Daily Life

No Place Like Home

The weekend was long and finally over. It was a good weekend. I was at my parents house and I was with my kids but Alex was home and I was not. I love my parents and I am incredibly grateful for all their kindness and hospitality. I’m just a homebody though and like to be home. And I am super glad to be back home with my husband. And not just for help with diaper duty, though there is that.

Monday was my niece’s birthday and my sister had rented an 18 foot blow-up bouncy water slide. It was so high. I had an excuse not to participate, thank goodness, because I am so afraid of heights sometimes. My oldest five kids are not afraid and they were climbing up and sliding down for hours. I don’t know how they could walk after that. Maybe today they will be sore. It was probably the most fun birthday party I’ve ever been to. The kids played with their cousins all week and the party was a good way to end our stay.

We drove home that afternoon and got there right on schedule. Yes, I had a schedule I made and kept. We had to go pick up our fair entries and premiums. Once the kids saw that they were excited to have more entries next year. I was excited just for the ribbons. It was a fun experience.

Once all that kerfuffle died down I got down to business and assembled the IKEA furniture I had been pining after for ages. Last time I’d done the assembly I had to basically assemble everything twice or more times. I remembered that and this time I only did it once! Yay! I still have a couple more things to put together and then to the task of putting everything away. Like there isn’t enough to do. I have a bunch of errands to run on top of meal planning and grocery shopping.

Covid hit my county this past weekend. I’m wondering where it came from. I’m also wondering how it will effect the school year. The school board already pushed the start date back two weeks to implement teacher training on a new platform. I have six kids in school this year and the circus that is distance/ online learning is not something I look forward to. So much uncertainty. This year has been a tough one. I know there are tons of people who will be glad to see it go. I guess we just make the best of it all and do the best we can. There isn’t much else we can do.

Daily Life, Thoughts

The Chosen Makes You Think

So this past week I finally sat down and watched The Chosen. My husband and I and some of our kids watched it over the course of a few days. It has been awhile since we had a series to watch together. Again, I have pretty high standards. I don’t tolerate much swearing and immorality even though the story “is so good”.

I’d seen this series advertised and I didn’t give it really a second thought. Then I saw a gal I follow on Instagram saying she finally gave it a good try and got hooked and binge watched it multiple times. Okay I thought, I’ll give it a shot. I downloaded the app and started to watch it. I got maybe halfway through the first episode and I was hooked.

It was so good!

Do I think that it is 100% accurate? No. But what I do think is that it is good.

For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.

Moroni 7:5

I was praying and wondering if it was a good thing and the answer I got was “If it brings you to Christ it is a good thing.” Good enough for me.

I am excited for Season 2. The first one made me cry, made me laugh, and made me feel more of a longing to have more of a relationship with my Savior. He is my elder brother. The Chosen I don’t think took away from the deity of Christ, but rather showed him in more of a 3D perspective. It reminded me that He knows me and loves me and understands what it is like to go through mortality.

So this weekend if you have some time and even if you think you don’t, you should give the show a chance.

Daily Life

Missing

Last night and this morning were stressful. There is a holiday around here where we celebrate our pioneer heritage and some celebrate with fireworks. I didn’t use fireworks and never saw any but we sure heard them. For over two hours. Boom! Boom! Boom! I am half deaf and didn’t know they were going on until later.

After prayer we sent the kids to bed and the dog wasn’t sleeping where she normally does. We’d left her out back to go do her thing. We looked all over inside the house. Called outside. Walked around the neighborhood. Drove around the neighborhood. She was nowhere to be found. I told the kids she’d probably be home by morning.

I was wrong.

I had gotten up several times in the night to check and see if she was outside the front door. She wasn’t. I prayed and worried myself sick. At just before six as the sun was about to peek over the horizon I got up and dressed and got Michael up and had him come with me to drive around and look for our dog. No sign of her. We figured the fireworks scared her away. We always put her in the house during fireworks. This year all the festivities were canceled due to covid so I didn’t think about it.

