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May 30, 2010

A big girl and a ball

Lexi is a full-time walker now. I can hardly believe it! When we were at the park yesterday she was navigating the little play structure all by herself: up the stairs, across the platform, down the slide...over and over and over again. She was completely delighted.


In addition to becoming a bi-ped, Lexi is fascinated with balls. "Ball" is her newest word, and she loves to toddle around with one. She also loves to throw a ball -- and she has quite an arm! I have tried teaching her to roll the ball to me, but she would much rather throw. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. When I was expecting Gavin (and we knew he was a boy), a friend in our Oregon ward said, "I bet you have dreams of holding a sweet, dainty, calm little girl in your arms. Honey, that's not in your gene pool." Ha! Lexi is definitely going to hold her own with all these brothers in the house.

The footage below captures a little ball game we enjoyed on Friday afternoon. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

video

Sewing for a cause

Yesterday I dusted off my sewing machine. I don't think I have used it for a year. But a sale on flannel plus my need for distraction equaled a cool little project. I made receiving blankets to donate to the Colorado Cuddles from the Heart blanket drive.



My sweet friend Shaina has a darling seven-month-old baby boy named Kimble. He was born with a severe heart defect and spent the early weeks of his life in The Children's Hospital in Denver. Two other little boys were born in the same hospital within 24 hours of each other, each with similar heart problems. The moms of these adorable boys are trying to give back to the hospital where they received (and continue to receive) such excellent care.

Won't you join the fun?

Colorado Cuddles needs NEW handmade or store bought blankets. These blankets can be fleece no-sew blankets, receiving blankets, baby blankets, crocheted or knitted blankets, quilts, or throw blankets. They can range in size from newborn to twin size. (For tax purposes, monetary donations are not accepted.)

The deadline for donations is November 1, 2010. The blankets will be delivered on Kimble's first birthday. That means you have lots of time to organize your friends, your family, or your church group to contribute to this awesome cause! Just contact Shaina for delivery instructions.



Thank you!

May 28, 2010

Fond farewell

A little over a year ago, just before I began the bed rest phase of pregnancy, a new friend came into my life. Little did I know, as we were exchanging emails and waving at church, that a year later Melanie and I would be the dearest of friends.

A year later, my kids and Melanie's kids adore each other. Our families have laughed and cried and worked and served together. We have shared a church bench (third row, center) and a dinner table (theirs and ours). We have celebrated every major holiday together in the last 12 months.

Gavin is especially fond of Melanie and her family. He loves to talk to Melanie on the phone and play at her house and eat her delicious cookies. He begs to see her several times a day. In fact, every time we get in the car, he asks if we can go to Melanie's house. She loves him dearly and he knows it!

When Melanie's husband, Bob, got a job in Mesa in January, he moved in with my parents while Melanie and her kids stayed in Colorado Springs to sell their house. When my brother got married, Bob was an enormous help with our kids. When Bob and Melanie looked for an Arizona home, my brother was their real estate agent. Our lives have certainly become intertwined in a way I never expected...and I have loved every minute.

Tomorrow Melanie's family will move to Arizona. Even though they are going to Gilbert and we are slated to eventually follow, I am struggling with the loss. The timing of Melanie's appearance in my life has been a most treasured gift. I know that our friendship will surely endure the distance, but I will really miss the immediacy of her presence. I am not sure how to fill the void.

Today we ran away for lunch together -- with some of her kids and some of mine -- and toasted the closing of her Arizona home and the happy times we have shared. We haven't said our final goodbyes yet (do we have to?), but this was certainly a farewell.













Happy trails, dear friends! We hope to join you soon.

May 27, 2010

We knew it would come!

Summer has arrived.



[Even though the kids have three more days of school.]



Pants and long sleeves are packed away, ready to wear who-knows-when.



Shorts and sandals and swimsuits are out.



We need to unpack the swim towels.



Ceiling fans are running.



Back yard sprinklers are entertaining.



Popsicles are back on the grocery list.



Summer has finally arrived!



May 26, 2010

Once in a lifetime

Today I had the awesome opportunity to run away from real life and attend Air Force Academy graduation ceremonies with the Shaha family. What a blast -- literally! We roasted in the hot sun at 7000 feet, but we sure had fun together. (Many thanks to Garry and our last-minute babysitter, who made my impromptu outing possible.)



I love the grand and formal nature of the military. Everything they do exudes respect and honor, and the patriotism throughout the ceremony was quite touching. I sure feel more grateful for the sacrifices these great men and women make on behalf of our country.



