Saturday, May 28, 2016

AH-HA Moment


I was sitting in my Pathway Gathering last night and I had one of those AH-HA moments. The lead student was teaching us about the Principles study skill. She shared a number of great scripture verses in our assigned reading block that exactly exemplified the principles taught in the Book of Mormon. She also explained something that I have heard before but was again struck by last night. She said that principles are teachings that we can take out of the story it’s found in and it can stand alone. A principle is something that remains relevant and true despite the group of people it’s taught to or the time it is taught in.

One example she used was the principle of repentance found in Helaman 12:39. This principle is very straightforward and easily recognizable in this one verse. Another example she used takes a more in-depth look at chapter 16 of the same book. This chapter starts with Samuel on the walls of the city preaching to the Nephites. Some believed, most did not, but none were able to harm him when they tried. This was a miracle or a “sign,” if you will, in and of itself but the people didn’t even take notice they simply cried unto their captains, saying: Take‍ this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath‍ a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him. (v6) The people blamed the miracle on the devil instead of accepting what Samuel had taught them. Samuel did get away and was able to preach among his own people for some time.

Then in verse 12 we learn the people began to be more hardened in iniquity, and do more and more of that which was contrary‍ to the commandments of God, in the eighty and ninth year of the reign of the judges. But in the very next verse it says there were great signs‍ given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began‍ to be fulfilled. And angels‍ did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled. (v 13, 14) Despite the iniquity of the people, they were given many sign and wonders, angels even appeared…this would surely open their eyes and make them believe. Nope. The next 8 verses explain that they certainly did not believe but began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom (v15). They refused to believe the signs right in front of them. Verse 23 tells us  And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.

As we discussed this chapter in our little Gathering class, someone else mentioned the “faith precedes the miracle” phrase but this is not quite the same thing. This chapter speaks of miracles and signs already happening so in my head the wheels are still churning. Then someone mentioned Laman and Lemuel and how those two could not see all the miracles that were performed right in front of their noses. I have always wondered why these two unbelievers were witnesses to so many wonderful signs and still turned out the way they did. They lacked the faith to see them for what they were: miracles from God. We have to have the faith and eternal perspective to see these workings, signs, and miracles for what they are.

 Then that AH-HA moment that I needed this week: THE MIRACLES WERE NOT PERFORMED FOR LAMAN AND LAMUEL. All of the many miracles Laman and Lemuel witnessed were to fulfill the Lord’s plan or to protect/aid the Lord’s servant, Nephi. Many of the miracles in the first half of the Book of Mormon were to protect the faithful son from the prideful sons. The rest were to fulfill God’s purposes for Lehi and his posterity.

And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.(1 Nephi 15:9) But he had! Their father was a prophet, they had seen angels, they had witnessed many miracles, they had the plates of Laban, they had been taught the same things as Nephi, they just lacked the faith to see and the humility to find out.

Just like in chapter 16 of Helaman. God’s purposes are always fulfilled. Miracles are happening all around us, large and small. The words of the prophets, ancient and present, are being fulfilled. The question is if we have the faith to see them.

 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Life Lessons

As I have been reading in Mosiah, I was really struck by the story of Alma's people. There are countless stories in the scriptures, not just the Book of Mormon, of peoples that were destroyed or brought into bondage due to broken covenants and iniquity. I think it is really easy to assume or trust that things will be honky-dorey, except the occasional small hiccup-this is mortality after all, as long as we are doing all that we should. WRONG!!

The story of Alma's people is a prime example of this assumption being untrue. Alma, as we know, was one of the wicked priests of evil King Noah. Upon hearing Abinadi preach, Alma tried to plea for Abinadi's life and was therefore threatened himself. He fled and hid himself in a lovely place called Mormon where he recorded Abinadi's words, repented, and started to preach the gospel. He collected quite the group of believers and baptized them. They were discovered by Noah and were forced to leave. This group of about 450 then settled in a place called Helam where they grew and prospered. In Mosiah chapter 23 we learn that the people pitched their tents, and began to till the ground, and began to build buildings; yea, they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly. The priests and teachers were properly ordained and did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness. And the people did  multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land of Helam. They were doing great. They were righteous, following the teachings of Alma and his appointed teachers, working hard and, seemingly, doing all they should.

