Friday, December 29, 2017

Our Christmas in Utah

Our little space here in Farmington has created plenty of cozy evenings...all of us being right here on top of each other. ;) In all seriousness though, I haven't minded the "squishiness" -- which is how I would describe us right now. Life in Utah has so many great things to offer, and we really had a GREAT Christmas this year.

The kids had a snowman building contest a few days ago. Gabe built this snowman, but of course it wouldn't be complete without Luke's hat on top...that we're all ready to burn, haha! He will NOT leave the house without his "tracks hat," and it is seriously SO ragged!

I did NOT cry the day we took the tree down (a little earlier than usual this year), but space is exciting to me these days...and besides, all children need to see their mama doing something dangerous from time to time.

Christmas Eve was a late one, but we had such a nice time at Jared's sister's house in Mountain Green (which is only about 20-minutes from our place). We let the kids do a few sled runs down a hill close to their house, and then we helped my sister-in-law's family light up their neighborhood as part of a tradition that they do on Christmas Eve every year. Luminary candles (or tea lights) are placed and lit in white sacks roughly 15-ft. apart along the streets to honor a family who lost a child many years ago. We all nearly froze to death (haha!), but it was touching to participate in a service that remembered those who are grieving at Christmastime.

We enjoyed our traditional Humble Feast of homemade soups and rolls, played Minute to Win It, and had a special program that included Carlie singing, "O Holy Night." She sounded lovely, and it made my heart so happy. :) Grandma Wolfley told the story of the Wise Men's gifts -- and even had samples of Frankincense and Myrrh oils to smell. We watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas...and then drove home during a light snowfall.

6:30 am came way too fast the next morning, but the kids were so delighted with their treasures, and we were spoiled with a heap of gifts under our tree. Year after year, Jared and I find ourselves just smiling at each other from across the room -- the quiet "knowing" of just how much time and energy goes into witnessing those moments of pure joy in our babies' faces when they see or open a gift they've been wanting for awhile. I can't even imagine Christmas without our little ones around us (although I know it won't always be this way)! I'm so grateful for LIFE and the opportunity it is to be a parent.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December Moments

December 26th has always been one of my most favorite days of the entire year!

I love that Christmas has been celebrated. I love that we get to sleep in and that the whole house is quiet and partially lit from the winter wonderland peeking through our windows by 7 o'clock am. I love that all the kids are completely exhausted from the excitement of Christmas Day...and that we usually have no particular plans because Jared is home from work. I love that we can play boardgames ALL DAY and eat delicious leftovers. And I especially love that a new long year is on the horizon, "untouched, full of things that have never been (Rainer Maria Rilke)."

Today I let the kids delve into the gingerbread German cabins we made last week. In general, this was a HUGE PROJECT (all homemade), but when it finally came time to decorate the was well worth it! A friend of mine directed me to the tutorial on the beautiful website called: Frog Prince Paperie. The kids had SO MUCH FUN, and I loved watching their imaginations unfold!

We ended up doing it about a week after Luke's birthday, but in the future, my goal is to make "gingerbread operation" an annual tradition ON his birthday. :) I can't believe he's 3 years old!! He LOVES to snuggle, drink chocolate milk, wear hats, draw on EVERYTHING, and hang out w/Daddy and big brother. He woke up extra early on his birthday morning this this is him smiling with a cute little sleepy glow.

One of the BEST moments this month was discovering this little event in the boys' bedroom, haha! Poor Luke got roped into being Gabe's whipping boy.

Monday, December 25, 2017

King of Kings

We've had a wonderful weekend reflecting on our Savior, Jesus Christ. My testimony of Him has changed over the years, but He has been an important part of my life since childhood.

When I was young, like most of you -- nearly everything associated with Christmas was magical and somewhat of a precious ritual. My parents did a wonderful job of making it very abundant for us, and although I’m sure some years were harder than others, I have beautiful childhood memories surrounding Christmastime.

To me, as a child, Christ was the Son of God, a newborn babe who came into the world, and I sensed that we had been Wonderful Friends...and that we could continue to be friends throughout my life.

