Monday, June 28, 2010

The Prophet Said to Plant a Garden.... that's what we'll do!

Our first Family Home Evening in our new house was all about how important it is to plant a garden, and how excited we are to finally have the opportunity, now that we have our own house and yard!

We started out small, with just 4 small plots; one for herbs (basil, sage, rosemary and chives), one for a raspberry patch, one for assorted vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, beans, spinach, carrots and cucumbers), and one for melons and squash. The children are most excited for the watermelon and pumpkins. Personally, I'm already loving the fresh herbs, of course.

We started with a quick lesson of the importance of gardening, then "dug right in" to the planting (literally). And the evening wouldn't have been complete without DIRT CAKE, of course. (Our kids are so trusting! They have never had dirt cake before but we told them it was fine to eat it, and, though they had puzzled looks on their faces, they didn't hesitate in taking a bite.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Big Cross-country Trek

About 2 hours after graduation, we finished the final loading of the truck and the Mr, Opa and Uncle Mark hit the road. The children had fun with the truck, but when it came time to say "goodbye" they were distraught to see Daddy leaving. When I assured them we would see him in a few days, they finally released their grip on him, but you would have thought he was leaving for a year, it was such a tearful farewell!

Then it was time to go - the Mr. in the Penske, Opa in the van and Mark in the Saturn. (Once they hit the main road they hooked the Saturn up and towed it on the Penske.) Even with a stop in Nebraska for church and another in Indiana to visit Elder Buchanan, they still made the 2500 mile trip in 3 days (while still obeying traffic laws, of course)! A very impressive feat to be sure! They all deserve medals for their endurance.

They made it to New Hampshire Tuesday evening, in plenty of time to pick the children and I up from the airport there. We stayed the night in Manchester, then made the final drive to Maine together...but that's a story for another day.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Finally, the Mr's LONG-anticipated graduation from Medical School! (Unfortunately my camera wasn't having the best day ever and many of my pictures of the actual ceremony did not turn out.) But, the children did an amazing job sitting through much of the ceremony, and thankfully Uncle Daniel came to the rescue when they were no longer willing to sit still, so that I could sit and listen (and cry ). Tears of gratitude that we've made it this far, tears of pride (the good kind) at all that my sweet husband has sacrificed and done to earn his degree, and even a few tears of sadness that we are leaving this wonderful phase of our lives.

Despite being financially "poor", these past four years as a medical student family have truly been some of the best days of my life! We started out with an 19 month old Angel, 1 week old Grins, managing the Ronald McDonald House apartments. The Mr. was First Counselor in the Bishopric, I was First Counselor in the Relief Society, and while the Mr. put the kids to bed and maintained the apartments, I worked 3 nights a week as a PA at WorkCare. Second year found me nannying full-time, expecting Wiggles, and looking for a larger place to call home. After moving into University of Utah Student Housing (on the first week of 3rd year rotations!) for just a couple of months, we moved to a MUCH larger home to house-sit for a year (just in time for Wiggles' birth - phew!) One final move back to University Student Apartments during Fourth Year brought us so many wonderful friends and fellow student families with whom life-long friendships and memories were made. We have searched under couch cushions and behind bookshelves for spare change to rent a movie. We have stood in line for hours for free tickets to Disney on Ice. We have sold our plasma to get money for ice cream. And we have loved (almost) every minute of it.

So, to you medical student families out there: enjoy these precious moments. I wish I had spent less time worrying about how I'd pay the rent and more time enjoying student life. It has been a good four years.

To the Mr: I'm so proud of you. You have served an honorable four years. I know you may not get the glory of all your classmates who have 'offered medical relief work in other countries' or 'pioneered new student associations' - but, to me, you have done far more. Not only have you studied, performed well on exams, served as AMA President, completed medical school and been accepted into residency, but you have done so while putting the Lord and your family first. Not a day has gone by where I didn't know that our family was your first priority. I know you sacrificed many extra-curricular activities and other opportunities, and even your 'most exciting' profession choice, to leave time for our children and me. And that means more than any award or public accolade.

To our family: thank you for your endless support these past four years (and even now!) It has been noticed and appreciated more than we can ever say. I truly don't know where we would be without you.

