Create Your Happily Ever After

April 1, 2016

I wish…

On Monday March 28th, my grandpa’s life on Earth ended. I’ve been thinking about him a lot this week and these are a few things that stand out.

Hugs. The ones you have to pull out of because he doesn’t let go easily. :-)

“I love you”

“So darn (damn) proud of you.”

“Just tickled…”

Hats. So many hats.

Sleepovers.

“Old McGrandpa Had A Family…”

Camping.

Fishing.

Fishing Poles.

Boating.

Shooting guns.

Talking about guns.

Showing me his collection of guns.

He really loved his guns. :-) Almost as much as he loved his family.

Tomorrow we will lay him to rest and I am not ready. I don’t want it to be over…part of me still expects to see him at a “family party” tomorrow. My heart is full of wishes…

Growing up, he made sure we girls knew how to fish and shoot. He taught me to aim a gun and was always impressed and giddy when I hit something. He treated me like I was a dead-eye, sharp shooting, sniper in the making (I wasn’t…I’m terrible!), but he was so proud. I remember fishing with him at Flaming Gorge and he taught me how to troll. I got a fish or two and his face lit up. To him, I was amazing. I wish I could go out in the hills and shoot his guns with him again or to the lake and cast a line.

We grew up riding in grandpa’s boat. He took us skiing and tubing and swimming. I was afraid of getting tossed out of the tube and he was gentle, but made sure I had a good ride. I wish I could sit on the boat and enjoy a ride with him.

Every time we went to a restaurant or anywhere public, grandpa would flirt and tease the waitress or anyone who would humor him. He made me laugh. He made the world laugh. He charmed his way into the hearts of everyone who interacted with him. I wish I could see him flirt and tease. I wish I could see him smile and laugh while the world laughed with him.

Grandpa was uncomfortable in churches, on temple grounds, at choir performances and shows, etc. He didn’t want to go to places that made him uncomfortable, but if it meant being there for one of his grandkids, he came anyway. He may have been in t-shirts, jeans, and a hat, but he showed up. He supported us and made sure we knew, again, how proud he was. On the day I got married, he was in one of his “moods” and wasn’t going to be in any pictures, especially at the temple. I can only find pictures with the back of his head, proof that he was there because he loved me, even when he was being ornery. I wish I had pictures with him on my wedding day.

I admit that I didn’t visit him often enough, but when I did he was full of hugs. He was full of I love yous and I’m proud of you. He really wanted us to know how he felt. I wish I would’ve seen him more so he could feel my love for him. I told him whenever I saw him, but I worry he didn’t feel it as deeply as I meant it.

Before he passed, he had a stroke and I was privileged to spend a few days with him in the hospital. Before the stroke, I felt a new desire to get over to their house more often. I tried and I saw him more in February than I had in a while. It felt amazing. He was amazing. I wish I had more time with him.

In the last few visits before the stroke, he talked to me about how proud he was of this grandkid or that grandkid and how happy he was to see everyone raising good families. In the hospital, the last time I saw him, he told me how proud he was of me for choosing to foster parent. His face was pride and joy. I wish I could see his face again and feel that pride he had in his family.

The Saturday before he left us, I intended to take our new family over to see him. In the busyness of the Easter holiday, I forgot. Completely, 100% forgot. I made a new plan to swing by on Monday after the kids’ naps. But it was too late. He was gone. I wish he would’ve stayed a little longer. I wish I would’ve made it over to see him a little sooner. I wish I could hear him praise me for “doing a damn good job with these kids.” 😉 Haha! I wish a lot of things as I prepare for this weekend, for the last goodbye on Earth.

I wish he was here.

I wish his life didn’t end the way it did.

I wish I would’ve been able to say goodbye.

I wish I could yell in his deaf ear that he is a lucky bastard and that I love him and tell him not to go.

But he did go. He is gone. Wishing won’t bring him back or change what happened. We have to focus on the good

I wish for him to be remembered as the grumpy, flirty, lovey guy he was.

I wish for him to finally understand that he is a child of God and that he is loved in Heaven and on Earth.

I wish for him to have happiness and peace as he reunites with God, with the Savior, and with his family there.

I wish for him to see me. To watch me as I grow in my new role. To be proud of me from where he is.

I wish for peace as we learn to be ok without him.

I wish for all of us to do more to connect with family, before it’s too late and you’re left wishing for things that can’t be.

I wish…

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.” -Gandalf the Whit

“To the well organized mind, death is just the next great adventure.” -Albus Dumbledore

“To one as young as you, I’m sure (death) seems incredible, but to (others) it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day.” -Albus Dumbledore

Goodnight, grumpy old man. We love you and we’ll see you in the morning.

Lake Powell 2009

Lake Powell 2009

All smiles!

All smiles!

Teach me, Grandpa!

Teach me, Grandpa!

 

 

Posted in: Happy Days
March 31, 2016

Angel Wings

Holy moly. That’s all I have to say. Thanks for reading.

Just kidding. I actually have A LOT to say because I need to remember this, so pop some popcorn and try to keep up. :-)

This is the mushy, gushy side of the our story. The “real” stuff will have to come later, in another post.

January, we waited to get licensed because our licensor was out of town when our background check came in. Boo. As soon as she was back in town, she was speedy and we were licensed before February rolled in.

