Posted by: monsonmadness | May 24, 2013

The last year of my life

My birthday was on Saturday and I was thinking about what I did on my birthday last year. (Click here to read about it).

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was a kindergarten teacher. That seems like eons ago. On the day of my birthday, we had a school music concert, and so we spent the day doing a dress rehearsal, sewing last minute costumes, and basically running around like headless chickens. Here are some photos of the concert…

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I remember that I was supposed to do something exciting, and the best thing I could come up with was climbing a coconut tree!

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Anyway, I am just so blown away by the events of the last year. Truly it feels like some of these things happened 4 or 5 years ago.

Since my birthday last year, we went to New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Australia, and Hawaii. I wasn’t even pregnant this time last year, but I went through a pregnancy and now have an 11 week old baby. I home schooled my kids. I coached a soccer team. We experienced (kind of) our first hurricane. We spent Christmas day swimming in the ocean. I took care of lots of medical issues (remember Mary’s abscess?). I killed a LOT of creatures. I saved my child from drowning. We cleared a dead dog out of our garage. I ran over a dog. I tried paddle boarding. I met some wonderful friends. We moved from American Samoa back to Utah. We bought a car. We bought a house.

It is safe to say that the last twelve months have brought a lot of change to our family. I feel so blessed for the many opportunities I have had to learn and grow. I have been stretched very thinly at times, and there have been times when life was really hard, but I know it was all for our good, and I’ve tried to look for how I could grow from these experiences.   I am so grateful for the wonderful people who have loved and supported me this last year. I am one lucky lady.

Posted by: monsonmadness | May 20, 2013

Awesome birthday

Many of you have been asking what I did for my birthday. The real question should be, “What didn’t I do for my birthday?” We packed so much in. I just love Saturday birthdays.

We started celebrating on Friday night when Michael took me out to dinner at “The Roof”, a fancy pants all you can eat restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building overlooking the Salt Lake Temple and the valley. The food was delicious. I had prime rib, flank steak, chicken cordon bleu, ham, mashed potatoes, delicious fruit, cheese and crackers, and five desserts. Michael had soup, shrimp, flank steak, ham, mashed potatoes and a small piece of carrot cake. It was great.

The kids gave me lots of candy and silly gifts for my birthday. My birthday present from Michael was supposed to be a hot air balloon ride in Park City on Saturday morning, but the weather was bad and they cancelled it, so we had to come up with some other ways to celebrate.

We drove down to Provo and attended Astrofest at BYU. It was all free and we had a great time climbing the rock wall, playing on giant inflatables in the rain, examining meteorites, watching physics demonstrations, making and shooting rockets, watching a movie in the planetarium and lots more.

After that, we had lunch in the Cougareat and toured around campus. It was so weird being back there, remembering when Michael and I had met. So many memories, it was great. I got chatted up by the cashier at Taco Bell. Happy birthday to me!

We decided to go inside the Talmage building where I spent 90% of my BYU life! At one point I had classes, church and a 40 hour job in that building. The best surprise of all was that my good friend Lonette just happened to be there and we got to catch up after so many years. She gave the kids lots of candy and we laughed at some funny memories of working in the math department.

We had an hour to kill before our next activity, and it was raining, so we decided to go and read books in the library. When we had finished, we drove to south Provo. We drove past the apartments where Michael and I lived when we met, and then to the condo that we lived in for three years as newlyweds. We saw the remains of the burned out Provo Tabernacle and marveled at how it is being constructed into a new temple.

Next it was off to try ice skating (free because we bought those Pass of all Passes at Groupon). The thought of ice skating with so many small kids was pretty frightening. I felt sure that someone would crack their head open or have some fingers sliced off, but I remember how much I loved skating when I was little so wanted to give my kids the same experience. We used two walkers and the kids used those to go around the rink the first time to give them confidence and then they were off! Mary and Emma learned to use the walkers on their own and could go around really well by the time we were done. Benjamin, Hannah and Daniel got pretty confident and loved go around and meeting new friends. Matthew unfortunately was not able to even master the walker. The amount of coordination required was just too much for him, so after a couple of unsuccessful laps, he wanted to give up. I convinced him to come out with me and I would skate backwards and hold both of his hands and go slowly. Bad idea. He is almost as heavy and tall as I am, and he could not even stay upright, which meant when he fell, I fell too. He wasn’t even able to help himself get up off the ice and I could barely manage to pick him back up, so we gave up on that idea, and he happily sat on the side with Michael and Grace.

