Friday, October 31, 2014

Beauty in All Things

Come Lord Jesus great Redeemer,
Light of morning from the east.
We will be thy children ever
Dry our tears, all weeping cease.
Come in glory to the earth
Come to us to rule and reign.
Ready us to kneel and greet thee,
Come, Lord Jesus come.
Jesus, once of humble birth,
Now in glory comes to earth.
Once he suffered grief and pain;
Now he comes on earth to reign.
Now he comes on earth to reign.
Come Lord Jesus Come!
This is the finale in the show Savior of the World.
All the actors gathered on stage and sang the above song.
Some of the little children climbed onto a mountain and joined the apostles.
The apostle Peter stands at the top of the mountain and Bria was held in his arms.
Bria then raises her hand and points to heaven as we joined her in looking to heaven.
 Tears ran down my face when I looked up and witnessed this sight as we all sang,
Come Lord Jesus Come!
This was not planned by the director.
He was not aware of Bria's hand but God is.
I find this a beautiful representation of all of us.
Bria has a noticeable need for the return of our Savior.
Yet, all of us need his atoning power and the gift of the resurrection.
Come Lord Jesus Come!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A family who is in a play together, stays together.

Our family is going to be in the LDS Church's production of "Savior of the World" this year - from Dad all the way down to Bria.  This even includes Tyler and Jessica. (Our oldest son and daughter-in-law)

This is a musical production the Church puts on every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  Yes, this is a musical production and yes, I am in it.  This is Doug, by the way...  Don't worry, there are plenty of strong voices and I can blend in...

Deanne, Tyler, Sereen, Ressa, Pierce and Hannah have all been in it before and loved it, so this time we tried out as a family hoping to just be members of the ensemble, filling up space on the stage.  We'd be good at that. :)  I agreed to try out.  (This is Deanne. I was just reading this for the first time and had to put my two cents in. Doug is the one who suggested we all tryout as a family. I think he likes to forget that part. The man that will not sing in the ward choir and has NEVER wanted to be on stage asked if we could try out as a family.) Besides, we probably wouldn't make it anyway so there was nothing to be too worried about.  The last time I remember being on stage was in a 3rd grade Sesame Street skit singing the rubber ducky song in my baseball uniform because my game went too long to change into my costume...

I figured they would recognize Deanne's wonderful voice and want her.  And most likely Pierce for a speaking part and possibly a couple more of the kids for the ensemble.  Well, to the surprise of all of us, they wanted our ENTIRE FAMILY and many of us were selected for speaking parts.  (The original member of the family that has always loved musicals and dreamed of being a professional singer on stage did not get a part but many of the kids that didn't want a part, including Doug, have speaking parts. Funny.)Tyler and Pierce are Shepherds, Creed is Nephi and a soldier (the coolest part in the play, as defined by Creed) Casey and Clayson each play boys with fairly significant speaking parts.  Deanne is playing Mary's aunt, although she has no speaking parts, she is in many (One) scenes and on stage with a small group with Mary and Joseph at one point.  Hyrum even has a part that is considered more than just the ensemble (and he LOVES it).I am the prophet Malachi reciting a scripture and also a disciple who is in the upper room when Christ appears to the apostles.  I am 3 weeks into growing my beard - another new experience for me.  Here are photos of some of the boys being fitted for the costumes...

We were a little overwhelmed and humbled when they told us we were all in it.  This goes way beyond the rubber ducky song. This is a fantastic play telling the story of Christ's birth and resurrection.  It offers a very rewarding, spiritual experience year after year.  We hope we can each add to the spirit of the play. 

Our cast will be in the Wednesday, Friday evenings and Saturday matinee shows each week starting 11/21 through 1/3.  All performances are in the small theatre of the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, UT. Ticket information will be posted on the website soon. But if you want more information, just let us know.

