November 24, 2009


For as long as I can remember I have desired to increase the amount of control I have over what happens around me. Sometimes, not getting what I wanted hurt (like when my mom gave away our puppy when I was in 5th grade) and sometimes it wasn't so bad (like the time in high school when I tried out for the premier choir that all of my siblings belonged to and I didn't make it). Control for most of us encompasses our lives.

I had a whiplash injury at 19 that years later still left my back weak. At 23, I decided to do something about it and started working at a camp in Southern Utah. We hiked deliquent youth around in the desert and taught them basic survival skills (except we didn't have to find our own food). Staff worked 8 days and then got 6 days off. The teens never set foot indoors anywhere until they finished the program, 5-8 weeks later. Just try to imagine buildings, no cars, sleeping under a tarp, squatting over a latrine/hole in the ground.

The packs we carried weighed about 60 pounds. Mulitply that times hiking several miles per day and you may begin to understand the pain and soreness that was involved for me in choosing this job. In the beginning, it took all my energy just to endure and my mind was focused on just making it to the next water stop. With time and continued exercise, my muscles built up and my enduring turned to enjoyment.

This photo shows me and some of my boys during 3 Peak Week. We climbed three mountains and hiked 50 miles in 7 days. You'll notice the snow on the ground. It's not easy to hike with unsure footing and sinking into the trail. It took hours to reach the top. On this day, the weather changed in an instant. The boy in the middle was hit by lightening (it hit/burned the top of his ear and turned it a chalky white - he's dark skinned). We slid down that mountain in a matter of minutes. It's amazing how fast we come down when we realize how little control of a situation we have.

I found a love of the outdoors and the night sky in the valleys of the Wah Wah mountains. I found untapped reserves of physical and emotional energy that I didn't know existed. I learned to build fires with a stick and a bow. I got excited for the simple treaures like a hot shower and cheeseburger when my shift ended. I proved to myself that though I don't choose what happens to me, I can choose how I respond to my challenges.

Sometimes (well a lot of times), the loss of control over what happens to me sends me to my secret place. It's not really that secret. Jocelyn finds me easily enough. I "control" my surroundings by ignoring everything that I should be doing and focus on the insignificant.

Meanwhile, a little someone is taking control of her situation in life and reaching into new territory to get what she wants. At 13 months, Jocelyn can now open doors (thanks to our new house having lever style door handles). The boys couldn't open the round ones until they were closer to two.

Nothing is safe anymore. Now I'm going to have to organize my office space and go through my boxes of childhood possessions that have been neglected not only since we moved in a year ago, but actually since I moved away from home 10+ years ago. While I'm at it I should put in a load of dishes and sweep my kitchen floor and finish putting away the groceries I bought yesterday. And if I'm really feeling great, there is a laundry list of other things to be done. The real dilemna is finding the motivation to do the needed tasks that I don't really like doing.

In retrospect, that Three Peak Week was nothing compared to my current mountain. In a seminar I went to in Florida a couple of weeks ago, we learned that we only have three choices when something happens that we don't like.

1. Accept it.
2. Try to change it.
3. Leave.

I think I'll try to change my lack of motivation today by shutting down my computer. That ought to keep me focused on climbing.

November 22, 2009

Faux Hawk

This morning was hair cut day for the boys. Elliott will be having school pictures this week, so I wanted to cut off some of the shag that has been growing since summer. Graeden was last and when it was his turn, he asked me to make him a mohawk. Uh, no way. I don't like them...the shaggy tail...nope. Not for my boy.

But this is the first time that he has cared about his hair style. And so I used the clippers to cut his hair and left it long on top. We styled it with pomade and he LOVES it. And so did all the girls at church this afternoon. We'll see what tomorrow brings. I wonder if he'll care to rise early enough to put it up.


November 20, 2009

Even Better

I believe it's safe to admit on my personal blog that I'm a Twilight junkie. So when my cousin called me up this evening and wondered why she couldn't find me at the local theatre, I actually had to admit that I've never (ever) been to a midnight showing of any movie. I told her I wasn't that die hard. In fact, I was ready for bed (though truth be known I never got dressed this morning).