When we came home from the first drive of looking I put a notice out on Facebook about what happened and a picture. A friend suggested I call the police. I did. They didn’t have her but would let me know if she was brought in.

I was restless and teary the whole morning. I had done all I could. It was a waiting game now. I sat at the table making rolls and Benjamin came up behind me and gave me a hug. He said it would all be okay and that she would be home soon. It was so sweet of him and I really hoped for the kids’ sake that it was true.

A few hours later a friend commented on my post that a woman on another Facebook page had found my dog. Yes! My stomach had been clenched tight for hours and it finally relaxed. The woman called me and we confirmed that it was indeed Skylar, my dog. I kept crying but this time tears of gratitude and happiness. We went and picked up Skylar. The people who found her said they found her in the back corner of their yard just shaking. She had managed to get herself over a mile away through lots of fields to where she ended up. When we got to her and saw her we were so happy. She jumped in the van right away. The kids were petting her and talking to her. Lauren and I were crying. I think the dog was relieved, too. She doesn’t do well when we’re gone and to be lost probably put her over the edge. She stuck closer to me than usual the rest of the day.

The kids think that I don’t like the dog. I really do and I hope they realize it now. She is with me pretty much all day and though I sometimes need a break, I do care about her.

When we got home we said prayers of gratitude. Gratitude that she was returned to us so quickly. Gratitude that she was alive and unharmed. Gratitude for the help of others in finding her.

I really hope she never goes missing again. She will definitely be inside on all firework holidays and days surrounding them from now on.

Daily Life, Remodel

Under-Construction

Pretty much all I have been doing every day is demolition. So much work! I keep going all day. And just when I think I can take a break I get a phone call. The window company wants to know if they can install the windows the next morning. Of course. Wait! I’m not ready for this yet! I figured I’d have a weeks notice not a few hours. I called Alex to tell him the news and then I got to work.

Armed with wasp killer spray and a crowbar I ventured out to dismantle the facade on the front of my house so we could remove the windows. My neighbor was watching, of course, but so were all the construction workers that were replacing the gas line on my street. My neighbor tells it that he saw me slightly lifting one board and spraying some wasps. He thought I was just out there to kill the bugs. The the next time he looked out his window he saw I had ripped off a bunch of the house. Kind of a bit much. I am great at tearing out the old. Putting up the new? Not so much. But I really have to because as nice as the new windows are, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the house looks awful.

The problem is that a lot of it got destroyed in demo and taken to the dump so I can’t put the old stuff back on. It is a veritable can of worms that I have opened. Not sure how to put it all back together. Well, I have an idea but executing it might be a little bit of an issue. I guess I haven’t learned to have a back up plan yet. Pretty sure I should because renovations always have unexpected setbacks.

I will say this for the new windows and door- Awesome! The yellow 70’s glass is gone and there is so much more light and view. I walk into the room and because there is so much light I think the door is open. It isn’t. It is just new windows that let in so much more light. I love it. The kids say they miss the yellow windows. Really kids? They’ll get used to it quickly. They have no choice because I am not switching back.

Now that the windows are done I think it is on to the electric. If I can get that squared away quickly then I can get the drywall back up on the walls and back to a sense of normalcy. Wish me luck.

Daily Life

There is Peace

I don’t think I wrote about this so I will try again.

I had been struggling. I could see myself getting off track. Nothing major but I could feel myself distancing myself from God. I don’t know why exactly. I was being a stubborn and petulant child. I wasn’t enjoying the feeling of it either but my stubborn pride would not let me fix it. I told myself “not now, I’m not ready” which is a very sad mindset. But just like when my children are upset and refuse to be comforted I patiently wait until they are ready. I am sure that my Heavenly Father does the same. How hard it must be for Him to patiently wait for so many of His children who refuse to be comforted to finally- hopefully- come to Him.

I finally am coming back around. It has been four months since we’ve been to church. Church makes it easy. You just show up and share the job of teaching each other. Sometimes you just show up and learn. But at home it is all on me and Alex to teach our children. We made it a priority to have church at home every single Sunday. It is work. It is good work, but it is work. There is no one to carry you along. No one to make sure you do it. It is all on you. It has been an opportunity to see what our priorities are and are we willing to follow Christ when no one else will see it?

