The Gold Family

A Simply Marvelous Life

caroline-harpWhile going through old class notes for my current paper, I found this story I wrote last spring. I remember how it made the student that presented after me cry. I felt so bad as she approached the podium upset. She explained that my story was especially tender to her because her dad had passed away recently. How was I to know that within months I’d be in the same “dad gone” boat?

I remember telling my dad of our plan to take a gift to the orphan boys and how he loved it. He wholeheartedly sanctioned it to my kids and he shared an inspiring story of his own. He cried. What a tender memory. He believed in the art of compassion. He lived the art. How grateful I am for him and his  example. He inherently knew that the true joy of life was within our relationships with others.

I am grateful to have come across this story today. I’ve been in a school slump, not feeling up to the writing task. Today’s discovery reminded me of the importance of storytelling. Even if I am not the most eloquent storyteller.

A Simply Marvelous Life

“Those poor, poor boys,” Mother said loud enough for the room to hear as she read the newspaper. I asked her, “What boys?” She explained. Twenty years before she used to work with this guy. They were nothing more than acquaintances. “But still, it’s just so tragic.” He was dead now among the remains of his personal jet. It crashed on take-off in Colorado. The crash also killed his wife, and two of his five children.

Mother seemed obsessed over the three children left. It was hard to understand how complete strangers to her sabotaged her heart for months. She talked about them to everyone. Her friends. Her kids. Sometimes she would even talk to random strangers about how grateful she was to be alive. “Shopping with a toddler is hard, but it makes it easier when I think about how blessed I am to be alive.” When the family knelt in the family room every night, mother would sometimes pray out loud for the family. “Bless those boys.”  When I complained about chores or homework or getting my phone taken away, she would remind me to be grateful. “You have both your parents, and all of your siblings. Remember, life is marvelous.” When Christmas neared mother told us that in the quiet of one morning she heard a voice in her mind. It was a woman begging, “They must have a gift from us under the tree.” Asking our forgiveness mother said she hoped we’d understand her stealing from us. She had withdrawn from her Christmas account, upsetting her carefully budgeted plan, to buy something for the orphans. She apologized and explained that we might have a little less this year. “But, I just feel it my duty to provide a gift for them from their dead mother. I can hear her voice as clear as day. I can’t ignore it.”

As Father drove us to the next town over, Mother watched her five elves stretch and giggle among the large sack of gifts in the back. The wrapped gifts would be left anonymously. “Because that is the best kind of giving,” mother said. The boys’ names, the ones their mother gave them, were monogrammed on their blankets. A note was included reminding them of their mother’s love, all the way from heaven. “She had found a way to hug them, through the mind of a stranger.”

Mother had done some serious sleuthing to get the names and address of the boys, but could hardly believe her eyes as they pulled up. When they verified the house number to the information on the paper in mother’s hand, everyone voiced their utter shock. A chorus of “no way” echoed the yelps of surprise as the vehicle reached the top of the mountain. The boys lived in a literal mansion. Mother laughed. “What in the world?” We all told her we should take the gifts back home, but she directed her elves to drop the gifts on the doorstep. “Be quiet. Don’t let anyone see you. Hurry up before someone calls the police.” As we sprinted our way back to the modest minivan that cowered under the massive gate, my little sister spared a glance for a golden harp glowing through the windowed fortress. We jumped in. The tires peeled. My baby sister described the harp’s shine to her amused mother. How badly Caroline wanted a harp. She had even written to Santa for one. She didn’t know what I knew.  Santa had already bought her a harpsichord. It was the last Christmas purchase she had made right after the wrapping for the boys’ blankets.

We never knew it, but in those first few moments driving home, mother deeply questioned the meaning of helping where help didn’t seem to be needed. Those boys had more than she or hers ever would. The answer came quick, at the traffic light on the way home. Flashing behind her eyes, red and green, it spelled one word. C-o-m-p-a-s-s-i-o-n. Mother turned to dad and said, “I guess tonight we got to help meet an emotional need, not a physical one.”  Yes, compassion knows no class structure. Or biases. Only pure love. And that night both mothers had managed, from separate realms, to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.

The next day mother listened as her baby girl, surrounded by her parents and four siblings, transformed our family’s condo into a two-bedroom castle with music from her harpsichord. As Mother closed her eyes to enjoy the marvelous moment, a familiar angel voice spoke to her mind one last time, “It sounds just like my harp.”

