Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Well as you know we have been hit with a ton of snow lately. I even think there is more out there now than we got all year last year.

Last night we had just settled down as a family to watch The Sound of Music and the doorbell rings. It is Jared from across the street. He is in the Elder's Quorum Presidency with Bryon. Pretty soon Bryon comes down and puts on his snow gear. He said that Jared was shoveling out some snow away from his mailbox tossing it on to his neighbors yard when the neighbor lady came out and complained about the extra snow he was putting in his yard. So he was going to go out and help Jared move some snow around. I figure it wasn't a big deal and he shouldn't be gone long. From my family room I can see lights flash in the window occasionally. I decided to go upstairs and see what was going on. This is what I saw on my front lawn.
Oh yes, the recruited the help of a neighbor down the street. The basically took most of the snow out of this lady's yard and were distributing it between Jared's yard and our yard. Now we have a huge, probably a 7 foot hill of snow in my front yard. Sam and Conner are so excited. They want to go out and try it out today. We will have to see!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

I know I haven't been the greatest at updating my blog lately. I am promising to do better. We had a great holiday season. We have enjoyed reading a couple of Christmas stories together as a family, we made sugar cookies for Santa (of course we had our fill also), we braved shopping the Saturday before Christmas together as a family, we held our traditional family slumber party underneath the Christmas tree, and we have just enjoyed being together as a family.

It was our turn to spend Christmas with the Kennedy side this year. With our children being older and four of them it makes traveling for Christmas very hard to do. We decided when Sam was little to quit the traveling part and stay home and spend time with our little family and then try to see both extended families sometime over the holidays. Since Bryon's parents only live 40 minutes away it makes spending time with them on Christmas a little more feasible. This year Dorothy, my mother-in-law invited us down on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We spent the majority of the day finishing those last minute Christmas things. We left here and stopped and picked up Bryon's grandpa that lives on the way. Christmas at my in-laws was a little quieter this year. Bryon's two sisters from Utah didn't come up and Bryon's brother that lives in Tennessee isn't coming out until January. So that left us and Bryon's two brothers and their families that live in Idaho Falls. Bryon's family's Christmas Eve tradition is more casual than mine. We had clam chowder, crackers, a relish tray, and cheese for dinner. We then had peppermint ice cream and sugar cookies for dessert. Several years ago, my mother-in-law made each family a binder of the Christmas story. In it, it has pictures and songs that go along with the story. So after dinner we sat in the living room and took turns reading the Christmas story and singing songs. Everyone was anxious to get back to their own houses to get ready for Santa to come. The kids had fallen asleep on the way home. We had to wake them to open their Christmas pajamas and to get out milk and cookies for Santa.

Bryon and I both woke up before the kids. We woke up at 5:50 (thanks to Bryon's alarm). Bryon wanted to go out to shovel the snow and get a fire started before the kids got up. The kids got up about 6:10.

We had a wonderful Christmas. Here is a little run down of what we got.

Bryon, Sam, Conner and I got the Wii. We each got a game that goes with the Wii.

Sam -- Sam got some Playmobile, some Bionicles, and a nice CD/Stereo for his bedroom.

Conner -- Got Marbleworks, some Tech Deck Dudes, and a nice ATM machine to keep his allowance in.

Logan -- The Geo Trax Airport, V-Smile Pocket and some cartridges for it, and a new quilt for his bed.

Natalie -- She got the Loving Family Dollhouse and all the room accessories for it, she got a new Barbie, a Barbie Styling head, a new lamp for her room, and some new Barbie movies.

Bryon -- Bryon finally got the part that makes his bike an indoor bike. I think I managed to surprise him.

Me -- I got the new Wii Fit. I am so excited. Now if I can just figure out how to sink it with the Wii.

Santa also surprised Bryon with tickets for he and I to go to Salt Lake this spring and see Wicked.

We enjoyed spending the majority of the day together. Bryon's parents came up that morning to deliver their Christmas presents to us and to see what the kids got for Christmas. They said the roads were terrible and so we were hoping to be able to make it back to their house for Christmas dinner.

It snowed pretty much all day here. We had talked all day about probably just staying home. About 3 we finally decided to try to go to Idaho Falls. We took pajamas just in case we couldn't make it back. The roads were a little treacherous. Dinner was fabulous. My mother-in-law cooked a nice roast for dinner. The kids were so excited that Santa even found Grandpa & Grandma and brought them a huge new bucket of Tinker Toys! While the kids played, we watched an old family video of the Kennedy Family together for Thanksgiving of (I think) 1988. What a blast from the past. Bryon had just gotten his mission call. It was so funny to watch.

We have continued to party all weekend. We look forward to going to Burley in a few days to spend New Years with my parents and sister's family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Tag

I found this little tag and thought it would be fun.
1. Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags?
Wrapping paper. Are you kidding?!? With four little ones I don't have much of a choice. I can't lie, I am tempted to peek, too, with gift bags.
2. Real Tree or Artificial?
Real. It is Bryon's family tradition to go tree hunting the day after Thanksgiving. If we are in Buley they always get one for us. So our main family tree is real. I have bought little artifical trees for each of the kids. They go in their rooms. They get to hang the ornaments they get each year in primary, from Santa, and Grandpa & Grandma Roskelley.
3. When Do You Put Up The Tree?
As soon after Thanksgiving as we can!
4. When Do You Take The Tree Down?
Bryon usually takes down Christmas sometimes between Christmas and New Years. I like verything put back together before he goes back to school.
5. Do You Like Eggnog?
Are you kidding?!? LOVE IT!
6. Favorite Gift Received?
The best gifts I have ever received is the gift from three unselfish birthmothers. It was the gift of life. It is an awesome gift. I am always in awe when I think of this sacrfice. They gave Bryon & I the Ultimate Gift ever!
7. Do You Have a Nativity Scene?
Yes.
8. Hardest Person to Buy For?
Bryon, My Parents, My Brother-in-Laws Brent & Todd
9. Easiest Person to Buy For?
My kids -- They want it all!
10. Worst Christmas Gift You Ever Received?
I don't think there is such a thing. If the person has thought about what to buy you and go to the effort of giving you a gift, isn't that what Christmas is all about?!? Not the gift itself!
11. Mail or E-Mail Christmas Cards
Definitely mail. I love Christmas cards with the family letters and pictures catching up on what everyone has been up to the past year. Speaking of which, I guess I better get started on mine!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
I love Christmas with the Kranks!
13. When Do You Start Shopping for Christmas?
I usually start pretty early, I would say July.
14. Have You Ever Recycled a Christmas Present?
Can't say that I have.
15. Favorite Thing To Eat at Christmas?
Do I have to limit it to just one? I love wassail, eggnog, cheese balls . . . all those things that are associated with Christmas (you know those things that should only be once a year kind of
things!)
16. Clear Lights or Colored On The Tree?
I have colored lights on the tree. I have to say, I am not a fan. I love white lights!
17. Favorite Christmas Song?
Can't narrow it down. Love them all! I love the oldies. I like the newer Josh Groban, Celine songs. I do have to say one of my ultime favorites is a Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton song "Christmas to Remember" it reminds me of Christmases growing up. Just something about that song!
18. Travel at Christmas or Stay Home?
Stay Home. With four kids it is too hard to travel. We usually try to make it to my parents' house sometime during the holidays. Bryon's family lives close so we usually see them on or around Christmas.
19. Can You Name All of Santa's Reindeer?
Of course!
20. Angel on the Tree Top or a Star?
Star
21. Open the Presents Christmas Eve or Morning?
We let the kids open one (new P.J.'s -- I still don't know why they act surprised you would think after all these years they would catch on!) the rest on Christmas morning.
22. Most Annoying Thing About This Time of Year?
I think the true meaning of Christmas is forgotten between the hustle and bustle and gifts. I think if Jesus were to come to earth, He would be embarrased at what Christmas has become. Last night at the First Presidency Devotional they talked about the simpleness of the first Christmas. Christ was born in a stable, not a mansion. He was wrapped in swaddling
clothes not silk. It just really hit me.
23. Favorite Christmas tradition?
Family slumber party around the Christmas tree, and Danish Pudding on Christmas Eve
24. Up Early or Sleeping In?
UP EARLY!!!! I am usually awake all night to see if it's time to get up. Seriously I'm worse than the kids! I have even been known to wake my kids up Christmas morning in the past. I am the biggest kid Christmas morning!
25. Who Hands Out The Gifts?
No one in particular. We usually all have one gift in front of us and then try to open them in
some sort of order.
26. Does Santa Wrap Your Gifts?
Yes {but with different paper than we have in the house.} This year some wrapping paper from Santa gifts a year ago surfaced. Sam picked up on it. We had to inform him, we must have the same taste!
27. Do You Tell The Christmas Story?
Yes! Christmas Eve, we sit around and take turns reading the Christmas story out of a binder my mother-in-law made us. I have since made one for each of my kids. It even has songs that we sing to go along with it.
28. Do You Leave Cookies For Santa?
Yes.
29. Are Your Stocking Presents Wrapped?
Yes.