P.S. You did a great job on the post Doug. I love you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hard Things

All of us go through hard things in life. Some go through more difficult experiences than others and some are placed in situations and have emotions that we can't imagine. Several of our children fit into this last group of people. So many of their most vulnerable years were spent in situations that damaged them emotionally. Have given them burdens to bear and scars to heal.

Today we witnessed a glimmer of the pain that comes with hard things. I only reveal these things so others may learn and become aware of our responsibility to love, nurture and heal as our Savior would. Scott and I were reading in his book when he said something about being slapped in the face. I asked him to explain what happened. His pent up hurt exploded out of his body. He raised his voice, tears flowed, body tensed and he became very animated as he began to tell me the story.

When he was 8 one of the orphanage staff poured him a glass of hot water. It is customary in China to drink hot water no matter the temperature or climate. Scott picked up his glass with his left hand, the hand that trembles a lot and is hard to control. The cup started burning his hand so he tried to put it back down as quickly as he could. In the process his hand shook violently and he spilled the water on the table and floor. The male staff member that had poured his water reacted abusively and slapped him very hard in the face. Why, because he had a special need and accidentally spilled his water. No arm around the shoulder. No, it's ok or no problem. No, I love you anyway. What he got was a hard slap across the face.

I wanted to clarify parts of the story with Scott and help him to continue to open up so he could feel the emotions and get it out. I asked a couple of questions and Scott responded  by telling me "He hit me hard in the face because of my broken hand!" He had tears streaming down his face and was very upset. I took him in my arms and whispered in his ear that I was sorry. I reminded him that we love him. We love him even with his broken hand and unclear speech. We will love him forever and try all we can to try to fix his hand and allow others to understand him when he speaks.

It was a bitter sweet experience for both of us. Scott was strong enough to open up his heart. He finally feels secure enough to know we love him and will continue to love him even if bad things have happened. He allowed the pain to come up and feel those buried feelings. I too felt the pain of my son being so hurt. My heart broke for a child that was mine living so much of his life in an orphanage where the love he felt was limited, the abandonment, the abuse and rejection left deep scars. I also was given a gift. A reminder that my son is home! He is loved! And my Father in Heaven trusts me enough to help him learn of his Savior and seek healing and light. We may have some challenging days ahead as we have reached a new level of trust and healing. I am ready. I will love him even more and increase my prayers on Scott's behalf. I am truly blessed to be his mother.

When I told Scott we were trying to help fix his broken hand Hyrum reached out his hand, turned it over and said "I want to fix my broken hand." Oh, how hard it is to see your children suffer. There is nothing I can do for Hyrum. His broken hand is a burden he will bear all his mortal days and I can do nothing to take it away. But I will teach him he is loved. He is strong and he can do all things that the Lord would ask of him, broken hand or not.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zip Line

As the saying goes, "The third time is a charm."  This was especially true with our attempts at a successful zip-line in our back yard.  Our nephew Kurt made it happen... 

1st attempt: On Labor day we cemented in a steel pole for our 90 foot zip line.  That bent enough to put slack in the cable as soon as Creed went down it.  We subsequently dug the pole and about 3 bags worth of cement out with it. 

2nd attempt: We then went to a wood post, but the largest I found was a 4x6 at Home Depot.  I wanted an 8x8 or larger, but couldn't find one readily available. The lumber post was much better than the steel, but with the zip line attached 10 feet up the pole, there was still a lot of leverage and it still flexed too much.

3rd attempt: Master Builder, brother-in-law, David, suggested a dead man anchor to add tension in the opposite direction.  Nephew Kurt was here for a couple of days with Kayla and the girls and he had extra time on his hands.  He said he loves I gave him one.  We now have a dead man in our backyard (not Kurt) -a cement filled hole with a rebar loop to which he connected a $15 Harbor Freight come-along to add the necessary opposing tension to the zip line. 

Ready to roll.... or zip...

Professionally engineerig rigging.

