Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 on FB

February 1: Got photo-bombed...but at least Ammon chose a nice symbol! ;)

February 3: Looking at these 2 photos of my family all together at New Years makes me smile. They remind me of how much I love my family! If you notice, my dad has the same face in the "smile" photo as he does in the "zombie" photo!! Cracks me up!
 February 6: So grateful that my youngest son is safe at home with me tonight...

February 8: 3.5 inches of snow overnight and it's still coming down! Lovin' the white stuff! Hopefully the roads won't be too bad, though...because today Josh is taking me to see Imagine Dragons perform in Boise!!! I'm so excited for our mini getaway that he completely planned!

February 10: Happy Birthday to my little boy Kanyon who's 7 years old today! He's feisty, smart, silly, and bossy! And since school was cancelled today, I'm sure he's going to celebrate all day by playing on his new gift: the much asked for, highly anticipated...ipod.

February 13: I was SOOO proud of my 1st grade music students on their Valentines Program today! They performed practically flawlessly! And all the responding "ahhhhhs" from the moms in the audience during tender moments made me so happy, too!

February 16: I <3 all="" are="" athletes="" background="" div="" inspirational="" little="" of="" olympics="" so="" stories="" the="" watching="">

February 22: Took the boys to see the Lego Movie yesterday, and I'm still laughing!!! I loved the cheesy cat poster, and the couch/bunk bed, and the theme song! We all LOVED it! What an excellent quality family film with clean humor and hilarious characters!

February 23: Loved watching the Olympics with my boys the last 2 weeks! I'm a bit sad to see it end! But, here's a happy twist to a sad ending...I remembered an epic Olympic-themed group date I went on with friends 18 years ago, and am sharing this photo as proof:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Honor Student

Ammon was awarded the "8th Grade Male Student of the Month" at the middle school assembly at the end of January. This is only the 2nd time he's received a Student of the Month award during his 4 years at the middle school, and he was happy to be the recipient of it again!
Mr. Goodell, his math teacher, presented the award to him after announcing several of his good traits: he's an excellent student, he's done exceptionally well on math tests, he currently plays on the 8th grade basketball team, and has been one of the fastest middle school runners ever. It was nice to hear so many good things about my son at the assembly, and we are so proud of him for his accomplishments and good attitude this year!  
Middle School years can be rough, but Ammon seems to have taken it in stride; especially the last two years. I remember hating the 7th and 8th grade years (teenage girls can be so terrible!), and it's been the opposite for him, for which I am so thankful (#sogladIhavesons)!
Oh, and look who's picture was in the local newspaper this week for helping the 7th/8th grade team win the Think Cap Bowl!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Racing Stripes

The cub scout pinewood derby was on Thursday, January 30. We received the wooden derby car kits just 10 days before the race. Josh and I talked to Jonah and Micah about the reality of the situation: Josh would be gone the only weekend (on a bus trip) between the day we received the kits and the day of the derby. The usual process for creating the cars goes like this: the boys pick their car shape, and draw pencil lines on the block, then Josh cuts the blocks into that shape, then the boys sand it and paint it, then Josh puts the tires on the cars. There was no way I could cut the car shapes or put the tires on, so we gave the boys two choices: either they could decide not to participate in this year's races, or they could use last year's cars and paint them. They thought about it, and decided they would paint the cars.
Here's what they looked like last year--Jonah's was white/blue with racecar stickers, and Micah's was red/white with air force stickers:
This year, Jonah decided to have an orange/white/blue one with BSU letter stickers. Micah had a black/orange one with SHS letter stickers.

They turned out good! We spent all of one day fixing up the cars: gluing, sanding, taping, and painting & drying several layers. Unfortunately, I didn't do a good enough job taping off the underside of the cars, and some of the spray paint got in the tire's axels, and the wheels weren't spinning right. So, I got some Q-tips and toothpicks and dipped them in fingernail polish remover and tried to wipe off as much as I could. After working on that for a while, the wheels were working better. Then a few days later, Josh took the cars with him to work and put some graphite on the tires to help them spin faster, too. The night of the pinewood derby, Josh had another bus trip out of town (to Ammon's basketball game), so I took the twins alone to their scout race.
When we arrived at the church, we weighed in the cars. They're supposed to be less than 5 oz. Both of the twins were about 3.5 oz, so they weighed less than several of the other boys' cars, which we didn't worry too much about. There was lots of colorful cars this year:

 Last year, Jonah's car beat Micah's car. Jonah ended up getting 1st place last year, and Micah got 4th. But this year, when they went head-to-head, Micah's car beat Jonah's!

