Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's a Pit

It is official. We have officially diversified our business lives. We are now partners in a Dickey's BBQ Pit. We bought an existing store near Denver. ClickHERE to visit the Dickey's website.

A trusted friend of John's came to him several months ago and proposed a partnership on opening some stores. We had learned hard lessons on partners in business from some failed attempts in our distant past, so we looked at it long and hard. We felt like it was a good scenario, and moved forward. I think who you partner with can make all the difference.

We have felt for some time now that we needed to shift directions in our life, and the timing of all of this was ideal. John buzzed up there yesterday to sign our lives away. ;) We are excited to see how it all pans out.

Is it strange the we now have not only a gravel pit, but also a Barbecue Pit?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just Passing Through

Yesterday was Canadian Boxing Day. While I am still unclear exactly what the holiday is for, I know what our reason to celebrate was. The Martin Clan came through to visit on their way to Utah. It was our original plan to follow them North, but we are staying home. If I couldn't see most of my family, at least I got to see some of them! They are living down in Amarillo where Theo is acing PT school. Thanks for staying a while Martins! We miss you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

I wanted a family photo as a gift from the kids. So here we are after church, yes, I see that John's eyes are closed, but look at what it took to get here:

I set the camera up and Elise and Gabe both posed to test the focus for me.

Then we got everyone tucked in and ready to go....

but a fight breaks out....

after everyone is convinced to try again...

I forget how to use the timer....

So this Christmas, eyes half open is good enough for me! Merry Christmas everyone! LOVE-the BigGTribe

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

This year for Christmas Eve I was in the middle of shifting mental gears. Some may refer to this as pouting, which would be accurate. While I was glad that Grandma was home and doing better, I was feeling sad that we would not be going to SLC after Christmas as we had planned. Grandma would have come with us, but was really in no condition to travel.

This afternoon, our friend Moss came by with his son Jacob to shoot the new gun he had gotten for his birthday. I chatted with him for a minute and he told me that his wife was felling a little alone this Christmas. They recently moved here and although her family would be visiting for New Years, they were solo until then. I hesitated for a minute, then asked them if they'd like to come over for Christmas Eve. I hesitated because I know that's a fairly personal type of night, and I didn't want them to feel weird or obligated to come over, but I thought it would be a great way for both of us to cheer up a little bit! :)

Happily, they agreed to come and I am so glad that they did. We had a really great night! We had dinner, then acted out Luke 2 (yes, I did make everyone dress in the fabric). All of the kids played a part. Joseph (Seth) and Mary (Mary) are both in middle school, so they acted like they didn't know each other and Mary declined to ride the donkey (Gabe). But the shepherds, the angel, the wisemen, the star, and baby Jesus all played their parts well.
I loved talking with Moss and Tammy (the parents) and hearing about some of their life experiences. I was so glad they could come over so I wouldn't have to keep pouting! ;)

After they headed home, it was getting late, but we decided to open our traditional Christmas Eve present. Yes, it is always pajamas. The little guys still hold out hope for something more exciting, but we all pretty much know it's just going to be sleep wear. :) We took a few pictures before going to bed. Overall, I think it was a good night. Although we won't be going anywhere for the Holidays, I am glad I was reminded what they are about. Christmas is better when you have family and friends to share it with.

Kristine Comes Home

Grandma Kristine spent the week in the hospital. The doctor told her she would not come home for Christmas if she didn't start eating and walking. Well, that is what it took. She got up, walked the halls, and started eating. She got released today and will be staying with us until she can function a little better. The kids were so excited to have her staying here in our house! Jebb was especially glad that she wasn't wearing the oxygen tube on her face anymore, he did not like it!

She will have a visiting nurse and PT until she is well enough to go out. We are glad she made it for Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Last Minute Shopping OR What I Hate About Christmas

Today I took the 3 younger kids with me to do some shopping in Farmington-the next big town over located about 45 minutes south. I knew it wouldn't be easy and I tried to mentally gear up for any snafus we might encounter. I'd like to say I was doing some 'last minute' shopping which would imply that I was getting just a few things to wrap up my Holiday shopping. But the truth is, I still had/have the bulk of my Christmas shopping to do and I was hoping to knock out the majority of it with this excursion.