A little bonus fun for the first zip line rides.  The kids found this snake under a dump truck in the sand box.  He was obivously laying in there trying to digest his lunch.
The Go Pro view.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Love Gysers and It's a Good Thing

That's the number of geysers we have had in our back yard in the last 6 years.
If you remember, it was just this spring that we had our last water pipe break.
Olivia ran it over with the lawn mower.
This time however was not our fault.
Pierce, Hannah and cousin Jacob were preparing to do the Ice Bucket Challenge.
They got out the 50 gallon cooler and Pierce turned the spigot on in the backyard.
He turned the handle and noticed the water felt sluggish.
He couldn't figure out what was wrong.
 A very short moment later a gush of water shot up
and sprayed him right in the face.
Kids came running in the house where I was preparing for dinner and
to have friends come over to watch a movie outside.
The kids were screaming
"There's another geyser!"
My thought was, "Who did it this time?"  And "How embarrassing!"
I knew the firemen came out to take care of situations like this after hours and
I wasn't ready to face that. But I had no choice.
I called the city dispatch, yeah, it should be on speed dial by now, and they
told me to stay away from the water, be in the front yard so the firemen knew where to go,
and keep the kids away. He repeated the instructions several times with emphasis.
I thought, "That is no fun. The water won't hurt anyone."
But I obeyed. Well, for the most part.
I had to keep telling the kids to stay away from the water because
I didn't want to get in trouble when the firemen showed up.
In about 20 minutes a city worker came.
I got a big grin and loudly announced to all the kids to start playing.
I didn't care about a city worker. :)
After inspecting the damage the guy came up to me
and said he would have loved this as a kid.
Free game.
When I first went outside and we couldn't play in the water
 I took advantage of the situation.
I had all the kids pick weeds out of the sandbox so it would look
nice when our company came. Even though
weeding the sandbox was a job two weeks in a row
it doesn't look like it got done very well.
That weed was growing quite a while.
Just the day before a friend was over and the kids made a series
of ditches. The friend wanted to see what would happen
if they filled it with water. Sadly this child
had to leave right as they finished digging.
Just a couple hours later the kids got to witness
the maze fill up. Then it began to overflow.
Margaret, this is what happens when the ditches fill up.

The kids were trying to get more water into the sandbox
so it would completely fill.
That wasn't working so well so we
tried daming up the water going the other direction.
We sat on the ice chest and that helped a little.

Hannah yelled at me and said "Hyrum and Bria are stuck!"
They were really stuck. It took all of Hannah's strength to pull
each one of them out.
The kids dug and splashed and had a great time.
Most of them ended up soaking wet and had to go
in to change. We were expecting company in 30 minutes.
Watching a move outside with wet clothes wouldn't be
very fun. It makes it worse that they were soaked in secondary water
that is from the bottom of a green lake.
I call this water sewer water. It smells so bad.
As the kids were trying to fill the sandbox I walked to the back
and realized that the water was running over the edge in the back.
Yes, the playset needs a good paint job.
We had intentions to do it all summer.
Pierce now has a paying job. Paint the playset before winter.

Cousin Jacob sitting on the ice chest when I realized
we would not be filling up the sandbox.

The kids loved running through the water. It took Clayson
a little bit to get the courage. There was a lot of water.
The geyser had to be spraying between 30-40 feet in the air.

Marshall had the shovel trying to dam up the areas that were allowing
the water to go behind the playset. It was all in vain,
but he had a lot of fun doing it.

Scott was very reluctant to get in the water.
He wouldn't even stand in it.
After watching the kids laugh and play for
about 30 minutes he shyly walked over to the geyser.
I noticed him as he walked up and stood in the water.
He started laughing  and laughing.
He then held his arms out in an expression of pure joy.