Like I said, I was getting off track. I didn’t feel the spirit like I needed to because I wasn’t doing what I needed to. I started doing what I needed to. I started praying more and with more thought and sincerity. I started to study the scriptures more earnestly. I started listening to more uplifting podcasts and religious material. I got back on track and it will be a daily effort to stay there.

In the scriptures Christ commands us to pray always that we will not be tempted. He didn’t say it because it sounded like a good thing to say. He said it because it is imperative. As I follow the news daily I am astonished at how much we need the Gospel of Christ. It really is the only true anchor we have in a world of shifting values and daily changing opinions and “truth”.

It might have been easy to just float along as a Christian up until a few months ago but it feels like we are being sifted now. Where do you stand now? Are you firmly rooted in Christ or are you wish-washy, still trying to grasp the world? It has been interesting to watch these days unfold. It was prophesied that in the last days before Christ would return that men would call good evil and evil good. I never understood how it could be possible really until now. To me it feels like time is running out. Chaos seems to multiply daily and it is time to choose a side. As it says in the scriptures, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”

I hope that things are going well for any who read this. I hope there is peace in your life. This song is so beautiful and if you have a minute or two to listen to it I highly recommend you do so.

Have a great day!

Thoughts

90 Days

I am on day 4 of my “Summer of Change”. I don’t know what to call it. I just know that I’m taking a break this summer from all the bombardment. Be it from the media- social or otherwise- and it is hard. I am not necessarily a news junkie but I like to know what is going on. I have my talk radio shows I listen to daily and I’ve even started turning those off now. The world has gone crazy. Society has gone crazy. The news is like listening to some insanely far-fetched scifi/political made up who-knows-what. People have gone off their rockers. Not that everyone agrees with what is going on and not everyone has gone crazy. It is just certain areas and the matter of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The rebels (I guess I can call them that?) who are looting, causing chaos, destruction and death are getting all the attention. I can’t watch it or listen to it anymore. I am taking a break.

I am thinking though that when I turn everything back on in September it will be a completely different world. I would like to thing that it would return back to a semblance of normal that we used to know but in my heart I seriously doubt it. You can only go so far before you can’t go back. People- cities- are talking about getting rid of police because they are the problem and the world would be a better place without them. Um, what?! Yes, there might be a few bad apples but to make a blanket statement like that and go with it is just about the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. To think that people can get along and handle themselves without law and order is insanity. I wish that were the case but watching the news people have proven that not everyone is capable of logical thought and self governing.

As we say in my family: Make good choices, say your prayers, read the scriptures, follow the prophet, be kind and you’ll be fine.

That’s about all you can really do.

Daily Life

It’s Been a Couple Days With A Lot of (Little) Miracles

I’ve said this before and I will say it again (and again)- if you look for them, miracles happen all the time.

Earlier this week Michael said that he needed $10 so he could go out and eat lunch with his friend. I gave him a pickax and a spot of ground and he got to work digging. It was a patch of weeds that I wanted to plant grass in- grass os easier to take care of than controlling weeds. It took him a couple hours over a few days. He gained $10 and some muscles to boot. We all won.

I spent several hours weeding this patch of dirt. Two 5-gallom buckets full of weeds and rocks were pulled out of this patch. My plan was to get it prepped to plant grass seed. It would be a weeks long process growing grass from seed. Then one night I was done working on the yard when I checked my Facebook feed. A man in my church had posted that he had extra sod from a project. Free to whomever got there first. I grabbed two of the kids and we jumped into the van and headed over. It was still there. Over 60 square feet of sod. It really was a blessing. Saved me so much time. A miracle because it showed up right when I could use it.

I still have some work to do on it but that work was cut down significantly.