Before I start complaining I just need to state clearly that I love Christmas. It is the best part of Winter. It is a time when everyone is a little nicer, a little more helpful, and just all around better. I love that, for a season, the whole world is reminded that our Savior came to Earth to redeem mankind. I mean really, when you think of it that way, what's not to love?

Well, I can say without any hesitation that I grow to loathe more and more each year the commercialization of Christmas. I feel a lot of pressure to get the 'right things' to make opening presents on Christmas morning pleasant. And frankly, when I think about the fact that 'things' are how I gauge the success of Christmas Day, it puts a real wrinkle in my Holiday Joy.

Each fall I have this crazy fantasy of our family going to some third world country and digging ditches all through the 2 week break. We would all be smiling and dirty as we skipped back to our tent to enjoy a holiday meal of beans and rice. We'd come home so grateful for our blessings, that it would purge the material desires right out of us.

But so far it hasn't happened. The reality still is that my kids have expectations on Christmas morning and I keep feeding that proverbial Frankenstein. I do truly try to restrict the monster's diet and not go overboard each year, but I guess material things are all relative and I know that we always have more than we need or sometimes even want. *Sigh* Blah, blah, blah. The fact is, I had some shopping to get knocked out.

So when we got to Farmington, we hit the mall. Jackson and Jebb wandered around with me for a few minutes in their section talking about coats or shirts they liked. I acted only mildly interested. Jackson found one particular shirt with a picture of a basketball with limbs, spinning a basketball on it's finger. Go figure. It was the last of it's kind and I looked at it with him before moving on. Elise was a brilliant partner in sneaky shopping. She took J&J to get a drink while I made a pile of the things I gathered. I snuck back to the basketball with the basketball shirt, and added it to my growing pile. I then had Elise try on some jeans, looked for shirts for the big boys, and wandered around the store in general. We walked past the spot where the Bball shirt had been and Jackson looked grief stricken as he pointed it's absence out to me. "Mom! Someone else got that shirt while we were looking around! I knew we should have grabbed it!" I said, "Well, maybe someone is just looking at it and they will bring it back." He was not comforted. I did manage to get him to help me test out some colognes for Seth, but he carried his disappointment around with him.

I finally had Elise take the boys to the car to watch a movie while I checked out. I met the kids at the car and we headed for Target. This is where I planned to do the bulk of my shopping. I was on the lookout for slippers, toys, stocking stuffers, and electronics. After enjoying a pleasant lunch of Target food, J&J immediately made a beeline for the toy department with Elise following along. It wasn't long before I had grabbed some things I wanted and was wondering where the kids were. I called Elise on the phone and she was upset. Apparently Jackson had found a small toy he wanted, but he refused to set it down. I told her not to fight with him about it and just bring the boys to meet me in the shampoo section (Gabe wants special shampoo...). She called me back a few minutes later and told me that Jackson refused to move from where he was because he didn't want someone to buy the toy he had found while he was away in the shampoo department (remember the Bball shirt?). I headed back to retrieve the kids and by the time I got to them, I was irritated. More irritated than the situation warranted, but for some reason I let the moment bring out all of the frustration and resentment I had about my own perceived responsibility to buy lots of 'stuff.' I was so bugged that Jackson was freaking out about a dumb TOY!

Now of course he is only 8, and he said he just wanted to show me the toy, and he even pointed out that it was very inexpensive. So what did I do? I told everyone we were officially done at Target. We headed for the checkout then out to the car.

Not a shining parenting moment I know. I did manage to get a few items I wanted, but really I only made it all the more difficult for myself because I still have to get some things before the big day. And of course, time waits for no grumpy mother. Christmas is still coming and I let my bah-humbug get the best of me.

In the car we had a little 'talk.' Jebb noticed that I didn't spend any time in the toy section and he is old enough to figure out that I probably didn't buy the Lego set he was eyeing, and he was close to tears. Jackson was really angry we had to leave, and Elise was quiet knowing that how the next few minutes went could directly affect the number of presents under the tree. We all decided to take a breathe and see if we could manage a better attitude while we tried to get our Christmas shopping done.