In the very next verse, you're given some fore-shadowing on this people's fate... Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. What a bummer. We all know that chastening does not have a good connotation and trying our patience is always a growing experience, to say the least.

This people is wronged by the Lamanites and ultimately brought into bondage by them. As if that weren't bad enough, Amulon (another of King Noah's wicked priests, the one who stole Lamanites daughters, then used those very same daughters to gain favor with the Lamanites when they happened upon them in the wilderness) is put in charge of this righteous group of people as we learn in verse 39, And the king of the Lamanites had granted unto Amulon that he should be a king and a ruler over his people, who were in the land of Helam; nevertheless he should have no power to do anything contrary to the will of the king of the Lamanites.

Things go down hill for Alma's people pretty quickly as we read in chapter 24 And now it came to pass that Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children. For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.

The people, being righteous, cried mightily unto God (v10) and Ammulon put a quick stop to even that, upon penalty of death,  in verse 11. So the people prayed continuously in their hearts and their prayers were answered because of their faith. We read about this in verses 13-16 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage. And, of course, His promised was fulfilled the very next day as he caused the Lamanites to fall into a deep sleep so Alma and his people could flee to the land of Zarahemla.

I believe these promises are available to us today. I know that all of my trials will not be solely as a result of my poor choices. There are certainly the choices of others that have an effect on me, but there are also going to be times in my life that my loving Father in Heaven knows I am ready for growth. As a family, we encountered a very difficult situation through no fault of our own and I can not properly express the humility, patience, faith, and love that was required for us to overcome that trying time in our lives. BUT we did. I can now look back and see how much that situation helped my marriage by forcing us closer and to work as a team, by making me realize again what an amazing person I was blessed with for an eternal companion. I can look back and see how my faith was strengthened and how we both certainly learned some humility. I look at my life now and see how incredibly blessed my life is now because we were sent down a path that we never would have chosen on our own.

I am so grateful to our Father in Heaven for the blessing of this sojourn here on earth. Our actions in life make the world of difference in being able to make it back to Him. But let's not forget the importance of our reactions. We will all be faced with trials that we did not choose... how will we react? Will we react as Alma's people? With faith and patience and diligence, raising our voices mightily unto God? I hope so because I want to see you all lifted up at the last day as we are promised by Alma.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Spring Break is almost upon us!! I am so excited to have my kiddos all to myself for a whole week. A little over, actually, since they get tomorrow off too. The kids and I are headed back to KS to visit cousins and friends. John will live the bachelor life for the weekend until he heads to Chicago for work on Monday. I do wish we could afford a big fancy trip somewhere tropical, but I am so happy to see the people that we love.

Our middle child just turned 8 in February and we are gearing up for his baptism Easter weekend. I am so proud of his decision to get baptized but, as his mother, it also worries me a little bit. He is now at the age of accountability and is responsible for the choices he makes, keeping with him and listening to the Spirit, and repenting for his mistakes. I love this little boy with all my heart and I hope to spend eternity with him. This is where the scary part comes in…

What if his dad and I haven’t taught him the gospel well enough? What if he wasn’t listening? What if he decides it’s too hard? What if he forgets? Forgets how he felt when we went to the KC Temple open house, and the few other times I know he’s felt the Spirit? What if he forgets what he has been taught when he faces the peer pressure that is bound to come? What if he forgets why making the right choice is the best choice?

As I’ve been studying the Book of Mormon for my religion class, I have really been struck by the common chord of the wickedness that occurs. Laman and Lemuel were “slow to remember the Lord their God” and that they had seen angels and witnessed miracles. They were brought unto repentance countless times and still could not hold on to that feeling of peace and love and light. They, over and over again, gave into the anger and jealousy that they felt. Why could they not remember? Because of  their inability to remember all the Lord had done for them, their posterity became loathsome and wicked, with but a few exceptions, for generations.  

Later, in the book of Jacob, we learn that the Nephites start to forget. In chapter 3, verse 5,  Jacob says  Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten‍ the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one‍ wife, and concubines‍ they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms‍ committed among them.

