Sunday, March 30, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week #12 and #13

Jesus Christ

Over the Easter holiday I was reminded of the time when I received my own testimony of Jesus Christ. I think I was about 15 or 16 years old. It was the Monday before Easter and my mom gave a Family Home Evening lesson on the Savior and the Atonement. I don't remember exactly how the lesson went, but the Spirit must have been there. After Family Home Evening was over everyone went upstairs to get their treat for the night, but I stayed down in the family room by myself. I opened the hymn book to "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" and sang it to myself. The Spirit was so strong, my eyes welled up with tears, and I had an over powering feeling- warmth in my heart. And I knew. I knew and I know now that Jesus Christ is my older brother who loves me so much that He died for me- that I might live again. He accepted this amazingly difficult challenge to suffer for our sins though he had none of His own. Through him it is possible that we can repent when we do wrong. Because of Him I can return to our Father in Heaven someday. I know it and can not deny it. It is not something I just believe anymore. I know it and for this knowledge and blessing I am so grateful.

Baptism/ Nick & Angie
Today we were blessed to attend the baptism of Nick & Angie. I was honored to speak at the baptism too- on the gift of the Holy Ghost. The ordinance of baptism is an incredible one... our first step on our path home to our Father in Heaven. It's a day you never forget whether you were 8 years old or 88 years old. Today the Spirit was so strong as we watched them be baptized. They were both so, so happy. Nick was baptized first, followed by Angie. After Angie was baptized, Nick came back down in the font and they hugged and hugged each other and then gave each other a little kiss. It was such a sweet moment. Then their little 3 year old daughter says, "That was cool!!" Laughter, tears, hugs, and kisses... joy. Pure joy. What a blessing it has been to be a part of their journey as they learned about the truths of the gospel. The have been a blessing to all of us who have watched and experienced the growth of their testimonies. They have changed and they have helped to change many of us in the ward.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Random bits

My first thought when I woke up on Friday morning: Are you freakin' kidding me!?! Enough already!

This week we started (tried to start) JackJack's potty training. that's going well! This is going to be a long process...
JackJack had a friend from church- Derek- come over for 3 days this week. (Derek's mom was pretty sick). They had a fun time just being 3 year old boys together. It was interesting to me to see where Jackson should be developmentally- and what we need to be working towards. It was also interesting to me to see how well he gets along with a kid his age.

We got our new chairs from Ethan Allen this past week. What do yo think? I'm not loving them, compared to the other ones. But they'll have to do since after a year of nagging them we finally found a fabric that works OK with the rest of the colors in the room. It was such a long, drawn out process. I hope these are more durable. Unfortunately the fabric on the old ones had a defect and were falling apart.


I got some vary happy mail recently... real, official "Good Mail" from the Good Mail Queen herself- Jill. Jill and I knew each other back during the teenage years when she was Jill Maher. She and I would see each other at church stake events- Girls Camp, Youth Conference, etc. Holly (who introduced me to blogs) happened upon Jill's blog. Anyhow- Jill has started a movement called "Good Mail". It's such a positive thing. You should check out her blog. Anyhow, she sent me 2 pieces of Good Mail and as I have learned from her, you photograph your Good Mail and post it for the world to see- and especially for the sender to see you received it. Happily, she sent me a homemade thank you note for a package I'd sent to her. Then out of the blue she sent me some official Good Mail labels. A set for me and a set for the family to use since she said that it seems my kids would have artwork, etc to send in the mail. The kids have already used a bunch of these! They are Good Mail converts too.
These labels are so cute. Jill makes them herself and sells them online, so I was extra appreciative that she sent me some as a gift. I'll have to order more from her soon!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Dad

(Mom & Dad)
Today is my Dad's birthday!
Here's a little bit about him...