We headed to Sam's Club for our last stop. Our day seemed to improve. We actually had a great time getting paper towel and whatnot, while sampling things like cheesecake and chicken egg rolls. Jackson liked the rolls, so we bought a whole box! He seemed pleased and stopped walking with his brow furrowed and arms folded. I never cease to be amazed at Jackson's ability to regroup and decide to get along. I think my decision to quit stressing and just try to relax helped a little too. ;)

On the drive back I let the kids watch a happy movie, and by the time we got home, we were all in a flat out good mood. We decided to go and visit Grandma in the hospital. John was there and Kristine looked much better today. She still hasn't eaten, but she seemed more aware of what was going on. The kids were so happy to see her and they probably hugged and kissed her too much. Jebb has been especially concerned about her and I think it reassured him to see her smiling. We quickly wore her out, and we decided we'd eat dinner together at the cafeteria. We recounted our days to each other and enjoyed sitting together. After we were done, we went back to visit Grandma then left so she could get some sleep.

It was a long day that helped me to remember once again that it's the 'stuff' that drives me nuts. What really matters at Christmas is having our loved ones with us. Shoot, that's what matters all of the time! I am glad that in spite of the commercialism, the world does seem to remember that aspect. I guess I will just try to embrace those parts of Christmas that I love and put off my whole 'beans and rice' plan another year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kristine is in the Hospital

Monday night we went to the movies for FHE with 5 or 6 other families in our town. About 1/2 way through, John got a call from Kristine. He left to check on her. Luckily we had two cars, because he never came back to the theater but took her to the hospital instead. She complained pain in her right shoulder and couldn't keep any food down. When they checked her in, they said she had the symptoms of a gall bladder attack. After running some tests late into the night, they determined her gall bladder needed to come out. John got home around 4am, slept a few hours, then went back to the hospital to meet with the doctors there.

They removed her gall bladder using an orthoscopic method on Tuesday afternoon. John spent the whole day at the hospital and missed most of Seminarypalooza so he could be there to answer questions as Kristine seemed very confused and disoriented. She continued to have pain when she ate, so the doctors decided to do another procedure today to clear her bile ducts. They didn't find anything blocking them, but hope that she will feel some relief after they were swept. Her heart raced in the night, but she seems to be all right now.

Gabe and I decided to go and see her today just before the procedure. A friend of ours that works near the hospital was supposed to come over to help John give Kristine a blessing. He had been delayed at work and hadn't gotten there yet. We experienced a tender mercy with Kristine getting a blessing. Between the doctor's schedule, our friend's schedule, us visiting, and where they took Kristine to wait for her procedure, the timing couldn't have been better or more perfect. And had any element been missing, she wouldn't have gotten the blessing she wanted.

This was her second time being sedated in 2 days and it has been hard on her physically and mentally. We haven't taken the kids in to see her but we will tomorrow after she has had a chance to rest and recover. They love her so much and there have been many sincere and earnest prayers said on her behalf.

I just need to say how much I respect and love my good husband. He is amazing with his mom and I don't know what she would do without him there. Hank has been a great help too. He has gone and sat with Kristine late at night and when John has to leave. Families are an amazing gift that God has given us, and I wonder what we would do without our extended ward families when things like blessings are needed. I am glad my boys have such amazing male role models in their lives.

Hopefully, all will go well and she will be home before Christmas. We were planning on taking her to Salt Lake with us next week, but we will all just enjoy more time together here in town. She will be staying at our house which our kids are thrilled about! Come to think of it, I guess she had really better rest up in the hospital while she can! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seminarypalooza 2011

Tonight I hosted what I called Seminarypalooza 2011. I named it that in a deliberate effort to make it sound much cooler than the game/dinner that I had planned. ;) I was so happy that every kid that was in town attended! I have 18 kids total, but 2 were gone. We also has a few adults representing each ward and the stake.

As the kids were arriving I had them take a piece of green construction paper and from it, create their best Christmas tree. There were stickers they could apply to decorate it, but they weren't allowed to use anything but their hands. And, they had to hold it behind their backs and couldn't peek until they were done. Most of the kids chose the 'tear' method although we did get a few 'origami' trees.

