Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 6

As we were driving home on Sunday we took the time to stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. There is a great Civil War Memorial there.  I thought it would be a great place to stop for lunch and get out of the car for 30 minutes or so, well that turned into 2 plus hours. 
When the Union won this city it was a turning point because it divided the Confederate states. 
I have ready books and seen some other battlefields but it is so different when you actually stand on the ground where men and boys gave their lives fighting for their home, families and beliefs. 
It was just big open fields with mounds or dirt to protect them. There was a sign that described the different types of cannonballs used and what damage they could do. War is ugly, brutal, primal even and yet it is essential- there was a war in heaven even. 
In the upper R hand corner the kids are looking over a battlefield. 3 of the smaller ones show the kids standing near or above a tunnel that was dug through a hill so the Union could better attack the Confederates. The large monument with my family standing at the top has the names of so many soldiers listed on the inside. 
 This is an ironclad (ironsides) ship used in the battle named the USS Cairo. It was sunk and then it was pulled out of the Mississippi and partially restored so that the original shape and size could be appreciated. The iron was all original. In the museum next to it they had dishes, bottles, clothes, weapons and other things that were pulled up with it. There was a video that explained how a torpedo (not like we use today) was used to sink it. Fascinating!
 There is a national cemetery there and it was so peaceful, even reverent.  It was started during the Civil War and was not closed until 1961. There are 17,000 Civil War soldiers buried there and 75% are unknown. This made me cry. My heard ached for those men whose names may not be found until the Savior comes again and so there temple work can not be done. There is some great information if you want to go here.
It was a fabulous stop on our long drive home. Peter and I have decided we will head east again someday and visit more Civil War sites and some plantations. 

These final pictures are  of some of the silliness that took place during our stay with the Wood's.  For that many people in a smaller space it was amazing how well it went. Ryker was champ at sharing his toys. We look forward to visiting the Wood family wherever they end up in a few months. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 5

This was the most amazing day!
Stone Mountain is a really large outdoor park and entertainment place. 
You pay a fee up front and then you can do all sorts of things: ropes course, massive play area for kids, water play are for kids, mini golf, train ride, gondola/tram ride, laser light show (in the summer), plantation tour, hiking, and other things. We all loved it and if we lived there we would totally have a season pass!
 First, Lindsay and Brady were kind enough to watch the girls while we took the boys on the ropes course. I was so very proud of the boys. It was not easy and you traveled from 12 feet to 24 feet to 26 feet in the air. The boys each had their tough parts but they did it! Peter has decided that he will never be a professional tight rope walker. 
 The had a kids ropes course that Arabella had a great time playing on. Lily was content to watch the happenings of everyone around her. 
 Jon was the only one from our family to climb the rock wall but Lindsay rocked it!
 Arabella on the kids ropes course. She had no fear on the zip line at the end.
The name of this place comes from the large stone mountain featured behind us.  It is huge! If you look closely you can see that there is a horse that one of the men is sitting on a horse.  Well you could fit two full length school buses on the horses back behind the man. It is big like Mount Rushmore big. It was so much fun to spend the day with the Wood family doing and seeing these fun things. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 4