*He is the best dad EVER. I'm sure most girls might say that about their dad, but this is actually a fact. No one has had a better dad.
*If you look up the word "patience" in the dictionary, you'll see his picture.
*Sometimes you have use the dictionary to fully understand what he is saying because he has a huge vocabulary.
*If you look up the word "gondimosis" in the dictionary, you won't find it but you should because it means the little imprints left on your skin after sleeping on something.
*Because of my dad's big vocabulary I honestly thought that was a real word until I went to college, but I guess he made it up. (If he calls the toilet, a commode, then you'd believe that gondimosis is a real word!)
*My dad is an artist through genetics and education. He has taught all of us- kids and grand kids- some of the tricks of the trade... and he continues to teach us.
*As difficult as it was, he was able to make a career of art. He designed ads in the Yellow Pages pretty much all of my life. Initially he actually wrote/drew the ads and physically cut and pasted the pieces together. Over the years as technology developed he is trained as a graphic artist. He longed to be more creative with his work, but was forced to just get those ads out as fast as possible. He happily retired last summer. I hope he finds time to return to a regular routine of creative fine art moments. You know -pencil to paper and paint to canvas.

*When we were growing up Dad had to travel up north during the work week (home on the weekends). We missed him and got to up with him for a week until it got too hard with school for us.
*We used to listen to Bolero and ABBA in his car on the way up north.
*I used to wonder if he had another family up there.
*He was either Bishop (twice) or in the Stake Presidency during these years too! Until I was an adult I never even thought about how difficult that must have been on him.
*He taught us by his example how to serve, to always serve, and never turn down an opportunity to serve... never grudgingly, never without giving 100%.
*He took us 3 girls on many daddy daughter dates. I think it was usually the 1st Saturday of every month that one of us would have a date scheduled with him.
*We would get nervous when dad had the treat for Family Home Evening. He was always so creative with foods. We weren't sure what we would get!
*Now that he's retired (but mom is not yet) he is the perfect house husband. Mom loves to come home to a dinner he's prepared. He seems to really enjoy trying out new recipes.
*He loves Valentines Day and ALWAYS takes Mom out someplace special.
*He loves the outdoors- when it's warm. He especially loves going to the beach to fly a kite, relax in the sand, or play with the grand kids. He would love to live somewhere that is always warm and on a beach.

*He can fix anything... or can figure it out if he doesn't already know. If I ever need to know how to do some kind of home repair, he can walk me through it.
*Whenever he comes to visit, he usually brings along his tool box and spends his time fixing or installing all the things I haven't gotten around to yet. It's supposed to be his vacation, but he's busy being my personal handyman. It is SO appreciated!
*He can find his way around any city- even if it's his first time there.
*He has come to terms with the fact that my kids will probably always call him Papa. I don't think he's a big fan of the nickname Jillie gave him, but he's happy to be their "Papa".

*He always says he's shocked when he looks in the mirror and sees an "old man" looking back. He doesn't look old if you ask me! He just wasn't able to keep the head of thick dark hair he had as a youth.
*He was in Primary until he was 14 because his mom was the Primary President and didn't understand that he should have graduated at 12. I bet she just liked having him around. She loved him so much! She used to call him David the Beloved.*He served a 2 year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in what was then called the California Mission.
*He is 6 years older that my mom. They grew up in the same branch their entire lives. He was the heartthrob of the branch! They only started dating at BYU when his friend who was dating Mom but leaving for his mission asked dad to take care of her for him. He did- and still does.
*When he asked Grandma Streeter (Mom's mom) for my mom's hand in marriage, she said no. She did not believe an artist could provide for her daughter and a family. It didn't take her too long to admit she was wrong.
*His voice is so calm and soothing, we'd always ask him to talk us to sleep. One time as a teenager I got home late and he was up waiting for me. As he talked to me about that fact that I was in trouble, I fell asleep. He woke me and told me to just go to bed. :)
*He knows and lives the gospel. Anytime I have a gospel question he has the answer. He has taught and inspired us to do the same.
*He is always there for us girls- "no matter what".
*He blessed our lives by being worthy to hold the Priesthood.
*He is an example to us girls of the the kind of husband we should look for. While our husbands are not all exactly like him, they each share some the most important qualities of our dad.
*If he could see me right now (at 2am) he would say, "Daughter, go to bed. You need your rest."
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I feel like I could just keep typing non stop all night. Guess I'd better save some for Father's Day and all of the future birthday posts!
I love you Dad! Hope you have a great birthday (and Easter!)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Easter Bunny Visited!