February started…and continued. We hadn’t heard from DCFS, so I emailed the RFC coordinator and guess who was out of town for a week? Yep. January on repeat. More waiting. In the meantime, our stake created a new ward and we are in it! The bishopric came to visit and they brought an incredible feeling of peace and happiness into our home. We visited, didn’t get callings, and then they asked what they could do for us. Jeff, jokingly, said “you could help us get foster kids faster!” We chuckled because at this point, we weren’t even being considered because we hadn’t heard from DCFS yet, so it wasn’t a “real” request. But hey, if you’ve ever questioned the Lord’s hand in choosing our leaders, you can be assured that He is involved…very involved. They came. They brought us a message of happiness and joy and patience. They prayed with us. And do you know what happened after they left? Less than an hour later!? We got an email from our resource family consultant at DCFS. She came to our house four days later and was the final check mark on our list. We were now being considered for placements.

Unfortunately, she told us it takes an average of 6 months to get a placement, for good reasons. DCFS tries to keep the kids with their parents as long as possible while they receive help and counseling. Removals are taking longer than in the past because the ultimate goal is to keep families together. I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. I am sure my face showed it, but I tried to stay positive. I had been waiting SO long for an opportunity to parent and I thought for sure we’d have kids within a month or two. Just kidding. I get to keep waiting. After 5 years, what’s 6 more months, right? Lesson learned. Patience is a lesson I will always be learning. 😉

I accepted it and started planning to continue my life without kids. I made plans to start volunteering in my old classroom again. I pulled up applications to volunteer with women and children in other crisis centers and at schools/libraries. I picked dates to go on a girl’s trip with my sister in law. I agreed to babysit nieces and nephews for a few days. I got a major (and I mean major) case of wanderlust around Valentine’s Day and pulled up dozens of locations I wanted to visit. I felt grateful for the drive to find other ways to serve and keep busy. I felt the same peace I’ve felt the last 5 years as I’ve waited for my kids. And then…just like that, my wanderlust disappeared. I knew it was too late to travel. I put away travel plans and prepared to start volunteering. I was a little upset because we did get new callings (Jeff is the Sunday School Pres. You can call him Mr. P) and decided not to go anywhere over President’s Day so we could be around to serve in our brand spanking new ward. I was bummed because for whatever strange reason, I knew I’d missed my chance for a vacation with Jeff for a while.

And this is why wanderlust left. On Sunday, Feb. 28th, my grandpa had a stroke. My heart told me I needed to be with them, so I spent the next two days driving my grandma to the hospital, sitting with her, watching him rest and complain about his “damn hand” (the complaining was a good sign, very characteristic of my grumpy old man, don’t worry!), and talking with them both. I felt fortunate to have the free time to spend my days with them, not worrying about any responsibilities because well…I had none. :-) It was incredible to watch my grandpa progress and gain his strength back. He was a miracle and we all knew it. He hated the attention, he hated the visitors and told us all to go home. My aunt (who can get away with anything because she’s so cute) called him a “lucky bastard” because he was surrounded by family and friends who loved him. Seriously, if you’ve ever met my grandpa, you love him instantly. He’s a flirt, a tease, and he never ceases to express his love and pride in you. He is a lucky bastard. So lucky in fact, that by Wednesday we decided he didn’t need us at the hospital all day, so my mom told me not to pick grandma up that morning. She told me I had earned my “angel wings” that week for spending so much time with my grandparents. I kinda rolled my eyes, because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything extraordinary. It’s just what you do for those you love and it wasn’t a sacrifice for me to do it. It was a blessing. I was humbled. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with them. I will admit though, that a little, tiny, selfish part of my brain hoped I would be blessed in some way. I didn’t expect it, but the thought crossed my mind. :-)

Here we are at Wednesday…I slept in, I was getting ready to finish a quilt (still not done!), and my grandma called. She couldn’t stay away from the hospital. So I showered and went to pick her up. On my way there, I got a phone call. Not just any phone call. THE phone call. It was DCFS. They had 3 kids in an emergency shelter home and they were looking for a permanent foster home. Let’s just say, I am lucky I didn’t crash while I finished driving. I told her we were interested, but I needed to call Jeff. He didn’t even hesitate. “Let’s do it.” I pulled up to Grandma’s house, told her the news, and she waited and cheered while I called them back and accepted the placement. We went to the hospital. Grandpa was so excited and just “tickled” for us. He couldn’t wait to meet them. **Sidebar, we also found out he’d be going home that evening! YAY!** We hugged and cheered, and I cut my visit with him short so I could call my mom and head home to get ready. She and my dad came down that night to help us set up beds and get organized.

On the way home, I prayed in my heart, expressing gratitude, excitement, and terror. And then I burst into tears as realization came to me. Heavenly Father gently and lovingly (and I imagine with a smile on His face) said “This is what you wanted.”

What I wanted. In 5 years, I’ve never gotten what I wanted. No easy answers. No easy fixes. No pregnancies. Not much progress. No more teaching school. No “miracle twin (girls, specifically, haha!).” I honestly felt that I always got what I needed, which was peace. Patience. And Peace. I always, always knew that God’s hand was in our struggle. I knew undoubtedly that He had a grand plan, but it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. But He gave me what I needed in the peace and reassurance that He was in charge. And that’s what carried me through. I got what I needed.

This time was different though. When we started this journey back in November, I continually said the most ideal situation would be a 2 or a 3 year old and a baby. Two young kids. A toddler for Jeff and a baby for me. When I received my calling to serve in the new ward, the counselor told me the bishopric was praying that the Lord would bless me with what I wanted. Did you read that right? He said what I WANTED. Not what I needed. I chuckled, I laughed it off and told me I never get what I want, but I always get what I need. I left and forgot about it until Wednesday, March 2nd when the call came.  I was getting what I wanted, plus one.