In my teen years, I continued to embrace the Spirit of Christmas – loving the season with a passion for its joy that came from giving and receiving! Being a musician, I started playing Christmas carols on the piano in November and didn’t let up until January.

I helped my mom wrap gifts weeks in advance and delighted in seeing them spill out from underneath the tree. Christmas Eve was spent at home – singing and reading together – learning more about Christ and discussing His birth...and His life.

To me, as a teen, Christ was an extension of our family – like a Brother perhaps, and a great Teacher with new lessons to be learned each year.

In the early years of our marriage, the splendor and magic of Christmas began to fade a bit. Living hundreds of miles away from our families, I often insisted that we drove many long miles through white-knuckled storms in order to be “home for Christmas” and relive the traditions I once knew.

With time, however, we began to settle into our own approach – cherishing each other more and valuing the opportunity it was to focus on our own unit.

To me, as a young wife and mother, Christ became my Rock, my Foundation for establishing the unique traditions that we wanted for our future.

About three years ago, and for the first time in my life, I experienced a Christmas season that brought about a meaningful change in me.

It was only about two weeks away from Christmas Day. Dad had passed away that summer, I was overdue with our fourth child, and I was being treated for pneumonia. Desensitized by the season, I became aware of a universal sorrow at Christmastime among others – those grieving for lost loved-ones, those hungering for lost opportunities, those suffering from illness and pain, and those yearning for home.

This was also the Christmas when I first began to appreciate Joseph and Mary. I had truly felt the frustration of “no room!” after being turned away by the hospital a few times the week of my due date.

At one point, however, I was led to the scriptures. I read Nephi’s sorrowful prayer as the faithful watched for the sign of the Savior’s birth, while being taunted and threatened by the faithless.

The Lord answered him saying, “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world.”

I was internalizing the reason for His coming, and the reason why Christmas means what it does to us. The Savior himself announced 33-yrs. later in the quiet stillness following broad destruction: “Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.”

To me, in my time of despair, I came to know Christ as my Savior and Redeemer.

Every Christmas since then has been a celebration of Christ - not just as a newborn babe - but of Him as a Friend, Brother, Teacher, Counselor, Rock, and Redeemer. I pray that despite my constant failings, my daily efforts will be a testament of His influence in my life. I am overwhelmed to consider that a King of Kings knows me, personally.

I honor Him this day! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

moments I want to remember (from september)

First of all, can I just get a big "Wow!" that Christmas is right around the corner?!?! So much has happened over the past few months, and the only thing I can really tell myself to provide some measure of encouragement in the documenting department is simply, "Slow and steady wins the race."

Moving can be so emotionally draining, but oh, how we've grown to love the many great things Utah has to offer! Every month we seem to discover another great reason as to why we're here.

The kids have been adjusting so well to their new school! One thing about it, we have always been so well-taken care of when it comes to teachers! They love their classroom environments thus far.

Years ago, and a few years before AnnMarie was even old enough to go to school, I came across an article in The Deseret News entitled, "Why Schools and the World Need our Children." I loved it so much that I immediately cut it out and saved it in a file that I refer to as needed (like when our family moves, haha!).

It described how daunting it can be to send your child into a stream of kids at a new school! It went on to say that 'Part of you wants to hold them back because they might not be the best swimmers in this type of sea.' The article summarized three succinct reasons we should send our kids into the chaos of our untidy and imperfect public schools: 1.) The world needs our kids. 2.) Teaching moments come from opposition, and 3.) Good missionaries get out.

Similar to the author, I still have the same misgivings at times: Are they keeping their heads above water? Will they lose their footing? Will they be able to hear my voice in a crowd of constant noise?

So far, the answer has been YES.

Utah has a plethora of delicious fruit and produce this time of year! I canned Elberta Peaches and freezer-packed raspberries with my girls. Later, I drove to Kamas, Utah mid-month to spend the day with one of my best friends, Stacey. Kamas is such a charming little community! We had a wonderful afternoon letting our youngsters play together while we chatted and canned applesauce.

