Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter egg hunt

Casey and friend, McKaden, getting the new rolls of fencing in on the Easter fun.  
Some eggs had to be obvious for the younger children. 

It appears that Clayson saw the egg first...

but Marshall was quick to catch on.   

Hunting around the septic system and buried propane tank.  I couldn't get the kids to hide any eggs under the septic tank inspection lids, but they did go for under the propane tank cover.

Emma being Emma....

Hannah being Hannah...

Big smile from Malia.

Mom and Simon on the hunt...

Niya pointing the way for a younger child who needs a few more eggs.

Olivia just won't look at the camera.

Bria looks worried.  She must not have her 15 eggs yet. 

Scott - always happy about everything.

We had a rainy Saturday, but there was a small window of sunshine for our Easter egg hunt.  
120 eggs
60 hardboiled and 60 plastic
6 older kids hiding
8 younger kids finding  
Everyone had fun

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sock sliding

What do you do when you just arrived at your new home with 1,800 square feet of wood floor before the truck arrives with the furniture and it is 30 degrees outside and you have to entertain 13 children that have been stuck in a car for 20 hours of driving the previous two days????  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Our new normal

Everyday there are reminders that we are not in familiar territory.  We can still say, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." ... but it's not too far away!

One of the first weekends we were here we went to visit Jamesport, MO, an Amish community about an hour north of us.  We had an impromptu tourist orientation by a very nice Mennonite woman who came out to chat with us as we were getting out of our van.  She was remodeling the restaurant she and her husband owned, but she took the time to explain the "hot spots" to visit in town - shops and stores, etc. She seemed open and comfortable enough that we asked her about the differences between the Amish and Mennonite cultures and beliefs.  She was very happy to enlighten us.  We thanked her for her kindness and told her we would be back to eat at her restaurant after it reopens.

 As we were walking into one of the Amish stores, we saw this buggy and small family.  I don't know what was a more interesting site - them for us or us for them!  
Their kids stared and stared at our entourage.

 Apparently the Amish have sports car models of their buggies...

We had a couple of mishaps with our underground utilities in the last few weeks.  
#1: AT&T had to run a new phone line for us and they cut through the power line to the control box for our septic system. (Right) It took us a week to discover that - fortunately Olivia was standing by the toilet in the basement Sunday morning when it started to back up.  A couple of siphon hoses got us flowing again before we left for church.  We called an electrician Monday to figure out the loss of power and as he was testing everywhere to find the short, Deanne saw the covered trench for the phone line and figured it went right across where the power line should be.  Sure enough. We are still waiting for them to send us the $300 it cost to repair.

#2: The the county electric company trenched for a new power line to our shop and cut through the feed lines to our drip field. (Above) Deanne ran to get the PVC and glue and I came home from work a bit early to keep the septic flowing once again.  Unfortunately it was the first day it rained really hard.  Pierce held an umbrella over me while I battled the mud in the trench to replace the 5 feet of pipe in each line. The good news is now we know where all of our underground lines are!!

Mist formed in our backyard after an afternoon rain storm.  That was pretty neat to see.

We have some pretty sunrises and sunsets, but this sunrise last week had unusually bright colors.  This picture is not photo shopped or enhanced in anyway - straight from my phone.

We hear coyotes almost every night, see stars like you can only see away from city lights, hawks fly low hunting for field mice in our backyard, the sound of target practice with high caliber guns is all around us every Saturday and depending on which way the wind is blowing, we get to enjoy the smell of manure from neighboring herds of cattle.  I drive 50 miles round trip to work and we are 45 minutes from the nearest Costco.  
These are all reminders that we live in the country, but we love it!!

I Forgot a Big Thing

I knew I would do this. Trying to write while helping the children with school and then trying to finish up at midnight doesn't support strong memory.

Creed left to serve a mission in Louisville Kentucky on August 5. How could I really forget that one. We have missed him so much. He struggled for a while. The Lord was mindful of his needs and put him in an area that a good friend of ours used to live. She had prepared her friends that there was a possibility that Creed could be a missionary in that area. When I found out that Creed was struggling I called my friend and she called out the Calvary. That ward took over and loved Creed into feeling safe and strong. What a blessing. Creed is doing well.

Having Creed leave and the other kids move caused some fear in Simon that when we move we will never see them again. Simon's behaviors got really bad. None of us liked having him around. He would constantly say things like "No one wants to love me" "I'm so dumb" and lots of other very negative things. I was holding, hugging and kissing him often but it didn't seem to help much. One day I realized that he could be reacting to the fear of our move and the other kids leaving. Tyler, Jessica, Grant and Lyla were at our home quite a bit and then then all of a sudden we didn't see them. Now Simon had a experienced a pattern. When someone moves away they are no longer your family. I tried to help him understand that no matter where we lived we were still a family and that he was coming with us. I would pack his stuff with him and make it a point to put his boxes where he could see his name in the stack of things to go on the truck. It seemed to help a little but the real change came after we moved and Tyler, Jessica and the kids surprised us with a visit. Miracles happened for Simon. Now he could see we were still a family and he believes that he will see Creed again. Simon loves his family even though he has a hard time accepting that he is a permanent part of it. We still get his negative words often but it's not an all day problem right now. I really hope Simon can begin to trust that we are here for him and that we love him forever. He struggles deeply with believing he is loved and lovable. With the power of the atonement he can be healed. We will continue to pray for this blessing for Simon and when Creed gets home on August of 2017 Simon will see that not everyone leaves and doesn't come back.

