The all important event. How grateful we are for the birth of our Saviour. For without it we would not have the atonement.
(Sigh)..where do I start?
This year has been a year of gratitude. This year has been a year of sorrow. This year has been a year of growth. This year has been incredibly bitter-sweet. 2009 has only opened our eyes to the miracles of life and the miracles of death.
Many of you who are reading this have kept up with us through out the year. And for others this is the first time you've viewed our blog. For those of you who are new to our online journal, feel free to scroll down the page and select different month's through out the year. It's that simple. And for those of you who have walked our path with us this year, thank you. You are also welcomed to re-read our past posts as well.
Most, if not all of you, know about the passing of our sweet niece, Mercydez earlier this year. It has been a challenge to be positive at times. It has been a challenge to avoid "playing the victim" as some put it. I have come to realize, yet again, how important our choices are. Life gives us the opportunity to grow, to experience things. I believe it is WHAT WE DO WITH OUR EXPERIENCES that will determine our future, in the life hereafter. We have honestly been trying to be better because of Mercydez and all that she offered us. It is very humbling to say that some may have been present in my moments of weakness, sorrow, hurt, anger, and loss. I'll be the first to admit that in those vulnerable moments it is hard not to become something to be ashamed of. I am guilty. And I am also determined to not become that. President Monson put it perfectly, "It is important to allow yourself to feel, to acknowledge. It is equally important not to dwell." That is obviously paraphrased. But that has been the knot in our rope that has kept us from completely breaking.
Mercydez taught us so much about true unconditional love. Mercydez taught us the importance of service. Her entire life, the 14-1/2 months (not quite) was for her family. She was serving us through example and endurance. Some may question what I mean by this. I don't know how to put in to words exactly what I know to be a truth. What an incredible little girl. I can't wait to see her again, because we WILL see her again. We are grateful for this knowledge and testimony. We don't know what we would have done, or what our family would have done, without this vital information.
God loves us. God loves you. He is an all loving God. He has offered us one thing in this world that is truly ours, and that is our agency, through the gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Our right to choose for ourselves what we will/will not do is a gift. This is totally and completely ours. When someone we know and love is suffering, it is one of two things (in my opinion). It is a trial to make us better people and teach us something (if we're open enough to search/find for the message) or it is an act of agency. We'll be the first to admit, again, that during the trial it is almost impossible to see "the message". We aren't saying it's always blatantly obvious or easy. Sometimes we may not understand the "why's" until long after the experience.
This is my testimony. This is not doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormon church). Just because we or someone we know is suffering doesn't mean God doesn't love you/them. If anything, I believe Heavenly Father is crying right along with you...with us. Heavenly Father wouldn't leave...what loving father would?! We know He was there the entire time with Mercydez and my family. We believe He still is. He cares. We are his spirit-children.
This is something I am seeing for the first time in my 25 years. Which takes us full circle. It is what we do with our experiences that will determine our lives in the life hereafter.
Even the very essence of time is a gift, it is something that truly isn't ours. No, we only have our agency, our choices. We only have the great opportunity and responsibility to decide who we are going to be and what we will be capable of.
With the many great and extremely hard experiences we have been privileged to be a part of, I can't help but keep our Christmas letter simple. We have had great opportunities to travel, to learn, improve our futures through work and school, to become better people. We credit our faith, our families, our Heavenly Father and our brother, Jesus Christ for these opportunities. It is only through the great act of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, that we are able to overcome our trials, our sorrows, our sins and become better than had we not experienced the "hard" things in life. There is reason to hope. There is great reason to hope.
Classic! Uncle Trav & Keegan. He LOVES his Uncle Trav!!
So my studdly husband submitted two pieces to the Springville Museum of Art (SMA) a few weeks ago for an Art Educator's Competition. Both pieces were accepted! We are both so excited! He submitted his Radiohead piece and his Beatles piece, both of which are incredibly unique and thought out. We were bumbed when we found out his pieces were being displayed in the basement - but when we found them, we understood why. Some of the accepted pieces were....well not very professional. I don't mean to bash, I was just caught off guard. Travis works so hard on his art - I'm sure the others do too. After seeing the other pieces I was gently reminded how incredibly good Travis is. Click on the blue writing to see more of the SMA.
