Tuesday, December 2, 2014

And the Mom of the Year Award Goes To...

Yesterday, Emily and Carson both woke up feeling too sick to go to school.  I just thought they were suffering from vacation-itis (an illness caused by having too much fun on vacation..symptoms include a general lack of any desire to get back into a normal routine). 

I made Emily go to school because it's harder to make up school work then to just go to class.  I was suffering from vacation-itis too and didn't have the energy to fight Carson so he got to stay home.  I accused him of being instantly "cured" as soon as he heard the bus wasn't coming for him.

Carson and I had a lazy day of folding a million loads of laundry (did I mention that we had WAY too much fun during Thanksgiving break?) and watching large amounts of the cheesiest of cheesy Lifetime Christmas shows.  It was soooo fun!!  I love those badly acted shows!!

Anyway...it came time to pick up Emily and Jared from school so we braved the cold weather to go get them.  As soon as I saw Emily, I just knew deep down in my racing heart that she was way sicker than I had thought.  She got into the car and as soon as I asked "Are you still feeling sick?" she burst into tears and told me that she had a horrible headache, had been really dizzy all day, and was freezing (even though the car was toasty warm...Jared says that means "Oh my gosh, it is so HOT in here!!!").

We got her home, pumped her full of ibuprofen, covered her in a million blankets, got her some food and drinks, propped her feet up and turned on the cheesy Christmas movies again (those are really the best medicine).  After a few hours her fever went down just as Carson's fever spiked.

As soon as Carson heard he had a fever, he started acting the part of a sick kid (he had been pretty happy all day).  He laid on the couch moaning and groaning (he was being a tad bit over-dramatic because every time he moaned, someone would say "It's okay Carson...can we get you anything?" and he was really enjoying the extra attention from his family).  So, we pumped him full of decongestants and ibuprofen and he perked up just about the time that our home teacher got here to give him a blessing (although every once in a while he would remember that he was supposed to be moaning so he would make up for his perkiness really fast).  Our wonderful home teacher probably wondered why in the world we interrupted his family time to come over and give a blessing to two of the perkiest children on the planet.  By-the-way, if you don't know what blessings are you can read about them here.

Turns out that I was the only one suffering from vacation-itis.  Emily and Carson were really sick.  So, I am making up for my bad mothering by enjoying an extra day off with my two sickies.  There will probably be more pampering and cheesy Christmas movies on the agenda today.

So...just in case anyone was feeling like they were in the running for the bad mom of the year award...I think I just won. {hanging my head in shame}

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's a Woman's Perogative to Change Her Mind

A conversation I had with Kinsey over the summer went something like this:

Me:  Kinsey, I think if you went on a mission it would change your whole life.  You would prove to yourself that you can do hard things.  If you can serve a mission, you can do ANYTHING!!  You will be opening your world to all sorts of new possibilities!!

Those may have not been my exact words but pretty close. I really poured my heart and soul into that talk.  I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost as I was talking to her.  They weren't my words they were Heavenly Father's words.  I even shed a few tears.  Kinsey is a lot like me but she is infinitely better than I am.  She is braver.  She is more determined.  She has a kinder and softer heart.  She would be a great missionary. 

She looked at me and with her very stubborn streak (she got it from me) said:  Mom...I am NOT going on a mission!  I can do good things right there at BYU.  I don't need to serve a mission.

So, I dropped it because it is her decision and I want her to feel good about the choices she makes in her life.  She is very smart and level-headed and I trust her to do what she feels is best.

Except...I didn't all the way drop it because I remembered this awesome quote by Boyd K. Packer:

Now, I don't claim to be a righteous-righteous mother...more of a semi-righteous mother but I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to soften her heart and help her to feel like she could do it if it was the right thing for her to do.  I also prayed to know what was right for her so that I could accept her decision.  I only prayed that prayer once or twice and then I just felt peaceful about it.

Imagine my surprise when I got a letter from her a few weeks later and she wrote me this:

When Levi gave his Farewell talk, I, for the first time ever, felt like I could go on a mission. Like, it's something that I could actually do. Before now it's never even seemed like something I could accomplish. I'm too scared of everything. I'm a wimp. I'm picky. I'm not good at learning languages or talking to people. 
Then throughout the week, I thought about it more. and I prayed about it. I fasted this morning. I talked to the sister missionaries at the Ogden temple this morning, and asked them how they decided to go on a mission. Last week, me going on a mission was a 2% chance. Sunday it went up to 10%.
Wednesday, saying goodbye to Levi was really hard, but it went up to a 50% chance. Now I'm at about 80% chance. When I get to BYU I'm going to go talk to my bishop, and it'll probably move up to a 95% chance. So. It kind of looks like I'm going on a mission.... 
Probably in January. I'll need to keep praying about it and figuring things out and making sure it's the right thing. But right now, it's looking like in a year you might have 2 children on missions....
I love you, Mom.

It seems like you're always right. 