They were in the middle of the pack of 11 boys; they won some and lost some. The boys were all encouraging each other, and enjoyed the competition. They all had a good attitude, and it turned out to be a really fun night of racing!
Micah on the left, Kohlbin on the right

Jonah on the left, Cooper on the right

 Afterwards, the scout master gave all the boys some awesome stands he made to put their cars on

Nate won this year with his 3-wheeled car (we've never seen anything like that before). The boys had a great night, and it was on the of the funnest cub scout pinewood derby races we've been to!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making Room for my heart, head, & house

For months, I've pondered writing this blog post. I just didn't know where to begin...because sometimes the beginning of life-changing events are difficult to process and harder to put into words (especially when they involve other people's actions). And sometimes, it's hard to know the exact moment that a "beginning" of a chain of events happens. So, since I don't know exactly where to start, and since I can't determine the exact starting point of this chain of life-changing events, this story has several different beginnings, and the end is still to be determined!

This is the beginning of where it all began...

In January of 2011, after 10 months of trying to find a new job (I'd been cleaning the credit union for years after I quit working there as a full-time teller to stay home with my boys and I wanted something more fulfilling), I was hired by the Salmon City Golf Association to be their bookkeeper. The monthly income was about the same as my cleaning job, but I'd be able to do to the work out of my house, and the job duties were more mind-challenging than vacuuming, mopping, and dusting! I was grateful for the opportunity, and was familiar with members of the SCGA board and how the association works because I'd been their minute meeting note-taker years before. I've had bookkeeper jobs before, and I like balancing numbers, so I thought this job would be a good fit for me.

Just three weeks after getting that job, I was hired to be the music teacher at the elementary school. I had interviewed for the job the previous May, but the school hired a different person. She ended up not liking the job, and unexpectedly quit mid-year. I was elated to have the chance to have my dream job! So of course I accepted the position! I was nervous about going from one previous part-time job to now a new part-time job PLUS a full-time job! In addition, my youngest son was still a toddler, which meant that I would have to put him in daycare. It worked out that basically my part-time job paid for the daycare costs of him while I worked at my full-time job.

That was the beginning of both jobs. For the past 3 years, I've been employed with both, and I've been doing pretty good at both, too. But then things changed.

This is the beginning of the life-changing events...

In fall of 2012, some new board members got voted onto the Golf Board. And these board members didn't have a lot of positive things to say. By spring of 2013, I was experiencing anxiety every time I went to one of their monthly board meetings. I hated sitting through hours of arguments and judgmental comments. I even had an anxiety attack at the meeting in May, which I blogged about and mentioned HERE. I knew that things would have to change, or I'd have to quit this job because I couldn't continue to work under these conditions. Then the conditions got worse. I wasn't able to attend the July and August meetings due to having surgeries a/o being hospitalized on those days. They had a voice recorder at the meeting, and later I transcribed those minutes. As I listened to the recordings to type what was said during those meetings, I was shocked to hear several falsifying and hurtful statements about me. In October of 2013, a new president was named to run the association. He was one of the new members that joined the board in the fall of 2012. As soon as he was voted in as president, I officially declared in my heart that I was done with this job. It wasn't worth it anymore to me to work in the stressful and condescending environment that they'd created. At the November golf meeting, I informed the board that after December, I would no longer work for them.

And then, this past fall, amidst all my difficulties with my part-time job, my full-time job of teaching elementary music also experienced severe controversy. This is a little background to the events that happened this fall. Last spring, my school principal informed me that our school would be adding the "Leader in Me" program to our school this upcoming year. He asked me if I could create a song or several songs about the 7 Highly Effective Habits. I thought about it all summer, and looked forward to writing songs and teaching them to the children to help reinforce the habits that would be added to their curriculum. I decided that I would teach the children one song to go with each habit, and I would use cartoon theme songs as the tunes and change the words. Then I could show the kids each a lesson that a particular cartoon has to go along with the habit. The first habit is "Be Proactive". I decided to debut the first song with the "SpongeBob SquarePants" theme song. It fit perfectly: Be Proactive has 4 syllables just as Sponge Bob Square Pants does! The song I created goes like this:
"When you have a choice between right or wrong, BE PROACTIVE!
If you can't decide, just think of this song: BE PROACTIVE!
You are responsible for actions you choose. BE PROACTIVE!
So think win-win, and no one will lose! BE PROACTIVE!
Be Proactive, Be Proactive, Be Proactive, You're in charge...of YOU!"
To teach the lesson, I talk to the kids about what the specific habit means (in this case, what "Being Proactive" is). Then I show them part of a cartoon episode that reinforces the lesson. Then we discuss how the characters represent that habit. Then I teach them the new song about that habit based on that cartoon's song. It's the same lesson plan each time, but using a new habit, a new cartoon, and a new song. I spend a lot of {unpaid} time working on these lessons and writing these songs. I've felt very good about the work I've done, and each month, we present these songs at the school's assemblies.