If you have the chance go to the SMA. It's free to get in. It's a nice activity too. The Educator's stuff is being exhibited downstairs. On the main floor is a Religious/Spiritual exhibit going on. There are some gorgeous piece being displayed.
Oh my heck! The snow is just a comin'. I love it. Christmas shouldn't be brown, green, or any other color. It should only be WHITE!
View from our driveway taken a few minutes ago.
Earlier this week Trav & I were able to go to Temple Square with Kody & his date, Natalie, to have dinner, see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, and enjoy the lights on Temple Square - which are incredible by the way.
It was sooooooo cold but equally as beautiful. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the concert. Traffic was so bad it took us nearly 45 minutes to move three blocks. By the time we were parked and at the Conference Center it was too late. They wouldn't let us in. So we watched a portion of it in the tabernacle.
A small portion of Christmas lights at Temple Square. Click on the blue writing to see some other pictures of Temple Square.
We look cold - don't you think?!?
After getting warm and enjoying the broadcast Christmas Concert, we made our way home. Thankfully Kody was willing to drive because both Trav & I were exhausted. We slept the whole way home. Yeah, crappy double date on our part. Sorry Kody! But we made the best of our situation. :)
Last night I had the great opportunity to go up to Riverton and join in on a Christmas Caroling party, hosted by my incredible sister-in-law, Alicia, for her adorable daughter (my niece), Marin.
It was soooo fun! A little crazy but SO fun! There were 20 something girls there all the age of 10 or 11. Needless to say there was lots of energy and excitement surrounding the entire evening. Alicia manned the front of the group and I took over the back. It felt like we were herding sheep or something! Sooo many bodies to watch out for! :)
Herding our sheep. ;)
Marin was having such a blast!
Alicia is such a good spirited person. She's up for ANYTHING!
I had to take a shot of this! The girls had so much energy...but got tired after caroling for approx 45 min. This was our last home we caroled at. Funny huh?
One of the homes we blessed with Christmas Caroling! :) Yes, they eventually answered the door.
Alicia did an INCREDIBLE job with things! She has a way of doing things so no one gets bored or feels left out. After we went caroling for 30 - 45 minutes we went back to the house, had hot chocolate & treats, and played a gift-exchange-game.
While the girls were eating their goodies and enjoying hot chocolate I over heard their conversations. Listed below are some of my favorite quotes:
1) "Edwards six pack is soooo small, but Jacob's is HUGE!"
2) "Seriously, Edwards six pack is so little...it's like 3 inches, I swear!"
3) "Did you know Taylor Swift is dating Jacob?"
4) "I just have to say Jacob is hot! I have a magazine with pictures of him all over!"
Obviously these gals are Twilighters. Alicia and I were just laughing!
Isn't this the C-U-T-E-S-T?!?!?! I love how excited the children get!
It was such a great way to kick off the Christmas season! Thank you Alicia and Marin for inviting me to come!! It was sooooo fun!!!!
But I have to brag! Travis has to go through a-sort-of testing at his school. All licensed and unlicensed teachers have to. At his school it's called JPAS (I dont' know what it's called elsewhere). To be JPAS'ed means one of the assistant principles or the principle comes and sits in multiple classes and evaluates EVERYTHING. I'm talking evaluating teacher-student interaction, types of questions asked, how teachers respond to questions, how material is presented, and the list goes on and on and on. They JPAS the teachers who aren't licensed yet two or three times a school year (as apposed to the licensed teacher who are JPAS'ed every couple of years).
Travis has been pretty stressed about being JPAS'ed. He did a lot of homework and preparation for the dreadful day (he was given a vague timeline as to when it'd happen - they aren't specific because they don't want the teacher to plan a special lesson...while unbeknownst to them the teacher really sucks).
Well it happened a couple of weeks ago. The assistant principle came and sat in class with him for two days. She analyzed and filled in the blanks/bubbles, interviewed him shortly after (but didn't give him any results really), and left it at that.
