Posted by: monsonmadness | August 11, 2013

Goodbye

It is time to bid farewell to my blogging fans! You may have noticed that my blog entries have been fizzling out and are now non-existent. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that it’s time to say goodbye!

This blog was created by popular demand to document our adventures and experiences in American Samoa. Task completed.

I have enjoyed writing and sharing our stories and experiences with our friends, family and strangers. I hope that you have been entertained, educated, uplifted and encouraged. It is now time to move on in my life.

I thought it was funny that the top ten search terms of people looking for information on the internet and being referred to my blog are (in order), Helen Monson blog, heat rash, Samoan fale, black crab, big girl undies, white Sunday, miracle baby, scarred legs, steps for showering, and congratulations you’re pregnant.

As one last hurrah, here is a summary of some of my most memorable blog posts with some photos below. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement and friendship. It means so much to me. Signing off…

1. Bottom fish

2. Have you ever been a part of a miracle?

3. A full heart, a broken heart

4. Not your average day

5. Fanning fannies (Rated PG-13 be warned)

6. Dead dog dilemma

7. Tropical Cyclone Evan

8. The truth about American Samoa

9. The truth about American Samoa, part 2

10. Christmas Project part 2

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Posted by: monsonmadness | July 10, 2013

10 years ago today

10 years ago today we brought home our first child…5 1/2 month old Matthew who we were adopting. His brother Benjamin was born two weeks later, so Matthew didn’t have much chance at being an only child!

The other day Matthew asked me how many houses we have lived in. When we counted up, we couldn’t believe it, the answer was ten! Ten homes and it’s even more ridiculous when you realize that we were in one of those for 6 years, so that means 9 homes in the rest of the time. So silly. We are almost unpacked in our new home, and here is a recap of where we’ve lived including our first night bringing Matthew home ten years ago today.

Posted by: monsonmadness | July 9, 2013

Visit from Cathy

My sister Cathy arrived for a visit the day after we moved into our new house. We gave her a bed and hoped she’d make do without much else. She was very patient as we spent time unpacking and organizing, trying to cram in fun outings whenever we could.

We did a ton of stuff while she was here including Hollywood Connection (free) with bumper cars, roller coaster rides, mini golf etc, Ogden Nature center (free) with make a bug and dress up like a bug crafts, Hill Aerospace Museum (free), 7 peaks water park (free), musical of the Sound of Music (free) and the Stadium of fire 4th of July concert with Cirque de Soleil and Kelly Clarkson (not free). We met up with our friends from American Samoa for a picnic in Provo Canyon, the kids were over the moon to see their friends. We also played at parks, had picnics, shopped at Wal-Mart a lot, got dentist appointments done, had two date nights while Cathy babysat the kids, and I even got a massage one nap time while she babysat as well. How awesome is that?

We enjoyed eating at Golden Corral (twice), TGI Fridays, frozen yogurt (4 times), Krispy Creme donuts, 7-11 slurpees, and dippin dots. Of course we can’t forget Chuck E Cheese, what fun we had there!

Cathy and I went to see a movie one night and we watched a couple at home in the evenings as well. We played lots of games and she even beat me at Settler’s  of Catan once. I must be out of practice!

We loved having Cathy run around after the chickens, watching her laugh hysterically and having way more treats than usual. We will miss listening to her Disney cd’s in the car, hearing her cheesy jokes, and watching dumb you tube videos about baby monkeys riding on pigs. Fun to remember me pretending to fall in a pit at the garage, comparing the flat cotton candy to Grace’s head, trying to give directions to non English speakers, and trying to explain how tall a 5ft easel was. I love watching my kids with her, she is the best aunt and gives them so much individual attention. She makes each kid feel so special and still has fun with all of them together. She’s happy to play games with them, teach them songs on the piano, and put up with Matthew’s repetitive games. My kids LOVE their Auntie Cathy and I am so sad that she won’t be around. She fills a very important role in their lives. Thanks for the good times Auntie Cathy.

Posted by: monsonmadness | June 28, 2013

Saving money, spending time!

The dining area in our new house is too small for a rectangular table (well, for one that is big enough to seat our family at least) so we had to find a square dining table for when we moved. We needed the larger 60 inch square instead of the normal 54 inch because we need to be able to have three people sitting along the sides instead of two. These are very hard to find, and very expensive. The sets that we found, including eight chairs, ranged between $1400 and $3000.

Not likely! I decided to try my luck in the classified on ksl. After a few weeks of looking, I found a set for only $400, but it was light oak and didn’t match the colors of the new house at all. I asked Michael how hard it would be to sand and re-stain so match our kitchen cabinets and he said it wasn’t too hard and we should do it.

