Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dear EmJ,

Today in Young Women, I am going to teach the Laurels about defending the doctrine of the family.  I want to make sure that you, too, know exactly where I stand on marriage and family...which is exactly where the Lord stands.

First, the Lord’s Prophets will teach us what we need to know about and what we should do to defend the family.  As you seek answers to your questions, turn to the words of the prophets.  You will find answers there.  I’ve noticed that when I read things from those opposed to the family, or even just intelligent scholars, I don’t feel the same spirit as when I read the words of the prophets encouraging us to stand up for traditional marriage and families.

The Family:  A Proclamation to the World is true.  You should read it often, even memorize it.  It is a statement of truth, it is how the Lord views marriages and families, it is what we should strive for in our own homes.

Being a mother is the highest, holiest calling that you can have in this life.  You should look forward to that privilege that is yours, you should prepare for it, and you should remember that it is more important than anything else you can achieve.  You are lucky to be born into a time in history where women can do anything they want, can become anything they want, and that’s important.  But being a mother is the MOST important.  Be proud of that.

As a mother, you will one day be responsible for the next generation.  You will most likely marry and have children of your own.  Even if you, for some reason, don’t marry or can’t have children, you will be a sister, an aunt, a primary teacher, a young women leader, a neighbor, or a mother figure to many, many impressionable children.  Teach them about the family.  Teach them to say, “When I grow up I want to be a mother!” (or father, as the case may be. :)

Your home should be second in holiness only to the temple.  I hope our home achieves this...that it is a place of security and refuge for you and your siblings.  Please know that you can come to dad or I with any questions or concerns at any time.  We want to know how you feel, what you think, and we will always love you no matter your actions or decisions.  But we will always teach and defend truth.

The Supreme Court just legalized same-sex marriage, which cuts at the heart of the family.  I want you to know that I have learned that it is possible to love those who support this issue, even while disagreeing with their position or lifestyle.  Be kind to them even while staying true to yourself.  Society hasn’t yet seen the gross consequences of this decision, but in your lifetime you will.  You will also see your freedoms erode because of this ruling.  That is why your home has to be a holy place.  It may be the ONLY place where you will be able to teach truth and defend the family.  

This letter isn’t very eloquent.  I am going to attach a copy of the family proclamation, the Church’s statement on the institution of marriage, and a talk by Sister Oscarson...all of which explain things so much better than I can!  Please take the time to read and study them.  Over and over again.  Until they are a part of your very thinking.  If you have the truths in your brain, the Spirit can help you remember them when you are called upon to defend them.

One more thing.  Eternal perspective.  Our country, maybe even our world, is headed in the wrong direction.  It is becoming increasingly evil.  As you see these things happen, try to remember that this life is only a small time in our eternal existence.  We need to be counted among those who “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places,”  but we don’t need to fear the future, nor what man can do.  If this life is a football game, the Lord’s team is the guaranteed winner.  Make sure you are on His team and don’t worry about how hard the fight is or how much it looks like Satan’s team is winning.  The Lord will come again, victorious.  Justice and mercy will be perfectly dished out.  It will be an incredible time, but only if you are found on the Lord’s side.

I love you!  You are amazing and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for you, such a strong and confident young woman.

Love, Mom

Friday, March 06, 2015

A Very California February

February in the East Bay is amazing...beautiful, green, sunglasses and a light jacket amazing...I wish it could last forever.  Maybe with another rainfall or two, March will stay the same.  In the meantime, we are savoring every minute of outdoor greenness before we retreat to our air-conditioned abode (or the pool!).

This month Joshua finished up his basketball season.  It was an interesting experience being half-part of a team.  The team practiced only on Sundays, so Joshua only participated in the games.  He did well, considering he never practiced with the team and it was his first basketball experience, and liked his teammates, but we felt very much like outsiders. 

(And HOLY COW the contrast between this muffy, white-collar, organic snacks only basketball league and our blue-collar "you're gonna git strucken' out!" baseball there no happy medium?!)