I love those last two sentences :) but I only take a teeny tiny amount of credit for her decision.  I think I may have planted a small mission seed in her thoughts but I know that Heavenly Father is the one that softened her heart and ultimately it was her being humble and open to the promptings that she received.  She is very courageous because this is way out of her comfort zone.  I am so very proud of her.  If you would like to read her thoughts on the process, you can read her blog post. (I can't get my links to change colors like they are supposed to do so just click on those last few words)
She also told me I couldn't tell anyone.  Don't ever tell me a secret because I am terrible at keeping them.  I mostly kept her secret.  I only told a few people.  Most everyone was surprised, I think.  Anyway...she got her mission call last Friday.  She thought it would be here on Wednesday so we invited a few people over (the ones that knew) to watch her open it (she was reading it on Google chat).  Then it didn't come on Wednesday, so we invited everyone over Thursday night.  Then it didn't come, so we invited everyone over on Friday and most were busy which was a little disappointing but it was still so exciting to hear where she would be going.  Then, we got it all set up, she started reading it, and the computer froze! 

We finally heard Washington, Tacoma mission. It looked like she was tearing up and disappointed with where she was going and I felt sick to my stomach and my blood pressure went up to stroke level!  I hate it when my blood pressure goes up to stroke level in front of company!!  I talked to her on the phone and she mentioned something about Twilight (the books/movies) and I told her that maybe she could convert Edward so bright side looking are we!!

She is actually very excited.  Everyone seems to know someone there and she has always wanted to go to Washington.  She is a teeny bit worried about missing the sun, she is not the biggest fan of cold weather, and she hates wearing shoes so her biggest worry, I think, is wearing shoes all day.  Haha!  You can take the girl out of Florida but you can't take the Florida barefoot walker out of the girl!  

Now, for your viewing pleasure...the moment she read her mission call (all the yelling is us saying "STOP!!  You are frozen!!  We can't hear what you are saying!!"  Oh Google chat...you let me down!!):

Oh...nevermind...I can't save the video to my computer.  You can go watch it on her Facebook page.

Needless to say, we are thrilled!!  She is going to be a great missionary. I hope no one spits in her face or throws mashed potatoes at the back of her head. (those last few words are another link...really how hard is it to change colors when you are given a different color?!)

Isn't she the cutest missionary you have ever seen?!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

There's a Right Way to Live and Be Happy

Gary's job hunting again.  He still has a job but he's hoping to find one with better hours.  He doesn't like to work on Sundays.  For the last year he has been weighing the pros and cons of one of the free word processing programs on the internet versus just biting the bullet and paying for Microsoft Word so that he could update his resume.  We like to call him "Speedy Decision Maker" for his obviously prompt and thorough research of the perfect resume maker. 

He finally decided on Microsoft, got his resume updated, and started applying for jobs on the internet.  One company asked him to fill out a profile survey.  They told him there were no right or wrong answers, he just needed to fill it out as honestly as possible.  There were over 200 questions which is pretty daunting and he did it late at night so he may or may not have snoozed a bit in between questions but he answered honestly.  Gary is nothing if not honest.

The company replied with the following email:

Thank you for filling out the analysis.

The answers to the analysis indicated that you probably answered several questions considering "the idea you have of how you should behave" rather than "how you actually behave".

EG (not a question of the test):
Do you blame others for your failures?
I know I shouldn't blame others. So I answer "no". Yet, if I actually look in real life, from time to time I do blame them, so the correct answer should be: "maybe".
If too many questions are answered in this theoretical manner, the final score is invalid and we cannot relay the answer to the company you have took the test for.
Therefore I have to kindly ask you to re-take the analysis looking more at how you do actually behave rather than at what you actually know.
Sorry for the inconvenience. This is not a negative fact in the selection process. It occurs 10 to 15% of the times.

Please feel free to retake it again at this address.

Keep this email with the new test address if you do not wish to fill it in now but rather intend to do so later.

Let me know if you have any additional question.

(By-the-way, I copied and pasted this, so the grammar errors are from the company making all the decisions.)

Hmmm....I guess he answered the questions on the "there-are-no-right-or-wrong-answers-survey" the wrong way which kind of irritated him a bit.  He said "I don't blame others for my failures!  What am I going to do?  Say (insert whiny voice) "Oh....that person did such and such so I'm going to blame him for all of my failures in life.  Whine, whine, whine..."  

Gary is quite mature when you accuse him of answering questions falsely when he answered them the way he really is.  

He answered too many questions the way good, honest, hard-working people actually live and act so they can't submit his results to the company he is looking to apply to.  Does that even make any sense?  Maybe he needs to watch the news for a few days so he can learn how he "SHOULD" behave instead of the way he ACTUALLY behaves so he can get good results on that survey.

The world is a messed up place!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Know What I Saw!