A 2 year old boy. A 3 year old boy. And a sweet, 4 month old baby girl.

Still don’t believe our leaders are chosen and called by God? For the second time, our bishopric prayed and were blessed. Coincidence? Nope.

Now, are you ready for the real kicker and testimony builder? I always say I don’t care about gender. I say it to you. I don’t say it to Heavenly Father. I tell Him specifics I won’t admit to anyone else because I don’t want to seem selfish. I pray often for a baby girl. I tell Him “You know what I want and what I need. I want a baby girl. But more than that I want to be a mom and teach and love Your children as my own. So, if You can, get me a baby girl. BUT IF NOT…I will be ok. I know that You know what’s best for me and for those kids out there who need our family. Help us find them and teach them.” Sometimes, I am pretty casual in my prayers. 😉  See, Heavenly Father knows my heart. He alone knows I secretly wanted a baby girl to love. So you see…

I got what I wanted.

Blessings were fulfilled. If you’ve ever doubted whether or not Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, loves you, watches over you, I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you He does. He knows you. ALL of you. Every secret part of you. He hears you. He loves you. He watches over you. He blesses you. Sometimes, He gives you what you need. Other times, He gives you what you want. But He always gives.

Fast forward 4 weeks…all my plans were cancelled. I didn’t submit any applications. I only made it to the school once to volunteer. I cancelled babysitting for nieces and nephews (ironically, when she asked me I responded “I’d LOVE to! If we don’t have kids by then…wait, you need me in like two weeks. We for sure won’t have kids by then. I’ll do it.). My whole life changed overnight and has been a crazy, wild whirlwind ever since! The boys are…boys. We have some work to do, but they are so loving and kind (most of the time). The baby is so happy. She’s all smiles and giggles (unless she’s hungry, tired, or in her carseat) and we love them.

Parenting is hard. I miss sleeping in. But we are finally doing it! :-) We love it. Jeff is AMAZING with the kids. I can’t say enough about how wonderful he is! I’m getting tired and fuzzy, which means it’s time to end. One last thought:

On that Tuesday, my mom said I’d earned my angel wings. The next day, we got the call to be parents. I certainly don’t feel like an angel and I think my wings are still on the shelf waiting for me, but I do believe angels have come to me. They give me energy when I am exhausted. Wisdom and inspiration when I don’t know what to do. Patience when I feel like I want to run away. Peace and humility as we figure this out. Joy in the journey. I am being carried on angel’s wings.

***I will not be posting pictures of the sweet littles on the blog or social media. If you want to see them, I’ll email you pictures. Or you can come over. ;-)***

Posted in: Fostering, Happy Days
January 3, 2015

A Piece of My Life…and the blue book

I have been wanting to write something about what my experiences have been over the past several years. I haven’t had the time or energy to do it just yet, but today I saw something that I need to share because I needed to see it. So, I’ll give a short version of my life since sometime around 2006.

Fear. It started with fear. I was afraid to do something that would have changed my life and hopefully, someone else’s. I wanted to go on a mission. I had always wanted to go. My bishop approached me and told me I was ready. But fear stopped me and I didn’t go. Since then, I have struggled with fear, anxiety and depression. It was very slight at first and I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Certain events, those involving BIG changes (graduating college, relationships, marriage, teaching, infertility) contributed. In the past year or so I have realized what’s been happening to me. I try not to let it define me. It comes in waves. Some days I am me…happy, positive, sunny, and free. Some days I am trapped. I am lost. I am confused. Some days I am at peace. Some days I am in turmoil. I have managed it and feel like I am coming through to the other side of this and I have more good days now. But there is still one thing that lingers.

I have never in my life doubted my faith. I have been diligent in study and prayer and service to God. I knew who I was. I knew God. I knew Jesus Christ. I knew they were real and they loved me. But depression and anxiety do funny things to the brain. For the first time in my life, I doubt. I struggle to believe, and to feel anything. This is harder for me than dealing with infertility. How can I, Bobbie-Jo, who’s always found it easy to believe, who’s always been happy and positive and found joy in the gospel and knowledge of Jesus Christ, struggle like this? I never thought depression or anxiety would take hold of me. But it happened and I assure you, I’m fighting my way out. This is what I want to share: there is one thing that has helped me hold on to my testimony. One thing that keeps me feeling, when my brain suppresses emotion. One thing I cling to. The Book of Mormon. When I pray and don’t know if anyone is hearing me, I can read the book and know it. When I feel empty and lost, I can read it and find my way, even if it’s just for a few days at a time. I am not my best in study and prayer, and some days I REALLY don’t feel the desire or motivation to do it. But this video reached me today and reminded me of something I know. The Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ and His love for all of us, regardless of who we are, where we are, or how we feel. He loves us and the book can prove it to you.

Posted in: Happy Days
January 21, 2014

Tender Mercies

Oct. 2013

I’m just going to say it…infertility sucks. BUT we have been very blessed through this whole process and most days we don’t feel anything but peace and happiness. Occasionally, we get frustrated, but not because of our infertility, because of our desire to have children, and because of the finances required to get there.

During General Conference a few weeks ago, I wrote down specific questions and prayed for specific answers. Specifically, I prayed about our family. What do we do now? More tests? Treatments? Adoption? Wait it out? Nothing feels right yet. So here we go. Ask. Seek. Knock. Open. Listen. TRUTH. The most direct (indirect) answer to this very important question about our family, came in a talk not about family or marriage or children, but about tithing. Read the whole thing here: The Windows of Heaven

“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.”