About 45 minutes from the time the fun began the city turned the water off.
The kids continued to play for a short time until I informed them
the fun had ended and we needed to get changed for the movie.
Our company came about 45 minutes late, which saved us.
Once the water was off it was clear our hypothesis was correct.
When the city workers fixed the last break in the pipe they
hadn't glued it correctly and with the pressure
the spigot blew off. An accident that created great memories
and family bonding. It was great!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Entry way makeover

This is the first of 3 flooring projects.  The entry first, then the kitchen, then the family room.  We broke out the tile by the door and ripped out the carpet to all the doorways leading from the entry.  Now we can replace all the carpet separately in each room as needed instead of all at once.
Wonderboard first.... I had to do it right, or my brother-in-law the temple builder would have had me tear it all out and start over.

Travertine with a marble inlay around the perimeter.  I think we saved about $2,000 doing this ourselves, but I won't count up the hours I spent doing may not work out to be minumum wage.  At least, I didn't give up many hours from my day job, just a bit of sleep, and those hours are pretty inexpensive.  I only hit 4:00 AM once....  Deanne helped when she could, but most of it was a one-man job.  She felt guilty to go to bed without me so she either stayed up doing stuff or fell asleep on the couch waiting for me.

We have wanted to change our pathetically small chandelier since we moved in 10 years ago, (see the photo on the left)but we knew to replace it with one that fills the space of our entry (see photo on the right) would be very expensive.  Well, we lucked out and found a used one for $300 that does the job quite nicely.  It takes a little getting used to, but it's a huge improvement.  It weighs 90 lbs so it was an adventure getting it up.  I made sure the kids didn't stand under it for the first few hours, but so far so good...

Now on to refinishing the kitchen floor...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Backyard movies

Q: What is better than sleeping out in the backyard? 
A: Watching a movie, then falling asleep in the backyard. 
This is the morning after a movie night. Most of the kids are still in their sleeping bags in this picture.  It's always tempting to turn on the sprinklers to wake them up...

Baseball game

Nothing like a baseball game under the lights!  I took 10 kids to the minor league Salt Lake Bees game a few weeks ago and a few things made it memorable, besides the score...our team got slaughtered 13-2.  First of all, we had my Niece Chloe with us and it was her first baseball game ever.  It was also the first time she found out that I played baseball in my younger days.  I was already her favorite uncle, but that sealed the deal.
Another memorable moment came when I bought $17 worth of cotton candy and passed it down the row for everyone to share.  The lady in back of me said to her husband, loud enough for me to hear,
"That is such a nice man in front of us to buy a treat for everyone in his row." 
I didn't spoil her "moment" and let her believe what she wanted. Besides, it would have sounded awkward to turn around and say, "They are all mine and it was my parental responsibility to overpay for colored sugar so my kids would endulge their father in a few hours of baseball."   

It was also memorable because I learned about the cool selfies my new phone can take. 
The lense shoots both ways!  I'll bet Tyler's fancy camera can't do that!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obedience Brings Blessings

Tonight Clayson had Cub Scout Pack Meeting. Each month they discuss the theme for the month and have an activity that applies to the theme. This month's theme is honesty. They had a game where the boys would make paper airplanes and fly them into a grouping of bowls. Each bowl was worth different points. The boys were to keep track of their points on their own as a way to practice being honest.

The leader stood up and explained the game. He instructed the boys to make an airplane and line up to start the game. The boys took their pieces of paper and some preceded to ask a parent to make their planes for them. It was great to hear the parents support their children in making their own planes and not doing it for them. I saw this as a way to  practice being honest as the instructions were for the boys to make the planes. Instructions were given and planes began to take shape. A few of the older boys decided to take a short cut and crumpled their paper into balls claiming that was their airplane. The other boys began to notice and some followed their example crumpling up their airplanes to make a ball.

Clayson and another boy behind him, we'll call him Dalton, saw what was going on and started to desire to crumple their planes into balls too. They recognized that it wouldn't be fair to try and fly a plane into a bowl while the balls would be easier to control and therefore gain more points. At the same time, Dalton's mom and I both explained to our boys that this game was about honesty. It was not honest to use a ball when the instructions were to make an airplane. In our minds, and the boys, those using the balls were cheating. We both tried to help our sons realize that being honest was more important than winning the game and getting first pick of the candy bars. It was hard for both boys at the age of 10 to smile and agree. There was no arguing just sadness.