So, 3 weeks after school started, in the middle of September, I started teaching all the students K-4 this Proactive lesson. I picked a SpongeBob episode that went perfectly with this lesson: where Patrick feels like a loser because he doesn't get trophies like SpongeBob does. Then SpongeBob helps him to get a trophy, and in the end, they both are happy because Patrick gets a trophy for being himself, and SpongeBob was happy to help his friend. When I taught this lesson to a 4th grade class, and went to show this episode, one of the grade students showed extreme distaste to watching SpongeBob. He said "My mom says I'm not allowed to watch this show". Then I told him that this particular episode is rated G, and is a direct correlation to the song that I was asked to teach the children, and that I'd approved it through the principal, and that since it was for a school-wide lesson, it would be okay. Then when I turned on the movie, he plugged his ears, started rocking in his chair, and making loud yelping sounds. Then several other kids in the class thought it was funny and started following him, and nobody could hear a thing except the loud yelps. So I paused the movie, and told the kids that I wasn't going to force them to watch anything they didn't want to see. And that if they were going to ruin the lesson for everyone else, they could leave the classroom and go to the quiet room in the principal's office. The one boy stood up and walked out of my classroom. Then we finished the lesson nicely, and everyone else in the class was receptive to the lesson and the song. As soon as class was over, I went to talk to this boy, and I told him that the choices he made were not proactive, and that he's a natural leader, and everyone wants to follow him. I told him that I was proud of him for standing up for himself in class, but that he could've responded differently to what happened. He could've asked to leave the room, or he could've done a different activity, but disrupting the class was hurtful for everyone. Then I excused him and I explained to the principal exactly what took place in the classroom.

A week later, this boy's mother cornered me outside at school and verbally attacked me. She said that what I did was wrong by showing a part of a SpongeBob episode. She said that it's a stupid show that teaches stupidity, and that anyone who "knows anything knows that". I explained to her that I didn't show it for the fun of it, that I showed it to teach a lesson that all the studentbody are learning about being proactive, and that her son was a disruption for the entire class. Then she went on a yelling tirade. She told me that I'm a terrible teacher, and that I'm a bad mother, and that because I let my own sons watch that TV show at home, they use foul language at school. (um....what?!! please note that I know that bullies come up with lies to defend themselves, and this was one of several, and I didn't react to the crap she was saying, I chose to "be Proactive"!). She said she knows I swear at the kids and have thrown chairs at them, and that I shouldn't be allowed to be alone with them. Then she said that she was going to work to get me fired, and that she was going to have a petition with parents sign it agreeing to have me fired, and as she walked off she yelled "YOU NEED HELP!" I was completely taken back by the confrontation. I was shocked at her outrage and her accusations. The principal interviewed each child in their class one at a time to see if I had 1. swore, 2. thrown chairs at them, and he asked them if they liked music. The only child to respond that I had sworn and thrown a chair was the boy who volunteered to go to the principal's office that one day--her own son.

The woman talked to the principal, who said I did nothing wrong. This just infuriated her more. He offered to have her son removed from my music class and do something else during that period--since she obviously didn't trust me, and her son didn't like music. But of course she denied that option; she wanted him to keep coming to my music class. I was not about to have him report more and more lies to her each day and have her anger fueled, so for 3 weeks, I got a substitute teacher to teach that class period. Of course, the class was horrible, and I went through several substitutes--because even though they were paid for a half day to just teach one class, they didn't want to have to deal with problems erupting in the class. But the problem didn't go away. This women went to the school board and complained about me. Then she called the state department of education, and finally she felt validated--she had found a way to have me removed. I am a para teaching in a teacher's position. I have a supervisor: the high school music teacher, but he's not with me all day--only one hour in the morning. The state law says that a supervisor has to be in the same room with a para. With budget cuts the last few years, our school has had to cut back positions, but they still wanted to maintain the quality of education for the kids. So, in 2011, when the previous music teacher retired, the principals had an idea that they'd heard of happening in other rural school districts: hire a para to do a teacher's job in a non-core subject. That's how I was able to be hired even though I didn't finish my teaching degree, and I work at minimum wage to do a teacher's job. I've never complained about the pay, because I knew what I'd get when I accepted the job. I've worked lots of extra hours with no pay, because I wanted the music education and student performances to be good. I've taken on lots of extra assignments without any pay because I knew that it would benefit the kids. That was the case with this whole 7 Habits songs: I was trying to implement something positive in the school. I had been asked to help form this new curriculum in our district. I worked a lot of extra hours on my concept and I felt good about it. And to have so much negativity come out of it was demoralizing for me.