Written by Peter since he joined us on Friday morning Yippee!
Yellow River Ranch...
They say it's like a zoo but better. I was excited and then let down when I wasn't issued my firearm; isn't that the only way to make a zoo better is to hunt it?
Aside from the lack of shooting and skinning we all had a blast. Lily enjoyed looking at the animals from a distance. Whenever we brought her close to them she got a little nervous except for the poor bunnies which almost got loved to death. The other kids had fun feeding the animals and trying to find one that would eat the radishes. They finally found one goat that would.
It really was fun and we enjoyed hanging out with Brady, Lindsay, Ryker and Grayson.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I could not let today pass without recording some of the thoughts and feelings I have had this week.
Seventeen years ago today I nearly died.
My friend Ryan did die that day and the impact of that experience on my life is nearly impossible to fully explain. But this week the days and dates have matched that of 17 years ago and since I was 17 when it happened my heart and mind has been turned to that time.
On my birthday, 17 years ago Peter showed up to my house for a study group with a homemade baked cheesecake to celebrate. He also gave me a silver ring made from a silver quarter. I have worn that ring almost as much as my wedding ring and probably more since I have had it longer. It is beautiful and simple and he put his love into it, love that I was not aware of yet.
I do not remember too much more about that week except that we did not have school on the 18th due to end of term or something like that and the weather was beautiful that day. I spent it playing at the park with some friends. 
Saturday morning, a snow storm had arrived and it was a cold day but perfect for snowmobiling. I was not aware but my mom had a very uneasy feeling that day and could not shake it. She prayed twice with my dad that morning and she prayed multiple times on her own. She has always been so spiritually in tune and that day was not different. 
Four of us headed out that day and there were several events that took place that seemed odd but we were young and we just rolled along and enjoyed ourselves.
 I will never forget being surrounded by darkness but with light as well and hearing Ryan saying my name. He was telling me I needed to wake up and calling my name over and over. I opened my eyes and that was all that I could do at first but I soon realized that Ryan was not there as I had thought. He was still unconcious several feet away from me. 
I will not forget thinking just before I opened my eyes that I was not ready to die and to meet my maker and that this made me sad for a very long time. 
I will never forget that he did wake up and he did come to me and then he collapsed and he did not move again.
I will never forget hearing and seeing cars that could not see me. I could hear voices of people but they could not see me or hear me. 
I will not forget the relief I felt when we were found. Or when others, a scout troop and their leader, came and helped in oh so many ways-be prepared came to mean something so much more to those boys and to me that day. 
I will not forget the weird man that drove the snowmobile out of the ravine with me on the back. I will not forget the nice people in the ambulance -both times. 
I will not forget the doctor in the 2 bed ER that held up Ryan's xray for me to see in an attempt to make me understand the urgency in needing to get a hold of his parents. 
I will not forget the wail from my other friend's mom when she came to the hospital. 
I will not forget telling someone just before I was transported to Provo and they asked how I was and I said, "I've had better days."
I will not forget that I did not cry until I was alone with my dad in the ER in Provo and finally felt safe enough to ask why? I will not forget his emotions as he tried to explain that he did not know but it would be okay. 
I will not forget the friends who were there to see me because they cared so much for me, Peter was one of them.
I will not forget how horribly sick I felt for days. One day I could not open my eyes for feeling so very ill. Each time I did there was a new group of friends there to greet me and tell me they loved me and wanted for me to get better. 
I will not forget that my brother was able to call home from his mission to talk to me and how he offered such heartfelt words of comfort full of faith and truth.
I will not forget my mom reading my patriarchal blessing to me in an effort to make sense of what had happened and why my life was spared. 
This is the part that really struck me today. I was 17 when this happened Saturday March 23, 1996 and it has been 17 years. What have I done with my life? Have I done what my Heavenly Father intended for me to do? Have I served Him in the ways he has needed me to? Am I learning the lessons He needs me to learn so that I may be able to return to him someday? Have I made the most of this time I was so graciously given. My life has been doubled. 
I do know that my testimony was doubled during that experience. I gained so much faith and knowledge about death, life, the plan of salvation, eternal families, the priesthood, the Savior, His Atonement, prayer, the Holy Ghost and so many other things. 
Since then, I have had so many wonderful, happy, painful, sad and faith building experiences. My testimony has continued to grow. I have tried to keep the commandments and live the gospel. I can think of times where I did not do such a great job and feel so blessed that I have the time to continue to become a better and more faithful person. I can see so clearly in my life my Heavenly Father's love for me and his desire for me to be happy, faithful, strong and to return to him.  I am who I am because of the gospel and how it has allowed me to face the challenges of 17 years ago and the challenges since. I do not want to die anytime soon but if for some reason Heavenly Father saw fit to call me home I would probably feel a little more ready. Alma 34:32 "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." I am so very grateful for the knowledge I have gained over the 17 years and the covenants I have made in the temple. I believe it is those covenants that help me to remember how precious my life is and that Heavenly Father will always be with me and always bless me as long as I am doing my part to build up His kingdom. There is nothing I would rather be doing. Have I made the most of my life?-I am not sure but I am striving to and hope to recommit today to be more of the woman, mother, wife, and daughter of my Heavenly Father that I want to be and He knows I can be.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 3

Thursday was still a bit chilly but we packed a lunch and headed to the Botanical Gardens. This was my favorite place. If I lived there and could have only one pass it would be here. (Okay, so I would probably end up with one to the zoo for my kids but for me it would be here.)
There are so many beautiful blooming trees and the tulips were blooming and it smelled so divine!
A picture may paint a thousand words but it can not capture the smell.
I took a million pictures so enjoy!

 The umbrella in the upper left hand corner had clouds painted inside of it and water dripping from inside as well. It was like a reverse umbrella. All of these amazing orchids were in a big greenhouse building in a display called Orchid Daze.

 The picture in the middle of the square above and the far right  just above are of orchids planted in high heel shoes. It was so cleverly done. 
The children's garden was a hit with a sandbox and playground equipment. 
 The gardens share a parking garage with Piedmont park a huge park designed by the same person that designed Central Park in New York. It was wonderful! We fed the ducks and watched this heron (bottom L corner) fly in and land on the edge of the pond. There was more playground equipment and the kids loved it too. If you make it to Atlanta you have to go here!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 2

On Wednesday morning, we headed off for the final 3 hour stretch to Atlanta. 
We made it safe and sound and the kids were so happy to have finally made it.
After saying our hellos, unpacking the car and eating lunch, we headed to the Atlanta Zoo.
We did not have a ton of time there and it was a bit chilly but the animals were great. It is a beautiful zoo. There were parts that reminded me of the Fort Worth Zoo and the newer parts of the Hogle Zoo. 
My kids always love to take pictures with the statues of the animals. 

The petting zoo was a hit among all. Lily was a sleep for that part. Joey loved the birds. 
I loved driving to the zoo and seeing the older beautiful homes in Atlanta. There was such charm. The trees are all so big and old and the hills make it seem less like a big city but the traffic and small roads were a good reminder that we were still in the city. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Part 1

A few months ago, as I was doing my work schedule I decided I was not going to work in the middle of the week during Spring Break (I worked Sunday night). This meant I would have a whole week to do things with my kids.
Well, I started brainstorming and remembered last Spring Break when we went to Tyler and it was packed because the whole state of Texas has Spring Break at the same time. So, I convinced Peter it would be more fun to leave the state and do something.  I chose Atlanta since Peter's sister Lindsay and her family (Brady, Ryker and Grayson) will be moving from there this Summer after finishing school.  It was a great choice.
I drove with the kids and Peter flew out on Friday morning to play and then drive home with us on Sunday.
Tuesday we left early in the morning and drove 3 hours to Shreveport, LA for some breakfast and a pit stop. Then we drove 3 more hours to Jackson, MS where we stopped and had a picnic at the zoo. We had fun seeing the animals and stretching our legs. We then drove 3 more hours to Tuscaloosa, AL where we stayed the night.
Here are the pictures of our time in the Jackson Zoo. It is small but had some fun animals and the time out of the car was prefect!