The first two rounds of throwing the planes and balls our boys got the points and no one else. I was so happy to see that there would be rewards for being honest. The Lord had something else in mind, however. At the end of the game Dalton came in second and Clayson third. Neither boy got the first pick of candy bar.  The best candy bar was taken and even though Dalton and Clayson got to choose next the other candy bars were the same. This was a situation where we don't get the immediate reward but have to have faith that we will be blessed for our obedience.

A quote that we heard recently came to mind.

"Obedience brings blessings. Strict obedience brings miracles."

Miracles will come because of the boys obedience and honesty. They didn't receive the miracle of the candy bar but they will, over time, be transformed from who they are to who they can be. They will be looked on as examples and people that can be trusted if they continue to live as they did tonight. A great opportunity was presented tonight to teach a valuable lesson to two impressionable boys.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walker Family Ice Bucket Challenge

I know, all of you on Facebook have seen so many people pouring ice water on their heads you'll be relieved when it dies down. Me too!! It's taken over news feeds everywhere. I think I will be pondering on a way to create a phenomenon like this for adoption fund raising. I'll give it a year and make it something fresh and new. Any ideas?

Well, we were nominated as a family for the ALS ice bucket challenge by the Harmon family. I couldn't just let this be the normal bucket of water on all of our heads. The video would have been 15 minutes long. No one would watch it, not even me. If we are going to suffer than it has to be fun.

Hopefully you will get a smile out of this. We did!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Gift of Life

We have had an eventful week. Some great things and some challenging but all were good for one reason or another. We reflect on how fragile life is and what a gift we have in it.
A few months ago Scott got an MRI to get a better handle on his Cerebral Palsy.  A week or so later we got a call from the doctor informing us that Scott had been misdiagnosed and did not have CP. We were shocked. The doctor had two guesses, Muscular Dystrophy or Dystonia. Neither one was a good thing but if there was a choice Dystonia was better. Our new neurologist is pretty convinced we are dealing with dystonia. Last Tuesday Scott went in for a lumbar puncture to test the Serotonin level in his brain. From my very limited understanding dystonia is caused from low serotonin in the brain. It is a degenerative disease so over time it gets worse. There are several types of dystonia and the purpose of the lumbar puncture was to help discover the type and decide on a course of action.
To make a long story short. Scott got the lumbar puncture. We have been told by numerous nurses and doctors that the spinal headache that can occur after the lumbar puncture is very rare. As our life has gone recently, Scott was the exception to the rule. He struggled with a bad headache for 4 days. Let me tell you, looking for info on the Internet is not comforting. I talked with several nurses and put in calls to the doctors but ended up in the emergency room Saturday afternoon. I was told there was a procedure that could be done if the doctors couldn't get on top of the headache that would mean they go back into the spine. I was not too pleased with this option so my prayers became more intense. Scott was given a cocktail of medicine with IV fluids and in an hour the pain was gone. They say that 70 percent of headaches react positively to the meds. The angels were on our side this time. Scott didn't need the surgery and we were able to go home.
We did receive a great blessing through it all. Scott was put under anesthesia for the procedure. As he was waking up the nurse brought me back to be with him. I sat down, put my hand on Scott's arm and he grabbed my arm and held on as tight as he could. My son needed me and wasn't afraid to show it. I love those moments when you see their soul and realize that it's all worth it.
The same day that I took Scott to the emergency room we received a great blessing. At 6:45am we were woken up by the phone. Ressa was on the other end and sounded a bit distressed. I was a little bleary eyed so I don't remember exactly how it went but she informed me her back hurt consistently and then it would get worse for a little bit and settle back in. Now, one thing you need to know, Ressa was 40 weeks pregnant with her first baby. She had low back pain for a couple of months so this was not totally out of the blue. About a minute after she started talking she gasped and said "My water just broke". Well that answered that question. She was most definitely in labor.
I rushed down to the hospital and got there just about an hour after she called. What do I find in front of the entrance to the Women's Center? A running car. Yep, it was Jason and Ressa's. I was a bit confused as to why it took them so long to get to the hospital just 10 minutes from their house but I jumped in and moved their car to the parking lot and brought the keys in. I handed Jason the keys and told him what I had found. He looked at me a little confused as I explained what I had done. Come to find out, they had been there for 30-40 minutes! Jason, in all his excitement, helped Ressa into the hospital and promptly forgot his car was running outside. The classic expectant father story. Too cute.
4 hours after the labor pains started little Charlie Gideon was born. A healthy baby boy weighing 8 pounds 14 ounces and 22 inches long. He is a beautiful baby and Ressa did fantastic. She was in great control and kept her wits about her. I am so proud of her. My little one that screamed for 45 minutes after she was born because of fear and struggled with new things and change all her growing up life. She did it!! I can't leave out Jason. He is the most proud papa I have ever seen. So gentle, loving and protective, but not overbearing. We have gotten several pictures of our Charlie through text and we love it. Keep them coming Jason. Hint: We would love texts of the other grand kids too. :)