Give it a try and let me know if you do so I can read yours! Have Fun!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Heartache

It has taken me a while to get the next part of our adoption journey. I think it has been so hard because the next part of our journey is one that was filled with lots of sorrow and heartbreak.

Little did I know how much heartache my heart would have to endure the next three months before Sam would come into our home. I don't know why all of our adoption mishaps happened over three-day weekends. They did and I began to HATE three day weekends.

In January 1999 we received a phone call from the agency about a birth mom who was considering us. She had some questions for us. The social worker went on to ask me some of the questions this particular birthmother had for us. I hated being put in this position. I was on the spot, needed to answer immediately and knew based on whether or not she liked the answer I gave, determined whether or not she would select us to parent her baby. I tried to answer the questions correctly but also remain true to ourselves. I felt really good about my conversation with the social worker. I just had one of those feelings that this was it. However, I soon began to doubt those feelings because we didn't immediately hear back from our social worker. I was beginning to think that she had chosen someone else.

The next phone call I got was from the agency saying that she had the baby. It was a beautiful African-American baby girl. The agency informed me that this birthmother had previously placed a child for adoption several years earlier. They felt that she was very familiar with the process and with the feelings that go along with it. They were very confident that she was sure in her decision. This baby was born fairly local and we wouldn't have to travel far to pick her up. We were to go meet the birthmom and the birthgrandmother on a Friday. This is known as a face-to face meeting. At the time they usually happened once the birthmother had chosen you as the family and before she actually had the baby. However, because of circumstances beyond their control we would actually meet her right before we picked up our new baby girl. We then would be able to pick up our baby and head home. I was so excited. We only had a matter of days to get everything put together to bring a new baby home. We could hardly contain our excitement! Word quickly spread that we were were going to be new parents. Our neighborhood was great. It seems that on Thursday before we were to leave, our doorbell hardly quit ringing. Friends and neighbors brought over clothes, diaper bags, formula, and diapers to help us to prepare for our new addition. About 8:30 p.m. I got sick. I felt nauseated, feverish, and had a terrible sore throat. I dismissed it to nerves and went around feverishly trying to put together the last of the things I would need for the next day's events. Bryon and I finally climbed into bed somewhere around 10:30 p.m. Shortly after we climbed into bed, the phone rang. Bryon answered it. It didn't take me long to figure out that the news wasn't good. The social worker said that things started unravelling earlier in the day but didn't want to worry us unnecessarily. Some workers from the agency had gone to the temple in prayer for this birthmother and for us. Upon leaving the temple, they received word that the birthmother had been released from the hospital. She was having doubts about her decision to place her baby for adoption. She wanted to place the baby with a foster home for the extended weekend to sort out her feelings before making a final decision. We were devastated! We found out the birthmother had been released at almost the exact time that I began getting sick. I believe this to be one of those tender mercies that Elder Bednar talked about at a recent General Conference. I know this was Heavenly Father's way of letting me know that he was aware of me and was helping me to prepare my heart for the heartache that would unfold later that night. Instead of spending a sleepless night filled with the excitement of being new parents, we spent a very restless night wondering once again if our dreams of ever being parents would ever be fulfilled. The next morning, we packed our bags and headed to Burley to spend the weekend with my parents. While we were gone, our neighborhood came and packed away all of the baby items so we didn't have a constant reminder when we came home. We didn't even need to call the agency on Tuesday morning to see what the birthmother's decision was, we knew in our hearts the answer was "Not yet. Have faith and be patient."

Just before President's Day we got a phone call the first of the week about another possible situation. As I remember she wasn't due for about a month but her blood pressure was pretty high. They were doing some tests on the baby that very week and if the doctors felt like the lungs were developed enough they were going to take the baby. Our worker informed us this was a 99% chance go. The birthmother was a very young girl who had gotten pregnant from a rape. He also told us that her mother had placed a child for adoption years ago and so she had the support of a mom who had been through all of this before. This baby was Guatamalan. We were cautiously optimistic. Yes, we had been burned before but who couldn't possible get excited about a new baby?!? As it turned out we had plans to go to Burley. It was my sister Alyson's senior year. We were going to watch her cheer in one of her last games. Our social worker tried to talk us out of going to Burley for the weekend. I was not going to change my plans to stay home and sit by the phone and wait. We told the social worker we were leaving but left phone numbers where he could reach us. We received word upon getting to Burley that she had a darling baby boy who was small but perfectly healthy. We could pick him up on Sunday (which happened to be Valentine's Day that year). We were so excited. So on Sunday morning we left Burley that morning and drove back to Idaho Falls. We went to the agency where both her worker and our worker were there. The birthmother chose not to be there because she didn't want to meet us. I remember signing the papers and hearing our new baby cry in the next room. After signing the papers, we went in the next room and her worker placed our new baby boy in my arms. For one brief instant, I got the gut feeling that something wasn't quite right. What couldn't possibly be right?!? I had planned my whole life for this day, it was a righteous desire and here we were picking up the baby. What couldn't possibly be right in this situation?!? I immediately dismissed the idea. Little did I know it was my Heavenly Father preparing my heart yet once again for what would lie ahead. We went to Bryon's parents house to introduce them to their newest grandchild. We then headed home. My mom and sister were going to come up after church. They got there in the late afternoon and spent the evening admiring their new nephew and first grandchild. I spent a long night up every two hours to feed our new baby boy. I swear I was smiling every time I woke to feed him. I was just so excited that my family was here. Then that morning Bryon was fixing breakfast and the phone rang. It was the agency. The birthmother had had a change of heart and wanted her baby back. They wanted to know if we wanted to take the baby back to the agency or if they should come and get it. Bryon told them if he got in the car, we wouldn't be headed for Idaho Falls so they better come and get it. I remember the next hour until they got there going by in slow motion. I fed him, changed his diaper, and then put him in the clothes I would send him back to his mother in. I literally felt like I was dressing this baby for his burial. I was in a sense. . . his death to me. I cried my eyes out. When the worker arrived, we told him we didn't want to know of a baby next time until everything is signed on the dotted line. My heart just couldn't deal with this anymore. The worker said to me, "Now, Jennifer, don't be so rushed in your decision." I wanted to scream. "DON'T BE SO RUSHED! I have just survived two months of living hell and you are telling me not to rush to any decisions!" I remember sometime during the day having a conversation with my mom that has stuck with me all this time and I would remember over and over again as times got tough. I told her we would never adopt. I asked her, "Who in their right mind would be pregnant for nine months, go through the pains of delivery and then give that child to perfect strangers? No one in their right mind." My mom said to me, "It takes someone so unselfish to offer such a huge sacrifice." I knew my mom was right, I just needed to make my heart believe it!

Bryon and I decided to take matters into our own hands and look into other adoption agencies. I actually found a girl in Utah that knew quite a bit about adoption and helped us look into other avenues to pursue. We actually filled out paperwork with another adoption agency. This acquaintance had also suggested we look into this facilitator. She said she knew that facilitators got a bad rap in adoption but she had found this one that she trusted. We ended up hooking up with this facilitator. As it turned we ended up being selected for a baby that was born in March in Texas. We had to wire her $3,000 before we could find out the specifics of this baby. That morning again I got that pit in my stomach but dismissed it. We borrowed the money from my parents and wired the money to this facilitator. The baby boy had been born in Texas. We ended up working with the facilitator as well as our social worker on tying up some loose ends for this adoption to happen. I remember it being a Friday. She wanted the weekend and then we were to find out on Monday about flying out to Texas. I called our worker on Monday morning to see what the verdict was, if I needed to buy plane tickets to Texas or not. The worker said to me, "Now who are you?" I wanted to scream. We had been through two brutal failed adoptions and had been working hard the week before on this third adoption and he had no idea who we were. I lost it. I told Bryon there was no hope of us ever getting a child. As it turned out this birthmother had hid her pregnancy from her family. Once they found out she had a baby, they talked her into keeping it.

