Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trying Vegemite for the first time

My Dad sent us a tube of Vegemite from his recent trip to Australia. He was really excited for us to try it. Here's me holding it up for a photo with little J:
 My Dad insisted that if we're ever going to be vacationing in Australia or even considering living there someday, we'd have to be brave enough to try Vegemite.
(Ya don't know what Vegemite is? Check out the Wikipedia description and history to discover more about this sticky, black paste that is so popular down under.)

I decided to spread the Vegemite on a large piece of homemade bread which had been toasted and then spread with butter. This was the suggested way to sample our Vegemite, per my Dad. I then cut it into four squares, fully expecting my family to sample it along with me. 
Without saying many words, I think I will just post the photo my son took as I tried Vegemite spread for the very first time ( I had just gotten out of the shower hence the towel on my head):

Basically, I think this Vegemite should go back to the brewery dump station it originated from, taking it's bitter, malty, salty, nastiness along with it! Blech!!

Needless to say, my children refused to try it (my husband sampled some in Australia many years ago and tried to warn me....) and I ended up throwing away the other pieces of bread. 
I almost threw up, too. In fact every time I thought about Vegemite the rest of the day I felt a slight surge of vomit rise in my lungs.

Whelp, I guess I can cross that adventure off my list! (Thanks Dad! I'm glad I can say I tried it! Even though I will never ever ever ever ever NEVER try it again.)

Sorry, Australia, but have you ever heard of peanut butter?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I am Happiest when

I am happiest when I am spending time with my children. They are the purest joy in my life. It's when I get too busy and overwhelmed with other things that I find the stresses of life too great to bear and find that I'm wallowing in confusion and misery. Then I slowly reel myself back in-- back to serving, nurturing, playing, laughing, and guiding along the four little people which we created into this world, and everything makes sense again.

I don't want to move anywhere. This is our home and our foundation for teaching and growing our family. We've created a beautiful life here and God keeps showing me over and over again that this is exactly where we need to be. He especially showed up after that post I recebntly wrote about wanting to move again. Haha. He showed up to show me that I needed to stop and recognize all the blessings I have and stop seeing greener grasses elsewhere. I need to keep putting myself out there as far as making friends, serving others, and creating a community for us to thrive in. This is the happiest choice.

Our children are really happy here.
We have beehives buzzing and fruit trees growing and favorite places to wander and explore. We have friendly neighbors and beautiful parks and more memories to create in these mountains and creeks.
I have book club and relief society and playgroup and snowboarding and did I mention we're building a Temple here? Our very own Temple to go to whenever we want, and only 5 minutes away up the hill!! This is going to do wonderful things for our family and our little town! Our eldest loves watching the building progress and keeps excitedly mentioning that THIS is the first temple he'll get to go in, right here in Cedar! 

My boys have their individual interests fulfilled here: swim lessons and role playing games, bike riding and rock hopping, tumbling classes and cub scouts, preschool and playgroup, and all the fun in between. They don't like having a lot of friends, just a couple special ones that we've found. They don't like big events or fancy parties or crowded rooms of people, just small gatherings with the family and friends they like most. This is something I've had to adjust to as I'm an extrovert raising introverts! (I recall on my 10th birthday I invited both my entire classes from school and church to come over and celebrate!!) My boys prefer small parties with our family ONLY. I have to stop myself from making big plans and realize they have just what they want and need in all the small and simple things.

My husband has a wonderful job here. He's good at what he does and works hard to accomplish his goals. He loves our family and loves his little boys. We come first in his life and that feels good. The love and support of a good husband is one of the most powerful things in the world. I am grateful for Micah's dedication and hard work every single day of our lives.
As far as my college classes go,  I've completed 3 classes this semester and have one more to go, but only 6 weeks to complete it: "Foundations of College Mathematics." 
And believe it or not, I am actually enjoying this class! Each day I sit down and have my ten year old do it with me (because homeschool). We have a lot of fun watching the videos, learning the material, doing the homework, and finishing the little quizzes together. Funny that my ten year old is doing my college math class with me, but it's way better than doing it alone! Plus I can ask him for help when I get stuck because for some reason his little brain grasps concepts faster than my old brain. ;)

So life is good. I've also been feeling a lot better (depression wise) as I've been daily sitting in front of my mood therapy happy light, taking my Vitamin D, and keeping up on self-care. 
Getting enough sleep is so important.  I need 8-10 hours of sleep a night to feel good. Sometimes I feel like a newborn baby!

