Tonight was difficult! It’s going to be that way for the rest of the month. It’s just something new that we have to adjust ourselves to. Jared has tithing settlement all this month and so we don’t get to see him at all on Sundays. Tonight was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional which the kids and I got to watch, in full! It was quite the accomplishment especially since I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks with the kids and their behavior.
The devotional had great stories and thoughts about how to make our Christmas experience better. They talked about being a good receiver which I thought was really important for the kids to hear.
As the devotional was finishing up and I was getting leftover cake prepared for after dinner, Jacob asked if it was for daddy. I said it was for them, the kids. Emma must have over heard because she came in and agreed with what I guess Jacob was trying to say. She said we should bring it to daddy since he was working hard and wouldn’t be home ’til late. I asked the boys if that was okay and everyone was on board. We gussied it up a bit and within 10 minutes we had a beautiful snow globe cake with the baby Jesus at the center. It would be the perfect dessert to give the bishopric after hearing the devotional and to kick off our Christmas holiday.
I had very little time to get the kids dressed today for the trunk-or-treat but I did a better job of it than I did the other day for the Fall Festival. I had time to do the make-up better on all the kids and I just felt more prepared. So, with the kids getting home at 4:00 and needing to be to the church at 5:3o I was surprised when we had extra time. I used that time to take some pictures in the front yard because who knows when they’ll all look this good again!!!
I really love this theme that we have this year! We hardly spent any money on the costumes. With Yoda we spend $1 for the green face paint, $1 for the green hair spray, and then used my sweater and his clothes. I spent a little extra time cutting out some green felt and gluing them to one of Emma’s old headbands that she never uses. For Luke I had luckily raided Jared’s closet and gotten rid of some of his old shirts. I cut it apart to make the tunic and then used a dollar store light saber. Leia was a little more in-depth. I used some yarn similar to Emma’s hair color and another old headband to make the double buns. I’m sure if I had made it more of a priority I could have made a white dress out of a sheet or something but I ran out of time so I bought an angel costume that happened to be on sale at Party City so that was a whopping $7 and a little makeup to finish it off. Darth Maul was all about the makeup. $1 for the red and $1 for the black. I had a bunch of leftover black material from years ago when I did a production of The Woman at the Well that I shredded and draped to get the effect I wanted. With all that done I found a pair of black gloves in clearance at Target for $2 and just used some black electrical tape to tape two $1 light sabers together. I love when you can be creative and use the things you have lying around to create something special and unique!
The kids were great! Everything was so enjoyable and fun! We’ve been entering a different stage over the past few months of independence and self-sufficiency that makes me able to enjoy my children even more. I loved when I was so inherently needed when they were little ones but I can now immerse myself in their personalities and really get to know and enjoy my children. I’ll always miss some of those little baby and toddler times but I enjoyed them fully and so have no regrets in that department which really helps when moving onto the next stage.
We saw so many friends tonight since our ward and the newly established Windmill ward met together. There was a bunch of great food and funny enough all my kids camped out right next to the food tables. It was funny to watch little Miss Leia (Emma) keep up with her brothers and go back for thirds. It’s things like that to help me to know that they’re starting a growth spurt and I need to watch what they’re eating and to be patient with them because for the next couple weeks they’ll be asking for food non-stop.
After eating it was time for some trunk-or-treating. Such fun trunks and such amazing people here tonight. I got a good laugh when I watched Luke (Joseph) fight Batman for a piece of candy. That Batman is such a character I’m pretty sure he was asking for it 😉 .
Benjamin met up with two of his best friends at the church and I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the three of them. Chaz was the Hulk, Willie was Cap’n Jack, and Benjamin was Darth Maul. It was fun to watch these three very different boys, not just in their choice of costume, talk and laugh together. It’s friendships like this that span ward splits and the years to come.
Today was our stake conference. I have been loving these past few weeks of instruction that we have been receiving from our leaders, both general and local. Today’s stake meeting was a bit different because we (our ward and two other wards) were asked to return to the stake center to discuss the boundary realignment. There have been whispering of this happening for the past several weeks but tonight we got our first glimpse of the extent of the changes that will be happening. The funny thing is Jared has known about this for several months but has been so good about not telling me. Part of me is so pleased that I didn’t bug him incessantly so that he gave in but then there is a small part of me that was thinking “Why didn’t you tell me it would be this bad???” 🙂 I don’t know, just the crazy workings of my brain.
