Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lazy days...

Today I am grateful that I have at least one day a week that I can do whatever I want - which is generally not much. I did accomplish a few things today... swept and mopped the floors and finished putting Christmas up (it only took 3 days); I took a nice hot bath, shopped a little, got lunch to go and relaxed on my couch eating lunch and watching a little TV. I love that I have days that I don't have to run around and be crazy all day. It is so nice to have time to slow down and just take my time in doing whatever I want. I probably do it too often - but that also leads me to be grateful for a wonderful husband who doesn't tell me I should always be doing something. He lets me have my space and do what I want. It is nice to know he is not always judging what I do with my time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It is so fun to have family in the holidays!! Brad and Nikki and family got her on Sunday for the week and Sheri and Brian and family are coming tomorrow. I love when my family comes to visit because I love to watch my kids with their cousins. I love that we all love to be together and make an effort to be together as much as possible even though we all live apart. We are lucky and usually get to see each family at least twice a year. That doesn't seem like a lot - but with all our families growing up and being involved in so many things, it is hard to find the time, but we all do our best to get together. I am grateful that my kids get along so well with their cousins and want to spend time with them. I am grateful that I get along with all of my siblings and in laws and want to spend time with them. I know not every family can say that. I was born into an amazing family and I am truly grateful!!

Monday, November 19, 2012


It has been a long couple of weeks. Between me getting a touch of the stomach flu, to Sabrina falling off her bike and breaking her nose and other things and then Jared having shoulder surgery. I have felt a lot of stress, worry and just generally having to do everything - around the house, driving the kids everywhere, helping Jared as much as I can and just worrying that everything will get done, that I will have the energy to do everything, and worrying that Jared and Sabrina will heal quickly, easily and with as little pain as possible. So, a couple days ago - Saturday - I woke up in not the greatest of moods. I was just tired and frazzled and Gavin and Sabrina woke up early (because they always do on days they don't have to) and immediately started to fight with each other. I had sent them back to bed a couple of times with stern warnings and you could feel the tension in the house already and knew it was going to be a long, hard day. Jared comes in the hallway, takes my arm and leads me to the bedroom and kneels down. We say a prayer together and I of course start to cry. Then he calls Sabrina in and has her kneel down with us and we say a prayer with her asking that she will be able to get along with her brother and be kind. Then we do the same with Gavin. Jared also told each of them to go in their room and pray on their own for the spirit to be with them and help them to be kind to each other and mom and dad. Then, Jared looks at me and asks if I would like a blessing. I generally don't turn down offers like that - even though I didn't really feel the need for one, but thought - it never hurts to have my husband lay his hands (in this case, hand) on my head and give me a blessing. It was a very strong and powerful blessing. Many things I needed to hear and just an almost overwhelming sense of peace came over me. I am so grateful for a husband that gets inspiration to help his wife who sometimes can't see beyond what is happening right then in her life to stop and take time to feel the spirit of the Lord working in her life. I am more grateful then Jared will ever understand or know for what he did for me and our children that day. The power of the priesthood is real and changes lives. Thank you Jared for listening to the prompting to call our family together in prayer and to bless my life through a blessing to hear what the Lord needed and wanted me to hear on that day.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I have not always had consistent visiting teachers. They have always been sweet and nice and I have enjoyed visiting with them, but it has been random for a long time. Today, I had the chance to attend the temple with my visiting teachers and one of the other sisters they visit teach. It was a lot of fun to be in the temple together. To spend this time worshiping God and coming closer to my Savior. I am grateful that they would have the idea of going to the temple together. Thank you Brittany Call and Shanda Adams. I am so grateful to have you as my visiting teachers and I love getting to know you more through these fun outings we do together. Thank you for taking the time each month to visit me and get to know me. I truly appreciate it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Helping hands

As Marci just posted, I had surgery on my right shoulder yesterday. It started out very poorly when i got stuck 5 FREAKING TIMES trying to get an IV line in. It was not a pleasant experience. However, after that things apparently went pretty well. Last night was rough, but i am already in less pain today, so hopefully things will continue to improve quickly.