I think the other thing that has made me drag my feet on posting this is I didn't want to sound negative to birthmothers. I in no way want to convey that. I can only imagine what a hard decision they are faced with. It was a few years later that I was able to talk with the birthmother's worker who delivered in January. I learned a few things about her situation. Some things had transpired in her life over the past couple of years and she needed that baby to help her through. I also on the other hand had a very spiritual experience one day concerning why all this bad had to happen before any good. I know without a doubt that they happened for a reason and we ended up with the children that were meant to come into our home. I know November is over but I really do want to finish our adoption journey. I don't want to leave on such a gloomy note. It really does it get better, it couldn't have gotten much worse! Stay tuned. I have a few other things that I want to catch up on blogging and I will not wait so long to post the rest of the story!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wait and Hope

Bryon and I met with LDS Family Services (it was called LDS Social Services at the time) to see what the process would be in adopting. There were mounds and mounds of paperwork to be completed. Once again, I felt like our life was an open book to be scrutinized by others. It was also required that we take a six-week adoption class that was offered one night a week. The Logan agency (which is where we were going through) met with the Ogden agency in Ogden. Once a week, Bryon and I drove to Odgen to attend the classes. We loved our weekly class. We drove over to Ogden and tried to eat somewhere fun before going to class. We learned so much from these adoption classes. We learned about the adoption process but more importantly we met with other couples who were also going through this process. We learned we were not the only ones! We completed the paperwork in Logan just before we moved to Idaho for Bryon to take a teaching job.

Moving delayed the process a little. We had to redo some of the paperwork and then we had to meet with the social worker here a couple of times. We soon grew very frustrated. Let’s just say the social worker was anything but warm and fuzzy. We had just purchased a new house. When the social worker came to look at our house, he was very vocal about how our house was not “family friendly.” Our house was split level. The master suite was on the top floor and then the other two bedrooms were two flights of stairs below us. I wanted to cry. (Actually, I think I did). We had just bought this $80,000+ home and our social worker was telling us it wouldn’t work. It wasn’t like we could take it back to the store and get a refund! We had also put that we were willing to accept a child of any race. Our social worker strongly suggested that we should only adopt a white-race infant for our first child. He told us that adoption was hard enough for these children to face let alone throwing in the race card. This is such a vulnerable time in the process. We changed the paperwork to match the social worker’s request. It wasn’t long before it was very evident to both Bryon and I putting down we would only accept a white child was not what we were supposed to do. We called the worker and after much talking, begging, and pleading, we were able to change the paperwork back.

Then the wait began. We waited and waited and waited. We would get calls wondering if we would accept a certain situation and then would never hear back or would hear back that she had chosen another family.

I always thought I would have to be a working mom. We decided to take a huge leap of faith and I soon left my job working at a local bank and decided to start watching a few children in my home. This was a blessing. I was able to work from home, I would be able to be at home with our children when they came, and still bring in some income to help make ends meet. However, this was very painful at first. Watching other’s children was a constant reminder for me, that I couldn’t have what I wanted most. . . a child of my own. I had also worked outside the home for the first three years of our marriage. I loved the social aspect. All of a sudden I was home alone watching children that fell short of meeting my social needs.

It would be another long and painful eight months before we would welcome our first child into our home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Broken Dreams

Like I mentioned, November is National Adoption Awareness Month. I really wanted to get our adoption story written: not necessarily for whoever reads this blog but for our family. I guess I better get writing because we have been blessed with four beautiful children through the miracle of adoption and the month is already half over!

After Bryon and I were married for a year before we decided to start a family. It seems like being a mom or a dad is something you dream and plan for your whole life. You never dream in a million years that there will ever be a problem in accomplishing this dream. When there are problems in accomplishing this dream, it is a huge SHOCK. We had been trying on our own for about six months before we felt like maybe we should start looking for medical help. We worked with my OB/GYN doctor for about a year. We did everything from the basil thermometer, to Chlomid, to having Bryon tested. I got so frustrated with this process. This process was hard for me. I began to feel “dehumanized” in a sense. It seemed to me that most sacred and intimate part of our relationship was now an open book for doctors to prod and poke at. After working with my doctor for a year, he suggested we go to Salt Lake to see a specialist. I was so excited! Finally we were going to be able to work with someone who deals with problems like ours day in and day out. Bryon on the other hand had a total opposite reaction. He felt like we must really be bad off for them to send us to a specialist.

We only went to Salt Lake twice to meet with specialists. Bryon and I felt like we had gotten all the answers we needed to move on to the next phase of trying to start a family. There were a couple of things that happened during these two visits that helped us make our decision. During our first visit with the specialist he said some things that really stuck out in my mind. He must have seen the stars in my eyes. I just knew he was going to help Bryon and I reach our desire to have a biological child. He said, “Some couples come to me with stars in their eyes, expecting me to perform a miracle for them. Sometimes that miracle isn’t in the cards and they need look at other options to have a family.” At first, I hardly gave this comment much thought. However, as we began trying to make some decisions, this statement would ring over and over in my mind. There was one medical procedure that they said we could try. The cost was around $12,000. However, it gave us a 20% chance that month of getting pregnant. I know you are thinking that 20% is not very good odds. The doctor told us 20% chance is the percentage that any couple not using any form of birth control has at getting pregnant during that month. I was so excited. For the first time in this whole process, I would be able to rank right up there with a “normal” couple. My dreams were soon dashed when the doctor reminded me that most of these couples aren’t paying $12,000 at that 20% chance. At that point in our lives, Bryon was still going to school. We weren’t exactly raking in the bucks. Bryon was studying to be a school teacher and so we knew we would never have a ton of money. The talk of spending $12,000 on one simple procedure struck us more than probably any thing else.

At this point I felt like having a family was totally out of my control. I felt like my dream of having a child was slipping through my fingers and I had no way to grab and hang on to that dream.

I often get asked how Bryon and I finally arrived at the decision to adopt. For every couple, this is such a personal decision. For us the decision to start the adoption process was a very easy process. Bryon and I are both doers. So if having a biological child wasn’t in the cards for us, what was the next step? For us, the next step was to look into adoption.

This decision was an easy one for us but it didn’t mean it was any less painful. We mourned the loss of a biological child that would never be. This time in my life was truly one of darkness and despair. Here are some of the quiet thoughts and feelings I had during that time. I felt that God was right. The whole reason I wasn’t able to conceive was I would be an AWFUL mom. I felt like God had forgotten me. I was a very rebellious child in junior high and high school. Was this God’s payback for what I had done? I grew to hate Mother’s Day programs at church and began skipping church on Mother’s Day all together. It hurt so much whenever I heard of some one expecting a baby, or attending a baby blessing or baby shower. Not that I wasn’t truly happy for those who were celebrating this new phase in life, it was just that I ached so much to feel that same joy.
It is amazing to me that out of all this doubt, darkness and despair came some of the sweetest blessings in my life. I never felt closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. There were days in my life where I could literally feel the arms of my Savior around me and helping me along the way. My testimony grew tremendously during this time. I became aware that my Heavenly Father was indeed there. He was mindful of me. He was watching over us and would prepare a way for us to have a family if we would just trust in Him!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sam's Science Project

I for one am so glad last week is over. Can I just say I hate huge school projects!!! I think they are more work for the parents than the students and I KNOW I was a lot more stressed about getting it done than Sam. I thought I was done with school when I graduated from college. They didn't tell me that I would be repeating grades K-12 four more times.

At back to school night we learned that Sam would have two major projects. The first one was for science. We knew that Sam would be responsible to build a 3-D model of the solar system. I guess we could have gotten a jump start on the project and started that very night on the project. However, when you are doing a huge project like that, seriously, where would you store it??? Especially in our house where none of Sam's three siblings would leave it alone. We also found out that Science is not one of the major subjects that are taught. In fourth grade, Sam would get Science the first semester whenever they could fit it in between the regular curriculum. We also learned that he science grade would only consist of three things. One was a booklet, one was this 3-D model, and the last was a test.

Let me tell you a little bit about this booklet. It was about 25 pages. It had a page for one of each of the plants. (Yes, they were counting Pluto.) Then there were a few additional pages for other "space" things. Then with each page they had to write, there was a page they had to correspond that went with the page they had just written. The writing was pretty easy. The teacher would put on an overhead what they were to write (basic facts about the plants, the climate, how big it is, what color it is, etc.). All the students had to do was to copy it in their best handwriting. This was supposed to be a project that they should have been able to complete in class. I had volunteered and subbed in Sam's class enough to know all about this booklet and had actually seen Sam's progress on this booklet. So at this point the booklet is the very least of my worries.

