Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making New Childhood Memories

 Sometimes I stop and think,"Wow! This is an entirely different life from the one I grew up with. My kids are growing up in Utah. Utah!" 
I wonder when this is going to stop surprising me?

Utah was always the place we'd visit on vacation with my parents! We spent a Thanksgiving up in Provo one time to visit my Grandmother on her 80th birthday. I was 11 years old. My Grandma Lois was a California native, but she had moved up to Provo to be closer to one of her sons who was a Professor at BYU. I remember sledding excitedly in the white, powdery snow, and gazing up in awe at those glorious, majestic, Wasatch mountains! Then we spent a summer in Hurricane once when I was 12, water-skiing on Quail Lake and tubing in the Virgin River. My memories are full of dry heat and scorching sun, and the cool, refreshing feeling of water surrounding me. I always thought that if you're going to live in the deserts of Utah, you should live next to a river or lake--something to give you relief from the heat. 
Another Utah vacation we took was to drop my eldest brother off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo in 1994. I was 14 then. We stayed in Pleasant Grove for several weeks, playing in rivers and picking unlimited amounts of yellow sunflowers. I think I fell in love with Utah that summer because I convinced my parents to let me stay for the upcoming school semester. I ended up staying with some family friends and sleeping on their living room carpet. They enrolled me in middle school, where I attended until I got sick of Utah and/or it got too cold. I flew back to Hawaii around October, having "lived" in Utah for about 2 months. (That crazy experience deserves an entire post of it's own!)  

After these fun-filled, and curious adventures in Utah, I was always anxious to go home again; back to permanent warmth, back to tropical humidity, and back to the ocean that surrounded my island home.   
When the plane would land down in Honolulu and the doors of the aircraft were finally opened, the smell of sea breeze and Plumeria flowers would instantly fill my senses. My thoughts would drift to the beach, where I could run down the sand and jump into the ocean anytime I wanted to. And I always wanted to! Because no matter where we lived on Oahu, the ocean was always down the street, across the road, or through the bushes, and that meant there was always instant access to the biggest, most exciting playground on the planet. 
I always figured this is where I would settle down and raise a family. It almost happened in 2011 when my husband (an LA native) and I moved to the Big Island with our little boys. But that only lasted 2 years before we realized we had to change and move again.
So here I am as a grown mama, having experienced lots of twists and turns and surprises along the road, permanently raising our children in Utah.  

I'm still settling into this new idea, though it's not a  bad thing, it's a new adventure! Last year in Hawaii when I told a family member we would be moving back to Utah, I was offered condolences for our terrible loss. Hmmmmm--Not the response I was hoping for, for this is the place we have chosen to live, not by some horrible default. (hahaha--sigh....)

My curiosity leads me to wonder what my children's memories will be? I wonder what they will love about this place, and if they ever move away, what will they miss and be excited to come home to? 
I'm sure there's a zillion things they will attach their senses to. Our noses have a way of picking up fragrances of nature and carrying them forever in our hearts. The wild sage, the  musty desert sand, the smell of creeks and rivers bubbling through green grass--all these wonderful Utah smells will seep into their memories forever and bring them back home again. Just like my memories of salty ocean spray, burning banana leaves, and the strong scent of suntan oil will forever remind me of Hawaii.

My children's outdoor expereinces will be so vastly different than mine. Instead of looking for sea shells and sea glass on the sand, they will discover river rocks and fossils. Instead of splashing in the ocean waves, they will float and swim laps in the lakes and rivers. Instead of surfing, bodyboarding, and snorkeling they will snow-shoe, sled, and snowboard. Instead of hiking to waterfalls through the lush, green jungle, they will hike up red rock canyons, and through thick forests of pine trees.
Their neighborhood has shrubby hills to climb, city parks, and a long, winding bike path through the town. My neighborhood had Sharks Cove, Sunset beach, and Waimea Bay! Sometimes I feel sad that they will never know what it's like to wake up and go jump off the big rock at the Bay: a morning, summer ritual I adopted when I was in my teens. Or wake up, grab their snorkel gear and go swim through caves at the cove: something we did year after year in the long, summer months. Or wake up, grab their surfboards, and head for the ocean, because the waves are glassy, off-shore, and overhead! These are just some of my favorite, forever, fond memories of growing up. 

