Thursday, October 2, 2014

When You're a Princess...

"Everyday is a dress day, Mom."


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two 'Conductors'

 Dear Tanner and Hunter,

Just wanted to let you know how much we miss you both! Your quirky sense of humor is being added to by your younger brothers.

For family home evening this week, Miller was willing to be the maestro, using a golf club for a baton...


And Porter led the family proceedings in reggae costume...including the deep and raspy voice!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Play Date

Miller's part sick day - part(y) mental health day was a bonus for us all.
I got a vacation...


Miller got a vacation...


Breyer got a friend!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Boys,

I miss you. Hunter, we don’t have your new phone number. I’m sure you’ve thoroughly enjoyed using your new phone  but somehow your new phone doesn’t have our new phone number programmed in yet. We would love to hear from you, more than one a week! Don’t feel like you have to call when the whole gang is home. Breyer and I would be happy to take your message everyday all day long!

Breyer’s new nickname, as of today, is Guzzler Girl. She opens the fridge and drinks right out of the carton when she feels a need. This doesn’t bother me so much, as she isn’t able to reach the cups yet. And she can’t help herself to water, so she’s found a way to get a drink. Saturday evening I took her to general conference for women. She was my partner at the waffle bar, in the bathrooms, but not sitting and listening. She was off running with the other pack of kids. We make a great team!


If I was to give Miller a nickname this week it would be Golfing Great. He not only got to golf in class on Monday, but was finally given his golf tag to golf for free. So he begged Dad to take him Wednesday, and then me on Saturday. Between six holes with Dad and nine holes with me he’s made tremendous strides in improving his driving range. And he’s fairly straight. Today in church he had a hard time wanting to sing. So, when we came home, he had to sit with me and read all the verses to the songs we sang in church. He was not a happy camper, but I think he’ll be better about opening his hymn book!




Of most interest was what we found on the golf course. The bird was big and beautiful, the turtle very funny, and the bump in the backyard probably a tornado shelter.




Sawyer’s nickname would be Sidekick. He whispers in Miller’s ear when to ask Dad about going, about leaving, about what day to go, who’s paying for the cart…he’s capitalized on his little brother’s desire to golf, and stealthily conveys to him what to say or ask. Porter and Cooper were to play in a stake basketball tournament Saturday, and dressed alike in their Ohio tee shirts. When they realized how much Sawyer was hoping he could play, and was going, they gave him an extra one to wear. The three amigos headed out with much excitement and came home with their tail between their legs with a forfeit because they were late!

Cooper is Steady Eddie. He seems to have such a small range of emotions. No flare ups or melt downs, just consistently moving through the life of a middle school kid and all that it involves. He’ll be playing at the homecoming football game with the middle school marching band this week – a first for our family. We’ve never had an on field performer before! They also get fed dinner, and get to hang in the stand with the high school band. He’ll love it. He also announced he was going to go out for cross country, but apparently the coach was a no show. We’ll have to see what happens this week. He spent the afternoon painting your envelope with your general conference tickets.


Porter is Like Mike. He seems to have found his little niche, and has a bevy of girls swooning over him whether he’s in seminary, walking through a parking lot or getting picked up. His teachers all love him, the young men enjoy him, and he seems to be happy. He’s become great friends with the high school librarian and EVERY.DAY brings home bags of books for Dad. Discards that are no longer needed are saved for Porter to peruse. We bleed books over here. We won’t need firewood during the Second Coming, or End of the World snowfall. We could build a nuclear bunker and have no fall out. You get the idea. If I had a bedroom for you two, it would be needed instead for a library.

Dad is Date Nate. Any little errand involves grabbing me around the waist, hauling me in for a big smooch, grabbing my hand, and hustling me out to the van to go with him. Who can refuse? When Porter needs to be picked up, I go. When we need some milk, I go! When we need to look at kitchen tables and chairs Friday night I went. We also tried out Grumps burgers, and drove through the town of Acton. Saturday we were back looking at tables, and put a down payment on a large counter height table with six stools and two chairs, delivered this week. Picnicking on the kitchen floor is getting old. It will be nice to eat at a table after six weeks! Yeah!



We love you! You guys are funny together on Skype. You’re morphing into the same person.