We always ask the Easter Bunny to visit our house on Saturday morning. This way we hope to focus more on Christ for Easter Sunday. So here's some footage of this morning's fun.
Jackson enjoyed finding "blue" eggs especially. The big kids were happy to start out slow and let him fill his basket up some first before they took off on the hunt. By the way, you'll notice in Kobe's picture that he pulled out his other dangling front tooth last night. He told us that he hoped the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy would run into each other in the night. Then the Tooth Fairy could put his dollar in an Easter Egg under his pillow. And guess what? It happened just as he'd hoped.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

52 Blessings Project: Week #11

Jackson (a.k.a. Jack Jack)
Kids are our greatest challenges and our greatest joys. Jackson is certainly both! Lately we have been blessed to have a very lovey, huggy Jack Jack. I love those out of the blue, big hugs tight around my neck. Then he leans back a bit and says, "Hi Mommy!" a few times, then comes back with more tight squeezes. He can cheer up this family like no other!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Announcing the opening of our gallery

I have started a new blog called The Garrick Gallery. It's an idea borrowed from blogger Michelle A. of Montreal. I am documenting our kids creativity on that site. Feel free to browse the gallery... and more to come as they create!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Want to see some vacation pictures?

I'm sure you're just dying to see all of our vacation pictures from Disneyland! ;) I've been meaning to post about our trip and have felt guilty about posting anything else til I get that done. With almost 300 pictures and videos (and the fact that blogger is only letting me download one picture at a time!?!) it's a big task. (WARNING: This will be a very long post! Hopefully family will enjoy it- and this a little exercise in journaling our family vacation so I can "remember" it better!) Actually the husband and kids keep saying- "Are you ever going to put our pictures on there?!" Kobe especially has been just dying for me to get this picture up so he can make his cousin Saroya (corn dog lover extraordinaire) very jealous. I just discovered we actually took many food pictures... Disneyland has yummy food.
But, back to the beginning. First there was the 6 hours spent on airplanes. It took a lot of work on Greg's part to get us seats semi -together. This airline actually had us in individual seats all over the plane. As if any of the kids, especially Jackson, would be sitting alone?! We survived it pretty well. The kids did great.

The limo ride to the hotel was a hit with the kids. Jack Jack rocked out in his seat.
At the hotel we ran down the hall to give hugs to Aunt Shannon, Grammie G and the kids. So good to see everyone after so long- a whole year for Shan & kids! Then off to bed to prepare for our first big day at...

This picture is for my sister Sunny, the horticulturist. Sun, they had little sparkly lights that traveled along the yellow pixie dust trail to Tinkerbell and then lit up Mickey's face with sparkly pixie dust lights. Very cute. I think Greg would like you to come out and do this in our yard, OK? :)

Oh! Just so you know- no these pictures were not all taken in one day. It was a 5 day visit to the "land Disney". We are wearing the same stuff every day though. While we knew what the weather would be like, we were in a bit of denial that it would feel cold to us after Buffalo's winter. We did get cold though. It was rainy and cloudy pretty much the entire time. We each had to buy an extra sweatshirt. Everyday was the same pair of jeans and the same 2-3 layers of t-shirts and sweatshirts. I was feeling pretty frumpy- and frizzy!- by the end of the week and was so ready to get everyone's clothes home and in the washing machine! The cold weather was probably the reason I ended up gaining weight despite walking all day long. I drank an awful lot of these during the week!
YUM! Probably the best hot chocolate anywhere!
So on to the rides... Lots of fun especially when we got to ride with the whole family. Nemo was an hour and a half wait. No other rides in the park made us wait that long, but waiting was a great time for the cousins to chat & have fun together.

(Except for Karly- at this point she had just lost her sunglasses on the Buzz Lightyear ride and she was very down about that. So sad for a cute 4 year old birthday girl! She was happier once we got on the ride!)
On a rare occasions Jackson looked like this on the rides... but almost all of the time he looked like this... We had no idea if he liked it or not until we got off the ride. He'd either say, "Want again!" if he liked it or "All Done!!!" in a terrified or anxious voice if he didn't.
Of course we took Jackson on just about every ride we could- and he's tall enough now to go on just about everything. We didn't take him on Space Mountain, but it was Kobe's first time. He was so nervous, but as soon as it was over he says, "That was AWESOME!" Other favs- Matterhorn, Tower of Terror, California Screamin, Soaring over California, Indiana Jones, Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours, Mulholland Madness, Grizzly River Run, etc... Side note: Another fav is It's a Small World but it was closed this year. They have to dig the trench deeper that the boats float in because the average human is heavier that when it opened! I guess the boats have been dragging! Anyhow, here's some more fun.
Autopia- Kobe drove me in his car. He was concentrating SO HARD! Every time I'd try to get a picture of him he'd say, "Mom! I'm trying to drive!" So we had to take a picture when we were all done...