                                                                                       Charles Gideon

Ressa doesn't look like she had just gone through labor but I was there, trust me, she did!

The proud daddy!

P.S. Excuse any spelling errors. Spell check is not working and I am not a gifted speller. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Give Thanks

Yesterday was Costco day. I think our shopping alone keeps at least one employee in a job every month. About a year ago I had a goal to keep the Costco bill under $400 each week. That would include the extras that I may buy, like a pair of pants, movie or anything not a consumable. Over this last year I have noticed our needs increase and so has the Costco bill. I am now very happy to see the receipt total less than $500. This is not because I buy more extras but because my kids are eating so much more. I have cut back on foods that cost more and they are now treats. Food like Mango Salsa, cheeses, Chocolate Chips, real maple syrup, etc. I was very happy to see I was able to get done with my shopping and be at a grand total of $435 including two pair of jeans. Pretty good.

When I got home from shopping I was in a hurry to get to Sereen's to take the kids swimming so we quickly put everything away and left. This morning we organized the fruit that sits on the counter. When the job was complete I looked over and what a sight I saw. There on the counter was a stack of great abundance and just above it were the words "Give Thanks". I just had to take a picture.

In the 18 hours since coming home from Costco we have consumed probably 10 bananas, 2 containers of grapes, a watermelon and a Golden Melon. There are vegetables in the refrigerator and we are prepared for a week before we need to go shopping again. The fruit will give out before the week is over but that's ok. The eggs will continue to come at the rate of 12-15 a day, hopefully and the "Give Thanks" sign will sit in it's place on my window sill as a constant reminder that we are blessed abundantly.
There are times when I reflect on my childhood and think of being limited to one piece of fruit a day if we had to buy it. Wishing I could eat my fill and hoping that I would have the opportunity to provide endless fruit to my children. Like my parents before me, we still need to limit the amount of fruit the kids eat but as I look at my counter this morning I am deeply grateful for our abundance.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Perfect Son

I have talked about a little boy that we were trying to get medical care for. Branson is the name he was given by the Non profit organization, Love Without Boundaries, that was taking care of him while in China. Branson was diagnosed with heterotaxy just like Gideon. Both boys came from the same area of China and were cared for in the same home. Heterotaxy is pretty rare so to have two boys from the same area have it is not common. While helping get help for Branson we fell in love with him.

At one point I began to pray that I would be allowed to be Branson's mother. I hurt for him and prayed for his safety and health. I knew his heart was bad and his prognosis was not good but that didn't stop me from loving him. I had an impression that he would not make it home. His heart would give out before that time. Part of me was grateful and part of me was sad to feel this.

