Saturday, August 29, 2009

The first day of school

This year we have a 4rd grader, a 2nd grader, and a Kindergartener. It feels bittersweet to see my kids getting older. Of course it makes me sad to look back on all that time and know they won't be my little babies anymore, but it is so exciting to see them growing, learning, and experiencing life.

Hazel has been very good this year about getting up and ready to go without much hassling from me. She is doing her own hair, picking out her own clothes (and matching), and making efforts to beautify herself for school. It's nice to see her getting to that stage of life. She used to not even care if she went to school with her hair not brushed or totally mismatched clothes (I would fight her to look nice still). She has become very responsible.

Hazel's teacher this year is Mrs. Balser. When we went to the "meet your teacher" night, we were pleased to see that Hazel's and Claire's classrooms are right next to each other. Nathan's is on the other side of the school, which is fine too, because he got the teacher we wanted him to get.

I was surprised when we walked into her classroom to see such big, fat books sitting on the desks. The workload just gets heavier each year. I know she'll do great, though.

Nathan has also been excited for school. We bought the kids their school's logo t-shirt, and he chose to wear that the first day of school. He thought it was pretty neat to wear an Art City Elementary shirt. Nathan normally likes to sleep in and doesn't like to be bothered in the mornings. He has surprised me this past week by getting up without much complaint. I'm very glad about that and hope it continues throughout the school year.

Funny kid...he rarely smiles for a picture. This was the best I could get.

Nathan got Mrs. Roylance for his teacher this year. Hazel also had her for 2nd grade, and we just loved her. She is very loving, helpful and positive toward the children. He will do great in there.

Such a handsome young schoolboy.

Claire is the newest school member in our family. She is in afternoon Kindergarten this year, and has been looking forward to it for a very long time. Hazel and Nathan used to come home from school and do "school" for Claire. She actually learned a lot from them. It was very cute. Now she has the real thing. She asks me every morning after Hazel and Nathan leave when she gets to go to school. The answers go from "in a few hours" to "in two and a half hours" to "in 2 hours", and so get the picture. She loves it! I can tell she feels so grown up. Just yesterday, on her 3rd day of school, I dropped her off at the front and she went inside to her class all by herself. She is a cutie!!!

Claire and Lahela on our walk to school. It was the first day for Kindergarteners. Claire requested for her hairstyle that I make two buns, and of course, Lahela then wanted buns too.

Claire's teacher is Mrs. Morgan. I have heard many wonderful things about her, and after meeting her, I'm glad to have Claire in there. She does a lot of fun things with the kids and I will even be able to go in and help in the classroom once a week. I'm looking forward to it very much.

This was the result of Claire's first day of school. She also did this on the second day. It wore her out. She was very happy when she came home from school, though. Hazel and Nathan think it's very exciting to pick up Claire from her class. Hazel even admitted to getting teary-eyed when she picked up Claire the first day.

All in all, I am excited about this school year. It will definitely be a busy year, with full-day kids, a half-day child, plus I'm doing a preschool co-op for Lahela, which I will help teach, then a baby coming in January. This really is what I've always wanted to do with my life, though: raise a family. I am thankful for what my Heavenly Father has given me. Children truly are gifts from him.

One more thing: I recently received a new calling in church. I am the new Ward Choir Director. This is in addition to pianist and chorister in Primary. I'm open to suggestions about how to get people to come and participate on a regular basis. Thanks!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

School is coming!

I can't believe the summer is almost over. It feels bittersweet. The kids will be starting school next week, my garden has gotten huge, we've endured many blistering heat waves, and I've spent all these summer months feeling like a deadhead. I do feel bad that my morning sickness hindered us from doing more fun things as a family, but now the time has gone. I hope this school year will be great, and I do look forward to the smells, colors, and holidays of the coming fall and winter. In the meantime, I'll be trying to enjoy my last few unscheduled days with the kids (especially now that I'm feeling a lot better).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Family Gathering Marathon Week

My sister Cynthia and her family came to Utah to visit this past week, and we all had a blast with the numerous family gatherings that are a result of her visit. On Saturday, June 27th, we had a family reunion, which Teresa planned. We hiked up to Cascade Springs, then went to her house for delicious food and fun activities, such as Spin the Bat, Three-Legged Race, Sack Race, and a Pop-the-Balloon game, with balloons tied to your ankles, and you try to pop everyone else's balloons. It was a great family reunion, and I'm very thankful to Teresa for planning such a fun day.