The graduating cadets' processional was awesome. Here is video footage:

video

Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the guest speaker. His speech about duty was wonderful. And then 1,001 cadets were sworn in as second lieutenants in the Air Force and graduation ceremonies commenced. (That part took 90 minutes.)





At the exact moment that the graduates threw their caps in the air, Thunderbird jets screamed over the stadium. That began a 15-minute air show that was truly awe-inspiring! With heart-pumping music in the background and an emcee announcing the incredible F-16 maneuvers and formations, the crowd went wild over each of the jet's passes. Sometimes they were so close we could see details on the bottoms of the jets -- and the noise was deafening! Here are a couple of short videos, followed by photos of the Thunderbirds.

video video












The Shahas have sponsored an LDS cadet for the last six years (four years at the Academy, plus two on his mission). I had met Jake a few times, but I loved seeing him in uniform and watching his family greet him with such love and admiration.



What a fantastic experience! Since we are moving away from Colorado, it was surely a once-in-a-lifetime event for me!

May 25, 2010

My Heavenly Father loves me

I have been wondering for months if we would live in Colorado Springs long enough for me to plant summer flowers. Here we are, with no sales prospects at the end of May, and the tulips are dead. The Spring was so cold that they didn't really thrive this year.



Sad as I am to see them go, I am very excited about the new flowers I planted today.



Whenever I plant flowers, I can't help but think of Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree. The imagery of pruning and fertilizing and nurturing a tree speaks to my soul. I draw parallels to nurturing my children, my family, my testimony, my soul. I think of times when I have been well pleased with the many gardens in my life, and also the times when I have stood among ruins and asked, "What more could I have done for my vineyard?"

I think of Alma 32, which talks of planting the seeds of faith. These are my favorite verses:

37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.

38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.

39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.

40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

This summer, these are the literal seeds that I will nurture. Every time I look at them, or water them, or fertilize them, I will also think of faith and obedience and diligence.




This afternoon as I was getting dirt under my fingernails, feeling the warm sun on my arms, hearing the birds chirp, and thinking deeply about the gospel of Jesus Christ, a Primary song came to mind: "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." I love nature and the beautiful reminder it provides of my Creator and my Savior. I also LOVE this song. This video from YouTube captures the essence of how I feel after a day in my garden. Enjoy!


May 22, 2010

Better luck next time!

This morning we embarked on a journey to the top of Pikes Peak! I have wanted to visit "America's Mountain" since arriving in Colorado Springs. My fitness level has not been up to par to make the hike during the last two years, but I couldn't completely let go of the dream. Today we set out in the van.

We were all excited for our grand adventure. However, when we arrived at the ranger station at the foot of the mountain, we learned that high winds would not allow us to summit the mountain today. We could drive 13 miles up, but not the last six. I was devastated. The rest of the family was only slightly disappointed. We substituted an outing to Garden of the Gods and hope to make the Pikes Peak trip work on another Saturday.

The scenery at Garden of the Gods is just breathtaking. I am always struck by the majesty of the red rocks against the intense blue sky. The spring greenery makes the setting even more beautiful.



Lexi was thrilled to be outdoors. The wind was ridiculous, but she loved it! This girl is walking so much today. I think she has decided she prefers this method of locomotion...even in the dirt.



Tyler kept saying, "Dad! Take a picture of me!" He had some pretty silly poses.



Gavin really made me nervous. He wanted to run at break-neck speed, of course, and to follow his big brothers wherever they went -- of course! His antics gave me heart palpitations. But he had the time of his life.



Today was the warmest day of the year -- about 75 when we were out. Compared to the mid-40's and 50's (and snow!) we've "enjoyed" throughout April and May, today was a real scorcher. We were also dressed for the freezing temperatures at the top of Pikes Peak, so we were all warm. (I realize we are going to melt when we get to Arizona.) Zachary, however, secretly had a contingency plan: he wore shorts underneath his jeans! How resourceful.



Our trip wouldn't have been complete without a photo op at Balance Rock.



We also took a lovely stroll around the central garden. I really got the itch to do some hiking with the kids on another day. If any of my local friends are interested, I think we should plan an outing soon!



When Garry posted these pictures on Facebook, I suggested several snarky comments about my photo: "How many chins do you have?" or "There's 40 pounds I'm not sealed to!" or "She's twice the woman I married!" But since he's Prince Charming, he wrote, "My beautiful bride." Garry gets lots of good husband points today. I wasn't very happy about our change in plans, but he made the morning fun.



Happy Saturday.

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