 

Advertisements

2015 Year in Review

This morning I was reading Bill Gates’ list of Top Good News from 2015. I highly admire his habit of yearly review on a global level. What a wonderful way to practice optimism! I decided in the middle of Gates’ list that I must implement this practice in my own life. I found this cool science video.

Here is an additional great compilation of many random acts  of kidness that occured this year. I sit and cry my eyes out every time I watch something like this. I’m such a sucker for humanity!!!

I would like to compile my own list. It’s been a good year.

Here is my list of the Top Ten 2015 Gold family triumphs.

  1. The family has been extremely supportive as I started back to school by babysitting Max, and the man has actually been making dinners sometimes. Woo-hoo. I might have to stay in school forever. Even better than the dinners is the fact that LG is a great paper editor. Thank you to the University of TN School of Law.
  2. We actually took two vacations that required a little planning. We went to Northern CA for spring break and Vernal UT over the summer. This is a really big deal for us fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people.
  3. We made the temple a greater priority. We’ve done a lot of family history research, attended an open house, went to a temple out-of-state, and tried to attend every week taking our girls with us every other time. Being in the house of God more often has really increased the peace we feel in our lives.
  4. We implemented monthly (okay bi-monthly) interviews with our kids to help them work on their emotional well-being, and have all benefitted from working on and being accountable to one another on common goals.
  5. The kids are always progressing: Abigail started driving, dating, and earning her own paycheck. Yay for first jobs! Even though she got a 27 on her ACT as a sophomore she thinks hair school sounds way more exciting than college. Sophia picked up the viola and is so excited to finally be old enough to volunteer at the local library. She and Bella have been enjoying their creative writing class at school. They have very different writing styles, but are both talented. Bella started volleyball, middle school, and volunteering at an elementary school. Caroline and Bella started and stopped dance deciding they didn’t like it all that much. Caroline started Chinese. She wasn’t very happy with her indoor soccer experience this year. Her coach was a former pro-player from South America and she only got to touch the ball maybe a total of 5 times in two months because all the hispanic kids were ballhogs. Ha ha. Lucky we have outdoor again in the spring. She also wants to start tumbling. Everyone is getting great grades, and they all like to mess around on the ukelele.
  6. Max gets a line of his own. He has blessed our family so much giving us a joint interest and a unified undertaking. In 2015, he learned how to sit up, crawl, walk, and tackle: breaking my rib when snatching my legs out from under me in the shower. He can say mama, dada, bye (pronounce Buhye like a southerner), thank-you, what’s that?, I…..love…..you, uh-oh,nuh-uh while shaking his head no, Bella, eee-uh (for Sophia), doggie, woof-woof, and Jesus. He always makes monkey sounds when he gets his diaper changed because there is a monkey on the front of each Luvs diaper. Everything else he wants to communicate just comes out in screams. (We’re working on it.) He loves gogurt, goldfish, and applesauce, balls, throwing everything, conducting music, his pacifier, dragging blankies everywhere, dinosaurs, dancing, dogs, playing matching games on the ipad, and saying “woooh” at anything exciting or new, especially the snow. When I just asked Bella what Max loves to eat she answered, “Uh, everything.” Yes, this boy is a chunkers. The cutest chunkers ever. Over the summer the pediatrician had his blood drawn because he thought he may have thyroid issues  because he was so fat. He was normal, and has since leveled out just a tad – like 100th percentile instead of 110.
  7. We’re still married. I know that sounds negative, but it is a big accomplishment. We’ve been learning a lot with the same marriage counselor for three years.  However, it seems like we still have a long ways to go. Yet, we’ve found that there is nothing more satistfying than learning and growing together, even if we wish we didn’t have the need for it.
  8. We finally got an outdoor grill after Abigail claimed it for us when her bestie’s family was getting rid of it. We also got a new washer, dryer, and kitchen mixer. The mixer was a gift, and I couldn’t help but cry when I received it. It is a Bosch that I have coveted for a long time, and would have never been able to afford. What a blessing it was after my KitchenAid died. I cook so much for this family that I probably use my mixer 4 out of 7 days of the week. LG is still waiting for the TV fairy to show up and replace his 55″ plasma, but it looks like he might be waiting a long time. LG’s 2.5 year-old dream TV mysteriously quit working until we later found Max hitting it with a remote in the very spot where it initially blacked out. Did I mention that it doesn’t seem worth investing in anything nice when you have 5 kids?
  9. Three of my girls went to girls camp this year. It was a large source of sadness for me that I’ve never been invited to go along or serve in Young Women’s.  I am sure I won’t be this year either (which will be Abigail’s last), but after a lot of prayer and pondering I decided that I wasn’t just being discriminated against by more righteous Utahns, but I could trust in God and let it go. Trusting God is a reoccuring life-lesson for me. If He would just give me what I want!!! Nonetheless, it’s not my will, but His. So besides camping with my family, I joined a wilderness writing class and went camping with a bunch of X-Mormons and homosexuals. Maybe that is what God wanted for me all along? It still would have been more fun to be with my daughters, but I will forever cherish my new school friends. I’m  not gonna lie though, when my daughters told me that they thought camp would be more fun with me there it made it all okay.
  10. Abigail told LG and I that we need to be more affectionate. We’ve been having all kinds of fun with that!