(I find this scripture really interesting along with the one that follows that tells them that the Lamanites are not destroyed because they are faithful to this commandment. Faithful to their wives. That’s a different discussion though.)

Again, that word: forgotten. He goes on to command them to do the opposite: remember.

9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile‍ no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers. 10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example‍ that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

We too must remember what we’ve been commanded to do and remember the confirmations we’ve had from the Spirit when we do them.

Laman and Lemuel had a prophet for a father that obviously taught them well. How could they be so “slow to remember the Lord (their God)”? How on earth do I have hope for my children if the prophet’s children went so far off the straight and narrow? That’s a scary thought.

We know that Laman and Lemuell were taught the gospel their entire lives.  I have hard time applying the word “forgot” like when I forget to get bananas when I go grocery shopping. I really think “stiffnecked” is really synonymous with the type of “forgetting” we’re talking about here. They were taught from when they were young. They didn’t just forget that they had seen an angel or were shaken when Nephi touched them. They were quick to give in to their feelings of anger and jealousy, and were slow to remember the feelings of peace and light that they surely felt witnessing the miracles they did. They slowly gave in to the temptations of Satan and, therefore, drowned out the feelings of love and light that come from God.

Laman and Lamuel, as we know, led their families astray by, eventually, not even acknowledging their need to repent and heed the prophet’s words. The Lamanites became a wild, violent and wicked people because they were not taught the gospel. This is in great contrast to the Nephites who had the records and prophets and still went astray. We already read how Jacob described the Nephites as more wicked than the Lamanites, and the Nephites knew better!! Just like Laman and Lemuel did.

Jacob spends a great deal of his writings telling us how he chastised the Nephites and pointing out their pride and lack of integrity…and how his heart hurt because of it.  I love how he is so straight forward and lays it all out for them ...”remember that ye may bring your children unto destruction.” What a sobering warning.

In the book of Enos we read 22 And there were exceedingly many prophets among us. And the people were a stiffnecked people, hard to understand. 23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

The Nephites are acting like Laman and Lemuel acted! This verse pulls at my heart strings. The Nephites had been taught the truth like I try to teach my children. They had the records like I have the scriptures. They have prophets among them just as we do. The Nephites are prospering at this point and they are “slow to remember”. The prophets have to ‘continually remind’ them of the things that they are quickly forgetting: God’s hand in their lives.

I have often wondered if it’s unfair that the people of Nephi are destroyed. I mean it’s Nephi. Faithful , strong, obedient Nephi. But as I have been studying this time, it has hit me that the Nephites, as a people, were not the faithful, strong, obedient Nephites. Oh yes, there are groups of them, and the Lamanites for that matter, that were more righteous than I could ever hope for in this life. But as a whole, a lot of the time they were more like Laman than they were like Nephi. Having to constantly be reminded of utter destruction, and death in order for them to stay righteous. Am I that way? Do I have to be threatened in order to stay on the straight and narrow? Or do I hold to the rod with strength and faith to reach the ultimate goal? Am I capable of teaching my children properly and setting the right example so I don’t have posterity that “dwindles in unbelief”?

My son is only 8 and he is, sure as heck, going to make many mistakes in his life. I just want to make sure I teach him to REMEMBER. Remember that his dad and I love him, remember that he has a Savior that loves him and suffered his sins for him, that he is a child of God and, as such, has the potential for greatness and perfection. I want him to REMEMBER what it feels like to feel the Spirit touch his heart, and remember that that feeling is better than any temporary satisfaction. I want him to REMEMBER that he can repent and be made clean, and that, if he does so, we can be a family forever. I somehow have to teach him to REMEMBER God and the impact He has had in his life.