I love our book club. It was started in September 2014 by some ladies in our ward, however, they have both moved on and now I help organize it each month. We usually get our books for free in bulk from the Utah Book Buzz. It's a program that provides books to book clubs across the state through the library system. Each month we peruse the titles and pick something new, then Book Buzz sends me about 15 copies, which I distribute to whomever wants to read it.
These are the books we have read so far, since Sept 2014: (the only one I missed reading is The Traveler's Gift). I placed stars*** next to the ones I especially LOVED ***

1.The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
2. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews***
3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein***
4. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Unbroken by Lauren HIllenbrand***
7. Dealing With Dragons #1 by Patricia C. Wrede
8. Words by Heart  by Ouida Sebestyen
9. Wonder  by R.J Palacio
10. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
11. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
12. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner***
13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith***
14. Let Us Eat Cake by Sharon Boorstin
15. The Goose Girl  by Shannon Hale***
16. Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly
17. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
18. Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck
19. Star Girl  by Jerry Spinelli***
20. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
21. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert***
22. Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck
23. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

I love to read! In fact, having a good book in my hand makes me very, very happy. People often ask me how I find time to read? I don't know! I don't watch TV, which probably helps. Also there are times when we just sit around and read as a family. I look over and my older kids are all reading, and I'm reading, and my husband is reading, and the two little ones are playing, and life feels good. 
Next on my list to read is "The Moon is Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. It's not for book club but instead my husband suggested I read it. I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but if my husband loves it, I will at least try.  :)

Lastly, here's a picture of a cute toddler. Oh I just love him and I love being his mama!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Aloha Knows no Color!

A friend of mine who has lived in Hawaii for over 30 years was recently harassed for her skin color. It was a really traumatic experience for her and I don't blame her for feeling so bad about it for so long. 
Yes, racism still exists in the beautiful islands and it's a sad thing when you become the brunt of the hatred and shame associated with it. 
Having grown up on Oahu I know too well what it feels to be an outsider. I was one of the only white kids in my elementary school and a minority at my high school. I was pushed around in the hallways of my school and beat up by some angry girls once who didn't like me because I was hauole, yet I felt okay in the end because there were also many people who loved and accepted me for who I was, white skin and all.  
Growing up you learn a deep respect for the history and heritage of the islands. The culture there is something sacred and powerful to the island people, and something I learned to respect as an outsider to the islands. Oahu is also referred to as a melting pot of cultures, which has brought so many different people together, all trying to get along there on that tiny rock!
There is tension and racism anywhere you go in the world where cultures and customs collide. I knew that my "hauole" ways were not always tolerated, yet after living there for so long I also experienced the beauty and aloha that comes from blending and learning from each other. The experiences I had growing up in Hawaii will always be a part of who I am. 

In August 2015 we visited Oahu right after Malachi had just turned one years old. We stopped at the fruit stand near Kawela Bay and watched as this Filipino grandma loved on my baby boy with all her good soul. She picked him up in her arms, carried him around her shop, pointed out the birds and the flowers, and showed him the kind of aloha I've known to love on my beautiful islands.

(Malachi pictured above with his new friend. Aug 2015)

Growing up in Hawaii taught me that there are so many different people all over the world with a variety of  ideas, cultures, customs, beliefs, hopes, dreams, goals, skin colors, religions, languages, past experiences, future ambitions, and we must all learn to tolerate our differences to live peaceably on this earth. Empathy is a must! 
We must keep moving forward and keep spreading the aloha everywhere we go, despite our differences. 
Thank you my friend for continuing to share the spirit of aloha through your love, kindness, and generosity towards others. You are the epitome of aloha and I am grateful for your example to others, even when others are not so kind to you! xoxoxoxox

December 2016 Calendar-and that's a wrap!

