Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Midway Ice Castles

So, we're semi broke this year between paying for a fence with no saving and all, but we still wanted to do some fun things throughout the year.  One of them was the Midway Ice Castles.  We bought tickets to them almost three years ago, but the week before we could go to it the ice castles closed.  They said we could use the tickets the next year and they only opened for one week and closed because of the warm winter.  This year we were determined to use them.  And it worked out well that we didn't have to pay for them.  We ended up going with my parents and my sister Janelle.  My mom was a trooper since she just had knee surgery and we didn't know that we'd be sloshing through snow... I knew that they said to wear boots, but there was snow up above my ankles in most parts... which means that the kids kept getting snow in their boots too.  Evelyn was thrilled to meet Elsa and Ana.  Ada especially loved the slides made out of ice.  I borrowed my friend's camera and wanted to be careful with it, so I kind of went slower down the big slide and it back fired on me.... I got stuck on a part that had started melting during the days and had to wiggle my way down to where I could slide again. It was super fun.  Evelyn had a break down about half way through the night and I could figure it out.  We put some hand warmers in her boots and that seemed to help... then on the way out she cried until we got to the car and took her wet socks off... then she was happy again.  Baby really wanted me to hold him, but was mostly content with having people stand next to the walls so that he could rub the ice back and forth.  He loved going up onto the wall and watching cars drive around in the parking lot too. 


























Friday, January 22, 2016

You heard it here folks

Evelyn, "Ice princesses live in California."

Trains

Loves Grandka

Happy place

Cute little baker

Helping

We helped Nellie in her new house . It was so fun and the kid that loves to bounce on.

Sleepover

We don't usually do sleepovers with our kids... They get super excited and bouncy and will not sleep. We let the last Friday.  They loved squishing onto the Bean bag and making a night of it.

Krispy Kreme

The kids earned the free donuts again for their grades... I'm glad they're doing well.

Happy

Painting

Aren't the kid's expressions just perfect for a Norman Rockwell painting?

MOA

I like going to the MOA.  They always have something neat going on. This time I went with my Mom and brother Seth. They had a exhibit of Norman Rockwell... Not just his paintings, but the photographs that he took to make the paintings from. I loved it, baby want too thrilled to be there, and Sam liked to see some of them but got Hangry near the end. I swear that kid gets low blood sugar...  He's always grumpiest right before a meal.

Evelyn

We usually take time to read while kids are at school.  Yesterday we didn't have an opportunity, but Evelyn did something about it.  She made a bed in the kitchen and played Ada's book on cds. Evelyn says, "Mom. I'm going on an adventure."

Evelyn ballet

Evelyn is not a morning person.  The one and only thing that she's willing to get out of bed for is her ballet class.

Look Mom, I'm Sam!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Family tea party

We had family night at my parents list night. The kids wanted a tea party, so that's what we did.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Evelyn

Evelyn's character shines through every day....

-The other day we went out to eat with my parents and sisters.  They gave the kids balloons on sticks.  The kids marched across the parking lot bouncing them up and down like marching batons.... Evelyn started singing the Darth Vader theme song as they marched.... (do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-dooooooooo)

-Yesterday, my sister Janelle came over for a little bit.  Evelyn had us sit down and started acting like a very strict teacher.  Nella asked her if she was Prof McGonnagal.  Yes she was... and now we were her students.  Baby was Harry Potter, Nella was Hermione and I asked, "Does that make me Ron?" ... "No Mom, you're Wong."  So apparently I'm the Chinese version of Ron... awesome.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Provo City Center Temple

I love the Provo Tabernacle!  Not only is it a tribute to the sacrifices of the pioneers, but it's part of the history of all of us that grew up here.  We attended Stake Conferences, music concerts (Janelle and I sang in a community choir that performed there), yearly Messiah Sing-in, etc... When it burned down, it was heart wrenching.  But my Mom and Dad invited us to go with them to the openhouse before the openhouse.... It was for family and friends of the missionaries that are doing the openhouse.  We went last Thursday and I can't stop thinking about it.  It was a little challenging to have a one year old on my shoulders the entire time and a six year old that would rather be doing something else, but amazing.  The beautiful details.  The original pulpit.  The amazing murals.  The amazing stained glass windows.  We're so blessed to have this building as a temple today! 