Our next games were relays and competitions. We split up into our 'tribes' and did the marshmallow toss which as you might guess consists of tossing marshmallows into other people's mouths-relay style. Fun, and I suppose the marshmallow fight the boys had with the excess marshmallows was to be expected.

We then played 'Rudolph.' This is where each team races to fill a pair of pantyhose with balloons. Once they have 8 balloons, they place it on a person's head, apply a red sticker to their nose, and shout "Rudolph!" Of course we made the men in attendance wear the antlers. I felt a little bad picking on them, but got over it almost immediately. ;) They were terrific sports!

Then on to the 'Kissing Game' which isn't as scandalous as it sounds for a Seminary party. Another relay competition where you run to get a hershey kiss that you have to unwrap and eat while wearing poofy gloves. Then run back, give gloves to teammate, repeat.

We finished up by playing Pictionary with Christmas Carols. I thought it would be much harder than it was, but apparently you don't need a lot to go on to guess the Carols. This helped us sit and wind down a little before we had DINNER!

A woman in our ward actually catered the whole meal for us, so I didn't have to do a thing. We had a yummy salad, chicken dinner, and dessert. The kids all chatted and smiled and ate. I am thinking I might have to have every meal I eat catered from now on....heehee.

After dinner I gave a short lesson about doing the things that matter FIRST so you don't run out of time. THEN..... I went ahead with an idea I had been vacillating about all week. I made the kids act out my Nativity Play. It was a bit of a joke from earlier in the year. We had done the story of Joseph in Egypt straight from the Bible as a Reader's Theater in class. I imagined it would take less than a day, but it ended up taking 2 whole class periods. I always joke how LOOOOONG it was and how I no longer enjoy reader's theater. So I'm sure some of the kids weren't too jazzed on doing a Nativity Reader's Theater. ;) But the kids were all absolute CHAMPS! They did fantastic and it was really quite fun! And yes, they dressed up using my fabric!!

The play didn't last too long and I made everyone hop in for a group shot before I game them their Christmas Presents.

I channeled my inner Oprah and gave the kids little bags with some of my 'favorite things.' A couple of my students earned make-up credit by burning CD's for me to give out. It included classics like 'The Books of the Old Testament' and various 'Scripture Rock' song. There were also some assorted treats, but the best part was the pair of Fuzzy Socks I gave to everyone. My students know I love Fuzzy Socks...I might even wear them as footwear on chilly Seminary mornings now and then. ;)I don't know about everyone else, but I enjoyed our Seminarypalooza 2011! I think I might just have the coolest group of Early Morning Seminary kids on the planet! I hope they all have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good Egg II

Well, it looks like we might be on to a really great Holiday Tradition. On this same day last year, we had just finished cleaning the house (what else would you expect me to make the kids do on the first day of Christmas Break?!) I posted about it here. And just like last year, we were working on spiffing up the house for the Holidays. In fact, I really kicked it up a notch and actually had all of the carpets and tile professionally cleaned starting this morning. This meant we needed to get out of the house.

I had the perfect plan. We would go again this year to the Commodities Distribution at the fair grounds. This is a time when needy people in the community can come through and pick up free food. Last year all of the big kids participated, but this year it was just Seth, Jackson, and Jebb, as Gabe and Elise had Bball/dance. When we got there I somehow ended up sorting eggs again like last year. Like last year, it was very messy, but very terrific. Jackson really got into removing broken eggs from the cartons and Jebb helped me replace them with good eggs.

There were a bunch of people from our ward there helping too and it was fantastic to work with them. My friend Patti and her son Derek (one of my seminary students) helped with egg duty. I have to confess that when we first arrived I looked for other stations to man, like cans of corn or frozen chicken. Those are really tidy and straight forward. You get X number of each item if you want it. But those stations were all filled and the egg station was looking very empty. I just remembered last year how it was so messy and difficult to keep up with the line. While other stations were calmly passing out their commodities in the prescribed numbers, all of us at the egg station were sorting, dumping, refilling, and giving. I guess I was feeling a little lazy.