December 1-Family Movie Night at Jonah's school. They played the film "Finding Dori." The gymnasium was packed full of kids in pajamas on blankets eating loads of popcorn. Jonah had a blast! I really enjoyed the movie, too, but couldn't see or hear it very well as I was also wrangling little Malachi the whole time plus refilling on popcorn and water for Jonah. I went to walmart and bought a copy so we could watch it again later. "We see the undertow and we say, Heck No!"

December 3: Stake Conference Weekend:

We left our eldest son  home to babysit for the first time so Micah and I could attend the Stake Conference evening session. We were gone a whole two hours away from home. I was nervous at first and didn’t want to do it but felt like we should give it a shot. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a date plus we always enjoy the evening session of SC. So, off we went! We ordered pizza, got out the Finding Dori movie for them to watch that I originally was going to wrap up and put under the tree, and left our big mature Zadok to babysit his three little brothers-8,6, and 2 years old. We knew there was no way he’d change a poopy diaper so we just hoped Malachi would not poop while we were gone.
Well, it went great and Zadok did a wonderful job! When we got home there was a plastic soccer ball taped to the living room ceiling  as a disco ball, a Weird Al song blasting, and 4 little boys dancing around the living room. This might be one of my favorite memories ever.
Oh and Micah and I had a wonderful time listening to Elder Blake Roney speak great things!

December 6-Took Z, O, and M to a Christmas concert at the local high school. It was free and so I thought any chance to listen to Christmas music and expose my children to the arts is a good thing, right? We stayed for about 30 minutes before Malachi started talking too loud and disturbing the peace then we left and got cream-filled Churros at Taco Time. I don't remember what was so funny, but I remember laughing a lot that night. My boys are so fun.

December 7-Took the whole family to Christmas at the Homestead, which was a really delightful evening of visiting the Homestead Museum of Iron County. It was really cold as we walked around outside, but they warmed us up with hot chocolate, candy cane popcorn, and lovely Christmas lights. We visited with Santa Claus in the old farmhouse, walked inside the old sheep-sheering barn, tasted caramel apples and cornbread in the old school house, sat in the old stage-coaches in the museum area, made bead ornaments, listened to a violin chorus, and watched the miniature trains go around the miniature tracks over and over and over again (that was for Malachi).

December 8-Relief Society Christmas tradition night.

December 12- I did it! I finally did it! I hired a cleaning service to come to our home twice and month and help me clean! Today was our first day and it was pure heavenly awesomeness. They scrubbed the bathrooms, the kitchen, and especially those hard-to-reach places that I just don't have time for. I feel a huge burden lifted from my life! I feel like taking care of this house and these four boys is not such a daunting task now that I have a little more help. My wise, wise, mama friends encouraged me to do this. They said that monthly budgeting for help is as essential as budgeting for food. I couldn't agree more! *Sparkly bathrooms!

December 13-Micah and Zadok drive to California for Micah's sister's wedding. Fun road-trip with just the two of them!

December 14- Micah's older sister got married today. It was a small ceremony at a park in Glendale followed by a burrito bar and family time. We're so happy for her and her husband. They are a wonderful couple that are perfect for each other.
December 14-Orthodontic appointment. Doc says my teeth are looking super straight and moving super fast! They put on my second to last wires and are preparing for my braces removal in the next 4-5 months. Hallelujah! So excited! Excited to get this metal stuff off my teeth and excited to see my new smile! p.s. My new tooth they pulled down is awfully pointy! I kinda like it but also wonder if I should get it filed down to match the other side. Got red, green, and white rubber bands for Christmas.
December 14-Ward Christmas Party at the church. I made ten pounds of mashed potatoes that didn't get eaten because there was so much food!

December 15- Micah and Z stopped at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada on their way back from CA. They hiked around and saw some wild big horn sheep! Z was fascinated by the sheep and wanted to follow and observe them for a long time. They had a great time hiking around and climbing on the colorful rocks. Micah wants to take our family back to camp there sometime.