But after being reported to the state, they informed us that we were in violation of the state code and we needed to fix it. Our staff had so many meetings (extra unpaid time for me!) to come up with solutions to mend this problem. So many ideas were created, so many voices spoke out, so many concerns were heard. There wasn't any funds to hire a certified teacher. The video camera installment in my room and a monitor in my supervisor's room wasn't good enough. The scheduling to have a supervisor in my room wasn't feasible. There were so many other plans, but all of them wouldn't work for one reason or another. There was so much discord among the staff, and I felt hurt and betrayed by many of the comments that I had to endure in those meetings. I wasn't sure if I would even have a job past December. It was a very emotionally trying time for me.

Finally, at the end of November, the state agreed to have me and the P.E. teacher (who the past two years has also been a para doing a teacher's job) sign emergency waivers to have us teach until the end of this year under a provisional authorization. So at least I know that I will be able to teach until the end of this school year now, and I don't have to worry week-to-week anymore if I have a job or not.

This is the beginning of implementing my own change...

I always told myself that when my youngest was in school all day, that I would go back to school and complete my degree. I knew that I'd have more time to devote, and I wouldn't have to pay for daycare anymore so I'd have more money, too, so it always seemed in my mind to be the right time. With the uncertainty of my job, I thought it was reinforcing my original idea that this was the time to go back to school. I spent a great deal of time in October contemplating if I wanted to go back to college to get a teacher's degree for sure. I wondered and questioned if it was even the right job for me anymore. I spent a lot of time thinking, and praying. and reading my Patriarchal Blessing, and asking these questions in the temple. I finally came to the conclusion that YES, I wanted to become a certified teacher. I'm good at it, I love it, and it's what I've always aspired to be. In October I spoke with a local that works at helping community members seek higher education opportunities, and in November I applied at WGU (Western Governor's University). I contacted my old college SUU, and had them send my transcripts to WGU. I completed a college assessment test over Thanksgiving Break. I began speaking weekly with an enrollment counselor. I had my AP test scores transferred. I applied for Financial Aid. I thought I had all my ducks in a row to start school the first of January, but the AP test scores took forever to get there, so my enrollment date changed to February 1st instead.

A lot of cleansing things happened over the 3-week Christmas Break:

I completed all the year-end responsibilities for the Golf Course. I trained their new employee. I emptied the desk in my bedroom of all the golf course paperwork I had, and boxed it all up and gave it to her. My heart and head felt like a heavy weight had lifted, and something that had given me anxiety for months was no longer in my life. It felt good. My desk was also clean for the first time in three years, which prompted a feeling to deep-clean my house.

I spent days cleaning things that had been pushed to the side for a long time. Kanyon helped me clean out his room & closet--we took bags of clothes to the local secondhand store, and sold several toys. Jonah & Micah helped me clean out their room & closet--we sold games & decorations. I rearranged the family room, and threw away a box of unused stuff. I cleaned out the gift-wrapping supplies, the utensils drawer, the medicine cabinet, the baggie & cloths cupboard, the Tupperware shelf, the mugs/jars cupboard, the Family Home Evening supplies, my closet, the toolbox, the winter gloves box, and the magazine shelf. The garbage can was overflowing for two weeks. Multiple trips were made to Rags & Wags (the secondhand store). I felt like I was making room for bigger and better things. Donations were made to several local organizations.

The day after Christmas, I received word that WGU had finally received my AP test scores. They had looked over the scores, as well as my SUU transcript, and had accepted 22 of my previous credits! I was elated!!! I had about 60 credits completed when I attended college the first time 16 years ago, but WGU was only going to accept the ones that applied to the degree classes I had to take. I was hoping they'd take at least 15, and was worried they might not accept any because they were taken so many years ago, but when I found out they accepted 22, I was truly overjoyed! That's a year's worth of classes! It helped me realize that I was doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

That was the beginning for the "out with the old, and in with the new" motto.

Out with the 2nd part-time job. Out with the anxiety about not having a teaching job with a secure, financial future for me. Out with the undecisive, unsure, unstable feelings about myself. Out with the garbage that was filling our home.

In with more time to devote to my family. In with an enrollment in a university that fits my lifestyle. In with a desire to finish my degree. In with a cleaner home.

I was officially a student of WGU as of Feb. 1. I completed the orientation course at the end of January, I have been speaking with my mentor each week, and as of yesterday, I am officially enrolled in my first 4 classes! It feels good to take charge of my life, of my future, of my happiness! I am grateful that something positive has come out of so much negativity. I am trying to focus on the positive in this situation, and although I know it will be stressful to still work full-time and go to school full-time, I am determined to make it possible! And to be happy while doing so!