Creed is going to miss his athletics. He loves all things active.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

We've Moved

We have had an incredibly busy and emotional 9 months and that's an understatement. I am just going to highlight things instead of trying to catch up. Blogging to me feels much like journaling. Once I get behind it's so overwhelming that I just ignore it. Oh, the little voice in my head never lets me completely forget so I, like any normal human, I ignore it. Yes, sometimes I do ignore that inner voice and I always pay a price for it. Now here I sit hoping I can at least catch all the highlights and lamenting the fact that we have learned so much that could be lost now from our memory.

Not too long after we got home from China in March with Simon Doug and I both started to feel like we needed to move. We discussed it many times and began to pray. By the beginning of June we knew that we were to move and that move would take us to the state of Missouri. So 6 very long months of getting a house ready to sell, looking for a job and home, packing our belongings and waiting sometimes patiently and sometimes very impatiently we made it to Missouri. Our lives were on hold with many of our belongings boxed up the majority of that time. We were in limbo and that was hard.

In the process of preparing to move, our daughter Sereen and her husband Jared and their kids moved to Texas.Then in October Tyler and Jessica and their kids moved to North Carolina. Our family was getting spread apart and it was hard. When we left Utah we said goodbye to Ressa, Jason and Charlie, Britton, Michael, my brothers and sisters in law and nieces and nephews, my niece Kayla and Kurt and their girls and a sister that just moved closer to me after a couple years of being gone, Doug's sisters and many good friends. It was in the top ten of the hardest things I have done. It still hurts often and I struggle.the kids struggle and Doug struggles. We are making new friends and will love them just as deeply but will always have a hole as we miss those we left behind.

The Walker Clan

Our Nauvoo Family
In July we also had the opportunity as a family to participate in a musical production of the journey many LDS saints made in the late 1800's to follow our prophet  and come from Europe to join their brothers and sisters in Nauvoo, Illinois. We took two weeks in Nauvoo and had the blessed opportunity to preform for thousands of people portraying the true sacrifice made by many. It was a wonderful opportunity that we will always be grateful for. We made some eternal friends and learned a lot!

Precious Lyla
Just before we left to got to Nauvoo in July Jessica had our 5th grandchild. We have a beautiful little Lyla that is one of the happiest people you will ever meet. She has really blossomed and is now beginning her emergence into the world of crawling. She and her older brother Grant are made of the same mold. Those genetics are strong.

Look at those blue eyes!

The kids pulling and pushing our camera man.
With all these great things going on we also had the privilege to be featured in a show produced and shown on our local TV station KSL. They showed our adoption of Simon and trip to Nauvoo. The show ended with a synopsis of our family. It was fun to do and we got to spend some time with a couple really great people! Here is the link to that story. Now We Have 20

Hyrum with his dad just before he got baptized.
In December Hyrum chose to be baptized. He was so excited to take on the name of Christ. It is a highlight in his life. He looks so cute in his new suite. He loves Jesus Christ and going to church.

We had many times to enjoy family and friends from out of town. There were a lot of gatherings late night games. We had so much fun!! There was almost too much fun and stress that we were looking forward to life slowing down some once we got to Missouri. Just last night Doug and I talked about how life really hasn't slowed down much. We're just social people and when we see a need we have a hard time not trying to fill it. Just this Sunday Doug was called to be the Young Men's President, meaning he organizes the young men's groups activities each week, Scouting, teaches lessons on Sunday, mentors, loves and teaches. He is going to be very good at it but it will also be a very busy calling.

Michael and Amy on their first date.
We had planned on moving in October but were delayed for different reasons. We were able to spend Christmas in Utah. We had a good friend, Amy, from England come to spend the holidays with us. With a little help she and our very good friend, well pretty much family, Michael began a relationship that turned into an engagement just recently. We are so excited for the two of them and had so much fun being with them and our older kids during the holidays. The difficulties of being in limbo and all our possessions packed ready to be put on a truck turned into something awesome. I really wouldn't trade that time for ease of life. Michael and Amy are so worth it!

Our new home
Now that we are here and getting settled in Missouri we see things a little differently and treasure people and places we have taken for granted. We knew this was not going to be easy but we could not have anticipated how hard it would really be to move a family of 15 to a new state and leave everything and everyone we knew. There is still a great struggle and mourning we all are going through. I am now, after 7 weeks, hearing from Emma that she loves our new house. Because of her innocence and faith she is the first to express this feeling. Not that Doug and I don't appreciate what we have but we have so much going on that there are days we feel like we are being buried in the struggles. (We will probably write about the challenges we have faced since we have been here in another post. One day we will look back and be in awe that we made it through.) We are grateful for our home but we aren't quite ready to fully embrace it yet. It will come I know. So we look forward with a hope for blessings to come.

Amidst all the change and struggle there has been some very good times. We have been taught by the Spirit and basked in God's light. We know that our Father in Heaven loves us and is watching over us. Our family will love it here in Missouri and the blessings will flow in to us individually and as a family. We hold on to this knowledge and thank our Father in Heaven for all he has given us.