This morning I was driving to an appointment and I saw a lady wearing something like this:

Dancing like this:

While standing on this:

And NO...I was not drinking any of this:

I promise....I was completely sober!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'm Not Laughing AT Him, I'm Laughing WITH Him

A computer genius AND a country music star!!
Last week, Gary was trying to do something with our finances that required him to type in a password to sign into his online account.  He kept typing in the password but the computer kept saying that it didn't recognize him.  He was getting more and more frustrated as the time for him to leave for work got closer so in desperation, he called the bank....for the second or third time that day...to see if they could help him figure out why he couldn't sign in with the password that they had just given him and told him would work.  After spending a few minutes on the phone, he hung up.  I glanced over and asked him if he had gotten the problem figured out and he looked at me sheepishly and said "It was a user error.  I forgot a letter."

User errors happen a lot around here.  Gary and I are not computer geniuses.

Another thing Gary is not is a singer.  The first time we went to sacrament meeting together a long time ago in a land far, far away, I burst out laughing the minute he started singing the hymn....yet he still married me!  He sings with a country twang, always 1/2 a beat slower than everyone else, makes up words if he doesn't know how the song goes, and sings louder than everyone else around him.

So today in church the hymn we were singing had 5 verses.  When we finished with verse 4, he went back and started singing verse 4 again.  I started out singing verse 5 but like I said, he sings out with gusto so when he started singing verse 4, I got a little confused.  I leaned over to Emily (who I later found out was also confused when he started in on verse 4) and asked her what verse we were supposed to be on and she said 5, so I leaned over to Gary and pointed out what verse he was supposed to be singing.  He stopped, paused for a minute to change course and then started singing the right verse.  At the end, he said "Well...that was sneaky!" because he thought that the organist had made a mistake and skipped verse 4.  I said "You sang verse 4 twice, instead of going to verse 5 like you were supposed to.  It wasn't sneaky, it was you."

Then, because I am so clever, I wrote him a little note..."User error!"  He wrote back "Agreed!!"  Then we laughed as the bishop called out the sacrament hymn and I leaned over and said "You sing verse 1, then verse 2, then verse 3."  He assured me that he could sing a song with only 3 verses the right way...it's when a song has 5 verses that he gets messed up.

If you've never heard "Upon The Cross of Calvary" with a country twang, you should ask him to sing it for you.  It's a classic!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Real Men Kiss Their Mom

Carson's off to Panther Camp today.  It's a special day for the incoming 6th graders.  I'm not sure what's special about it or what they actually do because moms are NOT INVITED but Carson was excited to go.  Mainly because he's hoping to see his favorite girl (besides his mom, of course) Ari.  She's an older woman...13...who is a year ahead of him in school.  They were parted for the last school year but ever since he toured the middle school back in May and saw her again, she is all we have heard about.

Next time you see him, ask him who is best friend is.  He will dreamily say "ARI..."  {when he says her name, butterflies and fairies fly around and sparkles glitter the air}  Sorry...I'm a girl so I only know how girls dream about their love and it's always with sparkles, butterflies and fairies.  If you are a boy reading this, feel free to set me straight.

Where were we?  Oh...Panther Camp!!  I was given instructions to drop him off at the front office a little before 8am.  We got to the school at 7:55 and all of my nightmares of school mornings came rushing back to me when I saw the massive amount of cars.  I hate car line!!  Thank goodness for school buses that come to my house.  One of the many perks of having a special needs kiddo in your family.

We parked the car and I went for Carson's hand as we crossed the street.  I felt my hand being pushed away and a "NO MOM!!"  "What?!  You don't want to hold my hand?!"  I told him he didn't have to hold my hand while we were in the grass but once we were crossing the street he had to hold my hand.  I used my firm voice so he wouldn't argue.  He begrudgingly held my hand while we were crossing but as soon as he saw the sidewalk he let go.  Don't worry...I managed to hold back the tears.

We met his teacher in the front office and she said "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!!"  No, I'm kidding...she didn't really say that but her actions and body language were implying that it was time for me to cut the apron strings so I told Carson goodbye and gave him a kiss on the forehead.


The teacher looked at me and said "Mom...he's in middle school now!  We don't kiss our moms in middle school!!"

You who know me well know that I HATE getting in trouble and I'm a little scared of middle school teachers (well, really, anyone who has any sort of authority).

So....being the dork that I am, I apologized to the teacher and Carson for KISSING MY SON(!!) and turned around to leave the office.

Carson, with the sweetest voice a mom could ever hear said "Bye Mom!!!" and walked over and gave me a big sloppy kiss on the lips!


Whoever said that middle school kids don't kiss their mom have never met MY kid.

I am totally going to kiss him every single morning of his middle school career!  Hopefully, the kids on the bus won't tell on me!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's Nice to be Nice

Today I had to go to Walmart to pick up a prescription.  I really and truly dislike shopping there.  It puts me in the grouchiest of grouchy moods especially when the lines are really long.  Today the line was longer than I have ever seen it.

I tried to make the best of things by reading all of the labels on the bottles while standing in line.  Unfortunately, I was in the stomach distress aisle so I learned more than I (hopefully) will ever need to know about lactose intolerance, constipation and hemorrhoids.  Did you know they make suppositories for hemorrhoids? That sounds perfectly awful, don't you think?!

Anyway...see I had lots of time to read labels.