After ice skating (yes, there’s more), we drove back into town and were surprised to find center street closed. There was some kind of festival going on. We looked closer and sure enough, there was a Polynesian festival. We quickly pulled over and went to explore. It was so neat being surrounded by so many Samoan people, see the Samoan clothes and food, and smile at their loud blasting music everywhere. After a while of wandering though, I started to feel really melancholy. We didn’t fit in at all, and there were no smiling faces. We didn’t know anyone, and it made me miss my friends in American Samoa, so we left ;( !!!

Off to dinner we went at the delicious Bombay House in Provo. We all love Indian food, and we got quite a lot of stares because I don’t think many kids eat there, and especially not so many at one table. The kids were really well behaved though and enjoyed being treated like adults for once!

A beautiful drive home through the gorgeous Provo canyon, and it was time to put the kids to bed and crash in front of a movie. We rented Les Miserables (boo, I’m not a fan, that would be the only thing I would change about this day!), and then went to bed much too late.

All in all, a GREAT day spending time with my wonderful family. Thank you to all of you who called, emailed, or facebooked with birthday messages. I appreciated them all.

Posted by: monsonmadness | May 17, 2013

The Gift of Giving Life – Why I Chose Natural Childbirth

This review is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

So many of you want to know about why I chose a natural childbirth. I didn’t think it would be so tricky to write about, but it has had me stumped for several weeks now as to how to explain my feelings.

I decided that I should write this post in the hopes that perhaps my experiences can help someone else, but everyone reading this needs to remember what a blog is for…expressing people’s personal opinions. In no way do I want to come across as judgmental, just as I do not want to be judged for my opinions. I do not think less of people who do not choose natural childbirth. I do not think I am someone special just because I did it. There are many women who may yearn for the opportunity to have a natural birth but for some reason, medically or otherwise, are not able to. There are many more who long to simply carry a child of their own, but are unable to. I have been there, and I remember the hurt. In no way do I want to offend anyone by what I write, especially when I talk about pregnancy and the blessings and learning opportunities that go along with it.

Women are all different. Too often we try to compare ourselves to others, to measure up to somebody else, but we’re just setting ourselves up for failure.  We are not the same. We do not have the same challenges or trials. We don’t all have the same blessings and joys either. My thoughts here are for me, you don’t have to apply them to your own life. Please try and read this simply as my experience, the opportunities that have specifically come to me, and what insight I was able to glean from them for my own life.

Phew. Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

I believe that the family is central to God’s plan of happiness and that we can live with our family members after we die. I believe that God’s commandment to Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish the earth” remains in force today, and that children have the right to be brought up by loving parents who are committed to each other, their marriage, and their children. I believe that parents have the responsibility to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of their children, and to teach them to be good people and citizens. I believe that families can be more successful when they incorporate faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities into their lives. I try to base my goals and decisions around all of these beliefs.

After our sixth child was born, I had some health struggles. I was battling lots of different physical symptoms and a few emotional ones as well, including depression. Fortunately for me, this only lasted a few months before I was able to be diagnosed with a thyroid disease. A small pill once a day and my world returned to normal, but not before I had come to the conclusion that my family was more than enough for what I could handle and that surviving each day was enough of a challenge for me. We decided that our family was complete, and felt fine about that decision.

It was during those trying times for me (before the diagnosis) that things got really hard. Although Michael had a job, the economy was really bad and he was barely covering his overhead. Without an income, we lived off our food storage and our savings for almost a year. He started applying for jobs, first in Utah, then around the US, and finally anywhere in the world (including a tiny little island called American Samoa)

While all of this was happening, Michael received a very strong revelation in answer to his prayers of what to do. The answer blew both of us away, we were to have another child.  What? No! Neither one of us could believe it, but after a few weeks of fasting, prayer, and meditation in the temple, we both knew that this was the right thing for our family, so we tried to have faith and forget our fears!

(I include this background because for me, this is a story of faith. If we have faith, we can ask the Lord for guidance in our lives and trust that the inspiration we receive is from Him. Then we must exercise faith to act upon it.)

