Thursday, August 22, 2013

Palmyra Pictures

I'm a sucker for historical sites.
One of my favorite things about living here is that I am surrounded by history, everything has an old and personal story. Growing up, I longed to travel and see the places where not just amazing events took place, but where you could see evidence of the ordinary and every day from days  long past.
Because we had so much amazing company this year, we decided we were not going to take any trips this summer. Zane and Kate had Trek, Grey was going to West Virginia for 2 weeks and it was already a great deal of "do." As August approached, though, we had a change of heart and we wanted to go somewhere as a family and make a memory for ourselves. This is the last summer before Zane will leave for his mission and you all know I'm going crazy trying to cling to every day that the kids are still here. We needed to go and do something new together.
We decided to go to Palmyra.
Palmyra, New York is about 4 1/2 hours away, for those who are not LDS, it is the place where Joseph Smith lived as a boy, where he went into a grove of trees and prayed to know which church he should join. God, The Father, appeared to him as did Jesus Christ and they spoke to him, telling him that all of the churches had some parts of the truth, but none contained the fullness of the gospel.
Later on, Joseph would be visited by an angel, named Moroni, who would teach and instruct him in ways to have the church that Christ set up and put together restored to the Earth.
It is in Palmyra, on the Hill Cumorah, that Joseph Smith was instructed to collect the Plates of Gold, from which we are blessed with The Book of Mormon.
Near Palmyra is a town called Fayette. In Fayette, at the home of a man named Peter Whitmer, the church was formally organized and so began the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We started off our visit by attending the temple together as a family. With Romy turning 12, we were able to attend with everyone there and it was her first time doing baptisms. It will forever be one of my best, most special memories- being at the temple together as a family. We were minus two, but everyone who was with us, was in attendance. 

We met a Sister Missionary who helped me get my family names ready and helped us figure out all of the places we should see while we were in town. 
The first tourist site was the Smith Family Farm.

We did the tour, followed by a walk in the Sacred Grove. 
What a beautiful place. 
Under the canopy of green leaves with the sun shining though as the breeze causes the lights to flicker and make everything feel almost alive in the peaceful setting of the grove, I could understand why someone would choose this place to pray. There are benches in every quiet nook of the grove, where people are encouraged to take a quiet moment to themselves and we each took advantage of that. 

We went to the Grandin Printing Press after that, where we ran into the Sister Missionary who we'd met in the temple. She gave a great tour and we not only learned a lot, but we made a new friend in Sister Heyn. After a walk down the quaint main street, we were ready to call it a day.

The next day, we went to Hill Cumorah and looked out on the beautiful valley. The kids caught frogs and chased each other on the grounds. 

After lunch we hit the road and went to the Whitmer farm. As we were pulling up, we saw that our new friend, Sister Heyn was just starting her shift as tour guide there and we were all very excited to have her teach us about the history of the farm, as it was clearly a place that was very dear to her heart.  She was right about it being a place you should not miss if you are out in the area. There is a lot of original artwork in one wing of the LDS chapel there and the grounds are stunning.

She told us that before we left we just HAD to go stop by the Amish run store up the road, that they had great candy. We were a little hungry so we stopped by....for two hours. Oops. They had an incredible assortment of candy and they also had a yard that had a bunch of handcrafted rocking chairs and gliders, porch swings and sheds. The kids tried out every glider and swing and eventually gathered on one dual swing under a gazebo and just talked while Matt and I looked at the sheds. Each person picked out a treat to share.

The day was finished with swimming in the freezing pool and then one more trip to the temple, after dark, so we could see the light shining though the stained glass windows. 