I wasn’t told what to do about starting our family or which direction to go. But it was pointed out to me that the greatest blessing we have received through this is peace. That is our answer. Heavenly Father has blessed us both with incredible peace in what could have been an incredibly difficult journey. We are doing just fine and that is a tender mercy.

Speaking of tithing and everyone’s favorite…finances, here’s another win. We have been very blessed with Jeff’s work. He has such a strong skill set and he is in the right industry, so I know we are luckier than most in this area and we can’t/don’t complain! Even still, Heavenly Father takes care of us and gives us blessings we don’t expect or feel like we deserve.

When it came time to renew insurance with Overstock, we stuck with the high deductible plan because for our purposes (maternity, we thought) it was about the same as a the regular plan, except that monthly premiums were less. So it sounded like a good deal! Then after months and months of no pregnancy, we started infertility testing and we starting paying for it, all of it, out of pocket. It adds up pretty quick and we were worried about paying for treatments (if we decided to go that route) or adoption. And then, Jeff got a new job, which means new insurance, which means for us…more coverage. :) Tender mercy.

Earlier this week, we received another one of those bills. It was pricy. We went through upcoming expenses (including tithing) and decided that if we are careful with extra spending, we’d be fine, so the bill got paid. It should have stressed me out (I am a financial hoarder…I dislike watching money disappear), but it didn’t. “We’ve been so blessed” I thought. “So lucky that Jeff has such a great job and we will never have to worry about finances.” We pay our tithing faithfully and we have always been taken care of. That feeling: Tender mercy.

Literally, the day after I paid that hefty bill, I got a phone call from the medical lab. Apparently there was a glitch in the system and my bill was going to be 85% LESS than what we thought. Huge refund check will be in the mail. WHA!!?!?!?! I don’t know why we deserve it, when so many people can’t pay their bills and we can. But still…tender mercy.

In the smallest and simplest ways, I have felt Heavenly Father’s awareness of us. It’s not overwhelming. It’s not a spiritual experience that is “Ensign worthy.” It’s gentle, it’s subtle, it’s simple, and it’s beautiful.

Heavenly Father loves us. He takes care of us. He blesses us in undeserving and unexpected ways. Tender Mercies.

January 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Miracles (God likes to laugh!)

I know I’m a few months late in reporting, but this is a story that deserves to be told. Enjoy! If you’ve ever wondered if God has a sense of humor, here’s your answer.

A few weeks before the holiday, I thought “Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to host Thanksgiving? We’ve never done that before!” Food assignments were made and a time was set. I bought a turkey and potatoes and we were feeling so good! Everything was working out so well.

On Monday, I got the turkey out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. Check.

On Tuesday we found out Jeff’s brother, Jared, was going to stay with us. Great! We have two empty bedrooms. Check.

On Wednesday, we found out Jeff’s brother Mark and his family were staying with us too. Great! They can take our room so they have a place for their two kids and a comfier bed. We’ll sleep in the guest room and Jared can take the air mattress in the other room. Check.

So far so good! :) My family was coming for a nice quiet dinner. We had Jeff’s family staying with us (Lisa and Sam and kids, Jared, and Mark and Kelley and kids), so even though we wouldn’t join them for dinner at Dave and Kathy’s, we’d still spend plenty of time together! Plus there is always pie at Grandpa Hicken’s. I was excited for all this family time! Check, check!

On Wednesday night I started to feel anxious! I’ve never made a turkey before. What if it’s gross? What if it’s dry? What if the seasonings are bad? Awe, crap, what if it’s still frozen?? So right before bed, I checked the turkey…still partially frozen. Yikes! We did some research and found a way to get it thawed and cooked, just in case. Phew! Breathe easy and go to bed. It’s going to be fine! Smile.

Thursday morning was restless. I was wide awake at 5 am for no reason. My alarm wasn’t set to go off for another hour or so, but I couldn’t seem to stay asleep.

5:20 AM–We get a text from Kathy (the host for the Hicken’s Thanksgiving dinner). She’s sick. With a new baby in the family, another one close to arrival, and other kids just getting over being sick, it didn’t feel like a great idea to have Thanksgiving there anymore. SURPRISE! Looks like they’ll all come to our house!

7:20 AM–Lisa came up and we made a plan. Sam put another (frozen) turkey in their roaster. We told everyone to bring their assigned foods, nothing more, nothing less. If the Hickens brought what they planned on for the Hickens and the Kemps brought what they planned on for us, we’d be fine. No worries, right!?!?! We’ll make it work. It’s only…uh…40 PEOPLE.

7:30 AM–I prayed for a Thanksgiving miracle–specifically warm enough weather that we could send kids outside. Dear Heavenly Father, Our numbers jumped from 15 with my family, to 40 with Jeff’s family. FORTY PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE…BAHAHAH! My kitchen/dining area is NOT that big. We just put in new carpet, so I didn’t want people eating over it. We were going to be CRAMPED as it is, so if the kids could just go outside, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks! :)

7:40 AM–The turkey is going to be fine! Still a tiny bit frozen, but no big deal. I pulled out the neck, but I couldn’t find the giblets inside, so I thought “Maybe this one doesn’t have any?!? Meh!” I prepped it and stuck it in the oven for a nice slow roast. Check.