family christmas 2015

And after working all week on my list of 2015 this morning I watched  this video that is all about not looking back, and I’m wondered if compiling this list of 2015 is actually a bad thing. Dang Bill Gates, you  steered me wrong!! lol Oh well, here is to an even better 2016!

You should collect kids instead of coins.

My kids don’t get what other kids get. Because there are so many of them they kind of get the shaft. I have five little clones and there just ain’t enough to go around. Ever. The shaft is not limited to my time. There ain’t enough of anything around here. Except kids…there are plenty of those.

So tonight, as I was brushing my teeth, I was thinking about my kids. (I always think about them when I’m brushing my teeth. Cavity bugs and kids have a lot in common…they sneak up on me every night at 1 AM.) Anyhow, I was thinking about how shafted they really are. When I compare what we give to our kids to what so many other parents give their kids it’s actually a little embarrassing and perhaps criminal.

It’s just impossible for us to give our five children what other people give their one, two, or three children. Maybe four is pretty even, but for argument’s sake let’s just skip four. Knick knack, paddy whack, give a dog a bone. (You double-figure families are a whole other story.) From me and my hubby, my kids may never get a European tour, a cruise, college tuition (much less room and board), ski passes, equestrian pursuits, private music lessons, designer clothes, sports camps, unnecessary shoes, to fly (anywhere), and/or a lot of other things.

I’m not judging you that do have fewer kids and/or can afford the finer things in life…more power to you. (Although, one warning: the therapeutic boarding school I worked at was full of kids from really wealthy families. They had a lot of “stuff” but not enough of what really mattered.) I’m also not writing this for you to feel sorry for me or my kids. I am just trying to paint a picture of what it is like to live in a large family. Let’s face it, when a couple chooses to have many children (I’ll let you define many, but I would definitely say our family is large) they know they are choosing family over wealth.

Interestingly, last month, in my environmental writing class I learned this FACT: When societies are more successful economically their family sizes drastically reduce…so, of course the opposite is generally true…when families are large there is typically less of a focus on materialism. In my family size I know I’ve chosen the better part. All one has to do is spend some one-on-one time with my kids to see that they trump any amount of money, possessions, or leisure I could ever stockpile. (Do not judge my opinion over one of our family dinners, with all the noise, you’d never possibly agree.)

So, as I was circling the bristles onto my gums encasing my molars I got a grand notion: instead of focusing on what I am NOT giving my kids, maybe I should start pondering on what I am giving them.

After all, they are amazing kids. They really are. I must be doing something right. I might as well give myself some credit.
what they getCome to find out, I am actually giving my kids a lot of pretty amazing stuff.
As part of a large family here are what my kids get.

They get to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
They get to learn how to make do.
They get negotiating skills.
They get a model of two parents who value family more than “stuff”.
They get communication.
They get never-ending support.
They get to live vicariously.
They get first-aid proficiency.
They get “do-it-yourself”.
They get trade secrets.
They get friends for life they also call siblings.
They get respect for the institution of marriage.
They get respect for the organization (or chaos – however you see it) of family.
They get a master’s degree in child development before heading to college.
They get to learn selflessness.
They get make it from scratch.
They get more psychology, human relations, and sociology than most people.
They get others to divvy with the responsibility of aging parents.
They get to know how to share.
They get a greater understanding of the opposite sex.
They get a greater understanding of the same sex.
They get goodnight John Boy’s and Maryann’s.
They get how to take care of a baby.
They get their place in a bigger plan.
They get to serve.
They get to survive living with a hormonal teenager before ever having one of their own.
They get gratitude for the little things.
They get cooperation and collaboration.
They get “fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
They get emotional know-how.
They get respect for difference of opinions.
They get empathy.
They get joy in the little things.
They get real appreciation for anything and everything given to them.
They get frugality.
The get homemade.
They get love.
They get even more love.
They get so much love, they don’t want anymore.
They get real connection.
They get patience.