The next day, Sunday, we all went to Mama's church to sing in her Sacrament Meeting. Then we went to Cathy's house to hang out. Kimball, the kids and I had to leave early to go to his Grandma's 87th birthday party, so we spent an equal amount of time with both sides of the family that day.

Wednesday was the Guys' Night Out. All the guys went out and did what guys like to do a movie (Transformers 2) and eat at a fancy burger joint. While the guys were out having their fun, we girls went to Salem Pond with the children to feed the ducks and play on the playground. Unfortunately, the ducks didn't seem very hungry that day. There was a huge "bread pudding" in the water when we were done, and the ducks were swimming away. Afterwards we went to Renee's house and played a game.

Thursday was the Girls' Night Out. We went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse (yummy), then went to Shauna's house to do what the girls like to do games and chit-chat the night away. It was a lot of fun. Thanks, Shauna, for planning a very enjoyable night.

Friday morning several of us went to the Oquirrh Temple Open House. It was also my 30th birthday. That temple is so beautiful. It was very nice to be there with my family, whom I hope to spend eternity with. After the temple, we went to eat at Kneader's. I hadn't ever been there before, but it was very good. Later on that night, Kimball surprised me with a cake and a nice wooden recipe box (I have a very large recipe collection that has long since outgrown its previous box). Actually, he really had to do those things to make up for forgetting it was my birthday that morning. Then he, Hazel and Nathan left to go to Torrey, Utah. He still has a little making-up to do, so we're going on a "birthday" date this coming Tuesday when he gets back. I guess I'll forgive him, as long as he gives me a nice long foot and back rub.
Smiley Face

Saturday, of course, was Independence Day. I took Claire and Lahela to an early-morning breakfast with my ward, then went home. In the afternoon we went to hear Nicholas perform with his choir One Voice in Orem. He is an excellent singer. I'm very proud of my nephew. Later on that night, we went to Jaime and Teresa's house where we ate pizza from Pizza Hut (very easy meal), the kids played in the sprinklers and on a Slip & Slide, and we talked and laughed. Later we watched as Jaime and the kids lit fireworks. It's always fun to watch a pyro show on the 4th. After most people left, Teresa and I showed Cynthia how to make flower hair clips, then we cleaned up and talked until 1:00 in the morning (it was very difficult to get up for 9:00 church, but Claire, Lahela and I managed okay). Sometimes it's fun staying up late with people I love.

Overall, this past week has been great! I love spending time with my family. Cynthia and Brett are going back to California today, and I'll miss them and their kids very much. It's always nice when they come for a visit, because there are always a lot of family gatherings. With our family getting so big, we just don't get together as much as we used to. I also wish I would've taken more pictures, but sometimes the camera is forgotten in all the fun of the moment. Enjoy the shots I did take.

Cynthia and Matthew Kimball and Lahela Daddy the photographer The hiking family Cutie-pie Claire Hazel looking at the river made by springs A random beautiful woman My lovely family and Daddy's elbow Mama and Daddy Michelle and Benjamin Kids are always fascinated by water Fish (obviously) Shauna holding Ella Claire on our way to Jaime and Teresa's house Seth, Nathan and Jacob were privileged to ride together. They are all the same age. Lahela conked out very quickly in the car. She obviously enjoyed her chocolate pudding very much. Daddy (Grandpa) comforting Hazel after she twisted her ankle in the three-legged race. Younger children awaiting their turn for one of the races. So patient! It was cute watching the really young kids do this race. They just couldn't get the hang of it. It looks like Callie and Katelyn will win, but they ended up falling, allowing Hazel and Amanda to take first. That was tense, man! Nathan and Seth were trying to get the hang of being "one" before their race. Kid sack race. Adult sack race. This one was awesome! Watch the video.