I got rid of so much negativity at the end of 2013--both emotionally and physically. And getting rid of the bad has opened up so much good in my heart and mind (and my home is cleaner too!). I know that 2014 has lots of positivity in store for me! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow, School closures, & Sledding

The last Sunday in January, all the wards in the area were asked by our Stake President to pray and fast for snow. We had only received a little bit in November and December, and none in January. The ground was bare and brown, and locals were beginning to feel very worried about this upcoming year's growing season and potential fires again.
So, our family started praying for snow. Before the end of that week, we received so much snow that school had an early closure on Wednesday, and no school on Thursday.
Because our elementary school and middle school are so old, the roofs have serious problems. They leak and have structural problems, so the state determined them unsafe to carry a heavy snow load. The community voted down a bond 9 times to build new schools, so the state has stepped in and will be putting on a new roof this upcoming summer, but until then, every time the snow accumulates over 3", the school has to be closed. 
Since the last week of January, when the snow began coming down in large amounts, we have had one early-out day, two delayed starts, and two cancelled days. We've really been blessed with a lot of snow in the past 3 weeks! It's the most snow that we've received in any winter in Salmon in the past decade!  
The boys have taken advantage of this snow, and have done a huge amount of sledding on the small hill right behind our house!

He likes wearing the masks, but I don't know how he can see!

He has the funniest facial expressions!

He's been very brave and has done more sledding this year
 than his whole life combined!

The new coveralls he got for his birthday are getting some good use!
I took a little video of them sledding on the first day we received a ton of snow, and school was closed early: SLEDDING YOUTUBE VIDEO

Even though it's frustrating to have school cancelled so many times already, and to know that we have to make up these hours that we've lost, it's wonderful to see our prayers being answered so fruitfully. It has become a huge concern now in the community that we have schools that aren't safe, and even though Josh and I have known this fact all along, the recent closures have really opened up the eyes to those who were ignorant to this fact before. We continue to hope and pray that this community that we live in will support our children and the schools. It would be wonderful if our prayers regarding the safety of our children in the current school buildings would be answered just as our prayers to receive snowfall were!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Roles, Redford, and My Rock

In January, Josh was gone several weekends. Now that he drives bus for the school as his 2nd job (thanks to ObamaCare, he needed another job that offered insurance), he occasionally drives for school athletic trips. And since Salmon is so isolated, sometimes those trips are all-day, or overnight, or several days and nights. In January, he was gone several weekends in a row due to wrestling meets and Jr. High basketball games. 
I don't sleep good when Josh is gone. I miss his warm body in bed next to mine. I miss his sleeping noises that are like a white-noise machine at night for me. I miss the security that having him home gives me. My king-size bed feels so empty, and it's hard for me to fall asleep and feel comfortable when he's not here. 
So on those weekends when he was gone, I stayed up late watching movies to help me fall asleep. I picked a few movies from our dating days to watch--older flicks that I haven't seen in years--and DVR'd them in advance so I would have something to watch that helped me feel closer to Josh in his absence. These two movies had real significance to me during our courtship:

This is why: One weekend after we were engaged, Josh drove down to visit me at SUU in Cedar City. My roommates were going to watch "Out of Africa". I had never seen it, and they said it was good. So we all piled into one of my roommate's rooms to watch it on her TV. Josh absolutely hated it. It was a very slow love story and it completely bored him, so after about an hour or so, he couldn't take it any more, and we quit watching it. He's never forgiven me for making him sit through it! And we never even got to watch the ending! So, 16 years later, I finally watched it by myself, and all the way to the end this time! It was long, and I ended up watching it over the course of two days.

The movie "Up Close & Personal" was one that we rented and watched while we were dating. It was a fabulous movie, and its theme song "Because You Loved Me" became our love song while we dated. I loved the movie so much, I even bought the video (and still own it). It also took me two days to finish watching it in January (I fell asleep at night watching it, then had to finish it the next afternoon).

After I had seen both, I started thinking about the similarities between the two movies.
They both:
1. made me cry.
2. had strong, independent female characteres
3. had plots that included the female character moving to a new place and making a life for herself.
4. included the strong females meeting a man that helped shape their new life
5. had Robert Redford as the main male character.
6. had marriage proposals presented by the women to Redford.
7. {Spoiler alert} ended with him dying in an accident.
8. concluded with the woman becoming successful.

I enjoyed watching both films, and viewing the sad chick flicks validated my lonely feelings for Josh. I appreciated the stories and the portrayals of these strong women and unapologetic men. But then, for weeks afterward, I couldn't stop thinking about what the point of both of these movies were. Was it to show that women are weak when men are in their lives? Or was it to show that women can be strong and independent despite men's involvement with their lives? Was it to show that without men, women wouldn't advance as much in their careers? Or was it to show that women can be just as strong as men?