About the first of October, we decided to talk with Sam in more depth about what he would like to do for his 3-D project. Sam decided to do his project out of Styrofoam balls. We went and bought the stuff he needed for his project and started gradually working on this project. We knew we were going to be out of town for Halloween and so he wouldn't have the weekend before the project was due to work on it. I was still feeling pretty good about his progress on this project. I felt like we had planned really good and should only have to spend a few hours the week after Halloween, assembling it and adding the finishing touches.

Little did I know my world was about to come crashing down on Tuesday afternoon. Keep in mind that I teach piano lessons every afternoon until about 5:00. It is all I can do to get dinner on the table, manage four children, and do the basic homework and reading that needs done every night. Bryon usually gets home between 6:30 and 7:00. Bryon usually works on cleaning up the kitchen while I finish up homework and get kids ready for bed. Anyway, on Tuesday after school Sam happened to call and find out where Bryon was because Bryon wasn't in his office. Sam said in passing something about his big science booklet got ripped up by two boys in the class. I was LIVID! I told Sam to have Bryon call me before they left school. I was going to have Bryon go in and talk to Sam's teacher. There was no way I was going to make my child do more work all because two boys decided to rip up his paper. Luckily Bryon ended up calling me about something totally different. He never did get the message from Sam. Strike one for Sam! So Bryon and Sam went to talk to the teacher. Bryon went in with his guns blazing. It didn't take him long for the teacher to shoot him down. The story wasn't exactly what Sam had told us.

I am going to do a little side note here for my parents. This story is seeming an awful lot like one I think my parents will remember quite well. It seems to me that there was an experience they had with me in high school where they too went to a teacher to defend me, only to find out what they had been told was NOT AT ALL WHAT HAPPENED! I think the only thing that would have made this experience sweeter for my parents would have been me being the one to go in to the teacher in this situation instead of Bryon. Then I would have known exactly how they felt!

Anyway, the teacher informed Bryon that she was quite surprised that she didn't hear from us on Monday instead of Tuesday. What??? Oh yes, she had the kids that weren't very far on their packet call their parents. Did I ever get a phone call??? Oh, no. Sam conveniently called my cell phone! The only problem is Sam knew all too well that my cell phone went through my parents washing machine and wasn't working. He later informed me he left a message. I doubt that. I dialed in to listen to my messages and there wasn't any message from him. STRIKE TWO!! The teacher was very doubtful that these boys had actually torn up Sam's packet. She said she could see them doing it to a few other kids in the class but not to Sam. She said she had been questioning him for about three weeks about his packet. He kept telling her that he had left it at home, lost it at home, etc. As we were working on painting the planets, we asked him to bring this booklet home so we could get some information to help on the 3-D project. He told us, he wasn't allowed to bring it home or he kept forgetting to bring it home. The excuses went on and on. So Bryon and the teacher ended up working on an agreement. The packet was due not on Friday but actually on Wednesday, THE VERY NEXT DAY. What we had less than 24 hours to complete this massive packet they had been working all semester!!! She would accept Sam's packet up until Friday but every day he didn't turn it in, she would be deducting points. They were also taking a test on Wednesday. They could use their booklet for the test. She would give Sam until Monday for the test but she would still deduct points for not taking it on time.

When Sam got home from school, I was livid! I happened to only have piano until 3:30 p.m. I called and told them I would be coming to mutual and then Sam and I buckled down to get this massive booklet complete. I was a stickler. I made him use his best writing and if it wasn't his best I would erase it and make him write it over. We pretty much worked on it nonstop from 3:30 until 9:00 that night. I think Sam's hand hurt by the time we were done from writing and coloring so much. Sam kept talking about this "choke collar" that Bryon and I placed around his neck. He told us we were pulling it so tight he could hardly breath. Of course this is all figurative, I would never put a choke collar around my child. . . Wait, now that I think about it, it does sound very tempting! I felt like saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" I tried to use this as a teaching example to teach that by not making good choices, it wasn't us that put that "choke collar" around his neck but his decisions. I am actually pretty hopeful that a lesson was learned this night!

Sam was so proud of his packet as he took it in and turned it in first thing the next morning. Sam got 100% on his packet. I was so proud of him. He even scored a 100% on the test that he took that afternoon with the rest of his class.

So on Wednesday and Thursday after school, I bet you can guess what we did. Yep, we worked on the 3-D project. A big thanks to Bryon who missed his Elder's Quorum meeting and working at the temple to prevent his wife from having a HUGE meltdown! Friday morning Sam took his 3-D project to school. Friday afternoon parents were invited to the school to look at all the fourth graders projects of the solar system. Sam told me Friday morning that the teacher told the kids that if their moms could, she would appreciate them bringing cookies for refreshments. So Friday in between my running, I hurried and baked some cookies to take. At 1:00, I picked Bryon up at the school and we went to see Sam's project. He did such a great job. Here of Sam in his class with his project.

While I was stressed out all last week about this 3-D project and ended up stressing about a booklet that I shouldn't have had to worry about, I am so proud of Sam. He did a wonderful job.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month

PhotobucketNovember is National Adoption Awareness Month. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. I wouldn't be able to have a family without it. Throughout the month, I will be sharing our journey through adoption, sharing my feelings (the good and the sad), paying tribute to our wonderful birthparents, and sharing some of my favorite thoughts, quotes and songs on the subject.

Halloween Costumes

Here are some pictures of my cute little spooks. Sam has wanted to go as Phantom of the Opera for the past couple of years. I finally broke down this year and hired someone to sew the cape. I think he looked awesome. Poor Conner and Logan always have to use the hand-me-down costumes. Conner went as Scooby-Doo and Logan went as Buzz Lightyear. Thank heaven for girl cousins. Natalie went to the school carnival as a cheerleader but went Trick-or-Treating as Belle.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween Party With the Cousins

We had a GREAT Halloween! Since Halloween fell on a Friday this year, we decided at the first of the month, to go to my parent's house in Burley for Trick-or-Treating. Our decision was cemented when my sister Lori, decided to bring her kids up and join us.

We left Friday about 11:30. Upon getting to my parent's house, my sister Alyson had planned this cute Halloween party for all the cousins. I was in charge of a couple of rounds of Halloween Bingo. My sister, Lori, was in charge of a bean bag toss through a wooden Jack-O-Lantern. Alyson had a game of Pin-The-Nose on the Jack-O-Lantern. Alyson had also filled a plastic pumpkin with all sorts of prizes for the winners of the various games. My kids loved picking out a prize after winning. Afterwards, we went outside for a doughnut on a string relay. It was so funny!

Here are some pictures of the party.

Thanks you Alyson for putting it all together. It was so much fun!

Halloween Party With the Cousins

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids Say the Funniest Things

I just had to share this funny that happened last night at the dinner table. I had taken Natalie to Idaho Falls yesterday shopping. The boys were in school. When Conner & Logan got out of school at 11:30, Bryon took them to my friend, Linda's, for her to watch them for a couple of hours until I got home. We had a great day. We went to Target, Kohls, Old Navy and JcPenney. At the dinner table, I was telling Bryon about an incident that happened while we were at Old Navy. A little girl no more than a year or two older than Natalie, was behind us in the checkout line. Natalie is a very friendly and outgoing girl. She started by waving and trying to get the girl's attention. I soon turned my attention to paying for my purchase. It wasn't long after that that I noticed this girl picked up Natalie and proceeded to carry her to the front of the checkstand. I was getting a good chuckle out of it. The lady behind me in line, told her not to do that. I grabbed my sack and grabbed a hold of Natalie's hand and was trying to leave the store. Natalie wasn't so anxious to leave, not until she said goodbye to her new found friend. She started by waving at the little girl. Then before I knew it and could stop what was happening, Natalie reached out and gave the girl a hug and proceeded to kiss her on the lips. I was so grossed out! I get so frustrated at times by the genetics of my children which I have NO CONTROL OVER!

So here we are at the dinner table and I am telling Bryon about my frustration with this little incident. Sam was listening. He piped up, rather loudly. "That is so disgusting! Natalie you are a . . ." I quickly interrupted. I tried to gently remind Sam that he was not to say the word that I feared was going to come out of his mouth. We have had to start talking to Sam about the birds and the bees but I did not feel like we needed to get into it at the dinner table with his younger brothers and sister listening.