So...the customer finished up and then the cashier did the unthinkable.  She started helping a lady who was standing off to the side instead of the people that were waiting in line!  After stewing for a minute or two, the man in the front of the line stepped up and said something to the poor cashier about helping the lady off to the side.  The customer started apologizing and said that her prescription was supposed to be ready 30 minutes ago and that she just couldn't wait in line.  She needed to get out of there (I know how she feels and I had only been in there a couple of minutes)!  So, the man got back in line complaining to the lady behind him.

Well...that's all she needed was a little encouragement and she started muttering and complaining about people who think they are better than everyone else, who are too good to wait in line like the rest of us...blah, blah, blah.  The customer apologized again but this lady wasn't having any of that and just kept on complaining loudly enough for everyone in the vicinity to hear.

The poor lady finished up, turned around, apologized again, and then made her blessed escape from the jaws of that terrible store with the mean customers.  The man in front went forward, got his stuff, paid and was on his merry way.  Then this lady in front of me stepped up to the cashier, made her dissatisfaction known some more, complained for several minutes (that always helps the line to go faster) and then told the cashier what she wanted.  The cashier was very pleasant to her, rang her up and finished up her stuff but the customer felt the need to complain for a few more minutes until the cashier turned away from her and asked if she could help me.

I had not seen this poor cashier smile once the whole time I was standing in line.  She was very polite but you could tell she'd had a busy day.  She got my information, brought my prescription over, rang everything up and then looked my in the eye and said "I'm so sorry for your long wait."  I looked at her and said "That's okay, don't worry about it."  This lady smiled the biggest, prettiest smile ever and said "Have a great day!!"  I turned to her and said "You have a great day too!"

I'm not perfect (you probably knew that already, right?!), I get cranky, I understand the frustration of long lines but I learned (relearned really) a valuable lesson.  It pays to be nice.  That cashier's smile made the wait totally worth it.  I was once again grateful for what my wonderful mom taught me..."If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Oh...and eat your veggies so you don't have to do hemorrhoid suppositories {shudder}! 

Meanwhile, Miss grumpy pants customer had taken her complaining to the pharmacist in the other line and I made my blessed escape from the jaws of Walmart!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Quiet: God at Work

This was my talk from last Sunday.  It is also Carson's birth story.  It has taken me 12 years to have the courage to write it down.

Last Sunday, I was sitting in Sacrament meeting listening to Brother McCullough's talk and when he mentioned Ethan Benoit helping Carson pass the sacrament, this talk started forming in my head which was kind of weird since I hadn't been asked to give a talk.  I thought that maybe I was being prompted to share my testimony in a few weeks and I was really hoping that that prompting would go away before the first Sunday in August because it takes a lot of courage for me to bear my testimony.  I guess Heavenly Father knew that about me so He had Brother Jacobs call and ask me to give a talk instead.

The topic I was assigned was a talk from Elder Bednar entitled "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease" which you probably remember started out with a story about his friend who took his truck out to gather firewood one evening, got it stuck in the snow, decided that he would just fill the bed of the truck with a load of firewood, which was what eventually allowed him to get his truck unstuck.  I have kind of changed the topic up a bit to... "How I came to be sitting in Sacrament meeting crying because I glanced over and saw my 12 year old son with Down Syndrome sitting on the wrong pew because he didn't want to hold the hymnbook and sing so he moved to the empty pew where no one was offering hymnbooks, with his shoes off....shoes that were not his church shoes but his old green tennis shoes because we couldn't find his church shoes....while his dad sat beside him trying to convince him to put them back on before the Sacrament hymn ended because he was about to pass the Sacrament for the very first time and my tears weren't about the shoes or the pew but about how far we have come and how blessed I am to be his mom!"  It's a long title, I know, and I pray that the Holy Ghost will guide me as I do my best to share what I felt prompted to share and combine it with Elder Bednar's talk.

Carson was our last baby.  Due to family circumstances at the time, we weren't sure if we would have more children but I had a very strong impression that we should pray about it so we did.  We both got off our knees after finishing our prayer knowing that we would have another baby.  We found out I was pregnant shortly after that.  I had a normal pregnancy and had the regular ultrasounds that showed no signs of anything to worry about.  The first time I ever felt like something might be different with this baby was a whispering or passing thought that I had on the way to the hospital when I was in labor.  I remember asking Gary if he thought everything would be okay. 

The second time that I felt like something wasn't quite right was right after he was born.  His first cry was unlike any baby cry I had ever heard.  It sounded really soft and weak to me.  They told us that everything looked good but they took him over to the exam area and kept him there for a really long time.  The on-call pediatrician came over and told us that he was healthy as far as she could tell but that she was 90something% sure that he had Down Syndrome.