I initially watched both because I was missing Josh, and perhaps I was reading too much into the intentions of the films since I was feeling lonely. Both of these women experienced loneliness--both while their loves were alive, and then again when they died. Both women suffered setbacks because of loneliness, and then ultimately, both women lived through their hardships to become successful. In "Out of Africa", after losing her plantation in Africa, and her marriage, and the love of her life to death, she still became a successful author. In "Up Close & Personal", after sacrificing so much to support her sister, and losing her identity at times, and the loss of her husband to death, she still because a successful national news anchor.

So when I was trying to think of what the lesson was in both of these films, and the similarities between the story lines, I started thinking about how I am like these women. I am an independent girl who likes doing things on my own. I like to have things done my way, and being in control of situations. I am successful in my current career of teaching elementary music. I consider myself a very capable girl. But, although I pride myself on being independent, I'm also very dependent on Josh--not in my career or in my church callings or in my activities; rather, I'm emotionally dependent on him. He is my rock, and I rely on him to listen to me, and help motivate me, and be my companion. He levels my major mood swings: he lifts me up and he calms me down, he talks sense into me and helps me understand complicated issues, he works together with me to raise our children, and he loves me and is a good example of patience and kindness, and being with him makes me a better person.

After all this pondering, I came to the conclusion that for me the lesson in both movies is this: women are capable, very capable, of becoming the person they want to be, with or without men's involvement. But when women open their hearts to love, and when that love is reciprocated, their lives become enriched and have so much more depth. Life has so much more meaning and purpose when love fills our hearts.

When Josh was gone several weekends in a row, I missed him. I got by just fine without him being home--I got everyone to their appointments, I made meals, the housework got accomplished, the house stayed warm, and things got done. All those same things get done when he's home, too, but when he's here, even the simplest tasks have more meaning. Because when he is with me, my heart feels so much more full, but when he's absent, my heart feels so...void. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The tickets I ordered in August for P!NK's concert in October finally got used in January (because of it getting rescheduled twice)! And the 6-month wait between purchasing the tickets and attending the concert ended up being so worth it! It was a FABULOUS show!! 
The concert was in SLC, Utah on the Monday night of January 20 (MLK Jr. Day). Since it was a holiday, neither Josh nor I had to work, so we left Salmon around noon and headed for Utah. 

We took Kanyon with us, and we stopped in Tremonton on the way to drop him off at my parents' house. Since we knew the concert would be out late, we decided to spend the night at my parents' house and drive back to Salmon on Tuesday. The older 3 boys didn't want to miss a day of school, so they stayed home, but Kanyon said he didn't mind missing a day of school (and messing up his 100% attendance) so that he could spend some one-on-one time with his grandparents!

When Josh & I arrived in SLC, we parked at the Gateway Mall, and walked to Costa Vida for dinner. There was a huge line, but it moved pretty fast. We both love that restaurant! We always get the same thing: Josh likes the pork quesadillas, and I like the smothered pork burrito. Then we walked with the crowds down the street to the Energy Solutions Arena. It was a sold-out stadium. Our seats were in the top section (like always!).

The concert started at 7:30 and the opening act was a group called "The Kin". They were good, and we really enjoyed their music. What we didn't enjoy, though, was the people right behind us. The guy was drunk and had the nastiest smelling farts the entire night. Since our heads were about the height of his butt, every time he farted, it would instantly smell and I felt like gagging. It was disgusting!

After the opening act was done, we waited about an hour before P!NK took the stage!

Her first song was "Raise Your Glass", and she instantly grabbed the audience's attention with her acrobatic and singing skills. The next three photos were taken during her first song. There was a wire mesh, with three guys hanging from it (in the shape of heart of course!), then she was hanging from the guys, and doing flips and lunges, and singing the whole time! It was amazing! It's kind of hard to see her, but she's in the center underneath the row of lights that are blocking part of the view:
hanging upside down
doing a jump
holding on to the guys with just her arms

She performed 18 songs in all, and she was as equally as good a dancer and entertainer as she was a singer. I was in awe the entire night!

She did a very similar performance of the song "Try" at the concert as she did at the Grammy's (this is one my favorite songs of hers!). She was pulled from the bottom of the stage using a bungee that was attached to the ceiling, then she continued to sing as she turned and flipped and jumped. It was spectacular to behold!

Right after "Try", she added a song to the concert that I've never heard her sing before "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaaks. It was very raw and a nice, slow contrast to her other songs.

One of my favorites was the duet "Just Give Me A Reason". Nate Ruess' face was projected onto the screen behind her and his part of the duet was recorded, and she sang her part live right along with him. I love this song--it's one that my friend Amanda and I sing at karaoke and we have it memorized, and enjoy singing it together in harmony!