December 17-Brought dinner to a family in the ward who's mama is recovering from a brain tumor operation. I made Shepard's pie, which requires lots of mashed potatoes. Luckily, I had some extra.

December 18-First time making Gingerbread houses at home with our family. I kind of half-ass-hot-glued some graham crackers together then laid out tons of frosting, candy, and sprinkles. The boys had a blast making them. They got eaten within a day. Pictures below.

December 22-Christmas Break begins! Micah and Jonah won't have school and we'll have lotsa family time!
Took my sweet, little Odin to the haircut store to get a tiny trim. The awful hairdresser chopped three inches off his locks and gave him layers! And then tried to fix it and gave him a girly-looking bob! It was such a sad day to see his beautifukl hair get butchered like that, especially as he is trying to grow it out really long. Odin was really upset about it all day, but was also a really good sport. I, of course, felt really bad for taking him in. His dad fixed it the best he could and Odin's been wearing hats all month and hoping it will grow back quickly!

December 24-Christmas Eve. Took Jonah on a special mommy-son date to see the movie Moana. We loved it! Made me homesick, but we loved it! Jonah especially loved that stupid chicken that kept eating rocks.
Christmas Eve evening, we lit candles and Micah read us the story of Christ's birth from the Bible. We sang Christmas hymns and felt the spirit of this beautiful holiday celebrating our Saviour.
Micah and I stayed up wrapping presents, filling stockings, and me making cinnamon rolls for the morning.

December 25- Christmas Day. Oh how I love Christmas morning! The boys woke up to stockings filled with toys and goodies and presents wrapped under the tree. We opened our presents and could feel the light and love of this special day! I felt like Micah and I did really good picking out gifts for our children. It was fun to plan ahead and pick out things we knew they would love. Z and O spent the entire morning sticking labels on everything with their new, electronic label makers. We went for a walk later in the day and they happily used their new walkie talkies. Jonah started making Perler bead art right away, and we couldn't peel Mally away from his new train set all day.
We attended Church for one hour from 11-12. The Bishop told us that Christmas won't fall on a Sunday for another 8 years. I looked over at my Z boy who will be 18 the next time we sit in church together on Christmas day. Oh my heart! I savored that moment of sitting next to my sons and husband on this beautiful Christmas day in the church we love so much.
Then Malachi got really tied so I took him to the nursing lounge to rock where we both fell asleep in the rocking chair and didn't wake up til the closing prayer. Merry Christmas!

December 26-Micah and Z went shooting guns at the range.

December 27-Micah and Malachi start getting sick today with terrible colds which end up lasting the entire rest of the winter break. Poor husband and baby M. I got sick, too, with a semi-bad cold that lasted a week. Micah was so sick one day that all he could do was lay there in bed doing absolutely nothing. Not bored and not moving, just sick, sick, sick.
Miraculously Z,O, and J stayed well and continued having all the hyper energy they needed.

December 28-I met with the new Cub Master and officially passed the buck to the new guy. I was Cub Master for 2 years! It was a lot of fun and I seriously thought I would do it until all my boys went through the Cub Scouting program, but alas, God had other plans for me. We definitely had some good times! My favorite moment ever was watching my shy, cautious, anxious 9 year old Z do a magic show in front of a room full of people. It was a proud moment for this mama!

December 30-Sick of being sick, Micah and I took the boys down to St. George to climb on the rocks and play in the warmer weather. Pioneer Park has always been one of our favorite family play zones, overlooking the city of St. George.

December 31- Goodbye 2016! It was a great year filled with many adventures and growth!
Malachi and I were the only ones up at midnight to ring in the new year because of his funky nap schedule as of lately. Some days he skips naps and then crashes at 7pm and then wakes back up at 10pm ready to party right when everyone is going to sleep. Therefore I stay up late with him where we watch movies and sleep in the upstairs bed in the TV room where I get exhausted waiting for him to get tired. Good times.
Happy New Year one and all!! I sure hope 2017 is filled with lots of good things!

Up late making service coupons for his brother on Christmas eve

One of my favorite gifts Christmas morning was this popscicle creation Jonah made for his dad.


Valley of Fire State Park: