Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas Kickoff

We have a longer Christmas season this year because of where Thanksgiving fell on the calendar, so in an attempt to get in as many good Christmas traditions and activities as we can we headed downtown on Saturday night to take in the lights of Temple Square and the new City Creek Center across the street.
While the evening was not a fiasco-- it actually went quite well all things considered-- it was no where near a relaxing stroll through the park.  CROWDED!!!  Yikes!  We've never gone this early in the year, thus we didn't realize that A LOT of people do go this early in the year.  Last year we went the week between Christmas and New Years.  That was cushy because almost no one else went then.  I suppose it was somewhat anticlimactic once Christmas was past, but it was very easy to keep track of people, which is a very important consideration for me.
   Our walk around is fairly short and to the point.  We don't stop and linger anywhere too long lest someone wanders off and is lost in the sea of humanity. We take the same pictures at the same spots each year.  Does that mean we're boring or do we just really like tradition?  Maybe a little of both.
The kids donned the Santa hats as they helped Abe on Friday put up the tree.  I am so grateful that Abe heads up the Christmas decorating.  I love Christmas but I confess that putting up the tree and the decorations gets me into a bit of a funk.  I don't know why.  I wish it made me feel jovial and excited.  I do love the spirit of Christmas-- the music, the lights, the "Peace on Earth, goodwill to men", the birth of the Savior.  I love it, but it also reminds me of loved ones I've lost and still miss.  I think of so many going through hard times and I have trouble losing myself in the joy of the season.  Am I alone in this feeling?  Can you relate?  Please advise.
Onto a happier thought.  There has been a fair amount of peace on earth here at home this lovely long extended Thanksgiving weekend.  The older kids playing a game together in peace and harmony.  Please-- give me a moment to soak it in.
Faith and Cannon wanted to sleep together on the floor of Cannon's room last night.  These two generally get along very well and play together quite calmly.  They can get loud and crazy, but there's not usually much conflict.  I am so glad.
Georgie, however, does have his share of conflict with anyone who thwarts him.  Sadly, the youngest of six is going to get thwarted every now and then.  It's good for him, right?  It will make him a healthy, well adjusted adult someday, right?
Here he is wearing his prized "bird shirt".  It's his favorite shirt and he asks for it by name.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  The four oldest kids and my sister, Brig, and I got up early to run a 5K--The Human Race in Draper.  This picture was taken just before we left the house so we were all bundled up.
But underneath we were all matching in our shirts.  Very fun for us!  We signed Faith up just the day before so she got last year's shirt.  I thought she might be a little young to run such a distance, but she really wanted to and I figured we wouldn't be going very fast anyway. 
The original plan was for the kids and I to all stick together for the race.  But when Faith joined us we changed the plan to, "Just follow whatever Faith does".  If she runs, we run, if she walks, we walk.

It was a good plan because Faith was FAST!  I could keep up with her but she left her older siblings in the dust!  She and I got to cheer everyone else as they finished.  The whole thing was so fun and I really hope the kids will want to make it a tradition.
As soon as we cleaned up from the race we went to the Flynn's home. We spent several hours cooking up a storm and miraculously we got all the food ready right at the time we planned for. 
It was quite the job guarding the rolls from the girls before the time for the feast.
The meal was a grand success!
Abe was the turkey carver.  He was hesitant to do the job in another man's home, but David was happy to relinquish the honor.
The Flynn's had some great music playing throughout the day on their sound system.  George was digging it and dancing to Erasure.  Abe was in 80's heaven!
Clark and London spent the day melting their minds playing Minecraft.  I was not terribly pleased about that, but I guess people should get to do what they want on Thanksgiving.
That is definitely what Abe and I did.  We played games and ate pie to our hearts content!  We hung out at the Flynn's until about 10:00 p.m.  George and Cannon were really great for the whole day and George even took a nap.  It really was just a very enjoyable, relaxing, happy Thanksgiving for our whole family.  Thank you, Flynns!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Reality Bites

Well, here's the new look for the blog.


I do not love this latest batch of family pictures.  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I was deciding on what the family should wear for the pictures.  For starters these pictures were taken the morning after my marathon so I don't think I really cared what people wore.  But, I think I was going for a warm, natural, relaxed, welcoming, comfortable look. I didn't really want an everyone-matching, perfect family look.  Not that I don't like that look.  I do, and I have attempted it, but perhaps never fully achieved that look before.  This time around I wanted to say, "This is us. We are real.  We aren't perfect, but we love each other."