Sometimes, I wonder, if Gary had had a list of all of the trials that we would face in our married life, if I would have had the courage to say "yes" when he asked me to marry him and this challenge just seemed like the one that broke me.  The first words out of my mouth were "I can't do this!!" and my first instinct was to run....luckily an epidural and an IV line made that impossible.  I even asked Gary at one point if he thought we should give him up for adoption.  Gary rarely, if ever, says anything unkind but I can usually tell what he's thinking by the look that crosses his face and the look that crossed his face that time was something like "she's finally lost it!" but the words that came out of his mouth were more like "no...he's our baby and we will be fine!  Everything will work out!"  I will always regret that my first reaction to Carson wasn't one of joy and excitement. 

We called my mom and told her and she reassured me that we would have the support of our family and that he would be loved just like our other children.  Then she called my neighbor who called our bishop.  He must have dropped everything to come to the hospital because he and one of his counselors who happened to be the husband of a good friend of mine were there within an hour of Carson's birth.  A few years ago, I got a letter from my bishop and this is what he said about that visit:  "I will always remember that night and seeing Carson for the first time through a window along with several other babies before we came and saw you. From that moment I knew he would be a blessing to his family and to others as they came into Carson's life."

He came and talked to Gary and I for a few minutes and then he asked me if I had been able to hold Carson yet.  I hadn't so they all walked down to the nursery and brought him back and handed Carson to me.  We asked him if he would give Carson a blessing.  He looked at me and said "Carson is going to be fine...he doesn't need a blessing but I will give you a blessing."  This is another excerpt from his letter:  "Now for the hard part - me being inspired to give you that blessing. I will just say that there are those times when you know that you really don't know (if that makes any sense) and you ask the Lord for his help and guidance  and that's the way it was that night. I listened to the Holy Spirit and  knew that Carson was going to be fine because Heavenly Father had sent him into your family and then the Holy Spirit simply said bless Shanon so that she knows that I want Shanon and Gary to care for and love Carson and in doing so their family will be blessed and have eternal joy and happiness."

For the longest time, I couldn't remember what he said in his blessing but I remember that a huge burden was lifted from me.  I was still worried, I still felt inadequate, I still felt like there were so many others that would be so much more qualified than me but something changed after that blessing. 

Carson and Bishop Norris
It reminds me of my favorite scripture (Mosiah 24:13-17) in the Book of Mormon which is also mentioned in Elder Bednar's talk:

"Consider the example in the Book of Mormon as Amulon persecuted Alma and his people. The voice of the Lord came to these disciples in their afflictions: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage."

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs."

Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased.

“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

The challenges and difficulties were not immediately removed from the people.  But Alma and his followers were strengthened, and their increased capacities made their burdens lighter.  And "in the strength of the Lord", Alma and his people were directed to safety in the land of Zarahemla."

We were also blessed with what I can only call miracles.  My doctor came in the next day and told us that the only health issue Carson had was a possible heart defect that usually corrects itself within the first few years of life.  We had a visit from a geneticist who was on vacation but came to see us.  I have honestly never met anyone more excited that I had a baby with Down Syndrome than her.  She made me feel like I had just won the baby lottery.  She also happened to be a doctor that loved people with Down Syndrome so much so that she had devoted much of her life to start a clinic for families of children with Down Syndrome so she knew all of the best doctors and what I should do once things had settled down, she even contacted another family that generously visited us in the hospital so that we could see for ourselves that having a baby with Down Syndrome wasn't the end of the world.  I also had friends who called or came to visit.  One of the things I was worried the most about was how Carson would be treated by others and then two of my good friends came and treated him just like any other baby and probably would have tried to snitch him and take him home with them if I hadn't been watching them closely.

We finally left the hospital and when I got home, I ordered or borrowed from the library several books on Down Syndrome.  That was the biggest mistake I made.  I remember one night, sitting on my bed surrounded by all of these books and I had just read about a 21 year boy who was attacked on a city bus and I started worrying about Carson riding a city bus!  He was a week old!  All of a sudden, this thought came to me "Shanon...he's a baby who happens to have Down Syndrome!  You know how to take care of babies!!  Just take care of him the way you took care of all of your other babies!"  So...I put the books away and I took care of my baby.  I just learned to learn as I go. 

Another quote from Elder Bednar states:

Each of us carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”
Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.
In my case, I was being distracted by unnecessary worries that were pulling me away from the joy of having a new baby in the family.

We have been blessed with so many people along the way that have helped us.  When he was learning to walk, he had a tiny walker that our physical therapist gave us to use.  I was worried what people would say when they saw him using it.  We took it to church that first Sunday that he had it and he caused quite the stir!!  Not because anyone was judging us or him but because he was so cute he was a distraction!!  When he was learning how to eat solids and I was overwhelmed trying to get him to eat, I had a friend who went out and bought every kind of baby food you could imagine and she would take him home with her and sit there patiently feeding him and had a blast doing it.  When he was learning how to be potty trained he had an angel of a teacher who told me that she would have him potty-trained before the end of the school year and excitedly took on that challenge and then taught me what I should do at home.  He has had great primary teachers that have gone out of their way to teach him.  He has had great scout leaders that have loved him.  When he turned 8, we wondered if we should baptize him and as we talked to Bishop Parker, he felt like we should wait for a while which was a relief to me.  He told us later on that he had an impression that Carson would ask to be baptized when he was ready.  One night we were sitting on our bed and Carson held his nose, tossed his head back and said "baptize."  When Bishop Parker came over to do his interview, Carson, who was wearing shorts at the time got really upset and ran into our bedroom.  Gary followed him and found Carson pointing to his church clothes.  As soon as he was dressed in his Sunday best, he came out and happily sat down with Bishop Parker which is how Bishop Parker knew that he was ready for baptism because by his actions he showed Bishop Parker that he knew of the sacredness of baptism.