Next miracle. I have wanted some nightstands to match my dresser I got last year. I finally had the money saved up and I was planning on buying them and picking them up this weekend. I just couldn’t make it feel right. I tried and tried and tried. It just felt wrong. I kept trying to make it feel right because I wanted them and I couldn’t see a logical reason to not get them. But I finally gave into the feeling and like a petulant child said to Heavenly Father “Fine, I’ll do it your way though I don’t understand why.”

(As a quick aside, the store, IKEA, is in Salt Lake City, hours from my house and shipping is ridiculous but I would be nearby when visiting my family over the weekend so picking them up wouldn’t be a big deal.)

When I got home Saturday night I finally checked the news. Rioting and vehicles set on fire in Salt Lake City last night. I might have or might not have been in the area when all the chaos broke out. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in harm’s way but I am grateful that I was able to avoid all of it.

Another miracle happened on the way home. As we left my parents house the weather that had been hot and pleasant all day turned into thunderstorms. About halfway home in the fading light and the worst part of the drive for it to happen, the storms let loose. I have a hard time seeing the road at dusk and the rain didn’t help. The winds picked up and I was having a hard time keeping the van driving straight as the big gusts would push the van violently. I told the kids to pray. I was praying and putting all my concentration into keeping us from crashing. There was literally nowhere to pull over and wait it out as we were in a canyon. It seemed as though as soon as the prayers were uttered the windshield wipers worked better, the headlights seemed brighter, the winds let up, the rain let up and I was able to see where we were going. Lauren said she noticed it too as she prayed. It was scary. The rest of the drive was still rainey, some parts a heavy downpour, but I was able to see well enough without panicking. The lighting flashing around us was amazing and we were able to enjoy the rest of the ride.

There were more, too, as I sit here thinking about it and though they seem small and possibly insignificant and some people would explain them away as mere coincidences or imagined threats, I choose to see them for what they are- God’s hand in my life, evidence that he cares for us and that he cares about the little things- the details. All we have to do is look.

Daily Life

Power Outage

I sat in the basement listening to my oldest son try to play catch up with his band homework from the last two months. Hard lesson to learn. But it is something that I have been learning. Keeping up is easier than catching up and life is really just work. The piper will be paid at some point.

I was weeding the other night and i was thinking that life is work. You can’t really cheat. You can’t really take the easy way because you miss out when you go that route. You really just cheat yourself.

The boys got all their work done and passed their classes. One subject with one child left.

Wednesday morning I got up and the forecast was raining. It wasn’t dumping rain, it is Idaho and it never really does and only for a few minutes. It was dry enough so I was up and at ’em. It started to sprinkle as I walked and the sun peeked through the clouds. A rainbow before 7 a.m. it was a good start to the day.

I thought my washer was level but it wasn’t. One sure way to ruin a washing machine is for it to not be level. Ugh. I had Alex help me before he left for work. The front couldn’t go any different so I had to fix the back. Alex had to go and I was left to figure it out. I pulled the washer out and found out that the rear legs are stationary. I had to problem solve. This all happened before my walk. I needed the walk for time to figure this problem out.

This is what the floor looked like under the washer. Its messed up, right?! (Sorry for the blurry picture.)

I did my workout and then got on my knees and prayed for help to know the best way to fix the problem. I figured that since I am going to be gutting the whole thing anyways I might as well start by ripping out the section under the washer. The exact tools came to mind and how to do the whole thing. I got up and went to the garage to look for the crowbar. The tools are usually not where they should be. I looked for a minute and then called Alex. Before he could answer I saw the crowbar across the garage. It took me maybe 15 minutes to get the floor out and the thing leveled. Talk about prayers answered. I have about 10 more loads of laundry to do so I am glad it didn’t take long to fix.

The gas lines are being replaced or fixed or something in my neighborhood and so there has been construction going on. All day it was rumbling and loud truck and backhoe noise. It will continue as they do the road in front of our house. They were working on the side one first.

It was a chilly rainy day. I’m not a fan of the cold but it was pretty.