Anyone who has a nine year old, knows that they have a mind of their own. Sam was choosing not to listen to what I was telling him and was still going to blurt out what I had asked him not to. So Sam yells, "Natalie, you are a llama."

I wasn't quite sure I heard him right. A llama??? I questioned him. "Do you know what a llama is?" I asked him.

"I most certainly do." He said, rather proud of himself.

"Okay, what is it?" I asked.

"Llamas are two women that love each other."

I could not help but bust out laughing! At this point, it was rather clear what word he was trying to use but didn't know the right word.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Logan's Birthday 9-15-08

I am so behind on my blogging. I was looking through my pictures and realized I didn't blog about Logan's fourth birthday.

It was a bit of an unusual birthday. Bryon was out of town on a business trip. I got up early and went to the grocery store before the kids even were out of bed. I am so glad Sam is getting at that age where I can leave him to babysit while I run these fast errands. I bought doughnuts for breakfast. I also bought cupcakes for him to take to school. Logan's birthfather and his wife had sent Logan a package in the mail. I let him open that before school. He got a pair of shorts, an Iron Man shirt, and a Texas Aggie hat.

I took him to school. After that it was a normal day. That night I took the kids out to McDonald's for dinner. We went in to eat and to play on the Playland which is always a special treat. We were just getting ready to leave and a friend from my old neighborhood showed up with her kids so my kids got to play extra long.

Bryon got home on the 17th. Logan opened presents that night. He got a pair of snowboots from his Grandpa & Grandma Kennedy. He can hardly wait for it to snow. He drags them out every day wanting to wear them! Sam, Conner, and Natalie gave him a Red cowboy hat and a Cars book. Bryon and I gave him a remote control Cars car.

My parents came up over Conference weekend and gave him a Spider-Man scooter and a new pair of pajamas for his birthday. He has enjoyed the few days of nice weather, before this cold snap we are experiencing, being able to ride his scooter up and down the block.

Tagged

I got tagged from Bryon's cousin Jaimee. This tag was a little hard for me to do. I really had to think on some of these!

I: Jennifer R. Kennedy
I Am: a wife, mother, daughter, sister, neice, cousin, piano teacher, and friend
I Think: about my Grandpa & Grandma Pehrson often.
I Know: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true
I Want: Spud Harvest to be OVER! I am sick of working out in the FREEEEEEEZING COLD!
I Have: a wonderful husband and four beautiful children.
I Dislike: eggs
I Fear: dying before I see my children grown or loosing a child in death.
I Feel: that our country is heading in a scary direction with the economy and the current
election. I cannot believe we are actually considering a President of the United States that
won't even salute the flag! (Don't get me started)
I Hear: the radio on and nothing else but silence (everyone is asleep as I write this).
I Smell: My Scentsy White Tea and Cactus melting in my new Scentsy wall plug-in.
I Crave: a big cup of Hot Chocolate with a huge dallop of whip cream on the top!
I Cry: not very often. I am not a cryer.
I Usually: am up by 6:00 a.m.
I Search: for my car keys at least once a day (if I could just learn to put them away)!
I Wonder: if my children will ever want to find their birth parents and what questions they will
have about their birth parents.
I Regret: my teenage years. I love my parents even more because they put up with me through
those awful years. I know I was not the easiest child!
I Love: Bryon & my children unconditionally.
I Care: about what other people think (probably way too much!)
I Always: two things came to mind on this one. 1. I always kiss Bryon good night. 2. I always talk to my sister, Lori on the phone every morning!
I Worry: about my children all the time!
I Am Not: the best housekeeper.
I Remember: how carefree life was when I was growing up. How I wish I could go back to those
days.
I Believe: in miracles.
I Sing: Loud at home when I think no one is listening.
I Don't Always: say I am sorry and I love you often enough.
I Argue: with Sam & Conner about getting their jobs done. I wish just once they would do them
happily!
I Write: all my appointments in my day planner or I would forget. (Sometimes I still forget even
if I have them written down!)
I Win: every day I am able to cross off at least two things off my "to-do" list.
I Lose: every time I lose my temper with my children. I always feel so bad afterwards.
I Wish: I had enough money to do the things I want to do (get my house decorated, take some
vacations, the list could go on and on).
I Listen: to the radio or music of some sort almost constantly from the time I get up until I go to
bed (unless I am watching t.v., teaching piano, or helping one of my kids with
homework)
I Can Usually Be Found: at home, with my kids, running back and forth from various
appointments, or at the computer
I Need: new clothes but I am not buying anymore until I loose some weight!
I Forget: birthdates of friends and family (especially extended). I really need to be better at
that!
I Am Happy: with my life!

I tag Linda, Joella, and Rozanne

Thursday, October 2, 2008

If I Only Had Today

Bryon's cousin has talked about this latest CD by Hilary Weeks on her blog. I finally broke down today and went out and bought it. The title of the first track really put into words all the thoughts that have been going through my mind the past couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago, listening to the Sounds of Sunday on our favorite local radio station, it was announced that a long time announcer on the radio had been vacationing with his family in Hawaii and had been in a horrible scuba diving accident. He was on life support and they were asking for listeners prayers. I awoke the next morning to find out that this radio personality had passed away. Although I had never personally met Wayne Richards, I felt like I knew him from listening to him every morning on the radio. My heart ached for his family and co-workers.

A few nights later, Bryon was at a work meeting and I got a phone call from a friend stating that a mutual friend of ours son was in an accident and ended up hitting a pedestrian and killing him. The man he happened to hit was a husband of one of Bryon's aides. Our hearts went out to both of these families affected in this horrible tragedy.

Both of these events have really got me thinking lately. This song by Hilary Weeks really put into words my feelings of the past two weeks. So Bryon, Sam, Conner, Logan and Natatlie I publish these song lyrics for you.

It seems like I've watched a million sunsets
And stared at a thousand full moons
Sometimes it feels like I've been here forever
And sometimes it all feels brand new.

I could never count the heartbeats
From the day I was born until now
But not a single one goes unnoticed
By Him who breathes life in me somehow.

But if there were no more tomorrows
If I knew that I could not stay
I know how I'd spend every moment
If I only had today.

I'd hold you and listen
And I'd let the dishes sit in the sink
I'd tell you I loved you over and over
And for once I'd just let the phone ring
Then I'd remind you of forever
And how our love would never change
If I only had today.

I'd wake up before the sun did
And I'd watch as you quietly sleep
I'd pray for time to move slowly
Knowing the moment won't keep

All the gifts that Heaven has given
Every blessing that's come my way
Wouldn't mean anything without you
So if I only had today.

I'd hold you and listen
I'd memorize every detail of your face
I'd tell you I loved you over and over
I wouldn't let excuses get in the way
Then I'd remind you of forever
And how our love would never change
If I only had today.

There's no time like the present
Life doesn't come with any guarantees
The sun will set and time won't wait.

So while I have today

I'll hold you and listen
I'll let the dishes sit in the sink
I'll tell you I love you over and over
For once I'll just let the phone ring.
And I'll remind you of forever
And how our love will never change
Because I have today.

A blog I have been following said it perfectly on her blog.

Life is short.
Make the most of the time you have.
Every second and every minute counts.
Hug a little tighter.
Laugh a little longer.
Yell a little less.
Forget about the mess.
and remember that the very most important things are those that depend on us the very most.
our children.
and
our families.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend we had planned on going to Utah to see my sister Lori bless their new baby boy, Carson. However, due to needing new tires on the van, getting four children ready for school, and high gas prices, we were unable to go. Instead, we decided to stay home for the weekend.

It is always tradition that Bryon's mom's side of the family has a huge family reunion at Bryon's Grandpa Perry's house about ten minutes from us. They always roast hot dogs on a firepit and then everyone brings a salad or a dessert. The reunion this year was very well attended. My kids always have a blast playing with all their cousins and extended family. Bryon's two sisters from Utah drove up with their kids for the reunion and to spend the weekend.

Bryon's mom invited us down on Sunday. Bryon's dad had a hair-brained idea for the older grandkids to sleep outside in the tent with him. We went down Sunday afternoon. Bryon's dad grilled hamburgers out on the grill for dinner. It was cold and rainy all day. The grandkids ended up sleeping on the floor of the new addition because it was to wet to sleep outside. Bryon and I spent the night to save on gas from having to go home and coming back down on Monday to pick up the kids. It was fun. We haven't done that since moving to Idaho 11 years ago!