I'm afraid what we achieved was, "Unmatched, unkempt, and too lazy to do anything about it."

Too harsh?  I don't know.

Exhibit A
We're not wearing shoes of the same style and/or season.  Notice Elinor's winter boots, Clark's and my Sunday shoes, the three little ones wearing their Summer sandals.  To be honest, these are the shoes that we had that fit.  And since I'm being honest, Bethany's shoes were too small and she and Elinor had a little spat that morning about who got to wear the worn out, too small boots that Elinor is wearing.

Exhibit B
Faith's shirt doesn't fit and I didn't have the good sense to at least roll up her sleeves.  George's pants were too short.  And why did I think warm and cool colors would look good together.  I know I lack fashion sense and vision, but seriously.  Is this really the best I could do?
And would it have been too much for me to iron a shirt collar for the man-child?
I guess it was too much.

 And Elinor.  She was such a good sport to let me trim her hair at home rather than pay at the salon.  Did I not see those uneven, scraggly pieces hanging down?  Or did I just not care?  She looks beautiful anyway but come on.  I think I can do better.

So I will blame the marathon for my lack of concern for my family's appearance in our annual family photos.  But the truth be told, this IS us.  We are all doing the best we can and sometimes it ain't pretty and life gets ahead of us. It is a challenge to keep this mass of humanity clean, fed, and clothed; not to mention, educated, nourished, and nurtured.  So while these pictures are not representative of the goals I have for my family, they are perhaps a more accurate depiction of the reality of our lives these days.

I realize there are much more important things than matching, "perfect" family pictures and I sound rather like a spoiled brat.  I love my brood of healthy, relatively happy children.  I'm not really that bent out of shape about this latest batch.  But I do love nice pictures of my children.  I spend my days caring for them and on the challenging days it is very uplifting for me to see a picture of them smiling back at me.  It may be hard to believe, but they do occasionally look at me with less than darling expressions.  At moments like those a smiling happy picture can heal the hurt.  Or it can serve as a dart board.


I am not finished in my quest for nice family pictures this year.  I have another idea in mind.  My attempt at a reality theme worked too well and reality is overrated anyway.  This time I'm going for uber matching and formal.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Does Anyone Know Where George Is?

And next up in the continuing series of "Does Anyone Know Where George Is?"...
I really do try to keep tabs on him, but he is quick.  And quite frankly, he is naughty. 
Adorable, but naughty.
Smart, but naughty.
I found him having his way with a can of Stephen's hot chocolate.  And to add insult to injury it was the Dark Chocolate-- MY FAVORITE!  How rude.
As you can see, he felt absolutely no remorse and he even got a tubby (bath) out of it.  
This evening we did a family dinner with my family at our house.  Here's a little background on my family and our family dinners.  My mom passed away shortly before Bethany was born.  Not too long later my dad remarried a lovely lady named Beverly (in pink).  She has five children roughly the same ages as my three siblings and I.  For the first few years we all got together for monthly family dinners and special events.  It was a bit challenging to forge familial relationships with people we were suddenly related to while we were still mourning the loss of our mom, but it was good.  Then Dad and Bev went on a mission to Argentina and we step-siblings still got together occasionally over the two years they were gone.
When they came home from their mission family dinners didn't happen anymore.  I'm not sure why, but a few years went by without seeing much of the step-side.  We still saw Dad and Bev regularly, but not her children and their families.
For the last few months family dinners have resumed.  I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that, but I have found them to be very enjoyable. 
My girls have a great time with their similarly aged cousins. I really enjoy Candee (in brown in previous picture).  Her older boys are great young men who are good examples to Clark and they are very playful with the little cousins. 
So although I was a little hesitant to reforge the relationships, it has been a great thing.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Igloo