Doug and I discussed bringing Branson home. We knew it would be hard on the family. Having just lost Gideon to the same heart issue we were still grieving and so were our children. Because of my feeling that Branson wouldn't make it home we felt a little safer in beginning the adoption process. Branson's file was being prepared in China while we were getting things lined up for an expedited adoption. Through the blessings of Heavenly Father we were given the go ahead to adopt. There were many hurdles that had to be overcome with the greatest being adopting so soon after losing a child to death. Social workers don't like to approve families that have gone through something so traumatic as death before a year. We prayed and knew that the adoption would only happen if God wanted it to. Hurdle after hurdle was removed and we began our homestudy update. Branson file took a long time to get through the system in China and just before we left on vacation I was informed that his file was finally available. We sent in our Letter Of Intent, meaning a letter to the Chinese government stating our desire to adopt this little boy.

Branson had been doing so well and getting excellent care. We had to shift our thoughts to what life would be like bringing home another heart baby and how we would handle his death. I began to doubt my impression that Branson wouldn't make it home. I started making plans and going through scenarios of how I would handle his medical issues. I dreamed of touching his face not just his picture and holding him close. My heart completely fell for this little boy. I wanted to hold him and see him so badly that I had to remind myself I may never get the opportunity. I wanted to guard my heart from pain but I just couldn't stop loving this boy.

Sunday night in Nauvoo there was a performance called "Our Story Goes On". The cast of the pageant sang Broadway songs and put them together in a story of life, love and loss. At one point they sang "Bring Him Home". This song has been a little difficult for me from the time I prayed Gideon would make it home. Now I had Branson in the same position. I was overcome with deep sorrow. I almost walked out because the sobs were so near the surface. I wondered where this sorrow came from but didn't feel it was about Gideon. I couldn't put my finger on it.

On Monday when we were on our way to Carthage we got a call. It was a miracle that the call came through because in Nauvoo there is almost no cell service. We initially planned to go to Carthage on Sunday but because of the crowds we chose the slower day, which was Monday. Because of this decision a miracle happened. Myriam at Agape called and let me know that Branson had passed away the night before. It was Monday morning in China but Sunday night in the states. As we talked I realized that Branson had passed away not too long before the song "Bring Him Home" was sung the night before. I recognized that I knew at that moment he was gone. I would never hold him in this life.

It has been hard. I love my son and I consider him my son in every way. The children are mourning his loss but are also filled with hope that one day they will see him. All of the kids have expressed their desire to have another child. Each person has their own thoughts. Some want a boy, some a girl, some want a black baby and others Chinese. One child wants an older boy his age but they all want another sibling. I take this as a good sign. They will heal quickly. Heavenly Father knows what's best for all of us and He knew that it would be difficult to go through losing another brother that they had attached too.

We now have an empty grave on top of Gideon. When we purchased it we didn't know who would go there but soon we realized Branson belonged with Gideon. That spot will now stay empty. A memorial and a reminder that he was here and will never be forgotten. We are finally going to get a headstone made for Gideon. Branson will share that headstone. Branson will now be known as Joel as this is the name he was to be given. Gideon and Joel may not have been brothers in life but they are brothers in death. As of last night these brothers stand side by side connected for eternity. Our two prefect sons.

Dec 2012 - July 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fun In Nauvoo

This is a long picture post. It should have come in installments
but our days were so full that there was no time to blog. Sorry about that.
We spent a lot of time site seeing and enjoying the spirit of Nauvoo.
This is our fourth time as a family, however, the first time for four of
our children. We have never gone to Nauvoo in  July for two reasons.
First, we have been afraid of the heat and humidity. The weather proved to
be very nice. Second, July is pageant month. We don't like crowds much
and as our family has grown we like them even less.
This year three of our kids tried out to be in the pageant.
Sadly, none of them made it in the core cast so as a consolation
we took the family to Nauvoo for our vacation. It was either that or San Diego.
I'm still itching to go to San Diego!

We did a 2 mile handcart pull early in the morning. It was supposed to be fairly easy.
It actually was until we go to a point in the trail where a tree had fallen in the middle of the trail.
We had to scout a way around it. The only other route wasn't easy but we made it.