The castle was in the alligator exhibit but I thought I read on a sign that it used to be a monkey exhibit. 
The strange animal in the middle on the left is a tapir. The giraffe earned a picture because it was licking the fence and drooling all over the place. 
The kids did fabulous in the car and were really helpful in keeping Lily happy although she slept quite a bit (huge blessing!).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I am going to attempt what I have meant to attempt for more than one birthday, I am going to share 34 things about me.  I would like to think that they may not be known but I am a pretty open person and tend to talk a  lot so there are not too many mysteries about me.
1. I enjoy giving talks or teaching lessons.
2. My favorite church calling was primary music leader- you get to be silly and play games and that is what is expected of you. And you don't have to sing well.
3. When I look back to what I thought my life would be, I thought I would be more and yet I am totally content with where I am.
4. Related to 3- I still feel the pull sometimes of doing more and becoming more primarily where my career is concerned. But that is not what my purpose is.  I know that if I were to follow that path I would not feel the peace I feel now with fulfilling my most important roles of wife and mother. The world looks tempting sometimes.
5. Again related to 3 and 4- I love business attire. 
6. If I ever win a shopping spree, I am going to spend at least half of it on shoes.
7. In college I swore I would never be a school nurse but I have considered it now.  No weekends, holidays, summers, or nights- sounds pretty good.
8. I don't like scary movies. I will watch them with Peter but these are usually the movies or TV shows he watches when I am at work.
9. I love my mom's grape juice. It is like nectar of the Gods to me.
10. I love Twix.
11. In high school, I collected Laffy Taffy jokes. My favorite: What were Tarzan's last words?
Who greased the vine? (You are laughing, I know it.)
12. I had a near death experience once. My patriarchal blessing tells me that I will live to fulfill my purpose on earth.  I find peace in knowing that as long as I am striving to do what the Lord wants me to do then whenever my time comes, it will be the right time because it will be His time.
13. I want to run a half marathon again someday.
14. I would also like to try a triathlon someday.
15.The first time I ate avocado I thought they were gross. I love them now.
16. I love Junior Mints, too.
17. Sometimes, I am drawn to the piano and play for a bit. It helps center me or brings a peace that I can not get anywhere else. It is like I am reconnecting with a talent the Lord blessed me with and he does not want me to forget.
18. I can go from calm to crazy frustrated with my kids sometimes in a matter of minutes. I hate when I do it and end up hating myself for days after. I am better than I used to be but not as good at controlling it as I want to be.
19. My guilty TV show that I enjoy watching is The Good Wife. 
20. I had to take a sewing class in high school to graduate. Now I really love to sew and create things.
21. I am not crafty but I can copy other people's ideas-kind of. My sisters are crafty!
22. I love the color blue.
23. This is not too much of a secret but I often wish I lived near my family so that I could go to more of the events in their lives and celebrate birthdays and holidays.
24. On the flip side, I love living outside of Utah. I love that I get to tell people about the church and what being Mormon is all about.
25. I had never actually given a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance a Book of Mormon before I moved to Texas. Now I have given away 5 (I believe). It is a start.
26. I hate to dust.
27. I am horrible about cleaning the bathroom floor. I will clean everything else in the bathroom and not do the floor.
28. I wish I were a more giving/serving person.
29. I am not very good at Family History but I can testify and teach about the spirit of Elijah.
30. I consoled myself after taking my CEN test by eating at Cane's. Fried chicken fingers with a special dipping sauce. It was soooo good!
31. My soap box is immunizations. Get them. The church is not against them. We will leave it at that.
32. I am the new primary president in my ward. I have never been in the primary presidency before. It feels like a good fit for this stage of my life.
33. I received a serger for my birthday. Now to learn to use it. :)
34. I am thankful every day for the events that led Peter to giving me a second chance which led to us getting married. He is the best part of me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mrs. Sessions is having a Baby

 Jon's teacher is due any day with her first baby-a girl.
The room moms put together a shower for her. 
The kids loved it and felt special they were having a party while the other classes were doing regular school stuff.

 Instructions for the refreshments. 

 Lily and Arabella went with me and loved every minute of it. Lily did a great job of eating the frosting off of her cupcake.
 Estimate the M & M's game. Mrs. Sessions had the third closest guess.
 The class gift.
 Jon was too distracted by other things to take the time to get a picture with her but Arabella was not about to let the opportunity pass her by. 
We love Mrs. Sessions- she was Joey's first grade teacher too (she was Ms. Laird then). She will be a great mom and we hope she meets her sweet baby girl soon!