You know I'm a bit of a grinch when it comes to snow.  I do think it looks beautiful.  I don't so much mind that a big snowstorm occasionally interferes with plans or that driving in it takes a bit longer and can be treacherous. 
What I mind is the snow clothes.  Providing coats, hats, gloves, snow pants and boots for six children is too much for my feeble mind.  Fortunately over the years we've collected a lot of snow clothes, but then there is the dilemma of where to dry them and where to store them.  It is good that four of the six can ready themselves for the great outdoors and I can usually get one of them to help Cannon.  Even still, it makes me feel nauseated thinking about it so I need to stop.
Even though snow clothes are the bane of my existence, I was grateful for the snow last week because it entertained my people for hours on end.  With the help of a few friends they built this fantastic snow igloo that is intended to stand the test of time... or at least the next week and a half.
My favorite thing is to see children playing in leaves, but I suppose kids playing in snow is pretty cute too.
Can you imagine what good exercise it would be for adults to play in the snow the way kids do?  But I think they are made of tougher stuff than we are.  They don't get tired and they don't seem bothered by the cold.  They do however drink a lot of hot chocolate when they're done.  
I was very grateful the kids were all so happily engaged on Saturday because I had some work to do.  Sunday was our annual Primary program in Sacrament meeting.  This is when the kids sing the songs they've learned this year and they each have a part to say.  As a presidency we told the kids we would bring a treat for them to celebrate a job well done.  The flowers were little daisy corsages we made for everyone in primary (about 75 people including teachers) to wear for the program.  My friend Kim, who passed away so unexpectedly last week, was my counselor in the presidency, so we wanted to do something to honor her.  As you can imagine, Sunday was a very emotional day.  I think it went very well, but even still, I literally collapsed into my bed Sunday night.  I was emotionally spent.  
Here's to making peace with the snow clothes this year.  I suppose they are a small price to pay for hours of childhood memories.
Watch out for the snowballs:)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Simple Joys

Today was the funeral for my dear friend and neighbor, Kim.  I am no stranger to sad funerals but this one was perhaps the most tragic I've ever been to.  Her sweet young children, her grieving husband were heart wrenching.  I can't imagine how they are feeling but I'll tell you how I'm feeling.  I am very low in spirits.  I want to curl up in my bed and check out of life for a little while. 

But I've got six children and a good husband to care for so I'll carry on.  I'll think of Kim and remember what a blessing it is that I am here to hug them and love them and serve them.

And I will more fully appreciate those life blessings that I'm here to enjoy.  Those things that bring a smile to my face.
The kids playing my favorite childhood game of raking leaves into rooms and houses.  They even shaped Faith's room into a giant music note and called it the music room.  Bethany is quite the little leaf housekeeper.  Things must be neat and tidy.
Abe, Clark, and I went with friends to see Oliver at the Hale Centre Theatre last weekend.  Before the show started we got to do a backstage tour.  I did not love the production but it was a marvelous  evening.
Clark and several PiPod buddies joined us for the play after they had spent a long day up at Weber State participating in a speech and debate tournament.  Clark was part of a student congress and he loved it. 
And I love that he has such great friends.  This evening I am feeling particularly grateful for the good people in our lives.
I apologize this picture is a repeat but I like it.  George has a joke.  Just one joke-- that he tells numerous times a day.  It goes like this:
George:  Knock, knock!
Anyone who will listen:  Who's there?
George:  Airplane.
Anyone who will listen:  Airplane who?
George:   WATCH OUT!
Anyone who will listen:  Ha, ha, ha!  That is a funny joke!

And so it goes over and over many times a day.  Especially when he gets tired he'll just keep repeating it.  And the thing is, it never gets old.  We all encourage him to keep telling it.  I'd like an anthology of little kid knock knock jokes.  Knock knock jokes are the best because they don't have to make sense.  And since kids' jokes usually don't make sense, knock knocks are perfect.  Everyone knows the order of things so you know where the punchline is so you know where to laugh. 

I have been hugging my little ones tightly and frequently this week.  Weeks like this remind you what matters most.  But Cannon has had to tell me not to hug him quite so tight.  And I quote, "Mom, you can hurt little children by hugging them too tight."

Faith was practicing gymnastics today.  It was time to start learning a round-off double back handspring.  And even though she is tough as nails and flexible as jello she gets nervous to learn new tricks.  She was scared to try it but she did it!! Hooray for Fay-Fay!
In this picture she is playing our family favorite game of The Great Dalmuti.  She regularly skunks everyone at the game.  How does she do it?  She's a sweetie but she is learning the art of trash-talking.  I like to think she gets that from her mama.

Elinor came to me the other day telling me her wrist hurt.  I looked at it and lo and behold it looks freaky wierd.  Good heavens, Elinor!  What have you done to your wrist?
She could not identify any possible trauma but it totally looked broken with hard, sharp bone pushing up but not breaking the skin. 
It turned out to be a ganglion cyst, or ligament cyst, or wrist cyst (all names for the same thing).  It might go away on its own (hoped for), she might need steriod shots (not so great), or surgery (no good).  She's suppose to take ibuprofen and rest her wrist. 
Wierd, huh?  Do any of you have any experience with this?  Elinor tends to get all the interesting medical stuff in our family. 
Clark's football season has ended.  He loved playing.  It think he would have really loved it if they had won even a single game.  But there you have it.  His coach was nice. 

