• 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 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.}

    My husband had a short meeting this morning, so we got all 7 of us ready to go out the door by 8:30am to head to downtown.  We dropped David off and headed for the parking garage to watch the construction across the street while we waited for him.  We get to the 9th floor, and park.  My oldest decided she needed to use the restroom.  Usually it’s my 5yo, so I was irked for a moment about it.  Then I changed my thoughts and realized I have to go at inopportune times too. I put the 2yo in the sling (I forgot the stroller!) and we all trekked to the office building where I knew where the restrooms were.  I was the only mom with her children walking in that area I guess, because we had quite a few odd looks.  I wasn’t sure if it was my huge smile (it was a happy morning!), the fact that I brought my 5 kids downtown, or that most kids are in school on Thursday mornings.  No matter the reason, I just kept walking, smiling, and encouraging my kids to follow me around.

    We made it back up to the parking garage before my husband made it out of his meeting, and I was able to take a few photos.  I’m excited for their construction project to be finished!  I used to work in the building behind the big white one on the far upper right area of the first picture.  It was strange to see the giant gaping hole they left when they tore down the parking garage and other structures around it.  I used to drive up and down the parking garage several times a day as a runner for a local law firm.  I’m excited to see what the finished product will be. Anyway, my kids loved the giant cranes. The noise was loud enough, I couldn’t hear my cell phone ring when my husband called me until my daughter pointed the ring out to me. Fun times!






    Then we took a trip up to the capital building.  I took some random and not so random pictures. Most are unedited. I figure if I wait to edit all of them, I’ll never share them!

    We were going to go to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, but I’ve been feeling off today and knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant trip.  So we opted to take the happy route and head for home as a family.  I love spending time with my family and just enjoying each others’ presence.

    Oh, and this is what I saw tonight before I put the kids to bed.

    I’ve been busy lately with so many things, I can hardly write about them all. So, I’ll try to summarize it…

    Knights of Freedom Summit is through! It was an amazing experience, and I was so excited to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone. I was Volunteer Coordinator, and although it took a lot of leg work, it paid off in the end. With very few exceptions, it went off extremely well! We had very few problems, and nothing we couldn’t handle. I could feel the excitement and the awesome impact that the event was having on these 130 boys and everyone else who volunteered–from a distance from it all! It was simply awe-inspiring. Thank you, Emily, for asking me to help. I truly needed and appreciated it! If you want to know more about the event click here, and if you want to see the wonderful photos taken by my friend, Tamra, click .

    I’m still getting into the AYLI Secretary thing. I had been so caught up in the KOF Summit, that the other stuff has gone to the wayside. So, I’m playing catch-up. Gratefully, it’s not a huge deal. I’ll be working on updating the database which will be quite the task. I think it’ll take longer than Diann wants it to, but I have a family life too. I can’t spend all day calling hundreds of people. She knows that, however, so I’m not even worried about it.

    I may be released from my ERSA position as secretary this month. We’ll see. They may just vote me into another position. I won’t mind either way. I can’t give it up! I’d have to move far away to give it up again. By the way, for those who don’t know, ERSA is the Eliza R. Snow Association, and it’s the wonderful book group I belong to…and I mean, belong!

    I haven’t posted many pics of the kids this summer. We’ve been hanging out at home a lot and working on our school work…because they want to! David has been home a lot this summer because of unemployment. So, we occasionally go out and about as a family. David’s working on his writing. He’d like to become a syndicated writer and write a book. It’ll be exciting to see what he does with it!

    I have a garden this year…amazing, I know! We’ve grown tons of zucchini and tomatoes. We also have had radishes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, and my favorites: peaches and watermelons. I get at least 3-4 medium-size zucchini a day off of my 8 plants. I get lots of pear tomatoes, and some romas and beefsteaks too. I get at least one cucumber every-other day. We just harvested our second extra-yummy watermelon today. It was so exquisitely tasty! I need to harvest some of my pie pumpkins to cook and freeze. I’ve shredded some zucchini in 2 cup amounts for breads and such later in the year. I froze almost all of my peaches, but I did bottle 9 quarts in sucanat syrup instead of the refined sugar syrup. I made tons of apricot jam (as previously posted) and some strawberry jam earlier this year. I look forward to getting more tomatoes and apples for bottling. My friend, Penny, gave me a bunch of her concord grapes to juice–which reminds me I need to borrow a juicer tomorrow! I’ve been abundantly blessed with a bounty of food this year! I’m so grateful!

    Okay, so on to birth…and no I’m not expecting to give birth myself any time soon.

    My sister-in-law, David’s sister, is expecting her first baby in February. I’m so excited for her, and I really need to get some books and other resources to her so she can read up on birth. She wants to do it unmedicated and as natural as possible. I’m praying she chooses to educate herself a ton, because that’s really the only way to get what you want, in birth or life.

    My friend, Tamra, went on vacation this week, and she asked me to take her baby (aka Digital SLR Camera and lenses) while she was gone. It’s not only to take care of her equipment, but so I can photograph our friend Julia’s birth if she goes into labor while Tamra is gone. Is it selfish of me to want her to go into labor this week? I’ve played with the camera and lenses a bit. It’s been fun, and it only makes my excitement and desire for my own DSLR someday stronger! So, that being said, I’ve been combing the internet for birth photography and looking back on my own attempt at photographing Tamra’s birth. I wanted to get some ideas for labor and birth shots. I went to Tamra’s birth barely knowing how to use her camera and played everything by ear, literally. I didn’t look at anyone else’s pictures for ideas, and I used auto on the camera. This time I know the basics of her camera and I can use the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings without freaking out about it. I thought it would be fun to get some ideas about what else to take pictures of. My midwife, Cathy, is Julia’s midwife too this time around. I’m excited to be able to work with her again! Both her and Tamra trust me to not mess up the photography, and knowing Tamra’s abilities, that says a lot! If the photography thing doesn’t work out, well, I still may be assisting at Julia’s birth as Cathy’s assistant. We’ll see. No pressure, Julia, I promise! You know I love ya!

    I have several other friends, besides Julia, waiting to welcome their babies into the world in the next few weeks. I wish all of them immense joy and peace during their birthing times. Know I’m praying and thinking about you and your families, my dear friends!

    P.S. I fixed the theme again. I hope it stays this time.