So, what will their memories be? 
I'm excited to find out!  I've always loved Utah, and know that they will, too.
 I'm excited to be on this new adventure with my children, though completely different from my own, I'm ready to help them create wonderful, lasting memories in this new place they call home. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

*36 weeks pregnant

"So, are you having twins?"
This is probably the most common question I get. 
Here's a list of other stuff people say to me while I'm out on the town:

"You look ready to burst!"
"So are you due any second?"
"My you look uncomfortable!"
"Don't you hate being pregnant in the hot summer months?"
"Oh this weather must be awful for you being pregnant and all."
"When are the twins due?"
"I'm amazed you can walk at all, with that big belly!"
"Oh what a glorious belly!" (as stranger-woman proceeds to rub my tummy)
"Wow-this pregnancy has gone by really fast!"
"Look at that little blessing right there."
"Don't over-work yourself."

I don't really mind all the comments, In fact, I've been feeling really emotionally awesome lately. I think it might be the adrenaline involved with seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. This has been a long 9 months for me, waiting for our baby to get here. I am READY! We decided to name him Malachi. Once we realized this beautiful name we knew we didn't have to look any further. I love being able to talk to him, calling him by his name. Malachi is a Hebrew name meaning "My Messenger" or "Messenger of God." I love it so much.

At my last pre-natal appointment there were traces of glucose and leukocytes in my urine. The glucose is a sign of too much sugars in my diet. Go figure. 
Basically I need to eat more protein and be cautious of the risks for Gestational Diabetes. I gained 65 pounds this pregnancy so far, which isn't a huge deal if I'm exercising and eating healthy, but I'm afraid I got lazy. My lovely meals of toast for breakfast, cereal for lunch, and pasta for dinner will only hurt the baby at this point. So, this past week 1/2 I've jumped back on the healthy-protein wagon for good. Our midwife lovingly reminded me that It's not just about me right now, but about the health of the baby. (a baby that comes out with high blood sugar will feel yucky and dysfunctional.) 

My favorite high-protein meals right now:
*Scrambled eggs sauteed with mushrooms, garlic, bell-peppers, and spinach.
*Grilled pork marinated in shoyu over garden lettuce 
*Egg salad sandwiches with lettuce, not bread.
*Teriyaki chicken with broccoli
*Fish sticks and veggies
*Crab ceviche with tomato, cilantro, and avocado
*Chicken stuffed red-bell peppers 
*Tuna over spinach
*Beef and bean Tacos with salsa
*Ham and lentil soup with tons of veggies tossed in

 And the leukocytes are a sign of infection. Maybe part UTI, part Yeast. I went heavy on the cranberry pills, the Grapefruit seed extract, and the Monastat 7. Plus tons and tons of water, which is usually my cure-all for everything.

The last couple days It's felt like the baby's head has dropped into my pelvis. I can breathe better up-top, but can't walk as well down-low.  It's the craziest feeling to actually feel the pressure from a baby's head on your bottom (even the 4th time!)! Yesterday I had intense lower-back pains, I am peeing more frequently and walking slower than a snail. Once again, I need reminders that this is all part of a  normal, healthy pregnancy. All these aches and pains are part of the process and don't necessarily mean I'm going into labor right this second, or that I'm gonna die. (Which were my thoughts yesterday. haha) 

True, I'm feeling extremely done being pregnant, and true, I wish I was 10x more comfortable, but in order to keep myself in a positive mind-frame, I need to focus on the good. I need to focus on how healthy, functional, and wonderfully progressive my pregnant body is at this point. Right now it is doing everything it needs to do to prepare for our Malachi to get here. Even the hard, intense pressure on my lower body is a good sign. This is my positive mind speaking to me. These are my husband's kind words reminding me to hang in there. These are the encouraging words from our knowledgeable midwife.

However, my negative mind wants to call BullSh#*%t on this whole pregnancy thing. Ha! This is actually from my favorite clip from What to Expect When you're Expecting:
In this clip  Wendy is at a mother/baby conference. She's already peed her pants, switched soiled dresses with her assistant, is horribly uncomfortable, and then has to give a speech on the miracle of motherhood. You might have to see the entire movie to appreciate it, but I laughed so hard at how well I could relate! Where is the glow?