To the Lord: thank you for the many, MANY blessings which You have so abundantly poured out upon us; we have not room enough to receive them. We owe everything to You!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flashback - Mountain Cabin

While in Oregon, we had the privilege of spending the weekend at my grandparents' cabin in the mountains. This cabin has been in the family for several generations and was my favorite place to go as a child - I have SO many wonderful memories there! But the Mr. and I realized we hadn't been there since I was pregnant with Angel! And, given that we were moving several thousand miles away and wouldn't likely have another opportunity for awhile, we decided to take advantage of this chance and head up the mountain!

It was SO beautiful! There is nothing like losing cell phone reception and your internet connection to bring you together as a family! We just enjoyed nature; hikes, exploring, building forts, wading in the creek, and hanging out in the hammock with Grandpa! We all enjoyed it and I hope we'll be able to visit again sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flashback - A.C. Gilbert Children's Museum

If you live in SLC, Utah and you visit Oregon frequently, you should definitely invest in a Discovery Gateway Museum Pass! My Mom got us one for Christmas last year and we LOVED using it at the Discovery Gateway Museum in SLC! When we got to Oregon, we were THRILLED to learn that our pass also got us in to OMSI and A.C. Gilbert Children's Museum for FREE! We couldn't believe it! Needless to say, we had LOTS of (FREE!) fun in Oregon!

If you've never been to the A.C. Gilbert Museum, you are missing out! They have an entire room devoted to making can build a bubble around yourself (as shown below), make a bubble connecting you and another person, build a tunnel bubble over your head....and more!

One of my favorite rooms was the "BODY" room - you enter through the mouth! You get to experience how different parts of the body work - joints, ears, stomach, etc! Very fun way to learn!

Tea in Asia is always fun!
And three aspiring actors (dressed as toucans) put on a lovely show....with the assistance of their crazy uncle, of course!
For some reason, sitting on the GIANT chair terrified Wiggles - though she is usually clamoring out of reach to the highest height she can find...

Of course, after a long day of fun, the kids were WORN OUT! At least we were channeling their energy into productive activities!! :)

Flashback - OMSI

OMSI is seriously one of my FAVORITE places on earth! (And they aren't even paying me to say that!) If you ever go to Oregon, CHECK IT OUT!!! It has MORE than you could ever see in one day - and the kids section alone is enough to entertain all 3 of my children for an entire day!

We thoroughly enjoyed the insect and reptile lab, making crafts, playing in the sand, the huge 'miracle of life' display which shows the progression of an embryo to fetus to birth, the dementia/alzheimers display, the dinosaur section....and then we parked ourselves in the 'kidzone' for the rest of the trip! (Next time we'll go downtstairs or across the hall...)

Wiggles could not figure out how this ball was "floating"! She would put the ball on the tube, watch (mouth gaping open) as it "floated", then try to grab it quickly, as if to 'trick' it into giving up it's secret. For the life of her, she could not figure it out! It was hilarious to watch her stew over it - it's the longest I've ever seen her stand in one place (honestly!), she went back several times, and she spent longer at that one exhibit than any other place in the museum!
All the kids enjoyed the water table! It's amazing how long it holds their attention - I would get SO much done if I had one of these at my house!

I watched the cutest little chipmunks gathering acorns for the winter! :)

And, of course, this little gal drove off with my heart! How did I come to be so lucky, to be the mother of such beautiful children?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flashback - Mother's Day 2 - The Pani Popo Thief

Our Mother's Day dinner featured "Pani Popo" - a Samoan treat that has become a family favorite. While dishing up a plate for him, Grins surprised me by saying "No, thanks" to a pani popo - something I've never before known him to turn down! I wondered if he was feeling ok but he ate everything else on his plate so I assumed he just wasn't in the mood for the sweet gooey deliciousness and didn't give it another thought.

Until later. I noticed there were only 5 pani popo left (down from 2 pans!) and decided I'd better act quickly if I wanted another one. So I went to get my plate, got momentarily sidetracked, and when I took my plate over to the serving table, was shocked at what I saw. NO PANI POPO LEFT!! In their place: 10 gooey little fingers (almost as delicious....)

Apparently, he saw everyone else enjoying them and could resist no longer!!! Honestly, even if he didn't have coconut milk all over him, I could just eat him up!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flashback - Playing with Nani

While in Oregon, the kids thoroughly enjoyed Nani, the family dog! (Since she was Wiggles' first real experience with dogs, Wiggles called all dogs "Na-eee" for several weeks afterwards!)