A year passed, we were still not pregnant, and we were both silently relieved thinking we had passed the “faith test”. Then, a different one came along. A job offer in American Samoa. Again, we reasoned that this was not the right decision for our family, and again (in a much clearer and personal answer), we received a witness that moving our family to American Samoa was the right thing to do. What? Seriously?…Yep.

So, there we were in American Samoa wondering when this little baby was going to come to our family. Another year went by, and then finally, we discovered that we were pregnant. Because so much time had passed, I think we were kind of relieved now that we could plan and move forward. I wasn’t scared to have another baby any more. I was totally healthy (ha! ha!), totally sane (ha! ha!) and ready for another sweet child to join our family. The scary part for me this time around was the realization that we’d be delivering this baby in American Samoa where the “hospital”  with its chickens, rats, and wild dogs running around wasn’t exactly the same standard we’d been used to in the States, and there are no epidurals there! I had no choice but to prepare for a natural childbirth.

I didn’t want to freak out, I mean, women have  been doing this for thousands of years right? Why couldn’t I? The thing is, I’m the kind of person who really doesn’t mind pain medication at all! When I have a headache, I take a Tylenol. Sorry to disappoint you if you were reading this hoping I was one of those women who was all about natural everything (and there’s nothing wrong with those people, I’m just not one of them!). I have friends who are into essential oils, herbs, hypnosis, acupuncture  reflexology, special diets and much more. Good for them. As for me, I wish I cared more, but at this time in my life, I don’t. When I’m sick, I go to the doctors, and when I have a baby, I get an epidural. The end. (Remember, no judging!)

Well anyway, if you know me, you know that I also like to be prepared. I don’t handle the unexpected very well. I like to know what I’m getting in for, and prepare myself the best I can. I started to get my resources together. I studied several natural birthing books to help me prepare for breathing, pain, etc. They were fine, but it was one book in particular that I can honestly say changed my life.

I have a friend who is a doula and natural childbirth advocate. She wrote a birth story which was submitted for publication in a new book. I had been aware of this for a couple of years, and had been anxiously awaiting the publication. It was finally published just a couple of weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Coincidence? I think not.

Introducing the book, The Gift of Giving Life (click on link to go to webpage, there are Free Bonus Gifts when you buy a copy of The Gift of Giving Life during this book tour.)

As the webpage says, this book doesn’t advocate for any one type of birth, (there are stories of women who deliver by Cesarean  with epidurals, without pain medication, at home, water births etc) but it intends to unify families and communities in regard to the sacredness of birth. It is a spiritual look at pregnancy, birth, and mothering for women of all faiths. Although most of the essays and birth stories are written by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the doctrines apply to all Christians, as well as faith filled women of other religions.

I read this book four times during my pregnancy. The pages are bent over, highlighted in different colors, with notes in the margins. I learned more about myself and the divine nature of pregnancy and birth in the last nine months than I did the rest of my life combined (which says a lot because I always wanted to be a mother and have studied this kind of topic diligently for years, including my four year university degree in marriage, family, and human development!)

It’s hard to summarize this book or what I learned in one blog post, I hope you all get a copy and  read it yourselves! There are chapters on the importance of giving life, personal revelation, patience, preparation, meditation, fear, pain, the atonement, and unity. In all of these topics, essays based on scriptural doctrine and personal birth stories spoke to me and changed my heart and my desires.

In November, doctors were very concerned about some health problems I was having. There was no specialist on the island to check me out, and no diagnostic machines either. The doctors told me that it wasn’t safe to deliver on the island, and that I needed to fly back to the State to have the baby. At 35 weeks pregnant, we left American Samoa and flew back to Utah. I think that now that we’d be having the baby in the states, most people assumed that I would have an epidural, but I now had my heart set on giving birth naturally. It was my choice. I didn’t have to do it. I wanted to. I knew it would be a privilege.

I felt like I had been saved, like my other four pregnancies had been missed opportunities, that I was being given one last chance to learn what I needed to. I had fallen victim to many others in this state or country where we hand all control and decisions over to our doctor. We assume that he knows best on every count, and we follow his directions like sheep. My last two deliveries were very much like this. Scheduled inductions on a day that was convenient for everyone involved, and then following the steps to get baby here, almost like a factory production line. I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time, and thought that those two births were very successful and easy. Not any more. I finally came to understand how sacred birth is, and what an amazing opportunity those of us who have the privilege of giving birth have to understand ourselves more as women and daughters of God.