But it was meant to be and this year I absolutely loved doing the eggs. While it was still messy and fast paced, we had the opportunity to give out as many eggs as people wanted to take. No limit! It was so much fun (if that's the right word) to be able to say, "Take as many as you'd like!" or "Here, you better take one more dozen for good measure!" I think I have found the sweet spot at the commodities distribution. It's definitely more work, but the rewards were much greater. All of the other stations had a limit, but we got to give and give and it was so great to make people smile when we did. I feel a smidge guilty because I got to pass out most of the eggs while poor Patti, Derek, and Jackson got stuck sorting. I hope they won't hold it against me and will want to do the egg station with me again next year! :)

Once again going to help out was a really great reality check. I let my stress level get way too high lately, and this helped bring everything in my life back into perspective. I saw one gal I knew whose (now ex-)husband used to work for us at the pit. They both got involved in meth and he went to prison after many run-ins with the law (one of which was stealing the safe from our office). John has kept in touch with him while he is in jail and was sad to hear that their family had broken up. She came through and I reached across the table and hugged her. I think she was about to cry. I smiled and wished her a Merry Christmas and gave her lots of eggs. As she walked off my eyes were burning a little and I said a little prayer for her and her children. It's hard to see people make bad life decisions and watch it ruin years of their lives. I am so grateful for my family and continue to see over and over again the divine wisdom in a strong family unit. Near the end of the long line of people, 3 young men came through. They were very rough looking. They had the whole hat askew/baggy pants thing going on as well as various tattoos and piercings. You know the look. As I watched them I wondered how different would their lives be if they had the love of a mother and a father? I would bet that they don't really have any positive male role models in their lives and I wonder if they had been nurtured during their formative years. As a society we all are impacted by broken homes and weak families. I hope that is something we will soon realize and that there will be a cultural shift towards valuing the traditional family.

OK, OK, I will stop rambling. Once again, a great way to kick of our Christmas break. I think this is a tradition we need to keep and I hope next year there is a spot for me at the egg station.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Year End Changes

There are some changes going on in our business lives lately and while they probably aren't of much interest to anyone else, I do want to have it in my BigG records.

This has been a difficult week for John. As we have been wrapping up the year end, we have been looking closely at our finances of the past year and projections for the year to come. I guess it is no secret to anyone that the economy is tough. The work has been getting to be thinner and further between since '08. Many of the contractors from our area have either gone out of business or have moved to places like North Dakota. So far, we haven't had to go down either of these roads.

When things were going strong, we had nearly 100 employees. That was several years ago. we had our first initial 'belt tightening' at the same time everyone else did with the financial crash. We downsized and laid off many of our excavation workers. On the excavation side of things, we lived from job to job, wondering if it would be our last. We took any work that came and we were able to stay afloat. A recurring phenomenon was the length of time it took many of our jobs to pay us. Instead of the usual 30-60 days, the new norm was 60-180 days. When you pay all of your own bills on time, that becomes a big issue for what is known as 'cash flow.' More and more it has been increasingly hard to swim against that flow.

I just need to say here that over the years, people would ask us if we had work. I was always able to answer 'Yes.' Every time we would wrap up a job, thinking it was our last, another one would appear and the timing would be almost perfect. Like almost eerily perfect. And that happened for us over and over and over for 3 years now. We never were quite sure where our next job would be, but (and I know this is true) the Lord showed us over and over that he had a plan for us. Even writing this now, I am teary eyed thinking of some of John's sleepless nights wondering about work. He would do all he could to get it, and when we weren't sure where to look anymore, the Lord would show us the path.

We are wrapping up our last big job. And this time, it is different, because this time there is not another job that has come up in front of us. John had been mulling over an idea that kept coming back to him, and has explored every other option because this idea was difficult for him to embrace. But last week, he made the decision to get out of the excavation business altogether. Doing all of those excavation jobs, you build up lots of equipment over time and it becomes a big beast that you need to feed with payments, fuel, repairs, etc. So we will be going to auction with our beasty friend and seeing if we can get out from under him.

