Sunday, July 29, 2012

Parker's Visit So Far

This week my oldest, Parker has been here. I wish he'd just move out here with us, but he has a job, school and a serious girlfriend in Utah, so he wants to stay there. I can understand that and I'm proud of him for paying his bills and working to be more independent. This whole letting them leave the nest thing..I think they use that analogy because it's for the birds. Right now, I hope the rest of them stop getting older. Growing up is over-rated and Lord knows I've avoided doing it for as long as humanly possible.

(trying to sleep until noon on the air mattress)

Matt has taken  the time Parker is here off, on  Friday we took all 7 of the kiddos into the city.

A friend suggested we try and park on Staten Island and take the ferry into Manhattan.
She said it was less expensive and easier, so we tried it.
She was right.
 We've been stuck paying anywhere from $30-$50 every time we drive into the city and there are about $30 dollars in toll roads as well. It adds up fast. There are less expensive ways, of course, but too much to figure out  when you aren't confident about where things are and you have kids in tow.

 Staten Island was about 1/3 the total cost to use and you get to take the ferry right past the Statue of Liberty. It was the first time Parker, Emma, Kate and Jane have seen Lady Liberty and it was neat to notice their faces as they saw her. They all got quiet and you could see they were just in awe of the sight of this iconic representation of all that we hold dear as Americans.

Just the week before in her talk, Jane had told the story of a 13 year old girl who came to the states all by herself and how she felt when she saw the Statue of Liberty, and we talked about what that must have been like and all of the kids thought it was amazing to see it, and be on a boat crossing the Hudson River while doing it.
We walked through the financial district and saw the old Capitol building. There was a loud guy ranting about how evil the government is on the steps and Parker got to see his first crazy person screaming at people in NYC.

(According to this guy, we haven't had a good president since Milford. I wasn't even motivated by his ranting enough to look up how long ago that was.)
We had lunch on the pier when we needed a break-- Pizza Uno.
 Pizza Uno claims that they created the original Chicago pizza.

Maybe they did, maybe they didn't but we all prefer Giordano's. Gio's has more cheese and they use pizza sauce that isn't chunky. It was still really good, but if you're ever in Chicago and you can't decide- that's the biggest difference- a super chunky sauce and less cheese vs a smoother sauce and the approval of the Olson Bunch- because THAT is super important.
 Parker's biggest thing on his 'to do' list was to have lots of cool food so we have made sure he got to try pizza from our fave local dive, Saporito's, had a salted bagel with cream cheese, enjoys girls scout cookie candy bars and tried the salted caramel pretzel frozen yogurt. We still need to go to Carvel's tomorrow and order girl scout cookie milkshakes. This kid loves a Samoa in any form, just like his mother.
 At the Vietnam War Memorial in NYC

(Big Brother and Baby Sister)

We made his birthday cake out of Dunkin' Donuts munchkins.
His presents were kind of lame, but this year he was in need for a grown up present, his car had two tires that were shot and we paid to have them replaced as his present. Hey, it's what he wanted, Yo.

Today after church, we  headed over to the Hawkins' home for  lunch.
We'd been invited there for July 4th but weren't feeling good and had to ask for a rain check. We're really thankful that they issued one so soon, because it was so much fun. The girls have made some great friends in just the short time we have been here and you'd never think they haven't known the girls in the ward for years. Actually, Kate has known the niece of the Hawkins family for 5 years, she lives in Willard, Utah and was in Kate's group for Trek this summer. They realized this when Kate gave her talk on Sunday - another example of what a small world it really is.

The Ralstons came to lunch as well and I can't express how thankful I am for Cyndi and her family. They are the only other Mormons who are active in our town and they have two daughters who are the same ages as Zane and Grey. The girls are ecstatic to have a fellow Mormon in their grade and don't even care that they are boys. I know the Ralstonave a fellow Mormon in their grade and don't even care that they are boys.
 I know the Ralston
Cyndi and her husband are great, I am excited about the friendship and connection we already have to them.

Tomorrow is Parker's last day here and we plan to just do the slug thing again. Two days in the city were enough for him. Tomorrow I'll make sure his laundry is done again and we'll play board games and watch the Olympics.

We have the DVR recording five channels at once so we don't miss anything they air.
We loooove the Olympics here in the Olson house.
The opening ceremonies were kind of weird, we loved the first part but we all made fun of the part where they entered the digital age and told the love story of two teenagers. It was based on the premise that the girl loses her phone, the boys finds it and they connect as a result. The thing is that she loses her phone, he finds it and he texts her to tell her he found her phone. How do you text someone if you have their phone? It was dumb enough that we all have been making fun of that part of the opening ceremonies.

We hope Michael Phelps gets his spark back and crushes the rest of his races.
We also hope the Chinese keep falling in men's gymnastics.
I'm watching fencing right now.
Love the Olympics.

Are you watching the Olympics?
What are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sunday Talk

It's been a busy few days and the rest of this week will be pretty full as well.
I'm becoming very aware of how much smaller the new house is when compared to the old one as the hot summer days keep us all inside and bored. It's too hot to even enjoy anything outside and the kids are clocking in too many hours of Dr. Who, but it beats going out and being smothered by this humidity.
I have plenty to do though, as we still have a full room that we should have unpacked already, that would add to the kid space, but we just haven't been able to get to it yet.

Anyway, the missionaries are coming over for dinner tonight and I thought I'd post my talk from Sunday.
I have the talks the girls gave on the other computer and will post them when I can and Matt just writes a few notes and then has the whole congregation listening, so he rarely has an actual talk I can post.

I've had a lot of gospel related thoughts pressing on my mind lately, a lot of thinking about how we perceive things and how they really are. I feel like I'm on the edge of a growing phase in my testimony and it will be interesting to see where it leads. I know where I want it to lead.

Anyway, I've got a sheet cake to frost so here is my talk from Sacrament Meeting this week- please excuse the bad grammar, it was a talk, not a written assignment.

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters,

We were asked to speak a couple of weeks ago on building a firm foundation to overcome adversity and because it is so close to Pioneer day, possibly work in something about pioneers. I thought about the topic and worked out my talk in my head, but when I actually sat down to write my talk out, everything sounded completely wrong. I put my thoughts to paper, I read and reviewed and worked on it for a long time and after weeks of preparing the talk mentally, I realized I needed to just throw it all out and start again.
I realized this last night.
I don’t know why, I don’t know if I needed the shake up or if someone else did, but I’m going to do my best to give the talk I feel most prompted to give, rather than the one I had prepared earlier.
As you may know, our family moved here early June. It may or may not be obvious that I am terrified. I don’t think I realized how comfortable I was until I was suddenly so very uncomfortable that I struggled to notice anything else.
When Matt got the assignment to Manhattan we had just returned from a family vacation, my oldest was talking about possibly moving out and getting an apartment nearby, (something I was putting a lot of effort into sabotaging ) and we were deciding if we were going to spend the next tax return paying off bills or taking a trip out East this summer.
For years, Matt and I have talked about and dreamed of coming out here, but it wasn’t real by any means. Everything was going great where we were, the kids were happy and settled, we’d made it through some really challenging things as individuals and as a family and for the first time in a long time, I was feeling really secure in my knowledge of who I was and what my purpose was in life. If I ever wondered, all I needed to do was look around me and I was surrounded by evidence and proof of my mission in life.

Fast forward to now, I look around me and it’s this old house with spiders and the sounds of my kids running through the house don’t quite sound the same as they did in the old house and I have this heightened awareness of too many subtle differences between where I am now and where I was before. It shakes up that confidence I had and I find myself questioning who I am-- as I am faced with how I felt about myself in one place vs, how I feel in a new environment. I don’t feel the same and it’s requiring me to really ask myself why that is.

It’s requiring me to remind myself that WHERE I am, is not WHO I am.
Where I am is exactly where the Lord has brought me at this time, WHO I am, is exactly who I have prepared myself to be. Who I am is the same person regardless of where my feet stand. Knowing that is what makes the difference between enduring the trials of life to the end, or being swept up by them and giving up.