On the last day of basketball, Joshua also had baseball tryouts.  He was invited to play on a local travel team, which made us sooooo proud.  But having come from the "half" basketball season, we knew that being a half part of a tournament ball team wouldn't feel right.  As willing as the coach was to make Sunday allowances for us, we just couldn't do it.  So he is playing on a regular old team, and loving it.  Baseball in February! Go Giants!

Matthew turned 4 months!  I know you can't see it in the picture, but his onesie says, "You are here", by the red dot.  Get it?!  Huge shout out to my brother in law, Nate, for being the brains behind it!

We finally drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was our first family outing in the Gold Digger--complete with crying, complaining, goldfish getting crushed into the seats, and a wild side of the road potty stop.

Sam lost a tooth!  I think she is the youngest to lose one...through sheer force of will, I believe!

Basketball awards dinner!

Benjamin turned 9!!  He got a new bike and a lot of science stuff.  He is taller than Joshua, skinnier than EmJ,  and still smart as a whip.

We took advantage of free yogurt day.  Yum!

This will have to pass as his three-month photo.  Poor seventh child.

We had a fun Valentine's Day and even got heart-attacked.

Young Women volleyball was a complete and utter success....not that we doubted...champions again!

February brought lots of exploring local parks and trails...soaking up every bit of outdoor time!

Maybe this can be his 3-month picture.
And this is his 4-month photo...loving the swing!

Luke left me for a week of working and playing (Aerosmith concert? Meeting the "Sharks"?) in Vegas.  The kids let me go to the temple while they made spectacles of themselves on the temple lawn, and then we went to see "Meet the Mormons"...Wow!  I admit to resisting because I thought it was going to be suuupppper cheesy and awful.  But I have repented and would like to see it again and again and again.  It was great.

That's it!  Happy February-turned-to-March....Spring training, lots of birthdays around here, sunshine, and a vacation on the way!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gold Digger

It is a van and he is all mine, (no thanks to our Twitter and Sprint shares).
Everybody has a seat, and a seatbelt, and some melted crayons, and some old candy wrappers and chewing gum.   There is a hole in one seat and a missing cup holder in the back, remedied by a Tupperware container the size of a cup holder.  There are remains of stickers and tantrums (cracked mirror, anyone?).  When you drive it makes funny noises and jostles everyone around too much.  Clearly, the previous owners were just like us.
We call him Gold Digger...because Big Ugly Mutha was sort of inappropriate.

Welcome to the circus!

Thursday, January 08, 2015


 I asked the kids to tell me their favorite part of Christmas break, but I can't remember for the life of me what they said!  Of course.  So we will just tell it in quickly captioned photos...and we will tell it again when I download photos from Luke's phone...and again when Lindsey sends all the beautiful pictures that she took!
Anyway, we started the break with our annual neighborhood Christmas party.  I had EmJ pose with the cute marshmallow hot chocolate mugs that she made.  So cute!
 While the family was here we went to the beach (Yes, the kids swam in the ocean in December!).  And they were sufficiently tired out, too.  Win.
 I have to admit that my favorite part was spending time with my sisters.  (We love you, too, Zack...but I think you were sleeping in when we took this picture!)
 We ate our annual Christmas Eve dinner at Denny's, an American institution.
 Too big, too small.  Haha!
 The kids in their matching Christmas jammies.
 I just found this picture when I was cleaning off my phone.  Love.  Matthew's favorite gift.
 Sam's highlight was getting her ears pierced, I think.
 Reillee is all about the cash.
 Que Bueno!  Happy New Year!
 Not quite sure about the bumbo.  And getting too big too fast.

 Highlighter man.
 Leg warmers!
 I have been anxiously waiting for this shirt to fit!
 And, finally, I had to document EmJ...on the ice...without holding on to anything.  :)

Waterfall Hike

 We headed out on a freezing, muddy day to attempt what was supposed to be a beautiful hike to a waterfall on Mount Diablo.
 Shockingly, nobody complained...but that's probably because we left Reillee and EmJ home, just sayin'.