Whelp, that's it for now. Someday I'll look back on these little pregnancy updates and be reminded of all the things I've forgotten, and maybe even miss it a bit.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Around the Clock Micah-he just keeps going!

 My husband Micah made reservations at Zion's National Park campground months ago. He was determined to spend two wonderful nights and 3 days right before Father's Day, in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with his favorite family! This weekend marks the weekend he'd been waiting for!
However, as the weeks led up to this trip, it slowly became clear that I wasn't going to make it. My 35 week pregnant body has finally reached the point where walking, sitting, standing, or even sleeping is almost unbearable. Even though the campground is only 2 hours away and one of my favorite places to visit, I wouldn't be able to camp. (I felt much better staying home where I could cuddle up with my thousands of pillows on my huge, comfy bed, anytime I needed to.)
So, Micah decided to take our boys by himself--an 8 year old, a 6 year old, and a 3 year old, on a father-sons campout! On Wednesday evening he went out and bought all the groceries, then Thursday morning he packed up the van with all the camping gear, and off they went! I waved goodbye with uncertain trepidation, on the one hand knowing the boys would have the time of their lives, but on the other hand knowing my husband had his work cut out for him! Last time he went camping  he took the two older boys and they had heaps of fun, but this time he was adding our toddler to the mix, which was going to change things a bit!

Thursday afternoon they arrived at Zions and set up camp, then spent the rest of the day playing in the Virgin river. Micah reported that all 3 boys had loads of fun building sand castles, covering themselves in mud, and jumping into the cold river to cool down. They saw "a million polliwogs" and some mule deer--the ones with the white booties, and lotsa lizards, they say. That evening they roasted hot dogs over an open fire and excitedly watched bats swirl overhead, scooping down for their evening meal of flying insects. They stayed up late that night telling stories in the tent and watching the large, waning moon.

I have to say that at this point I'm really proud of my husband for sticking it out til Saturday morning, because the next day things didn't go as smoothly. First of all, everyone was exhausted. Our six year old wanted to lay around camp and rest much of the day, but our 8 year old was anxious to go back to the river and play. Our 3 year old was happy exploring around camp, but needy and restless in his own ways. Micah was being pulled into three different directions for most of the day, which is overwhelming without a spouse to trade off with. Furthermore, he grew tired from all the little-people-poopings: There were several accidental poopings in pants, some long waits for toilet poopings, and a litte fella who pooped his nighttime diaper. This messy, pooping stuff, along with more sun and wind exposure than normal, and a rash my 6 year old developed on his heiny, left my husband a little overwrought.
I wasn't surprised when they rolled home in the mid-morning today, instead of later in the afternoon as they were expected. It turns out our 3 year old had woken up in the middle of the night with a fever, which meant my husband was up half the night taking care of him in the tent. He also threw up twice on the car ride home, which was a stressful experience, to say the least. Poor Micah looked very, understandably tired as he came staggering into the house.

"Did you guys have fun?" I asked cheerfully, as the boys came running down the stairs to where I was folding laundry.
"YEEEAAAAAH!" came three big, happy, whoops of excitement! I sat and listened for the next few minutes as they told me all the cool stuff they saw and did on their awesome campout with Dad!

Over the next few hours at home I assumed that Micah would go flop down on the bed and take a nap, and leave the kids to my tending. I assumed that he would "clock out" of his dad responsibilities, call break-time, and do some much-needed  things for himself. I'm pretty sure that's what I would do if it was me in this situation. 

But that's not Micah. 
Instead, over the next few hours I watched as he kept on helping take care of our children. He helped me make food, he read stories, held our sick little boy while he slept, and even played card games with our 8 year old. Right now as I write this he is putting the kids to bed downstairs. He likes to read to them and sing to them, as he sweetly tucks them into bed for the night. 

These are the kinds of things that make Micah an amazing father. He is gentle, patient, loving, nurturing, and 100% attentive to our children's needs. He loves them deeply, and shows genuine interest in everything they do. He has fun with them, and laughs with them, and even takes on exhausting camping trips by himself with them. I couldn't have asked for a better father for these boys, and I know these boys feel the exact same way. 

It's days like these that bring tears to my eyes and remind me over and over how blessed I am to have Micah in my life.