We had a wonderful time and it was a nice family adventure to end the summer with. 
I'm a lucky, lucky Mom and wife.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why Yes, I am a Flibbertygibbert

I am still very very sad today, but not as sad as yesterday.
I was so sad yesterday I almost cut my hair.
Because I am 40 now and I am very old and wise I knew from experience that every time I cut my hair when I am upset, it makes me feel better for about one or two days.
 It's the same thing with getting new pets.
One or two days it makes everything feel better and then I am mad at myself and stuck with a big hairy crap-fest for what feels like forever.
I have no business cutting my hair when I am not feeling okay, but the urge  is hard to fight sometimes.
I could never get a tattoo, even though some part of my brain thinks I am totally a baddie like that.
I know a haircut is not the same as a tattoo, but I still have regretted every haircut I got when I was unsettled or emotional, even if they looked super awesome.
I told myself that if I still wanted to chop it all off in a week, then I could splurge and go to a nice salon  and have a day of pampering, but I could NOT grab scissors and hack it off myself, Britney Spears style.
I made bread instead.
Sanity prevails.....this time.
But I could totally pull this off.
I've pinned it for later, just in case.
I went to find my favorite old recipe and I have misplaced it.
Thankfully, that recipe is on a DVD I have, made by Dear Bonnie Hamilton in Jerome, Idaho.
I've blogged about Bonnie before, and hearing her voice, seeing her face in her old kitchen felt like just the hug I needed yesterday and even though I still bawled and moped and had an extremely hard day- some Bonnie time was good for me.
I made 4 loaves of super hearty and healthy whole wheat bread.
Excuse the mess, but I kneaded it all by hand like a pioneer rock star.
I am not going to post the recipe, because Bonnie sells it with her DVD and it helps fund her retirement.
When Sandy hit, we had no power for 10 days and my deep freezer stayed frozen the entire time. One of the reasons was because it was packed full.
When we heard the storm would be bad, I took the 2 liter bottles from the food storage and also filled up some ziplock bags with water to help the freezer stay cold as long as possible. It worked like a charm, nothing even thawed out. The ice didn't even melt very much.
I would like to have the freezer packed with food though, not just water to fill the empty spaces and so I have set a goal to have it full by the time winter comes. I want to make 12 loaves of this bread and have it in there by week's end.
Those freezer meals have been great. I am so glad I did them.
We still eat out way too much, but they have been really handy this summer and we still have about 5 left in the freezer.
My family has had two favorites, Café Rio Like Chicken and Pesto Chicken
The café rio chicken recipe is everywhere on the internet these days. It has Italian seasoning and powdered ranch dressing. You can't miss it on Pinterest and all of the recipes are the same.
 We serve it over salad and tortilla chips with shredded cheese.
My kids could eat it every day.
The Pesto Chicken was served over pasta noodles that I cooked 15 minutes before dinner.
My recipe isn't exact.
5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts if you are not cheap-o like me) cut into chunks
2 TB pesto
1 TB minced garlic (not dry)
1/2 C artichoke hearts
2 cups liquid (water, veg or chicken broth)
dash of onion salt
dash or two of salt
Crock pot that baby on low all day.
Add to 1 box cooked pasta and add 1 cup parmesan cheese
Serve with garlic bread and your kids will tell you that you are a fancy mom and they won't even notice that it has nasty artichoke hearts in it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'm not Up to Being Strong

I have to get out of my bed.
I have to stop crying my eyes out.

Matt took the girls to the airport, they're headed back to Utah and I'm dying all over the place.

Sometimes, 'goodbye' feels like 'till we meet again' and sometimes, it rips your soul out and leaves your heart in chunks all over the place.
This one is a hard one.

Stupid, horrible, necessary but sucky... loss.

This summer, something was returned to our family and nearly every day, the seven of us practically absorbed each other. Family was seamless and effortless this summer and we could not get enough of just being together.

 We didn't feel this way last summer, we didn't over Christmas. I think part of the reason was that we were having our shock and awe experience of being in New Jersey.
This summer, I was just Mom and Matt was just Dad.
The kids were brother and sister and Romy got to enter a season of being a Young Woman with two big sisters who loved her and wanted to be with her. Zane reconnected with his sisters and in all of this reconnecting, it felt more whole than it was during some of the seasons of our lives.

We felt the clear absence of our Parker and Emma and we wanted them with us, but we also took care of one another and loved each other.

 It was a good, good summer.
 I did not want it to end.
My heart feels as though it is being stomped on and ripped apart with the knowledge that I won't just walk around the corner and my Katie is there, that my Janie is not here. 
Tomorrow I will start to catalogue the memories in my heart and put my feelings in the proper places, but today, I have projectile soul vomiting and I just cannot stop crumbling to the ground, crying.
I hate hate hate hate hate being far away from my children.
This is by leaps and bounds the hardest thing in my life right now.
This is the part I wonder if I can really do, and today- I just don't know how.