My dad was put in as the new bishop of the Windmill ward. We were sitting with Nana and Papa when they announced that little detail and actually Benjamin was sitting right next to him. Papa was asked to join the other bishops on the stand and then was later asked to bear his testimony. It wasn’t until after the meeting and in the hallway that I noticed Benjamin’s antisocial behavior. I approached him thinking he had got in some fight with his brothers or sister. Unfortunately, I snapped at him to push his attitude aside and to remember that this whole affair wasn’t about him. It wasn’t til after I was done that he started crying angry tears and said, “I don’t like Heavenly Father right now!” It was kind of like a slap on the fact for me because I hadn’t expected anything like that. I asked him why and he proceeded to tell me that Heavenly Father had taken his Papa away and we would never get to see him again. It took every ounce of strength not to laugh out loud but I could tell it wouldn’t make things better. It was the perfect opportunity for me to explain to him that we wouldn’t see him AT CHURCH and I stressed that fact very much. He would still be our Papa and he would still come over to our house and he could still go over to theirs but that he was right that we wouldn’t get to sit by him every Sunday like we had for the last 4 years. I reminded him that the church is still true and that Papa being moved to a different ward didn’t change that.
It will be sad not to see them at ward functions like we used to but that just means that we’ll have to be more diligent and creative in our efforts to see them. Even though change is hard to see and experience it’s amazing because that means that the church is growing. This will give all of us new ways to serve and stretch ourselves.
Tonight was Benjamin’s pack meeting. It was a bit crazy because we’re back to school and having to deal with the change in our schedules but also keep on top of our other responsibilities. I usually have a YW meeting at the same time as his scout meetings but I wanted to be there to see him get his awards from day camp so I had to let that meeting go. Jared’s been working extra hours at his new job but he cut out early so that he could be there to support.
It was such a great meeting that introduced what the boys are going to be focusing on next month. They were each fingerprinted and “booked” for good behavior. Now that was a bit interesting because the siblings were included and that was an adventure trying to keep them from touching things after getting ink on their fingers 🙂 .
I recorded him getting his awards for those of you who couldn’t make it!
Yesterday and today was Cub Scout Day Camp for Benjamin. I have to say that I was really excited for him to go and experience this. It opened up a lot of opportunities for him to pass of things to earn his Wolf.
I remember when my mom was in the stake primary when I was little and I got to help out with the week-long day camp. In that stake they did it for four or five days and just a couple of hours each of those days. Here they go from 7:00am to 4:00pm for two days.
I would have loved to volunteer to help out but I had all the kids and Jared had a call-back interview so wouldn’t be able to watch the kids. That’s okay, because Saturday was family day and we would all get to go up to the campsite and watch Benjamin and be involved.
The hike up the trail from the parking lot seemed like closer to 12 miles than the actual 1/2 mile walk that it was because we were carrying chairs, lunch/dinner, and I was on crutches to help my ankle heal from the food fight the other day. I had some pretty bad bruises under my arms after we got home but I’m just glad I didn’t hurt my ankle any further.
As much fun as it was a little part of me was thinking about my niece and nephew, Hannah and LJ, who were driving through town on their way to Utah. We hardly ever see them and I usually make room to see them but it just wasn’t in the cards this trip. It’ll be nice to see them during the holidays.
The theme of the day camp was “Down Under”. Everything that they did had some tie into Australia. They made boomerangs, learned how to shoot a bow and arrow as well as a b.b. gun, they did a climbing wall, they made trail mix for the mile “walkabout” and learned a bunch of other things about the aborigines (face paint, rock symbols, etc).
While we were eating our late lunch/early dinner they had a woman talk about her time spent in the outback of Australia. She lived for several weeks with an aboriginal tribe and had a lot to tell. There was also a family that had lived in Australia for two years and the sons had learned how to blow on a didgeridoo and showed us all how.
It was quite the weekend for Benjamin and our family. I don’t think Emma cared much for the dirt but it seemed that I couldn’t get Joseph or Jacob out of it. It must be a boy thing 🙂 !
I’m constantly amazed with my children. Maybe it’s because my nerves and emotions are still quite a bit raw from my grandmother’s passing but their simple prayers seem to be so much more tender and insightful than before.
For the prayer over our lunch Benjamin blessed “that Grandma would be safe and happy up in Heaven.” He proceeded through his prayer and finished with a blessing for “Grandpa to be safe and not lonely without Grandma.” I couldn’t help but cry at his simple yet very heart felt prayer for his great-grandparents and their well-being.