Emma is not the most active child. A couple years ago we went on a 4 mile hike.
Emma cried and complained the whole time. We all love the hike. Because of the one
experience we now call it the Emma hike and everyone knows what that is. :)
I was afraid of how Emma would do.
See the big smile. She loved the trek.

Casey, Olivia and Hannah were on the same cart.
Two people pulled while two pushed. We had 4-5 people
assigned to each cart.

My intention was to have Hyrum and Bria walk the whole time
Their Uncle Lenny plopped them right down in his cart.
Those kids had it easy.

Hyrum was supposed to be with another group but who could split these two up?
Hyrum and Bria couldn't even sleep separated.
We had girls in one spot of the house we rented and boys in another.
Hyrum was not going for that. He had to be with Bria.

In Nauvoo there are lots of original and replica homes and buildings.
It is the prefect place to see how the people in the mid 1800's lived.
There is a building called the Family Living Center.
In it they demonstrate different things about daily life.
Bread making, rug weaving, candle making, barrel making and other things.
This is Clayson and Hyrum turning the wheel to make the rope.
The best part of Nauvoo, it's all free!!

Matching cousins. These two boys chose the same color clothes that day
without even knowing it. I love this picture. They are so sweet.

I have needed to go through pictures and find some of the kids recently.
I noticed some of the kids are poorly represented. Olivia being one of them.
So, as we walked around the Women's Garden, I couldn't resist having Pierce take
some pictures of Olivia. If she weren't so obedient we wouldn't even have these pictures.

Erin, my niece, was so good with the kids.
They love her and the rest of their cousins that were there with us.
We went to the pageant every night we were there.
We had planned on attending the pageant only two nights
but the kids loved it so for 5 nights in a row the kids got to bed at 11:00pm or after.
It was so worth it.

Each night before the pageant there were a lot of pioneer activities.
One of them was a rope pull. All of the family got in on the action.
We had a epic battle. Here you see most of one side.
Notice the obvious presence of the male gender and more developed muscles.
Now, notice the amount of young children and lack of muscles
on the other side. We had one man, a teen boy, old lady, one woman and
many children. Not very evenly matched. Or so it seems.

Does that smiling face look like one that is pulling with all their might?
No, I didn't think so either.

Yeah, not too much muscle here but having lots of fun.

Now, see Doug's face. He is turning red he is pulling so hard
and Clayson. He is getting a bit worried.
Our side was the clear underdog's but we pulled
with all our might and they could not get us.
After several minutes of a standoff and them inching us forward
very little by little, a couple of us let go.
We put up a great fight. I can never be accused of being a wimp. :)

Though Creed can't admit that he had any fun on our boring trip to see old houses,
I think this picture tells another story.

One of the activities provided was dancing.
There were people that taught different western dances among other
old time dancing. Here is our niece Chloe and dancing with Scott.

Hannah and Chloe were inseparable!
I think their favorite place in Nauvoo was anywhere the boys were.
For the first time in her life Chloe experienced
consistent attention from the opposite gender.
We have teased her mercilessly.
What else is a family for?

Pierce got in on the action at the dance floor.

A great picture of a great man!!!

Doug had us all line up in front of the statue then took this picture. Pretty funny.
He did take more pictures with the family in it but you can't see the temple.
I thought the temple was better looking than I am.

The family, minus our older kids, Gideon and one other.
The other child is a post for another day.

We took a couple of wagon rides.
This one was with oxen.
Hyrum, Bria, Clayson and Malia got to ride in the front.

This is how the pioneers led the team.
One big difference, all the kids would be walking not riding.

Half the family took the first ride.

The other half went on the second ride.
We had such a great time and love Nauvoo. We have decided that we are going to apply to be in the family cast next year. That means we will be in Nauvoo for two weeks and preform for one week in the pageant. I really hope we get chosen. Nauvoo is in our blood.