While pregnancy and birth are physical processes, they can also be deeply spiritual. As I read and studied about the faith of women in the scriptures, I felt empowered. I knew that God would fortify me with the strength and courage to do this divine thing. He designed my body to be able to do this.

As I read, it wasn’t like I learned anything new, it’s almost like I was being reminded of what I’d always known, but had forgotten. Some of the scriptures and insights that touched me were “remembering” the following:

* Childbirth is a sacred event that is intended to turn our hears and minds, and even bodies to the Savior.

* Heavenly Father created women. He could have designed a way for children to be born without pain, discomfort, and agony. We can only presume that women have the opportunity to gain something from the experience. Giving birth strengthens our love of Jesus Christ. The act of experiencing pain for the sake of another helps us understand the Atonement better.

* Christ came to a point in the Garden of Gethsemane where He would rather not have gone through with it. Yet, He humbly surrendered His will, and that is when His Father sent an angel. Elder Holland said that we have the right and opportunity to call on unseen angles to assist us too, and that the power of heaven stands ready to render aid to a life-giving mother.

* In any situation, when we follow God’s will for us, we should not be praying for our circumstances to be changed, but for strength and courage to be able to handle those circumstances. Although I knew that it was possible that God could take away the pain of childbirth, that was probably not His plan for me! My prayers were pleadings to be given the strength equal to what God was asking of me. I needed to be willing to submit to all things which the Lord saw fit to inflict upon me.

* I needed to have integrity during my pregnancy. For me, this meant not deferring all decisions to my doctor. It meant having confidence in what I knew was best for my body and my baby. It was difficult to do this when I got intense pressure from my doctor to get induced early (solely for his convenience because he was going out of town). At this point there were no health problems for me or the baby, but he was brutal about it. On two visits he reamed into me for not doing things his “production line” way like I had done in the past. He was certain that I would have a “natural experience” if I’d just let him break my bag of waters and start me on pitocin at 39 weeks. (Yes, I cried in the parking lot afterwards). It was really hard, but I knew how I wanted to deliver this baby, and that wasn’t it. I went into labor at 41 weeks on the day he left town (another miracle) so I didn’t have to deliver with him. I delivered with a doctor I’d never met who couldn’t have been more perfect. She let me labor exactly as I wanted and was completely supportive of my decision to give birth naturally.

* One of the things I liked in the chapter on pain was the advice that your body will tell you what position is ideal for labor, and to just follow what your body wants. Again, I count it as no small thing that, for me, the only “comfortable” position for me during contractions was on my knees. This whole pregnancy and conception for me (all three years of it) was about submitting to the will of the Lord. How appropriate that during the most intense parts of labor, I fell to my knees. I spent the whole labor communicating to my Father in Heaven through prayer and asking him to give me strength. I remembered the scripture, “If ye have faith in me ye will have power to do whatever thing is expedient in me”, and it was true. I could do it. It wasn’t easy, and at times when I was alone to deal with the pain (driving in the car to the hospital) I was able to call on Elder Holland’s promise above and receive additional power from heaven.

In Enos 1:12 it says, “And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith”.

My desire in choosing a natural childbirth was to fulfill and more fully experience my sacred role as a life-giver. I wanted to draw closer to the Savior and understand the Atonement more. I wanted Heavenly Father to accept my sacrifice and my faith as signs of my love.

And why did we choose the name Grace? According to the Bible Dictionary, “the main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ….However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.”

I know that the effort that I made in both learning and preparing for my pregnancy and delivery as well as the actual process of delivery, was pleasing to the Lord. I know that I could not possibly have done it without the divine help and strength that I received through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that because of His atonement, I can not only be forgiven for my many sins and wrongdoings, but I can also use this enabling power to do good works, try to be a better person, and ultimately receive exaltation and eternal life.

I am so grateful for Grace.

The Gift of Giving Life  Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube  | Amazon

Posted by: monsonmadness | May 14, 2013

WAHHHHOOOOOOOO

I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it!!!!!!! Are you singing with me?