So…we saved a LOT of money, but we also spent a LOT of time doing it. If you ask was it worth it, I’m not sure what the answer is. I really love it, but really, we spent hours and hours doing it. Each chair had to be sanded with a belt sander and a detail sander, then we did two layers of stain, and then varnish. The table was really tricky because the top was actually laminate and if you sand too hard, the wood grain “pattern” simply sanded off. We had several mishaps along the way, a varnished dress, various stained body parts, and Michael “forgetting” to wipe off the stain from the chairs so that it dried with streaks and runs and then had to be re-sanded and re-stained all over again. He redeemed himself by making two benches that I had found on a web site. He built them pretty quickly and I stained and varnished them. They each fit three people and are really sturdy.

Yep, it wasn’t fun, but we finally got it all done. We bought a glass table top to finish it off and it fits perfectly in our new house. Ten people around the table, and four matching chairs around the counter. Ta-da!

Posted by: monsonmadness | June 18, 2013

Midway

“Almost heaven, Midway valley”.

Now sing it to the tune of John Denver’s “Almost heaven, West Virginia” and that is what the little kids at Midway Elementary sung at their school program about the history of Midway a few weeks ago. A perfect song to describe a perfect place to live.

Living here in Midway was not really planned. It was a stop along the way back to Kaysville. I didn’t think we’d make friends or enjoy it anywhere near as much as we have. It has been the most wonderful break from life! Not too many responsibilities, and just enjoying a laid back, peaceful lifestyle in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived.

This week we are half in and half out, spending every other day driving to Kaysville to unpack. In a few more days we will say goodbye to this town for good. There have already been tears shed as we have said goodbye to the wonderful people who have been so kind to us.

I am not sure I am ready to be thrown back into real life with it’s busy schedules, obligations and general busyness. I hope I can maintain some of the simplicity of life that we enjoyed in both American Samoa and Midway. We are so grateful for the generosity of Michael’s parents who gave up their second home these last few months so that we could stay here. After you’ve seen the photos below, you will know what a sacrifice that was!

We feel very blessed to have had this short stop on our journey of life.

Posted by: monsonmadness | June 12, 2013

Nine Principles for a Successful Marriage and Family

While waiting at a doctors office the other day, I was reading in the June 2013 edition of the Ensign magazine. I read an article that I swear must have been written just for me, BUT in case there are others out there who strive for peace, harmony and order in their homes, I thought I would share it with you too!

If you also aim to have a successful marriage and family, click on the link to read how! Enjoy.

Click here to read the awesome article!

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Posted by: monsonmadness | June 11, 2013

Monkey Mountain and the magic of childhood

Life is nuts right now. We are moving house on Saturday and I am the lone packer! I am also in charge of the two tenants we have (old house and new house). I spent yesterday in utter chaos as one tenant moved out and another moved in. There were carpets to be cleaned, blinds to hang, paint touch ups to do, garbage and other junk to get rid of, door latches to replace and oil spills to clean up. Not fun, but thank goodness for security deposits! I also had to move all of our food storage and some other personal belongs from our old house to our new one. Eight car loads of heavy lifting when it’s over 100 degrees is hard work.

Add to that a physical therapy appointment for Matthew getting fitted for new feet braces, him getting sun stroke playing outside and throwing up in the car on the way home, and it all makes for a lovely day! Good job I’ve got great friends (again) and a willing father-in-law who helped out with the kids for a very long day.

When we’re actually home, I’ve been spending hours on end sanding and staining our new dining set. It’s starting to look normal and I think it will be ready by Saturday (fingers crossed). I found a design that I liked for some benches, so changed up the dimensions to fit our huge table and asked Michael to build them last Saturday. He loves to build (although not to sand and stain I have unfortunately discovered) so was happy to oblige. Now we’ll be able to fit 10 people around the square table instead of 8.

While I am running around like a headless chicken trying to do all of this, my kids have had lots of free time to ride their bikes and watch movies. They love watching Oliver and Annie, and other than the joy of hearing them sing those great musical songs, it’s an added bonus that they think they have such a great life since they’re not orphans stuck in a work house with only gruel to eat!

I’ve been trying to cram in a few fun things for them to do every once in a while. The other day, I took them to Monkey Mountain, a new indoor play center in Park City (thank you Groupon). The kids were over the moon and had such a great time. As I held Grace and watched them play, I was full of gratitude that all my kids are enjoying the magical age of childhood right now, meaning all 6 of them are happy to play and imagine and pretend for hours on end. They are all in the same age range where they can enjoy the same activities, and that makes life as a parent so much easier. It’s not going to last long. When Grace is old enough to run around and play at parks etc, Matthew and Benjamin will be teenagers, and won’t be so interested. Planning activities for young children and teenagers is going to become a lot harder. I am going to appreciate this time for as long as I can because I love watching how happy the children are with the simplest things. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again. But not for long.

Posted by: monsonmadness | June 9, 2013

Daniel’s birthday

Forgot to post photos of Daniel’s birthday last Saturday. We had an awesome day in beautiful Orem and Provo.

Posted by: monsonmadness | June 7, 2013

Hooray and Boo for a full day

I am so grateful right now for things that happened yesterday. It was a difficult day (boo) but there were lots of great things that happened (hooray). Here are some of them…

Boo – To having to drive all the way to Kaysville (2 1/2 hours round trip) for 3 medical appointments.