How wonderful that you are so loved, and had a great Sunday dinner. I do love that Marie!



Have a great week. Keep focused. Especially good luck in finding better employment options.

Love,

Mom

P.S. I had to teach Relief Society today...here is a portion of the lesson, altered a bit to make it easier to read without class participation.

One of our favorite party games, that we call “True Identity,” involves those participating to write down something about themselves no one else in the room will know. This is a boring example, but one could be, “I’ve never worn brown mascara.” Who am I? Others have written, “I love to write poetry and short stories.” Or, “I was the only woman out of 63 men on an Alaskan fishing trawler for two months.” And, “I bought a forged Montana driver’s license, made with an older date of birth, so I could purchase beer.”

What if I told you that last one is me? Are you wondering if I should be teaching? Or speaking? Have you lost a bit of faith in my ability to impart things of a substantive nature to your spirit?

Moroni’s definition of faith includes the phrase, “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Are you willing to go through a trial of sorts, in spite of my past?

When Sawyer began school this year we were introduced to the AR Reading program, where students pick approved books to read, worth different amount of points depending on the difficulty and length of the book, and are then tested on their comprehension. So of course he picks as his first book, the one on the list worth the most amount of points (39) – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, book #7 with 607 pages!

My older boys, and now Sawyer, have always been infatuated with this Harry Potter I believe because of the faith the author had in him to make a difference in the fight of good against evil – and all at 11 years of age – Sawyer’s age.


There are many examples of Heavenly Father having faith in the ability of young boys, such as Harry Potter, to fight and make a difference in a very similar kind of war.


If one such identity had been written, “I said unto the mountain – remove – and it was removed” would you know it was the brother of Jared?


Another such identity that could be written is, “I went on a ten day diet and my countenance became more fair and fatter than others.” Daniel exhibited great faith in saying no to the king’s diet. He knew the laws of health, and he chose to be obedient to what he had been taught. And he was blessed physically and mentally, even so much that he was ten times smarter than the adults in things of knowledge and learning (1:17, 20).

Another identity could be written, “I was given verbal “map quest” instructions at age 10 I couldn’t use for 14 years, but in the meantime I was forbidden to preach (age 15) so I became a great military leader (16). Mormon lived during the time the Lord took away the disciples and the work of miracles because of the iniquity of the people. We can choose as did Mormon to live righteously even in a wicked society. Because of his great faith, he was visited by the Savior (1:15) and knew His goodness.

What if it was written, “By exerting all my powers, I was delivered from the power of my enemy.” Joseph Smith was 14 when he read the scripture in James 1:5, and decided himself to ask of God which church to join. It is no coincidence that the brother of the Savior wrote the scripture that heralded in the restoration. But he went to pray, and couldn’t pray. Elder Holland wrote that Satan can’t kill, so he did the second most powerful thing he could do and bound the tongue of Joseph Smith. So Joseph had to exercise all the faith a 14 year old could, exerting all his powers, and continued to put forth effort in the hopes that he would be delivered, as much as a 14 year old boy could do. The Lord recognized his effort and accepted the amount of faith and effort he was able to put forth and deliver him from Lucifer’s power.”

We know that “If there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracles among them. He shows not himself until after their faith” (Ether 12:12). Verse 16 says, “All they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.” Surely Daniel confounding the King’s court, Mormon leading an entire nation to victory, and Joseph Smith having a heavenly visitation all qualify as miracles. And they were all young boys.

If Heavenly Father had such faith in these young boys to make a difference, and have success during difficult times, and these children had the faith necessary to succeed, surely we as mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, can also be counted upon to accomplish great things in our battles we face on a daily basis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Push 'n Pull with Princess Power


All of her toys are leftover boy toys.
They're great toys, just not pink.
But she loves the trains.
She choo choo'ed today for F.O.U.R. hours!

Monday, September 22, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Boys,

I miss looking at your cute faces! Please send pictures! I would love to see you together eating, home teaching, at school, working football games…I need to see you!