Our tax refund from American Samoa just arrived in the mail. We didn’t know if we would ever see it. Michael said we shouldn’t bother doing them (sorry to rub it in!) but I went ahead and did it anyway hoping that the tax office would suprise us all. We’ve been waiting several months but who cares?

And…since I did all the work, I get to spend it!!!!!! Methinks it’s time to start planning a trip to the motherland next year to see my family!

Wahhhhoooooo

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Posted by: monsonmadness | May 13, 2013

Life is overwhelming sometimes

Haven’t blogged for a while, life has been a little overwhelming for me the last few weeks. Too much going on, and I remember that I only wanted to write positive things. Well, it’s been hard, but I’ve tried to make the most of it. Definitely lots of learning opportunities.  Here are some of them in a matter-of-fact, NOT a complaining tone!

* Had to learn how to be a single parent. Micheal’s job is pretty much the opposite as American Samoa. He leaves at 7am, comes home at 7pm, spends an hour with the kids and then is back on his computer for several more hours until he crawls into bed. This took a little adjusting. I learned to accept it for what it is and try to make the most out of it. After a whole month of not being home for dinner, I stopped stressing out about it and waiting for him, and instead served dinner earlier and then did something fun with the kids after dinner. We have had a great time at the park, feedings ducks, and flying kites. Poor Michael eats cold food every night, but that’s our life right now.

* Michael got a new suit. Doesn’t he look handsome?

* Don’t I look beautiful with all of the flowers in my hair? The kids wanted to do my hair for mother’s day and this is the creation they came up with!

* I’ve spent over 20 hours on the phone the last few weeks dealing with doctors and insurance companies for problems on coverage and getting appointments set up. So frustrating. We are in full throttle of getting all our issues taken care of and have either seen or will see in the next couple of months the dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician, gynecologist, dermatologist, endocrinologist, psychiatrist, orthopedic doctor, and the family doctor. Phew. Even though we met all our deductibles already, our insurance company has messed up and so we have the joy of dealing with all of these incorrect bills. It’s a lovely process (insert sarcasm here).

* Michael wants me to start exercising with him, and wants me to try P90X. Hmmmm. He also suggested changing my diet. Apparently he doesn’t think exercising for 30 minutes followed by crashing on the couch with soda and a donut is very productive. I need to take baby steps. I’ll give it a try. I have 15lbs of baby weight to lose but it’s gonna take a while, and I HATE exercising. I’ll try the exercise first and cut down on the donuts later…

* Actually, there are some things I like, but I don’t have time for them right now. Twice in the last month I took off when Michael got home and took half an hour for myself. It was bliss. Once I went swimming and just swam laps for 30 minutes, and the other time I got on a bike and went on a 6 mile ride through the HEAVENLY town of Midway. I love it here so much. It’s like living on a vacation. When we came back I had visions of getting back into shape by taking the three girls on long bikes to the park for picnics and fun. We had a bike trailer that would fit an infant car seat and a toddler in, and I wanted to put the other toddler on the bike seat behind me. My dream fell to pieces. We had to get a new trailer which doesn’t fit the car seat. I guess they don’t make them like that any more. It can fit the two girls, but I have to wear Grace in the baby carrier on my chest which isn’t exactly safe and makes me nervous every time. I don’t mind doing it around Valais or on bike trails, but not on the road. We live in a very hilly area, and each time I’ve gone out, I can’t even make it to the main road where the bike trail is! I am so out of shape, although to give myself credit, it’s not an easy task carrying/pulling over 100 lbs of extra weight with me!

* While I was off on my “two 30-minute adventures”, the rest of the family were having adventures of their own! Michael took them on some short hikes to explore new places in Midway. The kids had a blast, but I think they wore Dad out!

* Check out Grace’s cheeky face in her passport photo. She kept sticking her tongue out and thought it was so funny!

* The kids are in their own private soccer camp right now and they love it.

* I had a few friends come up and hang out. Love that. Check out the photo of my with my friend’s daughter. She has freckles on her nose and looks more like me than my own daughters do!

* Hannah had her cast off and is now in a brace for a couple of weeks. It’s pretty scary seeing someone sawing at your child’s arm!