Typing is painfully slow, so for now I'll just say I'm grateful for modern medicine, and I'm grateful for a family that has been so willing to help me do all the little things that are suddenly so difficult with only my left hand/arm in working order.

The little things...

It has been a tough week or so at our house. 1 - I was sick for 3 days 2- Sabrina tried to stop her fall off her bike with her face 3 - Spent 6 hours at the ER 4- Spent 30 minutes at the oral surgeon trying to convince her to let him pull her tooth that was dangling by a thread. 5 - Jared had surgery on his right shoulder. Therefore, can't do ANYTHING with his good arm/hand 6 - I did NOT sleep well last night. I was up from midnight to nearly 4:30am. But, here is what I am grateful for this morning: 1 - Sabrina does not need surgery of any kind. Everything is healing well. 2 - One day after going to the oral surgeon - Sabrina's tooth falls out on it's own. 3 - She is not afraid to ride her bike again. But, seems to realize that she doesn't have a choice on whether to wear a helmet. 4 - Jared's surgery went well. There was not any damage to the bicep muscle, so they were able to repair the labrum and close up. 5 - They also did a branch blockage so that he should not feel pain for the first 24 hours. He hated that he couldn't feel his right shoulder/arm/hand AT ALL - but I think that is a blessing. Basically, there are still things to be grateful for even in the tough times. And the last thing I am grateful for this morning is that I get to go back to bed as soon as I can get my kids off to school! :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

My lovely wife

Tonight I am grateful for my wife. I cannot believe how I managed to get so lucky as to convince her to marry me. She is more beautiful and more precious to me every day. My life is immeasurably improved every day that I get to spend with her.

I mention this particularly today because tomorrow I am going in for some minor surgery on my shoulder. I"m not looking forward to it. I'm further dreading what Marci will have to do to take care of me while I am recovering. She has had to go through a lot in the last week, and she will have to do a lot more work for the next couple of weeks as well.

I'm also certain that she will continue to serve our family with the consistent patience and love that I stand in awe of on a daily basis.

I cannot adequately express how grateful I am for her love and her companionship.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

An evening with wonderful friends

After stake conference today we invited some of our favorite people in the world over for dinner and family home evening. Devin & Miya (soon to be) Holladay and Ryan & Nichole Dixon. We are so blessed to have these wonderful people in our lives. I am so grateful for the happiness that they have all found in their lives and for sharing it with us.

I will not give a complete run-down of the evening, suffice it to say that we were able to draw closer together as friends, share our testimonies with each other and make plans for more spiritual experiences in the future.

Honestly, I don't think we could ask for better friends or to have better examples of valiant young couples in our home as examples for our children. What a fantastic blessing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Facebook can be a blessing

Today was a bit of an unusual day. Not much really happened, but we were able to get quite a bit accomplished nevertheless. I think we were all still a bit stressed out from the whole emergency room thing and we just needed a day to decompress.

However, this weekend was also Stake Conference, and a regional conference to boot. I spent my Saturday afternoon going to the Priesthood leadership session, and then we sat together at the adult session that night. It was a spiritual feast and I'm very happy that we were able to go.

One thing, however, that I'm particularly grateful for is Facebook. Through that social network we were able to communicate with our friends and family what was occurring with Sabrina and all the events concerned with that. Over the course of the next day all of our friends took the time to stop by or to call us and ask us how Sabrina was doing and if they could help. At stake conference I was quite surprised by the number of people that asked about her, many of whom we really don't know as well as we would like.

I hope it doesn't sound egocentric and/or self-centered to speak about all the concern for our family expressed by others, because the reason I mention it at all is to share how wonderful it was to see how many people really do care about our family. We don't really need any help, and the concern of others isn't something we go out of our way to procure, but it is still wonderful to see that there are so many people who go out of their way to look out for us when we experience some minor trauma.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Resetting the ol' priority list

This has been a difficult week. Marci has been sick most of the week, Sabrina broke her face, we only have the one car (which, I cannot emphasize enough, stinks), because of the various goings-on I was unable to attend my choir rehearsals (which also stinks), further compounding all of that are the financial hits we're taking that we really just cannot afford right now.

Wrap it all up together, and it could have been a better week.  Marci said it best as we were talking about it, we feel like we simply "survived" the week.

However, there is one good thing to come out of all of it: I have realized how much of a slacker I am. By focusing on what is wrong I have lost focus on what is right. I have not adequately tried to remain grateful for, or even look closely for, the things that I am blessed with. This is a grave error on my part and certainly contributed to being less happy than I would have liked - even in the face of difficulty.

Therefore, today I am grateful for my trials. Not because I want them or any other foolish notion like that. I am grateful for them because they highlight the good things that I have in my life. They remind me that I need to focus on those good things. Unsurprisingly, the good things are the most stable and the least likely to cause  difficulty or sadness. I shouldn't be just "surviving" but finding joy anywhere it is available.

I'm grateful that there are things in this life that bring me joy under any circumstances.

Tender Mercies during a bad day...

Wow - yesterday wasn't the best of days. It started off fine - I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned and then Jared and I went to the temple and that was nice. Got home just in time for the little kids to get home from school and then I went to pick up Caleb from school. About 10 minutes after I returned from getting Caleb - I could hear Sabrina in the garage screaming and and I jumped up just as she opened the door to come in holding her nose and mouth with blood everywhere. I grabbed her and put her in the bathtub. I won't go through all the details of the rest of the evening since that is not what this blog is for. The end result being that she fractured her nose and upper maxillary. Here are the tender mercies that I can see from this not so good day. 1 - Because of her CP she doesn't feel pain as much as most of us do. So, she is in very little pain and doesn't require the pain medicine they gave us at the hospital. 2 - I am grateful it wasn't worse. It does not require surgery and that is a huge blessing (although I know she would come through like a champ). She also could have fallen on the back of her head and it would have been very bad. 3 - I have amazing friends that would all drop whatever they are doing to help me and my family. 4 - The ability to watch Caleb and see how much he cares for her and worries about her. I mentioned that I might sleep on the floor of her room for the night just to make sure she was okay and he chimed in and said he would do it. That he would watch out for her. It melted my heart. 5 - My amazing parents - my mother gives me all the love and support I could need and would drop everything to help us. And my father how always is more then generous with his money and helps us out when he knows we are struggling so much. We never have to ask. 6 - Friends that were out to ice cream for another friends birthday that thought to bring some home for me. :) 7 - A Heavenly Father that keeps me calm when I need to be for my daughter. 8 - Family members that care enough to check up on Sabrina. Just the fact that they would take the time to check on her, touches me. I am grateful that I can see tender mercies during the not so good days!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not a good night

Tonight was not a good night. Sabrina fell off her bike at about 3:00 in the afternoon and face planted pretty badly. After a moment of understandable panic while blood was dripping everywhere we noticed that her upper lip and gums were cut up pretty badly and one of her front teeth looked to be in pretty bad shape. We took Sabrina to her dentist and he said that since the tooth was only a baby-tooth it wasn't much of an emergency, but he thought there could be additional damage and recommended that we go to the emergency room.

After several hours there we discovered that she had, in fact, fractured her nose (thankfully the fractures were not displaced) as well as her upper maxillary (upper jaw bone). Neither appear to be serious fractures, but are nevertheless something to keep our eyes on.

We are all very grateful that it wasn't any worse. She wasn't wearing a helmet at the time - despite repeated warnings - and had she fallen more on head and less on her face we would probably be looking at a very serious skull fracture and concussion.

Earlier in the day Marci and I went to the temple and as I was leaving I went to write down some names to put on the prayer rolls. There were several names that I always put down and I was trying to think if there were anyone else and it occurred to me to put Sabrina's name down. I know that her name wouldn't have been on the official roles after just a few hours, but I still can't help but be grateful that she will now have the support of all of the prayers of those that attend the temple for the next few days.

As soon as the word was out that Sabrina was at the hospital getting tested many friends called to see if they could do anything to help. Tiffany walker came by to get a phone charger for my wife's phone that was about to die, and while she was here asked if there was any food she could bring to her since she was probably hungry - something I hadn't thought of. Mary Davis came by with some Mesa FroYo just to be nice since there were others out that night and they were thinking of Marci and Sabrina. Still other friends offered to come and watch our boys in case I wanted to go down to the hospital to be with Sabrina.

So...despite not having a pleasant night, and despite the fact that this whole episode will set us back financially by somewhere between $500 - $700, and despite the fact that all I could think about for several hours was how stupid the night had been and how much our life sucks right now...the generosity and caring attitudes of good friends helped me see that there are lots of things to be grateful for. This is just one more bump in the road.

I'm grateful today for loving family and friends who through their generosity and service bless our lives in innumerable ways.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hiking with the kids

Marci remains sick. This is not a good situation. To compound the problem, all of our kids got out of school early today. Yikes! To help mitigate the situation I decided to take the kids on a short hike in the Superstitions. Nothing fancy, just a little trek along the Siphon Draw trail. We had a really fun time overall. We ended up hiking just under 4 miles round trip and everyone was just fine the whole time.

During the course of the hike I learned a couple of important things as well. Lesson the first: Let Sabrina set her own pace. I was walking with her the whole time and I thought I was going slow enough for her. However, as it got steeper on the trail I noticed that she was really breathing hard. She wasn't complaining or having difficulty keeping up, quite the contrary, it was just a lot of work for her. So, I slowed down even further and let her take a pace she was comfortable with and - Presto! - all of a sudden she is doing MUCH better. It was pretty cool. I don't mind walking that slowly either. If it means that my little girl is able to hike a little better and have better endurance without killing herself, I'm all for it. It is the journey that is important at this stage for her.

Lesson the second: I need to buy water bladders and backpacks for all the kids. It is ridiculous how often they need to stop for water. They can play outside, running around or riding bikes and scooters, ALL DAY and not even THINK about water. But, when we go on a hike, all of a sudden we have to be drinking pretty much non-stop. It's pretty dang annoying. Especially when you have 4 people and only two backpacks with water. Therefore, I gotta make the investment.

The thing I am most grateful for is how much my kids love hiking. They practically begged me to go once I mentioned the idea. They absolutely LOVE getting out on the trail and having fun climbing rocks and so forth. They are also all healthy and strong enough to be able to go hiking and the little kids are just getting better all the time. I don't even stress over Sabrina as much as I used to (although she still stresses me out on occasion).

So, I'm grateful for healthy, happy kids who love going out and cavorting about on hiking trails with me.

Truly good times.

Living Prophets

Today I am grateful to have a living prophet and apostles that I can rely on and follow. I will get my guidance from them and follow what they have to say in the coming days, weeks, months and years ahead. They are the true leaders. They are the leaders we NEED to follow and they are the ones God wants us to follow. If you put your trust in them and follow their guidance and act as they would tell us to act - we will be okay. We will be more than okay. We will be doing what the Lord wants us to do. That is all that we can do. Follow the Lord.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooperative kids once more

It's been a very frustrating day and I'm not feeling particularly happy or grateful about many things today (and that is totally outside of any other major events like elections or anything else). Marci has been sick all day today and it hasn't been easy on anyone and least of all her. I suppose I should be grateful that we live in a country where we can vote and enjoy many freedoms that are denied other peoples of other countries, but when the wife is sick - it's just kind of hard to focus on anything else. However, our children have recognized the unfortunate circumstance of their mothers ill health and have been acting rather nicely and listening to what we ask them to do. I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'm grateful while it does.

So, today I'm grateful for little things like children who cooperate a little more when they recognize that they need to.

Sometimes mom needs a time out....

Jared has already posted about me going to Time Out For Women last weekend. I am grateful that he allows me to do this each year. TOFW celebrated it's 10th year in Phoenix and I have been to at least 7 or those 10 years. Probably more that I can't remember. This is something that I love and really look forward to. I always joke that I just need to get away from my kids for a couple of days, but it is more that I need to recharge myself and learn and grow a little more than once a week at church. The opportunity to have a Friday night and all day Saturday to sit and be spiritually uplifted in a fun environment just makes me happy. There is just something about being with 4000+ women listening to sometimes cheesy rock/church music and motivational speakers that puts me back in a happy place. This TOFW was extra special because of the friends I was able to share it with. I bought a ticket for Alisha for her birthday and she flew in for the weekend to go and to hang out with me. All I can say about that is that I miss her terribly and I wish she would move home!! But, that is probably not going to happen so I will take all the times I can get with her. We laughed, talked serious about life, and laughed some more. I just love her and feel blessed to have her friendship in my life even from a distance. We are kindred spirits and that is a true blessing you don't find everyday. The other friend that I love to hang out with and got to spend TOFW with was Tiffany. She is another special friend I am blessed to have in my life. I will truly miss her when she moves away. I learned a lot of wonderful things last weekend and hope to remember them and change myself for the better. Thank you Jared for allowing me this time to reconnect with old friends, continue to build those relationships and to find myself.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Enjoying a hobby with friends

This evening we got to go and do some wedding photography with some good friends of ours. It was a delightful way to spend an evening. They are both beautiful people who have such a sweet spirit about them and it was fun to capture a little of that with a camera.

I really do love doing the photography thing. It's been fun for me and a great way to find a creative outlet. It satisfies the geek and the artist in me all at the same time. It can also be combined with any of my various other passions in life, hiking, family, friends....all with compelling results.

So, tonight I'm grateful that I've found a hobby that I not only get to enjoy on a very personal level, but that I get to share with others.

P.S.: My posts have been a little short recently. It's been kind of hard to write about things recently. I think I just haven't been paying close enough attention. I've gotten a little lazy about looking for the blessings in my life, and I've gotten a little lazy about writing them down. But, perseverance is key. I hope that this week I'll be able to return to form and keep things moving along nicely.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sundays are fun

It may sound occasionally like I might complain about how much I have to do on Sundays, and I do have a lot to do: meetings from roughly 7:00 - 10:00 every week, with occasional meetings going more towards the 11:00 slot, then choir for an hour then home for about 45 minutes or so, then church, then counting the tithes and makes for a busy day. But in all honesty it really can be quite enjoyable most of the time. 

As part of my responsibilities I get to know most everyone in the ward, and that can be a real treat. We have some really good people in our ward and it is a true honor and pleasure to know them and work with them. I also get the pleasure of doing certain small things like doing temple recommend interviews - that is a particular treat. Then there are the Sundays when I get to conduct in Sacrament Meeting on Fast Sunday and I get to bear my testimony. It is always a joy to be able to share my conviction with others.

Overall, Sundays are always a blessing in my life. I don't explicitly recognize it often enough, but it really is a day I look forward to and it is a day that is always rewarding in some small way.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cooperation from the kids

I posted about it yesterday, but Marci was gone for most of this weekend. Usually this is a bit of a problem for me. It isn't till she is gone that I realize how completely I rely on her patience and experience when dealing with the kids. I just don't deal with them as effectively. Caleb and I do alright, but I have trouble with the younger kids and understanding how to best communicate with them.

This weekend though, the kids were pretty dang good for me. Everything went along very well, they did what they were supposed to do with a minimum of fuss and there weren't any fights or even anything of note to mention.

If any of you had ever watched me work with our kids when Marci was away, you would know how much of a miracle that really was. I'm very grateful for it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Time for the wife

This weekend Marci gets to do something that she looks forward to every year: Time-Out for Women. It is essentially a women's conference sponsored by Deseret Book. She loves going and re-charging her spiritual batteries. Usually she will go with a fairly good-sized group of friends and they will all get a hotel room or two (or 3, or 4) and stay Friday night together.