I went looking for you on Twitter, Hunter, and found a few tweets! “Best part of my job? I can't decide between getting paid to stay on the field for the game, or escorting the players to and from locker room at halftime. I love it! ‪#‎BYUfootball‬‬” Or, “Trying to do calculus homework.....Dave, you did not prepare me!” My favorite? “Didn't plan on sleeping for only 3 hours the first day of classes, but I am still running....barely.” Didn’t hear about that! And of course, “Every night I think it can't be topped, and it happens the next night every time…#IloveBYU!” I would be a bit concerned but you haven’t been on in three weeks, so I assume your priorities are in order…at least we got to talk tonight!

I began the week Monday working on retrieving the remaining bricks, and ended the week with a bad case of some poison ivy / poison oak. Hate this stuff! It’s miserable waking up in the middle of the night scratching. Sure wish we had filled the steroid prescription we had in our pockets for working on Grampy’s wood. This too shall pass! While working on rocks and drainage and leaves and such, I picked up a rock and found a snake! It looked like a small rattler but when we checked inside, it turned out to be an eastern yellowbelly racer, nonpoisonous. The boys, meaning Miller and Sawyer, were scared for me, very endearing. And it was very, very quick! It slithered over into the drainage pipe before we could get a camera.


We cleaned the church Thursday evening. Everyone assigned has to show up at 7 p.m., versus showing up sometime during the week. The lady in charge has had the calling for five or six years, through three bishoprics, and knows what she’s doing. But when we put on our “skates,” and rolled through the building, we had it done in record time. Miller was a master of cleaning all the light switches, Sawyer got the glass, Porter and Cooper manned the big and little vacuums, Breyer and I tackled the kitchen and girls’ bathroom, and Dad finished up the boys’ bathroom and the mopping. 


Not sure what the other three did that were there but I know there was more vacuuming and some dusting. It will be interesting to see how often we’re assigned. We stopped by Braums on the way home, and picked up some delicious peppermint ice cream to take home. Usually Braums is a treat we enjoy when we’re visiting family in Tyler, but now we can enjoy it a bit more often!

Friday the Home Depot crew came and measured the room for carpet. It will be good not to have to worry about stepping on nails! Even though they measured and quoted, we haven’t placed the order yet. Friday was also the day Sis. Kirby arrived for a visit. She drove NINE hours out of the way to see me! Am I worth nine hours of driving? Her trip went from 21 hours to 30 because of her southern detour.  We sat down to talk when she arrived at 1 p.m., and wrapped it up near midnight. We got in a couple of hours in the morning until she had to leave. Breyer sat by her side the whole time. She loves her “candle” (Kindle), and making Phat Photos on her phone. Breyer showed off her princess bed nook, and had help with lots of puzzles. We’re grateful she came.


She is officially visit #2. Miller was with us but all the other boys and Dad were at their first campout. It was held at a ranch owned by one of the fathers. Everywhere Dad tried to set up the tent he ran into a few obstacles. Cow patties, donkey surprises, snake hidey holes, and in the path of nocturnal stampeding horses. Sounds fun! They parked the tent near a tree, figuring it was the best option, and had beautiful weather. Your three brothers added to six other boys for a fun evening.


Their service project in the morning was picking up shot gun shells for the owner. And they learned what they could eat out on the range ;-) As they were driving away, they encountered a drove of donkeys. They came right up to the van window and hee-hawed away. Cooper thoroughly enjoyed their antics, and said if he had a phone, they would be his ring tone ;-) He’s very, very funny!


We had planned on renting a truck and moving pipe Saturday but had to postpone our plans because of the camp out. As I was changing our rental arrangements, and speaking with the recycling company, they found out that the pipes were fracking pipes, and shared some disappointing news. The price per ton goes down two-thirds, as it’s hard to find buyers of pipes that might explode. ??? We’ll have to make sure we get rental insurance!

Your father is in better health. The diverticulitis medicine worked very well.

Last night was priesthood leadership and the adult session of stake conference. Dad took the two older boys. They went from four to nine, together! It was good to have them go. Today in stake conference the mission president gave a good talk. He mentioned the third Article of Faith, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” His emphasis was on the word, ‘all,’ that ALL of us may be saved, and that we’re the only religion that teaches this doctrine. He also said because all of us may be saved, this is the whole reason behind Christ’s visit to the spirit world before his resurrection. In 1 Peter 3:18-19 it says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” It was an interesting thought I don’t know if I had quite put together by myself.