While I was putting the little kids down for a nap the power went out. I found out because the kids emerged out of the basement. Cloudy rainy days make the basement really dark with no power. The power was scheduled to come on at 5. Okay, 2 more hours to go. The kids were bored because it was cold and rainy so they were stuck inside. I said cleaning is a good cure but they wanted nothing to do with that. I cleaned the best I could without power. Washed dishes by hand, washed some walls, cleaned up the “classroom” since we didn’t need it for at least 3 more months, cleaned the little boys cave dump bedroom, and then we went to the store to find food for dinner and to get out of the house. Taco salad was on the menu.

We got home and I checked the power status. Not scheduled to come on until 8. What?! Ugh. Fine. Alex said to ser up the gas camping stove to cook the meat. I did. He cooked the beef in the garage when he got home. We ate and then had ice cream cones. I looked at the status again. No power until 10 p.m. No!!! My phone was dead, all the flashlights are in the 72-hour kits and I wasn’t willing to drag them out. So we read scriptures in the fading light, the kids built a blanket fort and we all went to bed with the sun. I got 9 hours of sleep. It was wonderful. In total the power was out for over 8 hours.

It was comical yet sad that the kids were so bored. I had to explain that electricity is a very modern invention and that people before it managed to survive. I am not bothered too much when the power goes out. Just an inconvenience. I am glad for it sometimes because gives us a chance to see where we could improve. I do love having electricity though. It makes everything so much easier.

So that was the last couple days. Power is back on and I have the laundry from yesterday to catch up on as well as a huge stack of dishes. Schoolwork and who knows what else awaits me today.

Daily Life

Plan to Fail

You know that saying, “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”? It felt like my motto lately and I was tired of it.

Yesterday I was tired and a bit ornery. I did not want to get up and walk. I did not want to get up and exercise. I’ve been down this road before and I knew where it went. Skip one day and it turns into two and then you stop all together. I got up. It’s why I walk on Sunday- it is just something I do no matter what. I’ve been at it for a month now and I don’t want to quit. I even exercised and it was hard but it didn’t hurt. Until this morning. Then I thought about it and realized that I did at least 60 push ups. They weren’t all the way down and I was on my knees but I did them and I have never done close to that amount before.

I am starting to grow up. Is it fun? No. Is it hard? Yes. Can I do hard things? Yes.

Yesterday Benjamin was assigned a video to watch for geography class. He didn’t want to watch it. What else is new? These kids fight me every step of the way. As hard as this homeschool thing is, I am starting to figure it and the kids out; when to push and how hard. Now that it is almost over.

This speech is so good. I made him watch it. I had seen a bit of it floating around Facebook weeks ago but the whole thing is worth the watch. It was motivating for me and applicable since I’d been thinking along those lines lately. I needed to change up how I was operating.

I bought a planner yesterday. I gathered my stuff together and started listing what needed to be done. On an old schedule I had made I had a deep cleaning task assigned to each day of the month with the idea that if everything is deep cleaned once a month then it only takes a little chunk of time rather than hours. I looked and the days task was living room baseboards. Hmmm. They weren’t painted yet. Wiping primed baseboards is a pain. It wouldn’t look clean if I did it. So I got the sand paper out, sanded down the nail holes Alex had filled when he installed the baseboards and then found the paint. What?! You read right. I not only painted the baseboards (the half that had been prepped- I have the other half of the room to do still) but I washed all the trim around the door, entry, and windows and put a fresh coat on them. It looks so nice! It had been looking worn down and dingy. No more. I was so proud of myself. I felt so accomplished. I made a plan to finish the rest of the room this week.

I used to do projects all the time. All the time. There isn’t a corner of this house I haven’t done something to (for better or for worse) and I had lost my steam, my motivation, my desire to do anything really. I just did the bare minimum and was just getting by and passing time. It is a bad rut to be stuck in. But I think I am finally clawing my way out.

I realized as I was thinking over all the little things that are slowly changing and shifting, that my prayers are being answered. They aren’t all lighting and thunder bolts, heavenly visions or anything. Just an idea here and there, a shift in perspective, little changes, course corrections that make a big difference in the long run.