This particular time around Marci is particularly happy because her best friend is coming in from Vegas to hang out with her. Alisha Brandon is here for the weekend and will be staying with us till she goes home on Sunday. I'm not sure which Marci is more excited about, going to the conference, or hanging with Alisha. I know our kids are excited to see her.

So, today I am grateful for my wife having the opportunity to go and spend some personal time doing something she enjoys and looks forward to, and I'm grateful for all of her friends that help make it such a fun experience for her.

Have fun, babe. Oppa Mormon-style!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's a surprise!

Not really. It's about singing. Shocker, I know.

It is no secret that I love singing. I am highly addicted to it and feel the need to participate in organized singing at least once a week, more if possible. I went for a year or two without singing here and there since I've been married and after a while even Marci was telling me I needed to get back to doing it regularly.

The interesting part for me is that I have no idea what I sound like. I've heard recordings of my voice and I am personally of the belief that I sound like a total dweeb. I recognize that I have some skill in matching the tone of others around me (which is one of the reasons my choir directors like having me around - I can blend well with nearly any voice), and I can sight-read reasonably well, I know that I"m generally on pitch, I learn music pretty quickly and I also know that I have plenty of vocal power when needed.

All of that just means that I'm a good singer in your average choir.

Tonight I had the pleasure of two little boosts to my ego. Dr. Bennett arranged us in a "mixed" configuration for a couple of songs and Carol came over to sit next to me. She said, "I never get to sit next to you, Jared, so this will be fun!" We've sung together for a long time, so I thought she was simply talking about sitting next to an old friend. When we got done with one of the songs she immediately was practically jumping out of her chair saying, "Ooooh! I just LOVE listening to you cool!" I was more than just a bit surprised. I hardly expected that reaction.

Later, I was asked to do a short solo as part of preparation for an opera we're singing in. I did my thing and a couple of different people said things like "SO beautiful!" - WOW! Again, hardly the expected response - I thought of myself as more filling up vocal space and wasn't really focused on creating beautiful music. I don't mean that from false modesty either; as much as I love singing I'm usually genuinely surprised that people like my voice. Marci tells me that all the time, but she's my wife so I can't trust her judgement ;) So, despite the small ego-trip that this might appear to be, I felt genuinely blessed tonight that others felt some joy at hearing me sing. I don't often get that kind of feedback and it was very precious to me.

So, today I'm thankful that I have been given the gift of singing, but not just the ability to sing, but also the gift of having a voice that others seem to enjoy. That kind of encouragement goes a long way in helping me to be excited every chance I get to go and sing some more.


I am lucky that I get to go help in my children's classrooms a couple times a month. I love going into their classes and watching them interact with their friends, and teacher and listen to how well they are doing in school. It is a blessing that I get to go help. But, I am most thankful for wonderful, amazing, caring, dedicated teachers. We have been fortunate with our children's teachers throughout the years. They have all had amazing teachers that challenge them, teach them not only the things they need to learn in the classroom, but they teach them how to be good people, good citizens, good classmates. They teach them many life skills that they will use throughout their lives. Teachers are amazing people. It takes an extra caring person to become a teacher. They have a very hard job. It requires long hours with little pay and they deal with a lot from kids, parents, staff, government, etc. Now that Caleb is in Junior high, I don't know his teachers well at all. I met each of them once before school started, but that is all. And unless they call me in for a parent teacher conference, that is probably all I will ever meet them. But, Gavin and Sabrina still have several years ahead of them where I will be able to get to know their teachers by helping in their classroom. This year they both have wonderful teachers. I couldn't ask for better teachers for both of my children. When I am in their classroom, I am impressed with how they teach, how they handle the class, and especially the children who are struggling. They have such patience for these children and truly want the best for them. I love to hear at parent teacher conference how much that teacher loves my child. It makes me feel good to send them to school for most of their day. I know they are in great hands and are getting the very best from their teacher. So, thank you Mrs. Stumpfig and Mrs. Tellman for the countless hours, smiles, hugs and love you give to my children. It does not go unnoticed!!