Just recently, I asked Ethan Benoit and Cameron Parker if they would help him learn how to pass the Sacrament and they took time out of their summer to come here during the week to help him learn.  They were so patient with him and did a wonderful job of representing the Savior as they magnified their priesthood calling.

Elder Bednar says:  Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.

Here is one more excerpt from my Bishop's letter:  "I remember when your father stood and bore his testimony in Fast and Testimony meeting after Carson was blessed - I can't remember his exact words but I remember knowing that Carson was sent to your family from Heavenly Father because there would be so much love and caring for him in your family and this would be a bond that would bless you and all your children now and forever."

One of the greatest blessings that I have received from Carson is being able to see and recognize how wonderful and caring my other children are.  They teach me everyday how to love everyone even those that are different.  They truly live the Savior's teaching to "Love One Another".

The Savior said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own”. As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12).

In his book, Why Did This Happen to Me?, Ray Pritchard says: “Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on, child of God. Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles.”

I said in the beginning of my talk that I don't know if I would have had the courage to say "yes" to Gary if I had known what was in store for us.  I guess that is why Heavenly Father placed a veil over our eyes and only gives us what HE knows we can handle at that particular moment.  He knows us, He loves us, He wants more for us than we can comprehend.  If I had known everything, I may have missed out on all of the wonderful blessings that have come to me from what I thought was a burden.  

Heavenly Father will provide for us...maybe not in the way we think He should but always in the way the He knows is best for our individual growth and progression and our Savior will be there right beside us, every step of the way, to provide comfort and reassurance.  It is the reason He came to earth.  All week long, I have wondered and pondered on why I felt prompted to share this particular story.  It is a hard one for me to share.  My answer came as I was reading in Mosiah 24: 14 which says in part "...and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."  I realized that part of my covenant is to stand as a witness for God and testify that He does indeed visit His people in their afflictions.  Of this, I know and testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

He Works Hard for the Toy

Kinsey has spent the last year getting educated at BYU and is spending the summer at home with us.  She has decided that we are too soft on Carson, that he is learning bad habits, that we are enablers and we need to shape up before we ruin him!!  So, I took a few minutes from my solitaire game and bonbon eating to create a job chart for him.  He was trying to earn money for these two guys:

We set up a chore chart that looked like this:

Look at all those stickers he earned!  Each box was worth a quarter.  We forgot to add enough boxes for tithing and tax so he had to earn extras.  That kind of annoyed him a little.

We tried to think of the bad habits that we wanted to change.  For instance, he likes to come up and smack people on the behind.  He does that because we smack him on the behind when we do things like send him to his room for his pjs at night.  Do you ever do that?  "Go on upstairs and get your pjs, Carson!" and then send him up the stairs with a gentle spank?  With most children you can do cute things like that at home and they know better than to do them out in public but Carson has a pure spirit (that we may or may not have corrupted a teeny bit) and sees nothing wrong with smacking perfect strangers on the behind as they walk past him.  I watched (with a little bit of horror) as he smacked someone on the behind at church as he was going into Sunday School.  Luckily, the man was nice about it and just turned around and gave Carson a high five.  By the end of the week, when one of us (me) would smack his behind he would say "no mommy...no spanking!" and I had to apologize, so really...it was my bad habit we were trying to break.

Another bad habit that he has is sticking his tongue out at people.  We put the general "Be Nice" on the chore chart.  He is quickly repentant when he realizes he makes a mistake and says "Sorry!" so he did great at earning a sticker for that every day.

He worked hard all week, although looking at the chart, I see that we kind of dropped the ball a little bit on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We actually started the chart on Friday so we did well on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and Thursday.  Mostly thanks to Kinsey and Emily. They are much better at being the mom than I am.

On Friday he had earned enough stickers to go shopping.  We headed out to Target.  Carson insisted that we use a cart and also that he get to push it.  I had to apologize to a few people that he nearly ran over in his excitement to get to the toys.

See that cart on the left side of his face?  He ran her into the clothing.  Oops!
We finally made it to the toys and horror of horrors, they did not have the Power Rangers that he specifically wanted.  I tried to talk him into the green or blue one but nope, he wanted those two red one.  We tried to talk him into something else but he only had $15 and everything he wanted was in the $40-60 range.  He just did not understand why he couldn't just get whatever he picked out.

He had a great time playing with everything.

He loved looking at all of the large action figures.  The funny thing is, he loves the small ones better.  We have gotten him a few of the larger ones and he never plays with those but his little ones he plays with until the limbs are falling off.  We have had to duct tape a few arms and legs on his favorites.

Spiderman always loses his head in our house.
I was starting to worry that we would spend the rest of our lives in the toy department at Target but he finally agreed to go to Walmart.  I actually said a prayer before going into Walmart that we would find his toys because I hate shopping and the thought of having to go to any more stores was giving me a headache.

Luckily, the Walmart had the Power Rangers of his dreams.

Now, we get to start all over again.  Being a responsible parent is exhausting!!  Maybe I can talk him into an ice cream for his reward this week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bad to the Bone - the Sequel

Gary and I try to go walking every morning.  We are slow walkers.  For instance, one morning this guy was slowly walking (in flip flops, I might add) to the mailbox not even breaking a sweat and Gary and I, who were walking as fast as our legs would carry us, could not catch up to him to save our life.  See...slooooowwwwwww.  We consistently walk though, so I guess that counts for something.

This morning, half way into our walk, I gasped and said "Jared is supposed to be helping out at an Eagle Scout project this morning!"  So, we started walking faster so that we could get home in time to get Jared where he was supposed to be.  After a few minutes, Gary said "Boy...you are really hustling!!" and I said "I knooowwww....and it's killing me!!"  Really though, we probably looked like two very slow turtles walking down the street.

We decided that if we wanted to make it home in time we would have to take a shortcut but as we got to the shortcut there was orange tape over the entrance to the bridge with a sign that read "Sidewalk Closed".  Gary kept walking towards it so I pointed the sign out to him and he said "Oh, I know" and kept walking towards it.  I told him we couldn't possibly keep going because the sign said it was closed!  He kept going and then STEPPED OVER THE ORANGE TAPE!!  

I said "can't you read the sign?!  It says "SIDEWALK IS CLOSED!"  He reacted by holding down the orange tape and offering a hand to help me over the tape.  I said something like "you are leading me astray and I am probably going to get hauled off to jail!"  He assured me that we would not be hauled off to jail..."we might be run over by a backhoe but we won't be hauled off to jail."  Oh...that makes me feel better.  Then he started giving me a lecture about how sometimes it's better to follow the spirit of the law then the letter of the law.  I'm pretty sure police officers don't care about the spirit of the law but that didn't seem to phase him.

He kept walking and then we saw the workers and I said "GARY....THERE ARE PEOPLE THERE THAT WILL SEE US BREAKING THE "SIDEWALK IS CLOSED" LAW!"  He decided to kill them with kindness and said "Good morning!" like it was no big deal that we were trespassing on a closed sidewalk.  As he walked, he kept apologizing for the angst he was causing my "you should never break the law" spirit.  

We got up to the walkway to our street and there was more orange tape there.  I said something like "Ummm... now we're trapped between the orange tape and the backhoe!" and he stepped over the orange tape again!!  Don't worry though, his chivalry is not completely dead because he again offered a helping hand to get me over the tape.

By that point, my heart was racing and I complained about him leading me down the path of destruction and he said "Don't worry...you're bad to the bone...remember?!

I'll probably start pulling the tags off of mattresses again.  Oh, and just in case you are wondering, Jared made it in time.  I guess it pays to be bad to the bone.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oh the thinks that you think....when you are cleaning a toilet

In our church, the members are asked to clean the building each week.  We are usually assigned a date to clean and since everyone is helping out, it ends up that we only do it a few times a year.  Today was one of our assigned days and as we figured out our family's schedule we realized that in order to do it, Gary and I would need to get up at about 6am.  I know that sounds early, but Gary and I have the annoying inability to sleep in past 6 (except this morning, of course....we were both sound asleep when the alarm went off).

Gary also has the annoying inability to manage time well and I have the annoying inability to handle lateness without having a nervous breakdown (I blame my dad for that).  As we have been given this assignment over the years, we have usually been late getting there and when you are late, you always end up cleaning the bathrooms because...ewwww....no one wants toilet duty so that's the last assignment taken.

On one of our late mornings when I was having a particularly bad nervous breakdown, I complained about him always being late and that I was going to get stuck cleaning toilets!  AGAIN!!  Gary just looked at me and said (very patiently, I might add) "Oh...I don't mind cleaning toilets for God."

He didn't even add "you heathen, wife, you!" at the end of his sentence.  He just casually and humbly said that he didn't mind cleaning toilets for God.  Well...that put my huffy little attitude in it's place!!

So this morning, we were the first ones there and we purposefully took the bathrooms.  They have a chart that tells you exactly what to do, in what order, and with what cleaning supplies and I have this annoying inability to clean out of order...it kind of drove Gary crazy a bit but we swept floors, we cleaned sinks, mirrors, and toilets, we dusted the air vents and we mopped the floors.

We discovered as Gary so aptly put it "little boys might not be able to always make it in the toilet but girls sure are messy, messy, messy when it comes to getting the paper in the garbage can."  I couldn't argue with him either because the boys bathroom was spotless (except for a few dribbles down the side and on the back of the toilet) but the girls bathroom?!  It looked like someone came in and threw all of the toilet paper and paper towels on the floor.  Shame on us girls for being so messy!!