8:00 AM–I started cleaning, moving furniture, and setting up as many tables and chairs as I had, and asked my mom to bring hers and table cloths. Don’t worry about dishes. We’ve got paper and plastic! Check.

10:30 AM–I’ve got a nagging feeling to check the turkey. I’m sure I’ve missed something. I pulled it out, couldn’t find anything and put it back. The nagging wouldn’t leave so I did some research on giblets. Turns out, sometimes they stick them in the ‘other’ end. As a first timer, I hadn’t thought to look there. Oops. I also learned that if the giblets are wrapped in plastic and you cook them…you’re done for. Plastic leaches dangerous chemicals into the bird and we’d have to throw it out. If they’re wrapped in paper, you’re safe. PANIC. “What if I have to throw this turkey away? We are going to try and feed 40 people with this one turkey, because we don’t know if Sam and Lisa’s will be done in time (there’s was fresh from the freezer at 7:00 am!)! Awe, blast…I’ve ruined Thanksgiving,” I thought. “We may be buying pizza.”

10:45 AM–I pulled the turkey back out and found the giblets in the wrong end (…I know now!), wrapped in paper. SAFE! Thanksgiving Miracle #1.

12:30–Jeff and I begin to peel the potatoes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told that boy to throw the peels in the garbage, not the sink. But he’s a man “It’ll be fine. It’s not that many.” Well today, we were cooking for many. Still, he peels them (a lot of them) in the sink. I was chopping while he peeled, so I didn’t get a chance to stop him. He ran the disposal to clear out the sink. The disposal jammed, but he kept trying to make it run, filling the sink with gallons of filthy, starchy water. To remedy the clog, Jeff decided to try the toilet plunger…

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1:00 PM–My family starts to arrive. Seeing our dilemma, my brother in law Ben jumps right in to help. They decide to disconnect the disposal…and before you know it, the kitchen is filling up with filthy, brown, starchy water. I let out a laughing scream and ran for the towels while they tried to catch the water with a bucket. Meanwhile, the potatoes are boiling over on the stove (more water mess) and the gravy’s not getting made. The rest of Jeff’s family is showing up and wanting to use the stove to cook green beans and such. Chaos. Utter chaos. But somehow, instead of doing what I usually do (stressing to the point of being bossy and ornery and not very nice), I laughed. I just laughed. I found it completely hilarious. Not stressful, but amusing. Somehow, with only a few hours of sleep, I managed to stay positive, smiling, laughing, and Heavenly Father knew I would need that. Thanksgiving Miracle #2.

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This is the stack of towels we used to clean up the water. This is pretty much EVERY bath towel I own, washed three times to get rid of all the starch! :) So funny!

This is the stack of towels we used to clean up the water. This is pretty much EVERY bath towel I own, washed three times to get rid of all the starch! :) So funny!

2:00 PM (ish, I started losing track of time)–We pulled the turkey out of the oven. My mom and Grandma carved it up and discovered it wasn’t quite done. Close, but not quite. My mom worked on that while Grandma started gravy. “Where are the giblets?” Um…in the garbage?? Am I supposed to save them? Oops. Dinner fail. BUT don’t worry, mom and Grandma Bell are geniuses and made some delicious gravy and fixed up my turkey. It was tender and flavorful and no one died. :) Thanksgiving Miracle #3.

We started setting the table to eat. I was all for paper and plastic…I did NOT want to do dishes for 40 people, plus the pots and pans from prepping dinner. My dad was NOT loving this. He wanted fancy. So we got out the fancy silver and china they had brought. Some people used it and others went with plastic. Dinner was chaotic, we didn’t stuff oursevles because there were just too many of us to sit comfortably and the kids were more interested in playing together than eating. So we had PLENTY of food, too much actually! My mom is incredible and had the dishes cleaned up in no time. Thanksgiving Miracle #4. And the kids spent a lot of time eating and running around outside! It was sunny, in the high 30’s, and they didn’t have a care in the world! Thanksgiving Miracle #5.

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I wasn’t stressed, but my dad was…too many people. Loud. Crazy. Cramped. Socializing. All his favorite things. :) We got cleaned up and were just starting to sit and relax with some pie.

“Bobbie-Jo…where’s the drill? The hammer?” Why!?!? Turns out one of the little boys had locked himself in the bathroom downstairs. A bathroom lock that requires a key. A key that we don’t have because the previous owners didn’t leave one. Awesome. We can’t get to the hinges. We can’t unscrew the doorknob. So they did the responsible thing and broke the doorknob off with a hammer. Child rescued. No harm done (except the doorknob which we will replace with a NON keyed lock). The 3 year old actually enjoyed his time alone in the bathroom. “It was fun!” he said. Thanksgiving Miracle #6.

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Things started winding down and people started leaving to go for pie at Grandpa Hicken’s or the in-laws. My family was so helpful and so patient and understanding in all of this. Jeff’s family was just as awesome! They went home with smiles on their faces, even though I know it’s not the day they were expecting and we didn’t get a lot of time to just sit and enjoy each other. There was too much going on and too many people to entertain. I love our family for this. They just went with the flow and kept things positive! :)

The house is quiet, the furniture is put back together, the day is over. We can just head out to Grandpa’s for pie. We made it. Thanks for the miracles today Heavenly Father. You’re one funny guy! :)

That’s what I thought. But He wasn’t done yet. We went in to the garage and pushed the button to open the door and…nada. The motor was running, but the door wasn’t moving. So, my brother and Jeff pried it off the ground and held it up while I backed the car out. Thankfully, my brother and parents hadn’t quite pulled away when the garage door decided to break. Thanksgiving Miracle #7. It was a “perfect” ending to a “perfect” day!