* We bought a dining table and chairs second hand and are re-doing them to match the new house. I’ve been busy sanding them down and then we will varnish them. Gotta love using a power tool!

* Some really nice people from church threw a little surprise party for me on Saturday and cooked Indian food from scratch and then we played games. It was so much fun. I love it when you find people that you connect with and can just have a great time. I laughed so hard that night. It felt good.

* That about sums it up. We are only a few weeks away from moving and then my sister is coming out to visit. Hoping that things may calm down by the end of the summer! Enjoy the photos.

Posted by: monsonmadness | May 6, 2013

Just do your best

Yesterday, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a living *Apostle, came to our church and spoke in our sacrament meeting. I was really glad that he hadn’t come the week before when Michael and I had speaking assignments! His wife sat in front of us, and I was hoping that our kids weren’t going to go wild!

Elder Holland is an amazing, inspiring man. He spoke to our ward about how we are not perfect, we are not expected to be perfect, but how we must keep trying and do our best.

Each week we have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, to remember the sacrifice that Christ made for us, and to renew our covenants to keep the commandments. He reminded us that we need to come to church each week with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, accepting our imperfections, and allowing the Savior’s grace to make up for what we lack.

He wanted us to know that we were each individually known by God, and that he understands our sorrows and concerns. We can take our worries to Him, and He will bear us up.

I feel so blessed to know that we are not on our own to muddle through life’s trials. We can turn to God for strength and He will help us.

Just felt like sharing that 🙂

(* Both anciently in Jesus’ time, and in the restored church today, Apostles were chosen to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world to testify of his divinity and of his resurrection from the dead. To read Elder Holland’s latest general conference talk, click here: “Lord, I believe”)

Posted by: monsonmadness | April 23, 2013

Family Photo Shoot

It is common knowledge that it is impossible to get a photo of our family with everyone looking in the right direction and smiling at the same time. That is why I don’t use professional photographers. I don’t care how good they may be, there’s just no way they can make a miracle happen with the ages and number of my kids. Fact.

So, since my Mum was here and is always a good sport to take our photos, we decided to dress up and try and get a family photo. We wore our Samoan Puletasi’s that we had made before we left American Samoa. Since we didn’t know if Grace was going to be Grace or Samuel at that point, we had both a tie and a small dress made for her! Since I was fitted for my puletasi when I was 8 months pregnant, my talented mother-in-law took it in for me so that it would fit better now.

I really wanted to take our photo at Wasatch state park, which is just 2 minutes from our house. A bit ironic really since we’re wearing Samoan clothes with snow-capped mountains behind us! As you can see, we were facing the sun and those photos didn’t work out at all.

We couldn’t find any pretty flowers anywhere, so after moving to a new, shadier location, we decided that a close up would be better. The kids got all their silly faces out, and then tried to smile! Here are all of the results.

Posted by: monsonmadness | April 22, 2013

So long Nanna

The big kids just left for school after I’ve spent the last hour consoling them through their tears and sobs. This morning their beloved Nanna left to go back to Wales, and they are distraught.

My Mum is just the best. She is so hands on with the kids. She gives everybody so much attention and makes them feel so special. She gets involved in what the kids are doing and is a friend to everyone. She brought treats, activities, games, April Fool’s jokes and more. She played games with the kids every day, not to mention Settler’s with me every night. Grace only wakes up once a night now, and my Mum took her several nights so that Michael and I could get more rest. She babysat so that I could go to medical appointments, our house closing, and a date night to the temple.

Lastly, she generously and very happily gave me her weight!!!! She does it every time. When she comes, she is so much more active than usual trying to keep up with the craziness of our life and kids. I, on the other hand, have less to do when she’s here helping out, so I sit on my bottom playing games and stuffing my face with delicious British crisps and sweets. This time she lost 5lbs and I put 5lbs on. Not too happy about that, but I guess it was worth it!!!

When the kids were upset this morning, Daniel ran off to write Nanna a letter and I tried to console Benjamin and Hannah by telling them that we were trying to save up money so that we could visit next year. Hannah said, “Well I’ve got $6, so that’s a start”. She’s right, it’s a start, and hopefully we’ll be able to visit our British family some time next year.