I guess Travis was pulled in today and was shown his score. He has the highest JPAS score she's EVER seen!!!! She told him how incredible he did, how Oquirrh Hills is so lucky to have him, how he's a first year teacher but teaches like he's not...incredible huh?
Travis was completely shocked but I'm not. Teaching is in his blood. He's a natural - and like I said before, people are just DRAWN to him. He's charismatic. He's the furthest thing from judgemental, he's a good listener, he truly cares about others. So, I'm really not surprised.
In fact, he told me Jennifer (the assistant principle who JPAS'ed him) said the other assistant principle excitedly volunteered to JPAS Travis next because "he wants to see him at work". Again, this says A LOT about my boy!
Trav would be embarrassed that I'm writing - okay BRAGGING - about all this but he deserves it. He was so nervous, yet here he is pulling out the highest scores the assistant principle has ever seen (and she's been around for quite a few years).
Congratulations my handsome husband! You're so awesome!!
Travis is a natural at teaching. All his fellow teacher-friends are highly impressed with him. Both the assistant principles have mentioned Trav going full time next school year, which again, says a lot about his ability to present material and manage the class room. It sounds like his students like him too.
I must say I'm not surprised. :) Travis is an incredibly easy guy to get a long with and enjoy being around. He is so easy going and relaxed.
Other then getting up at the crack of dawn I think he's enjoyed this opportunity. He has really done a good job staying on top of his responsibilities. I love that he takes things seriously - but does so with humor and love.
I have been busy learning music! I love it! BUT DANG IT'S HARD! I have learned many instruments and will continue to learn more next semester, which is exciting and scary. We'll see how it goes.
we've been busy with family as well. This past weekend we threw a surprise birthday party for my Mom - and it was a BLAST! We went to Sizzler and I must say I'm quite impressed. I LOVE SHRIMP!!! Happy birthday to my Beautiful Momma! :)
Travis's parents and brother are out visiting for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Trav's dad, Bruce, spent Saturday with Trav. They were able to go to a BYU game (vs. Air Force - BYU won! GO COUGS!!!), went out to lunch and dinner, saw a movie, and came to my vocal/harpsichord recital (thank you for coming, by the way. It meant a lot.) Bruce spent the night and went to church with us. It was a lot of fun to have him.
Sunday Alicia, Mary Kay, and the kids came down for dinner. It was a BLAST! We had a delicious dinner and played games afterwords. (sigh)...I love family.
Earlier this month we had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family (this year it's our year to spend with the Braun family). It was incredible. Ashley decorated the tables so beautifully. She had levels, textures, colors and so much more. My mom did an incredible job with the food. It wasn't stressful at all. Everything came together perfectly. Oh...that food was GOOD! I was able to help by cleaning the house. A pathetic way to help, I know, but a need nonetheless. :) we had around 30 people total for dinner, I believe. It was such a beautiful evening.
How lucky are we?!?! We get to have two Thanksgiving feasts this year! Ummmm! Ummm!
Anyway, we have been running around, trying to stay ahead of the game. We have been incredibly blessed and are so grateful.
Last week my step-aunt unexpectedly passed away. I didn't know her very well, as she was a private person, but I have to admit everytime she was around I would watch her. Not in a bad way though. I was always aware of her presence. She had an aura about herself. She had leadership characteristics ingrained in her.
My Grandpa and Grandma Judi asked Ashley, Auriel, and me to sing during the funeral service. We sang a beautiful arrangement of "Consider the Lilies". They asked my mom to accompany us, and she did an incredible job. This song has a special place in my soul because it was one of the musical pieces performed at Mercydez'es funeral. It is a beautiful song about hope, love, and truth.
CONSIDER THE LILIES Consider the lilies of the field, How they grow, how they grow. Consider the birds in the sky, How they fly, how they fly.
He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the sky. and he will feed those who trust him, And guide them with his eye.
Consider the sheep of his fold; How they follow where He leads. Tho' the path may wind across the mountains, He knows, the meadows where they feed.
He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the sky. And He will feed those who love Him, Andguide them with his eye.
Consider the sweet tender children, Who must suffer on this earth. The pains of all of them He carried From the day of his birth.