One of my favorite apostles is Peter.
I grew to love him especially as I was going through a season in my life where I very much wanted to serve the Lord and do what was right, but I was not on the most solid ground, it seemed that every time I’d make a leap forward, I do something that sent me tumbling right back and my service to the Lord resembled more of a clumsy puppy than a anything else. I wanted so very much to do what was right and I felt so inadequate in the offerings I was making.

In Matthew chapter 14, we read of Christ walking on the water.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

I read that, and can’t you just see it? They see the Savior, on the water and it has to be pretty strange and kind of freaks the apostles out. As soon as he realizes who it is and that it’s okay, Peter wants nothing more than to be near the Savior, right away. I would think that if the Savior had said “jump in the water and swim”, Peter would have done it, he loved Jesus Christ so much and his testimony was so strong.
So Peter leaves the boat and also walks on water to join the Savior.
What a miracle, what an amazing experience.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

For many years I’d read these passages in the Bible and I’d think “well, that’s what happens when you leave the safety of the boat....” But eventually, what stood out most to me wasn’t that moment Peter walked on Water, it was the realization that here he was, in the middle of the sea- walking on water, having the miracle already happen and when he looked about, he got scared. Even with the Savior right by him, it was scary out there. the storms were raging, the wind was blowing and even with the strong foundation he had, it scared him enough that he faltered.
When he faltered, he began to sink.

When our faith falters, we also begin to sink, that sinking tends to be in a spiritual and emotional sense, but when we take our eyes from the Savior, when we start to tell ourselves that the storms around us make up who we are more than the Savior before us, we lose our footing. We lose that confidence and knowledge of who we really are.

When Peter cried out to the Savior, he pulled him up and they walked back to the ship. Peter didn’t just walk on water, he walked on water twice- and one of those times was after he had stumbled, right in front of the Savior, too. There were two miracles that happened to Peter that day, he walked on water, and then he walked on water again. How many times in our lives do we look at where we have come, or something that has happened and we fail to see that the getting up after the fall, the surviving the storm was a great miracle in itself?
It’s a wonderful thing to stand tall and progress when you are focused on the right things and the spirit is helping to boost your confidence.
It is humbling and scary when you go through things or make choices that lead you to stumble and fall. Every single one of us has found themselves stumbling after they thought they had secure footing. Every single one of us has hit the ground hard when we thought we had overcome something or that some trial was behind us and we’d figured it out. For every time you fall, there lies before you the possibility of a completely new miracle and a safe way out of those storms. They will be quieted and you will be able to walk back to the safety and presence of the Savior. You are not so far out to sea, the waves so great and wind so strong that you will be passed over not just for rescue, but for great miracles and blessings in just the next couple of steps.
Turn to him and he will walk with you and you will remember that who you are is not what has happened to you or where you lie your head at night. Who you are is a son or daughter of your father in Heaven and that is who you will always be. There is no trial that has come or will come into your life that changes that.

Life brings hard things, they aren’t kidding when they say it’s a test and sometimes it feels like that test just doesn’t let up. You ask yourself when the trial will end and there are seasons of life when we all find ourselves on our knees simply praying “peace , peace be still.” The storms do rage around us and it is hard, even knowing what we know to step out and follow the Savior, but we can do it- you can do it.

Many years ago, when I was a young mom with just my two small boys, my Parker was 3 and Zane was just a baby we had a housefire. It was a bad one, we were on the news in Phoenix and everything. Parker had been playing just a few feet from me in the next room and had managed to get ahold of a gasoline can near the closet where the water heater was. The room exploded in flames, with my son in it.
The fire was put out quickly, but my little boy was badly burned on his legs and bottom half of his body. There was an ambulance, wondering if he was going to live or die followed by months spent in the hospital ,skin grafts and more.
There were also miracles I witnessed and more tender mercies that I could ever count.
He was in so much pain and as the doctors and nurses tried to help mend his little body, part of the process involved having him get up to walk, in order to help his scarring from being too tight. This was insanely painful, and he was so little. We’d walk the halls of the burn until as best we could with a nurse and he would shake and cry and sweat from the pain.
One day he cried out “I can’t do it! This is just too hard!”
Thankfully, he had a nurse that got crouched down to face my sweet little son and she said “Parker- I know this is hard. This is VERY hard, but it is not TOO hard.”
My son looked at her and said to her “Okay. This is hard, but not TOO hard.” and he took another step and finished his walk. Every day when he’d walk he would say out loud to himself “this is hard, but not TOO hard” and he would keep going.

