s usually easy to please. He’s now fully potty-trained (as of about 3 weeks ago), and he loves to help his daddy “fix” things.   He can also put his clothes on all by himself. His vocabulary has skyrocketed lately, and he says the funniest things–or maybe it’s just because he says them in his cute voice.

    Peter actually sits with his Sunbeams class during Primary (without me). I didn’t expect that he would considering he’s the youngest in his class and still a 3 year old boy. He’s done really well. Most of the kids closest to his age are still in nursery where it’s mostly play time, not sitting time. Occasionally he’ll ask to go back to nursery, but most of the time he’s happy to be in Primary. He’s growing up!

    _____________________________________________________________

    David
    David is still a wonderful husband and father. He’s been an even better one thanks to what he’s learned from Kirk Duncan. He attended two of Kirk’s Master of Influence seminars since November and came away with information that he’s been applying and changing his life with.

    David was the Young Men’s secretary until last October when he was put in as the 11 year-old Scout Leader and teacher. He seems to be enjoying scouts again. It’s been many years since he has done scouting himself.

    After many months of writing, rewriting, organizational changes, etc…David finished his book about our experience leading up to, during, and after our journey to Connecticut. It is written for an LDS audience, and we believe his message is timely and needed by many. He sent it into a publisher at the beginning of May, and we hope to hear back withing the next few months. (Prayers are appreciated!)

    He has been in an employment/entrepreneurial transition for several years now. Doing legal work is not his cup of tea. He is now working on getting his message to the world through teaching and mentoring. He’s given several speeches at local libraries, and so far he hasn’t had as much support as he was hoping for. He’s excellent at gearing his message for specific audiences. He has a way with words and ideas. I am always amazed at how he connects things I never would have. He can explain complex issues in an easy to understand way–it’s one of his gifts. He loves speaking in front of an audience and helping people be inspired. I highly recommend you listen to his podcast here to get a feel for what he teaches. Then PLEASE PASS IT ON! Thanks!

    David and I both attended the Business of Marriage event this past April. I’ve already talked about it a little in a previous post, and I have to say again that it was an amazing event that strengthened our marriage and put us on a path to making our marriage even better! (We’re one of the couples in the videos on the front page. Gotta love it!)

    Brandi
    In 2010 I finished with the 2010 TJEd Forum as Volunteer Coordinator in March. I turned over my position as Liberty Girls chapter advisor to my friend, Melinda, and stayed as a co-advisor after May. David and I had a simple, lovely anniversary getaway last July. I resigned as Secretary of American Youth Leadership Institute in September at about the same time I finished as Volunteer Coordinator for the Knights of Freedom Summit*.

    I became a Family Time and Money Freedom course graduate and attended the Thoughts Alive Mentor Training in Arizona with one of my best friends, Emily. The experience was awesome, and I am so grateful I was able to go and learn from such wonderful people, especially Leslie and Trevan Householder. I made many wonderful new friends. Emily and I came home having two new sisters: Amy and Linda. We shared a condo and a vehicle with them, and I enjoyed our deep conversations, not to mention the foot massage from Amy–our in-house massage therapist–and the yummy green smoothies thanks to Linda!

    After I came home from Arizona, our ward was given a new bishopric. With that change, I was released as Secretary in the Primary Presidency and put in the Young Women’s organization over Personal Progress. (The new online tracker is awesome for the YW, their moms, and leaders if you didn’t already know!)

    In 2011 I was able to attend Kirk Duncan’s Master of Influence seminar in February. We hosted my friend, Linda and her son during the event. I really enjoyed going with them to the event while David was taking care of the children (though having David with me would have been awesome!). The event was a lot of fun and gave me much to process and do. The whole three days were so high-energy, and I soaked it all in! I highly recommend what Kirk teaches. He not only teaches about body language, but how to listen to your body to help heal yourself. Fascinating stuff!

    I finished up with our Liberty Girls chapter as a co-advisor and took on doing it as the chapter advisor again. Gratefully this time I don’t need to host it as well. It’s the only way I was going to advise again. I’m helping with my son’s Knights of Freedom* group as well since all the moms participate. I may be helping with a YASA group if it continues on. I already mentioned helping with a Transition to Scholar group with Ella teaching Art. I’m also helping Queen Emily again with the Knights of Freedom Summit*, only doing Family Activities Coordinating instead or being in charge of the 100 or so volunteers. It’s more manageable for me right now.

    I planted most of our garden, watermelons and pumpkins excepted, and the kids and I are very excited about what we’re getting this year. Our family has been also gardening at a friend’s house. She has a lot of land to plant, and we’ve enjoyed several weeks worth of planting, weeding, and play. We all look forward to this year’s harvest and preserving.

    I am still administrative coordinator for my book group, the Eliza R. Snow Association, also known as ERSA. I absolutely love the sisterhood we share and the amazing conversations we have. I look forward to it every month. I highly recommend starting your own group if you don’t already have one!

    I’m singing in our ward choir again after a couple years hiatus. I really love to sing. It’s a secret passion of mine though I’m still scared to sing by myself. I’ll just belt out the songs in church with everyone else singing with me. :) A duet would be welcome, but I’m really bad at “putting myself out there” and volunteering for such a thing. I guess I just need some encouragement. lol

    Other happenings this past year

    • We began using Bountiful Baskets for much of our produce. (If you haven’t tried it, try it if it’s available in your area!)
    • Our family and I went on a trip to St. George, Utah for my grandmother and grandfather’s 50th wedding anniversary in August and for Thanksgiving in November.
    • I attended the Mom’s Retreat in October.
    • My older three children and I participated in a small homeschool Christmas choir and performed at a rest home.
    • We had a crazy-fun Christmas–I sewed a lot and loved it!
    • We visited with David’s sister, Janae, and niece, Laura, while they were visiting from Florida for Christmas and Stephen’s wedding (my brother-in-law).
    • We welcomed a new sister-in-law in the family just after Christmas. Welcome Rachel! (I’m no longer the only daughter-in-law in my husband’s side!)
    • David went on a Klondike Campout with the scouts in January and survived it. :)
    • We joined a monthly sewing group as part of our homeschool.
    • David, Ella, and I attended the 2011 TJEd Forum in March.
    • David enjoyed learning to fly fish with his dad in May.
    • Ella and Aurora had an very fun time with their Aunt Jen at a Harry Potter movie marathon and sleepover in May.
    • Ella and Aurora have been participating in a short Math course to help them get more excited about math.

    {*Update 4/11/2015: Knights of Freedom Summit is now owned by Heroic Youth and is called Mastering Knighthood.}