It was fun to just hang out and visit. While we were together, we were able to take a picture of the ALL the grandkids with Grandpa and Grandma.

Logan's First Day of School

Logan didn't start school until after Labor Day. He will also be in the same school that Bryon works at. He will be attending the Preschool program. He will be attending on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He was so excited for his first day of school. His teacher is the same as last year, Miss JoAnn. There are also two aides, Miss Melanie and Miss ReNae. He will also have some of the same friends in his class that were in his class last year. When I went to pick him up after the first day of class, Miss JoAnn informed me she was so thankful for Logan and Tristen that knew the routine and were trying to hard to get the other kids to follow the rules.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Day of School

School this year came all too soon for me.

It is hard for me to believe that Sam is in the fourth grade. He is going to the middle school. It is just across the field from his previous school. I am still not sure how to feel about the whole thing. I think it is the words "middle school" that has me freaking out a bit. Sam's teacher is Mrs. Singleton. She is a younger (I say that because we figure she is about our age!) teacher with a strong suit in math. Sam is very excited. I know he won't admit to it but I think he is a little nervous about going to a new school. This year he will be in a school where his dad won't be just down the hall. He has done it before for Kindergarten through second grade. However, last year I think he got used to his dad being right there and everyone knowing him as "Mr. Kennedy's son", that this year is a little different for him. I think we got used to having Bryon right there to follow up on assignments and help him get his homework if he forgot it. So it will be a big adjustment for all of us.

Conner is in Kindergarten this year. Last year he went to preschool only two days a week and longed for the days when he could go to school every day. Now that day is here, he isn't sure about wanting to go to school every day. His teacher is Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton is a "seasoned" teacher which is what we wanted for Conner. Conner likes to dance to the beat of his own drum and we were looking for someone that could make him toe the line! We are so glad that Mrs. Clinton is the one to help him do this. We aren't sure if she is as happy as we are! Mrs. Clinton is a great kindergarten teacher and we know that Conner will learn a bunch from her.

Since Sam has moved on to middle school, I think Bryon is happy to have another son around that he can occasionally see in the halls or classroom.

First Day of School

Celebrate Youth day 08-19-2008

The town here has a really big back-to-school party the day before school starts. The party is held in one of the parks here in town. THere are booths on various things and each booth has a game for the kids to play. The kids come away with all these toys they won at the various games. There is a climbing wall, huge inflatable toys for the kids to jump on, and free train rides around the block. The school district provides a free dinner. There is music, and free treats (popcorn, Creamies, and cotton candy). My kids look forward to going each year. It starts in the early afternoon. The raffle drawing and the big motivational speeches given by the two superintendants is given at 6:00 p.m. That is followed by a dance for the older kids.

The weather was perfect this year: not too hot! We spent a couple of hours at the party. We had to leave by 5:30 so that we could get to Sam's soccer game by 6:00.

We have a family back-to-school tradition. I have some school lunch trays. I fix a traditional school lunch. It is usually corn dogs, tater tots, applesauce, green beans, no bake cookie and a carton of milk. I have black construction paper on the table and then write on it with chalk so it looks like a chalkboard. The kids love it! So after Sam's soccer game, we came back home for our traditional Back-To-School Dinner followed by Father's Priesthood Blessings.

It was a great night. I am having a hard time believing that it is time for the kids to start back to school.

Celebrate Youth Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Burley 08-12-08 to 08-17-08

My sister, Lori, was in Burley for fair week with her three kids. I was very wishy washy about when exactly I was going to go home. I wanted desperately to go home and get my hands on that darling new nephew of mine. I also wanted to give my children a chance to play with their cousins that they don't see that often. The only hang up is Bryon started his school contract that week and the earliest he could go to Burley was late Friday afternoon. I decided at the last minute to leave Tuesday night and if Bryon could find a ride to Burley he would join us later in the week, if not we would see him Sunday night when we got home.

Of course it was late by the time I left Rexburg on Tuesday night. We didn't even get home until 11:00. You would think they kids would have slept most of the way. They hardly slept at all. They didn't fall asleep until Masacre Rocks which just means they are sound asleep by the time we hit Burley and it is hard as ever to get them out of the car and into the house.

Wednesday we went to the parade. The kids had a great time and the temperature was just right for a parade. Wednesday night we all went to "cow cutting". My mom really enjoys this event. Sam & Conner bumped into the two neighbor boys from Rexburg. I think all the kids were so surprised to find each other in Burley. We kept telling them that both their Grandparents live just down the road from each other but I don't think it registered until now. They had a great time playing together.

Thursday afternoon we met up with my mom in the late afternoon in Twin Falls. My mom had some work meetings and was already in Twin Falls. Lori and I wanted to get some school shopping done. I had tried to do a little in Idaho Falls on Tuesday but didn't have much success. We only went for a couple of hours but with eight children seven and under that was about one hour and fifty minutes too long. Sam had gotten up early that morning and went fishing the whole day with my dad and brother-in-law, Mike. He had an awesome time. Thanks dad for taking him. He sure looks forward to it and it is all he talks about for days after. I was able to find quite a few things during our shopping excursion.

Friday my sister, Lori; my mom; my niece, Katie; and I went for pedicures. Alyson had to work. I had never had a pedicure before. I loved the experience. I guarantee it will not be another 33 years before I go again. I already have plans to find out how much the beauty colleges around here charge. Friday night my mom watched Natalie and Logan while my dad, Sam, Conner, and I went to the rodeo.

Saturday morning we got up early and was at the Twin Falls temple by 8:30. It was the last day for the Twin Falls open house. We had tickets for later in the day but decided to try to go before the big rush. We were glad we did. We timed it just right. Our tour was fantastic. I swear my children don't realized how fortunate they are. I look back and I was able to attend two temple open houses growing up. This was also my children's second temple open house. However, Sam has been three other times to be sealed and to witness the sealing of his siblings to Bryon and I. I have been so glad for these open houses so that we can rediscuss some of the things that happened the day we were sealed as a family as well as discuss the special feelings that we feel there. The Twin Falls temple is very beautiful. It reminds me quite a bit of the Rexburg temple. Saturday afternoon, Bryon was able to find a ride and meet me in Burley. Saturday night we went up to the fair, yet again, to look at the exhibits.

Sunday we went to church with my parents, had a delicious dinner and then headed home. My parents have a beautiful yard. One of my favorite things to do while in Burley is to sit on their patio and enjoy their yard. While I was home, we ate almost every meal outside so it was very nice to be able to enjoy their yard.

Thanks mom and dad for such an enjoyable weekend!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Logan Trip & Kennedy Reunion

I have a childhood friend named Terra Anderson that I grew up with. She is now married, has a family and is living in Logan. We have stayed in touch through the years. She offered for me to go down and spend some time with her. It worked out that we were going to be going over to Randolph for a family reunion and I decided to leave a day early so I could spend some time with her. Bryon was going to stay home and work and then drive down to the reunion with his parents and meet up with me in Randolph.

I left the morning of August 7th. It was just me and the kids. We got to Terra's around noon. Terra's kids have grown. She has two girls and a boy. One of her girls was on the road trucking with her dad so we were only able to see two of her kids. She had never met Logan and Natalie. The kids had a great time playing together. Later that afternoon, we went into the Cache Valley Fair. We just walked around the exhibits and ate shaved ice. We walked through the exhibit where each town makes a display with seeds and vegetables. It brough back so many memories of me going to the fair with my parents and grandparents when I was younger. We stopped and got Chinese take-out and a movie before heading home. Chinese take-out totally hit the spot! I had Tiny Spicy Chicken which was one of my favorites while we lived in Logan but you can't get it here. The kids watched a movie and went to bed while Terra and I visited. We talked until almost 2:00 in the morning.

The next day, we spent the morning visiting some more before I had to leave for Randolph. I told Bryon I was going to leave Cache Valley about 3:30 so I could beat the traffic traveling through Logan Canyon for the weekend. Well, I didn't get away as early as I had anticipated. Plus, I stopped in Old Navy in Logan to look for some school clothes for the kids. They were hungry by this time so we stopped at McDonalds to get some food before heading over the canyon.

I forgot to call Bryon before leaving Logan and when I tried traveling through the canyon, I already had lost service. So I wasn't able to touch base with him until I was out of the canyon and by this time he is already expecting me to be at the reunion. Upon entering Garden City, just off of Logan Canyon, my brakes were sounding awful. So when I did talk to Bryon I told him I thought the brakes had gone out on the van. So he was already a nervous wreck about me not being there and then the first thing he heard from me was the brakes were out in the van. Then someone at the reunion told him it was Raspberry Days in Bear Lake, which made him even more nervous. I am not going to lie: the traffic around Bear Lake was awful! I talked to Bryon's uncle about the brakes. He informed me to go slow and they would look at them when I got there. Come to find out the brakes were fine, they had just overheated because I rode them so much through the canyon.