She danced on stage with her excellent back-up dancers for several song numbers, and she sang one song she wrote as she accompanied herself on a grand piano, which was impressive. There was also a song with a cage hanging over the stage, and she climbed up and was walking around the cage, clinging to the skinny wires, and then she went inside the wire cage and sang as she was spinning. She looked up as she was spinning, and the projected image on the screens showed the camera looking down on her. I couldn't believe she could sing and spin simultaneously without getting sick! Her last song was "Blow Me One Last Kiss". And then my camera died.

Most concerts I've been to have an encore. They usually turn the lights off and make the audience scream for several minutes before the performers take the stage one more time. P!NK also had an encore, but instead of turning off the lights and making the audience scream, they turned off the lights and showed a video of her and her family. It showed her growing up, and being in training for all the dance moves and acrobatics that she did during the concert, and bits of her with her daughter & husband. The short movie was set to her song "True Love". It was classic, and funny, and heart-warming (btw, she's my age!!! and has abs of steel!). As soon as the movie ended, she returned to the stage for her encore, in which she sang "So What". I wish I had a photo of her stunt during this song--she wore a harness that was attached to wires hanging from 3 corners of the ceiling, and she was lifted up into the air and pulled all around the arena as she sang. I've never seen anything like it. We were in the top section, and she was as high as we were, flipping and dangling by wires and singing non-stop! It was so remarkable. She began the concert with a wow-factor, and ended it with awe. She's one talented, classy lady! It was like seeing a concert and cirque-de-solei show all in one! I'm so glad that Josh and I went to see her! If I ever get the chance to, I would definitely go to her concert again!

Friday, February 14, 2014

14: the good, the bad, and the sickly

Ammon turned 14 on January 11. This year, it was his turn to have a friend birthday party. He chose to have his friend Hunter spend the night on Friday, then on Saturday morning the 11th, we'd all go skiing/snowboarding and we'd take his friend with us. 
The week prior to Ammon's birthday, Josh started getting really sick. Thankfully he doesn't get sick very often, but when he does, it's really bad. I think it gets so bad because of his paralyzed vocal cords and lack of oxygen he already has, so when he gets sick on top of that, it puts him in a very weakened state. On Friday, it hurt him to move: he said every single joint in his body hurt. He was coughing a lot, and was having difficulty breathing. And yet, he still took the boys to work with him and they got a load of wood from the tree-trimming project he'd been working on all winter at the golf course. They picked up Ammon's friend Hunter that afternoon on their way back home.
After they got home, Josh went to bed. By that evening, he couldn't even stand up without help or walk without me by his side. He had a fever of 103*, so I gave him a bath to try and lower his temperature. It worked for a while, and he went to bed again and didn't move. 
I made dinner for our family, and Ammon and Hunter played together on Ammon's Xbox the whole night. At about 11:30, before I got into bed, I took Josh's temperature again, and this time it was 106.4*. Having such a high fever really scared me. I knew there was something very wrong, and I was worried that he was getting pneumonia. He's had it once before, and it's life-threatening for him, so I didn't want to wait until he got even worse before taking him to the doctor. Since it was a Friday night, I knew our only option was to go to the E.R. since the clinic would be closed the next day. I told him I felt like it was very important to go to the hospital, and he argued with me saying that he was feeling better and that he didn't think he needed to go. I told him I was giving him two choices: either he could go to the E.R, or I would call and wake up his dad to come up to our house to give Josh a priesthood blessing. So, he decided we'd go to the hospital. I told Ammon and Hunter that I was taking Josh to the hospital (since all the other boys were asleep), and told them to not stay up too late. Then I helped Josh out of bed, helped him get dressed, and I drove him to the hospital.
It was the best E.R. visit I've ever had: we were the only ones there, we had a nice nurse (who we both knew), we were treated quickly, he was given drugs for the pain, he had x-rays and tests done, and the attending Doctor was efficient. Within 2 hours, we received the diagnosis and were on our way back home. Josh didn't have pneumonia, he had Influenza Type A. They said it's typically a 7-day illness. Since he'd already had it several days, we opted to not get the expensive medication, since we believed the illness had peaked and he'd be better in a few days.
I was relieved to know that he had the flu, and was grateful to go to the E. R. to know for sure, and was glad that it wasn't anything more serious. He, on the other hand, was upset that he paid to see a doctor just to find out that he had the flu and to go home and rest it out.
On Saturday morning, I got up to ask Ammon how late he and Hunter had been up the night before. I asked him if he still wanted to go snowboarding that day, or if he wanted to postpone it for a time Josh could come. He said he still wanted to go that day, but he'd rather go a half day in the afternoon instead of go in the morning, so that they could sleep in a little bit longer. That worked out well, since the other boys were still asleep, and I was tired from the late night E.R. visit, and apparently the highway to the ski hill had received an avalanche overnight and the road was closed that morning to clear the snow off.
So, after lunch, we took Kanyon to a babysitter, and made sure Josh was comfortable, then I took Ammon and his friend Hunter, and Jonah and Micah up to Lost Trail Ski Area. It was raining in Salmon when we left, but by the time we got to the bottom of the pass, it was snowing pretty hard and the roads hadn't been cleared.
Earlier in the week, Josh and Ammon had found a snowboard locally that my dad purchased as a gift for his birthday, and they'd got new boots to with hit, so Ammon was looking forward to trying it all out for the first time (he'd only ever been snowboarding one other time in Utah over New Year's, and we got a rental snowboard then). Hunter also has his own snowboard, so after we got to the ski hill, I purchased their passes, and they set off alone together for the slopes.
I had to go to the rental shop to get some skis and boots for Jonah and Micah. It wasn't a pleasant experience trying to help both of them into their boots and skis. Impatient boys and stressed mothers don't go well together. And since the ski hill had received a new foot of snow in the previous week, it was super busy and they were out of the right sizes of boots for the boys. The attendant offered them girl boots instead, which were white. Jonah opted to go for a bigger size so he could get the black boots. Micah begrudgingly took the white boots, and was mad during the whole fitting process. Jonah liked his boots, but they were hard to put on and take off, and took forever! FINALLY after everything was on, we headed out for the lift.

