Thursday, September 30, 2010

Got $1?

A talented friend of ours is raising money for an animation project called "The Decision" designed to teach children what to do if they come across bad materials like an "adult" magazine.

For $1 (pay via paypal or credit card), you'll receive a free copy of the finished project and you've helped support good media.

Donate today
and help spread the word!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Wheels! (Wordless Wednesday)

Allison had me take off her training wheels a few weeks ago. Last week, with a lot of effort and plenty of falls, she mastered the art of the two-wheeled bike. She's not smiling in any of the pictures I took because she's concentrating so hard.

Sarah is still using training wheels, but wanted me to get a few pictures of her as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The best toy for kids (Favorites Friday)

A couple of years ago, we found a deal on wiggle racer cars. We bought four of them for some of our younger kids. They run between $30 and $45 on sale and they are awesome.
Over the years, we've bought bikes, trikes, and other various vehicles for kids. These definitely get the most use for the longest time. The best part is you don't outgrow them. My two-year-olds can use them as a ride-on, and they hold up to 250 lbs, so my husband and I can also use them as well as all the kids in between. You can even fit two little ones on at a time -- Eliza loves to give Harmony rides on hers.

My older kids have and love their bikes, but they still pull these out and play with them often.
The wiggling of the steering wheel propels the car forward, but not as fast as going down our sloping driveway. They are well-built and strong, though the bolt holding the steering wheel to the front wheels sometimes loosens and makes the steering wheel too loose to use. It's easy to tighten, though.

So, for those of you wondering what to get your 2 to 10 year olds for Christmas, here's my recommendation. (And I'm not even getting paid to say it!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Q&A Thursday: Twins' Hair

Easy question for today:

is it Sarah or Allison who is growing her hair long?

Allison has longer hair than Sarah. We tell people to just remember "S" for short hair.

We started growing her hair longer the year they were four (there were a few bumps along the way involving naughty girls and scissors, but we won't talk about that right now.).
Some people think this is so we can tell them apart. It isn't. We haven't had trouble telling them apart since they were two weeks old, though we did keep their toenails painted different colors for the first few months.

The real reason for the different hair is so everyone OUTSIDE our family can see them as distinct individuals. I didn't want them to spend their elementary school years constantly having to hear, "Which one are you?" I wanted their teachers and playmates to be easily able to recognize them for who they are. It seems to be working so far and I recommend it to other moms of identical girls.

It was tough for a while because I can do a lot more things with Allison's hair than Sarah's and she'd get upset when I couldn't do the same thing to her hair. But her hair is finally long enough that I can do most everything with it and still have a significant difference in length. I do need to cut off some of Allison's length -- after all the chlorine and swimming this summer, it's just not as healthy as it used to be. Sarah's length is much more manageable.

Right now, Allison's bangs are especially shaggy because she decided on her own to grow them out. That should also help people tell the difference because Sarah likes her bangs short (so still "S" for short).

Almost Famous!

I submitted some of my photography to the LDS Church a few months ago (find out more about that here). Today, someone told me they'd seen the twins' picture on one of the Church's new pages.

Here it is!

They're on the bottom right-hand side. I love the caption, "God knows us individually and loves us more than we can comprehend." I've often thought about how much individuality and uniqueness exist in my "identical" twins. To God, they are as unique and precious and individual as any other soul.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

'Til we meet again

It was a challenge getting our kids up and dressed and to the Church early in the morning to help clean the building. The oldest was only 9 and we weren't sure we'd be able to help much since we had to supervise the little ones. But we showed up anyway and waited for an assignment. "Well," said the person in charge, shrugging his shoulders, "there's not much to do today. President Robison came over yesterday and did most of it. I guess you can wash windows."

President Laren Robison (in our Church, leaders are called and serve in positions without pay for a time and then are released. Out of respect for the service rendered, we call those who have served in such callings "President" or "Bishop" even after their service is over. President Robison served many years ago as a leader of our stake, which is a group of about 7 congregations called wards) was an uncommon man. Sneaking over to clean the church building a day early was only one of his many acts of quiet service. He also fixed sprinklers, mowed lawns, and shoveled walks for his many neighbors and several widows.

He's been old and frail during the years my family has known him, and he's at that stage of life when many people decide it's time to slow down and rest. Not President Robison! Last year, he broke his ribs. He was coming home from shoveling the neighbor's walkway when he fell and was hurt. As he told me the story, with a twinkle in his eye, "I was lying there in pain when I saw a car come around the corner. I was so grateful someone was there to help me. They slowed down, looked at me, and then drove right on by!" He laughed and laughed at that.