After writing this little piece, I am now believing that all of our societal woes are actually based in the shrinking family size. Also, I came across this video that expresses the four most important things that a parent give to their child. 1-Time 2-Education 3-Spirituality and 4-Love

I guess I am doing a pretty decent job after all. My kids now sound like the luckiest kids alive. And, well, maybe they are…even without the expensive vacations.

Next time I will write about what I get. I’m sure it’s way better than any coin collection.

I’m sorry, mom.

I haven’t blogged since Father’s Day. I feel like I haven’t even breathed since Father’s Day. Life has been nuts. Between moving, summer visitors, and being pregnant, I have felt totally depleted every. single. day.

And then today it somehow got infinitesimally worse.

IMG_0439

People ask why I don’t blog like I used to. I give them various reasons, but one reason towards the top of  the list is that as my kids have gotten older it’s very shaky business blogging about family life. As a mother, I don’t want to disparage them, and let’s face it, they just don’t do things quite as cute as they used to.

Yesterday we had a family pow-wow that consisted of LG and I wrangling the kids in for the recurrent lecture about sibling kindness, taking personal responsibility…yadda yadda yadda. LG whispered to me after the half hour of torture that “everyone has to suck at parenting.” At least he still makes me smile every day.

The older your kids get, the more your weaknesses manifest themselves in your kids. It sucks. Big time.

[Let me start out this story with a disclaimer that my kids are pretty good. They each have great strengths but like every other sucker in this world, they have weaknesses. I need the readers of this post to know that I love my kids with all my heart. I believe in them. I am proud of them. I have faith in what they will accomplish in their lives. I wish I was a better mother equal to their greatness. I also just feel a need to write honestly. I hope this won’t cause harm.]

Well, after a really rough 24 hours where our last night’s lecture didn’t seem to do anything but make things worse, LG came home tonight as my knight in shining armor saying he wanted to have an emergency family meeting. (This could or could not have been prompted by my cry for help via e-mail earlier today.)

Just an hour ago, we sat down with our kids and LG talked about things we need to do differently,  improving individually and collectively. The kids all responded in their own way. Abigail takes after her dad and I in a lot of ways. One thing that she instinctively does is point fingers at others in a way of avoiding her own overwhelming emotions of self-doubt and disappointment. Somehow, I became her target tonight. I am always the target. They never go after their dad…he’s just too nice.

She laid into me, “If you would just stop talking about how horrible it is being pregnant and start doing some more fun activities with us. …. if we could just have a real summer, like all the other kids…we need to have fun…we need a vacation…” (Tell me about it!!!) At the end of my rope, I came unleashed. Out of my mouth, came the exact words I remember hearing from my own mother so many times. I hated that also accompanying the words were big huge heavy sobs.

“Abigail, you have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t know what it feels like to be forty and pregnant. You have no idea what I’ve done just for you this summer. I’ve sacrificed mornings for soccer, money for physical therapy, time for your two stints at girls’ camp, and money and time that could have been used for a family vacation for you to go to EFY. You need to get out of your selfishness. I have given up my ENTIRE LIFE for my children. Everything I do is for you and your sisters.”

I said a few more things, and then stopped myself and sat sobbing into my palms as LG quickly finished up the family counseling session. Second parent-fail in two days. I had no smiles to give in secret this time around. I sat badly hurt and frustrated not just with my teenage daughter but with my life and even my husband who always seems to escape the fury even when he holds as much responsibility for it. Five-year-old Caroline kept asking, “Mom, why are you crying?” LG saved me more talking and told her that I didn’t feel appreciated and rightly so.