Parker made it through that ordeal and his wounds healed and one would never know he had ever been through something like that. That fire took a lot from us all, but it also gave us the knowledge that nothing was “too hard” and we could keep moving forward. We were not alone, someone knew how very hard things were and they also knew that we could do it. That someone is with you, through every step and every hour to help you overcome and frelease that heavy burden. He brings relief and he brings joy if you will go to him.

Going back to Peter and Christ on the water. What Christ said to his apostles when they saw him in the sea was (27) “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Even in your dark hours, in your times of trial, have faith and be of good cheer. He iwill help you.

D& C 61 36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;
37 And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.
38 Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.

Bad things happen. People make mistakes and sometimes, life knocks the wind out of you. There are times in life where you mess up and fall on your face and times in your life when it just seems so hard.
They are the experiences in life that will all day be a part of the great story you tell future generations about that one time, when you came to Earth and it was amazing. It is a story that has more chapters that you've actually already written and forgotten and you have so many more to write.
Don’t forget that the story is about your happiness and the joy that can be found through loving the Lord and following His plan.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rainy Days and Birthdays

Yesterday, we hit the city and spent the day in Central Park until the heavens opened up and soaked us to the core. I'd planned ahead and we had dollar store ponchos, but the rain wasn't just a quick passing storm and we got pretty soaked and had to call it a day early.

We saw the Belvedere Castle, a real Egyptian Obelisk and found the Alice in Wonderland Statue. When the rain really started to come down and the kids started to whimper, we realized that there was no way all six kids were going to be able to handle trekking back to the car.

 Sweet Matthew grabbed an umbrella and crossed the huge park and picked us up while we huddled under some scaffolding on 5th avenue on top of a sidewalk grate that had warm air coming up through to warm our frozen toes.

That was a lifesaver and we all had fun just talking as  the rain poured, cars honked and we shook our heads that we got caught in the rain in Central Park.
We may just live out every single movie cliche' we have ever seen this summer, and that's perfectly fine with us.
My layout today was with pictures from our adventure yesterday.

Today is Kate's birthday- she's 15.

Where do the years go with these kids?
There was a YM/YW activity this morning that the kids went to and we opened presents when we got home.
Silly gifts and books from her brothers and sisters and......

Spoiled child got a Nook from Mom and Dad as well.

She was really surprised. She did the same face I do when Matt has shocked me with something I never would have splurged on, the "Is it really what's in the box or are you tricking me?" face.

Since she is one of the kids who is going to be doing a lot of traveling and she reads so much, we figured it was a good time to get her one. Matt set it all up last night so she could use it right away, even though the only book it has on it right now is the Book of Mormon.
We spent the extra 30 bucks and got the model that has a light built in, that's my only real complaint I have with my Kindle, I had to buy the $60 dollar cover in order to have any sort of built in light. Zane has a Kindle as well and I need to just get him the overpriced cover, too. I LOVE my Kindle, Zane loves his as well, but the light issue is a big one on the versions that are e readers only, so Barnes and Noble win the day with that one.
Zane and I share my Amazon account so we can share books and games, when we eventually get the other 'O' girls e readers, we will have them share an account as well so they can share the same library.

Tomorrow we are speaking in church, which would be fine, but Matt and I are really sick. Grey is hacking as well and we tried to just cancel, but they just called two new members of the Bishopric last week and the Bishop is out of town. When we called the new counselor was on a bike ride and wouldn't be back until late tonight and we decided it would be better to have us hacking and hoarse than leave him without any speakers on his first week at the helm. Emma, Kate and Jane are speaking, too so they are going to have their fill of us Olson women. :)

With that said, I'd better get my ideas for my talk out of my head and onto actual paper.
 It's on Strengthening Your Testimony Through Adversity.
 I think I've got plenty of material for this one, LOL.