He clothes the lillies of the field. He feeds the lambs of his fold. And He will heal those who trust him, And make their hearts as gold.
He clothes the lillies of the field! He feeds the lambs of his fold! And He will heal those who trust him, And make their hearts as gold.
There's obviously a lot of symbolism in this beautiful piece. The accompaniment is absolutely gorgeous as well.
I am so grateful to have the example of Shauna in my life. She lived for love and service. She knew who she was and wasn't ashamed of it...but she didn't flaunt it either. She...just was. I have appreciated that about her. Shauna has a sweet confidence about herself. I have always admired these qualities.
Shauna was a part of the "gay community", as some people put it. I don't mean that in an offensive way either. I say that with respect and love. I share this because this was a part of who she was. Like I said before, she lived for love and service. To those out there living the same lifestyle, let me say this. I have learned a lot. I have learned that people are people, regardless of their private lives. I have a respect for the human race...I learned this respect because of many things/experiences. Let me just say that Shauna is someone I respect. I don't claim to know her very well at all. But what I do know is that she is an outstanding individual. She has many accomplishments. She has many friends.
I still can't believe how incredible her funeral service was. The chapel was completely full and even the over-flow was full! The entire American Fork Police Department was in attendance, as was many of her friends, neighbors, loved ones, and I'm sure complete strangers who appreciate the service she did in their community.
The graveside ceremony was also beautiful. Because of her service with the police department, Taps was played, Amazing Grace was played with a bagpipe, an accounting of each of the American Fork Police Officers was called - with Shauna's name being the last called three times before relieving her from duty. There was also a police escort to the cemetary beforehand. It was incredible to see all her fellow officers in attendance, showing their love and admiration for one of their own. Shauna truly was service-oriented. It showed.
To my Grandpa and Grandma Judi, I love you. I love Shauna. I love that families are eternal. I love that there is a God. I love that there is a plan for all of us. I love that I know that Jesus Christ lived, died, and continues to live for us.
God bless you. God bless all those who knew, loved, and learned from Shauna.
I don't mean to brag, but I just can't help it! Travis is so wonderful. We had such a wonderful weekend get-away! We stayed at a resort in Park City (click on the blue words and it'll take you to the web page of the place we stayed at. You can see pictures and all sorts of good stuff!) for two nights. Our room had a kitchen/living room with a fire place, jacuzzi and shower in the bathroom, our own private hot tub on our balcony, and an ENORMOUS bed (Seriously. It was the biggest bed I've ever seen!). It was amazing. Travis completely spoiled me. I can tell because coming back to reality has been really hard...almost depressing.
Travis perfectly planned and executed everything. We were able to go do sealings in the Salt Lake Temple on Saturday, walk Park City's Main Street, enjoy a movie while soaking in the jacuzzi, drive up and park in the mountains and talk for a few hours, dance in the living room (Travis prepared a list of songs he wanted to dance to and brought his ipod up), sip martinelli while sitting in the hot tub late at night, sleep in, and so much more. And it was never rushed.
Like I said, perfectly planned and executed.
I had an incredible weekend with my amazing husband. Travis is so good. He is so thoughtful. He is so kind and gentle. I am so lucky.
Thank you, handsome, for an incredible anniversary weekend. I love you so much.
P.S. Get this! He even surprised me with tickets to "So You Think You Can Dance" when they perform out here in November!! Seriously, why am I so lucky??!
7 months ago my "sweeeeetie" finished her work here on earth. That was a hard time. It still is. I can't help but be so happy for her and the freedom she is experiening.
I have her birth announcement sitting on my desk at work. Next to it is a picture of another incredible child who has lead through example (and hasn't even realized it). How grateful I am for children. They have such innocence and purity.
I miss my baby. I miss her so much. I listen to videos Nic and Ash texted me often. I look at pictures regularly. I am so grateful Nic and Ashley shared her with me. Those pictures, videos, and especially the memories are priceless. I miss her adorable hands and precious little feet. She would always have her legs crossed...so feminine and lovely.
While my heart is still healing my soul is so happy.