What the...?! At least Lahela was keeping herself happy and occupied.
(More pictures to come)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Women's Retreat

This past Friday and Saturday I had the opportunity of attending my stake's annual Women's Retreat at Jolley's Ranch in Hobble Creek canyon. We had many great speakers, attended many enlightening classes, played games, and had a great time becoming better friends. This year I was privileged to be on the planning committee. I was quite busy preparing for it, but in the end, it was all worth it.

I am also extremely grateful to Kimball for doing everything he could so I could attend. He took very good care of the kids while I was gone, and willingly took on an extra child so my friend could go too. He is a very loving, giving person, and I love him very much.

I want to share my testimony about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me, and that I am literally his daughter. He has given me so much to be thankful for. I have a loving husband, good-hearted, sweet children, and countless people in my life who help me be a better person. I am amazed at the beauty and diversity of the Earth, and it is even more amazing to know that Heavenly Father created it simply for our happiness. He has given each of us a deep beauty, gifts, talents, and the light of Christ to shine forth to the world. I am thankful for the love He pours out to me continually, even when I make mistakes. He is there every time I need Him. I hope I can be who He wants me to be, so I can live with Him again someday. He loves each of His children dearly and anxiously awaits our safe return into His loving arms, and of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Remembrances

This Memorial Day Kimball and I took the kids up to our extended family's annual tradition of decorating graves. When I was growing up, we always decorated my Uncle Joe's grave. He died when he was 18 in a car accident, long before I was born, and it was always my Grandma and Grandpa Cunningham who headed the gathering, with a picnic afterward. Now they are both gone from the Earth, their bodies buried next to Joe's, and the grave-decorating tradition lives on. I did feel emotional there, just remembering my beloved grandparents and how much I miss them. I know they are doing what they've always done, though: continuing our Heavenly Father's work.

Grandma and Grandpa are such a source of inspiration to me. They were so faithful and good, never wavering from what they knew to be correct and true. They loved each other dearly and were always together. Wherever one was, the other was there too. They did everything in their power to support their family by attending every baby blessing, baptism, play, game, concert, and anything else they were invited to...all 38 grandchildren, and numberless great-grandchildren (too many to count anymore). Grandpa, being the sweet gentleman that he was, always opened the car door for Grandma, both getting in and out. In Grandma's last years, as her health gradually worsened, Grandpa was always by her side. He was so devoted to her, pushing her wheelchair, making sure she was comfortable, putting her needs before his own.

When I was younger, I used to think that dying would be scary because I wouldn't know anyone once I got to Heaven. That was the thinking I had in my young mind, and since Grandma's and Grandpa's deaths, I know for sure there will be somebody there waiting for me. I'm not saying I want it to happen anytime soon, though, don't get me wrong. I just look forward to the day when I will see them again.

As for this Memorial Day, I really enjoyed remembering my loved ones gone, and spending time with loved ones still here. After we decorated the graves and had a family prayer, we went to Uncle Rich's and Aunt Cathy's house for a barbecue/picnic. Of course, Uncle Rich made his famous root beer. It literally is the best root beer ever! The other food there was also very tasty. We stayed a few hours, eating, talking and laughing. The kids had fun getting very dirty in the sandbox. It kept them occupied almost the whole time. We also got to walk through Grandma's and Grandpa's house. It has really been fixed up nice and has a 'For Sale' sign out front. It's not the first time I've been there since they died, but it still feels so empty to be there without Grandma and Grandpa.

Before we left for the cemetery, Nathan asked me if it was the Grandpa who always gave him cookies whose grave we were decorating. I told him it was. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a remembrance of Grandma because she died while we still lived in Alaska. He only saw her twice in his life. I know he would have really liked her as much as he liked Grandpa.

Here are some pictures we captured of the day:

These are almost all the family who were in attendance at the graves, minus only the three guys (Josh, Jeremy and Doug P.) who were taking the pictures.

Jeremy was really mad about not being in the group picture, as you can tell. Lighten up, man! (That's Josh being Mr. Photographer on the bottom).