Happy Father's Day to the perfect dad in our lives.

p.s. I realized that this time last year we were camping as a family at Ho'okena, Hawaii. *Swimming with dolphins and relaxing on the beach! My how times have changed!

p.s.s. I can't help but link back to the other Father's Day posts I've written, to honor the man I love. He's just so darn awesome! I love you Micah!
Fathers Day 2009 "Call Me Micah."
Father's Day 2010 "Mei-tai walks with Papa."
Father's Day 2012 "Micah."

Friday, June 13, 2014

We Do Not Walk Blindly

Last year as I sat in a large (stake) conference hall held for our church members, I listened as these heartfelt words were spoken, (I don't remember who said it, I only remember the way it touched my soul)
"We do not walk blindly. We follow our leaders because we can see. This isn't a church that asks it's members to follow blindly, to walk without choice. That is not God's plan for us. We follow because our eyes have been opened and we can see."

I've thought about this statement over and over, and especially  how my eyes have been opened to truth the past 14 years since I decided to come back to the Mormon church. I've been accused of being brainwashed, and I've been accused of following a cult, but I know I'm not an idiot. I can see as clear as day the choices put before me, and the path I choose to walk. This is MY spiritual journey, and something I chose consciously, openly, and wholeheartedly, because I can see.

I can see the abundance of humility and love in our modern-day Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I can see the loyalty and devotion he has to care for, and bless, and pray for the people on this earth. I can see the goodness and integrity in our Priesthood Leaders, and their desire to serve and bless others through the organization of this church. They are willingly following their duties to God in a tough and oppositional world. 

I can see a husband and father who loves and upholds his Priesthood responsibilities in our own family. It's not easy to be a righteous, honest, God-fearing, commandment-following male in this world, but each day I see this man strive to do his best-- For me, for our children, for God, and for his church.

I can see the heartfelt love and sincere care that every Bishop I've ever had, has had for the members of our wards. He isn't haughty or arrogant or caught up in titles. He doesn't drive a fancy car paid in full by the member's tithing money. 
(I mention this because a non-member asked me once if this was true of our Bishop's cars. hehe. In fact, our last Bishop lived in a small bedroom with his wife and 3 kids in his mother-in-laws house, and drove a piece of junk. So no, this is not true.) 
Our Bishops are humble, concerned, and bursting with love for each brother and sister that comes into his presence. They volunteer their time, energy, and service to the happiness of other people. I've seen this over and over again, and I choose to follow their wisdom and council in my life.

I can see and feel the equality between males and females in our church. Never once have I felt overpowered or out of place or "less than" because I am a woman. I belong to a church that praises and adores women, encouraging women to strive for their absolute best. I belong to a women's organization that inspires women to be strong, courageous, and virtuous in all that we do. Whether we are single women, young mothers, grandmothers, widowed, or old and decrepit, we know that our individualism and divinity is honored. We are all children of a God who loves us, and I can feel that love each week I attend church. I see and believe that the Priesthood holding-males honor us, and we in turn, honor them. We may not have the same responsibilities, or titles, or duties in the church, but collectively we build something more beautiful than ourselves. Together in our uniqueness we create an organization of love and nurturing for all who walk through these doors.
When I go to the Temple and sit side by side with my husband in the Celestial room, I feel God's love for both of us, and the sacred importance each of us has in His Kingdom. We are not separated into different gender-affiliated rooms. We are together, both male and female, in the house of God. 

There is some dissension in our church right now (mostly here in the good old USA) because of the strong belief's certain groups are pushing on church Leaders to change church doctrine. 
Asking questions and seeking answers is an acceptable part of spiritual understanding and growth, but many of these people are not happy with the answers they receive, so they protest, campaign, nag, and seek public attention in the media until confusion and chaos breaks loose. This goes against everything we stand for as an organization! Our church Leaders are then pressured, coerced, and ridiculed because of their spiritual obligations to follow modern revelation from the Prophet, and furthermore, God's absolute council.

We do not walk blindly. We follow our Leaders because we can see.

 I can see others faults, and weaknesses, and failures, including my own. I can see that we are all human, and humans make many mistakes. We belong to a wonderful church run by imperfect people, but that doesn't stop us from believing truth. 
We forgive. We move forward, and we humble ourselves to understanding.
 I can see that some people are being led away from the church because of these issues in the media, but most are not. 
Most people are not walking blindly because they can see.
They can see that God knows what He is doing, and that through a strong, wise, and loving Prophet, He gives modern-day-revelation and answers that are complete.