With my Princess in mind, I also extend my love to my extended family. They are experiencing an unexpected passing of a loved one. It has been a shock and a painful reminder of how fragile life really is. A reminder of how important it is to be the best person you can be. Because the truth is, we don't know when our time will come...we only know it will.
The temporary seperation of loved ones is so difficult. Only through the hope, light, and knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is it possible to endure - and endure well. To become better not bitter. Life is hard. This world is cruel. I believe we will be judged based on our hearts, our souls, and what we do with our experiences. Be they hard or easy.
My entire heart and soul is with you (you know who you are). I love you.
I've decided I'm going to share simple stories about Travis to prove to you how lucky I am. There are so many reasons - hopefully I'll be able to keep count! ;)
Reason #1: Travis is comfortable with children. He's not afraid to play with them, tease them, and love them. He especially loves children with imaginations and innocence.
So, the other day Travis stopped by Alicia's to watch the kids while Alicia went to a school activity with Marin. After Alicia returned home and Travis left I received a text from Alicia and this is what it said:
"Grayson [her 5 year old boy] convinced Uncle Trav to go on a frog hunt by the park. He told him he saw lilly pads and heard crickets and is sure Timmy and Herman live in the swampy area by the park"
I'm sure you're all wondering who the heck Timmy and Herman are. So I'll give you some back ground. A few years ago Grandma Braun told Grayson a bedtime story about two frogs who are always together Big Timmy and Little Herman - I don't remember if they're brothers or just friends. Since hearing this story, which through the years has evolved into a long detailed novel, Grayson has been determined to find Timmy and Herman. There's a park near his home with a little swampy area (it's landscaped into the park and actually looks quite nice) and he has decided that's where they live.
Travis did take Grayson on a frog hunt. They didn't find Timmy and Herman but Grayson swears he saw the eye of one of the frogs. Cute huh? I thought it was. Generally speaking, most men wouldn't have gone on a frog hunt especially when knowing before hand that there are no frogs in the park. But Trav did. He was willing and completely played along. Ummm....if that's not adorable, I don't know what is!
I love October. It's the beginning of the holiday seasons. I love walking through the seasonal aisles at the grocery and crafting stores. The smell of cinnamon, the fall colors, the decorations. I love it! I also love the crisp autumn air. I am pulling out my sweaters but not packing the t-shirts away quite yet. Chilled morning air, warm afternoons, crisp evenings....welcome!
I also have another GREAT reason why I love October. It is the special month Trav and I chose to be married. This will be our 6th anniversary. While it sounds like we're still youngens - it feels so awesome and shocking that we've been married for 6 years already! We have been able to do a lot together. I am so excited that I have the rest of my life AND EVEN LONGER THEN THAT to be with him. It sounds cheesey but I have come to realize that Travis is my BEST friend. Travis is the BEST travel buddy. Travis is the BEST listener. Travis is the BEST husband...I honestly find myself staring off in space wondering why I have been so lucky!?!! WHY??!!
Travis and I don't have children yet (which has been a decision between the two of us and Heavenly Father) and we feel at peace with this. But we are excited and look forward to the day when we, together, will welcome children to our eternal family. That day will come, but today's not that day. And that's okay. Heavenly Father knows our hearts. He knows things we are dealing with and have been dealing with. HE KNOWS US. So, for all those wondering...we don't know when that day will come. But we feel it is closer then it ever has been before.
I know this is sort of random. No, I'm not pregnant. :) I'm just doing some self-reflecting and sharing my thoughts.
Life has been hard. Life has stretched us individually and as a couple. Life has been up and life has been down (and it's only been 6 years). But life has been good. I have my friends. I have my faith. I have my testimony. I have my family. Most importantly, I have my handsome husband for time and all eternity.
So for the last year or so Travis has been interviewing to teach art at a Jr. High or High School (preferrably High School) but has had no luck being hired. With the economy the way it is administration is able to be EXTREMELY picky. Well, Trav was called last week for an interview and on Friday we found out he got the position!!! We are both so excited!