Moral of the story–Miracles come AFTER the trials. Heavenly Father has a great sense of humor. If you pray for a miracle, He’ll give you one. But He might create some mishaps to help you recognize and appreciate them. :)

I’d say our first Thanksgiving went well, wouldn’t you?

PS…Look who decided to show up for dinner!! :)

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Posted in: Happy Days
December 10, 2013

“I Didn’t Marry My Soul Mate”

I Didn’t Marry My Soul Mate 

Read the article! :)

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I like this. :) It rings true in my ears. I didn’t believe in soul mates necessarily (although I was certain I’d found “the one”), and I didn’t go on a mission, but there was a boy, and he went on a mission, and I was hopeful when he returned. And then…nothing.

The first words Jeff and I spoke to each other were “Well…this is awkward.” My thoughts were: “Meh, he’s cute I guess.” :) Our first date was to a CES Fireside, followed by sharing favorite scriptures and experiences, watching Church History videos and music videos, and laughing hysterically while we battled to see who could make the most ridiculous facial expressions. Instant comfort in his presence, which isn’t easy for me. I am a bit socially awkward with new people. But it was easy. Jeff made it easy.

So, yeah, Jeff isn’t my soul mate, but I chose him then and I choose him now and forever! :) We are becoming soul mates one day, one adventure, at a time.

Speaking of adventures…wait til you hear about Thanksgiving. Yikes! :) Pictures and stories coming soon! Haha!

 

Posted in: Happy Days
October 13, 2013

Just Pictures! :)

I know…sometimes it’s hard to just sit and read stuff. It’s hard to just sit and write stuff. I like visual things. So here are a few of the highlights from the past few months! :)

We made it down to the Manti Pageant this year! It was wonderfully cheesy and spiritual. Just the way I like it. :)

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He really did enjoy it. :)

He really did enjoy it. :)

Hailey and Brandon participated in Music Camp this Summer! Hailey has been doing it for a while, but this was Brandon’s first time! They both did amazing and I am impressed with their talent!

One show to rule them all...

One show to rule them all…

Cutest Little "Dork" I've ever seen! :)

Cutest Little “Dorc” I’ve ever seen! :)

Hailey is singing her heart out (on the left, brown and white dress) as Eowyn, one of the good girls! She was quite the flirt!

Hailey is singing her heart out (on the left, brown and white dress) as Eowyn, one of the good girls! She was quite the flirt!

Jeff had a birthday! 27 never looked so good!

It doesn't take much to make him happy. Costa Vida and me!

It doesn’t take much to make him happy. Costa Vida and me!

Prius wins again (seriously…that spaceship of a car is magical when it comes to transporting goods)! Our water heater started leaking late one night and after talking to the manufacturer and a few others, we learned that Riverton water has a tendency to destroy things. It was going to cost quite a bit to have someone come replace it because it happened to be Pioneer Day. So we decided to tackle the project ourselves with a little help from Marci and Dan. :)

And yes...the hatchback closed. WITH room to spare. :)

And yes…the hatchback closed. WITH room to spare. :)

Jeff got a new job! He now works for Alianza. To celebrate, his recruiter treated us to a super fancy dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I don’t typically like steak, so when I tell you it’s good…it’s good.

They heard we were celebrating a new job. So they decorated our table with “money.” :) This place is classy.

He has a sweet spirit, even if he can't smile. :)

There's that smile! :) Love him!

There’s that smile! :) Love him!

There are no words. :)

We finally got the railing installed on our basement entry. It was a long time coming (sorry Jon and Melissa!), but other things kept us from doing it sooner (like flaky contractors, figuring out the deal with having kids, making sure we had enough money in savings, and other house projects). Anyway, it’s done, it’s safe, and it looks really good! Thanks to my brother in law Johnny for the great stucco work!

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Jeff is testing it’s strength. Don’t worry, no child will fall into the pit!

We fixed our sprinklers. It was a nightmare. I hope I never have to tunnel under concrete ever again.

At least he's still smiling! After 7 days of this, I sure wasn't. However...I did quite the happy dance when we finally reached the other side! I think I scared our new neighbors. :)

At least he’s still smiling! After 7 days of this, I sure wasn’t. However…I did quite the happy dance when we finally reached the other side! I think I scared our new neighbors. :)

We sat outside and Jeff played some tunes.

It looks like he was really rocking out. But...it was just the flash. He was actually playing a beautiful, calm, melody. :)

It looks like he was really rocking out. But…it was just the camera flash. He was actually playing a beautiful, calm, melody. :)

Lucky me! :)

Lucky me! :)

We went to a soccer game!

20130824_20014520130824_20551920130824_200230Ben and Kat’s baby Carter was born in April. Jeff was finally forced to hold him this Summer. I liked it more than he did!

"What do I do with this thing?!" Haha!

“What do I do with this thing?!” Haha!

"Maybe this isn't so bad!" (At least that's why I want Jeff to be thinking...)

“Maybe this isn’t so bad!” (At least that’s what I want Jeff to be thinking…)

Awe! :) Carter liked looking at Jeff and listening to his voice!

Awe! :) Carter liked looking at Jeff and listening to his voice!

And our garden! We got more cucumbers than we could handle, delicious raspberries, and we have loved making salsa with all our tomatoes and peppers. I even got all “domestic” and canned a few bottles. I know it’s a little weird for me.