I hurried to my bedroom afterward and sobbed into my pillow some more. “How did I get here?” I thought. “How did I become my mother?” Years ago, when I was Abigail’s age I promised myself I would never lay into my kids like that…I remember how horrible it made me feel when she did it to me. But, by golly, Abigail needed to hear it. She’s an adolescent becoming more wrapped up in herself every day. I’ve given her everything I’ve had to give this summer (even if is has been pathetic) and the fourteen others before that.  Why didn’t my rant make me feel any better? Was I solely in the wrong? Is she totally right? Am I really not giving enough?

And, you know what. I don’t have the answers. And it sucks. Big time. I hope we can find them together.

I do have one thing to say though, “Mom, I am so so so very sorry for ever saying anything or doing anything or not doing something that made you feel how I did an hour ago. You matter. Your sacrifices are known. I love you. I appreciate you. And the longer I live, the more I want to emulate you as a mother. Yes, there are ways that you let me down, but there are so many more ways that you supported, sacrificed, and loved unconditionally. You were the BEST mother you could be. Not perfect, but the BEST. Motherhood mattered to you more than anything, and I take that example into my life every day. I love you eternally.”

But, mom, I also have a question….if we are such good mothers who both sacrifice so much for our kids…….how the heck did you and I both end up with such a rotten ungrateful selfish daughter? Is that just part of the journey? Do I just need to hold on for another twenty years until she writes me my very own apology? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share with me all of your mothering secrets! I feel so clueless.

Mom, I’m here. Don’t forget me.

I sounded so crabby at the therapist’s office the other day while explaining my mixed emotions about being 40 and pregnant, “I’ve never been the kind of woman who was like, ‘Oh, please let me bear children. It’s my life dream to have a whole houseful of darlings. My only ambition is to be a mother.’ ” In fact, even though I’ve always assumed I would have a large family and was even quoted in my high-school yearbook that I planned to have a dozen kids, I have also been quite conflicted about it ever since I can remember. I love kids. I came from a large family that I also love. But, I have always also been full of dreams and ambitions that had nothing to do with family. In fact, I knew kids would just get in the way of a lot of what I wanted to do: graduate from college, serve in the Peace Corps, write a book or two, travel, and have a successful career in one thing or another.

I further explained to the therapist, “I’m a willing vessel, I’m just a broken one.” LeGrand and I both chuckled. Ain’t that the truth! He knows it even more intimately than I do. I am a very spiritual person and I try to live my life in communication with God. This is a good thing and a bad one. Because I listen to the voice of God, my life is always full of conflict. What He wants for me always seems to be in direct opposition of what I want for myself.

I remember when my hubby and I had been married for just a month. We went to the temple together and separated to do some work. I was 24, he was 22. We were both in college and working full-time. After we were done with our service in the temple, we walked out to the car hand in hand, both very quiet. Something was up. You could cut the dark sky in front of us with a pocketknife. My newer-than-new husband turned to me and said, “Alice, I felt it too, we are supposed to start our family now, and have joy in our posterity.” Nooooooooooo. I couldn’t keep the spiritual impressions I had felt in my own heart a secret like I had planned. This was crazy, but it was also undoubtedly what God wanted for us. I knew that this family business would rob me of all if not most of my own dreams. It took me six months to even become willing to go off birth control and then I was still resentful. And pregnant.

So, bring us up to the present day. We have four kids. I’ve had four miscarriages. I am forty and pregnant. Four seems to be an important number for me right now. This is my fourth and final blog. I know many people are reasonably questioning the child growing inside of me. Heck, they can’t question any more than I am. I am questioning. My husband is questioning. The only ones who are not questioning are our four children. They couldn’t be any more excited. Kids are really good at instinctively knowing what is most important…plus they don’t have to worry about paying the bills or losing three years of sleep.

I’d like to take this chance to explain and write down this little tale so that I will always remember it. There is one reason and one reason alone I am pregnant. The reason is that this child spoke to me from its pre-mortal realm. In August of 2012, my hubby and I found ourselves again at the temple. I had just suffered a pretty brutal miscarriage at 18 weeks. As we sat in the chapel, I turned to my husband and said, “LeGrand, I am not praying about this today, but I just want to be done having kids. I’m 38. I’m so tired, and I don’t think I can handle it emotionally anymore.” LG answered with his full support, “It’s up to you Alice. I don’t blame you. I don’t want you to have to go through that again either.” I wasn’t going to pray about it because I didn’t want any other answer from God besides my own.

mom im here

But something miraculous happened. Something I couldn’t deny. God sent a messenger to the temple that day. In the spirit form of a child. My child. The one I hadn’t yet given birth to.