Beautiful flowers for beautiful people.

Grandpa was a veteran of World War II.

Uncle Joe gets his grave decorated the same every year, with a "J" made out of snowball flowers.

I captured some chit-chat moments of the day. Jeremy was obviously very captivating.

The background almost looks like a studio backdrop. The entire day was sunny and gorgeous, unlike last year, when we got rained out. Aren't these two adorable?

Hello to you too, Uncle Rich, and thank you for providing a comfortable place where we could gather and enjoy each other.

After the cemetery, we went to Macey's with Robert and Denise to get some hot dogs. Of course, having small children, you can't get just a regular cart. You have to get a car cart. When we got back out to our cars, we noticed the sign posted on top of the car cart. If you can't read the sign, just click on the picture to make it bigger. We got a kick out of it. Robert is simply doing what the cart states.

My word, Cathy (my sister, not aunt)! I really don't want to know what that is. Have some decency!

Lahela is training to become a gymnast, thanks to this bar in Rich and Cathy's back yard. I also love Samantha's adorable toothless smile. What cute girls we have in our family!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lahela finally found something to do

Lately Lahela has been going through a very difficult two-year old phase of crying and whining a LOT. I love her dearly, and she does have her good moments too, but some days she just WILL NOT stop. Usually 3 seconds of it is enough for me to handle, but a whole day? I go CRAZY! Today has been no different. She has been very moody today and over-sensitive to just about EVERYTHING. Well, she finally was quiet for a while, then I walked in to see her looking like this:

In case you can't tell what the stickers look like, they are smiley faces. How ironic. She actually has been sitting on my lap the whole time I've been typing this, and she is being happy. I guess I have to just accept that she won't be a perfect child all the time, but when she is happy and sweet, I will bask in it.

Hazel, the performing artist

Hazel performed in her school's talent show. She sang the song, "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. She has always loved singing from the time she could barely talk. I am very proud of her bravery in getting up to sing in front of so many people. She did a great job! I love you, Hazel!

(On a side note, unfortunately the first part of the song didn't get recorded, which I was bummed about, but oh well. What can we do about it now anyway? She still did great!)

Monday, May 18, 2009


I just want to say that I'm VERY happy school is almost out. I am ready to delve into a summer full of warmth, fun times with extended family and friends, and just hanging out. I'm ready for children, sticky with melted popsicles or runny watermelon juice, running through the sprinklers. I'm ready to smell like a campfire, laughing and roasting marshmallows and stuffing myself silly with one-too-many smore's. I'm ready for fat, juicy barbecued hamburgers, potato salad, and jello. I'm ready for the sweltering parades, the fireworks, and the crowded streets while looking at all the vendors' overpriced wares. I am ready for all of this and more. This is one of my most favorite times of the year. Yes, I know that when the kids are all together for such long periods of time, there will be occasional fights to break up and bloody knees to bandage, but we will be together, making memories and building friendships that will last a lifetime and beyond. Welcome back, summer. I've missed you so. I hope it will be everything I'm expecting and more.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our trip to Las Vegas

We took a trip to Las Vegas this past weekend. It was a lot of fun. Kimball's dad kindly let us use his scheduled time share at a resort called Tahiti, since he wasn't going to use it. We went down there with Kimball's brother Mike and his two kids, Mikey and Isabelle. The room was nicer than a hotel room, in that it had a full kitchen with dishes and everything. I was glad we could make our own food instead of eating out, which would get very expensive for every meal. Most of our time was spent swimming at the resort. It had two large pools, one wading pool, and a hot tub. The bigger pools each had a section with sand in the bottom. Every morning, the sand was miraculously swept back into place, so we could play in it and mess it up again. There was also a little golf putting green. We had some fun with that while we waited for the shuttle to pick us up on Friday.