Seeing how much fun they have with Nani almost makes me want to get a dog. Almost.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flashback - Mother's Day in Oregon featuring Grandma & Grandpa

We were fortunate enough to spend this past Mother's Day in Oregon - I can't remember the last time I was with my Mom on Mother's Day, it was so fun!

Dad treated us all to a most scrumptious meal of grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, stuffed mushrooms, pani popos (coconut milk-soaked rolls; a Polynesian tradition and family favorite!), fresh fruit, and scrumptious chocolate dessert. But even better than the food was the company! Six of our seven siblings were present together (we missed you, Daniel!) and in addition to Mom, we even got to spend some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa!

Angel and her aunt sang "The Grandmother Song" for "GG" - ADORABLE!! I have to say that, though my dear Grandmother's memory is fading as her Alzheimer's disease progresses, she is becoming more sweet and endearing than I could ever have imagined. She is SO thoughtful, so kind, so grateful and so sweet. Her fun sense of humor even pops out to surprise us every once in awhile! :) While I dearly miss her sharp mind and vibrant personality, I truly cherish and enjoy her pleasant disposition. And it is so precious to see how patient and loving my sweet Grandfather is with her. I know 'growing old' has been very difficult on both of them these past several years, but they are truly examples to me of aging with dignity and grace. I love them both so very much and long for the day when I can spend time with them more consistently! I was SO blessed while in Oregon to spend an entire day with just them....unfortunately Grandma, suddenly, fell very ill. I went over during the wee hours of the morning to stay with her - sitting with her, tending to her every need, cleaning up after her, and, while she slept, enjoying quality time with Grandpa (without my kids bouncing off the walls!) It was one of the best days of my entire trip! Grandpa and I enjoyed some wonderful conversation, and Grandma was so sweet...every time I would bring her something she was SO appreciative, and saying "You don't need to treat me like a queen, I'm fine!" or "Why are you doing so much for me? You must be one of my daughters to treat me so well." Fortunately, most of the time (except while she was vomiting) she forgot she was sick - one of the perks of Alzheimer's! :)

Since we left the following morning, Mother's Day was the last time I was able to spend with my dear Grandparents. Grandpa realized this and, as we said our goodbyes, it made for a very tearful farewell. It touched me so much.

It is true - I have been raised of Goodly Parents...and Grandparents.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Flashback - Temple Square

Since my camera battery is "lost" (still packed), I'm going to flashback to our final days with family and friends before our move to New England.

First stop on Memory Lane: Temple Square

After returning from Oregon, we intended to go to church at our "old" Ward - Arlington Hills - one last time, in order to give our final farewell to the many dear friends we made there (in addition to worshipping, of course!) We even stayed up late Saturday night writing cards and getting 'farewell' gifts together. As luck would have it, that week happened to be Stake Conference (which we didn't realize, having been in Oregon for several weeks previous.) So, we briefly visited with some of our friends before heading down to the Assembly Hall at Temple Square. Initially I was disappointed at missing a proper goodbye with so many dear friends, but in the end I was grateful for the precious opportunity to enjoy Temple Square with my beautiful family! Stake Conference was, of course, rich and fulfilling on its own. Afterward we were able to visit the Visitor's Center, Tabernacle, Reflection Pond, and fountain. Obviously the high noon day sun was less than ideal for photography, but it did make for a warm and lovely day!

We have truly been blessed, living so close to SO many temples, and especially the amazing Temple Square! We will miss it dearly!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Likening the Scriptures

A few days ago in our daily family scripture study we read the story of Alma the Younger's rebellion, encounter with an angel, and repentance and conversion. I often wonder if our scripture reading is even worth it because, despite our many efforts, the kids seem to be uninterested and focused on other things. (They generally do an OK job sitting, listening and reading, but sometimes they lose interest or fights ensue.)

Yesterday we did a lot of moving of furniture and, as a result, my arms were so tired I could barely lift them and found using my hands very difficult. I mentioned it to the Mr. and a few minutes later Grins said "Mommy, you're like Alma." Confused, I asked "How so?" "Because you can't use your hands!" he explained. I recalled our earlier reading of the story where it states "..and (Alma) became weak, even that he could not move his hands..." (Mosiah 27:19). I started laughing but it was such a precious moment where I realized that, even while pulling his sister's hair or trying to stand on his head, my son is, in fact, listening to the scriptures - and even "likening" them to our life and family. I guess we'll our daily devotionals aren't completely fruitless after all. :)