Travis will be teaching at Oquirrh Hills Middle School starting TOMORROW! Yeah, they had an unplanned increase in students and are needing someone immediately. So, Travis is the man for the job! There are some pro's and con's with this job.
CON'S: 1) Trav has to commute to and from work. However, the good news is he will miss rush hour both directions. He has to be at school by 7:20 and will be done with his classes at noon (he's part-time).
2) Trav has a teachers salary. But teachers don't teach for money. They teach because they love their subject and want to change lives. So, we'll gratefully take what we can get!
...I think there's only two con's for now. :)
PRO'S: 1) Travis is able to get his teaching license through an ARL program but until then he's still able to teach (phew!).
2) The added income will significantly help our poor-starving-student finances and we may actually be able to pay off some necessary debt. BIG HORRAY!
3) Travis is going to get some good experience teaching before moving forward with his masters degree. This experience will provide him with the "experience required/preferred" on all job postings. I swear, everyone wants their applicants to have experience, but they're not willing to GIVE the experience they need. Does that make sense?! Thankfully Travis impressed the administration so the whole experience thing isn't as heavily weighed.
4) Travis will be close to his sisters family. This is good because his nephew, Braxton, is crazy about Trav. Every opportunity Braxton has to spend time with "brother Trav" he jumps at. Now Trav will be able to stop by occasionally and spend time with him. Braxton will be THRILLED!!
5) Travis will be able to apply for other teaching jobs because he will be licensed and experienced. Hopefully in a year or so he will be able to work a little closer to home. But until then we'll gratefully take what we can get!
6) Travis is the third generation "Mr. Braun". His Grandpa Braun was a teacher, his Dad was a teacher (just retired a couple of years ago), and now he's a teacher! It's in his blood! (However, he hopes to eventually pull out of teaching and be a free lance artist as a full time career.)
7) Travis is excited to work with the students and introduce them to a subject he is passionate about. He doesn't doubt his capabilities either. I think that's a GREAT thing about him. He'll just do his best and learn from his mistakes. What a guy!!!
So, this week Trav will be job shadowing and learning about lesson plans, policies, etc. and next Monday he'll officially be Mr. Braun!
...I wonder what miracles she's helping with. I wonder what work she's participating in. Whatever she's doing, she's doing incredibly well. Perfectly, I dare say. Mercydez is not one to settle for mediocre. Everything she does, she does whole heartedly and completely.
We love you, Sweetie. Thank you for everything. We miss you.
School is in full swing now. It's crazy. It's not as hard as I was expecting but I still have HOURS of homework each night. With my many instruments, theory class, and theatre class it's hard finding time to just sit and watch a movie. But sometimes I sit and watch anyways.
Today I sang in my master vocal class. This is a class where ALL the vocal majors attend and critique those performing. It's supposed to be a positive, uplifting experience and for the most part it is. I have come to realize that most (if not all) of the students want those who are performing to do well and succeed. But even with this knowledge I am still TERRIFIED! I can barely breathe when I get up to perform. I'm always thinking about what others are finding wrong with me and/or my voice. I worry about disappointment. I worry about messing up.
Well, today I did just that. I completely messed up. I was up there for about 20 - 25 minutes and was terrified to begin with. However, my success comes in that after I was up there for about 15 minutes I was able to calm down. My nervousness went away. I was able to just SING and not think about my flaws, my weaknesses! That, in and of itself, is a huge step forward for me. I don't know why but I have this huge fear - bordering paranoia - of performing. I am determined to overcome this stumbling block. I don't want to be defined by my fears. I know that one day, be it months or years from now, I will be able to perform and radiate confidence. I won't allow myself to be arrogant, I will simply be confident (those are two very different things). I dream of that day.
The only way to overcome fear is to face it. And face it. And face it. And face it. And face it. And face it. And face it. And face it....you get the idea?! There's no easy solution. There's no way around it. In fact, I read a quote a year ago that states it perfectly: "The best way out is through".
So I am going to be that person who faces my fear. I am going to keep getting up there (all be it my knees are knockin' together, my neck is bright red, while barely breathing) and I'm going to overcome this. I have too. I have no other choice.
But until then I'll have to settle for extreme nerves....and after 15 minutes of pure pain and fear the evantual peace that will come.