I have been told how by Nephi when he said 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

I’m still working on how to exactly execute this excellent advice... I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I have not dropped off the face of the Earth!! I am here and life is pretty busy these days. The biggest change to life lately is the return of John and I to school. We both decided it was time to head back and get our degrees. We decided that the price and the online capabilities, along with the opportunity to get a reputable degree, made our church’s Pathway program the best option for us.
We’ve been in class for a little over two weeks now. It’s been a bit of a change for us but it’s been going well. We have two classes for three semesters in the Pathway program and then we’ll go (assuming we’re accepted) to BYU-Idaho online to finish up. As a requirement in the program, one of the two classes is a religion course. For the first semester, the religion course will be covering the first half of the Book of Mormon. We are also taught and encouraged to use different study skills and to share what we’ve learned in different ways. One way to share what we’ve learned is to post a blog entry…and here we are.
 This first lesson in our religion course was over the first 5 chapters of 1 Nephi, in the Book of Mormon. I cannot tell you how many times I have read the first few chapters of this sacred book but this time through, I still learned so much. As I read, I tried substituting my name for Nephi’s. This study skill is aptly called substitution. I did this for the first three chapters and then it dawned on me that some of the verses wouldn’t be true if my name were placed there instead of Nephi’s. For example 1 Nephi 2: 16 reads And it came to pass that I, Nephi (Clara), being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God,
This is only the first half of the verse but it hit me “I am not large in stature, nor exceedingly young”. Then I continued the verse  Wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. Then I had to ask myself if this part of the verse would be a true statement if it were referring to me and not Nephi.  Then I continued reading first Nephi in that mindset: “Is this a true or false statement?”
Asking myself this question was a bit sobering, to be honest. I found that many of the things said about Nephi would, in fact, not be considered true if my name were placed in the subject line.
My mind continued to mull over this and I continued to study and pray.  I kept substituting my name for Nephi’s. 
When I got to the chapter three, I had another idea, “why don’t I substitute my name for some of the others in this part of the history?”  So I did.  I went back and substituted my name for Lehi’s and Sariah’s.  I also felt a bit under-qualified when I put my name in for Lehi’s.  I did, however relate to Sariah in 5:2-3.  2 For she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness: and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary man; saying, Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness. 3 And after this manner of language my mother complained against my father.
I have complained before. I have certainly been concerned for my children before and I definitely have lost faith before.
Then, the kicker, I tried my name in the parts of Laman and Lemuel. I kind of bristled at the thought, given that they play the part of villain at many points in the story. But I gave it a shot: Chapter 2: 12 And thus Laman and Lemuel (Clara), being the eldest, did murmur against their(her) father. And they(she) did murmur because they(she) knew not the dealings of that God who had created them (her).
I already admitted that I murmur, at least a little.
And Chapter 3: 28 And it came to pass that Laman(Clara) was angry with me, and also with my father;
And again in Chapter 3: 31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel (Clara) again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?
Again in Chapter 4: Now when I had spoken these words, they(she was) were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they(she) did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
Okay, okay. I complain a lot. It’s not becoming and it’s certainly not faith building, I know. I do get wroth on occasion as well. It’s a good thing I am also working on my temperance in this class.
Unfortunately for me, some of these versus hit much closer to home than the faith and obedience Nephi demonstrates in Chapter 3: And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. Do I have that kind of faith? Or am I too busy murmuring?
This exercise was an eye opener for me. I realized that I might stand closer to Laman and Lemuel than Nephi when it comes to my murmuring, my faith and my willingness to obey. I certainly have some work to do. I want to be one of the heroes in my family’s story, not the villain or even the bystander. What about you?

Monday, September 29, 2014

What blog?

It's been forever!! So much has happened in the past year since I have posted but then not much at all. I am soooo not going to play catch up for the last year or year and a half or what ever it's been but here are a few highlights:
I had surgery...again.
We had an awesome summer of hanging but the pool with friends and cousins.
We got an awesome dog. Buddy
We had birthdays, holidays and some great memories.
I continued to take care of my body and get into shape.
I got certified and started teaching cycle and Pilates at the gym.
I decided to homeschool the three older kids instead of putting them back in a school that wasn't willing to challenge them.
Our oldest son was baptized.
I LOVED teaching them and at the gym.
We moved. Again.
We had to find a new home for our awesome dog (and much of our belongings).
We are trying to adjust to this new place.

