Wednesday, April 26, 2017

the great outdoors

Spring is just gorgeous, isn't it?  Blue skies, green grass, flowers of every color... what's not to love?

Fortunately for us, we don't have to venture very far in order to enjoy the sights and sounds of spring.  The laughter and squeals of delight that emanate from our backyard are my favorite.

We bought a trampoline on Black Friday last year and finally set it up a few weeks ago.  To say that it's been a big hit would be an understatement.  I love that the kids {especially a certain 3-year-old} have an outlet for all of their energy!


While the kids run and jump and play from one corner of the yard, I prefer to kick back and relax supervise from the opposite corner.  With a little help :)


I love when the fruit trees all blossom at the same time.  They produce the most beautiful, fragrant flowers.


And now that it's staying lighter longer, we can truly soak up that perfect late afternoon sunshine...


...and some of the most vibrant sunsets.

With the warmer weather comes yard work, which thankfully, we all really enjoy.

The time has come to climb trees, pick wildflowers, and make dandelion wishes once again.

Oh, and ride bikes.

Only 21 more school days to go and then the real fun begins...

Monday, April 17, 2017

thoughts on Easter

This year we chose to celebrate a little differently.  We skipped the egg hunts, bunnies, and baskets and instead made a special effort to observe Holy Week.  And what a difference it made!  Each night before bed we held a short devotional where we talked about the event of Jesus' life that occurred on that day.  The girls asked meaningful questions.  They cried when we talked about the crucifixion.  And they learned that joy still came in the morning.


Although Easter came a little later this year, I appreciate the extra time I've had to ponder and prepare for this special day.  Since we missed most of General Conference while we were in D.C. I've been reading the talks online, which always adds a spiritual boost to my day.  Then a few days after we returned from our trip, my mom and I went to a women's conference {Time Out For Women} where we listened to uplifting talks and musical performances.  I recorded some thoughts and impressions in a little notebook during the conference and have been trying to keep them in the forefront of my mind.

As I entered the conference I wasn't expecting much.  But that weekend away from all of my responsibilities as a wife and mother gave me the time {and the quiet} I needed to refocus on the things that are important.  I walked away knowing that my ministry -- right here, right now -- needs to be these guys:

The world we live in can be so unkind, unsafe, and unforgiving.  But MY world {my family} will not be.  Now is the time for me to teach them to be the difference.  I'm so fortunate to be able to stay home with my littles, ministering to them day in and day out, and relying on grace when I fall short.

Lately I've thought a lot about grace.  What a gift it is to know that even if when I make mistakes I'm not cut from the team.  In fact, I'm loved and cherished more than I could possibly fathom.

All this time I've been so concerned about how I can possibly pay Him back.  How do you show your gratitude for such an amazing gift?  What currency could satisfy the debt? 

“{Become} as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” 
-Mosiah 3:19, The Book of Mormon

I can let Him mold me into the person He needs me to be.  I can live like He would live.  I can teach my children where to find Him so they know how to find light in a world full of darkness.

I am so grateful for this Easter season and the reminder that because He lives, we can live too.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

washington d.c.

We just returned from the nation's capital and it. was. spectacular!  Our trip was a perfect blend of sightseeing, playing, and relaxing.

Day 1: the drive

We were all super excited to begin our journey, especially since we had 9 hours to go!  The kids did so great in the car.  Kylie was put in charge of distributing toys and Summer was in charge of snacks.  No one got sick.  No one complained.  They couldn't have done any better.  

The weather was a different story.  It rained.  Hard.  The entire way.

Then came the fog, followed by more rain.

There were very brief periods when the weather was semi-cooperative, and during those times we enjoyed the lush green rolling hills.

Then, finally, we were there.

Josh's friend, Adam {right} was kind enough to host our family.  He and Josh go way back.  They met their freshman year of college and then were lucky enough to spend several months together as missionary companions in Quebec.  Josh and Adam's other college buddy, Sherman, was also in town at the same time.  It was so fun having a mini-reunion with them and their families.  To add to the coolness, Adam's wife and Sherman's wife are sisters :)

Day 2: memorials & monuments

We were so grateful to have Adam as our tour guide.  The Cherry Blossom Festival was in full swing and it was super crowded, but seeing the cherry blossoms was #1 on my list.