Personal Conversion Story

As part of the Stake Conference goals, we were asked to think about and record our personal conversions and share them with our friends and family.  I thought my blog was an appropriate place to do so.

I grew up in an actively religious/LDS home.  Both my parents are children of Grandparents that were LDS, some not so faithful in certain ways but good people with big challenges.  Some very faithful despite big challenges.  I'm just starting to realize how much each of them contributed to who, where and what I am today. 

My earliest memories about church are of running up the sidewalk in front of our church building in my tennis shoes and dress, tripping and skinning my knees.  My Mom worked night shifts, but my Dad would get us kids dressed and ready to head out to church as soon as my Mom got home.  I loved going to Primary and singing the Primary songs.  Early on, I would say that the Primary songs are one of the main things that I understood.  I don't remember lessons, but I remember the songs.  One lesson I do remember was when I was about 7.  My Primary President cleared out all the chairs from the room, sat us in front of the TV and we watched the one and only movie that was out about Joseph Smith and the First Vision.  I felt the Spirit, but didn't think much more about it until a few years later when my family visited the Sacred Grove and I could feel the Spirit again testify of the things I had already learned.  

Some other learning opportunities that stick out to me now as an adult were when my parents took us to California for my cousin Conrad's baptism.  We stopped at a Dinosaur dig.  I thought it was sooooo neat, but I had some questions about how dinosaurs fit into the Creation story.  As an 8 year old, I thought I was pretty smart and no one could teach me anything... but I was very impressed with how my Dad patiently answered all my questions in a way that made sense, and even when one of two of the answers were, "I don't know."... I was comforted that my Dad was willing to answer any and all of the questions that I had.  Even after almost 25 years, I was able to share some of my thoughts and the answers that my Dad gave with Jer and his Dad when we talked about it some time ago. 

My baptism as an 8 year old, was shared with not only a best friend (Jamie Higham), but also a Vietnamese friend of my that was living in my house (Doa).  I loved being able to share our experience, but didn't really realize the full importance of what I was doing. I'm still learning how important as I learn more about Christ and His Atonement.  I remember several things that did make a bigger impact than the fact that my friend and I had matching dresses.  My Dad just beamed as he took me into the font, and my Mom beamed as she took me out of the font and helped me into the skirt she made for me.  I do remember feeling the Spirit as my Dad, Grandpa's and Uncles surrounded me to give me the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

After that, I was pretty clueless for a couple of years.  I didn't try to learn anything spiritual.  If it came, it was from my parents or teachers being consistent and making it available to me.  I was always impressed that my Dad would sit there with his scriptures or books by church leaders and just read with his journal at his elbow.  I love to read some of the notes that he wrote in the margins now.  I saw him kneel in personal prayer every morning before he left for work.  I saw how hard he worked as a member of the Bishopric. 

By the time I was 11, my Mom had been called as the Stake Camp Director.  It was exciting because her mom had done a lot with Camp Shalom and now she got to... and because I got to go to camp with her as an 11 year old.  I didn't officially fit into the Ward camp, so I hung out at the Stake cabin, chopped wood, watched people, etc... for the next 9 years, girls camp provided me with several opportunities to not only listen to and feel people's testimonies, but also give my testimony as an assistant camp director.  The one that I remember most is when my Mom, as a Stake leader, visited our Ward camp site and bore her testimony not as my Mom but as my leader.  There was a special spirit about that and a kind of authority that you could feel. 

Many more layers of testimony came as I attended Seminary.  They challenged me to read my scriptures, write in my journal and be a good friend.  All of these gave me many chances to learn and grow.  My favorite year was learning from the New Testament.  I loved learning about the life and teachings of Christ while He was on the earth.  I loved sharing this testimony and teachings with my friends around me.  Early "morning sides" were particularly powerful.  I remember one in particular.  My friend and I were asked to play a duet at the last minute... we had 15 mins to prepare and we did okay, but then the speaker went on to speak about standing up for truth.  I wanted to stand up right there and say, "I will!"

