February 27, 2009

Ward Activity - Getting Ready for Spring

Tonight was our ward activity. We had the privilege of learning what we need to do to get ready for spring, at least in relation to our gardens and pruning our yards. Michelle has done quite a bit of research in the past trying to get the best possible garden so most of the information sounded very familiar. And since Michelle is our garden mastermind I just follow her directions as closely as possible.

Because of her expertise and previous success in gardening, last year excepted, she was asked to share a few thoughts on container gardening. While container gardening isn't really her forte, she did do a presentation for the Relief Society last year and apparently the bishop remembered. So she was one of the three presenters at the activity.

Our boys were definitely not interested in learning about gardening and were busy being boys. David managed to get a scratch from his temple to his chin, Donovan fell off the stage into the easel holding the gardening example drawings, Michael smashed his nose into the front table and Aleky kept through bean bags at the back of people's heads. (I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to quarantine my family for church on Sunday.) We finally had to sit all our boys down to prevent anything else from happening during the 90 minute activity. But since there was ice cream at the end, they felt justly compensated.

Donovan ended up falling asleep at the table waiting for everyone to finish talking about pruning trees. David and Michael made a break for the open door and had to be corralled at the far end of the building. Aleky decided he was done running and wanted to take a stroll back to the car. But in the end we headed home as quickly as possible and had all the boys in bed in just 15 minutes! We glad that the we could participate in our ward activity.

Flyer Distribution

We had an unexpected blessing. Wednesday night, after we put the children to bed, we had an unexpected visitor. I was working downstairs in the office when Michelle came down and told me that the Bishop was here to see me. My heart skipped a bit as I wondered what the Bishop would want with me at 9:00 at night. I couldn't think of anything so I headed upstairs. As it turned out, he just wanted some help distributing flyers for our ward activity tonight. That was something I felt I could handle.

We decided that we would make it a family activity. So after dinner on Thursday we got shoes and jacket on and headed into the night. David ended up putting the flyers on every door. Donovan wanted to push Aleky in the stroller and did a great job, all by himself. Michael was tickled to death that he was able to be the first one to each corner (he usually doesn't win these foot races with his brothers). And I was able to take a nice evening stroll with my wife.

We only had a small section of the neighborhood to canvas so it went fairly quickly. But it was enjoyable to be out with the family. The warmer weather was a welcome opportunity to be outside in the "starlight" (I don't know if you can really be in the starlight with so many city lights). We were home in 45 minutes and everyone was notified of the activity. What a fantastic way to provide service as a family.

Left Handed Soldiers

This is a quote I read this morning and wanted to keep it/share it:

Lefthanded Soldiers is dedicated to all of those who have been wounded in life ... whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or financially and yet, against all odds, have risen from the devastation to become a champion!

There are few things in life that move me like seeing someone overcome adversity. I believe that there are great men and women from all walks of life, who, because of some "event’ or series of events, have pretty much given up. Somewhere between brokenness and bitterness many have laid down their proverbial swords and surrendered. They've been wounded. Lefthanded Soldiers teaches us that when we are wounded … when our "right arms" have been hurt … that we can become Lefthanded Soldiers rather than allowing our circumstances to condemn us to a life of "what-ifs."

How many great leaders are no longer leading? What will our society suffer because the leadership we need is somewhere hurting rather than rallying the troops? What great sickness is raging because the doctors and nurses who can make a difference are in need of healing themselves? How many great sermons will not be preached because an overworked and underpaid Pastor had a "humpty-dumpty’ fall and is allowing condemnation to keep him out of service? Great public servants, teachers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, and politicians, all over the world are waiting ... waiting for someone to care enough to put their arms around them and say ... "Let's get back into the battle of life again! We need you!"

I believe that great leaders can inspire the "wounded warriors’ among us that they can "engage’ in life again and they can be winners!

In the real world … most of the time ... it's the size of your mess that determines the size of your message. It may not be pleasant to hear, but, the size of your testimony is due, in large part, to the size of your test. Where would Abe Lincoln have been without the Civil War? Where would John Kennedy have been without the Cuban Missile Crisis? David needed Goliath to become King. You cannot wear a victor's crown without having fought a few battles! You can't sing before you talk. You can't run before you walk. You can't have a message until you've had a mess … and you can't have a testimony until you've had a test! Let's look at these lyrics to a song that I wrote.