The boys are all on instruments playing…very chaotic and loud over here! Cooper’s on his clarinet trying to play a duet with Porter on his trumpet then ukulele. Miller’s on the harmonica, Sawyer’s on the piano, and Breyer was on the recorder until she started stealing everybody’s music. It’s wonderful! I think Cooper and Porter ended up playing hymns together for over an hour, clarinet and trumpet. They did a great job harmonizing together. Cooper told me this week he had try outs for clarinet positions. Out of ten, he was given second chair. Yeah!

I think that's the news fit to print this week. Be studious, creative, humble, obedient. The rest will be a piece of cake. We dearly love you!

Mom

P.S. James got his mission call to the California Arcadia mission, but he gets to go to the Mexico City MTC to learn Spanish first! And he is supposed to be at the MTC on December 17th.

P.P.S. Hunter, we got a certificate in the mail stating you were an AP Scholar with Distinction. You knew that, right? Also, Cooper’s going to design the BBQ/fire pit…interested in working with brick in November?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Dear Tanner,

The weather here has become a little more overcast and cooler, definitely a relief, and perhaps a touch of fall is on the way! Just to get you more in the seasonal mood, look what I found! Your pictures from visiting the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Ready to check in? I mean check it out?

Even the name is scary! This psychiatric hospital, originally designed to hold 250 people, became overcrowded in the 1950s with 2,400 patients, and then forcibly closed in 1994 due to changes in treatments of patients - meaning no more cages!


This hospital, in Weston, WV, was bought in 2007, and partly opened to tours (paranormal) and other money raising events (paranormal) for its restoration.

The hospital's main building is one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States, and, is the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the World, with the only bigger one being The Kremlin (I wonder if #3 through #10 are as scary?).


My favorite?
Seeing the guides in uniforms! ;-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Princess Preferences


Picking the flowers in the grass (dandelion version of Texas ;-)



Being in charge of Miller's binoculars!


Riding the piano mover...instead of the bricks!


Doing what Mom does!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten Things I Love About the House!


the red brick...love brick!


the really big front windows!


glass doors on the library...


the really big acre lot!
(backyard goes to the trees)


I have trees!
(this one is in the backyard)


my garage has windows so the view goes on!


really nice nickel plated light fixtures...


tall ceilings with really nice moldings!


a sleekish kind of fire place ;-)


a hallway that just fits the gang!


Monday, September 15, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Boys,

It was delightful speaking with you both! All of the times ;-) I love looking at your cute faces! I miss seeing them around the house. I miss your laughs, your smiles, your appetites…so grateful you’re coming home for Thanksgiving.

Hunter, saw your clubs in your room. That would irritate me to have to step around those every day, or be your roommate who has to step around those all day. It’s hard to believe you are given no storage! Speaking of golf, all week long Sawyer has asked to go golfing. He knows he’ll get to golf for free, but unfortunately they didn’t hand out the bag tag he needs to do so. And he keeps forgetting! Every day he’d ask me or your father and we had to gently remind him: Not yet! He’s excited to go back to First Tee lessons tomorrow!

Breyer and I spent a lot of time outside this week working in the yard. Sometimes the mornings were overcast, so it was cooler, and by the end of the week it was much cooler – so much easier to be outside! We worked in our little grove of trees out front, trying to clear away vines and overgrowth. 


There is some wild plant with thorns that grows out of the ground, single stalk, and snakes up into the oak trees, wrapping around all the branches. I had to wear thick gloves, saw into the vine at the base, and then pull really hard to get it out of the tree. Sometimes it would snap off up high and I had to leave it, but most times I could pull it out of the tree. The longest vines I pulled were about two of our van lengths. My legs and arms are a mess. I didn’t really feel the scratches until later, and now I’m covered in red lines. Our trash men have been so helpful! First, they had to haul off the previous owner’s mountainous pile of trash, and now my boxes of prickly, scratchy vines.


I wrapped some of the vines around this planter, left them for a few days, then picked it off and dumped it around this ugly green utility cover. Thoughts?



Doesn't this look so much better?


 Our window was fixed! No more holey window in my bedroom! I’m glad. I feel a little safer, and won’t miss the mosquito or two that squeezed through the tape.