Broken ribs didn't slow him down -- I saw him out walking within weeks of the incident! -- and neither did breathing and lung problems. This past year, he's been one of two teachers for our gospel doctrine Sunday School class. Some weeks, we've been amazed he's even made it to Church, as he comes in a wheelchair and dragging a bottle of oxygen. But still, he stands and delivers wonderful testimony of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. And I mean, STANDS. There's a stool brought forward for him to lean on at times, but he refuses to sit. We've all assured him we'll still listen and pay attention if he sits to deliver his lesson, but with uncommon determination, he stands.

I've said several times this past year that President Robison leaves us all without excuse. If he can come to Church in pain and struggling to breathe, prepare lessons, visit and help his neighbors, and make us all feel loved, then what of our little troubles and pains?

Last Thursday, President Robison was taken to the hospital. When it became clear he was being called home, his family was sent for. They brought him home from the hospital on Friday and with all his children gathered around, he passed on to the next world, greeting his mother and his brother and I'm sure shouting for joy at the chance to serve without fighting the pain. I can just see him running to his next assignment, ready to serve and help where ever he can.

Last night was the viewing. My husband and I stood in line for an hour for the chance to tell Sister Robison and his children how much we love and admire their husband and father. The line of people touched by President Robison stretched down a long hall and out the doors. Merrill Bateman, former president of BYU, attended. The man behind us in line was the husband of the secretary in the BYU department Dr. Robison taught in. It was a beautiful thing to see the many lives touched and made better by the presence of this good man.

This morning was the funeral. It was beautiful, short and sweet with each of his children taking a few minutes to bear testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how much they loved and admired their father. We believe that life does not end with death, so while there was sadness and loneliness expressed, there was much more joy and excitement. If any man was prepared for the next life, it was President Robison.

Our current stake president shared that he always felt as if President Robison really liked him, that he was his special friend. In the last few days, he realized that President Robison made everyone feel that way. He certainly made me feel that way, and we really had just a few interactions.

His last thoughts were for others. When our Bishop visited him last Thursday, the last words President Robison said were, "What more can I do?" Several neighbors were touched when he made sure G.B. would take over the responsibility for mowing Betty's lawn.

When some of his grandchildren were visiting him in the hospital, they asked him, "Grandpa, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?"

"Faith," was his answer.

When I grow up, I want to be like President Robison.

(If you knew President Robison and want to leave your condolences for the family, you can do so here.)

Idaho Adventures (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

I grew up in a town near Boise, Idaho. This past weekend, we took our family up for a fun adventure. We spent Wednesday and Saturday night at my parents house and Thursday and Friday in McCall Idaho.

My mother-in-law joined us. My father-in-law volunteers his time at the Manti temple each week and wasn't able to get away.

We had a great time!

playing on the swings at my parents house:
(I know, aren't these two sweet together?)

feeding my parent's cows:

My nephew's Eagle Project was building large building blocks for a children's museum, sort of like Lincoln logs, only flat. My dad made some for his grandkids as well. My kids enjoyed building their own house after dismantling the one my dad had built.

Michael was the most determined architect, sticking with it even after the others gave up.
The kids loved the trampoline:

My dad, who is a kid at heart and an engineer by training, rigged up a sprinkler in the trees out of PVC pipe that would rain down on the kids at the push of a remote control. On our last night there, Joey and Michael jumped on the trampoline for about an hour and got soaking wet.

My dad rigged up his lawn mower for the grandkids to drive and tote each other around the yard -- Michael's favorite activity:

just playing around:

(this is Katie with her cousin)

The drive to McCall goes through some of the prettiest Idaho countryside:
These are the fun cabins we stayed at:

I thought the kids wouldn't want to get in the water much. It was only 70 degrees both days and a bit windy. But nothing holds back these kids.

(I know, I took a LOT of pictures of Harmony. But how could I resist?)

My parents brought their ATVs and we went on hikes and rides. We saw lots of deer as well as chipmunks and birds. We went to the lookout one night:

The three grandparents. Harmony thought it was hilarious to have TWO grandmas at the same time!
My mom hates having her picture taken, but I loved how this one of my parents turned out. I hope my face has as much character when I'm this age:
These two little girls didn't get to go on long rides on the ATVs, but loved the trips around and around the parking lot. Can you tell they had a good time?

By the way, if this trip looks familiar, it's because we did something similar last year.


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