My testimony of missionaries grew as both my Wilcox and Ellis grandparents served missions, and as they applied to serve again.  I knew my Grandma Ellis' strength in testimony because every time we visited them in St George she was preparing herself to play the piano for a baptism, took time out to go visiting teaching, preparing a lesson, etc... I loved watching her sit under her hair dryer in the morning with the Ensign open in her lap.  My Grandpa Wilcox often took time to bear his testimony at family gatherings.  One stuck out in my heart and mind.  The last Christmas before he died, he stood and tearfully told us all that was in his heart about his Savior.  My heart was touched several times as the Spirit bore testimony to me through these wonderful people.  As my Grandpa Wilcox lay dying in bed, we took turns reading scriptures out loud to him.  I remember what an amazing feeling it was.  We could read any scripture and the Spirit was there.  I also received a witness of the eternal nature of families as my Grandpa Ellis, who was a sealer in the temple, dedicated the grave of his lifetime sweetheart.  I knew without a doubt that my Grandpa would be standing there ready to take my Grandma's hand as she was resurrected at the Second Coming.  I felt the Spirit testify again of eternal families as my Grandpa Ellis sealed my husband and I together in the temple for all eternity.

I was touched by the Spirit weekly as I read my brothers and sisters letters from their missions.  A scared young adult me knelt to pray about being a missionary and received an unqualified, "YES!"  Over and over on my mission I was taught about the Atonement of Christ by teaching others.  I gained a sure testimony of Joseph Smith in the 4th month of my mission.  We were teaching a woman and her 2 kids about the First Vision.  I was reciting the experience as I had many dozens of times by then.  I almost couldn't finish.  I was filled with such joy and intense sureness that Jesus Christ and God had appeared to Joseph Smith.  The woman and her kids did not ask us to return to their home, but I had a new knowledge of something I had heard and taught since my childhood.  I learned to have Christlike love as I served the Saints in Santa Elena.  When an 8 year old boy that had been baptized with his mom contacted me this last year with the news that he had just returned from a full time mission, my heart finally understood what it was to truly rejoice like it says in the scriptures over and over. 

Deciding to marry Jeremy was the easiest spiritual experience I could have had.  Marriage is a decision that could be agonizing.  I prayed after our second fun and successful date, not if he was the one, but I prayed and asked God if Jeremy would be a good companion if he ever asked me to marry him.  I was surrounded by warmth and love.  When Jeremy did ask a month later, it wasn't hard to say yes. 

Being a parent has definitely been a great blessing to my spirit as well.  When our first doctor called me at work to tell me that we had 0% chance of being able to get pregnant I was completely devastated.  We cried, I pleaded with my Heavenly Father, we fasted, I sat in the temple and was told that I'd have a little red head and then Jer was told by a new doctor that we'd have a chance if he had a surgery.  I've never been so much at the mercy of God's grace.  The one thing that I wanted so badly and had been preparing for was being denied. But it was for my good.  It taught me the value of these children.  It taught me how to try to humble myself and rely on Him.  When our little girl was born and we took her home, imagine.... I was holding her by the window and noticed that in the sun, her light and fluffy hair was completely red just like my sister Janelle's has red highlights in the sun.  God's promised baby was here.  

These kids daily help build my testimony for a testimony doesn't grow until you are using it.  They teach me that I have to be aggressive in my actions to make my testimony grow, I can't be passive.  Once I had been praying to be able to find time as a new mom to read my scriptures more often.  Not 5 minutes later Ada walks up to me holding a Book of Mormon half her size and says, "Mom, read to me."

The Spirit speaks quietly as I teach my children.  "Hold her hand." "Tell her about death and resurrection." "Tell him about addiction." "Teach them about Jesus."  "Sing to them."  I'm so grateful that I'm not a mom alone.  I'm glad to be here to teach Gods children.  I just need to be patient while I watch them slowly build their testimonies and not expect them to know everything the first time it is taught.