Thank goodness I have an incredible husband who not only supports me, he believes in me. Thank goodness for an amazing vocal coach who is not only talented but understanding and highly influential. Thank goodness for my inspirations - which are small in number but profound in strength.
School started yesterday. I have been having some serious anxiety for the last week. I don't want to bite off more then I can chew, like I did this past Spring, and seem to feel that no matter what I do, I'm biting off more then I can chew. It's a scary feeling.
Today was day two and I feel a little overwhelmed...I will be improving and/or learning 7 instruments (you read that right!) this semester: piano, guitar, clarinet, flute, trumpet, horns, and of course vocal (no matter what you believe, the voice IS an instrument). I'm kind of nervous about it, but know if I manage my time wisely I will be fine. So, my life as we know it has ended. I will be doing nothing more then homework for the next four months...but the pay off will be incredible!
It has been very inspiring to see my mom, Ashley, Nic, and Kody all take classes as well! This time last year I was THE ONLY ONE going to school. I'm not saying they weren't spending their time wisely because they were, without a doubt, spending their time and energy on someone so much bigger, better, and incredible then school. I am so excited that they have been inspired to return and study nursing (Kody and I aren't studying nursing but the other three are). All this because of my amazing and precious niece, Mercydez. She is so inspiring...and they have definitely been inspired. They will be incredible nurses. I know it. Everything we do, we do with our Angel baby in mind. She is our motivation. She is our drive. She is our example. She is a part of our daily decisions. We love you Mercydez. We miss you.
So, this semester will be interesting. Over half of the house hold is going to school! It will be crazy-busy around here. Lots of people and cars coming and going at random times. But will be worth it? Absolutely.
Trav & I regularly have the kids over for a night or two. Since moving in with my parents we have them over for one night because the house is packed full of people. But this weekend we had them Friday night through Sunday evening. We had activity after activity planned. It was a lot of fun. So fun, in fact, that I'm still recovering from the running around.
Of course we HAD to take the kids to 7 Peaks! That's a must during the summer season. Since my camera isn't water proof I didn't get any pics of that but that's okay. Here are a few pics showing some of what we did:
Friday night Marin had a "sleep over" with Makenzie (Haws). They have really gotten along well and enjoy sticking together at Seven Peaks. The girls were cute! They played with each others hair, took quizzes from a "girly" magazine (one Marin checked out from the school library), watched a movie, etc. I'm glad they have so much fun together.
Playing with the dogs. Don't worry. The dog hasn't been decapitated. He's reaching for his ball under the cabinets. Grayson and Braxton especially loved playing fetch!
Saturday morning the kids went out and helped Ashley in the memory garden. I'm really shocked how much the kids loved being out there, picking produce, watering the plants, etc. I forgot to take pictures, but I thought it was awesome...they spent well over an hour or two out there. So...if you're looking for ways to entertain kids - throw 'em in a garden! :)
After spending Saturday afternoon at Seven Peaks we roasted marshmallows and starbursts in the back yard. The kids had fun but were SUPER tired. Trav & Grayson were a little edgy, Kacey made Marin cry (suprising, I know), and Braxton took a bite of a roasted marshmallow, decided he didn't like it, spit it out in his hand, and started clapping. It got everywhere. It was an interesting night but fun nonetheless.
Travis, Marin, and I went to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication bright and early Sunday morning (thank you, Ash, for watching the boys). When we got home we had breakfast.
We made swidish pancakes Sunday morning. All three kids cracked eggs (that was interesting) and helped stir.
Sunday afternoon we made puppets and put on a puppet show. Uncle Trav and the kids wrote and performed the play. It was soooooo cute! The kids absolutely LOVED it! Here's a picture of the characters. Cute huh?!?!
I wasn't able to download these pictures yesterday because the internet wasn't working at our resort. So here's our last day in photos - a day late.
The first half of the day we hung out at the villa and played games, twisted on the hanging swings, went swimming in the pool...just hung out and took advantage of our surroundings.
Kellan and Megan playing on the swing.