I also discovered that there was glitter in the girls bathroom.  I guess we try to hide our messiness by spreading glitter everywhere.  The boys bathroom was sadly void of sparkles.  Gary thought that was a good thing. :)

I couldn't help but notice the difference in my attitude from a few years ago.  As I was mopping the bathroom floors the only think I could think was "Oh...I don't mind mopping the floors for God."

Will you think I'm weird if I tell you that I love cleaning my church building.  What an honor to be cleaning God's house for Him!  I love when I get to start my Saturdays like that!

I blame Gary for that.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Glamorous Life

From Thursday of last week:

I changed a tire today!!

Oh...and when I say "I changed a tire" what I really mean is that I stood behind my boys like the good mom that I am and documented the whole thing for all of our posterity to see while telling them to slow down because I can't take pictures that fast!!  I have my priorities, you know!!

All those years of scouts came in handy.

Just for posterity's sake...my boys thought that they needed to put the hubcap on the spare tire but I told them they didn't.  They argued with me so I called Gary and he said that we DID NOT need to put the hubcap on the spare tire!  Haha!!  I was right!!  Then I had to gloat for a few minutes while they cleaned everything up because I am nothing if not mature!

I'm glad I have these boys around to change tires for me!!

I've had a very busy day!  I also added sleeves to a dress...begrudgingly....but I did it.  I have learned that I kind of hate sewing.  The dress turned out lovely and modest which is hard to do when you are taking the sash of a dress and turning into two sleeves but I did it and conquered my fear of sleeve making!!  Not really...please don't make me do it again.  I got it done just in time to send it on a cruise with Kinsey.  Can you believe she didn't take me with her?!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Things you should know before attending 5th grade graduation...

This morning was Carson's 5th grade graduation.  We were instructed to have him dress nicely which meant Sunday clothes...on a Friday.  OH THE HORROR!!!!  As you may have guessed, that did not go over well with a certain boy who only likes to wear basketball shorts.  The only way I got him to wear his suit was the promise of a fun class party after his graduation where he would be able to change into his beloved shorts.


Here are a few things you might want to know before going to your child's graduation:

*In order to get a good seat, you need to set up a tent in the lunch room the night before and spend the night...kind of like Black Friday shopping only it's Black Friday Graduation.  It's just as crazy!!

*Never punch people!!!  Even if they think that it is more important for them to see their child graduate and get a picture of the big event than it is for you to see your child graduate.  Even if they come and stand right in front of you as all of the class names are read.  Even if you can't get a good picture because they aren't invisible.  Oh, and don't worry, they'll go back to their seat...it won't be until after your child has already finished but no biggy!!

*Music teachers are amazing and are so fun to watch as they do whatever silly thing they can think of to get their students to sing loud.

*Never punch people!!!  Even if they think that they should not have to stand in line like everyone else to get a visitor's pass.  Even if they just walk up to the front while you wait ever-so-patiently for your turn.

*Don't even think of asking for a picture of your graduate with his best friend unless you have brought his comfy clothes to change into because he has been sitting in his church clothes for long enough and picture taking is the last thing on earth he wants to do!!

*Never punch people!!!  Even if you are starting to get anxious from the enormous crowds that are pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of their child.  Remember to just breathe deeply!!

*Expect a complete and total meltdown if you even dare think to take a shortcut through the school instead of traveling the path that your child has taken for the last 6 years to get to his classes.

*Purple cupcakes and white shirts...don't expect a happy ending!!

*You might cry when you think of how your children are growing up so quickly and how just yesterday you were heading off to the "tissues and tea party" after dropping him off at preschool!

*When the American flag comes into the room and you start to say the pledge of allegiance you might just tear up as you think of the men and women who have died fighting for us to have our freedom and if you are anything like me, you will be grateful for your parents who taught you to stand at attention, put your hand over your heart and be grateful that you were blessed to be one of the lucky ones born here.  Oh...they also might do a "sucker-punch" and play the national anthem too and you'll just be a mess.  Bring a tissue!!

*One day, you won't have any more children going to elementary school...you can either pat yourself on the back for a job well done or you can be sad that you're getting old.  I haven't decided which one I'm going to do yet.

*When you finally get your visitor's badge, for a split second you might think that it says "Mom of the year" but it really says "End of the year party" and you can pat yourself on the back for being such an optimist.  I mean really...how often does that happen...Shanon being an optimist?!  Practically never!!

*There is never enough parking.

*You will run into lots of old friends which is so fun but after a few minutes you may start to think that small talk might just be the death of you (if you are an introvert like me).

*If you take your 15 year old, all of her elementary school teachers will comment on HOW MUCH SHE HAS GROWN!!!

*Did I mention to bring a tissue or two?

*Finally...be grateful for all of the wonderful people that have influenced your child's life in some way whether large or small.  It really does take a village and we have been blessed to live in some of the best villages around!!