Once John made the decision, although it was really difficult, he knew it was the right one. He has had to lay off a lot of employees which was the hardest for him as he feels a lot of responsibility for each man and his family. He states without reservation that this has been one of the most unpleasant weeks he can remember having at work. But he also says that although it really stinks, he feels at peace.

I could sit and speculate all day about why our lives unfold the way they do. In fact, I do that a LOT! ;) Having excavation has enabled us to do a lot of things that we wouldn't have otherwise. We were able to buy land that gave us continued access to the pit (and pay it down a chunk), we were able to buy out other family members that owned a part of the business (which we finished doing officially this month! Yeah!), and we continue to be able to take care of Kristine and our own family. And hopefully, going back to just making gravel will still do that. When I ponder the timing of things, I can't help but notice a few other things that have happened this month. We were able to sign a contract ensuring that we will actually HAVE a gravel pit in years to come. It is in a different location on a place called Ewing Mesa, not far from our current pit. It has been an outright pleasure actually to deal with the owners of the land, which seems to be an uncommon thing these days in business. We also have had another business opportunity present itself last month. Something completely different than construction. I look forward to posting about it when it's a done deal.

It's just crazy how the last month has unfolded. There is a line from 'The Sound of Music' where Maria says that when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. That line has come to my mind many, many times this month.

So what will we look like in the new year? Hopefully on the construction front we will be leaner and meaner with positive cash flow going into our spring crushing. On the new business front, hopefully we will be rocking it and I will blog all about it. On the home front I know that our family will be all right. The Lord has taken care of us up to this point in ways that are nothing short of miraculous to me. So recognizing that, I don't know exactly what the new year holds, and if it all turns out to be completely unexpected, then I know it will be what is right for us. I don't expect that it will be easy, but I am trusting the Lord will walk us through whatever it may be. Don't get me wrong I of course am hoping it will be us, holding hands and laughing, as we skip down a flower lined, sunny path!! ;) I guess I'll just have to wait and see until we get there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Angels Among Us

This afternoon I attended a luncheon for the Southwest Republican Women here in Durango. Each month we meet, eat, and listen to a speaker. Today's speaker happened to be a beautiful woman named Valerie who ran the Pregnancy Center in town. She talked about what her organization did to help women in the community struggling through an unplanned pregnancy. I found both her and her cause to be uplifting and inspiring.

In most cases, women that come to see them are trying to make a plan. Often they are considering abortion and are seeking other options. Adoption is a rare occurrence, and the PC is mostly trying to educate and uplift soon-to-be mothers. One thing she said that really struck me about our cultural norms was the fact that women will tell her that they would rather abort a baby than give it away. As if giving away a baby was some unspeakable thing for a mother to do, but abortion was just a 'choice' you made with your own body. You only have to ponder that statement for a few moments to realize how effective abortion advocates have been in teaching the women of our culture.

One audience member asked her if their organization did anything to advocate contraception. She said that they did not. She explained it this way. So often girls come to them that have no feeling of worth. They have been taught in school (not to mention on tv, through music, movies, etc.) that they are sexually empowered and can have sex if they want to. In fact, they are treated as though they are expected to have sex. She said that so many girls don't feel like they can even tell a boy 'no' that wants to have sex. Sex is no longer special or valued and these poor girls feel like that is just what girls their age do. Her organization provides councilling and tries to remind these shattered girls that they do matter and they can make positive changes for their futures. So abstinence is what they advocate. Girls can say no.

Valerie also said that there is an explosion in STD's in our area. She said that has become a huge concern to her. She said that the easy availability of contraception offered in schools has done little to stem the tide of new infections. We also learned that fathers being involved is an extreme rarity. What a tragedy! It is such a shame that the feminist movement has had so many untended consequences. They have said that women don't need men to stick around. They encourage women to not hold back sexually. Girls now are reaping the terrible consequences of such misguided and naive advice. Human beings are not animals and we aren't just a product of our hormones or physical appetites. For us to pretend that we are has had devastating psychological and spiritual consequences for a whole generation of girls and their unplanned children.