Kade & Kellan had a blast together. I swear, Kellan was more entertaining and fun then any sort of water gadget or toy. Kellan laughed and had as much fun being chucked as Kade did doing the chucking.
More pool time! :) We had a lot of fun together!
Me & Trav relaxing on the patio at our villa. Nice huh?
The second half of the day we spent in down town Akumal.
We walked along the beach to "down town" Akumal. It was about a 15 minute walk. On our way we saw a shark out yonder in the ocean. It was FREAKY! I was standing on the beach and I STILL screamed out loud! You better believe I stayed out of the water after that.
Had dinner on the beach while in Akumal. It was as gourmet as it gets! Lots of yummy food and a gorgeous view!
Kellan was so excited to eat his chips and guacamole he ended up nose diving it and got a face full of guacamole! We tried not to laugh while he was crying, but it was pretty funny.
While we were eating a mariachi band walked along the beach. There was a wedding on the beach! It was so beautiful, but I don't think I prefer a beach with people sun bathing in the back ground...for wedding pictures anyway.
Building a sand castle - er, a sand village.
Enough said (I tried to turn this picture but it won't turn).
We've been so blessed to be able to come down here. I'm sure gonna miss this place...
We were originally planning on going to Cozumel this morning, to spend the day snorkeling, shopping, and exploring the island. But after talking with the receptionist here at the resort we decided to hang out at Playa Del Carmen again and then spend the rest of the afternoon at a place called AKTUN CHEN which is just a short distance from our hotel. We were told Cozumel is a lot like Playa Del Carmen only we'd have to pay for a ferry ride over there. I thought it sounded fun to begin with, but the more we discussed it the more I realized it would be better to change our plans.
So, here are some more pictures. :) Enjoy!
PLAYA DEL CARMEN - ROUND 2 We have learned the way of the natives (sort of). In order to get anywhere around here we have to walk out to the main high way and stand on the side of the road. We stand there until a shuttle or taxi pulls over. We then climb in and hope we don't get kidnapped and beheaded.
Trav & I got matching tatoos! Woot! Woot! Just kidding. These are temporary tatoos, also known as Henna tatoos. Don't worry, it'll wash off in about two weeks!
AKTUN CHEN We spent most of the day here, so there are a lot of pictures. Brace yourself.
I think Trav looks sooooo handsome in this picture! Hotty, baby!
Like father, like son.
Does this look familiar? In a sort-of-very-distorted-way, I saw this (I turned the picture sideways - but scroll down):
The gang in the underground caves. It was crazy! Hot and Humid but we were able to escape the blasted misquitoes (Megan was SERIOUSLY attacked), so we were happy.
Bruce was in heaven - clearly with THAT smile! He is a collector of rocks so this adventure was right up his alley.
Imagine that ceiling falling on you! Eeek!
A picture taken in the under ground cave. My husband's so hot!
We didn't wipe oursevles down to look shiney and sexy...that's 100% sweat. It was hot!
Yup. There were lots of bats! They were flying around us the entire time. Uhg.
More cave shots (we got a lot of these).
There was a beautiful pond in the caves. The water was perfectly clear and perfectly still. It was almost therapeutic to look at the reflections of the cave ceiling and walls. This picture doesn't show the pond at all because it was really dark in there. But it was amazing.
Another view of the underground pond. You can sort of see the reflections. It's still REALLY dark but hopefully this gives you a SMALL idea of what we saw.
What a romantic!
Look how clear the water is. It was unbelievable.
Snorkeling in the underground caves. This water was COLD! Megan and I froze! It was waaayyyy better then snorkeling in the ocean. I didn't get motion sick at all, thank goodness!
They had wild monkeys on display. We were told to hold on to our hats and sunglasses! I guess the ones that aren't caged up have a bad habit of stealing accessories.
There were many, many deer in this part of the jungle. They weren't tame or anything but they sure didn't mind being in the company of humans. This deer walked right up to us and let us pet and take pictures of her.
John, Kahli, Kellan, and Mary Kay stayed in Akumal and played on the beach. They said they had a great time. So everyone had a successfully super satisfying day. :)
I still wish my whole family could have come with us...