You moms with little ones- it is so cliche' but the years are so short and one day the house is quiet and I'm sure it will get better, I believe it will get better but on days like today, when my children are so far away from me and I do not know when we will be together again... Today, I think this is what hell will sound like. No screaming and wailing, no bombs and exploding fires- Hell will be a quiet place. A quiet pace where you cannot hear your loved ones. Hell will be a place where they are not and never will be again.
My children will come back. We will see Parker again in a month and the girls in November. We will be together again in no time and I still have three that are here every single day. I am blessed and lucky, even though my heart is breaking today.
It reminds me though, that I want to always live my life so that one day, I can take comfort in knowing that I can see my loved ones again, that it will not be silent, that my walls will be filled with memories and stories and the laughter and teasing of my children forever.

It's all so very real and clear with this tiny taste of what it would be like if I turned my back on the things that matter most and miss out on being an eternal family.  I can deal with the loss, I can cry my tears and wet my pillow today, but I am going to make darn sure that I do all I can so that the quiet and the loss is only an issue of miles- and miles are an Earthly problem. 

Don't be offended if I don't answer the phone or respond to texts or emails this week. I'm a mess and my sweet husband is a mess, too. Romy has been crying already a lot as well. This goodbye business is terrible on our tender hearts.

Is it over yet?
I'm tired of having to say goodbye.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Post with Pictures of Pictures

Greyson is super sick.
He's been coughing all night and he has almost no voice today.
I am home with him while everyone else is at church. Zane is still in Arizona, so Matt took Roe, Kate and Jane. It's been a long time since it was just Matt and three daughters at church.
That seemed like a million years ago when I was dating that single dad and all but one of our seven kids were in Primary together.

It is so weird- this growing up thing that my children do. 
They are all still babies when I look at them.

Yesterday, I had a Craft Morning with my friends, Tara and Terri.
We had to cut it short, but late last night, Jane and  I went back to the table, grabbed the scissors and glue and actually finished a couple of layouts.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Last night Matt had bad dreams.
Maybe our house is haunted.
It's an 85 year old house that once served as a dorm for the boys attending a Jewish school that had been next door. They shut it down because they had over 20 kids here and at the time, the size of the house was about half what it is now.
Maybe the spirits of those kids (none of which died or anything) are poking at out brains as we sleep.
I don't know.
All I know is that lately, I have been entirely too bleeeeeah.
for those of you that endured my heavy post yesterday as well as those who said "TLDR" and waited until my medication kicked in- here ya go:

Oh Yesssss!!!
Back at The Unique!!!
Rock on Baby!!! Limozeen is in da houssssse!

Baby's first jackhammer.
Seriously WHY?

It's not gross because it's purple.
It's not gross because it's nostrils are big enough to park a hot wheels in.
It's gross because it has an outie.
Some things you just can't unsee. I'm sorry.

Like this guy:

Normally I don't take pictures of the fine folks who share my love of Unique, but this guy had his dead mother or something in the shopping cart as he looked through the Stephen King novels.
Somewhere, there's a hooker in a freezer who is missing her 9:00 appointment.

I think This is the actual Last Unicorn.

Thank you Optimus Prime, now  Mommy has  head lice.

Wanna snuggle?

Go home Teddy Bear Lamp, you're drunk.
(Yes, I am going to do a 'go home you're drunk' in EVERY Unique post.)

"Oh Skipper, you're so dope! You totally rocked the dance floor when they played the radio edit version of that inappropriate song at the church dance, Girlfriend!"

All of the jokes I have for this will probably get me disfellowshipped or called into cub scouts. 

Drink your juice, Timmy or else the nice clown is going to EAT YOUR FACE!!!!!

Nothing shows the kids on the playground that you're a total baddie like eating your PB&J that Mommy made you while sippin' apple juice from your Eminem Thermos.

Teddy Ruxpin...the night before he lost everything when he bet it all on red. 
He hasn't been seen since.

The "reasons why we're divorced" music collection.