My husband daily challenges me to stay faithful.  He helps me to remember daily prayer and scripture study.  I love to hear him as he gives blessings with the Priesthood power and know that the Priesthood is a tool of God and not of men.  I look forward to many more spiritual learning experiences with him and I'm grateful for a man that loves his Father in Heaven.

I'm learning that by standing in holy places often makes me want to stand in them more often.  Reading books on religion used to be something I "should" do, but it's becoming more and more what I want to do.  My heart is changing a year at a time, a lesson at a time, an experience at a time.

I am by far not free from having sinned.  I have and will continue to have to repent for things throughout my life.  And how much joy to be able to repent because of my Savior Jesus Christ.  I have felt years of guilt melt away into nothing and know that I have been forgiven.  I'm so grateful for that.

Stake Conference

When I was younger, I didn't mind Stake Conference, especially when it was held in the Provo Tabernacle.  When I was a young adult, I looked forward to it.  As a young mom, I dreaded it... It's only been in the last two years that I've enjoyed it again.  And the kids actually did a decent job this time.  Jer was home sick and the baby stayed and slept... so it was me and the 3.  Sam usually whines the entire time through anything that isn't at home... he made it an hour and a half before even asking to go get a drink.  I was pretty impressed.  Ada took notes... it was cute.  I brought pencils this time instead of crayons or colored pencils.  That cut down on the noise and fighting over who had what.  That was nice.

Our conference had the theme of  "A Legacy and Heritage of Faith".  Saturday night was focused on pioneers and those that have gone before us with their faith and testimonies.  A couple of my favorites were:
      -We need to write down our testimonies for our posterity
      -John Tanner's story... wealthy lay minister who converted, sold all that he had and donated it to finish the Kirtland temple at the point when the property would have been reposed.  He and his family were impoverished from then on, but just imagine all the miracles that came from having the temple.  Joseph Smith seeing Elisha, angels surrounding the building witnessed by those who were there and those who were without, the practice that people got that allowed them to be ready for the covenants that they made in the Nauvoo temple... so many blessings made possible by one man's decision to follow the Lord.  "Blessings come from serving the Lord."
      -"Apostasy creeps in by skipping meetings, relaxing standards... all the while still being good people."  - a lady who's family converted when she was a child and left the church while she was on  her mission.  21 years after they left the church, her parents were rebaptized... but her 3 siblings have not.
     -"Never say Never." - answers come in the Lord's timetable.
     -"As a child I believed and didn't question what I was taught... but every now and then something would really touch me and build another layer onto my testimony." - Shelly Christensen really reminded me the necessity of teaching our children while they are young so that they have a base to add on.  "We rely on things we learned in the past, but we need to look for things to build our testimony now."
     -"Never discredit your testimony of the past for something you're going through now." - talking about when her sister died at 24 and the lack of testimony she felt she had at that time.
    -"Our faith must be centered in Jesus Christ to produce Salvation."  -Jaime Christensen
    -The story Jaime told about how he and his brother got out all the ingredients to make cookies, but couldn't use the mixer, so they put them in the dryer.  They had good intentions and were just trying to follow mom's example... "Sometimes we have all the right ingredients, just not the right mixing bowl."
     -A newly returned missionary "Mother's if you doubt not, your children will doubt not as well."
     -Use our ancestors stories to strengthen our faith. 
     -Pres Hinkley's talk in Nov 1999 about links in a chain.
     -"A conversion story is ongoing."

He's a fan

My sister just moved into her new house. I think my baby likes all the new things to climb on.

Pang....

I just re-enrolled kids for school next year... and Evelyn's one of them.  I'm sad to see my one on one time with this little girl coming to a close, but she is sure excited to be a big kid like the other two. She was bouncing up and down next to me when I told her what I was doing on the computer.  I'm so glad that Heavenly Father chose to give us one more so that I'm not a complete wreck this year... I have another 3 years before that happens right?  Don't get me wrong, I'm very active at the kids school, and at home teaching them.... it's just that it feels like Kindergarten is the end of my baby and the beginning of my kids.  I'm not ready to be done with my babies ever....