Friday, July 20, 2012

28 Days Class- 1 & 2

This is going to just be a boring old post about scrapbooking, as opposed to my usual boring old posts about being a full time tourist and feeling homesick.

I started my "28 Days of Sketches" Class at BPS and so far, so good.
The class gives you 28 sketches and the idea is to interpret the sketch and do a layout every day. I've always struggled with sketches because I pressure myself to make the so creative and original that I kind of ruin the whole point of a sketch. I'm not very good at coloring in the lines.
One of my goals is to make sure my layouts follow the sketches in their core design. I need to break out of my rut and the only way to learn something new is to actually DO something new.
I have no hopes of doing 28 layouts in 28 days. My goal is just to do the 28 sketches, even if it takes me a year.
 It's summer break and my days are filled with kids and hiding from the fact that we still have a good 30 boxes to unpack downstairs and in Greyson's room. My priority is spending time with my family, but it has been nice to steal away a couple of quiet hours to myself and work on these.

Sketch 1

My layout

Sketch 2

My layout

This one was harder to do because I over thought it and had to reel myself in a few times as I let myself think so far outside of the box that I wasn't doing the assignment anymore, and the things I was thinking up on my own were not even good.

I am happy with both layouts, I like that they are different and don't fit into my old formula. I like that they have more than one picture on them and yet don't look too busy. I like that I'm using supplies from my stash and mostly, I like that I'm excited about scrapbooking again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On This Night of A Thousand Stars....

Oh what a circus, oh what a show!
When they're bringing the curtain down, demand to go out like Eva Peron....

Yesterday was the big day, our first real Broadway show.
Evita at the Marquis Theater on Broadway.
Have I mentioned yet that it was on BROADWAY?
I've only dreamed of seeing a show there my entire life.
It totally lived up to the dream.

Originally, Grey and Roe were scheduled to spend this week in West Virginia, but something came up and they are staying here, which is great, but we had already purchased tickets to the play and I'm not comfortable leaving the kids home alone for that long, when I'm that far away, so Matt worked from home yesterday instead of going in to the office.
Thank you so much for doing that, Babe.

It was Zane's first trip to that part of the city, he's only done the Staten Island Ferry trip so far and you don't get much more "New York City" that Times Square.

 There was an Indian in underpants getting in trouble with the police. A homeless guy playing the drums on a bucket fighting with another street peddler, people in costume handing out coupons to shows, a guy dressed up like Mario wanting to take pictures with tourists and a bajillion people on the streets.
Chaos, lights, bad smells, great food and people, everywhere.
New York City, baby.

We spent a couple of hours walking in the heat until we were all drenched with sweat. That part wasn't awesome, but it's what you gotta do. We had lunch at a pizza joint that had a basement eating area with cold a/c and we were quite thankful for that, a lot of the cheap-o eateries do not have a/c. It really stinks when it's 100 degrees and humid.
After being touristy and eating we headed over to the theater to pick up our tickets.
I have been told that the cheapest way to see a show is to just show up and wait until an hour before they start and tickets will become available for the unsold seats at a discounted rate, but I wasn't going to take any chances with a group our size.
We were in the second to the last row on the upper balcony, but they were still good seats, way better than some we've had for Salt Lake shows.

We went to a matinee, they cost a little less and are less likely to sell out. They were still pricey, but this isn't something we're going to do very often- at least not with kids. There are a ton of off Broadway shows and local theater is huge here and there will be plenty of things to take kids to that won't be such a big expense.
The staff at the theater was very helpful and absolutely pleasant. You don't find pleasant very often in New York City. Our seats were just fine, we could see everything and make out the faces easily. I think every seat in the house was pretty good, honestly.

Everyone was excited, the music started to play and onto the stage, out comes...Ricky Freaking Martin.
You could hear an audible sigh from the audience.
The crowd was star struck, as were we.
I was never a Menudo fan, but I sure adored him when he had his comeback in the 90's.
The girls weren't sure who he was until the night before the show and they realized he was the Spanish teacher on Glee.