We didn’t have any official date night, but we were together for his newly hired faculty reception with the President of Tarleton this week. It was enjoyable to just sit in the car for a half hour and drive without kid noise. A cold front was coming in, so the big Texas sky had lots going on to watch. We also played a little tennis on the front lawn. There were BIG flying beetles that hatched, and would buzz circles in front of the trees. Dad got us each a racket, and we SWUNG! He won, 6-3, and definitely had more bug parts on his strings. We were going to do this for our family home evening activity with the boys, but golf put a smash to those plans ;-)

We spoke of your Dad having diverticulitis again. We would not have gotten through for just $38 on prescriptions if not for your Uncle Brad, his willingness to help, and the fact that he’s practicing in Texas. What a blessing! I don’t understand why we have to wait for sixty days to have access to our insurance, but in this case all is well. He gets better every day, and has lost a few pounds to boot!

While Dad was recuperating home Friday I got to take the kids to school for the first time! I’m glad I don’t have to do that on a daily basis! I’m also thankful they ride the bus home. I agreed to pick them up just because I could that day, since I had the van. While dropping the little boys off at the elementary school, they introduced me to the “Door Daddies.” This is a pretty great idea, actually. The school and PTO were looking for ways to incorporate fathers into volunteer opportunities, and now use them to open the car doors when the kids arrive. Some look like they’re dressed for the office, in a suit and tie, others look like they’ll be crawling back into bed with their sweats and tee, but my favorite are the ones that look like they're headed back to the ranch - cowboy hats and boots!

We fed the missionaries this week for the first time. We had a picnic style dinner on the floor, since we still are without a table and chair. They were good for eating on the floor ;-)

 I spent a most of the day Saturday outside working – beautiful cool prevailed! Mowed the embankment down on the side of the house, and disentangled the left behind dog pen, and stacked it for the metal run. I was chased by a couple of field mice while mowing there. Also got the rest of the yard mowed, except for the rocky hill in the back. Haven’t seen the sprinklers on since the sewer system was fixed – wondering if this is normal, or if we’re operating in abnormal status? The boys went exploring to the copse of trees just off our property line, and found a treasure- a left behind stack of our colored bricks hidden in the long grass around the trees. Cooper came and got me, and we worked together to make a make-shift wagon out of the piano mover and stacked over 700 on the patio. There are still more there, but my arms were toast! Breyer and I will work on it again this week. She was all ready for bed last night, bathed and dressed, and came to my room to beg me to make another brick run. She enjoys riding the mover down to the trees, and helping to stack them.


(The gang inspecting a gecko casualty)


Breyer still looking for adventures ;-)


Sunday afternoon fun!

I’ll tell you what else she enjoys doing. Playing with her underwear! We opened her new box of clothes, size 4, and there were a bunch of underwear inside made by Disney, and all sporting a princess or two. We looked at them, put them on her shelf, and then she was back in there a while later asking if she could play with them. It was hysterical! She does enjoy those girls ;-)

We enjoy you. You always put a smile on our faces. Have a wonderful week. Hold your Schenewark heads up high and remember how much you’re loved.

Mom

P.S. Tanner, we tuned into the fireside you were working tonight. The music was great! I played on the floor one time, but DID NOT have my music memorized! Elder Christofferson’s closing line was very fitting for you, and what you’re going through! The cost of your membership in the church might be high, and even require you to sacrifice relationships that are near and dear.

Elder Christofferson spoke of Amish families that joined the church. They are of significance to us. We were in their ward (Hunter, Sawyer, Breyer) while Porter’s summer baseball league was competing in a state tournament. The first family had just been baptized, and the two other families were taking the discussions. The local members were so excited at the prospect of their Amish neighbors joining them in church. Anyway, those pictures of their temple sealings were beautiful.

P.P.S. Be sure to let me know what time you can pick up the Sam’s order – enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables! Share with Hunter and Eldon as well – they’ve both been very generous.

P.P.P.S. Hunter, we emailed Able regarding Ramona and the missing scholarship money. Also, contacted the bishop about those conference tickets you requested.

P.P.P.P.S. Make sure you boys in the apartment have your own family home evening if no groups have been formed yet. Tanner, help Hunter make kettle corn for snack ;-)