We toured the WWII, Vietnam, Lincoln, Jefferson, MLK and FDR memorials.  And of course, the Washington Monument was ever in our sights. 


The FDR memorial was our favorite.  Between the waterfalls, quotes, and statues, there was something for everyone to enjoy.


My favorite travel companions.

There was also a kite festival happening that weekend.  It was fun seeing all of the different kites.


Although the kids enjoyed seeing the big buildings and tall statues, feeding the ducks was a close second.

Later that afternoon we came home to a full house.  There were 16 of us total, which only amplified the fun.  While the kids played in the basement, the adults chatted and prepped food and caught up on each other's lives.  Josh even made some of his famous fruit pizza for everybody.


 Day 3: d.c. temple & general conference

There are currently 155 Latter-day Saint temples throughout the world, and one of the oldest {and largest} happens to be in D.C.  This temple holds special significance to me because it is where my parents were married almost 33 years ago.

It is such a beautiful place!  I was so grateful that we got to spend time there because soon it will be closed for 2 years while it is being renovated.

The Visitor's Center was really cool.  I loved going from room to room and looking at the art.  The Christus statue always stops me in my tracks.

There were even activities for the kids.


We couldn't help but linger for awhile outside.  It was a gorgeous, cloudless day.


After that, we headed back to the house to watch General Conference.  It's always refreshing to hear from the leaders of our church.


And to hear the laugh of a super ticklish baby :) 

Day 4: the metro & museums

This day was definitely our busiest.  Adam and the kids played hooky so they could join us in the city.  It made our time there so much more fun.  We kicked off our day with a ride on the metro. 

We were all eager to explore after our lengthy train ride, especially the kiddos.

I don't know what we would have done without Davis.  He never left Jackson's side, which gave me so much peace of mind as we maneuvered through the busy streets.

Our first stop was the Air and Space Museum.  Jackson loved seeing all of the different planes.  His favorite part was watching the simulation of the Air Force jets taking off and landing.

Then we moved on to the National Gallery of Art.  It would be easy to spend an entire day there because there is SO much to see.  This luscious flower garden greets you as soon as you walk in.


Kylie spotted this statue of a Roman goddess from across the room.  She's obsessed with mythology right now and she thought it was so cool to see it in 3D form.  {Summer was a little wierded out that all of the statues were naked}.


After the art museum, we found a bench along the national mall and rested for a bit.  Bringing a backpack of snack foods was the smartest thing we did!  There were 9 of us altogether so the odds of someone being hungry at any given time were pretty high. 

Our last stop that day was the Museum of Science and Natural History.  It was our favorite!  There were so many interesting things to see.

After our third and final museum we headed back to the metro.  Even as we walked away from the sites I couldn't help but snap a few more pictures of that gorgeous city.

I just have to pause for a minute and tell you that the kids did amazing that day.  Everyone stuck together and was in good spirits the whole time.  I was so impressed.  Even Jackson, though tired, was a trouper!

We took another long train ride back to Adam's town, then walked from the metro station to the house.  But we made a little pit stop at the park because by then the kids had some energy to burn.

The adults needed a little help in the energy department.  A quick stop at Cafe Rio did the trick.

By the end of the day we were all totally pooped.  Walking 6 miles will do that to you!

Day 5: reminiscing

As we drove home we all felt content and happy.  We had the best time exploring D.C. and spending time with friends.  It's hard to pick a favorite part because we loved everything about our trip!

Funnily enough, I think the kids will remember navigating the creek at the park just as much as navigating the city.

But Josh and I will always remember the grace and kindness of Adam and his family.  Spending time with them was just the best.  The. Best.

No matter how great a trip is, it's always refreshing to come back home.  Right, Roscoe?