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Babies

Gabriel, Fawkes, Cora, Christopher... all babies that are loved and gone within the last few years.  As one of 12 sisters and sister in laws, there have been many miscarriages, babies and infertilities.  Each situation is unique and definitely guided by God.  I've felt closest to my Heavenly Father when I was a missionary, when I made covenants in the temple and when I've carried these babies that he's sent to us.  But sometimes these sweet babies don't have a chance to live here for a while.  We still love them.  They're still my nieces and nephews, and if you know me... I love every single one of my 48 and counting nieces and nephews.  We love all these sweet lost ones and their parents, siblings and grandparents. 

The Violin

My Mom was in the Utah Youth Symphony.  She played the violin (so did her sister Diane, but I'm not sure if that was in the Symphony or at school).  Her violin was given to her on her 10th birthday by her Grandpa... who saved up to buy it when he was young.  My Mom got it fixed up and ready for Ada because she loves music and she told her how she wanted to learn to play the violin when she went to Ryan Shuppe and the Rubber Band with her and Grandpa.  When Ada opened up the box with the violin in it she, Sharon and I all teared up pretty good.  I wish I had gotten a picture of her face!  You'd think she was given a million dollars!  My Mom is going to be a good teacher... I just need to be a good helper at setting things up and reminding Ada to practice. 
 
My Mom also put together a scrap book page for the book that Ada and her started that had the history of her violin.  It has a picture of my Mom playing the violin, my Mom and Ada playing her violin together when Ada was 3 or 4, and a picture of my Mom's Grandpa.

Along the same note, my Great-Grandpa (Ada's Great-great Grandpa) that bought the violin married the owner of this violin.  They sat together in orchestra.  His wife died and he remarried to my Great-Grandma.  This violin was given to my Mom's sister, Diane, and then was re-gifted to his first wife's side of the family.  My Mom was thrilled that her the "sister violin" was also refurbished as a Christmas present for her cousin Lisa Killian Cook this year. Fun history. 

New Year's Eve

New Year's we spent at the Robertsons to help the Hansen kids have a fun time while their parents were gone cleaning their house in AZ.  Ggma's birthday is the day before New Year's eve, so we also sang Happy Birthday.  I think she's 96 because Seth was their 94th grandchild when they were 94... and he's 16 months old now.



Ggpa totally ignored the celebration until everyone teased him into kissing his wife for New Years... This was the awesome conversation:
Judy: "Aren't you going to give your wife a New Year's kiss?"
Ggpa: "Well, I have to find her first." (she was on the other end of the table)
Everyone: "Well go on then!"
Ggpa: "Happy Birthday Jane."
Ggma: "Nah uh...." (wouldn't kiss grandpa til everyone told him that she wanted a New Year's Eve kiss instead of a birthday one...)

Various pictures

All us girls at the Nutcracker Ballet

First time making our own sushi.

The chocolate party prep.

We took the kids on $5 Tuesday to see the new Star Wars movie.  Baby did pretty good until the last 20 mins... and there were 4-5 other families there with babies, so I didn't feel bad standing in the aisle and letting him run back to the entry door and back to me... The kids liked it.  Evelyn kept saying, "Hurry! Hurry!" whenever they were trying to get away.  Sam was literally on the edge of his seat the entire time.  Ada loved BB8.

Ada and Jer got to go ice skating with Ggma and Ggpa's new ward.  They rented out the rink and you only had to pay for skates.  Ada had a blast with Mariah.  She did well for her first time out there.

Trains!

And my sister Nella bought a new house.... exciting! (She's only 5 minutes from my house....yay!)

Trains!

Trains!  (Must run in the family... by the way, take a look at the new trestle bridge that Grandpa built during the Christmas holidays).


Shopping for Nellies house before my mom's knee surgery.

Ice skaters.  Grandpa hadn't been for a while, but was there to make sure that Ggpa didn't get hurt.  Ggpa has been trying to get everyone to take him ice skating for weeks now.  He pulled out the skates he got in his 20s even.  They had fun, but now he wants to go practice every day.