I hate big chunks in my salsa, so we used the blender. Go Ninja, go Ninja, go Ninja, GO! :) It also makes chopping those veggies for salsa a breeze! It took us about 10 minutes to whip up this large, delicious, batch! SAY WHAT!!

I hate big chunks in my salsa, so we used the blender. Go Ninja, go Ninja, go Ninja, GO! :) It also makes chopping those veggies for salsa a breeze! It took us about 10 minutes to whip up this large, delicious, batch! SAY WHAT!!

Beautiful. Delectable.

Beautiful. Delectable.

We found this little creeper in our tomatoes. He lives across the street now. :)

We found this little creeper in our tomatoes. He lives across the street now. :)

And what’s Summer without a good hike or two?

He's really happy. We love nature!

He’s really happy. We love nature!

20130902_165935And there you go! :) We’ve been busy, but we are so happy and it just keeps getting better! Now all we need is a child. Can we have yours?! Just kidding…kinda. 😉

Posted in: Happy Days
October 13, 2013

Change

Change is an interesting thing. It’s not easy to accept, but most often proves to be for our benefit. It’s wonderful to get comfortable and to settle into a routine and lifestyle. I like to be “comfortable” and secure and safe. I love little changes like rearranging the furniture, getting a hair cut, or teaching a new topic in math. I don’t like to step outside my comfort zone. I dislike when my “flow” is disrupted in big, dramatic ways. It messes with my emotions and flares up the anxiety. However, I am learning quickly that allowing ourselves to get “too comfortable” often results in stagnancy and lack of upward progression. I am learning to recognize that I can expect something to change, large or small, when I start to feel too comfortable; and that is a good thing.

Jeff was contacted in August by a recruiter he’s worked with for a few years. He regularly gets contacted by recruiters and various companies who are interested in his skill set. This one started out just like that…a regular contact. This particular recruiter had recently been calling Jeff as more of a connection to other nerds…ahem…programmers because Jeff was in a great leadership position at Overstock. He loved his team, he loved his work, he was happy with his salary…he was comfortable. He had been telling recruiters for months he wasn’t interested in change. So when Evan (the usual recruiter) called about this job and asked Jeff if he knew anyone who fits, it wasn’t really that exciting or unusual. But the more Jeff heard, the more he liked. This happened on a Thursday. We went to the temple that weekend hoping for some guidance and in he went for an interview on the following Tuesday. Jeff sent me a text while I was teaching Summer school wanting me to call him asap. Unusual for him, so my anxiety immediately flared up. YIKES! After I sent the littles on their way, I called him and he told me what had happened. The company was so impressed with him, they asked what he would need to make the job offer a no brainer. He threw out some numbers and they said “done.” He had a new job. In less than a week and with no effort on our part, things changed. I admit, my response to this was a little less than supportive. It freaked me out and it took a few days to get my heart to stop pounding. This new company is very small, no one has heard of them, so it felt risky to accept. Overstock was comfortable, it is huge and doing very well. We had job security and I hated losing that. Aaaahhh!!! But Jeff felt very good about the change, so we moved forward. Overstock threw a mighty protest and tried very hard to get him to stay, but Jeff had made a commitment and he felt good about it, so despite the promises and comfort offered to us, he left. (They did tell him that Overstock is home and he will always have a job there, which eased my anxiety quite a bit. Phew!)

Things are going very well at his new job. He has more flexibility in his schedule, benefits are fabulous, and his opportunities for growth in his skill set and knowledge are tremendous. It is a very good thing for him, and though he misses Overstock (mostly his team), he feels like he made the right move. He is now working for Alianza, a small VOIP company in Lindon and he loves it. :) See…change is good.

As for me, I am still figuring myself out. I struggle with who I am, I struggle with self worth, and I struggle to feel like I belong. The past few years have been particularly difficult for me, and I have had my fair share of doubt. But one thing I know for certain is that the Lord knew what He was doing when he called me into the Young Women presidency. I am not influencing them, they are influencing me. They have been the pathway to the change I need. I feel it. I know Heavenly Father is aware of me and of my personal struggles. He has provided me an opportunity for growth and for improvement.

As our lives move forward, I can feel myself changing. I sense subtle changes in Jeff and in our relationship (don’t worry…it’s all good!). New callings, new jobs, new experiences. You see, one of the many reasons God sent us to Earth was for our personal growth and development. He is teaching us to become like Him. He knows who we were, who we are, and who we can become. As we are, change is required. In order to become, change is required. It’s definitely not easy, especially when we like who we are and we are comfortable. But again, being comfortable can result in halted progression if we aren’t careful. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is constantly providing opportunities for us (sometimes unsolicited and in the form of trials) to grow and to change just a little more until we have become who He needs us to be. Thankfully, He has given us an example to follow in His Son, Jesus Christ. All we need is the courage, the faith, the diligence, the humility, to move forward, even when it’s scary. Change is good. :)

 

 

 

Posted in: Happy Days
June 29, 2013

So far this year…

Hello world! Just a quick update on our lives and the happenings of 2013!