Noah is a funny kid and lately he has been saying this phrase in a funny voice akin to Roz in the Monsters Inc. movie. He uses the voice and says “God is always watching you. Always watching.” It is so random and so funny. And so true. God is invested in us, in our lives, the little things. All we have to do is pay attention and we’ll see it.

Daily Life

A Day Out of the House

This morning was grey and kind of chilly. And the wind had started up a little. I decided I can handle the cold. I really don’t like cold wind though. At all.

I was in kind of a bad mood. Defeated is more like it. I was upset because last night Alex and I worked on a detailed list of every item needed to fix the house up. We only got half way through and didn’t even get the labor in yet and it was at almost $40,000. Y’all, that was supposed to be my whole budget. The wind was out of my sails and I was down in the dumps. I was really looking forward to getting it all done and out of the way. So today as I went about trying to do stuff, I thought of ways to cut costs and also what we could do ourselves to save on labor costs. It comes down to doing the three/four important rooms and the rest will just be done cash flowed and one at a time when we can do it. Welcome to the real world.

Despite all the mental setbacks I got up and went for my walk anyways. I wasn’t in the mood to listen to scriptures or say my prayers or walk. But I did them all anyways and I am glad I did. Praying lately has been hard for me. I read all the sad and hard things that are going on in the world and it is such a heavy load. There was this one family in particular who’s story I was following and I would just weep every time I thought of them. It was getting harder and harder to spend my walks just crying and praying for these people. The thought came to me though that it wasn’t my job. Christ had already done the heavy lifting for these people– the whole world in fact. He’d already felt it all and taken care of it all and knows the best way to help. Life is hard but we weren’t meant to do it alone. He already did that.

There is a story in the scriptures about a man named Enos. It was my favorite when I was little and it is still one of my favorites. He goes hunting and while out there he remembers his father, Jacob, talking about the Savior. He starts to pray and he prays all day and into the night. First about himself and the help he needs and forgiveness for his sins. Then he prays for his family and extended family and then basically everyone. That is how I feel sometimes. I have to cut myself short because I could literally pray all day and all night sometimes.

I did feel better by the end of my walk. Good thing too because I had to take all the kids to the dentist today. Just a side note, none of us had a fever. Had to get checked before we could go it. The dentist appointment was the usual crazy juggling it is when you take 8 kids at the same time. But the news was all pretty good.

It was lunchtime so I went to Little Cesar’s and got pizza. I will say one thing though: if Covid-19 continues to spread like wild fire it will be because of people like the one person who came into the store after me. I went in and kept my distance from the person in front of me. A person with incredibly bad manners came in after me. There wasn’t much room to begin with but instead of taking note that I was giving the person in front of me space, she took it as an opportunity to get in line next. Didn’t acknowledge me at all. No “are you in line?” Nothing. Didn’t look at me. Am I wrong to be upset? I didn’t say anything to her but I just thought it was a bit inconsiderate.

We took the pizza to Alex’s work and ate lunch with him. He took the kids on a tour since the machines were all turned off during the lunch hour. The kids enjoyed it.

We went to Sam’s Club afterwards. I left all the kids in the van and I hurried and did the shopping. I loaded all the groceries into the van and then went to start the van. It wouldn’t start. The kids had turned it on halfway to run the air and radio. They killed the battery. I called Alex to come jump the battery and as he was on his way the lady who was parked in front of me came to her car. I asked if she would help me but she said she couldn’t because the battery in her car was in the back. Okay. Poor design choice. The empty spot in front of us was quickly filled and I probably scared to old man when I came up to him as he was opening his door. He agreed to help, thank goodness. It took just a few minutes and we were on our way. I thanked him and wished him a good day. The kids now know to turn the car on all the way or not at all.

That trip took up most of the day. We got zero schoolwork done. I read on Facebook today some lady said that it isn’t homeschool, it is crisis school. She is completely correct. This situation is nowhere near normal. Crisis school indeed. But I told the kids to expect hours of school tomorrow. We’ll hope we actually do it and survive.