On Friday morning we left home at about 2:45 a.m. We put everything in the car, buckled in sleeping kids, and took off. It took us about 5 1/2 hours to get there. That same day we took a shuttle (which was a big hit for the kids) to the Vegas strip. We went to the M&M Factory and saw the 3-D M&M movie. It was a cute movie, and Hazel and Nathan did reach out to try and grab things (it was funny). Sad for me, the movie gave me motion sickness. I came out feeling very woozy. How nerdy is that? Afterwards we walked down the strip. There are a lot of neat things to see.

On Saturday we swam for a few hours, then relaxed in our room for a while. It was nice to not have a time schedule for anything. We just took it easy. That night we dragged ourselves to the strip one more time for the other thing we really wanted to see: the fountain/light show at the Bellagio hotel. It was awesome! It would have been nice to stay for more than one show, but it was late, so we just saw one. The show was very impressive.

Unfortunately, we found that Las Vegas is called Sin City for a reason. There is pornography everywhere. You can't look down because the ground is littered with raunchy pictures. I had to coach the kids to keep their eyes up, but even that doesn't help much because of all the half-naked advertisements everywhere. That was the one big turn-off for this trip. It's too bad that it even had to be an issue at all. I will say it was good for one reason and one alone. Let me explain:

On Sunday, as we were leaving Las Vegas, we remembered that we had wanted to go see the temple. It didn't take too long to find, once we got directions from some nice ladies in a gas station. When we arrived at the temple, I could already feel the peace emanating from it, even before we got out of the van. We found an open gate where the public can enter to walk around the temple grounds. There were so many flowers in full bloom, it was quiet, and the temple itself is so beautiful. We were able to have a poignant discussion with the kids about the differences we felt between the Las Vegas strip and the temple. I know they understood and felt the difference for themselves. The spirit is not present in downtown Las Vegas. It is so flashy and loud there. The temple was completely opposite. We could feel the spirit there very strongly.

All in all, it was a very fun trip. I was very happy to have been able to spend some much-needed down time with my family, whom I love more than life itself. Thanks, Kim, for giving us the opportunity to have a nice family vacation.

Go Nathan! Get that ball in the hole!

Claire is so tricky. She can golf one-handed.

Mikey is getting down to business. Let's get this game on.

Hazel did hit some balls with a stick, but then decided it was more fun to watch the other kids do it.

Once Isabelle decided the stick was bigger than her, and thus, hard to hit a ball with, she took to gathering up as many balls as she could hold, even taking other kids' golf balls. It was entertaining watching her try to hold them all.

Whacking a ball with a stick must be way below these two hoodlums' standards (actually, Mike did get up after a while to do some whacking). Come on, Kimball, get in the game! He had a good excuse not to: driving all night. I guess he deserved a nap/break that day.

Lahela had to make sure I was aiming right.

Apparently I had it all wrong. Thanks, coach Lahela, for setting me straight.

"This is how it's done. Get it right, Mom."

Hazel and I almost got lost in the jungle. Whew! That was a close one.

Lahela loved the shuttle bus, as you can tell.

There was a live lion in a great glass cage at the MGM Grand hotel. It was interesting to see that lady petting it while it slept.

Claire and Lahela slept through half of our trip down the strip on Friday. This picture was taken inside the M&M Factory. A nice man offered to take it for us so we could all be in the picture. Thank you, nice man.

Strike a pose, girls! You look good enough to eat!

Nathan made a new friend on our trip. It's too bad he ate him before he could take him home.

HELP! ALIENS ARE ATTACKING! Oh, wait, it's just Nathan and Kimball. It's only the attack of the nerds...I mean cool dudes. Everyone can rest easy.

Lahela loves the water. She was so cute in the pool.

Swimming is not swimming if you don't throw at least one person into the water...or something like that.

Just the girls, relaxing in the hot tub.

The pool court of the beautiful Tahiti resort. The sand portion of the pool is at the far end.

The Langton family waiting for the Bellagio fountain show to begin. It was worth the wait.

Four kids in the bed, and the little one said...

The Las Vegas, Nevada Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I thought we were the only ones there, then we came upon a couple who was willing to capture us all in the moment. The temple was so peaceful and happy. We loved it there. I am so thankful to have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, and that I can be with my family forever through sacred temple ordinances.