In December, the primary president told me they were moving me to nursery. I was excited because I love being with the littles. Then she told me that the nursery is cursed. Everyone they put in the nursery ends up pregnant. My excitement level tripled and of course told her I was fully expecting to be “cursed” in such a manner. :)  Unfortunately, we haven’t been cursed yet (so please…pray for us to be cursed, haha!) We did however, start the process of infertility testing in January because after nearly two years of no babies…we decided we should get help. And that pretty much sums up January through probably the rest of the year or so! YAY! :) Don’t worry…we are not too sensitive about it and we will answer questions and fill in details, just not publicly. 😉 And if you tell me you’re pregnant I am still VERY excited for you, but don’t be shocked or offended when I freely admit that I am probably 80% excited and 20% jealous. :) So…after learning that our chances are lessened due to ONE crucial hormone that’s much higher than it should be, we did what any responsible person would do. We blew our money on a relaxing vacation to a beautiful tropical location. If you would like to see the pictures and read about our trip to Jamaica, click on the Adventure Time tab and scroll down to 2013. Read the short ish blurb and click on the Jamaica header to see the pictures in Picasa. Don’t forget to read the captions! We did some fun things!

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I completed another school year! My first one in 1st Grade and as a part time teacher. I LOVE working part time. It has been great for me! I am excited for the next year when I can do it better! :) I also completed my ESL endorsement (18 credit hours of night classes, online discussions, too many textbooks read, and so much homework!) and it feels good to be able to have my weekends and Tues/Thurs evenings back. I’ll be starting Summer school in about a week teaching pre-K students at my school. They are extremely low and we’d like to prepare them for Kindergarten a little bit. It’s making me nervous, but I am also very excited because I know how big of a difference it can make for the kids, their parents, and their kindergarten teachers. :) I love what I do, even though it’s stressful. We are literally creating a future for many of these kids. It’s exciting to think about them growing up and doing big things!

Jeff is still working at Overstock and is the FED Architect. He basically helps build the website, teaches his team, and integrates new technologies. I am very proud of him! His hard work is paying for him and for our family! He is also working on several side projects with his brothers, our brother in law, and just for fun. You know you’re in the right profession when your job is your hobby. Jeff goes to work and programs. He comes home from work and programs. AND HE LOVES IT! I’m grateful he’s found his place and his passion!

Together, we are enjoying serving family and friends, playing games (I even play video games occasionally and Magic…the things you do for love), and working around the house. Our garden is growing finally! We have struggled getting our cucumbers and watermelons to establish themselves, but I think they’re finally coming! YAY!

We both got new callings last week! It’s funny, because I have been feeling change coming for a few months…I hoped the feeling of change related to babies, but this works too! :) So…I was in the nursery and Jeff was teaching the 14-15 year olds in Sunday School. When we got called in, I was nervous because Bro. Niedert told Jeff he was going to have to support me a lot and sacrifice his time with me. Sounded scary, but it’s not! I am in the Young Women’s presidency! YEAH! :) I am so excited! After Girl’s Camp last year, the bishopric felt impressed to put me with the youth somehow, but primary wouldn’t let me go until now, so this calling has been in the works for at least a year. :) I am really looking forward to personal growth and learning with this new opportunity. I know I will be changing and the calling will influence my life…I just have to pray that I can do something positive for the girls too.

Jeff is now teaching the 4-5 year olds in Primary! He was not happy to be released from working with the youth. He LOVES teaching teenagers and he’s good at it. He’s very willing to serve wherever Heavenly Father asks him to be, but he is nervous to teach the little ones. I could not be happier about this change. We have traded places (primary to youth, youth to primary) and there will be much to learn for both of us! I feel REALLY good about Jeff’s new teaching opportunity and although it may be challenging for him, I think he will learn to love it and he will be amazing.

Welp…that sums up the year so far! Keep checking back, because I will hopefully start adding Picasa links to the travel page and keep our story going. :)

Posted in: Happy Days
January 16, 2013

“Do You Love Me?”

A few posts back, I mentioned something about striving to have daily interactions with the Spirit. While I do not post often, I assure you I am trying. Last night I read stuff and this morning it’s still fresh on my mind. For those of you who aren’t part of the awesome group a very close friend of mine started on Facebook, here’s today’s post. P.S. If you want to be a part of our group, tell me and I’ll add you! It’s called “I Need Some Help Putting On My Armor, Got A Second?” We share things, set goals together, and build each other in righteousness. I like it. :) Anyway…

**SORRY…I’m long winded. This will be time consuming, but I feel it and am impressed to share.**

Jeff and I are working our way through the Ensign and Elder Holland’s talk was last night’s reading. I love the way Elder Holland brings the gospel to life and I love the message of this talk. “Do you love me?” I am reminded of a scripture that I spent quite a bit of time studying and pondering over a while ago. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked by a Pharisee “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus responds with the familiar words “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The Savior then delivers with a powerful statement that caused me to stop and really think: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” So there you have it. If we truly love God with all our hearts, we will love His children and will serve them. Once we have perfected ourselves in these two commandments, it seems to me that everything else will fall into place. “On these two commandments hang all the law…” We love God more than anything, so we do not hesitate to serve in any capacity. We love God more than anything, so giving Him our tithes and offerings is easy. We love God more than anything, so worldly things slip away without a second thought. We love God more than anything, so temple attendance, church meetings, and personal preparation are our first priority. We love God more than anything, so forgiveness comes naturally, faith comes easily, and hope is bright.

If you are struggling, start here. Pray for love. Study our Heavenly Father and rebuild your relationship with Him. Love will open your heart to trust, which builds faith and hope and will allow our Heavenly Father to really guide you. I truly believe that this is the first step in personal improvement and in preparation for the Savior’s coming. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The First Great Commandment

 

Posted in: Happy Days