She pressed. I willingly gave in and slapped on some deodorant before leaving the house. What's absolutely insane is that I paid not only for the $10 ticket to see New Moon, but also $10 to see Twilight (yes I own this movie) as a double feature. New Moon is FABULOUS. I liked it a lot. and will add it to our family library. I hope that I didn't offend my husband when I spontaneously ran off with the girls and watched a movie we were planning on seeing this weekend together. I did really enjoy being with the girls. It's been a while.

Thank you Darling for staying with the kids and making paper airplanes to fly around the house.

November 18, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?
With a tiny pear
Hanging in the air,
Red beauties all in a row.

Imagine my delight this afternoon to find four pears on Evan's tree. And I thought it didn't produce any ... Ha! Of course they are tiny. But they are there, nonetheless.

What I was really doing today was finishing a planter box for my square foot garden. Tymon made the one I filled with leaves. I actually started a kitchen compost bucket this evening to help feed the garden heap. I'm just getting it ready for spring.

In the mean time, I got some garden soil for my box and planted red and yellow onions as well as garlic. I didn't know that you could plant now and they'd be ready in the spring...but I did know that you plant bulbs in the fall for spring flowers, so it does make sense.

November 17, 2009

Graeden's 6th Birthday

The day of the great party, I went to work. It was a sweet deal, really. Graeden and my friend Amber made all the preparations. I came home and pretty much everything from decorations to party food (ants on a log and spider crackers) was made. They did a bug theme and the craft was sock lady bugs. They turned out looking more like lobsters...but no one complained.

They played a game with throwing them in the air.

One of the neighbor boys left the party 3 times. He kept coming back though, so I think he's okay. I didn't think little boys have "drama" in their social lives. But there's always something about someone not liking the other and one telling the other that they are 5 instead of 6. I just don't get it.

Graeden's cake is oreo cookie dirt with gummy worms. He loved it and I actually loved that there wasn't any cutting of a cake. We just passed out the cups. One of the candles lit back up again after he blew it out. That was fun. He called it a "dirty trickster".

More from Sarasota

We flew in and out of Tampa and crossed this beautiful bridge at night on the way to Sarasota. It was glorious and it was hard to concentrate on driving as I just wanted to look at the lights.

Our conference was in the Hyatt, a beautiful hotel with it's own little marina.

The colors of the lobby were a little unreal, though. It was done in pinks with a touch of green. It was more like a little girl's room rather than a classy hotel.

I just loved the colors of these trees against the sky. Um, yeah, it's November and BEAUTIFUL.

The hotel was so close to the bay and the beaches were littered with shells and this kind of bird...feel free to comment on his name if you know what it is. I decided not to bring any shells home since we still have some from Birch Bay sitting in a bag on top of my washing machine. I wonder when it'll be safe to send those back to the beach.

One cool thing I got to do was sit in a big semi truck. This cab was so nice...this one happened to cost $250,000. Volvo gave it to the ATA so they could take it around to schools and let kids have a seat in it. It's amazing how much trucks hide surrounding cars/objects from the driver's field of view even with the mirrors. By the way, did you know that they don't have rearview mirrors? It makes sense...but it's not something I thought about before.

And at it's great expense, what would you rather have? A fabulous truck or a house? Lest you think this isn't the coolest truck ever, it does have a bed and shelves and cubbies and really everything you could want in a truck besides a shower.

Uncle Larry and JC - laptop nerds.

November 13, 2009

My Bro

My bro and I are in Sarasota, Florida attending a driver's ed convention. The part I like best about this opportunity is that each night we stayed up well past midnight talking...just like old friends or college roommates. JC and I fought like crazy when we were growing up. It's gone now. We work well together and somehow the bond between us not only survived...but grew, too. I'm thankful to be working with him and I'm glad we're able to utilize each other's strengths.