While it was a very weighty and sometimes discouraging topic, I was so uplifted to see what a positive outlook Valerie had about her work at the PC. She felt like she had the opportunity every day to make someone's life better than it was. It was comforting and encouraging to realize that there are people all around us that are trying to do the right thing and trying to uplift their fellow man. After her talk I went and told her that I felt like she was an angel on earth. I truly believe that. I was humbled and inspired hearing her speak. So often the loudest voices in our communities or culture are the ones that would lead us astray. If you doubt that, just count the number of times that message is sung on the top 40 station. There are numerous references just on the short drive to school! That is the reality of our sex saturated culture. And we know that culture is a powerful influence on your beliefs and actions.

It made me realize how important it is then for me to be repeating the RIGHT message to my family OVER and OVER! We need to be studying the scriptures and the words of our prophets EVERY day! I am not always good at that, but I would like to do better. God has shown us a better way and we need to be sure that our families our getting that message to counter the one they see and hear every day at school. I am so grateful to have the knowledge we do. We were created in God's image and he wants great things for our lives. We can't be distracted or deceived by the messages in the world.

OK, I will climb down off my soapbox and just say one more time how grateful I am to know that there are good people diligently seeking to walk in the path they believe God would have them on. It makes me happy! :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ward Christmas Party 2011

Tonight was the ward Christmas party. With John gone to Dallas, I was on my own. This year, although I did not volunteer, I somehow ended up in charge of costumes for the Nativity play. OK, I act as if I don't know why I was put in charge of costumes, but the fact is that everyone knows I have this big box of fabric that has been around for years. Anytime the Primary kids 'go to Jerusalem' or learn about Book of Mormon stories for sharing time, my box of fabric has costumed us for the adventure. Seriously, if you have attended Primary in Durango, you have dressed up in my fabric at some point, So of course I got the call and the assignment when it was time to dress up to see Baby Jesus.

The timing for the party was not the best as it happened to fall on the same night that Gabe was playing against Bayfield in basketball. It is a game I would really have liked to attend because we know lots of the peeps from there. But with my fabric responsibilities, I missed it. He called me part way through dinner to tell me the game was over. I dashed to the high school and picked him up. I got back just in time to miss dinner and get the kiddos ready for the play.

It was a lovely evening. I always like good live theater. Things like this are always more fun though when John is here go with me. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Doing Some Things and Missing Others

This morning I am blogging from the local Republican office in our town. I volunteered (under some peer pressure) to take the morning shift today from 9-1. While the office is located on the main road next to a hopping coffee shop, if you are familiar with the politics of my town, you might be able to guess that our office stays pretty quiet.

I did have some binders and my ipad to carry in, so I did have something to do when I arrived. But once I brought in my stuff, organized it, then moved it to a better spot (which took about 14 seconds) I didn't have much else to do. The phone actually rang when I was outside getting my binders at about 9:03, but there was no message. I am guessing it was our office coordinator seeing if I was here and had figured out the lock.

When you volunteer in the office, you have the option of calling Repubs in the county to let them know about the upcoming caucuses in February. Um, ya, I'm most likely not going to do that. Have I ever explained how I feel about calling people on the phone? That is definitely a NIOP topic. NOIP=Needs It's Own Post for me to explain. Moving on. There is a lending library full of conservative manifestos, constitutional essays, and Founding Father biographies. But I don't see anything that catches my fancy that I don't already own. ;) I did bring my seminary lesson for tomorrow so I could study and be prepared with a spiritual, inspiring, thorough lesson on Deuteronomy. Frankly, I'm just not in the mood.

So I have nothing to do (laundry and dishes are hard to process remotely). Or more accurately, I am choosing not to do anything....except write in my blog.

I miss blogging.

It is a great little exercise for my brain. I find that as I go about my life I think "I gotta blog about that." And in the last few months, I haven't. It seem like I just have other things that need doing. I want to change my priorities a little bit and bump blogging back up to it's rightful 7th or 8th position.

Last night was our ward Relief Society dinner. It was at the home of a lovely woman and our RS Presidency is a bunch of cool cats that I really enjoy-not to mention the woman of our ward in notch.

But, I missed it.