That's about it. In a nutshell.  The big one is moving obviously. The company John was working for in Topeka was bought out and then decided to move all their operations to their main office in Des Moines. That's right Iowa. Moving to Iowa was never on my list of things to willingly do but here we are. It's a great company to work for and everything just fell into place for us to come here. John is really enjoying work. After much prayer, we decided to enroll the kiddos in public school here. Not knowing anyone and the fact that the schools are really great in the area we located to, helped a lot in the decision making process. Anyway, they are enjoying it for the most part. A likes to be around kids her age, she loves to learn, and she is loving all the cool things they get to do. She is playing clarinet in the 5th grade band. J does not love school but tolerates it well enough. He does well academically and has made more of an effort to make friends. Ike loves getting to socialize but is highly inconvenienced when they expect him to learn. The two youngest could have gone to preschool but I decided against it. I love having them home with me and I will do so as long as possible. It's a daily struggle not to pull my older children out...I miss homeschooling them.

Anyhoo, we are here in IA. I am not going to lie, it's not been great. But it's growing on us and we are trying to make the best of it. With all of my new found spare time I am really going to try to post more. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Also...

Last summer was just perfect. I have so many wonderful memories. Before Salt Lake, I was able to do a few fun and exciting things. John and I celebrated 10 years of marriage!! And I ran my first 5k...The Color Run.

I didn't realize we would be going anywhere for our anniversary when I signed up for the Color Run which was on our anniversary day. When the summer got closer, John and I decided we should do something. We decided to book a couple nights at a really fun hotel in KC. It's one with the themed rooms, we got the Castaway room...super fun. We were able to spend 2 1/2 days without children!! We went shopping, went out to eat, saw friends and just had an amazing time together. I love that man to pieces!! I can't believe we have been married for more than a decade. We have been through a lot together and I really wouldn't have it any other way. I know it's cliche but it's true. We were married young by today's standards but we have grown together and been able to share so many experiences and memories. I have that much more time with my eternal companion, and yeah, I wouldn't have it any other way.

A few weeks later it was time for the Color Run. The winter before, some friends and I made a goal. Not only did I want to lose weight and be healthier but I wanted to RUN a 5k, so we all registered for the Color Run and began a journey. At least it was a journey for me. The last Friday in June, we headed for KC. We went out to eat, had a hotel and had a blast. Dinner was delicious and so much fun, and having a "sleep over" with friends was also a lot of fun. We got up in the morning and headed for the stadium where the race was to take place. There were over 30,000 people there!! We were a bit late and we waited in the sea of humanity until we were at the start line. I think we were in the 10th heat. Anyway, I ran the whole way!! It was a BLAST!! Really hot, really colorful and just so much fun. I was so proud of myself and the ladies that went with me. We all finished!!

I have gone on to run another Color Run, the Glow Run and a half marathon with a friend that set up her own here in town. I have to say that if you are starting a weight loss journey or you want to be a runner, start with a goal. One that is attainable, one you aren't doing alone, and one that is fun. A 5k is a perfect way to start. It was for me and I will be returning to KC for the Color Run with an even bigger group this summer....so excited!!
After the race

After we showered
The Glow Run. This one was actually timed and I was really proud of myself. 
The second Color Run.

The Fourth at my MIL's.

Baby S was a little confused. She thought the crate was the best place to be.
 E likes dirt
At the beginning of each summer we make a list of the things we want to do. Usually there's picnics, camping, catching fireflies, bike rides and so many other things on it. It is has been a wonderful tradition for us. Last year, I started something else for summer...a project. Each of the kids got to pick a project at Hobby Lobby to complete. A's was this bag, J made a model solar system that hangs in his room, Ike made a dream catcher and E colored a poster.

 John and I took the kids to the Kansas History Museum here in town. There is a little area they can dress up in. J had the perfect serious cowboy face and A had to try really hard not to smile. Ike wouldn't even try the cowboy stuff.


The boys adore their baby sister!!


The kids were invited to do a Friend Camp with a bunch of kids from church. They met everyday for a week and played fun games, got treats, and went swimming. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

hello again

Wow!! June 2nd was a LONG time ago!! A lot has happened in the last 8 months. We have had birthdays, holidays, school and some fun family stuff. Let us start at the beginning shall we...

We spent the summer at the pool. The Fourth was spent at my MIL's eating good food and doing fireworks with the kids. The weekend after the Fourth, the kids and I headed to UT.