Too nice perhaps.  But since we didn't do much to volunteer and help with the team I guess I won't complain:)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To My Friend Kim

The beautiful lady in the middle of this picture is Kim Milligan.  She passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly this past week from a severe stroke.  She was 32 years old and in perfect health. Like everyone who knew her, I am in disbelief.  Everyone in our ward and neighborhood is lining up anxiously looking for ways to help her sweet, young family.  Her husband is our recently called bishop.  I'm not sure what to do, but I can share my thoughts about my friend and neighbor by writing a letter to her and letting her family know that they were not alone in appreciating this amazing woman.

Dear Kim,

You were my backyard neighbor for a little over five years.  When we first moved in you came over to introduce yourself and told me you prayed us here.  I don't doubt that you did!  You are a woman of great faith.  And in all the major tests of faith you've had, I never saw you waver or doubt.

We didn't live by you when Josh was diagnosed with cancer when he was three, but I've heard you bear testimony of how it strengthened your family and your faith.  You told me how much your family was shaped by the experience.  Your family scripture/motto became Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest".    Josh was healed and you taught others by your example of faith.

I was here when Ryder was one and his skull was fractured in numerous places from the accident with the horse.  I heard you bear your testimony of the power of the priesthood.  Another "Milligan Miracle" and Ryder was healed with no lasting effects.

And I talked with you when your good husband was called to be the bishop of our ward.  What a heavy load for him, but my heart went out to you thinking of the extra load you would need to carry.  Five little kids and a busy schedule of school and extra-curricular activities.  That was in June and we chatted many times and I would ask you how you were doing and I never heard you complain.  In fact, you said you couldn't complain when you knew so many people needed Jim's help. 

You instilled this faith in your children and even in the moments following your passing your children were concerned that their dad might be released from his calling as bishop.  They were concerned because they wanted the blessings that would come from him fulfilling his calling.

You have been my visiting teacher for quite a while and I've loved the chance to get to know you better.  In fact you visited me only the day before your trouble began last Saturday.  We were neighbors but it hasn't been until the last couple of years that I feel like we've really gotten to know each other.  You have been an example to me as you diligently visited me every single month.  You've been my counselor in the Primary presidency and I always knew that you were 100% dependable.  You had so much on your plate but if you said you were going to do something it was as good as done. 

You had a beautiful, singing voice.  I liked it when you sat behind me in choir practice.  I am an alto that could probably pull off the tenor part if need be.  I was a little envious of your angelic soprano voice.  To be honest that wasn't the only thing I was a little envious of.  You were so ladylike and gracious and lovely in everything you did.  Your laugh and your smile was so beautiful.  I never, ever heard you utter a negative thing about anyone.  A while back several ladies in our ward regularly did a girl's night out.  You were hesitant to participate because you worried that there might be gossiping and you didn't want to be involved in that.  Sometimes you were so good it made me a little uncomfortable!  But that was MY problem.  You had no trouble standing up for what was right.

You were so dedicated to your children and helping them develop their talents.  Mikayla with dance and Josh with football.  I know you were so proud of Josh working so hard in football this year and how excited you were that his team had done so well.  I have loved teaching Mikayla, Josh, and now Joey piano lessons.  I don't know if the kids will be to lessons tomorrow but I can't wait to get my arms around them and give them big hugs.  I know that your family and the whole ward is anxious to help mother your children.  I know that there are hard times ahead for them but in your short years you have given them a foundation of faith and strength.  They will know how much you loved them.  I have no doubt that they will be loved and taken care of by so many.

I told my girls that you spent your whole life doing what you should.  You were an obedient daughter.  You went to college.  You married Jim in the temple.  You bore your children and found joy in womanhood and motherhood.  I can understand why some might question why you had to leave when you did when you were so good.  I don't know why and it is so sad to us.  Yet, I don't doubt that you would say to all of us not to worry.  I think you would quote us the scripture in Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage."

Kim,  thank you for what you have taught me.  I will never forget your example.  Your children will always be welcome in my home.  Your passing has changed everyone who has known you.  Everyone will try to be a little more faithful, diligent, meek and kind.  We will try to be more like Jesus Christ.  We will try to be more like you.  That is the legacy that you have left in your short time here on earth.  We are so sad to say goodbye for now, but are comforted to know that we'll see you again and you will be united with your sweet husband and children again and forever. 

                                                                                          Love Your Friend,

                                                                                           Betsy Fox