It’s hard to explain the special place that are Mormon temples. They are very sacred. God is always there. They are a place where the veil between two worlds is very thin. In the temple I’ve felt the presence of many of my deceased loved ones who have gone on before me.  They have been there with me often, telling me that they are watching over me.

I never expected to be visited by someone who had yet to come to earth, but somebody had an important message that day. One that I really didn’t want to hear. In fact it was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked behind me to see no one there but to feel someone as assuredly as if they were standing there. There was no doubt someone was there. I then heard an audible voice, “Mom, I’m here. Please, don’t forget me.”

I instantly started bawling. How selfish I am! How easily distracted I become. I so willingly forget that this earth-life isn’t about gaining the adventures that I want to have, but is all about being willing to take on the ones that I already promised God (and others) that I would achieve. My most important calling in this life is to be a vessel, even if I’m the most broken one that there ever was. I answered with a pledge in my heart, “I won’t. I promise. I could never forget you.” It took me sixteen more months to get pregnant again. Every day I was haunted by the pleading of my child. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant or stay pregnant. I convinced myself that it was just the miscarried kid talking to me. I would maybe get to meet him at a later day in heaven. I told God that if he wanted it to happen, forty was as high as I was willing to go. Miraculously, I got pregnant on the first cycle after my 40th birthday, almost as if God wanted me to know that he got the message. But also in typical God-fashion..in the 11th hour…after we’ve been tested to the limit.

I’ve vacillated between anxiousness, depression, and elation. I’m only four months in and I’ve already had to give up my running,  my plans to go back to school and work, and a portion of my sanity. A big chunk of money that was put aside for our new home will now be used for doctor bills and baby items. I worry every day that this child will have special needs, but one thing dismisses my many worries. There is one thing that I will always know: this child is special. More than anything, this child wanted a chance to be mortal. He knew that for that to happen I had to be his mama. He traveled from wherever he was all the way to the temple to remind me of my promise long ago to not forget. I smile at his bravery and his audacity because he chose the day that I least wanted to hear it to remind me.

And then I cringe at what is in store for him. He’s going to be stubborn. He’s going to be brave. He’s going to have his own ideas. He will also have a mother to remind him that more than anything he wanted to come to earth because that is what God wanted him to do. I will remind him as much as I will myself: We might as well keep on listening to God…no matter how much harder it seems to make our lives and how much it robs us of our own dreams and ambitions. Ultimately we both will have to answer for how we used our time on earth and every single one of our choices. God will never be concerned with how much we traveled or achieved, His main concern is for the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. For that to happen, He first has to get them to earth….even if the vessel is forty and all washed up. All we can hope for is our own willingness to say, “I am a vessel, God. I am broken but I am here and I am listening.”

* I say “he” because I have this secret wish that the lucky number five will be the son for which I’ve prayed for my husband, but we are 99.9% sure that “he” is really Vivienne. There is always that .01% though, I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.

Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

IMG_4722

IMG_4729

On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

IMG_4733

IMG_4739

IMG_4742

IMG_4745

On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

IMG_4750

IMG_4755

IMG_4757

IMG_4760

Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.

Our family rocks!!

We decided to make the most of our Saturday after a really high-stress week. We took a short road trip in the rental van. We’re still in negotiations with the insurance company.

We went up to Antelope Island and out to dinner at the close-by Cracker Barrel. We haven’t been to a Cracker Barrel since it was right down the street in TN. It was so fun to see the girls get all sentimental in the shop. (photos to come)

After a short stop at IKEA (2 hours is short) we cranked up the toons for the remaining hour long drive.

I busted out the camera because I wanted to capture the moment. My joy was full. (Glad I didn’t crash trying to multi-task – save your lectures)

Our family rocks just like they do on one of our favorite movies: Bandslam. If you haven’t seen it, you can’t possibly be complete.