The drive was long and the baby was sick the whole 16 hours. It was worth it though, we did so many fun things. We spent some much needed time with Grandma and Grandpa Love, aunts, uncles and cousins. We went boating, camping (twice), went to museums and the aviary. We got to spend time at Aunt Jessie's and Uncle Travis' house. We toured Temple Square and we even all "ran" a 5k that ended in the Pioneer Day Parade in SLC. The kids thought it was amazing to walk the parade route and get cheered on by the people sitting out waiting for the parade to start. Jake had a blast at the Planetarium and the copper mine was very interesting.

John joined us out there for a couple weeks and we had even more fun.  We were able to travel to MT to visit John's brother, Scott, and his wife, Laura. They took us hiking to waterfalls and to the hot springs. We went to some caves (super cool!!) and to the kids' great excitement, a playground. We were able to attend church with them and visit Laura's sweet family. We ended our six week stay away at Lake Powell with my siblings, parents, and extended family. I love the lake! Rustic camping is a lot of work, but it is so much fun. We eat, play and chat for a week. I don't have to worry about schedules or naps or making them eat their vegetables. Life is simple. Love it. The kids play in the water and sand all day. The adults visit, water ski, wake board and tube. Actually, A tried wake boarding and she even got up a few times. She also loves to tube. J and Ike were content just to swim and play in the sand. E wouldn't even get in the water past his ankles...weirdo. They all love riding on the boat though and Grandpa loves to take them. John was such a good sport and we both went out wake boarding on Manda and Terron's new boat. I hurt my ankle pretty badly...it's just now healed all the way. I was able to hike to the top of Hole in the Rock for the first time and we had a great beach with lots of cool placed to hike and explore nearby. A and I went exploring one day and made up names for all the "mountain tops" that surrounded our beach. John and I decided to take the kids to a "mountain" they wanted to climb one day. After rowing/swimming a big channel with all of them, we started up. We made it to a narrow ledge and A had a panic attack that scared us all to death...so we turned back. Such great times, and great memories.

So, we had a blast with our awesome family. The kids and I were gone for a LONG time. It is very important to me for them to have a relationship with the family members they don't get to see often. My parents are so important to me and I want them to be a big part of my children's lives. That is just difficult to accomplish from 1,000 miles away. We had, and always do have, such a great time with them. We came home from our vaca to school and schedules and extra kids and life. That will be another post though. I am going to try to be better about posting, if for no other reason than to just have some kind of documentation of my awesome life.
 Sick Baby :-(
 We had just had a major battle because none of the boys wanted to sleep next to each other and A "could never" sleep next to one of the boys. I am so glad we worked that out
 J is a monkey, he can climb anything. This pole was a good 12 feet high on the U campus. We were with Aunt Jess waiting for the bus to go back to her house after having lunch with Grandma.
 Natural History museum with Aunt Jess and Cousin Riley
 Natural History Museum. We went on a free day...it was insane!! We witnessed a panicked lady lose her son. I hope they found him. It was pretty cool and the kids had a blast. Their fave was probably digging up dinosaur fossils in the pit outside.
 Completely taking over Aunt Jessie and Uncle Travis' house, and Cousin Riley's toys.
 Planetarium
 Ike was just so pooped. HAHAHA
 At a splash park in SLC with Aunt Jess and Great Grandma Von
 Right before the Pioneer Day 5k
 Temple Square. We were on the roof of the Conference Center after our tour
 I believe I have mentioned that E is a weirdo
 We were lucky enough to visit the Hill Air Museum again (love it!) and make it for a class for the kids. They made these little paper rockets and then we went outside and they got to launch them with an air compressor. So cool!! The kids LOVED it.
 J is going to be the first man to walk on Mars he says. He loves space.
 Taken in MT after our picnic and our hike up to the beautiful waterfall.
 At church with Scott and Laura, Baby G was sportin' her first ponytail.
The Lewis and Clark Caves were so cool. They brought back memories of Carlsbad Caverns. Baby G was getting frustrated not being able to get down and get around. E was a bit clinging too, but the other kids loved the caves.
We had so many opportunities to teach the kids, build relationships with loved ones, and just have fun. It was a great time!