The victor's crown only goes to those who've been in war.
Eagles can't stay in their nest if they want to soar.
Sitting on the sidelines you'll never be your best.
You can't have a testimony ‘till you've had a test.

God won't send thirsty people to an empty well.
Heavens cup sure is sweeter once you've tasted hell.
There's no wine until the grape has gone through the press.
You can't have a testimony 'till you've had a test.

Out of this understanding "Lefthanded Soldiers" was born. I want to teach you ... to teach others that "Change is a door that can only be opened from the inside!"

The willingness to change can be inspired by others but change itself is a personal choice. It is "Choice" not "Chance" that determines your destiny.

Lefthanded Soldiers is a call for the wounded to "get back into the battle of life!’" Lefthanded Soldiers is a call for leaders to build an army of renewed, revived warriors. Let's teach them that they can make a decision to "engage" in life again. Let's teach them that they can make a difference in the world. They can be "Lefthanded Soldiers!"

-- Gary Eby

February 25, 2009

Going to Work with Daddy

I had a fine outing with two of my boys. I had several errands to run yesterday and decided that I would take Donovan and Michael with me. It isn't every day that such an opportunity presents itself and I thought it would be a nice break for Michelle to get some things done around the house without the boys there.

So the three of us piled into the car and off we went. As we began our journey we headed towards Grandma Jones' house. At this point in life my boys think that the only reason for driving is to drive faster than anyone else on the road and win. I'm not sure what we win or where the race ends because we always need to drive faster than the next car. And so it was, "drive faster daddy" and "you need to beat him" we cheered as we drove down the road.

The boys were so full of excitement that they couldn't contain themselves. At grandma's house they ran to the door, until they heard the dog barking! They turned right around and ran back up the driveway. After that, they followed me into the house and made sure that I was always between them and the dog.

The next few stops were in stores and public buildings. Still full of energy they were running circles around the other patrons, jumping up on the chairs and sharing their joy with the world. We discovered that most people don't want to share that much joy at one time! So I corralled my two boys and explained that we needed to calm down and stand in line like the other people. While they calmed down I don't think they could understand the monotony.

We headed up to Traverse Mountain to place some For Sale signs at a couple of properties that I have recently listed. I think most people will agree that putting a sign in the yard isn't very glamorous and it certainly didn't impress my boys. They wanted to see inside the homes. Fortunately two of the homes were vacant so I let them in. The instant the doors were unlocked Donovan and Michael flew into the house, around the living room, up the stairs, into each bedroom, opening each door, back down the stairs and through the kitchen. It was then that they became very perplexed. "Where are the people?" It took them a little bit to understand that the homes were vacant and there were no people.

After seeing these two houses we stopped to see one of my friends who lives near by and whom I haven't seen in several years. I called Angie to get specific directions since I had never been to her house. I got some basic driving directions..."turn at the light, follow the road, take the first left then the next right, etc." We almost made it on the first try but alas, I had to call for some clarification before we were able to make it. I had a great visit and my boys made a new friend. The boys were having so much fun that I had to collect them from the neighbors yard when it was time to go.

Our errands lasted nearly 4 hours! I had so much fun spending that time with my boys. Both boys fell asleep on the way home even though they insisted that they weren't tired. I guess we just had so much fun that I finally tucked my boys out and that is hard to do.

February 22, 2009

Game Night Leaves Me Exhausted

Saturday night we had an enjoyable evening playing games with a couple couples. Neil & Kelley Johnson and Elisa & Nathan Simmons joined us at our house to play a few games and share some wonderful treats. Once our guests had arrived we settled down at the kitchen table to begin the games.

Oh, the embarrassment when I discovered that the promised games were missing! I went to their usual storage spot and they simple were not there. It was then, to my horror and embarrassment, that I realized I had left them at my mother's house (we met my brother and his family at my mother's house to play games for FHE and forgot to bring the games home). Fortunately for us the Johnson's just happened to bring over a couple of back-up games. So after a quick explanation and a laugh we broke out the other games.