A short while later Jacob approached me with some little pictures of the Savior that we sometimes use during sacrament meeting. He had it flipped to a picture of Christ on the cross. He asked me what it was a picture of. I knew he already knew so I reversed the question so that he could tell me. He surprised me by saying, “He’s dying, like Grandma.” That really caught me off guard and I didn’t really know how to respond so I just said yes. I was already a bit emotional from Benjamin’s prayer so this little innocent boy’s matter-a-fact comments were like a slap in the face, but in a good way. He flipped through the pictures and we talked about some of the other images until we came to another picture of Christ where he again amazed me with his understanding and said, “With Grandma!”
I have constantly questioned if it was right for me to take my kids to the hospital and see Grandma dying. I didn’t have that as a child, or at least that I can remember. Oh no, that’s not true. I remember someone dying, I think it was my Tia Isaura (my Mama Julia’s sister). I think we had to travel to Mexico to say goodbye but all I really remember was the smell. It was a weird smell in her room and I remember how soft her hands were. I don’t know how old I was (probably no older than 4, so right in between Jacob and Joseph’s age) but those are the only real memories of death that I have as a child.
I have wondered what the kids will remember about that weeklong process of being in the hospital, saying good-bye, and going through the whole funeral and burial process. Will it be that they were among loved ones? Or will it be of the three days of torture in the hospital? I do have to say that it was the most beautiful time for my children to see some eternal gospel principals at work, but still I wonder. It’s times like today where I feel like they weren’t scared by the whole process and that they truly understand that there is life after this one one earth.
None of my other family started passing away until I was engaged. My great-grandma Betty passed just before I got married to Jared. My great-grandma Julia died just before I had Benjamin. I remember the disappointment I felt in knowing that she would never know her great-great-grandson in this earthlife. Jared’s grandma Doris died while I was pregnant with Emma. But for me Grandma Combs is the first of my grandparents to pass and that makes me a little worried about what the future holds. I know that I’m getting older and that my children are as well but I constantly forget that the rest of the world is ageing as well. My grandparents aren’t as young as they used to be and neither are my parents. I thought I had so much more time with my grandma but the Lord had other plans for her. Seeing the amazing amount of family and friends that turned up that week it’s no surprise to me that the Lord needs her on the other side. She had an amazing ability to make friends with someone at the drop of a hat. It embarrased us sometimes but even our embarrasment didn’t phase her. She knew names and remembered details of people’s lives that made them feel special and important whenever they were around her. She was an amazing missionary in this life even with all of her physical limitations. I can only imagine what she can accomplish without those things holding her back.
I am so glad that I chose to drop everything (literally) and drive up to say good-bye. Even though it was so hard to see her that way I now know after writing through all of my emotions that it was the right choice.
This morning my mom picked me and my little sister up for the amazing opportunity to go and spend the morning with Elizabeth Smart. If you don’t know or remember she’s the young girl who was abducted from her bedroom in Utah at the age of 14 and didn’t make it back home until 9 months later. Somehow, our stake relief society managed to get her to come speak to us for the afternoon.
I’m not sure what I expected from the event, having watched everything on the news almost exactly 10 years ago, but it went above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. Her grace, composure, and light spirit were amazing contributors to what she had to say. She managed to make what could have been a very dark subject into something introspective and heavenly.
I remember her saying that one of the first things her mom said to her after she was found was “What this man has done to you is horrible. He’ll go on with the rest of his life thinking nothing of you while you’re left with the mess. The best punishment you can give him is to be happy!” What amazing advice to give to her daughter in her moment of need but how universally applicable it can be for us all. We may not have a man coming and stealing 9 month of our lives and performing all kinds of atrocities to us but we constantly have Satan attacking our lives and trying to wreak all kinds of havoc. The best punishment we can give him is to be happy!
After she was done talking to us she opened the floor up to questions. One woman asked if she had ever lost hope during the time of her abduction. Her answer surprised me considering she was only 14 at the time. She said that early on she remembered a conversation with her mother where she had told her that there were only two opinions that mattered in life. One was her Heavenly Father and the other was hers (her mother). She said proceeded to tell her that her Heavenly Father has a perfect love for her and that no matter where she was or how old she got she would always love her because she was her daughter and would always be her daughter. In Elizabeth’s darkest hours she remembered that and knew that was enough. She never gave up hope because she knew that she was her mother’s daughter, that she loved her, and that they would be together again, whether in this life or the next!
Such amazing strength and faith by such a young girl but it also goes to show you how wonderful her mother was in raising her in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It just goes to show you that every minute can be a teaching opportunity with your children. Even if we’re unsure if they hear us we don’t know what part will find its way into their hearts.
I’m so thankful that my dad watched the kids so that I could go be apart of such a wonderful event! And a huge thank you to Elizabeth for coming and sharing her amazing testimony with all of us.