The reunion was held at Bryon's grandparents home which is now a vacation home. Every other year it is the Kennedy Reunion and every other year it is the Kennedy/Hatch reunion. This year it was the Kennedy/Hatch reunion. It was a great reunion. I'll admit I was really dragging my feet about going. However, once I got there I was instantly reminded how fun the reunions are and how much I enjoy spending time with Bryon's extended family. They are all such great people!

Saturday's activities were jam packed with horse riding for the kids, a fishing pond for the kids, crafts for the kids and another craft for the ladies, 3 on 3 basketball, visiting, a duck race, a silent auction, and of course eating way more than we should have. It got a little rainy during the duck races but quickly blew over. Logan's duck came in third place during the duck races. He got a little trophy and a ribbon. That is all we have heard about (that and Terra has all the cars to the movie Cars) nonstop since our trip. That night we had a program of some cowboy poetry by a family member and then a lady came and sang some songs. The weather seemed fine when we went to bed that night in our tent. However, we were awoken about 4:00 to the sights and sounds of thunder, lightening, and rain. It wasn't long before the wind picked up. Bryon's brother and his family were in the tent next to us. We were the only two families braving sleeping in tents. Everyone else had gone home, were in the house or were sleeping in trailers. We heard Bruce get up and drive his car up next to the tent. He had found coolers to put on some of his stakes so they wouldn't pull out of the ground. About the time it started pouring rain and getting really windy that our kids started freaking out a bit. We told them we were perfectly safe in the tent and actually if we got out, we took the risk of our tent blowing away and so we were just going to lay there and ride out the storm. It wasn't long before the "fly" flew off our tent and the wind had pulled most of our stakes out of the ground. The tent started hitting Bryon in the face. Bryon decided we were done "riding" it out and we needed to load up the car as fast as we could and then make a run for the house. He pulled the van back to the tent and I handed him things out of the tent just as fast as I could. I don't think I have ever packed so fast in my whole life! Then I took the kids and we made a run for the house while Bryon and Bruce carried the tent to the garage. By breakfast the storm had totally blown over and the sky was clear blue. We had breakfast, got ready, loaded up and left.

I hadn't been able to do any school clothes shopping and had talked Bryon into making a big loop and going over Monte Cristo through Ogden so I could stop at Mervyn's in Ogden and Layton. I know it was Sunday but I couldn't figure out any other time we would be in Layton that I could go to Mervyns and I did a majority of school clothes shopping there last year. I had never been through Monte Cristo before. The drive through Monte Cristo was beautiful, some of the sights were breathtaking. Later when talking to my mom, she informed me that my Grandpa Pehrson loved driving through Monte Cristo. I could now see why and I felt a little closer to my Grandpa that day. We were able to find a few things at Mervyn's but not as much as I had found the previous year. We stopped for lunch at the Olive Garden and then headed home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thursday, July 31 -- International Folk Dance Festival

So today was probably one of our favorite days of the festival. Today was Youth Culture Day. I had to pick up tickets in advance. The tickets are totally free and are for ages 6 and up. I think they do this as a measure of crowd control. You can choose what countries you want your child to learn to dance from. Each class is one hour long. I decided to choose three countries for Sam. I chose China, Russia, and Mexico. I looked at the tickets wrong and so we realized at 9:15 that Sam's first class started at 10:00. We were running around like crazy trying to get breakfast on the table and Sam and I out the door at 10:00. Iscidro and Filipe didn't have to be there until 11:00. They stayed home with Bryon and the other kids while I took Sam to the Junior High.

Sam's first class was China. We had a great time learning about China's culture. The China dancers then danced a few numbers. They then taught some moves to the kids. They had also given each child that attended a "Passport." These were for the kids to get autographs right at the end of class. Sam had a blast getting autographs of all the Chinese dancers. I also noticed there were some younger kids there. I called Bryon. I told him if Conner wanted to come, he could drop him off when he dropped off Iscidro and Filipe.


Conner wanted to come and made it in time for the second class. The second class we attended was the Russia Cosack team. The immediately put the kids in a huge circle and started teaching them some basic dance steps. Sam held Conner's hand and helped him in the circle. All of a sudden, the dance started jumping around in the circle and Conner came out screaming that he was scared and I couldn't get him to dance the rest of the day! Again, Sam had a blast getting more autographs and meeting the dancers. Conner, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant as you can probably tell from the pictures. Probably Sam's favorite of the whole day was the class we attended from Mexico. In this class, the dance director talked about all the costumes and from what part of Mexico they came from. He then had each group dance just a small part of their dance to give us a sample of what the music and dance from that area in Mexico was like. Then they had some kids go up and partner with the Mexican dancers. The dancers showed them some dance steps. Sam was in the process of telling me that he was not going to dance. I was in the process of saying "Oh, yes you are", When a beautiful Mexican dancer came and dragged Sam up to the front of the room. Sam picked up the dance steps beautifully. Once again, Sam had a blast getting autographs of all the dancers. One of the girl Mexican Dancers kissed Conner's Passport. Conner screamed and cried at how she had ruined his book. I felt so bad. She was just trying to be friendly with a cute little boy. Well once Sam found out she kissed Conner's passport and not his, Sam wanted to get her to kiss his. So we went back over and asked some of the Mexican Dancers if they would kiss Sam's book. They said, "No. Boy sad." I tried to tell them that Conner was sad but Sam would be happy. So Sam's partner kissed his passport. Sam said he was going to cherish the book and never let it out of his sight. Sam and Conner even got Filipe and Iscidro to sign their passports.
Here's a close up of Sam and his partner. Aren't they adorable?!?Then the boys and I came home for the rest of the afternoon. We didn't have to go get Filipe and Iscidro until 4:30 p.m. I then took them, my friend Linda and her two girls and a guest of Linda's to Sam's soccer game while Bryon took Conner to his soccer game. Filipe and Iscidro were so excited to watch the boys play soccer all week long. I kept telling them it was nothing like in Mexico. I still think they enjoyed watching Sam's game.

We then came home and I made homemade spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

That night the dancers had a party at the park with the other dance teams and so our job was to just drop them off and pick them up about 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday & Wednesday -- International Folk Dance Festival

So Tuesday was a pretty uneventful day for us. They had to go to Blackfoot for a performance. They left early afternoon and did not return until late Tuesday night.

Wednesday, they loaded the buses and spent a good portion of the day in Bear World. We picked them up late that afternoon. That night, we went to a "team party". This is where every family that was hosting dancers, chaperones, musicians, and even bus drivers went to a party. This party was at the home of one of the host families. We had a great time. It was a typical Mexican party, scheduled to start at 7:00 but we didn't even eat until almost 8:00 p.m. Every family was asked to contribute $5 for fried chicken from Albertsons. Then every family also brought a side dish. I took a vegetable salad but alot of the host families had the dancers cook for them. So the meal was a good mix of American and Mexican dishes. There was a huge pit where you could play sand volleyball. Mexico was one of the few dance teams that brought their own band. The band came and played music for a dance after dinner. We had a great time socializing and dancing! Here are some pictures of our evening.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monday, July 28 -- More International Folk Dance Festival

Communication is a huge factor. I can never quite understand what the house guests are trying to tell us. Anyway, I got up and made them breakfast. Then they proceeded to tell us they had to go clean their bus again. I mean really how clean do you have to clean that thing. Anyway, they left and I told them to come back in time for lunch. For lunch I served grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, chips, and cookies.

After lunch, Bryon took them to the public library for my friend to translate for us. They ended up telling her that they want their free time. At first I was a little bummed because this was not at all what I had been planning nor expecting. However, on the flip side of that, I really enjoyed not having to worry about entertaining them every minute of every day when they were here. So Bryon and I tried to work out that after breakfast they would go and have their "free-time". Then after lunch or sometime during the day we would try to squeeze in a family activity so the boys could spend time with them. I really think in the end it worked quite well.

After the public library, Bryon, Sam, Iscidro, and Filipe all went on a drive. Bryon took them out to see some potato fields as well as up on the dry farms. Then they drove out by the butte to try to see the elk. We think they guys really enjoyed that.