I do not walk blindly because I can see there is no room in my life for protesting or campaigning over things I may disagree with in my church. I instead choose to pray, seek answers through revelation, then serve, love, and uplift the brothers and sisters in my church, and wait patiently for God to reveal all things.
"MY CHILD" by David Bowmen. One of my favorite paintings depicting the love God has for me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Frugal Living and Surprise Blessings!

 My housewares, clothes, and shoes are from thrift stores, my furniture is from craigslist, and my children ride bikes and wear clothes handed down from other children. When we do buy something new it is usually our computers, phones, some toys, and other modern conveniences that will last longer when purchased from the original store. But other than that, I'd say we live a pretty frugal lifestyle on second-hand stuff.
 As I look around my house I am pleased with the way we live our lives, and happy with the way we spend our money. Neither Micah or I really desire to have a lot of "stuff" nor are we constantly looking to purchase new stuff. 
It's nice to have comforts like cars to get from place to place, chain saws to trim trees, and big, comfy beds to sleep in. I also admit that I really love buying clothes. I'm somewhat of a thrift-store junkie when it comes to clothes shopping. My closet is always full of new-to-me- skirts and blouses I've found for a good deal at our local DI. However, If it came down to the knitty gritty we could certainly live without these things...  I guess my point is, that it feels really good to live simply. 
 I really like the old motto that the pioneers used to live by,
"Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"
(That's what they be sayin')
I think about this motto every time I sew up a torn blanket, or mend the crotch of someones pants. My kids think I can fix anything, which is pretty flattering. They bring me their ripped-open stuffed animals and watch cheerfully as I patch up the holes, making them all better. When we get pants that are too long, everyone expects me to hem up the bottoms and make them work. These past couple months I've salvaged an old baby changing table, a plain jewelry shelf, and some picture-frames from yard sales. I was able to restore and paint them to look brand new. I think it's a lot of fun to see what I can acquire and create through simple ways. 
(My jewelry arrangement. Cost me about $15 for the shelf, frame, paint, and plastic mesh)

Micah and I have been recently called to teach the Marriage and Family Relations class at our church, and today our lesson was on Managing our Finances. We talked a lot about living correct principles of economic constancy. 
Basically, if we (as husband and wife) follow the 5 basic principles to budget wisely, be honest in all we do, learn to distinguish between needs and wants, live frugally, and pay an honest tithe, we will be blessed with financial security and peace of mind under any economic circumstances. There will also be more unity in our relationship, more solidarity in our family, and a greater influence of the Holy Spirit in our home. The foundation of all these principles is, of course, to seek the Lord first: 
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33, is the scripture to go along with this lesson.
The Lord has given us everything we have, and it is imperative that we include Him in every aspect of our lives, including how we choose to manage our finances, is what that means to me.
Today's lesson also talked about how overindulgence and poor money management places a heavy strain on marriage relationships. Many marriages suffer because couples cannot agree on how to manage their incomes, or they stress constantly over not having enough to meet their wants and needs. It was interesting for me to sit back today (while Micah taught the lesson) and think about how following these economic principles has blessed our lives together.  
I've personally  never been very good at money management, and have had to learn these past 9 years how to budget wisely within the meager finances of our marriage and family. When I was a single woman I often racked  up credit, spent more than I earned, bounced checks, and paid bills long after they were due. I didn't have the discipline to think wisely about the consequences of my actions. If I really wanted something, I figured I was meant to have it, no matter the outcome of my choice! (oh, please!) I remember getting my first credit card in college and realizing I could buy ANYTHING I wanted! So I did, until I got my first bill, and quickly realized how stupid I was being.