The girls and I had a memorable night at the General Women's Session in SLC on Saturday, September 23rd. Jared drove us to the Conference Center, but we decided to take the FrontRunner Utah transit home just for fun! We ended up missing our connection in North Salt Lake by about 9 minutes...which meant that we had to sit in the rain for nearly an hour, haha! Poor Carlie didn't have her coat, so I wrapped her inside of me, but she was definitely shaking from the cold! It made for some silly conversations, fun mind games, and extra delicious hot chocolate w/marshmallows when we got home.

I finished another semester of school last week which feels AMAZING!! I drove to Pingree at the end of the month and spent time with my grandparents in order to interview them for a research paper/project for my Audiologic Rehabilitation class. Their ability to reach out past pride and fear of failure closes the space between generations.

Grandma reminded me to NEVER be afraid of growing old, and that even though I'll end up doing crazy things, creativity does not diminish with age. Grandpa told me to ALWAYS find purpose at any age by being useful for another -- through complimenting, encouraging, and serving our fellowmen daily. #silverhair #goldenhearts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Spring Break in the Snow

Last April we journeyed southeast to McCall, ID for the kids' annual spring break. "Why not?" we thought! Little did we know it'd be an extension of our long and drawn out winter that we had just said goodbye to, haha! McCall is fast becoming a favorite place of ours. Neither Jared or I had ever been there prior to blending with the Thornton family, but my step-dad, Mr. Brad Thornton, is invested in a timeshare which includes the Hearthstone Townhomes along the golf course in McCall's beautiful Spring Mountain Ranch.

We should've known better than to expect nothing but snow outside of July and August, but we didn't realize it'd be a winter wonderland! We've dubbed it forever and always, our "Christmas in Spring."

So we made the most of our days in the cold -- hiking along the Payette Lake, ice skating, soaking in the hot tub...rolling in the snow...then soaking in the hot tub again, visiting a Christmas shop, playing boardgames, and last but not least, eating a giant cinnamon roll & drinking hot cocoa at The Pancake House.

We had such a wonderful time embracing our last hurrah before fully welcoming la primavera (spring).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Carlie Joy's Baptism

Dear June started off beautifully with Carlie's baptism on Saturday, June 3rd, yet ended with a Mack Truck hitting us in the face towards the end of the month. :) Thank you for blessing us with light before the storm!

Like all sacred ordinances in the gospel, it was such a special day filled with family and love. The school year was still winding down, so the week leading up to her baptism was especially busy. My dear mom came to help me with the final preparations a few days before her baptism.

I had been preparing for Carlie's baptismal service (as a primary president) for nearly 4 months -- because there were several other children from our ward who were also getting baptized that same day. It was a different experience than having a private baptism all to ourselves, but I wouldn't trade it! I really enjoyed teaming up with other families to share the responsibilities of the event. There was a lot of positive energy in the room considering the number of families involved, but it certainly had a sweet ambience of joy and gratitude that I will treasure.

I was nominated to be the pianist, Aunt Katie Wolfley led the music, and big sister AnnMarie gave the talk about baptism. And I must say (bragging moment)...that she truly did such a marvelous job! She wrote her talk all by herself using the word BAPTISM as an acronym to discuss the important principals of this sacred ordinance. It was particularly reverent during her talk, and I was so pleased that she had the courage to share. She will be a wonderful missionary someday.

Prior to Carlie's baptism, I discovered a bookmark in our house that read, "Newly Baptized and Bright as a Daisy!" To me, this described Carlie Joy to a T on her special day. She was so smiley and giggly.

We were blessed with an abundance of family support from the Wolfley bunch and Thornton clan. It meant so much to us to have everyone there that came -- including nearly all of the Wolfley cousins. And of course we celebrated afterwards with yummy food...homemade Cafe Rio pork tacos, sweet corn, and Carlie's favorite dessert of all time, brownies.

June is the gateway to summertime! It's always been my favorite month, and although 'most loveliness is likely reserved for Heaven, I know in my heart a great portion of it must be experienced in June.' - Abba Woolson

Monday, October 16, 2017

Get Out and Explore

Farmington City Hall has a hiking program for kids called, "Get Out and Explore!" It comes with a booklet that provides a list of kid-friendly trails here in Farmington. Once 15 miles have been logged, by golly, the Power Hiker patch is rightly earned. The boys and I have been working towards this title before it gets too much colder.