We then dropped them off at the school to get ready for the parade. We informed them that they didn't have to be "dancers" to be in the parade and that they should walk with their team. We weren't quite sure if what we were saying got through to them. However, we were pleasantly surprised when the team from Mexico came down the parade route, Philipe and Iscidro were walking with them. The kids loved seeing them in the parade and we all cheered so loud for them. It was also fun to see all the other teams, the pretty costumes, as well as the dances.

After the parade, we met up with them and told them we were treating them to dinner and gave them a few choices. They chose to go to dinner at Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut has some arcade games. Sam had two quarters in his pocket. So he played one game. Sam lost so Filipe gave him two more dollars to play arcade games. Sam was in heaven. We NEVER give him money to play video games.

During dinner, Filipe flips out this digital camera. I was a little surprised that he had one because up until now I had only seen him use his cell phone for a camera. Anyway, he tells me that he got it at the D.I. for $7. So here is where Bryon and I learn that they have been driving the bus all over town to get where they need to go. I figured that was my responsibility as a host. Once again, needing to give them free time and happy about not having to play taxi to them, I figure that is fine. Bryon and I looked at the camera but could never get it to go off of the first picture. We hand it back to him and tell him how great it is. I tell him he got a bad deal because $7 was the discount price because it didn't come with instructions. Bryon and I never did figure out the camera but Filipe thought it was the greatest find ever. All week long I kept saying to myself how well these guys would fit in with my dad. This D.I. adventure was just another affirmation that yes they would have had a great time with my dad!

After dinner, there was a big street dance. We told them we would be back to pick them up at the junior high at 10:00. I even said part of it in Spanish so I was sure they understood us. We took the kids home. I put Natalie and Logan to bed and Bryon took Sam and Conner back to the street festival for a bit. So about 9:45, Bryon goes back to the school to pick them up. I am downstairs downloading pictures on the computer. Shortly after 10:00 Filipe and Iscidro come in. I show them the pictures I am downloading from the parade. We laugh for a bit. They go in their room and I come upstairs. I figured when Bryon got home, the guys came downstairs and Bryon went to our room to go to bed or to watch a little television. So I soon find that Bryon isn't upstairs: he isn't in our bedroom, he isn't in Logan or Natalie's room. Then I find the van is gone. I think it is strange that he dropped the guys off and left again. Where did he go??? He didn't mention about going back to the store. The guys had been home about 20 minutes and it dawned on me that they walked home and Bryon is still at the school waiting for them. I call the cell phone only to find that Bryon left it here. About 10:40, Bryon calls me from the grocery store to see if the guys made it home because he is about the only one downtown now. Like I said, communication was a huge factor! We soon learned to take the cell phone with us everywhere.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sunday, July 27 -- More About the Rexburg International Dance Festival

So we have church from 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. I need to preface this by saying that the people over dancing for the Dance Festival commented that if you didn't have responsibilities at church that day, it would be nice to stay at home with your guests. I had to teach the lesson in young women. Plus we figured our church is early enough we could still go to church and come home and go do something fun. We went to all of church (well most of us did). I came home during Sunday School to work on some food preparations. Also, Logan had really been favoring his left arm and starting Saturday seemed like he was in real pain. Bryon took him to Community Care after Sacrament Meeting. They x-rayed it and couldn't find anything. They kept asking what he had done to it and we seriously had no idea. Logan a few days later told us he fell on the trampoline and hurt it. He still favored it for a few days but a week later it is back to normal. We invited the bus drivers to go to church with us or told them they were welcome to stay home and sleep in and relax. They told us they needed to go and clean out their bus. So they left about the same time we left for church and they got home shortly after we did.

After church I came home and made taco salad for lunch. There wasn't enough room in our van for all of our family plus the bus drivers and so we took Logan and Natalie to my friend Linda's for her to watch them while we went. I packed some snacks and away we went. We went to Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. It was beautiful. I think the bus drivers had a great time. They spoke very little English and we speak very little Spanish and so communication was very interesting. Every time we got somewhere they would say very beautiful. Then they would get out their cell phones and try to snap pictures of everything. By upper Mesa Falls, they have renovated a log cabin into a hotel and it has some hands on things. Bryon had to go in to get some change and told us how cool it was and so we spent some time in there looking around. There was a moose head mounted on one wall and a bear head mounted on another. Filipe and Iscidro loved that. Then in a back room they had all kinds of animal skins from animals found in the aread. We had a great time touching all the furs and trying to guess what they were. Upper Mesa Falls is breath-taking. While we were there we ran into another family that was hosting dancers from Mexico. They were making a huge loop and were going to feed ducks and fish by Macks Inn and then going on to West Yellowstone. Sam really wanted to go feed the fish and ducks. We had planned on cooking in the Dutch oven when we got home for dinner and so we didn't feel like we could really do that. So we started down the mountain. I then told Bryon while we were so close to Macks Inn we really should do that and I would think of something different to throw together for dinner. So away we went to find this place by Macks Inn to feed fish and ducks. It was beautiful there. Because it was so hot, we didn't see any of the "big fish" but saw plenty of birds. We had a great time feeding the birds. A seagul even pooped on Sam, which totally grossed him out! We got home about 7:30 p.m. I did something I swore I would never do with them there and that was make a Mexican dish for dinner. However, it was about the fastest thing I could think of. I made vegetarian enchiladas and homemade Spanish rice. I really think it was one of their favorite meals they ate while they were here. We had a great time today!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Our Guests

So last Saturday (July 26) was the day we had waited for. The day we were supposed to pick up our dancers. We worked hard all week outside in the yard and also in the house getting house work done. There were also so many projects I was hoping to get done but just didn't get around to it. So we were supposed to pick them up at 2:00 at the Junior High School.

We knew ahead of time that we would be getting boys. The housing director told me alot of people requested girls and where we weren't specific, she assigned us boys. No problem! I am used to boys plus this whole experience is for Sam right?!? Who better to bond with him than boys.

Sam and Conner wanted to go with me to the junior high to meet our dancers. The day was HOT! It seemed like we waited forever in the sweltering sun for the bus to arrive.

I need to preface a little here. Mexico was the only team coming to the festival that didn't fly here, they chartered their own bus. All the teams had been to Burley the week before and were coming over from Burley. Salt Lake Express (a local bus company) went and picked them up and Mexico drove their bus up.

Mexico was one of the last teams to pull up. Then it seemed like forever as they hauled costumes into the junior high school for the week's performances. Finally it was time to find out who our long awaited guests were. I must admit there were a few younger Mexican boys that I would look at and wonder if they would be our house guests. I didn't have to wait long. My name was called second and then I was told that Filipe and Iscidro were to be our house guests for the week. Here's the kicker: we weren't housing dancers but instead the two bus drivers. I admit my first thought was "this is just my luck"!

Because the bus couldn't stay at the junior high school, I got in my van and pulled it around to where they could see me. They then followed me to the Chamber of Commerce to where we were going to park their van for the week. I was so thankful for this opportunity of being alone with the boys. I couldn't help but show how disappointed I was that we weren't housing dancers. I made a phone call to my friend, Brenda, who got a huge kick out of what I thought was my misfortune. I then called Bryon to let him know how unhappy I was. When we got home, Iscidro and Filipe went into what was to be their room for the week for a "siesta". It gave Bryon and I a chance to talk. Bryon told me something that would totally change my attitude for the week. He told me that yes we did sign up for dancers. We were doing this to give Sam a taste of his heritage. We can make this a totally negative experience and complain and let our sour attitudes rub off on our children or we could make the most of the situation. We could still do everything, well just about everything (For some reason, I don't think these two men would have enjoyed a morning shopping trip in Idaho Falls that I had planned to do with the dancers.), that we had planned to do with the dancers. We would probably still have a wonderful time and yes Sam could still experience his heritage because we were still housing people from Mexico. I am so grateful for Bryon and his perception. It totally made me rethink my attitude.

After their naps, I made Hawiian Haystacks for dinner. We then loaded up and went to the football stadium on the campus of BYU-Idaho for the opening ceremonies. Words cannot describe the feelings that I felt as we sat in the stands and all ten countries walked into the stadium and danced an opening number. It was awesome! We aren't sure where Filipe and Iscidro went. They didn't march in with their country. We figure they sat somewhere in the stands. Each country presented a gift to our state legislator and then danced a number. After the program, they launched fireworks. It was a great evening.

Here is a picture of our house guests for the week. Filipe is the one in grey and Iscidro is in the darker colored shirt.