Since I've been learning to follow these economic principles in my life, I've seen how putting the Lord first, and having the discipline to manage our money has blessed my family financially as well as spiritually. 
First of all, Micah and I don't argue much over money, which is handy. We budget wisely and spend frugally, we are honest with our purchases, and can usually distinguish between our needs and our wants. (Yes I want a brand new wardrobe from Gaia Conceptions, but do I need it? No, I guess not.) 
And in return I feel that we have everything that we need. We're not wealthy, nor do we have a lot of extra spending money, but we have happiness, gratitude, and the basic necessities of life. I am grateful for a roof over our heads, for food to eat, for clothing to wear, for water to drink, for good, overall health, and for the peace in our home that comes from following the Lord.  These are the most valuable things in my life, and I am truly grateful for them! 
(I love my little living room with our craigslist couches and our second-hand kitty cat)

These past years I feel we have been really blessed with big and little (material) surprises, which have greatly impacted my views on living simply. I've found that when you want or need something, and you pray about getting it, then it either finds it's way to you, or the need/want goes away. (Instead of running out immediately and buying it, stressing over it, or going into debt over it.) 
This has been true for so many things in my life, and I truly believe the material surprises come when we leave it to the Lord and put those positive thoughts out into the Universe! No stress over stuff, just live and let it come, has been my motto.

Below is a list of just a few material surprises which have blessed our lives, and in turn have inspired us to pay it forward in other ways:

*We have received large boxes of good, quality hand-me-down clothes in the mail for our boys, for the past 8 years! An old friend of mine gave birth to a son the year before Zadok, and ever since then she has been giving  us the clothes he has grown out of. We have loved getting those "Christmas" packages in the mail- full of shoes, shorts, sweaters, jackets, pants, socks, surf trunks, and even toys! I am always so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the amazing generosity this person possesses.

*In 2007 when Micah and I first moved to Rigby, Idaho, someone left an anonymous $200 dollars on our front porch! We were just starting out again after a big move, and boy was this gift appreciated!

*Later that same year we heard a ding-dong-ditch at our front door and found 5 bags full of groceries! Such a blessing for our poor, little, struggling family at the time!

*I don't shop very much, but it seems that when I do, I find exactly what I need! Especially at thrift stores or craigslist. There must be some kind of law of frugality that states: you will find the exact thing you need when you least expect it!

*In 2008 we had to move to another state again and didn't know where we would stay upon our arrival. A girl I had never met before heard our story and offered us a room at her family's ranch. It not only helped us out financially, but this girl is now one of my favorite people and besty friends. :)

*In 2010 when a secret Santa left a basket full of goodies, toys, and clothes at our door while we were living in Salt Lake City, UT, we felt so loved!

*When we moved to Hawaii in 2011 we gave away almost everything we owned and arrived with just several suitcases of clothing and keepsakes. Our first Sunday at church we found a family that rented us a fully furnished home with all the comforts we needed to care for our little family. Huge blessing financially!

*When forty dollars came floating past us while we were swimming in the ocean. We were able to buy boogie boards for the kids, which they needed. (yes, that is a need in Hawaii)

*Shortly after we moved back to Hawaii, a dear, old hanai-aunty sent me $250 dollars in the mail to buy new clothes for myself. It was such a shock and surprise, and I had a blast spending every last dime on me! (she made me promise I would). Love her!

*That time when we got our taxes back and had just enough money to take a trip to Oahu for a family vacation. Shortly thereafter we moved back here to Utah. Looking back I feel forever grateful that I got to go to my special island of Oahu one last time before we left.

*After our house caught on fire this past Christmas season, the neighborly Santa Claus came over and showered our family with food and gifts. 

*a wonderful friend pulled her big truck up in our driveway just this past weekend and dropped off a baby stroller/bike trailer, a toddler car-seat, a high chair, a bassinet, 2 Pack n' Plays, a nursing pillow, a baby bathtub, several more car-seats to choose from, a box of diapers, a changing station, a Vaporizer, a tricycle, a box of legos, a baby walker, a bouncy seat, a diaper bag, and few other baby knick knacks that were also destined for the thrift store. Everything second-hand, but in excellent condition! Such a huge surprise and blessing considering we still didn't have much stuff for the baby's arrival in 5-6 weeks!