Suddenly, he was relevant to the kids,lol.
And I looked over and all four of the kids had giant smiles on their faces as they listened to the cast sing:
And who is this Santa Evita....

We moved up closer at intermission and were only a few rows from the front on the balcony.
Ricky flubbed one line, but only dorks like me who have Evita memorized noticed, and he made a face when he realized he did it.  It was almost like we had a moment there. He's human, I'm human, we're all human....wait what was I talking about?
Oh yes, our wholesome family activity and NOT my 20 year old crusho n Ricky Martin.

I cried during the scene where Che and Evita dance, as I do every time.

Jane got so into it, when the crowds in the show would cheer, they would crank the sounds of it through the speakers and she didn't realize it was the show, not the audience clapping and cheering and she would join right in. The people behind us were smiling at her, she was so excited and happy.

It was all wonderful and we all were so thrilled to actually be watching famous people in a Broadway show. It's dream come true kind of stuff for nerds like us.

When they show ended, it was pouring rain. The sky was dark and the skies were just dumping. I bought some overpriced umbrellas to try and help, but I finally just grabbed Jane's hand, told the older kids to follow us and we ran through the rain a couple of blocks to the bus terminal.
 We were soaked, but that kind of added to the experience.
Walking down Broadway, in New York City, singing it the rain....kind of perfect.

We caught the bus back to Springfield where Matt met us and picked up five drenched but beaming dorks who could not stop humming Don't Cry for Me Argentina all evening long.

(Every  picture of the show except the crappy blurry one I took was swiped from the internet. They don't let people like me get that close to Mr. Ricky Martin)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scrapbooking and Stick Up Cups

Such a clever, creative title.
I guess there is no book deal for me in the future. ;)

Two more layouts, finished:

 Obviously, I've been doing 'family' layouts from the photo session we had with the Olsons in May, I am working on one more of Mom and Dad and then I have a new layout for each of the 'O' homes.

This one was done from a sketch and it helped me break out of my same design formula, so I signed up for a sketch class at Big Picture Scrapbooking that begins next week.

A month ago, I placed an order for these cups with magnets in them from a company in Utah, Stickupcup.

I'd purchased these cups before and they were great for the kids and saved me from having to wash 8 billion cups in the summer. I ordered one for each kid with plenty of time for them to arrive before the girls got here. They never arrived. My money was collected right away, but there was no sign of the cups.
I contacted the company- nothing. I was very nice and asked what the status of my order was...nothing. I contacted them again and was very nice, but asked for a refund...still nothing.
So, I contacted paypal and filed a complaint and asked that they get me a refund.
Within 48 hours of doing that, my order was shipped.
I know they only sent the order after I complained to paypal because it had actually been two orders and they charged separate shipping for each order, and when they arrived, it was all in one box, no order slip and the shipping for all of the cups was less than what I was charged, but whatever.

And it's really a great product, they cups are heavy plastic and they stick right to the fridge and come in enough different colors that even a huge family can give each kid their own color of cup. There is always a cup within reach and it's a brilliant idea and the kids love them.

They do have a booth at the Quilted Bear in Midvale if you're local so you can avoid the shipping stupidity. If they'd have even sent a note with an 'oops' I would have felt better about them, but if you are thinking about making an online order from them, I'm not the only one who has had problems with orders not being shipped.
 That's too bad because it's a great idea for families with kids.

We finally broke down and set up the pool in the yard. We weren't going to do it because summer is already halfway over, but it's hot and the kids are too content to watch cartoons all day and I can only listen to so many hours of Adventure Time before I start to twitch and go crazy.
Matt and the kids spent an hour+ setting it up and went to turn on the water and discovered that the guy who remodeled the house before we bought it had capped off the spigot and there was no outside water access.
Super annoying.
We ran the hose through the laundry room and the pool is almost filled and we found the capped off line and it should be a simple job, but it's still something we are going to need to hire someone to remedy and it's one of those stupid things you never imagine anyone doing to a house.
I wonder how many things the people who live in out Utah house are finding and saying to themselves "What kind of idiots lived here before us?"

not quite as bad as whatever they did to this house, but it always seems that way to the next person