Thanks for coming Nanna. We love you! (And thanks for limping around on your own Dad so that she could come)

Posted by: monsonmadness | April 14, 2013

Hannah’s baptism and Grace’s baby blessing

Yesterday was a very special day for our family. Hannah was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Grace received her baby blessing.

All three of our children who have been baptized have had very different experiences! Matthew was baptized in North Wales with about 100 people there, mostly friends who were not of our faith who came to show love and support.

Benjamin was baptized in American Samoa with his best friend Charlie.

Now Hannah was baptized in Midway, Utah in a small and simple service with just her family. There were 19 of us there altogether, our family, my Mum, Michael’s parents, his sister and her family, the Bishop, and a member of the Primary Presidency.

Hannah was so excited and felt like a princess in her beautiful white dress. She wore a plumeria (Samoan flower) behind her ear, and we covered her purple cast with some cut up white tights (aren’t I a genius?)

Michael’s Mom played the piano with Matthew leading the music. Daniel said the opening prayer. Michael’s Dad gave an amazing talk, and then Hannah was baptized by Michael. She said that the water was FREEZING!!! After she was dressed, Matthew and I sang a duet, and then all of our kids and Hannah’s cousins sang another song. My Mum gave a great talk, and then Hannah was confirmed a member of the Church and received the Holy Ghost.

Next Grace Elena was blessed. She wore the gorgeous dress that my Mum had spent hours knitting for her.

After that, Hannah bore her testimony and so did the Bishop. Benjamin said the closing prayer.

It was a great service and the Spirit was very strong.

Since all of the Monson family were together, and since it was also Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding anniversary, we decided to keep celebrating for the rest of the day. We came home and had lunch together, then the big kids played at the clubhouse while the small kids napped. After naps we went to the pool, and then had dinner and cake together.

I am so proud of Hannah, she tries really hard to make the right choices. She is a great big sister and does so much around the house to help me. I can’t believe how fast my children are growing up. Baby Grace is also adorable and is growing much too fast. I could snuggle her forever. I feel so blessed to have these wonderful children in my life. They are teaching me so much and helping me to become a better person.

Posted by: monsonmadness | April 11, 2013

Experienced mother – NOT!

Randoms from the last few days…

* You would think that by now, I would be quite an experienced mother. Apparently not. Ever since Grace was born and I’ve tried putting her in the sling, it hasn’t felt right. I’ve rationalized that it’s not my sling (it’s borrowed from a friend) and therefore it just doesn’t fit me properly. I still used it on our hikes in Vernal, but I felt like I always had to support her head with my arm or a hand. Thanks to a brave friend pointing out the (apparently obvious to everyone else) truth, it appears I have been putting Grace in the sling upside down these last few weeks! Awesome. We went to the park after school today to feed the ducks, and I put her in “right side up” and oh what a difference it made! They really work when you use them like you’re supposed to!

* Saw some beautiful cranes out of our window this morning. They were gorgeous, have never seen any around here before and enjoyed watching them for a while.

* My Mum and I were fortunate enough to go to General Conference in person. General Conference is a meeting that we have in the LDS church twice a year where the Prophet and Apostles speak to members all over the world giving counsel, guidance, encouragement, and warning. The conference center is amazing. It is 1.4 million square feet in size, seats over 21,000 people (all who have an unobstructed view of the pulpit), with an auditorium large enough to hold two Boeing 747’s side by side! Underground is a parking garage that can hold 1,400 cars. Of course it has the 7,667-pipe organ and room on the stand for 158 general authorities and the 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Listening to the choir singing in the same “room” was amazing, and so was hearing the inspiring words of a living Prophet. My favorite talk was “Lord, I Believe” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. (Click on link for 1 minute highlight of his talk)

* We still enjoy using the Ipad photo booth app. You can make people look really funny. My Mum dared me to put up the one of me on this blog and didn’t think I would, so I had to prove her wrong. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of!

* Hannah had her cast put on today. Good news is that we were able to get a waterproof one. Bad news is that they don’t come in white, so Hannah is sporting a bright purple one.

* I bought some chocolate tortillas and made strawberry, Nutella, and cheesecake rolls with cream on the top. It took me three times to get them just right, but we enjoyed experimenting. Also enjoyed playing with the whipped cream too as you can see!

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