My uncle, aunt and cousin are also involved in the business. I really like having this relationship with them. We used to see each other on holidays and then the gatherings got too big as our families expanded. So, now we don't get together like we used to. But, working together, we have other situations like this with which to build our bonds. I'm thankful for this opportunity.

The lousy thing about coming to Florida to attend a conference (kid-free) is that we're inside all day. What surprised me was that several people have asked me how Jocelyn was doing. Last year at the convention in Las Vegas I brought her and had her strapped to me most of the day. She was only 5 or 6 weeks old and was very good and quiet. Most people didn't realize for a day or two that I even had a baby with me. (Although the women knew as I often nursed in the restroom lounge.) It was just really nice that they recognized me and thought to ask about my baby.

Interesting twist today - I sat next to a guy in one class that knew the first owner of our school, Defensive Driving School, in the early 1970s. It was neat to talk to him and understand how much similarity is in our curricula. Learning a bit of history can be so enlightening.

Today (unlike rainy yesterday) was beautiful and we ate lunch in the courtyard. It was so nice. But, uh, yeah, the photos above are all I have of this fabulous trip...maybe tomorrow I'll get some of the actual convention or the hotel with its own marina.

November 7, 2009


This morning I got to spend some time with friends from church making blocks and decorating Christmas tree stars. I like just sitting around working and visiting with others. We don't get together often outside of Sunday services but I do like it when we do. I like being with others in a little different setting than normal. Different sides of their personalities come out and everyone is friendly. It's homey.

I also made Jocelyn this "I Spy" bag. I didn't finish it until later this afternoon. First I came home and found a bunch of random small toys in the bottom of the toy boxes. It's gotten me thinking that I can have a great time making Christmas presents this year. But, we'll see about that...I mean really, I barely make time to take care of daily essentials, let alone any extras.

November 5, 2009

Family Picture

One of my heartaches (aside from Evan dying) is not being able to have our entire family in a family picture. It's so little in the big scheme of things, but it hurts me nonetheless. I think it validates or doesn't validate that we have five children. We've never been seen with more than four. But really, we have five.

Annalisa Labor spends her free time drawing to help "strangers" heal. Her heart is with us and others who have lost young ones. She is a sweet young lady who I have actually never met. Someday, we will.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).

Thank you Annalisa, our dear fellow citizen, for sharing your talents with our family and creating a picture for us that includes everyone. Well done, thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25).

November 4, 2009

Get Right Back Up

This morning Jett and Jocelyn and I joined some friends to go roller skating. It was basically Jett's first time. "Basically" because he does put on Graeden's skates and roll around the basement on occasion. He didn't really like it. He screamed every time he fell down. And that was pretty much a lot. Although, by the end he was doing better. The lesson for the day? When we fall, we just get right back up again. And again. And again.

After the Mom and Tot skate, several mature adults entered the rink. By mature, I mean senior citizen...and no 55 year old young ones, etiher. Let's take Dotty for instance. She's nearly 88 years old and is graceful as ever.

The woman amazes me. How many "falls" must she have faced in this life and she hasn't let it affect her. She gets right back up and takes care of herself and does whatever it takes to try again. She's actually recovering from an injury right now that she hopes is better by the next competition. Yes, you read that correctly. She's almost 88 and competes in roller skating dancing. Who knew such a thing even existed???

Dotty, you're an inspiration to us all.

November 2, 2009

Our Little Cookie

Jocelyn carried on Johns' family tradition this year as our chocolate chip cookie. My mom made this costume when Graeden was one. Jett was the right size to wear it as is Jocelyn. Poor Elliott and Evan never got to wear it...they just weren't the right size at the right time.

Notice that Jocelyn's front teeth are coming in now. She's got 4 on top and two on the bottom. We're so happy for her to finally be able to use teeth with her food. All 6 teeth have come in the last few weeks.

Here's the gang in all their glory. I love going trick or treating with my kids. There is really no other day of the year when everyone goes out and greets their neighbors. We had about 50 kids come to our door. Tymon stayed home and studied while handing out candy.
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