We found a few abandoned tree houses along the Davis Creek Trail.

AnnMarie captured this moment of the boys climbing a tree in our backyard. I've been trying to accommodate her plea to experiment behind the lens, and I think it paid off! I have a feeling this picture will always be special to me.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

That Fun Dad

I feel like my husband is a kid at heart which is one of the many reasons why he is such a great Dad. Over the past year or so, I've overheard a few of my girls' friends call him a "Fun Dad," and I couldn't agree more. He loves to teach our kids how to play sports, he's really good at telling corny jokes that are so bad they're actually good - usually soliciting a, "Nice one, Dad," and he loves sneaking treats. He's known around here for his tootsie roll trivia which by the way is no joke! He always has a tootsie roll handy, especially on road trips -- ready to toss whenever someone is smart enough to answer one of his brain busters: math equation, random history fact, spelling word, or geography question.

I came across these pictures of him from Memorial Day Weekend when we took a road trip to Silverwood Theme Park (near Coeur d'Alene, ID) as part of AnnMarie's MOJO Marimba Band Tour.

He insisted on going on the bumper boats multiple times, and it was truly one of the funniest scenes I've ever seen! He took it so seriously and even got in trouble by one of the workers running the ride because he was being too aggressive and spraying the people on the deck.

Afterwards, we headed to Treasure Valley (just outside of Kuna, ID) to meet up with his siblings for a day of motorcycling and RZR-ing. :) Jared was so good about helping all of us have a great time, and I really appreciate the fact that he puts safety first, yet isn't afraid to encourage all of us to participate and try new things.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Receiving Something New

"We see what we choose to see and receive what we focus on. There is such beauty in willingness to release and create space in our lives and our hearts to receive something new. Resting in the promise of abundance..."

My friend Anna Molgard shared that beautiful thought with me this past week.

Sometimes the present moment can be scary when we consider our place in eternity. I've struggled with forward thinking as of late, but I believe that often times, the present moment is just enough. "Give us this day our daily bread." I know that there have to be chapters in life when our Heavenly Father requires us to focus on the day-to-day in order to exercise obedience to our current role and situation.

What I really want to do right now is post lots of amazing photos of us in Washington leading up to our move, but I'm going to embrace seeing the here and now for the time being, so here goes posting a few great experiences we've had in Utah lately.

I got to accompany Carlie on her 3rd grade field trip to the Kaysville Farmer's Market landing several weeks ago where we rotated through various stations all about agriculture. She loves it here and has made lots of new friends.

AnnMarie and I watched my niece, Kate, in a volleyball tournament a few weeks ago. I love being able to support my extended family members in person.

The children have an adorable clubhouse in our backyard to center many of their adventures around. The weather is not favorable for the water slide right now, but it sure has been a fun space for them.

Cheers to seeing snow on the mountains that stare at me every day. Not really sure how to feel about it, but I do love skiing, so this isn't a bad thing. :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Carlie turned EIGHT

Eight years ago from May a bright blue-eyed light was born into our family.

We named her Carlie Joy.

It was such a beautiful I will never forget.

I remember thinking forward to her 8th birthday, wondering what she'd look like...knowing the milestone it'd be. Oh, how she's become a piece of my heart, especially through the hardships of her strong personality that's really stretched us as parents.

I know all children have meltdowns, but we went through several years of very difficult days and tantrums -- trying all sorts of tactics to help her feel at peace and better navigate her emotions. It was not easy, specifically in Argentina when she suffered from a series of illnesses that certainly affected her sleep and behavior problems. Shortly after our return to the States (when she was 4-yrs. old), she underwent a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy. This was a turning point for Carlie (and for all of us, really), and somewhere around 1st grade we really noticed some changes. Gymnastics and soccer became a big part of her life, and her self-confidence was truly beginning to blossom.

She was only 5-yrs.old when my Dad passed away. I know she feels the impact of his absence at times, perhaps through me, but she had a special bond with "Papa Stacy," and I know he loved her dearly, too.

And now here she is - eight years old. What a special life you've lived thus far my sweet girl! You're more beautiful than I could've ever imagined.