We ended up playing Jaimaica and Clue (board games). After a slow start and what appeared to be imminent defeat, a change in the tides allowed me to pull off a spectacular victory. However, the tide didn't flow in my favor for Clue. The Simmons had a much better strategy for uncovering the evil plot and had a most decisive victory; I wasn't anywhere near a point of even hazarding a guess that would have had a chance to be lucky enough to win.

The treats were great; Elisa made chocolate chip cookies and Michelle made an eclair cake. The company was fabulous and it was a most enjoyable time. The hour was late! Amazingly, the kids woke up at 7:00 am just like every other morning leaving me quite fatigued (there was a time in my life where I wouldn't even consider going to bed before midnight). I had a great time and I will probably do it again; I'll just need to plan on some recovery time the next day.

February 21, 2009

BYU Living Legends Concert

Friday night Michelle and got to go on a date to see the BYU Living Legends concert on BYU campus (at the De Jong Concert Hall). We owed Aunt Cheyenne a great big THANK YOU! She had amazing seats but her plans for attending the concert a second time fell through. She called me up and offered us her tickets AND was willing to babysit for us so that we could attend the concert.

While it may take me a little while to catch on to some things I didn't need help recognizing this fantastic opportunity. So I quickly agree to her proposal. We were running exactly on schedule, okay maybe slightly behind, but I picked Cheyenne up and brought her to our house. She came in, kicked Michelle out the door and we were off.

Aunt Trista is one of the members of the Living Legends this year and so is our friend Jacob Uda. So we were pretty excited to see them in action. I was certainly impressed with the performance. I can see how this group is an amazing missionary tool as they perform all over the US. It was also fun to see Grandma & Grandpa Jones and Larissa there too.

So in the end I got a fabulous evening with my wife. The kids got put to bed and I didn't have to do it. It was enjoyable to watch a fantastic concert. And we were able to rejoice with my sister as she did a wonderful job performing.

February 16, 2009

FHE with the Family

What a shock and surprise when I got a call from Darius, not that the call itself was a surprise but the fact that he was in town! Since he move to Oregon, I didn't expect to see him until...well I don't know when I expected to see him next. But he was in town for some business and had brought his family with him. He thought it would be great to get the family together on Monday night for games and just a chance to see each other. And so the planning began.

I don't think the planning went much beyond that simple idea of getting together sometime on Monday evening. So Monday evening after eatting dinner we loaded the kids in the car, grabbed a few simple games and headed over to Grandma Jones' house. Darius and Kristen were already there and were just fixing dinner for their family. Autumn had also arrived however Eric had other obligations. Before we left for the night we had Tatiana & Leo, Trista, and Cheyenne there as well (of course Larissa was there as was Grandma & Grandpa Jones).

Michelle, Darius and I got in a single game of Rack-O and the kids played Candyland. Mostly this visit was chatting with each other and just catching up on the last few weeks. We would have loved to stay longer but we had already passed the boys bedtime and they were starting to show signs of fatigue. It was certainly great to see everyone and hopefully we'll get together before the next sibling makes a surprise visit.

Snow Fun

Today was one of those weird days. The boys seemed so excited to go and play in the snow. David was so excited that Mica could come over and play too. But for some reason no one was really wanting to play together. Donovan was stranded in his swing because no one was there to push him.

David just made snow balls and attacked the playset.
Mica was swinging on the swing.
Three kids, ready for the snow, but today just wasn't their day. I don't know how much fun any of them had but it seemed to me that the opportunity to play was wasted.

February 15, 2009

Hair Cut

You know that it's time for a haircut when the boys hair has more curls than Michelle's hair. This has become a monthly ritual around our house but Donovan is the only one who seems to have mastered the idea of sitting still while mommy cuts the hair. I guess we'll have plenty of chances to practice.

February 5, 2009

Wii Buddies / Bath Buddies

So David and Donovan were getting along great today while playing the Wii. Sometimes it can be a struggle because David is the best at every single game we own. But there are days when Donovan is allowed to play too and he is starting to get the hang of it on some of the games.

But what about the other two boys? Just what are they supposed to do since they just aren't ready for the wii yet? They get to take a bath and play with the toys!