 We brought some neighbors along with us...or maybe they planned the whole escapade in the first place, but I'm not blaming anybody...anyway, it was good we brought them because Jan kept the kids busy doing endurance exercises that he gleaned from his time as a Navy SEAL (or from watching p.o.w. movies...either way, Sam enjoyed the torture and Joshua enjoyed the competition and Benjamin enjoyed extorting Jan out of at least $5).
 Also, we stopped to smell the roses a couple of times.  Sam did not get wet, but she was sorely tempted.
And in the end, the freezing, muddy day found us no waterfall, but left us both freezing and muddy.
So, we took our gross selves and our gross children to a restaurant where they appreciated the grossness and ate ourselves silly.
It was a fantastic day!

Matthew James

 Matthew was blessed in church the week before Christmas.  We are so thankful that both sets of parents could be there, as well as all of my siblings and their families.
 I will post more pictures later (real ones!) of Matthew in his little blessing sweatersuit.  He was adorable...and Alivia is such the proud Aunt.
Luke was able to have both our fathers in the circle, as well as Zack and Brian...such a treat to have them with us this time around...and two friends from the ward, Greg and Kenny.  (I've mentioned our adopted family before...Kenny is another one that we claim.  He's heading out on a mission to London shortly and we are so excited for him!)

Some things I don't want to Forget

White elephant party = Armadillo
EmJ riding horses.  I don't like to watch her lessons because I am scared she is going to fall off, or get thrown, or bitten, or kicked...I hate animals!  But she LOVES horseback riding!
Pictures of Matthew in a baseball mitt.  He is two weeks old in these photos...but already too big...and we weren't good photographers anyway.  Still, I love the photos. :)
Joshua's first season of basketball.  That boy is gifted, but basketball has a few too many rules for him.  I wish I could get a photo of when he stares blankly at the ref (15 times/game at least!)...and there is simply no recreating the time that he caught the inbound pass and ran with such excitement down the court that everybody followed him as he assisted in scoring a basket in the other team's goal.
Benjamin won second place at his Tae Kwon Do competition...despite Luke's angry mutterings from the sidelines about how shoddy our current Tae Kwon Do school is.  (Nothing compares to working for Master Hwang and getting paid in key chains!)
More!  (I think I also like these pictures because taking them was about the only "time out" that my mom and I had while she was here taking care of us when Matthew was born.  Right after she got here, we discovered that Sam had L&$%! (That's lice, but it's a profanity so I had to dub it out.) and spent the better part of the week doing laundry and combing hair.  And I rued the day I had four girls and Joshua the hair model.)
Thanksgiving (all by ourselves!) smorgasboard...smorgasborg?...whatever.  We ate fingerfoods and watched a documentary about The Boz.  It was fantastic.
Jace holding Matthew and Jack at second Thanksgiving.  How sweet of him to do all the cooking and then hold babies while everybody else ate...wait, what?  Welcome to my life.
The boys deciding that they wanted to bake.  My kitchen was a mess.  Seriously.  (That cute kid in the middle has become a regular around here.  We adore him.)
Living away from family, we have adopted a few surrogate family members (like Lucas above...and Emily, who will be pictured shortly)...this is our surrogate grandpa, who lets the kids sit with him at church and even brings toys.  The only time they have this much fun at church is, well, when Grandma comes to town!

We spent a lot of time in December at the temple...seeing the lights and the different shows and recitals at Temple Hill.  So beautiful!
Matthew and Jack (cousin)...they are about 2 months apart and didn't much care about our little photo shoot, but they sure are cute.  Moustache!
And this is Emily...I told you we have lots of adopted family!...a few weeks ago Luke handed her the baby and she said, "You've never let me hold him before!  I've never held a baby before!"  I felt so bad that in two whole months of daily visits, I neglected to even ask her if she wanted to hold him...and it brought tears to my eyes to see how easily she figured out just what to do with a tiny baby.  Like a little girl mothering her dolls, it was such a testimony of the divine nature of womanhood.  A few days after this picture was taken, Emily spent the ENTIRETY of her New Year's Eve watching the party from the couch, holding Lucky Seven.