Lessons from the trail: family bikeride

Man, I can’t wait for spring.
The following pictures have a funny story
that you would never guess just by looking at them.
One summer day, the year before last, a mother got really greedy
and decided that her family could ride their bikes
farther then ever before.
She wanted to make it from home to the nearby waterfalls.
It was only 16.5 miles round-trip.
bridal veil
Every family member, but her, complained the whole way.
The mom didn’t understand, she was having the time of her life.
Even the oldest daughter who was used to running all the time seemed to hate every minute.
At mile 6.5, (1.7 shy of their destiny) the mom cut her losses
and finally told everyone they could turn back.
The mother was so disappointed. The father was almost dead.
The kids vowed to never ride again.
But, to this day, all but the mom
are still all heard to brag of that long family ride
a few summers back.
(The mom is still waiting for the family conquer expedition.)
They still ride together as a family often
but never ever more then ten miles at a time.
The mom now sticks to the long distances by herself.
The moral of the story:
Sixteen miles for one person might be a piece of cake,
but just because you are that person
it doesn’t mean that you can automatically
expect your family to be as capable.
The other thing that we learned:
Together time is the best time to make memories,
even if everyone is in physical pain.
Posted by Picasa

Easter Photos 2013

I’ve decided I really shouldn’t torture the family with a photo shoot more than twice a year. 
It’s pretty painful for them (and me) to have the required patience with my budding interest in photography. 
I find solace in one thing:
I am being a great example
of diligent pursuit of hobbying.
I hope that all my girls
will have hobbies
that they love and enjoy
and don’t give up
for any reason.
(especially when they are moms)
The pictures may look good
but trust me
they took a good hour or two
and there were many many outtakes.
Thank 
goodness 
for
digital.

My favorite moment of the day:
making out with LG
while the kids watched
and/or
hammed it up for camera.

 
My second favorite moment:
watching the girls enjoy the shore.

Note to self:
no guardrails

Crazy Family.
I’m really bummed
we didn’t get a good one
of this set-up.
really bummed.

2013 goals or Going for the Gold

I’ve been trying to finalize my 2013 goals.
Even though I gave myself a C last year,
I am an absolute believer in the adage
“goals that are not written down are just wishes.”
While at Ikea on our date Saturday
LG and I came up with a winning idea
on how to motivate our family
towards betterment.
Money is a pure motivator
for all of us,
so we are going to reward ourselves
with GOLD.
We decided on family Olympics
for 2013.
Or as LG says,
“We’re having family hunger games.”
Everyone will get to put their names
in a pot in a once a week drawing
for 5 gold coins.
We will all earn chances in the pot
by accomplishing
our 5 personal and 5 family goals daily.
(That’s up to 70 shots a week)
Unlike hunger games,
we want our names in the pot.
The more we accomplish our goals,
the better chance we have to win a gold coin (or 5).
Our theme is
“Go for the Gold.”
Get it.
We’re the Gold’s.
We’re so funny.
I am super excited about
the 5 rings of improvement.
LG and I narrowed our desires for our kids into
5 categories:
spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and financial.
(See the above photo)
Here are the goals
we came up with as a family
in each category.

Some of these goals are going to be easier than others.
Reading should be a cinch.
Believe it or not
I think sharing feelings
might be harder (especially for some)
 than daily scripture study.
The kids are already up in arms
about the soda
but I love that they will still have the choice.
If they drink soda,
they lose a shot at a dollar.
If it were up to us
we’d take it away all together
but this way we make the point
without taking away their agency.
I am super excited about
seeing how this family challenge
will pan out.
I hope to win a few bucks along the way
and I think this may
have the “fun” factor
to keep us motivated all year.
Anyhow,
I am sure you have all been dying
to see what my goals are for
2013.
With no further ado,
by category
we go.
Financial
1.Save a $1 a day toward family vacation.
2.Stay under budget.
Emotional
1.Journal/study/meditate daily before doing anything else.
2.No phone in bed.
3.Give a meaningful inspired service weekly.

Physical
1.Use myfitnesspal every day until I weigh under 160 pounds.
2 Keep running 3x/week.
3.Run 2 half marathons (unless I get pregnant)
4. Add in a fourth workout every week. Something other than running.

Spiritual
1.Pray every day.
2.Temple once a month (take Abigail with 4x)
3.Organize family genealogy.

Mental
1.Learn a new word every day. 
(I discovered a cool app for this)
2.Go back to school,
even if it’s just one class.
3.Write every day
(blog/outline of novel)
4.Read 100 books
(adding in 1 junior non-fiction

Marital
1.Bond every night.
(Communicate regularly)
2.Go to bed and wake up together.
It’s lofty, I know,
but if I only get a C,
I will still have accomplished twice
as much as if I had never written anything down.
My OCD side really loves fresh starts.
Just think, we have one every day.