Hooray – To having two amazing friends who each took 6 of my kids for the morning or the afternoon (on top of their own four children) so that I wouldn’t have to do the appointments with all my kids in tow.

Boo – To having to wait 3 months for this appointment but I heard he was the best, and I wanted to go with a great new doctor.

Hooray – To getting to wait in this awesome waiting room.

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Well…remember what I was used to in American Samoa!

Boo – To these photos from LBJ hosptial!

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Hooray – To finding he really was an AMAZING doctor. He spent 45 minutes with me and was so personable. He listened and cared about all of the symptoms and problems I’m having and was so thorough, even doing a thyroid ultrasound right there in the office.

Boo – To having to get 9 vials of blood taken so that they can run a bunch more tests and diagnose my arthritis properly.

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Hooray – My thyroid levels are wacky again (common because of pregnancy) and I am hyperthyroid again (hence the yucky sypmtoms) Looks like I’ll be able to come off my meds soon.

B00 – Finally getting home at 7.30pm  to find a message on the answering machine saying that they hadn’t drawn enough blood and needed me to go back to the lab and get more!!!

Hooray – After 20-30 hours on the phone, and thanks to the kind help of a stranger pulling some strings, we were able to get Matthew an appointment to see a child psychiatrist.

Boo – To having to fill out 40 pages of questionnaires, health histories, behavior logs etc etc

Hooray – To finding ANOTHER amazing doctor in one day. The psychiatrist also spent 45 with me, then another 15 with Matthew and again, was completely thorough. It is so refreshing to get great medical help and know that they really care and want what’s best for you.

Boo – To finding out that Matthew needed to have some blood drawn for tests as well. He doesn’t deal with pain well, and I knew that he was going to freak out.

Hooray – For insurance to cover all of this!

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I am really grateful for wonderful friends and the support that they offer me. I really do not know what I would do without my friends.

I am so grateful that we have good insurance and that we have finally been able to find some wonderful doctors who can help us with our problems.

I am so grateful that hopefully I can start feeling better (yes, the doctor said that the heart palpitations and breathlessness were thyroid related), and hopefully figure out what we need to do for my daily pain.

I am so grateful that we have someone who is committed to helping my son so that he can have the most normal life possible.

Hooray for life!

Posted by: monsonmadness | May 30, 2013

Randoms

Here are some random things that we have been doing lately:

* We got all the cousins together for a photograph for the first time in two years. Two weeks later another one was born! Time for an update!

* We had ANOTHER Pinewood Derby. Urgh. Two in one year is two too many! Benjamin did a corn on the cob, and for the first time ever, Matthew chose a car. Way too normal for our family.

* I am a bit frustrated about being foreign and not understanding things. I have had kids in elementary school for five years now. This year, at Midway Elementary, I was informed about Field Day just like I had been at every other school. Never before had I been invited or knew what this was. I thought it was just a fun day at the end of school where the kids played games and had fun. Wrong! It is like British sports day where they have races and events like the sack race and the egg and spoon race. Can’t believe I’ve missed out on so much the last few years. Made it to watch all four school kids in their races this year. It was fun. Poor Matthew came last in everything but he had a smile on his face most of the time. I was really proud of him.

Mary and Emma got pretty bored watching, but the free snow cones made up for it. Wonder who they must take after? Treats make anything better right?

* The kids were thrilled that Grandma and Grandpa came up to watch Matthew and Benjamin’s 4th grade program. The boys sang some songs and did some square dancing. Their teacher had told me she was really proud of Benjamin because he was partnered with a girl that no-one wanted to dance with and he never complained. He takes after his Dad (putting up graciously with a less than desirable female!)

At the awards, Matthew and Benjamin received certificates for perfect attendance. Michael doesn’t think it should count because they’ve only been there since January, but I say good for them (and me).

* We had a fundraiser at our church a while ago for the teenagers to earn money for their camps. They donated their services and we would bid on them. I bid on a ton of babysitting because I’ve been needing a lot of help with various medical appointments (well can you imagine how hard it is for me to drag three girls around with me, especially when I’m having a physical?!) We only had one left and I was determined to use it for something FUN, not just something that I had to do.

I had the babysitter come over on Saturday afternoon so that the 3 small girls were napping, and Michael and I went on a bike ride into Heber. It was AWESOME. It was really hot and we got sunburned, but it was fun. The scenery here is fantastic, and it felt good to get some exercise. We cycled about 8 or 9 miles. Of course, there was more to my plan than that…our destination was of course for a treat, so we rode to Grannie’s for an over the top grasshopper milkshake. Yum! (And Michael just got water…boring)

* We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. We played tennis (kids played at the park), did our bike ride, used our free coupons at Dairy Keen for lunch, and got some work done on sanding our new dining set.

Michael’s family came up on Monday and we went to the park, went swimming, and had a BBQ. Grace went in the water for the first time and didn’t cry at all. A good time was had by all.

Enjoy the photos.

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