I can't think of anymore right now, but I'll add to this list as I think of them. It's good to count our them one by one. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Welcome to Utah, Spring in Review

I'm still tripping out that we are so settled in here! It seems like I'd been feeling so wishy washy recently about the state of our futures again, and then suddenly overnight we became official Cedar City residents!! Maybe it was the moment we decided to send Odin and Jonah to school next Fall, or the moment we moved into our new home, or the moment we got 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a bunny, or maybe it was the moment we got our official callings at church. Whatever the defining moment was, I feel like we are here to stay. It's a really good feeling, but also a new feeling I have to get used to. 
When people ask,"So how did you end up settling down in Utah, what with your husband from CA and you from HI?",  I usually just reply with the short answer:,"Because we like it here and my husband found a good job."
It's not only true, but it saves me from having to explain all the tedious details. 
But If it's someone asking whom I know well, and they don't mind the longer version, I usually go on to explain:

"Well, I left my home in Hawaii in 2002 to work for a wilderness therapy program in Arizona. Then after I was done working there, I applied for college in Provo, Utah and got accepted (BYU). I met my husband while I was going to college because he was driving through town visiting with some friends, and we got set up on a blind date. He is from Los Angeles, but was working at a wilderness therapy program down in Southern Utah, right near Cedar City, at the time. I met him on his week off. We got married 10 months later and moved to California for 2 years, then Idaho for 2 years, then down to Cedar City, UT for 2 years, then to Salt Lake City, UT for 10 months, then back to Hawaii for 2 years.  In between all these moves we had 3 awesome children. While we were in Hawaii we realized and felt inspired that we needed to make another change in our family's future direction. We didn't feel that staying in Hawaii would be the best place for us to raise our children and settle down. (as much as I wanted it to be, it just wasn't going to work on several levels) So, we prayed, and pondered, and thought about all the other places in the world we could move to, when a rare opportunity came up for Micah to teach back in Cedar City, UT. It was magic. We both loved it here and knew it would be the perfect place to settle down. So Micah took the job, and we took a huge leap of faith by moving from Hawaii, back to Utah. And so here we are! We don't have any family here, and feel that we are pioneers in our own regards, but nonetheless we are fitting right in! Our children are really thriving here, I am happy with my life, my husband loves his job, and it just seems to be exactly where we need to be at this time. 
Sure, I miss Hawaii. Some days my missing Hawaii is worse than others. I think there will always be an empty spot in my heart for the ocean, but God has filled me up in so many other ways, that I just can't stop and be sad about it. This is where I belong right now, and life is good" 
The end.

With all this being said, here's a picture pile-up of what our lives look like here in Southern Utah. Spring has been beautiful and glorious, and my favorite season of Summer is upon us!

We got a bunny! He bites and scratches, and I kind of hate him, but it's been a really good experience for the kids. They help me take care of him and feed him carrots. Sometimes when he's in a good mood I sit him on my lap and pet his soft, furry head and tell him he's a nice bunny.
 His name is Watermelon-cream-cheese-little birdy-hawk, per Jonah's request.
 The kids love the trampoline! What was life like before the trampoline? I can't remember!
 Our dogs got fixed and then had to wear these ridiculous cones to keep from taking out the stitches.
 The Border Collie boys: 9 months old.
 Jonah posing in our new backyard. I love this yard with all my heart.
The boys all bought waterguns and then took to the park for the ultimate water fight. 
 Discussing the logistics of water-gun-shooting:
 Zaddy bought this gun with his own money:
 Jonah doing his own thang on the side, as usual.
 We had a freak snow storm come through on Mother's Day. Our peach tree got annhilated:
 But the sledding was really fun the next day! The boys dragged me out of bed so we wouldn't miss it--our last chance to sled in town until next Winter. It was all melted by 2pm later that day.
Zadok doing the backwards slide. 
 This is Odin's Kindergarten teacher. She was such an amazing, kind, caring, loving teacher. We couldn't have asked for a better experience for his first (1/2) year of school. Odin is excited and looking forward to first grade next year!
 Me and a baby goat. Just because.
 I got my hands on a King-sized water-bed mattress and filled it up for the kids. It was the ultimate "water blob" experience! I'm saving it for all future backyard splash parties!
 The boys wrestled for hours on the blobby:
 We had a bunch of neighborhood kids over for a backyard splash party.
 This was the day Jonah decided to start wearing his undies on the outside of his shorts for a more "Super-hero-esque" look.
 Odin lost his top tooth!
 His big brother was very proud of him:
 I am 33 weeks pregnant in this picture. This was taken at Ladybug Nursery.
 Catching ladybugs at the Ladybug Nursery!