Monday, March 11, 2013


I heard the girls in their room when I was coming out of my room the other morning.  
This is what I found.
 They get along so well (okay, at least once a week Lily "ruins" something Arabella is doing or playing with).
 Do you like Lily's pigtails?
Arabella has sleepy eyes in pictures alot.  We took 4 different pictures trying to get one with her eyes open and a good smile. She is such a sweet girl! I love her so much!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Silliness and Soccer

I can not believe it is Thursday!
These are some pictures from our soccer games last Saturday. We had one at 10:30 and another at 1:00 at two different fields.  There was just enough time in between to have lunch. It made for a really fun day as a family.
 Lily did this- touched her nose to mine and Peter caught it. She is so cute!
 Joey's first game was last Thursday and he did not get to play much.  This game on Saturday was much better. He is learning the rules and I having fun!

 I caught Peter's silliness at Jon's soccer game.
 Jon is doing much better each time he plays. And he scored his first goal! We were so happy!

And these are my breakfast companions - aren't they precious! 
It has been a busy week. We do not have too much planned for this weekend and I am grateful!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Flashback Friday

I was thinking about where I had left off when I was doing this awhile ago and realized that I had recommitted myself to keeping a journal around the time Jon was born. I dug it out and here is some of what I wrote on Feb. 22, 2006:
"Well, Jonathon was blessed on Sunday and it all went very well. Peter gave a simple and beautiful blessing.  We were lucky to have our families come and visit for the occasion.  Jana and Randy didn't come due to Sadie being so little.  Tom had to work but Malisa and the kids came.  It was so much fun to see everyone.  The kids are all growing and getting so big in the way they act.  
Joey had fun playing with everyone.  We all went to the park on Saturday and had pizza for lunch. That night Peter and Joey went with his family down to the strip and the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. I went with my family and Jonathon shopping to the outlets and Islands for dinner."
I continue to share details of comings and goings of various family members and where we ate.

"Peter has been really busy at work-putting lots of extra hours.  He told me they were going to be really busy these next few months.  He just got a raise so he is now making $--,---/yr. We are excited! That means there is less stress for me to work so many hours.  We have done fairly well living on just Peter's paycheck."  --I think I would cry if Peter were only making that now but I know we would make it because we know how to work together and are much better at budgeting.

"Peter has gone to meet his home teaching companion and families.  We are getting to know more and more people in the ward.  It is good. Joey, Jonathon, and I have been going to park day and that has really helped.  Well, Joey is playing with the vacuum and Jonathon will want to eat soon."

It is so interesting to read this think back to that time. I remember I had begun leaving my scriptures and journal on the kitchen table.  That way they were "in the way" and harder to ignore. I was pretty consistent at writing once a week for quite some time. Now I wish I would have recorded different things. I wish there was less travel log and more about what the boys were doing and what they were saying and truthfully more raw emotion. I think I often held back in my journal and at times (you may not believe it) in my blog on writing about what I am really feeling for fear that I will hurt, offend, or discourage someone. 

The more time I spend doing and teaching Family History the more I consider what it is that I want preserved for my posterity.  What do I want them to know about me? What has inspired me about the stories I know of my ancestors? For those of you who might read this blog, I would encourage you to consider what it is you want your posterity to know, remember or be inspired by. I share a few things:
1. Tell of what everyday life is filled with.
2. Share the occasional trend of the era.
3. Do not be afraid to share your failures and what you gained from them.
4. Share your testimony.
5. Tell of your own childhood.
6. Share the things you love to do and why.
7. Maybe include a favorite recipe (even if it is only 3 or 4 ingredients).
8.  Tell a story of your parents and your grandparents.

I am sure there are more but I am going to strive to be better about sharing these things, I hope.