Pirates of the Caribbean... a bit dark, but you can make out some faces.
Ferris wheel at California Adventure. I almost had to use the included "barf bag" this time! (See the Scorses?)
Maliboomer didn't bother me at all though. Reagan, Jillie, Greg and I were the only ones to brave that one.
Big Thunder Mountain with Grammie G.

Monsters, Inc. ride- I always think of Saroya when I see Boo.
Winnie the Pooh ride- we took Jackson on that 10 times! Always at night while we took turns taking the big kids on rides like Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones. This is a picture of the time the ride broke down and we had to be "rescued" by the staff bringing us a step stool to exit our beehive and walk out of the ride!
And can anyone explain to me why in the world the Peter Pan ride ALWAYS has a HUGE line?! I don't get it. Day or night, full park or empty park. ALWAYS a HUGE line!?
Attractions... Turtle Talk with Crush is a favorite. One of the times we went this week Reagan and I got to talk to him!
Actually we've discovered that one of our favorite places to be in California Adventure is Disney Imagination. We went to Animation Academy 3 times and learned from real Disney animators how to draw Tigger, Pooh, and Goofy.
Sorcerer's Workshop was a new find for us this year. Very fun interactive rooms to learn about animation- you even get to try to voice over a scene from a Disney movie!
California Adventure also offers a Broadway style show of Aladdin- so good! We got to sit right up in the front this time.
New to Disneyland is this Princess Fantasy Faire. Princesses (and princes) can come make a crown and be treated as royalty. They can stand in line forever to meet all of their favorite princesses (we did not.) They can spend buckets of their parents money on hair, makeup, and princess dresses and other finery (we did not.) Luckily our girls were a little past the princess stage to not care too much but I know some princess cousins who would LOVE it!
I wish I'd gotten pictures at the Jedi Training Academy- it was WAY cool!
Brother Bear's play area (or whatever it's called) is a place the kids could have spent a whole day in. Fun zip lines and rock climbing and rope bridges, etc. Lots of fun exercise. Good physical therapy for Jack Jack.
Don't forget... We love to sing along!

Parades... It's always fun to watch the parades- especially with cousins to visit with while you wait for the parade. The Disney folks also come along the parade route with games and activities for the kids to play- basketball, bowling, hula hoop. Sometimes the kids got special Disneyland "Year of a Million Dreams" pins. This really got the kids into pin collecting and trading. They spent most of their hard earned money on pins and had fun trading and trading and trading again with Disney staff and visitors. I'll have to have Jillie do a post on her blog showing their collections.

And now for our Disney lovin' cousins out there... Our own "Parade of Characters" from character meals, early opening at Toon Town, and a few others we came across along our way...

Kobe was never happy to take a picture with a princess! Jackson was not happy to take pictures with ANY characters...
But the morning that we got in early to Toon Town, Jack Jack changed his ways. He got very excited to take pictures with the characters he loves so much. He could've stayed in Toon Town the entire day. After we'd take a picture with all the kids, he'd run back in line to do it again by himself!
His favorite part of Toon Town was Minnie's house... because she had a computer of course!

One more side note: Here is the bottle of water that Kobe decided to open when he got thirsty in our room. No, he didn't get a cup and go to the sink. No, he didn't use one of the many water bottles we already had around the room. No, instead he opened the bottle of water they leave in your room in case you feel like spending $5 on some water! He didn't know though, but now he does! :)

We made a personal family record this year- 16 hour days at Disneyland! 8am til midnight, no breaks, no naps (except for a couple little ones for Jackson in the stroller).

I think these pictures from the ride to the airport say it all...
Well, I think that's it. Don't you feel like you just came over to my house and I sat you in front of my computer and made you look at every bit of our trip? Let just say, you're lucky I don't know how to download video from my regular video camera! :)