The snow was still coming down pretty hard, and it was foggy on the ski hill. It was difficult to see, and Jonah said that it felt like "Pop Rocks were on his face" as we were skiing down with the snow pellets hitting our faces. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill after our first run, I wanted to be done. Both boys were mad--they didn't like skiing in the snowy conditions, none of us could see well and since the boys didn't know this ski hill, they couldn't tell where they were going, Micah didn't like his white boots, and Jonah's skis had popped off 4 times. The ski lifts only fit 2 people (instead of 3 like the Beaver Mountain's lifts), and I'd had Jonah and Micah ride up together the first time so that neither one of them had to ride alone. They apparently fought on the lift and didn't want to ride together again. I was frustrated being there alone and I missed Josh.

So, I had the boys practice on the bunny hill that has a rope tow, so that they could feel more comfortable before going down the slopes again. But then Jonah's ski popped off on the rope tow, and Micah had a hard time grabbing onto the rope, and the line pretty much stopped because of them. I was hoping that Ammon and Hunter were at least having a good time somewhere! Because we sure weren't...

I didn't want it to be a total waste of the day, so we tried again, and went up the lift. We did it 3 more times, and it slowly got better. The wind picked up, which made the fog go away, but hurt our faces with snow worse. The boys started getting better and Jonah's skis stopped popping off as much. It wasn't as enjoyable as when we went skiing together over New Years in sunny conditions in Utah. But we survived the day, and they go to practice their new skiing skills.

At the end of the day, when the ski hill was closing, we checked the twins' rentals back in and headed to the car. The snow began to get even thicker and it was hard to see. I finally found Ammon and Hunter, and we slowly drove down the mountain and headed back to Salmon. It had been an adventure for sure!

This was a tree visible from one of the lifts.
I called it the "Marshmallow Tree".
On Sunday afternoon, we had Ammon's birthday dinner and family party. He chose to have ham and mashed potatoes for his birthday meal. It was delicious! Josh stayed home from church (because he was still very uncomfortable and in pain moving around), so he seasoned a ham and cooked it in the crock pot while we were gone, and it was delicious and moist!

After dinner, Ammon opened his presents. He really wanted an Under Armor hooded sweatshirt--the one we'd gotten him at Christmas was too small, so that was one of his big requests.

My mom always sends the boys packages for the birthday in the mail, which they love receiving. However, it's always a challenge for them to open the well-wrapped and securely-taped packages! It requires heavy-duty scissors or a pocket knife!

Ammon with his loot: the game Carcassonne (which we played with cousin Mikey in Stanley over Christmas Break and he wanted it ever since), the Under Armor sweatshirt, a new athletic shirt, new socks and pants, spikes (track shoes), an xbox game, an Ipod charger, and new church clothes, a T-shirt and some Nutella from Grandma P. He also got money from Grandpa & Grandma T. and Uncle Tim & Barb, and the snowboard and new boots from Grandpa P.
For his birthday treat, he decided to have macadamia nut cookies and root beer floats. He usually asks for bread pudding as his birthday treat, so this was different (& very easy!).  

Happy Birthday Ammon! Even though I know it's not one of the better birthday celebrations you've had, I'm grateful that you were flexible and content with it! Your dad and I love you so much, and are blessed to be your parents. You're a bright, easygoing, talented young man, and we are delighted with the choices you are making in your life. Happy 14!