I decided that I wanted to sit with John, Seth, and Elise and watch Gabe play his first home basketball game. They had their first game ever last week while participating in a tournament down in New Mexico. This team just happened to be the very team they played. And at the tournament they got spanked! So Gabe was pretty nervous for tonight's game. **Let me interrupt this paragraph to brag for a moment. Gabe was named to the All Tournament team last week-whatever that means** OK, back to the game. Gabe was really hoping to start for his first official JV home game, but didn't think he would because the coaches brought down a couple of varsity players to beef said JV team previously spanked. Gladly, he did get to be a starter, but was not in his usual position and seemed a little out of sorts for several minutes. Gladly-er, he and his team settled in for a hard won victory! Yippee! It is just too fun watching your kids compete while in the company of your other kids. I would say that it is 'delightful' even.

Although I missed fellowshipping with my RS girls, I managed to actually visit with several ward members. Our neighbors were there watching the game too. One of my seminary students is on the dance team and she sat with us for a while (love her!) A bunch of my other students were there too and were kind enough to give me a wave or a nod. :) I loved our basketball evening, and I would have loved the RS dinner too, but sometimes you just have to make a choice. There are always things you can be doing but it can't all be done at once. And I am learning more and more that it's OK. As long as you do something then you just have to be content that you can't do everything.

We learned in Seminary today that ETBenson says that if you put God first in your life, everything else will fall into place or drop out altogether. I am going to try and view my choices through that lense more often because right now it seems like I have a lot of stuff that vies for my time. So this morning, with the time I have, I post. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jackson and the Little Red Hen

Now that Jackson is 8, he has joined the ranks of the Cub Scouts. Fantastic Program, love love love it. So far Jackson has not accomplished anything in it. Yes, he has attended a few pack activities, but he hasn't even yet earned the simplest of rank advancements, that of Bobcat. It is not because he lacks enthusiasm, but mostly it is because I do. Let me just restate for the record that I think Scouting is a great program. I just have been a slacker with the whole scouting thing.

Today was actually a pack meeting and it got me thinking. Jackson was asked last week at his pack activity to take home some grocery bags. He was supposed to distribute them to our neighbors asking them to donate food for the local food bank. We had them sitting on our table for a couple of days before anything happened to them. Jackson got home from school and I mentioned the bags. He decided he needed to get them delivered and gathered them up and got on his bike. I suggested he wait until Seth got home so he could drive him in the mule. But Jackson was not in any mood to wait. He was ready to get the job done and he rode off down the road. He returned a short while later and I asked him if he had delivered his bags. "Yes," was about all I got out of him. The Blakes told me later in the day that he had come to the door and explained the food drive to them. Brad noted that Jacks had written the pick up date on the bag as well (which I didn't know) and said he and Janelle got a kick out of his spelling of 'Sadurday.'

Sadurday morning came and Jackson was up, dressed in his scout shirt, and ready to collect the bags. While I helped the other kids get ready, John drove him down and Jackson was 3 for 3 on full bags. John let him go to the door and collect the bags. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for both the dropping off and picking up conversations that he had with our neighbors, you always hope your kid at least says thank you! :) We headed out for the pack meeting and I made John stop at the store so we could pick up a few items to contribute to the pot luck breakfast they were having in conjunction with the usual information and awards. There was a 'get to know you' activity that I didn't really participate in which gave me a few minutes to reflect.

I haven't really helped out in scouting. I know that lots of the stuff you do gets done at home, but I am talking about parent participation in the meetings and group activites. I am barely getting Jackson there, let alone jumping in to volunteer to bring wood, horses, or dodge balls. But the activities still happen thanks to dedicated leaders and participating parents. I am usually of the Little Red Hen school of thought. If you can, you need to be participating and helping with things you value. That is why I sing in the ward choir-not because I have a pleasant voice, but because I think music during worship is a good thing. So I was feeling some pangs of guilt. I have not participated in Scouting, and yet here is Jackson jumping in and collecting his food. Granted, he still doesn't have a single patch for me to put on his shirt, but He had what I felt like was a really great experience. And I just kind of showed up.

To top it off, there was a blood drive going on and I did NOT donate! There were a few openings and I said no! I didn't feel like pitching in and helping out. I know that sometimes you just have to do what you can do. But I still feel guilt for not doing more in some things like blood and scouting.